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.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hoopla about another "missing link" discovery

The Darwinists' jubilation over recent discoveries of "missing link" fossils is a sign of growing desperation. A few months ago, there was a lot of hoopla about a fossil called "Tiktaalik" and now there is a lot of hoopla about a fossil called "Gogonasus".

PZ Myers enthused,

One of the success stories of evolutionary theory is that we keep finding these organisms that fit so well into an evolutionary framework, and another is that these discoveries lead to further predictions. Gogonasus is no exception: its discovery in Australia suggests that there ought to be more transitional tetrapodomorphs waiting to be found there, and the researchers have already started looking for them.

What is the big "prediction" here? That where a particular fossil is found, similar fossils are likely to be found? How does that prediction compare, say, with Einstein's theory of relativity's prediction that stars' apparent positions would shift during a solar eclipse as a result of the bending of light by the sun's gravity?

Also, "transitional" or "intermediate" species like Tiktaalik and Gogonasus have been known for a long time. For example, the fossil Archaeopteryx has characteristics of birds and reptiles, and monotremes today have characteristics of mammals, birds, and reptiles (BTW, some scientists are now doubting that Archaeopteryx is a transitional form). So why all the hoopla about Tiktaalik and Gogonasus?

Also, though these transitional or intermediate species provide evidence of "changes through time," they provide little or no evidence of the mechanisms that caused these changes.

Labels:

37 Comments:

Anonymous Johan Karlsson said...

YES! Two new gaps in the fossil record for the Cretinists! ;)

Friday, October 20, 2006 3:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Hoopla said...

[Perhaps from French houp-là, upsy-daisy! : houp (of imitative origin) + , there; see voilà.]

Profound.

Friday, October 20, 2006 3:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice In The Urbanness said...

The idiot seems to take every win by the scientists as a defeat and every loss by the backers of superstition, like the IDiots, as a win.

In the mean time he is hiding until he can find more articles to distract us from his debating losses and his pathetic failures in court.

Saturday, October 21, 2006 7:18:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice In The Urbanness said...

>>>>> The idiot seems to take every win by the scientists as a defeat and every loss by the backers of superstition, like the IDiots, as a win.

In the mean time he is hiding until he can find more articles to distract us from his debating losses and his pathetic failures in court. <<<<<<

Has it ever occurred to you stupid fatheads that your breathtakingly inane taunts could be seen by other readers as evidence that you are frustrated because you are unable to counter any of my arguments? I am beginning to fear that some readers suspect that I am planting your stupid comments myself. I want to assure readers, though, that I am not planting those comments. Kiss my pinkie to the sky.

Saturday, October 21, 2006 8:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice In The Urbanness said...

Has it ever occurred to you that they are evidence that we are frustrated by your unwillingness and inability to respond to our counters to what you pathetically call arguments?

> I am beginning to fear that some readers suspect that I am planting your stupid comments myself. <

If that were the case, you would win some of the arguments. So far you have failed consistently.

Many were are already suspecting that you are actually Ed Brayton setting up a straw man to make all creationists look like raving idiots. I know better. There is no deception involved. You are a raving idiot.

Saturday, October 21, 2006 9:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Ambrose Bierce said...

< Also, "transitional" or "intermediate" species like Tiktaalik and Gogonasus have been known for a long time. >

Hey, how about commenting on that recent griffin find? Also, according to the following, hippogriff fossils have also been turned up:

hippogriff
n.

An animal (now extinct) which was half horse and half griffin. The griffin was itself a compound creature, half lion and half eagle. The hippogriff was actually, therefore, a one-quarter eagle, which is two dollars and fifty cents in gold. The study of zoology is full of surprises.

Saturday, October 21, 2006 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger lontlont said...

I'm surprised you asked about what the prediction is.

The basic structure of evolutionary theory is a branching pattern of descent. If evolution is true, then all fossil finds and modern life should fit this pattern, and all modern and fossil life prior to early life has to have precursors that are identifiable as such by particular clusters of traits. These fossil finds place certain animals with exactly the right mix of traits in the right eras of time.

You mention Einsteins theory. Did you know that our measurements of the key constant G in that theory are only reliable to the first decimal place? In contrast, if we take the genetic and fossil trees as two different data points, each indepedently implying a tree of ancestry, and compare them against each other, they match up to a degree of nearly 38 decimal places: and that's only using just the major taxa.

