Friday, July 10, 2015

Kirk Durston appears on Evolution News & Views to announce that "Darwinian Theory" has been falsified

Kirk Durston is a Canadian biophysicist with a Ph.D. from the University of Guelph (Guelph, Ontario, Canada). He's been attacking evolution for more than a decade using all the old tricks and sophistry that we've come to expect from creationists.

I thought you might be interested in his latest attempt to discredit evolution. His post is at: An Essential Prediction of Darwinian Theory Is Falsified by Information Degradation.

He begins by claiming that "Darwinian Theory" (what ever that is) makes an essential prediction. It predicts that information must increase over time.
In the neo-Darwinian scenario for the origin and diversity of life, the digital functional information for life would have had to begin at zero, increase over time to eventually encode the first simple life form, and continue to increase via natural processes to encode the digital information for the full diversity of life.

An essential, falsifiable prediction of Darwinian theory, therefore, is that functional information must, on average, increase over time.
Evolutionary theory makes no such prediction. Evolutionary theory is about the mechanisms of evolution, speciation etc. It explains the history of life but it doesn't make any predictions about how that history should unfold. Think of it this way. Imagine that we discovered primitive living cells on another planet and that they were capable of evolving. Evolutionary theory cannot predict whether that life will survive or go extinct and it certainly can't predict whether it will eventually produce maple trees or mosquitoes. The history of life on Earth clearly began with some very simple cells and it's just as clear that some modern species are very complex. We can understand how that happened but evolutionary theory did not predict that more complex organisms had to arise over time.

Contrast this with the Intelligent Design version of creationism. Apparently its followers understand the mind of the "intelligent designer" because they are prepared to make predictions about what he/she/it/them intended. Here's how Kirk Durston describes it ...
Interestingly, a prediction of intelligent design science is quite the opposite. Since information always degrades over time for any storage media and replication system, intelligent design science postulates that the digital information of life was initially downloaded into the genomes of life. It predicts that, on average, genetic information is steadily being corrupted by natural processes. The beauty of these two mutually incompatible predictions in science is that the falsification of one entails verification of the other. So which prediction does science falsify, and which does science verify?
If I understand this correctly, the Intelligent Design Creationists all agree that all the information required to make complex organisms was written into the genome at some time in the past (3.5 billion years ago according to many ID proponents). Since that time, the intelligent designer has allowed that information to steadily degrade so that eventually all species will become extinct. (I don't know how Durston came to understand the mind of the gods.)

What does the evidence show? Here's what Kirk Durston says,
This is the first problem for neo-Darwinian theory. Mutations produce random changes in the digital information of life. It is generally agreed that the rate of deleterious mutations is much greater than the rate of beneficial mutations. My own work with 35 protein families suggests that the rate of destruction is, at minimum, 8 times the rate of neutral or beneficial mutations.

Simply put, the digital information of life is being destroyed much faster than it can be repaired or improved. New functions may evolve, but the overall loss of functional information in other areas of the genome will, on average, be significantly greater. The net result is that the digital information of life is running down.
Isn't that interesting? Intelligent Design Creationists believe that over the past 3.5 billion years the genetic information in simple bacteria has been steadily degrading at a rate 8 times the rate of beneficial mutations.

Aside from the fact that Durston's statement is ridiculous, it says something very weird about the intelligent designer that these creationists believe in. Those gods intelligent designers don't resemble any human engineers or computer programmers that I've ever met. Humans would have done a better job of designing in the first place and they would make sure that crucial systems get frequent updates and repairs to keep them working.
We continue to discover more examples of DNA loss, suggesting that the biological world is slowly running down. Microevolution is good at fine-tuning existing forms within their information limits and occasionally getting something right, but the steady accumulation of deleterious mutations on the larger scale suggests that mutation-driven evolution is actually destroying biological life, not creating it.

This is hardly a surprise, as every other area of science, except for evolutionary biology, grants that natural processes degrade information, regardless of the storage media and copying process. For neo-Darwinian macroevolution to work, it requires something that is in flat-out contradiction to the real world.
This is the best they've got? Are you still wondering why I call them IDiots?


86 comments :

  1. So you start out with a huge, complicated instruction manual you don't really need for the simple stuff you're building at the beginning. Then by the time you get to the really complex stuff - the "pinnacle of creation" - most of the instructions are illegible because they're on faded, stained, ripped pages.

