Home » Intelligent Design » A Bogey Moment with PZ Myers

A Bogey Moment with PZ Myers

It is interesting to see how evolutionists respond to failures of their theory. For all their talk of following the evidence and adjusting to new data, evolutionists find all kinds of ways to resist learning from their failures. Consider one of the major failures of evolution, its view of the very nature of biological change. Twentieth century evolutionary theory held that biological change is a rather simple process that is blind to the needs of the organism. As Julian Huxley, grandson of Darwin confidant T. H. Huxley, put it, mutations “occur without reference to their possible consequences or biological uses.”   Read more

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115 Responses to A Bogey Moment with PZ Myers

  1. PZ sez “epigenetics isn’t Lamarkism”?

    Let’s see Larmarkism is the inheritance of acquired traits.

    With epigenetics organisms can inherit acquired traits (agouti mice).

    It is obvious that the two have nuthin’ in common- that is if you are a complete dolt.

  2. PZ sez “epigenetics isn’t Lamarkism”?

    Let’s see Larmarkism is the inheritance of acquired traits.

    With epigenetics organisms can inherit acquired traits (agouti mice).

    It is obvious that the two have nuthin’ in common- that is if you are a complete dolt.

  3. I am sorry but epigenetics is not Lamarckism. Epigenetics is inheritance through a mechanism other than DNA. Lamarckism is inheriting acquired characteristics. You can have Larmarckism without epigenetics and epigenetics without Larmarckism.

    It is true that in those cases where there is evidence for Larmarckism then a plausible mechanism is epigenetics and what evidence there is for Larmarckism has mostly (but not exclusively) arisen during studies of epigenetics. But this is quite different from saying they the same thing.

    More interestingly – epigenetics and Larmarckism are both examples of natural mechanisms for evolution that do not rely on RM+NS.

  4. Mark Frank,

    Read “Evolution in Four Dimensions” and you will see that you are wrong.

    Epigenetics effects the DNA.

    Epigenetics is an acquired trait that can then be passed on to the offspring- again read about the agouti mice.

    And also epigenetics fits in very well with Dr Spetner’s “built-in responses to environmental cues”.

  5. From Wikipedia:

    ” . . . the term epigenetics refers to changes in phenotype (appearance) or gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence . . .”

  6. From Science:

    ” . . . epigenetics — the study of heritable changes in gene function that occur without a change in the DNA sequence . . . ”

    http://www.sciencemag.org/feat.....netics.dtl

  7. You don’t have to change the DNA to affect it.

    For example cellular differentiation is epigenetics- that is the cells are different not because they contain different DNA but because that DNA is affected by external pressures- ie chemicals.

    But anyway DNA methylation, doesn’t change the DNA sequence but can affect the gene expression.

  8. Begley’s article

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/215563

    quite carefully does not define epigenetics as the inheritance of acquired traits, or even as the mechanism by which acquired traits are inherited. She does suggest (by reporting Vargas) that epigenetics may prove to be a mechanism by which acquired traits are inherited. What she does seem to get wrong is not underlining the difference between inheritance of acquired traits and “mere” developmental plasticity as demonstrated by examples like the face-licking rats.

    In higher-rent areas it seems they have a better argument for why “it isn’t Lamarckism!”:

    http://genomicron.blogspot.com.....n-did.html

    Apparently nearly everyone believed in some form and degree of inheritance of acquired traits back in the day (including Darwin), and so the distinctive thing about Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s thinking was actually his belief in a form of orthogenesis (also involving polyphyly). So to define ‘Lamarckism’ as the inheritance of acquired traits is historically inaccurate. But of course that is the definition of ‘Lamarckism’ that Modern Synthesis biologists were using when they were almost uniformly dismissive of ‘Lamarckism’.

  9. Dr. Hunter seems to have provided an abbreviated quotation from Dr. Myers. Here is a fuller version, from Pharyngula, scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/09/maybe_the_media_should_intervi.php?utm_source=sbhomepage&utm_medium=link&utm_content=channellink:

    Epigenetics is not Lamarckism! Also, Begley doesn’t seem to understand that the institution of science is extremely conservative, and rightly so: we ‘man the barricades’ because science isn’t like the Huffington Post, letting any wacky idea sail through unchallenged. There is a demand for rigor: show us the data, do the experiments, repeat until you’ve got a case that can’t be shot down by a lone skeptical first year grad student. Postulating reptoids guiding human evolution isn’t going to be credible until someone shoots one and writes a paper about the dissection, and Lamarckism is going to be sneered at until someone does the experiment that shows it.

    I don’t think academia has been neglecting this field because of dogma, either. Epigenetics is hot right now (and again, it’s NOT Lamarckism!), and there’s some interesting work going on in the field of eco-devo. I also think that a replication of Kammerer’s work that demonstrated an actual effect would be easily publishable — I’d be interested in reading it, for sure.

    We’re all the evolution police. It isn’t as sinister as Begley seems to imply: we just demand a little more evidence than speculation.

  10. Lets see what Lamarck wrote:

    1.Law of use and disuse.

    “In every animal which has not passed the limit of its development, a more frequent and continuous use of any organ gradually strengthens, develops and enlarges that organ, and gives it a power proportional to the length of time it has been so used; while the permanent disuse of any organ imperceptibly weakens and deteriorates it, and progressively diminishes its functional capacity, until it finally disappears.”

    2.Inheritance of acquired traits.

    “All the acquisitions or losses wrought by nature on individuals, through the influence of the environment in which their race has long been placed, and hence through the influence of the predominant use or permanent disuse of any organ; all these are preserved by reproduction to the new individuals which arise, provided that the acquired modifications are common to both sexes, or at least to the individuals which produce the young.”

    Finally

    The environment affects the shape and organization of animals, that is to say that when the environment becomes very different, it produces in course of time corresponding modifications in the shape and organization of animals. It is true if this statement were to be taken literally, I should be convicted of an error; for whatever the environment may do, it does not work any direct modification whatever in the shape and organization of animals. But great alterations in the environments of animals lead to great alterations in their needs, and these alterations in their needs necessarily lead to others in their activities. Now if the new needs become permanent, the animals then adopt new habits which last as long as the needs that evoked them.

    I really don’t see any connection between epigenetics and Lamarkism.

  11. polyphyly

    Duh. I meant multiple origins of life.

  12. Epigenetics: Genome, Meet Your Environment
    As the evidence accumulates for epigenetics, researchers reacquire a taste for Lamarckism
    :

    (second to last paragraph)

    “Epigenetics has always been Lamarckian. I really don’t think there’s any controversy,” Doug Ruden

  13. #12

    Joseph

    What he is saying in the article is that epigenetics often (maybe always, but I doubt it) leads to Lamarckian inheritance. This is quite different from saying they are the same thing.

  14. I’m having flashbacks of Clinton defining “is.”

  15. Wasn’t the same P.Z. Myers recently exulting that a small group of lizards introduced to Pod Mrcaru

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyn.....lizard.php

    responded to (presumably) their changed diet by rapidly developing cecal valves? Even though the valves developed much more rapidly than anyone expected differential reproductive success plus random variation to be able to generate such a feature from scratch? In what way is that event not almost as supportive of “Lamarckism” as inducing midwife toads to develop nursing pads?

    Surely it’s not just that the Pod Mrcaru events were presented to Dr. Myers as “rapid evolution” rather than “Lamarckism”?

