Thursday, March 20, 2014

What do Intelligent Design Creationists really think about macroevolution?

Intelligent Design Creationism is a huge tent that shelters all sorts of creationists ranging from Young Earth Creationists to those who could be called Theistic Evolution Creationists.1 Many of them accept common descent so they clearly don't have much of a problem with most of macroevolution.

On the other hand, there are a lot of Intelligent Design Creationists who don't accept macroevolution. It seems to me that this could only be because they are Young Earth Creationists or they believe in some other strange idea where god(s) make every species.

It's hard to figure out what they mean.

Let's look at a recent post by philosopher Vincent Torley. He didn't like my posts about macroevolution [What is "macroevolution"? ] [A chemist who doesn't understand evolution] so he decided to set me straight: Does Professor Larry Moran (or anyone else) understand macroevolution?.
In today’s post, I, a non-scientist, am going to make the audacious claim that Professor Moran, an eminent biochemist, doesn’t really understand macroevolution, even though he has written an article about it and doesn’t think it’s particularly hard to understand, if you are willing to try. I sincerely hope my article will cause Professor Moran to reconsider his views, but it’s never an easy thing to convince someone of something that they’re inclined to resist. Wish me luck!
It's a long post but all we have to do is read the summary in order to understand his problem. He has three issues that, he thinks, make it impossible to understand or accept macroevolution. Let's look at each of them.

1. We don't know how to precisely define a "species" therefore we can't understand macroevolution.
First, since macroevolution can be roughly defined as evolutionary change at or beyond the species level, you can’t really understand what macroevolution is unless you have a proper understanding of what a species is. Recent evidence shows: (i) that the current scientific understanding of what constitutes a species is severely deficient; (ii) that species can be characterized by their unique genes and proteins, and (iii) that because each species has hundreds of these unique genes and proteins, the task of explaining how new species arise is much harder than biologists had previously imagined.
If I understand him correctly, he allows for the possibility that humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor—a scientific fact—but rejects the possibility that we can understand how this happened. The reason we don't understand this particular example of macroevolution is that we don't know for sure whether humans and chimpanzees are separate species. We also don't understand macroevolution because we can't give a blow-by-blow description of all the molecular events that occurred in the past five million years since we last shared a common ancestor with chimps.

It's not clear to me whether Vincent Torley accepts common ancestry but want more details or whether he's using this an an excuse to believe in the separate creation of humans and chimpanzees. It would also be nice to know if he is speaking for most Intelligent Design Creationists.

The fuzziness about the definition of species is a curious argument. Everything we know about evolution tells us that the boundaries between separate populations, subspecies, and true species should be difficult to establish with any precision. That's exactly what modern evolutionary theory leads us to expect.

I'm not very clear on the "Theory" of Intelligent Design Creationism. Maybe it also predicts what it will be difficult to decide whether Neanderthals and Denisovans are separate species or part of Homo sapiens. Does anyone know how Intelligent Design Creationism deals with these problems? Can it tell us whether lions and tigers are different species or whether brown bears and polar bears are different species?

2. We don't understand why evolution stops, therefore we don't understand macroevolution.
Second, you can’t claim to understand what makes something go – a car for instance – unless you also understand what makes it stop. Scientists such as Professor Moran claim to understand the mechanism of macroevolution, but for most of geological time, that mechanism has been in stop-mode, and they have no idea why, as they themselves freely admit. What that means is that there must be some vital X-factor that helps drive macroevolution, which their theories haven’t taken into account.
What the heck is he talking about? You have to read more of his essay to get to the punchline. As you might have guessed, he's talking about stasis, and punctuated equilibria.

You can't stop evolution. The rate at which large populations change from one morphological form to another can be very slow but that does not mean they aren't changing in diversity as new alleles increase in frequency and old ones are lost. From time to time, new morphological variants may become fixed in the population and evolution becomes visible in the fossil record. These types of change are more likely to occur during speciation events when the new daughter population (species) is quite small and rapid fixation of rare alleles is more likely. That's what punctuated equilbirium is all about.

There's no great mystery here. I think I understand what's going on. Evolutionary biologists argue about whether punctuated equilibria describes a very common mode of macroevolutionary change or one that's very rare but none of them think that changes in the allele frequencies of a population comes to a grinding halt during periods of stasis.

I hope I'm not being unkind if I suggest that Vincent Torely is the one who doesn't understand what's going on. He is an IDiot, after all.

[Aside. I don't know much about how cars work aside from some vague notions about internal combustion engines and differential gears. The other day, my car stopped working. I changed the battery and it started working again. I think I understand why it stopped working.]

3. There's not enough time for evolution to occur therefore we don't understand macroevolution.
Third, you can’t really claim to understand a mechanism for getting from A to B unless you can demonstrate – at least with back-of-the-envelope calculations – that the mechanism is capable of getting from A to B in the time available. If you are unable to produce the required calculations, then your claim to understand how the process works is tantamount to nothing more than hand-waving. As it turns out, scientific arguments that there’s plenty of time for macroevolution are fundamentally flawed, which means that evolutionary biologists are back at square one.
I recently wrote up a little description of the differences between the human and chimpanzee/bonobo genomes showing that those differences are perfectly consistent with everything we know about mutation rates and the fixation of alleles in populations [Why are the human and chimpanzee/bonobo genomes so similar?]. In other words, I answered Vincent Torley's question.

That post was met with deafening silence from the IDiots. I wonder why?

Perhaps Torely wants something more than just a demonstration that there's IS enough time and all the evidence suggests that our explanations are adequate? Perhaps what he wants is all the gory details for every single modern species and he won't be satisfied with anything less? If that's what the IDiots want then they will never be able to understand that whales evolved from land animals and birds evolved from dinosaurs.

However, they can't possibly have any other explanation that meets such exacting standards so the best the can say is that they are ignorant.2 Why then are they defending Intelligent Design Creationism, an idea that's orders of magnitude away from a detained blow-by-blow description of the origins of chimpanzees and humans? I'd hate to accuse them of having a double standard but there doesn't seem to be any other explanation.


1. Although most of them seem to have a visceral aversion to being identified as "Theistic Evolutionists."

2. Yes, I do know the meaning of the word "oxymoron."

161 comments :

  1. "If I understand him correctly, he allows for the possibility that humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor—a scientific fact—but rejects the possibility that we can understand how this happened. The reason we don't understand this particular example of macroevolution is that we don't know for sure whether humans and chimpanzees are separate species. "

    If I had been drinking coffee when I read that, I'd have choked on it.

    Yes, that's what Torley is saying.

    His argument is, "No one can say Abraham Lincoln had a beard because scientists have not defined when "stubble" ends and "beard" begins. Recent results in stubble theory have only made the problem worse."

    And Torley is one of the smarter IDiots! Imagine what objections the dumber ones have.

    If Torley really thinks scientists can't show humans and chimps are separate species, he should let his daughter marry one.

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    1. IOW: a *philosopher* who's still stuck on the Sorites Paradox.

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    2. I love the analogy with stubble (but I hate the ad hominem argument that involves someone's child-- that's nasty).

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    3. I'm very, very sorry. I didn't mean he should let his daughter (who might not exist FAIK) marry a chimp. I meant HE should marry a chimp.

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    4. @Diogenes

      At last a definition of "lying" that you might understand.

      Suppose someone said: "If Torley really thinks scientists can't show humans and chimps are separate species, he should let his daughter marry one."

      and then later claimed:

      "I didn't mean he should let his daughter (who might not exist FAIK) marry a chimp. I meant HE should marry a chimp"

      That would be a deliberate untruth and hence a lie.

      Hope that helps m9.

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    5. You need to examine the evidence through the Stubble Telescope.

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  2. As I understand it, the great apes have 48 chromosomes while humans have 46. That would seem to indicate that apes and humans are different species.

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    1. It must be the case that karyotype can vary without speciation - unless common descent is false.

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    2. @ Allan

      re: "It must be the case that karyotype can vary without speciation - unless common descent is false. "

      It appears that yet again great minds think alike! (... or so to speak)

      Check out my last response to you & Larry http://tinyurl.com/pj69mfs

      ITMT - I provide my students the following worksheet.
      http://www.indiana.edu/~ensiweb/lessons/ChromShuffle.pdf

      The Bottom Line: The story of Przewalski's Wild Horse and the domesticated horse hybrids indicate that chromosome rearrangements may perhaps reduce fertility but do not constitute an immediate barrier to interbreeding. However, accumulated chromosome rearrangements would eventually constitute a reproductive barrier to inter-breeding.

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    3. Tom - I'd draw a distinction between chromosome rearrangements and the 'hopeful monsters' we were discussing. There is no necessary impact on phenotype at all, other than the effect in meiosis. The bar is lower.

      Karyotype switches mainly stand or fall by their effect on meiosis, whereas the 'hopeful monster' gene - small in extent, large in phenotypic effect - would be largely invisible to meiosis.

      Interestingly, karyotype switching in mammals seems to have the sense of passengers running from side to side of a boat, tracking the polarity of female meiosis. Few species have the balance between acrocentrics and metacentrics that a random distribution would predict.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1461872/

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    4. Hi Allan,

      I do not think we are disagreeing with each other. Bateson-Dobzhansky-Muller Model clearly explains how at least two loci are required to cause hybrid incompatibility and eventual reproductive isolation – without significant phenotypic disparity.

      I explain to my students that Przewalski's Wild Horse and the domesticated horse can be crossed and do produce fertile offspring, with varying karyotypes! This has important implications for evolutionary theory.

      http://www.indiana.edu/~ensiweb/lessons/ChromShuffle.pdf

      So I agree – we are discussing two separate issues. How one population can phenotypically diverge from another and how these differences can be reinforced and maintained by reproductive isolation.

      But

      Even though many (perhaps the majority of “macro-mutational” events(often karyotype switches) are innocuous, many are not and constitute significant changes in phenotypes. A whole field of medicine labeled Medical Genetics is predicated on this fact.

      I offer Bmp4 for your consideration in Galapagos’ finches and beak sizes.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15353802

      Of course my favorite (that I discuss extensively in class) is HACNS1 and Natural Selection’s (Not Genetic Drift’s) putative importance in human/chimp divergence.

      https://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2008/09/04/did-a-gene-enhancer-humanise-our-thumbs/

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  3. No, there are several examples of single species with karyotypic variation. Rats on Malta IIRC, and Przewalski's horse, and IIRC goats have karyorypic variation.

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    1. Rats on Malta, mice on Madeira... I was close!

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  4. Torley: "each species has hundreds of these unique genes and proteins"

    At worst it's just false, at best equivication-- to get the number up to "hundreds" he must redefine "unique" to include *duplicated*, non-unique genes-- and he's probably redefining "genes" to include short regulatory non-coding bits.

    How many *de novo* genes do humans have that apes don't, and how long are they? Length is crucial too; there are like de novo non-coding RNA genes in the range of ~10's of bps, but this is not evidence that macroevolution is different from micro evolution.

    Humans simply do *not* possess hundreds of de novo, coding genes in the typical ~1000 bp length range, which are not found in apes.

    Torley can't say this unless he equivocates; if he equivocates, it's irrelevant to macroevolution.

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  5. Larry,

    Where do you get the idea that many IDiots accept common descent? If I were assembling a list I'd start with Michael Behe, but then I'd be at a loss. What do you have?

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    1. Torley claims to accept common descent, I believe. New genes were engineered into into replicated genomes, presumably.

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    2. You may believe that, but can you back it up with an explicit statement? IDiots are notoriously hard to pin down.

      Even if so, how do we get from "two" to "many"?

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    3. Johnny Harsh,

      Does Larry believe in common descent...? Didn't Witton or someone else linked a comment here a while a ago to Larry's comment where he sort of denies common descent and the tree of life...?

      I can't find it now... But I'm pretty sure it was either Witton or some other guy banned now.. Can anybody remember...? Dinogenes should remember...I remember him foaming over that and Miller too, Allan...

      I'm sure I' m going to get a lot of confirmations here... if any Bob might just be my hope...

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    4. You may believe that, but can you back it up with an explicit statement? IDiots are notoriously hard to pin down.

      What, you want me to back up my assertions? Sheesh! Some people. To the Google-mobile!

      http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/?p=4200&cpage=1#comment-43066

      Even if so, how do we get from "two" to "many"?

      We don't! It was merely an observation on the OP's subject. I agree with the general applicability of your case.

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    5. Quest, You are correct, Prof Moran is sympathetic to the idea that the deepest roots of the tree may coalesce upon separate origins - ie, the 'tree' metaphor does not go all the way down. That's a long way from 'denying common descent'. Pedantically, everybody accepts common descent at some level. But the difference here is between some arguing that the tree goes back to a single genome 4 billion years ago and others arguing it goes back to a few.

      CD does not have to be universal, in principle. It just appears to be, in fact.

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    6. Thanks Al...

      Do you happen to have a link to the blog (s) where Larry writes about that...

      BTW: Larry's "stand" on different issues is what makes his blog soooo fascinating... I quit a while ago... and got drawn back in again... lol

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    7. Quest, I get the impression that you think Larry's "stand" is more controversial than it really is.

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    8. SRM,

      Do you really think so...?

      Well, judge for yourself...:

      "Larry Moran

      March 18, 2014
      @Tulse,

      Most of the ID arguments are about real science and most of them address genuine scientific controversies like whether our genome is full of junk, or whether natural selection alone can account for evolution. We don’t know how life began and we don’t really understand the Cambrian explosion. These are legitimate science questions. The creationists exploit them but that doesn’t make them nonscientific.

      If there is a god, then it’s perfectly scientific to invoke that god in explaining some of the mysteries of biology. If there really is a god and if it turns out that that god really did create bacterial flagella then would you suggest we refuse to teach than in science class? Of course not. (I hope.)

      The question isn’t as simple as you think. I think that there’s a conflict between science and religion and I think that there are no gods, but I also think that it’s wrong to forbid my Christian colleagues from making their case for the compatibility of science and religion."

      http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog/2014/03/18/coyne-and-moran-on-teaching-id/

      If the above statements are not controversial, what else could IT be...?

      BTW: Professor Moran's above statement is of a very noble nature...I believe...However, I also believe that professor Moran really doesn't know what, or who, he is up against with his noble ideas....and what the reality of the society really is today, even among the so-called creationists or believers... He would really be surprised, if he knew the truth...I believe...

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    9. If the above statements are not controversial, what else could IT be...?