    Is *that* really the process IDiots want to attribute to a supposedly all-knowing designer? And if so, why aren't they accepting the existence of "junk" DNA with open arms, since that's just what you'd expect from the "instruction manual" after a few billion years.

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    1. Good point! I guess that one of the predictions of Intelligent Design Creationism is that most genomes would be littered with junk, right?

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    2. If only they knew how to make a prediction!

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    3. That's why I call these things "fraudictions."

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  2. No I am not wondering at all. A shame he got his PhD from our University. His DNA loss argument is so ludicrous, it caused severe laughing attacks while reading. I might have lost some of my DNA during that.

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  3. This actually makes another prediction though.

    If this is correct, then when we reconstruct ancient genes, we should be able to use that information to correctly describe the genes of every organism/species descended from that one. If we can't, then that gene/species/whatever wasn't a common ancestor.

    Of course, this is all meaningless bioflabble, but it shows that ID goofs, even Ph.D. ones, never think about the further consequences of what they say.

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    1. "Of course, this is all meaningless bioflabble, but it shows that ID goofs, even Ph.D. ones, never think about the further consequences of what they say."

      From wasting untold hours on creation/evolution discussion forums for the past 10+ years, that is one of several very common themes running through all creationist arguments. They rarely, if ever, consider the implications of their supposed creation-proving or evolution-refuting assertions beyond the specific confines of the particular point they think they are making.
      A non-DNA related example - I don't know how many times I have encountered creationists claiming that god made the universal constants/natural laws so that we could engage in scientific discovery, only to have the same person, in other contexts, claim that physical constants were different in the past. Their arguments are not only inconsistent, but, as you indicated, ultimately self-defeating.

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    2. Exactly, they claim the fundamental constants are fine tuned, then later CDK for instance. What a joke

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    3. There's a term for that: the White Queen hypothesis holds that creationists are able to believe as many as six impossible (and mutually contradictory) things before breakfast.

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  4. A shame he got his PhD from our University.

    A shame your University didn't appoint me to a faculty position when they had the chance (in 1977). Probably wouldn't have made no difference as I would have been in Chemistry and I think Kirk Durston would not. Anyway, Marseilles has nicer weather than Guelph so I didn't do badly out of it.

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  5. And Durston's metric of information is what, exactly?

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  6. Hmm, an increase in information would be a decrease in entropy.

    Methinks he needs to go play in the sun a bit.

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  7. Larry

    If information doesn't increase in the process of evolution, how has the complexity increased from say a simpler molecule, such as prokaryote to eukaryote?

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    1. It seems pretty obvious to me that some modern organisms are more complex than the most primitive ones we see in the fossil record. It seems likely that this increase in complexity was accomplished by having more genes and more information storage.

      Thus, without quibbling about the exact meaning of "information" it seems to me that in some lineages there has been a considerable INCREASE in the information content of the genome. (This is not a requirement of evolution.)

      Do you agree? Or, do you agree with Kirk Durston that "digital information of life is being destroyed much faster than it can be repaired or improved."

      Do you agree that life on Earth is about 3.5 billion years old?

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    2. Don't be absurd. Obviously, ancient bacteria were more complex genetically than modern bacteria, and likewise more than modern humans. That's the whole front-loading hypothesis in a nutshell. Show me a Precambrian bacterial genome and prove me wrong.

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    3. @John Harshman

      Show me a Precambrian bacterial genome

      What you mean one Precambrian genome? I want all of them!!!!!111one. And a few rocks, rocks too, I want precambrian rock genome or goddunit

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    4. John H ***Don't be absurd. Obviously, ancient bacteria were more complex genetically than modern bacteria, and likewise more than modern humans. That's the whole front-loading hypothesis in a nutshell. Show me a Precambrian bacterial genome and prove me wrong **

      So Durston contradicts Behe? For that matter why aren't the other IDers who don't agree with Behe on common descent debating him? Any why aren't the YEC's and OE in ID debating each other?
      This is why ID isn't science. Scientists don't behave this way. They don't suppress internal disagreements to present a common front to outsiders. This is how politicians behave.

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    5. Information DOES increase. And there's no inherent reason information can't increase. It just requires an energy input, that's all.

