Friday, December 14, 2012

Do Some IDiots Actually Question the Existence of Natural Selection?

Paul Nelson has been challenging the pervasiveness of adaptationism by pointing out that many evolutionary biologists promte nonadaptive evolution. See the discussion and comments on Jerry Coyne's blog website: A Marshall McLuhan moment with creationist Paul Nelson. Nelson has been accused, falsely, of claiming that some evolutionary biologists deny that natural selection is an important mechanism in evolution.

Paul Nelson doesn't deny that natural selection is a real phenomenon. He may be an IDiot (and a YEC) but he's not THAT stupid. On the other hand, one didn't have to wait too long before getting confirmation that some other IDiots really are THAT stupid.

And guess what? They are allowed to post on the main Discovery Institute blog, Evolution News & Views (sic)!!! You have to read How "Real" Is Natural Selection? by Tom Bethell ... otherwise you'd never believe me.

Here's what Tom Bethell says about natural selection.
Sometimes, the relationship between a variant form and the environment is such that the variant increases, or multiplies. Best known case: dark moths camouflaged against dark tree trunks. The speckled variety becomes conspicuous and is more likely to get eaten.

The theory that has been confirmed here is simply that in this environment, with sharp-eyed predator birds, camouflage is helpful. It does not explain how the moths appeared in the first place.

The moth evidence was publicized in the 1950s by Bernard Kettlewell. Its frequent invocation since then -- including by Coyne quite recently -- goes to show how paltry the evidence for NS is.

An analogous situation arises with varieties of bacteria that are immune to antibiotics. The immune varieties are suddenly "fit" and so they survive. But the word "adaptation" is misleading because the immune varieties have to appear first. They don't "adapt," or reshape themselves in recognition of the suddenly hostile environment. They are not like people who "adapt" to cold weather by putting on overcoats. They are like people who accidentally had overcoats on before the cold snap came.

NS is not supposed to be an explanation of how we get more of something; a dark moth, for example. It's supposed to show how the moth itself arose. And that is what the Darwinists have never been able to demonstrate; not just with moths but with anything else. That's why I hesitate to call NS "real." Well, I guess it is, as long as it's defined narrowly enough.
Here's a few quick hints for Tom Bethell—not that I really expect him to read them. First, learn the scientific definition of evolution: What Is Evolution?. It will help you understand why the increase in frequency of variant moths and resistant bacteria really is evolution. (Hint: populations evolve, not individuals. This is basic high school biology.)

Second, read up on the definition of adaptation as it applies to evolution by natural selection. This will prevent you from looking foolish in the future.

Third, read about the fluctuation test or the Luria-Delbück Experiment done in 1943. (That's almost 70 years ago.) Luria and Delbück won a Nobel Prize, in part for this work. What they did was establish the very thing that you (Tom Behtell) find mysterious; namely, the origin of variants.

You're welcome.


34 comments :

  1. Mr Bethell is a super IDiot who not only rejects evolution but who also rejects the Theory of Relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (the other being quantum mechanics).

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  2. No... just no way. They cannot be THIS stupid. I refuse to accept it. This is denialism, they cannot have brain failures of this magnitude. It has to be some complex psychological phenomenon. I can't get myself to belive that a guy can write, and presumably read, at least one language, but not fathom the concept of natural selection.

    What the... fuck?

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  3. Wickipedia entry for his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science:
    It addresses a number of issues, including global warming, nuclear power, DDT, AIDS denialism and control of malaria, cloning, genetic engineering, intelligent design, the trial of Galileo and the relationship between science and Christianity. On all these topics, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science argues that the Left have distorted scientific facts in order to advance their political agenda and to increase the size of government....

    In other words, more conservative bubble/echo chamber reality. I am just surprised to see there is no indication that it made the NYT's best seller list. Truly a surprise.

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    1. Yes, it is always about increasing the size of Big Government.... Like Ronald Reagan did...

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  4. One thing is sure: Natural Selection is DUMB!

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    1. Litterally correct, since it's a process and not a sentient entity.

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    2. Quiz question.

      Can a process build you?

      Please answer without refering to sex! ;-)

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    3. One thing is sure: Natural Selection is DUMB!

      Not as dumb as some of its critics, I'm thinking.

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    4. Can a process build you?

      I'm pretty sure it did, just as it did you.

      Please answer without refering to sex! ;-)

      Spoilsport!

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    5. Yeah, an approximately 9-month long process of cell-divisions build me up from a single cell.

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    6. @pepe: are you advocating occasionalism (Islamo-Calvinist determinism), or a block-universe?

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  5. Here's what Natural Selection, if it were real, would do!

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    1. You don't seriously believe that's what Natural Selection is about, do you?

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  6. Larry loves calling those halfwits who think Intelligent Design is real science IDiots.

    I label those who think halfwit Darwin was a real scientist Darwinos.

    Neither Larry and I are using science for such statements. It's a worldview battle!


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  7. I have to give due to Larry.

    Contrary to "frileux" like PZ Myers or Jerry Coyne, Larry lets the opposing view have a say here.

    Thanks Larry, even if we're on opposing side.

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  8. Pepe, your comments are completely devoid of argument or reason, just sarcastic and rather bombastic statements. Since you DO have the privilege to post here, why not do something useful with the privilege and actually make an argument? And carefully consider the responses you'll get? That might be more productive than posting empty platitudes.

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  9. LM writes,
    "Nelson has been accused, falsely, of claiming that some evolutionary biologists deny that natural selection is an important mechanism in evolution."
    Yes, this is very true. Jerry Coyne is being deliberately obtuse, and misleading, in how he characterizes what Nelson says, as well as how he presented what Nelson said to the evolutionary biologists in question.

