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Which Part of Evolutionary Theory is Self-Evidently Wrong?

UD’s dear commenter Elizabeth Liddle (whom I greatly admire for her respectful dissent from our dissent from evolutionary orthodoxy) asks the question in the title of my post.

Upon hearing this challenge my first reaction was, Where to begin? I’ll begin with two self-evidently wrong propositions of evolutionary theory.

1) Gradualism. Attempts to cram the fossil evidence into the gradualistic model display transparent desperation to make the evidence fit the theory. The fossil record testifies consistently and persuasively to three things: stasis, abrupt extinction, and abrupt appearance of new functional life forms. In addition, common sense argues that there is no gradualistic pathway for almost any biologically complex and functionally integrated system. A simple example is the avian lung. There is no conceivably logical gradualistic pathway from a reptilian bellows lung to an avian circulatory lung, because the intermediates would immediately die of asphyxiation.

Furthermore, attempts by Darwinists to explain away this kind of obvious problem strike ID folks — we consider ourselves, by the way, to be the real “free thinkers” concerning origins — as desperate attempts motivated by a desire to defend a theory in evidential and logical crisis.

2) The biologically creative evolutionary power of stochastic events filtered by natural selection.

This proposition is dead-simply, obviously, and empirically unreasonable (except in isolated pathological instances such as bacterial antibiotic resistance, in which case the probabilistic resources are available to allow informational degradation to provide a temporary survival advantage). Natural selection is irrelevant. Throwing out failed experiments does nothing to increase the creative power of random events. Simple combinatorial mathematics render the stochastic proposition completely unreasonable.

The two examples I’ve provided I find to be self-evidently wrong.

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140 Responses to Which Part of Evolutionary Theory is Self-Evidently Wrong?

  1. (whom I greatly admire for her respectful dissent from our dissent from evolutionary orthodoxy)

    I think you have a strange definition of “respectful” — she doesn’t have enought respect for the people here to argue in an honest fashion, and she’ll lie to your face in her “arguments”, but she does avoid the frothing-at-the-mouth dishing out of insults that is the more typical behavior of DarwinDefenders.

  2. Which Part of Evolutionary Theory is Self-Evidently Wrong?

    This ought to be interesting to see what people think ‘best captures the self evidently wrongness’ of Darwinism!… I think this following quote get fairly close to best capturing the self-evident wrongness of neo-Darwinism;

    “an attempt to explain the formation of the genetic code from the chemical components of DNA… is comparable to the assumption that the text of a book originates from the paper molecules on which the sentences appear, and not from any external source of information.”
    Dr. Wilder-Smith

  3. Ilion,

    As a Christian and former atheist, I disagree with you about Liz.

    She has made her case, and I’ve found nothing about her comments to be disrespectful. She should be welcomed with open arms on our forum as an advocate of the opposition view.

    I have not found Liz to be a liar in any sense of the word. She has simply presented her case based on her background.

    We present our case, the Darwinists present their case, and evidence, logic, and truth will inevitably win.

  4. I have not found Liz to be a liar in any sense of the word.

    To lie is to state something with disregard to the truth with the intention that people will accept the statement as truth.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lie

    I’ll resist the temptation to post clear examples of such, not because there are not many examples available, but because I’m interested in keeping to the topic raised in the OP.

  5. Elizabeth Liddle:

    I’d be interested in knowing which part of evolutionary theory people here think is self-evidently wrong.

    Let’s start with the most basic of all, which is that all organisms at all times and everywhere produce more offspring than there are resources available to support those offspring, thus requiring that they compete for scarce resources in order to survive.

  6. As for explicit statements of evolutionary theory, I’m going to go with Gil’s #2 – the fact that natural selection is a sufficient force for biological creativity. Most people don’t realize that most of the interesting mutations actually *aren’t* haphazard events, but rather organized cellular responses. For those not aware of this idea, I will offer two of my own articles on this idea (each article links to several others):

    1) My Ignite Tulsa talk on whether interesting mutations are accidental or prescribed (only 5 minutes)

    2) My response to Merlin’s defense of Darwinism

    3) My article on a creation-oriented classification of mutations

    Another issue for me is a more philosophical/implicit claim of evolutionary theory – that biological organisms (including humans) are only material. A good discussion of this is Marilyn Robinson’s book Absence of Mind

  7. “(except in isolated pathological instances such as bacterial antibiotic resistance, in which case the probabilistic resources are available to allow informational degradation to provide a temporary survival advantage)”

    Gil, good post. With respect to the above paranthetical, these kinds of events (which even then are more rare than some like to suppose) hardly constitute an example of evolutionary “creative power,” as they almost inevitably involve a loss of specificity, loss of original function, breakage of a useful system, etc. In most cases these kinds of events are really little more than dumb luck that a breakage happened to provide a slight advantage (usually temporary). I know you are saying the same thing.

    johnnyb is right that the few cases in which there are useful mutations going on generally seem to be the result of a planned/coordinated process.

    I’d have to agree that #2 is on my list. The idea of the alleged evolutionary process generating the complex specified information evident in life is just ludicrous — absolutely laughable.

  8. Skipped over Mung #5 . . .

    I’m not sure Darwinists would state it as strongly as you do: all organisms, all times, everywhere, etc.

    But I get your point, and I agree that the whole idea of competition to the death for scarcity of resources being some kind of semi-omnipresent fact of nature is simply not supported by the evidence. The Malthusian underpinnings of the theory do not serve it well.

    There are certainly plenty of examples of resource scarcity and what appears to be the cold, hard, cruel hand of nature to make us sit up and take notice, but there are also so many exceptions that it is not at all clear which is actually the rule and which is the exception. Certainly the idea that populations are so carefully balanced on a razor’s edge to the point that a “slight modification” (as Darwin put it) would alter the entire balance of survival, while, again, true in some instances, is by no means a universal phenomenon.

  9. 9

    I’d be interested in knowing which part of evolutionary theory people here think is self-evidently wrong.

    The presumption that unguided forces can create and coordinate the representations and protocols that make the existence of information possible.

  10. I think the part (any part!) that is supposedly supported by overwhelming mountains of evidence. The first thing you notice when you search for it is that it’s nowhere to be found. Definitely a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes!

    Great OP by GilDodgen, I hope as many people as possible, from both sides, chip in.

  11. Folks:

    There is a complex fallacy question at work.

    Self evidence.

    That which is self evident is not only obviously true on understanding it, but also patently NECESSARILY true, on pain of reduction of blatant absurdity.

    Darwinism on the body plan evo level may lack empirical and analytical support [infinite monkeys issues], but the breakdowns are not on matters that are self-evident.

    So, let us not fall into that trap.

    Dr Liddle needs to correct her question, so that it is not a complex one of the ilk “have you stopped beating your wife?”

    Such heads I win, tails you lose questions, are not good enough.

    GEM of TKI

  12. PS: The key blunder in how modern evolutionary biology is thought about is probably the implicit assumption of evolutionary materialism, presented as a redefinition of science on “centuries old” methodological naturalism, so called. As Johnson pointed out, that major begging of the question — see how often this keeps cropping up — makes something like Darwinism seem true almost by definition.

    PPS: To those of us who have un-begged the question, someone still tied up in the tangles of the begged questions — their name is Legion — may seem like one willfully in disregard of the truth with deceptive intent. I think we have to draw the line at willful, stubborn, plainly dishonest resistance to correction and presentation of corrected falsehood as if it were incontrovertible, to those who do not have easy access to the correction, i.e it is the refusal to entertain genuine dialogue and the pretence that those who differ are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked that are diagnostic. (That is where I think the plainly fabricated internet persona Mathgrrl — itself apparently a stolen monicker — crossed the line.)

    PPS: Well, well, well, Wiki has a very good against-interest definition of lie! let’s grab it before it gets twisted. (Too late Wiki Political Correctness monitors, it is now in the vaults.)

    –> In all its glory (and note how my point about passive lying by willful deceptiveness in the teeth of what one knows or should know is pretty directly implied, MG, TWT, Y et al . . . the latter know or should know that they have made a long list of reckless and slanderously false accusations in public and have said some things that boil down to the mafioso threat I have complained officially against (we know you, we know where you are, we know those you care about), etc etc etc — and Mr Matzke et al, you know or should know that creationism and design theory are quite distinct, and more . . . ):

    To lie is to state something with disregard to the truth with the intention that people will accept the statement as truth . . . . even a true statement can be used to deceive. In this situation, it is the intent of being overall untruthful rather than the truthfulness of any individual statement that is considered the lie . . . . One can state part of the truth out of context, knowing that without complete information, it gives a false impression. Likewise, one can actually state accurate facts, yet deceive with them . . . . One lies by omission when omitting an important fact, deliberately leaving another person with a misconception. Lying by omission includes failures to correct pre-existing misconceptions. Also known as a continuing misrepresentation . . . . A misleading statement is one where there is no outright lie, but still retains the purpose of getting someone to believe in an untruth . . .

    –> Locked-in, tracking and ready to launch . . .

  13. BTW, where is the original question, please?

  14. GilDodgen:As a Christian and former atheist, I disagree with you about Liz.

    What does “As a Christian and former atheist” have to do with my criticism of your willingness to overlook the unpleasant truth — worse than overlook, which is sometimes a good thing to do, for you are asserting the intentionally opposite of the truth.

  15. “Which Part of ‘[Modern] Evolutionary Theory’ is Self-Evidently Wrong?”

    That ‘modern evolutionary theory’ is modern.

    That ‘modern evolutionary theory’ is evolutionary.

    That ‘modern evolutionary theory’ is a theory.

  16. LAUNCHED; TWT, Y and DK et al, kindly note, esp here.

  17. 17
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Mung wrote:

    I’ll resist the temptation to post clear examples of such, not because there are not many examples available, but because I’m interested in keeping to the topic raised in the OP.

    What other way to interpret this is there, than as “my slur on Lizzie’s integrity is correct and relevant, but I won’t support it because that would be off topic”?

    Yes, it would indeed be off topic, and so is your slur, and so is Ilion’s.

    Thank you Gil for your kind words,and for elevating my question to an OP. I look forward to reading to the responses and responding to them.

    If anyone wants to make a second thread in which my integrity can be questioned, I’d be delighted to defend any accusations there, as long as they are supported by, you know, evidence.

    We all agree that evidence matters, right?

    Now, back to your regular scheduled program on self-evident problems with evolutionary theory….

  18. KF @ 12:PPS: To those of us who have un-begged the question, someone still tied up in the tangles of the begged questions – their name is Legion – may seem like one willfully in disregard of the truth with deceptive intent. I think we have to draw the line at willful, stubborn, plainly dishonest resistance to correction and presentation of corrected falsehood as if it were incontrovertible, to those who do not have easy access to the correction, i.e it is the refusal to entertain genuine dialogue and the pretence that those who differ are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked that are diagnostic.

    I *think* I understand what you have said; and if so, I quite agree. I *think* that what you said encompasses two of the three prongs of my tripartite high-level explanation for (and test of) why a person believes or asserts what is false.

    If a person believes or asserts what is false, there are three, and only three, broad categories of explanation for why he does so:
    1) inability to understand the truth of the matter;
    2) misunderstanding of the truth of the matter;
    3) disinclination to understand (or state) the truth of the matter.

    To say that option 1) is the general explanation of why the one with whom one disagrees continues to disagree, despite one’s fine efforts to show him the truth of the matter, is to assert that that person is too stupid to understand the matter. I don’t believe we ever have justification for believing this about anyone, not even of the severely retarded. But, if one does believe this to be the case, then why in the hell is one harassing the poor unfortunate soul?

    To say that option 2) is the general explanation of why the one with whom one disagrees continues to disagree, despite one’s fine efforts to show him the truth of the matter, is to assert that that person doesn’t correctly understand something or other (either about one’s argument or about some logically prior point), and that that misunderstanding explains why he believes contrary to the truth of the matter. That is, his belief is erroneous, but it is honest error; and once the misunderstanding is identifies and corrected, one reasonably expects that he will cease his disagreement.

    Charity – and reason and our own (alleged) commitment to truth, themselves – demand that we assume, for as long as we reasonably can, that option 2) is the explanation for why the other disagrees with us.

    To say that option 3) is the general explanation of why the one with whom one disagrees continues to disagree, despite one’s fine efforts to show him the truth of the matter, is to assert that that person is not interested in asserting (or knowing) the truth of the matter. This covers a gamut; everything from that he’s not really interested in the matter (for example: he may not actually be arguing with you, it may just be that you are being a boor and a bore) to that he is lying about specific facts of the matter to that he is engaging in intellectual dishonesty.

    Charity – and reason and our own (alleged) commitment to truth, themselves – demand that we assume, for as long as we reasonably can, that option 3) is *not* the explanation for why the other disagrees with us.

    The key phrase there is “for as long as we reasonably can“. When it becomes clear — due to the other person’s behavior — that option 2) can no longer reasonably be held to be the explanation for why he continues to assert what is false, then *we* engage in dishonesty if we continue to assert that option 2) is the case … and, moreso if we then attack our erstwhile allies who have reasonably abandoned option 2) for option 3).

  19. Yes, it’s always a “slur” to speak the truth that others do not wish to have spoken.

  20. Gil:A simple example [of gradualism gone wrong, and insisted upon in the face of all reason] is the avian lung…

    Likewise with the alleged shift from the reptilian jaw to the mammalian jaw: the necessary intermediaries would starve to death.

  21. 21

    Ilion: “The key phrase there is “for as long as we reasonably can“.

    Word.

  22. 22
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Gil:

    1) Gradualism. Attempts to cram the fossil evidence into the gradualistic model display transparent desperation to make the evidence fit the theory. The fossil record testifies consistently and persuasively to three things: stasis, abrupt extinction, and abrupt appearance of new functional life forms. In addition, common sense argues that there is no gradualistic pathway for almost any biologically complex and functionally integrated system. A simple example is the avian lung. There is no conceivably logical gradualistic pathway from a reptilian bellows lung to an avian circulatory lung, because the intermediates would immediately die of asphyxiation.

    Furthermore, attempts by Darwinists to explain away this kind of obvious problem strike ID folks — we consider ourselves, by the way, to be the real “free thinkers” concerning origins — as desperate attempts motivated by a desire to defend a theory in evidential and logical crisis.

    Interesting. Do you also regard this evidence as evidence against common descent?

    If so, what do you think the family tree of life might look like?

    If not, what to you hypothesise as the explanation for the appearance of abrupt life forms? For instance, do you think that at key moments in life’s history, a novel set of genes were inserted into the genome of existing species?

    While waiting for your response to those questions, I’ll try to explain my own response to your take on the evidence:

    The fossil record testifies consistently and persuasively to three things: stasis, abrupt extinction, and abrupt appearance of new functional life forms.

    A couple of points. Firstly, the fossil record is not merely a sparse random sampling, it’s also a biased sampling. Fossilisation is a rare occurrence, and is more likely in some habitats than others. Organisms that live in habitats not conducive to fossilisation (forests, for instance) will be sampled less frequently than organisms that live in more fossilogenic (if there is such a word) enviroments. So the first thing to consider is whether the “abrupt changes” are in fact “abrupt changes” to the population, or rather abrupt changes to the habitat in which they live.

