I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Lying to students about Archaeopteryx

This article is a follow-up to "Quibbling over Ohio evolution education plans".

An article in Panda's Thumb discusses the controversy over the “Critical Analysis of Evolution” lesson plan's "creationist" claim that a growing number of scientists doubt or question the idea that Archaeopteryx is a transitional form between reptiles and modern birds (this lesson plan was dropped by the Ohio Board of Education in February):

a. An early version of the Critical Analysis lesson read: “Additionally, a growing number of scientists now doubt that Archaeopteryx and other alleged transitional fossils really are transitional forms.”

b. Of this sentence, ODE’s [Ohio Dept. of Education's] own staff science consultant said: “The underlined sentence is a lie.”

c. The accepted version of the above sentence became: “A growing number of scientists now question that Archaeopteryx and other transitional fossils really are transitional forms.” It’s still a lie.

d. Dr. Bobby Bowers, Deputy Superintendent, described this process that permitted numerous examples like the above by answering a question from Board member Robin Hovis (regarding the concerns of sixteen scientific and educational professional organizations that urged rejection of the lesson) by telling the Board: “I think you…would have to say that we have been as responsive as we possibly can be to the legitimate kinds of criticisms.” (8 March 2004.)

An especially noteworthy editorial in Geoscience Reports said,

Most of the public media and scientific community actively promote the theory that birds descended from dinosaurs. Though many scientists do not hold this view, some insist that birds are living dinosaurs. These ideas are primarily promoted among children — who lack the expertise, information or conceptual ability to analyze the arguments presented by individuals in positions of authority. They also lack the experience that is needed to challenge the popular paradigms.

This situation places an enormous burden on parents and teachers to keep themselves informed and to present a balanced view so that young people can learn to think and make choices regarding personal beliefs despite media and societal pressures to conform to the current views held by some scientists. Our students need to understand that change does occur among animals in our world but interpretations of those changes may hinge on selective data, preconceived ideas (our own, as well as those of others), popular theories, and numerous other biases.

An article about Archaeopteryx in the same issue said,

Recent research challenges the idea of linkage between dinosaurs or reptiles and birds . . . Despite all the conflicting data with respect to the linkage between dinosaurs/reptiles and birds, it seems clear that although Archaeopteryx is the best candidate, it is not the link.

.An article titled "Archaeopteryx -- is this bird a fraud?" discusses pro-and-con arguments as to whether or not the fossil was faked and whether or not it is a transitional form between reptiles and modern birds. For example, the article says,

In an article published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society in 1984 (Vol. 82, pp. 119-158) and called "The avian relationship of Archaeopteryx and the origin of birds", R. A. Thulborn argues that Archaeopteryx is not, in fact, a bird at all! From careful morphological analysis of birds, dinosaurs, reptiles and Archaeopteryx he concludes that Archaeopteryx is no more closely related to birds than several types of theropod dinosaurs including tyrannosaurids and ornithomimids.

A creationist website, Answers In Genesis, of course agrees that Archaeopteryx is not a transitional form between dinosaurs and modern birds but claims that the Archaeopteryx is a true bird rather than a dinosaur.

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22 Comments:

Anonymous Voice In The Urbanness said...

> A creationist website, Answers In Genesis, of course agrees that Archaeopteryx is not a transitional form between dinosaurs and modern birds but claims that the Archaeopteryx is a true bird rather than a dinosaur. <

These creationists also believe that the world was created October 23, 4004 BC, 8:00 AM Dublin Time.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 3:20:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

It is sad that these folks (unfortunately including Larry(?)) are so ignorant.

Larry(?) appears not to have read this article he linked (so, what else is new)?

Also, there is no mention here of China's feathered dinosaurs (see here and here ). Given their apparent interest in the subject, you'd think they would have noticed.

I was fortunate to see these Chinese fossils at the Field Museum of Natural History last time I was in Chicago (lucky timing; the exhibit was only there temporarily).

Speaking of Archaeopteryx, how come it has teeth and no modern birds do?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 7:28:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Fake Dave said,

>>>>> Larry appears not to have read this article he linked <<<<<

I read it but I couldn't quote the whole thing. I quoted summaries.

>>>>> Also, there is no mention here of China's feathered dinosaurs (see here and here ). Given their apparent interest in the subject, you'd think they would have noticed. <<<<<

I presume that "they" refers to the Answers In Genesis website. They discuss the feathered dinosaurs here and here.