  16. From Wikipedia:

    “Epigenetic features may play a role in short-term adaptation of species by allowing for reversible phenotype variability. The modification of epigenetic features associated with a region of DNA allows organisms, on a multigenerational time scale, to switch between phenotypes that express and repress that particular gene. When the DNA sequence of the region is not mutated, this change is reversible. It has also been speculated that organisms may take advantage of differential mutation rates associated with epigenetic features to control the mutation rates of particular genes.”

  17. Mark Frank,

    PZ said “epigenetics is NOT Lamarkism”.

    Obviously it is.

    What else do you want?

  18. #17

    “Obviously it is.”

    Uhm – I think you should read comment #14.

  19. 19

    #10

    “2.Inheritance of acquired traits. … I really don’t see any connection between epigenetics and Lamarkism.”

    The denial of evolutionists is amazing. In epigenetics you have biological change occurring rapidly (eg, within a few generations or less) in response to environmental pressures, and it can be inherited. That’s “Inheritance of acquired traits.” It is not neo Darwinism (which is not observed).

    Epigenetics includes mechanisms that alter the DNA and mechanisms that do not.

  20. #19

    Epigenetics includes mechanisms that alter the DNA and mechanisms that do not.

    Have you read posts #5 and #6?

    There is clearly a fundamental difference between your definition of epigenetics and that in Science. Perhaps you would care to make your definition explicit and gives its source?

  21. It almost goes without saying that if some of the inter-war “Lamarckians” finally have some of their experimental results vindicated – and especially if Kammerer is among them – then there will be crow. A couple of examples:

    p. 244- in Peter J. Bowler’s Evolution: The History of an Idea

    http://books.google.com/books?.....8;pg=PA244

    Chapter 12, “Lysenkoism” in Martin Garnder’s Fads and Fallacies

    http://books.google.com/books?.....8;pg=PA140

    (the book which is something approaching the founding text of the contemporary skeptical movement: http://www.tricksterbook.com/A.....erview.htm )

  22. @19 and to all those saying Lamarckism is the inheritance of acquired traits:

    The idea of inheritance of acquired traits has been around long before Lamarck, and even Darwin believed a little in the inheritance of acquired traits (and hence his incorrect pangenesis theory to explain it).

    I quoted the two main ideas of Lamarck. Both those ideas are incorrect. Lamarck’s main idea is that traits (for example as organ sizes) are passed on to offspring based on its use and disuse due to needs within the environment. This is not the same as epigenetics.

  23. Martin Garnder

    Feh, Gardner.

  24. #22

    You are right of course and thank you for the correction. Lamarckism is more specific than the inheritance of acquired traits. It is the inheritance and disinheritance of traits acquired and lost through use and disuse. Neither the inheritance of acquired traits nor Lamarckism are the same as epigenetics which might well be used to pass on traits that were not acquired but formed at birth.

  25. So one example of epigenetics is the calico (and tortoiseshell) cats. How is that inheritance of an acquired trait? The calico trait wasn’t from the parent if one was black and one orange (the genes came from the parents, but not the trait). This has nothing to do with Lamarckism, it has to do with Mendelian inheritance mixed in with X chromosome inactivation.
    Kittens from the cat may or may not be calico (depending on the father) but this has nothing to do with the use or disuse of the fur.

    Therefore PZ is correct in saying epigenetics is not Lamarckism.

  26. 26

    #20

    Yes, good point. I take that back–adaptive mutations are often not considered to be part of epigenetics. What I should have said is that the inheritance of acquired traits can occur both ways (ie, without and with DNA modifications).

  27. Dr Hunter,

    And you should say that epigenetics does NOT involve modification of the DNA. It is just a matter of definition of the terms. There is research being done all around these effects and it is important to get the vocabulary down so that everyone is referring to the same phenomena. :-)

    No one is denying that new mechanisms are being analyzed and understood. That’s science. Let’s just make sure we are all using the same terms.

  28. 28

    #22:

    The idea of inheritance of acquired traits has been around long before Lamarck, and even Darwin believed a little in the inheritance of acquired traits (and hence his incorrect pangenesis theory to explain it).

    Of course, but that doesn’t mean Lamarck did not hypothesize the inheritance of acquired traits. Of course not everything that Lamarck hypothesized fits with epigenetics. The point is that epigenetic mechanisms make for the inheritance of acquired traits — sorry but that’s Lamarckian.

  29. 29

    #27:

    Let’s just make sure we are all using the same terms.

    Agreed, but keep in mind that there is a broad set of mechanisms and there is some variance in how the terms are used.

  30. #28

    “Agreed, but keep in mind that there is a broad set of mechanisms and there is some variance in how the terms are used.”

    I am still intrigued to know how you define epigenetics and where you got the definition from.

  31. More on Lamarck’s wacky theory.

    We shall see presently by the citation of known facts which prove it, on one side that the new wants, having rendered such a part necessary, have really by the result of efforts give origin to this part, and that as the result of its sustained use it has gradually strengthened it, developed, and has ended in considerably increasing its size; on the other side we shall see that, in certain cases, the new circumstances and new wants having rendered such a part wholly useless, the total lack of use of this part has led to the result that it has gradually ceased to receive the developement which the other parts of the animal obtain; that it gradually becomes emaciated and thin ; and that finally, when this lack of use has been total during a long time, the part in question ends in disappearing.

    And just before his quote (my post 10) on acquired characteristics.

    Now, the true order of things necessary t consider in all this consists in recognizing:
    1. That every slight change maintained under the circumstances where occur each race of animals, brings about in them a real change in their wants.
    2. That every change in the wants of animals necessitates in them other movements (actions) to satisfy the new needs, and consequently other habits.
    3. That every new want necessitating new actions to satisfy it, demands of the animal which feels it both the more frequent use of such of its parts of which before it made less use, which develops and considerably enlarges them, and the use of new parts which necessity has cause to insensibly develop in it by the effects of its inner feeling which I shall constantly prove by known facts.

    epigenetics has nothing to do with ‘inner feeling’.

    These excerpts have been taken from the book Lamarck, the founder of evolution, downloadable from Google books.

  32. @28

    The point is that epigenetic mechanisms make for the inheritance of acquired traits — sorry but that’s Lamarckian.

    No its not. No matter how many times you repeat it.

    I bring out a number of excerpts from Lamarck which refute the fact that his writing have nothing to do with epigenetics.

    You say that Lamarck is inheritance of acquired traits and that inheritance of acquired traits is epigenetics. Both of these are incorrect.

    As I have shown in several posts Lamarck is inheritance of acquired traits through use and disuse based on wants and feelings.

    Epigenetics may include inheritance of acquired traits, but it does not necessarily have to be (ie the calico cat is not necessarily an acquired trait).

  33. Cornelius,
    Saying Lamarckism is “inheritance of acquired characteristics” is like saying Darwinian evolution is “survival of the fittest.” They are both pop culture catch phrases that have little to do with the actual ideas. look at the text you didn’t quote from post 10. does that really sound like, for example, feeding mice folic acid and turning their offspring brown? how are the mice responding to an inner “need”?

  34. Three brief comments:

    1. Quotation was in context.
    2. This reminds me of those “OH, but you stupid creationists are speaking of darwinism, this is outdated, today we have neo-darwinism”.
    3. I made a presentation about epigenetics last semester (for a genetics class) and IMO, it is fair to call this whole thing “neo lamarckism”. Though we should keep in mind the fact that to atheists it doesnt matter the mechanism or such names, as long as it remains a materialism only approach to empirical research.

  35. MaxAug@33 -

    I think your #1 point might be directed at my post (#9). Just as explanation, I did not provide the full quote to say the quote used by Dr. Hunter was out of context.

