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.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Glitch in comment thread under Sleazy PZ's book review post

About a dozen comments at the end of the thread disappeared and then reappeared one by one each time that I tried to enter a new comment. That comment thread no longer works and I don't want to try to fix it because I am afraid that I might lose the comments again. Any new additions to that thread should be posted here.

20 Comments:

Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

This comment is a continuation of the thread under Sleazy PZ's book review post.

Martian Buddy said,
>>>>>>Behe's definition of Irreducible Complexity from "Darwin's Black Box," published in 1996.

"A single system which is composed of several interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning."

Compare that to this quote from "Of Pandas and People:"

"..it has not been demonstrated that mutations are able to produce the highly coordinated parts of novel structures needed again and again by macroevolution." <<<<<<

First, I want to know what is wrong about different people having the same ideas and why old ideas are bad just because they are old.

Anyway, those statements don't look similar to me. Behe says that removal of just one part causes an irreducibly complex system to stop functioning -- the statement in "Of Pandas and People" does not say that.

>>>>> "Pandas" presents the exact same argument and uses the examples of the blood clotting cascade and the flagellum - it's why there was so much testimony about both at the trial. <<<<<<

That's not necessarily the reason -- maybe the reason why there was so much testimony about both was that Behe was testifying and he was an expert on both.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008 11:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Martian Buddy said...

Larry wrote: First, I want to know what is wrong about different people having the same ideas and why old ideas are bad just because they are old.

You're misunderstanding the objection: the problem with these arguments is not that they are "old," but rather that they are false. In the example of the soaptree yucca and the pronuba moth, creationists deliberately picked the most tightly co-evolved example they could find, ignoring other examples of yuccas and yucca moths that are not obligate mutualists. In your buzz pollination example, Brossa has explained that the muscles and behavior for buzzing and the related structures in the plant can all evolve gradually - there is no magic "barrier" to prevent it. That's one problem with these arguments: they are built on logical fallacies (the argument from ignorance and the argument from improbability) and they are demonstratably false.

The other point in bringing up their creationist pedigree is that IDists change the terminology of these arguments without changing the meaning. The only difference between the arguments Morris was making in 1974 and Behe's argument in 1996 is that Behe is now calling it "Irreducible Complexity" and saying it points to some unknown intelligence rather than "Almighty God." Now we have creationists dropping any mention of a designer at all and simply claiming it's a "weakness" of evolution, but it's just the same bad argument it always was.

Larry wrote: Anyway, those statements don't look similar to me. Behe says that removal of just one part causes an irreducibly complex system to stop functioning -- the statement in "Of Pandas and People" does not say that.

Did you not read the other quotes from "Pandas?" No problem, I'll cite them again:

"Mutations do not create new structures. They merely alter existing ones. Mutations have produced, for example, crumpled, oversized, and undersized wings. They have produced double sets of wings. But they have not created a new kind of wing. Nor have they transformed the fruit fly into a new kind of insect. Experiments have simply produced variations within the fruit fly species. . . ."

and:

"How likely is it that random mutations will come together and coordinate to form just one new structure? Let's say the formation of an insect wing requires only five genes (a very low estimate). Most mutations are harmful, and scientists estimate that only one in 1,000 is not. The probability of two non-harmful mutations occurring is one in one thousand million million. For all practical purposes, there is no chance that all five mutations will occur within the life cycle of a single organism."

It's the exact same argument that all the parts have to be there at once and can't evolve gradually.

Larry wrote: That's not necessarily the reason -- maybe the reason why there was so much testimony about both was that Behe was testifying and he was an expert on both.

So you argue that it's pure coincidence that "Of Pandas and People" used the blood clotting cascade (in a chapter written in part by Behe) and the flagellum as examples and that days of trial testimony revolved around those two examples?

Larry wrote: Mutations appear suddenly.

Not in the manner you're implying. No plant will ever "suddenly" mutate from a form that does not use buzz pollination to one utterly dependent on it. You may as well talk about wolves "suddenly" transmogrifying into chihuahuas.

Thursday, August 07, 2008 8:23:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> You're misunderstanding the objection: the problem with these arguments is not that they are "old," but rather that they are false. <<<<<<

No, the whole point of your last preceding comment is that these argument are old. Have you ever heard the expression, "oldies but goodies"?

>>>>>> In the example of the soaptree yucca and the pronuba moth, creationists deliberately picked the most tightly co-evolved example they could find, ignoring other examples of yuccas and yucca moths that are not obligate mutualists. <<<<<<

Of course they chose strong examples to support their point-- why would they choose weak examples? Duh. And there may be an even stronger example -- an orchid that mimics the female sex pheromones of only one species of wasp.

>>>>>>> In your buzz pollination example, Brossa has explained that the muscles and behavior for buzzing and the related structures in the plant can all evolve gradually - there is no magic "barrier" to prevent it. <<<<<<

My point is that the "magic 'barrier'" is that the buzz-pollination traits -- even gradually evolving buzz-pollination traits -- must be initially present in both the plants and the insects at the same time and place in order to benefit these organisms and even for these organisms to survive at all, and such initial occurrence of these traits in both the plants and the insects at the same time and place is very unlikely because beneficial mutations of any kind are rare. You continue to ignore this point.