    Secondly, there is nothing in evolutionary theory that says extinction won’t be abrupt! What evolutionary theory says is that evolution won’t be. But even there, nothing in evolutionary theory says that rate of evolution won’t fluctuate, nor that populations will not go through long periods of stasis. Indeed, the reverse is true – Darwin’s theory was that population adapt to environments. And so you would expect that the rate of change (evolution) in a population would track the rate of change in the environment, and we know that some environments are very stable (oceans, for instance) and some environments much less so. Not only that, but a population can move through different environments, or remain in the same one; or can subdivide into two populations, in which one remains in the original environment, where it is already at an optimum, and remains in “stasis” while the other migrates to a new environment and adapts, independently of its sister population, to that new environment. You would therefore expect to see examples of both stasis (populations already optimally adapted to a stable environment) and relatively rapid change (populations adapting to a new environment, or to a rapidly changing one). And we know from field studies that evolution (often called “micro-evolution”) can occur very rapidly, with noticeably environmentally-linked changes to phenotypic and genotypic frequences even from generation to generation. Now, I know that evolution-skeptics insist that there are limits to “micro-evolution” – and I’d agree that there are probably limits to the rate of change, the limit being the production rate of novel potentially beneficial alleles, but I’m not convinced that that rate is so slow as to be unable to account for the geologically “rapid” (but still very slow) transitions we see in the fossil record.

    In addition, common sense argues that there is no gradualistic pathway for almost any biologically complex and functionally integrated system. A simple example is the avian lung. There is no conceivably logical gradualistic pathway from a reptilian bellows lung to an avian circulatory lung, because the intermediates would immediately die of asphyxiation.

    Well, I’d need more argumentation to be convinced that there is “no conceivably logical gradualistic pathway from a reptilian bellows lung to an avian circulatory lung” (my italics) :) Not just appeal to “common sense”! And, as you are probably aware, people are researching this very topic.

    There’s a paper in Nature here if you are interested:

    http://www.minotstateu.edu/bio.....design.pdf

    Of course it may be wrong, but it seems both logical and gradualistic to me. And someone conceived it :)

    Furthermore, attempts by Darwinists to explain away this kind of obvious problem strike ID folks — we consider ourselves, by the way, to be the real “free thinkers” concerning origins — as desperate attempts motivated by a desire to defend a theory in evidential and logical crisis.

    Well, I understand the reaction, but that doesn’t necessary mean it is justified :) That’s why I wanted to know what people saw as the self-evident problems in evolutionary theory. It still seems to me that the theory is both logical AND supported by evidence, even though the exact pathway for any one feature may be impossible to determine with complete confidence, and for many features the evidence to decide one way or the other may simply be forever unavailable.

    What is much clearer, it seems to me, is that deeply nested phylogenies can be readily constructed. For me that is very strong evidence for common descent, as well as for gradual change (though fluctuating). That in itself doesn’t rule out something other than Darwinian mechanisms, but it doesn’t rule out Darwinian mechanisms either IMO.

    Futhermore, some key transitions (e.g. the tetrapod transition), which were strongly predicted by any common descent theory (essential to it) and for which fossil evidence was lacking for a while, have now been filled out, interestingly by using predictive hypotheses as to where such fossils, if they were to be exist, would be findable. And they were.

    Anyway, that’s my response to your first choice of problem :)

    I’ll take a look at your second now, and also await your answers to my questions with interest.

  23. 23
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Ilion:

    Yes, it’s always a “slur” to speak the truth that others do not wish to have spoken.

    Possibly. I guess people will tend to regard aspersions on their integrity as a “slur” whether or not it is justified. But in this case it is not justified.

    I do not lie, Ilion, and I have not lied on this forum. If you want to discuss my integrity, ask one of the board leaders to start a thread, where I can defend myself without derailing a thread about something interesting. But I don’t take kindly to having my integrity impugned, and I’m not going to let unsupported accusations sit here unaddressed. I post in good faith, and I assume others do so as well. The least you can do is to make the same assumption about me unless you have clear evidence to the contrary, in which case please present it.

    But not here, please.

  24. KF @ 13:BTW, where is the original question, please?

    here

  25. Well, that attempt to link directly to the post didn’t work … it’s comment #7 in this thread

  26. Gil:

    I agree with kf that it is better not to speak of “self-evidence”. I would just say that those parts are obviously, reasonably wrong.

    That said, I really agree with you about the two points. Only, I would put the generation of comlex functional information information by neo darwinian mechanisms at the first place, followed by the gradualism, just because I believe the first point is by far more important.

    I would like to add a third point, one that is maybe rarely mentioned, but which IMO is very imortant.

    The basic point of neo darwinism is that complexity arises in the course of natural history because it is drawn essentially by reproductive advantage.

    I don’t believe that to be true at all. For all we know, also from our programming experience as humans, complexity is introduces in machines essentially for a very general motivation: to allow new functionalities, to do things that it was impossible to do with simpler machines. In no way that helps “survival”, or, simply, safety.

    Complexity, indeed, in most cases creates new frailties, new risks of errors. Complex things are more difficult to manage and to preserve. They often require an additional burden of further complexity just to manage the errors. And even that is usually not efficient enough.

    So, we could say that, when we engineer things, we add complexity because we want new functionalities, and we pay for that complexity in many ways, including errors and problems of “survival”.

    IMO, the same thing is true for biological life. I really don’t understand how darwinists may think that reproductive gain is the engine of evolution, and of emergence of complexity. How can we negate that the most succsessful reproductors in the whole history of our planet are prokaryotes? They still are the real masters of our planet, both in terms of number and reproduction rate. If the true “purpose” of egoist genes is just to survive, what better form of survival than the bacterial form?

    And, to go to another level, let us just compare the survival and reproductive abilities of mammals with those of coxroaches, or rats.

    I do believe that the drawing motive in the evolution of biological complexity is the same as in human artifacts: life (or the designer of life) just tries to express new functions, to realize new and higher forms which can do things that lower forms cannot do.

    The cost in complexity for those new functions is heavy, and of course the survival and reproduction of the new forms must be ensured too.

    But in no way is survival or reproductiove advantage the true reason for new complexity. Purpose and function are the true reasons.

  27. 27

    1.) Gradualism: Cambrian.
    2.) Natural selection: Lenski’s e-coli

    Does 2 show a sufficient mechanism to produce 1?

    Hell no.

    Darwin was wrong.

    Something is missing.

  28. 28
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Gil:

    2) The biologically creative evolutionary power of stochastic events filtered by natural selection.

    This proposition is dead-simply, obviously, and empirically unreasonable (except in isolated pathological instances such as bacterial antibiotic resistance, in which case the probabilistic resources are available to allow informational degradation to provide a temporary survival advantage). Natural selection is irrelevant. Throwing out failed experiments does nothing to increase the creative power of random events. Simple combinatorial mathematics render the stochastic proposition completely unreasonable.

    I’m not sure what you are saying here. Certainly “Throwing out failed experiments does nothing to increase the creative power of random events”.

    But, in a human designer, throwing out failed experiments is an exercise in creative power, or can be, as long as there is a steady supply of fresh experiments!

    But your main point seems to be that mutations inevitably cause “informational degradation”, so that even if a mutation provides a “temporary survival advantage” ultimately, every mutation will contribute in the end to “genetic meltdown” unless some other factor (Intelligently Designed, presumably), prevents it.

    Do I have this approximately right?

    And could I also ask you to explain slightly more fully what you mean by “Simple combinatorial mathematics render the stochastic proposition completely unreasonable.”?

    Cheers

    Lizzie

  29. 29

    GP:

    “I do believe that the drawing motive in the evolution of biological complexity is the same as in human artifacts: life (or the designer of life) just tries to express new functions, to realize new and higher forms which can do things that lower forms cannot do.”

    Exactly what drives new technology.

  30. EL:But not here, please.

    The author of the OP introduced the sub-topic in the OP.

    The least you can do is to make the same assumption about me unless you have clear evidence to the contrary, in which case please present it.

    And by “clear evidence to the contrary” she means “something I can’t lie about”. But, of course, anyone can lie about anything.

    EL:The least you can do is to make the same assumption about me …

    It is no longer a reasonable assumption to make concerning you. Your continued behavior removes option 2) (see post # 18) as a rational possible explanation for your continued and multifarious assertions of falsehood and un-reason.

    Should I move to option 1) as the rational explanation for your continued error? Is it that you are simply too stupid to reason properly and to understand the corrections to your expressed reasoning and asserted “facts” offered to you by Mung, and KF, and Nullasalus, and many others?

    The major difference between what you do here and what, say, Nick Matzke does, is that you are passive-aggressive in your intellectual dishonesty and he is direct in his intellectual dishonesty. To put it another way, you approach the task of presenting to the world your intellectual dishonesty in the manner that a woman (or an academic) tends to do, whereas he (generally) performs the task in the manner that a man tends to do.

    Maybe it’s only because I’m a man myself, but if I simply must witness intellectual dishonesty, I prefer it to be of the “manly” variety.

  31. 31
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Mung:

    Let’s start with the most basic of all, which is that all organisms at all times and everywhere produce more offspring than there are resources available to support those offspring, thus requiring that they compete for scarce resources in order to survive.

    Well, I would agree that that is untrue. But, interestingly, it is not even what Darwin said, and we have moved a long way from Darwin.

    In Origin, Darwin wrote:

    In the preservation of favoured individuals and races, during the constantly-recurrent Struggle for Existence, we see the most powerful and ever-acting means of selection. The struggle for existence inevitably follows from the high geometrical ratio of increase which is common to all organic beings. This high rate of increase is proved by calculation, by the effects of a succession of peculiar seasons, and by the results of naturalisation, as explained in the third chapter. More individuals are born than can possibly survive. A grain in the balance will determine which individual shall live and which shall die, — which variety or species shall increase in number, and which shall decrease, or finally become extinct. As the individuals of the same species come in all respects into the closest competition with each other, the struggle will generally be most severe between them; it will be almost equally severe between the varieties of the same species, and next in severity between the species of the same genus. But the struggle will often be very severe between beings most remote in the scale of nature. The slightest advantage in one being, at any age or during any season, over those with which it comes into competition, or better adaptation in however slight a degree to the surrounding physical conditions, will turn the balance.

    my bold

    This is not the same as saying “all organisms at all times and everywhere produce more offspring than there are resources available to support those offspring, thus requiring that they compete for scarce resources in order to survive.”

    Clearly, many populations of organisms produce offspring at a maintenance rate that can be supported by their environment – we say these populations are in equilibrium with their environment.

    What Darwin was saying, and it remains the core of evolutionary theory, is that any heritable traits that confer greater probability of survival within the current environment will have increased prevalence in the next generation.

    He didn’t put it quite like that, but that’s the essence of natural selection.

    We know now of course that there is much more to selection than competition for nutritional resources – competition for mates is also crucial, in sexually reproducing populations. We also know that drift itself is important, and that the population itself, as it evolves, becomes part of the fitness landscape.

    But no part of evolutionary theory, either Darwin’s or the state-of-the-art posits that “all organisms at all times and everywhere produce more offspring than there are resources available”. It is self-evidently wrong alright, but it isn’t part of evolutionary theory!

  32. 32
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Ilion:

    EL: “But not here, please.”

    The author of the OP introduced the sub-topic in the OP.

    As you wish.

    “The least you can do is to make the same assumption about me unless you have clear evidence to the contrary, in which case please present it.”

    And by “clear evidence to the contrary” she means “something I can’t lie about”. But, of course, anyone can lie about anything.

    By “clear evidence ot the contrary” I mean “clear evidence to the contrary” no more no less.

    EL: “The least you can do is to make the same assumption about me …”

    It is no longer a reasonable assumption to make concerning you. Your continued behavior removes option 2) (see post # 18) as a rational possible explanation for your continued and multifarious assertions of falsehood and un-reason.

    I am still waiting for evidence of this “continued and multifarious assertions of falsehood and un-reason”.

    Unless you simply mean statements and claims of mine with which you disagree. Which would be affirming your consequent rather.

    Should I move to option 1) as the rational explanation for your continued error? Is it that you are simply too stupid to reason properly and to understand the corrections to your expressed reasoning and asserted “facts” offered to you by Mung, and KF, and Nullasalus, and many others?

    Well, you could start by justifying your assumption of “error”.

    The fact that you think I am wrong is not prima facie evidence that I am. Nor is the fact that I remain unpersuaded by you, kf, Mung et al is also not prima facie evidence that I am either stupid or dishonest. You have excluded a rather important middle.

    The major difference between what you do here and what, say, Nick Matzke does, is that you are passive-aggressive in your intellectual dishonesty and he is direct in his intellectual dishonesty. To put it another way, you approach the task of presenting to the world your intellectual dishonesty in the manner that a woman (or an academic) tends to do, whereas he (generally) performs the task in the manner that a man tends to do.

    Bullshit.

    Maybe it’s only because I’m a man myself, but if I simply must witness intellectual dishonesty, I prefer it to be of the “manly” variety.

    I don’t prefer any kind of dishonesty.

    Which is why I choose to be honest.

  33. Is it that you are simply too stupid to reason properly and to understand the corrections to your expressed reasoning and asserted “facts” offered to you by Mung, and KF, and Nullasalus, and many others?

    You seem to be laboring under the assumption that these ‘corrections’ are actually correct. From what I can see many of them are not. Your’s, KF’s and Mungs sincere belief does not mean they are.

    Maybe it’s only because I’m a man myself, but if I simply must witness intellectual dishonesty, I prefer it to be of the “manly” variety.

    Are you man enough to say sorry for your grossly sexist attitude?

    I’m glad to see that UD maintains its high standards for civility!

  34. Dr Liddle:

    Pardon, but — first and foremost — do you insist on “self-evident” [in its proper sense] in your original question?

    As you can see from 11 above, I think — in the particular context — this implies a fallacy of the complex question, if so.

    I think there are quite serious and mutually reinforcing errors in the modern approach to evolution as scientific explanation of origin of body plans and in the broader sense of evolution, of life as well, cf here and following pages [esp on OO life, body plans, mind and morals -- i.e. the spiritual order of biological reality].

    But, while I see some fairly seriously begged questions, some errors of analysis and some serious gaps on empirical observational support, I am not finding that much along he way of things that are not just contingently false but are necessarily and patently false by virtue of blatant absurdity, once understood.

    I think the two matters should now be definitively separated.

    Do you concur, and if not, why not? Also, why did you use this phrasing to begin with?

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Kindly observe on your clip from Darwin, a familiar reference:

    In the preservation of favoured individuals and races, during the constantly-recurrent Struggle for Existence, we see the most powerful and ever-acting means of selection. The struggle for existence inevitably follows from the high geometrical ratio of increase which is common to all organic beings. This high rate of increase is proved by calculation, by the effects of a succession of peculiar seasons, and by the results of naturalisation, as explained in the third chapter. More individuals are born than can possibly survive. A grain in the balance will determine which individual shall live and which shall die, — which variety or species shall increase in number, and which shall decrease, or finally become extinct. As the individuals of the same species come in all respects into the closest competition with each other, the struggle will generally be most severe between them; it will be almost equally severe between the varieties of the same species, and next in severity between the species of the same genus.

