Sunday, July 24, 2011

Deaddog (Re-)Discovers Idiots


Back in the olden days of talk.origins there was a bright young student named "deaddog" who posted frequently. His speciality was The origin of life.

Deaddog became Professor Andy Ellington at the University of Texas at Austin and he's still interested in the origin of life [The Ellington Lab] and the creation of new life forms [Dr. Andy Ellington].

Deaddog (Andy) has testified before in front of the Texas board of education in an attempt to educate them about science. As you might imagine, given his interests, he concentrated on showing that Jonathan Wells and the IDiots are dead wrong about origin of life research. This is about as hard as shooting fish in a barrel but somebody has to do it.

Last week he was back at the meetings to testify in favor of adopting good biology textbooks. Here's what he said on Andy Ellington's Blog: On the Circus.
Today I’m at the State Board of Education hearings on textbook adoption. Or, in other words, the once every-so-often meeting that helps to determine whether or not Texas makes itself a laughingstock with respect to the teaching of evolution. I guess this is sort of my first “live blog,” which is just weird.

I continue my love / hate relationship with Texas. On the one hand, this board meeting is democracy in action (not necessarily a good thing in a Republic): every idiot gets their say. On the other, their say means very little. The larger forces at work will drive both curriculum and the impact of that curriculum.
This provoked a response from some of the main IDiots like Casey Luskin [University of Texas Evolutionary Biologist Andy Ellington Mocks Fellow Texans as "Idiots" and "Laughingstocks" for Doubting Darwin] and Denise O'Leary [Tax dollar alert: Who pays this Texas biology profs salary?]. Don't you just love it when the IDiots voluntarily supply us with evidence of their reasoning ability?

They should have been careful about who they tried to pick on. Here's Andy's response [On Idiocy].
The Discovery Institute, largely a spent force both intellectually and politically since Dover, has chosen to take issue with my comments at the State Board of Education. This is especially amusing as the original disputation of their idiocy came many years ago, and has been published via a NSCE publication for quite some time. Indeed, I refer to this publication in my previous testimony, which was and is available to the Discovery Institute. From this, we can conclude that the Discovery Institute is woefully behind the times not only in terms of science, but even in terms of their own shallow attempts to provide a revisionary context to science. Guys, this just can’t be good for your funding posture. Try to keep up.

...

So, when the DI has a vague, anonymous scientist (apparently the only kind that the DI employs) point out, as they do in their current idiot posting (please note the use of the word ‘idiot,’ as it absolutely applies to the DI for their complete lack of understanding of the extant scientific literature) ...

...

The DI claims this all as a teachable moment, saying that “What we see evidence of here is a scientific debate over the origin of life ….” No, actually, the problem with that claim is that science for the most part requires experimentation. You guys don’t do experiments. We do. You guys just carp about our experiments, and you don’t even do that very well.

...

Which would you rather see helping to set policies relating to teaching biology, literally millions of scientists who spend their entire careers doing experiments, or a handful of folks at a faith-based think tank whose jobs largely depend on trying to make inconvenient facts go away?

...

Well, Casey, I hope this gets your page hit count up somehow. God knows you need it. But really I don’t think that picking a fight about the facts is going to help you guys much in your further, currently grossly unsuccessful attempts to show your relevance. You didn’t even have boots on the ground at the Texas SBOE hearings this time, you just sent a 80 page screed that in the end didn’t change one word in one textbook up for consideration. Sad, really. But, there ya go. Happy trails.
I miss deaddog.

UPDATE: How many have heard that old saying about what you're supposed to do when you've dug yourself into a deep hole?1 Here's a couple of examples of what you're NOT supposed to do. These postings attacked real science and they were the ones that provoked Andy's response. Why do so many non-scientist IDiots think they can successfully debate with an expert in the field?2

Casey Luskin, the lawyer, says Andy Ellington's Citation Bluffs and the Scientific Debate Over the Miller-Urey Experiment

Denyse O'Leary, the jounralist, says Texas school board hearings: Startling gains in the hard science of citation bluffing are now widely noted.


1. Stop digging.

2. It's a rhetorical question. They are IDiots and that's exactly what IDiots do.

49 comments :

  1. I can't help but comment that in Luskin's "Citation Bluffs" post, he claims that there is a genuine scientific debate over the issues of origins of life, and cites research papers supporting this, and then claims that students should be taught that this debate is going on. That's true. None of that means that they should be taught intelligent design. In his own posting, the research that is part of the debate that he does cite is NOT coming from intelligent design researchers and does NOT support intelligent design.

    So if the argument is that students in Texas should be made aware that there's a debate over the origins of life, and that the debate centers over the local and global environmental conditions and the range of chemistries that they allow and that the early Earth was probably not, overall, a reducing environment, ok, I think everyone pretty much agress. Infact, I think everyone pretty much agreed to that before Luskin realized it.
    So what's the point?

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  2. But didn't Wells prove all that Evilution stuff was wrong.
    I hear it was in chapter six.

