Tuesday, April 08, 2014

How can IDiot students stump science professors?

The Intelligent Design Creationists tell us repeatedly that they have a valid scientific theory of design. The reality is that 99.9% of everything they say is an attack on science and evolution. They don't have any answers themselves and they desperately want to show their flock that scientists don't have any answers either. That's all they've got.

Salvador Cordova (scordova) is one of those IDiots who think they've got scientists stumped. He's come up with a series of questions that students can ask their college professors: Questions college students should ask science professors.
Remember, the goal is the question will be so powerful, that when the student asks the scientist or other authority figure, and when the scientist is forced to admit the truth, the student will realize the weakness in mainstream claims.
That's pretty scary stuff. I'm guessing that biology professors all over the world are shaking in their boots hoping that one of their IDiot students doesn't stand up in class and ask one of these questions. (Not.)

The questions (see below) aren't very difficult to answer. If Salvador Cordova can put together an audience of biology students at a reputable university (George Mason?) and get an Intelligent Design Creationist to ask these questions, I'll be happy to come and answer them. We'll get the students to vote on whether they want to abandon science and join the nearest fundamentalist Christian church after the class is over.1

Here are the questions. (This is not a joke. These really are the questions that he posted on Uncommon Descent.)
  1. How can functional proteins form without ribosomes or ribosome-like machines?
  2. How can natural selection or neutral evolution evolve poly constrained DNA or any poly constrained systems in general?
  3. How did the first organism regulate protein expression and cellular development without regulatory elements or developmental mechanisms?
  4. How did any vital organ or protein form given the absence of the organ would be fatal? Absence of insulin is fatal in organisms requiring insulin. How did insulin become a vital part of living organisms? If you say it wasn’t essential when it first evolved, then how can you say selection had any role in evolving insulin without just guessing?
  5. How did DNA evolve in a proteins-first or RNA first scenario?
  6. How did amino acid homochirality evolve since the amino acids in biotic soup experiments are racemic, plus homochiral amino acids spontaneously racemize outside of living systems? How about DNAs and sugars? If the expectation value is 50% left, how do 100% left or right forms emerge in pre-biotic soups, and more importantly how is homochirality maintained long enough for chemical evolution to work?
  7. Don’t dead dogs stay dead dogs and doesn’t Humpty Dumpty stay broken?
  8. Describe how a partially functioning ribosomes or any partial implementation of the DNA code could operate in a working cell, and how a such cell can operate without such vital parts.
  9. Are most laboratory and field observations of evolution reductive rather than constructive of new coordinated functions? For the sake of argument, let extinction can count as reductive evolution. When bacteria evolve antibiotic resistance, what proportion of cases involved evolution of a new complex protein?
  10. Cite an experiment or field observation where a substantially new protein was evolved in real time or is expected to evolve in real time over the next few generations. Nylonase is the most cited example, but that wasn’t a substantially new protein. But even granting that, how many complex proteins are evolving in the biosphere versus those getting lost forever.
  11. What new trait in human populations do you expect to become genetically fixed in all 7 Billion or so people, and how fast do you expect that trait to overtake the population in how many generation? If you can’t identify convincingly one or a few traits, how then can you argue for evolution of so many traits in the past?
  12. If a species has a population of 10,000, how can selection act in a particulate manner on 4 giga bases of DNA individually? Wouldn’t such a large genome relative to small population size result in lots of selection interference, hence wouldn’t most molecular evolution be neutral of necessity as Kimura asserted?
  13. Do geological layers involving permineralized fossils or other kinds of well-preserved fossils require rapid burial? If the burial process is rapid, does it really take millions of years then to make that particular layer that has fossils? If you find C14 in Cambrian fossils not the result of contamination or lab error, does that mean the fossil had a more recent time of death than 500,000,000 years? Given the half lives of DNA and amino acids or other decay processes of biological organisms, how can we account for preservation of these biotic materials for far longer than indicated by their chemical half-lives?
  14. Can geological strata form rapidly? What about the university experiments and field observations that show strata can form rapidly? If they can form rapidly, and if fossil presence demands they form rapidly, doesn’t that suggest they formed rapidly?
  15. If redshifts in the Big Bang model are discovered to be possibly caused by other mechanisms than relative motion, wouldn’t that put the Big Bang in doubt? Wouldn’t that also raise questions about stellar distances?
  16. What is the farthest astronomical distance that can be determined by parallax or very long base line interferometry, and what fraction is that detection distance relative to the claimed size of the visible universe relative to the Big Bang? How do you account for Super Nova by stars not inside galaxies? If so, doesn’t that mean there is a higher probability of Super Nova in a star outside a galaxy by a factor of hundreds of billions if not more? If so, why should this be?


