Home » Intelligent Design » Swine flu and evolution: Why are nearly all deaths in the developing world?

Swine flu and evolution: Why are nearly all deaths in the developing world?

Some have claimed that swine flu is evidence of evolution. If so, it is not evidence of Darwinian evolution (natural selection acting on random mutation produces intricate structures), which is the money shot in the current government funded system. Flu viruses swap genes, which is easy for them because it’s not even clear that they are life forms (because they don’t do anything other than hijack cells in order to reproduce). Nor do they usually become much different as a result of swapping genes. They are just the viruses they have always been.

Anyway, here is my most recent MercatorNet column on swine flu:

Now that the World Health Organization has declared swine flu (virus H1N1) a pandemic, their first since 1968’s Hong Kong flu, we might consider how it emerged.

But first — Panic Alert: [nonsense avoidance]: People who are not already frail will probably be sick for about 48 hours if they get swine flu. They will not likely die. Symptoms are typical flu symptoms. When visiting anyone in frail health, please observe all sanitary precautions that medical authorities advise, especially if the frail person is in a hospital already. Shouldn’t that tell us something about their state of health?

So let’s not panic. The main message is, in a global society, we cannot have completely different health standards on the same continent. Now let’s talk about two cities — Mexico City and Winnipeg, Canada, where the virus was first identified.

Health care differs greatly between the two. In Winnipeg, every sick person — rich or poor — just goes to “the hospital,” and is examined by a nurse practitioner and/or a physician who can order lab tests and a ward bed — in an isolation unit, if necessary. It’s all tax-supported, so no one goes bankrupt using the system.

But it is all different in Mexico.

Yes, it is a tale of the difference between Canada and Mexico. Read more here.

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35 Responses to Swine flu and evolution: Why are nearly all deaths in the developing world?

  1. Denyse,

    Some have claimed that swine flu is evidence of evolution. If so, it is not evidence of Darwinian evolution (natural selection acting on random mutation produces intricate structures), which is the money shot in the current government funded system.

    I’m glad to see someone point this out—they’re still just flu viruses! This so-called “evolution” hasn’t produced any novel, complex structures like eyes or appendages. All we are observing here is variation within a kind.

  2. Mrs O’Leary,

    If it is heritable variation and selection, it is evolution, whether or not you call them alive.

  3. Nakashima, surely you know by now that when people say “evolution” they usually mean more than heritable variation and selection. Often they mean processes that are sufficient to account for complex new functions and major new taxa — which is the only “evolution” over which there is significant public disagreement. Anyone publically using swine flu as evidence for “evolution” implies that they are saying something about the latter.

    Denyse didn’t deny viruses exhibit “evolution” in the trivial sense that you define. You could make the same claim about cars and software, depending on what is meant by ‘heritable’. Rather, Denyse says they don’t demonstrate Darwinian evolution.

  4. Mr Lars,

    I don’t think that is a distinction most people would accept, certainly not Darwin himself!

  5. 5

    Nakashima,

    ——”I don’t think that is a distinction most people would accept, certainly not Darwin himself!”

    It is precisely the distinction that people make and what drives the whole debate. I’m beginning to wonder about your conception of evolution given the above statement and the supposed speciation of different colored feathers.

  6. 6

    Herb,

    I’m glad to see someone point this out—they’re still just flu viruses! This so-called “evolution” hasn’t produced any novel, complex structures like eyes or appendages. All we are observing here is variation within a kind.

    You’re joking, right? You’re… actually expecting a FLU virus to sprout arms and legs?

  7. G’day SingBlueSilver (Any relation to Hi Ho Silver?)

    The swine flu virus in its present form has become that way not by the generation of new genetic information but from existing genetic information. Viruses steal DNA.

    LiveScience’s editorial director Robert Roy Britt wrote; “Many viruses can easily incorporate ready-made genes from other viruses into their genomes. This is a possibility anytime a host is infected with two different viral strains.

    So, that’s likely what has happened with swine flu.

