Commentary on the so-called Creation/Evolution/Intelligent Design Debate and Right-Wing nuttery in general - and please ignore the typos (I make lots!)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

No, Fred Williams, the obsession is yours

Fred Williams is yet another biblical literalist nut case with a background in electrical engineering who has convinced himself that he knows more about evolution than he really does.

Like most internet creationists, he is very dishonest and deceptive and relies on discussion board control and insults to 'win' "debates".

At his joke of a "discussion" board*, fellow creationist computer dude "Crevo" aka "JohnnyB" aka John Bartlett informs Fred that I am using 'bad reasoning' and 'bloviating' here about Haldane's "dilemma".

Williams replies:

This is of course not at all surprising. I believe he recognizes just how damaging Haldane's Dilemma is to his religion of evolution, and why he seems so obsessed with this issue, that especially hits home for him since it's related (somewhat) to his area of expertise. I'm sure he'll be fighting against Haldane's Dilemma with the same lame arguments until the day he dies.

This is a prime example fo the dishonesty and sheer denseness of the creationist.
Williams, like ReMine, like Bartlett, like every other creationist that uses ReMine's baseless claims, could not provide a single piece of evidence that ReMine's application of Haldane' model was problematic for evolution, either. Like all such mantra spewers, he just yammered on that it really was a problem.

Oh - and what was my "bad reasoning"? Why, it was asking the creationist to actually explain why "Haldane's dilemma" as per ReMine IS a "dilemma" for evolution! Imagine that - asking creationists to actually support thier claims! How crazy of me.
At least 40 million mutations to produce obligate bipedalism, indeed... Stick to computer programming, Bartlett!

These folks are prime examples of what I call the Kruger/Dunning effect:

People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it.

*Williams essentially bans all the evolutionists, thus making it appear as if the creationists have the upper hand.

"Crevo" yuks up ReMine... again

Creationist computer programmer John Bartlett, aka 'Crevo', has again written in praise of electrical engineer creationist Walter ReMine. This time, he gives a rough overview of ReMine's creationist paper, "Cost theory and the cost of substitution—a clarification," published in the Answers in Genesis ministry's "Technical Journal" (TJ 19(1) 2005). I've read ReMine's paper. It is typical ReMine - simplistic and self-serving. It does provide some clear definitions and explanations of potentially complicated issues, I will grant him that. However, like all of ReMine's work - and all of the accolade-ridden supporting articles written by lay creationists like Crevo - its 'anti-evolution' conclusions rest on very simple, but unwarranted, assumptions.
I will comment on these later, but first, I just want to take a look at Crevo's blog post regarding this paper.

These two sentences:

For instance, the basic cost is the cost of replacement. In order for the next generation to have the same population as the current one, the minimum cost is for each member of the previous generation to have exactly one offspring.

demonstrate nicely why this whole issue is a non-issue. The sentences again, with emphasis:

For instance, the basic cost is the cost of replacement. In order for the next generation to have the same population as the current one, the minimum cost is for each member of the previous generation to have exactly one offspring.

Why would the next generation have to have the 'same population' (i.e., same population size) as the previous? Is this a requirement of evolution?
Answer: There is no reason that subsequent populations need to have the same nubers as the previous. And there is no such requirement in evolution.

Haldane's original formulations, which are the basis for ReMine's "one big thing", utilized the concept of a constant population size, primarily for mathematical purposes. In real life, population sizes fluctuate, and are not set at some predetermined optimum. They can grow and shrink as warranted by any number of external (or internal) influences, such as food supply, predator/prey relationships, etc. (all of which ReMine purposefully* and conveniently ignores in his paper), and essentially by definition, after a speciation event, a population will almost certainly get larger. Yet this growth will only incur a "cost" if, and only if, getting back to some predetermined population size is a goal.

Crevo goes on:

In this model, substitution to fixity can occur in a single generatiton, provided all of the original-type members die off in one she-bang. But that leaves a new problem -- the population size is now very small, so the chances of a beneficial mutation occurring are much, much less.

Interesting. As written, it comes across as though all critters lacking the beneficial allele are suddenly struck down. Could not the non-beneficial allele possessers die off gradually? And why would the occurrance of a new beneficial allele be relevant at all?
Well, it wouldn't, but creationists like to toss in as many 'anti-evolution' buzzwords as they can.