""Also, "transitional" or "intermediate" species like Tiktaalik and Gogonasus have been known for a long time."

??? No, not those ones. Those are important because they confirm the very specific things we expect from out current picture of what the tree of life would be like. They also help flesh out a lot of unanswered questions about what sort of traits developed when, based on what, and so on.

"For example, the fossil Archaeopteryx has characteristics of birds and reptiles, and monotremes today have characteristics of mammals, birds, and reptiles (BTW, some scientists are now doubting that Archaeopteryx is a transitional form)."

You're probably misunderstanding the scope of the debate here. The legitimate range of debate is whether Archy is in the more direct line of bird ancestry or is instead a distant cousin. But either way, it's a transitional form because it tells us about a branch of dinosaurs that had groups of traits distinctive of the line that led to birds. Remember: evolution predicts descending sug-groups, a branching heirarchy. Where exactly something like Archy falls here is up to debate, but its possesion of traits distinctive and otherwise unique to both dinosaurs and birds makes a solid link between the old group and the new.

"So why all the hoopla about Tiktaalik and Gogonasus?"

Because they tell us all sorts of cool things about early life.

"Also, though these transitional or intermediate species provide evidence of "changes through time," they provide little or no evidence of the mechanisms that caused these changes."

Not so. While, of course, merely the fossils themselves don't do that, they do show quite a lot about the mechanism. Again, the fact that they fit into this branching heirarchy: this descent with modification, puts them squarely in the court of what evolutionary descent involves, instead of the dizzying array of alternatives (the most obvious of which are all the patterns we might expect from a designer: things like clusters of "neat" traits jumping lineages in the way that car designers might incorporate great new ideas into all models of a new year instead of ONLY those descended from the original model).

Saturday, October 21, 2006 9:49:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

> ... the fact that they fit into this branching hierarchy: this descent with modification ... instead of the dizzying array of alternatives (the most obvious of which are all the patterns we might expect from a designer: things like clusters of "neat" traits jumping lineages in the way that car designers might incorporate great new ideas into all models of a new year instead of ONLY those descended from the original model). <

This is an excellent point, helping to elucidate why Tiktaalik and Gogonasus were possible (in context), perhaps almost inevitable, whereas the Griffin is the sort of creature that an Intelligent Designer might come up with -- but is in fact impossible. "You can't get there from here."

There are actually some valid ways that "clusters of neat traits" can jump lineages, but they are much more restricted than an Intelligent Designer would have to contend with. My favorite example is the adoption of the ancestors of white blood cells by our immune system.

Sunday, October 22, 2006 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

I will censor all of your comments and then they will hold no water at all.

Sunday, October 22, 2006 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Sunday, October 22, 2006 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

lontlont said ( 10/21/2006 09:49:21 PM ) --

>>>>> I'm surprised you asked about what the prediction is. <<<<<

I am surprised that you are surprised that I asked about what the prediction is. I clearly stated my reason for asking: "What is the big 'prediction' here? That where a particular fossil is found, similar fossils are likely to be found?" I was responding to Sleazy PZ Myers' example of a "prediction."

There are well-known fossil-hunting areas -- e.g., the Burgess Shale, Dinosaur National Monument, and the La Brea tarpits right here in Los Angeles -- where paleontologists hunt for fossils because fossils have been found those areas.

It has been claimed that some predictions were involved in the discovery of Tiktaalik. However, many critics of evolution theory accept the ideas of changes through time and/or common descent -- what they question are the evolutionary mechanisms of evolution theory.

Also, I find the condescending "elementary-my-dear-Watson" tone of many Darwinists to be very annoying.

>>>>> You mention Einsteins theory. Did you know that our measurements of the key constant G in that theory are only reliable to the first decimal place? <<<<<<

The point is that it was a prediction. Another prediction of physicists was that a nuclear explosion could be produced by an uncontrolled chain reaction. In contrast, the so-called "predictions" of evolution theory have actually been what someone called "postdictions" -- determining how discovered fossils fit the theory and sometimes even making drastic modifications in the theory to conform to the fossils. The scarcity of transitional fossils is still a big problem for evolution theory.