      They are statments completely unrelated to the one you were asked about. That's what they are.

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    10. They are statments completely unrelated to the one you were asked about. That's what they are.

      Exactly. Focus, Quest, focus.

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    11. lutesuite and SRM,

      Why can't you admit that those statements are controversial...even if they are only technically not directly related..?
      Why are you trying to diverge the attention from the fact that Larry's above quoted statements and the ones below ( I finally found them) are in fact more than Larry's vague "sympathy" toward the scientific facts that contradict your fix and unfounded view...

      You must be afraid of the possible consequences...?

      Poor things... :(

      "Laurence A. MoranMonday, February 11, 2013 12:44:00 PM
      @Allan Miller,

      I think you (and, for different reasons, Prof. Moran) are just indulging a little gratuitous Dawkins-bashing. I'm pretty sure he understands both HGT ...

      I'm pretty sure that Dawkins doesn't agree with those who question whether there's a tree of life. One of the most profound implications of the net of life is that it's consistent with several independent origins of life that preceded the rise of a modern genetic code and contributed to existing species. In other words, there may not be a single LUCA (Last Universal Common Ancestor). Dawkins does not like that. It's not what he says on the lecture circuit.

      Dawkins is in good company. He signed a letter to New Scientist about the cover I showed in the post above. The other signers were Jerry Coyne, PZ Myers, and Daniel Dennett. Here's part of what they said ...

      Nothing in the article showed that the concept of the tree of life is unsound; only that it is more complicated than was realised before the advent of molecular genetics. It is still true that all of life arose from "a few forms or... one", as Darwin concluded in The Origin of Species. It is still true that it diversified by descent with modification via natural selection and other factors.

      Of course there's a tree; it's just more of a banyan than an oak at its single-celled-organism base. The problem of horizontal gene-transfer in most non-bacterial species is not serious enough to obscure the branches we find by sequencing their DNA.

      The banyan tree is a good analogy but it's still not a net. And it's just not true what they say about HGT. The problem is, in fact, serious enough to obscure the branches.

      BTW, I alos opposed the cover of New Scientist but for different reasons. "

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    12. Here is more...:

      "Laurence A. MoranMonday, February 11, 2013 4:11:00 PM
      @Allan Miller,

      when I said ...

      One of the most profound implications of the net of life is that it's consistent with several independent origins of life that preceded the rise of a modern genetic code and contributed to existing species.

      I meant exactly that. It does not mean "evidence for" and it does not mean that I support the idea of multiple origins of life. I mean exactly what Craig Venter meant in his talk.

      The old tree of life based on ribosomal RNA has a single common ancestor. The modern net of life, based on a large number of genes, does not. Therefore it is not scientifically correct to say that all modern species descend from a single common ancestor. You can say that, based on currently available scientific evidence, there was probably a single origin of life but that's not the same thing.

      @Rumraket,

      I'm a proponent of metabolism first. I think the evidence supports an origin scenario where nucleotides and the genetic code arose much later than cells that could carry out rudimentary energy metabolism and synthesis of small molecules like simple amino acids.

      I think there was a time when a simple genetic code accounting for only a few amino acids began to operate. That process could have evolved independently around many different thermal vents. There would be a great deal of redundancy in the primitive code and this would be compatible with all sorts of gene swapping events.

      Not only that, but different self-replicating RNAs could have independently come into existence in different locations. If the primitive cells were mobile they could have fused during the RNA world to produce hybrids with a variety of active RNA catalysts.

      I support the Co-Evolution Theory of the Genetic Code. I imagine that primitive life went through a period of one hundred million years or so with primitive genetic codes encoding only a handful of amino acids."

      http://sandwalk.blogspot.ca/2013/02/craig-ventor-discusses-tree-of-life.html

      Larry: "...I meant exactly that. It does not mean "evidence for" and it does not mean that I support the idea of multiple origins of life. I mean exactly what Craig Venter meant in his talk."

      "..Not supporting the idea of multiple origins of life.".. and having evidence for such support are two different things...Ouch...!

      What such an idea could be an evidence for or support of...?
      Nuh... SRM and latesuite would be able to say or think the obvious... lol

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    13. Gee, Quest. It'd be really nice if you had the faintest fucking clue what you were tallking about. Those quotes do not in any way contradict any "view" I might have. In fact, having virtually no expertise in the field, any opinion I might have on the controversial subject of the precise phylogenetic relationships between the earliest life forms is bound to be uninformed and worthless.

      What about you?

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    14. Quest,

      There's not much point in rehashing arguments on different topics from different threads. People disagree. I consider 'Replication First', and coalesence upon a single-individual LUCA, to be the better of the respective alternative hypotheses. But I am, I should warn you, a complete nobody.

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    15. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say Quest's incomprehension of what he is reading has led him to believe that these quotes are a "gotcha" moment, in which scientists admit that common ancestry is not sufficiently supported by evidence to make it a fact, and that the existence of several unrelated lines of "kinds," as claimed by creationists, is a view that can be legitimately supported.

      But that's just my guess. He is slowly slipping into Robert Byers-type levels of incomprehensibility....

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    16. Well...here we go again... I quote Larry and I have a comprehension problem...Yeah... Tell me more oxymorons... lol

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    17. (But I can't resist ... I think Larry's argument is fundamentally flawed. The ribosomal tree and codon assignments are rooted (the latter in 55 out of 64 positions, with all but one of the variants clustering around STOP). The fact that broad-gene trees are unrooted does not devalue the 'scientific' case for a single common origin for protein coding genes, even if the phylogenetic signal is lost. There is a higher level of rooting, above sequence).

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    18. Allan,

      Whoa, there's been a lot of Quest since I last posted. But thanks for adding Torley to the list of IDiots who accept common descent. I'd never heard of him. So now I think there are two, maybe three: Behe, Torley, and Denton (if he's considered an IDiot).

      Those who reject common descent, apparently (they are usually very coy) would include big names Nelson, Dembski, Meyer, Wells. All these at least "have doubts about" either human relationship to apes, relationships between animal phyla, or both. Denyse O'Leary and Casey Luskin seem to belong to that group too. Others?

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    19. That's kind of an important issue, don't you think? I mean, even if IDiots are convinced the Intelligent Designer exists, it seems to me it would make a big difference to their "scientific theory" whether the "Designer" created species thru common ancestry, or thru some other process that involves separate created "kinds".

      So I would expect the ID research literature to be replete with discussion of this question and much of their research to be devoted to attempts to resolve this disagreement. Instead, what little there is seems to consist entirely of attempts to discredit aspects of evolutionary theory.

      But perhaps they are doing such research, and I just haven't found it in the literature. Quest? Pauline? Louise G? Joe G? Unknown? Robert Byers? Since you are better acquainted with IDiot "research", perhaps you can provide us with some references to demonstrate how ID "scientists" are attempting to answer this question....

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    20. latesuite,

      No arguments...? So personal attack is the answer to your inadequacy...
      Congratulation! It tells me a lot how "open mined" you are...

      More personal attacks please... !!! Since there will be no more arguments...

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    21. "Well...here we go again... I quote Larry and I have a comprehension problem...Yeah... Tell me more oxymorons... lol"
      Yes, not only do you evidently have a comprehension problem, you also don't know what oxymoron means.

      You're right, there will be no arguments with you, you're too thick to get them. Not because you disagree with us, but because you've frequented this blog for a long time now and since you still don't fathom any of the subjects discussed, despite careful explanations to you, then yes the verdict is in: You're either too stupid to get it, or too emotionally invested to admit when you're wrong. Whatever it is, have fun wasting your life. Bye.

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    22. Rum+rocket...?

      Are you still here...? I thought you were looking for the clues to the origins of life by the hydrothermal vents...? If you decide to go back, take Johnny Harsh with you.... and maybe NickM.... I'm sure they will have their beliefs straighten out there ....lol
      Oh! Dinogenes too... Look like Diogenes.... don't like no more... He no talk to me no more.. I dunno... lol

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    23. Quest responds to my humble request:

      No arguments...? So personal attack is the answer to your inadequacy...
      Congratulation! It tells me a lot how "open mined" you are...

      More personal attacks please... !!! Since there will be no more arguments...


      OK, so Quest admits he can't answer the question. That still leaves the rest of you. Let's see some of that cutting edge ID "research"....

      Delete
  6. To the defense of ID creationists, it sounds like they imply 'macroevolution' as happening in parallel in every species. That's not much defending them, since if this is true, it only demonstrates that they apparently cannot think outside their prejudiced views. Which seems to be that every species was created separately anyway. Of course, this would really make evolution implausible and in need of deeper scale macroevolutionary magics.

    They don't seem to realise that before a species splits, all evolutionary change is shared with future specific entities, and it's not as if these were happening in parallel.

    I know this might seem incredibly dumb to think something like this, but it seems acknowledging this bizarre idea makes it clearer why they don't get macroevolution and require it to be special.

    Understanding that macroevolution can be extrapolated as cumulated microevolution as a first approach might be usefull to them. Understanding that genetic admixture will dramatically decrease when speciation occurs may be a second step. Increased divergence due to drift andd selection events after speciation and species sorting might be the third step to understand what makes marcoevolution different from microevolution (above species level).
    Macroevolution becomes diverging microevolution within different species over time + (more or less random) extinction.

    If they accept microevolution, why is macro so hard to grasp then?

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    1. They really don't have much choice about microevooution. The evidence is overwhelming (e.g. drug resistance in bacteria). Almost every creationist has been forced to admit that evolution happens at the population level.

      That's progress.

      What they won't admit is that evolution can result in new species because that challenges their religion. That's why they make up stories about limits to macroevolution and why nobody can understand macroevolution.

      It's kinda sad, isn't it?

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    2. Larry sez: "What they won't admit is that evolution can result in new species"

      No, they admit new species, in fact at hyper-speed (perhaps a dozen new species a day) after animals step off Noah's Ark. But they won't admit that evolution can produce new Biblical kinds. They refuse to define "kind" anatomically or genetically because that would make it falsifiable; but the general trend over the years, as scientists observe more and more variation, has been for creationists to define "kind" more and more broadly.

      A "change of kind" is de facto defined as "that which we have not observed yet." Therefore, a statement like "Scientists have not yet observed a change of kind" is tautologically true because it really means "Scientists have not yet observed that which we have not yet observed."

      By example, the Biblical kind is usually a family or larger. In the recent debate with Bill Nye and Ken Ham, Ken Ham said that *all probiscideans* (an order, not a family... although Ken Ham's own PowerPoint slide showed the order Probiscidean as below a family) are a single kind... that's 3 species of elephants, mammoths, mastodons... ambelodon, gomphotheres, the "shovel tuskers"... moeritherium, eritherium... all dropped from one litter of super-pachyderms that stepped off of Noah's Ark. It's mind-boggling.

      I'll believe in creationism when humans give birth to monkeys.

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    3. They really don't have much choice about microevooution. The evidence is overwhelming (e.g. drug resistance in bacteria). Almost every creationist has been forced to admit that evolution happens at the population level.

      I been struck by how readily creationists now admit that microevolution occurs. I'm wondering if those with a longer history in this debate remember a time when creationists would explicitly and routinely deny that even mutation could occur (at least in humans, that special non-animal)?

      Maybe the window for such thought would have been much narrower, given the relatively short amount of time in which an understanding of the molecular basis for mutation and gene function was established, relative to the overall debate on evolutionary mechanisms.

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  7. Not macroevolution as a fact is the issue, but the adequacy of random processes to account for macroevolution.

    Behe says common descent is one thing and darwinian evolution is completely different.

    What ID proponents believe about common descent can be read here:

    http://skepticdenialism.blogspot.ro/2010/12/intelligent-design-common-ancestry.html

    "I believe the evidence strongly supports common descent. But the root question remains unanswered: What has caused complex systems to form?"
    ~ Michael Behe, Darwin's Black Box, 1996

    "From the design theorist’s perspective, the positive evidence for Darwinism is confined to small-scale evolutionary changes like insects developing insecticide resistance. This is not to deny large-scale evolutionary changes, but it is to deny that the Darwinian mechanism can account for them. Evidence like that for insecticide resistance confirms the Darwinian selection mechanism for small-scale changes, but hardly warrants the grand extrapolation that Darwinists want. It is a huge leap going from insects developing insecticide resistance via the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection and random variation to the very emergence of insects in the first place by that same mechanism."
    ~ William Dembski, [Source]

    "Intelligent design does not so much challenge whether evolution occurred, but how it occurred. In particular, it questions whether purposeless material processes - as opposed to intelligence - can create biological complexity and diversity."
    ~ William Dembski, [Source]

    "There is a difference between observations of evolution,
    and the cause of the changes that have been observed."
    ~ Stephen C. Meyer, [Source]

    "We're not talking about gaps, we're talking about the
    creative power of the mutation/selection mechanism."
    ~ Stephen C. Meyer, [Source]

    Now when we use the term 'Neo-Darwinism', we do so because we want to be clear about what we're challenging and what we're not. The theory of intelligent design does not challenge the first two meanings of evolution - change over time or the idea of common ancestry. Though some of us are skeptical about universal common ancestry. But it does specifically challenge the idea that a purely undirected process - natural selection acting on random variations or other similarly materialistic mechanisms - can account for all the form that we see in the biological world. So we're not trying to erect a stereotype of the theory and knock it down. Just the opposite. We're trying to be clear and precise about what we are critiquing and what we're not."
    ~ Stephen C. Meyer, [Source]

    "Modern Darwinists point to evidence of common descent and erroneously assume it to be evidence of the power of random mutation."
    ~ Michael Behe, The Edge of Evolution, 2007

    "Although useful for determining possible lines of descent, which is an interesting question in its own right, comparing sequences cannot show how a complex biochemical system achieved its function."
    ~ Michael Behe, [Source]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If the pairwise distances between different species are consistent with their mutation and fixation rates, then that is the explanation. The "mysteriously lacking" mechanism that explains these complex adaptation ARE mutations and their rate of fixation.

      The mechanism is therefore neither lacking nor mysterious. It's mutations being fixed due to drift and selection that creates complex adaptations.

      Again, think about it for just one moment. The genome of the organism encodes it's morphology at some level (developmental biology, homeobox genes and all that good stuff).
      So, If there's a large amount of genetic and morphological difference between two organisms, the magnitude of that difference, from the viewpoint of the genome (number of differences pr site, number of new genes and so on) should (if common descent is true and the mechanism responsible is mutation, drift and selection) be roughly congruent with the average mutation and fixation rate. - As in, there should have been enough time since their divergence that mutation, drift and selection could account for those genetic differences. That simply follows logically if evolution by commond descent through mutation, drift and natural selection is true.

