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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.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Darwinist runaround on definition of evolution theory

It appears that not so long ago there was a consensus that evolution theory consists of random mutation plus natural selection, often abbreviated RM + NS. The Discovery Institute's letter "A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism," introduced in 2001 and reaching over 700 signatures by 2007, describes evolution theory as just RM + NS:

"We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."

But then Darwinists objected to that definition because things like genetic drift and gene flow are not included, even though those things are random too. So to try to make the Darwinists happy, I started defining evolution as "random genetic variation" plus natural selection. But then Darwinists objected to that definition because their big hero Darwin did not know the mechanisms of genetic variation, so to try to make the Darwinists happy, I defined evolution as "hereditary changes" plus natural selection in order to be consistent with Darwin's original theory. But then Darwinists objected to that definition because it implies that there has been no progress in evolution theory since Darwin. And here is what Steven Schafersman, a real crackpot who is president of the Texas Citizens for Science and a blogger on the Houston Chronicle's new Evo.Sphere blog, wrote in response to this last definition of evolution theory:
.
You state, "Evolution theory has hardly changed at all since Darwin's time -- it still basically consists of just heritable changes plus natural selection, so I think it is appropriate to call it 'Darwinism.'" This is so totally erroneous that it is almost inconceivable to me that a literate, sapient individual would write this. I reject your statement unconditionally. But since it would take too much of my valuable time to explain it just to you, I won't bother. Just consult Wikipedia or a biology textbook or something.

He rejects my statement "unconditionally"? That means that he finds no truth in it at all, including my statement that natural selection is part of the definition of evolution theory.

Another example of bibliography bluffing: "Just consult Wikipedia or a biology textbook or something."

There is just no satisfying the Darwinists. They can just go to hell so far as I am concerned -- I am going to go back to using the old definition of RM + NS.

Trying to please the Darwinists is like that old Aesop's fable about the man, the boy, and the donkey.
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16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

'I am going to go back to using the old definition of RM + NS'

...and you'd still be just as wrong. You see, that's what you anti-evolutionists don't get - evolution has moved on that much since Darwin's time, and has become so complex that a simple definition (other than simply calling it 'evolution') is virtually impossible. Hell, even the original theory of evolution, as written by Darwin, wasn't exactly easy to accurately define in a few words.

Thursday, September 04, 2008 1:44:00 PM  
Blogger Nada Platonico said...

Larry wrote, ""We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.""

As Ed Brayton pointed out (I believe), every biologist in the US could affirm this statement given its inadequacies regarding contemporary evolutionary theory. If they didn't (and the vast majority have not), it's because they knew it was a political tool against modern evolutionary theory.

Larry wrote, "But since it would take too much of my valuable time to explain it just to you, I won't bother. Just consult Wikipedia or a biology textbook or something"

It's quite telling that you didn't consider his advice -- why not read a biology textbook if you want an accurate definition of modern evolutionary theory?

Thursday, September 04, 2008 2:46:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> 'I am going to go back to using the old definition of RM + NS'

...and you'd still be just as wrong. <<<<<<

Well, apparently you think that all definitions of evolution theory are wrong.

Anyway, I don't care whether the old definition is right or wrong. The problem is that I have been unable to come up with any new definition that is satisfactory to all or most people, so I figured that I might as well just go back to the old definition. The old definition is really not that bad -- it includes the idea of natural selection, which is supposed to be fundamental to all versions of evolution theory, and includes the idea of randomness of changes.

>>>>>>evolution has moved on that much since Darwin's time, and has become so complex that a simple definition (other than simply calling it 'evolution') is virtually impossible. <<<<<<

I disagree -- IMO the definition of evolution as consisting of random genetic or hereditary changes plus natural selection is pretty much a universal definition, but you seem to be saying that no definition of evolution would satisfy you, so there is no point in even trying to come up with a definition that would satisfy you.

Thursday, September 04, 2008 2:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, apparently you think that all definitions of evolution theory are wrong.

No, all the simple definitions are not entirely accurate. They may do, in a pinch, as quick and dirty ones, but they shouldn't be taken as full and accurate descriptions of evolution.

I disagree -- IMO the definition of evolution as consisting of random genetic or hereditary changes plus natural selection is pretty much a universal definition, but you seem to be saying that no definition of evolution would satisfy you, so there is no point in even trying to come up with a definition that would satisfy you.

No, you're entirely missing my point - it is virtually impossible to come up with an accurate and correct SIMPLE definition of evolution. This is why, for example, it took Darwin two entire books to fully explain and support the original theory of evolution, and evolution today is now actually far more complex and detailed than Darwin's original theory.