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  3. Regarding Point 1, Cleaves et al. (2008) notes:

    Instead, evidence strongly suggested that neutral gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor--not methane, ammonia, and hydrogen--predominated in the early atmosphere.
    (H. James Cleaves, John H. Chalmers. Antonio Lazcano, Stanley L. Miller, & Jeffrey L. Bada, "A Reassessment of Prebiotic Organic Synthesis in Neutral Planetary Atmospheres," Origin of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere, Vol. 38:105-115 (2008).)

    So unless Dr. Ellington wants Texas students learning the inaccurate claim that Stanley Miller's experiments using methane and ammonia accurately simulated early earth conditions, then perhaps he ought to point out to the Texas State Board of Education that the very paper he is citing contradicts many proposed instructional materials that have been considered for adoption in Texas. Unfortunately, Dr. Ellington didn't tell this to the board.

    Who is correct? Cleaves et al or Ellington?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Andy Ellington looks a little like Al Franken, the comedian who became a US Senator. Is there any evidence they are related?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous wrote:

    Instead, evidence strongly suggested that neutral gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor--not methane, ammonia, and hydrogen--predominated in the early atmosphere.

    This is an issue still under debate: "In later years, these experiments [Urey-Miller] were criticized because it was pointed out that modern volcano[e]s emit mostly CO2 and, moreover, due to photolysis of H2O by solar UV light (Chap. 5), the produced free O2 might have oxidized CH4, with the result that carbon in the early atmosphere should have occurred mostly in the form of CO2. Under such conditions, the yield of amino acids would be much lower. However, as discussed in Chap. 3, based on recent investigations of the formation of CH4 and NH3 in hydrothermal vents, as well as if one takes into account the large amounts of dust in the Hadean era which reduced the influx of solar UV and therefore the photolysis of water, it now appears that the assumption of a reducing atmosphere originally made by Urey and Miller is highly likely. Later simulations by Miller and colleagues (Miller and Orgel 1974, Robertson and Miller 1995) showed that it is even possible to form purines (adenine, guanine) and pyrimidines (cytosine, uracil) with a yield of 30–50% in evaporating lagoons or in desiccating pools near beaches. These compounds had earlier been believed, to be very difficult to produce."
    The precise composition of the Earth’s atmosphere in the Hadean era, where life developed, is not known. Until fairly recently it was thought (e.g. Kasting 1993) that CH4 and NH3 may not have been present or were very rare in the atmosphere in these early times, because modern volcanoes emit mainly CO2, N2, and H2 O, as well as small amounts of H2 and CO, while the production of CH4 is extremely low. However, it has recently been recognized (Kasting and Brown 1998) that the CH4/CO2 ratio depends sensitively on the temperature and that at low temperatures the formation of CH4 is strongly favored. Therefore, if CH4 was primarily formed under much lower temperatures in hydrothermal vents and not in the hot magma of volcanoes, it would have been released at a much greater rate, particularly if one allows for the increased geothermal heat flow.
    Moreover, hydrothermal vents could also have been abundant sources for NH3, as has been experimentally demonstrated by mineral-catalyzed reduction of N2 and nitrogen oxides (Brandes et al. 1998). In addition, the escape of hydrogen to space due to photolysis of water by UV light (Chap. 5) should have been reduced by dust that shielded the Earth in the earliest phases of the Hadean era. Finally, new hydrodynamic modeling by Tian et al. (2005) shows that hydrogen escape from the early Earth’s atmosphere is decreased by two orders of magnitude compared to earlier estimates. All of this now points to the existence of a reducing (hydrogen-rich) atmosphere, which is required by laboratory experiments (Miller 1998) in order to produce the chemical compounds that are the building blocks for life (see Chap. 6).
    (P. Ulmschneider - Intelligent Life in the Universe, 2nd ed. Springer 2006)

    So unless Dr. Ellington wants Texas students learning the inaccurate claim that Stanley Miller's experiments using methane and ammonia accurately simulated early earth conditions

    Actually, Dr. Ellington says that Miller/Urey experiments are a historical milestone since they "show that biological materials can be created by gas discharge experiments" from inorganic substances: The Miller-Urey experiment brilliantly showed that it was possible to make organic matter (amino acids) from inorganic matter under relatively simple conditions. That was the point of the Miller-Urey experiment. He does not claim the conditions on primordial Earth were in total fit with that historical simulation.

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  6. From what you have said M. Dionis, it seems that this passage is correct:

    "So unless Dr. Ellington wants Texas students learning the inaccurate claim that Stanley Miller's experiments using methane and ammonia accurately simulated early earth conditions, then perhaps he ought to point out to the Texas State Board of Education that the very paper he is citing contradicts many proposed instructional materials that have been considered for adoption in Texas. Unfortunately, Dr. Ellington didn't tell this to the board."

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous wrote:

    From what you have said M. Dionis, it seems that this passage is correct:

    "So unless Dr. Ellington wants Texas students learning the inaccurate claim that Stanley Miller's experiments using methane and ammonia accurately simulated early earth conditions [...]