>>>>>""Also, "transitional" or "intermediate" species like Tiktaalik and Gogonasus have been known for a long time."

??? No, not those ones. <<<<<<

Why not "those" ones? They are transitional or intermediate species, aren't they?

As for Archaeopteryx, it is arguably a better example of a transitional or intermediate form than either Tiktaalik or Gogonasus: long wings instead of short forelegs and feathers instead of scales.

>>>>> Again, the fact that they fit into this branching heirarchy: this descent with modification, puts them squarely in the court of what evolutionary descent involves, <<<<<

One of my problems with evolution theory is that it is often described in vague terms like "descent with modification." Co-evolution is often vaguely described in terms of "mutual evolution influence (or pressure)," but when I took a closer look at detailed possible mechanisms of co-evolution I found big problems with it.

Sunday, October 22, 2006 3:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Judge "Mad" Hatter said...

< when I took a closer look at detailed possible mechanisms of co-evolution I found big problems with it. >

For instance, the Little Green Men tried to impose a co-evolution impact fee.

Sunday, October 22, 2006 3:51:00 PM  
Anonymous ambrose bierce said...

< There are well-known fossil-hunting areas -- e.g., the Burgess Shale, Dinosaur National Monument, and the La Brea tarpits right here in Los Angeles -- where paleontologists hunt for fossils because fossils have been found those areas. >

Didn't that Griffin come from the Burgess Shale?

Sunday, October 22, 2006 4:03:00 PM  
Blogger lontlont said...

"It has been claimed that some predictions were involved in the discovery of Tiktaalik."

Yes. That's because evolution requires a whole bunch of actual physical events, and these events have to occur in specific PLACES on the planet.

"However, many critics of evolution theory accept the ideas of changes through time and/or common descent -- what they question are the evolutionary mechanisms of evolution theory."

Fair enough, though since not all do, and since it was asked, I answered. Furthermore, I find that even those that claim they do still regularly scoff at virtually every element of the case for common descent/changes through time, which raises questions about the sincerity of their concession.

"In contrast, the so-called "predictions" of evolution theory have actually been what someone called "postdictions" -- determining how discovered fossils fit the theory and sometimes even making drastic modifications in the theory to conform to the fossils."

"The scarcity of transitional fossils is still a big problem for evolution theory."

You can't claim I'm lecturing you on things you are so wise as to already know, and then go and make outright false statements such as this. There is no mysterious, troubling scarcity of "transitional fossils." if you disagree, then please, by all means define what a transitional fossil is and explain what exactly it is that you think we should be seeing more of. Let's see if your conception is anything like that of biologists and paleontologists.

"Why not "those" ones? They are transitional or intermediate species, aren't they?"

That isn't what was said. It was said that they were "already known."

"As for Archaeopteryx, it is arguably a better example of a transitional or intermediate form than either Tiktaalik or Gogonasus: long wings instead of short forelegs and feathers instead of scales."

All are good examples because they... well lets just wait and see what your definition of transitional form is first.

"One of my problems with evolution theory is that it is often described in vague terms like "descent with modification.""

How is that vague? It's a very specific pattern: cladism, as opposed to creationist straw man of something turning into something entirely new, or the patterns of innovation and transfer that we might expect that are highly characteristic of designers. Evolution says, no: all creatures are SUB varieties of larger groups: that and only that.

"Co-evolution is often vaguely described in terms of "mutual evolution influence (or pressure)," but when I took a closer look at detailed possible mechanisms of co-evolution I found big problems with it."

I'm not surprised. But then, your criticisms are the same bunch of already answered a million times questions that are, also, not very surprising.

Sunday, October 22, 2006 5:33:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Fake Dave said ( 10/22/2006 11:27:40 AM ) --
>>>>>> (quoting lontlont) ... the fact that they fit into this branching hierarchy: this descent with modification ... instead of the dizzying array of alternatives (the most obvious of which are all the patterns we might expect from a designer: things like clusters of "neat" traits jumping lineages in the way that car designers might incorporate great new ideas into all models of a new year instead of ONLY those descended from the original model). <

This is an excellent point, helping to elucidate why Tiktaalik and Gogonasus were possible (in context), perhaps almost inevitable, whereas the Griffin is the sort of creature that an Intelligent Designer might come up with -- but is in fact impossible. "You can't get there from here."

