Jul 08 2011

More on God of the Gaps

One of the things I like about blogging is that it is as much a dialogue as it is as it is a venue for one person’s opinions. Often the comments section becomes more interesting than the post itself. I also occasionally blog in response to someone else’s blog, and it is not uncommon for a blog conversation (or argument) to break out. Responding to someone else’s comments (even if they are from some random or anonymous blogger or commenter) can make a discussion more interesting.

For example, I have blogged numerous times in the past about the “god of the gaps” style of argument, and the philosophical nature of science. This has garnered the occasional response from creationists, which is always amusing. Recently a blogger named Mariano Grinbank wrote a response on examiner.com. His response is largely an exercise in naked assertion and ad hominem style arguments. Responding to my mind/brain discussion he writes:

Just how is it clearly established that the brain causes mind? It could actually be said to be much more clearly established that mind causes the brain.

It could be said – but it would be wrong. The question is disingenuous because I outline exactly how it is clearly established that the brain causes the mind, in numerous posts, including the one that Grinbank refers to (although does not link to – perhaps he was just relying on Egnor’s responses to my posts). I will outline the evidence yet again: The hypothesis that the brain causes the mind (and does not merely correlate with the mind) makes a number of specific predictions:

If the brain causes mind, then:

1- Brain states will correlate to mental and behavioral states.

2- Brain maturity will correlate with mental and emotional maturity.

3- Changing the brain’s function (with drugs, electrical or magnetic stimulation, or other methods) will change mental function.

4- Damaging the brain with damage the mind – producing specific deficits that correlate to the area of the brain damaged.

5- There will be no documentable mental phenomena in the absence of brain function.

6- When the brain dies, mental function ends.

Three through six are specific to the brain causes mind hypothesis and are not predicted by the mind causes brain hypothesis. There are now countless experiments and cases in which it is clearly demonstrated that doing something to the brain reliably results in a change of the mind. The arrow of causation is clear.

Grinbank continues:

The brain is a living physical organism. All life is based on information. The only known source of information is a mind. On the other hand, we do not know that matter causes mind, that non-living matter causes living matter, that matter causes specified and useful information, etc.

These are just assertions, not arguments. The statement “all life is based on information” is vague to the point of being useless. What does it mean to be “based” on information, and what definition of “information” is Grinbank using? I could just as easily say that all life is based on atoms – this is equally vague and pointless. He then goes on to claim that the only known source of information is a mind. This is both vague and wrong. Again – he does not define “information,” nor does he give any  indication that he knows the term needs to be defined.

His statement also begs the question – very common among the “intelligent design” style creationist arguments. Biology is also a source of information, and evolutionary theory provides a plausible and proven mechanism. Creationists want to assume their conclusion in their premise, however – if intelligence is the only source of information, then biological information must come from intelligence. But their very premise denies evolution, and therefore their logic is circular. Further, organic evolution is not the only natural (non-mind) source of “information” – nature is replete with information.

He then follows up with more naked assertions. We do know that matter causes mind, as I argued above. We do know that life comes from lifeless matter, and that the properties of matter can be a source of information.  Further, there is no need for any non-material hypothesis to explain life, mind, or information.

Next we get this tired canard:

The statement, “I am open to any hypothesis that is scientifically testable and is compatible with existing established scientific knowledge” is tricky because it can, deceptively, appear commonsensical although, it is not. Take, for example, the Big Bang theory: it is considered a scientific theory but is not testable. Also, what some mean by established scientific knowledge is that you are not allowed to upset the cart of orthodoxy (Darwinian orthodoxy, in this case).

It’s actually not that tricky – it’s a brief summary of scientific openness. Creationists try to make it seem tricky by implying a hidden agenda. First of all – there is no “orthodoxy” in science. There is knowledge that is established to such a high degree that any hypothesis that seeks to knock it down has an appropriately high burden of proof. If you are going to claim that a scientific fact is not true, then you should provide evidence that is at least as voluminous and compelling as the evidence you hope to overturn. This is just common sense.

It is common among creationists (and all deniers) to portray scientific confidence as dogma and orthodoxy. They have no choice – because they want to deny well-established science. They don’t have the evidence and logic, so they play rhetorical games.

The comment about the big bang theory is both a non sequitur and factually incorrect. Let’s say he substituted string theory for the big bang (and let’s set aside the controversy over whether or not string theory is testable and assume for the sake of argument that it isn’t). In order for string theory to qualify as a true scientific theory it has to be testable in some way. Until that time it may be elegant math, but it’s not science. This doesn’t make it wrong, however, unless it also conflicts with established science, which it doesn’t. String theory is more of a proto-scientific hypothesis, and researchers are trying to figure out a way to test it (Michio Kaku claims it is testable, but that’s another post).

String theory actually proves my point – the fact that it is not clearly testable calls into question its status as a true scientific theory.

The big bang theory, on the other hand, is testable, and has been tested numerous times. Grinbank needs to familiarize himself with the cosmic microwave background radiation and the expansion of the universe for starters.

His refutation of the god of the gaps criticism is as follows:

A “god of the gaps” argument—or, as it is put in common parlance, God’did’it—does not seek to fill gaps nor does it insert a final and untestable answer into a current gap in our scientific knowledge.
Does it insert a final and untestable answer into a current gap in our scientific knowledge to claim, as many do, that matter’did’it, chance’did’it, time’did’it, nothing’did’it, it’just’happened’did’it, coincidence’did’it, etc.?

The first sentence is, again, just an assertion. First – a god of the gaps argument by definition seeks to fill a gap in current knowledge with a final untestable answer. That’s the definition of the phrase. What he really means is that creationism is not a god of the gaps argument. I have already argued (I think convincingly) that it is. That a god created everything (regardless of how you think the creation unfolded) is inherently untestable – because there are no constraints on god. No matter what you find in nature you can simply declare (as creationists commonly do) that god simply chose to create life to look like that.

If Grinbank is going to claim that creation is not untestable – then please outline an observation or experiment that can prove creation wrong.

His attempts to equate “god-did-it” with “chance-did-it” etc is a false analogy. The various aspects of evolutionary theory are testable. They make predictions that can potentially falsify evolutionary theory. If he is talking about questions that are currently unanswered by science – science does not fill in those gaps with anything. We simply say – we don’t know. And then we try to figure our a way to fill in those gaps with scientific knowledge  – testable hypotheses. We further acknowledge that some gaps will remain forever empty, because science has its limits.

He finishes:

To appeal to God is not to stop the scientific process, which was intelligently designed in order to explore God’s creation, rather, it is a reference to that which philosophy and science infer from creation: that there is a personal cause.

This is a non sequitur – it does not address the claim that an appeal to god is a science stopper. Once you conclude that god created life, why explore naturalistic mechanisms? If god created the universe, why explore cosmological theories of the origin of the universe, like the big bang theory? Inferring a “personal cause” is a separate issue. Also, what does he mean by “creation?” Is he assuming creationism, or does he simply mean the natural world?

In any case – nothing of the sort can be inferred by science or philosophy from nature. What philosophers have come to understand is that the only method of understanding the natural world is through methodological naturalism. What is inferred from science and philosophy is that every material effect has a material cause, and these causes reliably follow natural laws. We can study nature to derive these laws, develop a model of how the universe works and the history of what has happened so far, and predict what is likely to happen in the future. We don’t need to appeal to magic, no matter how cleverly disguised the appeal is.

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515 responses so far

515 Responses to “More on God of the Gaps”

  1. nybgruson 08 Jul 2011 at 8:50 am

    I’m kind of glad that I will be out of town for a short weekend getaway and won’t feel compelled to comment much on this post. It is an excellent one, Dr. Novella – succinct, accurate, and summing things up nicely. But I envision another 400+ comment thread with the usual suspects trolling their way through it.