1. Some of them are easy to answer. The best answer is "I don't know." Some of them take some time to answer and I don't have that time right now.

81 comments :

  1. By the end he isn't even going for ID; he's arguing young earth creationism.

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    1. Exactly. Questions 13-14 are addressed to geologists (and the thing questioned is the age of the Earth), and 15-16 to astronomers and cosmologists (translation: "The visible universe is really much smaller and much younger that scientists claim").

      I feel unjustly ignored as a historical linguist. My colleagues and me have good reasons to think that established language families such as Indo-European are much too old to fit into biblical chronology (including the Tower of Babel story).

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    2. Just one more sign ID is religion - the central thesis is a muddled mess.

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    3. 13) Do geological layers involving permineralized fossils or other kinds of well-preserved fossils require rapid burial? If the burial process is rapid, does it really take millions of years then to make that particular layer that has fossils? If you find C14 in Cambrian fossils not the result of contamination or lab error, does that mean the fossil had a more recent time of death than 500,000,000 years? Given the half lives of DNA and amino acids or other decay processes of biological organisms, how can we account for preservation of these biotic materials for far longer than indicated by their chemical half-lives?

      14) Can geological strata form rapidly? What about the university experiments and field observations that show strata can form rapidly? If they can form rapidly, and if fossil presence demands they form rapidly, doesn’t that suggest they formed rapidly?


      13) Fossil-containing strata don't necessarily need fast burial. E.g. a slow but anoxic environment would have much lower time constraints for forming fossila. Also, hard-shells can be preserved just fine without any fast burial. I'm not aware of anyone finding C14 in Cambrian fossils. I'm also not aware of anyone finding Cambrian DNA or proteins either.

      14) Yes, strata can form rapidly or slowly (in geological terms). No, fossil presence doesn't necessarily demand they form rapidly, but in most cases they do. However, the point is not if a particuluar strata formed rapidly, but what fossils are shown evolving in the strata, if there is clear evolution in a single strata or is it a group of different strata, and what is the placement of all the strata in the general stratigraphy of the area. I fail to see exactely what is the problem here.

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  2. It needs someone as expert in all these fields as Sal is to deal with that little lot. Talk about a Gish Gallop!

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  3. What is "poly constrained DNA"?

    I especially like the dead dog/Humpty Dumpty question. I believe the answer is "yes".

    And he forgot one important question: "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"

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    1. I especially like the dead dog/Humpty Dumpty question.

      Can't a sponge reassemble itself if you squeeze it through a fine sieve?

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    2. Yeah, but he didn't ask about a sponge. Try running a dead dog through a sieve and let me know how it works out. Evolutionist stumped again!

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    3. So did Jesus bomb Pearl Harbor before or after he was run through a sieve ?

      And Mr. Cordova's expertise with respect to dead dogs is surpassed only by his penchant for flogging dead horses.

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    4. I think "polyconstrained" DNA is DNA on which there are multiple selective constraints. As long as the number of degrees of freedom in the traits is bigger than there number of constraints, change under natural selection (or other evolutionary forces) should be possible. The question does not make any of this clear.