>>>>> Speaking of Archaeopteryx, how come it has teeth and no modern birds do? <<<<<

Well, maybe because Archaeopteryx is really a reptile, as some scientists claim. But other scientists claim that Archaeopteryx is really a bird. But why couldn't a bird have teeth? The monotremes and marsupials, for example, are substantially different from other mammals.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 12:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

Fake Larry(?) said...

> I read it but I couldn't quote the whole thing. <

Why not?

Real Dave said...

>>>>> Speaking of Archaeopteryx, how come it has teeth and no modern birds do? <<<<<

To which Fake Larry(?) said..

> Well, maybe because Archaeopteryx is really a reptile, as some scientists claim. But other scientists claim that Archaeopteryx is really a bird. <

Then again maybe it is a transitional form, as it appears to be.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 5:23:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

>> Larry appears not to have read this article he linked <<

< I read it but I couldn't quote the whole thing ... >

I didn't expect you to "quote the whole thing," nor is that appropriate. The problem was that your subsequent comments showed no understanding of the article even though you had linked to it. It was as if the link were not there.

>> Also, there is no mention here of China's feathered dinosaurs (see here and here) ... <<

< I presume that "they" refers to the Answers In Genesis website. They discuss the feathered dinosaurs here and here. >

I actually had read the first of those linked AIG articles (prior to my post). It in no way addresses the Liaoning fossils.

>> Speaking of Archaeopteryx, how come it has teeth and no modern birds do? <<

< Well, maybe because Archaeopteryx is really a reptile, as some scientists claim. >

BTW, dinosaurs are no longer considered to have been reptiles. Reptiles are too primitive. The distance between dinosaurs and reptiles is nearly as large as that between mammals and reptiles.

< But why couldn't a bird have teeth? >

Teeth are too heavy for an animal that flies. Teeth have been so thoroughly evolved out of birds that even the (now) flightless birds like the ostrich and kiwi do not have teeth because their ancestors learned to get along without and the art of "teeth" has been forgotten.

< The monotremes and marsupials, for example, are substantially different from other mammals. >

Monotremes and marsupials are examples of missing links. They are transitional forms that survived only in Australia because it got isolated from the competing main mammal developments. Missing links almost by definition become dead ends.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 9:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave the really transitional link about bird teeth is the fact that even though they don't express them, birds still have many of the genes required to build teeth. When bird embryos are treated with the right chemical signal (an expressed protein from a toothed-mammal) they start growing teeth. Why would they still have the genes for teeth if they didn't evolve from a toothed creature?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 11:26:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Fake Dave said,

>>>>> I didn't expect you to "quote the whole thing," nor is that appropriate. <<<<<

I quoted two statements from the article. Here they are:

Recent research challenges the idea of linkage between dinosaurs or reptiles and birds.

Despite all the conflicting data with respect to the linkage between dinosaurs/reptiles and birds, it seems clear that although Archaeopteryx is the best candidate, it is not the link.


The first of the above statements is certainly consistent with the rest of the article -- the second statement might be misleading. Anyway, there are also the other articles I cited.

>>>>> I actually had read the first of those linked AIG articles (prior to my post). It in no way addresses the Liaoning fossils. <<<<<<

If you read the first linked article, then why did you say, " . . . there is no mention here of China's feathered dinosaurs. . . .. Given their apparent interest in the subject, you'd think they would have noticed"?

AIG has several articles that address the Liaoning fossils.

>>>>> BTW, dinosaurs are no longer considered to have been reptiles. Reptiles are too primitive. <<<<<<

Then how would reptiles be classified? They are certainly not mammals.

There are lots of borderline cases in taxonomic classification, and some species -- like the monotremes -- are classified with species that they differ from in substantial ways.

>>>>>>Teeth are too heavy for an animal that flies. <<<<<

That's ridiculous. Teeth are not that heavy. Bats have teeth. Pelicans and toucans have large bills. Birds of prey can carry fairly heavy payloads.

>>>>>> Monotremes and marsupials are examples of missing links. They are transitional forms that survived only in Australia because it got isolated from the competing main mammal developments. <<<<<<

Wrong. Only the monotremes are isolated (Australia and New Guinea). There are native marsupials in North and South America. Wikipedia says,

There are about 334 species of marsupials, over 200 of them native to Australia and nearby islands to the north. There are also many extant species in South America and, as a result of the Great American Interchange there is also one species (the Virginia Opossum) which is native to North America. . . . .

There are two primary divisions of Marsupialia: American marsupials and the Australian marsupials. The Order Microbiotheria (which has only one species, the Monito del Monte) is found in South America but is believed to be more closely related to the Australian marsupials.