      Durston is just putting a different coat of paint on the old "Second Law ot Thermodynamics means evolution is impossible" canard

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    6. *Information DOES increase. And there's no inherent reason information can't increase.**
      Yes. This mantra of the IDers that info cant increase goes back decades, but try as they might they cant come up with a rigorous defense of it. On the other hand a single example of info increasing due to mutation would refute the entire claim. Back in the 90s on the talk.orgins site, when they challenged opponents to come up with an example, I mentioned sickle-cell anemia. With one mutation hemoglobin retains the ability to carry oxygen but gains the function of trapping Plasmodium

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    7. Dr. Moran didn't state that information cannot increase as part of the evolutionary process, just that it is erroneous to state that it is a necessary component.

      Clearly there are many cases where information within and complexity of the genome do increase over time; but the reverse also happens. Neither disproves any significant aspect of evolutionary theory.

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    8. Larry

      It seems pretty obvious to me that some modern organisms are more complex than the most primitive ones we see in the fossil record. It seems likely that this increase in complexity was accomplished by having more genes and more information storage.

      I'm not 100 % sure where you are going with this but I have to agree that so far you are making your point quite reasonable. If that's the case though, wouldn't your blog on Kirk be at least a bit contradictory? I hope you don't mind my inquiring mind? Please correct an old, retired man

      I would like to hear more from you Moran because you seem to be one the kind. Unorthodox. It may be a good.

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    9. Sceptical Mind can't follow the implications of his own claims.

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    10. John Harshman is a self-righteous and not funny anymore

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    11. Larry

      Further to our interesting discussion, I'm not sure whether life on earth originated 3.5 billion years ago. The calculations based on the big bang theory indicate that the Earth formed about 4.3 billion years ago. I'm not sure when water appeared on it.

      I think it is safe to say, without any evidence of course, that the first forms of the ocean life may have "appeared" soon after the water sources on the Earth had been established. I don't think I can bring in more to the subject as the information on it is mainly conflicting as are the studies.

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    12. Well, at least I was funny for a time. That's all anyone can expect.

      I am anxious to learn how the age of the earth was calculated based on the big bang theory.

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    13. This is a very good question John. I'm not sure but the calculations could have been done on the bases of the speed of the expansion of the universe and how matter could have clumped together to form planets with the starting point of the BB. Just like you I remain a skeptic.

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    14. Wrong answer. The right answer is that the big bang has nothing at all to do with the age of the earth, and you have misremembered or garbled something that you may have dreamed you read.

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    15. John Harshman

      You are right. The process of the age calculation is called Radiometric Age Dating. Got it mixed up.

      Thanks to you, I found out now that the age of the Earth could be way, way off thanks to the process called accretion, which could be off from few to 100 million years based on a similar model and not the same. It is just a hypothesis. To put it in real terms, nobody knows how old the Earth really is, which means that your guess could be just as good as mine.

      ”It is hypothesised that the accretion of Earth began soon after the formation of the calcium-aluminium-rich inclusions and the meteorites. Because the exact amount of time this accretion process took is not yet known, and the predictions from different accretion models range from a few millions up to about 100 million years, the exact age of Earth is difficult to determine. It is also difficult to determine the exact age of the oldest rocks on Earth, exposed at the surface, as they are aggregates of minerals of possibly different ages.

      Wikipedia

      All this leads me to a fair conclusion that with the age of the Earth really unknown as well as the time of the appearance of the first life forms on it, there could be much less time for life to evolve than we have been told.

      Simply put, the time between the appearance of first life forms and the Cambrian big bang could have been much, much shorter, and between the Cambrian bb to today.

      With the mechanism/cause of the Cambrian bb unknown, this whole scenario presented as science looks more and more just like a so story rather than a legitimate science.

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    16. Stupid and ignorant is no way to go through life, son. You have shed one wrong belief and gained another in clear contradiction of the source you yourself quote. How can you possibly go from a maximum error of 100 million years to "Simply put, the time between the appearance of first life forms and the Cambrian big bang could have been much, much shorter, and between the Cambrian bb to today." You're talking about at most, the difference between 4.3 billion years and 4.2 billion years, and the possible error mentioned has nothing at all to do with the age of the Cambrian. Go back and read again.

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    17. 4.2 billion years old < Age if Earth < 4.3 billion years old

      Yup, science can never tell us anything about the age of the Earth. The Cambrian explosion might've happened last Monday. Clearly, if scientists do not know *everything *, it means they know nothing.