      Therefore, IF we observe that the average mutation and fixation rate IS roughly congruent with their inferred time of divergence, then that is also the explanation FOR their genetic and morphological difference. Mutation, followed by fixation due to drift and selection. That is therefore the mechanism the IDiots are curiously feigning ignorance about.

      Omg, how did it happen? By Mutation, drift and natural selection. What am I missing?

      Delete
    2. Unknown, please do not creationists who agree with you. We know creationists agree with you. You haven't presented any evidence they're right.

      Let's keep this very simple.

      We'll allow you all the genetic differences between humans and chimps. Of all those differences between humans and chimps, name ONE mutation that could not be produced by random mutation and natural selection. Name ONE.

      Delete
    3. Very good questions, both of you. You'll know just how good they are by how blatantly Unknown and the rest of his creationist buddies avoid actually addressing the issues you raise....

      Delete
  8. 1. You cannot build complex machines or factories step by step , multiple coordinated steps are required. You cannot get from London to New York by blind random steps.
    2. Humans could not have evolved from bacteria by random step by step copy errors.

    Behe at his blog has many articles of what random mutations can or cannot do. We do have lot of experimental data. Darwinian evolution is very good for degrading things but not for building complex molecular machines. Even so called beneficial mutations that increase the fitness come with the cost of breaking genes, degrading the information in the DNA and very rarely (by accident ) can increase the information.

    "One Small Step Sideways, Two Huge Steps Back"

    "More Darwinian Degradation"

    "One can say, if one wishes, that a congenitally blind man teaming up with a congenitally legless man to safely move around the environment is an increase in “complexity” over a sighted, ambulatory person. But it certainly is no improvement, nor does it give the slightest clue how vision and locomotion arose."

    http://behe.uncommondescent.com/

    Another thing that is against the darwinian evolution is the fact that the human genome is actually degrading, not evolving. It's only natural when hundreds of mutations (random copy errors) per individual per generation are accumulated.

    http://creation.com/genetic-entropy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "You cannot build complex machines or factories step by step , multiple coordinated steps are required. You cannot get from London to New York by blind random steps."

      Irrelevant-- organisms are not "complex machines or factories" except by analogy. Biological complexity is different from intelligently designed complexity precisely in that all biological complexity *is* accessible by a series of intermediate steps all of which are functional. If mousetraps and airplanes can't be reached by small steps all of which are functional, who cares?

      You're only underscoring the vast gulf separating biological complexity from intelligently-designed complexity. The fact that human artifacts maybe can't be reached by small intermediates steps just shows how different biological organisms are from intelligently designed artifacts.

      You scored one in your own goal. Would you like to prove our other theses too?

      Delete
    2. Unknown: "Even so called beneficial mutations that increase the fitness come with the cost of breaking genes, degrading the information in the DNA and very rarely (by accident ) can increase the information."

      Creationist old wives' tales disproven by observations. Of course if you ask any creationist, "What's your equation for information that can never be increased?" the creationist will never, ever give you an answer. Why is that?

      Yes, the creationists always say, "No natural process can increase information!" but the dirty trick is that they must never define information. On the rare occasions one is dumb enough to write down an equation (Dembski) it's child's play to prove that natural processes like evolution have been observed to increase it. So when we ask them to cough up the equation, the trick is to change the subject to some other falsehood. Gish gallop.

      "Another thing that is against the darwinian evolution is the fact that the human genome is actually degrading, not evolving."

      Oh, not John Sanford's "Genetic Entropy" hoax! Did Sanford ever give you an equation for information or an equation for entropy? Of course not-- why is that?

      The creationist old wives' tale about e.g. antibiotic resistance is that when a pathogen evolves antibiotic resistance, it has been "degraded" (they won't give you an equation for "degradation") and is less fit in the wild, environment without antibiotics. This is factually false and would be irrelevant even if it were true, though it's not. If the creationist fairy tale-- antibiotic resistant pathogens are always less weak in the wild environment-- so what? Evolution does not have to make a species adapted to *all* environments. If a land animal evolves to be a whale, so what if whales can't survive on the land they came from?

      Anyway it's factually false, we've seen antibiotic resistant pathogens that are fitter in both environments, *with* and *without* antibiotics.

      John Sanford's "Genetic Entropy" hoax is thoroughly debunked by "Letters to Creationists", here.

      At this point I could ask our anonymous creationist commenter for his equation for information, but I know he'll never pony one up. Instead I'll ask him: hey creationist friend, why do you suppose your creationist heroes never told you the equation for information? Do you know why that is? (Watch closely. He'll evade and change the subject.)

      Delete
    3. 1. You cannot build complex machines or factories step by step , multiple coordinated steps are required. You cannot get from London to New York by blind random steps.

      Your analogy fails because you forgot Natural Selection. Random steps amount to random mutations. But nowhere in your analogy is Natural Selection, which provides direction.

      A better analogy would be random steps in which you would get a barrier preventing you to move further away from New York every time you got closer. Quite obviously, you would get from London to New York if you include the directional nature of NS.

      Of course, you could say that eveolution would only work with a designer, since only Jesus can walk on water and cross the Atlantic by walking.

      Delete
    4. Humans could not have evolved from bacteria by random step by step copy errors.

      Kinda true. An important part of the dynamic that stopped Life from being so mind-numbingly boring after 2 billion years relates to the interactions generated by sticking entire genomes together in the one cell - endosymbiosis and sex. It's not just about point mutation.

      Delete
    5. ...that stopped Life from being so mind-numbingly boring after 2 billion years...

      As a geologist cum microbial ecologist, I must respectfully disagree with your eukaryotic chauvinism, sir.

      Delete
    6. You cannot build complex machines or factories step by step , multiple coordinated steps are required. You cannot get from London to New York by blind random steps.

      I think we can nip this one in the bud.

      - Do you believe in an omniscient, omnipotent Creator?

      - If yes, then who are you to tell the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator what He/She/It can or cannot make evolution do?

      Delete
    7. Hee hee! I did think about a pace to microbiologists, but then I thought "nah"!

      Delete
    8. "1. You cannot build complex machines or factories step by step"
      That's because complex machines and factories aren't biological organisms that replicate themselves through an imperfect mechanism of inheritance.

      "You cannot get from London to New York by blind random steps."
      The underlying assumption in this flawed analogy, is that there is some kind of unsurpassable "ocean" of lethality between different organisms. It has nothing to do with blindness or randomness of the steps, it's whether such an "ocean" is actually there. This has not been demonstrated by any creationist, and in fact there is evidence that the assumption is false, that mutation, drift and selection actually CAN bridge these trivial differences. While there may be valleys of lower fitness and neutrality, it has been demonstrated that drift can easily jump such valleys.

      Delete
    9. Also, while it is true you would be highly unlikely to end up in London if you started in NYC and made a series of random, undirected steps, the odds are literally 100% that you would end up at whatever place you did happen to end up. Evolution aims at no specific "destination".

      Delete
    10. 1. You cannot build complex machines or factories step by step , multiple coordinated steps are required. You cannot get from London to New York by blind random steps.
      2. Humans could not have evolved from bacteria by random step by step copy errors.


      You (as well as Behe) have the math fundamentally wrong. The correct mathematical picture of #1 is, "Let's call where we start out London, then move around in random steps for 3.5 billion years or so, and wherever we wind up we'll call it New York, OK?" If there's a goal to wind up with humans, then random steps aren't the most efficient way to get there. But evolution is not a goal-directed process. 3.5 billion years of randomness have wound up with uncountable myriads of bacteria and viruses, and few million larger living things, of which we're one example.

      Once you have the math right on #1, #2 is easy. It's like watching raindrops run down a window pane - we're one of the random paths a raindrop took in 3.5 billion years.

      Or to put it another way: The odds of winning the Powerball are about 1 in 175 million. But hardly a month goes by without a winner. How can that happen? Easy - You winning the Powerball with your $2 ticket is a goal-directed process. Pretty much no chance at all of that happening. Someone, anyone winning the Powerball - that's no longer goal-directed, it's just random chance, and it happens all the time, just like evolution.

      Delete
  9. I understand species to be a definition , by man, to account for fixed trait differences in otherwise creatures with like traits. It goes from there.
    The origin of the segregated fixed traits is the mechanism there is disagreement or agreement about.
    I don't know micro evolution created the different types of bears. I suspect not but its a option in small amounts. I don't think extinction of failed traits is the origin of species as evolution teaches.
    People to me are the obvious case for biological change mechanism.
    All colours/shapes of humans had to have been done within a few centuries of the Ark landing. therefore it must be from innate triggers sensing threshold crossings in biology. nOt folks keeling over until the right colour/shape is achieved. no intermediates in people.

    Macro evolution surely is impossible in crossing important thresholds in biology to create mice to elephants. very unlikely and unreasonable unless enough actual evidence is shown to drown a boat. Not mere lines of reasoning of MICRO equals MACRO.
    Lets start with people and then bears and then fish to water buffalos.!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. IDiot IDiot IDiot! - Such idiocy makes me very angry. No one claims mice evolved into elephants. No one claims people, bears, fish and water buffaloes evolved into each other. No all the evidence demonstrates that they all evolved from a common ancestor.

      One divides into two. That is a speciation event , branching the tree of life. Creationists stop gibbering about kinds. Define a kind - you can't, Yet you complain about biology having no definition of species. Yes there is one that applies to sexual metazoans at least:

      Biological Species Concept:

      "The biological species concept defines a species as members of populations that actually or potentially interbreed in nature, not according to similarity of appearance. Although appearance is helpful in identifying species, it does not define species."

      http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/VA1BioSpeciesConcept.shtml

      IDiots like Byers and the other creationists posting here make me despair in the possibility that their bronze age deluded brains will ever be amenable to reason. Let us be optimistic that one day they will catch up with the enlightenment and reach the modern world.

      Delete
    2. IDiot IDiot IDiot! - Such idiocy makes me very angry.

      You should be used to the local town idiot by now, Chemilcalscum. Let the man be. He's doing us a favour.

      Delete
    3. no intermediates in people

      Very well thought out, Robert. Anyone can tell just by looking that there aren't billions of unique individuals falling all along a large range of characteristics; rather there are only a few "models" of humans, like cars.

      Delete
    4. Byers here admits that his racism is his model for creationist ideas of "variation within a kind." Historically, Young Earth Creationism and F.L. Marsh's idea of "variation within a kind" originated from creationists' racist beliefs about the inferiority and moral/sexual "degeneration" of non-white races, particularly black sexual degenerates. The early YECs like George M. Price, founder of Flood Geology, Harold W. Clark and Frank L. Marsh, founder of "variation within a kind", all thought about variation/adaptation mechanisms in terms of human races: they all agreed blacks were inferior, but disagreed whether they were inferior because of just degeneration/degradation/deleterious mutations genetically engineered by Satan (Frank L. Marsh's claim) or because human (whites) had mated with animals producing blacks AND apes (George M. Price, Harold W. Clark)? All of creationist biology was thought of in terms of how the vast inferiority/degradation of non-white races came about. Human racial differences were always the text or subtext to creationist biology.

      Plus ca change. So not surprisingly Byers writes:

      "People to me are the obvious case for biological change mechanism.
      All colours/shapes of humans had to have been done within a few centuries of the Ark landing. therefore it must be from innate triggers... nOt folks keeling over until the right colour/shape is achieved... Lets start with people and then bears and then fish to water buffalos.!"

      Delete
  10. Interesting dichotomous key in wikipedia:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creationism#Types_of_creationism

    Interesting distinction on Intelligent Design: "Some adherents accept common descent, others not." hmmm...

    While we are on the subject of common descent: http://sciencenotes.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/evo-fish.jpg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Some adherents accept common descent, others not."

      Yeah, but which ones? Michael Behe does. Who else? Michael Denton, if you count him as part of the movement. And there I stall out. The rest appear to go in for separate creation of "kinds".

      Delete
  11. Chemicalscum
    Your wrong. I recently saw a internet evolution , well done, video and they said it was about mice to elephants.
    They do teach rodents or fish were the original types and from this came the diversity and complexity of present biology.
    Thats the point about mutations being selected on, plus time, and here is a elephant and me.
    Why fight this?

    species are about traits and reproduction is secondary.
    Tigers are a species but they have bred them with lions and other big cats.
    Some horsey types don't breed but are still horses surely.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Professor Moran,

    As you know, I have more and more respect for what you stand for...I like it... I believe that, my modest opinion, sometimes you try to get to the "truth"... Something is blockin you all right though.... Still, I think that I'm not the only one who appreciates your not only personality, but also the bravery to say what you think and believe... To me personally, it is quite admirable... Coyne and P.Z. Meyers are far behind you... And you have tolerated me to a degree... I appreciate that as well... I still believe there is another side to your personality; not related to "science and evolution".. having fun and eatin the orange chicken with your grandchildren.... It has to be another Larry....

    Cheers,

    If there is a God, I please ask him now to give you understanding.... Why...? I don't know....

    ReplyDelete
  13. Condescending tripe about truth, patronising bollocks about bravery, all finished up with a riff on "I'll pray for you," which, all too often, is a sideways reference to eternal damnation.

    How repellent.

    This is your mind on religion, people - not content just to be completely and proudly ignorant on topics they claim expertise in, Quest also feels the need to cap it off by acting like they're the gateway to Truth, patting people like Prof Moran on the head as if he's a well-meaning but misguided child.

    How very bloody repellent.

    This is why you get such hostility, Quest. It's not just that you don't understand science and ignore or talk around corrections to your misconceptions, you're socially clueless.


    ReplyDelete
  14. You all forgetting something. You claim that you understand macroevolution but I havent seen a single argument that there is anybody to understand it.

    I think professor Tour was being nice to fellow evolutionists. But we should doubt that there is any scientist who understands it. If there is show the arguments to the public. Mr Tour is doing real science, if he doesn't understand macro evolution dont' ask the public to swallow it without arguments and without evidence. (Evidence that shows that it can happen by undirected random errors)
    M. Behe on the power of random mutations
    "Let me emphasize the point: Common descent is one thing. Random mutation and natural selection is something completely different. Evidence for common descent is NOT evidence for RM/NS. At the very best, protein sequence comparisons may say something about common descent, but they aren't support for Darwin's crucial claim that the startlingly elegant, functional complexity of life arose by random mutation culled by natural selection."