    Michael Deem, a bioengineer at Rice University in Texas writes, “It appears the H1N1 swine flu may be a reassortment of the H (hemagglutinin) gene from typical North American pigs with the N (neuraminidase) and M (matrix) genes from European pigs. If so, this new virus is an example of the importance of recombination in evolution. That is, evolution proceeds not only by small mutations of individual DNA or RNA bases, but also by transmission of large pieces of genetic material from one individual to another.”

    Although there is evolutionary handwaving there, there is no evolution of the type herb writes. Rearrangement of already existing information doesn’t explain the information of more complex living creatures.

  8. 8

    You guys keep changing the subject.

    In H1N1 we see natural selection at work; the viral genome combination and mutation that best aids survival and reproduction leads to dominant expression of that genome in the population.

    And your criticism of that is…

    Natural selection can’t produce intricate structures. ???

  9. Aussie,

    Rearrangement of already existing information doesn’t explain the information of more complex living creatures.

    so a eukaryotic cell without a mitochondria is no less complex than one with a mitochodria?

  10. SingBlueSilver,

    You’re joking, right? You’re… actually expecting a FLU virus to sprout arms and legs?

    If course I don’t expect any such thing. Evolutionists would expect the viruses to grow more complex over time, so we should at least see a flagellum or something comparable eventually. Otherwise, one more failed prediction of Darwinism.

  11. 11

    herb,

    Evolutionists would expect the viruses to grow more complex over time, so we should at least see a flagellum or something comparable eventually.

    “Darwinism” does not predict that a virus will grow more complex over time and if this is what you think biologists are saying, you are busy slashing up your own straw man version of evolution.

    An organism’s genome will adapt to its environment, regardless of size, number of cells or lack thereof. In many cases this can involve equilibrium as the organism fits itself into a good niche. Viruses have found a niche and there is no further environmental pressure to drive their evolution.

    Also, a prominent feature such as a flagellum would take much longer than a human lifetime to develop. You are saying the equivalent of: “I’ve been staring at this fault line for years and I’ve never seen it become a mountain range. Therefore, fault lines do not produces mountain ranges!”

  12. An organism’s genome will adapt to its environment, regardless of size, number of cells or lack thereof. In many cases this can involve equilibrium as the organism fits itself into a good niche. Viruses have found a niche and there is no further environmental pressure to drive their evolution.

    Yes there is. Random mutations should provide a lot of pressure for organisms to evolve since RM comprise the primary mechanism of change in the Darwinian tale, environmental pressure or not. Since the virus population is humongous, we should observe a lot more changes than just a few new strain combinations showing up every once in a while due to lateral DNA exchanges that are not, mind you, due to RM. Since this is not observed, RM as an engine for change is either hogwash or ineffectual.

    Anyway you slice it, Darwinism is a contrived, just-so theory that exists only because its most vocal proponents have psychological problems usually having to do with their early upbringing (I always tell it like I see it). Darwinism, like time travel hypotheses and other voodoo-type sciences, is a coping mechanism more than anything else. It’s a sociological phenomenon that’s not worth spending too much time studying.

  13. Perspective is also crucial when it comes to Swine Flu. 36,000 Americans die every year from the normal seasonal flu. When Swine Flu at the very LEAST – DOUBLES – that, then there is no cause for concern.

    There really is just nothing to see here.

  14. SingBlueSilver,

    Viruses have found a niche and there is no further environmental pressure to drive their evolution.

    But don’t viruses have to compete with each other just like “normal” sorts of life? I’m no biologist, but it seems to me things like the more lethal h5n1 strain or even ebola would be putting lots of pressure on the swine flu to evolve.

  15. Mr Hayden,

    To the extent that the debate around evolution is driven by equivocation or ignorance of multiple meanings of a term, then it is helpful to be precise, and to help others be precise. Are we discussing science, or trying to score zings off each other in an adolescent side show of the larger culture war?

    To insist that “Darwinian” evolution means something other than heritable variation and selection, because those thing can’t explain the larger taxonomic categories, flies in the face of Darwin’s entire program of attributing all taxonomic variety to exactly those processes. Darwin thought “micro-evolution” could do it all. You can disagree with him, but don’t mislabel his positions.