Also, Wikipedia says of monotremes, "Fossil and genetic evidence shows that the monotreme line diverged from other mammalian lines about 150 million years ago and that both the short-beaked and long-beaked echidna species are derived from a platypus-like ancestor."

Thursday, September 14, 2006 3:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

Fake Larry(?) quotes...

> Recent research challenges the idea of linkage between dinosaurs or reptiles and birds.<

Here we go again. You find a case where a few people seeking attention question some minor point and you act as if the whole theory has fallen apart.

>>>>> BTW, dinosaurs are no longer considered to have been reptiles. Reptiles are too primitive. <<<<<<

> Then how would reptiles be classified? They are certainly not mammals. <

Reptiles are classified as reptiles. Real Dave did not say anything that desputes this. The point he made is exactly what he said. This may come as a big surprise to you but there are other categories besides reptiles and mammals.

> Also, Wikipedia says of monotremes, "Fossil and genetic evidence shows that the monotreme line diverged from other mammalian lines about 150 million years ago and that both the short-beaked and long-beaked echidna species are derived from a platypus-like ancestor." <

At last you are supporting Darwinism! What took you so long?

Thursday, September 14, 2006 7:51:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice In Wilderness said --

>>>> Here we go again. You find a case where a few people seeking attention question some minor point and you act as if the whole theory has fallen apart. <<<<<<

How about people who fake fossils -- aren't they also seeking attention?

I don't understand why scientists would risk their reputations just to attract attention.

>>>>> BTW, dinosaurs are no longer considered to have been reptiles. Reptiles are too primitive.

> Then how would reptiles be classified? They are certainly not mammals


Reptiles are classified as reptiles.<<<<<<

Sorry, I meant how would dinosaurs -- not reptiles -- be classified. Unfortunately, I cannot delete my post and replace it with a corrected copy because that would throw the posts out of sequence (I could also copy your post, add a note about the correction and then re-post your post, but it is not worth it -- I will just leave things as they are. I don't want to create more confusion).

>>>>> At last you are supporting Darwinism! What took you so long? <<<<<<<

Wrong. Michael Behe accepts common descent -- that doesn't make him a Darwinist.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 9:11:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

< I meant how would dinosaurs -- not reptiles -- be classified. >

What are generally called "dinosaurs" are in two great families -- saurischia (lizard-hipped, example Brontosaurus) and ornithischia (bird-hipped, example Triceratops). But even those IIRC don't cover several other families often casually lumped in with "dinosaurs" -- the pterosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and plesiosaurs come to mind. They get included because they were contemporary, were also derived from reptilian forbears, and became extinct at the same time. The turtles, crocodilians, and snakes don't get the same treatment because they are still with us and are rather primitive.

In checking this post, I found (to my surprise) that even Ornithomimus was a saurischian. Just goes to show that you often can't go by external appearance alone -- just like with ichthyosaurs and dolphins (a case of parallel evolution). As long as a niche is there, something will move to fill it.

The exact point at which the bird ancestral line diverged remains controversial.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

< Also, Wikipedia says of monotremes, "Fossil and genetic evidence shows that the monotreme line diverged from other mammalian lines about 150 million years ago ..." >

To the extent that monotremes are systematically different from other mammals, what you have is a snapshot of what mammalian physiology was like 150 million years ago.

Incidentally, please explain why the Intelligent Designer had a lapse of cleverness in Australia?

Thursday, September 14, 2006 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

Fake Larry(?) said...

> How about people who fake fossils -- aren't they also seeking attention? <

Yes. Like you, they are seeking attention.

>>>>> At last you are supporting Darwinism! What took you so long? <<<<<<<

> Wrong. Michael Behe accepts common descent -- that doesn't make him a Darwinist.<

This statement seems to be quite irrelevant. I guess, as is often the case, you missed my point.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

Something just occurred to me. Looking at the pattern of end-of-Cretaceous extinctions, it seems likely that the survivors of the Chicxulub impact would have been mostly temperate-zone inhabitants of the winter hemisphere at the time. Most of them apparently were protected by hibernation. But it probably isn't possible now to tell which hemisphere it was.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 2:18:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Fake Dave said --

< I meant how would dinosaurs -- not reptiles -- be classified. >

>>>>>What are generally called "dinosaurs" are in two great families -- saurischia (lizard-hipped, example Brontosaurus) and ornithischia (bird-hipped, example Triceratops). <<<<<

Back when I studied biology, the vertebrates basically had just five classes -- fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. I was really surprised when I checked the Wikipedia article on vertebrates and saw how much has changed under a new classification system. For example, here is the taxonomy under an "infraphylum" of the subphylum Vertebrata:

