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

Monday, December 15, 2008

Correlation or causation or neither?

Andras Pellionisz is an interesting fellow. He appears to have been a productive researcher, who then saw the chance to make some real cash and apparently started up a couple of companies.

Of late, however, he seems to be on a megalomaniacal tirade of sorts, setting himself up as the greatest thing in science since Crick (whose 'dogma' he (Pellionisz) has done away with), with his "establishment" of his "Principle of the Recursive Genome" (I won't even mention his malicious, self-aggrandizing historical revisionism on junkDNA...).

In short, Pellionisz claims that what we used to refer to as 'genes' interact recursively with what we used to call 'junk DNA' to produce structures that can be described via fractal mathematics.

He 'predicted' in 2006 that because of this 'principle', the Purkinje cells (P-cells) in cerebellums of fish (or other organisms with brains) of 'more recently' developed status, having larger genomes, will have greater branchings in their dendritic networks:

One of us (AJP) has previously proposed that fractal processes associated
with DNA are in a causal relation to the fractal properties of organelles such
as P-cells (FractoGene, 2002, patent pending). [let us ignore for now the odd
depiction of a neuron as an 'organelle'] This fractal postulate
predicts that the dendritic arborization of P-cells will be less complex in
lower order vertebrates.

Well, OK. A prediction that Fugu will have less arborized dendrites than mouse and human because ... well, let's see...

The prediction can be tested by systematic comparative neuroanatomy of the
P-cell in species for which genome sequences permit inter-species comparison.
The Fugu rubripes (Fugu), Danio rerio (Danio) and other species are lower order
vertebrates for which genome sequences are available and tests could be
conducted. Consistent with the fractal prediction, P-cell dendritic arbor is
primitive in Fugu, being much less complex than in Mus musculus and in Homo
sapiens. Genomic analysis readily identified PEP19/Pcp4, Calbindin-D28k, and
GAD67 genes in Fugu and in Danio that are closely associated with P-cells in
Canis familiaris, Rattus norvegicus, Mus musculus and Homo sapiens. Gene L7/Pcp2
exhibits strongest association with P-cells in higher vertebrates. L7/Pcp2 shows
strong protein residue homology with genes greater than 600 residues and
including 2-3 GoLoco domains, designated as having G protein signaling modulator
function (AGS3-like proteins). Fugu has a short gene with a single GoLoco
domain, but it has greatest homology with the AGS3-like proteins. No similar
short gene is present in Danio or in Xenopus. Classical L7/Pcp2 is only detected
in higher vertebrates, suggesting that it may be a marker of more recent
evolutionary development of cerebellar P-cells. We expect that a new generation
of data mining tools will be required to support recursive fractal geometrical,
combinatorial, and neural network models of the genomic basis of morphogenesis.

OK, great. Looks like he's onto something. Right?
Now, however, one finds a hyperbole riddled webpage announcing:

UPDATE (14 September, 2007) Question-marks raised by the "Fugu prediction
paper" [the paper mentioned above] have met tentative support. The
correlation - contrary to blogs whose ideology would prefer otherwise -
is further supported, there is no contradiction, no gaps, whatsoever.
Peer-reviewed presentation of evidence from independent sources will follow
whenever they are ready.

Please note the inconsistency between the first and second sentence - in the first, he states that 'question marks' in his Fugu paper have found "tentative support", but the second indicates that there is near certainty.

Anyway, the commentary there is hard to follow, but there are some figures apparently from the paper claimed to have supported his Fugu 'questionmarks' and their legends:

[original legends] Fig. 4. Sketch of the emerging field of comparison of
the complexity of the dendritic trees of P-cells, their genomic analysis,
calling for biophysical synthesis. Insert B shows the P-cell in the Fugu
rubripes (B is courtesy of Székely33), in which the genome size is 0.37
Gigabases. C will show the P-cell in Danio rerio (as it becomes available,
according to studies at an early stage to exhibit an interim complexity) in
which the genome size is 1.56 Gigabases. D shows the dendritic arbor of the
P-cell in the mouse (genome size is 2.6 Gigabases). Insert D is
fluorescent-stained photo, courtesy of Prof. Helen Blau40. E shows a
computer-reconstruction of the P-cell in the guinea pig21. The genome size in
the guinea pig is not known to date, but its sequencing was slated (at Broad
Institute and MIT) among other species. Insert H shows the P-cell of the
human27. The genome size in the human is 3.1 Gigabases.

[updated legends - 14 September, 2007] Fig. 4. Sketch of the emerging
field of comparison of the complexity of the dendritic trees of P-cells, their
genomic analysis, calling for biophysical synthesis. Insert B shows the P-cell
in the Fugu rubripes (B is courtesy of Székely33), in which the genome size is
0.37 Gigabases. Question-marks in C will be replaced by finalized results of
already known preliminary studies exhibiting an interim complexity, in which the
genome size is 1.56 Gigabases. D shows the dendritic arbor of the P-cell in the
mouse (genome size is 2.6 Gigabases). Insert D is fluorescent-stained photo,
courtesy of Prof. Helen Blau40. E shows a computer-reconstruction of the P-cell
in the guinea pig21. The genome size in the guinea pig is not known to date, but
its sequencing was slated (at Broad Institute and MIT) among other species, and
now preliminary sequencing results project the the genome size right in the
predicted range***. Insert H shows the P-cell of the human27. The genome size in
the human is 3.1 Gigabases.

Yes, that is pretty much exactly how it appears on his website (one of apparently a dozen or so that he maintains).
So, they show the P-cell in a Fugu with like 3 dendrites, and 'more recently developed' P-cells with greater arborization (hundreds of branches).

So this is where I get lost - the recursive genome claims appear to indicate a 're-visiting' to the genome areas associated with a particular structure or process by proteins/RNAs with the end result being a fractalicious outcome.

His 'support' appears to be a correlation between genome size and arborization of P-cells in the cerebellum.

While this may well hold true for P-cell arborization in a general sense, what we do NOT see is any indication of 'recursivity' at all - what the 'support' paper shows is that the 'more recently developed' organisms have more/larger genes associated with their P-cells:

L7/Pcp2 showsstrong protein residue homology with genes greater than 600
residues andincluding 2-3 GoLoco domains, designated as having G protein
signaling modulatorfunction (AGS3-like proteins). Fugu has a short gene
with a single GoLocodomain
, but it has greatest homology with the
AGS3-like proteins. No similar short gene is present in Danio or in
Xenopus. Classical L7/Pcp2 is only detectedin higher vertebrates,
suggesting that it may be a marker of more recentevolutionary development of cerebellar P-cells

And that was from HIS OWN paper! Implicit in his junk DNA claims is the notion that the recursivity is a function OF the junk DNA (and so it is not junk). To prop this notion up, he has made a great deal of noise about the fact that one can find stop codons in junk DNA. It has been pointed out to him that you can find ALL of the codons for ALL amino acids (including MET - start codons) in 'junk DNA' , too. But he insists that stop codons in junk DNA are special and supportive of his claims. Somehow - he won't really say how, just that they are.

So is the larger genome - more 'junk DNA' anyway - of a 'more recently' evolved oganism the cause of the greater arborization in their P-cells and thus Pellionisz's recursive genome principle is real and true? Or is greater arborization unrelated to genome size directly and the degree of arborization has a different cause - maybe arborization is influenced by inductive processes* that have little if anything to do with recursivity?

Like anyone envisioning him or herself as a paradigm-busting visionary - who also has a product to sell - Pellionisz seems to make reckless extrapolations and to ignore or downplay potentially disconfirming evidence (none of the 93 citations in his 'Principle' paper, for example, seem to even mention indiction).

Now, about that junk DNA revisionism of his.....

While perusing the web for more interesting info on Pellionisz's claims, I came across his foray onto the Panda's Thumb last year. As I mentioned, Pellionisz cites as "evidence" for his claims the observation that Fugu has a smaller genome compared to 'higher' vertebrates and also has less arborized P-cells. Andrea Bottaro asks him to look at the lungfish, whose genome is some 10 times the size of our own, to see if they have 10X the arborization that human P-cells have.
Pellionisz's response was to engage in some ego-boosting and ranting but not once did he even mention testing his claims as Bottaro suggests. In fact, when it came up again later, Pellionisz only mentioned the guinea pig genome, which he declared to fulfill one of his 'predictions'. Apparently, he is afraid that the lungfish will negate the predictive power of his 'theory' (which he claims is true). Later, when pressed again, he punted, claiming that he believes that their larger genomes probaly have to do with metamorphosis and have nothing to do with the cerebellum... Cute, but it would clearly violate his claims re: the P-cells in Fugu, guinea pig and human. Not to mention the fact that lungfish do not undergo metamorphosis.

Later, it is pointed out that lots of people were research in junk DNA before he and his hero M. Simons came along, and that their claims of martyrdom were just to generate sympathy for their cause. Pellionisz responds to that by ignoring the fact that junk DNA research had been going on all along and instead merely trying to gain more sympathy by mentioning that Simons has a 'junk DNA-related' disease. Pellionisz also refers to promoter regions as "junkDNA", implying that research on such areas had 'also' been neglected. Such regions have been not only hypothesized but in fact known about for decades.