  16. 16

    herb,

    But don’t viruses have to compete with each other just like “normal” sorts of life? I’m no biologist, but it seems to me things like the more lethal h5n1 strain or even ebola would be putting lots of pressure on the swine flu to evolve.

    Yes, they do have to compete with each other. But lethality does not necessarily indicate better reproductive success.

    Think about it: which virus will be more likely to pass on it’s genome? One that kills it’s host quickly, or one that keeps its host alive long enough to spread the virus around even more?

    This is why there is often a sharp drop in the lethality of a virus over the course of a pandemic. Natural selection favors those versions of the virus that are less lethal to the host.

  17. 17

    Mapou,

    Yes there is. Random mutations should provide a lot of pressure for organisms to evolve since RM comprise the primary mechanism of change in the Darwinian tale, environmental pressure or not. Since the virus population is humongous, we should observe a lot more changes than just a few new strain combinations showing up every once in a while due to lateral DNA exchanges that are not, mind you, due to RM. Since this is not observed, RM as an engine for change is either hogwash or ineffectual.

    You’re wrong. Mutations are not a pressure. Mutations are simply copying errors in the genome. When they happen in germ line cells they will be passed on to offspring.

    The driving force is still environmental and ecological pressures to FAVOR certain mutations above others, which then become dominant in the population.

  18. 18

    Anyway you slice it, Darwinism is a contrived, just-so theory that exists only because its most vocal proponents have psychological problems usually having to do with their early upbringing (I always tell it like I see it). Darwinism, like time travel hypotheses and other voodoo-type sciences, is a coping mechanism more than anything else. It’s a sociological phenomenon that’s not worth spending too much time studying.

    Wrong again. “Darwinism” is one of the most well-supported theories in the natural sciences. It’s biology’s own theory of everything, and it makes valid predictions over and over.

    It unites paleontology, genetics, molecular biology, anatomy, embryology, and many other life sciences.

  19. 19

    If this is truly ‘evolution’ in the macro-evolutionary sense (i.e., this is one of the steps towards becoming a new species), then we should expect the virus to retain new characteristics and spread throughout the global flu population, dominating it as the ‘new normal’ of flu.

    Which is a bit hard to identify given how prone they are to mutation (viruses are just strands of enveloped/non-enveloped DNA or RNA).

    Because of this even the successful viruses keep mutating, the difference between ‘killer’ and ‘trash’ a mere ‘generation’ away.

    Nonetheless, a prediction:
    After a time (months/years) the Swine flu will settle into the background miasma of flu viruses, if not going ‘extinct’. Whatever advantage its mutation has given it will also have a detrimental effect that will eventually curb its establishment as a ‘normal’ (just like any darwinian evolution, e.g. dog/cat/horse breeds).

  20. “”Darwinism” is one of the most well-supported theories in the natural sciences.”

    *rolls eyes* Riiiigghhhttt….

  21. Gods iPod,

    *rolls eyes* Riiiigghhhttt….

    Heh, that’s about all there is to say. Sometimes in these discussions with evos, I am reminded of that immortal scene from Spinal Tap:

    Marty DiBergi: Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?

    Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.

  22. Silver:

    You’re wrong. Mutations are not a pressure. Mutations are simply copying errors in the genome. When they happen in germ line cells they will be passed on to offspring.

    The driving force is still environmental and ecological pressures to FAVOR certain mutations above others, which then become dominant in the population.

    I appears that you understand the theory you’re so hell bent on defending. According to Darwinism, changes in the environment only act to favor one selection over another (the bad ones do not survive). The actual mechanism that generates new DNA codes is RM. RM is not the result of environmental pressures or natural selection. Mutations should happen no matter what, due to constant random biochemical and radioactive interactions. You cannot tell anybody with a straight face that what drives genetic changes is environmental pressures (drought, temperature, pressure, etc.). In doing so, you insult the intelligence of others. It is obvious that environmental pressures can only influence the selection of existing code and not the generation of new genetic code. So how come we don’t see a myriad benign mutations in flu virus populations? Or do we?

