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Friday, August 29, 2008

Is evolution theory important in medical research, or not?

Darwinists often talk about the great importance of evolution theory in medical research. About how medical advances are among the greatest spinoffs of the theory. And that Darwin doubters ought to be denied medical treatment.

Now a Darwinist is trying to excuse the paucity of Nobel medicine/physiology prizes awarded for work in evolution by pointing out that there is no Nobel prize category expressly for the field of "biology." A book review that Norman Levitt wrote about Steve Fuller's book Science v. Religion: Intelligent Design and the Problem of Evolution says,

Fuller complacently views the ascendancy of evolutionary thought as a “rhetorical” rather than a “scientific” development. His principal evidence? The paucity of Nobel Prizes awarded for work on evolution! Of course, he never pauses to consider that under the idiosyncratic organization of the Nobel awards, there is no prize for biology as such. Biologists are smuggled in under the “Medicine and Physiology” category, which is just expansive enough to accommodate ethologists like Lorenz or Tinbergen, but not hard-core evolutionary theorists.

I don't want excuses. Is evolution theory important in medical research, or not? It looks like the answer is no.

The above quote from the book review is also in an article in Panda's Thumb.

BTW, the heading of the book review has an error -- Rutgers Univ. is in New Jersey, not New Brunswick. A campus of Rutgers is in a town named New Brunswick in New Jersey. However, people not familiar with Rutgers might be misled into thinking that it is in the Canadian province of New Brunswick.

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36 Comments:

Anonymous brossa said...

1) Development of antibiotic resistance.

2) Development of antiviral resistance.

3) Tumorgenesis

4) Chemotherapy resistance

5) Vaccine creation

Friday, August 29, 2008 8:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Art said...

New Brunswick is in New Jersey.

Also, the fundamental premise that has underscored basic NIH-funded research for as long as it has been is that the common ancestry of all life makes relevant the deep understanding of tractable model systems. Take away evolution, and the justification (and relevance, and utility) for most basic NIH-funded research evaporates.

Friday, August 29, 2008 9:17:00 PM  
Blogger Nada Platonico said...

Like Art noted earlier, New Brunswick is in New Jersey. Also, Rutgers has at least two campuses (campi, if you prefer), making the New Brunswick designation necessary. Just like UCLA vs. UCSD or UC-Riverside. They're all "University of California," but in different cities.

Friday, August 29, 2008 9:52:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

brossa said...
>>>>>>
1) Development of antibiotic resistance.
2) Development of antiviral resistance.
3) Tumorgenesis
4) Chemotherapy resistance
5) Vaccine creation
<<<<<<<

That's all microevolution -- everyone accepts microevolution.

Art said,

>>>>>> Also, the fundamental premise that has underscored basic NIH-funded research for as long as it has been is that the common ancestry of all life makes relevant the deep understanding of tractable model systems. <<<<<<

Norman Levitt did not deny that few Nobel prizes in medicine/physiology have been for work in evolution.

Nada Platonico said...

>>>>>> Like Art noted earlier, New Brunswick is in New Jersey. Also, Rutgers has at least two campuses (campi, if you prefer), making the New Brunswick designation necessary. Just like UCLA vs. UCSD or UC-Riverside. They're all "University of California," but in different cities. <<<<<<

The name "University of California" is self-explanatory, and many of the cities that the UC campuses are named for are well-known internationally.

Rutgers Univ. is fairly well known, but some people might not be aware that it is the state university of New Jersey. New Brunswick, NJ is not a well-known town, and New Brunswick is also a Canadian province, so some confusion might result.

There is also a California University, California. The full name and location are California University of Pennsylvania, California, Pennsylvania.

Friday, August 29, 2008 11:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Art said...

Hi Larry,

My comment was in response to your statement "I don't want excuses. Is evolution theory important in medical research, or not? It looks like the answer is no."

The answer is most definitely yes, as I explained. Someone who approaches any biomedical research without reliance, explicitly or implicitly, on an evolutionary foundation is wasting their time and deluding themselves. Someone who argues (as antievolutionists are wont to) that evolution has no relevance to biomedical research is quite frankly ignorant of the long history of biomedical research, and of the innumerable ways that evolution weaves itself into the basic research enterprise.

That's just the way things are. It seems almost silly to try and argue otherwise.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 7:16:00 AM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"That's all microevolution -- everyone accepts microevolution."

It depends on your perspective. If you're "micro" yourself to begin with, these seemingly slight changes that have the effect of overthrowing your basic physiology will look mighty "macro" to you.