Thursday, September 04, 2008 4:28:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Nada Platonico:
>>>>>> As Ed Brayton pointed out (I believe), every biologist in the US could affirm this statement given its inadequacies regarding contemporary evolutionary theory. If they didn't (and the vast majority have not), it's because they knew it was a political tool against modern evolutionary theory. <<<<<<

Nada Platonico, the lousy troll who called me "moronic" because I did not know that Rutgers University has a campus in a town called New Brunwick, is back with more of his drivel.

Fatheaded Ed Brayton has no credibility because he routinely arbitrarily censors visitors' comments on his blogs.

Even if the DI's statement were meaningless, I could understand that Darwinists would not want to sign it, because if they signed in large numbers, the number of signatories would be greatly increased, which would tend to enhance the letter's credibility. But why couldn't just a few really prominent Darwinists -- e.g., Ken Miller, Sleazy PZ Myers, and Richard Dawkins -- sign it as a symbolic gesture? That would not significantly increase the number of signatories.

The National Center for Science Education's answer to the DI letter was "Project Steve." Here is the Project Steve letter for comparison:

Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the biological sciences, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry. Although there are legitimate debates about the patterns and processes of evolution, there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence. It is scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible for creationist pseudoscience, including but not limited to "intelligent design," to be introduced into the science curricula of our nation's public schools.

So the Project Steve letter says nothing about mutations, changes, variations, etc. -- it only says that "natural selection is a major mechanism" in the occurrence of evolution. IMO that's no good -- the statement leaves out a major cause of evolution.

>>>>>> It's quite telling that you didn't consider his advice <<<<<<

What is quite telling, bozo, is that bibliography bluffing is worthless. What would you say if I tried it, dunghill?

What a stupid idiot.

Thursday, September 04, 2008 9:25:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said (Thursday, September 04, 2008 4:28:00 PM) --
>>>>>>> No, you're entirely missing my point - it is virtually impossible to come up with an accurate and correct SIMPLE definition of evolution. <<<<<<<

If we can't even agree on a simple definition, then how in the hell are we going to agree on a complicated one?

You won't accept any of my simple definitions of evolution theory, nor are you proposing any of your own. I think that we can all agree that "natural selection" should be part of the definition, but what else should be added? I suggested "natural genetic variations." There are other possibilities using different combinations of the words "natural," "random," "genetic," "hereditary," "changes," "variations," etc.. And why must there be only one wording? Definitions of the same term in different dictionaries often have different wordings, and sometimes even have different meanings!

Also, though you Darwinists worship Darwin, you are opposed to definitions of evolution theory that attempt to express a common theme running through both modern evolution theory and Darwin's original theory -- e.g., "natural hereditary changes plus natural selection." Why is that?

Also, though you Darwinists worship Darwin, you not only object to the terms "Darwinism" and "Darwinist," but you also object to "neo-Darwinism," "Darwinian evolution," and "neo-Darwinian evolution." I can see why you might object to the term "Darwinism" -- it implies a "cult" or "philosophy," but "Darwinian" has little or no such implication. I would have stopped using "Darwinism" and "Darwinist" a long time ago if you Darwinists did not worship Darwin with "I love Darwin" knickknacks, "Friend of Darwin" certificates (handed out at a reunion of the Dover plaintiffs team), etc.. And keeping the same name does not mean that there has been no progress! Consider, for example, Fourier's Law, which is truly the fundamental concept underlying all of the analysis of heat conduction in solids (unlike a similar but false claim about evolution's relation to biology). I don't know if Fourier ever moved past the original one-dimensional steady-state form he proposed in 1822 (according to Wikipedia). But since then we have added a three-dimensional transient form that includes heat capacity as well as thermal conductivity, new predictions of the boundary conditions of convective and radiative heat transfer, new measurements of thermal properties, new mathematical solutions, analog computer simulations, digital computer solutions using discrete nodal models, new ways of measuring temperature and heat transfer, new theories of the mechanisms of heat conduction, and verification of Fourier's Law by means of experimental evidence. But the basic law is still called "Fourier's Law" !

Your problem is that you don't see the difference between basic principles -- e.g., Fourier's Law and evolution theory -- and the additional tools and knowledge that are used to apply those basic principles.

Friday, September 05, 2008 12:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we can't even agree on a simple definition, then how in the hell are we going to agree on a complicated one?

Are you really that dumb, or are you just acting like it? The whole point is that evolution is TOO COMPLEX to be accurately and completely covered by a SIMPLE definition. As I have already stated.

You won't accept any of my simple definitions of evolution theory, nor are you proposing any of your own.