For example, let's say that you have a population of a million. One of them comes in with a novel mutation. Let's consider a scenario. Let's say that all of the original population dies off, and only a few organisms remain, one of which is the one carrying the novel trait. That trait can reach fixity very quickly. However, it is now a million times less likely for a given new novel trait to emerge (beneficial or otherwise). Therefore, while this particular trait was able to come to fixity quickly, it slows down the ability for another novel trait to enter the population. If on the other hand you keep most of your original-type, you have a better chance of getting new traits, but it requires a much larger cost to achieve fixity.

Non-sequitur upon red herring. Why the impetus for a "new novel trait"? Besides the double positive ('novel' means 'new'), what is the relevance? There is none. If there were a reason that most of a million-member population died off leaving only those with an allele that allows them to survive, those survivors HAVE the 'new novel trait' that allowed them to survive and reproduce, making them the most fit individuals. ANY offspring they have will add to the population. Is that a 'cost'? Or is 'cost', as used here, just a buzzword with a negative connotation?
Further, there seems to be an unwritten assumption in Crevo's essay that a particular number, or at least a particular rate, of 'new novel traits' must be produced if evolution is to be accepted. I see no reason whatsoever that such a tenet be inferred, much less required, of evolution. As best I can tell, evolution is not predicated on some particular rate of 'new novel trait' production, or beneficial mutation production. These are just confabulations.

I will be discussing ReMine's paper in a subsequent posting.

*From the abstract, emphases mine:

"Many factors that traditionally caused confusion are identified and dismissed, including genetic death, genetic load, the environment, and extinction, which are not essential to the cost of substitution."

He does, however, discuss population size fluctuation, but 'dismisses' it.

Such things can impact population dynamics, so "dismissing" them is at the very least curious, since population size can certainly affect the rates of 'replacement' on the way to reaching that 'goal' of maintaining the population size as required in ReMine's model.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Dembski's "colleagues"

Those with the fortitude to occasionally wallow through the self-aggrandizing drek spewn on Bill "Isaac Newton of Information Theory' Dembski's blog have probably noticed the occasional supposed 'testimonial' of some anonymous "colleague" of his.

There is a new "colleague" telling Dembski that you have to use engineering and design principles to understand cerebral blood flow:

A few years ago, my brain research took some interesting turns. I was developing a theory of blood flow to the brain, specifically a theory of how the delicate blood vessels in the brain are protected from the strong pulsatility of the heartbeat. I realized that the system in the cranium that affords this protection seems to be designed. ... Most of what I needed to know about pulsatile blood flow to the brain was in engineering textbooks! I was surprised as to how little some of the major paradigms in biology, especially Darwinism, contributed to my work. In fact, ignoring design obscured the most important aspects of my research. The assumption of design was heuristic.

Amazing, isn't it! That an anonymous brain researcher:
1. Wouldn't already understand blood flow in the brain
2. Would comment that major paradigms in biology did not inform him of how this occurs (I guess he never took physiology or neuroanatomy...)
3. that he concluded that all the answers were in engineering texts


Well, which engineering texts? Surely this anonymous "brain researcher" actually looked at some engineering texts to understand the blood flow in the brain and could have provided their titles to wow all into acquiescence.

But wait - the brain researcher goes on:

Around that time, I came across Phillip Johnston’s Darwin on Trial in a bookstore, and went on to read Jonathan Well’s Icons of Evolution, Mike Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box, and Bill Dembski’s Uncommon Dissent. For perspective, I read Dawkins, Dennett, and Gould as well. When I finished reading, I was astonished. And angry! Although my scientific talents are modest, I have developed a fairly acute sense for scientific nonsense. Darwinism is nonsense.

How true! Why, Phil Johnson, Wells, Behe and Dembski are the best places to learn the facts about evolution and "Darwinism." Everybody knows that - even this lowly 'brain researcher' with his modest talents - which, I am sure, pale in comparison to the GIANTS of ID!

Wait - there is more:

I believe that the best scientific explanation for the appearance of design in living things is that they are designed. This assumption forms the basis for my own research, and it’s a very powerful tool. My advice to young researchers in my field is: if you want to learn how cerebral blood flow works, study engineering. Study design.

Or, maybe, you could study physiology? Anatomy? Make actual measurements and observations?

Maybe this 'brain researcher' could start with a simple Google search:

Intracranial Pressure and Cerebral Blood Flow
especially this part

Also note the complete lack of skepticism displayed by the sycophants that post there:

These comments are good to hear from a practicing biologist.