    It seems that Darwin’s view was resolutely and robustly malthusian. And the evidence that points away from a general malthusian struggle for existence to that extent undermines the original concept of natural selection, which is the key persuasive concept in the original darwinism. That is what is still very much lurking in the background of a lot of thought on the subject, even among the educated, and it must be frankly faced and explicitly corrected.

    More modern views on subtleties of differential reproductive success, in backing away from the above, tend strongly to instead become circular, as has been pointed out. It is possible to formulate a modern approach on things like founder effects, chance occurrences, niches, hill climbing advantages etc, but the overall framework still tends to fall into circles: the naturally selected are the ones who were most successful, and they are by definition the best adapted because they were the most successful.

    What I consistently find is absence of a cogent account of the arrival of the fittest or best adapted, especially when the body plan origin threshold is reached.

    I also find the claim that NS is “non random” — which seems to be a major rhetorically persuasive point [I think it leads many to imagine that this is a proved, certain conclusion and thus the things that go with it ride in on its coat-tails] — is irritatingly flawed, as patently a shift in odds of survival is a random variable issue.

  35. 35
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Chris:

    I think the part (any part!) that is supposedly supported by overwhelming mountains of evidence. The first thing you notice when you search for it is that it’s nowhere to be found. Definitely a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes!

    Well, this is why I asked “which part”? For example, I’d say there really are (literally!) mountains of evidence for common descent. This includes the ready distribution of living organisms into deeply nested phylogenies (as Linnaeus noted), into which vast numbers of fossilised organisms (chalk, for instance, is pretty well all fossil) can be readily placed.

    In fact, at least some IDists I gather accept the evidence for common descent. I haven’t finished Meyer’s book yet, but from what I’ve read so far, he seems to; so does Behe, I think, and I had an idea that Dembski did as well.

    That was part of what I was interested in finding out when I asked my question – how many people here think that the evidence supports common descent, and how many do not?

    Because that makes quite a difference: if common descent is incorrect, then clearly we cannot invoke Darwinian evolution to account for the origin of species (although it might come in handy to explain “microevolution). However, if common descent is correct, then then the objections to Darwinian evolution to account for the diversification become less clear to me, although the objection that no-one has yet provided a convincing account of how the first organism capable of Darwinian evolution came to be seems to have somewhat more force.

    But in that case, it shouldn’t be Darwin in the dock, but the OOL people :)

    As for the “overwhelming evidence” not for common descent (which I think is pretty overwhelming, especially given the substantial consilience between genetically and anatomically derived phylogenies), but for Darwinian adaptation, that also seems to be pretty subtantial to me, and I would say that:

    1. Field studies
    2. Lab studies
    3. Computational studies
    4. Logic!

    all support the hypothesis that Darwinian mechanisms result in adaptation of populations to their environment.

    So Chris: what is your position on common descent? Do you think the evidence supports it?

  36. 36
    Elizabeth Liddle

    kairosfocus:

    Folks:

    There is a complex fallacy question at work.

    Self evidence.

    That which is self evident is not only obviously true on understanding it, but also patently NECESSARILY true, on pain of reduction of blatant absurdity.

    Darwinism on the body plan evo level may lack empirical and analytical support [infinite monkeys issues], but the breakdowns are not on matters that are self-evident.

    So, let us not fall into that trap.

    Dr Liddle needs to correct her question, so that it is not a complex one of the ilk “have you stopped beating your wife?”

    I am more than happy to rephrase my question, especially now that it has become the subject of a general thread. I originally posed it here as:

    I’d be interested in knowing which part of evolutionary theory people here think is self-evidently wrong.

    I hereby amend that to:

    I’d be interested in knowing which part of evolutionary theory, if any people here think is self-evidently wrong.

    Insertion in bold.

    Such heads I win, tails you lose questions, are not good enough.

    GEM of TKI

    Well, it was an open-ended question, but I hope it is now even more open-ended. I’d also be interested in what people think is wrong with evolutionary theory that isn’t immediately self-evident.

  37. 37
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Hi, kairosfocus – crossposted with yours, I hope my original post is now clearer.

    Dr Liddle:

    Pardon, but — first and foremost — do you insist on “self-evident” [in its proper sense] in your original question?

    As you can see from 11 above, I think — in the particular context — this implies a fallacy of the complex question, if so.

    I think there are quite serious and mutually reinforcing errors in the modern approach to evolution as scientific explanation of origin of body plans and in the broader sense of evolution, of life as well, cf here and following pages [esp on OO life, body plans, mind and morals -- i.e. the spiritual order of biological reality].

    But, while I see some fairly seriously begged questions, some errors of analysis and some serious gaps on empirical observational support, I am not finding that much along he way of things that are not just contingently false but are necessarily and patently false by virtue of blatant absurdity, once understood.

    I think the two matters should now be definitively separated.

    Do you concur, and if not, why not? Also, why did you use this phrasing to begin with?

    Simply because some people, including Gil, seem to regard (and would readily agree that they regard) aspects of evolutionary theory to be self-evidently wrong, and wonder how so many apparently smart people can be so blind. So I was interested in finding out what people thought was self-evidently wrong with evolutionary theory.

    Obviously my own position is that there is nothing self-evidently wrong with it, so of course I’m also interested in more subtle things that might be wrong with it! But what I was specifically asking for in that post was what people thought was self-evidently (i.e. obviously) wrong with it.

    If anything.

    PS: Kindly observe on your clip from Darwin, a familiar reference:

    In the preservation of favoured individuals and races, during the constantly-recurrent Struggle for Existence, we see the most powerful and ever-acting means of selection. The struggle for existence inevitably follows from the high geometrical ratio of increase which is common to all organic beings. This high rate of increase is proved by calculation, by the effects of a succession of peculiar seasons, and by the results of naturalisation, as explained in the third chapter. More individuals are born than can possibly survive. A grain in the balance will determine which individual shall live and which shall die, — which variety or species shall increase in number, and which shall decrease, or finally become extinct. As the individuals of the same species come in all respects into the closest competition with each other, the struggle will generally be most severe between them; it will be almost equally severe between the varieties of the same species, and next in severity between the species of the same genus.

    It seems that Darwin’s view was resolutely and robustly malthusian. And the evidence that points away from a general malthusian struggle for existence to that extent undermines the original concept of natural selection, which is the key persuasive concept in the original darwinism. That is what is still very much lurking in the background of a lot of thought on the subject, even among the educated, and it must be frankly faced and explicitly corrected.

    Well, I would agree that simple malthusianism doesn’t account for all the evidence. For example, I’ve already pointed to sexual selection as another factor, which isn’t accommodated in a malthusian model. And although malthusian boom-bust ecologies exist (lemmings; caribou) much more gentle cybernetic ecologies also exist (the finches of the Galapagos, for example). You may be right that the original formulation still dominates biology, but I don’t actually think so. Population genetics has moved a long way since Darwin!

    More modern views on subtleties of differential reproductive success, in backing away from the above, tend strongly to instead become circular, as has been pointed out. It is possible to formulate a modern approach on things like founder effects, chance occurrences, niches, hill climbing advantages etc, but the overall framework still tends to fall into circles: the naturally selected are the ones who were most successful, and they are by definition the best adapted because they were the most successful.

    Yes, but it’s only circular because you’ve expressed it in a circular manner. It need not be. I would phrase it simply as: heritable traits that tend to promote survival will tend to be best represented in the next generation. That’s all natural selection is – it’s not so much circular as, well, self-evident! So obviously true that it almost sounds like a tautology.

    “Natural selection” is simply heritable differences in reproductive success. It’s not an external agent, nor even an agent at all. It’s just what will, inevitably happen if a population carries heritable variance in reproductive success.

    What I consistently find is absence of a cogent account of the arrival of the fittest or best adapted, especially when the body plan origin threshold is reached.

    OK, that sounds interesting. What do you mean by “the body plan origin threshold?”

    I also find the claim that NS is “non random” — which seems to be a major rhetorically persuasive point [I think it leads many to imagine that this is a proved, certain conclusion and thus the things that go with it ride in on its coat-tails] — is irritatingly flawed, as patently a shift in odds of survival is a random variable issue.

    Yes, it’s a poor phrase, and it sets my teeth on edge every time Dawkins uses it. Much better, IMO, to think of each generation being a sampling of traits of the previous one, and that sampling to be a biased sampling i.e. biased in favour of traits that tend to promote reproductive success. But of course, many things contribute to reproductive success, including sheer luck, so the bias may, in at least some generations, be overwhelmed by purely stochastic effects – a generally useful allele may drop in frequency simply because some clumsy human stepped on an entire section of the population that just happened to have a high prevalence of that allele. So I’d say “biased in favour of reproductive success” rather than “non-random” myself.

  38. Elizabeth:

    “Natural selection” is simply heritable differences in reproductive success.

    It is differential reproduction due to heritable variation.

    Natural selection has also been called a design mimic. Is there any evidence to support that claim?

    That said the main problem with the theory of evolution is no one knows what makes an organism what it is so therefor no one can say anything pertaining to universal common descent. Also the theory doesn’t say anything about origins and seeing tat origins directly impacts any subsequent evolution it really can’t say anything at all.

  39. 39

    The lenski e-coli studies have offered us a golf cart to tow a house.

  40. 40
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Joseph:

    Elizabeth:

    “Natural selection” is simply heritable differences in reproductive success.

    It is differential reproduction due to heritable variation.

    Sure. I don’t see any essential differences between our two definitions.

    Natural selection has also been called a design mimic. Is there any evidence to support that claim?

    Well, not until you also supply some mechanism by which the variations are continually generated. Then you do, I’d argue, have a “design mimic” in the sense that human designers keep producing variations, keeping the ones that work, modifying them, keeping those that work, modifying those, etc.

    The one aspect of human design that natural selection of variation doesn’t mimic is the ability to generate only prototypes with some chance of working i.e. to reject completely lunatic ideas before they even hit the drawing board. In other words, we can simulate outcomes, and test them against a goal – what I’d call “intend” things, in fact.

    That said the main problem with the theory of evolution is no one knows what makes an organism what it is so therefor no one can say anything pertaining to universal common descent.

    Not sure what you are getting at. Could you explain in more detail?

    Also the theory doesn’t say anything about origins and seeing tat origins directly impacts any subsequent evolution it really can’t say anything at all.

    Right. My own hunch (and it is not much more than that) is that Darwinian mechanisms kicked in well before anything much resembling a modern cell appeared, but I agree that so far we do not have a good account of how the first population capable of Darwinian evolution came to be, although I would certainly argue that from that point onwards, Darwinian evolution works pretty well to account for the data. With some important tweaks.

  41. Dr Liddle:

    As you know the concern is that the insertion of “self-evident” imposes a fallacy of the complex question.

    That you insist on its retention raises a serious question as to why.

    Kindly explain.

    Especially, the perception that a question on thinking that there are SELF EVIDENT errors in a scientific matter is an “open” question. Science generally does not deal with self evident matters, but best explanations of contingent ones, i.e observations.

    Let’s put it this way, what material would be lost from your question by rewording it in this sort of way:

    I’d be interested in knowing which part of evolutionary theory people here think is self-evidently wrong, [and on what basic grounds].

    And, the circularity tendency problem for NS has been seriously remarked on by others long before I came along. There are ways to formulate the theory that are not circular, but these from my recollection, are a lot less persuasive in force.

    GEM of TKI

  42. 42
    Elizabeth Liddle

    kairosfocus:

    All I meant was “obviously” wrong.

    Perhaps even “glaringly”.

    Please don’t read more into my question than that. Several people here have implied that evolutionary theory is so obviously wrong that only stupidity, dishonesty or ideological desperation could account for its widespread acceptance.

    I wanted to know what the people who took that view considered so obviously wrong with it. Gil gave a couple of answers in his OP, and others have given others.

    But if you want to tell me what you simply think is wrong with it, that would be interesting too :)

  43. PS: Did you mean “obviously” or “patently” or “blatantly”?

    As in:

    I’d be interested in knowing which part of evolutionary theory people here think is self-evidently [obviously] wrong, [and on what basic grounds].

    I think the most obvious errors have to do with:

    1 –> Imposition of a priori materialism through the back door route of so called methodological naturalism, which begs major questions and locks us out of freely seeking the truth (however provisionally) on origins matters.

    2 –> A tendency to over-read observations and take just so stores beyond their weight.

    3 –> Inability to address on observational and analytical grounds the origin of functionally specific complex info, i.e. cases of FSCI E from Zones separately describable T in spaces of possibilities W requiring 500 – 1,000 or more bits of info to cover the complexity.

    4 –> The related, convenient slicing off of OOL, where the answer on OOL is materially relevant to the answer on OO body plans.

    5 –> Not a direct error of evolution as natural history [cf Wallace's Intelligent Evolution and many others who hold similar views] but a philosophical travelling companion that dominates what is done, evolutionary materialism, which is self refuting and inherently undermining of the credibility of mind.

    6 –> and more

  44. 44
    Elizabeth Liddle

    F/N: should have added “ignorance” in there, I guess (along with stupidity, dishonesty and ideological desperation).

  45. Okay, the matter is now clear. Pardon, but in this context we have to be very careful indeed about terms like that. Self evident first principles of right reason are a very relevant issue in all this.

  46. F/N: Maybe some voltage turning down is in order.

    I come out of the Marxist era in my Uni, and am very aware of how an institutionally dominant ideology can shape perceptions in all sorts of ways. (I was once shocked in a conversation with some folks off-campus, to realise that the environment had been subtly biasing my own views, and I was a chief objector to the reigning orthodoxy!)

    Indeed, it can even dumb down, so that otherwise highly intelligent and reasonable people seem to lose all common sense when certain topics come up.

    So, let us all beware.

    I found that two remarks of Jesus’ in the Gospel of John are highly instructive and deeply searching:

    Jn 3: 19 “This, then, is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, [j] so that his deeds may not be exposed. 21 But anyone who lives by [k] the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.”

    Jn 8:43 Why don’t you understand what I say? Because you cannot listen to [n] My word . . . 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. [HCSB]

    We can be so indoctrinated into a system of thought or simply soak up so much of an environment that its implicit assumptions and plausibilites so colour our minds that we are literally unable to understand or appreciate something that is in fact true, because it is the truth that cuts across what we believe and think (wrongly) is right.

    So, we need to be very cautious indeed. Another Dominical saying is appropriate:

    Mt 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness!

    So, let us remember that to be human under present circumstances is to be finite, fallible, morally fallen and too often ill-willed.

    In that context, we need to be very careful indeed about crossing the subtle, unmarked line into the territory of willfully suppressing the truth we know or should know.

    The fallacy of the willfully closed mind yawns open before all of us.

    Let us beware.

    GEM of TKI

  47. 47
    Elizabeth Liddle

    kf:

    Okay, the matter is now clear. Pardon, but in this context we have to be very careful indeed about terms like that. Self evident first principles of right reason are a very relevant issue in all this.

    Cool :)

    And, yes. Language matters, especially when we are trying to communicate from very different positions and, indeed, usages.