    Nevertheless, I think that Dr. Myers’s points are fair, reasonable. To me, they express something like exasperation and not defensive maneuvering.

    Indeed, I am struck by Myers’ apparent openness to any hypothesis, so long as the requirement for “rigor” is met. Is this a fair requirement?

  36. 36

    #30:

    In the post I referenced a good recent review:

    http://www.journals.uchicago.e.....086/598822

    You can also see this overview and its citations:

    http://www.darwinspredictions......_variation

  37. 37

    #32

    You say that Lamarck is inheritance of acquired traits [but this is] incorrect.

    As I have shown in several posts Lamarck is inheritance of acquired traits through use and disuse …

    So it isn’t, but it is, but it isn’t, but …

    Bottom line: if you won’t accept that Lamarckism entails the inheritance of acquired traits, then for you epigenetics is not a type of Lamarkism.

  38. Not Lamarckism? Unbelievable. And I suppose Darwin didn’t use any religious arguments either.

    This was bound to lead back to religion sooner or later. You were right not to disappoint your audience.

    Yet, in spite of all this fuss, we still do not see – to quote an old example – the children of blacksmith inevitably born with unusually brawny arms. We do not see 100 m sprinters regularly siring children who can get closer to 9.5 seconds than their parents. The offspring of great musicians cannot be relied upon to surpass the talent of their mothers or fathers.

    Still not much sign of Lamarckism it would seem.

    Not much sign of religion in Darwin’s work , either.

  39. 39

    #38

    Not much sign of religion in Darwin’s work, either.

    It is remarkable that evolutionists declare truths about god and then deny it. Darwin’s work was full of religion. I discuss it in *Science’s Blind Spot.*

  40. Re #36

    Thanks for the two links. Unfortunately they lead to different definitions of epigenetics – so I am none the wiser!

    The quarterly review of biology article conveniently devotes a lot of space to defining epigenetics and while it is full of detail it is in line with how I understand it – inheritance through methods other modification of the DNA.

    A key quote is:

    Epigenetic inheritance is a component of epigenetics. It occurs when phenotypic variations that do not stem from variations in DNA base sequences are transmitted to subsequent generations of cells or organisms

    The second link is, of course, written by yourself. You don’t actually define epigenetics but under that heading you write:

    In fact, for years evidence has been growing that species have sophisticated adaptation mechanisms to respond to immediate needs, and that they pass on their adaptation information to their offspring.

    which is a sort of Larmarckism (hdx has rightly pointed out above that Larmarck’s own theory was different). So maybe you define epigenetics as Lamarckism? That would explain your disagreement with PZ Myers and most biologists as you appear to have a different definition.

    But rather than get bogged down in definitions it might be more fruitful to considering the consequences of inheritance by methods other than modification of the DNA (let’s call this epigenetics) for modern evolutionary theory (MET) and ID.

    As far as MET is concerned epigenetics is a scientific extension and potential revision of some of the theory. The observations are made, the experiments are done. At first there is scepticism but if the data continues to show that epigenetics is important then eventually MET will be modified in the light of the data. This is science as usual.

    ID argues that current MET=RM+NS and RM+NS cannot account for certain aspects of life therefore life must have been designed. Epigenetics presents a non-designed extension to RM+NS. So this undermines the whole argument.

  41. ID argues that current MET=RM+NS and RM+NS cannot account for certain aspects of life therefore life must have been designed. Epigenetics presents a non-designed extension to RM+NS. So this undermines the whole argument.

    ID doesn’t argue that RM+NS can’t, it argues that, as far as our observations indicate, only intelligence can.
    If epigenetics modifies living things according to their environment and needs, then it is simply another feature that requires explanation. What caused epigenetic inheritance? RM+NS? The questions are unchanged.

  42. Scot, #41

    “ID doesn’t argue that RM+NS can’t, it argues that, as far as our observations indicate, only intelligence can.”

    So . . . RM+NS could? Yeah? Just trying to make sure I’m clear here.

    “What caused epigenetic inheritance?”

    Pretty clearly organisms that can change how some of their genes are expressed are better suited to survive changes in their environment. Is that what you mean? I don’t think so but I don’t want to put words in your mouth. :-)

  43. ellazimm,

    So . . . RM+NS could? Yeah? Just trying to make sure I’m clear here.

    Read the FAQ. Then the discussion will make more sense.

    Pretty clearly organisms that can change how some of their genes are expressed are better suited to survive changes in their environment.

    Makes sense. Now we’re describing a rather complicated behavior. Which is more difficult – planning or constructing a spiderweb, or determining which morphological changes are possible considering ones own genome, which ones would be beneficial in one’s environment, and then editing one’s own DNA accordingly?
    I’m not ruling out the possibility that living creatures do it, but the behavior still requires one heck of an evolutionary explanation. Let me guess – RM+NS? Welcome back to square one.

  44. 44

    ellazim,

    So what did you make of the Abel paper?

  45. Upright . . . I DON’T REMEMBER!! :-)

    Give me the link again and I’ll look right now! :-)

  46. #41 Scottandrews

    I am bored so we might as well go round this again ….

    “ID doesn’t argue that RM+NS can’t, it argues that, as far as our observations indicate, only intelligence can.”

    And how does it set about proving this? By attempting to show that life is vastly improbable given RM+NS. Point me to any other argument for ID. To put it another way – if it were shown beyond all reasonable doubt that RM+NS can create life would there be any other reason for supposing ID to be true?

  47. I was wondering . . . if one of those mutations that Dr Behe talks about as being extremely improbable occurred would you think that there was no edge of evolution OR would you think that maybe the intelligent designer had intervened? Actually, now that I think about it . . . . how can you tell the difference? How do you know that lots and lots of “beneficial” mutations aren’t the intelligent designer tweaking things here or there? Why not? ‘Cause if (s)he/they were doing it fairly often then the statistics about mutation frequency would be skewed by the interventions . . . wouldn’t they? Maybe skewed isn’t the right word . . . biased?

    Sorry, I like to ask questions. :-)

  48. Mark Frank,

    I don’t understand how you propose to argue against something without first taking steps to understand it. Your question suggests that you don’t understand, on a fundamental level, what ID is. Why is it up to me to explain that? Read the FAQ.

  49. Scott,

    Obviously you’re under no obligation to reply but there are folks who come on here and try and explain aspects of evolution even though there are plenty of books and websites. I ask questions because I’d like to hear what people think not just what someone else wrote in the FAQ. Plus, I do try and ask questions I haven’t heard answered before OR I have heard differing answers. :-)

    I understand that ID says that some aspects of biological . . . . development are better explain by the intervention of an intelligent designer as opposed to RM+NS+other processes. But I still think there are lots of unanswered questions that I would think the ID supporters would be interested in examining. Like, why do men have nipples? And, why do snakes and whales have vestigal legs? Or why is Australia primarily populated by marsupials?

  50. Ellazimm,

    I understand where you’re coming from, and I agree. But this particular question has been answered before. And it’s not an in-depth question. It involves a surface-level understanding of the premise of ID. That can’t be too much to ask of someone who wants to debate the subject, even if they disagree with that premise. (As you stated in your post, you understand it, whether or not you agree with it.)

    As for the other questions, I can understand some frustration that ID offers not a single answer. But it’s a new theory. Everything takes time. Right now it faces an uphill battle to get a foothold in science against those who oppose it for purely ideological reasons.

    Keep in mind that Darwinism offers no explanations either, as to why there are men, nipples, snakes, whales, legs, or marsupials.