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/02/asking_the_right_questions_abo032211.html

    No matter if a monkey is rearranging single letters or whole chapters, incoherence plagues every step. ... One step might luckily be helpful on occasion, maybe rarely a second step might build on it. But Darwinian processes in particular and unintelligent ones in general don't build coherent systems. So it is biologically most reasonable to conclude that, like multiple brand new protein-protein binding sites, the arrangement of multiple genetic elements into sophisticated logic circuits similar to those of computers is also well beyond the edge of Darwinian evolution. 39

    As Behe observes, "No matter if a monkey is rearranging single letters or whole chapters, incoherence plagues every step." Thus, when multiple mutational events--whether point mutations, "domain shuffling," or other types of rearrangements--are required to gain some functional advantage, it seems unlikely that blind neo-Darwinian processes can produce the new biological function.

    Unfortunately, few if any advocates of the neo-Darwinian just-so stories investigate whether mutation and natural selection are sufficient to produce new functional genetic information. Instead they believe that finding similarities and differences between genes demonstrates that neo-Darwinian evolution has occurred, and they assume that "positive selection" is a sufficient explanation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here you go, Unknown; an experimental demonstration of exactly how mutation and natural selection can produce new, functional information:

      http://sandwalk.blogspot.ca/2013/12/how-do-creationists-interpret-lenskis.html

      Isn't that great? You came here expressing a topic on which you professed ignorance, you have now been provided with the relevant information, and are now no longer ignorant on the topic.

      No need to thank me. The fact that you have now learned something is thanks enough.

      Delete
    2. sez unknown:
      Unfortunately, few if any advocates of the neo-Darwinian just-so stories investigate whether mutation and natural selection are sufficient to produce new functional genetic information. Instead they believe that finding similarities and differences between genes demonstrates that neo-Darwinian evolution has occurred, and they assume that "positive selection" is a sufficient explanation.
      Hello, unknown! I see that you're using the good old Creationist mutations-can't-create-information argument. I am of course completely and utterly confident that you're using this argument because you wholly comprehend it, rather than, say, because you're just parroting a sciencey-sounding chunk of verbiage that you heard about from one or another example of scientifically-bogus Creationist propaganda.

      I mean, you're not just parroting sciencey-sounding chunks of verbiage, right, unknown? Right!

      So. Because I'm confident that you actually do understand all the relevant issues, I am equally confident that you recognize that the mutations-can't-create-information argument is vitally dependent on the ability to actually measure 'information', seeing as how you wouldn't actually be able to tell whether or not mutations can create 'information' unless you could measure 'information'. And because of the stuff I'm confident of which I just mentioned, I am, equally, confident that you, unknown, will be able to do something that no Creationist I've encountered thus far has been able to do:

      Namely, determine which of two arbitrary nucleotide sequences has more information in it.

      Here are two arbitrary nucleotide sequences:

      Sequence 1: cag tgt ctt ggg ttc tcg cct gac tac gag acg cgt ttg tct tta cag gtc ctc ggc cag cac ctt aga caa gca ccc ggg acg cac ctt tca gtg ggc act cat aat ggc gga gta cca agg agg cac ggt cca ttg ttt tcg ggc cgg cat tgc tca tct ctt gag att tcc ata ctt

      Sequence 2: tgg agt tct aag aca gta caa ctc tgc gac cgt gct ggg gta gcc act tct ggc cta atc tac gtt aca gaa aat ttg agg ttg cgc ggt gtc ctc gtt agg cac aca cgg gtg gaa tgg ggg tct ctt acc aaa ggg ctg ccg tat cag gta cga cgt agg tat tgc cgt gat aga ctg

      Using whatever information-measuring methodology you like, please tell us all how much 'information' each of these sequences contains—and be sure to explain your information-measuring methodology, as showing your work will remove any doubt an unkind soul might have regarding whether or not you actually did measure any 'information', as opposed to… say… pulling random figured out of your lower GI tract. Thanks in advance!

      Delete
    3. Cubist it's time you stopped asking the same question over and over and actually told us the answer. You do have an answer don't you? I mean you wouldn't be so disingenuous as to poke fun at people because they couldn't define "information" if you too shared the same affliction would you?

      Delete
    4. and please don't say they both have 720 bits, I'm looking for a meaningful answer.

      Delete
    5. Poor "Pauline." She really, really wants the answer to the question. So she can learn! Because she really, really wants to understand evolution, and is not at all a creationist.

      Did it occur to you that Cubist might not know the answer to that question? What if he didn't? Would that mean there was a correct answer? What if there wasn't a correct answer? What would that mean for the creationist argument that natural processes cannot create genetic "information"?

      Delete
    6. lutesuite
      "Did it occur to you that Cubist might not know the answer to that question?"
      Duh! That's why I asked him:
      "You do have an answer don't you?"

      In your attempt to be nasty you have inadvertently repeated my implied question - thank you, but I did think it was obvious.
      I asked John Harshman: "Do you think that there is information in DNA?" But he chose not to answer. Why don't you answer "lutesuite"? Do YOU think that there is information in DNA?

      And I'll make it really clear. I am not point scoring. If you say you don't know I will not gloat. What I want to discover is how to define the "information" or "meaning" in certain sequences. Shannon Theory didn't help me as it appears to measure information but not meaning, so I'm looking elsewhere. A DNA sequence that codes for a protein which is necessary for life seems to me to be more important than a random sequence. I wonder if this is an illusion or if someone is able to measure meaning or probability of meaning. Or is meaning metaphysical?
      Over to you. Play nicely.

      Delete
    7. It seems to me you are quibbling between "information" and "function" (and you confuse the latter with "meaning"). Information may or may not be functionally relevant.

      Delete
    8. I asked John Harshman: "Do you think that there is information in DNA?" But he chose not to answer.

      I believe I have actually answered several times, just not the answer you would like. The answer is "yes". Each nucleotide is two bits of information. So, why don't you like that answer? Apparently you don't really want to know about information. You want to know about meaning. The problem is that we don't know what "meaning" means in reference to DNA. Nor do we know what "importance" means. You keep using those words, interchangeably. I do not think they mean what you think they mean.

      Delete
    9. Piotr - exactly! I'm asking if there is or isn't a real distinction between Shannon "information" and complexity/usefulness which I have interchangeably called 'information', 'meaning' and 'function' because I am struggling with the concept.
      Is a random sequence really equivalent in this 'measure' to a coding or regulating section? Or is it simply a measure of increased fitness (so has to be measured in the host's specific environment and in the context of all other sequences so becomes impossible to measure?) John you answered the question in the Shannon sense, but I want to know if it is even meaningful to ask this deeper (or meaningless) question.
      I realise that if Creationists demand examples of mutations that increase information that the burden of measuring information lies with them, but that's not the game I'm playing.
      Do you think that every nucleotide sequence of the same length carries an equivalent amount of 'information' John?

      Delete
    10. You don't seem to realize it yet, "Pauline": There is no single definition of "information" as applied to genetic sequences. There are several different definitions that can be used.

      The problem for you and your creationist buddies is, not only is there no single definition of "information," but none of the available definitions creationists might choose will give the answer they want in any and all situations. So how they try to get around this is to use whatever definition they need to use in a particular situation to get the desired answer, and pretend as if they are always using the same definition. This seems to fool thoughtless people like yourself.

      You really should read this article, which uncovers the emptiness of the creationist claims regarding "information":

      http://www.softwarematters.org/mathgrrl.html

      Delete
    11. Pauline,

      The only measure of information that I know of that can actually be quantified is Shannon information. Asking about measures that can't be quantified is useless. Asking about measures that you can't even describe is worse than useless. I have answered your question about information. I can't answer your question about 'information'.

      Delete
    12. Pauline,

      Perhaps you should state what it is you really want to know instead of dancing around it. It's already been pointed out that for every mutation there is an equivalent back-mutation that reverses it, and that all these sorts of mutation, front and back, do occur with some frequency. If there's a mutation that would lose information, then it necessarily follows that the reverse mutation gains information. Therefore mutations can gain information. And this is true regardless of how you define "information". It's even true for "meaning", even if you can't define it.

      Delete
    13. John,

      I have stated honestly and openly EXACTLY what I want to know. I am neither dancing around nor being thoughtless.

      I asked my young daughter: "Is there more information in the Encyclopedia Brittanica or a random sequence of letters?" She "dissed" me it was so obvious. She said "Duh!" Common sense. But just because we can't measure it, is it really an illusion?

      You say:"Asking about measures that can't be quantified is useless."
      so are you really saying that you don't love your mother more than me because you can't measure it? Of course you can! That's not meaningless.

      lutesuite, m9, "none of the available definitions creationists might choose will give the answer they want"

      lutesuite: "There are several different definitions that can be used."
      John Harshman: "The only measure of information that I know of that can actually be quantified is Shannon information."

      So perhaps lutesuite can enlighten both myself and John Harshman about the "several" different non-Shannon definitions of information he knows about.
      Maybe one of them will help.

      John your argument that the reversal of a deleterious point mutation back to its original base would give an increase in information is flawed. Given any point mutation where a base is erroneously inserted, the likelihood of a reversal of a mutation 'increasing' information back to its original value is 1 in 4 for that specific locus. Meanwhile the other base pairs around must not simultaneously lose information. Given enough monkeys and enough typewriters this is not going to make Shakespeare any better over time.

      Just engage with me on this. I have taken your advice and read some great texts, now don't accuse me of "dancing around" when I couldn't be more clear about what I am asking. It's not a "creationist" argument, it's something personal I am trying to understand.

      Delete
    14. Please read Jeffrey Shallit on Shannon information, Kolmogorov information and "creationist information":
      http://recursed.blogspot.com/2009/10/stephen-meyers-bogus-information-theory.html

      Delete
    15. Jesus Christ, "Pauline", I've met foot fungus that was more intelligent than you are.

      John said (my emphasis): "The only measure of information that I know of that can actually be quantified is Shannon information.

      Now, can you show me where I suggested that there were any other quantifiable definition of genetic "information"? I mean, John could be wrong and there could be others, for all I know. But I certainly haven't suggested there are.

      Anyway, have you happened to notice the complete absence of Unknown or any of your other creationist pals from this discussion? Y'know, the ones who must be able to quantify genetic information if they state with such certainty that it cannot be produced except by the magical intervention of God? Why do you think they're so silent on this?

      Have you happened to read that Mathgrrl article I helpfully and generously provided you? If the creationists were never able to demonstrate to him how "information" could be quantified in such a way to prove creationism, why do you need that confirmed here?

      Your attempt to refute John's argument is typical of the rank stupidity we've come to expect from you. It's just a bunch of word salad that means NOTHING. Why don't you try increasing the information content of your posts before you start worrying about the information content of genomes, moron?

      Delete
    16. Thanks Piotr, but do you think Shannon information will answer my question? I don't think that's what I've articulated. Also, every paragraph in your ref starts "If we measure creationist information..." I'm NOT interested in "creationist information". Is there such a thing as "Creationist information"? I'm asking an honest and open question about plain & simple INFORMATION. Why does it have to get political? Are you so entrenched that every debate has to come from an Evolutionist or Creationist stance? Maybe that's why lutesuite refuses to answer honestly. He must surely understand the layman's understanding of 'information' (immeasurable as it might be)?

      Lutesuite, now m7:
      "Now, can you show me where I suggested that there were any other quantifiable definition of genetic "information"? "
      OK, so give me the UNquantifiable definitions you say you have SEVERAL (more than 3 fewer than 12?) - I've made it clear (even to morons - and by the way Henry Goddard's MEASURABLE definition is no longer favoured by psychologists - just thought as a 'scientist' you might be interested) that I'm looking for quantifiable OR NON QUANTIFIABLE definitions (eg love - did you miss that m7?) - ask my young daughter - she seemed to understand.
      I'm not looking for "Unknown" or known "pals" to rumble against you.
      I don't understand how you equate the presence or absence of "creationist mates" with the logic of my argument. Do you think truth is a democratic issue?

      Are you for real or do you just have too much testosterone?

      I'm fine accepting that my rebuttal of John's argument is flawed, but you'll have to do better than "it's stupid, you're a moron."
      "Your attempt to refute John's argument is typical of the rank stupidity we've come to expect from you. It's just a bunch of word salad that means NOTHING."
      Instead of childish abuse, why not explain to me your definition of information and why I'm on the wrong track? I'm up for admitting it, but you'll have to do better than 1910 categories of intellect you haven't directly measured and cheap insults of intelligence with no counter argument except "you're stupid!".
      By the way lutesuite, what is your scientific area of expertise - I don't think it's psychology or semantics so what is it?

      Delete
    17. Piotr: Thanks for the reference!

      Quote from your reference: "A string like "It will rain tomorrow" and "Tomorrow: 2.5 cm rain" have the same length, but clearly one is more useful than the other."

      So "clearly" the latter is more useful - that's ALL I've been trying to assert. Now, if this is so "clear" can anyone measure or explain it?

      Delete
    18. OK, now stop quote-hunting and start reading it all.

      Delete
    19. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_%28disambiguation%29

      Delete
    20. A question, "Pauline": When you say that the statement, "Tomorrow: 2.5 cm rain", is "clearly more useful" than the statement, "It will rain tomorrow", are you saying that the first statement contains more information than the second?

      Delete
    21. Pauline,

      Your argument against back mutations is moving the goal posts. You asked me to show that it is possible to gain information, and I told you. You respond by saying it's less likely than losing information. Even if that were correct, you have just changed the subject.

      But why, aside from changing the subject, were you wrong? Two reasons. First, you assume without justification that we start in the condition of maximum information and that the initial mutation was away from this condition; it could just as well have been the opposite. Second, if information by your nebulous definition is advantageous, then of course selection will eliminate the mutations that result in less information and fix the ones that result in more information.

      And while you may not be consciously dancing around, your vague and shifting language -- e.g. equating information, meaning, adaptation, and who knows what else -- creates confusion that makes it hard to know what you're trying to ask. A string of random letters actually contains more information than the encyclopedia, since the encyclopedia is redundant; it contains less meaning, which I can tell because the string has 0 meaning, however you measure it. In a similar way, your posts contain much information but little meaning.

      Delete
    22. A string of random letters actually contains more information than the encyclopedia, since the encyclopedia is redundant...