    It’s a point I have made myself a few times :)

  48. 48
    Elizabeth Liddle

    kf:

    So, let us remember that to be human under present circumstances is to be finite, fallible, morally fallen and too often ill-willed.

    In that context, we need to be very careful indeed about crossing the subtle, unmarked line into the territory of willfully suppressing the truth we know or should know.

    The fallacy of the willfully closed mind yawns open before all of us.

    Let us beware.

    Yes indeed. But, to look at things more optimistically, the the assumption of the other’s willfully closed mind may also be a fallacy. That’s why I find it much more productive to assume that other people are posting in good faith, willing to be persuaded if the arguments and evidence are persuasive, and when that assumption is mutual, as it often seems to be, here, I think we are much more likely to at least reach clarity on where we disagree on fundamentals.

    The playing field is crowded with straw men on both sides, and getting them out of the way seems to me to be a good start!

    I’ve said before that I think that if we could be absolutely clear on what divides us, it would be just as clear as to which of us was right.

    But that clarity is an elusive thing. Worth working towards, though, I think.

  49. Liz: Do you also regard this evidence as evidence against common descent?

    No. Common descent seems reasonable, although I think universal common descent is falling on hard times, the Cambrian explosion being the most obvious example.

    …what do you think the family tree of life might look like?

    More like a hologram than a tree.

    …what do you hypothesize as the explanation for the appearance of abrupt life forms?

    I don’t know. Front-loading with prescribed, timed activation or event/environmentally-sensitive activation of existing dormant code is a possibility.

    As far as the sampling problem in the fossil record goes, if the Darwinian hypothesis is correct, the more we discover the more continuous the record should appear, but in fact the more discontinuous it appears. Again, the Cambrian explosion is the most obvious example.

    Concerning my combinatorial mathematics assertion, see Doug Axe’s work on the percentage of biologically meaningful/functional proteins (1 in 10^74).

    As far as I’m concerned, to lie is to assert as the truth something that one believes to be untrue. I see no evidence that Liz has ever done that, so let’s drop the subject.

  50. Ilion:

    That ‘modern evolutionary theory’ is a theory.

    Good point. Walter ReMine calls “Modern Evolutionary Theory” a smorgasbord.

  51. 51
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Gil:

    Liz: Do you also regard this evidence as evidence against common descent?

    No. Common descent seems reasonable, although I think universal common descent is falling on hard times, the Cambrian explosion being the most obvious example.

    I don’t think it’s terribly obvious myself! We do have the Ediacaran biota, after all. But OK.

    …what do you think the family tree of life might look like?

    More like a hologram than a tree.

    Heh. Could you explain?

    …what do you hypothesize as the explanation for the appearance of abrupt life forms?

    I don’t know. Front-loading with prescribed, timed activation or event/environmentally-sensitive activation of existing dormant code is a possibility.

    What do you think would prevent dormant code from being degraded over time? Active code is preserved by natural selection, but inactive code can acquire mutations which, because they have no phenotypic effect, will tend to accumulate. I’m really interested in your answer to this, as while “front-loading” seems like a potentially testable hypothesis, degradation seems like it would be a major problem.

    As far as the sampling problem in the fossil record goes, if the Darwinian hypothesis is correct, the more we discover the more continuous the record should appear, but in fact the more discontinuous it appears. Again, the Cambrian explosion is the most obvious example.

    Well, not necessarily, nor, I’d argue, at all! Fossilisation is, in itself, a biased sampling, and so any palaeontological samplings (i.e. people digging stuff up) will inherit the same bias. Hard shelled marine creatures leave such a copious fossil record that we have entire stretches of English coastline made of the stuff! Whereas soft-bodied creatures are much less likely to leave traces, as are forest dwellers, or, even, land dwellers generally. Plus, geological events that bring strata near the surface (and thus accessible to palaeontologists) are geographically distributed, given us one part of the Chinese tree, and quite other parts of the Australian or North American, or Welsh tree.

    Concerning my combinatorial mathematics assertion, see Doug Axe’s work on the percentage of biologically meaningful/functional proteins (1 in 10^74).

    Ah, thanks. OK.

    As far as I’m concerned, to lie is to assert as the truth something that one believes to be untrue. I see no evidence that Liz has ever done that, so let’s drop the subject.

    And for this :)

    And I see your Rachmaninov, and raise you Orlando Gibbons :)

    http://www.classicalarchives.com/work/317206.html

    Atheist or not, I have the anthem “Behold, thou hast made my days but a span long” scheduled for my funeral :)

  52. 52
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Mung:

    Good point. Walter ReMine calls “Modern Evolutionary Theory” a smorgasbord.

    Yes indeed. That was very much behind my question:

    Is it the gravlax or the lutefisk that’s the problem?

    (Nice to occasionally agree with Mung and Ilion….)

  53. Dr Liddle:

    We now dispose of upwards of 1/4 million fossil species and millions of specimens in in museums or similar.

    Billions of fossils in known beds, not bothering with micro fossils or fossil rocks like Barbados a coral island where we can see miles of say staghorn coral as beds many feet thick, and the “clams” from the same beds look very familiar too. Just drive along the road cut or visit a building site.

    The pattern of gaps, suddenness, stasis and disappearances persists 150 years after Darwin and Lyell et al.

    And remember the key beds (I think here of some Chinese ones esp) ARE capable of capturing soft body animals.

    It is reasonable to infer that we have a good cross section, and that the pattern is real. That is why Gould et al developed a new theory.

    If in fact we had finely graded branching from a common ancestor, we should see even more of the intermediates, than of the assumed branch tip fossils, but we do not.

    Then when we look at the pop dynamics for moving from something like a cow to a whale, the numbers do not add up. Here is Sternberg on that.

    (Do watch and tell us your4 response.)

    Go up to the info origination challenge we keep highlighting. dFSCI is simply only empirically supported as the product of intelligence, and the analysis backs that up, especially when we are looking at 10 – 100 mn+ bits of info to make a new body plan.

    Something is not adding up.

    GEM of TKI

  54. What do you think would prevent dormant code from being degraded over time?

    We know that biological systems contain error-detection-and-correction algorithms and mechanisms. If life was front-loaded with dormant code, such algorithms and mechanisms could perform their job on the dormant code as well as the active code. Of course, this would require intelligent design with a view to the future.

    And I see your Rachmaninov…

    It was Rachmaninov’s music (especially the Second Piano Concerto) that really inspired me to get serious about the piano when I was in junior high school. When I was 17 I finally learned and performed that concerto. I’m currently relearning that great work (43 years later) so I can play it on my seven-foot Baldwin grand in my living room with an orchestra, thanks to music minus one.

  55. There’s a paper in Nature here if you are interested.

    Basic avian pulmonary design and flow-through ventilation in non-avian theropod dinosaurs.

    lol. I love it.

    And kf, another wiki screwup which the censors better address:

    Natural replicators have all or most of their design from nonhuman sources. Such systems include natural life forms.

  56. 56

    Elizabeth:

    But, in a human designer, throwing out failed experiments is an exercise in creative power, or can be, as long as there is a steady supply of fresh experiments!

    Throwing out failed experiments is not creative. It is a byproduct of creativity. Without imagination and experimentation there is no invention. And when it comes to any sort of technology, there is no creativity or experimentation without intention.

  57. 57

    This proposition is dead-simply, obviously, and empirically unreasonable (except in isolated pathological instances such as bacterial antibiotic resistance, in which case the probabilistic resources are available to allow informational degradation to provide a temporary survival advantage).

    This makes me think of taking a wrecking ball to a building and making a big hole. The building now has the advantage of a new entrance and improved ventilation. But the electrical systems are damaged and it is structurally less sound.
    Is this clear evidence that a wrecking ball can add a new security system or self-repairing windows? Does it explain where the furniture came from? Who thinks that way?

  58. RE: Gradualism

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    Do you also regard this evidence as evidence against common descent?

    Darwin himself said that this could be urged against his theory.

    Yes, obviously it’s evidence against the theory of descent with modification.

    How could you reasonably believe it would not be evidence against the theory?

    Firstly, the fossil record is not merely a sparse random sampling, it’s also a biased sampling.

    Yes, it’s biased against Darwinism.

    But there is no reason why that should be the case.

    Therefore, we should not be misled or distracted by red-herring and ad hoc “explanations” for why that which is a fact should be thought to not be a fact and for why that which should count as evidence against the theory should be thought to not be evidence against the theory.

  59. So, what else is obviously wrong with evolutionary theory?

    AD HOC “explanations.” Loads and loads of them.

  60. AD HOC “explanations.” Loads and loads of them.

    Non-therory “theories” need lots and lots of ad hoc “explanations” for explaining why the previous “explanations” didn’t work.

  61. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Darwin’s theory was that populations adapt to environments.

    Really? Darwinism claims that populations will adapt to their environment? What then is the explanation for extinctions?

    Darwinian theory states that a population might adapt, if it gets lucky. But then again, it might not. And this too is a prediction of the theory.

    Darwinian theory predicts that if a population adapts to it’s environment it will survive (unless it does not survive, and then that must because it did not adapt) and if a population does not adapt to its environment it will not survive (unless it does survive, in which case it must be because the population did adapt).

    …nothing in evolutionary theory says that rate of evolution won’t fluctuate, nor that populations will not go through long periods of stasis. Indeed, the reverse is true…

    The reverse of what is true?

    How do you state the reverse of what you just said?

    Everything in evolutionary theory says that the rate of evolution won’t fluctuate, nor that populations will not go through long periods of stasis?

    Something in evolutionary theory says that the rate of evolution won’t fluctuate, nor that populations will not go through long periods of stasis?

  62. So, what else is obviously wrong with evolutionary theory?

    It’s incoherent. It’s predictions are vacuous. They lack any real content. It “predicts” both a thing and its opposite.

  63. So, what else is obviously wrong with evolutionary theory?

    Required reading:

    Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity and Other Fables of Evolution

  64. Mung: “Let’s start with the most basic of all, which is that all organisms at all times and everywhere produce more offspring than there are resources available to support those offspring, thus requiring that they compete for scarce resources in order to survive.”

    Lizzie: “Well, I would agree that that is untrue.”

    Apart from whether or not you think it is an accurate portrayal of Darwin’s theory, does it meet your criteria for being obviously wrong?

    If not, why do you think it is untrue?

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    But, interestingly, it is not even what Darwin said…

    kairosfocus appears to disagree with you.

    As do I.

    Clearly, many populations of organisms produce offspring at a maintenance rate that can be supported by their environment – we say these populations are in equilibrium with their environment.

    And thus Darwinism is falsified.

    Can we replace your word “clearly” with the word obviously?

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    But, interestingly, it is not even what Darwin said…

    And yet if one reads the quote from Darwin which you were so kind to provide, it quite clearly, obviously and unambiguously is what Darwin said.

    So how, in the interest of all that is honest and true, do you justify your claim that it is not what Darwin said?

  65. Elizabeth Liddle:

    And although in Darwin’s original formulation he does indeed have Malthusian scenarios in mind, they are not the only scenarios that work with his theory.

    HERE

  66. 66
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Gil:

    What do you think would prevent dormant code from being degraded over time?

    We know that biological systems contain error-detection-and-correction algorithms and mechanisms. If life was front-loaded with dormant code, such algorithms and mechanisms could perform their job on the dormant code as well as the active code. Of course, this would require intelligent design with a view to the future.

    OK. That’s good, because testable. We should, then, you would agree, see living things with “pseudo genes” (coding stretches that are switched off) of the genome that are also highly conserved? Because that would seem to be a direct prediction of your hypothesis.

    And I see your Rachmaninov…

    It was Rachmaninov’s music (especially the Second Piano Concerto) that really inspired me to get serious about the piano when I was in junior high school. When I was 17 I finally learned and performed that concerto. I’m currently relearning that great work (43 years later) so I can play it on my seven-foot Baldwin grand in my living room with an orchestra, thanks to music minus one.

    :)

    For me it was Brandenburg 6 :)

  67. 67
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Mung:

    There’s a paper in Nature here if you are interested.

    Basic avian pulmonary desig and flow-through ventilation in non-avian theropod dinosaurs.

    lol. I love it.

    Indeed. RM+NS is a pretty cool designer.

  68. 68
    Elizabeth Liddle

    ScottAndrews:

    Elizabeth:

    But, in a human designer, throwing out failed experiments is an exercise in creative power, or can be, as long as there is a steady supply of fresh experiments!

    Throwing out failed experiments is not creative. It is a byproduct of creativity. Without imagination and experimentation there is no invention. And when it comes to any sort of technology, there is no creativity or experimentation without intention.

    OK. Certainly if you define creativity in terms of intention, then evolution is not creative.

    But if you define creativity in terms of its potential products, then I’d argue that it is :)

    In other words, I think it’s important to be clear as to whether you are saying, which is, presumably, that evolution cannot be creative because it is not intentional, and we see what is obviously creative, so there must have been intention.

    And I’d say that is incorrect – that innovative solutions (solutions we would regard as “creative” if a human came up with them) can result from rm+ns.

    Which is, indeed, why human designers use rm+ns to find elegant and creative solutions to problems that they cannot solve themselves :)

    But let’s see if that is actually what you are saying: that rm+ns cannot produce innovative solutions to the problem of surviving and breeding?

  69. We should, then, you would agree, see living things with “pseudo genes” (coding stretches that are switched off) of the genome that are also highly conserved?

    Yes, unless the ultimate goal of a front-loaded, designed system has been reached and the work of the dormant code is finished. John A. Davison has suggested that evolution, on a grand scale as in the origin of species, has come to an end.

    Keep in mind that I am not necessarily a front-loading advocate; it just seems like a reasonable hypothesis to consider.

  70. 70

    Elizabeth:

    OK. Certainly if you define creativity in terms of intention, then evolution is not creative.

    But if you define creativity in terms of its potential products, then I’d argue that it is

    You’re changing the question. While I’d argue that proposed evolutionary mechanisms are creative neither by intent nor output, that wasn’t my statement. I said that throwing out failed experiments is not creative.

    In other words, I think it’s important to be clear as to whether you are saying, which is, presumably, that evolution cannot be creative because it is not intentional, and we see what is obviously creative, so there must have been intention.

    I’m saying that the process of experimenting, throwing away the bad and keeping the good, and thereby producing improvements in functionality or entirely new functionality cannot happen without intention.

    Which is, indeed, why human designers use rm+ns to find elegant and creative solutions to problems that they cannot solve themselves

    Like better antennas? I’ve seen that. It’s an algorithm that randomly modifies an antenna form and builds on the variations with the best function.
    The creativity lies first in the design of the algorithm itself. Note that only changes to form are required, not to any underlying genetic code. Next, by virtue of being an algorithm, it cannot implement its design. That requires more intentional, creative input.
    What has been hailed as a triumphant demonstration of the power of variation and selection is entirely dependent on intentional, intelligent input and manipulation.
    It’s telling that scientists are looking for evidence of such creative power in simulations while declaring that it already explains everything we see in biology.

  71. 71
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Mung:

    Mung: “Let’s start with the most basic of all, which is that all organisms at all times and everywhere produce more offspring than there are resources available to support those offspring, thus requiring that they compete for scarce resources in order to survive.”