  51. Scott,

    I think evolution does have an answer to some of those questions!! That’s why I’m asking here!! I WANT to know what the alternative explanations are!! What do YOU think? You must have wondered? You must have.

    You’ve got . . . what . . 60% of the American public behind you. Ask for funding, do the research!! Go ahead!! What are you waiting for? Ask for help!!! You don’t need to find a foothold!! You just need to tap into your support base!! Do it!!

  52. Dinner time here in the UK. Apologies if I don’t respond immediately!

  53. ellazimm:

    Thanks for the cheerful talk, but ID isn’t that much of a big deal to me, just something interesting to talk about.

    But I would love to hear an evolutionary explanation of how men or nipples evolved. With specifics, though. No ‘it evolved’ or ‘it mutated.’ What were the series of mutations, and how or why did each one get fixed? If there is no explanation at this time, I would settle for a similar step-by-step explanation of some other evolution, and we could infer that nipples occurred in some similar fashion. That’s reasonable.

  54. hahahahahaha Shall we have a “Google off”? :-) We both ask each other things we could find on our own!! :-)

    I’ll do my best after I get the family down for the night!! :-)

    But I am still inerested in the ID paradigm about men’s nipples. What is the hypothesised guiding principle? That can be answered without waiting for the contrary view. Surely. Someone has thought about it . . . Surely.

  55. The answer is simply this. ID determines that a given thing could not have come about without deliberate, designing intelligence.
    (While I’ll assume that nipples were designed, I’m not aware that nipples have been specifically studied through the ID lens.)
    Why men have nipples is not a question ID addresses or answers. ID is a test, not an umbrella theory that encompasses all the ways or reasons a thing could have been designed.
    Some seize upon that as a shortcoming while failing to explain why the core test of ID is invalid. IOW – Thermometers are wrong because they don’t explain how the heat was generated. But does that mean that they are reporting the temperature inaccurately?

  56. ps – I was being rhetorical when I asked for an explanation of evolutionary events. I already know that there are none. The existence of such knowledge would be the end of the debate. Good news – we can exchange each others’ Google homework and still have the night off!

  57. ellazimm:

    I’ll begin with these.

    And if there are some who think that a prince who conveys an impression of his wisdom is not so through his own ability, but through the good advisers that he has around him, beyond doubt they are deceived, because this is an axiom which never fails: that a prince who is not wise himself will never take good advice, unless by chance he has yielded his affairs entirely to one person who happens to be a very prudent man. In this case indeed he may be well governed, but it would not be for long, because such a governor would in a short time take away his state from him.

    But if a prince who is not experienced should take counsel from more than one he will never get united counsels, nor will he know how to unite them. Each of the counsellors will think of his own interests, and the prince will not know how to control them or to see through them. And they are not to be found otherwise, because men will always prove untrue to you unless they are kept honest by constraint. Therefore it must be inferred that good counsels, whencesoever they come, are born of the wisdom of the prince, and not the wisdom of the prince from good counsels.

    - Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince chapter 23

    THe simplest way to put it is this: you can not escape natural selection. even if epigenetics is shown to be the main mode of inheritance (very doubtful), selection still has to operate on the machinery responsible for the adaptive variation.

    - Khan, http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-320645

    Who designed the designer?

    - popular wisdom

    Does this shed some light?

  58. 58

    Ellazim,

    I find it somewhat hard to believe you when you say things like:

    “I ask questions because I’d like to hear what people think not just what someone else wrote in the FAQ. Plus, I do try and ask questions I haven’t heard answered before OR I have heard differing answers.”

    I provided a link to p-r research that directly talked to the questions you asked. You seemingly blew it off, yet, you have returned several times to ask the same general level of questions. It makes one wonder.

    The link I gave you was:
    http://www.tbiomed.com/content/2/1/29

    Mark Frank,

    Perhaps you should break down and give it a read as well since it’s not a probabilities argument – and that is what you claim to want to see.

    Well…see it.

  59. Upright:

    I have started to read the research you linked to; I’m sorry I gave the wrong impression, my fault. It’s very dense. I’m not sure I can argue all its points on the week that my 7-year old son almost got hit by a car on the way to school and I’ve been fighting an low level virius and I’m trying to plan for his 8th birthday party. But it is clear that one has to be a specialist in the field to interpret:

    “One of the requirements of any semantic/semiotic system is that the selection of alphanumeric characters/units be “arbitrary”[47]. This implies that they must be contingent and independent of causal determinism. Pattee [72-74] and Rocha [58] refer to this arbitrariness of sequencing as being “dynamically inert.” “Arbitrary” does not mean in this context “random,” but rather “unconstrained by necessity.” Contingent means that events could occur in multiple ways. The result could just as easily have been otherwise. Unit selection at each locus in the string is unconstrained. The laws of physics and chemistry apply equally to whatever sequencing occurs. The situation is analogous to flipping a “fair coin.” Even though the heads and tails side of the coin are physically different, the outcome of the coin toss is unrelated to dynamical causation. A heads result (rather than a tails) is contingent, unconstrained by initial conditions or law.”

    I am not that specialist! But I will make the attempt around my other . . . duties. :-)

    Aside from arguing about the specifics, which is the bedrock of the disagreement, there still has to be a level of . . . . guess where ID proponents speculate about things like male nipples. Surely. I’m just going to google the mainstream thoughts on this but I really, really, really want to know what you all think about this issue. Independent of what “Darwinists” think. You must have thought about it! Have a guess!!

  60. How about this regarding male nipples:

    “The uncoupling of male and female traits occurs if there is selection for it: if the trait is important to the reproductive success of both males and females but the best or “optimal” trait is different for a male and a female. We would not expect such an uncoupling if the attribute is important in both sexes and the “optimal” value is similar in both sexes, nor would we expect uncoupling to evolve if the attribute is important to one sex but unimportant in the other. The latter is the case for nipples. Their advantage in females, in terms of reproductive success, is clear. But because the genetic “default” is for males and females to share characters, the presence of nipples in males is probably best explained as a genetic correlation that persists through lack of selection against them, rather than selection for them. Interestingly, though, it could be argued that the occurrence of problems associated with the male nipple, such as carcinoma, constitutes contemporary selection against them. In a sense, male nipples are analogous to vestigial structures such as the remnants of useless pelvic bones in whales: if they did much harm, they would have disappeared.”

    You might disagree with it but. . . have you got a viable alternative explanation? That’s what I want to hear: your alternative! Why would I be here otherwise? :-)

  61. anonym: You linked to a thread which included:

    “Under the hood, biology reveals far more complex and intelligent mechanisms for change, collectively referred to as epigenetic inheritance.”

    And

    “Epigenetic inheritance falsifies evolution’s prediction about adaptation and evolutionists are in denial about both the evidence, and its implications.”

    AND

    “This is what ID is, seeing a pattern in nature that you’re already familiar with. The arrangement of life falls into familiar patterns, just like Stonehenge. It should not be ruled out because ID is seen in a cell instead of a rock formation David. Unless you have an a priori prejudice against finding ID in the cell (maybe it hits too close to home), the inference is just as obvious, if not more obvious, (once the complexity of the cell is grasped) than the design inference of Stonehenge.”

  62. ellazimm (47)

    I was wondering . . . if one of those mutations that Dr Behe talks about as being extremely improbable occurred would you think that there was no edge of evolution OR would you think that maybe the intelligent designer had intervened? Actually, now that I think about it . . . . how can you tell the difference?