There are actually some valid ways that "clusters of neat traits" can jump lineages, but they are much more restricted than an Intelligent Designer would have to contend with. My favorite example is the adoption of the ancestors of white blood cells by our immune system. <<<<<

These speculations about what an "intelligent designer" might tend to do are just philosophical arguments rather than scientific arguments. You Darwinists accuse intelligent design proponents of making philosophical arguments and yet you do the same thing yourselves.

BTW, I saw the PBS debate on ID v. evolution and I think it was very good.

Sunday, October 22, 2006 7:55:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

< These speculations about what an "intelligent designer" might tend to do are just philosophical arguments ... >

Now you are contradicting yourself. You said we were to "infer" design from the characteristics of living creatures. Well, in that case it is valid to infer the nature of the "designer" as well -- just as we assess the personalities and techniques and influences of artists and writers from their music, paintings, and books. The fact that the Burgess Shale does not contain any Centaur, Griffin, or Hippogriff fossils (not to mention, any vertebrate fossils) tells the observant and thoughtful person a great deal about how the the alleged "designer" operates.

You would make a great detective. Not!

< BTW, I saw the PBS debate on ID v. evolution and I think it was very good. >

I read the transcript, and I don't concur (regarding either side). Didn't miss much. There are much better discussions taking place right here -- e.g., Lontlont's analysis.

Sunday, October 22, 2006 9:50:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

Speaking of Lontlont, you owe him your definition of "transitional fossil".

Sunday, October 22, 2006 9:57:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

One might get the impression from reading some of my comments here that I am awfully cynical. Actually, I'm less than 25% as cynical as I may sound (although Creationists tend to draw out the skeptic).

A few days ago I ran across this intriguing article.
The essay examines the following concept and refutes it:

"Until Abraham, people were stuck in the either/or mode of thinking. They either believed that they were gods or believed they were nothing. In other words, they believed either that Divinity was completely within them and they were divine, or that Divinity was completely beyond them and they were nothing. Divine immanence and Divine transcendence were mutually exclusive terms."

Sunday, October 22, 2006 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

lontlont said ( 10/22/2006 05:33:30 PM ) --
>>>>> Furthermore, I find that even those that claim they do still regularly scoff at virtually every element of the case for common descent/changes through time, which raises questions about the sincerity of their concession. <<<<<

That's stereotyping people.

>>>>> There is no mysterious, troubling scarcity of "transitional fossils." if you disagree, then please, by all means define what a transitional fossil is and explain what exactly it is that you think we should be seeing more of <<<<<

Why should I have to define a commonly used scientific term? You could look up the definition yourself.

If the term "transitional" is defined broadly enough, it can even include, say, amphibians, which are "transitional" between fish and land animals, and even reptiles, which could be viewed as "transitional" between amphibians and mammals & birds. But I think that "transitional fossil" usually refers to an extinct species, especially a "missing link."

It has been observed that many organisms appeared suddenly in the fossil record without precursors and then continued virtually unchanged for millions of years until the present day or until they became extinct. This is contrary to what was expected under Darwinism.

>>>>>"One of my problems with evolution theory is that it is often described in vague terms like "descent with modification."

How is that vague? <<<<<<

I am talking about describing the evolutionary process in detail, as though observing it step by step. For too long, Darwinists have gotten away with describing evolution in broad, sweeping terms.

>>>>>"Co-evolution is often vaguely described in terms of "mutual evolution influence (or pressure)," but when I took a closer look at detailed possible mechanisms of co-evolution I found big problems with it."

I'm not surprised. But then, your criticisms are the same bunch of already answered a million times questions that are, also, not very surprising.<<<<<<

"Answered a million times"? I don't know if those questions were ever answered even once. I found out almost nothing about co-evolution by searching the Internet. Virtually all of my ideas about co-evolution are my own.

Sorry, I meant to say "mutual evolutionary influence," not "mutual evolution influence."

Sunday, October 22, 2006 11:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

> Why should I have to define a commonly used scientific term? You could look up the definition yourself. <

Perhaps because of your tendency to make up your own definitions for commonly used words.

> "Answered a million times"? I don't know if those questions were ever answered even once. <

It is true. You don't know. Your blindness is evident.

