More Recent Comments

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

IDiot book by Stephen Meyer can't be refuted by scientists

The IDiots at the Discovery Institute have evolved something that they think is a winning strategy. They publish a book that has lots of scientific-sounding words then they embark on a massive publicity campaign to promote it as the latest scientific breakthroughs showing that evolution is wrong (and, therefore, God did it). Then they wait for the bad reviews to come in and concentrate on rebutting the reviewers. They get as much publicity by pretending that the reviewers are biased as they do from selling the books in the first place.

They use four main tactics to avoid admitting that they are wrong [see What Do You Do When All the Reviews Are Bad?]. One of them is to claim that all the reviewers are ignoring the main arguments in the book. That's what Stephen Meyer does in the video below. It's titled, "The Biggest Failure of Critics." (Warning, this has been tested with the Mark X Irony Meter and it passes. I can't guarantee that earlier models will survive.)

Stephen Meyer is being somewhat disingenuous in this video. (Yes, I know you must be shocked.) It's true that the book talks about the origin of information but, as all IDiots know, evolutionary biology accounts for life on this planet. Thus, the real enemy is evolution and that's what needs to be defeated. Meyer does not present a new theory of how information arose, instead he attacks evolution. In this case, the focus of his attack is entirely devoted to showing that scientific evidence cannot explain the Cambrian explosion.

He explains the real main argument of the book in the Preface (page ix).
... despite the widespread impression to the contrary—conveyed by textbooks, the popular media, and spokespersons for official science—the orthodox neo-Darwinian theory of biological evolution has reached an impasse nearly as acute as the one faced by chemical evolutionary theory. Leading figures in several subdisciplines of biology—cell biology, developmental biology, molecular biology, paleontology, and even evolutionary biology—now openly ctiricize key tenets of the modern viersion of Darwinian theory in the peer-reviewed technical literature. Since 1980, when Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould declared that neo-Darwinism "is effectively dead, despite its persistence as textbook orthodoxy," the weight of critical opinion in biology has grown steadily with each passing year.
The book is an attack on evolution using the Cambrian explosion as an example.

I'm not an expert on very many things but I do know a little bit about molecular evolution. That's why I concentrated on showing why Meyer is wrong about the molecular evidence for evolution. Here's what I wrote in Darwin's Doubt: The Genes Tell the Story?.
The point is that molecular phylogenies demonstrate conclusively that the major groups of animals share common ancestors AND that the overall pattern does not conform to a massive radiation around 530 million years ago. Also, it's very clear that the pattern is consistent with evolution and not with God creating all the animals at once.

Stephen Meyer has to address this evidence because it casts doubt on his main theme (God did it). I suppose I don't need to tell you what he says ... it's typical creationist denial. He claims that the evidence doesn't exist. Here are his reasons ...
  1. There are no fossils to support the earliest branches in the molecular phylogenies.
  2. There are many different molecular trees and they don't all agree with each other in terms of branching order and timing.
  3. Evolutionary biologists cherry-pick the data by only picking molecules that give reasonable trees.
  4. The trees rely on questionable assumptions; namely, that the molecular clock ticks at a constant rate and that there is a universal tree.
  5. The molecules being compared must be homologous but this is what is being tested so the argument is circular.
The conclusion is ....
Comparative genetic analyses do not establish a single deep-divergence point, and thus do not compensate for the lack of fossil evidence for key Cambrian ancestors—such as the ur-bilateran or the ur-metazoan ancestor. The results of different studies diverge too dramatically to be conclusive, or even meaningful; the methods of inferring divergence points are fraught with subjectivity; and the whole enterprise depends on a question-begging logic. Many leading Cambrian paleontologists, and even some leading evolutionary biologists, now express skepticism about both the results and the significance of deep-divergence studies.
I'll give you links to five of my posts that refute Stephen Meyer's main argument that evolution is wrong. I challenge him to show me why my arguments are wrong and why his book is correct.
His main thesis is that all the animals appeared suddenly in the Cambrian and there's no evidence that they arose from ancestors living earlier in the Precambrian. Unfortunately for him, there IS plenty of evidence in the form of molecular evolution. By comparing genes and proteins we can show that all the animal groups are related to one another and that their common ancestors are spread out over a considerable period of time as shown in the phylogenetic tree below from a paper by Dunn et al. (2008).