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    18. Just when you thought you've seen a creationist go full retard, here's Sceptic Mind pushing his own boundaries.

      Now watch this guy argue that a few millions to 100M years (tops) is a lot, while at the same time the 55M of the Cambrian diversification are essentially the blink of a gawd's eye

      ready?

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    19. John Harahan

      You claim to be a scientist aren't you? Provide some evidence instead of just foaming your saliva like a stray dog. I don't like when someone is barking at me. I mean it. If you think you are still a brainless monkey, it is fine with me. Just behave like one.

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    20. Skeptical Mind

      Why can't any of these creationists spell my name? P.Z. Meiurz had the same problem, if I recall.

      So, what would you like to see evidence of? Be specific, as I can't just provide general evidence for everything at once. Now, the immediate subject is your multiple misconceptions about radiometric dating. That doesn't need evidence, just a reading, with comprehension this time, of the sources you quote from and presumably claim to have read, plus a little simple arithmetic.

      That wiggle room in the age of the earth is because the zircons used to date the oldest earth rocks may have formed in space a little before the earth accreted, and those in meteorites clearly did form in space, and probably a little before earth accreted. None of that 100 million year figure is related to accuracy in dating the zircons themselves, as you seem to imagine.

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    21. Sorry. It was not intentional. My electronic device does not accept your last name. It hasn't evolved far enough yet, I guess.

      The rest of your argument is just as bad as the priest's telling the faithful to pray for some data to become true.

      Spare it until you have some evidence.

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    22. Sceptical Mind, explain how the myriad of available dating methods yield consistent results. You mean to tell us that light speed decayed and it did at the same exact rate as multiple element's radio decay was altered somehow and also seasons were thousands of times shorter in the past so that tree rings could accumulate much faster and also magically match carbon dating? Are you that retarded?

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    23. Look at the thread. What have we been arguing about? The age of the earth and when life could've appeared on it. There is no real evidence as far as I can see.

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    24. Sceptical Mind, we know the age of the earth with very little margin of error based on different dating methods. There are fossils of cyanobacteria dated 3.5 billions y.o.

      Cyanobacteria: Fossil Record

      Just because live in denial doesn't mean that there's no evidence

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    25. Should we speculate on how old Sceptical Mind is? We know that dates of birth do not record the true age, which is the time since fertilization. We also know that pregnancies do last roughly 9 months, with some variation.
      So, to put it in real terms, nobody knows how old Sceptical Mind really is, which means that your guess could be just as good as mine. And mine is 5ish. Roughly 5ish at least.

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    26. If you're really interested in the evidence (though clearly you are not) I advise this very accessible book:

      Ancient Earth, Ancient Skies: The Age of the Earth and its Cosmic Surroundings, by G. Brent Dalrymple.

      http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=2550

      But of course you've already seen some of the evidence; you've even quoted it, in the course of drawing an absurd lesson from it. Skepticism is fine, but willful ignorance and blindness are not.

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  8. Simple question: why don't bacteria go extinct?

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    1. Because they're fit for their niche.

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    2. I mean, why don't their genomes deteriorate? And what about the unusually critters that have little or no non-functional DNA? Why are they not extinct?

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    3. Because the ones that deteriorate die, the ones that don't live. Really pretty simple.

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  9. Kirk Durston is another who redefined the premise for the Theory of Intelligent Design. It does not even hold up to the evidence I have:

    Interestingly, a prediction of intelligent design science is quite the opposite. Since information always degrades over time for any storage media and replication system, intelligent design science postulates that the digital information of life was initially downloaded into the genomes of life. It predicts that, on average, genetic information is steadily being corrupted by natural processes.....

    That is NOT what Casey Luskin said, which is quote:
    http://www.discovery.org/multimedia/video/2007/10/what-is-the-theory-of-intelligent-design/

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  10. I never heard of this guy before, but I predicted in my mind he would prove to be a christian. So I go to his blog, and sure enough... apparantly an authentic christian no less.

    Its funny how religiousity is always, always the precursor of evolution denial. The Discovery Institute should turn their awesome research capabilities toward studying the circumstances of this remarkably perfect correlation.

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  11. Well, a couple weeks ago the Decepticons were on their usual "Darwin is to blame for racism" shtick. The argument bring that Darwin's theory "requires" that some races be more evolved than others.

    If the IDers applied this logic to themselves, they'd have to admit that Durston's claims require that some races be "more devolved" than others.

