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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Science vs IDiots: My Talk at Eschaton 2012

Here's a video of my talk at Eschaton 2012 in Ottawa (Dec. 1, 2012).


  1. Thank you for posting your talk.

    While you made a strong argument, I think we should improve the strength of our definition of science. While yes, epistemology has not given us a unique answer, I don't think that's where we should look for one.

    We do have excellent *quantitative* definitions for inductive reasoning based on information theory and statistics. We can mathematically prove the efficacy of Bayesian inference, or minimum description length (MDL, see Scholarpedia) estimation.

    That is the heart of hard science. Of course scientists can and will use guiding principles when applying the scientific method, principles such as explanatory brevity (Occam's razor), reliability, validity, objectivity, etc.

    All of these principles are present in the estimators given above, and you can show how giving up a principle leads to objectively worse results. It's a watertight case. The scientific method is a Universal Truth Finder.

    We shouldn't rely on qualitative arguments or definitions (which philosophy is ripe with), they are not particularly scientific. For example the article from Evolution News and Views you talk about suffers from ignoring the numbers. The expected differences between the skin cells of one human are orders of magnitude smaller than the expected differences between a skin cell of human and a skin cell of a chimpansee.

    1. That is the heart of hard science. Of course scientists can and will use guiding principles ...

      When I define science as a way of knowing I intentionally mean it to apply to ALL investigations whether they are part of the natural sciences or history or politics. That's the broad definition of science.

      You, on the other hand, seem to be referring exclusively to "science" as the job that scientists do. That's the narrow definition. Which type of definition is correct? That's part of the problem. It's why the demarcation problem has not been solved.

      BTW, if your definition of science is confined to the activity of physicists, biologists, chemists etc. then what is the other way of knowing that historians and political scientists use to discover truths?

    2. Actually, I do not prescribe to what you call the narrow definition. Whenever someone honestly and inquisitively tries to find the truth, tries not to fool himself, he's doing science.

      What demarcates good science from bad science from non-science is the quality of the methodology, not the subject. And you have to vary methodology and its rigor in light of what you are trying to determine.

      E.g. if you want to do a forecast of a product's demand on the basis of one year of sales data, you have to use a simple estimator with few parameters. For if you estimate more you will overfit. Also you should divide your data into two parts, one for parameter estimation, the other for testing the model's validity. That's the scientific approach, you are using methods with a proven track record of generating the most knowledge (here most precise estimation) in a given situation.

      Or even softer: If you ask a group of experts to make a prediction, run a few feedback cycles and determine the average, that's scientific. You will get much better results than when you skip one of the steps.

      BTW, I'm not trying to open up that "STEM umbrella" discussion, but I do think that you can perform engineering scientifically. I even think "go and see" (genchi genbutsu) on the shop floor is scientific. You watch carefully, try to single out a parameter to vary, and then measure the results.

      I've even seen philosophy done scientifically, with lots of mathematics, as well as critical and lateral thinking. See this project page on Ockham efficiency (!):

      Is my definition subjective, should we entertain a plurality of thought here? No, it is grounded in objective truth.

      At the heart of the argument is the proven universal efficacy of, say, Bayesian inference. Could there be a better estimator (i.e. a better way of using inductive inference)? Yes, since the problem of finding the best estimator is undecidable. However we do know a lot about required properties (scientific principles) and upper bounds (e.g. AIXI, as well. Dropping those principles will inescapably get you into trouble.

      In fact those principles are mostly intuitive. E.g. not arbitrarily favoring one explanation over another, checking for simple explanations first, etc.

      If you try to find the truth and are unfettered by bias, you use them. And you improve your methods based on past results. The scientific method can be applied to everything, including the scientific method.

  2. A whole host of half-truths, dodgy definitions, propaganda, naive metaphysical claims, unacknowledged metaphors and outright lies. Tut tut!
    For example, at 6:20 you talk of "very simple organisms". And while I have no doubt you'd love that to be true, it isn't true, and you know it isn't true. On the contrary, what you call "very simple organisms" are actually mind-boggling examples of ordered complexity - so ordered and so complex in fact that if we can grant those things free of evolutionary explanatory charge we can grant anything we like (eg, a person)free of evolutionary explanatory charge and do away with evolution as an explanation entirely.
    Now, given that something akin to that objection exists within the ID community (eg, Meyer makes something like this point in Signature in the Cell), it seems disingenuous at best to pretend, as you do, that ID's best arguments are pretty much that Darwin was a racist and that evolutionary theory has bad consequences. A far better overall assessment of their more sophisticated negative arguments would be that, yes we have a mechanism (fact) and yes life has developed and changed (fact) but there is no straightforward way of connecting that mechanism to those changes without a huge chunk of faith and good reason not to believe that that mechanism, if it did do those things, is comfortably situated within the metaphysical framework currently associated with the theory of evolution. Moreover, given these difficulties, it is unacceptable to rule out a priori some other potential explanations/overarching metaphysical frameworks because they have a teleological aspect that runs counter to your atheistic socio-political agenda.

    1. That was devoid of any actual content. Tut tut!

    2. There's plenty content. For example, the idea that there are "very simple organisms" is a lie. There's no such thing as a very simple organism. That's not the only example of obvious actual content but that one example is enough to show that your claim was false.

    3. Luther:
      > unacceptable to rule out a priori some other potential
      > explanations

      Those "explanations" have a huge description length as compared with their explanatory/predictive power and are therefore so unlikely that it's difficult to find English words sufficient in conveying the degree of their unlikeliness.

      Let's say you condense the bible into 3 pages with 250 words per page, an average length of 5 letter per word, and a Shannon information of 1 bit per character. That's 3.750 bits of information. Using the universal prior, we arrive at an a priori probability of 2^-3750. That's before we even run the MDL estimator, which now has to explain all observed phenomena.

      Your cause is lost.

    4. Since the bible doesn't have anything to do with anything I said your pseudoscientific analysis of it is of no consequence. Thus I won't bother pointing out the obvious nonsense in what you said.

    5. Mr Flint,

      there is no point in getting defensive and distancing yourself from your motivation to post. You won't win or lose anything by arguing on the comments section of an internet blog. The only thing you can hope for is learning.

      If you truly wish to serve your god, then it is your utmost and primary duty to ascertain the correctness of your understanding of that god's wishes. That includes putting the proof for any interpretation of a god to the acid test, starting with the very existance of such an entity.

      But yes, you never mentioned the bible. We can do this literally, ignoring our motivations.

      Then the alternative "explanations" (e.g. intelligent designer) do not explain anything, for they either they impose no restriction on the data (a), or require at least the existance of the very same they explain (b).

      In case (a) anything is possible, and equally likely. The predictive power is 0. This is the best estimator for truly random data, it is an inferior estimator for anything else.

      In case (b) your explanation is a copy of what it explains, and is therefore ruled out. Such an explanation relies upon an infinite regress.

    6. I don't follow any particular religion. You appear to have got the wrong end of the stick. Thus everything you say based upon that false assumption/premise is of no consequence. Feel free to deal with what was actually written any time you like.

    7. Luther: You make only one real complaint: that Larry uses the word "simple" to refer to some organisms. I'm surprised that an educated fellow like you is unaware that "simple" is a relative term. And his point is that some organisms are simple compared to others, and that the simplest ones appear earliest in the fossil record. I doubt even you would consider that controversial. So that one's out. Larry certainly knows, to a much greater degree than you do, about the complexity of the simplest cells. What else do you have?

      Now in fact it's conceivable that we could have the history of life that we see even if there were a creator nudging the genomes every now and then, but it seems like a highly unparsimonious and unnecessary complication to assume any such thing. Why would you?