    All on the contrary.
    1. The debate over early Earth atmosphere composition is currently not settled. There are fair indications pointing toward a significant amount of methane/ammonia, and there are also several clues for more neutral overall conditions. While the relative importance of the specific gas sources and quantities is not definitely decided, it is premature to state firmly that 1953 Urey-Miller experiment did not simulated early Earth conditions.
    2. Even if the overall atmospheric contribution of specific volcanic gases is still under analysis, there is little doubt that local conditions near volcanoes and hydrothermal vents should have been very much different. There is nothing preventing electric discharges taking place also in local pockets containing amounts of methane and ammonia significantly higher that the overall values, so the 1953 Urey-Miller experiment reflects accurately enough local early Earth conditions (or, as Dr. Ellington puts it: "You just have to have pockets that are more reducing. This has been pointed out many times [...]"). See e.g. Kasting, J. F. 1993 - Earth's early atmosphere. Science 259: 920-926 or Delano, J. W. 2001 - Redox history of the Earth's interior since ~3900 Ma: Implications for prebiotic molecules. Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere 31: 311-341.
    3. Aside the useless blabla about "inaccurately simulated early earth conditions", the main interest of the experiment is still elsewhere. As Dr. Ellington says: really the only point of the Miller-Urey experiment is point the first, above: you can make amino acids from simple conditions, whether reducing or neutral. and that is a fair reason to mention it in any decent textbook dealing with origins of life on Earth. (for the "neutral" part, see e.g. Schlesinger, G. and S. L. Miller. 1983 - Prebiotic synthesis in atmospheres containing CH4, CO, and CO2. I. Amino acids. Journal of Molecular Evolution 19(5): 376-382).
    4. The claim that "Dr. Ellington wants Texas students learning the inaccurate claim that Stanley Miller's experiments using methane and ammonia accurately simulated early earth conditions" is also screwed by the fact it actually refers only to original 1953 experiment conditions, ignoring the many other simulations made with different gas mixtures. Wake up, guys, it's about time to update your informations with what has been done around for about 50 years!

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  8. M. Dionis, why do you keep quote mining? (This is the second time you have done it).
    Here is the complete paragraph:
    ""So unless Dr. Ellington wants Texas students learning the inaccurate claim that Stanley Miller's experiments using methane and ammonia accurately simulated early earth conditions, then perhaps he ought to point out to the Texas State Board of Education that the very paper he is citing contradicts many proposed instructional materials that have been considered for adoption in Texas. Unfortunately, Dr. Ellington didn't tell this to the board.".

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous said: (quoted an IDiot actually)"So unless Dr. Ellington wants Texas students learning the inaccurate claim that Stanley Miller's experiments using methane and ammonia accurately simulated early earth conditions, then perhaps he ought to point out to the Texas State Board of Education that the very paper he is citing contradicts many proposed instructional materials that have been considered for adoption in Texas. Unfortunately, Dr. Ellington didn't tell this to the board.".

    Can we have the part of the proposed instructional materials that said the Miller experiments used an accurate atmosphere?

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  10. Will someone please tell these twits that the supposed strategy of "citation bluffing" would only work on people who refuse to read the papers in the first place. Ad if Luskin et al refuse to do so, then why should anyone listen to them at all?

    IOW Casey, if you claim to have been citation bluffed, you are admitting you aren't qualified to be in the discussion in the first place.

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  11. t_p_hamilton asked:
    "Can we have the part of the proposed instructional materials that said the Miller experiments used an accurate atmosphere?"

    The answer to your question is in the link given in the opening post from Moran:
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/07/andy_ellingtons_citation_bluff048651.html

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anonymous wrote:

    M. Dionis, why do you keep quote mining? (This is the second time you have done it).
    Here is the complete paragraph: (yadda-yadda skipped) the very paper he is citing contradicts many proposed instructional materials that have been considered for adoption in Texas. Unfortunately, Dr. Ellington didn't tell this to the board."


    Well, he did not tell that because he hadn't any reason to do it. In any recent serious textbook, the original 1953 Miller-Urey experiment is highlighted for the aforementioned reasons, not for accurately reflecting the overall composition of the early earth atmosphere, so I fail to see why the critics you keep tenaciously quoting here as they were spreading the Ultimate Truth have written those meaningless words (well, actually there is a reason for which they have written that, but it has nothing to do with Dr. Ellington supported text). This is why I urged you to update your information database.
    I thought it was crystal clear for you that before pointing your finger towards Dr. Ellington, you should have provided the incriminated part, otherwise it's just "talks on nothing". I see it didn't come to you, so I ask you formally to either
    1. answer fair and square to t_p_hamilton common sense request
    or
    2. stop quoting ad nauseam other people not knowing what they're talking about

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  13. Anus. The Utmost IDiot,

    When I took biology in middle school (yup, middle school), I was not told, I repeat, not told, that the Miller-Urey experiment accurately simulated early earth's conditions. The textbook said that the Miller-Urey experiment demonstrated that it was possible for complex organic materials, some related to life, to be formed from simpler molecules adding energy in the form of electric discharges. Every textbook since, high school, undergrad program, graduate program, claimed the very same thing. Complex organic molecules, a few amino acids, from simpler substances adding electric discharges. The books we use in the undergrad program where I work, well, same thing.