    (I'm not saying Durton is a racist. I'm saying that he's *as much to blame for racism as Charles Darwin* is...which is not much.)

    Creationist: Darwinism says some races are more evolved than others, which is obvioudly inherently racist. Creationism says some races are more *devolved* than others, which is totally consistent with Christianity.

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  12. Diogenes says: If the IDers applied this logic to themselves, they'd have to admit that Durston's claims require that some races be "more devolved" than others.

    The only thing I can find missing is the part about "favored races" which leads to the "master race" inference. But it is important to note that he was talking about "Darwinian Theory", not ID Theory.

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    1. Explain to me, Gary, how "favored races" leads to the "master race" inference, but creationism does not.

      As you know, Darwin did not discuss human origins or "races" in "The Origin". and there, his first reference to "race" was "the many races... of the cabbage."

      In those days, "race" meant variety or subspecies. So since Darwin is discussing "the many races... of the cabbage", does that lead to the inference of a "master cabbage"?

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    2. Diogenes said:

      "In those days, "race" meant variety or subspecies."

      Yes, and it still does to people who perceive the word "race" as a legitimate scientific label, and not as a label of inferiority for the purpose of unwarranted persecution. For example, birders often use the word "race" to describe a particular variety of some birds. Like many other words, "race" can be defined and/or used in good, benign, or bad ways. Contrary to what some people (such as Gary and other Darwin bashers) assert, references to "race" were and are not always bad.

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    3. Neither of the insulting excuses addressed the fact that scientific use of the phrase "favored races" has many times lead to the "master race" inference.

      Throwing defamatory statements has become a way of feeling intellectually fulfilled. Critical thinking is not required.

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    4. What "insulting excuses"?

      What "defamatory statements"?

      "scientific use of the phrase "favored races" has many times lead to the "master race" inference"

      So? How does that show that Darwin or evolutionists or evolutionary theory were/are 'racist'? Lots of people distort the meanings of lots of phrases in order to make insulting excuses or defame someone or push an agenda or avoid critical thinking or just to be assholes. In fact, that's what you're doing with Darwin's phrase "favored races". Does your insulting, defamatory, ID agenda pushing distortion of Darwin's scientific phrase make you feel intellectually fulfilled?

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    5. Why the hell do I have to "show that Darwin or evolutionists or evolutionary theory were/are 'racist'" when all I said is that the phrase "favored races" leads to the "master race" inference?

      You are clearly trying to change the subject, by shoving words in my mouth while throwing insults that are meant to destroy my scientific credibility.

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    6. Sigh, the games you play, Gary.

      If you're not asserting that Darwin or evolutionists or evolutionary theory were/are 'racist', then why the hell does it matter to you, in the way that you brought it up, that some people have inferred that Darwin's phrase "favored races" leads to "master race", especially since Darwin was talking about cabbage?

      And of course many religious people go way beyond any "inference". They flat out accuse Darwin, evolutionists, and evolutionary theory of being thoroughly racist and every other rotten accusation that they can maliciously conjure up.

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    7. "when all I said is that the phrase "favored races" leads to the "master race" inference"

      Anyone (such as you) who makes that "inference" from Darwin's phrase "favored races" needs to have their head examined. If you actually want to have some "scientific credibility", you really need to think scientifically and to read Darwin's phrase "favored races" in the scientific way in which he obviously meant it.

      Here's a hint, Gary: replace the words "favored races" with 'successful varieties', or 'viable varieties', or 'adaptable varieties', or 'naturally selected varieties'. Think about it.

      And if you really want to see who perceives themselves as a 'favored race', in the sense of being special, exceptional, and thoroughly 'favored by God', look at the creationists in the 'human race'. Look at yourself.

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    8. Here's a hint, Gary: replace the words "favored races" with 'successful varieties', or 'viable varieties', or 'adaptable varieties', or 'naturally selected varieties'. Think about it.

      I'm not one who takes the inference seriously. Think about that for a while....

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    9. Then I repeat, Gary:

      If you're not asserting that Darwin or evolutionists or evolutionary theory were/are 'racist', then why the hell does it matter to you, in the way that you brought it up, that some people have inferred that Darwin's phrase "favored races" leads to "master race", especially since Darwin was talking about cabbage?