Monday, October 23, 2006 1:20:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

< It has been observed that many organisms appeared suddenly in the fossil record without precursors ... >

There's only one instance where this happened to some extent, at the beginning of the Cambrian, and the explanation is twofold.

First, prior to the Cambrian, creatures were soft-bodied and did not fossilize well, so much of the record was lost. Just before the Cambrian, body armor was invented and led to an "arms race" among several lineages -- the mollusks and arthropods particularly. The Cambrian fossils are mostly this leftover armor, and there's a lot of it, that caught early paleontologists' attention.

Second, as time passes in Earth history, there is risk for any given rock stratum that something bad will happen to it and damage the traces it contains. If sedimentary rocks get involved in mountain building (orogeny), they often are metamorphosed by heat and pressure, and the fossils become unrecognizable. Other strata get uplifted and eroded, losing their fossils altogether. There was an episode of orogeny just before the Cambrian, so many of the strata that contained hard-to-spot fossils were lost.

< ... and then continued virtually unchanged for millions of years until the present day or until they became extinct. >

When an organism finds a stable niche, there is no reason for it to change, so the evolutionary pressure pushes it back toward the tried and proven form.

Monday, October 23, 2006 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

BTW, did you ever go fossil-hunting? I have. They are not easy to find, even in "prime" locations.

Monday, October 23, 2006 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger lontlont said...

"These speculations about what an "intelligent designer" might tend to do are just philosophical arguments rather than scientific arguments. You Darwinists accuse intelligent design proponents of making philosophical arguments and yet you do the same thing yourselves."

That's a pretty dishonest criticism. We are responding to YOUR philosophical claims, helping you fill in the blanks that you doggedly refuse to fill in yourself. We don't know what any ID might or might not do: the problem with ID is that it might as well do anything at all. We're helpfully point out, instead, some very obvious and tell tale signs of design found in evidence (since you are so fond of using analogies to human design methods) and pointing out that they appear nowhere in nature.

Monday, October 23, 2006 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger lontlont said...

"That's stereotyping people."

Nonsense: it's what I've found to be true of nearly every person who claimed that they accept common descent, including all the major names in the ID movement.

"Why should I have to define a commonly used scientific term?"

Because you don't seem to be using it in its common sense.

"You could look up the definition yourself."

I could, but then when I do so, I don't seem to find any hoodoo about how so many are "missing." That's a characterization unique to creationists.

"If the term "transitional" is defined broadly enough, it can even include, say, amphibians, which are "transitional" between fish and land animals, and even reptiles, which could be viewed as "transitional" between amphibians and mammals & birds. But I think that "transitional fossil" usually refers to an extinct species, especially a "missing link.""

Nope. See: there was a point in asking, because you really DON'T seem to be using the word in its traditional sense.

"It has been observed that many organisms appeared suddenly in the fossil record without precursors and then continued virtually unchanged for millions of years until the present day or until they became extinct. This is contrary to what was expected under Darwinism."

Nope, because Darwinism does not demand a steady pace of change.

"I am talking about describing the evolutionary process in detail, as though observing it step by step. For too long, Darwinists have gotten away with describing evolution in broad, sweeping terms."

Well, that seems pretty legitimate when they are talking to laypeople about the general broad overview of what evolution is, don't you think? If you read a biology journal though, I think you'll find that the actual science is VERY specific, to an almost boring detail.

""Answered a million times"? I don't know if those questions were ever answered even once. I found out almost nothing about co-evolution by searching the Internet. Virtually all of my ideas about co-evolution are my own."

I'm afaid that books and journals are still where most of the information you need to really understand subjects in depth come from. You're not going to answer complex questions by googling.

Monday, October 23, 2006 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

lontlont said ( 10/23/2006 11:14:41 AM ) --
>>>>>"These speculations about what an "intelligent designer" might tend to do are just philosophical arguments rather than scientific arguments. You Darwinists accuse intelligent design proponents of making philosophical arguments and yet you do the same thing yourselves."