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  4. Were a student ever to ask these questions of me, I would first ask them to define several of their terms (such as "poly constraint") and then I would ask them how they were going to decide if the answers I provide them are correct or not, in other words, how will they understand the answers I provide. At that point, I suppose I would either be branded an "elitist" or the student would yammer and stammer and suggest that I simply carry on with class.

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  5. That's the second "Big Daddy?" moment this week (the first being that movie "God is not Dead"). What accounts for the recent spate of creationist power fantasies?

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    1. Short man complex. ALL of creationism is inexplicable until you understand short man complex.

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  6. A commentator named "Roy" answers all these questions in the second comment on the post. I particularly like his response to #7.

    It's interesting that Sal Cordova admits that Jonathan Wells previous list of stumpers have received "good answers". Wells can at least take solace in the fact that his questions defied evolutionists for longer than Sal's, which were shot down in a matter of mere hours.

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    1. Who is this Roy and where does he work? And why am I banned from UD but he's not? I's jealous.

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    2. Not banned yet. Give those guardians of free speech and scientific inquiry at the Discovery Institute time....

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    3. I am. Decades of practice at fancy footwork and brinksmanship.

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  7. Are stars big and far away, or just very small and close up? Scientists can't prove a damn thing. Sure, the Andromeda Galaxy might be inside the orbit of the moon. Relativistic jets shooting from active black holes might be 2 inches long, but glued to the lens of those smarty-pants scientists' telescopes. It's not like scientists would know how to *check* for such things.

    Perhaps Sal Cordova is 6 inches tall, but when we see him, he is always standing in front of a magnifying glass. Perhaps Sal is a reptilian alien wearing a rubber human suit. Perhaps he is a species of clever parrot that skillfully imitates human speech but does not understand what it means. Scientists can never prove otherwise!

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  8. Now I have a question for Sal:

    Why am I, like so many other scientists, banned from Uncommon Descent & not permitted to answer such important questions?

    I know, I know. My blood pressure.

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  9. I'm always bemused by the fact that these IDiots use the current position that science has on these questions to attack the currently held position.

    Pre 1955 there would have been no questions about ribosomes and before 1953 there would have been no babble about DNA.

    These cargo culters are indeed reminiscent of Melanesian islanders peering into the empty husks of television sets hoping for the return of the spirits of their dead bearing huge supplies of manufactured goods.

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  10. Some questions are gibberish; the rest invoke the argument from ignorance. You don't know, so it must have been magic.

    The thing is of course, if a student does not understand why the argument from ignorance is problematic, they will consider the professor stumped and creationism vindicated. Probably even in the cases where the professor's answer is "your question does not make enough sense for me to even understand it".

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    1. I agree, yet in a sense all inductive arguments are 'arguments from ignorance'. There is always an alternate explanation.

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  11. Your average standard evolutionary biologist, particularly one who doesn't concern themselves with arguing with creationists, does tend to fall into a trap when the Origin Of Life comes up. When someone asks them "how do you explain the Origin Of Life" they tend to answer:

    "You're right, there is no explanation. No one has ever explained it. I just can't think of any explanation!"

    Whereas if they had simply read the literature they could say that there were numbers of theories, falling into different categories, and that it is a hard topic to study but there is progress and there are prospects for more progress.

    But I have been irritated by how many of my fellow evolutionary biologists don't read that literature but are still willing to declare that no one knows anything, just because they don't know anything.

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    1. I would be a bit more charitable; nobody can be expected to know everything, and evolutionary biologists (not sure if I am to be counted among them) usually don't even deal with the origin of life. These gotcha questions above are about as convincing as if I walked up to some random professor of optical physics, asked him to explain cosmic inflation, and then consider the Big Bang refuted if he cannot provide a convincing narrative.

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    2. Sure. If someone asks me about the perihelion of Mercury, I say that I'm not an astronomer or planetary scientist, and can't say anything sensible. But I don't go around raving about how nobody has any explanation for it!