You and I are omnivores and can choose to eat something else at a moment's notice. But it took the E. colis over 30,000 generations to accomplish the feat of being able to metabolize citrate. 30,000 generations ago, humans were but pre-human. The E. Coli change is likely as significant to them.

On the other hand, all of the breeds of dogs diverged from wolves only 15,000 years ago (probably 15,000 wolf generations).

The supposed distinction between "micro-" and "macro-" evolution is simply a failure of perspective. Colloquially, it is "can't see the forest for the trees".

Saturday, August 30, 2008 9:40:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Art said,
>>>>>> Someone who argues (as antievolutionists are wont to) that evolution has no relevance to biomedical research is quite frankly ignorant of the long history of biomedical research, and of the innumerable ways that evolution weaves itself into the basic research enterprise. <<<<<<

IMO you should take up that issue with Levitt and Fuller. Basically, I was commenting on the irony that Darwinists are always talking about the importance of evolution in medical research and then Darwinist Norman Levitt does not dispute the claim that there is a paucity of Nobel medicine/physiology prizes for work in evolution.

'Nonymous said,
>>>>>> The supposed distinction between "micro-" and "macro-" evolution is simply a failure of perspective. Colloquially, it is "can't see the forest for the trees". <<<<<

Many Darwinists accept the distinction between micro- and macro-evolution. The fact that the boundary of the distinction may be vague does not mean that the distinction does not exist. Anyway, the issue of micro-evolution v. macro-evolution is not raised in my above quote from the book review.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Nada Platonico said...

Larry wrote, Rutgers Univ. is fairly well known, but some people might not be aware that it is the state university of New Jersey. New Brunswick, NJ is not a well-known town, and New Brunswick is also a Canadian province, so some confusion might result.

Maybe they assumed their audience would know. New Brunswick is known as being the campus of Rutgers. Rutgers is not known for being in Canada. Only a moron like you could get confused.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

I say the evolutionary hypothesis is not important to medical research...Here is another book review by by Jerry Coyne who is a staunch evolutionist and anti-creationist. The review was on a book called; "The Evolving World: Evolution in Everyday Life."

"To some extent these excesses are not Mindell’s fault, for, if truth be told, evolution hasn’t yielded many practical or commercial benefits. Yes, bacteria evolve drug resistance, and yes, we must take countermeasures, but beyond that there is not much to say. Evolution cannot help us predict what new vaccines to manufacture because microbes evolve unpredictably."

Saturday, August 30, 2008 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Nada Platonico barfed,
>>>>>> Maybe they assumed their audience would know. New Brunswick is known as being the campus of Rutgers. Rutgers is not known for being in Canada. Only a moron like you could get confused. <<<<<<

You no-good, stinking, rotten, despicable, stupid, idiotic dunghill, New Brunswick is much better known as being a Canadian province. A lot of people are not aware that Rutgers is the state university of New Jersey (so far as I know it is the only principal state university that bears a name other than the names of the state and the location). A lot of people are not aware that a campus of Rutgers is located in a town called New Brunswick. To me, Rutgers is just Rutgers. There are about 50 state universities in the USA and many have several campuses and a lot of the locations of the campuses are unknown to most people. Even if I had known that a Rutgers campus was located in a town named New Brunswick, I still would have pointed out that there was a possibility of confusion. And though Rutgers is fairly well known in the USA, I presume that it is not well-known in a lot of foreign countries -- it is just one of many state universities.

There are a lot of things that you don't know, dunghill. You are just playing one-upmanship here.

You lousy Darwinists are always insulting people who make mistakes and you are opposed to any kind of clarification, which are big reasons why you are losing influence among the general public. The status of being scientists, teachers, and judges will carry Darwinists only so far.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 1:37:00 PM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"The fact that the boundary of the distinction may be vague does not mean that the distinction does not exist."

Well, let's see -- perhaps "macro-evolution" refers to horses changing into eagles, or elephants into sharks?

But let me not put words into your mouth -- please tell us (in 200 words or less) what is the "distinction"?

Saturday, August 30, 2008 1:59:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Nada Platonico, you lousy sack of #$@$%, from now on, every time you post here I am going to throw that stupid comment back in your face. I am just not going to tolerate that kind of crap.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 2:31:00 PM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"Maybe they assumed their audience would know."

Undoubtedly. As it happened, I did not know.

"New Brunswick is known as being the campus of Rutgers."