>>>>>>> The other point in bringing up their creationist pedigree is that IDists change the terminology of these arguments without changing the meaning. <<<<<<<

Darwinists do the same thing. First there was just "evolution" and "Darwinism" -- now we have neo-Darwinism, modern evolutionary synthesis, evolutionary developmental biology ("evo-devo"), descent with modification, and soon we may have "extended evolutionary synthesis."

>>>>>> Did you not read the other quotes from "Pandas?" No problem, I'll cite them again:

"Mutations do not create new structures. They merely alter existing ones. Mutations have produced, for example, crumpled, oversized, and undersized wings. They have produced double sets of wings. But they have not created a new kind of wing. Nor have they transformed the fruit fly into a new kind of insect. Experiments have simply produced variations within the fruit fly species. . . ." <<<<<<

That is different from Behe's definition of irreducible complexity -- Behe emphasized the point that an irreducibly complex system cannot function at all if just a single part is missing.

>>>>>> "For all practical purposes, there is no chance that all five mutations will occur within the life cycle of a single organism." <<<<<<<

"Pandas" is wrong on that point -- it is not necessary for all the mutations to occur within the life cycle of a single organism, because silent mutations can be carried into succeeding generations -- this is what happened in the evolution of citrate-eating (Cit+) bacteria in Richard Lenski's long-term evolution experiment. But in that experiment, the occurrence of even just two necessary mutations in the same organism was a rare event -- it took about five years for the second mutation to appear on the same bacteria that possessed the first mutation (the times may have been longer or shorter in re-runs of the Cit+ evolution by means of frozen bacteria possessing the first mutation). For five mutations to occur on the same bacterium, the odds are exponentially worse.


>>>>>> It's the exact same argument that all the parts have to be there at once and can't evolve gradually. <<<<<<

Again, you are assuming that an idea is bad just because it is old. And the principle of irreducible complexity doesn't just apply to individual organs but applies to whole organisms -- for example, a bee must not only be able to find flowers but must also be able to digest nectar. I said that my arguments about co-evolution do not necessarily involve irreducibly complex systems, but those arguments can involve irreducibly complex systems, which would make co-evolution even harder. Ideas are not necessarily bad just because they are old ideas or because others have used those ideas. You are really messed up in your thinking.

>>>>>> Larry wrote: Mutations appear suddenly.

Not in the manner you're implying. No plant will ever "suddenly" mutate from a form that does not use buzz pollination to one utterly dependent on it. <<<<<<

Even small, incremental mutations appear suddenly. And as I pointed out, incremental or gradual co-evolution also requires the unlikely existence of corresponding mutations in both organisms in the same place at the same time.

Thursday, August 07, 2008 12:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Martian Buddy said...

Larry wrote: No, the whole point of your last preceding comment is that these argument are old. Have you ever heard the expression, "oldies but goodies"?

My original question in the previous thread was "Is there some new creationist claim that isn't yet another variation on 'Evolution can't explain [fill in the blank], therefore creationism/ID is true'?" You tried to claim that obligate mutualism, Irreducible Complexity, Specified Complexity, and the probability calculations in "The Edge of Evolution" were new. Since you've effectively conceded the point by shifting your claim from "here are some new arguments" to "being old doesn't make them wrong," we are now discussing the validity of the arguments in addition to their creationist pedigree. Do try to keep up.

As for expressions, "same old shit," is far more applicable to ID.

Larry wrote: Of course they chose strong examples to support their point-- why would they choose weak examples? Duh. And there may be an even stronger example -- an orchid that mimics the female sex pheromones of only one species of wasp.

Their example doesn't support their point. They zeroed in on that one obligate mutualist relationship while ignoring living examples of how it could have arisen from nonobligate precursors.

As for the wasp argument, I've already pointed out once that it's shot down in the very thread you raise it in.

Larry wrote: My point is that the "magic 'barrier'" is that the buzz-pollination traits -- even gradually evolving buzz-pollination traits -- must be initially present in both the plants and the insects at the same time and place in order to benefit these organisms and even for these organisms to survive at all, and such initial occurrence of these traits in both the plants and the insects at the same time and place is very unlikely because beneficial mutations of any kind are rare. You continue to ignore this point.

Your point is just as erroneous as it was the first time you made it. Buzz behavior can be used for other purposes (bumblebees also use it for compacting dirt inside their hives and for moving stones, for example) and it can be used on flowers that aren't adapted for buzz pollination. There's absolutely no merit to the claim that it must develop together with buzz-pollinated flowers.

Larry wrote: Darwinists do the same thing. First there was just "evolution" and "Darwinism" -- now we have neo-Darwinism, modern evolutionary synthesis, evolutionary developmental biology ("evo-devo"), descent with modification, and soon we may have "extended evolutionary synthesis."

The difference is that evolutionary theory actually changes in light of new discoveries, while creationists just change the terminology without changing the meaning. The whole reason why we have a "modern evolutionary synthesis" is to account for discoveries such as DNA that were unknown when Darwin first wrote. In contrast, the only reason why we have "Intelligent Design" is because of numerous adverse court rulings that prohibit the teaching of creationism in public schools.

Larry wrote: That is different from Behe's definition of irreducible complexity -- Behe emphasized the point that an irreducibly complex system cannot function at all if just a single part is missing.

From "Of Pandas and People," p. 146:

"...all of the proteins had to be present simultaneously for the blood clotting system to function"

(emphasis in the original)

Larry wrote: Again, you are assuming that an idea is bad just because it is old.