Incredible. No names. No corroboration. No evidence. Just Dembski "quoting" a " colleague", who just happens to grovel at the feet of the Big Three of ID...

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

Friday, May 19, 2006

The imbecile's lament

When Warren Bergerson has his ignorance pointed out repeatedly, he does what any egomaniacal imbecile does - he accuses others of, well, see for yourself:

I note that esc ignored the fact that the study he referred to intentionally manipulated the data to produce a result that is not consistent with other evidence available on the numbers of known allele's per gene.

One will note that, as is his calling card, Bergerson ("LifeEngineer') never presented any evidence for the numbers he uses...


This is just too much - someone please up his dose...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Crevo (aka 'johnnyb', aka John Bartlett), computer programmer, at it again

While checking the site meter for this blog, I traced a visit back to creationist William Dembski's blog, "Uncommon Descent", the blog after which I named this one.

The post in question is regarding electrical engineer creationist Walter ReMine's recent attempt to get a 'paper' published on the concept of genetic load/cost of evolution. It was rejected, in part because of its "non academic style" (*see the end of this post).

Anyway, someone calling himself 'russ' wrote:

I went to the Amazon listing for his book, and found a review by xxx.
I’ve “quote mined” the review here:

—————–“And, more importantly, one should wonder why ReMine’s amazing 'theory’ can only be read about in his vanity press book? Why has he not written up manuscripts to be critiqued by his fellow scientists? The answer? Creationists prefer writing in a medium wherein they receive only praise from like-minded individuals, such as ‘John Woodmorappe’, not where those that know better would demolish his flimsy, evidence-less claims.

This book belongs on the scrap heap of egomaniacal creationist rants.”—————-

This review is pretty funny when you consider ReMine’s struggle to get peer-reviewed, with two committees rejecting his paper because his theory was “wrong”, and a third rejecting it because it was “correct”, but scientists have known all that stuff for years!

Let us consider 'russ' esteemed take on this.
First, my review was written in 2002, 3 years or so before ReMine had even submitted his "paper" for review, and I was reviewing his book that was published in 1993.
Second, the paper ReMine submitted had little to do with his "theory", it had to do with his view that the definitions of 'cost' and 'load' are 'garbled and confused' and this somehow has a major impact on population genetics and evolution.

This is typical of creationists in general, and the denizens of Dembski's trash board in general - not having a basic understanding of the issues before making stupid comments.

'johnnyb' (John Bartlett) replies to russ:

It looked like xxx has also dismissed this paper out-of-hand:
He apparently had access to ReMine’s paper before it was published. Here is xxx’s comments on ReMine’s paper:
“Actually, the paper that you refer to is of substandard quality AND it says nothing new. I have read it. It was standard ReMine. Lots of finger pointing and sophomoric prose, very little of substance. Of course, ReMine’s paper did not address his baseless claims re: Haldane’s dilemma, so what we have is yet another red herring from Crevo.”

Actually, ReMine had 'published' his paper on the net, only to later remove it (I was sent a link to, if I remember correctly, CRSQ, a link which was dead last time I checked).
He does not attempt to correct anything I wrote.

russ then replies:

I skimmed xxx’s blog at your link, and it doesn’t sound like he’s actually refuting anything of substance. What’s your take?

I agree, I am not refuting anything of substance since ReMine's claims lack substance. But I don't think that is what russ meant.
So, first of all, the subtitle of this blog is "Commentary on the so-called Creation/Evolution/Intelligent Design Debate." Commentary being:

A series of explanations or interpretations.
An expository treatise or series of annotations; an exegesis. Often used in the plural.
An apt explanation or illustration: a scandal that is a sad commentary on national politics.
A personal narrative; a memoir. Often used in the plural.

In fact, in the very first post on my blog, I wrote:

While I will be commenting on such things from time to time, the purpose of this
blog is primarily to provide links to and commentary on the essays and posts of
individuals that are far more patient and eloquent than myself on these and
related issues. Please feel free to provide comments of your own, providing they
add something of value to the discussion. Thanks!

Note that the intent of this blog is not to provide 'refutations' or in-depth analyses of anything.
But russ is right - he, at best, skimmed my site. Looking at the visit length statistics, looking at all the visits betweent he time of russ' first ref to this site to the time he posted the above comment, the longest visit by someone linking in from Dembski's den was 10 minutes. This blog, while not extensive, has about 50 posts on it. I wonder how many russ read? No matter...