NB is a campus, one of three Rutgers campuses. I did not know there was a city named New Brunswick in NJ.

"Rutgers is not known for being in Canada."

I agree. If someone had asked me "What state is Rutgers in?", I might have guessed New Jersey. 50% odds. I certainly would not have thought it was in Canada.

"Only a moron like you could get confused."

Larry, where you stepped in it was not bothering to check before assuming it was wrong. The facts can be trivially verified by visiting rutgers.edu website, but I guess not if you have a chip on your shoulder.

BTW, I read Levitt's review. Pretty good IMO. You seem to have missed the point of the excerpt you quoted, though.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 3:03:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

The prominent evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky defined microevolution, in the 1950's, as evolutionary change which can be observed in one person's lifetime. He thus distinguished it form macroevolution, a term which he also used. Darwinist biologists have thus been using the two terms for decades.

Do you want me to have to go and look it up for you? Darwinist trolls rarely know what they are talking about.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 3:20:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

You lousy trolls have blown this Rutgers thing way out of proportion. This is going to come back to haunt you. I am not going to let you forget it. Ever.

One of my cousins once taught at Rutgers. That's how I knew about Rutgers and knew that it is in New Jersey.

>>>>> If someone had asked me "What state is Rutgers in?", I might have guessed New Jersey. 50% odds. I certainly would not have thought it was in Canada. <<<<<<

Why not? If you weren't sure where it is, why would you have been certain that it is not in Canada?

>>>>>> Larry, where you stepped in it was not bothering to check before assuming it was wrong. <<<<<<

It didn't occur to me that there might be a town named New Brunswick in New Jersey, bozo, and even if it had occurred to me, there is a strong probability that others falsely assumed that Rutgers is in New Brunswick, Canada, and people like you, who unlike me did not know that Rutgers is in New Jersey, would be especially prone to making that mistake. It's like saying, California University, California -- it's in Pennsylvania in a town named "California."

>>>>>> BTW, I read Levitt's review. Pretty good IMO. You seem to have missed the point of the excerpt you quoted, though. <<<<<<

Of course I "missed the point," because the point I got is a point that Levitt did not want me to get, and that point is that the paucity of Nobel medicine/physiology prizes for work in evolution is contrary to the frequent Darwinist claim that evolution is very important in medical research.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 3:57:00 PM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"If you weren't sure where it is, why would you have been certain that it is not in Canada?"

I was also certain it is not in Kazakhstan, or Zambia, or even New Zealand.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 4:31:00 PM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"paucity of Nobel medicine/physiology prizes for work in evolution"

Perhaps this is because a major goal of medicine is to prevent natural selection from occurring.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 4:45:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

Horses into eagles?!? I don't think so, Darwin-worshippers. But fish to amphibians to reptiles to mammals, is macroevolution. Dobzhansky:

"Experience shows, however, that there is no way toward understanding of the mechanisms of macroevolutionary changes, which require time on geological timescales, other than through understanding of microevolutionary processes observable within the span of a human lifetime, often controlled by man's will, and sometimes reproducible in laboratory experiments.

Many authors believe that microevolutionary changes are different in principle from macroevolutionary ones, and that while the former can be understood in terms of the known genetic agents (mutation, selection, genetic drift), the latter involve forces that are expermentally unknown or only dimly discerned."

(Theodosius Dobzhansky, Genetics and the Origin of Species, 1964 paperback, p.16. Earlier editions dated back to 1937.)

Dobzhansky, unlike the "many authors" who thought otherwise, simply assumed that, gee, we can extrapolate wildly and maintain that microevolution and macroevolution are due to the same causes.

Incidentally, I believe that fish did eventually turn into amphibians, amphibians into reptiles, reptiles into mammals etc., (for any Darwin-lovers who are still unable to grasp what my views are.) So does Behe. But niether of us ascribes these macroevolutionary transformations to Darwinist causes. Get it, at least slightly?

Saturday, August 30, 2008 4:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

<<< This is going to come back to haunt you. >>>

Your raison d'être. Are you celebrating?

Saturday, August 30, 2008 4:53:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

The Darwin-buffs should also learn, some day, that microevolution by accidental variations and natural selection, was understood long before Darwin. Apparently James Hutton was the first to write about it, in 1794; although he didn't use the phrase "natural selection."

Early 19th century biologists understood changes due to what we now call "Darwinist mechanisms," but didn't believe that they gave rise to new species. That wasn't because they "banged the Bible," but because the fossil record showed nothing very consistent with gradual evolution; and for other scientific reasons. So they were generally "old earth creationists."

