Home » Evolution, News, stasis » Another rabbit jumps the hat: 419 mya JAWED fish

Another rabbit jumps the hat: 419 mya JAWED fish

Remember we were discussing how current Darwinian evolution theory would not be challenged even if a modern rabbit were found back in the 550 mya Cambrian era (and Darwin followers in the combox appeared to agree).

Hippety hop. A 419 mya jawed vertebrate.

The ancestors of modern jawed vertebrates are commonly portrayed as fishes with a shark-like appearance. But a stunning fossil discovery from China puts a new face on the original jawed vertebrate. [US$18 paywall]

National Geographic News reports*,

“Entelognathus primordialis is one of the earliest, and certainly the most primitive, fossil fish that has the same jawbones as modern bony fishes and land vertebrates including ourselves,” said study co-author Min Zhu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

But in the new fossil, found in China, has a distinctive three-bone system still used by chewing vertebrates today: a lower jawbone called the dentary and two upper jaw bones called the premaxilla (holding the front teeth) and the maxilla (holding the canine and cheek teeth).

“The exciting thing about this fossil is that when you look at the top of it, it looks like a placoderm, but when you look at the side of the fish and the structure of the jaw, it doesn’t look like any placoderm that we know of,” Friedman said.

“This tends to suggest the exciting possibility that these jawbones evolved way deep down in the lineage, so these features we used to hold as being unique to bony fishes may not be so unique.”

In other words, less evolution and more stasis.

The fish seems to lave lived at the end of the Silurian period, 443 mya to 417 mya.

*Reports it, that is, under the curious title,

”Fish Fossil Has Oldest Known Face, May Influence Evolution“

Influence evolution? Baby, if they found it back then, it IS evolution. Unless, of course, you mean Evolution, the Religion. In other words, the fish may shake up your dogmatics a bit, but whose problem is that, besides yours, at this point?

Fish guy, yer gettin’ ta be a rabbit with me.

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244 Responses to Another rabbit jumps the hat: 419 mya JAWED fish

  1. I don’t think you understand phylogenetics, news.

  2. Don’t worry, News. EL doesn’t understand that if A is superior to B, then B cannot be superior to A.

  3. Elizabeth B Liddle

    When a news is not good for evolution then the reporter is ignorant.

    Too infantile tactics, I expect from you something more elegant, sophisticated, evoluted.

  4. But this is just silly, niwrad. This isn’t news that “is not good for evolution”. It’s beautiful.

    There is already very good evidence of the transition from jawless to jawed vertebrates (like us) and this is yet more evidence – and puts it earlier than expected.

    If news wants to write snarky comments about a finding, they’d come over better if she knew something about what it actually represents.

    The reason a “rabbit in the Cambrian” would be a major problem is that it would mean either that common descent was not true, or that somehow, all the postulated ancestors of rabbits had lived up to billions of years earlier than anyone has proposed, without leaving a single fossil, even though those postulated ancestors have been found fossilised just where we’d expect them to be if rabbits appeared when we think they did.

    In contrast, this fossil simply fills in a piece of the puzzle. It reveals something we didn’t know, but it is perfectly consistent with what we do know.

    And if news had any clue about phylogenetics she’d be excited about that.

    But I don’t really blame news – Stephen Meyer, who actually wrote a book about the Cambrian – doesn’t understand phylogenetics either.

  5. Elizabeth B Liddle

    I don’t think this new fossil is good news for Darwinists. They already had to explain how 500 million species arose from OOL, bit by bit, second by second, molecule by molecule. Today they have 500 millions + 1.
    Good work.

    … … …

    Ok ok, “But this is just silly, niwrad”…

  6. Anyway, for anyone interested there is a lively discussion between some distinguished palaentologists, including one of the authors of the Nature News and Views piece at Talk Rational: Ancient fish face shows roots of modern jaw, Martin Brazeau, and Per Ahlberg. Also another few, incognito.

    And Atheistoclast.

  7. It’s not a problem for Evolution, because Evolution insulates itself from such potentially damaging discoveries, while at the same time touting current morphology-sequence imagineering as evidence for evolution of morphology.

    Darwinian mystics use both the construction and destruction of sequences as constantly increasing evidence… Like Elizabeth says, it’s “beautiful” ! Just more confirming evidence for evolution!

    Oh, so feature X appears 10, 50, or 100 million years earlier than we thought? Nooooo problem. It just sheds more light on evolution!… Yea we were telling stories before that turned out to be completely false, but science is a self-correcting process you know… Now, come over here and look at all the ‘evidence’ we have for the evolution of this other animal feature….

  8. No, lifepsy you are simply wrong.

    Palaeontology isn’t about providing evidence for evolution. That boat has sailed. It’s about uncovering the fascinating pattern of common descent.

    There is no mysticism about it, just a lot of painstaking research that involves piecing together information from many sources.

  9. Elizabeth B Liddle

    The “fascinating pattern of common descent” is the “fascinating pattern of common design”.

    If Darwinists want to prove CD, they must prove in details the transformations in the generations.

    But the usual magic word variations-in-the-genotype-lead-to-changes-in-the-phenotype explains 0 (zero) transformations.

    Evolution, by definition, is a transformer. If it doesn’t transform, what transformer is?

    When finally will you open your eyes?

  10. Dr. Liddle,

    I think that the reason a rabbit in the Cambrian would be a problem for evolution is that certain features that rabbits have were thought to only exist with mammals who evolved much later. Is this correct?

    Then does this sentence have any bearing on whether or not evolution is true “so these features we used to hold as being unique to bony fishes may not be so unique.”

    Couldn’t you see, “So these features [fur, mammary glands, live birth] we used to hold as being unique to mammals may not be so unique.” ?

  11. Elizabeth: “Palaeontology isn’t about providing evidence for evolution. That boat has sailed. It’s about uncovering the fascinating pattern of common descent.

    Your comment is a good example. People who faithfully believe in Evolution will see every last shred of data as more confirming evidence for it. And in turn you will declare that your confidence to do so comes from so much confirming evidence of Evolution.

  12. Well, yes, in a way. That’s because the evidence is already vast. But no in another way. More evidence for common descent isn’t needed (I’m not talking about evolutionary mechanisms here, just common descent). So new evidence like this is fascinating because it fills in pieces of the puzzle.

    So you are correct.

    But it’s a bit like saying, when standing over a bloodied corpse, ah, a knife wound as well as a bullet hole. Yet more evidence that he’s dead.

  13. 13

    Lizzie, it might help if you distinguished between the pattern and the process here — we could look at the paleontological discoveries as evidence of the phylogenetic pattern, and look to lab and field work for evidence of the processes of adaptation and speciation.

  14. Collin:

    Dr. Liddle,

    I think that the reason a rabbit in the Cambrian would be a problem for evolution is that certain features that rabbits have were thought to only exist with mammals who evolved much later. Is this correct?

    Yes, and not just mammalian features but features common to other organisms not found earlier than long after the Cambrian – tetrapod architecture, for instance.

    Then does this sentence have any bearing on whether or not evolution is true “so these features we used to hold as being unique to bony fishes may not be so unique.”

    Couldn’t you see, “So these features [fur, mammary glands, live birth] we used to hold as being unique to mammals may not be so unique.”

    Well, no. Forget evolution as a Darwinian process, for a minute, and OoL, and just think about Common Descent, and the distribution of features than support it.

    This new finding is part of that picture – a very interesting part. A rabbit in the Cambrian would be part of some completely different picture. This one is like a puzzle piece that makes you go “aha! now I see how this section attaches to that section!” A rabbit in the Cambrian would be like a puzzle piece that makes you go “now I just have no clue what this picture is”.

    I don’t know if the Nature articles are open access, but check out that discussion on Talk Rational. I think you’ll see what I mean.

  15. niwrad:

    Well, that’s fine, niwrad – call it the pattern of common design if you like. The point is that what this thing fits into is the tree pattern.

    Which has a timeline as well, of course. So if it’s common design, then it still looks like it had the pattern and time-distribution that would look like common descent.

    Either way, this puzzle piece fits in a way that a rabbit in the Cambrian would absolutely not.

  16. I didn’t mean you were silly.

    I just mean the idea that this finding is remotely like the “Rabbit in the Cambrian”.

    Which does not of course exist.

  17. Elizabeth: it still looks like it had the pattern and time-distribution that would look like common descent.

    No it doesn’t. It looks like a wide spectrum of complexity and morphospace for a particular ecosystem was killed suddenly.

  18. I don’t think you understand phylogenetics, news.

    Or rabbits!

  19. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Palaeontology isn’t about providing evidence for evolution. That boat has sailed. It’s about uncovering the fascinating pattern of common descent.

    Nonsense.

    Common descent is not a pattern, it is a theory. There is no “pattern of common descent.” And common descent doesn’t even explain the pattern that you claim to be a pattern of common descent. You’re just confused about evolutionary theory.

    So let’s talk about descent with modification, which again, is not a pattern.

    What Darwin proposed was a mechanism of modification, or change. This was his theory of natural selection. So natural selection was supposed to account for the differences, without which there would be no pattern to even speak of. Common descent was supposed to explain the things that are the same.

    If it’s all the same, there is no pattern. Silly rabbit.

    So, no more nonsense, please.

  20. Dr. Liddle,

    The reason this fossil is a problem for Darwinian evolution, is because the Darwinian mechanisms invoked are insufficient to generate the initial disparity created with each major evolutionary adaptive pulse, and the problem is being compounded by the time compression element that is presented by fossils that are like this one (earlier than thought).

    As everyone knows, this problem is quite acute in the Cambrian.

    Also, notice that at about the same time as our new fish, we have tetrapods in Poland (400 Mya). This really looks like whole body plan changes in the blink of an eye, and that needs to be explained in a different way, because the speed of evolution during these pulses appears to be far beyond the reach of the time scales required by ‘heritable variation in reproductive success’.

    Obviously, there must be some extraordinary mechanisms acting as the creative force, because it is truly a beautiful marvel.

    Lastly, I agree that there has been a large degree of decent with modification, however, that sort of thing happened after the creation, and introduction(seeding)of that kind into the world. Seems like the perfect plan to fill the earth full of life!

  21. An article published in National Geographic in 2004 likened the fossil record to “a film of evolution from which 999 of every 1,000 frames have been lost on the cutting-room floor.” [“Fossil Evidence,” November 2004, p. 25]

    Consider the implications of that illustration.

    Imagine that you found 100 frames of a feature film that originally had 100,000 frames. How would you determine the plot of the movie? You might have a preconceived idea, but what if only 5 of the 100 frames you found could be organized to support your preferred plot, while the other 95 frames tell a very different story? Would it be reasonable to assert that your preconceived idea of the movie was right because of the five frames? Could it be that you placed the five frames in the order you did because it suited your theory? Would it not be more reasonable to allow the other 95 frames to influence your opinion?

    How does that illustration relate to the way evolutionists view the fossil record? For years, researchers did not acknowledge that the vast majority of fossils—the 95 frames of the movie—showed that species change very little over time. Why the silence about such important evidence? Author Richard Morris says: “Apparently paleontologists had adopted the orthodox idea of gradual evolutionary change and had held onto it, even when they discovered evidence to the contrary. They had been trying to interpret fossil evidence in terms of accepted evolutionary ideas.” [The Evolutionists—The Struggle for Darwin’s Soul, by Richard Morris, 2001, pp. 104-105]

  22. Elizabeth B Liddle wrote in post 4:

    Stephen Meyer, who actually wrote a book about the Cambrian – doesn’t understand phylogenetics either.

    What specifically does he not understand, Elizabeth?

  23. He doesn’t understand that a taxon, for example a phylum, includes all organisms in the hierarchy/branch, not just the ones at the tip.

  24. lifepsy

    No it doesn’t. It looks like a wide spectrum of complexity and morphospace for a particular ecosystem was killed suddenly.

    Well the entire academic domain of phylogenetics begs to differ.

  25. OK, here is a thought experiment:

    Imagine a vast jigsaw puzzle representing a diagram of an actual tree of life, from simplest unicellular organism to all species that have ever lived.

    Somethign like this, for instance, but with every population described and labelled.

    Forget any dispute about how such a tree started, or how the diversification happened (posit an Intelligent Designer if you will) and just assume, for the purpose of this exercise, that all living things did, nonetheless descend from a common simple ancestor, and that a full diagram does, or did exist, and was made into a puzzle.

    Now assume that most of the puzzle is missing, and in particular, that we have more pieces representing recent organisms than very old organisms. But that we keep occasionally finding long-lost pieces.

    We can complete the outer most part of the puzzle fairly easily, and see that it forms a tree. We can also assemble what seem to be continuous branches leading towards the root, and we can see that different branches lead in the same direction.

    We also see that there is a date on many of the pieces, telling us that the tree grew over time.

    Every so often we find a piece that cause us to move a couple of branches around a bit – completed parts of the puzzle that seemed likely to link in one way now look far more likely to be linked in a slightly different way. Branch X that seemed as though it joined with branch Y before branch Z, now looks as though it must join with branch Z before branch Y.

    The fish in question is like that new piece of the puzzle.

    And the OP likens it to finding a piece of the puzzle with an ancient date, but which bears no resemblance to any other piece with that date, and an extremely close resemblance to pieces round the edge of the puzzle, of extremely recent date. Not only that, but we’ve already completed large parts of that bit of the puzzle, and there is no space to put the new piece.

    That is what finding a rabbit fossil in the Cambrian would represent.

    The amount of the puzzle that is complete makes universal common descent amount to a fact.

    You may wish to assign credit for the pattern to a designer, who took about three or so billion years to come up with the current designs, and did so by tweaking the DNA of lineage over time so that it best suited its environment.

    Fine.

    You may also wish to assign credit for the first life form to a designer.

    Fine.

    But it is the pattern of common descent over three or so billion years that is simply not in dispute, no matter what underlying process you want to invoke for producing that pattern.

    The time scale is clear, give or take some details, and the pattern is clear, give or take some details.

    There were no rabbits in the Cambrian because at the time of the Cambrian, most of the known lineage of rabbits did not exist.

  26. Elizabeth B Liddle at post 23 wrote:

    He doesn’t understand that a taxon, for example a phylum, includes all organisms in the hierarchy/branch, not just the ones at the tip.

    How do you know he doesn’t understand that?

  27. Because, if you look at the illustrations in his book, which I have reproduced in this post at TSZ, and annotated further down the post, he circles parts of his tree sketches with taxon labels like Phylum, Genus, and Family only the organisms depicted at the tip of their respective branches, not the organisms depicted by the entire branch.

    He thus sees phyla “appearing” long after the speciation event that produced them, and then concludes that phyla appear after species.

    It betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of both taxonomy and phylogenetics and of the relationship between the too, and undermines his entire argument about disparity vs diversity on which his book is based.

  28. Elizabeth B Liddle at post 27 wrote:

    Because, if you look at the illustrations in his book, which I have reproduced in this post at TSZ,

    I don’t do TSZ. It’s too vile, vulgar, and childish for me.

    I have Meyer’s book. Just tell me the page number you are referring to.

  29. All you have to do is click on the link, and you will have the page numbers plus my annotations. My OP is not vile, vulgar, or childish. In any case, you can avert your gaze from the text and just look at the figures, including my annotated ones.

    But if even that is too much like eating with publicans and sinners for you, the figures I am referring to are 2.11, 2.12, and 7.3.

    I don’t have the page numbers to hand, and in any case, I have the Kindle edition. You should be able to find them from the figure numbers.

  30. Elizabeth B Liddle at post 29 wrote:

    But if even that is too much like eating with publicans and sinners for you,

    Your analogy is specious and unwarranted. Do you want to have a discussion or a flame war?

  31. I want a discussion, cantor, but your own post I found inflammatory.

    I had posted a perfectly good account of what I consider to be Meyer’s error at my blog, TSZ, and you asked about it, so I referred you there.

    I cannot post figures in comments at UD, and in any case I have already explained in full the issues, as well as the figures, in my TSZ post.

    You, however, rather rudely declined to follow the link because “I don’t do TSZ. It’s too vile, vulgar, and childish for me.”

    So I’m afraid my annoyance showed in my response.

    If you want to see my annotations, which make my point, you will have to go to TSZ because I can’t post them here.

    If you don’t want to do that, then I have described the error here, I think, clearly enough for you to be able to see it once you look at Meyer’s diagrams, for which I have given you the numbers.

    He circles the tips of his diagrammed branches as “phylum” “genus” and “family” instead of the whole branch from which the circled tips grow.

    This is absolutely wrong.

  32. Elizabeth,

    We can complete the outer most part of the puzzle fairly easily, and see that it forms a tree.

    If every animal died at its current altitude and ecological zonation this instant, we could use their remnants to construct a fairly distinct tree as well. We could make up stories about how the sea creatures mutated into the upper highland animals, or how species A radiated and diversified into this or that environmental niche… and keep pointing to the reinforcing pattern.

    But it wouldn’t make it true just because we found a pattern and wrote poetry about how it originated.

    Every so often we find a piece that cause us to move a couple of branches around a bit – completed parts of the puzzle that seemed likely to link in one way now look far more likely to be linked in a slightly different way. Branch X that seemed as though it joined with branch Y before branch Z, now looks as though it must join with branch Z before branch Y.

    But the puzzle is all in your imagination. Pieces are never *clicking* together. You’re never getting any empirical feedback that you’ve made progress on the “puzzle”… You’re feeling around in the dark jamming things together and then patting each other on the back that you’ve made progress on the puzzle. If you rearrange branches, you have no testable criteria that says you made any progress whatsoever.

    The fossil record is 100% Evolution-free. In all the centuries, it never gave one iota of data in direct support of evolution.

    And at the end of the day, all you have is evidence that animals died and/or were buried somewhere. (always under catastrophic burial conditions of course)

    Driving everything is the religious conviction that Evolution and Common Descent are true… (because we haven’t found a rabbit living with fish or amphibians?) so of course every new discovery *sheds more light on evolution* … The psychology at work is a thing to behold.

  33. Elizabeth B Liddle at post 31 wrote:

    You, however, rather rudely declined to follow the link because “I don’t do TSZ. It’s too vile, vulgar, and childish for me.”

    That was neither rude nor inflammatory. It was a calm and accurate characterization of the tone of much of the dialog at TSZ. About this there is no controversy.

    You however, rudely and without any foundation chose to dial up the heat and, without any foundation, insult me personally.

    Tell me, have you discussed your misunderstanding about Meyer’s argument directly with him, before propagating the sweeping claim that he “doesn’t understand phylogenetics” and therefore his entire book can thus be dismissed?

  34. The fossil record is 100% Evolution-free. In all the centuries, it never gave one iota of data in direct support of evolution.

    Just out of curiosity . . . why do you suppose the fossil record in conjunction with morphological studies, geographic distributions of species and the ability of variation to be passed along family lines led Darwin to propose his theory?

    What do you think about the combination of all the data cited in support of evolutionary theory?

    If we through out the fossil record and only looked at the morphological, geographical and (now) genomic information would you still consider the evidence to be evolution free?

    What kind of evidence would get you to consider that universal common descent with modification is true?

    Put another way: what evidence would get you to question intelligent design?

  35. Well, one person’s inflammatory statement is another person’s calm and accurate statement, I guess.

    Anyway, I’m sorry I misinterpreted your post as a personal attack, I apologise for my snarky response.

    No, I haven’t corresponded with Meyer.

    However, from his diagram you can see he does not.

    Do you want to defend his diagram?

  36. Lifepsy

    If every animal died at its current altitude and ecological zonation this instant, we could use their remnants to construct a fairly distinct tree as well

    Yes, indeed, and that is what Linnaeus did.

    We can also do it without killing the organisms (don’t forget plants, this isn’t just about animals), using DNA.

    That is the extraordinary thing – you get a tree that then maps perfectly on to the fossil record.

    You don’t of course infer that modern people descended from modern fish – you infer that modern people and modern fish had a common ancestor that had the shared features of both, which are considerable, but without many of the non-shared features.

    The nested hierarchies of extant organisms are a pattern to be explained. Common ancestry explains it beautifully, and the fossil data confirms the organisms predicted by the hierarchy – e.g. organisms with the shared characters of both humans and modern fish, but without many of the non-shared features, at a position in the geological column that fits the inferred timeline.

    I’m actually surprised to see so much skepticism about Common Descent here. I thought ID was mainly based on skepticism about how the new features emerged, rather than about whether they emerged, although I know there are a few YECs.

  37. I’m actually surprised to see so much skepticism about Common Descent here. I thought ID was mainly based on skepticism about how the new features emerged, rather than about whether they emerged, although I know there are a few YECs.

    ID is a HUGE tent!!

  38. 38
    TheisticEvolutionist

    The fossil record is 100% Evolution-free. In all the centuries, it never gave one iota of data in direct support of evolution.

    Then how do you explain the fossils evidence found in the geological scale?

    http://www.roiscience.com/evol.....record.gif

    It’s evidence for evolution, not creationism (unless of course you are advocating billions of different creation events).

  39. “I know there are a few YECs [at UD].” – Elisabeth

    How much do you know, Elisabeth? Does 30-40% of UDers constitute ‘a few’ or more than ‘a few’?

    Among IDM leaders, the number shrinks to 5-10%. But here at UD, YECism is openly represented. Indeed, it is part of the IDM’s ‘policy’ to welcome YECism and the money that comes with it from USAmerican evangelical churches with open arms.

  40. evolutionist say that even if the nature is more complex then a watch, we cant compare a living thing with a watch becuase a watch is not self replicat/ so if we add to this the characteristics of self replication and dna(organic)- the evoluton side dont have counter argument for this claim. now according to there logic if we see a self replicat watch with dna can evolve naturally. i try it by myself with many paople. and even they admit that the human is more complex then a watch. or a self replicat robot.

    3) about the micro and macro argument- the evolutionst say that small steps for milions years become a big steps. but according to this a lots of small steps in self replicat car (with dna) will evolve into a airplan.

    but there is no step wise from car to airplan. bacause if we need to add en angine it will need a lots of parts at once, so a self replicat car cant evolve into airpan. even by intellegent!(or even the car for the first place because it need wheels, engine, ect. or even add air conditioner in stepwise). so an animal cant evolve into another one with new system.

    4)evolution say that common similarity is evidence for common descent. but according to this 2 similar self replicat car are evolve from each other. acctually its point to the same designer.

    5)according to the evolution- a car can evolve in a close room. because if a human can evolve naturaly- he can evolve in the room and make a car.

    6) about the transitional fossil – according to this logic, if we found a self replicat cars model 2068, 2069 and 2070. we need to say that they evolve from each other.

  41. From “Nature” online, 25 Sept. 2013, Friedman and Brazeau write:

    “Over the past decade or so, new fossils and re-examinations of old ones have forced palaeontologists to look beyond the confines of traditional classifications and reconsider the coherence of textbook assemblages such as placoderms and acanthodians, and their relationships to extant gnathostomes. Perhaps more than any of these discoveries, Entelognathus demands a major rethink of where fossils fit relative to modern lineages, and how these living groups came to acquire their characteristic traits.”

    Another writer noted that the find “turns it (the tree) on it’s head”.

    Personally, I do not have a major problem with phylogenetics, because the argument is (or should be) regarding the nature of the mechanism producing the pattern, and in particular the source of the variation.

    Nevertheless, this fossil represents a lineage that plausibly produced jaws by convergence, and if so, then it reasonable to assume that pre-programming is the source, and if preprogamming is the source, then it is reasonable to assume that some sort of design is involved, and if design is involved, there is good reason to find a way to test it.

    Either way, if more divergent gnathostomes from the same time frame, or earlier, are discovered, the origin of jaws will eventually be pushed back to the dawn of animal life.

    Irregardless, it is definitely premature to assert that UCA is a fact, and there is much space remaining for the consideration of UCA’s (plural).

    As Dr. Meyer pointed out, the observed pattern is a sawed off tree and a distinct line drawn in the Cambrian, where the trunk is absent. If such a trunk ever existed, it must have been constructed by processes operating under much different rules than what has been observed to have been operating in biology over the past half billion years to the present day (or, we may have a forest rather than a tree).