      Too many fellow evolutionary biologists feel free to rave about how no one has any explanations for the Origin Of Life. Which is ridiculous.

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    3. It's worse with the fossil record. Paleontologists found hundreds of transitional fossils. But if a creationist tells the average pro-science person there are no transitional fossils, they're likely to concede the point. Ugh. Never concede anything and never trust a creationist as an authority.

      Slowly this is changing. Rationalists are wising up & disputing the "gaps in the fossil record" bit.

      Notice that Sal Cordova, a YEC, makes no mention of transitional fossils at all. Perhaps they've realized it's a loser for them.

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    4. It partly has to do with the confusion over what a "transitional fossil" is. It has a "transitional" combination of characters but of course it is unlikely to be from the actual ancestor species. People who think that "transitional" implies it must be from the ancestor species are likely to too-readily agree that we we mostly don't have those (with some exceptions such as Homo erectus).

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    5. Much more to the point would the reply that all fossils are transitional fossils (with the exception of those that represent a lineage that went extinct immediately after the fossilisation event).

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    6. That's a terrible reply; it tries to weasel with the definition of "transitional" and would convince the typical, unbiased listener that you're dishonest. Best to counter with real transitional fossils; Archaeopteryx, to pick the most common example. You need to defend the best transitional fossils against creationist attacks if you want to accomplish anything.

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    7. I agree, we should not say "all fossils are transitional fossils" because this is based on the assumption that common descent is true and ongoing.

      It is more accurate and correct to predict the structural properties of intermediate forms from the properties of the species in a phylogenetic diagram, and then show that fossil forms match those predicted intermediate properties, whereas many other conceivable combinations are not found (e.g. no mermaid, no minotaur, no makara nor manticore, no chimera nor cockentrice, no crocoduck (not yet at least); no zhulong, no jackalope, no gargoyle, no gruffalo, no griffin yet (this much I know); no garuda or apsara (which in Chinese they call Fei tian), no phoenix and no Fei lian; no chupacabra, no qilin; no wuzzle and no waterhorse, no werewolf ('cept Ken Ham of course).

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    8. So essentially you think it is bad tactics to explain how evolution really proceeds? Sorry, but I can't agree with that. When somebody says "haha, evolution must be wrong because there is no crocoduck", would you also warn me not to explain that crocoduck is a nonsensical expectation because creationists would see that as a cop-out?

      I mean, how do you even assign "transitional" status to a fossil? You have found A and B first, so a species C morphologically intermediate between them is "transitional". Fine. But if you had instead found species C first, oops, C would never have been considered "transitional" in the first place, it would simply have been one of the things you need transitions between. That approach is absurd, and it would be nice to communicate why.

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    9. I think "transitional" is actually bad terminology. I think it dates to 50+ years ago when many evolutionary biologists naïvely assumed that any fossil that looked like an ancestor really was the ancestor. Archaeopteryx was assumed to actually be an ancestor of modern birds.

      Now the definition is modified to mean having a "transitional" combination of character-states, which is what our fossils really are. But we're plagued by the word "transitional". We need some term that does not also imply, to the unwary listener, that the fossil is known-to-be-the-ancestor.

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    10. Joe: Yes I agree. And owing to how these character-states are often diagrammed in rough chronological order it is very easy, esp for the layperson (which is what I am when it comes to evolution), to assume this represents a direct ancestral lineage. Then when it is deduced that such and such fossil is not ancestral it is used by some to discredit the whole idea of evolution. Naturally, given the number of fossils we have vs the number of organisms that have lived, we should expect a "character-state" situation rather than complete records of transition within lineages.

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    11. If fossils represent a combination of character-states they could be called combinatorial fossils. Some other terms that could be used (when applicable) to describe fossils or extant life forms (or at least particular character states): trans-combinatorial, intermediate, developmental, multi-character(istic), mid-character(istic), trans-character(istic), extensional, quasi-transitional, convergional, divergional, trans-divergional, trans-branching, trans-morphological, combino-morphological, etc. Keep in mind that there's no law against coming up with new words, combinations of words, or new definitions for already existing words. The most important thing is to apply a clear and concise definition to whichever word or words are used.