    Unfortunately, dishonest creationists (including their subspecies the IDiots) tend to interpret the above to mean "The Miller-Urey experiment demonstrated the origin of life as it actually happened accurately step by step from molecules to man with no intervention by The Christian God[TM]. Thus The Christian God[TM] does not exist. Amen."

    I doubt that Anus. The IDiot will get it. But I had to get that off my chest.

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  14. According to "The Process of Becoming" (that's the Name of the God of Moses, as revealed in Exodus 3.14), whatever will be, will be.

    Someday, I hope we will all be civil scientists, enthusiastically engaged in The Divine Process of Becoming Enlightened.

    ReplyDelete
  15. M. Dionis, if a Texas textbook (or proposed textbook) is inaccurate about Miller-Urey, then Dr. Ellington should advise them about that.
    Agreed?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous wrote:

    The answer to your question is in the link [...]

    Well, that's very poor substantiation.
    1. You should keep in mind that there is currently a scientific debate over the overall character of early Earth atmosphere, with arguable proposals ranging from red-ox neutral to definitely reducing. While the debate is not over, one should also keep in mind that local conditions have many reasons to be very different from the overall, and we can be practically certain that on early Earth there were at least some pockets of reducing atmosphere.
    Of course, the geoscientists in 1953 were less divided on the issue and the original Miller-Urey experiment was designed also with the idea of reproducing the effect of electrical discharges in primitive Earth's atmosphere.
    2. Having stated this, let's look at the Cleaves et al quote:
    "Instead, evidence strongly suggested that neutral gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor--not methane, ammonia, and hydrogen--predominated in the early atmosphere."
    The keyword is "predominated". It says it was a matter of quantities: significantly more neutral than reducing on the overall. It does not say there were no reducing gases at all, it says they were less.
    3. Let's now look the incriminated quotes:

    - "In 1953, American chemist Stanley Miller (1930-) showed in a laboratory experiment how such reactions might take place."
    The statement is correct. It does not say "the overall early Earth atmosphere was reducing", it says something about general mechanisms involved in the first chemical stages of abiogenesis. Today scientists still think electrical discharges through early Earth atmosphere probably had something to do with production of organic compounds which might have played a role in abiogenesis.

    - "They found that when gases that existed in the Earth's early atmosphere were subjected to continuous, high amounts of energy under certain chemical conditions, amino acids were formed."
    The statement is correct. It does not say "the overall early Earth atmosphere was reducing", it says that it used "gases that existed in the Earth's early atmosphere", with no determinative article. Reducing gases existed in early Earth atmosphere, at least in lower overall concentrations and higher concentrations in the pockets.

    - "simulated early Earth environments."
    The statement is basically correct, with some ambiguity arising from being stripped of its context. It might refer to the original intentionality of Miller-Urey 1953 experiment (as said, they aimed to recreate early Earth conditions). Looking at the final "-s" in "environments", the statement can be interpreted also in the sense that some environments on the primitive Earth (the pockets) were in fit with Miller-Urey experimental conditions.

    - "gasses similar to the atmosphere of the early Earth."
    Asides using a highly discouraged form ("gasses" instead of "gases") the text is poor. The gases cannot be "similar" to some atmosphere, their mixture can be of similar composition with early Earth atmosphere. It is of course a matter of debate if the text refers to the overall composition similarity, local similarity or only presence of reducing gases in early Earth atmosphere, and this might be definitely settled only by reading the entire context.

    4. Assuming for the sake of the argument that the last textbook I quoted (Technical Lab Systems) really wants to say that original Miller-Urey experiment accurately simulated overall early Earth conditions, the statement becomes doubtful. It was still not Dr. Ellington's job to emphasize in front of the Texas State Board of Education that one of the proposed materials considered for adoption contains a doubtful statement (be it in the light of the Cleaves paper or any other one); it was probably a textbook already considered for /dev/null.

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  17. Anonymous said:"The answer to your question is in the link given in the opening post from Moran:
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/07/andy_ellingtons_citation_bluff048651.html "
    So you can't provide a link to the actual materials or tell what what they actually say? Thought so, citation bluffer.

    ReplyDelete
  18. "According to "The Process of Becoming" (that's the Name of the God of Moses, as revealed in Exodus 3.14), whatever will be, will be.
    Someday, I hope we will all be civil scientists, enthusiastically engaged in The Divine Process of Becoming Enlightened."

    Enlightenment is not a group thing - it is an individual thing. It takes personal, individual effort.

    ReplyDelete
  19. t_p_hamilton posted:
    "Anonymous said:"The answer to your question is in the link given in the opening post from Moran:
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/07/andy_ellingtons_citation_bluff048651.html "
    So you can't provide a link to the actual materials or tell what what they actually say? Thought so, citation bluffer."

    The answers to your questions are in the link that Moran gave us.
    Did you follow that link?

    ReplyDelete
  20. Anonymous wrote:

    M. Dionis, if a Texas textbook (or proposed textbook) is inaccurate about Miller-Urey, then Dr. Ellington should advise them about that.
    Agreed?