    8. Yes, simple is a relative term, and relative to the universe as we know it those "very simple organisms" are a mindboggling example of ordered complexity and completely inexplicable from any known, currently scientifically allowable, perspective. They are, indeed, examples of the very thing evolution is supposed to be required to explain. The point being that if you can get THAT without invoking evolution then you can get anything at all without invoking evolution - thus find a suitable starting point that doesn't simply assume its conclusion or drop the pretense of having an explanation at all. This argument obviously has more force when one notes the metaphysical work to which the theory of evolution is put.

      And, even if this argument is no good, it's better than Darwin was a bad man, and so Larry is wrong to pretend that the latter is about all ID has to offer.

    9. Evolution is THE explanation for the complexity found in living organisms. There is almost no degree of complexity you can appeal to and use to claim evolution is false, when the purpose of the theory is to explain complexity, regardless of the degree.

      Only in a technical sense can degrees of complexity be said to be a falsification of evolution as it is currently understood, if it could be shown that the process have not had enough time to produce the observed level, given the population sizes, mutation rates and generation times of life and the history of the planet.

      That means doing some very hard math. People like Lynch et al. have done that, and it confirms, not contradicts evolution.

    10. So, Luther, the question is, do you have any examples of "mindboggling", "ordered" complexity that evolution can not explain in principle?

      Give specifics.

    11. Luther: I don't see the point in ranking the badness of invalid arguments. But let's seek points of agreement. Leaving aside the first cell, can we agree that evolution is adequate to explain subsequent evolution?

      Of course nobody is claiming that you can get a cell without invoking evolution. Are you proposing the tornado in a junkyard model of the origin of life?

    12. We have no idea if evolution, as it is currently understood, is adequate to explain what see. There are a number of things we will need to know before we know that, first of all, what exactly it is that we see. The point being that as regards, eg, cats, we don't know what they are well enough to know what it is evolution has to explain, let alone whether it can do. Add a person and the problem grows.

      Re the first cell, pick whatever starting point for evolution you wish, you either pick something so simple that the theory can't proceed from there or you pick something so complex that the theory becomes superfluous.

      And the point in ranking arguments in terms of badness is that when someone claims something best someone else has and it patently isn't then that person is guilty of a failure to engage the opposition honestly.

    13. Luther, the first cell is not an entity who's level of complexity or constitution is known, isn't it a bit weird to attack evolution with a hypothetical entity of unknown properties, the existence and properties of which is the remits of abiogenesis, not evolution?

      Try again.

    14. There is no point to ranking the sweetness of dog turds.

      As for the rest of it, I see you have retreated into such vagueness as renders a counterargument impossible. Apparently we know nothing unless we know everything, and you are unwilling to respond to my question on points of agreement. You wonder why everyone thinks you're a cryptocreationist; your unwillingness to state what you actually think is the main reason. While this tactic defeats any attempt to argue against you, it doesn't thereby make you look good.

    15. No, I've simply thrown the ball into your court inasmuch as you have to select a starting point for evolution. The vagueness, then, is entirely your problem and it is also the only thing that allows you to proceed. That is, anything you come up with cannot circumvent the dilemma of being too complex or useless, and thus vagueness is all that can be offered here.

      And no, I'm no a creationist, crypto or otherwise, I just think evolution has been oversold massively for religio-political considerations.

    16. There's still no level of complexity evolution can't explain, provided there's enough time, sufficient population sizes and mutation rates.

      Time to get specific again Luther, and please don't ask for the origin of life, because we don't know what the first cells looked like, much less the conditions that gave rise to them.

    17. Luther Flint:
      > I don't follow any particular religion.

      Then the last four paragraphs of my response apply. Also, I don't believe you.

    18. The first self-replicating system is by definition the start of evolution but is also exactly the kind of complex biological system only evolution is thought to be able to account for. Thus the theory of evolution is superfluous, and will remain so until a suitable starting point can found - a starting point which doesn't presuppose the existence of the very thing it is supposed be needed to explain.

    19. @DR
      I know you don't believe I don't follow a particular religion. That's because your fanatical anti-religious views have become so entwined with your peculiar metaphysical take on science, that you: a) can't tell the difference between the two; b) can't tell the difference between science and metaphysics; and c) can't imagine anyone having any doubts about any (metaphysically spun) scientific theory for non-religious reason.

    20. So I'm accused of idiosyncrasy, fanaticism, and stupidity.

      And you didn't even bother to address the content, as if saying "metaphysics" gave you the power to arbit over reality-based science.

      There's a lovely quote from Robert W. Wood I'll share with any others reading the comments (since you will ignore it as you have most of the content put forth by others for you):

      > In the 1920s, there was a dinner at which the physicist
      > Robert W. Wood was asked to respond to a toast ... "To
      > physics and metaphysics." Now by metaphysics was meant
      > something like philosophy—truths that you could get to
      > just by thinking about them. Wood took a second, glanced
      > about him, and answered along these lines: The physicist
      > has an idea, he said. The more he thinks it through, the
      > more sense it makes to him. He goes to the scientific
      > literature, and the more he reads, the more promising the
      > idea seems. Thus prepared, he devises an experiment to
      > test the idea. The experiment is painstaking. Many
      > possibilities are eliminated or taken into account; the
      > accuracy of the measurement is refined. At the end of all
      > this work, the experiment is completed and ... the idea
      > is shown to be worthless. The physicist then discards the
      > idea, frees his mind (as I was saying a moment ago) from
      > the clutter of error, and moves on to something else. The
      > difference between physics and metaphysics, Wood
      > concluded, is that the metaphysicist has no laboratory.

    21. If you hate metaphysics so much then why keep doing it so badly and so extensively? And the same point might be made to Wood.

    22. So the metaphysicist *has* a laboratory?

      Overall, you have very much shown to have a dog in the fight, resorted to fury rather than substance, and employed all the dodgy, evasive tactics we've seen the Discovery Institute [sic] put forth.

      You are an ID creationist, you have a religious affiliation (probably evangelical christian) and by lying about that you have demonstrated moral and intellectual bankruptcy.

    23. LF:
      > The first self-replicating system is by definition
      > the start of evolution but is also exactly the
      > kind of complex biological system only evolution
      > is thought to be able to account for.

      That is false, evolution applies only after the formation of a self-replicator. It is not thought to explain the formation of that self-replicator. Abiogenesis is not evolution.

      Were you honestly interested in the subject, you should read the following 1998 article by Ian Musgrave on regarding abiogenesis and creationism:

      Of course you are not honest, so the link is for other interested readers.

    24. You misunderstand the point. If we can get complex biological systems without evolution then we can get complex biological systems without evolution. Thus there is no need to invoke evolution to explain the existence of complex biological systems. The flip side being that if evolution is needed to explain complex biological systems then evolution is needed to explain complex biological systems. Thus the first self-replicator (a complex biological system) stands in need of an evolutionary explanation.

    25. @DR
      And I'm not an ID creationist, nor even a supporter of ID, nor even a creationist, nor even religious, and certainly not a follower of any particular religion. I, like many others, have absolutely no idea whether God exists, nor what it would even really mean for God to exist - I think the question is problematic - but I do think there is an obvious (possibly unsolvable) mystery at the heart of existence, and I think the crude materialism espoused by many here is not only demonstrably false, but intellectually damaging and dishonest. And I don't think the theory of evolution is anything like as secure as its advocates pretend it is, and I think that pretense derives in large part from their religio-philosophico-political agenda. Why on earth is that so hard for you to believe?

    26. LF:
      > If we can get complex biological systems without
      > evolution then we can get complex biological
      > systems without evolution.