Also, when he was reminded that things like promoters had been discovered prior to Simons' work and that research into junk DNA had been going on all along, he disissed it by quoting a section from Brenner's Nobel speech in which he characterized junk DNA as useless. The speech was given in 1985.
Later in the comments, we see this:
" Perhaps he feels I have no right to comment, since my Ph.D. is in sociology, not science proper. But I must say, if my work in the sociology of science had played as fast and loose with historical accuracy as Dr. Pellionisz’s does, I would have been booted out of the program before I got my MA."



Pellionisz later (in the PT thread linked above) states:

"Since Malcolm (Simones, Pellionisz's 'partner') is widely known to be affected by a “Junk DNA disease” himself, after having pinned down that “junk was anything but” he is motivated having already spent two decades to finding out the best approach to what might exactly be the function that Darwinian theory actually required. "

More historical revisionism from Pellionisz. Simons published ZERO papers having anything to do with junk DNA or junk DNA diseases or anything until about 10 years after Zuckerkandl has identified promoters and hypoethesized about functionin junk DNA. Amazing.

*I am aware that only a few of the returns on those searches deal directly with the topic of arborization of P-cells, my point is there ARE other potential explanations which one can find by doing a little searching.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Republican Party in denial

Amazing. I just listened to the chair of the Republican Natinal Committee claim on NPR that contrary to public opinion, the Republicans really have the best ideas on how to fix the economy (trickle down works!).
Further, he refused to address concerns from other republicans about the undue influence of the religious right.

Keep it up! The further they run to the right, the less they allow that their positions might not be the best, the more irrelevant they will be.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I really don't understand Conservatives

At least not the politically active ones, be they advocates, pundits, spokespersons, or politicians themselves.

Read though a few 'analyeses' of this past election by them.

As usual, the blame game and revisionism is up and running at full speed in the right-wing fantasy land, where Obama's and the Democrat's victories, despite being above and beyond anything the Republicans have seen in decades, is diminished, where Bush's slimmer victories were heralded as 'mandates', Obama is already being blamed for the economic crisis despite not even being president yet, etc.

But what really baffles me is the notion, exhibited by many on the right including Sarah Palin, that republicans have to be MORE conservative to win again. They have to be MORE hawkish, MORE religious, MORE anti-immigrant, MORE tax-cuts for billionaires, MORE pro-death penalty, MORE in love with embryoes, MORE anti-Constitution, etc. That they must go FURTHER to the right because they somehow think that mainstream America is conservative like they are.

Are these folks for real?

Did they actually look at the election results?

Liddy Dole -right-wing bible nut W-is-my-hero lost in North Carolina!

Draft-deferment monger and reliable right-winger Saxby Chambliss won election to the senate with a 7% lead (at 53%) in 2002. This year, there will be a runoff election as nobody earned more than 50% of the vote.

Ted 'Felon' Stevens won his last election with 78% of the vote - this year, there is a re-count as it is too close to call, with his Democratic opponant holding a slight lead as of the writing of this post.

And so it goes. Even those conservative Republicans that held on to their seats did so with much less of a margin than in past elections, including Mitch McConnell, Wicker in Mississippi (winning his House seat with 66% of the vote in 2006, winning his senate seat this time with 55%), etc.

The "true" conservatives LOST their wide margins of victory, and in many cases LOST altogether.

Yet the true believers insist that to win, the party must go even further to the right!
It is like Robert E. Lee insisting that one more open field charge at Gettyburg would have won the battle for them*.

They keep saying that America is a center-right country, but this year's election says something different. The times are changing, and if the Conservative movement wants to survive, they are going to have to change, too.

Frankly, I've had enough of these people. I hope they DO go further to the right. I hope they DO put forth Palin as their presidential candidate next time around. She won't be able to hide from reporters as the Presidential candidate, and the more she opens her mouth, the more idiotic and incompetnet she makes herself out to be (which doesn't say much for the Alaskans who keep votinng for her). I hope they adopt a platform premised on a requirement that all Republicans must take an oath pledging to be biblical fundamentalists, to give tax cuts only to the wealthy (for we all kow how well trickle down works), to increase military spending and start more wars against the heathen, the execution of homosexuals and abortionists, the de-funding of public education, etc., etc., etc.

Let the rational people in this country - the REAL real Americans - see just how fucked up loony these people are so they can be officially marginalized - as they should be.

*Lee ordered an open-field charge (a march, really) by George Pickett's division (and others)- Pickett lost nearly half his division; Lee later ordered him to rally his division to defend the Confederate line, Pickett is said to have replied, "Sir, I have no Division."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Now that a Democrat is president....

... with troops in the field, can we expect the Right to offer only unyielding support for his every decision?

After all, critics of W. were called traitors and the like for publicly disagreeing with the CinC while we are at war.

My guess is that they will suddenly abandon their pro-president 'principles'.

Because Conservatives' really have no principles.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Berlinski babbles on

Pity that the poor poseur keeps getting pwned.

How ridiculous can this guy be?

The existence of mathematics is supportive of ID??

Come on....

But hey - the DI keeps paying him!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Fair and Balanced"? Fake News?

I have to laugh whenever I hear Fox News personalities carrying on about how 'fair and balanced' they are.

It is almost as if the pundits conflate actual news reporting - such as one might get with Shepard Smith (the one Fox News personality that retains some integrity) - with all of the propagandizing and agenda-pushing they do for the other 22 hours a day.

Here for example.

You can see 'anchor' Megyn Kelly getting indignant that Bill Burton states the truth - that their recent anti-Obama gibberish (such as the "B girl" hoax, which unfortunately was not mentioned) was a Fox embellishment/concoction.

She mentions that only 36% of news stories on other networks are positive for McCain.

As if there is some reason that all stations should have an exactly equal number of positive and negative stories about all political figures (this, let us remember, is the network that runs Obama=terrorist nonsense around the clock).

Let us consider this possibility - other networks report only 36% favorable stories on McCain because, I don't know, maybe the McCain campaign is 64% crap and lies and nonsense?

These people are just plain insane, and anyone that thinks Fox News really is "Fair and Balanced" should have their little pinheads examined.

Curious - Megyn didn't mention this poll, also done by Pew, showing that Fox news viewers are basically idiots.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Collin B., yet again....

Collin the photographer had posted a reply (presented below in toto) to an exchange we had earlier (our initial exchanges on this blog are here).

I took a bit of a blogging break, and actually forgot about his histrionics, but now have gotten around ot this stuff.

My replies interspersed with Collin's claims:


on Evolutionary Theory, part II

In the first part I raised a question. In the follow-up I tried to clarify the question. In both instances the question was open to correction.

Well, not quite. Yes, you posed a 'question', but the question was exceptionally wrong-headed. When I pointed this out, you asked MORE wrong-headed questions, then got indignant. Open to correction? Hardly.

But so far no intelligent responses have been gleaned from the posts. It's sad because Doppelganger claims to be a PhD in the field yet remains anonymous to the world.

Yes, it is just a 'claim.' Must be. I remain semi-anonymous so I don't have mouth-breathing lunatics harrass my colleagues and superiors, like what happens to folks like PZ Myers.
Of course, the fact is that I corrected your misconceptions and answered you as was warranted. You didn't like the answers, so you insult me and ignore them. That is what creatinists do.

I think there is cause to question this in light of unanswered questions. I
don't mind being wrong. In fact, if I am wrong, I want to be shown precisely how
I am wrong.

No you don't. I showed you how and why you were wrong. You just kept rambling on with the same erroneous tripe. One can follow the links to see the exchanges, but I will offer but 1 example from our exchanges after my May 10 blog post. You had initially written that you felt there were millions of 'trait changes' between humans and chimps. I asked you to name 1000 of these millions. Your response was to claim that you thought there were more than 1000 trait changes!
You apparently cannot even understand the words written in response to your claims, how do you expect to be able to understand technical responses?

One would hope for civility, but alas Doppelganger would rather insult the
questioner than construct a meaningful and substantive response.

Ah yes, it is always the 'civility' issue. If only I were so civil, Collin would have admitted that his claims and 'questions' were bogus and accepted the informaiton I gave him.

So let's revisit the second post and change the question to something more
Give me the genetic changes in reverse that would take humans back
to the rodent stage, per the current model? (re: To the Yucatan impact of 65mya
fromhumans today.)It's a simple enough question -- what precisely happened? Not
what might have happened or what could have happened (which, when you read the
posts that came before, is all I got -- possibility, but neither probability nor
historical fact.) Don't give me a model. I've read that stuff. Give me the
detail? Is it there or not? Or is your "proof" a workable model but not a
working history?