This evidence is a serious problem for Meyer so he has to deal with it in his book. He tries to discredit the entire field of molecular evolution by challenging the basic assumptions [Stephen Meyer Says That Constant Mutation Rates Are a "Questionable Assumption"], by setting up a strawman [Stephen Meyer Says Molecular Data Must Be Wrong Because Different Genes Evolve at Different Rates], and by pointing out that molecular dating is not precise [Stephen Meyer Says Molecular Evidence Must Be Wrong Because Scientists Disagree About the Exact Dates]. His most ridiculous argument1 against molecular evolution is that the results must be wrong because there are no transitional fossils from before the Cambrian Explosion! [The Cambrian Conundrum: Stephen Meyer Says (Lack of) Fossils Trumps Genes]

None of those arguments stand up to close scrutiny but, as I warned you last week, there are actually five arguments against the validity of molecular evolution [Darwin's Doubt: The Genes Tell the Story?].

Are you ready for the final argument showing that molecular evidence must be discounted?

It's because all those phylogenetic trees are based on the assumption than the genes being compared are homologous. But "homologous" means that the genes share a common ancestor and that's exactly what the phylogenetic trees are supposed to show. Therefore, the entire enterprise is one big circular argument and none of the molecular evidence is valid. (In fact, the entire field of molecular evolution is based on a circular argument according to Stephen Meyer.) [Stephen Meyer Says that "Homology" Is a Problem in Molecular Evolution]


Diogenes said...

The IDiots' new "best" argument is that they got almost universally bad reviews from scientists, so the IDiots like Klinghoffer lie and call that "a debate" in the scientific literature. Meyer got a scathing, negative review from paleontologist Charles Marshall in "Science", and Meyer had no rebuttal there. But Klinghoffer has actually made that-- the fact that a paleontologist ripped philosopher Meyer a new asshole in public, in the pages of Science-- into what Klinghoffer has repeatedly called a "debate" in the pages of Science. In short, the IDiots lie outright.

There is no debate. They lied and they got caught The End. Meyer lied about the fossil record in his book-- he represents fossil "data" for the alleged first appearance of all phyla in the Cambrian explosion with a shitty hand-drawn version of the same fraudulent "pitchfork plot" that he, Paul Nelson and Chien hoaxed up back in the 90's. It's a diagram of the creationist hypothesis of "simultaneous appearance by magic", but the IDers tell their church audience that it represents fossil "data": that's committing scientific fraud. Pitchfork plot's still fraudulent after all these years.

Meyer also lied about phylogenetic methods and genomic comparisons. Meyer's accusation that phylogenetic methods are based on "circular logic" is copied straight from Young Earth Creationists, who always invoke FACIL (False Accusation of Circular Logic) after their ass has been kicked. Meyer systematically concealed from his church audience the several methods for testing and double-checking the statistical confidence and robustness of phylogenetic trees.

If I want FACIL I can get it from Answers in Genesis. The Discovery Institute and Answers in Genesis are stitched together as a human centipede, with AIG in front and the DI in back accepting whatever comes out of the end of Ken Ham. It's their only source of nourishment, and what finally comes out of the DI, after further processing, is deposited at ENV, where no comments nor criticism are permitted.

There is no "debate." You lied, you got caught lying, you got negative reviews and you were publicly humiliated the end.

Diogenes said...

P.S. At Uncommon Descent they now argue that the Intelligent Design hypothesis means gay sex must be illegal-- not "licit" as lawyer Barry Arrington says-- because a man's body is "designed" to be complementary to Eve, not Steve. From pure science to judgment of what sexual positions will be legal in the Design Utopia.

Nope, nothing religious about Intelligent Design. Pure science all the way.

Diogenes said...

Here are pitchfork plots from Meyer's Darwin's Doubt:

Figure 2.8

Note the label "Idealized representation of fossil evidence", actually meaning "No evidence, we make shit up".