    It depends. At first, there is a very big if. The provided quotes are correct except of the Technical Lab Systems textbook excerpt which is less clear. The "if" cannot be decided properly unless you provide the full context of the quote.

    Let's assume again for the next paragraph that the aforementioned quote really depicted the original Miller-Urey experiment as reproducing overal atmospheric conditions from primitive Earth. The answer to your question is still "it depends". We don't know for sure yet that the statement is actually inaccurate: the specialists might still decide at some moment that early Earth was characterized most probably by a definitely reducing atmosphere. It would be then a "second order" inaccuracy because it assumes the definitive answer has already be given by science. Let's accept the "inaccuracy" label. The answer to your question is still "it depends". Dr. Ellington responsibility for an inaccurate statement in a textbook hugely decreases according to the following scale:
    1. he is an/the author of the textbook
    2. he is a/the scientifical referee of the textbook
    3. he was commissioned to review that textbook, possibly among other proposed learning texts
    4. he was shown the provided excerpt among other texts in a more general context.
    If none of 1-4 happened, I fail to see why should he have hinted inaccuracies in a text he most probably did not even read. He is by no means responsible for all the drawbacks in all freshly proposed textbooks in the U.S.
    The only point from 1-4 which had a realistic probability of occurrence was #4. Reading Dr. Ellington's deposition, one realizes that the context of his deposition was not about textbooks depicting Miller-Urey experiment as accurate reproduction of early Earth conditions but more generic, about the reasons of including this experiment in the curriculum and including also other experiments of electrical discharges in various gas mixtures aimed to reproduce different possible atmospheric and substrate conditions. He probably focused his mind on these aspects and gave his opinion on them to the State Board of Education, without interpreting the text as we assumed for this paragraph.
    Only if he was specifically asked about reliability of those excerpts he should have been IMO in duty to read them carefully and advise the Board of the supposed inaccuracy. But there are too many "if"s and assumptions on the road.

    Why don't you start by quoting the full context of the excerpt?! At least, we would skip the "talks of nothing" step you seem affectionate to.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Casey Luskin is an attorney with graduate degrees in both science and law. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego. His Law Degree is from the University of San Diego.

    Ellington refers to J. Brada in his blog.
    Luskin casually mentions:
    "Ellington's testimony cites a 2008 paper, "A Reassessment of Prebiotic Organic Synthesis in Neutral Planetary Atmospheres," co-authored by Jeffrey Bada, one of my own professors at UCSD."
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/07/andy_ellingtons_citation_bluff048651.html

    ReplyDelete
  22. Anonymous said:"
    The answers to your questions are in the link that Moran gave us.
    Did you follow that link? "

    Yes, I did. The answers contained no links to the educational material like I asked for. The Discovery Institute is unreliable, I wish to see even one of the proposed materials. Until then, citing the Discovery Institute is just citation bluffing.

    Looking a bit, I found on google books from Cengage: Biology: The Dynamic Science, Volume 2
    By Peter J. Russell, Stephen L. Wolfe, Paul E. Hertz, Cecie Starr pg 514 on the Miller-Urey experiment. "The significance of the finding at the time was enormous: amino acids, which are essential to cellular life, could be made under the conditions scientists believed existed on early earth." OMG, this implies that reducing conditions in the Miller-Urey experiment accurately simulate the early earth!!ONE!!Eleven! Unfortunately for such a misrepresentation, this text follows with a discussion of other experiments and conditions.
    Think the DI recommends this book highly?

    Now maybe I just got lucky and the first text is an anomaly.

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  23. Enlightenment is one of those transitions that can arise in private meditation, but it's also possible to midwife the process by means of engaging in a Socratic Dialogue with an uncommonly patient mentor.

    ReplyDelete
  24. t_p_hamilton - there is not much value in talking with you.
    All the info is available for you to look up if you wish. But every one of your posts is demanding I do everything for you.
    If you want to contribute then make an effort.

    I disagree with M. Dionis but at least he makes an effort.

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  25. M. Dionis, if Ellington were actually interested in disclosing the truth he could have simply pointed out to the Texas folks that the Miller-Urey experiment did not accurately simulate early Earth and that textbooks should not imply that.
    At a minimum he should have said that it was not an established opinion that the Miller-Urey experiment accurately simulated early Earth.
    But Ellington had an agenda so he did not do that.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Moulton, you posted:
    "Enlightenment is one of those transitions that can arise in private meditation, but it's also possible to midwife the process by means of engaging in a Socratic Dialogue with an uncommonly patient mentor."

    Are you of the opinion that thinking alone will lead to Enlightenment or does the novice have to change himself in some significant way.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Anonymous wrote:

    Casey Luskin is an attorney with graduate degrees in both science and law.