Credit for the discovery of microevolution by random variations and natural selection, which applies to bacterial resistance to drugs, thus belongs to the pre-Darwin creationist biologists, not to the Darwinists.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 4:59:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Jim Sherwood said (Saturday, August 30, 2008 3:20:00 PM) --
>>>>>>> The prominent evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky defined microevolution, in the 1950's, as evolutionary change which can be observed in one person's lifetime. <<<<<

Well, that sounds to me like a really arbitrary definition, and I don't think it is a common one.

Anyway, the micro- v. macro-evolution issue has nothing to do with my above criticism of Levitt's book review. Levitt tried to excuse the paucity of Nobel prizes for evolution work by pointing out that there is no specific prize for biology and that the only related prize is for medicine/physiology, and I said that is no excuse because Darwinists are always claiming that evolution is very important in medical research.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 5:08:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

Dobzhansky's definition may or may not be commonly used, but my point is that Darwinist biologists have long distinguished between microevolution and macroevolution. I believe that many Darwinists are now spreading the phoney claim that the distinction was dreamed up by intelligent design proponents, or else by creationists, for their own purposes.

Microevolution by random mutations and natural selection has practical applications; but it is accepted by everyone, even by creationists. Since any sort of macroevolution would occur much too slowly, it can hardly have any practical applications.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 5:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Hector said...

"The name "University of California" is self-explanatory"

As is Rutgers

"and many of the cities that the UC campuses are named for are well-known internationally"

Like Irvine, Davis, and Merced!

"Your abusive language reflects your desperation."

"The reason why you got so abusive is ..."

"Nada Platonico, you lousy sack of #$@$%, from now on, every time you post here I am going to throw that stupid comment back in your face. I am just not going to tolerate that kind of crap."

Saturday, August 30, 2008 7:12:00 PM  
Blogger Nada Platonico said...

Larry wrote, Nada Platonico, you lousy sack of #$@$%, from now on, every time you post here I am going to throw that stupid comment back in your face. I am just not going to tolerate that kind of crap.

Specifically which comment are you referring to? When I read your reply it seemed that you were answering 'nonymous, given your previous post addressed my comment.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 9:28:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

:>>>>> Specifically which comment are you referring to? <<<<<<

You know which comment, you lousy dunghill.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 9:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Art said...

Jim Sherwood, you don't think that the development of nitrogen-fixing grasses, guided by an understanding of how the process evolved in legumes, would be of any practical significance?

Sunday, August 31, 2008 5:54:00 AM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

Please, no nitrogen-fixing crabgrass! :-}

Sunday, August 31, 2008 9:44:00 AM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

I didn't mean the joke to derail Art's question, which is a good one albeit off-topic -- i.e., agricultural, not medical.

BTW, had the Nobel prizes existed in Darwin's day, he likely would have won in the medicine / physiology category. Should have anyway.

Sunday, August 31, 2008 3:53:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

'Nonymous said...

>>>>>> BTW, had the Nobel prizes existed in Darwin's day, he likely would have won in the medicine / physiology category. Should have anyway. <<<<<<

Well, Darwin, unlike many other prominent British scientists, was not knighted and/or lorded.

Sunday, August 31, 2008 4:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Art said...

Oh yeah, we're talking medicine.

Well, maybe Jim and Larry are of the opinion that treatment of malaria is of little consequence or importance for the health science enterprise.

(Yes, people, new treatments of malaria are firmly grounded in, and derive from, the macroevolutionary precept that Plasmodium and plants share a common ancestry. A precept firmly rooted in experimental testing.)

As for the matter of Nobel Prizes, beyond the fact that they are not granted posthumously, it pays to remember that they are given once per year. The importance of a field of biological study cannot be measured by these prizes, since the sample size is far too small. (Hmmm..., math, something antievolutionists are averse to. Maybe I shouldn't be going there.)

Oh yeah, by Larry's standard, abiogenesis is both far more important and far better established than ID. (Can we say Altman and Cech?)

Sunday, August 31, 2008 5:50:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Art said,
>>>>> new treatments of malaria are firmly grounded in, and derive from, the macroevolutionary precept that Plasmodium and plants share a common ancestry <<<<<<<

Maybe that is just another way of saying that Plasmodium and plants are closely related genetically.

Anyway, as I said, the main point of my post is this: Norman Levitt tried to excuse the paucity of Nobel prizes in evolution by pointing out that there is no prize specifically for biology and that the only prize for a related field is in medicine/physiology, and I said that is no excuse because Darwinists are always claiming that evolution is very important in medical research.