That's a pretty dishonest criticism. We are responding to YOUR philosophical claims, helping you fill in the blanks that you doggedly refuse to fill in yourself. <<<<<<

Nope, that is not a dishonest criticism. A lot of ID proponents do not speculate about an intelligent designer or what an intelligent designer would tend to do -- they only argue that a lot of biological features give the appearance of having been designed rather than having arisen by chance. And you don't have to use philosophical arguments just because others do.

lontlont said ( 10/23/2006 11:24:32 AM ) --
>>>>> Nonsense: it's what I've found to be true of nearly every person who claimed that they accept common descent, including all the major names in the ID movement. <<<<<

That's stereotyping.

>>>>> See: there was a point in asking, because you really DON'T seem to be using the word in its traditional sense. <<<<<<

"Transitional" is going to mean different things to different people.

>>>>> Darwinism does not demand a steady pace of change. <<<<<

Darwinists argue that evolution by random mutation and natural selection was possible because it had millions of years to take place, and Darwinists also argue that the relative scarcity of transitional fossils is explained by short spurts of evolution followed by long plateaus (punctuated equilibrium). You can't have it both ways.

>>>>>> "I am talking about describing the evolutionary process in detail, as though observing it step by step. For too long, Darwinists have gotten away with describing evolution in broad, sweeping terms."

Well, that seems pretty legitimate when they are talking to laypeople about the general broad overview of what evolution is, don't you think? <<<<<<

No, that is not what I think. This is not rocket science -- it should not be hard to explain the details to laypeople.

>>>>>>I'm afaid that books and journals are still where most of the information you need to really understand subjects in depth come from. You're not going to answer complex questions by googling. <<<<<

I don't expect to find all the details on the Internet, but I do expect to find the basics about the problems of co-evolution and I couldn't even find that. Most of the Internet discussions about the problems of evolution theory are about intelligent design. I think that a lot of people have the false impression that ID is the only criticism of evolution theory.

Monday, October 23, 2006 12:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Neutron Star said...

< ... it should not be hard to explain the details to laypeople. >

On the other hand ...

Monday, October 23, 2006 1:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

> A lot of ID proponents do not speculate about an intelligent designer or what an intelligent designer would tend to do <

That is true. Many ID proponents make no effort to support their baseless claims.

> That's stereotyping. <

Pointing out that male walruses tend to have tusks is not stereotyping.

> This is not rocket science -- it should not be hard to explain the details to laypeople. <

But it is much more difficult to explain it to the "neutron star" who seems impermeable to logical explanation.

Monday, October 23, 2006 2:37:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

He really had us all snookered, didn't he? Crazy like a fox.

This entire argument is bogus:

< "Transitional" is going to mean different things to different people. >

< Darwinists argue that evolution by random mutation and natural selection was possible because it had millions of years to take place, and Darwinists also argue that the relative scarcity of transitional fossils is explained by short spurts of evolution followed by long plateaus (punctuated equilibrium). You can't have it both ways. >


There are no transitional forms. None. Here's why:

As we were reminded recently (IIRC by our Anonymous Ozzie friend), no evolutionary change takes place without a genetic change first, in one individual. Thus, you always have a "before" and an "after" for any change, major or minor. The "transitional form" exists only in the momentary virtual space of genetic change. Very conveniently for Larry(?), even this (unobservable at best) is lost in antiquity. Such a gap is plenty large enough to drive as big a superstition truck through as you like.

Once one surrenders to this kind of mysticism, there isn't a natural stopping point. Either the Universe makes sense, with cause and effect, proceeding according to natural law -- OR things go bump in the night and the scope of unpredictability puts random chance to shame.

Monday, October 23, 2006 7:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

I don't see a transitional form between Larry(?) and Real Dave. Since Dave is the elder, it looks like a case of reverse evolution.

The good side of this is that Dave has already reproduced. Larry(?) never will, thank the intelligent designer.

Monday, October 23, 2006 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Fake Dave said,
>>>>As we were reminded recently (IIRC by our Anonymous Ozzie friend), no evolutionary change takes place without a genetic change first, in one individual. <<<<<

And then we run into the problems of co-evolution and the propagation of beneficial mutations in sexual reproduction.

>>>>>There are no transitional forms. None. <<<<

Well, lontlont seems to believe that there are. Maybe you can argue about it with him.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 5:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As usual, Fake Larry(?) has no answer.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 8:17:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

< And then we run into the problems of ... the propagation of beneficial mutations in sexual reproduction. >

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

(Sorry, didn't mean to post that yet.)