    An interesting question. I suppose if the mutation took a very brief period of time for a multitude of complex reactions that was nearly infinitely improbable I would call that miraculous. That would be in the same category as a man crippled from birth standing up and walking, or a blind person being able to see. However, if the reaction took a logical length of time for the number of reactions that occurred naturally I would have to say that no miraculous action was performed. Miracles have happened and have been documented. The creation of the universe happened outside the laws of nature, so the universe and everyone in it was created miraculously.

  63. Following up on #59:

    (ellazimm quoting Abel and Trevors):

    “One of the requirements of any semantic/semiotic system is that the selection of alphanumeric characters/units be “arbitrary”[47].

    Well, the experimental evidence shows that the “alphanumeric characters/units” in life are not arbitrary.

    Someone needs to explain why the rest of A&T’s nearly-incomprehensible tome should be taken seriously. It’s obvious got nothing to do with biology and reality.

  64. Why men have nipples is not a question ID addresses or answers. ID is a test, not an umbrella theory that encompasses all the ways or reasons a thing could have been designed.

    And this, IMHO, is why the vast majority of scientists summarily dismiss ID. This is equivalent to a geologist claiming that geology only involves being able to distinguish rocks from other forms of matter, and then happily crossing the Rockies identifying rocks left and right without wondering how the mountains got there in the first place.

    To say “we’ve detected design!” and then head off down to the pub strikes the scientific community as rather odd. The “how” of things is where ID gets really interesting, yet there seems to be an odd lack of interest in exploring this area.

    Thermometers are wrong because they don’t explain how the heat was generated. But does that mean that they are reporting the temperature inaccurately?

    OK – so which is correct – axial, rectal or oral readings? Thermometer readings only make real sense in light of the other knowledge about heat, heat transfer, body temperatures and patterns, etc. Without that related knowledge the test results are completely useless. “ID is a test” seems to suffer from much of the same problem.

  65. ellazimm (#61): Yes; the second quote in particular relates directly to my point in http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-335931 #57. It is of course true that a creature (or a species) blessed with some means of adaptive variation in addition to “RM + NS” (it would seem that “undirected variation + differential reproductive success” is more precise) is capable of adaptations that would be effectively impossible through RM + NS alone. The question is how the system of adaptive variation arose, how it says arisen, and how updates or improvements to the system (if any) came about.

    If you say that the ability has been programmed into the species (or an ancestor) by some kind of designer(s), or if you say (like Lamarck, and afaict Kammerer) that it’s a direct or indirect result of some kind of vital force or telic influence that affects living things, then you are (whether you know it or not) an ID supporter, and NCSE and the Army of Steves are gunning for you. If, on the other hand, you are confident that everything in biology can be fully explained in terms of a purely materialistic basic physics, with no miraculous design interventions and no woo woo of any other kind, then you are facing the bootstrap problems pointed towards in #57. To explain any given system of adaptative variation, those two options are (almost) exhaustive; the only way to escape or minimise the dilemma is to deny adaptive variation or to minimise its amazingness (respectively).

  66. 66

    ellazimm,

    You successfully deflected the argument and changed the topic to an unrelated issue without ever having addressed the evidence or displaying the capacity to subject your conclusions to the risk of disconfirmation by the observations at hand.

    Congratulations. You advance with a perfect score.

  67. Upright,

    I KNOW what I think! I’m trying to figure out what other people think and why. :-) I question my “conclusions” all the time.

    I did find Abel & Trevor’s paper very difficult to read . . . I will try again.

  68. From the conclusion of Abel & Trevor’s paper:

    “Algorithmic “self-organization” has never been observed [70] despite numerous publications that have misused the term [21,151-162]. Bone fide organization always arises from choice contingency, not chance contingency or necessity.”

    And

    “Nucleic acid prescription of function cannot be explained by “order out of chaos” or by “order on the edge of chaos” [163]. Physical phase changes cannot write algorithms. Biopolymeric matrices of high information retention are among the most complex entities known to science. They do not and can not arise from low-informational self-ordering phenomena. Instead of order from chaos, the genetic code was algorithmically optimized to deliver highly informational, aperiodic, specified complexity”

    I do not have the background to evaluate the veracity of the mathematics or how well it models the biological reality. I do think that when part of the argument is that something has never been observed and that something cannot happen (trying to prove a negative) then I do get a bit wary.

    Has this work been reviewed anywhere by someone else in the field?

  69. ellazimm (#60),

    I am from the evolutin police, you know, what PZ Myers referred to when he said (see #9),

    We’re all the evolution police. It isn’t as sinister as Begley seems to imply: we just demand a little more evidence than speculation.

    It seems that you accept the concept that

    the presence of nipples in males is probably best explained as a genetic correlation that persists through lack of selection against them, rather than selection for them.

    However, this is speculation. Not only that, but it is evident that there is negative selection against male nipples, in the form of carcinoma, as noted later in your quote. Now this may be rare, but according to Darwin, even slight selection pressure acting over millions of years is enough to change the phenotype for the better, that is, the more likely to survive.

    In the name of PZ Myers, I demand that you stop this speculation without evidence, and in this case even against the evidence. ;)

  70. Paul,

    hahahahahhaahha :-)

    I do tend to trust people who have spent years and years and years of their lives studying biological phenomena and whose work has been published in places where it’s been available for criticism from others of the same ilk. Even when I was in grad school I had to defend my views against the maddening crowd that liked nothing better than to shoot me down.

    I suspect that males didn’t live long enough and bred too early for selection pressure from carcinoma to have an effect until quite recently.

  71. Re #48

    ScottAndrews, you wrote:

    “I don’t understand how you propose to argue against something without first taking steps to understand it. Your question suggests that you don’t understand, on a fundamental level, what ID is. Why is it up to me to explain that? Read the FAQ.”

    You were presumably responding to my #46. The only question I asked in #46 was “And how does it set about proving this?” which was clearly a rhetorical question which I answered myself. I think maybe you were referring to my challenge to point to a “proof” of ID other than attempting to show the low probability of some aspect of life given RM+NS. Now maybe I don’t understand some aspect of ID but I cannot find such a proof in the FAQs and I have never come across such a proof in the 5 or so years I have been reading about ID. Surely it is not too hard to point to one. This proof cannot, of course, use CSI, FSCI, or IC, all of which require that a result be wildly improbable given RM+NS.

  72. Mark Frank:

    Let’s say you’re right, which I am not conceding. If knowing that X is wildly improbable is not enough to dissuade you from assuming that X is, by far, the best explanation, despite a logical inference based on tons of experience which suggests otherwise, what’s the point in trying to reason?
    Perhaps instead of the FAQ I should point to the dictionary, and the meaning of “improbable.” I’m not sure people know what that means.
    What you’re proposing is improbable, not in a manner that can be overcome by repeated attempts, but assuming all the attempts ever made.
    If you believe that the improbable is probable, what it the point of further addressing the question using logic? We’re at an impasse.

  73. #72

    ScottAndrews

    First. I am not sure now – are you able to point to a proof of ID that does not require showing that NS+RM is wildly improbable?

    Meanwhile your post #72 has a number of things that need clarifying.

    My original point (back in #40) was that

    ID argues that current MET=RM+NS and RM+NS cannot account for certain aspects of life therefore life must have been designed. Epigenetics presents a non-designed extension to RM+NS. So this undermines the whole argument.

    You can see I was not disputing whether RM+NS can account for life. I was merely pointing out that even if it cannot, then there are known natural alternatives (and there may of course be unknown natural alternatives) so design does not follow.

    To try and answer your specific point.