  42. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Stephen Meyer, who actually wrote a book about the Cambrian – doesn’t understand phylogenetics either.

    cantor:

    What specifically does he not understand, Elizabeth?

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    He doesn’t understand that a taxon, for example a phylum, includes all organisms in the hierarchy/branch, not just the ones at the tip.

    Do you mean to say that a phylum must include all no longer extant organisms which are believed to have given rise to the living members of the phylum?

    Just what do you think the “tips” represent, if not the living members of the phylum?

    I just find this bizarre, so I hope it’s just a failure to communicate precisely what you mean.

    So when we create phylogenetic trees from genetic sequences, where do those sequences come from, if not living organisms? And the relationships that result, are among the living, are they not.

    Surely Meyer discusses the diagrams in the text. What dose he write that you find so off the wall wrong that you can call it a “howler.” Or is it just the drawings?

  43. lifepsy:

    If every animal died at its current altitude and ecological zonation this instant, we could use their remnants to construct a fairly distinct tree as well

    EL:

    Yes, indeed, and that is what Linnaeus did.

    Linnaeus did not use fossils to construct his classification system, he used living organisms.

  44. Do you mean to say that a phylum must include all no longer extant organisms which are believed to have given rise to the living members of the phylum?

    Any many species that dont’ have descendants in modern populations. A taxon includes an ancestral species and all it’s descendants.

    Obviously, molecular phylogenies are (usually) limited to extant species (the tips), but that doesn’t change the definition of a taxon.

  45. We can also do it without killing the organisms (don’t forget plants, this isn’t just about animals), using DNA.

    Yes, we can get lots of different patterns with DNA. You can completely shuffle the conventional evolutionary mammal tree around with microRNA’s. But why include data that doesn’t fit with your philosophy?

    That is the extraordinary thing – you get a tree that then maps perfectly on to the fossil record.

    From DNA? No, Elizabeth, you don’t.

    You don’t of course infer that modern people descended from modern fish – you infer that modern people and modern fish had a common ancestor that had the shared features of both, which are considerable

    And that inference is obviously incorrect because we know culled genetic accidents don’t build functionally complex structures. But again, why let science get in the way of a philosophical inference?

    The nested hierarchies of extant organisms are a pattern to be explained. Common ancestry explains it beautifully,

    Vertebrates share similar features because they were created and designed with similar functions within similar environments. (See? I can assert things, too) We see evidence of this with convergence of complex phenotypes and even genetic sequences across distant taxa.

    Common Descent doesn’t predict or explain this data. Evolutionists just assert ad hoc that Natural Selection dunnit.

    and the fossil data confirms the organisms predicted by the hierarchy

    The hierarchy was constructed by fossil data. It did not predict it. And now evolutionists act vindicated that a well-established general pattern continues to hold up.

  46. Mung

    Do you mean to say that a phylum must include all no longer extant organisms which are believed to have given rise to the living members of the phylum?

    Yes, including fossils of extinct organisms. Meyer makes it clear that assigns extinct fossil organisms to taxa but still arbitrarily circles the ends of his branches in his diagrams.

    Just what do you think the “tips” represent, if not the living members of the phylum?

    Well, Meyer certainly seems to think that the phyla existed in the Cambrian, so clearly he is not referring to living members.

    I just find this bizarre, so I hope it’s just a failure to communicate precisely what you mean.

    The problem is not mine, it’s Meyer’s. I agree it is bizarre.

    So when we create phylogenetic trees from genetic sequences, where do those sequences come from, if not living organisms? And the relationships that result, are among the living, are they not.

    Well, they come from both living organisms and fossils. What unites members of a specific taxon, both extant and extinct, is a set of shared features, even though there will be many members who have additional features. The younger the members, the more additional features they are likely to have, while the set of shared features is inferred to have been possessed by the common ancestor.

    However, when Meyer plots his diagram of what is supposed to have happened, and labels bits of it as “phylum”, “genus”, “family” etc, he circles only the tips of his drawings, not the whole branch.

    Surely Meyer discusses the diagrams in the text. What dose he write that you find so off the wall wrong that you can call it a “howler.” Or is it just the drawings?

    No, the text makes the same error, and the drawings are there to make his point – based on the same error.

    It’s all in my post, so I won’t write it out again. Let me know either here or at TSZ what you disagree with.

  47. lifepsy

    The hierarchy was constructed by fossil data. It did not predict it. And now evolutionists act vindicated that a well-established general pattern continues to hold up.

    No, the hierarchy was not constructed originally by fossil data.

    Linnaeus’ taxonomy was based on extant organisms.

  48. I want to be explicit about what I am, and am not, questioning. The word “evolution” carries many associations. Usually it means common descent — the idea that all organisms living and dead are related by common ancestry. I have no quarrel with the idea of common descent, and continue to think it explains similarities among species. By itself, however, common descent doesn’t explain the vast differences among species.

    - Michael Behe

  49. Then how do you explain the fossils evidence found in the geological scale?

    http://www.roiscience.com/evol…..record.gif

    It’s evidence for evolution, not creationism (unless of course you are advocating billions of different creation events).

    The YEC global flood model with a catastrophic burial sequence based on vertical ecological zones has considerable explanatory power for the fossil record. (even evolutionists will admit the fossil record is characterized by rapid burials)

    Look at the Geologic Column you referenced. First we find ecosystems inhabiting the ocean floor, then progressively bottom-feeding ecosystems, getting more mobile higher up the column, then progressively more amphibious, then the introduction of low-lying terrestrial ecosystems… many animals occupying the topmost parts of the geologic column, are also animals that inhabited or had access to higher altitude environments. (big, highly-mobile mammals, birds, intelligent humans)

    Marine mammals are typically fast, powerful deepwater swimmers. (they don’t crawl around on the ocean floor) They would be expected to be able to swim with rising waters, in which case many would have been deposited on upper layers as the waters receded off of the continents.
    Same scenario with deepwater fish like big Sharks, which don’t show up until roughly the same time as Whales. However, smaller sharks that fed in the shallows appear very early on in the column.

    Certainly this model has problems and puzzles and is based on a measure of speculation (just like Evolution), but it does explain the general pattern we see. It is also far more successful in explaining why we find a constant pattern of sudden ‘explosions’ of types of ecosystems, and prolonged stasis before those ecosystems disappear…. why we find so many “living fossils” of supposedly 300-500 Mya creatures that have gone virtually unchanged…. etc.

  50. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Let me know either here or at TSZ what you disagree with.

    As you wish. :)

    I disagree with your entire approach of ignoring evidence inconsistent with your thesis and cherry-picking one half of one diagram and hanging your entire argument on it.

    “he circles only the tips of his drawings, not the whole branch.”

    Read on – diagram by diagram:

    Figure 2.8 on Page 36.

    Two groups are explicitly labelled phylum and those two obviously include all the sub groups. There are no circles to be found, at the tips or anywhere else.

    No “howler” here. But Elizabeth ignores this contrary evidence because it dosn’t fit her narrative.

    Figure 2.11 on Page 42.

    Family #1 is clearly drawn to include Genus #1 and Genus #2, and Family #2 is clearly drawn to include
    Genus #3 and Genus #4. just how far down the tree do you think he should have drawn the “family” circles and the “genus” circles?

    No “howler” here. But Elizabeth ignores this contrary evidence because it dosn’t fit her narrative.

    Figure 2.12 on Page 43.

    Once again Meyer usesthe term phylum. Two groups, which both clearly include classes and genera. There are no circles to be found, at the tips or anywhere else.

    No “howler” here. But Elizabeth ignores this contrary evidence because it dosn’t fit her narrative.

    So what does Elizabeth do? She cherry-picks a diagrem from Chaper 7.

    Figure 7.3 on Page 144.

    Even that diagram contradicts her narrative, but in true “skeptic” style she ignores that contrary evidence as well and forges ahead.

    On the right side of the diagram Meyer has, you guessed it, a phylum. It includes classes which include species. No “howler” here.

    But on the left hand side Elizabeth spies all the evidence she needs to convince her that the book can be ignored.

    1. There are groups labelled phyla, not phylum.

    2. While each “phyla” is drawn to include classes, the circles representing the “phyla” do not extend all the way to wherever on the drawing Elizabeth thinks they should extend.

    This is Meyer’s “howler.” And from this meagre bit of “evidence” Elizabeth claims to know that Meyer is ignorant of phylogenetics.

    That’s a bit of a stretch, imo.

  51. Mung:

    Do you mean to say that a phylum must include all no longer extant organisms which are believed to have given rise to the living members of the phylum?

    wd400:

    A taxon includes an ancestral species and all it’s descendants.

    Obviously, molecular phylogenies are (usually) limited to extant species (the tips), but that doesn’t change the definition of a taxon.

    You didn’t answer the question. Or you did, and you agree with me, but don’t want to appear like you agree with me.

    Please read my response to Elizabeth @50. In particular, see if you can help her draw where the circles in Meyer’s 7.3 ought to be.

    So as long a Meyer’s phyla each include an ancestral species and it’s descendants they qualify as a taxon. So where’s the howler?

  52. Further on Meyer’s alleged “howler.”

    Elizabeth, unfortunately for the case you are trying to make against Meyer, the facts are against you.

    Defining the crown group as the phylum is convenient mechanistically, as it is straightforward to apply and avoids the difficulty of of how to separate members of sister phyla near their divergence from a common ancestor. It focuses on that part of the tree of life that includes extant animals and for which, therefore, molecular evidence is available. Restricting the concept of a phylum to the crown group as advocated by Budd and Jensen (2000) also has a number of drawbacks …

    Figure 1A from their paper looks suspiciously like Meyer’s “howler.” Maybe they don’t understand phylogenetics either.

    Debates about the Cambrian radiation have stimulated a debate over how “phyla” might be defined at all. One view bases a definition of phylum (or class) on the crown group and excludes stem groups as plesions. This has the advantage of objectivity and ensures that molecular data are available for the whole taxon except where primitive survivors pull fossil taxa into the crown clade.

    Wonderful strife: systematics, stem groups, and the phylogenetic signal of the Cambrian radiation

    cf.

    A critical reappraisal of the fossil record of the bilaterian phyla.

    The Cambrian Fossil Record and the Origin of the Phyla

  53. 53
    TheisticEvolutionist

    The YEC global flood model with a catastrophic burial sequence based on vertical ecological zones has considerable explanatory power for the fossil record. (even evolutionists will admit the fossil record is characterized by rapid burials).

    As you may already well know there’s countless scientific papers, books and websites that have refuted the claims of YEC especially on “flood geology”. If you want a brief overview, I suggest this article, see the conclusion it gives 10 reasons why the fossils in the geological column are not evidence for a global flood.

    Here’s just one of the points;

    The fact that the fossils mammals are not found with the earliest dinosaurs, or that no primates are found until the Ft. Union formation or that no full dinosaur skeletons are found in the Tertiary section, implies strongly that the column was not the result of a single cataclysm. Worldwide, no whales are found with the large Devonian fish. If the column was an ecological burial pattern, then whales and porpoises should be buried with the fish. They aren’t. The order of the fossils must be explained either by progressive creation or evolution.

    http://www.noanswersingenesis......column.htm

    If the Bible has not been written, then YEC would not exist and these folk would not be arguing for a global flood. Interestingly some YEC admit that “flood geology” is entirely religious;

    The entire structure of Flood geology is nonscientific and is based directly on the creationists’ religious beliefs. As the creationists themselves admit, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support any of their Flood geology: “The study of the Flood, especially its scientific aspects, is often called ‘Flood geology’ or ‘Deluge geology’. However, it has not yet reached that state of development where it can be rightfully called a science, and I doubt that it ever will. It is only a model of the action of the Flood described in Genesis.” (Clarke, 1977, p. 8)

    http://www.noanswersingenesis......eflood.htm

  54. Mung:

    Meyer’s diagrams neither circle crown groups nor crown+stem groups.

    His diagrams make no sense at all.

    And even if he were to define phyla as crown groups only, it wouldn’t help his case that “The actual pattern in the fossil record, however, contradicts [the] expectation” for “small-scale differences or diversity among species to precede large-scale morphological disparity among phyla”.

    If we define phyla as crown groups, then of course they will be preceded by “small-scale differences”, and that is what we observe (and is even, ironically, indicated by his drawings, even though he doesn’t correctly circle the “crown groups”.

    And if we define phyla as crown+stem then the “expectation” under common descent is that phyla will originally be morphologically close, and then diverge. Again, just as we observe in the fossil record.

    In other words Meyer is simply equivocating with his definition of phyla – but neither definition helps his case. If we use one, the he gets the prediction under common descent wrong, and if we use the other, then his description of “the actual pattern” is wrong. Either way, the fossil record matches the prediction under common descent.

    His mistake is compounded by his application of retrospective taxonomic labels to the whole tree. Under the theory of common descent, all bifurcations of lineages are “speciation events”, and a contemporary phylogeneticist, were one to exist, would regard the result as two “species”. It is only later that we call them “phyla” because by then there have been further branching and subbranchings, and thus the requirement for new taxonomic ranks – what started of as a species is now a “phylum”, containing were once species and are now “classes” containing what were once species and are now “orders” containing what were once species and are now “families” etc.

    In other words, common descent matches exactly what we observe, and Meyer’s attempt to claim that it doesn’t is based on a complete misunderstanding of taxonomy, phylogeny, and the relationship between the two.

  55. Hi Elizabeth,

    Been reading through your posts and hoped you might clarify something for me. It may be that I have missed something?

    Could you explain to me what you mean by this statement at #25:

    “We also see that there is a date on many of the pieces, telling us that the tree grew over time.”

    Where is this ‘date’ to be found?

    Also, you make this cliam in #46:

    “What unites members of a specific taxon, both extant and extinct, is a set of shared features, even though there will be many members who have additional features. The younger the members, the more additional features they are likely to have, while the set of shared features is inferred to have been possessed by the common ancestor.”

    Can you show me an example of this, where I can clearly see what you mean from fossil evidence the “shared features of a common ancestor” in relation to “members of a specific taxon”?

    I hope that makes sense :)

  56. Mung,

    I’ve only seen 2.11 (reproduced on TSZ). As well being a pretty awful digram it’s wrong – “family 1″ is paraphyletic. If the genera in “family 1″ are to be a taxon the circle would have to go all the way back the third node on the “trunk” of the tree (did I mention these are awful diagrams..), or _all_ the tips descent from that node.

  57. This source:

    Contrasting the Origin of Species With the Origin of Phyla

    Seems to have been an ancestor of what seems to be a set of evolving diagrams, but at least in this source, the labels are applied correctly.

  58. PeterJ

    Where is this ‘date’ to be found?

    Well, if we apply my puzzle metaphor to reality, in the date of the strata in which the “pieces” – fossils – are found.

    Can you show me an example of this, where I can clearly see what you mean from fossil evidence the “shared features of a common ancestor” in relation to “members of a specific taxon”?

    There is an example given in the wiki page on Synapomorphy, which also explains the principle.

  59. Figure 2.8 on Page 36.

    Two groups are explicitly labelled phylum and those two obviously include all the sub groups. There are no circles to be found, at the tips or anywhere else.

    No “howler” here. But Elizabeth ignores this contrary evidence because it dosn’t fit her narrative.

    Failing to make an error in one diagram does not make the error in other diagrams go away, Mung, especially when his case, in the text, is based on that error.

    Figure 2.11 on Page 42.

    Family #1 is clearly drawn to include Genus #1 and Genus #2, and Family #2 is clearly drawn to include
    Genus #3 and Genus #4. just how far down the tree do you think he should have drawn the “family” circles and the “genus” circles?

    No “howler” here. But Elizabeth ignores this contrary evidence because it dosn’t fit her narrative.

    Figure 2.11 is so bad it is almost beyond correction, but I had a go here. See also WD400′s post #56

    Figure 2.12 on Page 43.

    Once again Meyer uses the term phylum. Two groups, which both clearly include classes and genera. There are no circles to be found, at the tips or anywhere else.

    No “howler” here. But Elizabeth ignores this contrary evidence because it dosn’t fit her narrative.

    Figure 2.12 is correct. But he now correctly shows that the phylum divisions precede the classes and genera divisions over time, which is what we see. Which what is expected under Common Descent. But that begs the question of the morphological distance between phyla at the time when they first appears. He can’t have it both ways.

    So what does Elizabeth do? She cherry-picks a diagrem from Chaper 7.

    Figure 7.3 on Page 144.

    Even that diagram contradicts her narrative, but in true “skeptic” style she ignores that contrary evidence as well and forges ahead.

    On the right side of the diagram Meyer has, you guessed it, a phylum. It includes classes which include species. No “howler” here.

    No, on the right side of the diagram, Meyer yet again circles the “phylum” incorrectly and then contrasts it as what is expected under the “theory of punctuated equilibrium” with “the pattern in the fossil record” . But had he circled his groups correctly, the two would have matched. Not that he’s even got “the theory of punctuated equilibrium” correct, and I’m not at all sure why he keeps calling Common Descent “neo-Darwinism”. It’s what Darwin himself proposed. I suspect a dog-whistle.

    But on the left hand side Elizabeth spies all the evidence she needs to convince her that the book can be ignored.

    1. There are groups labelled phyla, not phylum.

    2. While each “phyla” is drawn to include classes, the circles representing the “phyla” do not extend all the way to wherever on the drawing Elizabeth thinks they should extend.

    Indeed. And had he drawn the diagram on the left correctly, it would have matched the one on the right. And entirely destroyed his point.

    This is Meyer’s “howler.” And from this meagre bit of “evidence” Elizabeth claims to know that Meyer is ignorant of phylogenetics.

    It’s blindingly obvious to anyone looking at the diagrams. But lest anyone should blame the illustrator, plus poor proof-reading on Meyer’s part, the howler is not only repeated in both captions and text but forms the basis of almost his entire argument about diversity and disparity.

    That’s a bit of a stretch, imo.

    Well, no.

  60. EL;

    with the matter of declaring ID thinkers = creationists and the declaration of such as theocratic would be totalitarians and ENEMIES OF HUMANITY (primary- ringleaders as alleged, secondary as alleged dupes) on the table as hosted in your blog, it is not and cannot be talking points as usual. Indeed, the above exchange where it seems you have tried to taint Meyer’s basic competence takes on a far uglier colour by that light, as Meyer is a leading scholar of DI.

    You have succeeded all too well in poisoning the atmosphere, now kindly deal with it.

    I consult my copy of DD:

    Index, p. 496, “phyla (animal groups). See animal phyla.”

    Index, p. 488, “animal phyla: chart showing representatives in the fossil record, 32 fig. . . . description of 31 . . . ”

    p. 32, Fig 2.5 and description. Lists phyla by appearance in fossil record in a hand-drawn chart. Meyer describes the top panel, a, as “Chart showing when representatives of the the different animal phyla first appeared in the fossil record. Ac cording to Darwinian theory, differences in biological form should increase gradually, steadily increasing the number of distinct body plans and phyla, over time.” He then comments that the panel b shows the chart of appearance vs time, left, expected, right, actual. There is a dramatic contrast, aka the Cambrian revolution.

    p.31, 2nd para, introductory remarks: “The term “phyla” (singular: “phylum”) refers to divisions in the biological classification system. The phyla constitute the highest (or widest) categories of biological classification in the animal kingdom, with each exhibiting a unique architecture, organizational blueprint, or structural body plan. Familiar examples of phyla are cnidarians (corals and jelly fish) mullusks (squids and clams) . . . and chordates, to which all vertebrates including humans belong.” He then goes on to lower units of classification: classes, orders, eventually families, genera and species.

    On the face of it he has given a reasonable description and in so doing has correctly used phylum and phyla. The attempt to portray him as fundamentally being ignorant starting with basic terms, fails.

    On p. 144, there is a usage that is indeed incorrect, but that does not detract from the basic point. We should be willing to distinguish a “typo” from fundamental error.

    On that page, the point is also correct, punc eq would do much the same as more gradualist NDT, move up to the phylum, not start at the phylum. On pp. 142 – 3 he says:

    Darwin thought that the first representatives of the the higher taxonomic categories emerged after the emergence of the first representatives of each of the lower taxa . . . Instead, the first Cambrian animal forms are different enough from each other to justify classifying them as separate classes, subphyla, and phyla from their first appearance int eh fossil record (see Fig. 7.3. [i.e. p. 144])

    This pattern creates an acute difficulty for the theory of punctuated equilibrium., [sic] First, due tot he action of allopatric speciation and species selection, advocates of punctuated equilibrium envision morphological change . . . arising in larger, more discontinuous increments of change, Nevertheless, like neo-Darwinists, they too see phyla-level differences arising from the “bottom up,” starting with lower level taxonomic differences — albeit occurring in increments involving whole new species rather than individuals or virieties within species. Indeed, according to the theory of punctuated equilibrium, allopatric speciation first produces new species in geographically isolated populations . . . For represenatives of higher taxonomic categories to arise, these new species must accumulate new traits and evolve further.

    In Fig 7.3, which is obviously schematic, Meyer portrays circles showing newly emerging phyla, each with two classes, starting from a nodal point.

    We may want to debate points on his diagram, but the fundamental argument is correct. Both punc eq and NDT expect bottom up variation.

    It can in fact be calculated that a new body plan, the relevant issue, will take about 10 – 100+ mn bits of new genetic info to account for unfolding the body plan from zygote or equivalent, and to provide cell types, tissues, organs and tightly integrated systems.

    That brings us back to the reason why it is reasonable to see that such complex functional integration based on components will manifest an islands of function in a seas of non-function pattern. Which in turn gives a major challenge to the accessible time and materials resources on the gamut of our observed cosmos or solar system.

    Until it is empirically demonstrated, Dawkins’ easy incremental back way up Mt Improbable is an ideological fantasy. In fact the real challenge is to explain — per the FSCO/I challenge, and in light of actual observation of blind watchmaker generation of FSCO/I — how the new body plan got to the shores of Isle Darwin.

    Failing such (and it is simply not there) what we are seeing is ideological fanatasies reinforced through confirmation bias and circular reasoning, on any evidence that he eye of Darwinist faith can fit into the scheme, backed up by a priori exclusion of the only thing actually seen to produce FSCO/I, design.

    Game over, TSZ.

    KF

  61. It can in fact be calculated that a new body plan, the relevant issue, will take about 10 – 100+ mn bits of new genetic info to account for unfolding the body plan from zygote or equivalent, and to provide cell types, tissues, organs and tightly integrated systems.

    What is your reference for this please?

  62. TheisticEvolutionist,

    As you may already well know there’s countless scientific papers, books and websites that have refuted the claims of YEC especially on “flood geology”.

    There are also countless Creation Science and YEC websites that have refuted practically every one of those claimed refutations of flood geology in detail. YEC scientists have been vindicated numerous times by conventional geology eventually adopting rapid deposition in subaqueous environments in many cases. And YEC geologists point out countless flaws with old-earth geology.

    If the column was an ecological burial pattern, then whales and porpoises should be buried with the fish. They aren’t. The order of the fossils must be explained either by progressive creation or evolution.

    That is a simplistic and poorly thought-out claim. That’s like a creationist saying “If the geologic column represents Evolution then we should see a perfect micro gradation of all new anatomical features reflected in the fossil record. Otherwise, evolution didn’t happen.

    I gave you a simple reason why we might not expect marine mammals to appear with lower strata fish and ocean bottom-dwellers and you just ignored it. It’s the same reason we don’t find some of those marine mammals’ natural predators, such as great white sharks (even though other sharks are found in the lower layers), until much later in the fossil record as well : They were fast-swimming, deep-water species, and would not have been bound near the ocean floor as sediments were rapidly eroded and transported by the global flood, burying those lower ecosystems.

    There are many more factors playing into this than simply “it lived in water or it lived on land” Animals are complex in both habitat, locomotion, and behavior, including how they might react to a sudden global catastrophe.

  63. KF:

    In Fig 7.3, which is obviously schematic, Meyer portrays circles showing newly emerging phyla, each with two classes, starting from a nodal point.