      There's a beautiful illustration of this redundancy in Claude Shannon's famous paper, "A mathematical theory of communication":

      http://cm.bell-labs.com/cm/ms/what/shannonday/shannon1948.pdf

      [see Part I, Section 3: The series of approximations to English]

      Of course the rest of the article is well worth a read.

      Delete
    23. John: "First, you assume without justification that we start in the condition of maximum information and that the initial mutation was away from this condition; it could just as well have been the opposite."
      No, didn't YOU state yourself that the first mutation LOST information? That was the whole premise of your example. Nothing about "maximum information" whatever that means and you claim it could have gone "in the opposite direction" - you mean gaining information as an example of losing information??? Wot?

      Your example was of a hypothetical loss of "information" in one point mutation which could be reversed by another point mutation to restore the original base was it not? So that proves information could be gained (in the second mutation) Have I understood your argument correctly? OK I know I could be accused of moving the goalposts and I accept your argument as an example of increased information, but when I try to translate it into the real world, then the second "increase of information" mutation wouldn't give the individual any advantage because it would be just back to the fitness of the original individual.

      Francisco Ayala, while critiquing Meyer's "Signature of the Cell" book, said:
      "The keystone argument of Signature of the Cell is that chance, by itself, cannot account for the genetic information found in the genomes of organisms. I agree. And so does every evolutionary scientist, I presume."


      Except John Harshman...?

      Piotr: "OK, now stop quote-hunting and start reading it all"
      That's exactly what I'm doing and I found the above quote and this:
      http://recursed.blogspot.co.uk/2009/10/stephen-meyers-bogus-information-theory.html
      from a link on your website. Any good? Seems to be relevant.
      I'm going to read as much as I can on the subject. If you have any tips on how you understand "information" then I'd be glad of any help.

      Delete
    24. Piotr: "A string of random letters actually contains more information than the encyclopedia, since the encyclopedia is redundant; it contains less meaning"
      Really? The Encyclopedia Brittanica is redundant? In what sense? Do you mean it's redundant if you already know its contents (which I don't)? Or is it that there is less information in a meaningful sentence because the very fact that it contains meaning requires certain letters to be more probable at certain positions? Does that make the whole Encyclopedia "redundant"?

      Delete
    25. John Harshman: Are you still willing to give "Pauline" the benefit of the doubt? Or are you finally convinced that she's just another lying sack of shit, like all other creationists, who's only interest is in misrepresenting and twisting your patient efforts at educating her, rather than trying to actually understand what you write?

      Delete
    26. @lutesuite: "A question, "Pauline": When you say that the statement, "Tomorrow: 2.5 cm rain", is "clearly more useful" than the statement, "It will rain tomorrow", are you saying that the first statement contains more information than the second?"

      Well I'm quoting from the reference Piotr sent me. Don't you agree with it?

      Delete
    27. "Pauline", are you so ceaselessly dishonest that you refuse to answer a simple, straightforward question? Or are so incomprehensibly stupid that you are unable to?

      Delete
    28. lutesuite you're such a cynic. There's plenty of evidence above that I'm trying to understand what Piotr and John are telling me. I've been incredibly open in admitting that even I know that my definition of "information" is woolly and unhelpful. In doing so I've made myself vulnerable to your childish bullying. Why on earth would I submit myself to your insults if I didn't want to learn? There's absolutely no point in me asking a fake question to trick someone and then gloat "aha! Now I have you!" because this thread will be history in a few weeks - what will I have gained? Perhaps you are judging me by your own standards and you actually enjoy writing swear words and scoring cheap points? I don't.

      Delete
    29. @Pauline: It was John, not me, who said that a random string of characters contained more information than a same-length excerpt form an encyclopedia. But of course John was absolutely right. Do read Shannon's paper. He had interestning things to say about redundancy too.

      Delete
    30. More pointless whining from "Pauline", when all she needs to do is answer a simple "yes/no" question. And she wonders why I doubt her honesty.

      Delete
    31. Pauline,

      Take a closer look:

      The keystone argument of Signature of the Cell is that chance, by itself, cannot account for the genetic information found in the genomes of organisms.

      By itself! Why won't you read these things in full? I bet Francisco clarified the issue a bit later. Oh! he did:

      But regarding natural selection, genetics, ecology, development, physiology, and behavior in the evolution of genetic information, there is nothing substantive in Signature of the Cell.

      So, you forgot the processes that make it possible to add information. That evolution is not "chance by itself." I am quite convinced that you're full of shit Pauline. I asked you to prove me wrong before, but instead all you do is add redundant information confirming that you're full of shit.

      Francisco's review of Signature of the Cell here.

      Delete
    32. lutesuite: (Your reply crossed mine so my reply above is not in answer to your last insult.)

      In answer to your question: I will answer any question you like but as you have positioned yourself as superior to me in both knowledge and intellect, the only rational reason you would be asking me a question is to trick me into looking foolish. However, I will sigh loudly and acquiesce. You shall have your fun.

      I answered your question at face value taking it as simple and straightforward. You asked: "are YOU saying that..." and my answer was "no, I'm quoting someone else." Is that so hard to understand? How was that NOT answering your question?

      Now if you instead MEANT to ask "do you agree with the person quoted?" then it should be perfectly obvious to you that I'm struggling to understand what "information" means in the context of DNA code, so for what it's worth (so as to allow you to win whatever pointless game you are playing) I think that there is probably more Shannon information in the first sentence (given they have the same number of letter/number positions but the second sentence has more predictable grammar and no numbers.) But I'm getting more and more certain that Shannon information isn't going to help me understand what I'm trying to comprehend by "information" in the genome.

      Now Quid pro Quo luteyboy:
      "Francisco Ayala, while critiquing Meyer's "Signature of the Cell" book, said: "The keystone argument of Signature of the Cell is that chance, by itself, cannot account for the genetic information found in the genomes of organisms. I agree. And so does every evolutionary scientist, I presume."

      So, I was shocked to read this because if this well-respected Evolutionist is telling the truth then John has been messing with me for fun which is hardly kind. So my question to you is this: "Do you agree with Ayala that chance, by itself, cannot account for the genetic information found in the genomes of organisms?" Is that because Natural Selection is the non-random accompanying process, or is it deeper than that? What does Ayala mean by "information" in this sentence?

      And I promise you I am not trying to trick you or score points. I want to understand if finding such complex coded information in DNA is surprising or not.

      Delete
    33. @Negative Entropy
      And again my answer was posted before I read what you said. You can see from my response above (the penultimate sentence of the penultimate paragraph) that I was quite willing to admit that Ayala could have meant that other non-random processes were responsible for the information and I openly asked about it. I ask you again; what would I gain by misquoting Ayala but then laying myself open to ridicule by asking honest naïve questions about information?

      Maybe you've got some baggage with creationists but I can assure you that I am not replete with excrement. I'm off to read Shannon's paper and Piotr's references but if you would be so kind, let me know your views on information. Do you think it's a red herring or a valuable topic to understand?

      Delete
    34. lutesuite can you also answer this? (seeing as you don't like it when questions are ignored)

      "The Encyclopedia Brittanica is redundant? In what sense? Do you mean it's redundant if you already know its contents (which I don't)? Or is it that there is less information in a meaningful sentence because the very fact that it contains meaning requires certain letters to be more probable at certain positions? Does that make the whole Encyclopedia "redundant"?"

      John, I suspect you are using the word "redundant" differently from the usual sense? Will I find the answer in Shannon's paper or could you explain it better?

      Delete
    35. What does Ayala mean by "information" in this sentence?

      You should ask Ayala what he means. My guess is that he means sequences that are functionally relevant and make a positive difference to the phenotype's fitness (otherwise "genetic information found in the genomes of organisms" would be a tautology). Of course it's natural selection that favours the retention of such sequences and eliminates those that decrease fitness (while it leaves alone those that evolve neutrally or nearly so). What's so difficult to grasp here? Are you just being Socratic? Not a good idea if you haven't got Socrates' sharp wit.

      Delete
    36. I answered your question at face value taking it as simple and straightforward. You asked: "are YOU saying that..." and my answer was "no, I'm quoting someone else." Is that so hard to understand? How was that NOT answering your question?

      Now if you instead MEANT to ask "do you agree with the person quoted?" then it should be perfectly obvious to you that I'm struggling to understand what "information" means in the context of DNA code, so for what it's worth (so as to allow you to win whatever pointless game you are playing) I think that there is probably more Shannon information in the first sentence (given they have the same number of letter/number positions but the second sentence has more predictable grammar and no numbers.) But I'm getting more and more certain that Shannon information isn't going to help me understand what I'm trying to comprehend by "information" in the genome.


      You're still way off the mark. All I'm asking is this: When Shallit writes that the one statement is "more useful" than the other, are you interpreting him as saying that that statement has more information than the other? Because, if you are, you should probably go back and re-read that section, because I'm pretty sure that's not what he was saying.

      See, this is what happens when you read things only looking for "gotcha" moments to try and further your creationist agenda. You end up misunderstanding things and just looking like a bigger idiot than you already do.

      Delete
    37. Oh, and I don't know why you're asking me questions about things that Ayala or John Harshman have written. Ask them yourself.

      Delete
    38. @lutesuite:
      "See, this is what happens when you read things only looking for "gotcha" moments to try and further your creationist agenda."

      ooooh! psychological 'projection'! Now I have an 'agenda' - thanks that's good to know. At last I understand where YOU are coming from. You have heard exactly the opposite of what I have told you. Interesting...tell me about your childhood...

      Now let's be HONEST for a change. Agreed? (thought not, but let's pretend?)

      lutesuite says: "You're still way off the mark. All I'm asking is this: When Shallit writes that the one statement is "more useful" than the other, are you interpreting him as saying that that statement has more information than the other? Because, if you are, you should probably go back and re-read that section, because I'm pretty sure that's not what he was saying"

      OK, so if he's not meaning it's got more information, then what DOES he mean by "more useful"? And can we measure that (and remember 'cos I keep telling you...I am NOT after a "gotcha" moment because I have told you EXPLICITLY exactly WHY I have nothing to gain from that.)
      Can anyone measure "meaning"? And luteyboy, I'm fine if the answer is "no".

      And the reason I'm asking you about things Ayala & John have said is because you keep telling me that you have such a superior intellect and I am "incomprehensibly stupid" (oh the irony - it's YOUR comprehension that is lacking to understand my stupidity). Well let's agree I'm more stupid than you. If that's true maybe you can help me out.

      I asked Lutesuite: ""The Encyclopedia Brittanica is redundant? In what sense?"
      No reply, yet ironically:
      He replies: "More pointless whining from "Pauline", when all she needs to do is answer a simple "yes/no" question. And she wonders why I doubt her honesty."
      By the way - thanks for your trust that you now believe I'm female. Little steps.

      @Piotr: Good references - thanks! But "Of course it's natural selection that favours the retention of such sequences and eliminates those that decrease fitness "

      Do you believe that the very low % of beneficial mutations are so advantageous to enable Natural Selection to act on them and fix them in the population? I've seen some creationist mathematical calculations that dispute this so I'd like to see some evidence from Evolutionists because I believe that both sides are biased. (lutesuite, I have just said that I don't believe Creationists because they are biased. Did you get that?)

      Piotr: thanks for your references and the links from your webpage. These have been the most useful articles and, as you so rightly point out, I need to spend time reading now before I ask more questions - thanks.

      Delete
    39. Pauline:

      I talk about reversibility of mutations; yes, my initial example was of a loss of information being reversed, but you should be able to extrapolate that to the equally simple case in which the whole thing just happens backwards.

      There is no conflict between what Ayala said and what I said. You simply appear to understand neither of us.

      Yes, the encyclopedia is redundant. All English sentences are redundant. You can for example leave out ll th vwls nd stll b ndrstd. In a sequence with maximum information you can't predict what will come next. "Redundant" has exactly the meaning that it ordinarily does, at least on this side of the Atlantic: saying the same thing more than once.

      lutesuite: John Harshman: Are you still willing to give "Pauline" the benefit of the doubt? Or are you finally convinced that she's just another lying sack of shit,

      I don't think she's lying, exactly. She isn't being quite honest, but mostly she just isn't very bright.

      Delete
    40. @"Pauline"

      I'm "projecting", am I? How do you figure? What exactly do you think is my "hidden agenda"? Am I a creationist who is disingenuously trying to pretend I am just interested in learning about evolution with an open mind?

      Or are you perhaps now endeavouring to demonstrate that your ignorance extends to psychological concepts. And, BTW, weren't you just asking, in all innocence, what my area of professional expertise is? Isn't that interesting, "Pauline"?

      You still don't get the point of Shalitt's article. Trying reading it until you do, and stop acting stupid irrelevant questions.

      John's given you an excellent demonstration of redundancy just above. I'll just add that you might get confused by thinking it's related to the meaning of the sentence in which he eliminated the vowels. However, it actually has more to do with probabilities. In the English langauge, certain letters are more likely to occur together than others, so when some of them are omitted you can still predict what they were. This could be done simply by analyzing a large sample of English text without knowing the meaning of any of the words. Whereas if you have a random string of letters like: dsjklvujk hjjklahe sdjklfaslkf asdfa, if you delete some of them there is no way to predict what those deleted letters were, because each letter has an equal probability of being used. That's my understanding, anyway. I'm sure there are people here who understand the concept better and can correct me if I'm wrong.

      And, seriously, you think "both sides" are equally "biased" in their calculations of the probability of fixation of beneficial mutations? And you think this is not exactly the sort of thing a creationist liar would say if he were trying to pretend he was just neutral? Please, "Pauline", don't insult our intelligence.

      Delete
    41. lutesuite: Thanks for being almost civil to me in your penultimate paragraph.
      John said: "Yes, the encyclopedia is redundant. All English sentences are redundant."
      Are you both really saying that, because some of the letters are redundant that the WHOLE of the Encyclopedia Brittanica is redundant? Even if I don't already have a copy?
      Surely only part of it is redundant?

      Delete
    42. lutesuite you are psychologically "projecting" because it is actually you who are reading things only looking for "gotcha" moments to try to further your agenda. You ask questions just to trick me so you can expose my ignorance. You don't play nicely with others.

      example: ""Pauline" has already been given a method by which the information content of a genetic sequence can be quantified. i.e. Shannon information theory. "Pauline" doesn't like this. She wants another method. Why? She doesn't say.