No, I'm pointing out that it's merely a repackaging of an old creationist argument rather than a brand new one.

Larry wrote: And the principle of irreducible complexity doesn't just apply to individual organs but applies to whole organisms -- for example, a bee must not only be able to find flowers but must also be able to digest nectar.

Interesting, considering that Behe argues that Irreducible Complexity doesn't apply on the level of organs, let alone entire organisms.

Larry wrote: I said that my arguments about co-evolution do not necessarily involve irreducibly complex systems, but those arguments can involve irreducibly complex systems, which would make co-evolution even harder.

Your co-evolution arguments are a total non sequitur in regard to the comment you replied to. You cited "The Edge of Evolution" as a book containing new ID claims, so I posted a rebuttal to that claim. Part of that rebuttal was a response to the claim that the arguments in "The Edge of Evolution" do not rely on Irreducible Complexity, when Behe in fact has an entire section entitled "Irreducible Complexity Squared" and references the idea often in the book. Again, do try to keep up with the discussion.

Larry wrote: Ideas are not necessarily bad just because they are old ideas or because others have used those ideas.

They are when they're based on logical fallacies and are repeated ad nauseam in spite of numerous detailed refutations.

Larry wrote: Even small, incremental mutations appear suddenly.

Which does nothing to rescue your hypothetical case of plants suddenly transmogrifying into forms totally dependent on buzz pollination.

Larry wrote: And as I pointed out, incremental or gradual co-evolution also requires the unlikely existence of corresponding mutations in both organisms in the same place at the same time.

And, as has been pointed out to you numerous times, this is not the case. There is no reason why buzzing cannot evolve seperately from buzz-pollinated plants. You're merely setting up a false dilemma.

Thursday, August 07, 2008 3:14:00 PM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"Your point is just as erroneous as it was the first time you made it."

Ahh, but now it is an "oldie" and, therefore, correct. ;-}

"Have you ever heard the expression, "oldies but goodies"?"

Larry, careful here -- you are scraping so close to the bottom of the barrel here that the next scoop is likely to be sawdust.

"fallacies and are repeated ad nauseam"

Thank you, MB, for spelling "nauseam" correctly. (Helps to avoid the compounded nauseam of illiterate renderings.)

Thursday, August 07, 2008 5:52:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Martian Buddy:
>>>>>> You tried to claim that obligate mutualism, Irreducible Complexity, Specified Complexity, and the probability calculations in "The Edge of Evolution" were new. <<<<<<

I didn't claim that these ideas were necessarily completely new -- some could be old ideas presented in new ways or with new evidence. Anyway, I don't care.

Sometimes things with new names are really new, sometimes not, and sometimes they are only partly new. For example, I found that some of the concepts with new names in the C and C++ programming languages were really new and some were features of Fortran II (1958). Often one must be familiar with both the old and the newer programming languages to tell the difference.

>>>>> As for expressions, "same old shit," is far more applicable to ID. <<<<<<

"Same old shit" is even more applicable to Darwinism.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I don't give a shit how old an idea is -- I am willing to look at it de novo. So you can forget about your "oldie and baddie" argument right now. You really have to be desperate to make that kind of argument. This blog's motto is "I'm from Missouri -- you'll have to show me."

>>>>>> They zeroed in on that one obligate mutualist relationship while ignoring living examples of how it could have arisen from nonobligate precursors. <<<<<<

Of course they "zeroed in" on it -- the more specific the co-dependent relationship, the harder it is to get a match.

>>>>>> As for the wasp argument, I've already pointed out once that it's shot down in the very thread you raise it in. <<<<<<<

Bullshit -- it was never "shot down."

>>>>>> Buzz behavior can be used for other purposes (bumblebees also use it for compacting dirt inside their hives and for moving stones, for example) and it can be used on flowers that aren't adapted for buzz pollination. <<<<<<

But it may be necessary to evolve an instinct for using the buzz behavior on plants. As I said, it is not a case of an insect coming upon a buzz-pollinated plant and thinking, "I need to buzz this plant to release the pollen." Insects are creatures of instinct -- for example, clusters of bees have starved while only inches away from food because bees' instinct is to bunch together when it is cold.

And the coincidence that this buzzing and the muscles used in buzzing are used for other purposes is just a fluke -- so what is supposed to be a random process, evolution, is a collection of flukes.

Also, as I said, using buzz pollination on regular plants (I use the term "regular" because only about 8 percent of plants are the buzz-pollinated type) is likely to cause the pollen to be lost -- it is likely to either fall away or be scattered by the wind.

>>>>>> The difference is that evolutionary theory actually changes in light of new discoveries, <<<<<<

As I said, sometimes things with new names are really new, sometimes not, or sometimes they are only partly new. But the basic concepts of Darwinism, natural genetic variation and natural selection, have not changed since 1859 -- that's why evolution theory is still called Darwinism by many.

>>>>>> the only reason why we have "Intelligent Design" is because of numerous adverse court rulings that prohibit the teaching of creationism in public schools. <<<<<<

It is called "Intelligent Design" to distinguish it from biblical creationism -- ID uses scientific observation and reasoning instead of religious sources. IMO the term is a bad choice because it implies the existence of a supernatural intelligent designer. Behe and Dembski used the terms "irreducible complexity" and "specified complexity" -- I don't know if they originally called those concepts "intelligent design."