Details? Details on all of the genetic changes that occurred between modern humans and the 'rodent' stage - and this is supposed to be a rational, reasonable 'question'?
Imagine - I was actually providinng tentative answers! How horrible! I guess Collin is more used to absolutist proclamations that the standard tentative nature of a scientific answer was interpreted as ignorance. Poor Collin, so confused and out of his league...
Of course, what Collin the creationist has done is set up a perfect little win-win scenario - he pretends to have produced a reasonable, rational 'question'. If I try to answer it, he will reject the answer by asking more. If I don't answer it, he will claim victory. Of course, none of this negates the fact that his request is silly - we do not and cannot know what the genome of the 'rodent stage' was.

The best we can do is compare a modern human with a modern rodent. That would produce an approximation of the changes that have occurred in BOTH lineages since they last shared a common ancestor. But since that woul dnot specifically address Collin's 'question', he will reject it.

As a commenter on Collin's blog prsented, he asked for the impossible, and I add, that he doesn't even know why it is impossible.

But I have to wonder - if I produce a pairwise DNA sequence alignment for a mouse gene and it's human homologue, point out the differences, and deduce what the 'original' sequence might have been, would Collin accept that?

Friday, October 03, 2008

The word is NUC-LE-AR!!!!


Caught some of the vice presidential debate last night and Palin pronounces the word nuclear incorrectly just like moron Bush does - nuculer.

Is being stupid the new requisite for being a NeoCon politician?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Why so many Yellow Elephants?

A Yellow Elephant is essentially a conservative republican that advocates military action yet has not or will not enlist themselves.

I came across this list, and it says much (any emphases mine):

David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72
Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, etc
Jimmy Carter: Lt. Commander in the Navy 1946-53
Wesley Clark: Army 1966-2000, Vietnam, Silver star, purple heart
Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver/Bronze stars, Vietnam
Bill Clinton: Did not serve
Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72
Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze star
Michael Dukakis: Army 1955-57
John Edwards: Did not serve
Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71
John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs; Air Medal w/18 Clusters
Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam as journalist
Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74
Howell Heflin: Silver star
Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII; Bronze star
Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-47; Medal of Honor, WWII
Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-53
Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam
John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver/Bronze stars, purple hearts
Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII
Jim McDermott: Navy 1968-70
George McGovern: Silver star & DFC during WWII
Zell Miller: Marine Corps, 1953-56
Walter Mondale: Army 1951-53
Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver star, etc
Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze star, Korea
Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-79; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91
Chuck Robb: U.S. Marine Corps, 1961-70, Vietnam
Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart

Spencer Abraham: Did not serve
Eliot Abrams: Did not serve
Richard Armitage: Navy, three tours in Vietnam
John Ashcroft: Did not serve
Roy Blunt: Did not serve
Michael Bloomberg: Did not serve
George H.W. Bush: Youngest Navy pilot in WW II; awarded DFC
George W. Bush: Texas Air Nat. Guard; didn't take physical; suspended from flying
Jeb Bush: Did not serve
Saxby Chambliss: Did not serve. Attacked Cleland's patriotism
Dick Cheney: Did not serve
Christopher Cox: Did not serve
Tom DeLay: Did not serve
Bob Dole: Army in WWII, Bronze star, two purple hearts
Bob Dornan: Enlisted after fighting was over in Korea
John Engler: Did not serve
Douglas Feith: Did not serve
Gerald Ford: Lt. Commander, Navy in WWII
Bill Frist: Did not serve
Newt Gingrich: Did not serve
Rudy Giuliani: Did not serve
Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer
Phil Gramm: Did not serve
Chuck Hagel: Served in Vietnam, two Bronze stars and purple heart
Dennis Hastert: Did not serve
Tim Hutchison: Did not serve
Jack Kemp: Did not serve. "Knee problem," continued in NFL for 8 years
Jon Kyl: Did not serve
Trent Lott: Did not serve
Richard Lugar: Intelligence officer in Navy 1957-60
John McCain: POW in Vietnam, Legion of Merit, Silver star, DFC, many more
Mitch McConnell: Did not serve
John McHugh: Did not serve
George Pataki: Did not serve
Richard Perle: Did not serve
Colin Powell: 35 years in Army, 4-star general
Dan Quayle: Journalism unit of the Indiana National Guard
Ronald Reagan: Served in WWII making movies
Tom Ridge: Army in Vietnam, Bronze star
Dana Rohrabacher: Did not serve
Karl Rove: Did not serve
Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as flight instructor
Rick Santorum: Did not serve
Arnold Schwarzenegger: AWOL from Austrian army base
Richard Shelby: Did not serve
JC Watts: Did not serve
Vin Weber: Did not serve
Paul Wolfowitz: Did not serve

Pundits, Preachers, and Judges
Bill Bennett: Did not serve
Wolf Blitzer: Did not serve
Pat Buchanan: Did not serve
William Buckley: Army in WWII
Charlie Daniels: Did not serve
Lou Dobbs: Did not serve
Paul Gigot: Did not serve
Sean Hannity: Did not serve
Bill Kristol: Did not serve
Jim Lehrer: U.S. Marine Corps
Rush Limbaugh: Did not serve
Chris Matthews: Did not serve
Michael Medved: Did not serve
Ted Nugent: Did not serve
Bill O'Reilly: Did not serve
Dan Rather: Army Reserve
Ralph Reed: Did not serve
Michael Savage: Did not serve
Antonin Scalia: Did not serve
Kenneth Starr: Did not serve
Clarence Thomas: Did not serve
John Wayne: Did not serve
George Will: Did not serve

See a trend?

Clearly, this list is not exhaustive and not all-inclusive. But the names on it are chosen wisely.

Sean Hannity - blowhard, coward

On a whim, I signed up for the Sean Hannity Discussion forum today.

I went to the 'America at War' board, and made the following post:


Did Hannity serve in the military?


I was just curious as to whether his uber-patriotism has teeth.

A mere 6 minutes later, I went back to the forum to see if anyone had replied.

As I logged in, I got the follwong message:

You have been banned for the following reason:Troll / Contempt of Host
Date the ban will be lifted: Never

Imagine that....

Well, it is true that I have nothing but contempt for phony-patriot Hannity and his moronic fans, but it seemed to me that my question was pretty tame.

Of course, this is how conservatives maintain their facades - by controlling and quashing dissent. Even if such 'dissent' is little more than asking a relevant question, the answer to which may not act to add to the sheen on the Hero's Halo...

Must be a touchy subject for the fragile-ego'd Hannity.

He is a coward, no two ways about it.

John McCain has no Honor

There was a time, many many years ago, when I would have actually considered voting for McCain. That was when I, like os manh people, actually believed the claimed 'maverick' status for him. Had I been better informed back then, I would have seen the he did not deserve the label - going against your party on one or two issues does not make you a maverick.

Being in Congress for 26 years does not make you a maverick. Voting with Bush 90% of the time does not make you a maverick. Calling Bush's tax cuts something he could not support in "good conscience" one year, then a few years later, while still at war, claiming that he would try to make them permanent, does not make you a maverick.
I could go on.

But for me, as a veteran, what I find perhaps the most deplorable - not the flip flops, not the lying, not the pandering - is the constant harping on his POW history.

It is as if they want us to think that because he was a POW, he is superhuman. He is the most qualified to be president (nevermind that the folks who are telling us this today, were telling us that this made him unstable and perhaps made him a traitor when he ran against Bush). He is excused for being such an out of touch millionaire elitist that he doesn't know how many mansions he owns.

This is disgusting.

This is pathetic.

This is disgraceful.

It seems every time he makes an ass out of himself, he pulls out the POW card. 'What's that? I flip flopped on issue X? Well you see, when I was a POW, I didn't even HAVE X!'

Give me a break, McCain.

Using your history as a POW to score political points, in my book, removes your cloak of Honorable service.
You are a disgrace and an embarrassment to the men who sacrificed for their country and are NOT using that sacrifice as a means of securing cheap political points and to cloud issues and to sway the ignorant rubes for whom bumpersticker patriotism is REAL patriotism.

These are the acts not of an American Hero, but an American Idiot.

For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sarah Palin - Right Wing Lying Loony

While Palin's indiscretions and embellished personal history have not been secret for some time, the New York Times finally had the guts to print, on page 1, an expose of Palin and her antics. The caption for a picture reads, in part:

Throughout her career, Ms. Palin has pursued vendettas, fired officials who
crossed her and blurred the line between government and personal grievance.

Which means she is a lot like George Bush:

Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on
loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal
e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained by The
New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records.

Nice. More Star Chamber sleaze.

Add to her description 'ignorant' (she thinks the Founding Fathers wrote the Pledge of Allegiance); religious nut (thinks God wanted the war in Iraq and is a Young Earth Creationist); and lying sack of stool (she STILL claims to have opposed the 'bridge to nowhere'), and she is W with a skirt.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Brief return - Collin Brendemuehl is upset that he is so wrong about things...

Poor Collin Brendemuehl. Having been repeatedly humiliated at multiple blogs, he decided to try mine on for size, and it didn't go too well for him.

