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Ouch – Talk About Marginalized

Over on Panda’s Thumb they’re so desperate for something to talk about that when I ban someone it’s front page news over there. Don’t people like Richard Hoppe have more important things to do with their time like making sure the entries in the tree of life are in the proper order? I guess not. Who I ban and why is more important than evolutionary biology these days. Ouch.

Just for the record, Febble (Elizabeth Liddle) was banned because she claimed to be a scientist yet didn’t have the first clue about how natural selection works to conserve genomic information. She was writing long diatribes about how rm+ns is “intelligent” yet she didn’t understand and couldn’t be made to understand an important and basic bit about how rm+ns operates. I know people like Richard Hoppe don’t care at all about the evolutionary science being accurate at Panda’s Thumb, but I do care that it’s accurate on Uncommon Descent, and when someone displays that much ignorance, can’t be schooled, and is a critic they get the boot.

Febble wrote:

If it [natural selection] makes a mistake, it doesn’t repeat the mistake. It makes sure that in the future it does what worked last time. So in that limited sense, yes, it “plans”. It “chooses” what worked, rather than what didn’t. And like us, sometimes it gets lucky by accident, and remembers that trick too.

Gee, I wonder how that works. When a mutation causes death of the individual before it can reproduce how exactly does natural selection not repeat that mistake? Does it send a memo to all the other members of its species saying “don’t try this, it’s a mistake”.

I patiently explained to Febble:

You’re still making mistakes in describing rm+ns. Saying it learns from mistakes is misleading. It needs constant reinforcement of what it learns or it forgets even faster than it learned. This known as conservation of genomic information. Anything that is not immediately useful (no selection value) is not conserved within the genome forever. The genomic information with no immediate use gets peppered with random mutations and quickly becomes useless as a result. This is really basic stuff you don’t know.

Febble then responded that I was just wrong about all this and she was right. I didn’t bother approving her last response but moved her email address from the moderation list to the spam list.

I’m sure the fresh Doctor Liddle will find a happy home on Panda’s Thumb though. Her claim to fame is writing articles for left wing blogs about how the Republicans steal elections by voter fraud in the United States. That’s right up your alley at Panda’s Thumb – ID is so well refuted by stories of election fraud. How could it be otherwise since George W. Bush supports teaching the controversy. Only a criminal could support teaching the controversy. I’m sure Liddle’s analysis of voting patterns is just as good as her analysis of how natural selection never forgets a mistake… :lol:

Update: It has been suggested to me that Liddle did not write that Bush stole the 2004 election through voter fraud. Well, here’s what she wrote. You be the judge.

New: Snark-free Exit Poll analysis, by Febble, Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 05:00:28 AM PST

Regarding my “fraudster credentials”: I am a fraudster. I believe your election was inexcusably riggable and may well have been rigged. It was also inexcusably unauditable. I am convinced that there was real and massive voter suppression in Ohio, and that it was probably deliberate. I think the recount in Ohio was a sham, and the subversion of the recount is in itself suggestive of coverup of fraud. I think Kenneth Blackwell should be jailed.

Maybe someone can explain to me how to parse this language into a claim that Liddle doesn’t think Bush won in 2004 through election fraud. Good luck.

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34 Responses to Ouch – Talk About Marginalized

  1. Since Feddle has been denied the chance to respond, this is a rather hollow declaration of victory.

    Umm…. would that be like me not being able to respond on virtually every pro-evolution site on the web, including AtBC where you do most of your writing? Spare me the hollow victory crap. -ds

  2. ‘Gee, I wonder how that works. When a mutation causes death of the individual before it can reproduce how exactly does natural selection not repeat that mistake? Does it send a memo to all the other members of its species saying “don’t try this, it’s a mistake”.’

    Since when has natural selection affected mutations? What on earth makes you think Febble was even *talking* about mutations? Natural selection changes frequencies of alleles. To not repeat a mistake is to be unable to reproduce. To repeat a good trick is to reprocude better than average. It makes all sense to say that a population “remembers” what works and what doesn’t, because this information indeed accumulates into its gene pool.