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  12. The question to ask is IS there any bilogical scientific evidence for the important claims of evolution as origin for complexity and diversity in biology.
    Hit them on the science methodology point and the rest can be mopped up later.
    After After After all it was the failure of the rigour of scientific investigation being accurately enforced that allowed the error or evolution to last in the small circles that seriously study it whether paid or not.

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    1. No Robert, you have no evidence for any of that, it's just a line of reasoning

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  13. By the way, over at UD Sal is declaring the RNA World hypothesis to be "discredited". This from someone who is a Young Earth Creationist! Talk about discredited ...

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    1. "Dr" JDD recommends this paper, though he can't decide if it's a joke or not. He recommends it because it illustrates the laughability of OoL speculation, having a tongue-in-cheek title and mentioning vinaigrette. To me, it's a good and engagingly written survey of the pros and cons.

      JDD also notes:"It is also odd that archaea have histones but bacteria do not, but all eukaryotes do (and strongly conserved).", as a prelude to an expression of amazement at the (Designed) complexity of life. Of course there is no 'naturalistic' hypothesis that has any bearing on this little conundrum [*cough! endosymbiosis!"]. It must be Design - it's a design essential both that histone be present, and that it be absent.

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    2. I'd cough and say "common descent" since archaea and eukaryotes are thought to share a common ancestor. It would be sufficient for histones to have arisen in the lineage leading to that common ancestor. No symbiosis needed, at least for that.

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    3. Yeah, it's hard to get a lot into a cough! A third leg is LGT. All, as you say, fit under the umbrella of common descent.

      But the eukaryotic cell is not strictly one thing or the other. Its mitochondria and chloroplasts lack histones, so its nuclear genome possesses the 'wonderful design' of histones, while its organelles survive without. I didn't make that clear. Cough!

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    4. I don't think it's been established that eukaryotic histones and archaebacterial DNA binding proteins are descended from a common ancestor. As far as I can tell, the two types of proteins do not share significant sequence similarity. If anyone can find a paper that shows a significant alignment, I'd like to see it.

      Note that none of the five eukaryotic histones are related to each other either. Does anyone know which histone is supposed to be related to the archaeal histones? Evidence?

      The speculation seems to be based entirely on some structural similarities; namely, the "histone fold." That's not sufficient to conclude common ancestry since you can't rule out convergence.

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    5. The original RNA world hypothesis imagined that the primordial soup contained nucleotides and that the first catalysts were RNA molecules that formed spontaneously in the primordial soup.

      I don't think very many informed scientists believe in that version of RNA world any more. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that the RNA World Hypothesis has been discredited [Bye bye RNA world].

      It may be possible to salvage something but only if you give up the idea that RNA molecules were the first biological catalysts.

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    6. I don't think very many informed scientists believe in that version of RNA world any more.

      Unfortunately, it's not clear how the alternatives deal with the criticisms levelled at RNA scenarios, except for the comparative ease of monomer production. When people hear that 'RNA World has been discredited', they tend to imagine that it must be proteins that formed spontaneously in the primordial soup. After all, Miller-Urey and all that. But polymerisation of amino acids, whether in soup, vesicle or at a surface, seems even less plausible, both energetically and from the 'specification' perspective. And the transition to RNA/DNA from this start point seems hopeless.

      I'm not a 'soupist', but as far as the macromolecules are concerned I still find the sequence RNA-then-peptides to be the likeliest. The Central Dogma seems to be go to the very core.

      I don't think Life begain with ribozymes. But I do think it plausible that it initiated from double stranded RNA arising by hybridisation from random short oligoucleotides. These preferentially stabilise homochiral chains, from among which the first to turn the trick of template-synthesis can (in principle) produce copies of such a homochiral ribozyme/genome ad lib.