He had asked a couple of 'wrong' questions about evolution - wondered 'are there' "10 million" random changes were that were required to explain human evolution from a rodent-like ancestor. I explained that the questions did not even make sense. He didn't like that. He 'allowed' that it might only be 1 million. I asked him to name just 1000 of the 'trait changes' he believes exist. Ultimately, he could produce only those listed below, all dealing with the same structure, most of which are likley goverened by but a few genes. After several rounds of Collin trying to change subjects, dodge questions, and accusing me of all manner of things, I told Collin that until he decided to actually address the original issues, I would not allow more of his comments here. He called it 'censorship.'

I left the following reply (I've cleaned up a few typos):

Hilarious hubris...
I guess you ignored the parts where I explaiend that the 'parts' you seem to think require their own specific sets of mutations are actually all part of the same structure (a limb, for example) and I provided you a real example of how ALL those things can be affected by a single mutation.
In fact, I specifically countered each of your supposed structures and physiological issues, but you bailed.
Regarding an arm, you naively believed the following:

1. circulatory system
2. bone structure
3. muscles
5. foot/hand

Each of these has a variety of qualities that need
to change. Let'slist
a few. There are more, but this is a good

1. circulatory system
1.1 Vessel size
1.2 vessel
1.3 valve strength
1.4 elasticity
2. bone structure
2.2 thickness
2.3 marrow capacity
2.4 strength
3.1 tendon strength
3.2 size
3.3 strength
4. skin
4.1 sweat capacity
4.2 elasticity
4.3 hair
4.4 coloration
5. foot/hand
5.1 Shape
5.2 Nails
5.4 Thumb behavior

I provided the example of the FGFR-3 mutation in humans producing dwarfism that affects ALL of those things. ONE SINGLE mutation. I explicitly did not give that as an example of evolution, rather, as an example of how gene changes can ilicit major phenotypic changes.
ADDED COMMENT: But then, you insisted that getting a nail from a claw was a "major" phenotypic change requiring many mutations.
I explained how several of those 'individual' changes were actually
essentially the same thing - changing a vessels size will affect it's capacity;
making abone larger increases it's "marrow capacity", etc. To no

A rational person might want to quit while they are ahead.

And by the way - even if we are generous and grant that the 20 things you mention are legitimate individual changes each requiring their own suite of mutations (which they are not), YOU said there were MILLIONS, and I asked you to provide 1000.
You have 980 more to go. But I suspect that they, too, would all fall under the same umbrella of multiple changes that really are not multiple changes.
It is too bad that an untrained internet pseudoexpert cannot realize his limitations and actually acknowledge the possibility that he might not be up to snuff on the things he rants about.
Too much to ask, I suppose.
And by the way - discretion is not censorship. Post something of substance, and it will get through.

Internet creationist types also seem to like to try to imply - or state outright - that professors and such have some sort of obligation to put up with trollish behavior and address all manner of shallow nonsense presented as unasailable truth. Collin writes:

Now, if the terms I used were too colloquial, the list was certainly subject to
correction and clarification. A Ph. D. scientist should be able to competently
accomplish that.

Um, OK, well, the names were certainly colloquial enough, but that was hardly the issue, as I explained.
I can only imagine what he would have written if I had provided the anatomically-correct terms for each of the structures he had referred to - let me guess, I would have been labelled an elitist? I would have been accused of trying to embarrass the poor creationist? I would have been accused of trying to cloud the issues with minutiae?
In the end, clarification of terminology is the least of Collin's problems.

Ho hum... Back to vacation...

Monday, June 30, 2008

I agree with Wes CLark

Retired General Wesley Clark stated recently that "... being shot down" doesn't qualify McCain to be commander in chief, and the McCain camp is "outraged."

But the problem is, it is the truth.

I have read that McCain finished in the bottom 1-2% of his class at Annapolis. That he lost 5 aircraft during his career - only once to enemy action. That is what is referred to as a 'Black Ace' (a feat shared with right-wing nutjob Bob Dornan, who used to brag about his stint as a fighter pilot - never mentioned that he somehow managed to stay stateside during Viet Nam and lost 5 planes while he was at it).

McCain's service is honorable. But getting shot down doesn't make you a hero, nor does it make you more qualified to be CinC than anyone else, especially when you intend to follow the failed policies of the Bush administration....

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


I've recently taken on additional duties at my place of employment, and so am taking a break from blogging (not that I was super active in the first place). I will placing comments on moderation so as to avoid junk posts and spam from accumulating.

See ya!

Monday, May 26, 2008

No wonder so many rubes find quacks believable....

They don't know any better, and are easily swayed by legitimate-sounding arguments.

Well, duh... This is old news when it comes ot health-related issues. But for those of us interested in the so-called 'creation-evolution debate', it is not only old news, this folksy 'common sense' approach to technical issues it is one of the biggest pains in the neck we see.

I was perusing some old posts at the ISCID Brainstorms forum, a place where pro-ID creationists get together to pat each other on the back for no real reason. It was supposedly established, as the name implies, as a place where 'ID theorists' could come together to, well, brainstorm about 'Intelligent Design' and such. It quickly turned into the usual place where non-scientist creationists gathered to badmouth evolution. It died on the vine, more or less, as did the entire site (see this list of forums there, and look at the dates of last activity).

Anyway, I was perusing some old threads there, and the arguments of a creationist asthma researcher, Peter Borger, impressed at least one of the non-science types there:

“Can some aspect of Darwinism be falsified?”

Zachriel [a biologist] wrote:

Nothing has been persuasive that evolution doesn't occur, or that it does
not continue to act as the unifying theory of biology.

From a perspective outside the field of biology PB's argument is persuasive...

Emphasis mine.

Funny how that works... A biologist says that none of the biolgy-related arguments he's seen are convincing, a non-biologist says that from outside of biology, they do.

PB's [Peter Borger's] argument is essentially that redundant genes falsify evolution, among other silly things.
No wonder so many people find the yammerings of creationists with biology-related degrees persuasive - they don't know any better because they are not biologists!

Well, duh...

Monday, May 12, 2008

HEY "Andrew"! Where's your website?

A few days ago, some chump calling himself "Andrew" left the following comment in response to a post pointing out IDcreationist Sal Cordova's dishonesty:

slp, why do you have to be such an asshole?

I won't say YOU are lying, I just "lack belief" in your claims.

I guess 'Andrew' has a soft spot (or maybe it is a hard spot?) for his little sycophantic buddy Sal Cordova...
Clicking on 'Andrew's' blogger profile, you get a link to this website, The Brites, formerly run by IDcreationist and Baylor engineer Robert Marks, apparently as an attempt at parody or humor or something, which is now defunct. As of just a few days ago, when a particularly obnoxious pro-IDcreationist commenter at the Uncommon Descent blog calling itself 'Galapagos Finch' was 'outed' as being Marks.

And he thinks I am an asshole?

Sorry Bobby - you and your pals Sternberg, Dembski, et al. have got that market cornered.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Not a biologist? Not even a scientist? No biggie - all it takes to 'refute' evolution is a 'few years' of looking into it on your own...

Or so banker and YEC cultist RK Bentley will have you believe:

OK, so you know that I’ve long since given up on evolution. After looking into
it for a few years, I realize the whole idea is untenable.

Oh, sure. Thats all it takes. A few years of looking into it... So, if I look into the bible for a few years and conclude that it is nonsense, my conclusions are valid, too?

His 'biography' on the right hand side of his blog says it all, really:

I don't believe evolution; it's that simple. I do believe in the account of
creation as described in Genesis. On this blog, I will discuss arguments 1) for
creation, 2) against evolution, and 3) the social/political topics surrounding
the issue.
Any aspect of the evolution/creation debate is fair game.
I'm not a scientist so please don't expect lengthy, technical
These are intended for consumption by the ordinary person. But
though my posts may not be technical, I take great care to insure they are
Rest assured I will gore many of the sacred bulls of staunch
. I've donned my extra-thick-skin to prepare for the
insults soon to be directed at me. My objective though, is not to simply cast
aspersion but to change minds.
Your feedback is welcome. Honest, sincere questions may be the subject of
future blogs. Red Herrings will be dealt with appropriately. Insults will be
ignored for the most part - except perhaps to be used as examples of the lack of
substance in many evolutionists' arguments.

Humble, these people are not.
Of course, we shouldn't expect there to be much 'debate' on his blog - he moderates comemnts and seems to ignore the substantive comments he does let through.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

If it is enough to 'convict' Haeckel, it should be enough to 'convict' Dembski et al.

Ernst Haeckel, of "Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny" fame, gets pretty rough treatment from creationists and Intelligent Design advocates. Essentially, Haeckel embellished his drawings of embryoes to make his particular hypothesis seem more 'right' - 130+ years ago. Textbooks often use his drawings (or renditions of them) to illustrate certain points. Time was, they were used to support his hypothesis. Now, they are generally used to demonstrate an historical example of rushing to judgement. Actual pictures of embryoes are more often used now, when they are available, and demonstrate that while Haeckel's original claims were not entirely correct, vertebrate embryoes do, in fact, bear striking resemblances to one another, especially early in development.