    “Schematic” or not Meyer circles phyla that do NOT start from a nodal point. Whether the phyla are defined as crown groups or crown+stem, this is simply incorrect, and highly misleading, and he duly misleads.

    He does this repeatedly in his diagrams – circles paraphyletic groups in his model for what is predicteded “under common descent, and then claims that they don’t match the observed.

    They match the observed just fine, as would be obvious if he circled his diagrams correctly.

  64. to lifespy and TheisticEvolutionist,

    i just want to add that one option is that the human populations was to small so they dont leave fossil until the above layers. even if we find a self replicat car model 3000, and above this model 3001 and above 3002 it not prove commondescent.

    another option is that the age of the erath is not bilions. and we have evidence for that from a dino dna age 80 milions years!

  65. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Meyer’s diagrams neither circle crown groups nor crown+stem groups.

    His diagrams make no sense at all.

    EL:

    Failing to make an error in one diagram does not make the error in other diagrams go away

    EL:

    Figure 2.12 is correct.

    Well pardon me if I thought you were lumping all his diagrams together as if they were all wrong and cherry-picking one to try to make a point.

    EL:

    … the figures I am referring to are 2.11, 2.12, and 7.3.

    Your case against Meyer is awfully thin, Elizabeth. Did you even bother to check the Bibliography?

    Did you even attempt to check the papers I referenced before firing off a response to me?

  66. The problem with his diagrams, Mung, is that he is inviting us to contrast them. If one is correct, and the other is wrong, then the difference between them will be wrong, right?

    No, the case is not “awfully thin”. Meyer has repeatedly, throughout the book, presented diagrams representing what is “expected” under “Darwinian” common descent, and contrasted it against “what we find”. Often “what we find” is correct. What is wrong is “expected under Darwinian common descent”.

    Eye-wateringly wrong.

    Your defense is of Meyer is rather like excusing someone from having a thumb on the scales by saying that they only had their thumb on one side.

  67. kf:

    the above exchange where it seems you have tried to taint Meyer’s basic competence

    Oh, there is no seems about it kf. None at all.

  68. So now you’re contradicting Meyer on the facts, Elizabeth?

  69. The opening of the OP at TSZ:

    Quite apart from any factual errors, about which I’m not at all qualified to judge, here is what seems to me to be Meyer’s fundamental logical error IMO:

  70. I am contradicting Meyer on his understanding of what a phylum, or any other taxon is.

    As you seem to agree, it can either refer to a crown group or a crown+ stem group.

    Meyer circles, in his diagrams, something that is neither, and claims it is what various “Darwinian” models predict.

    It is not.

    Therefore his claim that what we observe is not what Darwinian models predict is wrong.

    Are you going to defend those diagrams or not?

    If not, let’s agree that they are incorrect. Massively incorrect.

  71. KF: if it is to “taint” someone’s competence to point out an enormous error, so be it.

    Yes, I think Meyer’s book is incompetent. In fact I think it is obviously incompetent.

    I’ve yet to see a single person here defend his depiction of a “phylum” or a “family” as a paraphyletic group.

    Not surprisingly, because it is simply wrong.

  72. EL:

    There does seem to be a problem with diagrams, though the fundamental point in the text is quite correct, as I have quoted. As well, in comparing 2.11, 7.3 and 2.12, I note that in 2.11 all three branches from a common point as circled, which looks a lot like he has captured the main point.

    You sound a lot like someoine looking for an error to dismiss, nto to engage the substantial matter.

    KF

    Jerad,

    Do the calc on numbers of new cell types needed from a single celled original form, thence new proteins, and compare the numbers on observed animals. You will see that the calc gets you to the low end on order of mag, and the observations are in the 100+ Mbit range. You will see an example in Meyer 2004.

    In any case the threshold for blind processes even being marginally plausible is 4 orders of magnitude below the low end.

    KF

  73. F/N: When you — EL — are willingly and in the teeth of correction, hosting a site that slanderously declares leaders and names the DI, as ENEMIES OF HUMANITY, you have forfeited the presumption of good faith. Your arguments are then to be seen from the position of a declared, ruthless and implacable enemy who has no respect or regard to people who s/he disagrees with, or for fairness or truthfulness. You may not like that but that is what you have earned. KF

  74. Do the calc on numbers of new cell types needed from a single celled original form, thence new proteins, and compare the numbers on observed animals. You will see that the calc gets you to the low end on order of mag, and the observations are in the 100+ Mbit range. You will see an example in Meyer 2004.

    Okay. I may not have the time to follow up on this. It’s something I’m sadly lacking in understanding. But it is interesting.

    In any case the threshold for blind processes even being marginally plausible is 4 orders of magnitude below the low end.

    Four orders? Are you sure? 10,000 times?

    Could you codify your criteria of ‘marginally plausible’ a bit? I’d rather be sure I’m actually addressing the issue you’re raising rather than going off on an incorrect tangent.

    I understand back-of-the-napkin type estimations and I’m not going to object to that. I would like some indication of what limits you have put on your ‘marginally plausible’ zone.

  75. F/N: I also suggest you have omitted the points made by Mung at 50 – 52 supra. Let me clip:
    ________

    >> 50
    MungSeptember 28, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    Let me know either here or at TSZ what you disagree with.

    As you wish. :)

    I disagree with your entire approach of ignoring evidence inconsistent with your thesis and cherry-picking one half of one diagram and hanging your entire argument on it.

    “he circles only the tips of his drawings, not the whole branch.”

    Read on – diagram by diagram:

    Figure 2.8 on Page 36.

    Two groups are explicitly labelled phylum and those two obviously include all the sub groups. There are no circles to be found, at the tips or anywhere else.

    No “howler” here. But Elizabeth ignores this contrary evidence because it dosn’t fit her narrative.

    Figure 2.11 on Page 42.

    Family #1 is clearly drawn to include Genus #1 and Genus #2, and Family #2 is clearly drawn to include
    Genus #3 and Genus #4. just how far down the tree do you think he should have drawn the “family” circles and the “genus” circles?

    No “howler” here. But Elizabeth ignores this contrary evidence because it dosn’t fit her narrative.

    Figure 2.12 on Page 43.

    Once again Meyer usesthe term phylum. Two groups, which both clearly include classes and genera. There are no circles to be found, at the tips or anywhere else.

    No “howler” here. But Elizabeth ignores this contrary evidence because it dosn’t fit her narrative.

    So what does Elizabeth do? She cherry-picks a diagrem from Chaper 7.

    Figure 7.3 on Page 144.

    Even that diagram contradicts her narrative, but in true “skeptic” style she ignores that contrary evidence as well and forges ahead.

    On the right side of the diagram Meyer has, you guessed it, a phylum. It includes classes which include species. No “howler” here.

    But on the left hand side Elizabeth spies all the evidence she needs to convince her that the book can be ignored.

    1. There are groups labelled phyla, not phylum.

    2. While each “phyla” is drawn to include classes, the circles representing the “phyla” do not extend all the way to wherever on the drawing Elizabeth thinks they should extend.

    This is Meyer’s “howler.” And from this meagre bit of “evidence” Elizabeth claims to know that Meyer is ignorant of phylogenetics.

    That’s a bit of a stretch, imo.

    51
    MungSeptember 28, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    Mung:

    Do you mean to say that a phylum must include all no longer extant organisms which are believed to have given rise to the living members of the phylum?

    wd400:

    A taxon includes an ancestral species and all it’s descendants.

    Obviously, molecular phylogenies are (usually) limited to extant species (the tips), but that doesn’t change the definition of a taxon.

    You didn’t answer the question. Or you did, and you agree with me, but don’t want to appear like you agree with me.

    Please read my response to Elizabeth @50. In particular, see if you can help her draw where the circles in Meyer’s 7.3 ought to be.

    So as long a Meyer’s phyla each include an ancestral species and it’s descendants they qualify as a taxon. So where’s the howler?

    52
    MungSeptember 28, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Further on Meyer’s alleged “howler.”

    Elizabeth, unfortunately for the case you are trying to make against Meyer, the facts are against you.

    > Defining the crown group as the phylum is convenient mechanistically, as it is straightforward to apply and avoids the difficulty of of how to separate members of sister phyla near their divergence from a common ancestor. It focuses on that part of the tree of life that includes extant animals and for which, therefore, molecular evidence is available. Restricting the concept of a phylum to the crown group as advocated by Budd and Jensen (2000) also has a number of drawbacks … >

    Figure 1A from their paper looks suspiciously like Meyer’s “howler.” Maybe they don’t understand phylogenetics either.

    > Debates about the Cambrian radiation have stimulated a debate over how “phyla” might be defined at all. One view bases a definition of phylum (or class) on the crown group and excludes stem groups as plesions. This has the advantage of objectivity and ensures that molecular data are available for the whole taxon except where primitive survivors pull fossil taxa into the crown clade.>

    Wonderful strife: systematics, stem groups, and the phylogenetic signal of the Cambrian radiation

    cf.

    A critical reappraisal of the fossil record of the bilaterian phyla.

    The Cambrian Fossil Record and the Origin of the Phyla >>
    ________

    Seems there is more than one side to this story.

    But, while we are chasing away at a red herring led away to a strawman and soaked in ad hominems to be burned to poison and polarise the atmosphere, there is this, which is being missed, from Meyer, which is the main point, DD 142 – 3:

    Darwin thought that the first representatives of the the higher taxonomic categories emerged after the emergence of the first representatives of each of the lower taxa . . . Instead, the first Cambrian animal forms are different enough from each other to justify classifying them as separate classes, subphyla, and phyla from their first appearance int eh fossil record (see Fig. 7.3. [i.e. p. 144])

    This pattern creates an acute difficulty for the theory of punctuated equilibrium. [--> also] First, due to the action of allopatric speciation and species selection, advocates of punctuated equilibrium envision morphological change . . . arising in larger, more discontinuous increments of change, Nevertheless, like neo-Darwinists, they too see phyla-level differences arising from the “bottom up,” starting with lower level taxonomic differences — albeit occurring in increments involving whole new species rather than individuals or varieties within species. Indeed, according to the theory of punctuated equilibrium, allopatric speciation first produces new species in geographically isolated populations . . . For represenatives of higher taxonomic categories to arise, these new species must accumulate new traits and evolve further.

    While you were busy straining at a gnat, you swallowed a camel.

    KF

  76. Jerad,

    For our solar system’s 10^57 atoms for 10^17 s changing state at the fastest rate for chem rxns (ionic) we see the entire set of possible observations standing as a one straw size blind sample to a cubical haystack 1,000 light years across [as thick as the galactic centre] relative to the number of configs accessible to 500 bits. For 1,000 bits, the capacity of the observable cosmos is even more dramatically swallowed up. That is the basis for thresholds of 500 – 1,000 bits.

    KF

  77. There does seem to be a problem with diagrams, though the fundamental point in the text is quite correct, as I have quoted. As well, in comparing 2.11, 7.3 and 2.12, I note that in 2.11 all three branches from a common point as circled, which looks a lot like he has captured the main point.

    You sound a lot like someoine looking for an error to dismiss, nto to engage the substantial matter.

    I have fully engaged in the substantial matter, KF.

    The error is not confined to the diagrams, it is repeated over and over again in the text, including of course text in which he draws attention to the diagrams.

    He writes:

    Darwin’s theory implied that as new animal forms first began to emerge from a common ancestor, they would at first be quite similar to each other, and that large differences in the forms of life – what palaeontologists call disparity – would only emerge much later as the result of the accumulation of many incremental changes.

    Which is correct.

    He then says this:

    In its technical sense, disparity refers to the major differences in form that separate the higher-level taxonomic categories such as phyla, classes, and orders.

    But this is only true when considering later members of taxonomic group – they all start similar at the root.

    But let’s assume he means “later members of the taxonomic group” for now…

    He then says:

    In contrast, the term diversity refers to minor differences among organisms classified as different genera or species.

    Well, not always. Disparity can be part of the measure of diversity, but let that pass for now and use his definition…

    Put another way, disparity refers to life’s basic themes; diversity refers to the variations on those themes. The more body plans in a fossil assembly, the greater the disparity.

    Yes.

    But now:

    According to Darwin’s theory, the differences in form, or “morphological distance,” between evolving organisms should increase gradually over time as small-scale variations accumulate by natural selection to produce increasingly complex forms and structures (including, eventually, new body plans). In other words, one would expect small-scale differences or diversity among species to precede large-scale morphological disparity among phyla.

    Yes, but only if we define phyla as later members of the taxonomic group.

    This is important. In both his diagram, and in his text, he is saying that phyla are separated from each other by a large morphological distance which is true if they are defined as later members of the taxonomic group. But not if they are defined as they are defined in biology. If they are defined as they are defined in biology they will be very similar near the node.

    He then says:

    In [Darwin's] view, this process [of modification by natural selection] would continue until it produced differences in form that were great enough that taxonomists would classify them as new classes or phyla. In short, diversity would preceded disparity, and phyla-level differences would only emerge after species-, genus-, family-, order-, and class- level differences appeared.

    No. Here is his problem. Using his idiosyncratic (i.e. wrong) definition of phyla, classes, etc, this makes no sense. If we do it his way, then (look at his diagram) we only recognise a phylum once it contains classes, and we only recognise classes once they are contained in a phylum. So using his nomenclature (wrong), they would happen at the same time. Or, any time he choose to circle, it seems.

    Using the correct nomenclature he has it precisely backwards. According to common descent, the roots of phyla will appear first, then classes, then orders, then families, then genera, etc. Sure, two phyla look pretty similar when you compare them near the root, but that’s precisely what Common Descent predicts. By the time they have diverged, and are “morphologically distant” then of course a great deal of time has passed, and they contains classes, orders etc as well. But that doesn’t mean the phyla came later. The basal nodes of the phyla of course preceded the subsequently nested classes, orders etc, just we would expect under Common Descent.

    So what we see in the fossil record (and which he draws crudely but more or less correctly) is exactly what fits with Common Descent.

    Meyer tries to say that Common Descent predicts the opposite, but that is because he has got his terminology confused, as is evident in both text and diagrams.

    Yes, it is incompetent. I think it’s absolutely amazing that a man with no training in palaeontology thinks he can write an important book about palaeontology without even getting the basic terminology and concepts of the domain correct.

  78. KF, quoting Meyer:

    For represenatives of higher taxonomic categories to arise, these new species must accumulate new traits and evolve further.

    Nope. He’s still wrong.

    For there to be “higher taxonomic categories”, then sure, species must accumulate new traits. But then it is the entire species that becomes the “higher taxonomic category” not just the organisms with “new traits” – these in fact will be part of what was a single “species” but is now labeled as a “phylum” or whatever.

    I think what’s gone wrong here is that Meyer is so hooked on the “ladder” view of evolution that he can’t get it into his head that “higher” doesn’t mean “more complex” or “more evolved” but simply category that includes sub-categories.

    So how are we supposed to believe anything else he says, when he gets this so completely wrong?

  79. For our solar system’s 10^57 atoms for 10^17 s changing state at the fastest rate for chem rxns (ionic) we see the entire set of possible observations standing as a one straw size blind sample to a cubical haystack 1,000 light years across [as thick as the galactic centre] relative to the number of configs accessible to 500 bits. For 1,000 bits, the capacity of the observable cosmos is even more dramatically swallowed up. That is the basis for thresholds of 500 – 1,000 bits.

    I don’t immediately see the importance of this for the particular topic, i.e. a clarification of what you meant by ‘marginally plausible’ in a particular context. I guess you’ve generalised the discussion to the same old talking point. Probably my mistake to think you were being more specific when you were talking about

    Do the calc on numbers of new cell types needed from a single celled original form, thence new proteins, and compare the numbers on observed animals. You will see that the calc gets you to the low end on order of mag, and the observations are in the 100+ Mbit range. You will see an example in Meyer 2004.

    And before that:

    It can in fact be calculated that a new body plan, the relevant issue, will take about 10 – 100+ mn bits of new genetic info to account for unfolding the body plan from zygote or equivalent, and to provide cell types, tissues, organs and tightly integrated systems.

    It’s the math involved in the body plan quote I’m most interested in. I’d like to really nail that down: how many bit of new genetic ‘info’ does it take?

    Are you sure you don’t have any academic references? Otherwise it’s just all you think vs I think.

  80. Lower on the tree? Higher in the sense of a patriarch?

    Pardon my intrusion if I’m talking rot. It’s certainly a subject I know nothing about.

  81. If you picture the tree as a tree (root down), then a phylum will start lower on the tree than a genus.

    If you want to count number of twigs on a phylum, it will tend to be bigger than that of a genus.

    If you want to estimate the distance between one phylum and another, the answer will depend whether you measure near they it start or somewhere near where they finish.

  82. EL:

    For there to be “higher taxonomic categories”, then sure, species must accumulate new traits. But then it is the entire species that becomes the “higher taxonomic category” not just the organisms with “new traits” – these in fact will be part of what was a single “species” but is now labeled as a “phylum” or whatever.

    Nope, if an original species acquires such a load of new traits, it is no longer THE species, but a (much branched) descendant. If there is a howler here, it is yours, methinks.

    Looking back at Meyer’s 2.11, p. 42, and laying aside the exact status of his circles for a moment, we can see the point. A circled cluster of particular related forms enfolds a set of species. As the hypothesised — NOT observed — process of macro evo proceeds, we move from one species to THAT SPECIES PLUS ITS DESCENDANT CLUSTER. In the second stage we have one cluster labelled Genus 1. By the third, new branches appear BELOW it, and within it. It is now higher on the tree. In the fourth, we can see ongoing branching and pruning back, presumably due to extinctions.

    And, Genus 1 and 2 form a cluster by contrast with 3 and 4, so we now have two families, perhaps like dogs vs cats.

    Blend in a further factor, that taxonomical clusters should be based on observed clusters, and we can see one possible reason why he has drawn circles that cut in at a point above a single point ancestral node.

    If the ancestral node is hypothesised rather than observed, it is in fact outside the circle of observed species in a higher level group. So, I can see a possible reason why he could argue for circling the OBSERVED family but not all the way back to the root species, presumably not observed. And presumably with somewhat distinct characteristics that may not fit a pattern developed form observations. (Down that line lies the stem vs crown group issue, i.e. there would be a different cluster-able group emerged BELOW the “Genus 1,” etc. Meyer did not circle, but that is not unreasonable. And indeed we can then see a pattern where a bigger yet circle might enfold the above and below. Providing you have observational evidence.)

    If the presumed root species is not observed, it is inferred not observed.

    And that would extend to higher levels of classification.

    Meyer makes the strong emphasis on p. 41 that on Darwin’s explanation of his original tree diagram, diversity would precede disparity, i.e. morphological differentiation should expand across time from initially small differences to later larger differences reflected in higher classifications.

    Of course the whole point of 42 – 43 is to show that disparity precedes diversity.

    That was known to Darwin with specific reference tot he Cambrian but he expected new fossil finds to produce the pattern he predicted. As the fossil findings became more and more representative, the gaps would be filled.

    But instead, 150 years later [+ 250,000 fossil species, and millions of examples in museums with billions of similar specimens in the ground], we have seen the disparity first pattern reinforced.

    Hence the continued relevance of the Cambrian fossil revolution issue.

    KF

  83. KF:

    Nope, if an original species acquires such a load of new traits, it is no longer THE species, but a (much branched) descendant. If there is a howler here, it is yours, methinks.

    Right. So we don’t actually call an ancient branching a branching into two “species”, but it is nonetheless a “speciation event”, whether it happened recently that all we have now is two species, or so long ago that what we have now are two phyla.

    And the organisms that comprise that phyla are called members of that phyla whether they come from the root of the branch or the tip. And if two organisms, one from each of two phyla, coexisted near the root they would have been very similar. And if they coexisted near the tip, they would have been very different.

    Meyer can’t have it both ways.

    But I appreciate you taking this seriously, KF. Someone on the ID side needs to take a good look at this.

    Looking back at Meyer’s 2.11, p. 42, and laying aside the exact status of his circles for a moment, we can see the point. A circled cluster of particular related forms enfolds a set of species. As the hypothesised — NOT observed — process of macro evo proceeds, we move from one species to THAT SPECIES PLUS ITS DESCENDANT CLUSTER. In the second stage we have one cluster labelled Genus 1. By the third, new branches appear BELOW it, and within it. It is now higher on the tree. In the fourth, we can see ongoing branching and pruning back, presumably due to extinctions.

    Well, drawing 2.11 is particularly awful, but I think it is supposed to represent the same true at different times.

    So branches can’t appear “below” or it makes no sense at all. I think the branches on the left and right at the lowest level are supposed to be the same branches in every drawing. That’s the only way I can make any sense of it at all.

    But what he seems to be trying to say in that drawing that when a branch initially gets going, it would be called a species, then, when it’s been going a bit longer, and has some sub-branches, we’d call it something else. But that’s nonsense because taxonomy is all retrospective. What we have is the fully grown tree, and from our vantage point we can see that what were two little species actually gave rise to two huge branching lineages with sub branches, and so we now call everything on one branch one “phylum” and everything on the other branch another.

    Blend in a further factor, that taxonomical clusters should be based on observed clusters, and we can see one possible reason why he has drawn circles that cut in at a point above a single point ancestral node.

    Well, no. This doesn’t make any sense. In any case, it is completely unclear what the drawing is supposed to represent – if it is supposed to represent what we actually have fossils of, then it shouldn’t be continuous. If it is supposed to represent what someone thinks actually occurred, then the portions labeled with a taxon should be a complete clade. They aren’t.

    Sorry, KF, there is simply no excuse for these drawings. Meyer probably didn’t draw them himself, but he must have commissioned them from drawings he wanted, and then looked at them carefully when he wrote the text. And indeed, he draws attention to the very features that are erroneous to make his point.

    Meyer makes the strong emphasis on p. 41 that on Darwin’s explanation of his original tree diagram, diversity would precede disparity, i.e. morphological differentiation should expand across time from initially small differences to later larger differences reflected in higher classifications.

    Yes, and it does. Low down in the tree there are fewer branches; higher in the tree there are more. But low in the tree the “morphological distance” between the “disparate” groups is as close as it is between “lower” taxa further up the tree.

    So the only “disparity” problem is created by the artefact of nomenclature – in living species, members of different phyla are more “morphologically distant” from each other than members of the same phylum are from each other.

    But we cannot extrapolate from living species to the point when the same two phyla had only just separated from each other. To a fictitious contemporary taxonomist they would just be two species, very similar, perhaps one with a two-ended nerve, one with a three, or five.

    Look a few hundred million years later and the descendents of the organism with a two-ended nerve have a spinal chord, and the descendents of the five-ended nerve column is starfish.

    Very “morphologically distant” at the ends – and, we would say “disparate”, but not at the time where it matters. So diversity does precede disparity, just as Common Descent predicts, and just as the record shows.

    There is no “disparity first” pattern. There is simply a “higher taxonomic group first” pattern, which is entirely an artefact of the terminology.

  84. Elizabeth, I have just a few questions for you:

    Do you think these diagrams that you find so egregiously wrong are intended by Meyer to be actual cladograms or phylogenetic trees, and if so, which are which?

    Do you think that in doing so Meyer intended to represent only monopyletic groupings?

    Do you know what an abstraction is?

    How about a pedagogical illustration?

    The Role of Abstraction in Scientific Illustration: Implications for Pedagogy

    Don’t you think you’re trying to make a mountain out of a molehill?

  85. Mung:

    Do you think these diagrams that you find so egregiously wrong are intended by Meyer to be actual cladograms or phylogenetic trees, and if so, which are which?

    No, I don’t think they are supposed to be actual anything. It’s a major fault of the book that he doesn’t actually provide any actual computed cladograms.

    They seem largely to be general sketches of a principle (styled to look “back-of-the-envelope”), and some are supposed to indicate what “we would expect” under some theory that Meyer doesn’t believe.

    Do you think that in doing so Meyer intended to represent only monopyletic groupings?

    I have very little idea what he intended to represent, but he certainly misrepresented the concept of a phylum, genus and family.

    Nothing in the text indicates that he is deliberately only circling branches that he thinks have extant or fossil representatives, and in any case that would be meaningless as they aren’t specific anyway, just generic branchy things.