      It's speculative, I know. Informed scientists may have turned to other scenarios. But I don't see how they get round the specification/repeatability issue, or the transition.

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    7. Mr Moran
      Common descent conclusions from Structural similarities is not only yellow flagged by convergence options.
      There is also the option that likeness comes from like basics in biology for needs by a created system. A computer program by a creator.
      Its the most likely option I think.
      Placing ones confidence that likeness in biology is all the proof one needs to conclude common descent would seem to most people as like guessing.
      They would say THATS all the evidence they got for common descent?! Looking the same!!
      Things would look the same of someone thought the same thing worked for all models.
      its not scientific biological evidence for common descent anyways. its truly a exclusive line of reasoning.
      Another line trumps it all as evidence at all.

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    8. No Robert, you have no evidence against common descent, it's all just a line of reasoning

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    9. There isn't any way to scientifically test the concept of universal common descent- especially via unguided evolution. IOW there isn't any evidence to support UCD, it is all just a line of poor reasoning.

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  14. I'm curious, what traits do biologists think are most likely to be fixed in the human population? It would make a good Buzzfeed article, "You won't believe the ten mutant abilities all humans will soon have!" I have a friend with six toes, that's what I'm rooting for.

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    1. I'm going with a "G" in position 113,496,117 of chromosome 2.

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    2. Lactose tolerance is next, I'll guess. According to the NIH, about 65% of the population is lactose intolerant to some extent; with the figures reaching 90% in Asian populations. So, that means only about 35% of the population doesn't fart when they eat cheese. I'm thinking that's a situation that needs to be remedied.

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    3. I was once discussing, online, what was the most common genetic disease. Someone suggested cystic fibrosis, whose disease alleles reach 1% frequency in Europeans. There is sickle-cell anemia too, at an even higher gene frequency of about 15% in some African populations, owing to its role in protecting against malaria.

      So I said, no, it was lactose intolerance, which worldwide has a gene frequency way above 50%. I was very proud of making that point. Which is when I got "schooled". Someone else pointed out that in that case the disease allele is not the one for lactose intolerance, it is the one for lactose tolerance, as the lactose intolerance allele is normal.

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    4. May as well ask a linguist which is the next word we'll need to add to the dictionary! I'm rooting for "snarg". You heard it here first, folks!

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    5. @Joe Felsenstein
      Yes, the lactose intolerance allele is ancestral, but why can't it be a disease allele? it is lactose INtolerance that causes discomfort nowadays, right?

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    6. Only if you insist on the continued drinking of milk after being weaned!

      Aside from dairy though, I wonder if there are any other food sources out there that carry enough lactose to cause detectable problems?

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    7. SRM asks,

      I wonder if there are any other food sources out there that carry enough lactose to cause detectable problems?

      Our ancestors evolved for several million years being lactose intolerant. I'm guessing the answer is "no."

      However, if you ask the customers in a "health food" (sic) store in la la land, you'll get a very different answer.

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    8. By the way, lactose tolerance is in no way an example of a constructive mutation. It's merely the loss of the inability to digest lactose.

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    9. I was going to make the comment that the mutations leading to lactose tolerance are further proof that not all non-coding DNA is junk DNA. But since my sarcasm is sometimes confused with being serious, I thought better of it. ;)

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    10. John, I'm curious about why you think that lactose tolerance is not a constructive (beneficial?) mutation? Regardless of whether lactose tolerance or intolerance are 'normal', it seems to me that the ability to comfortably digest milk and its byproducts is constructive (beneficial) especially since milk is pretty easy to come by even when there's no grocery stores around. All it takes is a lactating mammal, and they're common.

      To everyone: Something else that comes to mind is that if lactose intolerance is 'normal' then why were/are animal milk and its byproducts ever desirable, important, or absolutely necessary as a food source for humans before and/or after they stopped/stop consuming their human mother's milk?