    I will say though, thanks for giving a post that offers a sum up and some links to what I have been referencing in my own comments on the “Brain Like” Computing post.

    Of course, denialists will still do what they do best – I just always like to see how they manage to keep doing it.

  2. locutusbrgon 08 Jul 2011 at 11:09 am

    Steve
    I do not how you do not wear down having to constantly deal with the same facile arguments time and time again.
    No way to test the big bang. He has not given the slightest attempt at understanding or learning anything.

  3. mufion 08 Jul 2011 at 11:32 am

    What philosophers have come to understand is that the only method of understanding the natural world is through methodological naturalism.

    Well, not all philosophers fit that description (e.g. Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga comes to mind), but I take your point (say, as a generalization).

    And while methodological naturalism is logically compatible with theism (not to mention other “supernatural” metaphysical doctrines), I can attest from my own experience that the synergy between methodological naturalism and metaphysical naturalism is not lost on many theists.

    Indeed, discomfort with that synergy might even be the main driver of the creationist movement (i.e. if science doesn’t support your worldview, then redefine “science” until it does).

  4. uncle_steveon 08 Jul 2011 at 11:44 am

    Great post. A large part of the problem is that creationists and God-of-the-gapsists seem to not understand what it means for an idea to be “testable”. Or maybe they do understand but they think it is unimportant. Whatever it is, this just demonstrates that they have little understanding of how science operates.

    Another reason virtually all creationists will continue to laugh at the evidence presented for evolution and the Big Bang is because many of them believe in conspiracy theories about the scientific establishment. You know, the idea that evolution was invented to destroy Christianity, which is why the marxist, atheistic scientists do all they can to get everyone to accept it. Perhaps this is what you meant by God-of-the-gaps believers seeing a “hidden agenda” in scientific “orthodoxy”.

    Which leads me to the question: Is it better to counter creationism/God-of-the-gaps with scientific evidence(along with trying to get creationists to understand what it means for a theory to be testable), or should we work harder at disproving the insane, nonsensical conspiracy theories?

    Which approach is better?

  5. Jeremiahon 08 Jul 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Deniers should include those who refer to the scientific advocates of adaptive mutation as akin to creationists since they have been successfully testing the hypothesis that life engineers its own selective and evolvement processes.

  6. Steven Novellaon 08 Jul 2011 at 1:40 pm

    I don’t think anyone conflates garden variety creationism with adaptive mutation. At the same time, I am not convinced by what is presented as evidence for adaptive mutation. It remains, in my opinion, an unnecessary hypothesis.

  7. Jeremiahon 08 Jul 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Well, that’s a step up from untenable in any case.

  8. Enzoon 08 Jul 2011 at 2:49 pm

    What do you suppose is the correlation between god-of-the-gapists and a general lack of curiosity?

    As an example, I remember listening to a Science Friday discussion about the origin of the universe. A caller questioned “Why are we really studying this? Didn’t god create the universe, and isn’t that enough? Do we really need to solve the mystery?”

    I was particularly struck by that attitude. Even if a god figure created everything, I think scientists are just naturally curious. They want to solve the mystery, even just for the take of the task. It seems the god of the gaps argument is just a way for people who are not very curious to perceive a complete, comfortable picture for themselves — a way to avoid facing the immensity of complexity. Of course, there are always those that try to force-fit their arguments into a scientific framework.

  9. robmon 08 Jul 2011 at 3:43 pm

    I kind of suspect Grinbank just wanted to rant and link to his own site ironically called truefreethinker. He has 2 references to Egnor’s blog, 4 references to his own blog, and 0 references to Steve’s blog.

    Based on the length of this blog post I am surprised at how short Grinbank’s article was. He says that scientists need a lesson in the history of science, yet doesn’t give an example to prove his point or even clarify what his point was.

    @uncle_steve

    I think discussing evidence in a way that builds the case for scientific theory (aka reflects the thought processes scientists used to develop and test the theory) in itself is a good anti-conspiracy argument. Context is important for presenting scientific evidence, since most exposure to science people receive is isolated factoids with no explanation. Other than that I think pointing out the absurdity of the proposed conspiracy is a good way to go. Of course all that is exactly what a member of the conspiracy would do!

    @Enzo

    I think people often compartmentalize what they think and believe. Curiosity is fine, just don’t touch my sacred cow! I think most people fall into this category. That said some people just aren’t curious either as a natural part of their personality, or because they feel their belief system is all explanatory.

  10. Mlemaon 08 Jul 2011 at 4:20 pm

    The attitude of “Do we really need to solve the mystery?” seems inexplicable to me, and probably everyone here. Honestly, I’ve never even heard that before! Theist or atheist, no one can help wanting to try to figure out what the heck happened, is happening, is going to happen…right? Wow. i can’t believe that at my age I’m just being introduced to that attitude. But it explains so much. Maybe that is indeed what the people who believe God made Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden really feel – a sort of indifference that allows them to accept nonsense explanations of things. If so, then how DO we reach the people uncle_steve asks about in his post above? I was going to suggest: don’t make science a choice between theism and atheism. But if it’s really the investigative nature of science itself that people are against (not the atheism they see attached to it) then: what to do? How do you stimulate a mind to open and be curious?

  11. ccbowerson 08 Jul 2011 at 4:31 pm

    “What do you suppose is the correlation between god-of-the-gapists and a general lack of curiosity?”

    I think you are referring to a specific type of incuriousness. The ones you describe is an incuriousity driven by cognitive dissonance due to an attachment to a particular ideology. If contradictory evidence is brought up in these cases, the person prefers not to see the evidence, and may take argument personally. Its a bit like the person who sticks their fingers in their ears, and yells “la la la la” to avoid feeling uncomfortable about an idea.

    This is harder to deal with and takes more time to counter than a incuriousity driven by simple ignorance or mild apathy, as these are often more passive processes.

  12. robmon 08 Jul 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Mlema,

    Atheism vs Theism isn’t part of science atheism is a strawman attached to whatever scientific conclusions people don’t like. This allows denialists of just about every flavor (evolution, physical basis for the mind, big bang etc.) to claim their fighting the good fight against atheism rather than have to answer tough questions about evidence.

  13. Mlemaon 08 Jul 2011 at 5:11 pm

    robm – God is non-scientific. How can scientists legitimately make God a scientific interest? (except perhaps through psychology). Scientists are supposed to investigate the nature of what IS. And yet, all over the web we see avowed atheists claiming science as their exclusive purview because anybody who believes in God must be anti-science. After all, science has proven that God doesn’t exist, right? This is why people who can’t sort out what science says to them end up thinking that science is anti-God. Science belongs to everyone. Are we going to go backwards in our human rights and deny theists their right to engage fully in scientific endeavors? Like: you must denounce your faith if you want to work in this lab?

    I think most theists would say that the “god-of the gaps” is NOT God. I really think most sensible people don’t use God to explain away what science doesn’t know yet. That is so simplistic. I think most people know enough about history to see that what we didn’t know “back then” was not “god did it”, so why would what we don’t know now be “god did it”? I give people more credit than that (although as i admitted above, I never knew that people could be so indifferent to the mysteries of existence)

    So i guess that is the one thing in Dr. Novella’s article that i would take issue with, based on it’s faulty logic. That is: “the claim that an appeal to god is a science stopper. Once you conclude that god created life, why explore naturalistic mechanisms?” There is no necessary connection between believing in God and not exploring naturalistic mechanisms.