>>>>>>Larry wrote: That is different from Behe's definition of irreducible complexity -- Behe emphasized the point that an irreducibly complex system cannot function at all if just a single part is missing.

From "Of Pandas and People," p. 146:

"...all of the proteins had to be present simultaneously for the blood clotting system to function" <<<<<<<<<

That statement in "Pandas" was not in the quote that I was referring to.

>>>>>> Interesting, considering that Behe argues that Irreducible Complexity doesn't apply on the level of organs, let alone entire organisms. <<<<<<

Good! That means that I found a new application for the concept of irreducible complexity.

Actually, doesn't Behe use the concept to describe the human eye? Anyway, Behe appears to be primarily concerned with irreducible complexity in microbiology and biochemistry.

>>>>>>Larry wrote: I said that my arguments about co-evolution do not necessarily involve irreducibly complex systems, but those arguments can involve irreducibly complex systems, which would make co-evolution even harder.

Your co-evolution arguments are a total non sequitur in regard to the comment you replied to. You cited "The Edge of Evolution" as a book containing new ID claims, so I posted a rebuttal to that claim.<<<<<<

We were arguing about irreducible complexity in general. I don't have to stick to "The Edge of Evolution" just because you want to.

>>>>>>Larry wrote: Ideas are not necessarily bad just because they are old ideas or because others have used those ideas.

They are when they're based on logical fallacies and are repeated ad nauseam in spite of numerous detailed refutations. <<<<<<

As I said, I am always willing to look at old ideas anew -- I don't care how many times they have been "refuted." I have a scientific mind and you do not. If someone says that elements cannot be transformed because alchemy was "refuted," I can point out that elements are transformed in nuclear fission and fusion. If someone says that light can only travel in a straight line, I can point out that Einstein's theory of relativity predicted -- and a solar eclipse showed -- that light can be deflected by gravity.

>>>>>>Larry wrote: Even small, incremental mutations appear suddenly.

Which does nothing to rescue your hypothetical case of plants suddenly transmogrifying into forms totally dependent on buzz pollination. <<<<<<

As I said a zillion times already, the co-evolution of buzz pollination cannot be gradual because the changes are of kind and not degree -- it is not just a case of stronger adhesion of the pollen and stronger beating of the insects' wings -- the pollen is contained in tubes and the wings vibrate in a special way (even if those special vibrations are used for other purposes, the insects still may need to evolve the instinct of using those vibrations when feeding on plants). And --as I said a zillion times already and got no answer -- even if the co-evolution of buzz pollination can be gradual, there is still the problem that even the gradual changes must initially exist in both the plants and the insects at the same time and place, and that is unlikely because beneficial mutations of any kind are rare.

You still haven't addressed the issue of the evolution of complex parasitic relationships. And anyway, what does all this have to do with evolution education in the public schools? As I said, there is no constitutional principle of separation of bad science and state. And I assert that under the endorsement test, even religious evolution disclaimers are constitutional because they reduce the appearance that teaching evolution expresses government hostility towards religion and because they make the fundies feel less like "political outsiders."

Thursday, August 07, 2008 6:19:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>>"Have you ever heard the expression, "oldies but goodies"?"

Larry, careful here -- you are scraping so close to the bottom of the barrel here that the next scoop is likely to be sawdust. <<<<<<

You should be careful -- you are showing your inability to perceive analogies. "Oldies but goodies" is a term used in the recording industry to mean that something can be both old and good. Under the Social Darwinism that you love so much, you may someday be euthanized to protect yourself and others from the consequences of your stupidity.

Thursday, August 07, 2008 6:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But it may be necessary to evolve an instinct for using the buzz behavior on plants."

It might be necessary but it might also have happened that some poor bee had a mutation that made it so that be buzzed all around the world and benefitted from buzzing by getting more pollen, and thus that particular trait was passed on. (This might be known as "survival of the fittest" or some such darwinist nonsense.) This trait might have become further refined when further mutations occurred that specialized buzzing behavior even more,* and then, a long time later we ended up with bugs that buzzed only while they were around a particular part of a flower and then sometime after that much the same process happened with the flowers because bees might had already developed the mechanism to buzz only around a particular part of a flower. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself here. We all know that it was designed intelligently, so none of that explanation matters. Nevermind.

*This happens by random chance, you see, then the good mutations get carried on, and the bad mutations get eliminated, and, oh gosh, here we are back at that completely perplexing "darwinist" concept of "survival of the fittest." See, this is how nature "chooses" (in quotes so you can tell that I'm anthropomorphising, not so that you think nature is intelligent) all by its very own self which mutations to keep and which to throw away. It's almost like nature is intelligent. . .but instead it's a natural process without a designer. How novel and strange and completely inexplicable. Oh, actually, I might have heard of this before. It might be called evolution

Thursday, August 07, 2008 11:55:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> It might be necessary but it might also have happened that some poor bee had a mutation that made it so that be buzzed all around the world and benefitted from buzzing by getting more pollen, and thus that particular trait was passed on. <<<<<<

Anonymous, are you arguing for or against co-evolvability of buzz pollination?

Friday, August 08, 2008 3:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Martian Buddy said...

Larry wrote: I didn't claim that these ideas were necessarily completely new -- some could be old ideas presented in new ways or with new evidence. Anyway, I don't care.

That's an awful lot of weasel words when you could just say "okay, they aren't new after all."