Infraphylum Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates)

Class †Placodermi (Paleozoic armoured forms)
Class Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fish)
Class †Acanthodii (Paleozoic "spiny sharks")
Superclass Osteichthyes (bony fish)
-- Class Actinopterygii (ray-finned fish)
-- Class Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish)
Subclass Coelacanthimorpha (coelacanths)
Subclass Dipnoi (lungfish)
Subclass Tetrapodomorpha (ancestral to tetrapods)
Superclass Tetrapoda (four-limbed vertebrates)
-- Class Amphibia (amphibians)
-- Series Amniota (amniotic embryo)
---- Class Sauropsida (reptiles and birds)
---- Class Aves (birds)
---- Class Synapsida (mammal-like reptiles)
---- Class Mammalia (mammals)

Definitions keep changing in science. Who would have ever dreamed that Pluto would be delisted as a planet?

One thing that Wikipedia sure got wrong was the statement, "Vertebrata is the largest subphylum of chordates, and contains most animals with which people are generally familiar (except insects)." People are also familiar with molluscs, crustaceans, worms, protozoa, etc..

>>>>> But even those IIRC don't cover several other families often casually lumped in with "dinosaurs" -- the pterosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and plesiosaurs come to mind. They get included because they were contemporary, were also derived from reptilian forbears, and became extinct at the same time. <<<<<<

I think that organisms should just be classified according to anatomy and physiology, leaving evolutionary relationships out of it, because evolutionary relationships are sometimes highly debatable and are subject to change with new discoveries. Taxonomy is one area where Darwinism is supposed to help but does more harm than good.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 4:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

Fake Larry(?) said...

> I was really surprised when I checked the Wikipedia article on vertebrates and saw how much has changed under a new classification system. <

They were previously based on appearance. Now with DNA testing it is much easier to determine actual relationships. For example a thylacene looks a lot like a dog but is not close at all.

> Definitions keep changing in science. Who would have ever dreamed that Pluto would be delisted as a planet? <

The issue has not been completely settled. The vote was done in a very sneaky and manipulative manner to get the desired result. The approved definition of "planet" would actually eliminate Neptune if the same standard was enforced. It does not actually sweep the space around it to the degree required. Many astronomers who attended the meeting are now protesting the way this was done.

> One thing that Wikipedia sure got wrong was the statement, "Vertebrata is the largest subphylum of chordates, and contains most animals with which people are generally familiar (except insects)." People are also familiar with molluscs, crustaceans, worms, protozoa, etc.. <

But there are many more vertebrata with which people are familiar than molluscs, crustaceans, worms, protozoa, etc. You sure got that wrong.

> I think that organisms should just be classified according to anatomy and physiology, leaving evolutionary relationships out of it <

Luckily, wiser heads have prevailed.

> Taxonomy is one area where Darwinism is supposed to help but does more harm than good. <

Another unsubstantiated assertion!

Thursday, September 14, 2006 8:32:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice In the Wilderness said,

<<<<<<> One thing that Wikipedia sure got wrong was the statement, "Vertebrata is the largest subphylum of chordates, and contains most animals with which people are generally familiar (except insects)." People are also familiar with molluscs, crustaceans, worms, protozoa, etc.. <<

But there are many more vertebrata with which people are familiar than molluscs, crustaceans, worms, protozoa, etc. You sure got that wrong.<<<<<<

Then why was an exception made for insects? Insects have the most species, but most people could not name more than a few kinds of insects. If all the other invertebrates that most people know are added up, the total is considerable. I think that it was a very misleading statement for Wikipedia to make.

>>>>>> I think that organisms should just be classified according to anatomy and physiology, leaving evolutionary relationships out of it <

Luckily, wiser heads have prevailed. <<<<<<

Dumber heads who are desperate to find some practical application for Darwinism have prevailed.

<<<<<> Taxonomy is one area where Darwinism is supposed to help but does more harm than good. <

Another unsubstantiated assertion! <<<<<<<

As you said, we have DNA testing in addition to anatomy and physiology (though I don't know how useful DNA testing is). So who needs Darwinism? I have already pointed out the disadvantages of trying to apply evolution to taxonomy.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 9:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Classifying organisms by their anatomy and physiology reveals evolutionary relationships! Geez, you don't have a clue! Claiming that you studied biology but it only included five classes of vertebrates demonstrates that you weren't studying biology. A basic undergraduate zoology class (freshman or sophomore level) would have introduced you to many of those categories that you were so amazed by in wikipedia.

You never "studied" biology. You read a chapter from a high school biology textbook. That's not studying!