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    10. "when all I said is that the phrase "favored races" leads to the "master race" inference"

      Gary, your wording sure does sound as though you take that 'inference' seriously and that you are making that 'inference" (actually that assertion/accusation). Don't blame me for paying close attention to what you say.

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  13. At least he's canadian and degree-ed , which they throw at us if we are not, and has done research on many aspects. where there is one there is another. He might be the future though now a rebel.

    His prediction is that it started at the top and decays while evolutionism says it started low down and increased ability.
    Its a good idea. Bacteria are very complex. Otherwise everyone would make in in the lab out of raw materials.
    he seems to think he has a good idea of how evolution must add good ideas of complexity while in reality nature shows a loss of good ideas of complexity.


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    1. Byers says of Duration: He might be the future though now a rebel.

      What is the point of being a "rebel" if you're not actively doing research? If no data, there's no reason for scientists to change their theories. And judging from his photo, he's not a young man. Nor are any of the Discovery Institute "heavyweights."

      They failed to inspire a younger generation. No future in that direction.

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  14. Yeah -- Isn't Durston is basically saying that ID=special creationism? I think he thinks that many "kinds" were created throughout history, and each degrades since its creation. His views would make way more "sense" then, since he doesn't need the ur-bacterium. Of course if he takes that view then ID=old earth creationism, something which Luskin vehemently denies (although he is one too).

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  15. Sorry to not have responded to this thread sooner -- I have been traveling.

    Durston's argument involving the rate of`occurrence of advantageous and deleterious genes is ridiculous. It leaves out natural selection, which will prevent almost all of those deleterious genes from fixing. For a numerical example, see a calculation I did at Panda's Thumb in 2008 (here). With a population of 1,000,000 and an advantageous mutant with a selection coefficient of s = 0.01 the probability of fixation is 0.0198013. Pretty small? Yes, a lot of advantageous mutations do get lost. But compare this to deleterious mutations with an equal, but negative selection coefficient: s = -0.01. What is the probability that such a mutant fixes? It's 3.35818 x 10^(-17374). Yup, 1 chance in a number which is a 1 followed by 17,374 zeros. A snowball's chance in hell. An awful lot smaller than 0.0198013.

    The fact that he doesn't even bother to try to compute these numbers is telling.

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    1. Durston is a typical creationist who has a little bit of science background. His arguments appear to be scientific but he makes so many mistakes that it's hard to know where to begin. All of his mistakes are difficult to explain to the average non-scientist so from their perspective it's just a difference of opinion between scientists.

      If there were any honest creationists out there who actually understood evolution (surely there must be one or two?), they would correct other creationists and put a stop to these silly arguments. Unfortunately, the Intelligent Design Creationist community is incapable of self-criticism.

      We've been following them for several decades now and it's extremely rare to see any examples of critical thinking and legitimate skepicism of their own positions. The body of work they've produced is full of inconsistencies and internal contradictions but that doesn't seem to bother them one bit. They can't even decide among themselves whether the Earth is billions of years old or less than 10,000.

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  16. Oops, actually "1 chance in a number which is a 3 followed by 17,374 zeros".

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    1. ... and in case anyone is concerned that I have loaded the dice by using a population size as large as 1 milliom, let's try 10,000 instead. Then the probability of fixation of the advantageous mutant is still 0.0198313. The probability of fixation of the deleterious mutant is less than 1 in 10^(-175). Still a snowball's chance in hell.

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    2. I'd be more concerned that you are loading the dice by picking s=0.01, which seems a tad high. For say, s=0.0001 with N=10,000 you get a probability of ~2*10^-4 and for s=-0.0001 it's 3*10^-6. Still two OOMs.
      I like to use this image: http://post-neo.com/evo/whatseldoes.gif. The quality isn't stellar, but I think it gets the point across. The top curve is based on Nielsen and Yangs distribution of selection coefficients in primate mitogenomes, the middle one is based on Kimura 1962, with a population of 100k and the lowest one is the resultant PDF for fixations. The bold vertical line is at s=0.
      It's somewhat sketchy, but it shows that population resampling leads to an increase in mean s between mutations and fixations as well as a reduction in variance.

      I do think Durstons peculiar metric of information is worth checking out, because it seems like it defines it in a way that makes it decrease monotonically, no matter what process one deals with. In particular, it does not only depend on the state and therefore if the same state is repeated, the latter case would have a lower information content.