  14. SARAon 08 Jul 2011 at 5:20 pm

    I’ve often wondered why theists try to prove their beliefs. Belief is based on faith. Its not supposed to need proof. (or so I’ve been repeatedly told.)
    So, why do they jump into the arena, where they are out classed in logic, evidence and training?
    In my opinion, its a need to support their own fear of the fallibility of their belief. They aren’t arguing with us. They are arguing with themselves.
    That’s just an opinion based on my rather unscientific observation. If only theist could recognize the difference between an opinion and evidence based conclusions.

  15. Mlemaon 08 Jul 2011 at 5:36 pm

    SARA-why does Dr. Novella post articles in argument with theists trying to prove their beliefs, instead of simply pointing out as you do, that there’s a difference between an opinion and evidence-based conclusions?

  16. Mlemaon 08 Jul 2011 at 5:42 pm

    people are prone to argue about their beliefs

  17. rabravon 08 Jul 2011 at 5:44 pm

    I came across a sudoku-style pictorial representation of the God-of-The-gaps proposition. I don’t know whether the link will make it past the moderator and be displayed in the comment.

    link to imgur image below:
    http://i.imgur.com/H2CgD.png

  18. robmon 08 Jul 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Mlema,

    I completely agree that god and a multitude of other things are not questions or subjects that have complete and satisfactory answers in science. That’s why I said “Atheism vs Theism isn’t part of science”, as for people on the internet, well that’s just the internet, people of all stripes, ideologies and beliefs make malicious statements and bad arguments toward just about anybody else.

    This is why people who can’t sort out what science says to them end up thinking that science is anti-God.

    Here I disagree, the science vs. religion happens whenever science produces inconvenient answers. To use two cliches Galileo was persecuted for his inquiry into the nature of the solar system, but today is held up as someone who believed in the compatibility of science and religion. Some people do have a problem with where this inquiry leads because it contradicts their dogma, pure and simple.

    I think most theists would say that the “god-of the gaps” is NOT God. I really think most sensible people don’t use God to explain away what science doesn’t know yet. That is so simplistic.

    Theists or other believers with an agenda use god of the gaps arguments all the time. I don’t believe they are believers because of the gap, but they it for rhetorical purposes. You are right that it is simplistic, but it is used so often. God of the gaps is a science stopper or at least a science slower because it substitutes metaphysical explanations for naturalistic ones, and diverts certain lines of inquiry about the nature of the universe life and the mind.

    why does Dr. Novella post articles in argument with theists trying to prove their beliefs, instead of simply pointing out as you do, that there’s a difference between an opinion and evidence-based conclusions?

    I suspect it is because the people who Dr. Novella takes issue with try to cast evidence based conclusions as mere opinions, then try to argue their opinions as fact. Beyond that just about every science denier basically wants to change the rules of science to allow their beliefs to get a pass, be allowed as a “scientific” interpretation of the evidence, while remaining beyond falsification. Grinbank’s article is an attempt at the latter, and he also tries a pseudoscientific attempt at a proof that the mind is not the brain. If people kept a separation between opinion and evidence based conclusions there would be no problem.

  19. nybgruson 08 Jul 2011 at 6:22 pm

    @mlema:

    And yet, all over the web we see avowed atheists claiming science as their exclusive purview because anybody who believes in God must be anti-science. After all, science has proven that God doesn’t exist, right? This is why people who can’t sort out what science says to them end up thinking that science is anti-God. Science belongs to everyone. Are we going to go backwards in our human rights and deny theists their right to engage fully in scientific endeavors? Like: you must denounce your faith if you want to work in this lab?

    No atheist claims science as their sole purview. However, many (myself included), recognize that a theist can only do good science as long as his/her field of research is not contradictory to their dogma. That is just a simple fact. It is also a very personal one. There are over 38,000 sects of Christianity – so one type of Christian may well be able to do evolutionary research while another cannot (just look at the DiscoTute doing “research” in evolutionary theory). The problem is, we often don’t know exactly what part of the dogma a theist sticks to. And stick to it tight enough and you get another Kurt Wise. Give me a specific theist and I may be able to make a judgement as to how good his/her science may be. But if you give me a pool of atheists and a pool of theists, I can tell you that, on average, the atheists doing science will come up with better results because, on average, they won’t have dogma to keep them from (consciously or not) tainting the work that they do.

    So no one is denying theists access to science. We are just (rightfully so) saying that many times theists warp science to their dogma and that, on average, we can’t really tell when a given theist will do so.

    Science has no proven God doesn’t exist – it cannot prove a negative. However, science has shown us that nothing has yet required God and that many, many questions which once had “god” as an answer have been explained with natural means. In other words – there is no reason to need to invoke a god. Parsimony demands that we then eschew god from explanations and can safely relegate his existence to unlikely enough to be a rounding error. The real issue is that no one has actually proven god to exist. And until they do, he doesn’t.

    I think most theists would say that the “god-of the gaps” is NOT God. I really think most sensible people don’t use God to explain away what science doesn’t know yet. That is so simplistic.

    Then you simply aren’t educated enough on the topic, I’m afraid. Most people DO use goddidit as an answer. Look at Ansers in Genesis, the Discovery Institute, the Creation Museum, the Ark encounter, the governor of Texas praying for rain, etc etc. Need I point out Bill O’ Reilly and his “The tides go in, the tides go out. Never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that!” He loudly and proudly uses god of the gaps to prove the existence of his deity.

    Do ALL theists do so? No, of course not. But a majority do, a fair number simply accept it and move on, and the rest just don’t care enough.

    The one thing a theist will NEVER do is explain, carefully and cogently, why they don’t believe in Allah, or Vishnu, or Thor, or Zeus. When they do, then they will understand why atheists don’t believe in their god either.

    SARA-why does Dr. Novella post articles in argument with theists trying to prove their beliefs, instead of simply pointing out as you do, that there’s a difference between an opinion and evidence-based conclusions?

    Because if theists just kept their beliefs to themselves and that was that, none of us would care. Dr. Novella included. But the problem is theists are making laws based in their faith which affect non-theists. They are denying equality to groups because of their faith. They are actively subverting education because of their faith. They claim we are trying to “shove atheism down their throats” and “why don’t atheists just shut up.” The reason is because THEY are shoving their faith down my throat – and they are WRONG. A difference in opinion is one thing, but making a LAW and teaching that opinion as fact is a whole different kettle of fish.

    (I am of course referencing stem cell research, anti-gay marriage, and creationism being taught in school. Just a small sampling).

    It isn’t so much that atheists are trying to prove that god DOESN’T exist. It is that theists are trying to use science to prove god DOES exist and to force that on the population at large.

  20. nybgruson 08 Jul 2011 at 6:24 pm

    yeah, and what robm said too. Spot on mate. I am headed off for a B&B on the coast under a lighthouse for the weekend, so I leave this thread in your very capable hands. :-)

  21. robmon 08 Jul 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Thanks nybgrus!

    Just to nitpick so it’s not taken out of context but theists don’t have to keep their beliefs to themselves, they must recognize their beliefs are beliefs.

    It’s OK to say:

    looking at the (insert quality of nature) I believe I am seeing the work of (insert object of belief)

    as opposed to:

    the (insert quality) is scientific evidence of (object of belief). Take that atheist/materialist/reductionist scientists. Tremble at this one piece of evidence that throws your theory into crisis!

    The former is personal belief, which is a subject of debate, the latter is a scientific claim that requires evidence, and is pretty damn annoying. ;)

  22. nybgruson 08 Jul 2011 at 6:40 pm

    @robm:

    Very true and correct. The distinction is important and I did not adequately make it. I did not intend to mean that theists should be completely silent, but that they mustn’t conflate belief/opinion with science/fact.

  23. robmon 08 Jul 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Have a great vacation!