    Do you know what an abstraction is?

    Of course. But if these drawings are “abstractions” they are “abstractions” of a mistake.

    How about a pedagogical illustration?

    A pedagogical illustration should clearly represent what it is supposed to teach. If these illustrations are supposed to teach something, then they are teaching something wrong.

    Ironically, the drawings on which they seem to have been based are not nearly as bad.

  86. Don’t you think you’re trying to make a mountain out of a molehill?

    Only in the sense that Meyer’s book is unlikely to be read by many people and certainly will have zero impact on the field of palaeontology, except possibly to distract the odd palaeontologist from her work in order to pen an exasperated review.

    But it certainly isn’t a “molehill” in the view. Meyer bases a very large part of his book on his “hey disparity is supposed to follow diversity, and, look disparity comes first!” argument, which is nonsense.

    It only appears to make sense because Meyer thinks that phylum (or other “higher” taxon)=a group of organisms very different from another group, and that “phyla” also appeared before “genera”.

    Without apparently noticing that when the phyla appeared they didn’t consist of “a group of organisms very different from another group”. And compounding his error by only circling round the late arrivals on the branch and calling only those organisms members of a phyla, not the ones at the root.

    And,to boot, circling paraphyletic groups.

  87. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Right. So we don’t actually call an ancient branching a branching into two “species”, but it is nonetheless a “speciation event”, whether it happened recently that all we have now is two species, or so long ago that what we have now are two phyla.

    sigh. You are so confused.

    Two sister species do not two phylum make, whether now or in the past. Talk about errors in logic.

    To quote, once again, Briggs and Fortey (2005):

    There are, by definition, no extinct phyla – only clades with living representatives merit phylum status.

    And to quote from Figure 1:

    Extinct taxa A to D belong to the stem group, but are not part of the phylum. The phylum is defined by five synapomorphies; extinct taxon D, which has just one fewer, is disqualified from membership.

    p.s. And whether it was a speciation event back then or a speciation even now they are still two different sister species. Just because it happened “back then” doesn’t make them not species.

  88. Elizabeth, it’s pretty funny to me how now it’s about what Meyer wrote, not the drawings.

    Do you think it has escaped our attention that you quote Meyer twice in your OP, and as near as I can tell disagree with neither of those quotes? Perhaps if you had restricted your critique to the text… For example:

    Meyer:

    The actual pattern in the fossil record, however, contradicts this expectation (compare Fig. 2.12 to Fig 2.11b). Instead of more species eventually leading to more genera, leading to more families, orders, classes and phyla, the fossil record shows representatives of separate phyla appearing first followed by lower-level diversification on those basic themes.

    “Well, of course it does, Dr Meyer!” – Elizabeth Liddle.

    Of course, that’s a matter of fact, not one of logic, wouldn’t you agree?

  89. Elizabeth, so you agree with Meyer then, that disparity precedes diversity?

  90. No, of course I don’t.

    And yes, two sister groups precisely DO a phylum (or rather two phyla) make if they happened in the remote past and have branched many times since then, generating subgroup after subgroup

    But at the time of branching they will be morphologically close.

    You seem to be as confused as Meyer.

    Who is hugely overcomplicating things. It is very simple:

    Common descent says that organisms start similar, and branch out, becoming more diverse.

    Each big branch is given a “higher taxon” label, and sub branches “lower” taxon” labels.

    Everything on the branch is given that label, although some might be referred to as “stem” groups rather than “crown” groups. It makes no difference.

    What we see is what makes sense under Common Descent. Relabeling things makes no difference to the actual observations which form a tree.

  91. The text matches the figures Mung.

    The mistake is in both. He seems to think that Common Descent predicts something other than what we observe. It doesn’t.

  92. “Elizabeth, so you agree with Meyer then, that disparity precedes diversity?” – Mung

    “No, of course I don’t.” – Elizabeth

    But that’s a question of fact, right? So you may be wrong.

    The radiation of animal life in the early Paleozoic reflects a proliferation of body plans more than a multiplication of species. Two of the principle conclusions of James W. Valentine’s research on the Paleozoic biosphere are that morphological diversification (i.e., increase in morphological disparity) is concentrated early in the history of animal phyla, and that clades show different patterns of morphological diversification depending on their level in the taxonomic hierarchy. …some recent studies based explicitly on morphological data point to the same conclusions as the taxonomic studies…morphological diversification is most rapid early in the history of several major animal groups. …There is also evidence that subclades within these major groups attained their maximal morphological disparity more gradually than the more inclusive clade.

    – Mike Foote. Evolutionary Paleobiology

  93. Mung, its obvious EL is not constrained by facts, or by fairness. Meyer must be indicted as leader of a dangerous heresy as an enemy of humanity and found guilty. By any means necessary. That much is obvious. He’s guilty, let’s find some evidence to hook it on. KF

  94. kf,

    She began her assault against Meyer by asserting he didn’t know the difference between phyla and phylum. A statement so obviously wrong and so obviously contradicted by the very evidence she was attempting to use against him that the true objective was immediately apparent.

    Make it seem as if the book wasn’t even worth picking up, much less given a serious reading.

    Of course, she was “preaching to the choir” over there at TSZ, and none of the “skeptics” I encountered (excluding Elizabeth) had read the book or even intended to read it anyways. And now I have serious reservations about whether Elizabeth really read it herself.

    But facts will speak for themselves. :)

    There have been numerous quantitative studies of morphologic disaparity since the early 1990s, and many (but not all) have identified a pattern of great, even maximal disparity early in clade histories. Our qualitative reading of the diversification patterns for the Cambrian clades discussed in this chapter suggests that these explosion groups generally followed this same disparity pattern.

    …We have tended to use a Linnaean framework precisely because great early disparity was the common mode shown during he explosion.

    – Erwin and Valentine. The Cambrian Explosion

    Techniques developed to quantify the increased morphological diversity (what paleontologists term disparity) found during the Cambrian explosion have recently been applied to Ediacaran organisms. … As in the Cambrian radiation (chap. 6), morphologic disparity increased more rapidly than taxic diversity.

    – Erwin and Valentine. The Cambrian Explosion

  95. Mung,
    Two sister species do not two phylum make, whether now or in the past.

    The event that splits two phyla is speciation event, so indeed Elizabeth is right and you are confused.

  96. KF,

    I don’t think you get it either. “Family 1″ is not a family, where ever you cut in the line for circle, because it is not monophyletic. There is really no argument that it’s a mistake.

  97. I remember when Elizabeth Liddle was defending Dawkins and his slippery behaviour in dodging debating Craig. Dawkins contradicted himself and his reasons but Liddle was there defending Dawkins slippery behaviour.

    I see she is looking for crumbs to discredit Meyer and the less that is said about her own cesspool of a site the better.

  98. She began her assault against Meyer by asserting he didn’t know the difference between phyla and phylum.

    No, I did not. Mung, this is a blatant untruth. And I am pretty sure you know it. If not, you have no excuse not to.

    You know perfectly well that I did not BEGIN “my assault against Meyer by asserting he didn’t know the difference between phyla and phylum”. It is clear from the record that I made a snarky remark as a throwaway line on an ETA on a long and substantial post several days after my original post and corrected it, to point out that he merely gets it wrong on that particular diagram. Which he does.

    As you perfectly well know, the context was my drawing attention to a howler of a mistake in the diagram itself, but rather than tackle this howler, you bugged me for weeks about the fact that I had implied that Meyer didn’t “know” the difference whereas in fact he had merely made a proof-reading error, despite the fact that I readily acknowledged your correction.

    I have to say, Mung, your insistence on this utter distraction does not do your case any favours. As my original comment said, the mistake about the singular is utterly trivial compared with the mistake in the diagram itself.

    Yet you poke away at the mote, despite the fact that it has been acknowledged and corrected, and ignore the beam.

  99. I remember when Elizabeth Liddle was defending Dawkins and his slippery behaviour in dodging debating Craig. Dawkins contradicted himself and his reasons but Liddle was there defending Dawkins slippery behaviour.

    I see she is looking for crumbs to discredit Meyer and the less that is said about her own cesspool of a site the better.

    What?

    Crumbs? It’s his entire argument!

    And yes, I do recall that debate about Craig. Dawkins understandably refused to debate man who thinks it is morally obligatory to commit genocide if commanded to do so by God.

    I’m no Dawkins fan, but rather Dawkins than Craig.

  100. Mung, its obvious EL is not constrained by facts, or by fairness. Meyer must be indicted as leader of a dangerous heresy as an enemy of humanity and found guilty. By any means necessary. That much is obvious. He’s guilty, let’s find some evidence to hook it on. KF

    This is nonsense, KF. The FACTS are that Meyer has made a huge mistake in his book. He has misunderstood the basics of taxonomy, phylogeny and the relationship between the two, as is evident from both his blatantly wrong diagrams and the text that he accompanies them with.

    Nobody is apparently prepared to actually defend it, but instead, attacks the messenger. That is a true “ad hominem” actually – “never mind the argument, the women just has it in for Meyer”.

    No, I don’t. To attribute this view to me: “Meyer must be indicted as leader of a dangerous heresy as an enemy of humanity and found guilty” is completely unsupported by any evidence what so ever.

    It should go without saying that it is not my view.

  101. Mung:

    “Elizabeth, so you agree with Meyer then, that disparity precedes diversity?” – Mung

    “No, of course I don’t.” – Elizabeth

    But that’s a question of fact, right? So you may be wrong.

    The radiation of animal life in the early Paleozoic reflects a proliferation of body plans more than a multiplication of species. Two of the principle conclusions of James W. Valentine’s research on the Paleozoic biosphere are that morphological diversification (i.e., increase in morphological disparity) is concentrated early in the history of animal phyla, and that clades show different patterns of morphological diversification depending on their level in the taxonomic hierarchy. …some recent studies based explicitly on morphological data point to the same conclusions as the taxonomic studies…morphological diversification is most rapid early in the history of several major animal groups. …There is also evidence that subclades within these major groups attained their maximal morphological disparity more gradually than the more inclusive clade.

    See what I did there? Foote use the two words interchangeably.

    You can word-lawyer all you like, Mung, but it does not alter the fact that Common Descent predicts, and the fossil record shows, increasing diversity as time goes by, with increasing “morphological distance” between extant members of any one branch and those of any other.

    So if you define “disparity” as “phyla”, then, clearly, disparity will tend to decrease, as phyla won’t generate new phyla, but may go extinct.

    But defined that way, it ceases to make Meyer’s point, because at the time when the phyla appearing they were much more similar than the members of those phyla at a later time (and, in any case, he seems terminally confused, as he keeps drawing them as though they only refer to the later groups).

    Defined as the number of taxa in a population, disparity keeps on growing.

    I’m happy to use any definition you like, or Meyer likes, as long as he, and you, stick with it. But you can’t define it one way at one time (“morphological distance”) and another at another time (“number of phyla”) and then try to pretend that what applies to one meaning must also apply to the other.

    Before the phyla had diversified they were much more similar than they were after they had.

    Which is exactly in accord with the expectation under Common Descent.

  102. “Dawkins understandably refused to debate man who thinks it is morally obligatory to commit genocide if commanded to do so by God.”

    But that wasn’t the reason why dawkins ducked debate, he kept changing his reasons and you were defending dawkins even though his contradictions and dishonesty were exposed and as an atheist you have no grounds to make moral judgements agains anyone, You are inconsistent in your Atheism.

    Anyway it is off topic and I don’t want to derail the thread so I will get the popcorn and watch you desperately chasing those crumbs.

  103. I defended him on the those grounds. I don’t recall defending him on any others.

    And your assertion that I have no grounds for making moral judgements because I am an atheist is absurd.

    And yes, it is off topic.

  104. The tree of life portrayed by the fossil record is the evidence of paraphyletic orgins.

    Whether we like it or not, thus far, the fossil record is our only tangible evidence, and, under these circumstances, IMO, hypothetical models and simulations in the absence of physical evidence should not be admissible.

    Granted, the UCA model is logical, but only if we are assuming a singular origin of life. Eventually, someone will produce some viable paraphyletic simulations and models of origins, especially if it turns out that adaptive mechanisms are pre-programmed, as they appear to be.

    Nevertheless, the trunk of the tree is completely missing, and much of the major branches we first observe in the fossil record are missing their base portions.

    The fact is, bau-plan evolution (the skeletal system, our evidence) is one way, reductive; and, the deep time pattern is overwhelmingly by simplification of bauplan organization (reduction of skeletal elements-decent with modification).

    The evidence for accent with modification, at least at the bauplan level (skeletal system), is absent.

  105. wd400:

    The event that splits two phyla is speciation event, so indeed Elizabeth is right and you are confused.

    You and Elizabeth can’t even get on the same page, so it’s hard to believe either of you when you accuse me of being confused.

    There is no such thing as an event that splits two phyla, I don’t care what you choose to call it. Your choice of words was perhaps just a poor one?

    Care to rephrase?

  106. Yes, there is, Mung. It’s called a speciation event.

    wd400 are entirely on the same page.

    Everytime a population divides into two separately evolving subpopulation it’s a “speciation event” and the two resulting populations are at first very similar.

    If it happened long enough ago, eventually the lineages will be vastly different, and we will call them different phyla. But at the root it was a speciation event.

    At least that is the theory. And it is supported by the fossil record. The problem Meyer sees is an artefact of his own misunderstanding.

  107. littlejohn: all models are hypothetical, that’s why they are called “hypotheses”.

    And they are certainly “admissable”. Science is based on them.

  108. wd400:

    I don’t think you get it either. “Family 1? is not a family, where ever you cut in the line for circle, because it is not monophyletic. There is really no argument that it’s a mistake.

    There’s an argument that both you and Elizabeth have made a mistake in interpretation. That’s where the mistake is.

    Do you really think these drawings are meant to be cladograms or phylogenetic trees? If so, why?

    Let’s go back to Figure 2.8, for example, and cast our eyes on the text “idealized representation.”

    And then let’s move forward to Fig 2.11 where there’s no hint that this is meant to be a cladogram or phylogenetic tree. It’s an illustration!

    And then there’s Fig. 2.12. Again, no claim that it’s a cladogram or a phylogenetic tree. In fact, if you look at the axes it’s an illustration of morphological change over time.

    And then on to the infamous Fig. 7.3, with the horizontal arrow labelled changes in form.

    These diagrams are not intended to be what you are faulting them for not being. The entire critique is a straw-man. They are not phylogenetic trees, and they are not cladograms, and were never intended to be interpreted as such.

    I’m sure if you just take the time to contact Dr. Meyer he’ll confirm this.

  109. There is no such thing as an event that splits two phyla

    Of course there is. Taxa, at whatever level, are defined by their shared common ancestors. Take two sister-phyla and trace them back through time you’ll arrive at a shared-common ancestor. That’s the splitting event. When the split happened in formed two new species.

  110. WD400, the clades are based — necessarily — on observations. There is a consistent pattern of lack of deeper connecting nodes in these trees. Do I need to remind of Gould’s observations on gaps? I put it to you that the inferred macroevolutionary roots of the groups are just that, inferred not observed. What we actually see are diverse animals with clusters of similar characteristics grouped per keys. That is why on a closer look I suggested that one way to look at Meyer’s groupings was that he was looping the (for sake of illustration, assumed . . . ) observed groups; the only ones whose characteristics could actually be used in a classification based on what we see rather than imagine. Of course he is giving an abstract picture, so it is all stylised and schematic. And in any case he is correct to point out that it is “top down” that we see in the Cambrian, and have seen for more than 150 years. KF

    PS: Someone above complains dismissively about simplified diagrams. I suggest such a one is either inexperienced badly with the need for toy examples in education [e.g. why would we start with a fixed bias circuit to explain how transistor amps work, when we know such are very poor design for serious work? why start accounts with simplistic sole traders and tee accounts? Why start programmingwith hello world? Why start reading with "see Spot run" -- and DON'T do the Kellogg diagram for it, which is horrendously complex . . . ], or is disingenuously looking for any hook to make a long since decided dismissal seem plausible to his fellow true believers and the naive. Judging by the slander games already in play, it does not look good.

  111. I love “idealised” diagrams that illustrate important points, and my papers often have more of them than editors would really like. But it’s very important that such diagrams accurately represent the processes they describe.

    These are not good diagrams. Not just because they are unclear but because they are inaccurate. The essence of modern taxonomy is about shared common ancestors and these trees, whatever else you think they are, are wrong. They certainly don’t show an ideal!

  112. WD400, I safely bet you cannot give us a case of a macroevolutionary tree that shows nodal connexions from actually observed ancestral unicellular root all the way up to phylum, with observed fossils and still existing species all the way. Until you do so, you are presenting ideology as fact. KF

  113. Elizabeth Liddle:

    If it happened long enough ago, eventually the lineages will be vastly different, and we will call them different phyla. But at the root it was a speciation event.

    To which phylum does the original species belong? Both?

    By the way, in case you missed it, you’re echoing Meyer.

    Eyes back on the ball please Elizabeth, there’s still the matter of the drawings to settle. Are the Cladograms? Phylogentic Trees? Neither? Both?

    You obviously have some standard of what they are supposed to look like in mind based upon what you think they are intended to represent, and I’d sure like to hear what that is.

  114. WD400, I safely bet you cannot give us a case of a macroevolutionary tree that shows nodal connexions from actually observed ancestral unicellular root all the way up to phylum, with observed fossils and still existing species all the way

    I don’t even know what this means – do you want an organism-by-organism chains from the ur-metazoan to each of the ~36 extant animal phyla? Or are you trying to say something else?

  115. Onlookers: Observe how far removed we are from addressing the root issue that in fact the observed pattern of life forms in the Cambrian layers shows phylum/basic body plan first, dozens of times over? Notice how the focus is shifted to attacking a person instead of addressing actual observationally grounded evidence? Guess why I have so often had to point to a darwinist rhetorical pattern of red herrings led away to strawmen soaked in ad hominems and set alight to cloud, poison and polarise. Remember also, it took a full year to get a half-hearted half answer to the challenge issued to actually observationally ground the tree of life pattern from root up, i.e. specifically OOL and origin of body plans on blind watchmaker chance and necessity. It seems to me that absent ideological a prioris, the whole scheme falls apart on examination. KF.

  116. WD400, I simply don’t believe you. You full well know the challenge is to observationally anchor development of a phylum from LUCA. Actually show the observationally grounded emergence of a major muticellular animal basic body plan. Not inferred and imagined or modelled, observed and backed up with the fossils. KF

  117. This is hilarious.

    Left to right, Genus 1 : Genus #1, Genus #2, Genus #3.

    The way it’s circled, is Genus 2 a monopyletic group?

    The way it’s circled, is Genus 3 a monopyletic group?

    Going further to the right, Genus 1 as member of Family 1 and Genus 2 as member of Family 1. Both Genera in Family 1 circled as monophyletic groups?

    I mean, seriously, your major critique of this drawing is that the circles aren’t all drawn as carefully as those four?

    Not that it matters. The drawing is an illustration.

    Figure 2.11b (bottom) Growth of the tree of life in the manner envisioned by Darwin with new species giving rise to new genera and families, eventually giving rise to new orders, classes and phyla (these higher taxonomic categories not depicted).

    Is that not what Darwin envisioned?

    Even Elizabeth has agreed, however reluctantly, that these first differences would only be classified as different Genera and Families, not as distinct Phyla. And that’s Meyer’s point. It should be non-controversial.

    But this is about trying to make Meyer look foolish.

    Now if you actually read the text, Meyer quotes Darwin himself to substantiate this claim.

    I’ll probably type it up, sigh, and hopefully put a stop to this foolishness. But until then bottom of p. 40 through p. 41.

  118. You full well know the challenge is to observationally anchor development of a phylum from LUCA.

    Ah… so you want 3 billion years of evolution minutely described in a comment box. Think the “onlookers” you are so concerned about can probably see through that challenge…

  119. wd400:

    Please give an example of an event that could split two phyla, preferably one that doesn’t involve the mind of some taxonomist with phyla merely being a way to classify organisms.

    Do you believe that phyla are real entities that can be separated by some event prior to the advent of humans and their attempts to classify the living world? Do you believe that phyla exist apart from human minds? Just asking.

    wd400:

    Take two sister-phyla and trace them back through time you’ll arrive at a shared-common ancestor. That’s the splitting event. When the split happened in formed two new species.

    So you’re emending your earlier comment? I thought you might.

    Mung:

    There is no such thing as an event that splits two phyla

    wd400:

    Of course there is.

    Don’t be absurd. You just back-tracked from your earlier statement and now you want to insist on owning it fully?

    You seemed to finally be on the same page with Elizabeth (sort of). Something, a population perhaps, splits and becomes two distinct species. There is no splitting of two phyla, there is no splitting of a population into two phyla.

    wd400:

    The event that splits two phyla is speciation event, so indeed Elizabeth is right and you are confused.

    What you are proposing is not even possible.

  120. According to Darwin’s theory, the differences in form, or “morphological difference,” between evolving organisms should increase gradually over time as small-scale variations accumulate by natural selection to produce increasingly complex forms and structures (including, eventually, new body plans). In other words, one would expect small-scale differences of diversity among species to precede large-scale morphological disparity among phyla. As the former Oxford University neo-Darwinian biologist Richard Dawkins puts it, “What had been distinct species within one genus become, in the fullness of time, distinct genera within one family. Later, families will be found to ahve diverged to the point where taxonomists (specialistgs in classification) prefer to call them orders, then classes, then phyla.”

    – Meyer, p. 40-41

    This is the context of Figure 2.11 on page 42.

    Given the context, kf has accurately described the efforts of EL et al. as straining a gnat to swallow a camel.

    How the circles are drawn are completely irrelevant to the point Meyer is making, which is the expected trajectory of differentiation, with minor difference (diversity within taxa) coming before major differences (disparity).

  121. continuing from 120:

    Darwin himself made this point in On the Origin of Species. Explaining his famous tree diagram (see Fig. 2.11a), he noted that it illustrated more than just the theory of universal common descent. The tree diagram also illustrated how higher taxa should emerge from lower taxa by the accumulation of numerous slight variations. He said, “The diagram illustrates the steps by which small differences distinguishing varieties are increased into larger differences distinguishing species.” He went on to assert that the process of modification by natural selection would eventually move beyond the formation of species and genera to form “two distinct families, or orders, according to the amount of divergent modification supposed to be represented in the diagram.”

    – Meyer, p. 42

    So, once more, we should consider the context of Fig. 2.11b. “Diagram-mining” is no better than quote-mining.

    Given the preceding text, is it just coincidence that 2.11b just happens illustrates two families? Probably not.

    Before you criticize a diagram, Elizabeth, you ought to consider the context and the intent of the author.

  122. @ EL
    I took the trouble to reread your post over at TSZ and I came away with the impression that you were terribly uncharitable and made no genuine effort to set aside your considerable prejudices so as to understand the point being made. As I am not a paleontologist, though, my criticism of your post will attempt to be modest. I should add that I didn’t bother to wade through all the preceding posts with any diligence, so I may inadvertently make critiques that have already been posted. My apologies if that is the case…

    Well, of course it does, Dr Meyer! You have just, in Chapter 2 of your fat book made an absolutely fundamental error of understanding of the entire principle of phylogenetics and taxonomy. No, of course you wouldn’t expect phyla to follow “lower-level diversification on those basic themes”. How could it possibly? And how could you possibly so fundamentally misunderstand the entire point of Darwin’s tree and its relationship to the nested hierarchies observe by Linnaeus?

    What a tiresome rant – you display all the characteristic restraint of an over-caffeinated, arrogant high school sophomore. Deficiencies of your prose aside, the principal shortcoming of your post is that you assume that the terminological difference between you and Meyer is purely a function of his stupidity. In your post you describe phyla in this manner:

    It’s because what we call phyla are groups of organisms with an early common ancestor, whose later descendents have evolved to form a group that has a large morphological distance from contemporary populations who descended from a different early common ancestor.