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    3. My thought as to Durston's response:

      "So you admit it's 3 times more likely than you initially thought, eh?"

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  17. Isn't it weird how these amazing ID/IDcreationist "predictions" are never referred to or published anywhere until after the "prediction" has (supposedly) been fulfilled?

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  18. No doubt the ID crowd is not top draw, otherwise they'd be the ones in control of the universities.

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  19. Professor Moran.

    Jerry Coyne said that the modern theory of evolution is neo darwinism, Is that what you are referring to when it comes to "evolutionary theory" ?

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    1. Jack Jones,

      Let me alert you to the reality of evolutionary theory.

      Nobody, especially Coyne and Moran agree on anything except one thing that evolution must have happened. Don't ask them how though. It is a scientific joke. Not mine though.

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    2. They can't even agree on what the theory is and then they lecture others, it is funny. Funny like the loony lefty Diogenes emotional rants on the junk dna article. :)

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    3. Jolly good show, lads. You provide a vital psychosocial service to our little community.
      Village Idiots

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    4. Jack Jones, KevNick, etc.,

      Evolutionary theory encompasses the studies, evidence, and explanations that pertain to related theories/hypotheses/ideas/inferences, some or all of which are debated (sometimes hotly) between scientists as to their validity, relevance, accuracy, and importance in regard to evolutionary theory.

      Yes, there is disagreement on some things (some of which are trivial and some not) but that isn't necessarily a bad thing and it doesn't mean that evolutionary theory is all wrong and should be discarded. Human beings are doing the work and human beings aren't perfect or always agreeable, even when they're mostly or completely in agreement on the big picture. Science is a lot of work and many details of nature are still unknown or partly known. The foundation of evolutionary theory is very strong though, and unlike religions it relies on scientific evidence/studies/theories/hypotheses/ideas/inferences that are and always will be scrutinized, discussed, published, debated, revised, and/or discarded if necessary in the scientific pursuit for accurate knowledge.

      Take a look at all of the religious beliefs that people throughout history and around the world have ever had and currently have. Would you say that all religious beliefs, including yours, are wrong and should be discarded because there has been and is so much disagreement between religious people about so-called 'Gods' and the stories that allegedly support them? What about the fact that there is also a HUGE amount of disagreement on a lot of details (some of which are trivial and some NOT) between people who claim to be members of the same religion? Do you agree on most or all of the details of the beliefs of every other member of your chosen religion and do they all agree with each other and you? Do you even agree with every other member of the church that you attend and do they all agree with each other and you, on every detail? I'm certain that it's safe to say that the answer to those questions is NO. And just think, if you're a christian your religion has an instruction manual (the bible) that is touted as 'God's' infallible, unchangeable, 'obey me or else' word, so it should be super easy (and required) for all christians to agree on everything. Science, including evolutionary theory, doesn't have an allegedly infallible, unchangeable manual to rely on, obey, or work from, so don't be surprised when there's disagreement between scientists on details.

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    5. The whole truth,

      Please tell me you don't really believe what you wrote here....

      If you do, I have nothing to say to you and I don't have to explain myself, because if someone demands an explanation as to "why" this person is not worth my wasting time explaining it either....

      I don't think any amount of evidence will change anyone's point of view is one wants to believe in something and disregards the arguments leading in the opposite direction...

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    6. I don't think any amount of evidence will change anyone's point of view when one wants to believe in religious fairy tales and willfully disregards the evidence and arguments leading to reality...

      FTFY

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    7. KevNick,

      "I don't think any amount of evidence will change anyone's point of view is one wants to believe in something and disregards the arguments leading in the opposite direction..."

      And you're the perfect example of your own claim.

      Imagine that you are a biochemistry professor and people like me, skeptical mind, unknown or liesfordarwin are your students....

      What a nightmare? Imbeciles unable to learn anything as students!

      What would you do?

      Would you actually listen and try for understanding? Would you ignore any explanations and insist on your stance of ignorant bullshit?

      Call them Idiots?

      What I would call you depends on whether you would be willing to learn. If you were the way you're here, I might not call you an idiot, but I would be convinced that you are an idiot.