    Lizzie: “Well, I would agree that that is untrue.”

    Apart from whether or not you think it is an accurate portrayal of Darwin’s theory, does it meet your criteria for being obviously wrong?

    If not, why do you think it is untrue?

    Well, let’s suppose for a moment that by “all organisms” you mean “all populations” (because clearly all organisms don’t produce offspring – I jolly nearly didn’t, for one), even then it’s not true because for many populations predation is a far greater limitation on population N than resources.

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    But, interestingly, it is not even what Darwin said…

    kairosfocus appears to disagree with you.

    As do I.

    Well, I’d be interested to see where you think Darwin said what you just said. Do you have a reference? Not that it matters. If he said it, he would have been wrong, but it makes no difference to his theory of natural selection, it just oversimplifies the fitness landscapel

    Clearly, many populations of organisms produce offspring at a maintenance rate that can be supported by their environment – we say these populations are in equilibrium with their environment.

    And thus Darwinism is falsified.

    What do you mean by “Darwinism” in this context? Because I can’t myself see what aspect of Darwinism is falsified when populations are in equilibrium with their environment. But I’m intrigued.

    Can we replace your word “clearly” with the word obviously?

    Yes.

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    But, interestingly, it is not even what Darwin said…

    And yet if one reads the quote from Darwin which you were so kind to provide, it quite clearly, obviously and unambiguously is what Darwin said.

    Ah. No, it doesn’t. Read it again, then try to map your own words on to Darwin’s.

    So how, in the interest of all that is honest and true, do you justify your claim that it is not what Darwin said?

    Simply by pointing out that your words are not a paraphrase of Darwin’s.

  72. 72
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Gil, thanks for that response.

    To others I owe responses to – I’ll be offline for a bit now, but hope to catch up later. It’s been an interesting thread so far :)

    Cheers

    Lizzie

  73. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Indeed. RM+NS is a pretty cool designer.

    And your evidence for this assertion is?

  74. 74

    In addition, common sense argues that there is no gradualistic pathway for almost any biologically complex and functionally integrated system. A simple example is the avian lung. There is no conceivably logical gradualistic pathway from a reptilian bellows lung to an avian circulatory lung, because the intermediates would immediately die of asphyxiation.

    Once again, we see ID/God-of-the-Gaps thinking in allegedly non-creationist “ID”. And, as usual, the biggest problem is not that someone is invoking God to plug a gap in *human* knowledge — it’s that one is dragging God down solely to plug gaps **in their own, personal, very limited knowledge**!

    Do some research, for goodness sake! Scientists will never take you seriously if you assert thing are inconceivable that have in fact already been conceived!

    Read e.g.:

    http://ncse.com/book/export/html/2126

    Explore Evolution asks its readers:

    What would the intermediate forms between the single openings (in-and-out) reptilian lung and a dual opening (flow through) avian lung look like? How would it happen in small yet advantageous steps? Can there even be a transition between a single-opening and a dual-opening system? How would the balloon-like alveoli transform into the tube-like parabronchi? How would the lung maintain function? Would the lung transformation happen before or after the development of air sacs? Would it be before or after the four stage breathing cycle?
    EE, p. 137

    Lungs of various amniotes, mapped onto the phylogeny of the respective organisms: Mammals are very distant from birds and neither the mammalian diaphragm nor the alveolar lung is thought to be an ancestral character for the lineage leading to birds. The crocodile hepatic-piston method of ventilating the lungs (muscles pulling the liver backwards and thereby expanding the chest cavity) is not homologous to the mammalian diaphragm, and neither basal reptiles nor birds have diaphragms, so it is incorrect to claim that it is “almost certain” that dinosaurs had diaphragms. Perforations (holes) between lung chambers, however, are shared by birds and crocodiles, and thought to be ancestral, so the alleged “topological” problem in producing the bird flow-through lung is imaginary. Sauropods are known to have air sacs from fossil evidence, so air sacs were attached to the lungs of the dinosaurian ancestors of birds for tens of millions of years before theropod dinosaurs and then birds arose. Phylogeny diagram by Nick Matzke. Lungs modified from Figure 1, p. 152 of: Perry, Steven F. (1992). “Gas exchange strategies in reptiles and the origin of the avian lung”. Physiological Adaptations in Vertebrates. Wood, S. C., Weber, R. E., Hargens, A. R. and Millard, R. W., Eds. New York, Marcel Dekker: 149–167.Lungs of various amniotes, mapped onto the phylogeny of the respective organisms: Mammals are very distant from birds and neither the mammalian diaphragm nor the alveolar lung is thought to be an ancestral character for the lineage leading to birds. The crocodile hepatic-piston method of ventilating the lungs (muscles pulling the liver backwards and thereby expanding the chest cavity) is not homologous to the mammalian diaphragm, and neither basal reptiles nor birds have diaphragms, so it is incorrect to claim that it is “almost certain” that dinosaurs had diaphragms. Perforations (holes) between lung chambers, however, are shared by birds and crocodiles, and thought to be ancestral, so the alleged “topological” problem in producing the bird flow-through lung is imaginary. Sauropods are known to have air sacs from fossil evidence, so air sacs were attached to the lungs of the dinosaurian ancestors of birds for tens of millions of years before theropod dinosaurs and then birds arose.

    Phylogeny diagram by Nick Matzke. Lungs modified from Figure 1, p. 152 of: Perry, Steven F. (1992). “Gas exchange strategies in reptiles and the origin of the avian lung”. Physiological Adaptations in Vertebrates. Wood, S. C., Weber, R. E., Hargens, A. R. and Millard, R. W., Eds. New York, Marcel Dekker: 149–167. Perry’s (1992) model for the origin of bird lungs: Perry’s (1992) model for the origin of bird lungs, showing the relationship to the crocodilian lung. Archosaur and theropod lungs are hypothetical constructs. Extinct groups are marked with a “+”, and perforations between chambers are marked with “*.” Perry proposes that these perforations play a crucial role in the stepwise evolution of the avian parabronchi, as indicated in the detail sketches of theropod and avian-grade lungs. CrC and CaC are cranial [forward part of the trunk] and caudal [rearward part of the trunk] chambers, which are connected with the respective regions of the intrapulmonary bronchus. MvB and MdB are avian medioventral bronchi and mediodorsal bronchi, which are proposed to evolve from CrC and CaC, respectively, as indicated by small arrows. From Figure 6, p. 161 of: Perry, Steven F. (1992). “Gas exchange strategies in reptiles and the origin of the avian lung”. Physiological Adaptations in Vertebrates. Wood, S. C., Weber, R. E., Hargens, A. R. and Millard, R. W., Eds. New York, Marcel Dekker: 149–167.Perry’s (1992) model for the origin of bird lungs: Perry’s (1992) model for the origin of bird lungs, showing the relationship to the crocodilian lung. Archosaur and theropod lungs are hypothetical constructs. Extinct groups are marked with a “+”, and perforations between chambers are marked with “*.” Perry proposes that these perforations play a crucial role in the stepwise evolution of the avian parabronchi, as indicated in the detail sketches of theropod and avian-grade lungs. CrC and CaC are cranial [forward part of the trunk] and caudal [rearward part of the trunk] chambers, which are connected with the respective regions of the intrapulmonary bronchus. MvB and MdB are avian medioventral bronchi and mediodorsal bronchi, which are proposed to evolve from CrC and CaC, respectively, as indicated by small arrows. From Figure 6, p. 161 of: Perry, Steven F. (1992). “Gas exchange strategies in reptiles and the origin of the avian lung”. Physiological Adaptations in Vertebrates. Wood, S. C., Weber, R. E., Hargens, A. R. and Millard, R. W., Eds. New York, Marcel Dekker: 149–167.

    Having asked its audience of high school biology students these detailed questions about evolutionary biology, EE changes topics, without even suggesting the ways that someone might investigate those questions. These students are unlikely to know anything about the anatomy of bird or reptilian lungs, and little if anything about the anatomy of mammalian lungs. They have no experience forming or testing hypotheses about the evolution of anatomical structures, and Explore Evolution offers no references which might fill in that background. The average teacher is likely to be as stymied by these questions as the students. The authors of Explore Evolution seem to be little better informed, and are apparently comfortable leaving students and teachers with no guidance about how to answer the questions posed by the book.

    Fortunately, scientists are not so incurious. The figure above demonstrates one set of hypotheses about the evolution of lungs and their anatomy. By considering not just two sets of lungs, but the full spectrum of variation in lung morphology, scientists can reconstruct the likely evolutionary pathways, and evaluate whether those intermediates might be functional.

    Scientists like Steven Perry have proposed detailed models of the evolution of the internal lung morphology, models which answer many of the questions Explore Evolution asks. An inquiry-based textbook might describe this model and invite students to develop ways to test it against new data. Instead, Explore Evolution ignores actual research in order to preserve their creationist argument.

  75. Liz,

    For what it’s worth, God bless.

    Until next time,

    Gilbert

  76. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Well, let’s suppose for a moment that by “all organisms” you mean “all populations” (because clearly all organisms don’t produce offspring

    Let’s not assume that.

    Let’s assume that I meant the same thing that Darwin meant when he wrote:

    The struggle for existence inevitably follows from the high geometrical ratio of increase which is common to all organic beings.

    Darwin said all organic beings. I said all organisms. I think I pretty much nailed it for someone who didn’t have his text right in front of me when I wrote.

    Simply by pointing out that your words are not a paraphrase of Darwin’s.

    lol.

    Read it again, then try to map your own words on to Darwin’s.

    Why? As it is you refuse to see what is right in front of your face. I have no reason to think that mapping my words to Darwin’s will change anything.

    Darwin:

    The struggle for existence inevitably follows from the high geometrical ratio of increase which is common to all organic beings…More individuals are born than can possibly survive.

    Organisms produce more offspring than can possibly survive. You even put it in bold, and then promptly ignored it.

    Why does this “fact” result in a “struggle for existence”?

    [Side note:

    I've been over this ground with Elizabeth before.

    How does Darwin arrive at the conclusion that more individuals are born than can possibly survive?

    Not by observation!

    He got the idea from reading Malthus.]

  77. Nick,

    Take a tranquilizer and try to calm down. You’re doing more damage than good for your cause.

  78. 78

    Mung,

    How does Darwin arrive at the conclusion that more individuals are born than can possibly survive?

    Not by observation!

    He got the idea from reading Malthus.]

    Or from his own kids dying.

  79. The Struggle for Existence

    Charles Darwin:

    A struggle for existence inevitably follows from the high rate at which all organic beings tend to increase. Every being, which during its natural lifetime produces several eggs or seeds, must suffer destruction during some period of its life, and during some season or occasional year, otherwise, on the principle of geometrical increase, its numbers would quickly become so inordinately great that no country could support the product. Hence, as more individuals are produced than can possibly survive, there must in every case be a struggle for existence, either one individual with another of the same species, or with the individuals of distinct species, or with the physical conditions of life. It is the doctrine of Malthus applied with manifold force to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms; for in this case there can be no artificial increase of food, and no prudential restraint from marriage. Although some species may be now increasing, more or less rapidly, in numbers, all cannot do so, for the world would not hold them.

    There is no exception to the rule that every organic being naturally increases at so high a rate, that if not destroyed, the earth would soon be covered by the progeny of a single pair.

    Can someone other than Elizabeth let me know how what I wrote so far misses the mark that it cannot even be considered a fair paraphrase?

    Funny how Darwin mentions “no artificial increase of food.” Does that mean his theory does was not applicable to humans, who had developed agriculture?

  80. It is good thus to try in our imagination to give any form some advantage over another. Probably in no single instance should we know what to do, so as to succeed. It will convince us of our ignorance on the mutual relations of all organic beings; a conviction as necessary, as it seems to be difficult to acquire. All that we can do, is to keep steadily in mind that each organic being is striving to increase at a geometrical ratio; that each at some period of its life, during some season of the year, during each generation or at intervals, has to struggle for life, and to suffer great destruction. When we reflect on this struggle, we may console ourselves with the full belief, that the war of nature is not incessant, that no fear is felt, that death is generally prompt, and that the vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive and multiply.

    LOL.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faq.....pter3.html

  81. Nick Matzke:

    Do some research, for goodness sake! Scientists will never take you seriously if you assert thing are inconceivable that have in fact already been conceived!

    Ah, so that’s what passes for science these days?

  82. 82

    Very thorough Nick:

    “Sauropods are known to have air sacs from fossil evidence, so air sacs were attached to the lungs of the dinosaurian ancestors of birds for tens of millions of years before theropod dinosaurs and then birds arose.”

    “Perry’s (1992) model for the origin of bird lungs, showing the relationship to the crocodilian lung. Archosaur and theropod lungs are hypothetical constructs.

    Did you realize you pasted in the same block of text twice? Was that just to make it look like a whole lotta sciencey stuff?:

    Perry’s (1992) model for the origin of bird lungs, showing the relationship to the crocodilian lung. Archosaur and theropod lungs are hypothetical constructs. Extinct groups are marked with a “+”, and perforations between chambers are marked with “*.” Perry proposes that these perforations play a crucial role in the stepwise evolution of the avian parabronchi, as indicated in the detail sketches of theropod and avian-grade lungs. CrC and CaC are cranial [forward part of the trunk] and caudal [rearward part of the trunk] chambers, which are connected with the respective regions of the intrapulmonary bronchus. MvB and MdB are avian medioventral bronchi and mediodorsal bronchi, which are proposed to evolve from CrC and CaC, respectively, as indicated by small arrows. From Figure 6, p. 161 of: Perry, Steven F. (1992). “Gas exchange strategies in reptiles and the origin of the avian lung”. Physiological Adaptations in Vertebrates. Wood, S. C., Weber, R. E., Hargens, A. R. and Millard, R. W., Eds. New York, Marcel Dekker: 149–167.Perry’s (1992) model for the origin of bird lungs: Perry’s (1992) model for the origin of bird lungs, showing the relationship to the crocodilian lung. Archosaur and theropod lungs are hypothetical constructs. Extinct groups are marked with a “+”, and perforations between chambers are marked with “*.” Perry proposes that these perforations play a crucial role in the stepwise evolution of the avian parabronchi, as indicated in the detail sketches of theropod and avian-grade lungs. CrC and CaC are cranial [forward part of the trunk] and caudal [rearward part of the trunk] chambers, which are connected with the respective regions of the intrapulmonary bronchus. MvB and MdB are avian medioventral bronchi and mediodorsal bronchi, which are proposed to evolve from CrC and CaC, respectively, as indicated by small arrows. From Figure 6, p. 161 of: Perry, Steven F. (1992). “Gas exchange strategies in reptiles and the origin of the avian lung”. Physiological Adaptations in Vertebrates. Wood, S. C., Weber, R. E., Hargens, A. R. and Millard, R. W., Eds. New York, Marcel Dekker: 149–167.

    Didn’t think anyone would read it?

  83. Dr Matzke:

    I see you have resurfaced, having taken a timeout after your earlier misadventure. Please go back to the older thread and answer a few serious questions.

    The talking points game just above is getting very old. (Cf here on its implications, relative to your duties of care that have been consistently unmet, please.)