    The description you present clearly assumes as a starting point the evolutionary relatedness of organisms. So it’s really a loaded definition, and it wouldn’t make any sense for Meyer, writing a book critical of several aspects of contemporary evolutionary theory, to define phyla or any other level of classification in a manner that assumes the truth of evolutionary theory! Instead it seems that he employs a conception of phyla that uses morphology as its guide (the phenetic definition according to infallible Wikipedia) instead of putative evolutionary relatedness. On page 31 of Darwin’s Doubt he writes:

    The term “phyla” (singular: “phylum”) refers to divisions in the biological classification system. The phyla constitute the highest (or widest) categories of biological classification in the animal kingdom, with each exhibiting a unique architecture, organizational blueprint, or structural body plan.
    (Emphasis mine)

    So right in the beginning of the text, before any of the maligned diagrams, he makes it perfectly clear what he means by phyla. He also explicitly acknowledges that there are different ways classifying organisms – page 31 again:

    Throughout the book I will use these conventional categories of classification, as do most Cambrian paleontologists. Nevertheless, I am aware the some paleontologists and systematists (experts in classification) today prefer “phylogenetic classification,” a method that often uses a “rank-free” classification shceme. Advocates of modern phylogenetic classification argue that the traditional classification system lacks objective criteria by which to decide whether a certain group of organisms should be assigned a particular rank of, for example, phylum or class or order. Proponents of rank-free classification attempt to eliminate subjectivity in classification (and ranking) by grouping together animals that are thought, based on studies of similar molecules in different groups, to share a common ancestor.
    (Emphasis mine – internal citations removed)

    Grasping the distinction between the phylogenetic view and the phenetic view (and understanding that Meyer employs the latter view) removes the difficulty that you feel attends the several diagrams in the book. Really a careful reading of the text, combined with a careful examination of the diagrams makes their point quite clear. You write (in reference to 2.11):

    I’ve amended the drawings in the book as below, and, instead of labeling the trees by what a contemporary phylogeneticists[sic] might have called them, I’ve called each tree a phylum, and I’ve drawn round the organisms that constitute various subdivisions of phyla in colours from orange to green to represent successive branchings. Rather than the little bunch of twigs marked “families” by Meyer, I’ve indicated the entire clade for each subdivision, or tried to.

    As is evident in your caption, you take the phylogenetic view, oblivious to the fact that Meyer is using classification in a morphologically-oriented fashion. The second tree, marked genus #1, contains organisms similar enough in morphology that one might (on said grounds) group them as being in a single genus. Time passes and we arrive at tree three which contains genera #1-3. More evolution has taken place, and the extant organisms no longer fit into a single genus, necessitating the need for two more. By the time we reach tree number four there are four genera, #1&2 of which can be grouped as a family, #3&4 comprised in another family. As long as one bears in mind that these diagrams (and the book in general) utilize a morphological perspective (not a phylogenetic perspective) they are quite easy to understand (unless you read sloppily or have an axe to grind).
    In a sense your post (laden with suffocating condescension) is itself an excellent case study of the difficulty inherent in having a meaningful interaction with a viewpoint that challenges one’s own. While Meyer obviously has a point in mind to make, his use of terminology is much more neutral than is yours, which is clearly question-begging. So instead of reading the text carefully to find out why he uses the terms as he does, you simply upbraid him for being stupid and top it off with a snarky one-liner about not knowing the singular form of “phyla.” To your credit you corrected the error, but it nevertheless remains astonishing that you could make such a fuss over a typo (especially given that your OP is infested with them as a corpse is with maggots). And all this after stating that you are not qualified to judge factual errors. Simply disgraceful. But so that you do not feel too bad, here is a smiley face!:)

  123. ouch

  124. What is the moral difference between “diagram-mining” and “quote-mining”?

  125. As is evident in your caption, you take the phylogenetic view, oblivious to the fact that Meyer is using classification in a morphologically-oriented fashion

    All taxonomy is phylogenetic, and he’s trying to illustrate an explicitly phylogenetic story. That people are so keen to defend this is very strange.

  126. wd400:

    All taxonomy is phylogenetic

    simply. false.

    …he’s trying to illustrate an explicitly phylogenetic story.

    Yes. The Darwinian story.

    It doesn’t follow that all his diagrams are phylogenetic trees or cladograms, or even that any of them are phylogenetic trees or cladograms, or that any of them are even intended to be phylogenetic trees or cladograms, or whatever it is that you think they ought to be, a point which both you and Elizabeth have still failed to clarify.

    Was Fig. 2.11a intended by Darwin to be a phylogenetic tree or cladogram?

  127. “Nothing cramp’s one’s causal powers like not existing.” – Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini

    wd400:

    The event that splits two phyla is speciation event, so indeed Elizabeth is right and you are confused.

    An event has no effect on something that does not actually exist.

    Can we move on now?

  128. WD @ 125

    All taxonomy is phylogenetic, and he’s trying to illustrate an explicitly phylogenetic story. That people are so keen to defend this is very strange.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.....cladistics
    Evidently not

  129. Good like finding someone supporting phenetics classification these days – it’s mainly used as an insult now.

  130. Mung, if you aren’t confused then you are deeply confusing.

    If you were around at the time, say, the common ancestors of arthropods and velvet worms split you wouldn’t say they were different phyla. However, taxa are lineages so those species are members of different phyla.

    A phylum (or any other higher level taxon) is only a “thing” in the sense that it’s a natural lineage, the levels at which we draw the ranks is a purel human thing (species being the only exception, and the fundamental unit of biodiversity)

  131. Mung, there would be no “moral difference” and I was doing neither.

  132. Mung

    How the circles are drawn are completely irrelevant to the point Meyer is making, which is the expected trajectory of differentiation, with minor difference (diversity within taxa) coming before major differences (disparity).

    No, it isn’t “completely irrelevant to the point he is making”. The drawings are used to illustrates the points he is making (i.e. they are not simply there to decorate the page – he actually draws attention to them to make his points and invites to compare them).

    The expected trajectory of differentiation under Common Descent, is indeed, minor differences in a pair of lineages that gradually move further and further apart.

    And that is what we observe.

    Trying to imply that something else is what we observe by misapply taxonomic labels doesn’t make that go away.

    He is creating a problem where none exists.

  133. Optimus

    I took the trouble to reread your post over at TSZ and I came away with the impression that you were terribly uncharitable and made no genuine effort to set aside your considerable prejudices so as to understand the point being made.

    Yes, well, I’m not feeling very charitable towards Meyer, who frankly has no excuse for this book. He’s a smart guy, and he knows enough about science to know that you have to know a heck of a lot more about a science to be able to write a book overturning it. And I strongly suspect that he knows that his book is a logical mess, but thinks it serves some higher purpose anyway. After all, he has published under a religious imprint, not a science one.

    So in that sense you are correct. However, you are not correct that I made no attempt to understand the point being made. I always attempt to understand points being made, and made considerable effort here. I think he’s wrong. That is not a matter of “prejudice” it is a matter of, well, considering, on good grounds, that he is wrong.

    As I am not a paleontologist, though, my criticism of your post will attempt to be modest. I should add that I didn’t bother to wade through all the preceding posts with any diligence, so I may inadvertently make critiques that have already been posted. My apologies if that is the case…

    No problem. I am not a palaeontologist either.

    Well, of course it does, Dr Meyer! You have just, in Chapter 2 of your fat book made an absolutely fundamental error of understanding of the entire principle of phylogenetics and taxonomy. No, of course you wouldn’t expect phyla to follow “lower-level diversification on those basic themes”. How could it possibly? And how could you possibly so fundamentally misunderstand the entire point of Darwin’s tree and its relationship to the nested hierarchies observe by Linnaeus?

    What a tiresome rant – you display all the characteristic restraint of an over-caffeinated, arrogant high school sophomore. Deficiencies of your prose aside, the principal shortcoming of your post is that you assume that the terminological difference between you and Meyer is purely a function of his stupidity.

    No, I do not. He isn’t stupid. I think it’s worse than that.

    In your post you describe phyla in this manner:

    It’s because what we call phyla are groups of organisms with an early common ancestor, whose later descendents have evolved to form a group that has a large morphological distance from contemporary populations who descended from a different early common ancestor.

    The description you present clearly assumes as a starting point the evolutionary relatedness of organisms. So it’s really a loaded definition, and it wouldn’t make any sense for Meyer, writing a book critical of several aspects of contemporary evolutionary theory, to define phyla or any other level of classification in a manner that assumes the truth of evolutionary theory!

    Meyer describes what Common Descent predicts, wrongly. Clearly, if he is attempting to describe not what he believes, but what he thinks the people he disagrees with believe, then he needs to get that right.

    Instead it seems that he employs a conception of phyla that uses morphology as its guide (the phenetic definition according to infallible Wikipedia) instead of putative evolutionary relatedness. On page 31 of Darwin’s Doubt he writes:

    The term “phyla” (singular: “phylum”) refers to divisions in the biological classification system. The phyla constitute the highest (or widest) categories of biological classification in the animal kingdom, with each exhibiting a unique architecture, organizational blueprint, or structural body plan.

    (Emphasis mine)

    So right in the beginning of the text, before any of the maligned diagrams, he makes it perfectly clear what he means by phyla.

    Yes. And the point about that system is that it works because the features of organisms fall into a nested hierarchy, which demands some kind of explanation.

    One explanation is Common Descent. If Common Descent is the answer, then we would expect that the features common to all members of a taxon would be present in a common ancestor, but that features shared only by a subset (“derived” characters) would not be. Hence the term “primitive” characters for those features postulated to be possessed by the common ancestor.

    So Common Descent makes very clear predictions about the fossil record – the further back we go in time (dateable from the strata in which the fossils are found) the more we are likely to find fossils in which only the postulated “primitive” characters are found.

    And of course we do, which is why Common Descent is so well supported as an explanation for the nested hierarchy – the nesting is not only found in the features of extant organisms, but the prediction made by Common Descent as the explanation is supported by the time line of the fossils.

    He also explicitly acknowledges that there are different ways classifying organisms – page 31 again:

    Throughout the book I will use these conventional categories of classification, as do most Cambrian paleontologists. Nevertheless, I am aware the some paleontologists and systematists (experts in classification) today prefer “phylogenetic classification,” a method that often uses a “rank-free” classification shceme. Advocates of modern phylogenetic classification argue that the traditional classification system lacks objective criteria by which to decide whether a certain group of organisms should be assigned a particular rank of, for example, phylum or class or order. Proponents of rank-free classification attempt to eliminate subjectivity in classification (and ranking) by grouping together animals that are thought, based on studies of similar molecules in different groups, to share a common ancestor.
    (Emphasis mine – internal citations removed)

    Grasping the distinction between the phylogenetic view and the phenetic view (and understanding that Meyer employs the latter view) removes the difficulty that you feel attends the several diagrams in the book.

    No, it does not. If he were simply arguing that the “rank-free” approach (in other words the entire approach of phylogenetics) was misguided then he might have the makings of an interesting book. But he doesn’t. He just relegates the point to detail about what “convention” he is using. Yet it contaminates his entire argument about what he says is expected “under Common Descent”. What is expected under Common Descent is a blurring of categories at the root of each clade, with early organisms that possibly belong to phylum A or phylum B being sufficiently similar that it is hard to say to which lineage (or category) they belong. In other words, the “morphological distance” between members of phyla at the root of those phyla will be close.

    And so his argument that “disparity” as a measure of “morphological distance” is also a feature of the organisms in different phyla is undermined. It is only true if we refuse to categorise any organism as a member of a phylum until long after the phylum is postulated to have begun.

    But in that case, it renders his prediction “under Common Descent” wrong. As I keep saying, he can’t have it both ways.

    Really a careful reading of the text, combined with a careful examination of the diagrams makes their point quite clear. You write (in reference to 2.11):

    I’ve amended the drawings in the book as below, and, instead of labeling the trees by what a contemporary phylogeneticists[sic] might have called them, I’ve called each tree a phylum, and I’ve drawn round the organisms that constitute various subdivisions of phyla in colours from orange to green to represent successive branchings. Rather than the little bunch of twigs marked “families” by Meyer, I’ve indicated the entire clade for each subdivision, or tried to.

    As is evident in your caption, you take the phylogenetic view, oblivious to the fact that Meyer is using classification in a morphologically-oriented fashion.

    Obviously I do. But If we take Meyer’s idiosyncratic implied view, then he gets the prediction of Common Descent wrong.

    The second tree, marked genus #1, contains organisms similar enough in morphology that one might (on said grounds) group them as being in a single genus. Time passes and we arrive at tree three which contains genera #1-3. More evolution has taken place, and the extant organisms no longer fit into a single genus, necessitating the need for two more. By the time we reach tree number four there are four genera, #1&2 of which can be grouped as a family, #3&4 comprised in another family. As long as one bears in mind that these diagrams (and the book in general) utilize a morphological perspective (not a phylogenetic perspective) they are quite easy to understand (unless you read sloppily or have an axe to grind).

    I have no axe to grind. As I say, a “contemporary palaeontologist” would regard the first little shrub as something like a genus with species. By the time the whole tree is there, a much later palaeontologist would look at that same little shrub at the bottom of the whole tree and call its branches phyla.

    It’s not that the phyla emerge later, it’s that once the rest of the branches are present that we require more taxonomic ranks to represent the depth of nesting.

    So under Common Descent, we expect phyla divisions to precede species divisions. But we also expect the morphological distance between phyla to be less at the root (no more than between two recent species) than at the tip.

    And that is what we observe. We only don’t observe it if we use Meyer’s arbitrary paraphyletic circles. But if we use his terminology, then we would phrase the Common Descent prediction differently – the prediction would still be identical, and still match observation.

    In a sense your post (laden with suffocating condescension) is itself an excellent case study of the difficulty inherent in having a meaningful interaction with a viewpoint that challenges one’s own.

    It may well be. The book made me rather angry, I confess. But I agree that it is difficult to have a meaningful interaction with someone whose base viewpoint is very different, as is evident in this thread.

    While Meyer obviously has a point in mind to make, his use of terminology is much more neutral than is yours, which is clearly question-begging. So instead of reading the text carefully to find out why he uses the terms as he does, you simply upbraid him for being stupid and top it off with a snarky one-liner about not knowing the singular form of “phyla.” To your credit you corrected the error, but it nevertheless remains astonishing that you could make such a fuss over a typo (especially given that your OP is infested with them as a corpse is with maggots).

    I didn’t make a fuss over a typo. I tossed it off as a parenthesis on a one liner on an ETA, then corrected it. Mung has been doing the fussing.

    And all this after stating that you are not qualified to judge factual errors. Simply disgraceful.

    I am not qualified to judge factual errors regarding palaeontology.

    However, I am as qualified as anyone, including you, to judge whether the argument actually makes sense.

    Here is the problem as I see it as dispassionately and as clearly as I can make it:

    Meyer argues that under Common Descent we should see small morphological distances between lineages that become larger over time, as each lineage diversifies down separate lineages.

    Correct.

    He then argues that we don’t see this.

    Wrong.

    He bases his assertion that we don’t see it on the fact that “phyla” divisions, come before “lower taxa” such as “families” or “genera” in the fossil record.

    Correct.

    He then characterises phyla as groups separated by a “large morphological distance”, and thus argues that because phyla came before genera, then large distances came before small, in contradiction to the expectation under Common Descent.

    And here is the problem: if we define phyla “phylogenetically” then there is no contradiction – phyla were morphologically close when they started, AND they started before genera. So the expectation under Common Descent (small morphological distances before larger) holds, AND phyla before genera holds.

    But, alternatively, we don’t call something a phylum unless the morphological distance between phyla has become substantial, then the prediction under Common Descent still holds, because now, phyla don’t appear before genera.

    So he is equivocating. He cites evidence, based on phylogenetic usage, that phyla appeared before genera, to contradict the “prediction” that small morphological distance appear before large, even though, under that usage, phyla will be similar near their root. But under “phenetic” usage, we can’t identify phyla until there is a large morphological distance between them, in which case, they don’t appear too early for the prediction under common descent.

    Bottom line: Common Descent predicts that small differences will precede diversification. This is what we observe in the fossil record. What we call things is irrelevant to the straightforward match between prediction and observation.

    What IS true, however, is that many lineages that start don’t go anywhere, or go for a while then go extinct. So, as time goes on, early phyla (using phylogenetic terminology) will outnumber later phyla. So if we estimate “disparity” as “number of phyla” then disparity, by that definition, will decrease under Common Descent

    This is why it is so important to define terms clearly, and not equivocate between different meanings of the same terms. In my view, Darwin’s Doubt is a masterpiece of equivocation, and I think Meyer is smart enough to know this. That is why I express my disapproval in my post – not because I am “prejudiced” against his case (it would be cool if true) but because I don’t think he is being honest. I think the book is a piece of polemic disguised as reasonable argument, and the trick used is the oldest one in the book – equivocation with terms.

    But the diagrams are the giveaway.

    Anyway, I’d be delighted to continue this at the thread at TSZ, if anyone would like to come over. I think I’m done with this thread.

  134. Onlookers: do you notice the question-begging at work, unsurprising in the thought of a day in which science and its methods are often improperly question-beggingly redefined. Also, observe how we see no response to the challenge to provide observational warrant for the origin of a phylum from a unicellular common ancestor. Not, inference, imagination and assumptions or assertions, observation. In that context, whether or not it is currently in intellectual fashion to do so, the only objective basis for biological classification of life forms is based on observed populations, whether living or fossil. I freely argue in this light that the commonly encountered root node species that gives a one-point entry into a group of organisms is, as a rule, inferred not observed. Those who wish to dismiss me on the subject can simply provide an observationally warranted tree that shows per actually observed specimens of species [and not loaded inferences on ancestry through various assumptions boiling down to homology implies ancestry], the origin of at least one phylum from a common unicellular organism, or as close as we get to that. KF

  135. F/N: I see an invitation to go to the same TSZ that continues to host slander, such as this. Invitation refused, for cause. KF

  136. F/N 2: 3 bn yrs of inferred evo cannot be presented with diagrams in a comment box [and UD locks out comment diagrams -- at least so far as I gather], but a simple description and link or links can be placed in that comment. Or even, a 6,000 word or so summary with onward links. Why, it is even possible to link to a whole book, given the magic of PDF. (try, incoherence of the philosophers in English, here, which is also presented as html as a book here.) The attempted dismissal at 118 is little more than a disguised, discourteous admission that the required actually observed evidence does not exist. Optimus’ point in 122 that we have a lot of question begging going on is plainly on target. KF

  137. Dr. Liddle,

    I do not have a problem with models that are constructed/supported by direct observation (tangible evidence).

  138. “…no law of nature can apply to such entities as supraspecific taxa. Taxonomy is mere record keeping, and it involves neither laws nor causal explanations.” – Amundson, 2005.

  139. STRAW MAN ALERT!!!

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    Yet it contaminates his entire argument about what he says is expected “under Common Descent”. What is expected under Common Descent…

    I just re-read the entirety of chapter 2. Nowhere in it does Meyer employ the phrase “under Common Descent.” So where on earth did it come from, Elizabeth? Some other chapter perhaps?

  140. He uses the phrase “Darwinian theory”.

    I used the phrase “Common Descent” because Darwin had two theories: common descent, and the mechanism of adaptive evolution (descent with modification plus natural selection).

    The chapter (and indeed the book) concerns the case for common descent, rather than the case for Darwinian evolutionary mechanisms. And seeing that at least some ID proponents accept common descent but not Darwinian mechanisms, I wanted to make that clear.

  141. littlejohn

    I do not have a problem with models that are constructed/supported by direct observation (tangible evidence).

    Firstly, fossils are directly observed.

    Second, all models have to be supported by observation. Many observations are not direct. Nobody has ever seen an electron, for instance.

  142. Dr. Liddle,

    I do not see how the example of the electron relates.

    We can detect and measure the effects and characteristics of an electron, however, this is not the case with the fossil record.

    As I previously posted, the UCA is certainly a plausible theory, but not fact.

    IMO, the exclusion and censorship of alternatives just because we do not prefer them is unscientific, and unacceptable.

  143. Mung,

    Is the quote in #138 from, “The Changing Role of the Embryo in Evolutionary Thought”?

    Thanks!

  144. Dr. Liddle,

    I meant to say- this is not the case with the fossil record leading up to the Cambrian assemblage.

  145. Q: Is the quote in #138 from, “The Changing Role of the Embryo in Evolutionary Thought”?

    A: Yes, it is. Finishing up the final chapter.

  146. I guess this is slightly off topic,

    The presence of a working food chain from the beginning is an issue for Darwinian evolution……

    The whole thing is way too convenient, to have been caused by some hap hazard random process. The balance is precise and truthfully all systems (including the food chain) left to their own devices in our observed experience ends up in chaos.

  147. Here is the paper that created the curiosity in me about the perfection of the food chain and Eco-systems.

    http://www.cell.com/trends/eco.....%2902455-2

  148. F/N: NWE, discussing taxonomy, helps us understand a lot of what is going on behind the scenes:

    An authoritative definition of taxonomy (as used in biology) is offered by Systematics Agenda 2000: Charting the Biosphere (SA2000), a global initiative to find, describe, and classify the world’s species. Launched by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, the Society of Systematic Biologists, and the Willi Hennig Society, and in cooperation with the Association of Systematic Collections, SA2000 defines taxonomy as “the science of discovering, describing, and classifying species or groups of species.”

    The Select Committee on Science and Technology of the United Kingdom Parliament also offers an official definition for taxonomy: “We use taxonomy to refer to the activities of naming and classifying organisms, as well as producing publications detailing all known members of a particular group of living things.”

    The term “systematics” (or “systematic biology”) is sometimes used interchangeably with the term taxonomy. The words have a similar history and similar meanings: Over time these have been used as synonyms, as overlapping, or as completely complementary.

    In general, however, the term systematics includes an aspect of phylogenetic analysis (the study of evolutionary relatedness among various groups of organisms). That is, it deals not only with discovering, describing, naming, and classifying living things, but also with investigating the evolutionary relationship between taxa (a taxonomic group of any rank, such as sub-species, species, family, genus, and so on), especially at the higher levels. Thus, according to this perspective, systematics not only includes the traditional activities of taxonomy, but also the investigation of evolutionary relationships, variation, speciation, and so forth. However, there remain disagreements on the technical differences between the two terms—taxonomy and systematics—and they are often used interchangeably . . . .

    Some major developments in the system of taxonomy since Linnaeus were the development of different ranks for organisms and codes for nomenclature (see Domain and Kingdom systems, and Universal Codes above), and the inclusion of Darwinian concepts in taxonomy.

    According to Hull (1988), “in its heyday, biological systematics was the queen of the sciences, rivaling physics.” Lindroth (1983) referenced it as the “most lovable of the sciences.” But at the time of Darwin, taxonomy was not held in such high regard as it was earlier. It gained new prominence with the publication of Darwin’s The Origin of Species, and particularly since the Modern Synthesis. Since then, although there have been, and continue to be, debates in the scientific community over the usefulness of phylogeny in biological classification, it is generally accepted by taxonomists today that classification of organisms should reflect or represent phylogeny, via the Darwinian principle of common descent.

    Taxonomy remains a dynamic science, with developing trends, diversity of opinions, and clashing doctrines. Two of these competing groups that formed in the 1950s and 1960s were the pheneticists and cladists.

    Begun in the 1950s, the pheneticists prioritized quantitative or numerical analysis and the recognition of similar characteristics among organisms over the alternative of speculating about process and making classifications based on evolutionary descent or phylogeny.

    Cladistic taxonomy or cladism groups organisms by evolutionary relationships, and arranges taxa in an evolutionary tree. Most modern systems of biological classification are based on cladistic analysis. Cladistics is the most prominent of several taxonomic systems, which also include approaches that tend to rely on key characters (such as the traditional approach of evolutionary systematics, as advocated by G. G. Simpson and E. Mayr). Willi Hennig (1913-1976) is widely regarded as the founder of cladistics.

    In blunt words, taxonomy too plainly represents a case where objective science based on evaluating and explaining the observed has been tainted with ideological question-begging. So, the now sadly usual circularities emerge in what is presented to students and the public as “fact.”