Thursday, September 14, 2006 11:11:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said,

>>>>>> Classifying organisms by their anatomy and physiology reveals evolutionary relationships! <<<<<<

Not necessarily. Under the principle of convergent evolution, organisms that are evolutionarily unrelated can have similar characteristics. Also, there is often no correlation between evolutionary relationships and taxonomic relationships, and conclusions about such correlations can be in error. IMO, trying to apply evolution to taxonomy is a very bad idea and I think that fanatic Darwinists do it just to try to give evolution a practical application.

>>>>>> Claiming that you studied biology but it only included five classes of vertebrates demonstrates that you weren't studying biology.<<<<<<

That's the way it was in the early 1960's.

Friday, September 15, 2006 4:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice In The Urbanness said...

> Then why was an exception made for insects? Insects have the most species, but most people could not name more than a few kinds of insects. <

Does this make the statement false? Of course not. It may have been mentioned because most people are aware of the great number of insect species even if they can't name them.

> I think that it was a very misleading statement for Wikipedia to make. <

Most of the population could understand it. I'm sorry you can't.

> (though I don't know how useful DNA testing is) <

You don't know a lot of things. Your ignorance has no effect on their validity.

> So who needs Darwinism? <

We have physics so who needs chemistry? You have made an inexplicably dumb statement. Care to try to make sense out of it?

> I have already pointed out the disadvantages of trying to apply evolution to taxonomy. <

You have attempted and failed.

> IMO, trying to apply evolution to taxonomy is a very bad idea and I think that fanatic Darwinists do it just to try to give evolution a practical application. <

Sensible scientists do it because it would seem to be the most useful tool.

> That's the way it was in the early 1960's. <

No it was not. I took some of the same classes that you did (although not with you) and I was never exposed to such ignorance.

Friday, September 15, 2006 1:21:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice In the Urbanness said,

>>>> It may have been mentioned because most people are aware of the great number of insect species even if they can't name them. <<<<<

Wikipedia's statement was, "Vertebrata is the largest subphylum of chordates, and contains most animals with which people are generally familiar (except insects)." So the subject of the statement is the groups containing "most animals with which people are generally familiar" and not the groups that people think have the largest numbers of species. If the statement concerned the latter, then IMO insects would be number one, by far -- most educated people are aware that insect species far outnumber the species in other animal groups.

>>>>>> (though I don't know how useful DNA testing is) <

You don't know a lot of things. <<<<<<

Unlike you, at least I have the honesty to admit when I don't know something.

<<<<< IMO, trying to apply evolution to taxonomy is a very bad idea and I think that fanatic Darwinists do it just to try to give evolution a practical application. <

Sensible scientists do it because it would seem to be the most useful tool. <<<<<<

See Darwinism is grossly overrated.

>>>>>> That's the way it was in the early 1960's. <

No it was not. <<<<<<

Wrong. There were no such things as a class including reptiles and birds, a separate class for "mammal-like" reptiles, a "series" for animals with amniotic embryos, and an "infraphylum" for "jawed" vertebrates. The vertebrate taxonomy in Wikipedia was developed after the early 1960's (Classification after Janvier (1981, 1997), Shu et al. (2003), and Benton (2004) ). At least some of this stuff is based on cladistic methods, which Wikipedia says has been a trend since the 1960's.

Friday, September 15, 2006 4:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Convergent evolution does not confuse the issue like you seem to believe. It is in the detailed study of anatomy that we are able to differentiate between structures that are only superficially similar (i.e. shark and dolphin dorsal fins).

Taxonomists reveal evolution's story. Morons claim convergent evolution disproves evolution!

Sunday, September 17, 2006 9:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

> Wikipedia's statement was <

Irrelevant to the comment to which you attempted, unsuccessfully as usual, to reply. Please make another attempt to follow what was stated. You may get it right this time (although you rarely have before.

> Unlike you, at least I have the honesty to admit when I don't know something. <

Nonsense. You are carrying on a blog discussing things you know nothing about. You claim to be an expert in law while knowing less about the subject than does the average arborial quadruped.

>>>>>> That's the way it was in the early 1960's. <

No it was not. <<<<<<

> Wrong. There were no such things as a class including reptiles and birds <

That clearly was not the point. You seemed to have the ignorant idea that only five classes were discussed then. Biology is not limited to what was discussed during those limited times that you were awake in class.

Fake Larry(?), Your capacity for logical thought, limited as it was, seems to have suffered a downturn in recent days. Are you smoking something new?

Monday, September 18, 2006 4:36:00 AM  

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