Sunday, August 30, 2015

IDiots promote twenty-two falsified predictions of Darwin's theory of evolution

Cornelius Hunter is a fellow at the Center for Science and Culture (Discovery Institute). That makes him a card-carrying Intelligent Design Creationist.

He has a website called .DarwinsPredictions.
Charles Darwin presented his theory of evolution in 1859. In the century and half since then our knowledge of the life sciences has increased dramatically. We now know orders of magnitude more than Darwin and his peers knew about biology. And we can compare what science has discovered with what Darwin’s theory expects.

It is not controversial that a great many predictions made by Darwin’s theory of evolution have been found to be false. There is less consensus, however, on how to interpret these falsifications. In logic, when a hypothesis predicts or entails an observation that is discovered to be false, then the hypothesis is concluded to be false. Not so in science.
I was reminded of these "predictions" a few days ago when Casey Luskin interviewed Cornelius Hunter in ID the Future: Casey Luskin and Cornelius Hunter Discuss Darwin's Predictions. I assume that most Sandwalk readers aren't familiar with all these false predictions of Darwinism so here they are with my own brief description.
  1. The DNA code is not unique Apparently Darwin predicted that there's nothing special about the genetic code but we now know that the genetic code has unique properties that could not possibly have evolved by accident.
  2. The cell’s fundamental molecules are universal Evolution is supposed to have predicted that every cell will have the same fundamental molecules but many species contain different DNA polymerases that are unrelated.
  3. Mutations are not adaptive Darwin's theory of evolution says that mutations have to be random but we now know that organisms increase their mutation rate in response to stress and mutations are directed.
  4. Competition is greatest between neighbors This one is very strange. According to Cornelius Hunter, Darwin predicted that there had to be competition between closely related species but recent results show that for green algae there's no correlation between competition and the evolutionary distance between species.
  5. Protein evolution Evolutionary theory is supposed to have predicted that proteins evolved very early in the history of life. However, recent calculations by creationists have revealed that the probability of evolving a functional protein is about one in 1070.
  6. Histone proteins cannot tolerate much change One of the predictions of Darwin's theory of evolution is that histone proteins must be highly conserved (who knew?) but some histones can tolerate lots of amino acid substitutions and still be functional.
  7. The molecular clock keeps evolutionary time One of the strangest of Hunter's claims is that Darwin's theory of evolution predicts that there will be a molecular clock. This is ridiculous since natural selection cannot generate a molecular clock and the discovery of an approximate molecular clock led to Neutral Theory and the importance of random genetic drift. Nevertheless, the "prediction" has been falsified, according to Hunter, because different species evolve at different rates.
  8. The pentadactyl pattern and common descent I was completely unaware of the fact that evolutionary theory predicted that all tetrapods should have five digits. This prediction has been falsified because some ancient fossils have different numbers of digits at the ends of their appendages.
  9. Serological tests reveal evolutionary relationships Darwin's theory of evolution predicts that serological tests (e.g. blood types) should support evolution but this prediction has been falsified because sometimes distantly related species have the same reaction to serological tests.
  10. Biology is not lineage specific I'm not sure I understand this prediction so you may have to read about it on the website. I think it has to do with the prediction that certain features should be shared by closely related species. Cornelius Hunter thinks this "prediction" has been falsified because, for example, transcription factor binding sites are not conserved in mice and humans.
  11. Similar species share similar genes It's a genuine expectation of evolutionary theory that similar species have similar genes and that's been conclusively demonstrated thousands of times. Hunter thinks this prediction has been falsified because some species contain a small number of unique genes (orphan genes).
  12. MicroRNA MicroRNAs should shows signs of having evolved and their presence in different species should reflect their evolutionary history. Darwin predicted this but both predictions turn out to be false.
  13. Genomic features are not sporadically distributed Horizontal gene transfer falsifies the idea that genes are inherited vertically.
  14. Gene and host phylogenies are congruent Darwin's theory of evolution predicted that gene trees should be congruent with trees based on morphological similarities. This is pretty much correct and the prediction has been confirmed. However, according to a leading creationist, this prediction has been falsified because we share more morphological features with orangutans even though the genes show chimpanzees as our closest ancestor.
  15. Gene phylogenies are congruent All gene trees are supposed to show the same phylogeny according to Darwin's theory of evolution. They don't, so the prediction has been falsified and god must have tweaked some of the trees so they differ.
  16. The species should form an evolutionary tree There's supposed to be a universal evolutionary tree but there isn't.
  17. Complex structures evolved from simpler structures This prediction has been falsified because, at the gene level, sea anemones are almost as complex as humans and trilobites had complex eyes.
  18. Structures do not evolve before there is a need for them Transcription factors involved in the development of eyes are present in species that don't have eyes and choanoflagellates have some of the same genes expressed in brains and nerve cells.
  19. Functionally unconstrained DNA is not conserved Some short DNA sequences are the same in distantly related species but those sequences can be deleted with no effect on the survival of the species. This falsifies evolution and proves that the intelligent designer has a sense of humor.
  20. Nature does not make leaps Many scientists have shown that species can evolve very rapidly and saltation has also been observed. (I'm wondering how the rapid changes in mussels, finches, and lizards are explained by intelligent design creationism.
  21. Altruism Altruism is a problem for Darwin's theory of evolution and kin selection doesn't explain it
  22. Cell death Some cells commit suicide proving that Darwin's theory of evolution is false.

