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Monday, September 14, 2009

Richard Dawkins Speaks About Evolution

During last week's class I asked my students if they had heard of Richard Dawkins. Very few hands were raised.

Here's a recent video of Dawkins speaking about evolution and his latest book, The Greatest Show on Earth—Evidence for Evolution. I leave it as an exercise to identify those ideas of Dawkins where there is legitimate scientific controversy. (The course is about controversies and misconceptions.)

[Hat Tip:


  1. I would say the main controversy is the role genes play in "non-physical" traits like religious belief, intelligence, etc.

    He also gives little mention of the stochastic forces of evolution (namely random genetic drift), and described evolution by natural selection as non-random. He is correct there, but it isn't the full picture.

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  3. This is the kind of horsepookey that makes my head spin:

    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Aug 26.

    The reducible complexity of a mitochondrial molecular machine.

    Clements A, Bursac D, Gatsos X, Perry AJ, Civciristov S, Celik N, Likic VA, Poggio S, Jacobs-Wagner C, Strugnell RA, Lithgow T.

    Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University, Clayton 3800, Australia.

    ABSTRACT: Molecular machines drive essential biological processes, with the component parts of these machines each contributing a partial function or structural element. Mitochondria are organelles of eukaryotic cells, and depend for their biogenesis on a set of molecular machines for protein transport. How these molecular machines evolved is a fundamental question. Mitochondria were derived from an alpha-proteobacterial endosymbiont, and we identified in alpha-proteobacteria the component parts of a mitochondrial protein transport machine. In bacteria, the components are found in the inner membrane, topologically equivalent to the mitochondrial proteins. Although the bacterial proteins function in simple assemblies, relatively little mutation would be required to convert them to function as a protein transport machine. This analysis of protein transport provides a blueprint for the evolution of cellular machinery in general."

    The hell it does!

    This is not science, it's pipe dreams!

    How are these "components" assembled?


    There's not a shred of empirical evidence, either observational or experimental that establishes a believable nexus between random mutation (and/or natural selection)and the emergence of highly organized molecular machines such as those found in cells.
    Intelligent input is absolutely essential for these components to "assemble themselves" into functional entities.

    How long do I have to wait before the "components" in my pantry "assemble themselves" into a chocolate fudge brownie?

  4. I asked my students if they had heard of Richard Dawkins. Very few hands were raised.

    It's outrageous that a university professor should be forced to moonlight at a kindergarten.

  5. Why's it horsespookey Charlie - I find papers like that fascinatingand full of evidence.

  6. "How long do I have to wait before the 'components' in my pantry 'assemble themselves' into a chocolate fudge brownie?"

    150-200 million years - give or take a few million, I would guess.