    If knowing that X is wildly improbable is not enough to dissuade you from assuming that X is, by far, the best explanation, despite a logical inference based on tons of experience which suggests otherwise, what’s the point in trying to reason?

    You seem to be confusing X is wildly improbable with (O|X) is wildly improbable. I don’t think anyone disputes that there is such a thing as random mutation and natural selection. They are both observed almost every day. So the probability of RM+NS is very high. The question is does RM+NS account for various aspect of life. What is the probability of various aspects of life given RM+NS?

    Having rephrased your question (I hope correctly) the answer is still not simple. The fact that a(O|H) is very low is not in itself a reason for dismissing H. I am sure William Dembski would agree with this. He would say that O has to be specified. I, and many others, would disagree. Elliot Sober is particular good on this. Try reading the chapter on intelligent design and Evidence and Evolution.

  74. Sorry that last sentence should read:

    Try reading the chapter on intelligent design in his book Evidence and Evolution.

  75. ellazimm (#70),

    Glad you like the joke.

    Seriously, though, the irony is that PZ never attacks evolutionary speculation with anywhere near the same vigor as he attacks ID. It can be called selective hyperskepticism.

    I suspect the real reason for male nipples is that it is too hard (impossible?) to code for female nipples in female humans without coding for male nipples, and in the era before bottles, female nipples were necessary for survival. This works whether humans were designed or evolved, and therefore provides no differentiation between ID and unguided evolution. Does that answer your original question?

    To get back to the original post, some epigenetic changes are at least partly Lamarkian, and so the categorical denial is inappropriate.

  76. ellazimm (#70),

    I do tend to trust people who have spent years and years and years of their lives studying biological phenomena . . .

    As they said when I was growing up, “Keep the faith, baby.”

    People do not realize how much trust, faith, whatever you want to call it, is involved with science. There really isn’t that much of a gap between science and religion in this area.

  77. Mark Frank:
    First. I am not sure now – are you able to point to a proof of ID that does not require showing that NS+RM is wildly improbable?

    Here is where your logic fails. If you find a 500-page novel, why do you conclude that it came from a writer, not as a result of chance? Because you know that writers write books, or because astronomical odds disfavor random chance?

    The answer is that a writer wrote the book because writers write books. You wouldn’t consider the odds of the book occurring by chance because no one would ask such a stupid question. The inference is enough.

    Now lots of people start suggesting, with no evidence, that books can occur by chance. It’s nonsense, but you calculate the improbable odds and include them when stating your inference. Does that mean that we’re now concluding that writers write books only because of the odds against chance?

    That CSI, FCSI, and IC result from intelligence is an inference based on observation. That is the evidence you claim does not exist.

    The side point that they are highly improbable is not at the core of that inference. It’s only necessary because of the persistent fantasy that such things come about by chance.

    Either the inference or the probability, individually, is a sound basis for drawing a conclusion. You offer no meaningful objection to either, which means you haven’t a leg to stand on.

    Your claim has been answered.

  78. #77

    ScottAndrews

    Would you care to give a definition of CSI, FCSI, and IC that avoids talking about the improbability of a chance explanation? CSI means a specified outcome that is highly unlikely to arise by chance. Look the glossary. The definition is:

    ? = – log2[10^120 ·?S(T)·P(T|H)]

    the H in this case is chance!

    Look at another way. If it were shown to your satisfaction that in fact the bacterial flagellum could have arisen through RM+NS would you have any reason for supposing it was designed?

  79. Mark Frank:

    If it were shown to your satisfaction that in fact the bacterial flagellum could have arisen through RM+NS would you have any reason for supposing it was designed?

    If that were demonstrated, then the inference that only intelligent design produces such complexities would no longer be valid. It’s an inference based on observation. You want to invalidate the inference without producing a shred of evidence contradicting that from which the conclusion is inferred. You want to *poof* away the inference and the odds on some imagined technicality. And when you do, somehow your fantasy of accidentally built machinery will win by default.

    If you need scientific definitions of complexity and probability calculations to tell you that DNA reproduction and beehives don’t happen by accident, the battle is half lost.
    Bottom line for me: Neither I, you, nor anyone else has ever observed random processes organizing functional complexity or increasing it. Belief in such a phenomenon is beyond the bounds of science. It’s nonsense. No one can ever use it to explain anything, ever, and call it science. If you remember one thing, remember that.
    Intelligence is real. It doesn’t paint the whole picture, but it’s still real and observed vs. nonsensical fantasy.

    Your determined belief, in the face of any fragment of the evidence you ignore, puts you squarely in fantasy land.

  80. 80
    William J. Murray

    Mark Frank writes: If it were shown to your satisfaction that in fact the bacterial flagellum could have arisen through RM+NS would you have any reason for supposing it was designed?

    The problem in this question lies in the parameters of what constitutes “could have”. Providing a pathway for something to occur doesn’t mean that, given the probability bounds of chance and known physiodynamic forces, it has a meaningful probability of occurring.

    However, if it is shown that it has a probability of occurring within the probability bounds of the system, then of course ID is no longer the better explanation.

  81. 81
    William J. Murray

    It seems that some consider it improper to make an argument against chance; which is more improprer – to make an argument that chance cannot account for something, or to make no argument that chance can account for something?

    It seems that the chancers want to be able to take their position for granted; that, unless ID can prove otherwise, chance is the better explanation … without even having provided a description of probability bounds that demonstrate chance to be a sufficient explanation.

    Until the chancers can show chance (+ physiodynamic forces) to be sufficient, then all they have is a hypothesis that doesn’t rise to the level of a theory, much less a fact.

  82. #77, ScottAndrews

    That CSI, FCSI, and IC result from intelligence is an inference based on observation.

    Two questions:

    Based on observation, can one infer that CSI, FCSI and IC result from non-intelligent causes?

    What is the evidential strength of observing that SI, FCSI and IC result from non-intelligence?

    Thanks,
    LT

  83. #80

    William Murray

    However, if it is shown that it has a probability of occurring within the probability bounds of the system, then of course ID is no longer the better explanation.

    Why? If there is an independent reason for believing in ID (other than the perceived failure of RM+NS) then surely this reason has to be balanced against the case for RM+NS and may indeed prove stronger?

  84. Larry Tanner:

    Based on observation, can one infer that CSI, FCSI and IC result from non-intelligent causes?

    No observations have been produced to support such an inference.

    What is the evidential strength of observing that SI, FCSI and IC result from non-intelligence?

    It’s never happened.

  85. Sorry, bad copy-paste on my part. I meant:

    “What is the evidential strength of observing that SI, FCSI and IC result from intelligence?”

    I ask because I am learning about Bayesian reasoning and these seem like the kinds of questions that would be helpful in thinking about these issues.

    Cheers.

  86. #85

    “What is the evidential strength of observing that SI, FCSI and IC result from non-intelligence??”

    Good question Larry. The trouble is – if you look at the definition of CSI, FSCI and IC you will find they are defined as being effects which are highly unlikely to arise from non-intelligent causes. In fact that is their distinguishing characteristic. If you have precisely the same observations but discover they can plausibly arise from non-intelligent causes then they are no longer CSI, FSCI or IC (actually IC is a little bit subtler).

  87. if you look at the definition of CSI, FSCI and IC you will find they are defined as being effects which are highly unlikely to arise from non-intelligent causes.

    Assuming that’s the case, doesn’t it logically follow that non-intelligent causes are most likely for CSI, FSCI, and IC?

    You see, there’s a new logic. When something is ‘highly unlikely’ (as in, probably never happened in the history of the universe) then you’re supposed to use that as evidence to reason that it almost certainly happened. Improbable = inevitable. Get it?