    To score a point.

    And man, is his rah rah crowd over there eating it up.
    Kudos to Larry for pointing this out here.

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  10. Ok, I have just come to the conclusion that Pépé is a fake.
    Call me slow, but the above comments confirm it.

    I won't, as I have in other threads, respond or comment towards him again. He is not serious, but is probably just bored, not much interested in anything specific, and looking for arguments for the sake of arguments. If this were a creationist site, he would be arguing against that. Farewell, Pépé.

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    1. Obviously, he is, and there are many others like him here at Sandwalk and elsewhere. The big question is: can a blog like this be successful without fake or anonymous participants?

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    2. I think I do! But, I’m not sure about you, as you might have a multitude of false identities!

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  11. LM writes, "It will help you understand why the increase in frequency of variant moths and resistant bacteria really is evolution."

    This is a straw man. There is nothing in the quote Larry cites to indicate that Bethell DOESN'T agree that those two cases are examples of 'evolution'. He may not, but that is not indicated in the quote. What he is arguing against is Natural Selection, NOT evolution. The relevant 'takeaway' sentences to argue against in the citation are

    ' It does not explain how the moths appeared in the first place.'

    and

    'NS is not supposed to be an explanation of how we get more of something; a dark moth, for example. It's supposed to show how the moth itself arose. And that is what the Darwinists have never been able to demonstrate; not just with moths but with anything else.'

    In other words, Bethell is using the standard microevolution/macroevolution argument. My assumption is that he wouldn't be using it at all if he did not accept some sort of evolution as a given. He is simply arguing against the idea that NS is viable as an explanation for the diversity of organisms.

    There ARE errors in his argument, to be sure. His overcoat analogy is dreadful, as Larry points out. But even as silly as that line of argument is, his larger argument doesn't hinge upon it. I don't see that it is even relevant to his larger argument.

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    1. Natural selection is one of the mechanisms of evolution. "Evolution," by definition, is change in the frequency of alleles in a population. Tom Bethall says,

      NS is not supposed to be an explanation of how we get more of something; a dark moth, for example. It's supposed to show how the moth itself arose.

      But that's exactly wrong. Natural selection IS an explanation of how we get more of something in a population. It is NOT an explanation of mutation.

      Bethall is not questioning whether microevolution leads to macroevolution—that's Paul's schtick. Bethall is questioning whether natural selection is "real," as in the title of his post.

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    2. Larry, you are reading too much into his rhetoric. There is a reason why he put quotation marks around 'real'. Other things he writes that reveal his true intention are:

      ' Later he said it's "real, but very, very dumb." OK, maybe.'
      and
      'That's why I hesitate to call NS "real." Well, I guess it is, as long as it's defined narrowly enough.'

      In the sentence of his that you are interpreting too literally, he should have added 'merely', as in, 'NS is not MERELY supposed to be an explanation of how we get more of something; a dark moth, for example.'

      He didn't write that (and should have), but his meaning is clear nevertheless, in context. His argument is the standard ID argument that NS only does what it does, and DOESN'T lead to the emergence of new species.

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  12. Question how and you're a creationist idiot that does not understand. I ask again if natural selection can mimic intelligence and design how does a non-intelligent process even have the capability to do so if it does not even know what intelligence is? The mind boggles why we can no question these problems....

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    1. because the problem, as evident by your question, is you lack even the most basic undestanding of evolution. Overall evolution theory is very complex, but some aspects such as random mutation and natural selection are easily comprehensible and even intuitively obvious(which is why most people who know anything about evolution will just know these basic things). But you dont even know that. All you have to do is read basic overviews of evolution to understand how natural selection works. You don't even have to agree with it. But when you know nothing, your questions are so obtuse they barely make sense.

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    2. What makes you think natural selection mimics intelligence?

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  13. As wrong-headed as Bethell is, he's actually making progress. 35 years ago he was calling natural selection a tautology. Now he's merely confusing it with mutation.

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  14. I am YEC. YEC doesn't mind selection as long as it isn't claimed to have crossed boundaries of KINDS which is a rule in biology Fauna or flora it seems.
    Yet there has only been some 6000 years for selection and its not going on now SO it couldn't of ever done much.
    Maybe some cause and effect in that Amazon but not Canada ever.
    Selection is irrelevant to the great diversity in biology I think.

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    1. True, when god set the borders of Canada, he declared it a selection-free zone.

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    2. Hey robert, what makes you think (LOL) that selection isn't going on now? Do you think (LOL) that selection means that new species should evolve on a daily basis?

      "Maybe some cause and effect in that Amazon but not Canada ever."

      There really isn't much to say about that statement except that it's one of the dumbest things I've ever read.

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    3. Oh, I am sure that selection is relieved that it doesn't cause any discomfort to YEC.

      I am always curious, though, as to what "rule" of biology prevents the crossing of borders. Where is there a barrier that says "You shall not pass!" to a mutation? How do baraminologists justify or verify their declaration that the "Kind" is protected by a stygian boundary that is inviolate?

      That's what I want to know, Robert. That's what I want to know.

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  15. Yet Bethell is correct.

    Larry's logic is the same as the hallowed bait and switch rhetoric of Darwinists.

    A change in allele frequency allows a trait to become more prevalent; ie micro evolution, which is observable in the lab. But what Darwinists want us to believe that they can extrapolate this observation to explain the origin of organisms, since they are unable to demonstrate it experimentally.

    They appeal to a weak logical construct; ie 'what prevents the plausibility of small-step fortuitous mutations creating complexity'.

    Their hat hangs on this rickety rack.

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  16. Steve, what is your detailed, scientific, alternative theory (alternative to the ToE) that explains the diversity of life?

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