    Predictably, this comes out in the similar Wiki article:

    Phylogenetics and cladistics

    Today, traditional rank-based biological classifications persist in a structure largely unchanged since the 1700s; however, how the relationships of these taxa are investigated has changed drastically in recent decades. It is now common for biologists to devise a classification based on the results of phylogenetic analysis using DNA sequence data, and taxa are typically required to be clades. Although phylogenetics itself is fundamental to modern-day systematics, its use for the description of new taxa, and for their placement within a classification scheme, is not required.

    Phenetics

    In phenetics, also known as taximetrics, organisms are classified based on overall similarity, regardless of their phylogeny or evolutionary relationships. It results in a measure of evolutionary “distance” between taxa. Phenetic methods have become relatively rare in modern times, largely superseded by cladistic analyses, as phenetic methods do not distinguish plesiomorphic from apomorphic traits. However, certain phenetic methods, such as neighbor joining, have found their way into cladistics, as a reasonable approximation of phylogeny when more advanced methods (such as Bayesian inference) are too computationally expensive.

    In this context, the whole project of constructing a tree of life intersecting with higher level taxa becomes ideologically loaded and riddled with circular reasoning. For instance, Wiki glides over the hard fact that multiple molecular trees stand in mutual contradiction and the further fact that molecular clock reconstructions are patently unreliable. Similarly, there is the obvious question that classification should be based on observed populations and reasonable clustering of key similarities and differences, whether living or fossil.

    Once such is imposed, we will reliably see that hypothetical single root species of high level taxa are as a rule just that, guesses not observations. So, they do not properly belong in a classification based on observed populations with equally observed characteristics.

    If we cut off those hypothesised roots, we obviously will be collecting clusters of branches on the hypothesised tree which will include many hypothetical ancestral species. Also, such clusters will have branches leading away as well as those coming in. This explains the diagrams Meyer made, criticisms on details and a typo or two notwithstanding.

    The attempt to seize on diagrams to distract from the problem of sudden radical diversity of forms in the Cambrian fossils, plainly fails. But it will predictably be used henceforth as a distractor.

    This also sets up the context in which WD400′s dodge on the challenge to ground the tree for a phylum in a specific pattern of observations tracing to the hypothetical latest unicellular common ancestor, shows its significance.

    Between mutually contradictory molecular trees and systematic gaps in terms of observed populations, we have good reason to question the circularities seen above.

    The challenge to justify origin of body plans on incremental evolutionary forces, backed up by adequate observations, remains unanswered. Apart from a priori ideologically loaded and question begging impositions.

    Where, not even the apparently innocent and objective exercise of constructing a classification scheme for life forms escapes that ideological question-begging.

    Where also,you are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked is not good enough to answer to that challenge.

    KF

  149. PS: I should add this on the logic of increasing diversification on the Darwinist model:

    CV + DRS –> IDWUM

    CV — chance variation, DRS — differential reproductive success [aka natural selection or selection of favoured races], IDWUM — incremental descent with unlimited modification

    Plainly, an initial pop is expected to increasingly diversify, giving rise to increasingly disparate clusters with common ancestral roots. So, the emergence of biodiversity SHOULD be bottom-up, and consequently we should see phyla emerging later. However, the transition to multicellularity with tissues, organs and integrated systems emerging through development of an embyo or the comparable, would cut across kingdoms and would come before that.

    The point properly at stake is therefore that throughout the world of life, we do not find the IDWUM pattern in fossils or living forms. Instead we find among animals, the Cambrian explosion of forms where from the outset on the conventional timeline, we are already seeing diversity at phylum and sub-phylum levels, apparently up to and including the most “advanced,” chordata. Indeed, it seems fish — jawless, like modern lampreys — are there in the Cambrian fossils. And as the OP mentions, we now have jawed fish dated at 419 MYA on the timeline.

    The point to be answered is, to ground that claimed transition to dozens of phyla and subphyla on observations, not inferences and ideological a prioris.

    From LUCA on, at minimum.

    And, it is quite reasonable in that context to require empirical demonstration of blind watchmaker chance and necessity showing capacity to originate the sort of complex integrated functionally specific organisation and associated information that are required. Absent such demonstrated capacity to originate FSCO/I the inductive logic on what we routinely see remains unanswered: FSCO/I is reliably produced by design. Where the linked needle in haystack blind search challenge shows why that is utterly unlikely ever to be met.

    Absent an observational basis, what we are dealing with on these trees of life icons and taxonomies riddled with circular reasoning is ideology hanging confirmation bias illustrations on itself, not proper science.

  150. PPS: It is also a serious sign of the lockhold on institutional power in our times that a book obviously dealing with scientific topics, DD, and on a science-empirical reasoning base, evidently has to seek partnership with a self-help and spirituality imprint in order to see the light of day. EL’s attempt to deride and trash Meyer’s logic by alluding to this is below the belt. Again. And, it tellingly echos DH’s ill tempered and equally ill informed sneer about the inevitable irrationality of “faith” exposed and rebutted here. The obvious subtext of EL’s remarks above is that Meyer is a ringleader of the projected totalitarian right wing religious conspiracy to treasonously subvert our civilisation, a primary enemy of humanity. This grotesque conspiracy narrative is a slander, and it is patently poisoning and polarising the atmosphere.

    EL’s enabling behaviour is again exposed.

    KF

  151. KF, this is incorrect.

    There is no such subtext as you imply.

    My point is simply the point I made: that Meyer’s book is not a scientific book, albeit one dealing with “scientific topics”, because Meyer’ lacks the knowledge and understanding of palaeontology to write a scientific books.

    I do not trash Meyer’s logic because he writes for a religious imprint. I have written for a religious imprint myself.

    I trash his logic because his logic is fallacious. I note that such logic would not pass muster in a scientific imprint, and that it is not, in fact, so published.

    tbh, KF, I’d say you are the one “well-poisoning” here – you appear to be trying to discredit my argument by casting aspersions on my own moral integrity.

    I’m not going to upbraid you for this, I merely point it out.

    What I will do, however, is suggest that you have got yourself into a state whereby you suspect nefarious motives in any person who writes, or “enables” the writing of, views with which you disagree, and that this level of paranoia is not good for you.

    I’d like to suggest that you take a step back, and remember that we are all human citizens of this world, trying to make sense of it as best we can, siblings under the skin, and, presumably in your view, all children of God.

    We may disagree profoundly about much, and have very different fears about what views from which we dissent imply for the good of us all, but most of us, on both sides, are honest, however misguided we can think those on the “other” side are.

    Please take time to consider this, and perhaps reflect that your habit of assuming the worst in me, and in others who share my views, and of seeing ominous subtexts in posts that are simply not there, is just that – a habit, and one it may be healthy for you to try to shed.

    I mean this in all sincerity, and wish you well, aware that you have far more serious things to worry about right now than that “someone is wrong on the internet”.

    As always, peace.

    Lizzie

  152. If EL taxonomy is true, titaalik is an anphibian.

  153. Dr Liddle

    Id Dr Meyer’s book is not a good paleontology book or even a non-science book why is it the the number 1 seller in the biological sciences, paleontology section?

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/bests.....e_1_6_last

    Not a true Scotsman you say?

  154. Darwin’s Doubt

    #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Science > Biological Sciences > Paleontology

    #2 in Books > Christian Books & Bibles > Theology > Creationism

    #2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Science & Religion

    And we know its only in the Religion section because some angry rabid atheist complained about it, and who likes rabid frothing from the mouth atheists? Nobody that’s why the world tippy toes around them…..

  155. I forgot to mention it is number 18 overall in Biological sciences…..

  156. Darwin’s Doubt

    #11,794 (best sellers rank)

    Why Evolution is true

    #459,119 (best sellers rank)

    # The God Delusion

    #26,390 (best sellers rank)

    Thank goodness the God delusion is not in the science section but for some very strange reason The greatest Show on earth is and it’s really a religious book with gems like this!

    “Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact. The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust. It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzees, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips… continue the list as long as desired. “

  157. EL,

    First, I would appreciate it if you would stop pretending to “peace” where there is no peace — and that absence being in material part of your own making. As in cf. the declaration “enemies of humanity” you have hosted. When you host slander at that level you are no friend of peace and civility, period.

    Second, the subtext of spiteful contempt is quite patent, especially once we place it in the context of the smears you have been hosting. It is you who highlighted a “religious” imprint, which given context is heavily and toxically loaded. You have hosted conspiracy narratives about totalitarian takovers rooted in theocratic ideologies centred on DI. And Meyer is specifically now head of the DI CSC. So, he is a specifically identifiable target of deeming such persons “enemies of humanity” on grotesque conspiracy narratives.

    You have insistently made the bed hard, you will have to lie in it.

    No, you do not get to throw the stones then hide your hand behind a facade of sweet innocence.

    Ironically, one of the themes for Harper 1 — derided by you as a religious publishing imprint [which in context is maliciously loaded] — is building bridges across fundamental disagreements.

    Next, your dismissal of Meyer is frankly both contempt laced and dishonest.

    Given, that Meyer is a PhD level philosopher of science whose specific focus has been on evolution, I suggest he is likely to know at least as much on the subject as you do, and demonstrably shows relevant knowledge, research and insight.

    Let me cite his Amazon page bio:

    Biography
    Dr. Stephen C. Meyer received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in the philosophy of science. A former geophysicist and college professor, he now directs the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle. In 2004, Meyer ignited a firestorm of media and scientific controversy when a biology journal at the Smithsonian Institution published his peer-reviewed scientific article advancing intelligent design. Meyer has been featured on national television and radio programs, including The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, CBS’s Sunday Morning, NBC’s Nightly News, ABC’s World News, Good Morning America, Nightline, FOX News Live, and the Tavis Smiley show on PBS. He has also been featured in two New York Times front-page stories and has garnered attention in other top-national media.

    In this context the roots of your rhetorical tactics obviously trace to Dawkins’ notorious characterisation of those who dare differ with his ideology: ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.

    On the tree of life diagrams that you have attempted to use to trash and dismiss Meyer:

    1 –> It is manifest that the Cambrian revo is a longstanding issue, precisely connected to the sudden onset in the fossil layers of phylum level diversity without the precursors expected or hoped for by Darwin and successors.

    2 –> The branching tree pattern flowing from:

    CV + DRS –> IDWUM

    CV — chance variation, DRS — differential reproductive success [aka natural selection or selection of favoured races], IDWUM — incremental descent with unlimited modification

    . . . is indeed a repeatedly stated expectation. One that has the direct implication of diversity leading to disparity across time.

    3 –> In that context, we can understand that given the pattern of gaps between the tree as hypothesised, and the observed patterns of life forms, a taxonomical pattern confining itself to OBSERVED forms will by logic exclude hypothetical root nodes and arcs that are just that: imagined not observed.

    4 –> Thus, we will see a reason for drawing loops that will exclude such hypothetical roots. This, even before debates on stem and crown branching patterns.

    5 –> In addition, we must recognise the difference between a typo and fundamental misunderstanding.

    6 –> Further, it is evident that taxonomy and systematics have become deeply embedded with circular reasoning to the point where tree diagrams are now materially misleading icons, especially when presented as though they exhibit facts through and through.

    7 –> In this context the contradictions across traditional trees, molecular trees and the molecular clock hypothesis are material.

    8 –> So is the persistent absence of a proper, observationally warranted blind watchmaker chance and necessity mechanism adequate to account for origin of body plans.

    9 –> So also, even more, the lack of a good observationally anchored explanation for abiogenisis thus OOL from physics and chem in a pond or the like. That is, no root.

    10 –> It remains the case that there is but one empirically warranted causal explanation known to be adequate to cause the required FSCO/I to account for such a tree from root to crown: design.

    KF

  158. Then there is the title of his last book aimed at children

    The magic of reality……

    ” Truth is more magical, in the best and most exciting sense of the word, than any myth or made-up mystery or miracle. Science has its own magic – the magic of reality.”

    Dr Liddle

    Please tell me that alarm bells are going of in your head?

  159. KF, there is really nothing much more I can say to you. It is not my own bed I am worried about, it is yours. I think you are making yourself unhappy without cause. That is why I offer you peace – I am not asking for it.

    Please do not read into my posts what is not there.

  160. Andre, I do not consider the position of book in a best seller list an indication of its quality.

  161. Andre, it is in the religion section because it was published by a religious imprint.

    Is anyone seriously disputing that HarperOne is a religious imprint?

  162. I read Meyer’s book shortly after it came out. As I read it I made comments here at UD. At first I said that Meyer was breaking no new ground as he has already written extensively about the Cambrian and presented the same basic arguments by many in the paleontology field. I had read these basic arguments years ago by some of the top professionals in the field.

    The problems of the Cambrian are obvious, phyla/phylum before all the lower classifications. Or disparity before diversity. Then as the original body plans diversify, we start to get lower classifications. Just the opposite of what Darwin predicted. Essentially that is it in a nutshell. Nothing new just organized well with an emphasis on the arguments used to explain this by various paleontologists and why they are deficient.

    Then later in the book, Meyer addresses further problems for the Darwinian approach (everyone here assume and nearly everyone on the planet assumes that what is meant by this is gradualism.) He discusses the topic of epigenetics and expands on what epigenetics means to include information in the egg prior to fertilization that is not in the genome but is responsible for body design. That is the really interesting part of the book.

    The various trees of life are discussed with their problematic origins. To say that Meyer does not understand the basics of taxonomy is ludicrous. He has been writing about it for years. There may be disagreements but to argue that he doesn’t understand what a good high school freshman understands is a non starter as a criticism.

    Meyer references hundreds of scientific studies as the basis for his conclusions. It is not like he is pulling anything out of the hat or is sloppy in his approach. I am sure the book is not perfect but when there is a second edition, the errors can be corrected or things made more clear for those not able to understand everything.

  163. Dr Liddle

    Like you a book’s position is not an indication of it’s truthfulness, I was just trying to point out that which you accuse Dr Meyer of as a lousy paleontologist is where his book is sitting at its best position, ironic don’t you think?

    I have a question for you Dr Liddle. Simple straight forward and to the point.

    1.) Is there empirical evidence that life is not designed?

  164. I believe Meyer was a geophysicist and worked for an oil company. As such he would have studied chemistry and geology and paleontology as part of these studies and then probably used these disciplines in his work. I believe fossil identification is part of the dating of layers in the earth’s crust and essential to locating the high probability sites for oil.

    So my guess is that his education including his studies at Cambridge would have made him familiar with the basic concepts of geology, paleontology, chemistry and biology.

    Seems kind of lame to impugn his knowledge in these fields especially since he has written extensively on it before. Maybe there are differences of opinion which are common but to say one with a degree from Cambridge in science is ignorant of basics seems to be a non-starter. One is then also impugning Cambridge.

  165. Andre: no, I don’t think there is empirical evidence that life was not designed.

  166. jerry, I am not impugning his knowledge on the basis of his credentials, although they do not include palaeontology.

    I am impugning his argument based on the logical fallacy (equivocation) that is apparent in the book itself, and which undermines his argument.

    It is evident to an extraordinary extent in his diagrams, but it is also apparent that theses are not the result of a poor illustrator and poor proofreading because the text itself repeated the self-same errors.

    Nothing in the fossil record contradicts the hypothesis that the hierarchical patterns we see in life and in the record, and which are apparent in the fact that the features of organisms form nested hierarchies, are due to a process by which lineages branched off from each other, similar at first, but growing further and further apart over time.

    To say that CD predicts that “diversity will precede disparity” but in fact we see “disparity preceding diversity”, thus putting CD in doubt, is sheer equivocation with terms.

    We see small differences between branches become larger, just as predicted, and we see branches acquire sub-branches, which acquire sub-sub-branches, just as predicted.

    We also see entire branches come to an end, which is perfectly consistent with CD as long as we postulate that entire lineages can go extinct, and we have plenty of evidence that this is so.

    If “disparity” means “lots of different phyla” defined as biologists define phyla, then yes, it precedes diversity, but not in contradiction to the CD.

    If “disparity” means “lots of different phyla” as defined as Meyer seems to want to, then no, it doesn’t precede diversity, but defined that way, CD doesn’t predict that it it would, so CD is still not contradicted.

    Meyer is doing the old old trick:

    A feather is light.
    What is light cannot be dark.
    Therefore, a feather cannot be dark.

    Either he is so convinced of his own priors that he has missed his own error, or he knows it’s there, but wanted to write a book that encouraged people to think that the Cambrian Explosion is evidence for God.

    But the error is there, regardless. As can be seen in those diagrams.

  167. Elizabeth B. Liddle:

    Is anyone seriously disputing that HarperOne is a religious imprint?

    Now you’re just trolling. Is it because you’re losing on the facts?

    Are you seriously asserting that HarperOne is strictly a religious imprint?

  168. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Yet it contaminates his entire argument about what he says is expected “under Common Descent”. What is expected under Common Descent…

    Mung:

    I just re-read the entirety of chapter 2. Nowhere in it does Meyer employ the phrase “under Common Descent.” So where on earth did it come from, Elizabeth? Some other chapter perhaps?

    Elizabeth B Liddle:

    He uses the phrase “Darwinian theory”.

    So you made up the quote. You weren’t quoting Meyer at all. Shame on you.

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    I used the phrase “Common Descent” because Darwin had two theories: common descent, and the mechanism of adaptive evolution (descent with modification plus natural selection).

    You used the phrase “under common Descent” and made it appear like it came from Meyer because it served your purposes to do so, not because it had anything to do with Meyer’s actual argument.

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    The chapter (and indeed the book) concerns the case for common descent, rather than the case for Darwinian evolutionary mechanisms. And seeing that at least some ID proponents accept common descent but not Darwinian mechanisms, I wanted to make that clear.

    Well I likewise want to make it clear how misguided you are.

    Once again it appears you either didn’t read the book after all or that you ignore evidence contrary to your preconceived notions about Meyer.

    I will once again adequately document the case against your misreading of Meyer, beginning with the following tidbits, again from Chapter 2:

    …the radically different Cambrian forms appear to occur far to suddenly to be readily explained by the gradual activity of natural selection and random variations.

    That would be the mechanism. And in case that’s not clear enough:

    Darwin proposed a purely natural mechanism…His mechanism of natural selection…Thus, unless Darwin’s evolutionary mechanism worked gradually by preserving the tiniest of random changes over many millions of years, it didn’t work at all.

    Meyer is quite clear what he is comparing against, and it’s not “common descent.”

    Go back and read the Prologue, where he sets the stage:

    A steady stream of technical articles and books have cast new doubt on the creative power of the mutation and selection mechanism.

    You are just wrong. Please do try to leave your priors at the door and give the book a fair reading.

  169. As if.

  170. Onlookers, everything EL says — especially concerning senior staff at DI — must be filtered through the fact that she has insisted on hosting the grotesque conspiracy narrative and slanders I have dissected here. Those slanders include as a culmination pronouncing such as Dr Meyer to be “enemies of humanity.” I hold that this is utterly uncivil and unacceptable behaviour on EL’s part, for cause. KF

  171. kairosfocus:

    I do NOT consider that senior members of the DI are “enemies of humanity”. The fact that that phrase was used, in a post about the Wedge Document, by a poster (not me) on my blog, is not evidence that I share that view, just as the fact that there are posts by a number of ID supporters on my blog is not evidence that I am an ID supporter.

    My blog is for discussion of disparate views. There is simply no warrant for assuming that I share the views expressed on my blog unless I have said so.

    So no “filtering” is required.

    And absolutely nobody has alleged that Stephen Meyer is an “enemy of humanity”.

    This is getting quite ridiculous.

  172. Yes, Mung, you are correct. I should not have used inverted commas for that phrase without checking Meyer’s usage. He does in fact use “Darwinian theory”.

    That was careless of me.

    Nonetheless, you will find that what he is talking about in that Chapter is Darwin’s theory of common descent. He is not talking about the Darwin’s proposed mechanism of adaptive evolution.

    This is perfectly clear.

    But as it is also perfectly clear that most people here would rather use ad hominem arguments (literally – cast doubt on my argument by casting doubt on my character), rather than tackle the actual argument made by Meyer, then there is not a lot of point in my posting in this thread.

    If you want to believe that Meyer has made a devastating point about how the fossil evidence does not support common descent, feel free.

    He hasn’t.

  173. And yes, HarperOne is a religious imprint.

    The most important books across the full spectrum of religion, spirituality, and personal growth, adding to the wealth of the world’s wisdom by stirring the waters of reflection on the primary questions of life while respecting all traditions.

    Recently it has expanded from religion and spirituality into healthy living, but palaeontology is not in its remit.

    And I don’t think the Cambrian Explosion has much to do with healthy living.

  174. To say that CD predicts that “diversity will precede disparity” but in fact we see “disparity preceding diversity”, thus putting CD in doubt, is sheer equivocation with terms.

    This is nonsense. Disparity means large differences, more specifically completely different body plans. Diversity means slight variations between two different populations with identical body plans. No equivocation. That has been common usage.

    Darwin’s theory has two orthogonal hypotheses. One is Universal Common Descent. The other is descent with modification or gradualism. They can exist independently of each other. One is a process (descent with modification) while the other is an outcome from potentially a lot of processes..

    UCD can result from any mechanism that produces differential offspring including a mixture of mechanisms. It is possible to have some process or mechanism X that produces differential offspring that is not due to any mechanism that one knows about at the moment. It could be that there are other mechanisms such as Y and Z that also produce differential offspring. One could be what is called Darwinian processes or the accumulation of small variations. All could be working over time. And one or more could be design. Thus, UCD if it exist does not require a specific mechanism.

    Descent with modification does not need or imply UCD because there could have been several origins from which this process then proceeds. Thus, they are independent.

    When most people cast doubt on Darwinian processes they are usually casting doubt on the latter as a mechanism for change over time. The Cambrian poses a problems for gradualism because there are almost no predecessors to the Cambrian phyla when there should have been at least some to indicate that a gradual process took place.

    It also seems to cast doubt on UCD because the array of organisms that arose seem to originate from independent sources. Thus, the Cambrian is also a problem for UCD.

    But this is just a small part of what Meyer’s book is about.

  175. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Nonetheless, you will find that what he is talking about in that Chapter is Darwin’s theory of common descent. He is not talking about the Darwin’s proposed mechanism of adaptive evolution.

    Yes, Elizabeth, you are determined to maintain this contention in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

    EL:

    If you want to believe that Meyer has made a devastating point about how the fossil evidence does not support common descent, feel free. He hasn’t.

    He’s not trying to. Your entire objection is based upon a straw-man.

    Speaking of what we would or would not expect:

    Yet we would not expect the neo-Darwinian mechanism of natural selection acting on random genetic mutations to produce the top-down pattern…

    – Meyer, p. 43

    Meyer directly contradicts your assertion. When he is talking about what “we would not expect” it’s quite clear he is talking about under natural selection and random mutation, the Darwinian mechanism.

    You’re just wrong, and plainly so. Egregiously so. Irresponsibly so.

    You have to know that most of the “skeptics” at your site haven’t read the book and it is therefore incumbent upon you to provide accurate and truthful information to them about it. You have failed at every turn.

    And now, because you no longer have a case against the material in the book, you turn to attacking it based upon who it was published by. Truly pathetic.

  176. Hi Elizabeth,

    “If you want to believe that Meyer has made a devastating point about how the fossil evidence does not support common descent, feel free.”

    Is it not the case however, that he wasn’t claiming that as such, but arguing his point concerning mechanisms?

    I asked a question of you in post #55, concering the following statement you made in post #46:

    “What unites members of a specific taxon, both extant and extinct, is a set of shared features, even though there will be many members who have additional features. The younger the members, the more additional features they are likely to have, while the set of shared features is inferred to have been possessed by the common ancestor.”

    What I asked of you was this:

    “Can you show me an example of this, where I can clearly see what you mean from fossil evidence the “shared features of a common ancestor” in relation to “members of a specific taxon”?

    You of course explained what you meant, and provided a link to an example, however the example you gave had nothing at all to do with the Cambrian fossils, or what was being discussed in Darwin’s Doubt.