    I suggest you pause and take a read of a certain Mr Alfred Russel Wallace, in his The World of Life, where he discusses, e.g. the origin of birds as a support of his vision of Intelligent Evolution. In short Gil has some very interesting precedent for his citation of the birds as a relevant case on the intelligence and design manifest in life forms.

    It is worth excerpting the sub-title of Wallace’s book: “a manifestation of creative power, directive mind and ultimate purpose.”

    Yes, that’s what in the end the co-founder of evolutionary theory thought.

    It is high time for some serious rethinking.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Anyone who comes to UD quoting the notoriously manipulative and willfully deceptive TO site or the Wiki site [except as testimony against interest . . . as in the first liked above] is either hopelessly naive or worse, much worse. Please, find better — let’s be blunt: HONEST — sources next time.

  84. Hi Nick!

    My copy of Prothero’s came in. A lovely book. I look forward to reading it.

    However, just thumbing through, I came across some drawings of embryos on page 110.

    Is Prothero an embryologist?

    A developmental biologist?

    Trained in comparative anatomy?

    No? He’s a GEOLOGIST!?

    The text for the figure on page 110 (fig 4.10) reads as follows:

    The evidence from embryology. An embryologist Karl Ernst von Baer pointed out in the 1830s, long before Darwin published his ideas about evolution, all vertebrates start out with a very fish-like body plan early in embryology, including the predecessors of gills and a long tail. As they develop, many lose their fish-like features on their way to becoming reptiles, birds and mammals. (From Romanes 1910)

    Isn’t Prothero perhaps moving a bit beyond what he is competent to address?

    how much of this book should I ignore due to the simple fact that the author doesn’t know enough to know better?

    Should I just stick with the fossil evidence?

  85. 85

    Gil: “We know that biological systems contain error-detection-and-correction algorithms and mechanisms.”

    One way to preserve front loaded code is to write it as two-way, preserving the original and with a simple substitution more than one new function can arise.

    Cars
    —}

    Substitute S for T:

    Cart
    {—-}

    Now two new functions have arose from the same error corrected code.

    cart
    trac

    This would be highly sophisticated. There could be layers upon layers of inactive code nested within the operational code.

  86. F/N: PDF http://wallacefund.info/sites/.....f_Life.pdf

    Clipping pp vi, vii, 1914 London printing:

    _________

    >> But besides the discussion of these and several other allied subjects, the most prominent feature of my book is that I enter into a popular yet critical examination of those underlying
    fundamental problems which Darwin
    purposely excluded from his works as
    being beyond the scope of his
    enquiry.

    Such are, the nature and causes of Life itself ; and more especially
    of its most fundamental and
    mysterious powers growth and
    reproduction. I first endeavour to show (in Chapter XIV.) by a care-
    ful consideration of the structure of the bird’s feather; of the marvellous transformations of the
    higher insects ; and, more especially of the highly elaborated
    wing-scales of the Lepidoptera (as easily accessible examples of what is going on in every part of the structure of every living thing),
    the absolute necessity for an
    organising and directive Life-
    Principle in order to account for the very possibility of these
    complex outgrowths. I argue, that
    they necessarily imply first,
    a Creative Power, which so constituted matter as to render these marvels possible ; next,
    a directive Mind which is demanded at every step of what we term growth, and often look upon as so simple and natural a process
    as to require no explanation ; and, lastly, an ultimate
    Purpose, in the very existence of the whole vast life-world in all its long course of evolution
    throughout the eons of geological
    time. This Purpose, which alone throws light on many of the mysteries of its mode of
    evolution, I hold to be the development of Man, the one
    crowning product of the whole cosmic
    process of life-development ;
    the only being which can to some extent comprehend nature; which can
    perceive and trace out her modes of action ; which can appreciate
    the hidden forces and motions
    everywhere at work, and can deduce from them a supreme and over-
    ruling Mind as their necessary
    cause.

    For those who accept some such view as I have indicated, I show
    (in Chapters XV. and XVI.) how
    strongly it is sup-ported and enforced by a long series of facts and co-relations which we can
    hardly look upon as all purely
    accidental coincidences. Such are the infinitely varied products of
    living things which serve man’s
    purposes and man’s alone not
    only by supplying his material
    wants, and by gratifying his
    higher tastes and emotions, but as
    rendering possible many of those advances in the arts and in science which we claim to be the highest proofs of his superiority to the
    brutes, as well as of his
    advancing civilisation.

    From a consideration of these better-known facts I proceed (in Chapter XVII.) to an exposition
    of the mystery of cell-growth ;
    to a consideration of the elements in their special relation to the earth itself and to the life-world
    ; while in the last chapter I endeavour to show the purpose
    of that law of diversity which seems to pervade the whole material Universe. >>
    _________

    In short, there is a lot more to the real story and history than meets the eye at the hands of the evo mat magisterium now imposing its agendas as a reigning orthodoxy.

    It is time to think outside the materialist box — or should I say, cave — that some would push us into.

    GEM of TKI

  87. Nick, I want a bird dog! No not a dog that hunts birds, I want a dog that actually flies!!!! Tell me what is my first step in evolving me a dog to fly??? Do I go on the roof and throw off a zillion dogs until I get a male and female that survive??? Breed a zillion more dogs etc?? etc?? etc?? Using such a sure fire Darwinian Method how long do you think until I have the world’s first genuine bird dog??? :)

    Myself, I can’t seem to find any math that will give me a ballpark figure;

    =============

    Hopeful monsters,’ transposons, and the Metazoan radiation:
    Excerpt: Viable mutations with major morphological or physiological effects are exceedingly rare and usually infertile; the chance of two identical rare mutant individuals arising in sufficient propinquity to produce offspring seems too small to consider as a significant evolutionary event. These problems of viable “hopeful monsters” render these explanations untenable.
    Paleobiologists Douglas Erwin and James Valentine

    “The likelihood of developing two binding sites in a protein complex would be the square of the probability of developing one: a double CCC (chloroquine complexity cluster), 10^20 times 10^20, which is 10^40. There have likely been fewer than 10^40 cells in the entire world in the past 4 billion years, so the odds are against a single event of this variety (just 2 binding sites being generated by accident) in the history of life. It is biologically unreasonable.”
    Michael J. Behe PhD. (from page 146 of his book “Edge of Evolution”)

    Nature Paper,, Finds Darwinian Processes Lacking – Michael Behe – Oct. 2009
    Excerpt: Now, thanks to the work of Bridgham et al (2009), even such apparently minor switches in structure and function (of a protein to its supposed ancestral form) are shown to be quite problematic. It seems Darwinian processes can’t manage to do even as much as I had thought. (which was 1 in 10^40 for just 2 binding sites)
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....hes_t.html

    The Sheer Lack Of Evidence For Macro Evolution – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4023134

    When Theory and Experiment Collide — April 16th, 2011 by Douglas Axe
    Excerpt: Based on our experimental observations and on calculations we made using a published population model [3], we estimated that Darwin’s mechanism would need a truly staggering amount of time—a trillion trillion years or more—to accomplish the seemingly subtle change in enzyme function that we studied.
    http://biologicinstitute.org/2.....t-collide/

    “Mutations are rare phenomena, and a simultaneous change of even two amino acid residues in one protein is totally unlikely. One could think, for instance, that by constantly changing amino acids one by one, it will eventually be possible to change the entire sequence substantially… These minor changes, however, are bound to eventually result in a situation in which the enzyme has ceased to perform its previous function but has not yet begun its ‘new duties’. It is at this point it will be destroyed – along with the organism carrying it.” Maxim D. Frank-Kamenetski, Unraveling DNA, 1997, p. 72. (Professor at Brown U. Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Biomedical Engineering)

    etc.. etc.. etc..

  88. Nick,

    I know exactly who you are, because I was once you.

    I harbored the same hatred that you do, and that hatred eventually tore my soul apart. When I was in college I used all my intellectual capacities in a nefarious attempt to destroy the faith of Christians. I took great pride in this at the time, but I now realize what a fool I was.

    Just like Antony Flew, perhaps the most famous among 20th-century intellectual atheists, I eventually found the arguments from design to be compelling, and the attempts of materialist atheists to be acts of desperation.

    Your propositions about the evolution of the avian lung tell us nothing. It’s all storytelling. Which mutations would be required for each step? What is the probability of this happening? How many individuals and reproductive events would be required to fix this in the population, given that a beneficially-mutated organism could die by chance, disease, or predators?

    Darwinists never consider the hard requirements of the real-world application of their hypothesis. They just make up fantastic stories and tell anyone who disagrees that they are enemies of science and are scientifically illiterate.

    This line or argumentation will not survive the information age, especially when people like you resort to irrational hysteria.

  89. A parallel case, whale evo, presented by an evo biologist and member of the legions of the expelled, Dr Richard Sternberg.

  90. Why do I despise evolutionists?

    Nick Matzke directs us to the following page:

    http://ncse.com/book/export/html/2126

    At this page we learn that “bird lungs operate quite differently from mammalian lungs.”

    So freaking what? Are birds mammals?

    This totally misses the point.

    Thank you Nick, for pointing out the blatantly obvious and the completely irrelevant.

  91. GilDodgen:

    Darwinists never consider the hard requirements of the real-world application of their hypothesis. They just make up fantastic stories and tell anyone who disagrees that they are enemies of science and are scientifically illiterate.

    But the fantastic stories that Darwinists tell are not lies.

    Their claims that anyone who disagrees are enemies of science and are scientifically illiterate are not lies.

    Time for a reality check Gil.

  92. I would say instead of lies we just use the term misrepresentations or something to that effect.

    To say that critics of ID are lying is to presume that they “know” they are wrong to begin with.

  93. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Indeed. RM+NS is a pretty cool designer.

    And your evidence for this assertion is?

    Engineers use GA’s (RM+NS) to produce novel designs. We’ve already had this conversation Mung – have you forgotten already?

    Nick Matzke:

    Do some research, for goodness sake! Scientists will never take you seriously if you assert thing are inconceivable that have in fact already been conceived.

    Ah, so that’s what passes for science these days?

    LOL, yes Mung, in modern times science has collapsed to the point that scientists just sit around all day doing research instead of getting on with the important job of wild speculation, arm waiving and equivocation.

  94. Jeffrey Helix

    Welcome to UD!

    Interesting comment:

    I would say instead of lies we just use the term misrepresentations or something to that effect.

    To say that critics of ID are lying is to presume that they “know” they are wrong to begin with.

    For a lot of the denizens of the Sagan- Lewontin- Coyne- NCSE- NAS- NSTA etc etc evolutionary materialist cave, that is largely so. But, when we are speaking of the top dogs who set up the shadow shows, the matter is different.

    There is such a concept as a duty of care to the truth and to fairness in general, pop sci, educational, public policy or academic discussion (and even debate).

    When you are at the level of a Nick Matzke, or a Barbara Forrest or a Eugenie Scott or a Clinton Richard Dawkins, or the like — we are not here talking of ordinary people or busy academics who have not had time or opportunity or challenge to make them pause and think through the issues at deepest levels [and the way our civilisation's education systems and media culture have been manipulated over decades is significantly responsible for that . . . ] — you have the knowledge base, access to reference resources and experts, research skills and responsibility of privilege to be accurate and fair in your reporting. Just as, accountants and auditors have a duty to give a substantially true and fair view of the financial condition of a business in the balance sheets, income statements, etc.

    Failure to do that, is incompetence or fraud. The latter being “A deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain.” [AmHD.]

    And in this context, we are plainly not dealing with the fundamentally intellectually deficient or incompetent.

    There is such a thing as the truth that one knows or SHOULD — has a duty of care to — know.

    When people at the level just described act in plain violation of that duty of care, the options left on the table are not pretty.

    Let’s look at Wiki’s declaration against interest on the subject of lying; placing it in the context of the fallacy of selective hyperskepticism. Yes, “lie” is an ugly word. But, sadly, an all too relevant one, and one that needs to be confronted at the top level, if our civilisation is to be saved; even at the last minute, as a brand plucked from burning:

    To lie is to state something with disregard to the truth with the intention that people will accept the statement as truth . . . . even a true statement can be used to deceive. In this situation, it is the intent of being overall untruthful rather than the truthfulness of any individual statement that is considered the lie . . . . One can state part of the truth out of context, knowing that without complete information, it gives a false impression. Likewise, one can actually state accurate facts, yet deceive with them . . . . One lies by omission when omitting an important fact, deliberately leaving another person with a misconception. Lying by omission includes failures to correct pre-existing misconceptions. Also known as a continuing misrepresentation . . . . A misleading statement is one where there is no outright lie, but still retains the purpose of getting someone to believe in an untruth . . .

    Let us note: a continuing misrepresenatation is a willful deception in teh teeth of duty of care to the truth and to fairness.

    For specific and highly relevant instance, Dr Nick Matzke has yet to properly explain himself and apologise for the long sustained willful misrepresentation that Design theory is little more than cleverly repackaged “creationism” set up to evade certain US court rulings.

    (Cf Dr Thomas Cudworth’s rebuke here on at UD in recent days, in context.)

    So, at the level we are addressing, we must realise that too often the bigger, softer words, only cushion and obscure the point, making the comfortable more comfortable while stuck in webs of willfully constructed deception.

    At the lower level, we the educated, opinion leaders, educators and relevant decision makers now have a duty of care it investigate a known controversy seriously, and to take an informed view [especially when speaking in public or in places of influence].

    If one willfully fails in that duty of care, there is indeed a somewhat lesser responsibility, but one becomes a part of the second level of a deception: recklessly, irresponsibly propagating what one SHOULD have known was not a true and fair view on a matter of some importance to individuals and to our civilisation’s health.

    [ . . . ]

  95. We should not allow the aura of the holy lab coat to intimidate or overawe us, and surrender the duty of care to check out the facts for ourselves, and — cf here and here — to check out the implications of those facts for our civilisation and for how our communities should operate in light of the true balance on the merits.

    Then, we must all set out to restore science to a reasonable balance, before it is too late.

    For in the end, per Provine’s 1998 Darwin Day keynote at U of Tenn, this is what is at stake:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

    Of course the above hinges on imposing a priori evolutionary materialism, and it is that root that leads directly to the undermining or principles of right and wrong [it is inherently and inescapably amoral] and of our ability to think and decide for ourselves [freedom to decide is pivotal to the credibility of our minds].

    So, Philip Johnson’s retort is apt:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    There is a lot in the stakes, and we need to think very soberly indeed about where we stand, why.

    Including, recognising that willfully continued misrepresentation (especially in the teeth of cogent correction) is deceit — such as is all too commonly seen at the top levels of the evolutionary materialism promotion industry. Sadly willful deceit, deceit in service of unfair advantage in our civilisation and its key institutions; with an unrecognised ultimate import of civilisational ruin, as Plato warned us against in The Laws, Bk , 2350 years ago now.

    So, painful though it is to see such words in the stakes, the L-word and the F-word above are properly at issue.

    Dr Matzke et al in the top tiers of that industry have some pretty serious explaining to do.

    At lower levels, we the educated and influential had better get to our homework on origins science and its implications for our civilisation.