Because it is virtually impossible to formulate a full and accurate one. Again, as I have already stated.

Oh, and I'll ignore the rest of your screed, as it seems utterly irrelevant.

Friday, September 05, 2008 12:19:00 PM  
Anonymous jim said...

>Another example of bibliography bluffing: "Just consult Wikipedia or a biology textbook or something."<

You consider Wikipedia "bibliography bluffing?" I'd say he was doing you a favor by trying to direct you to a dumbed down source of information as a starting point.

Directing an obviously INCREDIBLY ignorant person to sources of information and encouraging them to use it isn't bluffing, it's politely telling you you're an idiot.

Friday, September 05, 2008 6:04:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Jim barfed,
>>>>>> You consider Wikipedia "bibliography bluffing?" I'd say he was doing you a favor by trying to direct you to a dumbed down source of information as a starting point. <<<<<<

You stupid ignoramus, Wickedpedia is considered to be so unreliable that many schools and teachers do not accept it as a reference in student papers -- in fact, at least one school district has blocked access to Wickedpedia on all the district's computers.

That idiot Steve Schafersman didn't like my definition of evolution theory but he did not propose an alternative.

Friday, September 05, 2008 6:48:00 PM  
Anonymous jim said...

>That idiot Steve Schafersman didn't like my definition of evolution theory but he did not propose an alternative.<

That's because normal people don't make up their own definitions of things, they use the proper ones that are used in the field of interest. Hence, the constant requests that you read the relevant literature.

Friday, September 05, 2008 9:41:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>> That's because normal people don't make up their own definitions of things, they use the proper ones that are used in the field of interest. <<<<<<<

Often a lot of different definitions are given by references, so which definition is the best one can be a topic of debate.

>>>>>> Hence, the constant requests that you read the relevant literature. <<<<<<

That's called "bibliography bluffing."

Saturday, September 06, 2008 12:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's called "bibliography bluffing."

So you honestly think that people should spend their time personally explaining things that are explained perfectly adequately elsewhere, instead of telling you where to go look for that explanation? You do realise that the whole purpose for the existence of things like biology textbooks and scientific papers are so that people can read them? I ask, as you seem to think they're just written for the purpose of fobbing people off.

Sunday, September 07, 2008 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> So you honestly think that people should spend their time personally explaining things that are explained perfectly adequately elsewhere, instead of telling you where to go look for that explanation? <<<<<<

This is not a matter of explaining things -- this is a matter of simple definitions. If we allow different books, articles, and people to all have different definitions of "evolution theory," the result will be chaos.

I defined "evolution theory" -- particularly "Darwinian" or "neo-Darwinian" evolution theory -- as consisting of natural selection plus (1) random genetic variation, or (2) natural genetic variation, or (3) natural hereditary changes, or something like that. You have not explained what is wrong with those proposed definitions.

Darwinists' refusal to define evolution theory is a sure sign that the theory is going down the tubes.

Sunday, September 07, 2008 6:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is not a matter of explaining things -- this is a matter of simple definitions. If we allow different books, articles, and people to all have different definitions of "evolution theory," the result will be chaos.

Science books, science articles, and scientists all have the same definition of 'evolution' - it's just not a simple definition.

I defined "evolution theory" -- particularly "Darwinian" or "neo-Darwinian" evolution theory -- as consisting of natural selection plus (1) random genetic variation, or (2) natural genetic variation, or (3) natural hereditary changes, or something like that. You have not explained what is wrong with those proposed definitions.

No, because YOU covered that in your original blog post.

Darwinists' refusal to define evolution theory is a sure sign that the theory is going down the tubes.

Wow. You still don't get it, despite the fact it's practically been explained to you in words of one syllable. Twice. The issue is NOT agreeing on a definition of evolution, it's agreeing on a SIMPLE definition of evolution, as the information you have to include in any full and accurate definition of evolution is too much to be covered in just a few words.

Monday, September 08, 2008 3:57:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>>Science books, science articles, and scientists all have the same definition of 'evolution' - it's just not a simple definition. <<<<<<<

As the saying goes, don't feed the trolls.

Monday, September 08, 2008 4:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the saying goes, don't feed the trolls.

Erm, what? The simple fact of the matter is that everyone who actually knows what they're talking about all use the same definition of 'evolution' - it is simply the case it isn't one that can be covered fully and accurately in a few words. Indeed, if you had done as Steven Schafersman asked you to, you would have been given the definition in question, and, unless you are a complete idiot, you would have realised this for yourself. Mind you, quite frankly, your posts so far seem to indicate you actually are a complete idiot, so maybe you wouldn't.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008 11:09:00 AM  

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