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ESEB: Little Shop of Fallacies

Ever tire of chasing down all those evolutionary fallacies? Dustin Penn and co workers have solved the problem by collecting them in one place: at the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB) website. Their goal is to improve public education and understanding of evolution. If that means revealing the various strawmen, mischaracterizations, twisting of science, and other logical fallacies, then they have greatly succeeded.  Read more

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11 Responses to ESEB: Little Shop of Fallacies

  1. 1

    “Science is a precious gift.” I would agree, does Penn ever indicate who gave us this gift?

    Thanks for another informative post, Cornelius.

  2. Darwin’s theory of natural selection “not only explains how the diversity of species has arisen, but also the complex, design-like properties of organisms.”

    And again I ask, if it looks designed, and I have experience with knowing what is designed, why can I not infer design in biological organisms?

    Oh, right. Species change over time so evolution must be true.

  3. David Coppedge has also compiled a list

  4. Actually, understanding Darwinian evolution could aid in the development of pesticides and antibiotics, because random mutation and natural selection can do so little, and require such enormous probabilistic resources to do what little they can. As Behe demonstrated through empirical evidence in The Edge of Evolution, it took 10^20 mutational trials for malaria to developed resistance to chloroquine, because this required two, specific, simultaneous mutations. That’s how the math works out, and it has been demonstrated in the real world.

    If an antimalarial agent could be designed such that three, specific, simultaneous mutations were required (simultaneity being required because any one or two mutations along the path to the third would be selected against), malaria would be forever defeated. Do the math. There ain’t enough of them critters to get the job done by “the fact of evolution.” (Oops, my knuckle-dragging anti-intellectualism and secret desire to destroy science education and impose a theocracy occasionally slip out when I’m not paying attention.)

    Thus, an understanding of the fact that Darwinian evolution has severe limits, and knowing what those limits are, could greatly advance biological research.

    Speaking of the math: It took 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 trials to produce those two malarial mutations (which were probably deleterious concerning the general welfare of the malarial parasite, but which allowed it to survive in the presence of chloroquine). 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 is nearly 10 trillion times the human population of the earth, and that population is at an all-time high in the history of the planet.

    So, go back a few million years to our purported primitive ape-like ancestors. Are you going to try to convince me that the probabilistic resources existed to convert that creature into modern humans through the same mechanism that produced chloroquine resistance in malaria?

    This claim is simply preposterous on its face. However “evolution” occurred, it didn’t occur through the Darwinian mechanism. If you believe that it did, there’s a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

    Darwinists really should go back to junior high school and revisit the simple math they apparently never learned, or conveniently forgot.

  5. Nice post and nice responses.

    Darwinism itself is so bogged down with logical fallacies and inanities that its no wonder that the majority of Darwinists suffer from acute cognitive dissonance.

    We see such all the time here and on virtually every origins debate forum on the web!

    I have yet to meet a Darwinist that understands even the most basic principles of logic and probability applied to biological origins theories.

    Indeed, most Darwiners are still lost under the cold, dark illusion that probabilities have no bearing on evolutionary theory!

  6. I hate to post this comment here, but Dr. Sewell stated in another thread that he didn’t understand my reasoning on something, and comments were immediately closed on that thread. So I’ll go blatantly OT and explain myself here, in hopes that he’ll happen to read this.

    Dr. Sewell:

    Go back and re-read, everywhere you see “order increases” read “entropy decreases” and vice versa, and it should be clearer.

    But I don’t understand how you could think the “creation of a spaceship out of a lump of metal” would constitute a decrease in order, everyone else would consider this a decrease in disorder, ie in entropy.

    Yes, I realize that you define an increase in order as synonymous with a decrease in entropy. So according to (D.3) in Appendix D of your diff eq textbook, the change in X order is defined as the negative volume integral of the change in X density over the X density. (Sorry, no support for math notation on this site.)

    Imagine a system the size of a spaceship, that contains nothing but a lump of concentrated metal, the lump being much smaller than a spaceship. By expanding that metal into a spaceship, the metal becomes more evenly distributed in the system. According to your definition in (D.3), that constitutes a decrease in order, does it not?

  7. Mr Dodgen,

    Are you going to try to convince me that the probabilistic resources existed to convert that creature into modern humans through the same mechanism that produced chloroquine resistance in malaria?

    No, I wouldn’t. I haven’t heard anyone argue that there are pairs of changes that must happen simultaneously to confer selective advantage in the set of changes that distinguish humans and chimps. I’m sorry that sentence is so long.

  8. 8

    Rob,

    There are many types of entropy, and thus many types of order, because there are many macroscopically describable phenomena. So one type could be increasing while another is decreasing, in an open system. The point is, the fundamental principle behind ALL applications of the second law is that natural causes do not do macroscopically describable things which are extremely improbable from the microscopic point of view, whether a system is open or closed. So unless you want to argue (as Nakashima apparently does) that the fact that the Earth receives energy from the sun makes it NOT extremely improbable that atoms would rearrange themselves into spaceships and computers and the Internet, you can’t say this didn’t violate the second law. The laws of probability apply to open as well as closed systems.

  9. No, I wouldn’t.

    But this is precisely what we are asked to believe — and more importantly, asked to accept without question or reasoned dissent — by neo-Darwinian orthodoxy.

  10. Dr. Sewell:

    So one type could be increasing while another is decreasing, in an open system.

    I used the only explicit definition of order in your paper. What definition of order are you using?

    If by order you’re referring to whatever is precluded by your assertion that “natural forces do not do macroscopically describable things which are extremely improbable from the microscopic point of view,” I confess that I don’t know how to interpret that assertion. You seem to be saying that improbable microstates won’t occur if they’re contained within describable macrostates. But of course this occurs all the time. Given, say, a container of gas, the maximum-entropy macrostate is easily describable (“uniformity” or “equilibrium”), and all microstates are equally improbable. So I must be interpreting you incorrectly. Regardless, the entropy of a macrostate can certainly be defined in terms of its microstates.

    So unless you want to argue (as Nakashima apparently does) that the fact that the Earth receives energy from the sun makes it NOT extremely improbable that atoms would rearrange themselves into spaceships and computers and the Internet, you can’t say this didn’t violate the second law.

    First of all, I don’t see how the 2nd law, even broadly defined, can be said to apply to a certain kind of entropy unless the net entropy cannot decrease over time. In spite of what some writers and teachers say, no version of the 2nd Law applies to the material configurations of wine glasses. Shattering a wine glass is not an irreversible process — you can melt down the shards and re-form the glass, and you don’t have to compensate by shattering other glasses. (Of course, energy is dissipated in the process, but we’re talking about entropy based on glass distributions, not on energy distributions.) There is no law that says that the number of broken glasses in the universe cannot decrease over time.

    So in order to show a violation of the 2nd Law, you would need to:

    (1) State what kind of order you’re referring to WRT spaceships and computers
    (2) Show that the advent of spaceships and computers represents a net increase in this kind of order
    (3) Show that the 2nd Law applies to this kind of order

    And secondly, as you have noted, your position runs counter to that of virtually the whole scientific community. Pragmatically, I think that puts the burden on you to show that the emergence of such complexity is prohibitively improbable. As I said in an earlier comment, this seems to be case intuitively, but I don’t think that intuition is sufficient when it comes to chemical abiogenesis and subsequent evolution.

  11. Mr Dodgen,

    But this is precisely what we are asked to believe — and more importantly, asked to accept without question or reasoned dissent — by neo-Darwinian orthodoxy.

    Really? How many places in human evolution is there a demand for two simultaneous mutations?

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