Figure 2.7

Note the label on the X axis "Fossil Evidence", again made up. These figures represent the creationist hypothesis of "simultaneous creation by magic", but they tell their church audience that the X-axis is morphology (IDiots don't compute morphology, they make shit up and call it data) and that this is evidence, when it's actually their hypothesis.

I think this non-hand-drawn version of Meyer 2013's pitchfork might be from the Kindle(?) edition.

Compare Meyer's 2013 diagrams against diagrams made from real data. They are more complex because that's real data. Nicke Matzke debunks Meyer's Darwin's Doubt here.

Look at how old the pitchfork plot is, and how through the years it has never been cited to actual data.

There are two possible origins of the pitchfork plot, both in the creationist literature, not the scientific literature.

1. It might have originated in the infamous IDcreationist textbook Of Pandas and People. See pitchfork plots here and a particularly dishonest pitchfork; note the latter plot has an X-axis labelled "Variation in Morphology." Again, creationist don't compute morphology, they make shit up and call it data. Paleontologist Kevin Padian debunks these and other Pandas myths here.

2. It might have been originally drawn by creationist Art Battson at his website Veritas; here is an early (but undated) version of Battson's pitchfork plot, nearly identical to Meyer's. Note the X-axis is labelled "Morphology", but IDcreationists don't really compute morphology, they just make shit up and call it data. Another Battson pitchfork plot here, again nearly identical to Meyer's.

A non-peer-reviewed web 2001 article by Stephen Meyer, Marcus Ross, Paul Chien, and Paul Nelson [PDF] contains a pitchfork plot, said to be drawn by Art Battson, nearly identical to Battson's above.

I suspect but cannot prove that Battson copied Pandas and then Meyer has been re-using Battson's shit for years.

Casey Luskin has repeatedly copied pitchfork plots. Here is Luskin's 2003 version of the pitchfork plot; note again, the X axis is labelled Morphology but no IDcreationist computed morphology, they just make shit up.

Diogenes said...

Perhaps the most insufferable of all is Casey Luskin's 2004 version of the pitchfork plot. Here the fraud is compounded because Luskin actually gives a source for their fake data: evolutionist Niles Eldredge, The Monkey Business: A Scientist Looks at Creationism (1982). pg. 65-66. The reader will suspect that Luskin misrepresented his source horribly, and indeed he did-- while Eldredge's popular-level science book is super-obscure, I bought a copy off Amazon and looked it up. You're shocked, I know, to find that Luskin was lying through his teeth, and that Eldredge provides no such "morphology" data for Luskin's fraudulent pitchfork. In fact, on that very page Eldredge says that there are intermediates between phyla, giving onychophorans [velvet worms] as an example-- but of course the point of the pitchfork plot is that no intermediates exist!

The pitchfork plot shows up again in the Discovery Institute's 2007 textbook Explore Evolution.

This creationist source, "Darwinism Refuted", reproduces Meyer's pitchfork plot and quotes Meyer saying, "Some 100 phyla suddenly emerged in the Cambrian Age." Hey, they're only wrong by 70 or 80. A small error by creationist standards.

And this winner: "As we can see, in the Precambrian Age there were three different phyla consisting of single-cell creatures. But in the Cambrian Age, some 60 to 100 different animal phyla emerged all of a sudden."

They also tell us that in the Cambrian age there were no predators: "The question that evolutionists cannot answer is, "How could they have come by such an effective defense system at a time when there were no predators around?" The lack of predators at the time makes it impossible to explain the matter in terms of natural selection."

Yeah! Anomalocaris and Opabinia were vegetarians! Checkmate, atheists!

NickM said...

You are right that the pitchfork plot traces back to Art Battson at least. IIRC he was/is a audiovisual support guy at UCSB, and organized many of the Veritas forum events, which had talks and interviews of various ID guys. They also interviewed Jim Valentine, and they may have taken some of his stuff from the 1980s as a starting point.

Also perhaps connected is "Students for Origins Research", the proto-ID student newspaper run out of UCSB in the 1980s, which is the ancestor of Wow, this is all ancient history at this point. Anyway, looking through the old SOR issues probably would turn up more.

The overall point here is that much of Meyer's book and the ID movement's opinions on the Cambrian Explosion are based on stuff they picked up, half-understandingly, in the 1980s, and which they now hang to despite the field having moved on.