    DaveScot, perhaps you’d like to apologize to Febble?

  3. I’m still curious as to whether Febble thinks design can occur sans intelligence or if a sieve can be undesigned.

    And Febble, if you are lurking, the election was not stolen. The Daily Kos is a propaganda site funded by leftists and Democrats (forgive the redundancy) not a news source.

  4. Dave, I’m not sure how saying your opponent is so starved for news that they’ll put your banning of Febble on their front page, then putting that article about the banning on your own front page, makes your point.

    Now, for the circle to really be complete, we need The Panda’s Thumb to post an article about your article about their article about your banning of Febble.

  5. Lets just stick to the issues here and not resort to personal attacks, character assassination and distortion of the scientific data like the Darwinists do.

  6. Febble,

    If it [rm+ns] makes a mistake, it doesn’t repeat the mistake. It makes sure that in the future it does what worked last time.

    Dave, this is correct. If an organism has a destructive mutation (a mistake), and it dies before it can pass the dear thing on, that mistake will not be repeated, not for about 100 million years anyway. Its an unusual way of representing rm+ns, but it is accurate.

    I did, however, read the richer exchange at panda’s thumb. I agree with you that Febble is a putz. Her entire case seems to be: “ID, you’re right because your definition of intelligence is wrong.”

    While I think that a case could be made that rm+ns is in itself intelligent, let me suggest that rm+ns is about 2 watts intelligent, where the work that has been done in the creation of nature seems to require more like 2 gazillion watts. Further, the biggest single intelligent event (the front-loaders may suggest the only intelligent event) is the creation of first life. The 2 watts of intelligence that rm+ns has didn’t exist at that time.

    Dave, I wonder if you have been too agressive at banning some. However, unless Febble were to genuinely engage the discussion rather than trying to dispose of the discussion by twiddling with the definition of a foundational term, I am quite happy to see her gone.

  7. Could someone please make certain natural selection got the memo that down syndrome, huntington’s disease, cystic fibrosis, etc. are horrible mistakes and that it should stop repeating them?

    More seriously, I have tried reinterpreting Febble’s comments multiple times and I’m still not certain whether she meant it in the manner Dave interpreted it (I initially interpreted it in the same way). Even if natural selection weeds out mistakes what is to prevent them from popping up again? Unless in her statement Febble is assuming that “remembering” amounts to more things dying in the same manner as before but overall the species continues on. Either way, that’s a confusing way to describe this subject.

    I also would have preferred to have corrected this misconception in another manner.

  8. Patrick, “Even if natural selection weeds out mistakes what is to prevent them from popping up again?”

    Though we see a lot of mutations happen, it is because there is so darn much DNA to mutate. According to the molecular clock hypothesis, mutations in humans happen at a pace of about 1% of base pairs per million years. A base pair can mutate 4 different ways, therefore a particular point mutation will not occur again for about 400,000,000 organism-years. If a point mutation is devistating enough to be knocked out in a single generation, to say that it “doesn’t repeat that mistake” is reasonable enough for me.

    As far as genetic disease goes, I understand that they fit into three classes,

    Down syndrome is not a carried disorder — its not like the child gets it because the parents are carriers. Rather it is a weak point in the genetic code that sometimes causes a chromosome to duplicate, giving the person a chromosome triplet rather than a pair. Ie, it is a weak spot that exists in everyone that allows for a genetic accident to take place.

    cystic fibrosis, on the other hand, is carried in a recessive gene. This kind can float around in a population for a long time, however, it never becomes very common. That said, in europeans 1 in 22 are carriers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cystic_fibrosis).

    Huntington disease, believe it or not, is in a dominant gene. The reason it is carried at all is because its symptoms only show up after common child-bearing years. It shows, however, just how weak of a filter natural selection really is.