      I'm not surprised you didn't follow the link and didn't read the article. Here's the picture highlighting your fallacious thinking:

      And, as has been put to you, complexity is measurable (relative). We can assign a number to it. We can compare degrees of complexity. Evolution explains the bulk of complexity in living organisms. If you have been reading this blog you should also know that random evolution (i.e. not natural selection) explains the bulk of evolved complexity.

      Abiogenesis only has to explain the premises for evolution, which have a complexity so low that they can be explained by randomness. Again, see the article.

  3. @Rumraket
    You miss the point. Read what I wrote and then try to think of something relevant to say.

    1. I didn't miss the point, I understood what you meant, the problem is you're asking for a theory to explain what is not within it's remits.

      It's like asking for magnetism to explain gravity.

      Try again Luther.

    2. On the contrary, I'm pointing out that there is no need for the theory because we can get everything it is supposed to explain without reference to it because the stuff outside its remit is exactly the same as the stuff inside it. Thus you misunderstood very very badly.

    3. No Luther, evolution deals with biological self-replicating entities that have errors in their system of inheritance. At minimum, this requires a molecule, or a small set of them, capable of making copies of itself.

      Abiogenesis deals with the non-biological chemical process that gives rise to the minimal system capable of reproducing itself with errors in it's system of inheritance.
      That means it's a question of what chemical and physical process resulted in one, or a small set of molecules, that could copy itself.

      One leads to the other, specifically abiogenesis leads to the first system capable of undergoing evolution. Evolution is what you get when you have inheritance with errors(or inheritance with recombination).

      The merits of the two theories here are clearly defined. One stops where the other begins. Abiogenesis stops at "entity capable of self-replication", which is where evolution starts.

    4. Yeah, but since, as far as we know, any self-replicating biological system is extraordinarily complex you don't need evolution to explain biological complexity no matter how extraordinarily complex. Thus the theory is superfluous.

    5. That's not correct, the simplest known self-replicating biological system consists of two RNA ribyzmes that replicate each other:

      Self-Sustained Replication of an RNA Enzyme
      Tracey A. Lincoln, Gerald F. Joyce*

      An RNA enzyme that catalyzes the RNA-templated joining of RNA was converted to a format whereby two enzymes catalyze each other's synthesis from a total of four oligonucleotide substrates. These cross-replicating RNA enzymes undergo self-sustained exponential amplification in the absence of proteins or other biological materials. Amplification occurs with a doubling time of about 1 hour and can be continued indefinitely. Populations of various cross-replicating enzymes were constructed and allowed to compete for a common pool of substrates, during which recombinant replicators arose and grew to dominate the population. These replicating RNA enzymes can serve as an experimental model of a genetic system. Many such model systems could be constructed, allowing different selective outcomes to be related to the underlying properties of the genetic system.

    6. I know you think that you have proven with geometric logic that it was all about the strawberries, but you might consider that there is a real world, and that one has to explain things we actually see. We have very little data on the origin of life, but we have progressively more as time goes on regarding life's history. Whether evolution is needed to explain complexity is a side issue. Evolution is needed to explain the data left behind by the history of life. While we can't completely rule out the notion that the first cell was poofed into existence*, we can definitely rule out the notion that human beings were poofed into existence.

      *In the same way we can't rule out the teapot orbiting Jupiter.

      There is considerable research on the origin of life, but this doesn't seem like the time to discuss it.

    7. "...any self-replicating biological system is extraordinarily complex..."

      Not True. Small RNA molecules can self replicate.

    8. @rumraket
      Just shows you that intelligent design can do stuff that nothing else we know of can. If it didn't then you would be making the abiogenesis defence. There would be no need.

    9. @john harshman
      But if we set aside the origin of the first cell, we then come to the next argument, which is: until we get a reasonable clear idea what it is we are trying to explain, we have no idea if evolution is adequate.

    10. But it falsifies the claim that self-replication requires high levels of complexity.

      Manifestly, simple self-replication exists. The question now is, can a natural physical and chemical process give rise to a similar simple system?

      That's what abiogenesis is about.

    11. If it didn't then you would be making the abiogenesis defence.

      Yes and if the geocentric model of the universe couldn't "do stuff" (let's not get too technical here Luther) then we wouldn't need a cosmological "defence".

      The only "stuff" that ID does is to extract money from the pockets of credulous religious rubes.

      It make no predictions, it has no evidence, it generates no knowledge, no scientific or technological advances have ever come from it.

      You may think it's restin', but the parrot of ID is dead, it's bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed him to the perch he would be pushing up the daisies!

    12. I'm not really interested in your silly views of ID, I'm interested in whether the arguments offered by Larry in his video are any good. They aren't, for the reasons set out above.

    13. No, it is very simple.

      How long do we play this game?

    14. If it was so simple then there wouldn't be a problem with abiogenesis. But there is, because even a system like that is beyond what can be reasonably expected to arise unaided.

    15. Blind assertion, that's for the scientific field studying the problem to decide, not blind declarations.

      What's the alternative here anyway, we give up, declare the problem unsolvable and stop funding science working on the problem?

      Then what, we do the same with cancer research? The totality of hours spend on, the world over, is many orders of magnitude more than spend doing experiments in prebiotic chemistry.

      Science is not the field for absolutist statements like that, that's the ultimate science-stopper.

    16. Two things could be done; stop claiming things are facts that obviously aren't; and stop pinning silly metaphysical claims onto scientific theories.

    17. What is claimed as fact?

      What metaphysical claim is pinned on a scientific theory?

    18. It is highly complex.

      Well yes, science is hard work and it takes education, dedication, effort and integrity to persevere.

      None of these attributes are applicable to do what you are doing.

      It's easy to tear down, but to make an actual contribution to the increase in knowledge is a lot of effort and apparently beyond your capabilities.

    19. And what's your great contribution to humanity's knowledge base? Demonstrating by example what a complete prick looks like?

    20. @Rumraket
      The theory of evolution is claimed as a fact, and the theory of evolution has been attached to an absurd metaphysical view to the extent that some people actually believe the theory has some profound theological implications.

    21. Well, Luther, unlike you I have not composed a Shakespearean sonnet or built a space station.

      But that's not the point, you are the one bravely charging the ramparts of evil evolution, so what are your contributions ?

      Once your tear down the fanatical atheistic socio-political agenda of evolution what potential explanations/overarching metaphysical framework do you have to offer in it's place ?

      You must have a "metaphysical framework" in mind because you keep using this bullshit phrase over and over and over.

      Piss or get off the pot Luther.

    22. The theory of evolution is claimed as a fact

      That is a lie Luther. As I patiently explained to you elsewhere, a theory is framework into which you fit facts. Do not repeat this lie again.

      the theory of evolution has been attached to an absurd metaphysical view

      That is a lie Luther. Please review the section on theories. You have certainly tried to attach metaphysical baggage to the theory of evolution, but this is because you

      a) do not understand what a theory is

      b) are deeply confused as to the remit of the theory of evolution

      some people actually believe the theory has some profound theological implications

      Some people certainly do, but that is a problem that some people, notably you, need to deal with, and is in no way a valid criticism of evolution.

    23. With respect to the theological implications, given the nature of these, it might or might not have implications for them.

      For example, the claim that all life was created as-is, and that all of humanity descends from two individuals who lived roughly 6000 years ago, by the omnipotent creator of the universe is manifestly false. This is not uniquely because of evolution, though it's part of the different lines of evidence that falsifies this and similar theological claims.

      That's not to say evolution falsifies all conceptions of god or all theologies(incidentally I'm a bit of a hardcore atheist, yet I know of noone who would claim such a thing).

      Some god-concepts are either unfalsifiable, or evolution is asserted to be the tool used by various gods to create biodiversity. Obviously evolution can't be erected as falsification of such gods.

      If you know about people who do, take it up with them instead of making angry statements about it to strangers that don't hold these views.