Bartlett replied, and I will respond to each point as I quote them:

If I remember correctly, xxx’s primary arguments are:

1) how do you know that 1,667 * 2 mutations is not enough to separate humans from chimps?

Valid question that remains unanswered.

2) experimental evidence shows that the mutation rate is much faster.

Whaaa? Bizarre memory...

#1 is fairly obvious to me.
xxx thinks that the existance of mutations that cause major problems in numerous systems is evidence that a mutation could cause just as many benefits in multiple systems.

This is a clear and, frankly, idiotic misrepresentation of my position.
Indeed - it is Barlett that does not seem to even understand the issue that he defends:

The number of mutational events that appear to have occurred between chimps and humans is in the millions. If you half that (since we are going from a common ancestor), you are still _far_ above 1,667.

You can see that it is Bartlett that equates all mutations with the fixed, beneficial mutations explored in Haldane's model. Further, Bartlett, being a computer programmer and utterly ignorant of basic genetics seems to believe that because some mutations "cause major problems" that ALL mutations must do the same. Because after all, that is what happens in computer programming:

Having done lots of design modifications myself, I find that completely contrary to experience.

So, has JohnnyB really done "design modifications" in living things? Clearly not. Yet, in the wacky world of the self-important creationist computer programmer, what he knows happens in computer programming must also happen in genetics. How can he claim to have experience in something that he clearly does not? Well, that is the creationist for you. Always claiming more "authority" than they have (or deserve). It is a common misconception with creationists with engineering backgrounds.

xxx also requires that I list specifically which mutations are needed in order to validate my point. I don’t think that this is explicitly necessary, though I have pointed to which systems I thought were the most important, and several journal papers describing multiple genes with multiple differences between humans and chimps
.And how many "fixed, beneficial" mutations did those papers describe? 10? 20? Further, I do not recall ever having made any such "requirement."
Let us take a look at what the creationist programmer actually wrote:

Likewise, I would imagine that there would need to be at least that many changes just for going to obligate bipedalism.

At least as many as:

This is silly, because we know the number of mutational events between chimps and humans.

What is this number of mutational events?

There are 35 million base substitution differences, as well as 5 million insertion/deletion events (totaling about 40 million nucleotides).

So, Bartlett thinks that "at least" 40 million nucleotide changes would have been required just to produce obligate bipedalism!!! ABSURD! What is Bartlett's supporting evidence for this laughably outrageous implication?

Why, it is the same as ReMine's - NOTHING. Nothing but a naive grasp of genetics and development and an ego the size of Montana.

Especially if we consider the fact that is takes but a single nucleotide change in one gene to produce disproportionately shortened limbs and the associated limb musculature, joint alterations, cranial changes and more in humans. The "logic" of indicating that it would take 40 million just to alter the structure of the pelvis, lower back and limb musculature is crazy ignorant.

#2 is simply circular reasoning. The paper he points to simply takes the number of differences between humans and chimps at certain spots and divides by the number of years between our supposed divergence.

Here, I guess, is what he is referring to:

...You mentioned 40 million changes in the DNA. Humans and chimps are inferred to have separated from each other about 6 million years ago. That works out to about 7 changes per year, or about 140 per generation (based on a 20 year generation time, which is what ReMine used).7 a year is astronomical? ~140 per generation is astronomical?In reality, that is very close to the number gleaned from empirical studies.

Let's see where JohnnyB is going with this...
In case you didn’t notice, this math only works if the assumption that we are separated from chimps is correct (note that the people who wrote the paper are NOT engaged in circular reasoning, because they are not using their data as evidence for the split — just extrapolating from the [IMO incorrect] assumption).

Gee, JohnnyB, I did not use the paper as evidence fo the split, either. I used it to counter your claim about "astronomical mutation rates" being required. But we shouldn't let a little thing like correctly representing the situation interfer with showing off to your pal 'russ'.

He also always wants to know exactly what the common ancestor looked like. I find this amusing.