NickM said...

PS Email me if you get seriously interested in the deep history of the ID movement/Cambrian stuff back to the 1980s, there perhaps could be an article written if someone got sufficiently motivated.

John Farrell said...

Great work, Diogenes.

Diogenes said...

I apologize as two of my links above were broken. Let's try that again, digging them up from the Wayback machine:

Here are pitchfork plots from Meyer's Darwin's Doubt:

Figure 2.8

Note the label "Idealized representation of fossil evidence", actually meaning "No evidence, we make shit up".

Figure 2.7

Note the label on the X axis "Fossil Evidence", again made up. These figures represent the creationist hypothesis of "simultaneous creation by magic", but they tell their church audience that the X-axis is morphology (IDiots don't compute morphology, they make shit up and call it data) and that this is evidence, when it's actually their hypothesis.

Joachim Dagg said...

@Nick: How about a proper phylogenetic network analysis of pitchfork plots in the ID literature?-)

John Harshman said...

I think the Cambrian explosion is pretty much irrelevant to the main message of the book. It may be there merely to attract public interest, because by the time we get to the end it's apparent that evolution is impossible beyond the level of the individual species. The lawn of taxa, in other words, is a lawn of species, not phyla. Of course Meyer never claims this explicitly, but it's the clear and unavoidable implication of what he does say in the later chapters. It isn't completely clear, however, that he realizes this. Is he trying to obscure his views or has he just not thought much about them?

Diogenes said...

This is a bit off-topic, but for your entertainment...

Above I alluded to Uncommon Descent's "moderator" (he bans most who disagree with him) and ethically challenged lawyer Barry Arrington's recent post that Intelligent Design theory proves gay sex should be illegal, or not "licit" to use the lawyer's term.

See, Intelligent Design proponents have always said that ID is not religious at all, and here you have your proof:

Lawyer Barry Arrington: "A man’s body is designed to be complimentary [sic] with a woman’s body and vice versa. All of the confusion about whether same-sex relations are licit would be swept away in an instant if everyone acknowledged this obvious truth." [Uncommon Descent says Intelligent Design proves gay sex should be illegal]

Nothing religious about that. It's pure science when Intelligent Design proponents decide which sexual positions will be illegal, forbidden, or mandatory in the coming Design Utopia.

Now that's exactly what our country needs: mentally and/or emotionally unstable ID proponents like BornAgain77, KairosFocus and Joe "Security Clearance" Gallien, busting into your bedroom as you try to sex up the wife while the IDiot sits atop a lifeguard chair shouting, "No! NO! It is not designed for that!! Two inches lower and you go to prison, buddy!"

Further notes: 1. The word "complementary" [Arrington misspells it] is an evangelical Christian code-word meaning men are totally superior to women, men must dominate women and women must submit and don't speak up in church. So, like, totally complementary roles.

2. Mark Driscoll, the cussing Calvinist pastor of the Mars Hill megachurch franchise and ultra-sexist MRA "chicks can't pee standing up" wannabe-macho-macho man, contradicts Arrington on one point, saying that you can use body parts for things that they were not originally designed for. In his book Real Marriage, he says any heterosexual, married Christian can have anal or oral sex-- but only if they're heterosexual, married and Christian. Screw everybody else... but only in the permitted orifice.

Diogenes said...

Yes, I've wondered myself whether phylogenetic methods can be applied to IDcreationist fake quotes, doctored quote mines, etc. (which frequently have several variants) to trace their evolutionary history back to the original lie, and then pinpoint how the lie was ginned up with later "mutations" that spread through the population because they were beneficial to creationists.

One of the most detailed attempts to trace the history of a creationist fake quote was done by Ed Babinski when he tried to reconstruct the history of the "Horny Julian Huxley" fake quote. This fake quote was intended to prove that scientists believe in evolution only because they're oversexed and promiscuous, so scientists' sexual perversion is their real motivation for supporting evolutionary theory, not the mountain of evidence of course. The problem is that the original quote was not from evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley, the original came from his novelist brother Aldous Huxley. And the original made no mention of evolution or Darwinism, but rather to the "philosophy of meaninglessness" popular with the Lost Generation writers of the 1920's. Aldous himself wasn't supporting or justifying a "philosophy of meaninglessness", he was actually opposing such philosophies, but that can be fixed by leaving bits out.