  24. Mlemaon 08 Jul 2011 at 6:54 pm

    nygbrus’ statements give credence to what i say about scientists and atheism

  25. robmon 08 Jul 2011 at 7:00 pm

    which part(s)?

  26. mufion 08 Jul 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Are all supernatural claims beyond scientific evaluation? See here for a response.

  27. SARAon 08 Jul 2011 at 9:37 pm

    @ Mlema
    Steve discusses and debates evidence and logic based thought. Therefore he is willing and very able to respond to theists who make incredible statements claiming to basing their statements on evidence or logic, rather than simple faith. That’s his mileu.

    Grinbank stepped into his mileu by trying to provide an evidence based conclusion for his faith.

    As @nybgrus points out – if you try to make your faith part of the publicly accepted knowledge, you open yourself up to the debate. Especially if you do it with a weak argument.

  28. Danon 08 Jul 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Mlema,

    You wrote “I think most theists would say that the “god-of the gaps” is NOT God. I really think most sensible people don’t use God to explain away what science doesn’t know yet. That is so simplistic.”

    I wish that were true, but the vast majority of theists who claim to be experts on science or philosophy use god-of-the-gaps arguments. Proponent young earth creationists like Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, and Duane Gish use those arguments all the time, as do old earthers like Hugh Ross. Intelligent design is fundamentally a god-of-the-gaps theory, just read Dembski, D’Souza, Behe, Johnson, etc to see what I mean.

    Francis Collins is probably the foremost scientist in America, and he uses gaps in our scientific understanding of physics, cosmology, and moral evolution as evidence that God exists (see his book ‘The Language of God’), as do theistic evolutionists like the people at BioLogos. John Polkinghorne, a priest and physicist, uses god-of-the-gaps arguments, as do respected Christian philosophers like Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig, and Richard Swinburne.

    Anytime a Christian uses the fine-tuning argument or the argument from design they are using a god-of-the-gaps argument. Both of those arguments are incredibly popular in religious circles, so I believe you are wrong that “most theists” don’t think that way. 100% of the theist I have read books by or went to church with use god-of-the-gaps arguments.

  29. titmouseon 08 Jul 2011 at 10:27 pm

    But if you give me a pool of atheists and a pool of theists, I can tell you that, on average, the atheists doing science will come up with better results because, on average, they won’t have dogma to keep them from (consciously or not) tainting the work that they do.

    There are a fair number of Satanists, Scientologists, and New Agers who self-describe as atheists.

    Also, Lysenko.

  30. Mlemaon 08 Jul 2011 at 10:31 pm

    nygbrus says:
    “But if you give me a pool of atheists and a pool of theists, I can tell you that, on average, the atheists doing science will come up with better results because, on average, they won’t have dogma to keep them from (consciously or not) tainting the work that they do.”

    Does that statement really sound OK to everybody? I mean: logically, scientifically, etc.?

    nygbrus, do you understand the difference between believing in God and being dogmatic? Their are PLENTY of scientists being badly influenced by their own personal dogmas that have nothing to do with God or religion. It would make just as much sense to say that theists would be better scientists because a theist is bound to the truth of creation as a commandment of the God he fears.
    hogwash

  31. Mlemaon 08 Jul 2011 at 10:33 pm

    ps-when i say “creation” there, I’m using a theist’s word for “the universe”

  32. titmouseon 08 Jul 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Also, Jerry Coyne and psychopharmacology.

    Also, Bill Maher.

    If you troll the Facebook pages of the skeptical community, you will find plenty of alt med lovers and 9/11 truthers.

    Atheism is not worth fighting for, IMHO.

  33. titmouseon 08 Jul 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Just to underscore my point about stupid atheists…

    RichardDawkins.net has taken to posting over-hyped health research articles like you see in Oprah magazine.

    Here’s a recent one: A gut-full of probiotics for your neurological well-being

    Last week at RD.net I read something about breastfeeding taken directly from NaturalNews.com.

    The people, aka the bad people, really like Dawkins when he’s harshing on the Christians, Muslims, and Jews. But they do not want him near their alt med.

  34. mufion 08 Jul 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Mlema: nybrgus’ last comment does not sound entirely OK to me, but that’s happened before, so I trust that, when he’s back from vacation, he’ll explain it in a way that is more palatable to the both of us.

    titmouse: I’ll draw on a personal anecdote: My neighbor is both an atheist and an alt-med therapist, whose practice is based on a theory that I find especially implausible (i.e. something called “regression therapy”, which relates somehow to reincarnation and communication with the dead).

    That said, atheism is only a response to one question, which is: Does God (as commonly understood within our culture) exist? While I believe that a sound epistemology demands a negative response, that by no means entails that everyone who arrives at that same response is similarly committed to a sound epistemology.

  35. RyanJLindon 09 Jul 2011 at 12:41 am

    I find the subtle twist of “god in the gaps” to “god of the gaps” to be gleefully hysterical. Love it and I am not entirely sure why.

  36. Enzoon 09 Jul 2011 at 12:47 am

    Give me a specific theist and I may be able to make a judgement as to how good his/her science may be. But if you give me a pool of atheists and a pool of theists, I can tell you that, on average, the atheists doing science will come up with better results because, on average, they won’t have dogma to keep them from (consciously or not) tainting the work that they do.”

    –nybgrus

    You’re statement is practically only valid for research with an agenda to prove literalist religious dogma (like creationist research). If you are doing bad science, you are doing bad science. Period. Results don’t magically become bad if the person doing the research has a faith. And data analysis across every field is not “tainted” by faith.

    I fail to see how biologists, chemists and physicists as a whole are suddenly less capable of good science because they have a faith. It doesn’t enter into the picture. At best you are saying people of faith are (on average) less capable even if they are trained scientists and at worst you are accusing a huge chunk of scientists as frauds (“warp science”).

    I get what you are trying to say, but you chose a poor way to say it. What does faith have to do with studying dark matter, alternative fuel sources and cancer drugs? Most people of faith have no problem with what science tells us about our universe, there is no conflict.

  37. Enzoon 09 Jul 2011 at 1:02 am

    However, many (myself included), recognize that a theist can only do good science as long as his/her field of research is not contradictory to their dogma.”

    — nybgrus

    On having a second look, I guess you appropriately qualify your statement. But as others have pointed out, you can just as well eliminate theism entirely from this statement. Going into anything with a preconception from any dogma is bad science. That’s why young scientists can’t wait for the old scientists entrenched in their old dogma to retire so they can get their paradigm challenging papers published.

    Blarg. This is why I loathe getting into any faith/religious arguments.

  38. steve12on 09 Jul 2011 at 1:12 am

    @Titmouse:

    One of the most absurd attacks on atheists is to associate them with scientology or, worse yet, Stalin, as you did above. Guilt by association is illogical for a reason. There are horrible atheists and wonderful atheists, and their atheism is not what makes the either of those things.

    I’m sure I could find horrible people that share some belief with you – and what would that prove? Nothing.

  39. mufion 09 Jul 2011 at 1:19 am

    I think the key statement in nybgrus’ comment is: No atheist claims science as their sole purview. However, many (myself included), recognize that a theist can only do good science as long as his/her field of research is not contradictory to their dogma.

    That’s not to say that I agree with it. For example, consider this quote from Darwin’s autobiography:

    The old argument from design in Nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. We can no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell must have been made by an intelligent being, like the hinge of a door by man. There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings, and in the action of natural selection, than in the course which the wind blows.

    If we take him at his word, then Darwin was not only a theist, but a believer in what we today call “intelligent design”, prior to his discovery of evolution by natural selection. Yet, the force of the evidence led him away from that view.