But this is only part of the story.

The rest is that creationists and their kind use this as an example of, among other things, how evolutionists supposedly lie to support their theory; how shoddy evolutionist scholarship is, since many textbooks still use the photos (they usually don't talk about HOW they are used); etc. They like to villify Haeckel and in the process, find evolution as a theory 'guilty' by association.

Now, let us consider another, shall we say, inaccurate representation of a biological entity, used to promote a paricular hypothesis.

This particular entity is represented as a perfectly symmetrical machine-like structure. Its parts are invariably shown intertwining with intricate precision. When animations of it working are produced it is always shown operating smoothly and precisely. In the presentations of IDcreationists, it looks like this:

Note the manafactured appearance of its parts - smooth, perfect angles, beautiful engineering, right? Well, that is the intended effect. What does one of these things REALLY look like?

Well, not quite like that.

Here are a few examples:

from Shahid Khan, Imran Humayun Khan, and Thomas S. Reese, 1991; "New Structural Features of the Flagellar Base in Salmonella typhimurium Revealed by Rapid-Freeze Electron Microscopy." Journal of Bacteriology 173:2888-09

Here is a 3-D model of the hook region as determined from molecular content:

Not quite the structures the IDcreationists like to present as their 'designed' argument, is it? No smooth interlocking subunits, no washer-like flat plates, etc.

The closest one can come to the stylized IDcreationist version is this:

But that is actually a composite picture, not an actual micrograph.

Of course, even if it did look just like that, we have to remember the scale we are looking at. The above structure is very, very small (less than 100 nanometers across - that is, less than 100 billionths of a meter), and when you get to this scale, molecules can only go together so many ways.
I remember the first time I saw a micrograph of a T7 bacteriophage I thought to myslef, 'That looks man-made.' Why? All those angles, those 'legs', etc. After some reading, however, I discovered that its shape is just the result of the interactions of the proteins that make it up. The shape is a byproduct of this interaction not a plan.


Why should the unrealistic portrayals of the flagellum by ID creationists NOT be considered just as 'dishonest' and those that use it to sway opinion not just as worthy of vilification as Haeckel was when he embellished his drawings?

Are people like Behe, Dembski, Nelson, Wells, etc. not doing the same thing Haeckel did? I would argue what they are doing is WORSE than what Haeckel did - it is likely that the optical quality of the microscopes of Haeckel's time lent to his 'embellishments' (think 'canals on Mars'), while the IDcreationists of today know full well that fancy, colorful computer-generated idealized/sytlized models are inaccurate representations, but they just keep on using them.

Why the double standard?

Why do these self-proclaimed Christians so readily - eagerly - engage in such deceptive practices?

*Hat tip to Monado at Science Notes...., and for other information to Mark Perakh at TalkReason.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

What does a ceationist blogger do when one questions his claims regarding something he clearly knows little about?

Why, he labels your posts "trolling", of course. And throws in an accusation that you are nto doing your homework, to boot.

Next step? Censorship... I can't wait!

See it all going down here. Some of you might find the blogger's name familiar - Collin Brendemuehl.

Here is how it is going so far, blog commments only (I've omitted comments by anyone but myself and Brendemuehl for brevity). What Brendemuehl wrote is in italics:

Are there 10 million random genetic changes needed to take place from, say, an ancient little rodent to today's human? Just a round figure for the sake of argument.

Why not use a rational number instead of one that you pulled form thin air, most likely as a means of 'proving' what you already "believe"? You say you present the 10 million figure just for the sake of argument, but do you really think that there are 10 million substantive trait differences between a mouse-like rodent and a human? What are they? Can you make a list of, say, 1,000?My bet is that you cannot do even half that before you start repeating yourself.

So do you really think that you can find a major genetic trait shift (on average) every 6 generations? Hardly. There is not enough time!

When you establish unrealistic ground rules, of course your results will
look silly. That was your intent, was it not?

Let's try another route: Lucy is 3.9 million years old and (again, for the sake of argument) pretty close to human structure. That means very few changes from Lucy to today and a greater number of generational changes from Yucatan to Lucy. Again, not enough time!

A baseless assertion devoid of logic or rationale, and premsied on a totally fabricated foundation. Wonderful argumentation!
9:40 AM

Doppelganger said...
Collin writes:It is a hypothetical.But I don't see any reasonable way to get the number of trait changes in a mere 1000.

I had asked you to name 1000 of the millions of changes you believe exist. You did not even try. You see no 'reasonable' way to get a human rom a rodent in 1000 trait changes, but you ave not even explained what you mean by trait. You are just tossing big numbers around as if they mean something. And what ARE the trait changes you speak of, and how many mutations would it take to produce them? You seem to know. You think that there are 'millions' of trait changes between humans and rodents, yet you cannot even list a few of them. I was not saying that there ARE 1000, I was asking if you could actually list 1000 of the millions you say exist.

10M is not an unreasonable hypothetical figure when you talk about the complexity of genetics.

10 M what? Trait changes? Please explain what you mean by a trait. But sure, let us talk about the complexity of genetics. I just taught the genetics unit in my anatomy class this past week. Again I ask - How many mutations are requred to produce specific trait changes, as you call them? Do all trait changes require the same number of mutational changes? I fail to see why 10 M mutations is a 'reasonable amount' devoid of any rationale or explanation. Oh - and are we talking about fixed beneficial mutations, or phenotype-altering mutations in general?

But it's also not simple changes -- there is not a simple path from rodent to human. There are gene combinations and all sorts of other hypotheses related to these processes. Throw in natural selection and you add more possibility for loss.

Of course it is not simple. There is nearly no limit to what direction an evolutionary process could take. But human from rodent was not a goal. In fact, there is NO goal at all. What we see is simply what happened.

That's a field in which you are apparently strong. But for the sake of *your* position let's say it's a mere 1M. That's still a real change every 60 generations, which is also outside the scope of common Darwinian and neo-Darwinian calculations.

Please show some of these 'neo-Darwinian' calculations you speak of. Where did you get your generation numbers from? You will need to establish, in order for your positon to have any merit, at the very least:

1. How many trait differences in 'kind' and not degree there actually are e.g., changes in the density of hair on the skin is a difference in degree, hair from no hair is a difference in 'kind'; differences in degree can be caused by neutral variation and other non-beneficial changes).

2. How many mutations would have been required for each such change.

It would also be helpful to know the population sizes involved and the generation times of the ancestral groups, but 1 and 2 above are the bare minumum that your position must have in order to be taken seriously at all. Simply 'not believing' it is insufficient.

Again, the numbers, even your more modest numbers, don't seem to add up.

I'm sorry - I provided no numbers. YOU did.

Now, if you enlighten me (the post was clear about my wish to hear a real alternative (see paragraph 2), I'm all ears. But make it realistic, please.

An alternative to what?I am unsure why a greater requisite for realism is placed on me when your numbers appear to have been pulled from thin air and to be premised not on any knowledge of genetics, but on an awe of large numbers. Rodents diverged from the rest of the placental mammals some 80 million years ago (depending on the source and the specific branching pattern employed, between 55-125 MYA). In terms of real anatomy and physiology, there is relatively little in terms of 'new' traits that primates possess that rodents do not.If there really are 10 M 'trait changes', what are they? And why is 80 odd million years not enough time?You cannot just toss out numbers and call it an argument.
6:57 PM

Doppelganger said...
Collin writes:
I'm wanting to see "the work" where the number of necessary changes are clarified and the changes are identified.

That does not appear to be what you wrote in your blog post. YOU presented numbers of changes, YOU should identify them and then explain how many mutations would be required to produce them. It is YOUR argument.

That is why I raised a hypotheticall and asked for a clarification as to the reliability of such an estimation.

I'd say that the 'estimation' is orders of magnitude off. It is folly to claim that there are some certain number of traits to account for when no real definition of 'trait' is provided or suggested.

My assertion is for the purpose of gaining clarification. I'm *wanting* someone to show any real or apparent error and not just say that it's wrong.

Why is pointing out the wrongness wrong? I do not pretend to know exactly how many trait differences there are between humans and a rodent ancestor in part because I do not know what traits the rodent ancestor possessed. Do you?

But I do not feel that unless someone proves me wrong, I can make any assertion I want to on the subject. Human and mouse genomes differ by some 60%, 10x the difference between humans and chimps. This number is right about what would be expected had humans and mice diverged for a common ancestral population about 75 MYA ( see So what exactly are you looking to get corrected on specifically?
7:14 PM

Doppelganger said...
Collin writes:
You asked me to name 10M changes?

Do you read the things you reply to? I ask in all sincerity, for I specifically asked - and later reiterated - if you could name 1,000 of the 10 M you proposed. I don't think that is too much to ask.

How many gene changes for walking upright?

Good question. Do you know? If not, it seems to me that tossing out numbers like 10 M are just BS.