      Well I have "said" over and over but you don't want to listen.

      You frequently resort to swearing and insults - presumably because your language skills are not up to the concepts you want to communicate. Or perhaps you have anger issues?

      And I owe you an apology - I had missed this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_%28disambiguation%29 in between your rants. It's helped me to clarify what I mean by "information". Thanks!

      Delete
    43. Pauline,

      I'm going to have to conclude that you don't know what "redundant" means. You seem to think it's a synonym of "useless". It isn't. One of the dictionary definitions I find is "containing more than necessary", and that sounds like a good one. You probably should read Shannon, just a bit.

      Delete
    44. Well, remember, "Pauline" is the person who also believes the word "most" means "almost all." LOL! Grade-school level vocabulary is not exactly her strong point. The breadth of "her" incompetence is so extensive, however, I'm not sure what her strength is. Other than spewing transparent creationist propaganda while insisting "she" is not a creationist, that is.

      Delete
  15. @lutesuite
    With respect I'm waiting for YOUR answers as you have assured me of your superior intellect.

    1. The Encyclopedia Brittanica is redundant? In what sense?
    2. By the way lutesuite, what is your scientific area of expertise - I don't think it's psychology or semantics so what is it?
    3. "You don't seem to realize it yet, "Pauline": There is no single definition of "information" as applied to genetic sequences. There are several different definitions that can be used?" Give me any 6 please ("several" usually means 3-9).

    Waiting...m6

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. has been answered,

      2. Is irrelevant. You can find out by searching the archives of this blog if you really want to know. I'm not obliged to play along with your stupid disingenuous games.

      3. has also already been answered. Pay attention, moron.

      Delete
    2. @lutesuite: I am paying attention. How did you measure my IQ?

      1. I can see how the vowels might in some cases be redundant (not always though - "the cat sat on the mut" for example (poor dog) But I can't extrapolate that to ALL English sentences are redundant and The Encyclopedia Brittanica is redundant (unless you already have a copy which I don't.)
      2. Chckn!
      3. Nope, can't find 6 different definitions of "information" on this page

      Delete
    3. Pay attention, moron.

      The Encyclpedia is redundant, in terms of Shannon information, because some of the letters are not necessary to communicate the same information. That's what "redundant" means in this context, which should be obvious to anyone with a modicum of intelligence.

      I gave you a Wikipedia link to the various uses and definitions of the term "information". Do you need someone to hold your hand so you can cut and paste the URL ito your browser window, or can you handle that yourself?

      Delete
  16. sez pauline:
    Cubist it's time you stopped asking the same question over and over…
    No, it is not time for me to stop asking Creationists to determine which of two arbitrary nucleotide sequences has more information in it. The reason it is not time for me to stop asking Creationists that question, is because Creationists are still making noise about how random mutations are supposedly unable to create information. If and when Creationists ever stop making noise about that bogus non-argument, then and only then will it be time for me to send that question off to its well-earned retirement.

    it's time you… actually told us the answer.
    No, it's time for those Creationists who make noise about random-mutations-can't-create-information to give us their answer to the question. Because if Creationists actually can measure the information content of arbitrary nucleotide sequences, they should be able to do this thing regardless of whether or not I (or any other person!) can do likewise.

    You do have an answer don't you?
    What does that have to do with the price of rice in China? In case it's escaped your notice, Pauline, it ain't me who makes noise about how random mutations are supposedly unable to create information. Rather, it's Creationists who make noise about how random mutations are supposedly unable to create information. And if Creationists actually do have a methodology they can use to measure the information content of arbitrary nucleotide sequences, they wouldn't need me, or anybody else, to answer my question, because they could actually, like, measure the information content of arbitrary nucleotide sequences themselves !
    Do let me know if I'm going too fast for you, Pauline. Wouldn't want to lose you at the bakery or anything.

    I mean you wouldn't be so disingenuous as to poke fun at people because they couldn't define "information" if you too shared the same affliction would you?
    It depends. Are we talking about someone whose inability to measure information is accompanied by a tendency to assert that random mutations cannot create information? If we are, then yeah, I'll poke fun at that person's unsupported assertion. Otherwise, not so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cubist I already conceded that point like this:
      "I realise that if Creationists demand examples of mutations that increase information that the burden of measuring information lies with them, but that's not the game I'm playing."

      So 2/3 of your reply was redundant.

      The trouble is that most people here would concede that there is information in DNA. The bunfight about measuring it is deflecting a very real question about increase or decrease of information. I don't think "we can't measure an increase in information, therefore the term: 'increase of information' has no meaning" is logical. My love for my husband increased after our first few dates but I can't say how much by. The entropy in a bunch of dead flowers is more than when it was alive. The difference is very real and yet I can't measure the increase or decrease.

      Putting to one side that creationists might harp on about this, does anyone have a good idea about the concept of measuring the meaningful information in the genome? Is it similar to a measure of survival fitness and therefore dependent on the environment at the time? Doesn't anyone else find this fascinating?

      P.S. to Cubist: 360 bits each but that doesn't help me.

      Delete
    2. "Pauline" has already been given a method by which the information content of a genetic sequence can be quantified. i.e. Shannon information theory. "Pauline" doesn't like this. She wants another method. Why? She doesn't say.

      At which point, it might be instructive to read what RationalWiki has to say in its discussion of Shannon information:

      Creationists really don't like this stuff, but won't say why. It's likely because they don't want an actual definition of information that can be argued against.

      http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Information_theory#Shannon_information

      Hmmmm....

      Delete
    3. [part 1 of a 2-part reply]

      sez pauline:
      The trouble is that most people here would concede that there is information in DNA.
      That’s nice, pauline. It doesn’t come within a country mile of, you know, answering the friggin’ question, but it’s nice.

      The bunfight about measuring it is deflecting a very real question about increase or decrease of information.
      Not exactly. The “bunfight” about measuring the information content of arbitrary nucleotide sequences isn’t deflecting a damned thing; rather, said “bunfight” is exposing the fact that Creationists do not have any scientifically valid basis on which to make their random-mutations-can’t-create–information assertion. Since Creationists habitually present said argument as if it reveals a fatal flaw in the theory of evolution, a fatal flaw which those hidebound Darwinistas insist on pretending not to acknowledge the power of…this particular “bunfight” is anything but a bunfight.

      I don’t think “we can’t measure an increase in information, therefore the term: ‘increase of information’ has no meaning” is logical. My love for my husband increased after our first few dates but I can’t say how much by. The entropy in a bunch of dead flowers is more than when it was alive. The difference is very real and yet I can’t measure the increase or decrease.
      What you say about your love for your husband makes perfect sense in the informal context of interpersonal relations. In a different context, like, just for grins, the rigorous, formal context of scientific investigation, what you say about your love for your husband would be an unsupported assertion and yada yada yada. Good thing your love for your husband isn’t an issue which is being investigated scientifically, huh?

      Putting to one side that creationists might harp on about this…
      No, I flatly refuse to “put… to one side that creationists might harp on about this”.

      …does anyone have a good idea about the concept of measuring the meaningful information in the genome?
      Doubtfull. Consider that it’s quite possible for one particular Nucleotide Sequence X to yield different traits in different critters, depending on whether the critter has inherited one copy of the sequences, from one of its parents, or two copies, from both of its parents. Specific example: The gene for sickle-cell anemia. Two copies of that gene give you the disease, but one copy makes you more resistant to malaria.

      Also, consider that even when one particular Nucleotide Sequence X does yield exactly the same traits in different critters, it’s quite possible for that trait to affect two critters in very different ways, depending on the environments they, respectively, live in. Specific example: A mutation that turns all of a critter’s fur white. For a critter in the Arctic or Antarctic regions, such a mutation helps the critter blend into the background very well indeed; for a critter in any area that’s not wall-to-wall white, all year ‘round, such a mutation is very likely to make the critter stand out like a sore thumb, and therefore make it a much easier target for predators.

      See any difficulties with the concept of “meaningful information in the genome”?

      Delete
    4. [part 2 of a 2-part reply]

      sez pauline:
      …does anyone have a good idea about the concept of measuring the meaningful information in the genome?
      [continuing from where i left off] Now, it’s at least philosophically possible that somebody might actually come up with a practical way to define/measure “meaningful information in the genome” in a meaningful way. I don’t see it, myself, and I think that anybody who actually searches for such a thing is wasting their time and effort. But hey, it’s their time and effort to waste, right? And if somebody actually does come up with a practical way to define/measure “meaningful information in the genome”, it’s possible that investigating “meaningful information in the genome” could blow the theory of evolution right out of the water.

      But it is, equally, possible that investigating “meaningful information in the genome” could provide yet another line of support for the theory of evolution.

      Short of actually having that “practical way to define/measure ‘meaningful information in the genome’” in hand, nobody even can know which way that particular ‘cat’ is going to ‘jump’.

      Is it similar to a measure of survival fitness and therefore dependent on the environment at the time? Doesn’t anyone else find this fascinating?
      My own view is that DNA does not contain any information. I think DNA is just a molecule—a very big, and very complicated, molecule—and everything that happens in a cell is ‘just’ atoms and molecules doing their thing in strict accordance with the laws of chemistry and physics. I think that an explanation of DNA in terms of atoms and molecules would be insanely voluminous and detail-ridden, to the point that such a ‘explanation’ would not be helpful to anybody who’s trying to understand what’s going on. And I think that in the context of learning about DNA, ‘information’ is really nothing more than a pedagogical metaphor which people employ in an attempt to ‘wrap up’ all the complexity and details into a ‘package’ that can hopefully be comprehended by imperfect human minds. From where I sit, any attempt by Creationists to use ‘information’ as a weapon to slay the demon Darwinism, is… let’s say “misguided, at absolute best”.

      If I’m right to say that DNA doesn’t contain any information at all, it follows that there’s no such thing as “meaningful information” in DNA, either, and your Quest For Meaningful Information In DNA is necessarily a fool’s errand. That said, you’ve at least seen an interesting problem, even if you’re approaching that problem from a direction that I would regard as worse than useless.

      P.S. to Cubist: 360 bits each but that doesn’t help me.

      360 bits apiece, you say. Cool—but it’s only answering part of my question. The other part is, how did you arrive at your answer? What information-measuring protocol did you use? Your “360 bits each” part-answer suggests that you used the information-measuring protocol count the number of nucleotides, and multiply that number by two. Now, this is a perfectly good protocol for measuring the information content of a nucleotide sequence—but if “2* the number of nucleotides” tells you how much “information” there is in a nucleotide sequence, the information content of a nucleotide sequence is increased by any random mutation which inserts ‘extra’ nucleotides into that sequence. Which, in turn, means that the Creationist random-mutations-can’t-create-information argument isn’t just wrong, it’s flagrantly, blatantly, obvious-as-a-million-candlepower-searchlight-at-midnight wrongity-wrong-wrong-mcwrong! I mean, insertion mutations? “Hello, Beuller?”

      Well, maybe Creationists don’t go for “2* the number of nucleotides” protocol for measuring the information content of nucleotide sequences. It’s cool, they’re allowed to use whatever definition of ‘information’ they like. But if so, what definition are they using?

      Delete
    5. Perhaps if I was a creationist I would know

      Delete
    6. @cubist:

      how did you arrive at your answer? Well of course I didn't want to insult you as it was so obvious. But that's what happens when you play silly games.
      2 bits of info per nucleotide given 4 bases. So yes, it is obvious that increasing the genome increases the Shannon information regardless of which base is chosen even at non-neutral positions, so this convinces me that Shannon's definition of information isn't helpful as it doesn't measure meaning (which is what I have being trying to articulate but have obviously failed.)

      I'm assuming you included the spaces to reveal the transcription frame, but the spaces added extra 'information' that I couldn't calculate. Also, if the sequence was not transcribed then my calculation would not be relevant. It's an easier ride to claim that there is no information in DNA, but most evolutionists refer to it being just that. It may, as you say, be an illusion.

      You said: "Also, consider that even when one particular Nucleotide Sequence X does yield exactly the same traits in different critters, it’s quite possible for that trait to affect two critters in very different ways, depending on the environments they, respectively, live in.

      Didn't I already say this here?: "Is it similar to a measure of survival fitness and therefore dependent on the environment at the time?"

      So are you agreeing with me? Why is that so difficult for you?

      You start off fine and then remember that you have to be childish and insulting: "That said, you’ve at least seen an interesting problem, even if you’re approaching that problem from a direction that I would regard as worse than useless."

      Would you accept someone doing this to your daughter/wife?
      Bullying is not nice and does you no credit.

      This aside, thanks for the reply. It gave me some good insights. It's interesting that you don't see any 'information' in DNA. So do you regard the term 'code' as a metaphor? I work with polymers but they are mostly repetitive. Do you know of any other chemical systems that involve 'codes'? That would be interesting.

      Delete
    7. @lutesuite:
      ""Pauline" has already been given a method by which the information content of a genetic sequence can be quantified. i.e. Shannon information theory. "Pauline" doesn't like this. She wants another method. Why? She doesn't say.

      She doesn't say??????????????

      It's all I've been saying for 2 days now.

      You quote: "Creationists really don't like this stuff, but won't say why. It's likely because they don't want an actual definition of information that can be argued against."

      So if I'm a Creationist and I don't actually want a definition of information then why would I engage with bullies to learn as much as I can about information? I WILL say why I don't like Shannon's definition of information in regards to DNA code - it's because it doesn't measure the meaningfulness of the information. Now don't have a scrap over the fact that I can't define "meaning". The best I can do is to articulate that if a particular sequence codes for a protein essential to life then it should have more "meaning" than a random sequence of junk DNA. So Natural Selection would only work on meaningful sequences. Which is why I asked Cubist if he thought it was a scale of fitness. In the future when we fully understand fitness ascribed to exact DNA sequences do you think that will be the measure of "information" I am looking for?

      Delete
    8. This might help you, "Pauline".

      Would you say that a genome whose message was this:

      Create an E. coli bacteria

      contains less "meaning" than one whose message was:

      Create an E. coli bacteria, only make it one that can metabolize citrate.

      ?

      Delete
    9. Pauline says,

      Perhaps if I was a creationist I would know

      I'm pretty sure you are a creationist but let's clear up any confusion by asking you directly.

      Do you believe in a god, or gods, that created the known universe or any part of it?

      Delete
    10. Pauline: In the future when we fully understand fitness ascribed to exact DNA sequences do you think that will be the measure of "information" I am looking for?