>>>>>> The importance of a field of biological study cannot be measured by these prizes, since the sample size is far too small. <<<<<<

Levitt did not say that -- I was only responding to what Levitt said. Anyway, maybe if evolution were really important in medical research, we would be seeing more Nobel prizes for work in evolution than we are seeing.

Sunday, August 31, 2008 8:59:00 PM  
Blogger Nada Platonico said...

Larry wrote... well, a lot of nonsense, gibberish, and insults...

Anyway, go to wikipedia and type in Rutgers. When you get to the Rutgers page, it says: Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

A lot of non-intellectual (or anti-intellectual, as is Larry) people know that Rutgers is out east, if not in New Jersey, as their football team had a very good year last year. It's obvious that they aren't in Canada, as no Canadian university plays football with American universities (probably because they play Canadian football, which has a larger field, more players, and some substantially different rules). It's not my fault you put your ignorance on display (again).

Monday, September 01, 2008 9:24:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Nada barfed,
>>>>>>go to wikipedia and type in Rutgers. When you get to the Rutgers page, it says: Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. <<<<<<

Bozo, people make mistakes because they don't realize that they are making mistakes and don't know why they are making mistakes. Duh. Your mistake of assuming that everyone knows that a campus of Rutgers U. is in a town called New Brunswick was a really big mistake.

Look at the amount of space you lousy trolls have wasted here over a minor misconception on my part -- and in any case I was correct in pointing out that just saying that Rutgers is in New Brunswick could be misinterpreted. This is one-upmanship. You are harping on this trivial error because you have little or nothing worthwhile to say. You lousy trolls are just angry because I am always kicking your butts through the goalposts. And you lousy trolls are just jealous because you don't have the diligence or the brains to run a blog.

Nada means "nothing" in Spanish and that perfectly describes your mind -- nothing.

Monday, September 01, 2008 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"by Larry's standard, abiogenesis is both far more important and far better established than ID. (Can we say Altman and Cech?)"

It also meets the criterion of "medical", but got filed under a different category (chemistry):

In addition to this conceptual influence on basic natural sciences, the discovery of catalytic RNA will probably provide a new tool for gene technology, with potential to create a new defence against viral infections.

(Emphasis added.)

Monday, September 01, 2008 12:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Art said...

"Maybe that is just another way of saying that Plasmodium and plants are closely related genetically."

By this standard, humans and chimps are identical twins.

Which would mean that their common ancestry is the tiniest, most inconsequential of microevolutionary matters.

Fact is, the common ancestry of plants and Plasmodium is a macroevolutionary matter, by any standard. Which means that any technology (such as antimalarials) developed with this as a basis speaks plainly as to the medical importance of macroevolutionary mechanisms, and research into the same.

Which pretty clearly dispels Larry's ever-more-strained and incorrect arguments in this thread.

Monday, September 01, 2008 8:44:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Art said...
>>>>>> "Maybe that is just another way of saying that Plasmodium and plants are closely related genetically."

By this standard, humans and chimps are identical twins. <<<<<<

Well, they are pretty close to being identical twins, aren't they? Aren't humans and chimps supposed to have DNA that is 98% the same?

>>>>>> Which would mean that their common ancestry is the tiniest, most inconsequential of microevolutionary matters. <<<<<<

What? The difference between humans and chimps is microevolutionary?

>>>>>>> Fact is, the common ancestry of plants and Plasmodium is a macroevolutionary matter, by any standard. <<<<<<<

Instead of being viewed as something that is probably true, why can't evolution theory be viewed as just a sort of imaginary or hokey idea that helps biologists organize and conceptualize the relationships between organisms? An idea that is wholly or partly untrue can nonetheless be useful, and one can use an idea even while being skeptical about it. For example, in engineering, (1) complex-plane vectors are used to analyze AC circuits and (2) rotating cylinder aerodynamics are used to analyze fixed-wing airfoil aerodynamics by means of the Joukowski transformation of conformal mapping, even though these engineering analysis methods are not intuitively correct.

>>>>>> Which pretty clearly dispels Larry's ever-more-strained and incorrect arguments in this thread. <<<<<<

Wrong. Also, the purpose of my original post was just to comment about that excerpt from Levitt's review of Fuller's book, and you haven't shown or even tried to show that there is anything wrong with my original comment about that excerpt.

Monday, September 01, 2008 10:36:00 PM  

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