For arms, hands, size, shape, intellect.

Do mice not have arms? Hands (as such)? This is why I asked about
differences in kind and not degree. Mouse forepaws have the same basic skeletal structure as a human hand does, just in different proportions and a slightly different configuration. How many mutations did it require to get a mouse-like forepaw to a human-like hand? Couldn't tell you, but personally, I would not feel comfortable tossing out numbers if I did not have a good reason to do so.

The minimalist approach of classic Darwinism is inadequate.

So you say, but do you really think just making things up is adequate?
Allow me to provide an example of why I do not believe some enormous number of beneficial mutational changes are required to alter the basic vertebrate body plan. I do not present this as an example of evolution, nor as an example of a beneficial mutation. I merely present it as an example of how small genetic changes can produce large phenotypic differences. There is a gene in humans that encodes one of the receptors for fibroblast growth factor. This particular gene is called FGFR-3. A single point mutation in this gene that alters an amino acid produces a form of achondroplasia (dwarfism). This is not a developmental 'programming' gene like the HOX genes, it is just a gene for a receptor that would be found on certain types of cells.
Yet this mutation produces disproportionate limb growth, reduction in the number of interphalangeal joints, and characteristic facial features. All from one little single nucleotide change. Now imagine what sorts of changes could occur as the result of minor changes in genes associated with, say, pelvis formation or neocortex growth. There is a big difference between gross genome structure changes and the acquisition of beneficial mutations.
8:21 AM

Doppelganger said...
Collin writes:
We know that "arm" is not a simple 1-gene change. You have bone
structure, muscle structure, vessel structure, valves, everything including the
attributes of strength, size, shape, color, etc., with the various nuances of
each such as thickness, cell structure, etc.

I guess you missed the very informative point in my last reply - a single
point mutation in one gene altered ALL of those things in the limbs and head of the individual. You do NOT, in fact, need specific mutations to alter every part of a limb. That is just naive folk science.

Set up a chart and you'll see that 1000 is a very small

A chart of what?

These things, it is proposed, came very gradually over millions of years. I'm merely suggesting that the proposed amount of time is inadequate.

I know, and you have offered exactly ZERO rationale, evidence, of
explanation for your position. You just toss out a huge number and say that there is not enough time. Sure you obliquely refer to some 'Darwinism calculations' or whatever it was, but you don't say what those are even after I asked for clarification. Your implied position on the apparent need for mutations for each and every part of an arm, for example, is not premised on any real understanding of genetics or development, rather a 'folk science' belief about how genes and organisms operate. You will continue to 'disbelieve' in the issue until you actually make an attempt to understand what it is really about.

Classic Darwinism is based on observation and, as I said, is
simplistic. The use of molecular biology is neo-Darwinian.

I see no relevance to anything for that statement.

It seems counter-productive to evolutionary biology to propose radical
changes from single genes instead of long, slow changes as the theory

Did you even try to understand the points I made? You might be better
off getting your information on genetics, development, and evolution from actual geneticists and evolutionary biologists than from religious philosophers (Plantinga)and the like. Your replies are disjointed and you do not even attempt to address the details. It is almost as if you don't really want the answers you claim to.
But maybe I am wrong, and you will soon provide a list of trait changes
between the LCA of rodents and humans, how many mutations would have been required to get those changes, etc.
12:31 PM

Collin Brendemuehl said...
Dopple,You refuse to study the material or do the
work. Your trolling is tiresome. Enjoy your week.
5:22 PM

Boonton said...
Pot, Kettle, Black
9:07 AM

Doppelganger said...
Collin comically writes:
Dopple,You refuse to study the material or do the work. Your trolling
is tiresome. Enjoy your week.

How quaint, how creationist. Collin, my doctorate is in Anatomy and Cell Biology and my graduate research was on the molecular evolution of primates. My papers are cited by the Tree of Life web project and one of my papers has been cited more than all of Dembski's and Wells' actual peer reviewed publications combined. That I do not accept your bland, unsupported assertions at face value is not a rational excuse for accusing me of 'trolling' and not understanding the issues. It is not my fault that your ignorance of development and genetics and evolution has led you to propose absurd scenarios and even more absurd 'challenges'. If you feel that labelling my comments as trolling is a good way to avoid admitting that you are in over your head, well, so be it. Pride and hubris seem to be requisite qualities for internet creationists. I took the time to check out your comments on Brayton's and Rosenhouse's blogs, and it would appear that only one of us qualifies as a troll, and it is not me.
If you ever feel able to actually produce valid, meaningful numbers for
your scenarios as opposed to things pulled out of thin air and premised on a poor understanding of biology, or worse, on your understanding of the issues via creationist books and essays, let me know and I will gladly discuss it with you.
Until then, I plan to document this exchange on my blog.
9:32 AM

Lots of irony and hypocrisy in there so far....

Note - Brendemuehl has also accused the other active commenter there of trolling. Apparently, the creationist uses this tactic of labelling and accusing people of trolling when he realizes that he can no longer keep up with the level of technical sophistication sought by his opponants.

Ben Stein is a degenerate moron

In my opinion, of course.

Stein, whose claim to fame is being the boring guy who said, "Bueller... Bueller" in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and, of course, beinga speechwriter for Richard Nixon, had the following to say about scientists on some silly religious program, in an interview with televangelist Paul Crouch:

Stein: When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. Myers
[i.e. biologist P.Z. Myers], talking about how great scientists were, I was
thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them
what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that
was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this
is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you.

That’s right.

Stein: …Love of God and compassion and empathy leads
you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing

Crouch: Good word, good word.

Ben Stein, you are an idiot.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Cordova, up to his dishonest antics... as usual...

I came across a couple of examples (not new things, just old things I hadn't seen before) of creationist Slavador Cordova's sickeningly dishonest antics today.

In one example, he shows up and posts a response to a post on Mark Chu-Carroll's blog which has been inactive for over a month, and when, 2 days later, nobody had replied, he trumpeted it on a creationist blog as some sort of victory.

The other example - well, many examples, actually - are in a series of exchanges at the Panda's Thumb. If you can stomach such things, check out 'Slimy Sal's' sickening sleaze-fest...

Creationists like Cordova do not seem to have any decency or honesty at all.

From their silly and spurious attacks on someone who died over 100 years ago...

Apparently such operations were too much for Darwin’s feeble brain, but perhaps I should not make light of the fact Darwin was not well endowed with the kind of mind like that of mathematician Bill Dembski who could make such calculations in his sleep.

...It would appear then, Darwin did not have as much brain power as Bill Dembski, Jonathan Wells, nor even lil’ ole me. That’s pretty pathetic...

So, I’ll kindly remind my critics that if they view me as an imbecile, by way of
inference, in light of Darwin’s math skills, Darwin was an even greater imbecile. And that’s pretty pathetic if a YEC has substantially more brain power than Charles Darwin….

as if Darwin's math skills had anything at all to do with his collecting and interpreting evidence, something that the 'math genius' creationists Cordova all but gets an erection over could not do with the help of a tutor.

...To their unwarranted elevation of the status of their fellow creationists:

outlined the basic mathematical reasoning here (inspired by YEC Cornell Professor and renowned geneticist, John Sanford):

'Renowned' geneticist? Here's the funny thing about that - He is known for breeding raspberries or something, and has a few patents, not for any groundbreaking research. He is also a young earth creationist. He is only renowned in the minds of drooling sycophantic liars like Cordova.

One should wonder why 'Christians' like Cordova engage in thses deceptive and dishonest practices.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Salvador Cordova and Frank Tipler, morons for Christ

This is too much... A religious physicist (Tipler) writes something really stupid, and a creationist zealot (Cordova) hails it as amazing!

See for yourself:

For starters, Tipler observes that the Shroud of Turin has DNA on it consistent
with an XX male, which would suggest a virgin birth! He has some other really
cool ideas for examining the rocks near the tomb of Jesus for traces of specific
kinds of sub-atomic events. He details his research in Physics
of Christianity

So, I have to wonder - did Tipler the theoretical physicist, whose good buddy and sometimes co-author John Barrow once declared that biologists are not scientists, do much "research" on basic biology? Or don't super-duper smart theoretical physicists with creationist leanings have to bother with actually undetrstanding that sort of thing when they write silly pro-religion, pseudoscience books?

Here's a clue for you two wizards - a human with two X chromosomes is a female.
XX = female

Granted, there is a rare syndrome in which a male can be XX (XX male syndrome), but this is a defect - the result of abnormal crossing-over during meiosis. It results in sterility, abnormal penis and teste development, gyneconmastia, and effeminate characteristics. Does Tipler really want to claim that about his Lord and Savior?

Not to mention that original reports state that XY blood was found, not XX (and if it hjad been XX, how could they tell it had been a male?). Why would it matter?

Well, if Jesus was really born of a virgin, according to Tipler's folk biology/theology, He would have had to have been XX, since Mary would have been XX, and the only outcome of this is an effeminate, gynecomstic infertile man with an abnormal penis and small testes.