    No matter how many degrees will he ever get, he will remain an attorney. This means he will always predilect court advocacy dirty tricks over real scientific commitment. We can make an example right here, with the McGraw Hill quote on which he comments As seen in the diagram below, this curriculum inaccurately implies that the Miller-Urey experiment "simulated early Earth environments." (see http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/06/miller-urey_experiment_icon_of047271.html ). As anyone can notice in the image fortunately provided, the text really runs like this:
    "* Stanley Miller and Harold Urey were the first to show that simple organic molecules could be made from inorganic compounds.
    * Later, scientists found that hydrogen cyanide could be formed from even simpler molecules in simulated early Earth environments."
    So the incriminated part "simulated early Earth environments" appears in the second phrase starting with the keyword "later". The meaning of the phrase is that after Miller-Urey milestone experiment, scientists tried several different gas mixtures for similar experiments with the aim to simulate various potential early Earth environments and found HCN was formed (again, the final "-s" in "environments" is crucial). Nowhere is written that these simulations were all accurate (actually it's implicit they cannot be all accurate since there were several different environments). Anyway, the phrase does not refer to original Miller-Urey experiment but to later simulations. Yet, the attorney concluded with [...]inaccurately implies that the Miller-Urey experiment "simulated early Earth environments.".
    After all, that's what an attorney is about.

    On the same page, there is another phrase barely extending the context of the Technical Lab Systems quote; it says "In this experiment steam was generated and passed through gasses similar to the atmosphere of the early Earth." While I'm still curious about the whole context of the phrase (but I am aware it's highly improbable to have it from Anonymous or from the attorney, by the same token), it could be of some relevance to note that the other blamed extract from this curriculum looks more like a web-page snapshot (with the "Next >" hyperlink in the bottom-right corner and the completion mark on the last item) than a textbook. Trying to find out more about this supposed curriculum, I googled for "Technical Lab Systems"; the only institution with this name seems to be Technical Lab Systems Inc, 815 Santa Cruz Drive, Keller, TX 76248-4148. Apparently, there is no 815 on Santa Cruz Drive, Keller; the map given at http://www.manta.com/cmap/mtqjcdj/technical-lab-systems-inc points to one of the houses in a residential area of Keller, hardly the headquarters of a serious publishing house. The available information seems to point toward a small business services company. Aside the attorney's pages (and those quoting him) there is only one other reference to "Technical Lab Systems", http://www.sanbenito.k12.tx.us/tech_plan/2010_2013/edu_prep.html : "Each Science Lab is furnished with hands-on technology modules (Technical Lab Systems) for Physical science, Earth Science and Life Science and are aligned to grade 1-5 and 6-8 science TEKS." So far, it seems that San Benito School District makes use of some tech devices provided by a local small company "Technical Lab Systems" of which the Life Science module happens to contain a rather unclear phrase on the Miller-Urey experiment. I can easily figure out that some omissions or something similar occurred when adapting a textbook to the electronic format, so the one to be blamed for the potentially misleading text is the guy who prepared it in this form. Of course, one should still evaluate the whole context.

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  28. In my experience, it's less common for solitary meditation to lead to insights than a process involving dialogue with others.

    Most of the important passages that I have been witness to (either my own or another's) emerged in the wake of an impassioned (and occasionally disputatious) dialogue. And most of the accounts I have read from others similarly involve dialogues with an uncommonly patien guru. There is a rather charming collection of these from Buddhist literature known as Zen Koans. They are also found in anecdotes from Yiddish lore and literature.

    There is one particular insight that I have learned to reliably midwife with some regularity, involving a rather difficult passage in deep reasoning.

    In almost all cases, the key technique is to carefully employ the Socratic Method.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Anonymous wrote:

    At a minimum he should have said that it was not an established opinion that the Miller-Urey experiment accurately simulated early Earth.
    But Ellington had an agenda so he did not do that.


    As said, the issue under discussion was not if the Miller-Urey experiment accurately simulated early Earth conditions, but the inclusion of this experiment and of further similar tests in biology textbooks. Were I have to speak about that in front of a State Board, I would focus on the very essential points and not extend the discussion to include all kinds of details: it's not about having an agenda but about sticking to the main debated idea. Yes, it's interesting to speak about current state of the art and of many other things in front of the students, but not in front of a State Board reunited to hear some clear answers to some precise questions.
    Speaking about agenda, the attorneys do have one: after all, they are but highly trained professional doubt casters. As you could notice by yourself, the attorney you quoted makes a case from 4 excerpts of which only one might eventually be interpreted as a support (with the McGraw/Hill extract clearly distorted out of its context): this is agenda.

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  30. Anonymous writes:

    But every one of your posts is demanding I do everything for you.
    If you want to contribute then make an effort.


    If I teach a course in irony, do I have your permission to use your posts as examples?

    ReplyDelete
  31. Anonymous said:"t_p_hamilton - there is not much value in talking with you.
    All the info is available for you to look up if you wish. But every one of your posts is demanding I do everything for you.
    If you want to contribute then make an effort.

    I disagree with M. Dionis but at least he makes an effort."

    You say that this material is available to look up if I wish.
    All I saw was DI PR posts.
    Surely if you had looked it up (you did, didn't you?) you could post a link to just one of the original source material? Sounds like you are bluffing to me.

    ReplyDelete
  32. M. Dionis posted:
    "As said, the issue under discussion was not if the Miller-Urey experiment accurately simulated early Earth conditions, but the inclusion of this experiment and of further similar tests in biology textbooks."