Of course you do - you have no answer to it. UNLESS you can do this, there is no rational, logical, intellectually honest way that someone can claim that ReMine's extrapolation of Haldane's model has any relevance. And unless you can document how many mutations are "required" to produce trait Y from original trait X on top of that, the claim becomes even more ridiculous. And of course I should point out that Bartlett interprets my question regarding the traits possessed by the hypothetical ancestor as asking "what it looked like." While appearance would certainly demonstrate a large number of morphological characteristics, there are of course non-morphological traits as well, some of which have been identified as differing between chimps and humans (such as the nature of the sialic acid receptor). But the creationist is only interested in superficial arguments because anything else shows that they have no business even discussing these issues, any more than I would have discussing computer programming.

If he can’t characterize the common ancestor, what makes him so sure there was one?

What makes me so sure? Ummm.... Gee - could it be multiple lines of evidence?
I can characterize it. It had all of the traits that modern humans do - hair, pentadactyl limbs, well developed brain, etc. The differences between it and modern Homo are of degree, not kind.

I think he is trying to get me to characterize a common ancestor and then use my characterization as evidence that there was one.

Yes, that is exactly what I am doing. (*ugh*)

I point out that most evolutionary literature would have such an ancestor be more chimp-like than human-like, but there is no real evidence for its existance. I also point out that Haldane’s dilemma wouldn’t actually be a problem if chimps were merely degenerative humans, but that I don’t know any evolutionary biologist who would hold to that.

Haldane's dilemma has not actually been shown to be a problem anyway, for the reasons I have mentioned (and many others). The entire argument is little more than an assertion premised on a shallow grasp of the science.

But we can't let that stop the creationist - especially those who are computer programmers and know everything about everything - from spreading their pompous tripe.


* Here is the text of one of the reviews of ReMine's paper. I have bolded parts that highlight ReMine's egotistical and sefl-aggrandizing style, as well as outlining thew standard creationist 'I'm right and you are wrong and I don't have to support' it attitude most recently seen in Warren Bergerson at ARN:

Review of "Cost Theory and the Cost of Substitution-- a clarification" by Walter Remine.

This paper is written in a contentious, supercilious, nonacademic style, and argues that the notion of a "cost of substitution" has been misunderstood and misapplied by many workers, who have been confused. It argues that the correct definition is the reproductive excess required by a given situation.
The paper has the defect that it assumes that all authors have been attemptingto describe the same notion, and that their differences have resulted from misunderstandings of the correct concept. Remine argues strenuously against the idea that if there is too little reproductive excess the population will go extinct. Instead, he argues that too little reproductive excess to pay the cost implies that the scenario is implausible.
Remine also argues that any trait that increases in frequency in the population implies a cost, even if its increase is purely the result of genetic drift.
In fact, it is not at all clear that different researchers had the same objective in mind. Haldane (1957) did not use the phrase "cost of substitution" (his title mentions "cost of natural selection"). Ewens put forward a cost that was nonzero for pure genetic drift, other authors' costs were zero for change by genetic drift.
Remine's treatment is thus inadequate in its historical treatment of others' work, and is also inadequate internally. Take the idea that susbtitution requires reproductive excess. Suppose that we have a (haploid) species with no reproductive excess. Suppose that the environment changes so that all individuals have 20% less reproduction, except for 10% of them who have a particular allele, and those continue to barely replace themselves. A little consideration will show that the substitution will happen, and the population will end up 90% smaller. But if there is even a slight reproductive excess, then with enough time the population will ultimately recover its numbers. There is then no lower limit on the reproductive excess needed.
However, Remine defines the cost in terms of the number of copies of the allele. He adds up the reproductive excess over the generations involved,so that in the above case he would arrive at a finite total of the reproductive excess. The population may be in no difficulty, but if the researcher thinks that the change of number of copies of the gene is possible in that amount of time, they must be able to argue that there is that much reproductive excess.The problem for the population in such a scenario comes when we have, not one substitution, but a regular flow of such events. Then, if there is no reproductive excess, the population drops by 90% each time, and ends up going extinct. It is thus possible to define a cost that is the cost of avoiding extinction, in spite of Remine's strenuous arguments against such a notion.
A certain reproductive excess is necessary when there are recurring events, but it is to avoid extinction, not to allow substitution. Remine mentions that repeated substitutions are involved in several other people's definitions, but then simply declares that "that interpretation is faulty", without saying why. He sounds as if someone has issued him a certificate stating that his interpretation of the cost is the correct one and all others are wrong.
Remine's treatment of selective neutrality is also confusing. Aside from declaring that in such cases there is a cost but that there are "special mechanisms that allow high overall rates of substitution". The reader may be confused, as they may imagine that neutral substitutions just happen, as a result of randomness of mutation, birth, death, and genetic segregation. Saying that there are special mechanisms present implies that these are adaptations (or divine interventions) designed to make Motoo Kimura feel happy.
One minor matter should also be mentioned: Remine has the habit of presenting a table of frequencies of different genotypes (as on pages 11 and17) as an equation. Instead of writing p and q as the two frequencies that also add to 1, he writes p+q = 1. This is trivially true for any two frequencies of alternative genotypes, irrespective of whether they are thecorrect frequencies. (For example, 2p + (1-2p) = 1, and that statement iscorrect even when the frequencies of the two alleles are not 2p and 1-2p). This is easily corrected by replacing the summations by tables.
I conclude that, although Remine's algebra is correct, his description of how his work relates to the costs and loads defined by others is seriously wrong. Stylistics aside, it thereby makes a negative contribution to discussion ofthese issues, and I cannot recommend its publication.
I should be identified to the author.