All Hail the Son of God!

And Cordova, the BS in physics/engineer creationist, while not enthusiastic about it, reports on it favorably... Anything for the cause, I suppose.

This site goes into more detail on Tipler's nutty claims, including providing this somewhat comical quote from his XX-Jesus chapter:

The full results of the DNA testing of the Shroud were published, he [Tipler] says, in an obscure Italian journal, which included "a computer output of the DNA analyzer."

A computer output of the DNA analyzer... Hmmm.... That is a bit like someone describing a picture taken through a telescope as "an optical output of the far-away object viewer."


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Conservatives: Monumentally stupid or monumentally dishonest?

Or maybe a little of each? Or perhaps just plain deluded?

You be the judge.

Not only do they seem to be utterly ignorant of history*, but they demonstrate their true disdain for the military that they pretend to love so much.

4000 dead AMERICAN soldiers? No big deal....

*Jonah Goldberg, for example, demonstrated his stupidity in his latest book in which he claimed, in part, that Hitelr was a 'leftist' because the name of the Nazi party had the word 'socialist' in it...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

David Scott Springer - tough guy for IDism

David Scott Springer - Davescot - is supposedly a former marine, retired Dell uber-wizard millionaire, who is now the main deleter/censor/banner of Bill "Ted Haggard of Informaton Theory" Dembski's blog, Uncommon Descent.

Here is what this tough guy just had to write in April 2006 about a biologist:

Actually it makes me feel like doing some pain experiments on PZ Myers. I don’t believe he feels pain. All the blood and screaming from my fists
pounding his face to a pulp
would be nothing more significant than an automobile engine leaking oil and bearings making noise from lack of lubrication. Of course I could be wrong. -ds

Wow, tough talk from the tough guy.

The same tough guy who backed out of a face-to-face meeting with a professional clown whom he had been insulting a while ago. Even told the clown in so many words that he would be packing heat, have his dogs with him, would employ chain saws in his defense, and would call the police if he showed up.

David Scott Springer - ex-Marine, extreme mesomorph, built like a boxer or a linebacker (according to himself):

(isn't that cute - big tough guy truck and all) afraid of a clown.

How typical...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

"Intelligent Design" has NOTHING to do with religion - nope - all science!

So they tell us.

But have a look at this - it is a list of screenings of the movie. Note the locations of almost all of them.

Just a coincidence, I am sure.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Conservative Christian Republican Sally Kern put in her place

Sally Kern, right-wing anti-gay fruitcake, has received a letter from a teenager. It is a great letter, and sadly will likely be ignored by the bible-thumping mouth-breather Kern and her allies:

Rep Kern:

On April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City a terrorist detonated a bomb that killed my mother and 167 others. 19 children died that day. Had I not had the chicken pox that day, the body count would've likely have included one more. Over 800 other Oklahomans were injured that day and many of those still suffer through their permanent wounds.

That terrorist was neither a homosexual or was he involved in Islam. He was an extremist Christian forcing his views through a body count. He held his beliefs and made those who didn't live up to them pay with their lives.

As you were not a resident of Oklahoma on that day, it could be explained why you so carelessly chose words saying that the homosexual agenda is worst than terrorism. I can most certainly tell you through my own experience that is not true. I am sure there are many people in your voting district that laid a loved one to death after the terrorist attack on Oklahoma City. I kind of doubt you'll find one of them that will agree with you.

I was five years old when my mother died. I remember what a beautiful, wise, and remarkable woman she was. I miss her. Your harsh words and misguided beliefs brought me to tears, because you told me that my mother's killer was a better person than a group of people that are seeking safety and tolerance for themselves.

As someone left motherless and victimized by terrorists, I say to you very clearly you are absolutely wrong.

You represent a district in Oklahoma City and you very coldly express a lack of love, sympathy or understanding for what they've been through. Can I ask if you might have chosen wiser words were you a real Oklahoman that was here to share the suffering with Oklahoma City? Might your heart be a bit less cold had you been around to see the small bodies of children being pulled out of rubble and carried away by weeping firemen?

I've spent 12 years in Oklahoma public schools and never once have I had anyone try to force a gay agenda on me. I have seen, however, many gay students beat up and there's never a day in school that has went by when I haven't heard the word **** slung at someone. I've been called gay slurs many times and they hurt and I am not even gay so I can just imagine how a real gay person feels. You were a school teacher and you have seen those things too. How could you care so little about the suffering of some of your students?

Let me tell you the result of your words in my school. Every openly gay and suspected gay in the school were having to walk together Monday for protection. They looked scared. They've already experienced enough hate and now your words gave other students even more motivation to sneer at them and call them names. Afterall, you are a teacher and a lawmaker, many young people have taken your words to heart. That happens when you assume a role of responsibility in your community. I seriously think before this week ends that some kids here will be going home bruised and bloody because of what you said.

I wish you could've met my mom. Maybe she could've guided you in how a real Christian should be acting and speaking.

I have not had a mother for nearly 13 years now and wonder if there were fewer people like you around, people with more love and tolerance in their hearts instead of strife, if my mom would be here to watch me graduate from high school this spring. Now she won't be there. So I'll be packing my things and leaving Oklahoma to go to college elsewhere and one day be a writer and I have no intentions to ever return here. I have no doubt that people like you will incite crazy people to build more bombs and kill more people again. I don't want to be here for that. I just can't go through that again.

You may just see me as a kid, but let me try to teach you something. The old saying is sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you. Well, your words hurt me. Your words disrespected the memory of my mom. Your words can cause others to pick up sticks and stones and hurt others.




But, Republicans are Republicans:

If any further proof was needed that the GOP is the party of hatred
and intolerance, the Oklahoma Legislature’s Republican caucus has
refused to condemn Rep. Sally Kern (R) for saying – among other bigoted anti-gay remarks – that gays pose a greater danger to the United States than terrorists.
Here are some highlights from
( Thousands of emails have flooded into the state mailboxes of lawmakers demanding an apology but House Speaker Chris Benge (R) tells the Oklahoman newspaper that he has no plans to
punish Kern.


It gets worse - Kern's husband is a Baptist Minister and she is a member of liar for Christ Phyllis Schlafly's 'Eagle Forum'...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Casey Luskin, propagandist for Christ

The Energizer Bunny of the Anti-Evolution movement, Casey Luskin, is up to his usual pathetic antics.

He was recently on a 'chat' for a San Francisco newspaper and he made the following claim, (about 1/3 of the way down) in response to a question asking him what evidence compelled him to espouse ID:

(4) Genetics: Genetic research continues to uncover functions for "junk-DNA,"
include functionality for pseudogenes, introns, LINE, and ALU elements. ID
proponents have long said that DNA was designed, then junk-DNA will turn out to
have function, whereas neo-Darwisms's support for junk-DNA would turn out to be
a science-stopping view. It turns out, ID proponents were right!
Ah, yes - "neo-Darwinism" is a science stopper when it comes to 'junk DNA'. Right - so, when we look into this matter, the publications - if any - should be dominated by Intelligent Design creationist 'scientists', right? We should see predictions by creationists or IDists going back decades espousing function for all junk DNA, and we should see evolutionists claiming that it was totally junk and useless and actively discouraging research on it, right?

But wait - Luskin takes this further. A few questions later, he writes a screed laced with innuendo, nonsense, and that oh-so-creationist tendency to ignore reality.
It is a lot of garbage to wade through.

ID proponents long-predicted the death of the junk-DNA paradigm, while most (but
not all) neo-Darwinsists were defending it. (please see
for details).
I dissect that article at the link Luskin provided below. Suffice it to say, Luskin's take on junk DNA is a bit misguided, at best.

Regarding the percent-similarity between human and chimp-DNA, the 98% statistic
is often based upon studies of functional-proteins, so I'm not sure if junk-DNA
would apply here.
In fact, the numbers generally refer to ALL DNA, 'junk' and not. Of course, the fact that Luskin refers only to 'similarity' indicates a rather shallow grasp of what the analyses actually show.

Nonetheless, it's worth commenting on this statitistic by asking 2 questions: 1)
Is the ~99% Human/Chimp DNA-similarity statistic accurate? While recent studies
have confirmed that certain stretches of human and chimp DNA are on average
about 1.23% different, this is merely an estimate with huge caveats.

Actually, recent studies have confirmed that most functional genes are much more similar than that - closer to 99.4% similar or only 0.6% different.