    GEM of TKI

  96. Dr BOT:

    “Research” that is controlled by a priori imposition of evolutionary materialism is locked into an ideological spider’s web; it is not a fearless, unfettered pursuit of a true and fair view of our origins on sound scientific principles.

    And, as Lewontin summed up the matter from Sagan and ilk, joining in himself:

    . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [[i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [NYRB, Jan 1997. And if you think the following words I have clipped off JUSTIFY such tactics, or turn the above into "quote mining" -- a favourite and too often unjustified dismissive rebuttal talking point -- I suggest you read the fuller extract in context, here.]

    The cat has long since been let out of the bag that was advertised as having a piglet in it.

    GEM of TKI

  97. Been following UD off and on for a couple years now since before you became a writer for UD itself.

    I’m honored to receive a welcome for you after actually deciding to start commenting on UD itself!

    With regards to whether or not critics of ID have actually lied about anything (saying something they themselves knew was false) I guess I could think of countless such instances.

    Some examples I was discussing with a friend:

    1. MarkCC’s review of EoE in which he claims that when you take into account that there are a billion malaria cells in one infected person, Behe’s numbers become false.

    (Actually there are several places in which Behe says the figure is a trillion cells, including a few tables.)

    2. Claims that the early drafts from “Of Pandas and People” say the designer is god. Or any advocacy of using the bible to draw conclusions.

    (I can’t find where I saw it, but I saw someone give a list of several things found in creationism that were not in the drafts; the idea of a supernatural god creating everything out of nothing as told by Genesis was one of them. The debate was between some pro-ID guy and PvM from The Panda’s Thumb.)

    3. Anyone who claims we claim replicate the RNA world scenario with success under accurate conditions.

    (Correct me if I’m wrong, but you can’t even synthesize all the RNA chemical constituents in the same mix because the conditions required are not compatible with each other.)

  98. JH:

    Welcome to the world of the un-lurked.

    Stand by for the “anti-IDiot” attacks in 10, 9, 8 . . . (Who knows, you may even join the death star list in some of the anti-UD attack blogs out there . . . [Make sure to look at Pipl.com and 123.ca etc and demand in the most stringent terms that they take down any and all info relating to you. Some trolls imagine that they have a right to use info that you don't know how it got to the net, without your permission, to set up the sort of mafioso threats I have recently had: we know you, we know where you are, we think we know those you care for.])

    You have raised some interesting issues, and points, The synthesis of Cytosine, I know is notoriously a challenge, dunno if it has been solved recently under reasonable early earth conditions.

    I would actually hold that the basic problem — elaborated by TBO — is that the conditions of a prebiotic earth as seem plausible are not really compatible with getting to the relevant monomers and sustaining them in any meaningful concentration. (Have a look here, esp in the early chapters.)

    As to mutually incompatible synthesis requisites, I don’t know, but the workaround would always be that he chemicals can flow together and mix.

    Therein lieth the rub, as a realistic mixing environment would rip up or cross react with the requisites for assembling a viable metabolising, self replicating entity on a von Neumann Self Replicator.

    Life chemistry is very specifically controlled, programmed chemistry as the action of the ribosome shows as a capital example. That implies a LOT of counterflow, constructive work, running right up the thermodynamics hill based on complex FSCI rich nanomachines that are part of the integrated system.

    Irreducible complexity on steroids.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: I am following up on Alfred Russel Wallace as a key precursor to modern design thought, here.

  99. DrBot

    GAs don’t qualify as RM+NS because the parameters are pre-specified to match the problem domain, in addition, I know of no GA (except Avida) which allows arbitrary loops to be formed, and therefore allow real creative work to happen. Interestingly, in Avida, though it has the theoretical capacity to create arbitrary loops, no one has gotten it to produce a loop which helps solve a problem. There is one loop in Avida which is biologically meaningful – the one which was *designed* in by the creators for self-replication. That’s right – you can tell what parts of Avida organisms are designed by looking for loops that contribute to function.

    Pre-matching parameters to the problem domain, and then mutating the parameters is interesting, but shows ID, not natural selection, because it is the parameters that are more important than the mutations.

    You might see my following posts/papers:

    Thoughts on parameterized vs. open-ended evolution

    My technical paper on the subject (includes a section on Avida)

  100. Also, somewhere in here is a question on whether or not these objections do anything against common descent. I believe that Gil’s #1 and #2 do not harm common descent if you take common descent from an ID perspective, but my argument based on non-materialism may. We had a long UD conversation about that a while ago if you are interesting:

    ID and Common Descent

    In short, if evolution were guided by information, it would not need to be gradualistic. And, while it might have some stochastic components, the majority of the direction for evolution would come from internal information, not external selection or internal stochasticity.

  101. 101
    Elizabeth Liddle

    It seems to me that there are two separable issues here:

    That Darwinism is wrong (predicts things that are found to be false).

    That Darwinism is inadequate (fails to explain some things).

    I was particularly interested in what people thought was wrong with evolutionary theory.

  102. Mung: Time for a reality check Gil.

    The fact that I refuse to accuse Liz of lying does not mean that I would never make that charge about any Darwinist. There are plenty of examples of outright lying. For example, Ken Miller has repeatedly asserted that Michael Behe’s irreducible complexity challenge requires that sub-components of an IC system not be capable of serving other purposes. Behe repeatedly corrected Miller on this point — that he, Behe, never made and does not make this claim — and Miller persisted in using this falsehood to try to discredit IC.

  103. Jeffrey Helix @ 92I would say instead of lies we just use the term misrepresentations or something to that effect.
    .
    To say that critics of ID are lying is to presume that they “know” they are wrong to begin with.

    The proper term to apply to most of the “arguments” that the DarwinDefenders present is lie; and, in this particular context, to refuse to openly state the truth of the matter is to, oneself, lie.

    A ‘misrepresentation‘ might be an honest error, or it might be a lie.

    When the fact that one’s statements/assertions are misrepresentations has been pointed out, and it has been explained *why* they are false, and yet one continues to assert them, then one is lying, and one is a liar.

    A person’s reasoning might be true/sound-and-valid or might be false/unsound-or-invalid. WHen it have been explained that one’s reasoning is unsound or invalid, and *why*, and yet one does not correct the error, then one is lying and one is a liar. In fact, one is worse that a mere liar, for one is lying about the very nature of truth and reason.

  104. GilDodgen @ 102 (to Mung)The fact that I refuse to accuse Liz of lying does not mean that I would never make that charge about any Darwinist. …

    I’m pretty sure that neither Mung, nor I, nor any of the other commenters who have indirectly (that is, without actually using the actual word) accused Dr Luddite of lying have insisted that you must do likewise.

    However, you have gone far beyond merely not explicitly naming her as dishonest. You have chosen, instead, to attack those persons who do choose to identidy and name her dishonesty.

    Now, it would be one thing if that identification were erroneous, and you, as an honest man, were correcting that error — you know, in much the same way the Mrs O’Leary and I had recently spoken out in defence of Richard Dawkins (much as I loathe everything about the man) in his recent to-do with his fellow free thinkers.”

    But, that’s what you did — you tried to play the “nice” card. And, worse, you tried to play the “you’re not a real Christian” card (see post # 3).

  105. “but that’s [not]</b. what you did .."

  106. Elizabeth: Indeed. RM+NS is a pretty cool designer.

    Mung: And your evidence for this assertion is?

    DrBot:

    Engineers use GA’s (RM+NS) to produce novel designs.

    Indeed they do. Those GA designers are pretty cool designers.

    We’ve already had this conversation Mung – have you forgotten already?

    You seem to have convinced yourself that you won that debate. I seem to recall that you bowed out after being soundly trounced.

    DrBot and Elizabeth Liddle bow out.

    :)

  107. Elizabeth -

    I’m not sure those are quite as separable as you may think. The problem is, dealing with natural history, much of what we “know” is inherently theory-bound. Whether or not Darwinism is sufficient is actually a part of whether or not it predicts wrong things. It is a prediction of Darwinism that evolution will be gradual. Was evolution gradual? We don’t know. We have the fossil record. So, is the fossil record incomplete or is Darwinism making a wrong prediction?

    However, in #2, it is quite clear – the Darwinian notion of the origin of interesting mutations has been clearly falsified. Interesting mutations, as we have found in experiment, come from the genome being setup to produce them. The genome is predisposed towards a range of mutations that also matches the potential biological circumstances that the cell faces. This is quite contrary from the Darwinian notion of where mutations originate.

    A good book on the subject is Caporale’s “The Implicit Genome”. While she hold out hope that selection might produce the systems she describes, the whole book shows that the systems that we can experimentally determine to exist actually show that the organism is predisposed towards biologically-meaningful change.

  108. 109
    Elizabeth Liddle

    That’s odd, Mung. I seem to remember that you were .

    Funny how that works, eh?

    :D

  109. 110
    Elizabeth Liddle

    BTW, your link appears to be to a post of yours in which you claim Dr Bot and I bow out.

    And, as it’s the last post in the thread, I guess we did. Not quite the same as saying we were “soundly trounced” though. I expect I lost the link.

    I’ll go respond to your later posts on on GAs on that thread now.

    See you there.

  110. 111
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Oops, comments closed.

    Oh well: Here is my argument:

    I am assuming minimally complex pre-existing self-replicators (Darwinian evolutionary theory does not explain the origins of the first self replication). The counterpart to this in a GA are the self-replicating virtual organisms whose only function is to self-replicate, at the beginning of a GA run.

    I am also assuming a “fitness landscape” – by which I mean that the real organisms exist in an environment that poses “problems” for survival – scarce resources, predators, problems with finding a mate, whatever. Any “solution” to these “problems” will, by definition, increase survival chances. The counterpart to this in a GA is the fitness landscape provided by the GA designer. Typically, as the designer wants a particular problem of her own solved, the problems she confronts her population with – the “environment” they have to “survive to breed” in, are ones she happens to want a solution to. In contrast, no-one apart from the critter itself, in a real environment, is interested in the solution – and the critters themselves just want it solved, at least if they are aware enough to get a kick out of life and sex.

    But that’s an peripheral difference. It would be possible to set up a randomly generated, and, indeed randomly changing “fitness landscape” in which the virtual critters had to survive. In which case the solutions the critters “found” would be to un-designed problems.

    But, as I said, that’s peripheral. The really important thing about a GA is that the critters themselves embody solutions to the problems of surviving in the environment provided. That that in some cases involves solving a math problem is no more important than the fact that in reality, the surviving might involve camouflage or a new digestive enzyme. It’s not the environment solves the problem – the environment aka GA designer simply poses it. The critters solve it.

    And, as Dr Bot has indicated, those solutions can be novel, ingenious, and unanticipated by the designer of the GA.

  111. BTW, your link appears to be to a post of yours in which you claim Dr Bot and I bow out.

    Speaking foir myself, I didn’t bow out so much as give up in exasperation!

    I don’t like being ‘lawyered’ either , you reach a point where you realize that the person you are arguing with has no interest in actually understanding, just in arguing over anything that can possibly be argued over – and now I’m remembering that Monty Python sketch about booking an appointment for an argument ;)

    I guess I should have heeded the warning – ‘Don’t feed the trolls!’ :)

  112. 113
    Elizabeth Liddle
  113. It seems to me that there are two separable issues here…

    You missed one.

    Modern evolutionary theory is incoherent.

  114. Elizabeth Liddle:

    And, as Dr Bot has indicated, those solutions can be novel, ingenious, and unanticipated by the designer of the GA.

    Which from me rates a big so what.

    Let me refresh your memories:

    Not an issue in dispute.

    What is in dispute is how analogous is a GA to biological evolution.

    What aspects of a GA are designed, and which aspects are not.

    The more aspects of a GA that are designed, and the closer the analogy to biological evolution, the stronger the case that biological evolution is designed.

    Lizzie was only allowing for design at two points in a GA, I claimed there were more, and that what was being left out was a significant aspect of the function of a GA.

    HERE

    Now DrBot was talking about what a GA could do (as you just did), and as I pointed out to him (and as I now point out to you), what I consider worth arguing over is not what a GA can do but rather what it takes to get a GA to do what it does.

    GA’s are designed to do what they do.

    If you really want to impress me you’ll pick a GA for us to toy with and we’ll mess around with it and see how well it does if we change it’s design.

    DrBot:

    I’m not discussing evolutionary theory modelling in the main, I’m discussing how Genetic Algorithms work from an engineering perspective …

    Mung:

    And I’m discussing what it takes to get a GA to work in the first place.

    As in, how much design is involved, and where, and why.

    Because if we don’t get that right, if we try to compare GA’s to biological evolution, or if we think GA’s model evolution, we’ll be fooling ourselves.

    HERE

    And what you both apparently willfully ignore as if it’s completely irrelevant to your claims is that while a GA may in fact come up with say, a novel antenna configuration not foreseen by the creator of the GA, that same GA is not going to come up with a novel circuit on an FPGA.

  115. Speaking for myself, I didn’t bow out so much as give up in exasperation!

    And now you’re rewriting history.

    Your last post in that thread:

    Now I must get some much needed sleep – and I’m away for a little break tomorrow so I may not be commenting here for a while. ;)

  116. Elizabeth -

    The problem is that for evolution to be open-ended (that is, such that the GA is not parameterized to the problem domain), it has to be able to evolve on a Turing-complete system, because open-ended solutions require open-ended looping structures. The only GA I am aware of that using a Turing-complete system is Avida. No one has ever evolved an Avida organism to use an open-ended loop as part of the problem-solving process.

    Therefore, all known GA evolution is parameterized, not open-ended. That is, more of the information came from the parameters set up for the evolution than from the evolution itself. Certainly, *some* of the solution came from the GA, but the majority of it is in the parameters that the programmers specify to evolve.

    In fact, there is one open-ended loop in an Avida organism – the replication loop.

    And it was designed, not evolved.

  117. 118

    Lizzie asks:

    “So Chris: what is your position on common descent? Do you think the evidence supports it?”

    Blue Peter time.

    Here’s one (an answer) I did earlier (for someone else, far less capable than you, Lizzie, I must say):

    Identifying a pattern of relationship linking all living creatures does not imply a necessary cause, such as common ancestry, for that pattern. Remember, Darwin did not invent classification: the creationist Linnaeus did a century earlier. Linnaeus included humans amongst the primates. That is because classification is consistent with common design. So what we need is evidence to support common ancestry as a true explanation of this pattern. Fossils of common ancestors and transitional species would be a start. Do you know of any, Lizzie? Limitless artificial selection that breaks the boundaries of genetic homeostasis would need to be demonstrated too. Do you know of such an experiment, Lizzie? And it goes without saying that we should never, ever find “a peculiar chunk of DNA in the genomes of eight animals – the mouse, rat, bushbaby, little brown bat, tenrec, opossum, anole lizard and African clawed frog – but not in 25 others, including humans, elephants, chickens and fish.” Oops.

    Even if there was any evidence to support the common ancestry hypothesis, that does not mean that common ancestry arose as a result of natural selection acting upon random mutations. Common ancestry could be the result of front-loaded design or even guided evolution. So that means, evolutionists also need evidence (and computer simulations cannot be substituted for this evidence) that natural selection acting upon random mutations can transform a single-celled common ancestor into a human being.