Joe Felsenstein

If you want to see an ignorant pseudoexpert in action...

... go here.

See Warren Bergerson (aka "LifeEngineer") demonstrate yet again that he is just a nitwit.

See the stupidity, if you can stomach it:

The 'expressed' mutations generated by living systems are highly controlled rather than random. Roughly half of the genes in the human genome have only a single allele and thus no known mutatant form. If we assume a current population of 4 billion, a generation of 20 years and an 'average' population of 100,000 during most of human evolution, then the the 10,000 genes with no mutations is equivalent to (40,000*20*10,000)= 800,000,000 years of human evolution without a mutation. To suggest that such a result is random is to suggest that 800 million 3' in a row supports the 'theory' that the die throwig process is random.

The gibberish is laid bare, of course:

escherichia writes:
A lovely set of calculations - just where did you get your numbers from?
Lets look at your data:
Half of the human genes is 10,000?
Well according to reliable sources, i.e. HGP, the total number is 30,000-40,000 - so I don't think much to that calculation.
Half of human genes have only a single allele ? - says who?
According to the SNP Consortium they have so far found SNPs (i.e. DNA differences between individuals or "mutations") in 93% of human genes - please note that doesn't mean there aren't any in the other 7% just that they haven't found any yet.
How do you expect people to take you seriously if you can't even get the numbers vaguely right?

and Whimbrel writes:

I don't really like to keep these Life Engineer threads going, but this latest statement is too bizarre.

LE writes "The 'expressed' mutations generated by living systems are highly controlled rather than random. Roughly half of the genes in the human genome have only a single allele and thus no known mutatant form. If we assume a current population of 4 billion, a generation of 20 years and an 'average' population of 100,000 during most of human evolution, then the the 10,000 genes with no mutations is equivalent to (40,000*20*10,000)= 800,000,000 years of human evolution without a mutation. To suggest that such a result is random is to suggest that 800 million 3' in a row supports the 'theory' that the die throwig process is random. "

Well, even if we assumed that the current population is 4 billion, which would have been wildly off decades ago, and is inexcusably out of touch with current population
estimates of 6.5 billion, then the rest of his math makes no sense either. To calculate the number of years humans have evolved, you multiply what figures?
First where does the number 40,000 come from? Apparently, you take a really
inaccurate guess of the current world's population and divide it by a random
guess about the previous average population over the course of human evolution.
Think about this, the current population divided by the average of population
over time. This avarage is dependent on the value he is trying to calculate with
it. Even if it wasn't, what in the world would current population divided by
average pop represent that could have any meaning here? Then, you multiply this
by generation length in years, times the number of genes in the genome?????

What units of time would that be, population*gene*years? Too bad us dogmatists don't understand mathematical ineptitude when we see it.

By the way, apparently this whole predictive theory boils down to Life Engineer's confusion concerning the difference between the probabilities associated with mutations and those associated with different alleles. Holy cow.