  88. From Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters by Donald Prothero (page 115):

    “The common European house aparrow is found all over North America today but it is an invader, brought from Europe in 1852. The initial populations escaped and quickly spread all over North America, from the northern boreal forests of Canada down to Costa Rica. We know that the ancestral population was all very similar because they were introduced from a few escaped immigrants. Because they have spread to the many diverse regions of North America, they are rapidly diverging and on the way to becoming many new species. House sparrows now vary widely in body size, with more northern populations being much larger than those that live in the south. This is common phenomenon (sic), known as Bergmann’s rule, due to the fact that larger, rounder bodies conserve heat better than smaller bodies. House sparrows from the north are darker in color than their southern cousins, perhaps because dark colors help absorb sunlight and light colors are better at reflecting it in warm climates. Many other changes in wing length, bill shape, and other features have been documented. The differences are so extreme that bird watchers in the south cannot tell that they are looking at the same species as bird watchers in the north.”

    Granted, not yet a separate species but . . . and Prothero’s book has several more examples.

    There are some species of dogs which if fossilized would no doubt be claimed to be different species so dramatic are the morphological differences.

  89. 89
    William J. Murray

    Mark Frank asks: Why? If there is an independent reason for believing in ID (other than the perceived failure of RM+NS) then surely this reason has to be balanced against the case for RM+NS and may indeed prove stronger?

    Yes. The independent reason is that we know ID to commonly and often generate features or things that have a high degree of FSCI, whereas without such ID such features are inexplicable.

  90. 90
    William J. Murray

    Let’s say we have a feature that is inexplicable via known non-ID forces (physical laws, chance, physiodynamic interactions, etc.).

    The first question is, does it contain an inexplicable level of FSCI? Mere inexplicability is not sufficient for a finding of ID as better explanation; the phenomena must carry FSCI well beyond what probability bounds for the system predict.

    This makes ID the better explanation, not because the phenomena is merely inexplicable, but because it contains a level of FSCI that is only known to be produced by intelligent agents.

  91. 91
    William J. Murray

    It really is no different than finding features that only water erosion are known to commonly produce, or volcanic action are known to commonly produce; is the phenomena inexplicable otherwise, with only erosion or volcanic activity known to produce those kind of effects?

    There might be many competing ideas as to what caused a certain feature: different kinds of phenomena or forces regularly generate certain kinds of evidence in the universe. ID is no different from any other recognizable, evidence-producing phenomena or force like gravity or vulcanism.

  92. William Murray 89, 90, 91

    Think of it this way. A common ID mantra is something like:

    “All cases of CSI and FSCI that we know of have intelligent causes.”

    Is this something we have discovered by observation? But hang on, if it had a non-intelligent cause it would no longer be CSI or FSCI. So it is true by definition.

    Here is another way of looking at it. Survey the various phenomena we see around us. We can divide them into four categories based on two dimensions:

    there is a plausible wholly natural account (yes/no)

    there is a plausible account involved human intelligence (yes/no)

    Imagine a 2×2 grid if it helps with quadrants a, b, c and d.

    (a) We can give a plausible wholly natural account and we pretty sure there is no human intelligence involved e.g. the path a river takes to the sea on an uninhabited island.

    (b) We can give a plausible wholly natural account but it is also possible to give an account involving human intelligence. e.g. a bundle of rocks damming a river in an inhabited area

    (c) We cannot give a plausible natural account but we have good reason to believe includes some element of human intelligence. e.g. Mount Vernon.

    (d) We cannot give a plausible natural account or a plausible account involving human intelligence (you would include the evolution of the bacterial flagellum in this)

    ID lumps (c) and (d) together and calls them CSI. The common property being – no plausible natural account. It then concludes because in (c) human intelligence was associated with no plausible natural account then in (d) some other intelligence must be associated with no plausible natural account. But of course there is actually just no account.

  93. It is more reasonable to believe the explanation for (d) is something akin to (c) than to believe it is (a). If you reject the possibility of something akin to(c), (a) is all you are left with.

  94. #93

    If you reject the possibility of something akin to(c), (a) is all you are left with.

    Conversely if you reject the possibility of something akin to (a) then intelligence is all you are left with. Which is the ID argument. The rational thing to do is to reject neither, admit you don’t know, and continue to look for a plausible account of some kind.

  95. Mark Frank (#92, #94)

    I agree that the “rational thing to do is to reject neither” that a very complex object such as the bacterial flagellum is more like products of human intelligence nor that it is more like natural causes without obvious intelligence (I say it this way because there is some dispute whether nature itself requires intelligence), “admit you don’t know, and continue to look for a plausible account of some kind.” This, if carried into practice, would result in scientific journals being open to arguments from either side of the question.

    Why is it then that scientific journals are not open to arguments from both sides? Why, for instance, was Steve Meyer’s article retracted from the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington? Haven’t you just labeled such behavior irrational?

  96. #95

    Why is it then that scientific journals are not open to arguments from both sides? Why, for instance, was Steve Meyer’s article retracted from the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington? Haven’t you just labeled such behavior irrational?

    I am afraid don’t know the content of Steve Meyer’s article. Did it discuss the evidence for a proposed intelligent cause of some aspects of life?

  97. 97
    William J. Murray

    Mark Frank said:Is this something we have discovered by observation?

    We have observed that humans can deliberately create high levels (above 500 bits) of FSCI. We have not seen gravity, electromagetism, vulcanism, erosion, or any other process undirected by intelligence create such amounts of FSCI.

    However, we find a very high degree of FSCI in DNA. Therefore, we suspect that ID might be involved.

    Mark Frank said: But hang on, if it had a non-intelligent cause it would no longer be CSI or FSCI. So it is true by definition.

    No. FSCI is FSCI. The definition doesn’t require that it be the product of ID. We have yet to find an undirected process that produces
    FSCI over 500 bits. We have found many processes that create information, comlex information, and specified information, but none so far – including chance and observable physiodynamic forces that we are aware of – that generate FSCI above 500 bits from scratch.

    ID isn’t about human intelligence per se; it just uses human ID as an example of ID at work and what it can do, in the same way that we use volcanic or weather activity on earth to make “best explanations” of what may be occurring on other planets or in deep history. Whether or not humans were present is irrelevant.

  98. 98
    William J. Murray

    The only reason to not see human-generated ID as just another kind of explanatory that actually exists in the real world, and that it might exist similarly in other entities or similarly be responsible for some phenomena even if it isn’t associated with human activity, is to hold human ID as special or unique in some way.

    Do we hold our ability to see as unique? Our ability to dig holes, breath, or defecate? Do we hold earth vulcanism as special, and refuse to translate what we know about earthbound vulcanism to other planets?

    Humans make tools; do refuse to consider that animals make tools, even when it seems that they are? When humans communicate, is that something special? Can other creatures not communicate? Can we rcognize when other creatures are mating, courting, communicating, using tools?

    Recognizing the product of ID is really not some mystical, irrational process. It’s science. We’ve been applying ID principles intuitively for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years, and just lately – with information and communication and probability theory – have we started refining the math and the theory thereof.

  99. This, if carried into practice, would result in scientific journals being open to arguments from either side of the question.

    Scientific journals, unlike blogs, are far more interested in publishing new research findings than to publishing arguments.