So creationists fixed that problem step by step. In 1977 Henry Morris changed the title of the Aldous Huxley essay in which the passage allegedly appeared, so the new title became "Confessions of a Professed Atheist." Now it's about atheism. By 1980, creationist pastor D. James Kennedy in his book Why I Believe had changed the speaker from novelist Aldous to scientist Julian, and had replaced the real quote with Kennedy's mangled retelling, which he falsely cited to another Henry Morris book (it's not in there). Various doctored versions of the "Horny Julian Huxley" quote kicked around for years and it continued to mutate; the most beneficial mutations spread through the population. By 1986 Pastor Erwin Lutzer of the Moody Church had doctored the quote by adding the phrases "Darwinism" and "even without proof", so by then they had horny Julian Huxley saying

"The reason we accepted Darwinism even without proof, is because we didn't want God to interfere with our sexual mores."

A mutation and "gene fusion" occurred where the quote was mutated to insert the phrase "Creator-God", and then was fused with another Julian Huxley quote about God as the Cheshire Cat, the new mutant being published at the IDer Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship website:

"The concept of a Creator-God interferes with our sexual mores. Thus, we have rationalized God out of existence. To us, He has become nothing more than the faint and disappearing smile of the cosmic Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland." -- [Guest Feature Article At Chuck Colson's "Prison Fellowship" website (, "The Double Helix Meets the Bacterial Flagellum: An Argument for Intelligent Design" by Al Dobras, August 25, 2003]

This mutation was successful and spread through the population because it was beneficial. Then at another church, the "Cheshire Cat" haplotype mutated some more:

"It is because the concept of a Creator-God interfers with our sexual mores. Thus, we have rationalized God out of existence. To us, He has become nothing more than the faint and disappearing smile of the cosmic Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland." – ["Quotations on Evolution," Haven Free Will Baptist Church (]

Diogenes said...

Continuing on Horny Huxley: But apparently the creationists felt the fake "Darwinist" connection still wasn't clear enough for their dumb church audiences, so by 2013 some creationist had mutated the quote a bit more, adding the phrase "we scientists", just to make it crystal clear that the sexual promiscuous perverts speaking were the dirty, dirty scientists. In a letter to the editor ironically titled "Big Hoax Called Evolution", Larry Korpi quoted "Julian Huxley" as:

"The reason we scientists all jumped at this 'origin of species' was because the idea of God interfered with our sexual mores." [as cited by Larry Korpi in Big hoax called evolution. The Daily Mining Gazette. February 14, 2013.]

Note that the above letter to the editor contains not just the ultra-doctored "Julian Huxley" quote but also a fake quote from Sir Arthur Keith, a fake quote from James Madison, and a fake story about Thomas Jefferson.

If you read Ed Babinski's history of the fake Julian Huxley quote you should peruse my comments at the bottom also.

Joachim Dagg said...

Did you ever read the old testament. It surely wasn't in tune with my - er- mores. What's that story with Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, for example. Couldn't possibly think up a more perfidiously scheming god. And if I think of what has become of it -- eternal war between Jews, Christians and Muslims -- what a machinator.

Diogenes said...

On the topic of IDcreationist dishonesty and fake quotes, as I pointed out above in reference to Babisnki's attempt tor reconstruct the history of the "Horny Julian Huxley" quote, creationist fake quotes from "scientists" will mutate over time and spread through the IDcreationist population if they're beneficial to anti-science.

There's another dishonest quote mine from Stephen Meyer, Shameless Liar, in his book under discussion here, Darwin's Doubt, that has been ignored until now-- the Henry Quastler "Information from conscious activity" quote mine, which Stephen Meyer, Shameless Liar and Casey Luskin have been mutating and altering and re-copying for 14 years now.