A recent news article in Science observed that the 1% figure "reflects only base
substitutions, not the many stretches of DNA that have been inserted or deleted
in the genomes." (see Jon Cohen, "Relative Differences: The Myth of 1%,"
Science, Vol. 316:1836 (June 29, 2007).) In other words, when the chimp genome
has no similar stretch of human DNA, such DNA sequences are ignored by those
touting the statistic that humans and chimps are only 1% genetically different.
For this reason, the aforementioned Science news article was subtitled "The Myth
of 1%," and printed the following language to describe the 1% statistic: -
"studies are showing that [humans and chimps] are not as similar as many tend to
believe"; - the 1% statistic is a "truism [that] should be retired"; - the 1%
statistic is "more a hindrance for understanding than a help"; - "the 1%
difference wasn't the whole story"; - "Researchers are finding that on top of
the 1% distinction, chunks of missing DNA, extra genes, altered connections in
gene networks, and the very structure of chromosomes confound any quantification
of 'humanness' versus 'chimpness.'" Indeed, due to the huge caveats in the 1%
statistic, some scientists are suggesting that a better method of measuring
human/chimp genetic differences might be counting individual gene copies. When
this metric is employed, human and chimp DNA is over 5% different.

True, however, what Luskin fails to note is that if we are to adopt this "new" method of comparison, than ALL DNA 'similarity' numbers between ALL species will have to be increased, not just the human-chimp numbers. Of course, what Luskin fails to note - and likely understand - is that there is a good rationale for not counting the individual nucleotide differences in insertions and deletions - they are one-time events. That is, when a "chunk of [missing] DNA" is removed from a genome, it happens all at once. A 1000 base deletion does not take 1000 events in which a single nucleotide is lost, it is ALL lost in one event. Thus, most researchers had 'counted' such occurrences on par with single nucleotide substitutions. Luskin also fails to mention that any two humans have different numbers of genes! I guess humans must not be related to each other... Poor humans... And, what is more, the author of the article Luskin quotes from, Jon Cohen, caught wind of this Luskin article and wrote the following letter to him:

From: Jon Cohen [snip]
Sent: Saturday, October 20, 2007 12:05 PM
To: Casey
Cc: [Snip]
Subject: Errors in your posting
Mr. Luskin,

I wrote the Science news article that you refer to in your recent posting on the
Discovery Institute’s “Evolution News and Views.” Given that “misreporting of
the evolution issue is one key reason” for that site, which complains that “much
of the news coverage has been sloppy, inaccurate, and in some cases, overtly
biased,” I wanted to point out that your own post contains several errors and
apparent misunderstandings. I realize that you are largely reporting what others
have written, but you do it selectively and out of context–and you also fail to scrutinize what the original reports said.
As I wrote in my article, chimps and humans do differ genetically by more than 1%, but our genes–in contrast to what the Scientific American posting states–are only 1.23% different. The bulk of the differences between chimps and humans exist in noncoding regions of the genome that regulate our genes and in gene copy number variation/segmental duplication, which ultimately determine how much product (typically protein) they produce.

You also state that my article “reports” that copy numbers differ by 6.4%. Not only does this misleadingly imply that humans thus differ from chimps by 6.4% (it’s probably closer to 5%), you fail to note that my article was not the source of this figure: I was citing a report that was done by a computational genomics researcher. In other words, it’s a model, which is another way of saying it’s an estimate, not a hard fact. (The 1.23% is a hard fact: It’s based on sequencing the entire human genome and the chimpanzee genome.)
The claim that humans are as different from each other as was previously thought we were different from chimps also is misleading and inaccurate. No credible study that I know of ever suggested that one human’s genes differ from another human’s gene by 1.23%. The Scientific America posting–which is referring to an AP story in USA Today that’s referring to the PLoS Biology paper about Craig Venter’s genome–does not explain that Venter reported a 0.5% difference between his inherited genome from his mother and father, which once again is measuring not simply gene differences but differences in noncoding regions that include inserts and deletions (that may sometimes contain copied or deleted genes or may impact regulation).
None of the original studies I cited in my article or Venter’s genome paper suggest in
any way that their findings challenge Darwinian evolution, and I doubt that any
of those researchers would support that conclusion from their data. And indeed,
the fact that we differ genetically by more than 1%, largely for gene regulatory
reasons, was predicted in Science more than 30 years ago (again as my article
notes)–and the 1975 article was co-authored by one of the world’s leading
evolutionary biologists at the time, Allan Wilson.
The bottom line is that your post is so distant from the sources that you have completely garbled the data to support Intelligent Design. It’s sloppy, inaccurate, and overtly biased.
Your are welcome to post my e-mail in its entirety, but given the
errors that you made in your post by selectively quoting from other posts,
please do not excerpt this for a public posting. I’m also attaching original
papers that discuss these issues. It’s complicated stuff, and I hope these
papers help clarify the details.
Jon Cohen

Of interest is the date of Cohen's letter - October 20, 2007. Recall that the 'chat' in which Luskin took part occurred just a few days ago - Mar. 11, 2008. So Luskin is STILL using disinformation that had been corrected for him. Will the good little IDcreationists out there in listener/reader land care? Doubt it... Luskin posted a 'response' to Cohen's letter here (no comments allowed, of course), which I will take a look at in a later posting.

But new findings in genetics show that gene-coding DNA might not even be the
right place to seek differences between humans and chimps. But there is a deeper
question: (2) If humans and chimps were truly only 1% different at the genetic
level, why should that demonstrate common ancestry?
Perhaps because that is not all that such studies indicate? I predict that Luskin has never seen DNA sequence data, certainly never analyzed any. The reporting of % similarity is interesting and informative in and of itself, but it is only part of the story - in reality, what indicates descent is not just the similarity between any two sequences (genomes), it is the patterns of unique shared mutations among many species' genomes.(see the section on cladistics).
The next section of Luskin's gibberish merely provides more evidence that he does not truly understand what the "% similarity" figures truly mean, and does not understnad what phylogenetic analyses entail.

Similarities in key genetic sequences may be explained as a
result of functional requirements and common design rather than mere common
descent. We might reasonably ask the evolutionist why the 1% difference value is
considered powerful evidence for Darwinian evolution, and at what point does the
comparison cease to support Darwinian evolution? What about 2% different? 3%?
5%? 10%? Is there an objective metric for falsification here, or are Darwinists
putting forth a fallacious argument for human / chimp common ancestry? In my
view, intelligent design is certainly compatible with human/ape common ancestry,
but the truth is that the percent difference says nothing about whether humans
and chimps share a common ancestor. The percent genetic similarity between
humans and apes does not demonstrate Darwinian evolution, unless one excludes
the possibility of intelligent design. Just as intelligent agents 're-use'
functional components that work over and over in different systems (e.g., wheels
for cars and wheels for airplanes), genetic similarities between humans and
chimps could also be explained as the result of the re-usage of common genetic
programs due to functional requirements of the hominid body plan.

It could be, but then, so could de-novo genetic elements. With a Designer, any and all phenomena are explained by His - oops, I mean "it's" - folly and whim.
See? Just spewing goo for the rubes. Luskin is clueless, or is being purposefully deceptive. All for his beliefs.


Luskins IDEA center article, linked to in the 'chat', my comments interspersed:

Two recent news articles are discussing the death of the junk-DNA icon of Neo-Darwinism.

One, what does he mean by 'icon of Neo-Darwinism'? Apparently, Luskin is trying to indicate that this is a major issue for evolution. As he frames it, it is not.

Wired Magazine has an article pejoratively titled "One Scientist's Junk Is a Creationist's Treasure" that emphasizes the positive point that intelligent design has
made successful predictions on the question of "junk-DNA."
That's funny - I cannot wait to see these 'predictions' . The article only quotes Discovery Institute hack Stephen Meyer as claiming that function in junk DNA is an 'empirical' prediction of ID and it disconfirms evolution, which noit only shows what a sleaze Meyer is, but that he is an out and out liar, to boot. But I digress.

The article reports: [A] surprising group is embracing the
results: intelligent-design advocates. Since the early '70s, many scientists
have believed that a large amount of many organisms' DNA is useless junk. But
recently, genome researchers are finding that these "noncoding" genome regions
are responsible for important biological functions.The Wired Magazine
article then quotes Discovery
Institute's Stephen Meyer explaining that this is a prediction of intelligent
design that was largely unexpected under neo-Darwinian thought:
"It is a
confirmation of a natural empirical prediction or expectation of the theory of
intelligent design, and it disconfirms the neo-Darwinian hypothesis," said
Stephen Meyer, director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery
Institute in Seattle.The Wired Magazine
article openly and unashamedly
confuses intelligent design with creationism,

Indeed - ID advocates are creationists, whether Luskin wants ot admit it or not. Of course, the article glosses over some important facts - like the little fact that it was evolutionists that discovered that some junk DNA has funcxtion, and that even the originators of the phrase "junk DNA" did not assert that all noncoding DNA was useless, and mistakenly gives the creationists more credit - much more credit - than they deserve. And Collins - I just wish that guy would keep his mouth shut.
Anyway, these 'predictions' by ID creationists - where were they published? They weren't. What we really see is creationists taking papers indicating function for some junk DNA and claiming that they would 'expect' this. 'Expecting' something after the fact is not a prediction.

Well, it goes on and on, and frankly, like all lies, it takes much longer to correct them than to make them, and I don't have the time or pateince to go through each of this person's distortions and contortions.

But you get the picture.

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