      Just FYI, my mother has told me that I wouldn't breastfeed and she jokingly says that it's because it wasn't chocolate milk. I have always loved milk and at age 62 I still drink at least a half gallon per day (usually chocolate), plus I eat milk byproducts (cheese, ice cream, etc.) and have no problems with them. My mother became lactose intolerant to some degree when she got into her eighties and I haven't heard my two brothers say anything about discomfort from eating milk or its byproducts. I'm the biggest fan of milk in my family but I've seen my brothers drink/eat plenty of milk and its byproducts. A vegan friend of mine often tells me that cow milk is bad for me and tries to get me to switch to plant based milks, such as soy, almond, or rice. I like chocolate soy or almond milk and do drink some but cow milk (especially chocolate) is still my favorite.

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    11. Do I have to start using emoticons here, or are people going to become capable of recognizing sarcasm?

      Cheese, butter, yogurt, and similar products in which much of the lactose is either removed or predigested by bacteria are the conventionally ascribed reasons for dairy farming before the evolution of adult lactose tolerance.

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  15. Can someone remind me where those secret ID research labs are located, and where they are publishing their work?

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    1. I'm not sure where, but I know when. Always and for ever in the future.

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    2. Don't you remember? We even saw pictures of it:

      http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2012/12/the-disco-tutes-1.html

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    3. Google: Biologic Institute

      and look at "Contact".

      It's apparently in a small office building in downtown Redmond, Washington. You can see the building on Streetview. It's not too interesting.

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    4. But they do have a lot of state of the art scientific equipment:

      http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/06/11/what-does-the-biologic-institu/

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    5. This is what they accomplished in 2011 (more recent tax forms are not available):

      BOTH OUR LABORATORY RESEARCH AND OUR COMPUTATIONAL RESEARCH MADE SUBSTANTIAL PROGRESS DURING THE FISCAL EAR ENDING SEPTEMBER 30, 2012, WITH TECHNICAL PAPERS BEING UNDER REVIEW AND IN PREPARATION WE ALSO CONTINUED TO BUILD COLLABORATIVE TIES TO OTHER LABS, ONE OF WHICH PRODUCED A PUBLISHED PAPER DURING THE FISCAL YEAR DOUGLAS AXE JOINED WITH MATTI LEISOLA AND OSSI PASTINEN OF AALTO UNIVERSITY IN FINLAND TO WRITE A CRITICAL REVIEW PAPER ON THE IMPLICATIONS OF LIGNIN AND ITS DEGRADATION, PUBLISHED IN BIO-COMPLEXITY (DOI 10 5048/BIOC 2012 3) AT A MORE POPULAR LEVEL, ANN GAUGER AND DOUGLAS AXE CO-AUTHORED (WITH CASEY LUSKIN) A BOOK TITLED SCIENCE AND HUMAN ORIGINS, WHICH WAS PUBLISHED BY DISCOVERY INSTITUTE PRESS DURING THE FISCAL YEAR SOME OF THE CHAPTERS IN THIS BOOK DEVELOP THE BROADER IMPLICATIONS OF OUR PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED TECHNICAL WORK SINCE OUR MISSION CENTERS NOT ONLY ON SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH BUT ALSO ON COMMUNICATION OF ITS IMPLICATIONS TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC, THIS PUBLICATION IS AN IMPORTANT ADDITION TO OUR WORK ON PUBLIC COMMUNICATION OTHER SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN THIS AREA WERE A COMPLETE REDESIGN OF OUR WEB SITE (BIOLOGIC INSTITUTE ORG) USING THE TUMBLR PLATFORM AND THE LAUNCH OF OUR FACEBOOK SITE

      But of course the only substantial item in the budget is, predictably, Douglas Axe's directorial salary. Less that 0.01% of that amount was spent on "conferences, conventions, and meetings", for example.

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    6. Wow! A Tumblr and a Facebook page! I guess they had to hire someone's 12 year old niece as a consultant to get that project completed.

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    7. That's their "computational research". The tax report doesn't reveal any particulars of their lab projects (except that substantial progress has been made).