    Similarly, it’s conceivable that evidence may yet lead us towards a more theistic view. Unfortunately for theism, the trend has thus far been in the opposite direction and seems very unlikely to reverse course.

  40. steve12on 09 Jul 2011 at 1:25 am

    # mufion 08 Jul 2011 at 7:50 pm
    Are all supernatural claims beyond scientific evaluation? See here for a response.

    The Bayes approach was interesting, but here’s the problem:

    How do I interpret data in a ‘supernatural’ world?

    In an experiment, I control everything (ideally) except what I’ve manipulated, and then I can draw casual conclusions about the effect of my manipulation, right?

    But in a supernatural world, supernatural forces – God, Cadarian Demons (anyone?), warlocks etc. can ALSO be the cause of my results.

    So in a supernatural world, how can I interpret experimental results?

  41. Mlemaon 09 Jul 2011 at 1:33 am

    mufi – i am no lover of theists, I just take issue with saying that a theist must have a dogma, and that a theist can only do good science if their research doesn’t contradict their dogma. It’s just an illogical statement. But I really would like to step away from the argument about nygbrus’s words now. One of the very first discussions I had on this blog was an exhausting debate with nygbrus on this very same topic. I simply do not agree with his opinion, and do not wish to repeat the debate.

  42. Mlemaon 09 Jul 2011 at 1:33 am

    nygbrus: I posted my comment with a quote from you before I realized that titmouse had commented on the same quote. Now Enzo has also commented on that quote also. I sincerely hope you don’t feel picked on, because I’m sure nobody here would want you to feel that way, no matter what opinions you voice. You are not the only one guilty of generalizing about a group of people. We all do it. These discussions give us a chance to examine our prejudices.
    cheers

  43. Mlemaon 09 Jul 2011 at 1:37 am

    to prove or disprove the existence of God requires that everyone agree on what God is. Good luck with that.

  44. mufion 09 Jul 2011 at 2:12 am

    steve12: I can hardly do justice to the entire 20+ page paper here, but here are two quotes that I think speak to your question:

    …there are at least three means by which supernatural hypotheses can be tested by science: by their prior probabilities, by their likelihoods, and by the availability of plausible alternative non-supernatural explanations. These considerations are readily captured within a Bayesian framework which models the reasoning by which hypotheses are commonly evaluated in scientific practice…

    and

    …demarcating ‘science’ from ‘pseudoscience’ or ‘natural’ from ‘supernatural’ is not only problematic but unnecessary. The crucial question is not, Is it science? or Is it supernatural?, but rather, Is there any good reason to believe that claim X is true? Whether the entities or phenomena posited by claim X are defined as ‘natural’ or ‘supernatural’ is irrelevant to the scientific status of the claim. If the fundamental aim of science is the pursuit of truth – to uncover, to the extent that humans are capable, the nature of reality – then science should go wherever the evidence leads. If the evidence were to strongly suggest the existence of supernatural phenomena, then so be it.

    That said, if you defend those forces that you mentioned as equally or more plausible causes than other alternatives, then more power to you!

  45. BillyJoe7on 09 Jul 2011 at 2:23 am

    MLema,

    “to prove or disprove the existence of God requires that everyone agree on what God is”

    Actually there is no need to disprove god.

    The problem is for believers to prove god.
    Therefore, it is believers who require a definition of god. But the only definition of god that is unassailable by science is a deistic god. But a universe with a deistic god is indistinguishable from a universe without a deistic god. And no-one believes in a deistic god anyway.

    If this is not a disproof of god, I don’t know what is.

  46. mufion 09 Jul 2011 at 2:29 am

    According to the “argument from improbability” (employed by Dawkins in the God Delusion and cited in the paper I referenced above), even “the non-interventionist God of Enlightenment Deism” is highly implausible.

    However, the plausibility of the existence of particular conceptions of God, e.g., possessing the attributes of omnipotence and benevolence, or the existence of other supernatural entities may be further evaluated if their existence implies certain observational consequences that may be confirmed or disconfirmed by evidence.

  47. BillyJoe7on 09 Jul 2011 at 2:34 am

    Steven Novella,

    “adaptive mutation…remains, in my opinion, an unnecessary hypothesis”

    I have never previously heard you give an opinion on this subject.

    I hope you don’t mind if I read this as dismissive of those* who have been promoting this fringe/pseudo science in the comments section of this blog.

    (*Actually I think it is only one poster posting under different names)

  48. Jeremiahon 09 Jul 2011 at 4:33 am

    I can think of only one poster from Mooroolbark, Australia who told us all that he can only masturbate to orgasm while looking at a picture of his married part time employee, and brags about it at the local Lions club.

  49. eveshion 09 Jul 2011 at 5:26 am

    Quote:
    ‘If the brain causes mind, then:

    1- Brain states will correlate to mental and behavioral states.’

    Cool prediction. The same would be true for idealism (mind causes brain), neutral monism, panpsychism and even interactive dualism (which all deny that the brain causes mind).

    A little overview for those who are not familiar with the above terms:

    Physicalism/materialism: matter creates mind
    Idealism: mind creates matter
    Neutral monism: mind and body are composed of a ‘stuff’ that is neither mental nor physical, but something else (neutral)
    Panpsychism: broadly says that everything has mental properties

    Panpsychism is compatible with all of the above:

    Panpsychic physicalism: Physicalism as we know it, but mental properties are a ubiquitous feature of the physical stuff
    Panpsychic idealism: Idealism, as I see it, is inherently panpsychic (but panpsychism isn’t necessarily idealistic)
    Panpsychic neutral monism: the neutral stuff has ubiquitous mental properties

    Dualism, on the other hand, says that mind and body are composed of two different substances.

    (There is also property dualism that says that mind is non-physical, but supervenes on certain compositions of matter, so it’s still substance monism/physicalism.)

    Quote:
    ’2- Brain maturity will correlate with mental and emotional maturity.’

    See above.

    Quote:
    ’3- Changing the brain’s function (with drugs, electrical or magnetic stimulation, or other methods) will change mental function.’

    See above.

    Quote:
    ’4- Damaging the brain with damage the mind – producing specific deficits that correlate to the area of the brain damaged.’

    See above.

    Quote:
    ’5- There will be no documentable mental phenomena in the absence of brain function.’

    If there are no mental phenomena at all, I agree. But what counts as a ‘documentable’ mental phenomenon?

    Quote:
    ’6- When the brain dies, mental function ends.’

    I agree, that would be evidence for materialism.

    Quote:
    ‘Three through six are specific to the brain causes mind hypothesis and are not predicted by the mind causes brain hypothesis.’

    No, at least 3 + 4 are compatible with idealism (mind causes brain):

    3: When the brain is made from mental ‘stuff’, then of course change to the brain’s function will change mental function.
    4: When the brain is made from mental ‘stuff’, then of course damage to the brain will damage the mental stuff.

    Please note that I don’t subscribe to the notion that mind causes the brain, but I defend it against materialist nonsense.

    Quote:
    ‘There are now countless experiments and cases in which it is clearly demonstrated that doing something to the brain reliably results in a change of the mind.’

    Nice evidence for monism.

    Quote:
    ‘The arrow of causation is clear.’

    Nope. There is also evidence the other way around (doing something to the mind results in a change of the body).

    Quote:
    ‘We do know that matter causes mind, as I argued above.’

    Wishful thinking.

    Quote:
    ‘Further, there is no need for any non-material hypothesis to explain life, mind, or information.’

    Of course there is. The hard problem of consciousness is as hard as ever. And it is a very serious problem for *materialists*. So non-material hypotheses are a very active player.