    Therefore, if you consider Meyer’s argument to have failed in regard to ‘common descent’, can you provide me with an example of your above statement using the Cambrian fossils instead.

    Again, I know what I am trying to ask, so I’m hoping it makes sense.

    Thanks for taking the time to reply to my questions as I know how busy you are :)

  177. Now let’s turn to chapter 7 to make the same point, the Chapter where the hated drawing Fig 7.3 appears:

    neo-Darwinisn allegedly has a mechanism capable of producing new genetic traits, but it appears to produce them too slowly to account for the abrupt appearance of new form in the fossil record; punctuated equilibrium attempts to address the pattern in the fossil record, but fails to provide a mechanism that can produce new traits, abruptly or otherwise. (p. 151)

    Neo-Darwinisn ALLEGEDLY has a mechanism. It’s about the mechanism…

    Meyer continues:

    No wonder, then that leading Cambrian paleontologists such as James Valentine and Douglas Erwin concluded in 1987, that “neither of the contending theories of evolutionary change at the species level, phyletic gradualism or punctuated equilibrium, seem applicable to [explaining] the origin of new body plans.

    Not only is it clear from chapter 2, it’s also clear from chapter 7. Those are the two chapters Elizabeth has used to try to make her case against Meyer.

    Behe attacked the mechanism, and so does Meyer. So does Dembski. Elizabeth thinks she can drive a wedge between Meyer and those in the ID camp who accept common descent.

    She’s going to need more than an empty assertion that’s directly contradicted by multiple passages from Meyer’s own book.

    That’s the thing about straw man arguments. They dry up and blow away, or go up in flames. Not a good basis upon which to attempt a refutation. But then, it’s pretty obvious that refuting Meyer was never the goal in the first place.

  178. PeterJ:

    Is it not the case however, that he wasn’t claiming that as such, but arguing his point concerning mechanisms?

    Elizabeth denies that his argument is over the mechanism(s).

    Yet that’s exactly what it’s about. The entire book is about proposed mechanisms to account for the early disparity in form (morphology).

    How anyone could read the book and come away with the exact opposite conclusion is just astounding.

  179. EL, if you do not mean exactly that, then kindly stop hosting and trying to justify posts at your blog that have that exact direct implication and specifically attacking DI by explicit name as prime locus of an imagined right wing theocratic totalitarian conspiracy. Nothing can excuse hosting and enabling such hate speech and slander fests. But, you have spent weeks trying to pretend nothing is wrong with such assertions. Where also the grotesque twisting of the so-called wedge document into conspiracist pretzels is a big part of the confirmation bias involved. In this context, for cause, everything you say about Meyer — especially given its strawman tactic, ad hominem nature, is to be understood in light of your insistently hosting a post that concludes by declaring people like Meyer to be enemies of humanity. The same thread also contains the slanderous accusation that intelligent design is a “fraud.” All of these were taken by the circle of your blog’s usual participants, as if they were unquestionable fact. KF

  180. Meyer:

    The discovery of genetic mutations also suggested a way to reconcile Darwinian theory with insights from Mendelian genetics. During the 1930s and 1940s, a group of evolutionary biologists … attempted to demonstrate this possibility using mathematical models to show that small-scale variations and mutations could accumulate over time in whole populations, eventually producing large-scale morphological change. These mathematical models formed the basis of a subdiscipline of genetics known as population genetics. The overall synthesis of Mendelian genetics with Darwinian theory came to be called “neo-Darwinism” or simply the “New Synthesis.”

    According to this new synthetic theory, the mechanism of natural selection acting upon genetic mutations suffices to account for the origin of novel biological forms. Small-scale “microevolutionary” changes can accumulate to produce large-scale “macroevolutionary” innovations. The neo-Darwinists argued that they had revived natural selection by discovering a specific mechanism of variation that could generate new forms of life from simpler preexisting ones. … it was widely assumed that natural selection and random mutations could indeed build new forms of life over the course of time with their distinctive body plans and novel anatomical structures.

    – p. 158

    EL:

    Nonetheless, you will find that what he is talking about in that Chapter is Darwin’s theory of common descent. He is not talking about the Darwin’s proposed mechanism of adaptive evolution.

    Sure he is.

    The entire book is about proposed mechanisms that could potentially account for the Cambrian Explosion. “Darwinian theory” is just one among many.

    EL:

    And I don’t think the Cambrian Explosion has much to do with healthy living.

    So? This entire line of yours about the publisher is a red-herring. But if that’s all you’ve got left…

    The most important books across the full spectrum of religion, spirituality, and personal growth, adding to the wealth of the world’s wisdom by stirring the waters of reflection on the primary questions of life while respecting all traditions.

    Also published by HarperOne:
    Kindred Beings: What Seventy-Three Chimpanzees Taught Me About Life, Love, and Connection

  181. Kf,

    I am also mad that people are calling Meyer et al enemies of humanity. But when you bring it up so much, it makes me think that you do not have a direct answer to Dr. Liddle’s argument.

    KF and EL,

    What I do not understand (due to my lack of education in biology) is how you can have a phyla before, say, a genus or a species. If a rabbit showed up in the cambrian, then it would still have a vertebra and it would still be a mammal. So how does the appearance of one species cause an appearance of a phyla without the appearance of a genus?

  182. Also, I have not yet read the book.

  183. Mung, I just checked, and you are in fact incorrect. Meyer does use the term common descent, and, just as I said, he separates the two separate strands of Darwin’s argument – common descent, and descent-with-modification plus natural selection.

    But the mechanism of change is irrelevant to his argument in Chapter two. It is common descent of diverging lineages he is talking about, and my point holds.

    He correctly predicts what common descent should show, but then incorrectly maps that prediction on to the fossil evidence by equivocating with the term “phylum” and other taxonomic categories.

  184. Collin

    What I do not understand (due to my lack of education in biology) is how you can have a phyla before, say, a genus or a species. If a rabbit showed up in the cambrian, then it would still have a vertebra and it would still be a mammal. So how does the appearance of one species cause an appearance of a phyla without the appearance of a genus?

    OK, here is the principle.

    Let’s say you start of with one kind of organism. We’ll call it a Ribbit.

    The Ribbit population splits into two for some reason – perhaps half of it gets stranded on an island – and so you get two non-interbreeding populations of Ribbits.

    We call these two species of Ribbits. We’ll call one lot Ribbit Islandia and the other lot Ribbit Mainlandia.

    After a while each species of Ribbit also subdivides, so we have four kinds of Ribbits.

    Ribbit Islandia Major and Ribbit Islandia Minor, and Ribbit Mainlandia Carnivore and Ribbit Mainlandia Omnivore.

    Then those subdivide as wall, so we have Ribbit Islandia Major Bigteeth and Ribbit Islandia Major Sharpteeth, Ribbit Islandia Major Bigfoot and Ribbit Islandia Major Smallfoot, Ribbit Mainlandia Carnivore Fluffy, Ribbit Mainlandia Carnivore Smooth, Ribbit Mainlandia Omnivore Hairy and Ribbit Mainlandia Ominivore Bald.

    So what was two species of Ribbit, Islandia and Mainlandia, now needs another name.

    So a taxonomist arriving late on the scene will declare Ribbit a “Kingdom”, Islandia and Mainlandia, “phyla”, Major, Minor, Omnivore and Carnivore “Classes”, Bigteeth, Sharpteeth, Bigfoot, Smallfoot, Fluffy, Smooth, Hairy, Bald, all “Orders”.

    And so on.

    So while the original Ribbits were identical, and the Ribbit Islandia and Ribbit Mainlandia were also very similar, now that we have Orders of classes of Ribbits, Ribbits in the phylum Islandia are now very different fro Ribbits in the phylum Mainlandia.

    So Meyer is correct when he says that phyla come before genera. He is also correct when he says that Darwinian theory says that things start out similar and diversify.

    Where he misses the point is that phyla are similar when they start (they are just like two different species today), but very different later on.

    So it isn’t that “morphological distance” starts off great and then “fills in”. Diversity is always increasing, including the distance between the diversifying branches.

    That’s the pattern that Darwin’s common descent with modification (never mind natural selection) accounted for, and that’s the pattern we still observe, albeit with some gaps because the fossil record is wildly incomplete and fossilisation, and the preservations of fossils is non-random.

  185. Mung

    >Yet that’s exactly what it’s about. The entire book is about proposed mechanisms to account for the early disparity in form (morphology).

    How anyone could read the book and come away with the exact opposite conclusion is just astounding.

    Because, Mung, his argument that there is even a problem to solve falls at that very fence.

    The early part of the book is devoted to making the argument that there is a problem (“early disparity”) to solve – that what we observe isn’t what Darwin expected, and therefore Darwin’s mechanism can’t explain it.

    The problem is that there isn’t a problem. “Early disparity” is not what he says it is, and it only looks like he says it is because he mislabels, both in his text and in his diagrams, what a “phylum” consist of, and therefore his definition of “disparity” falls apart.

  186. Liz:

    But the mechanism of change is irrelevant to his argument in Chapter two. It is common descent of diverging lineages he is talking about, and my point holds.

    Especially since Mung has provided actual quotes from the book to back up his claims about the focus of Meyer’s discussion, it is difficult to take mere gainsaying seriously without contrary evidence. Care to provide some?

  187. Liz:

    The early part of the book is devoted to making the argument that there is a problem (“early disparity”) to solve – that what we observe isn’t what Darwin expected, and therefore Darwin’s mechanism can’t explain it.

    The problem is that there isn’t a problem.

    I can’t tell whether you are saying that there is no early disparity in the fossil record or that there is, but it isn’t a problem. Can you elucidate?

  188. Meyer is saying that “disparity precedes diversity” in the fossil record, and that this is a problem for the Darwinian account, which predicts that populations should diverge a little before they diverge a lot.

    Meyer is defining “disparity” as “lots of higher taxa”.

    Defined this way, then disparity does precede diversity.

    But it doesn’t contradict the Darwinian prediction (not in fact a “prediction” at all, but a conclusion from evidence, but let’s call it a prediction for now) because at the time when there were lots of different phyla, the phyla weren’t as different from each other as they later became.

    And indeed, Darwinian theory predicts that phyla will be extremely similar when they first diverge – as similar as two species are today.

    But Meyer defines “phyla” as groups that are “morphologically distant” – have very different forms.

    And so he’s taking one definition of phyla (“very different forms”) and another definition of phyla (“branches that diverged a very long time ago) to argue that “very different forms” existed before more similar forms.

    There is a sense in which he has a point. The taxonomic category “phylum” does describe organisms with very different body plans. But that doesn’t mean even those very different body plans were so radically different when they first diverged.

    If you take two organisms, very similar, both with two openings, and both developing “anus first”, but one lot tends to develop into an organism with a simple nerve that grows out from the middle in two directions make two ends, and another organism in which the nerve grows out from the middle in three, four or five.

    All these organisms look pretty similar.

    But one lineage becomes starfish, and the other becomes us.

    Vastly different body-plans, but, at the time of bifurcation, not radically different. But because what came next was so strongly constrained by what came before, that small difference in the number of ways the nerve grew out from the middle because the difference between a lineage with a single spinal chord and bilateral symmetry, and, eventually, a brain, and a lineage with radial symmetry, and no brain.

    So I’m saying yes, there was more disparity earliery, when, counted as number of phyla (more than now, as some when extinct) and yes, those phyla each gave rise to radically different body plans. But I’m saying that what Meyer glosses over is evidence that they weren’t so different at the beginning – just as Common Descent predicts.

    And I’m also saying that we can see that Meyer is glossing over this, because when he draws (or commissions drawings) to illustrate the concept, he gets it completely wrong, circling as “phyla” groups that have no node.

  189. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Mung, I just checked, and you are in fact incorrect. Meyer does use the term common descent…

    What am I “in fact” incorrect about? From your post it’s almost impossible to discern what claim you think I made that I am incorrect about. Please clarify.

    Now, as for this nonsense about Meyer arguing against common descent.

    How do explain the first diagram in your OP at TSZ? How do you interpret that diagram in light of your belief about what Meyer is arguing against?

    Was each class specially created and was each genus specially created? Is that what you think Meyer is saying? To me they show common descent. I’d like to know how that fits your narrative.

  190. Elizabeth Liddle:

    The early part of the book is devoted to making the argument that there is a problem (“early disparity”) to solve – that what we observe isn’t what Darwin expected, and therefore Darwin’s mechanism can’t explain it.

    That’s not how I would have put it, but at least you’re beginning to see the light.

  191. This book has presented four separate scientific critiques demonstrating the inadequacy of the neo-Darwinian mechanism, the mechanism that Dawkins assumes can produce the appearance of design without intelligent guidance. It has shown that the neo-Darwinian mechanism fails to account for the orign of genetic information because: (1) it has no means of efficiently searching combinatorial sequence space for functional genes and proteins and, consequently, (2) it requires unrealistically long waiting times to generate even a single new gene or protein. It has also shown that the mechanism cannot produce new body plans because: (3) early acting mutations, the only kind capable of generating large-scale changes, are also invariably deleterious, and (4) genetic mutations cannot, in any case, generate the epigenetic information necessary to build a body plan.

    – Meyer (p. 411)

    I am truly attempting to understand your logic Elizabeth. It took me a while to understand that you think Meyer is arguing for special creation.

    Now my question is, since Meyer claims to be disputing the adequacy of the neo-darwinian mechanism, and he does so repeatedly in the book, from cover to cover, including explicitly in Chapter 2 and Chapter 7 (as I have no documented), how does it follow that he is arguing against common descent?

    What’s your reasoning? Are you saying that you can’t separate the two?

  192. Elizabeth B Liddle:

    Meyer is defining “disparity” as “lots of higher taxa”.

    Is this another alleged quote of Meyer that isn’t a quote of Meyer? Quote-facturing again?

    Where in the book does Meyer define disparity as “lots of higher taxa”? I understand you have it on Kindle, so just get us in the general vicinity please.

    Start with the chapter and at least some sort of actual quote. If you have one.

  193. EL:

    So I’m saying yes, there was more disparity earliery, when, counted as number of phyla (more than now, as some when extinct) and yes, those phyla each gave rise to radically different body plans.

    Just. Priceless.

  194. Elizabeth B Liddle:

    Meyer is defining “disparity” as “lots of higher taxa”.

    Elizabeth, how do you reconcile the differences between your characterization of what Meyer wrote and what Meyer actually wrote?

    In its technical sense, disparity refers to the major differences in form that separate the higher-level taxonomic categories such as phyla, classes and orders. In contrast, the term diversity refers to minor differences among organisms classified as different genera or species. Put another way, disparity refers to life’s basic themes; diversity refers to the variations on those themes.

    – Meyer (p. 39)

  195. Meyer argues that under Common Descent we should see small morphological distances between lineages that become larger over time, as each lineage diversifies down separate lineages.

    Correct.

    Indeed.

    He then argues that we don’t see this.

    Wrong.

    He bases his assertion that we don’t see it on the fact that “phyla” divisions, come before “lower taxa” such as “families” or “genera” in the fossil record.

    Correct.

    He then characterises phyla as groups separated by a “large morphological distance”, and thus argues that because phyla came before genera, then large distances came before small, in contradiction to the expectation under Common Descent.

    It seems that you’re attempting to argue that the morphological differences evident in the Cambrian fauna aren’t really of any significance, at least not enough contradict the standard Darwinian picture of development. Is that correct? If so, your argument is a rather strange one. If, indeed, the morphological differences apparent in the Cambrian fauna are small, then why on earth would Darwin and subsequent scientists have perceived the Cambrian as a problem in need of explanation? Why have there been so many artifact hypotheses? What is it exactly that persons working within the Neo-Darwinian framework are trying to explain? That there was a relatively abrupt appearance of organisms that weren’t terribly different from one another? There was an excellent article on ENV that came out in the same month as Darwin’s Doubt. It highlights some major points of intersection between Meyer’s book and Erwin and Valentine’s book on the Cambrian explosion. Here’s the link:
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....73671.html
    There are a few statements from the piece that are particularly relevant to your position:

    To be sure, all pairs of crown phyla had common ancestors; as far as we know, however, none of those bilaterian LCAs had features that would cause them to be diagnosed as members of living phyla, although that could be the case in a few instances. In other words, the morphological distances — gaps — between body plans of crown phyla were present when body fossils first appeared during the explosion and have been with us ever since. The morphological disparity is so great between most phyla that the homologous reference points or landmarks required for quantitative studies of morphology are absent. (p. 340)
    (Emphasis mine)

    Here’s another:

    Morphologic evolution is commonly depicted with lineages more or less gradually diverging from their common ancestor. New features arise along the evolving lineages … Gould (1989, 38) characterized this pattern as the “cone of increasing diversity,” but neither the Cambrian nor the living marine fauna display this pattern. (pp. 339-340)
    (Emphasis from article)

    Now this is precisely the argument that Meyer makes. He’s not fabricating or equivocating anything. The distinction between the theoretical expectation of Darwinism and the fossil data for morphological development is real. It cannot simply be defined away. J.Y. Chen also described the fossil pattern as being in opposition to Darwinian expectations (see Darwin’s Doubt pg. 50-52).
    You write:

    Bottom line: Common Descent predicts that small differences will precede diversification. This is what we observe in the fossil record. What we call things is irrelevant to the straightforward match between prediction and observation.

    The Cambrian explosion begs to differ.

  196. @ EL
    You wrote:

    He isn’t stupid. I think it’s worse than that.

    In my view, Darwin’s Doubt is a masterpiece of equivocation, and I think Meyer is smart enough to know this. That is why I express my disapproval in my post – not because I am “prejudiced” against his case (it would be cool if true) but because I don’t think he is being honest. I think the book is a piece of polemic disguised as reasonable argument, and the trick used is the oldest one in the book – equivocation with terms.

    My point is simply the point I made: that Meyer’s book is not a scientific book, albeit one dealing with “scientific topics”, because Meyer’[sic] lacks the knowledge and understanding of palaeontology to write a scientific books[sic].

    Either he is so convinced of his own priors that he has missed his own error, or he knows it’s there, but wanted to write a book that encouraged people to think that the Cambrian Explosion is evidence for God.

    You’re quite a maelstrom of ad hominem, aren’t you? First, you indicate that Meyer isn’t stupid – he’s just devious, dishonestly making up stories about the Cambrian to make it into a boogeyman for Darwinian theory. Second, you indicate that maybe he is stupid after all – that is, of course, generally what is meant by ‘lacks the relevant knowledge and understanding’. I’m rather confused about your standpoint, but I suppose confusion is the handmaiden of contradiction. What really blew me away is your knee-jerk inclination to dismiss an entire book with some seventy pages of endnotes and references as a lame attempt to foster belief in God. Why are you in such a rush to drag theology into so many of these discussions? Do the potential theistic implications of ID make you uncomfortable? What might that imply about your own motivations for opposing ID so stridently (and ineptly)?

  197. I’m still waiting for an answer to me question in #176, reffering to “while the set of shared features is inferred to have been possessed by the common ancestor.”

    Again, Elizabeth. Can you you give me an example of the ‘common ancestor(s)’ that your implying exist in the fossil record, concering the Cambrain fossils of course?

    The reason I ask Elizabeth is this; if Meyer is making an argument against ‘common descent’, as you are trying to assert, then surely there must exist fossils that show this taking place in a step by step fashion.

    Or is it the case that this is not what his main argument is about at all?

  198. To make things clearer; I don’t see why Meyer would base his whole argument on something that hasn’t been shown to have ever existed(common ancestor). Why would he?

    It’s all about mechanisms, surely.

  199. Collin, Please scroll up. You will see that EL is repeatedly refusing to address on the merits the framework laid out by Darwin et al (to include the punc eq theory of the 70′s – 80′s) that shows why per evolutionary materialist approaches we will have increasing diversity across time, and why an insistence on classification schemes that are rooted in observed populations will not include consistently hypothetical but not observed ancestral species. In that context, the insistence to trash Meyer as incompetent needs to be understood in a wider context of an obvious and uncivil ideological agenda. One that unfortunately needs to be sufficiently highlighted to burn through the filters and deflection tactics; for much the same reason why advertisers repeat their messages. KF

  200. PS: You will observe how as well the challenge to actually document evolutionary origin of a phylum from a root species per observations congruent with blind watchmaker assumptions or models has gone conspicuously un-answered. It remains the case that the only empirically warranted mechanism capable of causing FSCO/I is design.

  201. PPS: If you will read DD chs 6 and 7 you will see why punc eq failed as a theory of body plan level origins, after its splash introduction, as the issue of where the variations came from to make the new species through geographic isolation came about. Turns out the punc eq model depends strongly on CV + DRS –> IDWUM, as I have discussed above. In short the punc eq model of speciation is not a good model of novel body plan origin.

  202. KF, I have addressed that repeatedly. It was the entire point of my original post.

    PeterJ: Yes, there are examples in the fossil record of step by step changes, including within the Cambrian itself. But the organisms right at a node itself are unlikely to be found because they are necessarily far less numerous. The way that phylogenetic inference works is that a tree is fitted to a distribution of inherited “characters” of known organisms. The tree that is fitted to the Cambrian is not, contrary to Meyer’s contention, in contradiction to what is expected under Darwinian common descent with modification. Meyer’s argument rests equivocation with the concept of taxonomic categories.

    Optimus: I am certainly highly critical of Meyer but my argument is not “ad hominem”; unlike arguments made here by Mung and KF against me, namely, that my argument must be wrong because I am a bad person, my argument is not that Meyer’s argument must be wrong because he is dishonest and/or stupid.

    My argument is that Meyer’s argument is fallacious on the grounds I have given (equivocation) and that therefore, because he is not stupid, I suspect him of dishonesty.

    I certainly consider that the diagrams that he has in his book are verging on fraudulent. They certainly do not represent what he claims they do.

  203. PPPS: Also, we must never let this slip our notice, that for 150 years the fossil patterns have shown sudden onset phylum and subphylum level biodiversity at the Cambrian. The Ediacaran fauna shows a similar bang onset of broad diversity, and there is no good case that they are precursors to the Cambrian diversity. Both conventional NDT and punc eek will expect much lower level diversity accumulating to the radical architectural differences of phylum and sub phylum level.

    P4S: This is one case where we really do need to read the book, to get a flavour for the careful research and obvious experience of teaching fairly technical materials at introductory level that have gone into it. That such a book had to be brought out as a bridge building science informed worldviews work by a publisher that is relatively immune to pressure tactics on sci textbooks etc, speaks volumes about the known censorship tactics of our day. Or, are we so soon conveniently forgetting the obvious power moves played against Springer Verlag over a conference compendium?

  204. EL: let’s notice the weasel words for what they are. You are accusing of or closely associating what you disagree with, with fraud in a context where there is no good reason for so grave a charge. There is a very reasonable explanation for the main features of Meyer’s text and diagrams that makes the figures reasonable, apart from a typo that appears in two diags from what I have seen. Evidently you refuse to accept that darwinist theories will lead to incrementally increasing stem and crown diversity across time, leading to diversity accumulating into disparity. That is what Darwin taught, as Meyer cited and as has been clipped above, and it is a reasonable inference on punc eq also. But when taxonomy is cleared of ideologically loaded a prioris and is based on actually observed populations and characteristics [living or fossil], it is natural that unobserved hypothetical ancestral species will not appear in the categories that cluster species based on wider and wider in common characteristics. Consequently on the assumed branching tree origins, we will see taxonomic loops that cut across multiple branches coming in. Going out, further developments of more derived species would lead to multiple branches leading out. So, the logic of matching the branching tree model to the constraint of taxonomy on observed forms accounts for the features you are so desperate to associate with loaded terms like fraud. That contrast speaks volumes and not in your favour, for the point has been repeatedly highlighted to you without cogent response on your part. This leaves us to conclude that your interest here is exactly what has been shown by what you host and seek to justify at your blog: grotesque conspiracy theories designed to poison the atmosphere. KF

  205. F/N: Onlookers, I need to link that point again to document the conspiracy theories, as it is the context of all that appears above. And BTW, I think part of what is going on is that a lot of what Meyer says with meticulous research to back it up, with cites and carefully reasoned narrative is exactly the framework of facts, reasoning and inferences EL has been ducking, dodging, mischaracterising and deflecting at and around UD for years. We se the underlying Dawkins pattern, if you disagree with our partlyline, you are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked. KF

  206. KF:

    PPPS: Also, we must never let this slip our notice, that for 150 years the fossil patterns have shown sudden onset phylum and subphylum level biodiversity at the Cambrian.