But the megalomaniacal Bergerson will have none of it:

Your interpretation does not appear to be consistent with the study. According to the study, genetic differences are rare. But the important point is that it is possible to test whether mutations are 'random' or 'controlled' by formally analyzing the distribution alleles in the population. I stand by my claim that the evidence strongly supports the 'mutations are controled' theory. I don't think you will even find anyone in the Darwinist camp actually willing to produce an actual testable 'mutations are random' theory.

but wait - its gets better ( and by better I mean more pathetic):

I scanned the article presented and I did not see any support for the 93% claim. Second, for mutations to be random, there need to be hundreds or even thousands of known mutations per gene. The evidence still strongly supports the 'controlled mutation' theories. The evidence also strongly supports the assertion that DarwinDogmatists have a very difficult time actually interpreting data.

Wait - did not Bergerson previously write:

Your interpretation does not appear to be consistent with the study. According to the study, genetic differences are rare.

Why yes - yes he did!

So, Warren Bergerson, scientific expert on all things, hard science predictive theory monger, did not even read the 'study' before he declared the 'Darwin dogmatists' were misinterpreting it!

Pardon my French, but what a jack ass.

And after his declarations of idiocy in the darwinist camp, escherichia points out:

Page 929

“By this definition, 93% of gene loci contain at least one SNP, and 98% are within 5 kb of the nearest SNP; also, 59% of gene loci contained five or more SNPs, and 39% ten or more.”


Apparently, Warren bergerson was not taught when he learned all about hard science predictive theories in undergrad (as he has claimed) that you actually have to read things before dismissing them and declaring that other folks are wrong.

Not to be outdone, Bergerson continues:

In other words, in order to produce the 93% figure, they intentionally included non-coding areas that are known to contain variations.

He quotes from the study to support that claim:

We also assessed the distribution of SNPs in the genomic locussurrounding each of the RefSeq mRNAs. We assigned the RefSeqexons to their genomic locations, restricting analysis to the 2,960RefSeq mRNAs mapping onto finished sequence. As we cannot define the extent of the noncoding (regulatory) regions of each gene, we arbitrarily defined each ‘gene locus’ as extending from10 kb upstream of the start of the first exon to the end of the lastexon. By this definition, 93% of gene loci contain at least one SNP,and 98% are within 5 kb of the nearest SNP; also, 59% of gene locicontained five or more SNPs, and 39% ten or more.

It would seem that hard science-boy does not understand much about genetics.
See - he doesn't know that there is regulatory sequence upstream and downstream of genes that can also influence their expression.
Musn't muck up a good ego-driven pseudoscientific position, though...

His support for his position?

If you have a testable predictive theory that claims mutations are random, then your theory will predict that an array of mutations will occur. The theory is not supported by the existence of one mutation but by the existence of a statistically approprate sampling of the predicted array.

You see, Warren Bergerson thinks that mutations only occur within genes, and therefore, there should be all sorts of alleles. He is an ignorant fool.

And he has access to internet discussion boards. No wonder folks who get their information from such sources are so confused.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A list of physicians and surgeons to be wary of

DARWINISM, has been formed. Their list of members is public, and I would urge those who advocate quality science and rational thought to take a look at it and wonder how these folks made it through medical school. Not because I think all should bow down to the great god Darwin, but because "dissenting from Darwinsim" (i.e., being a creationist of one stripe or another) indicates an inability to think rationally and interpret scientific evidence in a meaningful way. A surgeon who is ashamed at the gullability of some in his profession laments these shortcomings here.

I noticed one thing about the list - of the 52 on the list as of May 15, 36 (~70%) are from "red" states...

Just a coincidence, I am sure.... (looks for 'roll eyes' emoticon...)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Walter ReMine, at it again

Out of internet discussion board 'retirement', the "you misrepresent me" kid is back, writing the same unsupported gibberish and continuing to pat himself ont he back...


Friday, May 05, 2006

Steve Petermann - another Engineer for Christ (and against evolution)

Over at "Telic Thoughts," creationist engineer Steve Petermann, a contributing author at that blog, came up with a doozy.

This masterpiece of scientific ignorance is titled "More than Information" and opens with a very interesting paragraph:

How can one evaluate the claims of intelligent design? Of course, one way is through some sort of method for acquiring and interpreting empirical observations. However, there is another method that for many people is a reasonable approach and often compelling as long as the empirical approach does not dispell it.

That is by analogy.

Analogy. A classic bit of "evidence" that creationists rely on. Why? Because they cannot produce any actual evidence supportive of their claims.

Petermann focuses on DNA, and ends his simple-minded diatribe with this intellectually vacuous blurb:

It would seem that, given the force of analogical evidence, the burden of proof
should lie with those who reject this inference.