    24. I guess my most practical contribution was to devise, single-handedly, a completely new process that, almost overnight (two months), helped the Government agency I worked for get on with their job of protecting children instead of drowning under a mountain of poorly targeted work due to deficiencies in the old system. Not Shakespeare nor a space station I grant you, but far better than anything you'll ever come up with you sorry sack of shit.

      As regards metaphysical frameworks, we need to ditch the crude materialism and look at what actually exists, what we actually know, and go from there. No need for science to get involved since it's far better doing what it does best instead of constructing crude metaphysical frameworks designed to falsely use science's utility to force through some unconnected political agenda supported by some of its more outspoken, but philosophically naive, practitioners.

    25. That's great Luther, you used a lot of words but didn't really say much at all. What is it, exactly, you're so afraid to come out and say?

      Particularly your 2nd paragraph seems to have this quality that I get an overwheling sense of a person longing to make certain statements when I read it, but I have no idea what you're talking about.

    26. I'm not afraid to come out and say anything - the problem is that you wouldn't understand what I have to say. Maybe read the stuff on Wittgenstein on my blog, then read LW himself (the first hundred and twenty sections - about 40 pages - of the Philosophical Investigations would do) then in about a year maybe we could talk.

    27. What do you know about what I would understand or not?

    28. I know you can't speak Japanese and Swahili and Urdu and Portuguese and Italian and Russian and French and German and Icelandic. And I know you don't understand Wittgenstein, because if you did you wouldn't say almost any of what you do.

    29. Uh-huh? Okay Luther, not much else for us to do here then.

    30. Yeah, because obviously reading one of the foremost thinkers of the 20th century would be such a massive waste of your time.

    31. No, I meant with respect to you thinking I have to read him to understand what you're saying, not to mention your belief that reading him I will emerge having changed my mind on most of what I've said so far.

      Incidentally, I know several people who've read Wittgenstein, they don't share your opinions.

      I've seen plenty of people having read anything from Kant and Kierkegaard to Descartes and Liebniz, still disagreeing on almost anything.

      I don't have much respect for the "you need to read this guy and emerge agreeing with me" view.

    32. The wiki article on Wittgenstein reads "Wittgenstein's influence has been felt in nearly every field of the humanities and social sciences, yet there are widely diverging interpretations of his thought. In the words of his friend and colleague Georg Henrik von Wright: "He was of the opinion... that his ideas were generally misunderstood and distorted even by those who professed to be his disciples. He doubted he would be better understood in the future. He once said he felt as though he were writing for people who would think in a different way, breathe a different air of life, from that of present-day men."[11]"

      A bit hilarious then, that you think if I read him I will suddenly find myself aligned with you on certain issues?

    33. There are certain point that I think even a simpleton like you might be able to grasp, given a bit of time. Nonetheless, the point was more about why you wouldn't understand what I was saying. And this is the point, it might be enough for you to understand that you wouldn't understand. Consider someone who can't speak Japanese but thinks the language is meaningless - it is not necessary for him to become fluent in Japanese to just get the fact it is a language, and it does make sense.

    34. People don't understand you because you type out inanity rather than posts with actual content. Tut tut!

    35. Luther, just repeating that I won't understand you doesn't substantiate the claim.

    36. OK, then, how many years (use minutes if it's easier) have you spent on Wittgenstein's later philosophy? And given that the answer is very close to zero, how come you miraculously manage to understand this very hard to understand philosopher without having read anything he has to say or anything about his philosophy?

    37. Luther, I think that maybe, just maybe, you're slightly confused. If you have something of value to offer here, spit it out, I really couldn't give any less of a fuck that some internet nobody vaguely insinuates Wittgenstein will have some grand impact on the trajectory of the discussion.

  4. Replies
    1. LF, sorry that this little fact has rocked your belief system so much that you have descended into a "does not, does too" phase.

      We'll give you a bit of time to calm down and come up with a rational reply.

  5. It hasn't rocked my world at all, firstly because it would be of no consequence to my world if it was true, and secondly because it isn't true in any event. By contrast, the ridiculousness of the current theory of evolution being put up as a fact has rocks your world to the extent that you can't see that the theory has been oversold massively.

    1. Just to clear away any strawmen, what is the current theory of evolution, precisely?

      It be bedtime in my timezone, so you have about 10-12 hours to come up with a reasonable response.

    2. Well this is one of the problems. The ToE is presented as a theory that explains the development of life from some vague starting point to all the forms we see around us and all those that have ever existed; while the ToE that, eg, Larry is willing to defend is a theory that is consistent with the the book of Genesis.

    3. It is patently obvious that no evidence would change your world view, assuming you have a coherent world view that amounts to anything more than a nihilistic hatred of evidence based rational thinking.

      The theory of evolution is not a "fact", assuming you haven't assigned a special and personal meaning to yet another word, a theory of anything is a conceptual framework that explains existing facts and predicts new ones.

      You have advanced not a single fact to support ID nor have you provided any explanation as to what the conceptual framework of ID is.

      Which is understandable because ID has no conceptual framework.

      It's simply a parasitic growth, religion in a lab coat, a mechanism for fleecing credulous idiots.

    4. "Well this is one of the problems. The ToE is presented as a theory that explains the development of life from some vague starting point to all the forms we see around us and all those that have ever existed; while the ToE that, eg, Larry is willing to defend is a theory that is consistent with the the book of Genesis."

      Please provide citations to back up those claims or retract them.

    5. Go check out Larry's what evolution is page. There you will see many mainstream definitions of evolution as the explanation of the former and you'll see Larry feign horror at these because, for him, so this particular story goes, the ToE is actually pretty much nothing more than the claim that children aren't clones of their parents. We know Larry is just spinning a yarn there because in the first quote here on his side bar he lets the truth slip.

    6. @Luther

      First of all your present a horrible caricature of the different veiws expressed on that page of Larry's, and 2nd I have no idea what quote you're talking about.

    7. The first one, from Darwin, about the bivalve shell. And the horrible caricature may be a horrible caricature but it captures the essence of all Larry appears willing to defend and was so much quicker to write.

    8. What's wrong with the Darwin quote?

      And what's wrong with the definition of evolution offered by Larry? I really don't see the problem here. You almost seem to be angry at the fact that Larry doesn't make grandiose claims with his definition.

    9. The Darwin quote is much more consistent with the definitions Larry objects to for precisely the reason that Larry objects to them and in precisely the way Larry is unwilling to defend. That is, what he is prepared to defend tells us nothing necessarily about how a bivalve shell might come to be unless he connects the theory with claims he wants to distance the theory from to make it defensible.

    10. First of all, science has moved on since Darwin's time. When Darwin is quoted it's not to hail his original theory as THE explanation, but the specific quote you refer to is about how the existence of alternative explanations means we don't have to appeal to claims of design when alternatives are serious possibilites.

      Whether we go with Darwinian adaptationism or not, we now have serious alternatives to design. Complexity itself cannot be said to be the product or, or require design, as explanation for it's existence.

      The original theory by Darwin didn't deal with genetics(Darwind didn't know DNA existed), so it will invariably be wrong in certain ways that we now understand.

      When Larry objects to certain theories of evolution it's because there's disagreement about to what extend natural selection contributes to evolution(among other things). We now know about mechanisms operating and contributing to evolution Darwin simply couldn't have know.

      When he's quoted, it's usually in acknowledgement of what a great contribution to science it was to come up with an explanation for biodiversity and many, at the time seemingly intractable features of living organisms, regardless of how much of it has subsequently been superceded or build upon.