Here are some of Meyer's and Luskin's "mutant" versions of the Quastler quote:

"To again quote information theorist Henry Quastler: "creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity."[7] Indeed, whenever large amounts of specified or functional information are present in an artifact or entity whose causal story is known, invariably creative intelligence -- intelligent design -- played a role in the origin of that entity." [as cited by Stephen Meyer in Darwin's Doubt (2013). Emphasis added.]

"As information scientist Henry Quastler recognized, the “creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity”—in other words, the work of intelligent agents. A computer user who traces the information on a screen back to its source invariably comes to the mind of a software engineer or programmer." [as cited by Stephen Meyer in The American Spectator, Jan-Feb. 2014, The Cambrian Explosion and the Combinatorial Problem. Emphasis added.]

Note that in the above two quotes, 2013 and 2014, Stephen Meyer, Shameless Liar says that Quastler says that "INVARIABLY" information can only come from "conscious activity" which Meyer turns into "intelligent agents", which in ID terminology means "invisible spooks." Thus Meyer says Quastler says that if there is any information anywhere, it must come from a human or a spook.

That's not what Meyer said in 2000, in the earliest version of Quastler I have found of him giving. In 2000 Meyer said:

"As Henry Quastler, an early pioneer in the application of information theory to molecular biology, recognized, the “creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity.” Quastler's observation suggests conscious activity or intelligent design as at least a possible explanation for the origin of information." [Stephen C. Meyer replies to Kenneth Miller on Meyer’s article in First Things. Oct. 1, 2000. Emphasis added.]

Note back in 2000, Meyer had Quastler saying information might possibly come from an "intelligent agent" (invisible spook), but a mere 4 years later, Meyer was saying Quastler said information "invariably", very definitely must come from a spook.

To be continued.

Diogenes said...

Continuing on Meyer's Quastler Quote: This next is from Meyer's "Hopeless Monster", his 2004 shit article on the Cambrian explosion that he and Sternberg tried to get published in the PBSW by violating editorial policies (the PBSW later pulled the article, and the "Sternberg Affair" wound up the movie Expelled starring Twitter sext harrasser and terrible financial advice giver Ben "Science Leads You To Killing" Stein.) From Meyer 2004:

"Our experience-based knowledge of information-flow confirms that systems with large amounts of specified complexity (especially codes and languages) invariably originate from an intelligent source from a mind or personal agent. As Quastler (1964) put it, the "creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity" (p. 16). Experience teaches this obvious truth." [Stephen C. Meyer, "The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories," Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington (PBSW), 117(2):213-239 (2004). As cited by Casey Luskin, ENV, Jan. 10, 2013. Emphasis added.]

In 2005, in the Dover v. Kitzmiller trial which the ID side lost through their own stupidity and dishonesty, Meyer gave an altered version of the Quastler quote in his expert report:

"As the information theorist Henry Quastler once observed, "information habitually arises from conscious activity."[57] Thus, I argue that the large infusion of biological information that arises in the Cambrian fossil record points strongly to intelligent design." [Stephen Meyer, Expert Report in Dover v. Kitzmiller [PDF], May 16, 2005. Emphasis added.]

Note that the Quastler quote has inexplicably changed; it is no longer "creation of new" but "arises from." Hey, it's just a notarized expert report submitted to a Federal judge, so no need for accuracy.

By 2006, in The Telegraph, Meyer was using his altered quote and definitely saying that Quastler said that information can only arise from an intelligent source (meaning an invisible spook), not possibly but only.

"DNA functions like a software program. We know from experience that software comes from programmers. We know that information - whether, say, in hieroglyphics or radio signals - always arises from an intelligent source. As the pioneering information theorist Henry Quastler observed: "Information habitually arises from conscious activity." So the discovery of digital information in DNA provides strong grounds for inferring that intelligence played a causal role in its origin." [Stephen Meyer. Intelligent Design is not creationism. The Telegraph (UK). 28 Jan 2006.]

Note it's still "arises from"; where did "new creation of" go?

To be continued...

Diogenes said...