    I think that the case for natural selection being able to weed out “really bad” diseases is fairly good. However, to pretend that this weak filter, not even able to purge humanity of huntington disease, can be held responsible for selecting all of life’s variety is a bit on the “get real” side.

  9. Patrick

    Could someone please make certain natural selection got the memo that down syndrome, huntington’s disease, cystic fibrosis, etc. are horrible mistakes and that it should stop repeating them?

    Thanks, Patrick.

    The memo first needs to be sent to Ken Miller to put it in a high school biology text so these chance worshippers at least get a fair chance to understand the nature of the beast they worship.

    Incredible.

  10. bFast

    I’m utterly amazed that you haven’t learned how natural selection works after all this time.

  11. Natural selection changes frequencies of alleles.

    I think a more accurate description is that changing frequencies of alleles are what we describe as “Natural Selection”.

    NS has no causal power; it is simply a description of replicators out-replicating each other. We assume that some will have/get traits that allow them to genetically take over the population. Them replacing the population will lead to a “change in allele frequency”, but reflexively, the change in allele frequency is simply the description of them replacing the population.

    When people start positing “powers” for this process, such as intelligence and any sort of foresight, they lose touch with reality.

  12. Patrick

    One of the other mods wrote to me last week about Febble, anticipating a banning for cause, saying “There might be hope for her. Let’s try to correct her before getting rid of her.”

    I had no intention at the time of getting rid of Febble and in fact she’d escaped my notice until I got the memo as she wasn’t commenting on one of my articles. It was only after getting the email alert that I got involved. Sure, I wish she’d have learned how RM+NS works too but she didn’t and if you google her a bit you’ll find she’s a left-wing conspiracy theorist that thinks Bush stole the 2004 election by fraud. People like that are uneducable. Good riddance.

  13. caligula

    Since when has natural selection affected mutations?

    Oh gee, I don’t know. Maybe when it pair bonded with random mutation and turned Darwinian Theory into NeoDarwinian Theory.

    It effects mutations by selecting them. Duh. What is it you think is being selected by natural selection if not mutations?

  14. bFast

    Down syndrome is not a carried disorder — its not like the child gets it because the parents are carriers. Rather it is a weak point in the genetic code that sometimes causes a chromosome to duplicate, giving the person a chromosome triplet rather than a pair. Ie, it is a weak spot that exists in everyone that allows for a genetic accident to take place.

    You say that like “accident” isn’t synonymous with “mistake” in that context. If you substitute “mistake” for “accident” in your assertion does it change the meaning at all?

    I suggest you think a little harder before commiting your thoughts to comments.

  15. Ernst Mayr tells us the following in “What Evolution Is” (page 121):

    Another widespread erroneous view of natural selection must also be refuted: Selection is not teleological (goal-directed). Indeed, how can an elimination process be teleological? Selection does not have a long-term goal. It is a process repeated anew in every generation.

    Natural selection is the result of processes working in combination:

    Natural selection is the result of differences in survival and reproduction among individuals of a population that vary in one or more traits.

    IOW NS is on the right hand side of the equation. Everything on the left side of the equation is strongly influenced by chance.

  16. “What is it you think is being selected by natural selection if not mutations?”

    How about alleles? Mutations are quite random, you see. This is no nitpicking, either. It is alleles that get “repeated” in reproduction, not mutations. A “mistake” is “not repeated” when an allele does not become copied (and certainly not fixed). A good trick is “remembered” because it does become fixed. Normally I would not mind equating the term mutation with the term (mutated) allele, but here the difference is crucial, because a mutation is repeated by, well, mutation, while an allele is repeated by reproduction. Now, which one does natural selection affect? If your answer is the latter, I have to say that I’ve yet to see a valid explanation for terminating a relevant discussion and banning a person asking relevant questions — which you never even seriously attempted to reply.