    No problem in including this experiment and further similar tests in biology textbooks. As long as the textbooks do not imply that these experiments simulated conditions in early Earth.

    Do we both agree on that?

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  33. Anonymous said:"No problem in including this experiment and further similar tests in biology textbooks. As long as the textbooks do not imply that these experiments simulated conditions in early Earth."

    How did Miller-Urey experiment become "experiments" and where did accurately go? Isn't this the essence of citation bluffing, taking something as proven when in the original it wasn't? Original Luskin:"So unless Dr. Ellington wants Texas students learning the inaccurate claim that Stanley Miller's experiments using methane and ammonia accurately simulated early earth conditions, then perhaps he ought to point out to the Texas State Board of Education that the very paper he is citing contradicts many proposed instructional materials that have been considered for adoption in Texas."

    Of course, anonymous and Luskin continue to fail to provide evidence that textbooks claim Miller-Urey accurately simulates early earth conditions. Next up: what Miller and Levine's text says about Miller-Urey. Will the score on discussion based on original source material be 2-0 soon?

    ReplyDelete
  34. Anonymous wrote:

    No problem in including this experiment and further similar tests in biology textbooks. As long as the textbooks do not imply that these experiments simulated conditions in early Earth.

    Do we both agree on that?


    No.
    Concerning the original Miller-Urey experiment, it probably simulated fairly enough some local conditions present in certain areas of the early Earth.
    Concerning the other simulations, many of them were aimed to reproduce in the best fit with current knowledge the overall early Earth conditions. There is a very good chance that at least some of these experiments are highly relevant for the first chemical stages of the abiogenesis.

    So it would not be a correct proposal to insert all these experiments in textbooks and decree with a warning they have nothing in common with what happened on the primitive Earth. An informational correct textbook would expose with some detail at least the two issues sketched in the first paragraph above. Of course, if a textbook decrees that original Miller-Urey experiment was conducted with a gas mixture in fit with actual scientific overall early Earth atmospheric models, that would be inaccurate, and the same holds in various lesser degrees for any later-run experiment. It is this latter kind of inaccuracy which should be avoided, do you agree?!

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  35. It looks like we are in agreement that there is no no problem in including "this experiment and further similar tests in biology textbooks" (as M. Dionis put it), as long as the textbooks do not imply that these experiments simulated conditions in early Earth.

    I am content that the Texas board could use that principle to evaluate textbooks. That is their job.
    There is no point in our arguing about whether the textbooks they are considering are inaccurate in that way.
    That is their job.

    It seems to me that the cited textbooks do imply that inaccurate idea but it is hardly worth arguing about, since it is their call, not ours.

    Ellington could have been more helpful if he had made the point we are now agreeing on.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Anonymous wrote:

    It looks like we are in agreement that there is no no problem in including "this experiment and further similar tests in biology textbooks" (as M. Dionis put it), as long as the textbooks do not imply that these experiments simulated conditions in early Earth

    Please substitute the bolded part with: "decree that original Miller-Urey experiment was conducted with a gas mixture in fit with actual scientific overall early Earth atmospheric models, or any later similar experiment fits consensually current scientific views on overall early Earth atmosphere composition". Each word is meaningful and your proposed version is too inaccurate to agree with.

    It seems to me that the cited textbooks do imply that inaccurate idea but it is hardly worth arguing about, since it is their call, not ours.

    As shown above, the textbooks are correct, the only doubts arise around an excerpt from a hands-on technology Life Science module provided by the obscure company "Technical Lab Systems" (which is obviously not a textbook) and should still be evaluated in the whole context. Anyway, the State Board (whose job is taking a decision) should have at disposal the whole device & software database.

    Ellington could have been more helpful if he had made the point we are now agreeing on.

    Could he possibly have to answer to an attorney-supported non-scientific criticism?! :)

    ReplyDelete
  37. Anonymous wrote:

    "No problem in including this experiment and further similar tests in biology textbooks. As long as the textbooks do not imply that these experiments simulated conditions in early Earth.

    Do we both agree on that?"

    M. Dionis: "No."

    Next comment Anonymous said: "It looks like we are in agreement blah, blah, blah ... "

    LOL.

    ReplyDelete
  38. M. Dionis posted:
    " if a textbook decrees that original Miller-Urey experiment was conducted with a gas mixture in fit with actual scientific overall early Earth atmospheric models, that would be inaccurate, and the same holds in various lesser degrees for any later-run experiment."

    Any textbook that implies that, would be inaccurate.

    The Texas group can certainly use that principle.

    Perhaps we can now move on to another interesting aspect of this subject.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Cengage: Biology: The Dynamic Science, Volume 2
    By Peter J. Russell, Stephen L. Wolfe, Paul E. Hertz, Cecie Starr pg 514 on the Miller-Urey experiment.
    "The significance of the finding at the time was enormous: amino acids, which are essential to cellular life, could be made under the conditions scientists believed existed on early earth."

    t_p_hamilton, are you saying that this is inaccurate.
    I think you are saying that.
    That would be the point that Luskin is making.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Anonymous said...