Continuing on Meyer's Quastler quote: By 2009 Meyer's shit book Signature in the Cell had been published, but now his lying about information theory was being mocked and debunked by real experts in informaiton theory. So Meyer responded by doubling down on the Quastler quote:

"...[W]e now have a wealth of experience showing that what I call specified or functional information (especially if encoded in digital form) does not arise from purely physical or chemical antecedents... On the other hand, we do know of a cause—a type of cause—that has demonstrated the power to produce functionally-specified information. That cause is intelligence or conscious rational deliberation. As the pioneering information theorist Henry Quastler once observed, “the creation of information is habitually associated with conscious activity.” And, of course, he was right. Whenever we find information... and we trace it back to its source, invariably we come to mind, not merely a material process. Thus, the discovery of functionally specified, digitally encoded information along the spine of DNA, provides compelling positive evidence of the activity of a prior designing intelligence. This conclusion is not based upon what we don’t know. It is based upon what we do know... about what does, and does not, have the power to produce large amounts of specified information." -- [Stephen Meyer, Response to Darrell Falk’s Review of Signature in the Cell, 2009]

Again, Meyer says Quastler says information is "invariably", not just "possibly" attributed to a mind. And the Quastler quote itself is back to "creation of" not "arises from", but "new" has gone missing.

To recap, above we saw Meyer quoting Quastler in Darwin's Doubt (2013) and in The American Spectator (2014).

Casey Luskin loves the Quastler quote and has cited it to Meyer on some occasions but not always, so it's unclear if Luskin ever looked up the source.

Here's Luskin in 2013: "[William] Dembski calls ID "a theory of information" where "information becomes a reliable indicator of design as well as a proper object for scientific investigation."[16] A cause-and-effect relationship can be established between mind and information. As information theorist Henry Quastler observed, the "creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity."[17]" [Casey Luskin. Straw Men Aside, What Is the Theory of Intelligent Design, Really? ENV, August 10, 2013.]

So which of these mutant quotes is correct?

And do you suppose that Stephen Meyer might have... taken a quote from Quastler out of context to change, indeed reverse, its meaning?

But... he's an ID proponent. They wouldn't do that... would they?

So let's look up the original.

To be continued...

Robert Byers said...

Once again proponents or opponents of evolution cleave the slabs of rock .
Fossils do not count as biological evidence for relationships between biological organisms represented bu fossils.
Anyways. why would evolutionary critics trump these books credibility by their reviews??
these books are famous because they challenge the established view in these circles.
Darwins book was trounced by most biologists as he said in the beginning.
Cooperating mutations in a single body being responsible for the glory of the complecity of biology is very unlikely.
Its really extreme concepts of cause and effect.

Diogenes said...

Continuing on the Quastler quote: let's look at the REAL quote from Quastler himself.

Quastler was a real information theorist who died in 1963. The quote is from his book published posthumously in 1964, based on his Yale lectures in 1963. The point is that the IDiots are lying when they say that "information theory" proves that information can never be produced by natural processes but only by a mind, but they have no sources in the literature on information theory to back that up, and even to find a quote they could take out of context with which to deceive their audience, they had to go back more than 50 years. Indeed, even the real Quastler quote itself, in context, contradicts their claim!

In a section called "Emergence of Information", Quastler describes how a "prebiological polynucleotide system" equivalent to the current RNA world hypothesis could create new information by a natural process: the preferential polymerization of complementary double-stranded polynucleotides (like RNA or DNA), which will be more stable if they pair with a complementary strand. Quastler calls this natural process, for short, "accidental choice remembered” and insists that this natural, accidental process creates new information. This is the exact opposite of what Stephen Meyer and Casey Luskin said Quastler said: they said that Quastler said that "intelligent agents" and intelligent agents only can create information, but no natural process can do it.

Quastler, 1963: ...[T]he primarily meaningless [nucleotide] sequence acquires very definite meaning as soon as it becomes imperative that it be followed faithfully; information has emerged through the accident of a particular single strand becoming the ancestor of the system...

It must be emphasized that the emergence of information out of noise is not the same as the unmasking of information present in noise... In the latter case, the information was there, although hidden; in the former, it was not there at all. ....the necessity for faithful complementation would exist even if the choice of the original sequence were completely random. The “accidental choice remembered” is a mechanism of
creating information and very different in nature from mechanisms of discovering information.[italics in original]

Creating new information. The “accidental choice remembered” is a common mode of originating information. Since creation of information is habitually associated with conscious activity, it will be worthwhile to discuss this mode of creating information in terms of human activity. [Henry Quastler, The Emergence of Biological Organization (1964), p. 16]

So Stephen Meyer cut off the word "Since" to make the dependent clause look like a stand-alone sentence, and he added the word "new" before information, and in some cases added phrases like "habitually arises" that completely misrepresent the original.