    As for Patrick and DaveScot’s rhetorics about harmful alleles in the human population. (Naturally your example concerns humans! If it hadn’t, it would have concerned domesticated animals!) Do you understand that allele frequencies and fixation play a remarkable role in population genetics? To demonstrate that you do, could you please explain to me what exactly people mean when they say that we humans differ from each other only at X sites, i.e. that we have X single nucleotide polymorphisms? When you have the answer to that, you also have the answer to:

    - why there are harmful alleles in populations

    - why every legitimate Darwinian explanation needs to postulate the *fixation* of an allele before postulating a subsequent mutation in the same trait

    - why evolutionary processes, including learning, have relatively little to do with subsequent iterations of the same mutation and everything to do with selection coefficient of a mutation

  17. caligula,

    The whole point of disagreement was over whether natural selection itself was “intelligent” and could “remember” results for future usage. NS IS a description of a deterministic system, of course. Never mind that the environment and other factors can change so what was previously a “good choice” would suddenly become deadly.

    Instead of doing these gymnastics where you’re putting words into my mouth and shifting the points of discussion you could have simply corrected your fellow Darwinist and moved along. An ID proponent can be correct and the world won’t collapse, you know.

  18. DaveScot, “I suggest you think a little harder before commiting your thoughts to comments.”

    Though there is no way of testing parents to see if they are carriers, Down syndrome happens far more frequently than any particular point mutation would, otherwise we wouldn’t have a name for it. I therefore suggest that it is like when you take a drinking straw and bend it, then straighten it back out. Though it wouldn’t bend again at the same place if there were no torque placed on the straw, it will bend in the same place under far less torque than the rest of the straw can withstand.

    That said, as far as I am conserned, “accident” and “mistake” are synomimous in this context. All I am saying is that down syndrome is an accident waiting to happen, rather than the simple product of a dominant (if you get the mutation from either parent) or resessive (if you get the mutation from both parents) mutation.

  19. “What is it you think is being selected by natural selection if not mutations?”

    Caligula:
    How about alleles?

    How about individuals:

    Natural selection is the result of differences in survival and reproduction among individuals of a population that vary in one or more traits.–Biology: Concepts and Applications, Starr/ 5th edition pafe 11

    And it is always presented that the individuals with the “beneficial” mutations are the ones most likely to pass on their mutation. But with meiosis and sexual reproduction even the most beneficial muation has a better chance of being lost than it does at becoming fixed.

  20. RE: Febble: Just a suggestion, Dave, but having some hard-boiled Darwinists around to debate things with would make for some interesting threads. As long as they refrained from potty-talk, they would be pretty engaging! And besides, Febble was female!

  21. Or are feminine vibes not enough to dampen the roiling impact of die-hard Darwinist vibes?

    :)

  22. If they’re informed, civil, and don’t use strawmen they do get to stay. The problem is that if a NeoDawinist has his hands tied behind his back in that manner he can’t possibly support the party line so you won’t see them commenting here very often but they do show up on occasion and are not moderated because I trust they will remain grounded in science and real evidence.

  23. Dave,

    Thank you for permitting some of the PT contributors to post here (like Krebs, Bottaro, etc.).

    Even in time of war, channels of diplomacy are often maintained. I think it appropriate we be seen as quite willing to engage the varsity among the critics including Matzke, Hoppe, Bottaro, Musgrave, Inlay, Rosenhouse, Theobold, or any of the Talk Origin crew. As dismissive as we may feel toward some of them, some of our readers, particularly the new comers and young would enjoy seeing the exchanges.

    I personally would like to see Barbara Forrest make several appearances here….

  24. The evolutionist side might decline on grounds that it is “no contest”, consistent with their desire to ban discussion of ID in classrooms. If there is anything I understand on the ID side it is the frustration with that position. But it seems well worth a try to see if agreement could be reached for an online debate format…

  25. That last post was truncated, perhaps by me. I was trying to propose a debate on a neutral site, where neither side could ban the other side if they sensed they were losing. Judging could perhaps be done by press corps by mutual (or separate) selections, so that the judges would be laypersons rather than experts, who would be doing the debating.