    Dr Novella has no knowledge of philosophy, yet he is so confident that his materialist metaphysics are correct. Disappointing.

  50. neilgrahamon 09 Jul 2011 at 6:03 am

    I am not persuaded that the predictions presented if shown are true (and, for what it is worth, I believe they are) will adequately establish the identity of mind with brain.

    If one can show that a mind can COMPLETELY understand itself in ALL respects, then I would be convinced. However, I do not see how a mind can adopt an Archimedean position from which to observe itself. Such a position may be considered godlike.

  51. mufion 09 Jul 2011 at 9:40 am

    neilgraham: I think the mind/brain identity claim is problematic, as well, but not in the way that you suggest (if I understood you correctly).

    To illustrate with an analogy: Is digestion identical with one or more organs of the digestive system? Or are digestion and the digestive system distinct concepts that are nonetheless linked in some way?

    Back on the mind/brain question, Richard Carrier interpreted the neuroscientific evidence as follows: “…nothing mental happens without something physical happening…If destroying parts of a brain destroys parts of a mind, then destroying all the parts of a brain will destroy the whole mind, destroying you.”

    True or false (I suppose that depends on one’s philosophical assessment of science), that is how I would interpret the evidence, as they relate to Steve’s six predictions, as well.

  52. steve12on 09 Jul 2011 at 9:52 am

    @ Mifi:

    The paper is attempting to address the demarcation problem (i.e., what is/ is not science) by using Bayesian stat approaches to to assess likelihood of supernatural agent X given the current state of the evidence.

    I would argue that this is NOT scientific – not that one can’t engage in it, or that it’s wrong, but that it lacks a key element of science that limits the interpretability of the data. Methodological naturalism is the only way around the problem.

    With that in mind, go back to my last post and actually try to answer the question I posed:

    How can I ever know that experimental results are due to what was manipulated in a universe where supernatural causes are in competition with the manipulation?

    I think we need to answer that question before we can throw out methodological naturalism in favor of a more expansive definition of science. This proposal is science without experimentation, and I argue that this is not science, but some other epist system.

  53. steve12on 09 Jul 2011 at 9:53 am

    Sorry for the mis-spelling of your handle Mufi!

  54. mufion 09 Jul 2011 at 10:58 am

    steve12: How can I ever know that experimental results are due to what was manipulated in a universe where supernatural causes are in competition with the manipulation?

    Presumably, what you call “supernatural causes” here are causes for which you have alternative hypotheses that you find more plausible.

    For example, do we reject intelligent design because it cannot generate predictions (i.e. despite hypotheses, like irreducible and specified complexity, put forward by its proponents)? or because its predictions routinely fail where other, more plausible alternatives are available (e.g. natural selection)?

    I would think that similar questions apply to other hypotheses (e.g. intercessory prayer and near-death experience) that we commonly label “supernatural”, but which are nonetheless empirically testable, whereas, in the case of some hypotheses that we commonly label “natural” (e.g. string theory and the multiverse), it is questionable whether or not they are empirically testable.

    While I don’t completely reject the dichotomy between methodological and metaphysical naturalism, I do think it carries the risk of suggesting that any claim – no matter how amenable they are to scientific evaluation – is somehow immune and/or equally plausible, so long as we label it “religious” or “supernatural.”

  55. mufion 09 Jul 2011 at 11:00 am

    typo correction: “…I do think it carries the risk of suggesting that any claim – no matter how amenable it is to scientific evaluation…”

  56. neverknowon 09 Jul 2011 at 11:07 am

    “…nothing mental happens without something physical happening…If destroying parts of a brain destroys parts of a mind, then destroying all the parts of a brain will destroy the whole mind, destroying you.”

    If the wheels fall off a car, the car won’t go. Does that mean the wheels are what makes the car go?

    A physical brain is necessary for interacting in the physical world. Destroying parts of the physical brain destroys parts of interacting in the physical world.

    By “physical brain” I mean whatever science already has observed of that organ. Is it scientific to state that there is nothing more than what science has already observed?

  57. Watcheron 09 Jul 2011 at 11:38 am

    Neverknow, he’s not talking about the cranial nerves, like the eye or olfactory bulb, that do in fact receive direct stimuli from the environment. The brain is a processing unit of the information received from the physical world. If you change a part of the brain, by drug or removal, you get different processing and different reactions to stimuli. Your metaphor is horrible and shows either your ignorance or bias, I’m not sure which. Also, who said anything about “nothing more than what science has already observed” as the process that is going on in this discussion?

  58. mufion 09 Jul 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Watcher, we’ve been over this with neverknow before. At this point, I think it is fair to say that s/he (or at least his/her persona here) is committed to a denial of any scientific fact that does not support his/her prior belief(s).

    And (pertinent to my discussion with steve12) let’s not kid ourselves: the “brain causes mind” hypothesis does not sit equally well with all prior beliefs (e.g. any religious tenet that posits that the mind transcends the body), and neverknow is not wrong to sense a conflict here. Scientific discovery can have philosophical implications, which no attempt at compartmentalization (e.g. between methodology and metaphysics) can indefinitely avoid.

    Of course, I’m not immune to these implications, either. And, even though I lost my religion years ago, I don’t think of myself today as any less “spiritual” than anyone else (at least in the broad sense of preoccuped with the “deepest values and meanings by which people live”). But I’ve had more time (and willingness) than some others to adapt to the idea that my self is a feature of my body, which will (in all probability) perish along with it (or, sad to say, possibly even beforehand, depending on my chances of suffering Alzheimer’s or some other serious brain injury). That’s how fragile (and, in my opinion, precious) life is.

  59. Steven Novellaon 09 Jul 2011 at 2:59 pm

    eveshi – The position I am laying out is the same as many philosophers, like Daniel Dennet.

    Your position is not valid – if for no other reason than if the types of mind-causes-brain arrangements you are talking about make not predictions that distinguish it from brain causes mind, then they are not amendable to empiricism, and since we know the physical brain exists, and we know quite a bit about its physical operation – Occam’s razor is sufficient to eliminate any superfluous fairy in the machine.

    In other words – it is meaningless to say that the brain is made of “mind stuff” unless you can define it and unless it makes some predictions other than those that derive from the brain being just what we can directly detect.

  60. neverknowon 09 Jul 2011 at 3:10 pm

    “Neverknow, he’s not talking about the cranial nerves, like the eye or olfactory bulb, that do in fact receive direct stimuli from the environment. The brain is a processing unit of the information received from the physical world. If you change a part of the brain, by drug or removal, you get different processing and different reactions to stimuli.”

    I know what he’s talking about. There are many levels of processing in the brain, most of them not understood by science.

  61. neverknowon 09 Jul 2011 at 3:11 pm

    “since we know the physical brain exists, and we know quite a bit about its physical operation – Occam’s razor is sufficient to eliminate any superfluous fairy in the machine.”

    There is some knowledge about some of its physical operation. How much is still unknown we can only guess. You don’t know what you don’t know

    Occam’s razor says to accept the simplest theory that adequately explains observations. It does NOT say accept the simplest theory, or the one you like best.

  62. Jeremiahon 09 Jul 2011 at 3:29 pm

    We don’t know what we don’t know, but we do know with some degree of scientific certainty (i.e., accuracy) what we can expect to find among the presently unknown. Which we sometimes functionally (i.e., mentally) confuse with having actually found it.

  63. neverknowon 09 Jul 2011 at 3:36 pm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mind

  64. robmon 09 Jul 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Occam’s razor says to accept the simplest theory that adequately explains observations.

    And from mental activity correlating to brain activity in fMRI studies, injuries to specific brain areas resulting in specific impairments of mental activity, inducing specific changes in the brain to produce specific effects consistent with the other evidence, etc, etc, we can conclude that the mind is the product of the brain. Of course barring further that contradicts this.