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    8. Maybe Ann Gauger's bacterial cultures keep evolving new beneficial traits, and she has to keep flushing them down the toilet before anyone finds out.

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    9. Lutesuite- already happened. In one experiment, she found a doubling of growth rate in E. coli in 5 generations. How the E. coli evolved didn't fit her prediction, so she disregarded it. The DI still cites this Bio-complexity paper approvingly in support of the impossibility of evolution.

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  16. Sal showing his true colors with his YEC 'stumper' list. I think they're slowly turning kookier and kookier

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  17. Larry,

    ///It may be possible to salvage something but only if you give up the idea that RNA molecules were the first biological catalysts.///

    Have you seen this recent study. It's pretty cool:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24669-synthetic-primordial-cell-copies-rna-for-the-first-time.html#.U0aiXq2Syeo

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/342/6162/1098

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  18. The paper shows that if you start with a catalytic RNA and feed it lots of nucleoside triphosphates then you can make more RNA under certain conditions.

    That doesn't address any of the serious problems with RNA World.

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  19. But this RNA replication occurs inside a protocell in the absence of protein enzymes. And the addition of citrate stabilizes the whole system. The study certainly doesn't solve all problems, but it's a breakthrough nonetheless.

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    1. Ah, but where does the citrate come from! ;) I'd agree that announcements of the death of RNA world appear premature. Difficulties are being chipped away. As to 'metabolism first', although enzyme-free cycles are a likely part of the prebiotic world, some of the vaguer speculations are a bit rich coming from people who dismiss RNA on grounds of implausibility. Replicating metabolic systems that 'evolve' the genome? Now that's implausible!

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    2. What's implausible (i.e. impossible) is the idea of a primordial soup full of complex organic molecules that formed spontaneoulsy in sufficient concentrations to cause polymerization. Metabolism First tries to get around this impossibility by postulating that the first complex organic molecules (e.g. amino acids and bases) were made in local environments by primitive catalysts using energy derived from proton gradients.

      All origin of life scenarios are implausible but some are more implausible than others.

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    3. It's true it's not going to happen in open solution, and that the link with local energy transfer is probably vital (sodium gradients could be another possibility for an energy source). But the initial polymerisation of random RNAs appears to be easily achievable.. Sure, they used pure reagents where nature would produce a mess. But hybridisation of random complementary sequences may preferentially stabilise chains of a certain composition - those with homochiral ribose, complementary bases and 3' 5' linkage - from a more complex mixture.

      Non-templated RNAs are poor things, stopped by cyclisation at low x-mer sizes. But cyclisation itself is an interesting hint at the bacterial genome in miniature. And stabilisation by hybridisation allows extension, by reducing flexion of the chain.

      I realise the monomers had to come from somewhere, but there seems more hope of generating polymers from phosphorylated nucleotides than amino acids. Initially, neither is repeatable, but RNA has a potential the peptide lacks.

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  20. The stellar parallax might be the worst. I take it as some YEC claim-in-progress that (because of the precision of the measurements--millionths of arcseconds) since NASA can only work out distances to tens of thousands of light years, the universe is young.

    Wrong technique. This is like triangulating AM radio stations and determining the universe is 300 miles across.

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    1. Oh, I think the one about putting the Big Bang in doubt is the worst. If you turn on a television and set it to receive from an antenna without having an antenna hooked up, you see "snow." Know why you see "snow" and not just a blank screen? The cosmic microwave background radiation that is the heat signature of the Big Bang.

      So I'd nominate the question that's elementary enough you can just bring a TV to class, turn it on, and boom! Big Bang proved and Sal's still an IDiot.

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  21. Heck I would ask any biology professor to model unguided evolution and tell us what predictions ae borne from it. Then I would sit back and watch him/ her make a total ass of his/ her self.

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  22. Like how IDiots do when asked for evidence for ID and all they can muster are analogies to human activity or character assassinations of Darwin?

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