Let us think about this for a moment - is an analogy really evidence?
A common analogy used by both evolutionists and creationists is the DNA/language analogy, and since Petermann's silly essay focuses on DNA and how it is just like engineered systems, let's go with it.

The standard biologist use of this analogy goes something like this:

Nucleotides are like letters
Triplets/codons are like words
A gene is like a sentence
The genome is like a book

I use a version of this analogy when I introduce students to protein synthesis. I explain that it is just an analogy, and I use it ther appropriate way - as a tool for making the complex technical process easier to understand. I do not use it as 'evidence' for anything, nor would any sensible scientist.
This is pointed out, and Petermann asks:

Do the Darwinists or you have other evidence to overturn the evidence from

Myrmecos, an entomologist, responds:

But for scientists, evidence from analogy simply does not count for anything
other than perhaps as a teaching tool. There is no field of science where
analogy is treated as a valid form of evidence.

Not to be outdone, the creationist engineer counters:

Really? What about experimental science? Looks like to me experimental science
uses evidence from analogy all the time.


Then there’s biology. Doesn’t biology use evidence from analogy all the
time? Here’s just one example from a quick Google search:

Now, this is particularly funny to me - for it shows that Petermann does not understand how an evolutionary biologist uses the term "analogy":

(Science: biology) Two anatomical structures or behavioural traits within different and unrelated organisms which perform the same functions in each organism but which did not originate from an ancestral structure or trait that the organisms' ancestors had in common.
Instead, the structures or traits arose separately and then later evolved to perform the same function (or similar functions).
See: convergent evolution.

This is different from the colloquial definition/usage and, apparently, what Petermann thinks:

1.Similarity in some respects between things that are otherwise dissimilar.
2.A comparison based on such similarity. See Synonyms at likeness.

But, Petermann the creationist engineer has his mind set on his personal application of the term, and his idiosyncratic notions of what constitutes evidence in science.

Analogies are not evidence. One would think - hope - that a trained engineer would realize that.

*standard disclaimer - this is not an indictment of engineers in general, just another data point for the Salem Hypothesis.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The irony is just too much for me to ignore..

Our old friend, the one true hard science advocate in the country, anti-Darwinist Warren Bergerson, writes:

People don't necessarily need to be mathematicians to discuss this subject, but they need to be capable of understanding their limitations and asking questions when they don't understand something and referring issues back to real experts when they are not sure if a claimed principle is valid.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Rush Limbaugh not responsible for any of the bad (i.e., non-conservative) things he has done in his life. So, who IS?

Why, Democrats, of course.

I caught a CNN bit about Limbaugh's deal with prosecutor in Florida to avoid jail time for his illegal drug activities. CNN then showed a clip from his webcast/radio show in which he claimed that the Democrats could not beat him on his "political ideas", so they were trying to beat him with persecution on his drug problem.

Well, for starters, I did not realize that blaming "librals" for everything and making fun of people's names and appearance would be considered an "idea" at all, much less a political one, but hey - he's the pundit.

So, let me get this straight - it is Democrats that are to blame for his getting in trouble. For breaking the law. For being a drug addict.

What else are the democrats to blame for in Limbaugh's life?

Clearly, it was the democrats that forced Limbaugh to get his family doctor to write him a note to get out of military service during the Viet Nam war.

It was democrats that make Limbaugh flunk out of college.

It was democrats that made Limbaugh receive Welfare.

It was democrats that made Limbaugh get divorced, thus making a mockery of family values.
Not once. Not twice. But thrice.

It was democrats that got Limbaugh's TV show cancelled, not bad ratings.

It was democrats that...

Well, you name it - anything bad in Limbaugh's life is the fault of the democrats.

I'll bet that they are even responsible for his persecution and martyr complexes!

Just for fun -

Ways that I am different from Rush Limbaugh:

1. I was not born into a wealthy, politically connected family

2. I volunteered for military service

3. I am not a drug addict

4. I am not a draft dodger

5. I graduated from college (undergraduate and graduate school)

6. I have never received welfare

7. I have never been divorced

8. I do not blame those of a different political persuasion than me for all the country's problems

9. I do not blame those of a different political persuasion than me for all 0f my own problems

Nope... "Intelligent Design" doesn't have anything to do with religion... No sir...

They said with a wink and a nod to the folks in the pews...

(Thanks Ed)