  100. I might as well repost links to Sander Gliboff’s historical papers about Kammerer:

    ‘Protoplasm…is soft wax in our hands’: Paul Kammerer and the art of biological transformation

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.endeavour.2005.10.001

    The case of Paul Kammerer : Evolution and experimentation in the early 20th century

    http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=a.....t=18276062

    I’ll also repeat my earlier plea: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-333576 it would be awesome if someone with access to the papers could have a look and report back on what Gliboff says about the nursing-pad controversy. In particular, does he support (or undercut) the claim (apparently made by Koestler) that Kammerer’s “anti-Lamarckian” critics in England had been able to examine the specimen themselves some time before Noble’s trip to Vienna, presumably before it had been tampered with?

    (Some more Kammerer linkspam:

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10739-007-9130-z

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.325_1194 )

  101. So, it turns out that the Vargas paper is open access

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jez.b.21319

    , and I noted some additional bits of information:

    * the claim that Kammerer’s specimen toured England does come from Koestler

    * a midwife toad with nursing pads was reportedly found in the wild

    * Vargas says “Kammerer published photographs, including histological sections, of the nuptial pads”

    * Stephen Jay Gould was among the nursing-pad believers

  102. #97

    FSCI is FSCI. The definition doesn’t require that it be the product of ID.

    To be precise the definition requires that the object in question be so unlikely to be the result of non-intelligent causes that we can rule them out. Otherwise it would not be complex. This is tantamount to saying it must be the result of ID.

    Or do you have another definition of FSCI?

  103. #97

    I am going to add to my previous comment just to drive home the point. You write:

    We have yet to find an undirected process that produces FSCI over 500 bits.

    The definition of CSI in the glossary is:

    ? = – log2[10^120 ·?S(T)·P(T|H)]

    (The information in FSCI is the same type of information so presumably the same definition of complex information applies – it is just the nature of the specification that changes).

    If you have an undirected process that produces an outcome such as a bacterial flagellum then it is a hypothesis i.e. an H in the formula above. So if you come across an H that can produce the outcome then (O|H) is going to be some reasonable number – not something of the order of 10^-120. So by definition finding such a process means the outcome is not complex.

  104. Recognizing the product of ID is really not some mystical, irrational process. It’s science.

    Fine, just how does it work? What is the theory?

    I have been asking with little luck so far but maybe this time?

    I read Behe, Denyse O’Leary, Dembski or Corenlius Hunter but I don’t get any wiser. Reading ARN doesn’t help much either. Guess I am plain stupid.

  105. 105
    William J. Murray

    Mark,

    How else can any theory be the “best explanation” of any phenomena under consideration unless one “rules out” other competing theories?

    Just because we do not know of any explanation other than ID doesn’t mean that the presence of FSCI “rules out” non-ID explanations; it just means we currently do not know of anything other than ID that produces such FSCI.

    If we find such processes or combinations thereof, then ID pretty much becomes irrelevant.

  106. #105

    I am having trouble getting across a key point. Let me try once more:

    it just means we currently do not know of anything other than ID that produces such FSCI.

    If you have a phenomenon such as the bacterial flagellum and you identify a cause other than intelligence then it no longer has FSCI. In the equation

    ? = – log2[10^120 ·?S(T)·P(T|H)]

    you have identified an H which has a reasonably high P(T|H) and therefore the information content is low – just do the maths if you don’t believe me.

    It is not possible to identify a cause other than intelligence for FSCI because it is part of the definition of FSCI that there be no other cause. As soon as you find another cause it is no longer complex and the information content is low.

  107. 107

    Mark Frank:
    If you have a phenomenon such as the bacterial flagellum and you identify a cause other than intelligence then it no longer has FSCI.

    Got it. Identify such a cause, and the flagellum will no longer contain FCSI.

  108. #107

    Hooray. Thanks.

    Therefore, you do not discover that intelligent things cause FSCI. It is true by definition.

  109. 109

    Mark Frank:

    The point is that you are only able to discuss a non-intelligent cause speculatively. Keep rearranging the shells, and perhaps the thing that no one has ever seen or can even imagine in detail will actually become real.
    Keep clicking your heels.

  110. #110

    I don’t see how your comment relates to the previous comments – but it has an interesting sentence in it.

    The point is that you are only able to discuss a non-intelligent cause speculatively

    I don’t agree with this. But tell me, are you able to discuss an intelligent cause non-speculatively?

  111. 111

    Mark Frank:
    I don’t agree with this. But tell me, are you able to discuss an intelligent cause non-speculatively?

    Why, yes I can: the content of this e-mail. It contains specific information, and the cause was intelligent.

    I don’t know why I bother. Either cough up some evidence that a similar amount of information can be produced without intelligence, or stop masquerading your personal beliefs as science.

    I think perhaps you’ve gone numb to the repeated statements that there is no evidence. Do you really think no one will notice when time after time, you fail to cite evidence that randomness can generate information? Instead, you look for flaws in the opposing point of view, as if that will make a difference.

    Do you really not get it? Even if there were no ID, information and function from chaos would still be nonsense, and there would still be no evidence. The burden of proof is on you. If your belief is more than a fantasy, show us the money.

  112. #111

    “Even if there were no ID, information and function from chaos would still be nonsense, and there would still be no evidence”

    Of course there will be no evidence that natural causes can create information. You admitted in #106 that if a natural cause is found then it no longer counts as information (according to the ID definition of information). So it is necessarily true by definition that you cannot get information from natural causes including chaos.

    I think what you are actually asking for is evidence that there can be natural causes for life. There are vast tracts of scientific papers exploring that subject. I am convinced you are not.

    No I ask you for the equivalent research looking at intelligent causes of life.

  113. 113

    Mark Frank:

    Of course there will be no evidence that natural causes can create information. You admitted in #106 that if a natural cause is found then it no longer counts as information

    So there is no evidence of a natural cause for anything that ID wrongly calls information? Seems like you’re going out of your way to avoid supporting your position with evidence. Fine, we’ll phrase it that way. Show a case where what ID calls FCSI really isn’t, because there is a natural cause. Your position cannot stand without such evidence.

    I think what you are actually asking for is evidence that there can be natural causes for life. There are vast tracts of scientific papers exploring that subject.

    I’m well aware of the vast tracts of papers exploring natural causes for life. They haven’t found anything. They speculate, and for some people speculation works as evidence, if it points the way they like.

    No I ask you for the equivalent research looking at intelligent causes of life.

    You’re looking for equivalent research papers full of unwarranted speculation?

  114. I’m well aware of the vast tracts of papers exploring natural causes for life. They haven’t found anything. They speculate, and for some people speculation works as evidence, if it points the way they like.

    Look what happens next is that I start to refer to papers about fossil records, cladistics, molecular clocks etc and you dispute each step as being speculation and not really evidence. I am sorry I am not going round that merry-go-round for the millionth time.

    You’re looking for equivalent research papers full of unwarranted speculation?

    Well that would be a start. Any kind of evidence however slight, or even a hypothesis as to the intelligent cause, would be progress.

  115. 115

    Mark Frank:
    Look what happens next is that I start to refer to papers about fossil records, cladistics, molecular clocks etc and you dispute each step as being speculation and not really evidence. I am sorry I am not going round that merry-go-round for the millionth time.

    If you think that fossils can demonstrate that undirected natural processes can produce complexity, then yes, that would be a waste of time. Ditto for molecular clocks and cladistics.

    None of those subject matters even relate to demonstrating that undirected natural forces generate complexity. They aren’t relevant. Why even bring them up?

    You’re so used to assuming that something can come from nothing that you don’t even see it as the gaping blind spot in your theory. You skip right past it, as if it requires no explanation. But intelligence as a cause? Crazy. Who ever heard of such a thing?

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