      Incidentally, just because drift plays in increased role in comparison to how evolution was understood to operate in Darwin's time(and is still mistakenly understood by some biologists and many laymen), takes nothing away from the theory in terms of explanatory power. Quite the opposite, because there are manifestly facts about life pure gradualist adaptationism can't explain, but introducing neutral evolution and punctuated equilibrium to the theory overcomes this problem.

      Your dismissal seems overly simplistic and I'm sorry to say, rather uneducated with respect to the facts of the matter and the history of the theory.

    11. My point is straightforward, there is no necessary connection between what Larry is willing to defend and the idea evolution can produce the bivalve shell. Indeed, what Larry is willing to defend is consistent with the Genesis account of creation which, after all, doesn't insist on clone children for Adam and Eve. Thus I have provided the quotes to back up my original point and need retract nothing.

    12. "the ToE is actually pretty much nothing more than the claim that children aren't clones of their parents. "

      Now you are starting to get somewhere.That is the basis of the whole game. Now you need to understand the forces at play.

      Let's start with selection. The part that is >150 years old, added to our genetic understanding of heredity. I'll keep it simple, and will keep with your metaphor.

      So now imagine a simple scenario where your mom and your dad, and the whole community have a single "cannot reproduce" allele that is recessive and equally affects both males and females. 1/4 of their babies cannot reproduce (evolutionary dead ends from birth). 3/4 are fine, but 1/3 of the 3/4 can have 100% of their offspring able to reproduce (the ones that did not inherit the bad allele). Now run the simulation, making any assumptions you want, and get back to us with the results, over time.

      Where did the allele come from? Next step is mutation, if you are interested.

    13. The straightforwardness of your point is irrelevant when your point is demonstrably wrong.

      Again, the modern view of evolution is superior in explanatory scope to the one at Darwin's time, because it explains in principle not only the same set of data(like bivalve shells), but additional features the original theory couldn't explain which arises from the peculiarities of the mechanism of inheritance, since it was alighted upon before the mechanism of inheritance was elucidated.

      Furthermore, you have said nothing to substantiate the claim that Larry's offered definition of evolution is so broad it rivals the creation of the universe, earth and origin of life in the bible, in terms of the totality of what it purports to explain.

      In fact that claim is demonstrably wrong, since the definition he offers deals manifestly only with biology, and the quote he offers by Gould deals directly with making important distinctions between the term evolution used elsewhere, like astronomy, and evolution used in biology.

      Lastly, when you claim to have provided quotes, please provide quotes instead of your own gradiose caricatures, otherwise you just look silly.

    14. The point is not whether the modern theory of evolution is different from what Darwin said. The point is that evolution, as defended by Larry, amounts to a claim so trivial that it could be true even if the Genesis account of the creation of life was true. Thus my original claim to that effect was true.

      And note, I'm not saying what Larry is saying rivals the Genesis account (so don't make stuff up), I'm saying the theory of evolution, in terms of what Larry is prepared to defend on his page about evolution, is CONSISTENT with Genesis. To have evolution become inconsistent with Genesis, then, Larry would have to extend his definition of evolution and defend that extended version - something he appears to be unwilling to do.

    15. Luther, let me quote from Larry's article on the minimal definition of evolution:

      The amazing thing about the minimal definition of biological evolution is that it doesn't carry any baggage concerning the history of life or its future. As soon as we try to define evolution in terms of the historical record, we run into all kinds of problems because we confuse evolution as a process with evolution as a history of life. The scientific definition attempts to describe the minimum thing that might be called evolution. We know that the history of life is more complicated than this and we know that evolutionary theory encompasses other things such as the formation and extinction of populations. There is no conflict between the minimal definition of evolution as a change in the genetic composition of populations and macroevolution. Gould understands this.

      Gould does, you don't. Or perhaps you pretend you don't because it allows you (at least in your eyes) to misinterpret Larry in order to call him a liar -- as if he claimed anywhere that evolutionary theory was only about microevolution and nothing else. Do you really believe that Larry excludes things like speciation or common descent from the scope of evolutionary theory? Do you believe that, according to what he says, the fossil record, molecular phylogenetic dating, etc., are compatible with the Biblical story? Take microevolution out of its historical context and it may even be compatible with a Universe created last week, let alone 6000 years ago. But the context is there and every sane, sufficiently educated person is perfectly aware of its existence.

      You called me a prick before I used any comparably strong language to describe your argumentative style. Since you say that it's OK to respond in kind in such cases, let me reciprocate by calling you a mendacious douchebag, trolling here to get some undeserved attention. You won't get too much troll food from me any more, but take this and choke on it.

  6. Replies
    1. see that comment you removed, bet it was rubbish.

    2. Well, it was actually just because I misplaced it, it was a reply to a post you made earlier, I just deleted it and put it in reply in the correct position. In any case, you've already responded to it, so why does it matter Luther?

    3. It was a joke, mainly for my own amusement.

  7. So, to summarize: Larry gave a talk almost entirely about the evidence for common descent. Luther picked on one throwaway term ("simple") from about 6 minutes in and a passing reference to attacks on Darwin's character about 17 minutes in, and ignored the rest. He even managed to ignore the actual example Larry gave of why we call them IDiots, the silly claim that mutational variation among somatic cells casts doubt on -- wait for it -- common descent. (Remember? That's the subject of the talk.)

    Then he just used the video as an excuse to make vague claims, unrelated to Larry's talk, about the inadequacy of evolution to account for the origin of life, and ignored all attempts to pin him down to anything concrete. Luther, try playing the video again, and this time pay attention.

    1. There are countless errors. Larry must surely be aware that Michael Behe accepts common descent and yet he falsely claims that if "IDiots" want to challenge evolution they must argue against it. Obviously not. Larry clearly knows that many "IDiots" do not subscribe to a young earth and yet he falsely claims that they must challenge that. Obviously not. Larry must know the Cambrian explosion is problematic for any theory of evolution close to anything we currently have and yet presents this as if it's a piece of confirmation rather than a profound puzzle. Larry talks about nested genetic hierarchies as if HGT didn't exist. Larry talks about mutation as if symbiosis was a mutation (copying error). Larry talks about copying errors as if this wasn't a teleological metaphor. Larry defines science as if asking a shopkeeper how much a can of Irn Bru costs was science. Larry calls people "IDiots" as if making up an abusive name was a triumph of critical thought. Larry talks about "Intelligent Design Creationism" as if that's a neutral description rather than a disingenuous rhetorical device. Larry has a silly moustache.

      Now, one of these points is woeful - I got the idea from larry. See if you can critically think your way to working out which one it is.

    2. So your plan is to hide behind the big tent? Behe is one of the very few professional IDiots who accepts common descent, and the professionals are much more accepting of it than their followers. This is just another of your avoidance tactics, but it didn't work.

      What's problematic about the Cambrian explosion, exactly? Why are horizontal transfers a problem for the nested hierarchy? What does symbiosis have to do with anything Larry was talking about? Why are you so upset about linguistic metaphor? I'll skip all the completely irrelevant crap at the end.

      I can't find the one woeful point, as they all are.

    3. It's not hiding behind a big tent. You asked for more arguments and there they are. If you disagree then so be it. My points are not right or wrong or good or bad based on your appraisal. Let's take one point: given that Larry knows full well that one can be an ID advocate and accept common descent, why lie about it and pretend otherwise? Why not just come clean and say that some ID proponents accept that, and an old earth, and the fact that mutation occurs and has consequences, and so on? The reason being that if he did he'd have to invent a proper argument rather than the shite he passed off as critical thinking in his presentation. This isn't about whether ID is right, it's about the quality of Larry's arguments, and his arguments were of poor quality for the reasons set out above, above that, and even further above that.

    4. Those weren't arguments. They were nods in the general direction of potential arguments. I was asking you to present the actual argument. But of course you didn't.