  118. 119

    PS. I just remembered, I paraphrased Philip Johnson in that ready-made answer. I didn’t bother highlighting that to the original recipient, but that should be highlighted here.

  119. Therefore, all known GA evolution is parameterized, not open-ended. That is, more of the information came from the parameters set up for the evolution than from the evolution itself. Certainly, *some* of the solution came from the GA, but the majority of it is in the parameters that the programmers specify to evolve.

    Nice work johnnyb.

    The GA employs a search algorithm.

    If the solution is not encoded into the search space then the GA has no hope of finding it. How did the solution get included in the search space?

    GA’s don’t just stumble on solutions that don’t actually exist. Nor do living creatures just stumble on eyes, and wings, and consciousness. Where do these “solutions” come from?

    GA’s do not use a blind search, they employ an assisted search. Who or what assists organisms to find an eye, or a wing, or a brain, in the search space, and how is that at all analogous to the way a GA is assisted in finding a solution?

    The issue of the parameters was discussed at length in the FEA and Darwinian Computer Simulations thread. And ignored.

    Surprise.

  120. I’ve seen very little response to the objections raised so far against evolutionary theory.

    Perhaps a recap is in order?

    Let me add one of Elizabeth’s personal favorites. Polymorphisms.

    Without which we would apparently not have the neutral theory.

    Or is that one not obvious enough?

    How obvious does it need to be?

  121. 122

    Hi Nick!

    My copy of Prothero’s came in. A lovely book. I look forward to reading it.

    However, just thumbing through, I came across some drawings of embryos on page 110.

    Is Prothero an embryologist?

    A developmental biologist?

    Trained in comparative anatomy?

    No? He’s a GEOLOGIST!?

    You could read the book or use google to figure these things out, but I’ll just tell you: The man is a very well-known and well-published vertebrate paleontologist. Specifically, he’s an expert on fossil mammals, more specifically artiodactyls I believe. All paleontologists are also geologists, many work in geology departments.

    The text for the figure on page 110 (fig 4.10) reads as follows:

    The evidence from embryology. An embryologist Karl Ernst von Baer pointed out in the 1830s, long before Darwin published his ideas about evolution, all vertebrates start out with a very fish-like body plan early in embryology, including the predecessors of gills and a long tail. As they develop, many lose their fish-like features on their way to becoming reptiles, birds and mammals. (From Romanes 1910)

    Isn’t Prothero perhaps moving a bit beyond what he is competent to address?

    All vertebrate paleontologists have to know a huge amount of vertebrate anatomy and osteology. This includes developmental biology.

    how much of this book should I ignore due to the simple fact that the author doesn’t know enough to know better?

    Wow. You are attempting to dismiss Prothero’s book, just because he has Haeckel’s embryo diagram in there, and because you heard some beknighted ID propaganda somewhere about how Haeckel’s embryos were fraud, fraud, fraud?

    Try *reading* those freakin’ pages. Here, I’ll even paste it in:

    Embryology

    Even before Darwin, the studies of embryos began to provide important evidence for evolution. In the 1830s, the great German embryologist Karl Ernst von Baer documented that the embryos of all vertebrates show a common pattern (fig. 4.10). Whether they develop into fish, amphibians, or humans, all vertebrate embryos start out with a long tail, well-developed gill slits, and many other fishlike features. In adult fish, the tail and gills develop further, but in humans, they are lost during further development. Von Baer was simply trying to document how embryos developed, not provide evidence of evolution, which was not even proposed as an idea yet.

    Darwin used this evidence in On the Origin of Species, and embryology soon developed into one of the growth fields of evolutionary biology. One of the foremost advocates of evolution was the flamboyant German embryologist Ernst Haeckel. He not only promoted Darwinism in Germany, but he went so far as to argue that we could see all details of evolutionary history in embryos and reconstruct ancestors from embryonic stages of living animals. His most famous slogan, the “biogenetic law,” was “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” This is simply a fancy way of saying embryonic development (“ontogeny”) repeats (“recapitulates”) evolutionary history (“phylogeny”). To the limited extent that von Baer had shown 40 years earlier, this is true. But embryos also have many unique features (yolk sac, allantois, amniotic membranes, umbilical cords) that have nothing to do with the evolutionary past and are adaptations to their developmental environment. Thus it is dangerous to overextend the evolutionary implications of the stages in an embryo, but they are useful guides nonetheless.

    Creationists, such as Jonathan Wells (2000), in their eternal effort to mislead the uninitiated and miss the forest for the trees, will crow about how the biogenetic law has been discredited. But Haeckel’s overenthusiasm does not negate the careful embryological work of von Baer that shows that many features of our past evolutionary stages are Preserved in our embryos. Wells, in particular, nags about how some of Haeckel’s original diagrams had errors and oversimplifications, but this does not change the overall fact that the sequence of all vertebrate embryos show the same patterns in the early stages, and all of them go through a “fishlike” stage with pharyngeal pouches (which become the gill slits in fishes and amphibians) and a long fishlike tail, then some develop into fishes and amphibians and others lose these features and develop into reptiles, birds, and mammals. Wells’ deceptive approach is nicely debunked by Gishtick ( http://www.ncseweb.orglicons/icon4haeckel.html [now: http://ncse.com/creationism/an.....ls-embryos -- NJM] ). If you had any doubts that you once had ancestors with fish-like gills and a tail, Figure 4.11 shows what you looked like five weeks after fertilization. Why did you have pharyngeal pouches (predecessors of gills) and a tail if you had not descended from ancestors with those features?

    Couldn’t be bothered to read it, though, could you?

    Should I just stick with the fossil evidence?

    If you like. That’s most of the book, anyway.

  122. 123

    PS When you get to the bit about insects, read this:
    http://pandasthumb.org/archive.....attle.html

  123. 124

    Did you realize you pasted in the same block of text twice? Was that just to make it look like a whole lotta sciencey stuff?

    Oops. I think the image caption is the same as the text caption, they were both copied when I hit control-C. Apologies.

    Now, would someone like to actually try to explain why “evolutionary theory is self-evidently wrong” because of the obvious unevolvability of bird lungs? That was the original claim that was being made.

    I posted actual scientific papers that actually give an explanation of how the weird “circular breathing” of birds could evolve.

    These directly refute the idea that the evolution of the bird lung is obviously impossible because it would take a sudden appearance of holes and flow-through breathing in the lung, or that it is obviously impossible because it would take a fatal hole in the diaphram. These arguments turn out to be based on ignorance of comparative anatomy and phylogeny of birds, dinosaurs, and crocodiles.

    Pointing out that the explanation is a hypothesis, or proclaiming “I ain’t gonna believe nuthin’ til you give me every single mutation over millions of years”, are not defenses of the original claim that “evolutionary theory is self-evidently wrong” because of bird lungs. They are goalpost-moving and just cheap attempts at avoiding the science which you didn’t know about before you opened your big mouth to shout to the world that evolution must be wrong because of bird lungs.

    (And, we saw how poorly the “Infinite detail is required before I will accept evolution” tactic worked in the Dover trial. It’s an insane standard that no one requires for any scientific explanation. It’s actually a desperate last-ditch argument of creationists, which they throw out when they can think of nothing else with which to counter the science.)

  124. Nick Matzke:

    Wow. You are attempting to dismiss Prothero’s book, just because he has Haeckel’s embryo diagram in there, and because you heard some beknighted ID propaganda somewhere about how Haeckel’s embryos were fraud, fraud, fraud?

    I have no idea what you’re going on about. I thought the drawings in Prothero’s book were von Baer’s.

    They are a bit dated though aren’t they? 1910? Seriously?

    Did I mention Haeckel? Pretty sure I didn’t.

    I actually have a lot of respect for Haeckel. He was incredible. Do you know he did some 4000 drawings of one single organism? I think he gets a bad rap for one single issue and deserves much greater recognition.

    http://icarusfilms.com/new2004/pro.html

    cheers

  125. Yes, nick. I did read it. I just didn’t comment on it.

    If you had any doubts that you once had ancestors with fish-like gills and a tail, Figure 4.11 shows what you looked like five weeks after fertilization. Why did you have pharyngeal pouches (predecessors of gills) and a tail if you had not descended from ancestors with those features?

    lol. So human embryos share features of adult organisms in our evolutionary past?

    How is that not just a re-statement that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny?

    And this is supposed to show that we descended from those ancestors by descent with modification?

    I’ll look for the argument, but just asking a question does not an argument make. You do realize don’t you, that the text I quoted above is not an argument. No reason is given.

    Oh, look at this picture, it should remove all doubt that you descended from fish is not an argument.

    I’ve already anticipated your response. Go ahead. Say it.

  126. 127
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Mung:

    So human embryos share features of adult organisms in our evolutionary past?

    Yes, they do. So do many embryos. Sometimes archaic features appear and are then reabsorbed.

    How is that not just a re-statement that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny?

    I think the original hypothesis was that development took the same trajectory as evolution, which isn’t necessarily true (and there’s no reason to expect it to).

    And this is supposed to show that we descended from those ancestors by descent with modification?

    It’s certainly strongly supportive, and the more we find out about the role that regulatory sequences play in development, and understand how small modification to a regulatory sequence can make large differences to the adult phenotype, the more supportive it is.

  127. 128

    I have no idea what you’re going on about. I thought the drawings in Prothero’s book were von Baer’s.

    Really? That seems unlikely, Haeckel’s embryo drawings are *extremely* well known to all sides of the creation/evolution issue. But whatever, it’s not important.

    I was mostly reacting against your snarky comments, which were basically “I just got this book, it’s by a GEOLOGIST who dares talk a little about embryology omg omg!” It seemed as though you were implying he got something wrong about the embryology, otherwise, what basis would that stuff give you for dismissing the author?

    They are a bit dated though aren’t they? 1910? Seriously?

    Dude. He’s showing them specifically because they are classic old illustrations which have been abused too often by creationists. He is pushing back. The drawings are actually older, the first version of them was 1876 or something. Haeckel actually produced many versions of the figure and the later ones were better, but for some reason an early one got into the English-language Romanes 1910 and was spread everywhere from there.

    Here’s modern electron microscope photos of the same things FYI:

    http://ncse.com/files/images/figure08.jpg

    http://ncse.com/files/images/figure09.jpg

    http://ncse.com/files/images/figure10.preview.jpg

    Source: http://ncse.com/creationism/an.....ls-embryos

    lol. So human embryos share features of adult organisms in our evolutionary past?

    No, modern human embryos share embryonic structures with the modern embryos of fish etc. In the fishes, these structures develop directly into what they look like in the embryo, i.e. gills and a tail. But humans have neither gills nor tail, yet we have these structures as embryos. As Prothero asks, if not common ancestry, then why?

  128. Mung:

    So human embryos share features of adult organisms in our evolutionary past?

    Elizabetht Liddle:

    Yes, they do.

    Nick Matzke:

    No, modern human embryos share embryonic structures with the modern embryos of fish etc.

    Too funny.

    Prothero:

    Whether they develop into fish, amphibians, or humans, all vertebrate embryos start out with a long tail, well-developed gill slits, and many other fishlike features. … If you had any doubts that you once had ancestors with fish-like gills and a tail..

    Features of adult fish? Sure seems like what he’s saying. What else does “fish-like” mean?

    If he means fish-embryo-like why doesn’t he say so?

  129. 130
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Nick? Could you explain why you think my answer is incorrect?

  130. Well Elizabeth, the first question that comes to mind is how do adult features of organisms find their way back into the embryonic stage such that they might be passed on as part of the embryonic stages in future descendants.

    Sounds lamarckian to me.

    Afiak, there is no known mechanism by which such a thing might occur and no evidence that it actually does occur.

  131. 132
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Mung:

    Well Elizabeth, the first question that comes to mind is how do adult features of organisms find their way back into the embryonic stage such that they might be passed on as part of the embryonic stages in future descendants.

    Sounds lamarckian to me.

    Well, I’m no embryologist, but let’s take the whale, which is thought to have descended from a four limbed land-animal. However, whales only have fore limbs, and only vestigial, if any, hind-limbs.

    So the hypothesis would be that regulator genes that governs the expression of hind-leg-making genes in the four legged ancestor during development mutated so that hind-leg-making was ceased earlier and earlier in the developmental trajectory, to the point where they only appeared briefly before being reabsorbed.

    So I can see what Nick is saying I think – my simplistic answer was that adult artiodactyls have hindlimbs but those are found only briefly in the embryological development of the whale. Thus the whale embryo has features that its ancestor had, but which it will lose by the time it reaches adulthood.

    But you could equally say, I guess, as Nick did, that what we see in the whale embryo is what the artiodactyl looked like at the same stage of development, not as an adult.

    If so, we are not actually in disagreement – we would agree that the whale embryo shows, during development what, in its ancestor, became a hindlimb, but does not, in the modern whale.

    Afiak, there is no known mechanism by which such a thing might occur and no evidence that it actually does occur.

    Well I hope I have clarified what I meant.

  132. 133

    Hi Liz — yeah, I think what you say here is correct. E.g. the gill slits in human embryos aren’t actual functioning gills, the tail isn’t a full-on swimming tail, etc. But the structures are similar to those that develop into functioning gills & tails in fishes.

    (Not to help them out, but creationists who are on the ball could just point out that the embryological argument is just the generic homology argument for common ancestry, with the homologies in this case being morphological characters of the embryo. This would be right. They could then dismiss it all with “homology is explained by a common designer”. Of course, this would beg the question of why a common designer would bother to do this…

  133. Nick Matzke:

    Hi Liz — yeah, I think what you say here is correct. E.g. the gill slits in human embryos aren’t actual functioning gills…

    Well Nick, I have to congratulate you. You’ve managed to both lie and tell the truth in a single statement.

    It’s like saying the moon is a sphere made of green cheese.

    Get lost you hack.

  134. 135

    Well Nick, I have to congratulate you. You’ve managed to both lie and tell the truth in a single statement.

    It’s like saying the moon is a sphere made of green cheese.

    Get lost you hack.

    LOL — by your logic, we can’t call the human embryonic tail a tail, either, since it doesn’t end up as one in the human adult.

    The term “gill slit” is a fairly standard one, look it up on Google Scholar. “Pharyngeal arch” and “pharyngeal pouch” are more technical terms for the same structures. Typically, you don’t get called “hack” for standard use of standard terms…however, the reverse, on the other hand…

    Anyway, it doesn’t matter what you call them, either way they are a complex, quite specific shared character between e.g. mammals and fishes, and the only decent explanation anyone has proposed is common ancestry from fishlike ancestors.

    If you have a better explanation, though, then post it.

  135. MatzkeIf you have a better explanation, though, then post it.

    Ah! the old “even though what I am asserting is false, and even though I know that it is false, and even though you know that I know that it is false, I still get to assert it until you supply me a ‘better’ ['better' being determined by me] explanation.”

  136. My explanation for why adult humans do not have gill slits is that human embryos do not have gill slits.

  137. My explanation for why adult humans are not fish is that human embryos are not fish embryos.

  138. My explanation for why vertebrate embryos look similar is that, well, they are all vertebrate embryos.

    duh

  139. My explanation for why human embryos look like fish embryos is … see above.

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