    You don’t know what you don’t know

    Quite true, but it is better to posit something closer to what is currently known. Absence of knowledge doesn’t make any explanation as good as any other if there is already some evidence pointing toward a conclusion. A mind of the gaps won’t survive those gaps getting filled in. If there is no evidence then its pure speculation and all guesses are pretty poor.

  65. Jeremiahon 09 Jul 2011 at 3:51 pm

    @neverknow on 09 Jul 2011 at 3:36 pm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mind

    All hypotheses based on expectations, not so? Some of which will turn out to be more accurate than others. None of which will require that the vast universal web of sequential cause be put into reverse.

  66. neverknowon 09 Jul 2011 at 5:11 pm

    “And from mental activity correlating to brain activity in fMRI studies, injuries to specific brain areas resulting in specific impairments of mental activity, inducing specific changes in the brain to produce specific effects consistent with the other evidence, etc, etc, we can conclude that the mind is the product of the brain.”

    I don’t see how you conclude that, when they are all correlations. Your conclusions are based on your materialist world view, in which matter creates mind. If the brain is necessary for interacting with the physical world, then we expect brain damage to result in impaired ability to interact.

    It is more scientific to refrain from filling in gaps in our knowledge according to a preferred theory. It is more intellectually honest to admit that we do not know how or if the brain creates consciousness.

    The parapsychology research I mentioned strongly suggests that the mind is much more than the physical brain.

    And the wikipedia article I linked shows that there are alternate theories to materialism. Are you going to tell me Physical Review is a promoter of “quantum woo?” I don’t think so.

    “A 2011 paper in Physical Review letters argues that the extraordinary sensitivity of European robins to small changes in the prevailing magnetic field is evidence that “superposition and entanglement are sustained in this living system for at least tens of microseconds, exceeding the durations achieved in the best comparable man-made molecular systems”, and the authors produce a simple model to this effect.”

  67. nybgruson 09 Jul 2011 at 5:26 pm

    I am still on vacation but managed to sneak a quick peak on the comments thread. I haven’t the time to elaborate further, but I will first and foremost say my last post about the “pool of thesis and atheists” was indeed very poorly written. I apologize, I was writing before heading out and did not flesh it out very well. Some of my point there is still valid, but I agree that I wrote it in a poor enough way as to be so general and confusing as to be not based in any evidence and very likely wrong.

    Mufi, thanks for the kind support.

    When I have some time tomorrow after returning (or tonight if I am up for it, though I doubt it) I will attempt to clarify and make a better comment.

    Oh, and I don’t feel like anyone was picking on me. In fact I take it is a big compliment that a bad comment by me got so many people riled up – it means people actually read what I put down and are willing to call me out when I make a failing. So thank you!

    Well, off for a little surf, then a trip to a hippy town for lunch, a tour of a tropical fruit plantation, and then sunset by a waterfall to wait for the glow worms to come out.

    Best!

  68. Jeremiahon 09 Jul 2011 at 5:32 pm

    From Bem’s paper cited by neverknow:

    “Precognition and premonition are themselves special cases of a more general phenomenon: the anomalous retroactive influence of some future event on an individual’s current responses, whether those responses are conscious or nonconscious, cognitive or affective. This article reports nine experiments designed to test for such retroactive influence by “time-reversing” several well-established psychological effects so that the individual’s responses are obtained before the putatively causal stimulus events occur.”

    The assumption that these phenomena are caused in any scientifically logical, plausible or possible way by “anomalous retroactive influence of some future event” is based on untestable undetectable formations of universal horseshit all the way down.

  69. robmon 09 Jul 2011 at 6:08 pm

    I don’t see how you conclude that, when they are all correlations.

    Mental function and brain function go hand in hand in a lot of good research. There isn’t any evidence of brain function without a corresponding mental or motor function. Further there isn’t any good evidence of the mind operating outside the brain, parapsychology routinely fails to replicate its results.

    If the brain is necessary for interacting with the physical world, then we expect brain damage to result in impaired ability to interact.

    It is more scientific to refrain from filling in gaps in our knowledge according to a preferred theory.

    Well its not very scientific to posit unnecessary intermediaries based on gaps in our knowledge to support a preferred theory. Without evidence to the contrary (hint parapsychology fails to produce consistent evidence) or at least a way to find that evidence (parapsychology didn’t), saying the brain interacts with the physical world for the mind is an assertion based on a preferred theory with no evidence.

    It is more intellectually honest to admit that we do not know how or if the brain creates consciousness.

    How the brain creates consciousness is unknown, however there is strong evidence that the brain creates consciousness. Being able to determine that a wide variety of mental phenomena are the product of the brain and a failure to find mental phenomena that aren’t makes a very good case that consciousness is a product of the brain.

    This is just cherrypicking evidence for, and denying evidence against, your world view.

  70. mufion 09 Jul 2011 at 6:10 pm

    neverknow: I don’t see how you conclude that, when they are all correlations.

    Converging correlations, actually, all of which amount to evidence of what we can reasonably expect if the “brain causes mind” hypothesis is true – especially when there is no reliable evidence to the contrary.

    Your conclusions are based on your materialist world view, in which matter creates mind.

    The “brain causes mind” hypothesis is certainly compatible with that world view, and may even be a product of it. But that’s not why anyone should believe it; rather, one should believe it because the scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports it, as Steve and most other relevant experts whom I’ve read on the topic argue to be the case.

    Sure, there are researchers who have tried to test contrary hypotheses (e.g. of intercessory prayer, near-death experience, parapsychology, etc.), as any quick google & cherry-picking outing will reveal (which I see you’ve already done). But so far these studies have been highly controversial, at best, and highly flawed, at worst, the outcome being that the “brain causes mind” view remains dominant and (barring some improbable turn of events) is likely to remain so.

  71. mufion 09 Jul 2011 at 7:06 pm

    nybgrus said: Well, off for a little surf, then a trip to a hippy town for lunch, a tour of a tropical fruit plantation, and then sunset by a waterfall to wait for the glow worms to come out.

    Thanks for this. Makes my (recently concluded) vacation seem pretty miserable by comparison. :-)

    Btw, not to pry too much, but did you say that you’re an American living (and studying medicine) in Australia? How interesting.

    Anyway, enjoy!

  72. neverknowon 09 Jul 2011 at 8:12 pm

    “The assumption that these phenomena are caused in any scientifically logical, plausible or possible way by “anomalous retroactive influence of some future event” is based on untestable undetectable formations of universal horseshit all the way down.”

    The experiments tested the hypothesis that subjects could be influenced by future events, and that’s what the results suggest. They were good experiments. So your objections are based on some kind of emotional reaction. In science, how you happen to feel about something is irrelevant.

  73. neverknowon 09 Jul 2011 at 8:16 pm

    “neverknow: I don’t see how you conclude that, when they are all correlations.”

    “Converging correlations, actually, all of which amount to evidence of what we can reasonably expect if the “brain causes mind” hypothesis is true – especially when there is no reliable evidence to the contrary.”

    It doesn’t matter if they converge, they are still correlations. There is absolutely no scientific reason for making the inference that you made. That is the kind of error that scientists are supposedly trained not to make.

    If you prefer to believe that brain causes mind, for emotional reasons, that is your choice. But don’t pretend it is scientific.

  74. neverknowon 09 Jul 2011 at 8:19 pm

    “Being able to determine that a wide variety of mental phenomena are the product of the brain …”

    How has that ever been determined? It hasn’t.