      Meaning and function always depends on the context. You can't deduce the meaning of the word kuningaskalastaja from the properties of the vowels and consonants it contains. Fitness is not an intrinsic property of a string of nucleotides; it can't be "ascribed to" (or computed on the basis of) "exact DNA sequences".

      Delete
    11. [part 1 of a 2-part reply]
      sez pauline:
      You start off fine and then remember that you have to be childish and insulting: "That said, you’ve at least seen an interesting problem, even if you’re approaching that problem from a direction that I would regard as worse than useless."
      Would you accept someone doing this to your daughter/wife?
      Bullying is not nice and does you no credit.

      "Bullying"?
      You sit there in front of God and everybody, with your face hanging out, and you whine about how being told that you're wrong is "bullying"?
      Ah… yyyyyyeah. Sure thing. Uhhh-huh. You betcha.
      FYI: You Darwinistas is meee-ee-eean to me! is yet another in the long, long list of Creationist 'tells' which you have exhibited, Pauline. And so is [puppy-dog eyes] Gosh, mister, I'm not a Creationist, honest I'm not! Naturally, no one single item on the list of Creationist 'tells' is, in and of itself, ironclad proof that a person is a Creationist. But the more such 'tells' a person exhibits, the greater the probability that they are a Creationist, and the more hollow their gosh-I'm-not-a-Creationist protests sound. Just sayin', is all.

      "how did you arrive at your answer?" Well of course I didn't want to insult you as it was so obvious. But that's what happens when you play silly games.
      First: If "how did you arrive at your answer?" is, itself, a question whose answer is "so obvious", how come Creationists can't seem to come up with that "so obvious" answer?
      Second: I wasn't "playing silly games". I was, rather, asking you to show your work. Because any damn fool can pull random figures out of their lower G-I tract, you know? But if you can explain how you arrived at the figure(s) you did, you probably didn't pull your figure(s) out of your lower G-I tract. Clear?

      2 bits of info per nucleotide given 4 bases. So yes, it is obvious that increasing the genome increases the Shannon information regardless of which base is chosen even at non-neutral positions, so this convinces me that Shannon's definition of information isn't helpful as it doesn't measure meaning (which is what I have being trying to articulate but have obviously failed.)
      Let's cut to the chase: You, like untold thousands of Creationists before you, are looking for some kind of Secret Sauce™ that can only come from an Intelligent Agency of whatever sort, and that is somehow-or-other a necessary ingredient of Life on Earth. You seem to be calling it "meaning" in this comment, but what's in a name? Call it what you like; it's still Secret Sauce™in my book. I am willing to entertain the hypothetical possibility that the Secret Sauce™ you're looking for actually does exist… but if you want to use your Secret Sauce concept as the basis of a claim about How Reality Works, I insist—demand, even—that before you make any such claim, you must first establish that your Secret Sauce™ concept actually has any bearing on the RealWorld.
      You want to talk about "meaning" in living things? Fine. What is the "meaning" of a naked mole rat? Does a naked mole rat have more or less "meaning" than an icheumon wasp—or are the respective "meanings" of those two critters so different that it doesn't make sense to ask which has more or less "meaning"? What's the "meaning" of a gall bladder? What's the "meaning" of a skunk's scent-gland? How does the "meaning" of the human appendix compare, if at all, to the "meaning" of a Great Dane?


      Delete
    12. [part 1 of a 2-part reply]
      sez pauline:
      You said: "Also, consider that even when one particular Nucleotide Sequence X does yield exactly the same traits in different critters, it’s quite possible for that trait to affect two critters in very different ways, depending on the environments they, respectively, live in.

Didn't I already say this here?: "Is it similar to a measure of survival fitness and therefore dependent on the environment at the time?"

So are you agreeing with me? Why is that so difficult for you?
      Yes, that one sentence of yours is fairly easy to interpret as your acknowledgement that there's more to fitness than just what's in the DNA. The thing is, you've written more sentences than just that one. In particular, you've also written "In the future when we fully understand fitness ascribed to exact DNA sequences do you think that will be the measure of "information" I am looking for?", and that sentence is fairly easy to interpret as your acknowledgement that fitness is only about what's in the DNA. If you're going to write comments that give mixed signals like that, you really can't (or at least shouldn't) complain when other people fail to grok what you really mean. Okay?

      This aside, thanks for the reply. It gave me some good insights. It's interesting that you don't see any 'information' in DNA. So do you regard the term 'code' as a metaphor? I work with polymers but they are mostly repetitive. Do you know of any other chemical systems that involve 'codes'? That would be interesting.
      The word "code" isn't a metaphor. It's a noun that means a protocol for converting a piece of information from one format into another, more or less. If you're really asking about whether I think the use of the word "code" in the phrase "genetic code" is a metaphor… yeah, I do. The whole codon-to-amino-acid deal which the phrase "genetic code" refers to, it's definitely similar to a code in some ways. But similarities or no, that codon-to-amino-acid deal is, again, nothing but atoms and molecules doing their thing in strict accordance with the laws of chemistry and physics.

      Delete
    13. @lutesuite:
      I said:"1. I can see how the vowels might in some cases be redundant (not always though - "the cat sat on the mut" for example (poor dog) But I can't extrapolate that to ALL English sentences are redundant and The Encyclopedia Brittanica is redundant (unless you already have a copy which I don't.)"

      #To which you replied:
      "Pay attention, moron. The Encyclpedia is redundant, in terms of Shannon information, because some of the letters are not necessary to communicate the same information. That's what "redundant" means in this context, which should be obvious to anyone with a modicum of intelligence."

      So please explain why it's not just some of the letters that are redundant but the whole Encyclopedia?

      Delete
    14. "Pauline, your problem is that you don't know the complete definition of the word "redundant". Not surprising in someone who is such an imbecile she does not even know the meaning of the word "most".

      John Harshman has provided you with the relevant definition. Look above and you'll find it.

      Delete
    15. @cubist:
      "Bullying"?
      You sit there in front of God and everybody, with your face hanging out, and you whine about how being told that you're wrong is "bullying"?

      I don't mind being told that I am wrong. I do mind being insulted, called a "moron" etc. That is bullying plain and simple and you know it. And you are clever enough to realise that just because other "Creationists" have claimed to have been bullied by evolutionists in the past, that doesn't mean you're not bullying me now.
      If your daughter/mother/wife received texts containing such language I'll bet you would be distraught. So why is it OK for respected scientists to stoop to that low level. And don't say "it was the Creationists, they did beguile me and I did eat" You have your own integrity and responsibility to be a decent human being.

      Delete
    16. @cubist:
      Good example from lutesuite:
      "Pauline, your problem is that you don't know the complete definition of the word "redundant".
      John Harshman has provided you with the relevant definition. Look above and you'll find it."

      Very helpful & considerate. But he just couldn't control himself could he?

      Delete
    17. "Pauline",

      Being an imbecilic, moronic liar is bad enough.

      Being a whiny imbecilic, moronic liar is even worse.

      Delete
    18. Here are some examples of the respect and courtesy with which "Pauline" has conducted herself on this blog:

      ooooh! psychological 'projection'! Now I have an 'agenda' - thanks that's good to know. At last I understand where YOU are coming from. You have heard exactly the opposite of what I have told you. Interesting...tell me about your childhood...

      Now let's be HONEST for a change. Agreed? (thought not, but let's pretend?)....

      And the reason I'm asking you about things Ayala & John have said is because you keep telling me that you have such a superior intellect and I am "incomprehensibly stupid" (oh the irony - it's YOUR comprehension that is lacking to understand my stupidity)....

      Chckn!


      So to "moron", "imbecile", "liar" and "whiner", let's add "hypocrite" to her list of attributes.

      Delete
    19. @lutesuite
      Sorry I missed John's definition. As you know I'm not familiar with blogs so is there an easier way to keep track or do I have to search the whole page to see if something new has been added?

      Well I never. I have never heard of "redundant" being used that way; only ever as an adjective of that part which is superfluous. We learn something new every day. Is that a common use of the word in the US/Canada because it's not here in the UK (what's "grade-school level"?). eg I would say a person was redundant not the company. Nevertheless I concede you are right!


      Well, remember, "Pauline" is the person who also believes the word "most" means "almost all." LOL! Grade-school level vocabulary is not exactly her strong point.
      Unfortunately I still think "most" means almost all...

      Delete
    20. @lutesuite
      I think we are talking in degrees - I have not sunk to your level of depravity at all.

      As regards "Chckn!"

      That was a joke. It was the word "Chicken" meaning you were too scared to reply but as we were talking about redundancy of vowels I missed them out. "Chckn" is not a really bad swear word.
      :-)

      Delete
    21. Yeah, sure, whatever, "Pauline".

      Anyway, I can't help but notice that, although you have been given several substantive answers (some from myself) to the questions you have been asking, you have so far ignored them (other the one on the entirely superfluous point regarding the definition of "redundant") and, instead, have decided to continue to spend your time tone-trolling.

      Just what are we to make of that, "Pauline"?

      Delete
    22. @Larry
      "Do you believe in a god, or gods, that created the known universe or any part of it?"

      Well I believe in God (I'm a Christian) but I don't base my belief in God on scientific evidence. So my belief is not dependent on evolution being wrong; so I have no religious need to prove evolution wrong. There are many Christians who believe in evolution. I do admit that my worldview may give me a bias towards ID which I must be careful of, but I believe that atheists have an even greater bias. Christians can be creationist, IDers or evolutionist; atheists have to be evolutionists don't they?
      According to your definition (assuming your sentence was carefully chosen to include the verb "create") perhaps I AM a creationist, but I had assumed that the Creationist club was just for those who disbelieved evolution. Can you be an evolutionist creationist? I don't believe that I understand the science well enough to make up my mind yet as to whether macroevolution is a fact. I certainly believe in microevolution and adaptation (I understand enough to think I can make a decision there) but I struggle with macroevolution. I have found some of your writings very helpful in this respect so thanks for that. What I don't get is people who throw insults like "moron" to those who don't understand - as if we'd all been in the same classroom and taught the same syllabus and STILL I didn't get it. It's ironic that if I did actually say "gee thanks you've persuaded me" after lutesuite has said "look macroevolution is true you moron" then I would be guilty of moronic activity.
      I am genuinely trying to learn and I think some of my posts will testify to that when I have admitted a mistake or thanked someone for a good reference. Ironically, I first came to this site because the UK government are introducing the topic of evolution to primary schools (kindergarten?) and are using the "lengthening of the giraffe's neck" and the white fur of the arctic fox as the only examples of evolution. I believe there are much better examples they could use as evidence FOR evolution and so I engaged with scientists here to learn more but perhaps the science has progressed too far for me to catch up. I don't think people here have the patience or kindness to explain it to me and to be fair it may not be the point of these threads
      to educate - it might be to hang out and poke fun at creationist 'morons'.

      Delete
    23. lutesuite: "Anyway, I can't help but notice that, although you have been given several substantive answers (some from myself) to the questions you have been asking, you have so far ignored them (other the one on the entirely superfluous point regarding the definition of "redundant")"

      No I haven't ignored them. I'm still reading Shannon's paper and lots of other papers from referrals here. Give me time, I'm playing 30 years of catch up. I really do find the tone here surprisingly base if you are all respected scientists. Language like this isn't common in my limited experience. Is it just molecular biology or is it the anonymity of blogs that encourages it?

      Delete
    24. I don't know whether I am "respected". I guess that depends on who you ask. But I am not a scientist, nor have I claimed to be one.

      I generally don't use this kind of language, here or elsewhere. I reserve it for certain types of people, creationist liars being high on the list.

      Delete
    25. @lutesuite:
      " I guess that depends on who you ask."

      That should read: "whom" not "who".
      Sorry, just couldn't resist that, given you have enjoyed insulting my English so much.

      Delete
    26. @lutesuite & John Harshman
      Just found out US English and UK English differ on the meaning of "redundant." We use "redundant" where you would say "laid off".
      Still, my apology is not retracted - this is a Canadian site is it not?

      Delete
    27. [part 1 of a 2-part response]
      @cubist:
"Bullying"?
You sit there in front of God and everybody, with your face hanging out, and you whine about how being told that you're wrong is "bullying"?
      I don't mind being told that I am wrong. I do mind being insulted, called a "moron" etc.

      [nods] Yes,pauline, I can see that being called a moron would be unpleasant. Have you considered, just as a random suggestion, avoiding the boneheaded behaviors which lead other people to conclude that you are, in fact, moronic? Or would you rather do what you're doing now, namely, whine about how your moronic behavior yields the obvious response?
      Since you raised the topic of Things That Pauline Minds, allow me to tell you about something I mind:
      Dishonesty.
      I'm not fond of being lied at. I don't like hidden agendas. And if you were to piss down my back & tell me it's raining, well, I would not react well at all to that flagrant display of disrespect.
      You, pauline, are a Creationist, and a typically deceitful run-of-the-mill Creationist at that. You have claimed that you were interested in 'information' as it relates to biology… but by some totally inexplicable coincidence, it just so happens that you changed your mind—deciding that you were really interested in 'meaning', not 'information'—right about the time it become demonstrably clear that 'information' in biology is, in fact, not a 'rock' upon which the theory of evolution must necessarily 'founder'. It would, of course, be completely uncharitable to conclude that your level of interest in any given facet of biological science is determined largely (if not entirely) on how much of the theory of evolution you believe must be refuted by said facet…
      Oh, and because I take my humor black, I find it vastly amusing that in response to a comment which explicitly, directly identifies them-icky-Darwinistas-was-MEEEAN-to-me as a bog-standard Creationist gambit? In response to such a comment, you, pauline, a person who is totes not a Creationist at all… chose to double and triple down on them-icky-Darwinistas-was-MEEEAN-to-me.
      Yeah. That's the way to prove to everybody, once and for all, that you're not just Yet Another Fucking Creationist Liar-For-Christ, pauline! You go, girl!