Larry wrote: Of course they "zeroed in" on it -- the more specific the co-dependent relationship, the harder it is to get a match.

You're still studiously ignoring the point that there are living examples of nonobligate forms.

Larry wrote: Bullshit -- it was never "shot down."

Anyone who reads the comments in that thread can see otherwise.

Larry wrote: But it may be necessary to evolve an instinct for using the buzz behavior on plants.

So? The point is that the mutations, contrary to your assertion, can happen in a stepwise fashion.

Larry wrote: And the coincidence that this buzzing and the muscles used in buzzing are used for other purposes is just a fluke -- so what is supposed to be a random process, evolution, is a collection of flukes.

I'm sure you've been told this a million times, but mutations are random - selection is not. The point with the buzzing and the muscles used in buzzing is that they are already present and performing other tasks, so the evolution of buzzing does not, as you assert, require entirely new structures - merely an adaptation of existing ones.

Larry wrote: Also, as I said, using buzz pollination on regular plants (I use the term "regular" because only about 8 percent of plants are the buzz-pollinated type) is likely to cause the pollen to be lost -- it is likely to either fall away or be scattered by the wind.

You're forgetting an important point:

"A relatively large amount of pollen can adhere to the bumblebee body because the bumblebee is larger and hairier than other bees. For example, about 5 times the amount of pollen can cling to a bumblebee than to a honeybee."

Larry wrote: It is called "Intelligent Design" to distinguish it from biblical creationism -- ID uses scientific observation and reasoning instead of religious sources.

Intelligent Design is based on the false dichotomy that there are only two kinds of causes: natural and "intelligent" - and anything that cannot be explained by natural causes must be the product of an intelligent agent. Both major ID arguments make this same claim. Dembski claims that only intelligence can create "Specified Complexity," and bases his "explanatory filter" on eliminating possible natural explanations to arrive at a conclusion of "design." Likewise, Behe's "Irreducible Complexity" argument is based on claiming that a given system like the blood clotting cascade or the bacterial flagellum is "designed" because there's no conceivable evolutionary pathway. They are both negative arguments (ie., arguments against evolution) and rely on perceived "gaps" in science to make their claims. Since ID has no model and no positive evidence to support it, it is scientifically vacuous; this is the reason why there are no peer-reviewed papers on ID or ID concepts in mainstream scientific journals.

(As a side note, Gish's co-evolution arguments are another example of the same thing, except that he actually said "Created" rather than the weasely substitution of "designed.")

Larry wrote: IMO the term is a bad choice because it implies the existence of a supernatural intelligent designer.

IMO, that's exactly why the IDists chose it.

Larry wrote: That statement in "Pandas" was not in the quote that I was referring to.

So? It shouldn't surprise you that the argument is there, seeing as how Behe wrote that half of the chapter.

Larry wrote: Good! That means that I found a new application for the concept of irreducible complexity.

It's an argument from ignorance, so you can "apply" it to anything simply by claiming that "evolution can't explain [fill in the blank.]"

Larry wrote: As I said, I am always willing to look at old ideas anew....

BAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

*gasp*

AHAHAHAHA!!!!!

*wheeze*

...that has to be the funniest thing I've read all day, after your comment in another thread that "no amount" of contradictory examples would change your mind.

Larry wrote: As I said a zillion times already, the co-evolution of buzz pollination cannot be gradual because the changes are of kind and not degree -- it is not just a case of stronger adhesion of the pollen and stronger beating of the insects' wings -- the pollen is contained in tubes and the wings vibrate in a special way (even if those special vibrations are used for other purposes, the insects still may need to evolve the instinct of using those vibrations when feeding on plants).

As you're so fond of observing, things do not become true merely by repetition. There is absolutely no merit to the claim that all those things must evolve at once. Buzzing provides benefits whether the flowers are adapted for it or not, therefore it can evolve seperately.

Larry wrote: And --as I said a zillion times already and got no answer -- even if the co-evolution of buzz pollination can be gradual, there is still the problem that even the gradual changes must initially exist in both the plants and the insects at the same time and place, and that is unlikely because beneficial mutations of any kind are rare.

You got an answer - it just wasn't the one you wanted. There's no valid reason for assuming that the mutations must be simultaneous.

Larry wrote: You still haven't addressed the issue of the evolution of complex parasitic relationships.

Like what?

Larry wrote: And anyway, what does all this have to do with evolution education in the public schools? As I said, there is no constitutional principle of separation of bad science and state.

There's no valid secular purpose for undermining the teaching of evolution by teaching bad science in school; the only reason to do so is to support sectarian beliefs in creationism. The so-called "weaknesses" of evolution that anti-evolution activists are trying to include in the curriculum are the same phony claims that Intelligent Design, Creation Science [sic], and creationism made before. Creationists fool no one by trying to claim that they're brand-new scientific criticisms.

Larry wrote: And I assert that under the endorsement test, even religious evolution disclaimers are constitutional because they reduce the appearance that teaching evolution expresses government hostility towards religion and because they make the fundies feel less like "political outsiders."

Assert it all you like, but the actual track record in the courts says otherwise.

Friday, August 08, 2008 7:53:00 AM  
Anonymous brossa said...

You continue to assert that buzzing has no benefit in the absence of buzz-adapted flowers, and therefore buzzing and buzz flowers had to appear simultaneously for either to survive. This assertion is wrong, as has been pointed out to you many times. Buzzing could have existed in bees for thousands or millions of years before flowers began to specialize in buzz-pollination.