    My understanding from reading various reports is that all known strains are related and are the result of lateral exchanges between different populations. One would expect otherwise if Darwinism were true.

  23. Shoot.

    First sentence of previous post should be, “It appears that you don’t understand the theory you’re so hell bent on defending.”

  24. Swine Flue was primarily an example of the media evolving a new scare story to boost ratings. I was going to say that they “intelligently designed” the story but that would be an insult to the real intelligent agents out there.

  25. 25
    CannuckianYankee

    Ms. O’Leary,

    Your “Mexico” link and your “Here” link brought me to the same article. What gives? I was expecting more info. lol. However, your article was very informative.

    One criticism, though. Canada’s health care system still leaves a lot to be desired. My folks moved back to Vancouver several years ago after living in Arizona for many years. They experienced Canada’s system once again, and they were dismayed by the long waiting lists. My mother needed several surgerys on her shoulder and hips. She’s in her 70s. She had to wait much longer than she would have under their U.S. plan, which is a private plan. On top of that, my dad found himself paying close to 50% of his retirement income in taxes. They moved back to the U.S. after just one year in Vancouver, and that’s their home. They have dual citizenship, so they have that advantage.

    While Canada has an excellent ability to deal with the Swine flu, the health system is not perfect. One problem, that I find here in the U.S., is that many people here are understanding Canada’s system as a model for what is currently being proposed for the U.S.

    Given the backlog problems with Canada’s actual care, and the horror stories of people having to wait months or years for vital life-saving surgeries, I hope not.

    I think we can come up with better solutions than that. I think there are some aspects of the Canadian system that the U.S. could model after. There are indeed some aspects of private healthcare systems in the U.S. involving efficiency, which Canada might want to model after.

    I have Kaiser Permanente insurance, and I get the care I need efficiently, with access to my ongoing care online. It’s perhaps more expensive for me than Canada’s system would be, but it’s more efficient, and there are better options available – plus, the cost is made up for in lower taxes here.

    If the U.S. could find a way of making Kaiser-like care available to those who currently have no coverage, then I don’t think they need to go with a nationwide socialized system like in Canada.

    btw, (off topic), I’ve been listening to some old interviews you gave to the DI about a year or two ago, on blogging, and Darwinbots. Finally got to hear your voice. Great interviews with Casey Luskin and Anika Smith!

  26. CannuckianYankee 25, I am not holding up Canada’s health care system as a model for all to follow.

    I say this only: We don’t allow people to self-medicate here, as is done in Mexico, because that deprives the health system of key information for everyone else’s health.

    If people can just ask for medication based on their own description of their symptoms, many confusing streams of information prevent identifying an epidemic.

    That’s exactly what happened with swine flu in Mexico. No lab tests = no accurate info. How would we know it wasn’t a new Great Plague?

    The difficulties around senior care are – it seems to me – a different and more complex question.

    First, keep in mind that only in technically advanced societies do we even find many seniors.

    Some years ago, I had the sobering experience of discovering that in some countries, the average lifespan of women was in the 40s range.

    That may have changed. I surely hope so. But, living where most people double that, I naturally wondered why …

    Second, I found by recent experience that the trick with the Canadian system is to be a persistent advocate.

    The triage nurses at the emergency room’s front desk of a Canadian hospital are usually pretty good.

    If you collapse, they will drag you through (literally!) immediately.

    And the medical residents, internes, nurse practitioners, and health technicians know amazing tricks to keep you alive.

    But once you are lying in a ward later, you enter a confusing world that rewards those who understand what is happening to them, or have a friend or relative who does.

    There are lots of things to say against our Canadian system, and we hear them all the time. But we only hear them because people lived to tell.

  27. 27
    CannuckianYankee

    “We don’t allow people to self-medicate here, as is done in Mexico, because that deprives the health system of key information for everyone else’s health.”