      Delete
    28. [part 1 of a 2-part response]
      Pauline, at least part of the problem here is that the theory of evolution is, as a practical matter, not just an arbitrary field of science like any other. In the USA, and in other nations to a lesser extent, the theory of evolution is bitterly opposed by a theocratic Christian political movement which is willing to lie about evolution in pretty much every way possible, and is, equally, willing to violate any mere law of humankind which might get in the way of their literally God-given mission. So when you discuss evolution, well, there's all kinds of extra-scientific, political, issues which can and do muddy the water. So if you're truly interested in learning about evolution, one thing you could do to help un-muddy the waters is to join the fight against the Christian theocrats.
      Apart from the political complications, it's important to note that Creationism just plain is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Christian faith; every major Creationist organization requires its members to swear that they will not arrive at any conclusion which might disagree with Christian dogma! Feel free to look for any analogous 'loyalty oath' on the real-science side of the conflict; you won't find any such thing, but hey, if you want to spend time looking, knock yourself out.
      One last point: Professor Moran is an atheist. Lots of his regular commenters are, themselves atheist. This means that religious beliefs do not get a free pass here. Most Christians in the US and Canada, having lived all their days in a culture which absolutely does grant Christianity a great, heapin' helping of unmerited deference, don't know how to deal with it when the shoe is on the other foot—that is, when their Christian beliefs are accorded no more respect than anyone else's. US/Canadian atheists, of course, have lived all their days in a culture which habitually spits on their beliefs, so if some Christian gets all butthurt about they're-not-respecting-my-religion, it's only to be expected that the response of the regulars hereabout will be a lot closer to true, and what's your point? than, say, oh you poor dear, how awful it must be for you! If you can manage to wrap your head around the concept of not being granted automatic deference for your allegiance to your imaginary friend, you can learn a lot here.
      If, contrariwise, being just another schmoe, never mind your religious faith is something you can't deal with, you would do well to seek scientific knowledge elsewhere, pauline. In this case, perhaps the American Scientific Affiliation [ http://network.asa3.org ] might be a more congenial place for you.

      Delete
    29. @cubist
      Part 1 of your reply was typically nasty.

      "You have claimed that you were interested in 'information' as it relates to biology… but by some totally inexplicable coincidence, it just so happens that you changed your mind—deciding that you were really interested in 'meaning',"

      I changed my mind as I became better educated about Shannon information having followed the advice of people on this blog. For example I read and took on board Shallit's challenge on Meyer's "Signature in the Cell" (which I haven't read but it sounds like he makes the same mistake as I did: trying to look for a "common sense" measure of the 'meaning' in information.) I have lutesuite insulting me that I'm taking no advice from people and you calling me dishonest as I do. Nice.

      You say I'm dishonest, yet when people told me that Creationists whine a lot and that gives them away you ridicule me because I kept whining. Had I stopped you surely would have claimed I was being dishonest in trying to hide the fact that I am a Creationist! So I have a choice of being dishonest or ridiculous.

      Perhaps people are more polite here in the UK. Or perhaps the fact that my daughter's best friend tried to commit suicide after being bullied online has increased my intolerance of that sort of behaviour? That's not your fault of course, but it does make me very sad to see it happening myself for the first time and imagining how she felt.

      Unbelievably, the second part of your reply was really interesting and has helped me to understand why you are all so tightly coiled.

      "In the USA, and in other nations to a lesser extent, the theory of evolution is bitterly opposed by a theocratic Christian political movement which is willing to lie about evolution in pretty much every way possible.

      I had no idea. It's not like that in the UK (thankfully!) Atheism is more respected than Christianity here (eg yesterday it became law in the UK for homosexuals to have equal marriage rights as heterosexuals.)

      "Creationism just plain is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Christian faith"
      Also this isn't true for us. The Muslims are more vocal than the Christians who mostly say they believe in evolution for fear of being ridiculed (without any knowledge of evolution whatsoever.)

      So perhaps you should all move over here?

      "If you can manage to wrap your head around the concept of not being granted automatic deference for your allegiance to your imaginary friend, you can learn a lot here"
      I had no such expectation. As I said, Creationists are ridiculed over here. UK TV documentaries are headed by Richard Dawkins, David Attenborough and Brian Cox who are all outspoken atheists and this means the British public will say they believe in evolution without ANY understanding of the evidence (and I'm not talking about my "moronic" level of understanding - I'm talking about people not knowing what DNA stands for and believing that there is fossil evidence of gradual Darwinian evolution.) Wouldn't that equally frustrate you?

      Delete
    30. Regarding Creationists outside the USA: Creationists may well be ridiculed over in the UK. However, they're also there, and they're active enough—and have achieved a sufficient level of success in achieving their goals—that some concerned UK citizens have formed the British Center for Science Education [ http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php ] to combat them.

      Regarding bullying: Pauline, people didn't start off saying nasty things to you. It was only after your Creationist 'tells' were noticed, that people got snarky and worse. To quote myself from a previous comment: "Naturally, no one single item on the list of Creationist 'tells' is, in and of itself, ironclad proof that a person is a Creationist. But the more such 'tells' a person exhibits, the greater the probability that they are a Creationist, and the more hollow their gosh-I'm-not-a-Creationist protests sound. Just sayin', is all." And you, pauline, have exhibited a lot of Creationist 'tells'.

      "…the British public will say they believe in evolution without ANY understanding of the evidence (and I'm not talking about my 'moronic' level of understanding - I'm talking about people not knowing what DNA stands for and believing that there is fossil evidence of gradual Darwinian evolution.)"
      Your parenthetical remark is poorly phrased. Are you saying that acceptance of "fossil evidence of gradual Darwinian evolution" is as dumb as not knowing what DNA stands for? Or are you, instead, saying that not accepting that evidence is as dumb as not knowing what DNA stands for?

      Delete
    31. @cubist (aka the Borg) and everybody else who has sunk to bullying on this sorry blog:
      "Regarding bullying: Pauline, people didn't start off saying nasty things to you. It was only after your Creationist 'tells' were noticed, that people got snarky and worse. To quote myself from a previous comment: "Naturally, no one single item on the list of Creationist 'tells' is, in and of itself, ironclad proof that a person is a Creationist. But the more such 'tells' a person exhibits, the greater the probability that they are a Creationist, and the more hollow their gosh-I'm-not-a-Creationist protests sound. Just sayin', is all." And you, pauline, have exhibited a lot of Creationist 'tells'

      Wow! I must have been asking for it! Does that stand up in a US court? Is that how GBH cases are decided in the great US of A? So you being a scientist and all (sic) - explaining to me that my definition of "information" is not scientific enough to merit discussion (agreed) - now chooses to reveal your true nature as someone who just has to tick off (how many?) oh yes "a lot" of behaviours on your amateur list (the more "tells the greater the probability - just sayin'") ???? And I'm a self proclaimed labelled "Creationist" and then you are allowed under some US evolutionist club rules to bully me. Gosh I'm sorry I ticked "just sayin'" amount of boxes. Yeah it's my fault I was asking for it. So if someone creeps into your poorly defined category of "Creationist" then they are "asking for it" and you just can't help yourselves; you have to bully them. You have no self control, responsibility or decency. I feel so sorry for you.

      "Your parenthetical remark is poorly phrased. Are you saying that acceptance of "fossil evidence of gradual Darwinian evolution" is as dumb as not knowing what DNA stands for? Or are you, instead, saying that not accepting that evidence is as dumb as not knowing what DNA stands for?
      My parenthetical remark is not poorly phrased.
      I am saying neither. I am clearly talking about people who don't know what DNA stands for AND who also believe in "fossil evidence of gradual Darwinian evolution". AND is not a comparison conjunctive. Now go bully your wife/daughter/mother/girlfriend as I'm sure they will have ticked off too many boxes in your "asking for it" category and deserve a good beating.


      "Moron" was coined in 1910 by psychologist Henry H. Goddard from the Ancient Greek word μωρός (moros), and used to describe a person with a mental age in adulthood of between 8 and 12 on the Binet scale. It was applied to people with an IQ of 51–70, being superior in one degree to "imbecile" (IQ of 26–50) and superior in two degrees to "idiot" (IQ of 0–25).
      My IQ has been measured and it is NOT in this range so now I've told you this data, referring to me as a "moron" is what YOU would refer to as "lying" and "deceitful". It is also incredibly insensitive to mentally disabled people who are in this category and need all the support we (as civilised people) can offer them.

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    32. @lutsuite If you haven't worked it out yet, that makes "imbecilic moron" an oxymoron.

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    33. As I said, Creationists are ridiculed over here. UK TV documentaries are headed by Richard Dawkins, David Attenborough and Brian Cox who are all outspoken atheists and this means the British public will say they believe in evolution without ANY understanding of the evidence.

      Yet more whinging straight from the Creationist Playbook of Propaganda and Dishonest Invective": "Creationism doesn't get a fair hearing, because the media are controlled by mean old atheists like Richard Dawkins. Waaah!"

      Courtesy of the same person who claimed that Expelled is a credible documentary that proves that creationists suffer unfair discrimination in academia.

      Oh, and accusing Cubist of beating his wife and children is what you think passes for courteous and civilized discourse? If you say so, "Pauline."

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    34. @"lutesuite"
      That won't wash.
      I told him to go bully his wife/daughter/mother/girlfriend I did NOT accuse him of already having done it. Getting desperate are we?

      Instead of accusing me of whinging why don't you do what any decent person would do and clean up your act? Oh sorry - just answered my own question.

      You have missed a real opportunity to educate me but as you were so intent on point scoring & looking for imagined hidden messages, you missed out on the whole point of "Sandwalk". If I were a Young Earth Creationist I would have no trouble in telling you - it doesn't make any sense at all for me to hide my beliefs. I'm being honest about my lack of knowledge - why on earth would I be dishonest about my beliefs? Your logic is faulty.

      As for ME being discourteous I think you've got a serious problem if you think I've given out a modicum of the disgusting language you've dished out to me. I sincerely hope that no young / impressionable people get severely psychologically damaged by you although I suspect it may already have happened.
      Goodbye "lutesuite," I hope you get the professional psychiatric help you clearly need.

      Oh and many thanks to John Harshman, Piotr and Larry for some excellent resources but I'm just not robust enough to take the abuse here any more

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    35. Well, well. pauline hath flounced from this blog. Given the high probability that her I'm-outta-here declaration is strictly temporary, here's part 1 of my response to her latest verbiage…

      sez pauline:
      Wow! I must have been asking for it!
      Pauline, the responses that have come your way are an example of Galatians 6:7 in action—"whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." In your case, what you have sown is a wide variety of statements that are stupid, and/or ignorant, and/or deceitful; what you have reaped is statements which call you out for your stupidity, ignorance, and deceit. If you want to characterize that as "Wow! I must have been asking for it", that is entirely your choice.

      As for your reference to the US court system, I was unaware that the things you are accused of—namely: stupidity, ignorance, and being a deceitful weasel—were violations of any US criminal code. Bullying, however, is a violation of the US criminal code, in at least some US jurisdictions. So I would suggest that it's you pauline, who really should worry about whether or not your derisive comments can "stand up in a US court".

      "Moron" was coined in 1910 by psychologist Henry H. Goddard from the Ancient Greek word μωρός (moros)…
      Here, pauline sneers at other people on the basis of the literal dictionary definition of the word 'moron'. But in comments to the Why are the human and chimpanzee/bonobo genomes so similar? post, pauline wrote "Well actually I was there when: 'punctuated equilibrium was proposed to keep belief in evolution' so don't go changing history to suit your own point of view.", and after she got a lot of static regarding whether or not she actually was there, she sneered at people for not considering that she might have actually had a non-dictionary-definition meaning of "I was there" in mind.

      In short, pauline is, demonstrably, perfectly willing to subject other people to treatment which she objects to when it's her on the receiving end. Hypocrite much, pauline?

      I'm being honest about my lack of knowledge…
      The comments to the Why are the human and chimpanzee/bonobo genomes so similar? post include this statement from pauline: "I am an 'IDiot' who is able to understand the scientific evidence in favour of evolution, I have a Natural Science degree from Cambridge University, specialising in Genetics in the 3rd year." This was not pauline "being honest about [her] lack of knowledge"; rather, this was pauline presenting herself as if she truly does possess a nontrivial degree of comprehension of science. Only after it became clear that nobody was buying her yes-I-understand-science spiel, did pauline begin to be more honest about her ignorance.

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    36. Part 2…

      Looking at the list of "six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him" in Proverbs 6:16-19, it's pretty clear that pauline's behavior on Prof. Moran's blog has given her a lock on "lying tongue", "false witness who pours out lies", and "person who stirs up conflict in the community"; depending on whether her behavior is purely emotional/reactive or part of a calculated campaign, she may or may not also qualify under "heart that devises wicked schemes". The "false witness" thing also violates the Ninth Commandment, with the attendant après-vie reservation in a lake of fire (or at least, that's what the Bible says about breaking the Ninth Commandment). Personally, I don't much care which bits of the Bible pauline spits on; but since she's a self-professed Christian, perhaps she might care. Or not. [shrug]

      Ah, well.

      Can anyone make sense of pauline's verbiage about the "meaning" of DNA? As best I can tell, she's pretty much pouring the "old wine" of the discredited theory of vitalism, into the "new bottles" of information theory. Or have I missed something?

      Since pauline thinks it's stoopid to accept the existence of "fossil evidence of gradual Darwinian evolution", I wonder if she's aware of Wesley Elsberry's Transitional Fossil Challenge? It might be amusing to see what intellectual gyrations she deems necessary in order to preserve her denial of "fossil evidence of gradual Darwinian evolution"

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    37. If "Pauline" had seen fit to answer my question regarding whether bacteria evolving the ability to metabolize citrate constituted a gain in genetic "meaning", we might have got a better idea of what she was trying to say. But I guess tone-trolling was a higher priority for her than understanding science. Way it goes.

      Anyway, I couldn't help notice that our old friend "Louise G" made a brief reappearance a matter of hours after "Pauline" bid us adieu. Purely coincidental, I'm sure. However, since the two of them seem to think so much alike, maybe "Louise G" might be able to offer us some clarification....

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  17. Addendum to my comment just previous: It will also be time for me to stop asking Creationists to measure the information content of arbitrary nucleotide sequences when Creationists ever actually answer the friggin' question. Which no Creationist ever has, yet.
    There's been plenty of Creationist replies to the question, yes, but actual answers? Not so much. Now let's see if Pauline comprehends the distinction between "answering" a question and "replying to" a question.

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    Replies
    1. To be fair, none of "Pauline's" creationist buddies have even done so much as "replied" to the question. This doesn't bother her, she thinks it means nothing. And she's so totally, honestly, not a creationist. Right.

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    2. Thanks for replying to my earlier question lutesuite:

      "This doesn't bother her, she thinks it means nothing."

      Your speciality is clearly mind reading.

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