But you know what? Even if buzzing and buzz-adapted flowers DID have to appear simultaneously in time and space, their existence on Earth proves that they did, despite the astronmical odds against it.

Let's take a modern example, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1991. A patient was noted to have epileptic seizures when she heard the sound of Mary Hart's voice (Hart was a television host on a national entertainment program). Consider the odds against such a situation occurring: one single human being out of five billion has a seizure disorder with the specific trigger of the sound of one other human being's voice. Had Mary Hart or the patient lived a few years apart, or if Hart hadn't become the host of a television program, or if the patient had never watched the program, or, or, or...

Before the event actually happened, the odds of picking two people at random from the world's population and showing that the voice of the first caused seizures in the second would have been essentially zero. After the event was shown to have happened, what does it 'prove'? Did there have to be an intelligent designer that created Mary Hart's voice and the patient's brain chemistry and then arrange for them both to live in the same time period in physical proximity?

Think of how many humans throughout history may have had Mary Hart's voice as an epileptic trigger, but never had seizures because they never heard her voice. Think about how many people may currently have the same vocal profile as Mary Hart, but never talked to the patient. And yet here they are, together in space and time.

Friday, August 08, 2008 7:55:00 AM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

Mary Hart's voice -> epilepsy

Brossa, that's an interesting anecdote. Do you have a link for it?

There must be some kind of resonance involved.

It got me to wondering what the basis for seizures is. Obviously maladaptive, yet fairly common, so they must be piggybacking some pathway having another, more useful function.

Friday, August 08, 2008 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

BTW, the hiccup in the former thread may have been caused by the change in state of the site meter. (Yeah, post hoc ergo propter hoc argument, fwiw.)

Friday, August 08, 2008 10:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous, are you arguing for or against co-evolvability of buzz pollination?"

I'm not really arguing for or against it, broadly. My point was that co-evolution, especially in this particular case may not actually be necessary to explain the empirical evidence. Also, that simply because things seem designed for one another does not necessarily indicate that they were actually designed for one another. Also that things that seem designed might happen by chance. (This is, in fact, a hallmark of evolutionary theory, which you seem not to understand.)

Friday, August 08, 2008 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Martian Buddy driveled,
>>>>>> That's an awful lot of weasel words when you could just say "okay, they aren't new after all." <<<<<<

As I said, I don't care whether they are new or not. Some may be new, some may be old, and some may be partly new. Your notion that ideas should be automatically dismissed just because they are old is just a cop-out. By that standard, Darwinism should be automatically dismissed.

>>>>>> You're still studiously ignoring the point that there are living examples of nonobligate forms. <<<<<<<

And you are studiously ignoring the point that the more specific the co-dependence, the more difficult it is for that co-dependence to evolve.

>>>>>>Larry wrote: Bullshit -- it was never "shot down."

Anyone who reads the comments in that thread can see otherwise <<<<<<<<

Any idiot can imagine otherwise.

>>>>>> So? The point is that the mutations, contrary to your assertion, can happen in a stepwise fashion. <<<<<<

I never said otherwise.

>>>>>> so the evolution of buzzing does not, as you assert, require entirely new structures - merely an adaptation of existing ones. <<<<<<

But it does involve the evolution of new behaviors. Also, the coincidence that this buzzing ability serves other purposes is just a fluke, and there must be an inordinate number of other flukes in evolution.

>>>>>>You're forgetting an important point:

"A relatively large amount of pollen can adhere to the bumblebee body because the bumblebee is larger and hairier than other bees. For example, about 5 times the amount of pollen can cling to a bumblebee than to a honeybee." <<<<<<

And you are forgetting an important point -- if buzzing is used on regular plants, the pollen is likely to drop away or be scattered by the wind because the pollen is not contained in tubes. I have pointed this out many times -- you make me repeat myself over and over again because you ignore my arguments and I am really getting sick of this.

>>>>>> Intelligent Design is based on the false dichotomy that there are only two kinds of causes: natural and "intelligent" - and anything that cannot be explained by natural causes must be the product of an intelligent agent. <<<<<<

Intelligent design and some other criticisms of evolution only try to identify things that evolution theory cannot explain by natural causes. In contrast, Darwinists blindly assume that there are no limits to random mutation's and natural selection's capabilities to produce change.

>>>>> As a side note, Gish's co-evolution arguments are another example of the same thing <<<<<<

As I said umpteen times already, my arguments against co-evolution do not depend on the co-dependent traits being intelligently designed or irreducibly complex.

>>>>>>Larry wrote: IMO the term is a bad choice because it implies the existence of a supernatural intelligent designer.

IMO, that's exactly why the IDists chose it. <<<<<<

What? They were trying to disassociate themselves from religion and they chose a term that they thought had religious connotations?

>>>>>>Larry wrote: That statement in "Pandas" was not in the quote that I was referring to.

So? It shouldn't surprise you that the argument is there, seeing as how Behe wrote that half of the chapter. <<<<<<<

What does that have to do with the fact that you accused me of ignoring something that was not in the quote that you presented? And you have still not provided one shred of evidence that Behe contributed anything to "Pandas," either directly or indirectly. Also, the 2nd and I presume most recent edition of "Pandas" was published in 1993 and Behe's first ID book, "Darwin's Black Box," was published in 1996.