      Larry wasn't lying. He was defending common descent, which IDiots commonly attack (as in, for example, the *ahem* example he gave). Noting that one exception exists isn't a defense and doesn't substantiate your claim that Larry was lying.

      Your "reasons" are nothing more than excuses. By the way, are you acquainted with the term "Gish gallop"?

    5. Larry calls people "IDiots" as if making up an abusive name was a triumph of critical thought.

      Oh Luther, you should be ashamed of yourself.

      The First law of holes is appropriate here: "If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging."

      In your case you now busy backfilling with manure.

      You wouldn't recognize critical thought if it bit you on your backside.

      Are you acquainted with the term "projection" ?

    6. @Oberski
      Calling people names isn't a good argument. Or do you disagree?

    7. @Harshman
      Larry said that if you want to support ID you HAVE TO reject common descent. But he knows this is not true because, eg, Behe accepts both common descent and ID, and Larry knows this full well. Thus Larry did lie. He said something he knew wasn't true in order to make his case appear far stronger than it is.

      Thus he broke the first rule of critical thinking which is to confine yourself to truthful statements and not simply make stuff up because it makes your argument better. Let's deal with this point first.

    8. Luther, if you ever present a coherent idea in this forum I will happily engage with it.

    9. @Oberski
      Making up abusive names for people/viewpoints is not a good argument nor a good example of critical thinking. Do you agree?

      Apologies if this is so complex you find it incoherent.

    10. Who, other than a religious fanatic

      I was wondering what kind of an arsehole you are? Would complete arsehole cover it?

      But that's another trait of psychos like you.

      I find it quite funny that psychos like you resort to such stuff the instant anyone disagrees with you.

      I find you quite a tedious individual with a penchant for point missing on a par with the prick Piotr. *

      and is, as such, as empty as your head.

      There are certain point that I think even a simpleton like you might be able to grasp

      And I'm not a prick, like you, either.

      * Bonus points for working 2 people into that one. Economy of effort or what ?

    11. Luther, if you ever present a coherent idea in this forum I will happily engage with it.

      What he said.

      You raised a number of substantive issues (Cambrian explosion, horizontal transfers, etc.) and then when invited to explain in detail you ran away from them to accusations of lying. You have never engaged with what Larry actually said. The core of ID is YEC. Face it.

    12. I did engage with him. I explained that he lied when he said one must reject common descent if one accepts ID. It's not true because, eg, Behe accepts both, and since Larry knew this, he lied. He also lied when he said one has to reject an old earth because many ID advocates accept an old earth, and since Larry knew this was untrue when he said it, he lied. He also lied about there being simple organisms when he knows no such things exist. He also lied about ID's best argument against evolution being that Darwin was a bad man when he knows full well there are far better arguments against evolution than that. You seem to imagine that by simply repeating larry's lies they will somehow magically become true - they won't. There may be many YEC's in the ID movement, and there may be many who don't accept common descent, but there is nothing intrinsic to ID which requires a rejection of an old earth or a rejection of common descent. And since you know this as well, but pretend it is otherwise, you are likewise lying.

    13. @Oberski
      Yeah, they're not supposed to be examples of critical thinking. They're simply insults thrown back at you (or others) because you (they) chose to insult me rather than, or as well as, engage with my point. If you don't like being called an arsehole, then don't act like one. And if you don't like name calling, then stop it. I never start it, but I almost always respond because I will not allow complete arses like you to abuse me endlessly without throwing some abuse back at you.

    14. Luther,

      Making up abusive names for people/viewpoints is not a good argument nor a good example of critical thinking. Do you agree?

    15. Of course I agree, that's the point I made. The question is whether you can bring yourself to agree and thus to accept that Larry calling people IDiots is is childish nonsense. And Larry doesn't even have my explanation which is that when you call me names I call you them back, because the ID crowd, at least in their main works and presentations, don't use the kind of childish antics that are to be found everywhere in the self-styled critical thinking community.

    16. When all else fails, accuse your opponent of lying. A few IDiots accept common descent. Larry wasn't addressing them. Many IDiots accept an old earth. Larry touched only tangentially on the age of the earth. Larry's talk was about common descent, which most IDiots reject. If you have an argument against common descent, present it now.

      Forget Behe. Behe is a beard.

    17. Luther, they are IDiots. I can prove it. Larry has demonstrated it over and over again.

      But let's get back to your favourite topic, yourself.

      Do you think that your Making up abusive names for people/viewpoints is not a good argument nor a good example of critical thinking ?

      Stop obsessing on Larry and apply some of your vaunted critical thinking to yourself.

    18. @Harshman
      When Larry says that one MUST reject common descent if one supports ID he is lying. Behe accepts both. It is therefore clear that one cannot simply say what Larry does without significant argument as to why Behe is somehow wrong to imagine the things can be consistent. But no such argument is offered because it is clear one could accept common descent and still accept ID. Not a hard point to understand however hard it must be for you to take.

    19. @Oberski
      So you are unable to admit that calling people names is not a good argument nor a good example of critical thinking. Okay, then, you're a twat. There, I just refuted you using the type of critical thinking skills endorsed both by you, and by one who teaches a course in such things. NEXT!

    20. @Harshman
      And I don't need an argument against common descent. I couldn't give a flying fuck if common descent is true. My issue here is about the very poor quality of Larry's argument when he fancies himself a critical thinker of the highest order. He isn't - he's a sloppy thinker with an ideological axe to grind.

    21. How can you judge the quality of Larry's argument when you don't even address his argument? The talk was all about common descent. If you don't address common descent you're just sniffing around the edges. I thought you were the one who said you have to address your opponent's best argument.

      I agree that rejection of common descent isn't logically entailed by the naked idea of ID. But that's irrelevant. Rejection of common descent is a central claim of the ID community. Behe is on the periphery. In the real world, things aren't as tidy as in your imaginary world.

      It also boggles my mind that anyone could have so little intellectual curiosity as not to care whether common descent is true. I suppose thinking that a question is unimportant makes you more secure in your ignorance?

    22. I can judge Larry's argument easily by checking to see if what he claims is true. So, watch: must one, as Larry suggests, reject common descent if one supports ID - no, because Michael Behe accepts both. Argument appraised and found to be shite. And since Larry knew this, he was found to have lied.

      And since you acknowledge there is no requirement to reject CD to endorse ID we can move on to my next criticism. The old earth.
      When Larry says supporters of ID must reject an old earth he is lying. He is lying because Behe, amongst other ID proponents, accept the idea of an old earth, and thus Larry's claim is false, and since he knew it was false when he said it, he lied. Need we go through the same palaver over this point anymore or can you bring yourself to concede that Larry is wrong here too.

    23. No Luther, your problem is with evolution and not Larry's critical thinking skills.

      You have said the Cambrian explosion is problematic for any theory of evolution and Larry talks about nested genetic hierarchies as if HGT didn't exist and Larry talks about mutation as if symbiosis was a mutation and Larry talks about copying errors as if this wasn't a teleological metaphor.

      These are all standard IDiot/creotard talking points against evolution and have nothing to do with critical thinking.

      Then again, so many turds have been expelled from your cesspool of a mind that it's no wonder you can't keep track of them all.

      You are an IDiot or creationist and all the hand waving and associated bullshit about critical thinking is a smokescreen to hide your actual IDiot/creotard agenda.