    Indeed, although “sudden” is a relative term. It didn’t happen overnight.

    The Ediacaran fauna shows a similar bang onset of broad diversity, and there is no good case that they are precursors to the Cambrian diversity.

    But there is a good case that some Ediacaran groups are ancestral to Cambrian groups, and indeed to all that came later.

    Both conventional NDT and punc eek will expect much lower level diversity accumulating to the radical architectural differences of phylum and sub phylum level.

    No. What “conventional NDT and punc eek will expect” is a fractal, which is what we observe. We expect lower diversity after a major extinction event, followed by a re-radiation.

    Something like this sketch.

    I also recommend this paper by Charles F Marshall (cited by Meyer):

    Explaining the Cambrian “Explosion” of Animals (pdf)

    It lays out both the problems and some (but not all) of the solutions, clearly and dispassionately.

  207. EL: let’s notice the weasel words for what they are. You are accusing of or closely associating what you disagree with, with fraud in a context where there is no good reason for so grave a charge. There is a very reasonable explanation for the main features of Meyer’s text and diagrams that makes the figures reasonable, apart from a typo that appears in two diags from what I have seen. Evidently you refuse to accept that darwinist theories will lead to incrementally increasing stem and crown diversity across time, leading to diversity accumulating into disparity.

    I do not dispute, as I have said, clearly, that “darwinist theories will lead to incrementally increasing stem and crown diversity across time”. What I do dispute is that this will lead to increasing “disparity” if “disparity” is defined as the number of “higher” taxa”. That would be a simple contradiction in terms. “Higher” taxa must precede “lower” according to the theory.

    You can’t get subdivisions of a set before you have the set.

    …it is natural that unobserved hypothetical ancestral species will not appear in the categories that cluster species based on wider and wider in common characteristics.

    Traits possessed by “unobserved hypothetical ancestral” populations will appear in later clusters. That’s why the ancestral population is hypothesised.

    Consequently on the assumed branching tree origins, we will see taxonomic loops that cut across multiple branches coming in.

    This is just incoherent.

    Going out, further developments of more derived species would lead to multiple branches leading out.

    Of course. So higher taxonomic categories, like “phyla” will precede the sub groups such as classes and genera.

    And as branches go extinct, as time goes by the number of phyla will reduce, but the number of sub groups on the remaining branches increase.

    Just as we observe.

  208. EL: More spinning away. The fact is, the Cambrian fossils for dozens of phyla and subphyla, require explanation of origin of body plans requiring 10 – 100+ Mn bits of genetic info for cell types, plus epigenetics which is where the actual body plan seems to come from. The vast majority of Cambrian forms have just no plausible fossil antecedents, INCLUDING the Ediacaran, as is documented in sufficient detail by the author you are trashing, in the very book you are trashing. your refusal to see that the superposition of a hypothetical branching tree pattern on a situation where taxa will be based on OBSERVED forms, in a context where the legendary root species are consistently missing will mean that loops will cut above imagined root nodes — the very multiple entry points that you have tried to decry, does not change the cogency of that logic. I simply repeat the challenge: demonstrate, preferably from a unicellular root, OBSERVED origin of a phylum of the Cambrian from actual fossil forms. I confidently say this has not been done after 150 years of scouring the world, 250,000 + fossil species, millions of collected specimens and billions of others observed in the ground. (On this last, let me just point out that Barbados is a fossil coral limestone island, with square miles of fossils.) KF

  209. PS: Let us just say that from Darwin on, theorists have had very good reason to see that on incrementalist evolutionary models, the expectation would be of gradual emergence of wider and wider diversity ranging up to body plan level. I repeat, the credible genetic increment of FSCO/I for a body plan is on simple calcs backed up by observed forms, 10 – 100+ mn bits. This neglects further epigenetic info that actually makes new cell types into body plans. The notion presented above that phyla would emerge rapidly, is not credible save to the eye of a priori materialist faith building an after the fact ad hoc explanation.

  210. KF: the spin is purely in your imagination.

    What I’m saying is that Meyer’s disparity-diversity argument doesn’t work.

    Sure, there are still lots of unsolved puzzles in the Cambrian and Ediacaran, but the disparity-diversity thing is, dare I say it, a red herring.

  211. What I’m saying is that Meyer’s disparity-diversity argument doesn’t work.

    Of course it does. It is a clear reading of the data. There are various organisms in the Cambrian. They can be grouped by those with different sets of body plans. Group 1 are all those organisms that have a specific body plan, Group 2 are all those organisms that have a different but specific body plan, etc. No one has figured out a way how two different plans could arise from a common ancestor let alone about 30.

    No one has observed a new body plan arising since the Cambrian from another body plan. The term to indicate the presence of these different body plans is called disparity or a major difference between two different organisms because of very different body plans. That has been a traditional use of the term.

    Within a body plan we have zillions of instances of small variations in this body plan once the original body plan arrived. This is called diversity or represents relatively small differences. These are clear uses of these terms and Meyer uses them as have others before him.

    The question is how did these organisms with different body plans arise. There is nothing in the fossil record to indicate that there were predecessors that could lead to the various body plans. I believe there may have been a sponge prior to the Cambrian but there is nothing to indicate how a sponge could morph into the various body plans. This is not something Meyer has made up as he quotes scientific reference after scientific reference. Including James Valentine who has spent more time on this topic than anyone.

    The whole thrust of the book is about how could these various body plans or disparity arise. It is less about the variety afterwards except that it is counter to what Darwin would expect. It is only about UCD in the sense that it also gets questioned as there is no clear path from a LUCA to the various body plans. But the book is mainly about a possible mechanism. To say otherwise is disingenuous at best.

  212. Hi Jerry,

    Your post above is what I’ve been trying to infer for quite some time, asking Elizabeth to provide an example of the stepwise evolution of even one Cambrian animal, from the fossils available.

    The reason I ask is that I don’t believe there exists such a record and therefore I don’t see how or why Meyer would base his argument on the ‘common descent’ of such a creature, especially when it can’t be observed.

    It’s as you say; and argument about the mechanisms.

  213. Liz:

    OK, here is the principle.

    Let’s say you start of with one kind of organism. We’ll call it a Ribbit.

    The Ribbit population splits into two for some reason – perhaps half of it gets stranded on an island – and so you get two non-interbreeding populations of Ribbits.

    We call these two species of Ribbits. We’ll call one lot Ribbit Islandia and the other lot Ribbit Mainlandia.

    After a while each species of Ribbit also subdivides, so we have four kinds of Ribbits.

    Ribbit Islandia Major and Ribbit Islandia Minor, and Ribbit Mainlandia Carnivore and Ribbit Mainlandia Omnivore.

    Then those subdivide as wall, so we have Ribbit Islandia Major Bigteeth and Ribbit Islandia Major Sharpteeth, Ribbit Islandia Major Bigfoot and Ribbit Islandia Major Smallfoot, Ribbit Mainlandia Carnivore Fluffy, Ribbit Mainlandia Carnivore Smooth, Ribbit Mainlandia Omnivore Hairy and Ribbit Mainlandia Ominivore Bald.

    So what was two species of Ribbit, Islandia and Mainlandia, now needs another name.

    So a taxonomist arriving late on the scene will declare Ribbit a “Kingdom”, Islandia and Mainlandia, “phyla”, Major, Minor, Omnivore and Carnivore “Classes”, Bigteeth, Sharpteeth, Bigfoot, Smallfoot, Fluffy, Smooth, Hairy, Bald, all “Orders”.

    And so on.

    Just so. :/

    I don’t think it is the principle that is at issue. We all understand the principle. I’m pretty sure that Meyer understands the principle as well. Rather it is the data that is problematic. If the data were there, we wouldn’t be talking about “Ribbits,” now would we?

    Straight question: Is disparity apparent in the fossil record or not?

    It seems to me that you are avoiding this question/issue by appealing to what is not in evidence instead of addressing what is. Persisting in this makes it look like you are deliberately creating a smoke screen.

  214. Ribbit

    All this about Ribbits is well understood but considered trivial. We may get a million different types of Ribbits but no new complex capabilities. Different colors and sizes but no new body plans. Just a lot of diversity.

    Now if one of these lines started to produce some very unusual capabilities and altered body plans then we might sit up and pay attention. Meyer and the ID folks have been saying that this probably never happened. It might have but we have yet to see the examples. Meyer also gives good reasons why it probably never happened. Not proof of anything specific but supportive that another approach may be at the heart of life changes in the last 600 billion years.

  215. Elizabeth B Liddle:

    I do not dispute, as I have said, clearly, that “darwinist theories will lead to incrementally increasing stem and crown diversity across time”. What I do dispute is that this will lead to increasing “disparity” if “disparity” is defined as the number of “higher” taxa”. That would be a simple contradiction in terms. “Higher” taxa must precede “lower” according to the theory.

    Simply. Priceless.

    EL:

    You can’t get subdivisions of a set before you have the set.

    No one is dividing sets into subdivisions, Elizabeth. So yet another straw man. And poor logic to boot. Phyla do not come before species.

    Standard Darwinian theory holds that over time populations diverge and new species emerge. So if there is any “set” things are added to it. What subdivision?

    Higher taxa, as I was careful to point out above, do not actually exist, so there is no event that can cause some “set” of a higher taxa to subdivide. You are simply confused.

  216. I simply repeat the challenge: demonstrate, preferably from a unicellular root, OBSERVED origin of a phylum of the Cambrian from actual fossil forms

    This so challenge is so disconnected from the reality of biology or geology that it’s hard to imagine it’s presented in good fait. Do you really mean that you’ll only accept common descent if you are shown and organism-by-organism series that connects something like a choanoflagellate to an extant phylum? If you require impossible evidence, then it’s impossible t change your mind. So why would anyone bother?

  217. If you require impossible evidence, then it’s impossible t change your mind. So why would anyone bother?

    I think reasonable evidence would suffice. But my experience is that the whole thing is begged. That it is assumed a priori.

    As an aside to this whole debate, James Valentine was interviewed on the Cambrian Explosion several years ago. It is available through ARN. He is certainly no friend of ID but is quite honest in his answers. He assumes naturalistic processes accounted for all the Cambrian and that the multicellular cell type process probably started about 680 million years ago.

    Essentially he says the Cambrian represents the point in time when there were enough cell types available to build the complex body plans. He says Darwinian processes can not explain the Cambrian. He thinks other naturalistic processes are the source of everything. But no evidence, just his speculation.

    The introduction to his new book is online. It is about 10 pages. The book itself is only available as a hard back and not as an ebook.

  218. Mung an Elizabeth,

    You guys seem to be arguing at cross purposes here.

    Ming, higher taxa are “real” in the sense they are a linage (which is what Myer got wrong in his diagrams, btw). So when the velvet-worm lineage split from the arthropod lineage a phylum was born. Of course, if someone was there to witness they wouldn’t have given the sister species the rank of phylum. It’s the ranks we place on the lineages that are more or less arbitrary.

    The problem is the “tree-thinking” the modern definitions of taxa require are difficult for human minds to deal with. We prefer to think typologically. This really hits the wall when we look at something like the Cambrian, where we look for the “first undisputed arthropod” or chordate or whatever. And lo and behold, as soon as we find something that definitely fits our modern definition of arthropod it’s very distinct from molluscs or annelids or whatever. There is “disparity”.

    But if you are a tree-thinker you know this has to be the case, because the arthropod ancestors that share traits will other protostomes will obviously be harder to differentiate from their close-cousins. Indeed, there are endless debates about how the Ediacaran and early Cambrian animals relate to modern ones. That’s often presented as a weakness of evolutionary biology, but it’s in fact a prediction of tree-thinking.

    There is no doubt that the ‘root’ of the animal tree is pretty fuzzy at the moment (though molecular phylogenies and evo-devo have taught us a huge amount about among-phylum relationships). Or even that the cambrian represents an elevated rate of evolution. But the idea it’s a show stopper for evolution, or needed direction from a god, is really not justified.

  219. KF,

    A question: Do you think mitochondrial eve (i.e. the most recent matralineal ancestor of humanity) existed? What observation do you base this belief on?

  220. I think reasonable evidence would suffice.
    So, the question becomes what amounts to reasonable evidence…

  221. Dr. Liddle, thanks for your explanation in 184.

  222. wd400:

    Ming, higher taxa are “real” in the sense they are a linage (which is what Myer got wrong in his diagrams, btw). So when the velvet-worm lineage split from the arthropod lineage a phylum was born.

    jerry:

    I think reasonable evidence would suffice. But my experience is that the whole thing is begged. That it is assumed a priori.

    Mm-hm. And Meyer is then blamed for not understanding because he isn’t making the proper a priori assumptions.

  223. So first I have to be a “population-thinker” and when I try that I’m told I have to be a “tree-thinker.”

    If every new species is a new phyla, why are there so many species and so few phyla?

  224. Phineas,

    That arthropods and velvet worms are sister taxa is not an assumption – it’s a conclusion based on morphological and molecular data.

  225. So first I have to be a “population-thinker” and when I try that I’m told I have to be a “tree-thinker.”

    Yes, more or less. Population thinking helps us to understand how genes and traits behave over generational time scales. When those same forces combine with barriers to gene flow we move from populations to trees. Population genetic models, especially the coalescent, help up bridge the gap.

    If every new species is a new phyla, why are there so many species and so few phyla?

    No one said every new species is a new phylum. Every new species is a lineage, every taxon is a lineage. The ranks we give to lineages above species are arbitrary, and usually reflect differences that have accrued since the split that created the linage.

  226. wd400,

    But every new species is potentially a new phyla, correct? I mean, in 1 million years, maybe homo-sapiens are the first of the hominid-cyborgs.

  227. Onlookers, observe no response on the issue that to get to a body plan you are credibly looking at increments of 10 – 100+ mn bits of additional genetic info to provide the cell types for tissues, etc. That is going to take considerable time to emerge on any gradualist mechanism — indeed it is highly doubtful that any blind watchmaker chance and necessity process can do it on the gamut of our solar system. That highlights the significance of what we have seen for 150 years. KF

  228. But every new species is potentially a new phyla, correct?

    More or less. Every new lineage has it’s own evolutionary future, and may in time become so distinct they are given a new rank. The herichical nature of taxonomy means “new” lineages are unlikely to be called phyla anytime soon (new lineage are twigs in the tree of life, an higher ranks go to the boughs from which twigs spring. Which is why it’s amusing to hear some creationists complain that no new phyla have sprung up lately)

  229. RE 223: It’s a rhetorical question. A new phylum is not created every time there is a new species.

    Not every species diverges from it’s sister species to the point where they are classified as separate phyla. And if two sister species do diverge they would first be classified as separate genera, not as separate phyla.

    All one has top do is look at current classifications of living species to see that this is so.

    And then if they diverge further they would be classified as separate families. And this would be LONG before they were classified as separate phyla, even assuming they continued to diverge such as they became so fundamentally different that even the body plan was not the same.

    And now we’re back to how to define a phylum, and the claim that a phylum must by definition include all the ancestors of all the living members of the phylum, which is simply false.

    And then there’s the absurd claim, by implication, that Meyer excludes from membership in a phylum the organisms in the Cambrian! Seriously, that’s where the logic takes you if you follow it (if you believe it).

    btw, wd400, Meyer’s 2.11 doesn’t even include phyla. Are you saying it should have identified these groups as phyla?

    That’s what Elizabeth did, in her version of the diagram.

  230. wd400:

    That arthropods and velvet worms are sister taxa is not an assumption – it’s a conclusion based on morphological and molecular data.

    When you say, “sister taxa,” are you limiting the definition strictly to biological classification? Since taxa are classified based on morphology, it would certainly make sense that being “sister taxa” is not an assumption. But your post didn’t sound like you were limiting your definition in this way.

    When you start talking about lineages splitting, you’ve stepped outside arthropods and velvet worms simply being classified as “sister taxa” based on morphology and have started making some assumptions. According to the fossil record, what evidence is there to support these assumptions? And how can morphology be evidence toward lineages splitting without making all sorts of assumptions?

    Equivocating between these two ways of thinking about “sister taxa” is just the sort of sloppy thinking that Mung is calling out.

  231. wd400, of course she and I are arguing at cross-purposes here. :)

    She thinks Meyer is a special creationist who denies common descent and that his book as an attempt at refuting common descent. I strongly disagree with her.

    Her belief leads her to make claims that I think are factually false.

    Here’s an example:

    Meyer is defining “disparity” as “lots of higher taxa”.

    Now, I’d like to think you’ve read the book, but I don’t have any reason to believe that you have.

    So how do you define disparity and how do you define diversity. And if you’ll tell me that I’ll try to quote Meyer enough to convince you as to whether Meyer defines if the way you define it or the way that elizabeth claims he defines it? Fair offer?

  232. And now we’re back to how to define a phylum, and the claim that a phylum must by definition include all the ancestors of all the living members of the phylum, which is simply false

    Not all the ancestor. Everything that descends from the most recent common ancestor of the living members. That’s what Meyer get’s wrong, and it applies to all taxa, not just phyla.

    If you want to make arguments about disparity then you need to embrace the “fuzziness” at the root of the animal tree, at least when it comes to fossils (as I say, the molecular data is more clear, but we cant get molecules from the fossils, unless Sal still thinks the world is 10k years old and there is a conspiracy to prevent C14 dating on them…).

  233. WD400:

    Do you really mean that you’ll only accept common descent if you are shown and organism-by-organism series that connects something like a choanoflagellate to an extant phylum?

    Do you always need to erect and knock over a strawman, then use it to try to denigrate the “enemy” as irrational and/or dishonest?

    FYI I have said utterly nothing about common descent per se, universal or limited.

    I instead made a point to underscore the significance of the need to ground taxons in OBSERVED populations. And, that this naturally produces a pattern at especially body plan level where the hypothesised chain of nodes and branches will intersect the actually observed populations in a way that will not normally come down to a root node.

    Thus the song and dance above over the horrid thing Meyer is imagined to have done is yet another ad hominem laced strawman game.

    However, I must thank you for inadvertently underscoring that the origin of phyla is lacking in a pattern of observational grounds. That is, there is not actual observational warrant for the claim that the dozens of body plans originated by a process of macroevo tracing to blind watchmaker chance and necessity.

    I multiply that by the wider but just as warranted point, that no one has empirically shown that blind chance and mechanical necessity can make the FSCO/I that would b4e required for such body plan origin.

    In short, ypou have not demionstrated the causal force requirted to say that such traces as we see are best excplained on these factors.

    What I can say quite freely is that (i) the only empirically warranted source of FSCO/I is design, and (ii) life forms, from unicellular to the dozens of major body plans, are chock full of FSCO/I.

    I am therefore well in my scientific, inductive logic, epistemic rights to conclude that the forms that manifest that FSCO/I are best explained on design.

    KF

  234. Do you always need to erect and knock over a strawman, then use it to try to denigrate the “enemy” as irrational and/or dishonest?

    If you wish to be understood then please write clearly. Can you please explain your “challenge” in simple English.

  235. Q: But every new species is potentially a new phyla, correct?

    wd400:

    More or less. Every new lineage has it’s own evolutionary future, and may in time become so distinct they are given a new rank.

    But would that new rank be “phylum” right off the bat? What’s the next rank “above” species and why?

    wd400:

    Every new lineage has it’s own evolutionary future, and may in time become so distinct they are given a new rank.

    How “distinct” must they be before they are classified as separate phyla? Different body plans?

    Here’s Elizabeth:

    “Higher” taxa must precede “lower” according to the theory.

    Another claim I consider to be factually false. Darwinism is a bottom up theory. What say you?

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    You can’t get subdivisions of a set before you have the set.

    You can’t get classes before you have phyla.

    And you can’t get orders before you have classes.

    And you can’t get families before you have orders.

    And you can’t get genera before you have families.

    And you can’t get species before you have genera, and families, and orders, and classes, and phyla.

    And the reductio ad absurdam serves it’s purpose.

    Maybe she’ll listen to you, but she seems pretty invested in her position.

  236. Mung,

    I haven’t read Meyer’s latest book. I read some of one he wrote on a topic I know a lot more about (Signature in teh Cell) and it was so misinformed I wouldn’t bother with another. I’ve only tried to correct people’s misapprehensions in this thread.

    The term “diversity” means… a lot of things to a lot of people. The degree to which some set of thngs contains differences is the closest you’ll get. Disparity is a kind of diversity, what “neontologists” like me would call beta-diversity, or the presence of multiple higher-level taxa or crudely morphologically distinct organisms in the same stratum.

  237. WD400: you full well know that observational warrant is the touchstone and test of scientific reasoning. In this case I think if you cannot show actual populations and observationally ground the blind watchmaker processes held to have originated a phylum from an ancestral species, then the tree pattern is a fantasy, and the classification scheme redefined in terms of imaginary species — as opposed to actually observed ones — becomes an exercise in ideological question begging. So, if you demand that classifications must go back to root node ancestral species, you need to show observational warrant. absent such warrant, EL’s demand that Meyer’s diagrams loop around imagined ancestral species in a situation where such are hypothetical, is an exercise in question begging. KF

  238. Are humans a species?

  239. wd400:

    Not all the ancestor. Everything that descends from the most recent common ancestor of the living members. That’s what Meyer get’s wrong, and it applies to all taxa, not just phyla.

    No, that’s what Elizabeth got wrong. Did you look at her modifications to Meyer’s diagram? for her, it’s phyla all the way down!

    This is why I asked both of you to state where you would have drawn the circles. Because now we can see what a red herring the whole discussion was.

  240. Right, this has been fund and all, but I have to do some proper work.

    KF,

    I still have no idea what your challenge is. If you want to express it in simple English with no two dollar words and acronyms go for it. Otherwise I don’t know why I’d bother.

    Mung,

    I give up. I really have tried to explain this as clearly as I can. It is absolutely an unequivocally the case that phyla and other taxa are defined as lineages, and must include all members of that lineages. (That’s why, for instance “Fish” is not a taxonomic group, since some fish are more closely related to tetrapods that ray-finned fish). This is relevant to considering the origin of groups, as they will necessarily be hard to trace at the very base of the tree (indeed, that is almost universly the case when try to find the origin of a group like birds, humans or animals in general).

  241. wd400:

    It is absolutely an unequivocally the case that phyla and other taxa are defined as lineages, and must include all members of that lineages.

    And I think that’s false.

    Your tactics are similar to those that Elizabeth employs. Just toss stuff out without any supporting quotes or references. But that only gets you so far, as Elizabeth has discovered. But you’re not in her class, heck, you’re not even in the same phylum!

    wd400:

    It is absolutely an unequivocally the case that phyla and other taxa are defined as lineages, and must include all members of that lineages.

    Presumably all the way back to the universal common ancestor. Else a lineage must exclude the most recent common ancestor if it’s shared by any sister taxa.

    I’m not stupid. So where do you draw the circles, if you disagree with Meyer?

    I give up.

    Hopefully it’s a temporary condition and one not indicative of a desire to cease to exist.

    Now, if you could just offer your opinion of Elizabeth’s emendations to Meyer’s drawing. Talk about a howler.

  242. Elizabeth Liddle:

    I also recommend this paper by Charles F Marshall (cited by Meyer):

    Marshall seems to have read the book, unlike so many of the “skeptics” over at your blog.

    When Theory Trumps Observation: Responding to Charles Marshall’s Review of Darwin’s Doubt

  243. Meyer:

    His is the first critical review (“When Prior Belief Trumps Scholarship,” September 20, 2013) to grapple with the book’s main arguments about the inability of standard evolutionary mechanisms to explain the origin of morphological novelty in the Cambrian period.

  244. @ Mung 242:

    Check out this raving lunatic at Mike’s blog >

    http://blogs.christianpost.com.....ore-18187/

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