>>>>>>Larry wrote: Good! That means that I found a new application for the concept of irreducible complexity.

It's an argument from ignorance, so you can "apply" it to anything simply by claiming that "evolution can't explain [fill in the blank.]" <<<<<<<

You consider anything that you disagree with to be an "argument from ignorance." And you presume that nothing could possibly be irreducibly complex. What an idiot.

>>>>>> ...that has to be the funniest thing I've read all day, after your comment in another thread that "no amount" of contradictory examples would change your mind. <<<<<<

Where did I say that, dunghill? And it may have been in a completely different context.

>>>>>> As you're so fond of observing, things do not become true merely by repetition. <<<<<<

Nor do they become false by repetition, as you seem to believe.

>>>>>Larry wrote: And --as I said a zillion times already and got no answer -- even if the co-evolution of buzz pollination can be gradual, there is still the problem that even the gradual changes must initially exist in both the plants and the insects at the same time and place, and that is unlikely because beneficial mutations of any kind are rare.

You got an answer - it just wasn't the one you wanted. There's no valid reason for assuming that the mutations must be simultaneous. <<<<<<

I just gave a reason in the my statement quoted above, and you did not counter this reason. Of course I don't want an answer that does not address the issue.

>>>>>Larry wrote: You still haven't addressed the issue of the evolution of complex parasitic relationships.

Like what? <<<<<<<

You lousy dunghill, you just claimed that my arguments in that post on parasitic relationships were "shot down" and now you say that you can't find those arguments.

>>>>>> There's no valid secular purpose for undermining the teaching of evolution by teaching bad science in school; the only reason to do so is to support sectarian beliefs in creationism. <<<<<<<

Some kinds of bad science -- e.g., alchemy -- are not associated with religion in any way. And teaching bad science does serve the secular purpose of teaching critical-thinking skills, something in which you are sorely lacking. BTW, that's another error in Kitzmiller v. Dover -- Judge Jones said,

Accepting for the sake of argument its proponents', as well as Defendants' argument that to introduce ID to students will encourage critical thinking, it still has utterly no place in a science curriculum.

But contrary to Jones' above statement, he did not accept for the sake of argument that claim of teaching critical thinking -- that claim is a secular purpose that is not a sham and only one such claim is needed to pass the purpose prong of the Lemon Test even if there are also religious purposes.

>>>>>> Assert it all you like, but the actual track record in the courts says otherwise. <<<<<<

The actual track record is that two rulings against evolution disclaimers, Selman v. Cobb County and Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish, came close to being reversed, and a third ruling against an evolution disclaimer, Kitzmiller v. Dover, is an unreviewed opinion of an arrogant crackpot judge.

Friday, August 08, 2008 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Brossa said,
>>>>>> Buzzing could have existed in bees for thousands or millions of years before flowers began to specialize in buzz-pollination. <<<<<<

But as I pointed out, the buzz-pollinating behavior could be detrimental if used on regular plants because the pollen could be lost by falling away or being blown away by the wind because the pollen is not contained in tubes.

I think it would be necessary to perform experiments to see how buzz-pollinating insects perform around buzz-pollinated and regular plants -- e.g., to see if they visit regular plants if buzz-pollinated plants are not available, to see the effect of buzzing on regular plants, etc..

>>>>>> But you know what? Even if buzzing and buzz-adapted flowers DID have to appear simultaneously in time and space, their existence on Earth proves that they did, despite the astronmical odds against it. <<<<<<

What? You are saying that there are astronomical odds against a relatively simple co-evolution, the co-evolution of buzz pollination? Then what are the odds against co-evolution of extremely complex parasitic relationships? What are the odds against an orchid mimicking the female sex pheromones of a single species of wasp?

Friday, August 08, 2008 1:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Martian Buddy said...

Larry wrote: As I said, I don't care whether they are new or not.

Which is good, since none of them are in fact new.

Larry wrote: Your notion that ideas should be automatically dismissed just because they are old is just a cop-out.

You're misrepresenting the argument; the point about the age of these claims is that they are simply creationist arguments where "creation" and "creator" have been changed to "design" and "designer" (or dropped entirely, in the case of the new "strengths and weaknesses of evolution" tactic.) The terminology changes, but the claims and the creationist motives for making them remain the same.

Larry wrote: And you are studiously ignoring the point that the more specific the co-dependence, the more difficult it is for that co-dependence to evolve.

I'm not "studiously ignoring" this point; I'm actively arguing that it's wrong.

Larry wrote: Any idiot can imagine otherwise.

Don't be so hard on yourself.

Larry wrote: But it does involve the evolution of new behaviors.

There's no magic law preventing behaviors from evolving.

Larry wrote: And you are forgetting an important point -- if buzzing is used on regular plants, the pollen is likely to drop away or be scattered by the wind because the pollen is not contained in tubes.

I'm not "forgetting" this; I'm actively arguing that it's wrong.

Larry wrote: Intelligent design and some other criticisms of evolution only try to identify things that evolution theory cannot explain by natural causes.

I do believe that was the point; IDists assume that if there's no evolutionary explanation for something (at least in their minds,) it must be the product of an unspecified intelligent designer. It's a false dichotomy, since "unknown" is always a possibility.

Larry wrote: In contrast, Darwinists blindly assume that there are no limits to random mutation's and natural selection's capabilities to produce change.