    Cengage: Biology: The Dynamic Science, Volume 2
    By Peter J. Russell, Stephen L. Wolfe, Paul E. Hertz, Cecie Starr pg 514 on the Miller-Urey experiment.
    "The significance of the finding at the time was enormous: amino acids, which are essential to cellular life, could be made under the conditions scientists believed existed on early earth."

    t_p_hamilton, are you saying that this is inaccurate.
    I think you are saying that.
    That would be the point that Luskin is making."

    I am saying that only quoting selected parts makes the textbook sound inaccurate. In my example, it becomes clear that this statement is being misread by you when the rest of the text is read. If that is what you think Luskin is doing, I agree!

    Just two paragraphs later that text says "However, it is only a conjecture that a reducing atmosphere was present at the time key organic molecules were formed on early earth."

    Yeah, this is JUST like saying that the Miller-Urey experiment accurately simulated the conditions on early earth!

    This is exactly why I asked for original material - the DI is not to be trusted. Thanks for helping me demonstrate this.

    ReplyDelete
  41. What people think of this:

    The most popular theory today is that the first living organisms probably grew out of the warm "chemical soup" that existed on Earth's surface three to four billion years ago. That soup consisted of compounds of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. With energy provided by sunlight, lightning, and the heat of volcanoes, those compounds apparently came together to form amino acids. Those amino acids, in turn, reacted with each other to form proteins, the building blocks of all forms of life. In 1953, American chemist Stanley Miller (1930–) showed in a laboratory experiment how such reactions might take place. Since that time, more and more experiments have strengthened the "chemical soup" theory of the origin of life.

    ReplyDelete
  42. anonymous the IDiot asks whether this is correct,

    The most popular theory today is that the first living organisms probably grew out of the warm "chemical soup" that existed on Earth's surface three to four billion years ago. That soup consisted of compounds of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. With energy provided by sunlight, lightning, and the heat of volcanoes, those compounds apparently came together to form amino acids. Those amino acids, in turn, reacted with each other to form proteins, the building blocks of all forms of life.

    It's certainly the most popular speculation among biologists but I'm not sure it's the first choice of the experts in the field.

    I reject that scenario because I don't think it's possible to create an environment where there is a sufficient concentration of amino acids to produce stable peptides.

    See ...

    More Prebiotic Soup Nonsense

    Can watery asteroids explain why life is 'left-handed'?

    Metabolism First and the Origin of Life

    From my perspective, all these attempts to produce complex amino acids and nucleotides by strictly chemical reactions in a test tube are a waste of time.

    I suspect that life arose deep in the ocean around hydrothermal vents under high pressure, total darkness, high temperature, and other conditions that bore no resemblance to anything on the surface of the planet.

    ReplyDelete
  43. It occurs to me that if complex organic molecules can form under suitable conditions, then that could have occurred either here on Earth or elsewhere in the Solar System (or even outside it).

    I dunno which theories are considered "popular" today, but it occurs to me that we also have evidence to support the theory that self-replicating nucleotides (or their precursors) might well have drifted here on cosmic dust, having formed elsewhere.

    Personally, I'd place my bets on the Panspermia Theory as the one that will ultimately win the race. And I hope to live long enough for one of our space probes to prove it by finding evidence of Panspermia on other planets, moons, or asteroids in the Solar System.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Unfortunately Panspermia does nothing to help us understand the origin of life.

    It simply moves the problem from the Earth to somewhere else.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Yes, I appreciate that, Larry. But it's still an important question as to whether self-replicating organic molecules arose locally on this planet or arrived from St. Elsewhere.

    And that also has an important bearing on how rare or ubiquitous life might be in the Cosmos.

    ReplyDelete
  46. The most popular theory today is that the first living organisms probably grew out of the warm "chemical soup" that existed on Earth's surface three to four billion years ago. That soup consisted of compounds of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. With energy provided by sunlight, lightning, and the heat of volcanoes, those compounds apparently came together to form amino acids. Those amino acids, in turn, reacted with each other to form proteins, the building blocks of all forms of life. In 1953, American chemist Stanley Miller (1930–) showed in a laboratory experiment how such reactions might take place. Since that time, more and more experiments have strengthened the "chemical soup" theory of the origin of life.

    "such reactions"?
    Does everyone see the switch here?

    ReplyDelete
  47. Well it looks like nobody has the integrity to acknowledge the switch.

    Textbooks routinely word things in a misleading way to imply that the Miller-Urey experiment demonstrates something that it does not demonstrate at all.
    It would take an honest evolutionist to admit that.

    ReplyDelete
  48. All honest people need note Anonymous, is that you are a dishonest twit playing word games and pretending said games refute science.

    It doesn't.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Might that be the same Anonymous that played word games in the comments on the 'Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution' post?

    That Anonymous went into the wild wood of crackpot territory about macroevolution and the evolutionary history of Carnivora. That Anonymous ended with asserting that the ungulate Mesonychids were part of the early dog lineage.

    I do wonder why people that have not the tiniest grasp of biology have such a loud mouth about it.

    ReplyDelete