< And then we run into the problems of ... the propagation of beneficial mutations in sexual reproduction. >

What you're seeing here is a glimmer of why sexual reproduction evolved in the first place.

Think about it -- if the best strategy were to adopt innovations immediately without leaving an escape hatch, we would all reproduce by budding.

There are two grand strategies for the management of DNA -- asexual, adopted first and the method still preferred by microscopic organisms, and sexual, used by nearly all multicellular creatures. Each has advantages. Also, a major evolutionary battleground is between these two -- i.e., higher animals versus infectious disease.

A monogenetic bacterium is very vulnerable to an attack (e.g., by another pathogen or an immune system or an antibiotic) and has no defense except huge numbers (with the hope that some individual will survive somewhere).

Sexual reproduction allows for more tentative, experimental, and fail-safe development, and is about the only method that supports the evolution of cooperating genes. It may take a little longer, but is ultimately much more creative.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

< Another little-known non-ID challenge to Darwinism ... >

BTW, consider that the reason for some idea being "little-known" might be that it is even less tenable.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said...
>>>>> As usual, Fake Larry(?) has no answer. <<<<<

You stupid fathead, how can anyone answer a vague, high-falutin statement like, "The 'transitional form' exists only in the momentary virtual space of genetic change"?

Fake Dave said ( October 25, 2006 11:19:16 AM ) --
>>>>>What you're seeing here is a glimmer of why sexual reproduction evolved in the first place. <<<<<<<

For the moment, I am more interested in the effects of sexual reproduction on evolution than in the evolution of sexual reproduction. For example, that article I referenced says of sexual reproduction, "recombination breaks up favorable sets of genes that have accumulated through selection." I was disappointed to find that the article does not discuss the effects of dominant and recessive genes and sex-linked traits.

Fake Dave said ( October 25, 2006 11:30:47 AM ) --
<<<<<Another little-known non-ID challenge to Darwinism ... >

BTW, consider that the reason for some idea being "little-known" might be that it is even less tenable. <<<<<<

There is no correlation here between tenability and prominence. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is one of the best known and least tenable challenges to Darwinism. Probably the most popular statement of the SLoT is, "it is impossible to construct an engine which operates in a cycle and does nothing but draw heat from a single reservoir and perform an equivalent amount of work."

Thursday, October 26, 2006 3:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> how can anyone answer a vague, high-falutin statement <

That they don't understand.

> For the moment, I am more interested in the effects of sexual reproduction <

A strange interest for a virgin?

> The Second Law of Thermodynamics <

It is quite amazing that when you did have a job it required an understanding of thermodynamics. You surely don't understand it now. Perhaps that is why you are no longer employed, or employable.

Saturday, October 28, 2006 11:07:00 AM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

>>>For the moment, I am more interested in the effects of sexual reproduction on evolution than in the evolution of sexual reproduction. For example, that article I referenced says of sexual reproduction, "recombination breaks up favorable sets of genes that have accumulated through selection." I was disappointed to find that the article does not discuss the effects of dominant and recessive genes and sex-linked traits.<<<

It's not surprising that the article does not discuss these effects, since looking at the data absolutely destroys the argument that "recombination breaks up favorable sets of genes that have accumulated through selection." While that statement may be true on the individual level, on the aggregate population level, recombination combined with natural selection brings together favorable sets of genes.

Let's kill a few birds with one stone. Suppose you have a sexual population such that at the birth of the first generation being examined, there is one gen with a mutant dominant allele D randomly distributed at a frequency of 10% (normal allele n in 90%). This means that there are four possible permutations: 81% of the critters are normal with gene nn, and 19% mutants (nD=9%, Dn=9%, and DD=1%). Similarly, there is also another gene with a recessive mutant allele r similarly distributed (normal allele N). Therfore, 81% of critters will be normal (NN), 18% will appear normal but be carriers (Nr and rN), and 1% will be mutants (rr). The following table lists the overall percentages of the different possibilities:

nnNN =65.61% Normal
nnNr = 7.29% Carrier
nnrN = 7.29% Carrier
nnrr = 0.81% Recessive
nDNN = 7.29% Dominant
nDNr = 0.81% Dominant carrier
nDrN = 0.81% Dominant carrier
nDrr = 0.09% Dominant recessive
DnNN = 7.29% Dominant
DnNr = 0.81% Dominant carrier
DnrN = 0.81% Dominant carrier
Dnrr = 0.09% Dominant recessive
DDNN = 0.81% Dominant
DDNr = 0.09% Dominant carrier
DDrN = 0.09% Dominant carrier
DDrr = 0.01% Dominant recessive

Combining the possibilities, normal critters make up just under 66% of the population, less than 15% are carries only, less than one percent are recessive mutants, less than 17% are dominant mutants, under 3.5% are dominant carriers, and just under 0.2% are double mutants.