    24. @Oberski
      Yawn. These arguments are offered mainly by ID proponents because ID proponents are the highest profile critics of evolution. But these criticisms also exist elsewhere amongst people are uncomfortable with the extent to which a highly speculative theory is put forward as virtually the final word.
      The reason you (falsely) believe everyone who doubts the theory of evolution is religious is also largely down to the fact that the theory has become so interwoven with your own religious views that you you simply can't see that it is your religion, rather than the science, which forces you to believe it with the strength you do. Thus, eg, you see no problem with the cambrian explosion despite the fact that it is hugely problematic for any gradualist, bottom up account that bears any resemblance to the gradualist, bottom up accounts we currently have. And so the question for me is whether our future theories of life will look anything the theory we currently have. I suspect it will not. I suspect that in a hundred or so years we will look back with a wry grin at what clowns like you believed with all your heart.

    25. @Oberski
      And my problem with Larry is that he's always banging on about critical thought (as most in the self-styled critical thinking community do) when he's as ideologically bound as almost any who have ever walked God's green earth.

    26. Anyway, ladies, I grow weary of this dispute. My appraisal of Larry's presentation is an honest one. Take it or leave. TTFN/O

    27. It seems to me that if you want to know whose views are bound up with religion, not science, you should look at the person who refuses to discuss the science. So let's try it. In what way is the Cambrian explosion problematic for any "gradualist, bottom up account"? Don't be shy. To start out, you can describe what you think the explosion was, when it began and ended, and what it tells us about evolution.

      As for requirements of ID, you confuse the abstract concept of intelligent design, which nobody cares about, with the ID movement, a creationist sect that includes a few token theistic evolutionists and a few more old-earth creationists. Larry does not.

    28. Luther, don't hide behind what others say.

      These are your arguments.

      You couldn't give a flying fuck if common descent is true but the Cambrian explosion is problematic for any theory of evolution. There is absolutely no consistency within or between your posts, whatever trash is floating around in your mind gets vomited out in some sort of IDiot/creotard stream of consciousness/speaking in tongues spasm.

      You are merely parroting IDiot propaganda without any real understanding of the underlying science as evidenced by your grotesque caricatures of evolution and your inability to explain what your issues are with HGT, mutations, copy errors etc.

      I completely understand that for you this has nothing to do with a better understanding of reality and an increase in knowledge with the concomitant increase in the well being for all human beings but is all about Luther Flint showing the rest of the world how wrong they have been and how finally someday you will make them pay dearly for all the perceived slights. Like the cheesy villain in a James Bond movie. If it wasn't so pathetic it would be funny.

    29. "Debating creationists on the topic of evolution is rather like trying to play chess with a pigeon; it knocks the pieces over, craps on the board, and flies back to its flock to claim victory." -- Scott D. Weitzenhoffer

  8. If I may employ critical thinking.
    This makes the creationist case.
    The first half makes the very same claims that is supposed to persuade people but in fact their is no reason to persuade.

    Their is not evidence to show a billion year old planet! What could it be?
    The fossil record does not show the history of life. It only shows fossils and then using geological assertions that the strata levels are in sequences covering long ages the fossils are CLAIMED to show a history.
    In fact its just a story of segregated deposition of diversity some 400 years ago.
    Anyways , once again YEC must stress, the fossil record is not biological evidence for evolution of this into that but only biological data points . Even if true it still is not biological evidence but evidence of data points in geological sequences pointing to evolution. But not demonstrating it on biological evidence.
    That fact here is not a fact.
    Its a wrong point on logic.
    Why do evolutionists think the fossils are showing biological change when no biological investigation is going on. Its just connecting dots based on strata segregational ideas of age.

    What does complicated look like? The earliest 'fossils" are complicated or make them from stratch in the lab.
    The earliest are simply the scrapings from obscure areas and are of the same age as everything on top.

    The whales, the whales!
    Again the one type of creatures, marine mammals, that uniquely did change in anatomy are invoked as a good sample of all creatures evolving.
    They are just a special case and obviously first were landlovers.
    THey are very very rare creatures to show evidence of change.
    the fossils of them do not show transitions but only variety's of a diverse group.
    Again fossils show no biological change but only are interpreted that way.
    Creationism can say marine mammals changed quickly and simply variety's were fossilized.

    I never saw the host here speak and am glad I did hear.
    It was informative but i draw different conclusions.
    There really is too much error in separating facts from interpretation of raw data.
    Videos like this are good as threads can be too brief.

    1. If I may employ critical thinking.


      In fact its just a story of segregated deposition of diversity some 400 years ago.

      OK, I assume that was a typo. But in fact the claim that the flood happened in the 18th Century isn't all that much more absurd than the claim that it happened in 2000 BC. In both cases, there are continuous records, human and natural, through both supposed events.

      And do I take your discussion of whales to be an admission that whales did indeed evolve from land mammals? Careful, there. You're on your way down a slippery slope. The fossil evidence for the evolution of mammals from "reptiles" is equally good, and the evidence for the evolution of humans is better.

    2. The fossil evidence for the evolution of mammals from "reptiles" is equally good, and the evidence for the evolution of humans is better.

      As, for that matter, is the evolution of birds from "non-avian dinosaurs" or tetrapods from "fish". One thing leads to another. Who knows, perhaps Byers will be assimilated.

    3. I swear Robert that there is an untapped poetic streak in you struggling to get out.

      I'm thinking xtian beat poetry here.

      You need to hook up with some local musician and run with this.

    4. There isn't fossil evidence for vany evolution.
      There is only interpretation of data points and connecting the points.
      further a biological theory needs biological evidence. Fossils are only evidence for evolution if the geology is true. if the geology is wrong then the fossils are not evidence for evolution.
      therefore the conclusions about fossils as indicating evolution are not based on biological study but only geological presumptions.
      A great logical flaw in evolutionary thought.
      Evolutionism has persuaded itself fossils are biological evidence for evolution but in fact it employs no biological skill or tools.
      Then the seeming evolution is dismissed by understanding the strata is from segregated deposition within hours or days or weeks.
      The diversity in the fossils only shows a diverse world that is segregated.
      A thoughtful evolutionist should not invoke fossils as BIOLOGICAL evidence for evolution.
      Even if they accurately showed evolution they still would not be biological evidence for the conclusions.
      Be persuaded by fossils as evidence for evolution but don't say they are biological evidence. Important difference in authority.

  9. Oh' Brother! This nonsense just has to be true because Larry said so! How did matter come to life? How did the first living cell know that in order to continue its existence it needs to evolve a replication mechanism? How did it do this on random mutation and natural selection?

    How in the blue blazes did it do this? Where did the information come from to do it? was it 1 cell that came alive and did all this or an entire sea of cells? Was this on land or in the water? Maybe both? The speculations and metaphysical clap trap is mind boggling on how you just know these things! Where you there? Did you see this fist had or did you actually get it right to make matter alive and see it evolve its first replicator? How long did it take to evolve the fist replicator? How long did it take for the matter to come alive Larry? How simple was it compared to the current simple cells? You guys are selling this bullshit to students as facts and true? How do you sleep at night knowing that you're making money for something you know absolutely nothing about?

    1. No, it's not true just because Larry said so. Unlike in religion, we don't believe stuff just because someone says so or it says so in some specific holybook. It takes evidence to substantiate claims in science, evidence gathered through observation and experiment is what justifies truth-claims.

      Incidentally, the subject upon which you you pontificate, no truth-claims have been made by Larry or anyone else here. That's because you're talking about the origin of life, not biological evolution

      We don't know how life originated, everyone here would admit that, but that fact is irrelevant with respect to evolution, because evolution is the explanation that describes the mechanism whereby life diversifies, once it exists. It is not supposed or required to explain how the first living entity came to exist. That's the remits of physics and chemistry, and it's a work in progress.

      When you claim bullshit is sold to students as facts, please provide evidence to back up these claims. Noone here is claiming that they know the answers to the origin of life.