  26. Maybe somebody could start a book club dedicated solely to the evolutionary wars, oops, I meant debate, and both sides could submit their best efforts.

  27. Richard Hoppe mentioned me in the thread, and I felt I should respond at PT since afterall my name was mentioned.

    It turns out Febble was there and she decided to pose various questions to me which she posed here at UD. I would like to direct the readers at UD to that exchange as I hope it brings some closure to the issues…

    I’d like to publicly thank Richard Hoppe for allowing me to argue my case on his thread. Since he mentioned me by name, I’m appreciative he let me respond to his charges. I may intensely disagree with him, but I respect his willingness to allow me to state my case on that weblog….

    In reciprocity, I invite Richard Hoppe to participate in threads I begin here at UD .

  28. Sal, great job on PT.

    I owe Febble a quasi-clarification. The link implying she was a left-wing fraudster was to a site called Mysterypollster.com, which linked to her original comments at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/4/6/8028/83645 which I should have read.

    And though she says she thinks the vote was surpressed (and Blackwell should be jailed yadda yadda yadda) exit poll descrepancies don’t indicate fraud in Ohio, and that is actually a big deal to post on DK.

    So, I apologize for implying she is not an independent thinker.

    And Febble, if you want to see the masters of vote suppression at work, come to (Democratic) Philadelphia.

  29. A banned user made an “interesting” argument, which I will paraphrase below in order to make it more coherent. (Point 1 was listed at the end and it didn’t become apparent that the argument relied on that point until the final sentence.)

    1. Premise was that RM+NS can indeed produce CSI. Notably this was asserted as being undeniable and no evidence was brought up.

    2. We know that both RM+NS and the human/animal brain can produce CSI.

    3. Therefore one can justifiably call RM+NS an “intelligence” since we cannot tell the difference between the two.

    Our options:

    1. Laugh.
    2. Weep.
    3. Moan.

    Seriously, if such people would instead focus on providing evidence for the premise UD wouldn’t exist.

  30. tribune7

    I owe Febble a quasi-clarification. The link implying she was a left-wing fraudster was to a site called Mysterypollster.com, which linked to her original comments at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/4/6/8028/83645 which I should have read.

    You don’t owe Febble any such thing. She IS a left wing fraudster. I read her original comments before wrote the article. In the update I quoted her calling herself a fraudster in the article. If you don’t believe HER when she calls herself a fraudster I just don’t know what to say to that.

    Regarding my “fraudster credentials”: I am a fraudster. I believe your election was inexcusably riggable and may well have been rigged. It was also inexcusably unauditable. I am convinced that there was real and massive voter suppression in Ohio, and that it was probably deliberate. I think the recount in Ohio was a sham, and the subversion of the recount is in itself suggestive of coverup of fraud. I think Kenneth Blackwell should be jailed.

  31. Did anyone notice that before the 2006 mid-term elections the loony left was all atwitter about electronic voting machines being insecure? There was even a 90-minute HBO documentary “Hacking Democracy” where one of the leftwing nutcases tried to prove Diebold was crooked. It started airing shortly before the 2006 mid-terms.

    What’s uproariously funny is that all such accusations of voting fraud vanished when the Democrats won. You see, fraud only occurs when Democrats lose. :lol:

  32. And remember, during and right after the “hanging chad” debacle of 2000, the left was demanding to know why we were using such primitive technology for voting and why we weren’t using computers.

  33. She IS a left wing fraudster.

    I gotta disagree, Dave. She only THINKS she’s a fraudster. What is the cognative process whereby one concludes one is a fraudster anyway? It’s clearly an event caused by chance such as the inadvertant clicking on Daily Kos or and accidental reading of the New York Times.

    Or attending Swarthmore.

    But if her accidental goal in life is to become a bona fide, real-deal “fraudster” I want her to leave bonnie Scotland and research Election Day lifestyles in Philadelphia (or Chicago or Detroit) .

    It may not make her stop being an evo-sympathizer but it will give her an understanding as to where the real corruption lies in this country.

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