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  20. Hi Larry, Hope you're good.Your response is good. I once had discussion with Kirk and he said novel protein families can't evolve through trials. He said it needs intelligence for these functional proteins to form and he did some probability work to find out if it can possibly happen. He said maximum 10^43 trials are available for evolution to make functional protein families to evolve. This is his blog.
    http://p2c.com/students/blogs/kirk-durston/2015/07/computing-best-case-probability-proteins-actual-data-and-falsification

    He also used Jack szostak's work to support his work.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/104/suppl_1/8574.full#sec-11

    What do you think about his probability work and what error is there in his work?

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    Replies
    1. PZ Meyers dealt with his claim here:

      http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/01/31/durstons-devious-distortions/

      Durston claims to have responded to the problems raised there, but he hasn't. He's either too stupid or ignorant to realize that, or too dishonest to admit it.

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    2. Dirk replied back with his response. Did PZ Meyers respond again?

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    3. Why would he have to? Durston didn't address any of Myers' arguments. He does not appear to have even understood them. Durston's whole argument is that Myers' did not understand the calculation because he based it on a Youtube video and not a detailed explanation. However, Durston's detailed explanation only confirms that Myers' understood the calculations perfectly well:

      http://p2c.com/sites/default/files/documents/blogs/kirk/Devious-Distortions-Durston-or-Myers_.pdf

      Using Myers' analogy, Durston continues to compute the odds of a specific poker hand being dealt in an arbitrary number of games, and thinks he has calculated the odds of a winning hand of any sort being dealt in any game, ever. From this, he concludes no one can ever win a hand in poker without cheating.

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    4. To be fair, Myers did get one thing wrong about Durston's argument.

      Durston, in his 2007 paper, uses the fraction of sequence space that performs a given function as the definition of the "functional sequence complexity". This is based on Hazen et al. (2007), who define the "functional information" I(Ex) associated with a particular function and system x and degree of function Ex as:

      I(Ex) = -log2 [F(Ex)]

      where F(Ex) is the fraction of sequence space that meets the requisite "degree of function". This actually has a straightforward information-theoretic interpretation. Namely, if I tell you a protein sequence is 400 amino acids long, that leaves you a lot of uncertainty about its composition. If I then tell you that it performs a particular function at some requisite level, that might the uncertainty substantially, effectively giving you more "information" about the sequence corresponding to that protein.

      If M(Ex) is the total number of sequences in the space that meet the threshold above, then F(Ex) = M(Ex)/N. Now, M(Ex) is hard to measure, but Hazel et al. offer some ways of estimating it by sampling from the sequence space.

      Myers effectively accuses Durston of messing up by assuming M(Ex) = 1. He doesn't do this. However, he commits an error that is almost as boneheaded. Namely, he assumes that the portion of sequence space corresponding to a functional sequence (for some particular function) is equal to the portion of sequence space _that actually exists_ and performs that function. Basically he assumes that the different extant protein sequences that perform that function are the ONLY possible such sequences. He ignores the giant portions of sequence space that simply have never been explored by any process, and he ignores a ready justification for why the sampled portion is indeed so small––namely, common descent.

      He claims the estimate is on the generous side, since he allows different permutations of these sequences (effectively ignoring high-order correlations between sites), but it's still an embarrassing oversight, and I'm amazed it slipped past peer review. This might be the worst botching of information theory I've ever seen––it's somewhere between Dembski and Hovind. It's on par with watching a poker game, seeing five different people beat two pair, and concluding that those five hands, or ones like them, are the ONLY ones capable of beating two pair.

      It's also worth pointing out that his "rate of destruction is 8 times the rate of neutral or beneficial mutations" blurb is nowhere to be found in his own paper, though I have some vague idea where it might have come from.

      Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't note that his summary of each of the peer reviewed papers he cites near the end of his article is... wrong. Earth-shatteringly wrong. I don't use this word lightly, but "dishonest" comes to mind.

      To use one example, he cites Petrov (1997) as claiming that there's widespread genome degradation in Drosophila, ignoring the fact that Petrov only looked at deletions in _one_ transposable element in Drosophila, the fact that Petrov actually (indirectly) found evidence for large insertions (since the transposable element is sometimes found more than once in a given genome), and almost two decades of research showing that while deletions are common, they tend to be small, whereas insertions tend to be rare and large (which Petrov could not possibly have detected in that study).

      I need to back off before I get too worked up. This guy is unbelievable.

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    5. Interesting. Could you cite a few sources for this: "while deletions are common, they tend to be small, whereas insertions tend to be rare and large". Is that specifically in Drosophila? Because I find a different pattern in birds, or at least in their introns.

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