    2. If you don't even know how the first replicated evolved or how the first sequence of amino acids evolved to form a single protein how the hell do you know what's follows is even true, listen here son..... just because people don't believe just so stories conjured up by the guys in white coats, you have no right to label them religious or creationists, I might as well call you a disciple for your vigorously defefense of something you know 0 about... were you there? How does that feel being called out for your blind faith in absolute fucking bullshit.

    3. I don't need to know the circumstances of your birth to know you passed through childhood, for example. There are plenty of things we can know without "having been there" to see them, either because we've seen similar things happening before, or because processes that happened in the past leave evidence behind. If a theory makes many predictions about what we should expect to find if a process took place in the past, and we find and confirm those predictions, then we have good reason to think the theory is probably true, or something approximately like it.

      With respect to evolution, we don't need to know how the first self-replicator originated to know that species evolve and did so in the past, there's plenty of evidence this took place, there doesn't NEED to be evidence how life firs started for there to be evidence life subsequently evolved and shares common ancestry.

      I can probably reconstruct a significant portion of my family history maby a couple of centuries back in time, I don't need to know every detail of the lives of the individuals that make it up, nor do I need to know the ultimate origin of "mankind" for the purpose of this example.

      This is not an absolutist claim, and we don't claim to know every single little detail, but to insist that therefore we're completely ignorant is to volitionally choose ignorance over information and education.

      And it's particularly laughable to claim that because we don't know the details about what happened close to 4 billion years ago at the origin of life, then we are completely and utterly clueless about everything that happened since then. It simply doesn't follow, neither logically or evidentially.

      I have no faith, I don't DO faith, all my beliefs are evidentially justified, and the degree to which I hold my beliefs are directly proportional to the strength of the empirical case in support of them. Some beliefs are vague and tentative and it takes very little to shift or remove them, some are deeply held because the evidence is overwhelming and the claim is mundane. Some things I don't even believe, I only entertain the idea as mere possibilities.

      Stop trolling with your silly insults please., you know nothing about me or what I believe.

    4. But I do know you, you be live that matter just came alive!!!!!! You believe that something can come from nothing and you believe this with absolutely fuckall evidence!!! Don't put yourself in a box it makes you look funny.....

    5. It's remarkably hypocritical of you to accuse me of believing things without evidence(I don't) and in the same breath claim to know what I believe despite no evidence justifying your beliefs about me and my positions on any of these subjects.

      You could not possibly constitute any greater a failure on the subject of our mutual discourse.

      I believe evolution happens because there's evidence for it, but I don't believe god(s) exist. I don't claim to know any of these things with absolute certainty. Now given that these are the only two belief claims I have alluded on this blog, to see you now suddenly claim to know what I believe on a whole host of issues is laughably ironic. Especially when YOU'RE the one accusing ME of believing things without evidence.

      Incidentally, I believe nothing of the sort you attribute to me. I'd be happy to tell you what I believe, and what it is I think justifies my beliefs, elsewhere, this isn't the setting for it.

      Go to - it's a forum for skeptics I frequent, I'd be happy to detail my views on your chosen subjects there. I can't be bothered plastering this blog with my worldview, and the posting-system on these blogs don't lend themselves effectively to these kinds of discussions.

      Do that, or shut up about what it is you, unjustifiably, think you know about what I believe. Thank you.

    6. There isn't "nothing" in the way you are thinking. See

      and read the transcript of the interview.

    7. Re anonymous

      Mr. anonymous apparently is unaware that the cosmological definition of nothing today is totally different then the definition in the 19th century. In the 19th century, nothing was thought to consist of a vacuum with no matter. Today, we know that nothing consists of the quantum vacuum, which contains virtual particles, e.g. electrons, and protons. When, for instance, an electron is promoted out of the quantum vacuum, the hole it leaves behind becomes a positron (e.g. anti-electron). Although the quantum vacuum is not directly observable, its presence has observable consequences; thus the anomalous magnetic moment of the electron is predicted by the interaction of the electron with the quantum vacuum (the so-called vacuum corrections of quantum electrodynamics). This prediction agrees with the observed value to 10 significant digits.

    8. If stupidity was a deadly disease you'd be dead by now....

      A quantum vacuum is not nothing it is in fact a physical sheet of virtual particles. It is something.

      What is nothing?



      Not anything; no single thing

      Clearly you guys don't know what nothing means let me help you in layman's terms just so that your finite little brains can comprehend.

      Nothing is the stuff that rocks dream about. Get it? Good!

    9. Re anomymous

      As far as questions of effects on such things as celestial mechanics, the quantum vacuum is, indeed, nothing because it has not the slightest effect on the motions of the planets or the stars. This is why its existence can be ignored when preforming calculations in celestial mechanics. This despite the fact that the entire universe came into being as a result of a transient discontinuity in the quantum vacuum.

    10. Sez who slc... Lawrence krauss?.... OK whatever....

    11. Sez the overwhelming majority of cosmologists who study the problem.

    12. Oh ok! If the universe owes its origins to quantum theory, then quantum theory must have existed before the universe right? So the next question is surely: where did the laws of quantum theory come from?

    13. Re Anonymous

      OK, then tell us where the designer (i.e. god) came from.

  10. John Harshman
    Yup. Typo. I meant 2400B.C.
    Yes marine mammals are variety's of land creatures they came from in a post flood world. The seas being emptied of the previous monsters.
    Yet not from evolution. Rather another mechanism. I say its from innate triggers built into the biological system. The 'transitional" fossils are simply other variety's and unrelated to the ones in the water.
    Marine mammals are a very, very, very, rare case of great change in a type of creature.
    they are not a sample of the mean.
    i would protest evolutionists using them like they just pulled them out of a hat as a example.
    These air breathing milk-feeding and animated critters are clearly originally land creatures. also anatomical bits are evident. THis also very rare.
    Creationists are wrong to deny this .
    Yet evolutionists are wrong to gain faith in evolution on a special case of actual important body changes. A whoops.

    Imagination must be allowed for giving different reasons for simple raw data.
    No evidence for evolution of whales. only whales and some fossils of creatures seemly related in geological stratas believed to be in sequence.
    Mechanism is not shown by fossils. Only raw results. Then speculation with non biological aids.

  11. Yes marine mammals are variety's of land creatures they came from in a post flood world. The seas being emptied of the previous monsters.
    Yet not from evolution. Rather another mechanism. I say its from innate triggers built into the biological system. The 'transitional" fossils are simply other variety's and unrelated to the ones in the water.

    Just to understand your thinking Robert with regard to this change in land mammal form: does it occur within the lifetime of a given animal? Does a land mammal slip into the ocean and begin receding its limbs and budding out flippers? Or do you mean that, as a result of these "inate triggers built into the biological system", successive generations of a given land mammal becomes gradually more adapted to the marine lifestyle?

    1. I see the triggers as biological events.
      They don't have a direction but just react to thresholds being passed .
      So it could be in a creatures life and quicker then that.
      Just like creatures changing colour for the winter.

      There is no intermediates in the fossil record but only variety's that changed to suit their place.

      An example is on our own body with the hair we get at puberty.
      The hair under our arms is useless and only there because the body was triggered, perhaps in stages, to keep the area dry. Not a end goal but just a trigger.

      I say seals and bears and dogs are the same kind.
      seals are just a further expression of water dogs. Water dogs have their webbed feet because of triggers and not evolution.
      just examples I present here.

  12. Thanks for the video. Since I have no biology/biochemistry background I learned stuff.
    I liked it that evolution can be defined in statistical terms (change in the frequency distributions of the allels in a population over time).

    I am going to spread this video around.

    1. Sorry to hear because most of what Larry says is just "so stories" that fits his worldview and not the evidence!

  13. Anonymous, sign in with a unique user name and then describe your worldview. I'm curious as to whether your worldview relies on or contains any 'just so stories', and whether it fits "the evidence".