48 comments :

  1. The pentadactyl pattern and common descent I was completely unaware of the fact that evolutionary theory predicted that all tetrapods should have five digits. This prediction has been falsified because some ancient fossils have different numbers of digits at the ends of their appendages.

    I don't think he means that, as he doesn't mention Acanthostega, Tulerpeton and the like. He refers to an article by Siler and Brown (2011), in which the authors argue that digit reduction (from five to fewer) has been reversed (nota bene: back to five, not, say, 8 or 13) in a clade of insular skinks from the Philippine region. While intriguing, their findings have nothing whatsoever to do with Darwin's argument that the pentadactyl pattern is an ancestral feature of crown-group tetrapods (as we would put it today), and that the number 5 is a "frozen accident" of evolution. If what Darwin wrote can be interpreted as a prediction, it would be something like this: the most recent common ancestor of Tetrapoda had five digits on each limb. And as far as we can see, this is confirmed by the fossil record (recently collected, and of course unknown to Darwin).

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    1. Should add that ichthyosaurs, within the group, can have up to 18 (IIRC) digits. But they vary down to 5.

      I'm going from memory. But that's all within the same group of organisms, which, I believe, ID say is OK. But it can't happen between larger groups because god or something.

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    2. Wikipedia on ichthyosaurs: A strongly derived condition show the phalanges, small disc-shaped elements positioned in long rows. Sometimes the number of fingers is reduced, to as low as two. This is a rather common phenomenon within the Tetrapoda. Unique however for derived tetrapods, is the fact that some species show non-pathological polydactyly, the number of fingers being higher than five. Some species have ten fingers per hand. These fingers again, can have an increased number of phalanges, up to thirty, a phenomenon called hyperphalangy, also known from Plesiosauria, mosasaurs and Cetacea. The high number of elements allows the flipper to be shaped as a hydrofoil.

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  2. Re: 18. Feathered dinos falsify evolution because feathers are older than flight!

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  3. How could Darwin have made predictions about histones and DNA polymerases 100 years before people knew about those things in any detail?

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  4. Can Cornelius Hunter list any prediction derived from the Intelligent Design "Theory"? There don't have to be 22 of them -- he could choose two or three of the very best ones.

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  5. Rather than nitpick Darwin for small errors, I think we should be amazed at his ability to come up with detailed predictions about the content and structure of DNA, many years before the genetic code had been deciphered, DNA's 3D structure was discovered, or even before anyone knew there was such a chemical. It takes a great scientist to see so far ahead, even if dimly.

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  6. I'm glad Hunter thinks the caecal valves of the wall lizards from Pod Mrčaru represent such an important, macroevolutionary leap. Many creationists deny the very possibility of anything of the sort, and some would claim that those lizards are "still just lizards", so they haven't evolved at all.

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  7. 18. Structures do not evolve before there is a need for them

    Oh I get it. Like our fishapod ancestors, 450 million years ago, used the middle digit in their fins for swimming. How could they have known back then that, 450 million years later, I would need that digit to raise it in Dr. Cornelius' face?

    How could the fish have known!? No Darwinian explanation is possible!

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  8. There is too much stupid in this list for me to process it all. It's just... so much sheer idiocy in such a small space...
    Jesus ****ing Christ - this is arguably worse than reading a post by Robert B.

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  9. "5. Protein evolution Evolutionary theory is supposed to have predicted that proteins evolved very early in the history of life. However, recent calculations by creationists have revealed that the probability of evolving a functional protein is about one in 10^70."

    And yet, generating random sequences 80 amino acids in length (aka random proteins) produced four, unrelated and functional, ATP-binding proteins in a pool of approximately 10^11 different proteins.

    So the creationist calculation is only wrong by 60 orders of magnitude.

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    1. How about this one I found linked in a youtube vid?