Now, lets apply the law of natural selection: p(b)>p(0)=p(n)>p(d); p(l)=0. Basically, for the sake of this example, we are going to assume that expression of a mutant allele gives a 20% increase to the chances of a critter surviving to childbearing age. To simplify things, we will normalize p(0)=p(nnNN) (the probability of a normal critter surviving) to be one. This means p(nnNr)=1 (carrier, which is neutral), p(D*N*)=1.2 (dominant only mutant allele expressed), p(nnrr)=1.2 (recessive only), and p(D*rr)=1.44 (double mutant). We multiply the original population by the appropriate normalized probability, add the indivual results to obtain an adjustment factor, and divide the individual results by that adjustment factor to get the population distribution after selection, shown below (the advantage of this method is that it is relative and does not require the calulation of the exact probailities, which require knowledge of population size, etc.):

nnNN =63.0865385% Normal
nnNr = 7.0096154% Carrier
nnrN = 7.0096154% Carrier
nnrr = 0.9346154% Recessive
nDNN = 8.4115385% Dominant
nDNr = 0.9346154% Dominant carrier
nDrN = 0.9346154% Dominant carrier
nDrr = 0.1211538% Dominant recessive
DnNN = 8.4115385% Dominant
DnNr = 0.9346154% Dominant carrier
DnrN = 0.9346154% Dominant carrier
Dnrr = 0.1211538% Dominant recessive
DDNN = 0.9346154% Dominant
DDNr = 0.1038462% Dominant carrier
DDrN = 0.1038462% Dominant carrier
DDrr = 0.0134615% Dominant recessive

Combining the possibilities, normal critters make up just over 63% of the population (down from previous), just over 14% are carries only (down), almost one percent are recessive mutants (up), just under 18% are dominant mutants (up), nearly 4% are dominant carriers (up), and about 0.25% are double mutants (up).

Obviously, natural selection has served to increase the percentage of critters with the mutant alleles, including increasing the percentage with copies of both mutants.

But what does recombination do? Let's now assume that every critter that survived to childbearing age randomly mates without any selection criteria. There are 4096 different possibilities. I've done the math for you and presented the final results:

nnNN =63.1108025% Normal
nnNr = 7.1498077% Carrier
nnrN = 7.1498077% Carrier
nnrr = 0.8100000% Recessive
nDNN = 8.2497781% Dominant
nDNr = 0.9319194% Dominant carrier
nDrN = 0.9346154% Dominant carrier
nDrr = 0.1055769% Dominant recessive
DnNN = 8.2497781% Dominant
DnNr = 0.9346154% Dominant carrier
DnrN = 0.9319194% Dominant carrier
Dnrr = 0.1055769% Dominant recessive
DDNN = 1.0784024% Dominant
DDNr = 0.1218195% Dominant carrier
DDrN = 0.1218195% Dominant carrier
DDrr = 0.0137611% Dominant recessive

Combining the possibilities, normal critters make up just over 63% of the population (slightly up from previous, overall down), just over 14% are carries only (slightly up, overall down), almost one percent are recessive mutants (slightly down, overall the same), just under 18% are dominant mutants (slightly down, overall up), nearly 4% are dominant carriers (the same, overall up), and about 0.22% are double mutants (slightly down, overall up).

In the end, it turns out that recombination does have a slight dilution effect that decreases as the mutant population increases, but the advantages gained more than overcome this effect. Playing with the numbers a bit, I discovered that this dilution effect is so small that even when only 1% of the alleles are mutants, a 1% selection increase easily swamps it out.

Basically, once a mutation becomes statistically significant, a process known as fixing, natural selection takes over.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 1:48:00 PM  

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