Compare this again to Meyer's falsified version from 2006: "DNA functions like a software program. We know from experience that software comes from programmers. We know that information... always arises from an intelligent source. As the pioneering information theorist Henry Quastler observed: "Information habitually arises from conscious activity." So the discovery of digital information in DNA provides strong grounds for inferring that intelligence played a causal role in its origin." [Stephen Meyer. Intelligent Design is not creationism. The Telegraph (UK). 28 Jan 2006. Emphasis added.]

I could go on. The point is, Stephen Meyer is a shameless liar.

Alberto F. Taure said...

Can you give any empirical evidence that the almost 100 Phyla of the Cambrian Explotion evolved from the Ediacarian fauna ?

Alberto F. Taure said...

"There is no Known Law in nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter"
Werner gitt (PH.D. Physics and information specialist)"In the begining was information" 1997 p. 106

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of evidence. Use google scholar and you'll find some pretty good articles about it. From fossils to genetic evidence. Larry has also posted about some articles in the blog. Maybe if you used the search function at the top of the page, then go read the articles.

If you're really interested, then be proactive.

Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen said...

"Can you give any empirical evidence that the almost 100 Phyla of the Cambrian Explotion evolved from the Ediacarian fauna ?"
Yes, it's called genetics.

Your turn: Can you provide empirical evidence that they were magically poofed into existence in an instant by divine will?

Anonymous said...

So your idea is that if you come and make creationist rhetorical questions, pay no attention to answers, and quote creationist rhetorical bullshit, then you are making some sort of point in favour of your beliefs?

Unknown said...

Time to order the book and read for myself.

Tom English said...

Well done, Diogenes! I hit on your comments when writing following in a comment at The Skeptical Zone. Note that there's a new mutation of the quote.



Is Meyer's gross distortion of the passage an innocent lapse in memory? Well, how would it be that he has the bibliographic data cached away -- surely he does not have it memorized -- but not the quotation itself? I see now that Meyer, Gauger, and Nelson write in "Theistic Evolution and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis: Does It Work?" (Chap. 8, Theistic Evolution, 2017):

Where does the programming -- the algorithmic control -- that accounts for the "preprogrammed adaptive capacity" of living organisms come from? We know of only one source of such programming. Our uniform and repeated experience affirms that the only source for information-rich programs is intelligent agency. Or as the information theorist Henry Quastler put it, "the creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious and rational activity."

I've added emphasis to the words that they introduce. They refer to page 16 of Quastler's book.

Unknown said...

The discussions in this blog are interesting, but are tainted in that Lawrence Moran resorts to attacking opposing scientists through ad hominem comments and profanity. This is the go-to of those whose arguments are failing. Why don't you openly debate Steven Meyer and voice your arguments to the world as intelligent gentlemen are inclined to do?

Larry Moran said...

Punkeek said...

Mr. Moran, if you mean non-experts like my 3 children under the age of 10 who effortlessly grasp life cannot originate from non-life you would hardly need a doctorate much less a degree in biology. Also, a Synthetic Chemist might be better suited for such a task if one were to consider an "expert" on evolution since ultimately we are discussing the origin of life on a pre-biotic Earth. Finally, attacking a persons ad homian is distasteful and unbecoming.

rose63 said...

How would the supposed first self replicating DNA molecule survive before any of the known error correcting enzymes evolved?
And how could advances to a body plan be added by errors in the genetic code after the supposed first life arose?
It seems to me, in light of genetic discoveries and coding, that blind random mutation isn't possible. What isn't corrected, is a mistake; a coding error.
And what would be the scientific paper(s) enforcing your view.
See, I'm very much interested in the Data rather then "distasteful and unbecoming" remarks.
Ad Hominems are plentiful in such discussions, but not scientific.