      Experimental Rugged Fitness Landscape in Protein Sequence Space

      To plot the fitness landscape of protein function, we carried out in vitro molecular evolution beginning with a defective fd phage carrying a random polypeptide of 139 amino acids in place of the g3p minor coat protein D2 domain, which is essential for phage infection. After 20 cycles of random substitution at sites 12–130 of the initial random polypeptide and selection for infectivity, the selected phage showed a 1.76104-fold increase in infectivity

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    2. Yep, that results should simply be impossible to attain if the creationist calculation was right.

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    3. OK, then, am I missing something? Because it seems to me both those papers predate Axe & Gauger's. Were they out to prove something that was already observed, is actually impossible? WTF?

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    4. No, you're not missing something, Dazz. But Axe and Gauger sure are.

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    5. Jesus, Dazz, it's 1.7 x 10^4-fold increase in infectivity, not 1.76104!

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    6. Where'd Dr. Cornelius, chimp detective, get his figure of 10^70? I'm guessing it's from that 2004 (?) paper by Axe and Gauger that was debunked at Panda's Thumb almost a decade ago. Their figure was 10^71 and all the IDiots copied n pasted without knowing the shit assumptions that went into cooking it, or the experimental refutations thereof.

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    7. To be sure, the authors find that increasing it further becomes impossible (given their simplifying assumptions!) because of the extreme ruggedness of the fitness landscape. I discussed it once with "gpuccio" (who tried to make the most of that "impossibility") at UD before they banned me: LINK

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    8. PS. I refer to Dazz and Diogenes above, not to Diogenes's last comment.

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    9. Ouch! That's embarrassing, sorry about that. I just copy pasted the abstract excerpt from a pdf and all the character formating was gone. Should have double-checked that.

      ...and of course the SUP tag apparently doesn't work in blogspot, so yeah, it's 1.7x10^4 or 17000.

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    10. Hunter cites four different studies in his protein evolution section. It appears to me they all came up with similar figures. Are they all creationists or are they all just wrong?

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    11. @ Beau,

      What makes you so sure that Hunter has understood those papers correctly, or is representing them accurately?

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    12. From Hunter's essay:
      This conservative estimate of 10^70 attempts required to evolve a simple protein

      Evolve? The random generation of an amino acid sequence in order to get a protein with a function determined in advance is not evolution.

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    13. Piotr, please....

      To be sure, the authors find that increasing it further becomes impossible (given their simplifying assumptions!) because of the extreme ruggedness of the fitness landscape

      are you referring to Axe/Gauger's paper? Or the one Mikkel or I posted?

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    14. The latter. Of Axe & Gauger, the less said the better.

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    15. Oops, to be precise: the paper you cited.

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    16. @lutesuite

      I'm not sure of anything. Is Hunter off in his understanding?

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    17. Thanks Piotr, as always, much appreciated.
      I'm trying to make sense of all this. I read a review/refutation of Axe's paper over at Panda's Thumb and I seem to remember it was also about local 'peaks' of fitness IIRC, beyond which no more mutations could further increase fitness.

      On the Hayashi experiment, is it correct to interpret it as an example of protein evolution though?

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    18. @Beau

      Yes, yes he is. Look at the paper I gave to begin with. 80 random amino acids strung together into a protein. Generate 6x10^12 different, random copies, test them all for a single (and extremely biologically important) function: Bind ATP.

      Among that starting pool of random proteins 80 amino acids in length, there were four (4) different, unrelated proteins found that could do it. That gives about 1 in every 10^11 proteins capable of binding ATP.

      Notice how only a single function was tested for for that pool of random proteins. They could have tested millions of different functions (bind other biologically important molecules, catalyze thousands of different chemical reaction, stabilize phospholipid membranes etc. etc.) - but they only tested for one and found it already to begin with.

      If Hunter is correct in his understanding, the results achieved by Szostak et al. should not be possible.

      Rather, the result that Axe and others is getting is a very different result from the extrapolation they make(functional proteins are rare): They are getting an estimate of how rare proteins that reproduce functional variations of one particular fold are. This number doesn't tell you how rare functional proteins are in protein sequence space, it only tells you how tolerant the particular fold in question is to mutations until it stops doing the particular function it has.

      Even then, that is still not any guarantee that the protein in question is entirely nonfunctional. It is entirely possible that you can mutate a specific protein fold that, say, catalyzes some chemical reaction until it stops catalyzing that chemical reaction. But who's to say that protein can't do something else now? It might be able to catalyze a different but related chemical reaction now. You actually have to test for that, you can't just declare it nonfunctional and then extrapolate from a test of your single fold into every function for every protein in every environment ever. Obviously.

      Did this clear it up for you?