Nobody actually believes this, Larry. For example, if you tried to claim that hunting will lead to bullet-proof deer, biologists would laugh at you. What people keep trying to explain to you and the other anti-evolutionists is that the limits aren't where you think they are.

Larry wrote: As I said umpteen times already, my arguments against co-evolution do not depend on the co-dependent traits being intelligently designed or irreducibly complex.

Funny, because in your very last reply to me you said "Good! That means that I found a new application for the concept of irreducible complexity" in reference to your co-evolution argument.

Larry wrote: What? They were trying to disassociate themselves from religion and they chose a term that they thought had religious connotations?

Exactly. They picked a term that they knew creationists would be able to associate with creationism, but that they hoped would pass judicial scrutiny as being "non-religious." Too bad the judge wasn't fooled.

Larry wrote: And you have still not provided one shred of evidence that Behe contributed anything to "Pandas," either directly or indirectly.

Are you drunk or something? From this article:

"Behe contributed to 'Of Pandas and People,' writing a section about blood-clotting. He told a federal judge Monday that in the book, he made a scientific argument that blood-clotting 'is poorly explained by Darwinian processes but well explained by design.'"

He's also listed as a "critical reviewer" of "Pandas."

Larry wrote: Also, the 2nd and I presume most recent edition of "Pandas" was published in 1993 and Behe's first ID book, "Darwin's Black Box," was published in 1996.

So what? You were claiming that Irreducible Complexity doesn't appear in "Pandas."

Larry wrote: Where did I say that, dunghill? And it may have been in a completely different context.

In our prior discussion of mootness; I asked how many examples I'd have to post, and you said that no amount of examples would change your mind.

Larry wrote: Nor do they become false by repetition, as you seem to believe.

They were false to begin with and are still being repeated unchanged. Hence, "repetition doesn't make things true. Do I have to spell everything out?

Larry wrote: I just gave a reason in the my statement quoted above, and you did not counter this reason.

"You're wrong about the mutations having to be simultaneous" is a counterargument, you muppet.

Larry wrote: You lousy dunghill, you just claimed that my arguments in that post on parasitic relationships were "shot down" and now you say that you can't find those arguments.

We were talking about the wasp and orchid page you linked, remember? I don't seem to recall a single thing on that page about the wasps parasitizing the orchids, or vice-versa. So, yes, you'll have to tell me what parasitic relationship you're referring to.

Larry wrote: Some kinds of bad science -- e.g., alchemy -- are not associated with religion in any way.

Too bad creationism isn't one of those kinds of bad science, eh?

Larry wrote: And teaching bad science does serve the secular purpose of teaching critical-thinking skills....

Not when bad science (like ID) is taught as being equally valid or superior to good science (like evolution.)

Larry wrote: Accepting for the sake of argument its proponents', as well as Defendants' argument that to introduce ID to students will encourage critical thinking, it still has utterly no place in a science curriculum.

A conclusion he reached by determining that it was not science, but rather a religious argument masquerading as science. Hence, it belongs in a religion or philosophy class rather than a science class.

Stop quote-mining the judge, Larry.

Larry wrote: The actual track record....

Is two court wins and one settlement.

Friday, August 08, 2008 2:58:00 PM  
Anonymous brossa said...

>>>>I think it would be necessary to perform experiments to see how buzz-pollinating insects perform around buzz-pollinated and regular plants -- e.g., to see if they visit regular plants if buzz-pollinated plants are not available, to see the effect of buzzing on regular plants, etc..<<<<

Bumblebees most definitely visit regular plants, and even buzz them (Califonia poppy is just one example). Studying bumblebee foraging behavior is complicated by the fact that individual bees display a preference for certain flower types, and that preference changes with time as various flowers bloom. An individual bumblebee may spend up to 90% of its foraging time on a single plant species, even when there are other species of flowers available. But congratulations for presenting that as an idea.

>>>>What? You are saying that there are astronomical odds against a relatively simple co-evolution, the co-evolution of buzz pollination? Then what are the odds against co-evolution of extremely complex parasitic relationships? What are the odds against an orchid mimicking the female sex pheromones of a single species of wasp?<<<<

Way to focus on that one phrase while ignoring the rest of the post. You'll notice that I used the conditional IF to say that IF buzz pollinators and buzz pollinated flowers (tell you what, let's just call them 'buzz flowers' from now on to avoid all the awkward constructions) had to arise simultaneously (which I do not believe) as fully developed traits (which I do not believe), then yes, the odds would be remote. But even given that hypothetical scenario, the existence of buzz pollinators and buzz flowers today only shows that a rare event took place, not that a designer had to be involved.

That's why I brought up the Mary Hart case: here is an example, if you require one, of two unique traits (Mary Hart's voice and the patient's epilepsy threshold) that overlap in space and time. Calculate the odds of something like that happening ahead of time, and tell me what they are. Now tell me whether this proves the existence of an intelligent designer for the Mary Hart/patient pairing.

Friday, August 08, 2008 8:31:00 PM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

Now tell me whether this proves the existence of an intelligent designer for the Mary Hart/patient pairing.

Of course it does; he/she/it has lots of hobbies.

(Muffled sound of guffaw.)

Saturday, August 09, 2008 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Breaking News said...

The bug dam has burst.

(Note how unwilling Larry is to take "Bug!" for an answer!)

Friday, August 15, 2008 9:34:00 PM  

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