    Of course, with a few exceptions like the 222, for example. I miss those down here. Tylenol with Codeine requires a prescription, and the Codeine in it is a controlled substance, so it requires a triplicate. So you could say that the U.S. system is even more controlled than Canada’s. And our pills are apparently more expensive. There are a lot of people in Socal here, who take occasional trips to Mexico in order to have their prescriptions filled. I know how that goes – When I lived in Vancouver during the beer strikes of the 1980s, we used to Cart down to Bellingham for Coors. :)

  28. 28
    CannuckianYankee

    Ms. O’Leary,

    Perhaps a Mexican solution could be this:

    Since many people go to pharmacists for their medication, maybe they could upgrade the credentials of pharmacists, and call them “Preliminary Diagnostic Practitioners,” or “Health Assessment Practitioners” (That would make them “happies”) or something like that, requiring them to keep up on current epidemics and other common health problems. They could turn pharmacies into “Satellite Triage Units,” where serious illnesses are weeded out for more intensive treatment in hospitals. At least until they can figure out how they’re going to fix the overall system, which by the looks of it, could take decades.

    A further idea is this:

    Many churches in the U.S. send qualified doctors on missionary trips abroad. Mexico could ask for or commission volunteer MDs from the U.S. to work in these Satellite Triage Units. Of course, if that is to happen, I’m sure that safety conditions in Mexico would have to be improved.

  29. 29

    Nakashima,

    To be quite honest, Darwin didn’t specify micro or macro evolution in particular. So we could argue either way.

  30. Hey Herb,

    I’m glad to see someone point this out—they’re still just flu viruses! This so-called “evolution” hasn’t produced any novel, complex structures like eyes or appendages. All we are observing here is variation within a kind.

    I suppose expecting you to define the term “kind” was a little too much to ask without having to actually ask. So I’ll ask now.

    What is a “kind”?

  31. Mr Mapou,

    My understanding from reading various reports is that all known strains are related and are the result of lateral exchanges between different populations. One would expect otherwise if Darwinism were true.

    Why do you think that? It would be an important result if it could be proved.

  32. 32

    Mapou,

    RM is not the result of environmental pressures or natural selection. Mutations should happen no matter what, due to constant random biochemical and radioactive interactions.

    That is exactly what I just said. Read it again. I said that mutations are just copying errors, and that the environment forces selection of those mutations that best aid survival.

    For an organism to change, environmental pressure is required. No environmental pressure, and no particular mutations will be selected for/against. If it gets colder, those organisms that are SLIGHTLY hairier will eventually become dominant over those that are not. The environment doesn’t CAUSE the mutations, but it IS the PRESSURE that causes certain ones to become dominant in a population.

  33. Nakashima @31:

    Why do you think that? It would be an important result if it could be proved.

    According to Wikipedia (a cesspool of materialist/Darwinist propaganda), “horizontal gene transfer is a highly significant phenomenon, and amongst single-celled organisms perhaps the dominant form of genetic transfer.
    Although the final verdict is still out, I am of the opinion that random mutations are the exception rather than the rule in accounting for gene diversity. I believe that most if not all genes within a species have existed for the lifetime of the species (millions of years) and that diversity is mainly the result of recombinations. ID proponents have a name for it: front loading. In my opinion, nature is extremely conservative and goes to extreme lengths to eliminate mutations since they are almost always deleterious to the organism.

  34. Mr Mapou,

    We agree that HGT is important in viruses and bacteria. But you went on to say that this is not what Darwinism would predict. Why?

  35. 35
    CannuckianYankee

    RDK,

    “I suppose expecting you to define the term “kind” was a little too much to ask without having to actually ask. So I’ll ask now.

    What is a ‘kind’?”

    From Websters:

    KIND: “a group united by common traits or interests : category b: a specific or recognized variety.”

    I think it would be pretty much meaningless to discuss biology without recognizing that kind applies to species; but I suppose you will go so far as to ask: “what is a species?”

    Such reasoning precludes macro-evolution, but many Darwinists even reject this distinction (between micro and macro), so that nobody can really question it. How convenient. Seems rather more like a philosophy than a science – a philosophy of non-distinction.

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