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    19. Yes, but the study finds that the modified phage cannot realistically evolve back the wild type's infectivity if evolution = point mutations + natural selection. Its fitness will climb to a certain level and then grind to a halt. In the UD thread I explain why, in my opinion, this is not an argument against protein evolution.

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    20. Beau: I'm not sure of anything. Is Hunter off in his understanding?

      Yes.

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    21. @Mikkel,

      I don't understand a lot of this. With my infantile understanding i take it as they're front loading their experiments?

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    22. @ Beau

      I'm not sure of anything. Is Hunter off in his understanding?

      I'm not sure why you omitted that option from your earlier question, it being by far the most likely one. I hate to break the news to you, but just because someone is a Christian does not mean he cannot lie, or be so full of hubris and stupidity that presents as facts that which is untrue.

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    23. I don't understand a lot of this. With my infantile understanding i take it as they're front loading their experiments?

      If you're referring to the Axe/Gauger experiment, what they did was take two present day proteins in different species that are believed to have arisen from a common ancestor and see whether one could "evolve" into the other. Surprise! It couldn't be done.

      That's the equivalent of trying to prove you're related to your cousin by having one of your descendants be a clone of your cousin..

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    24. @Beau

      I think the TL:DR version is that they (Axe, Hunter et al.) are extrapolating a conclusion wildly (in fact, 50 orders of maginude) beyond what their data can support.

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    25. Piotr, just so you know it, it's a painful process to go through all the crap of that gpuccio guy. But I still appreciate the link, even if I might throw up a bit in my mouth when I resume it later, haha. I promise I'll try not to hate you for that, but being an obnoxious atheist with no morals I can't promise anything.

      Jokes apart, I think I (at least partly) understand that since the fitness landscape is not static, coupled with recombination, a higher fitness level than "just" half the original is attainable

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    26. @Dazz: With more than a little help from (almost) neutral evolution. And it's worth keeping in mind that in most cases evolution doesn't start with a long randomly generated sequence.

      To give credit where it's due, gpuccio is one of the most civil, intelligent and best-informed UD regulars. He's got an MD degree, I think. Like Behe, he isn't a YEC, and he accepts common descent. But also like Behe, he refuses to accept that "blind unguided evolution" can produce any significant novelty ("complex specified information", in ID-speak). The evolution of any new functional protein has to be personally directed by God, who discreetly manipulates the genomes of all living things by means known best to him (God, not gpuccio) -- probably with some subtle quantum tricks.

      Larry describes an early encounter with gpuccio here.

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    27. i take it as they're front loading their experiments?

      Other folks have already given good answers. The way I'd put is this: They're doing the equivalent of taking the odds of a particular individual winning the Powerball lottery (1 in 175 million) to say the odds against anyone winning are that steep. (Of course we know someone wins the lottery every couple of weeks or thereabouts.)

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  10. This whole list is just begging for a thorough and vicious fisking, but I have neither time nor inclination, so I'll just point out that in # 18 Hunter is basically making a case--albeit a weird one--for the existence of junk DNA. This is just yet another example of how ID is nothing more than an incoherent and theory-free series of attacks against modern evolutionary research.

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  11. Check this:

    http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/royptb/370/1678/20140329.full.pdf

    I am collecting bets on how long it will be before the quote mining machine takes notice of it and reacts...

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    1. Here you go:

      This article aims to shed light on [...] rooting the tree of life
      [...] a [...] d [...] a [...] m [...] and [...] e [...] v [...] e [...]


      Praise the lawd!

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    2. Georgi,

      Thanks for the link. There's tons of blog bait in that issue. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed.

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  12. The genome which contains most of the information that codes proteins contains ordered sequences. Ordered sequences contain almost infinite mathematical space. This is the core of the ID argument. Where did the ordered sequences come from?. At this point, we don't know, and that is a legitimate challenge for evolutionary biology. If the position is we don't know the debate ends.

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  13. He folk, why don't you just go directly to Hunter's site "Darwin's God" and sock it to 'im.

    His blog is well-known for being quite liberal about censorship. So it would take some pretty serious ad-hominems (like what happened in the past with Thorton) for him to censor any post.

    So don't be shy. He will answer all your accusations.....I mean questions...in full.

    Guaranteed.

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    1. He folk, why don't you just go directly to Hunter's site "Darwin's God" and sock it to 'im.

      Last time I checked in there, you had to apply for membership to post a comment. I wasn't into applying.

      Why doesn't Dr. Cornelius come here and sock it to us? No membership application necessary.

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  14. this prediction has been falsified because we share more morphological features with orangutans

    Correct, just look at Donald Trump's hair.

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