  75. sonicon 09 Jul 2011 at 8:29 pm

    A couple of comments-
    If one were to read the links provided by the author Mariano Grinbank, then one could have a discussion about why he thinks that the mind is not the brain. His links aren’t that bad. Mostly what I see here are attacks on points that he is not making.

    It shocks me that science lovers are unaware of ‘action at a distance’ (magic) and questions about non-physical causation.
    http://www.physorg.com/news172919873.html

    There is no way of knowing if an object has been designed or not. That is because we have no unit of design with which to measure–
    Ergo– All arguments about design (for or against) are arguments from ignorance.

    The main scientific observation that supports theism would be that the universe had a beginning. That was the standard up to the time– If the universe is eternal, then there is no God (materialism)– but if the universe had a beginning, then there would be to a first cause– ie. God.(theism)
    We can see that atheism is much harder to defeat than winning the seminal argument with solid scientific evidence. And I’m not suggesting that it shouldn’t be– just reporting on the history of the discussion.
    (Perhaps you didn’t know who did the goalpost moving in this case. Hello!)

    The two books I’ve read recently about science and God (both recommended)
    The God Delusion by Dawkins
    The Devil’s Delusion- Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions by Berlinski.
    (I find the Berlinski book more enjoyable- shorter, funnier, more on point, and I learned more interesting stuff. No accounting for taste).

  76. neverknowon 09 Jul 2011 at 9:00 pm

    “The main scientific observation that supports theism would be that the universe had a beginning. That was the standard up to the time– If the universe is eternal, then there is no God (materialism)– but if the universe had a beginning, then there would be to a first cause– ie. God.(theism)”

    That’s an old-fashioned argument, does not seem scientifically relevant today at all. It was from a time when the universe was assumed to be mechanistic, but now that is being questioned, at least by some. Yes, it’s the quantum woo. Look at the wikipedia article I linked, for example. There is a lot of theory, but also some good evidence, for quantum weirdness being relevant to living things.

    Materialists need to believe in the old mechanistic universe, so they deny quantum theory could possibly apply to our macro level. But their objection is evidence free.

    What about the recent evidence that

    “A quantum effect known as entanglement may be part of the compass that birds use to sense Earth’s magnetic field, researchers report in an upcoming Physical Review Letters”

    http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/68484/title/Quantum_compass_for_birds

    How can materialists continue to insist quantum effects are not relevant to life and consciousness?

  77. Jeremiahon 09 Jul 2011 at 9:44 pm

    @nevermore
    “The experiments tested the hypothesis that subjects could be influenced by future events, and that’s what the results suggest. They were good experiments. So your objections are based on some kind of emotional reaction. In science, how you happen to feel about something is irrelevant.”

    In science, how a well trained and experienced scientist happens to feel about something is arguably the most relevant reason for their having had that training. Knowing intuitively when something is seriously wrong with their hypothetical assumptions is as relevant to the experimental process as any “suggested” results.

    There is now wide agreement that “time-reversal” is an illusion brought about by the belief that laws of physics were time symmetric. (Read David Albert’s Time and Chance to get caught up a bit here.)

    Turns out that when it comes to time being change-symmetric, the applicable laws are not. Because if you could effectively reverse the sequence of any causal change, you would need to have reversed the effects of all it’s prior causes, including what, if ever anything, had caused your quantum minds to function.

    Emotional reaction, you bet. The persistent ignorance of those in the parapsychology “field” is frustrating to have to continually deal with.

  78. Jeremiahon 09 Jul 2011 at 10:01 pm

    sonic, action at a distance is not action from a distant future.

    Also, use of magnetism for predictive purposes is part of nature’s anticipatory functioning. Nothing to do with precognition, etc.

    See this below, as well as looking into the sites I made reference to in a previous thread (http://www.anticipation.info/):

    http://www.nadin.ws/archives/39
    Anticipation – A Spooky Computation
    Conference on Computing Anticipatory Systems (CASYS 99), Liege, Belgium, August 8-11, 1999
    Mihai Nadin
    Program in Computational Design
    University of Wuppertal
    Computer Science, Center for the Study of Language and Information
    201 Cordura Hall
    Stanford University

    (That above was Nadin, not that fool, Radin.)

  79. robmon 10 Jul 2011 at 12:22 am

    It doesn’t matter if they converge, they are still correlations. There is absolutely no scientific reason for making the inference that you made. That is the kind of error that scientists are supposedly trained not to make.

    This shows a complete misunderstanding of how science works. Scientists can and do make inferences based on correlations in experiments or observations. With a single experiment it’s a possible explanation, with different experiments testing the same hypothesis in different ways the results will begin to point to whether the hypothesis is correct or not. This hasn’t just happened for a few aspects of the mind it happened with lots of them.

    Again so far there hasn’t been an observed mental state that changes without a change in brain function. Like wise brain function doesn’t change without corresponding change in the mind, the senses, or movement. Without evidence there is no reason to suspect the mind exists beyond the brain, since so much of the mind has been found tied to brain function.

    How has that ever been determined? It hasn’t.

    It has, everything discovered about the brain point it being the cause of the mind. How it’s been determined has been explained over and over again. If you want a mind external to the brain to be disproven before the brain creating the mind is proven, then you don’t understand science.

    If this is your own personal burden of proof for emotional reasons that is your choice dont pretend it’s scientific.

    Materialists need to believe in the old mechanistic universe, so they deny quantum theory could possibly apply to our macro level. But their objection is evidence free

    Actually the old mechanistic universe has been dead for about a hundred years, of all the discoveries in that time none have said quantum theory is magic. Quantum mechanics doesnt postulate any sort of mind or consciousness and almost no one who studies it comes to that conclusion (Hint Deepak Chopra and Ramtha are not a quantum physicists). Physicists are currently trying to push the limits of the classical quantum boundary, and it is very difficult for them get quantum behavior with large molecules, let alone anything in everyday life. Quantum mechanics as an objection to neuroscience is evidence free.

  80. mufion 10 Jul 2011 at 12:24 am

    neverknow said: It doesn’t matter if they converge, they are still correlations.

    Of course they are correlations. What other candidates for causes are there?

    It’s not good enough just to assert the logical possibility of some other cause of mental effects, besides those achieved through state changes in the brain, as indicated by Steve’s successful predictions (especially 3-6) above. You also have to document reproducible correlations that we would expect if the mind were somehow independent of the brain.

    If you can do that (and in a way that is as methodologically rigorous as the studies that support the “brain causes mind” hypothesis), then the game is afoot, in that it becomes a question of which hypothesis has more evidence in its favor.

    But, thus far, the closest you’ve come to that standard is to mine the web for a few highly controversial studies. Sorry, but that won’t persuade anyone who isn’t already committed to your view.

  81. mufion 10 Jul 2011 at 12:28 am

    Heh. Looks like robm and I are working the same beat. :-)

  82. robmon 10 Jul 2011 at 12:32 am

    And posting at nearly the same time, spooky action at a distance. ;)

  83. steve12on 10 Jul 2011 at 12:58 am

    Mufi:

    “Presumably, what you call “supernatural causes” here are causes for which you have alternative hypotheses that you find more plausible.”

    This response, plus what followed, pointed out to me that I was not being specific enough in my experiment example. I’m using “experiment” in the technical sense, not colloquially to mean all research. We need to get nuts and bolts.

    So let’s say I do the following idealized experiment:

    To find out if sugar causes hyperactivity in kids, I get a random sample of 8 year olds and randomly assign them to a high and low sugar administration group. Then, I put the kids in a room for 1/2 hour with a Bobo Clown (TM) inflatable punching bag, and count how many times the kids from each group strike the bag. I get two distributions, do my between t-test and BAM – significant difference. Let’s say the high sugar group averaged 25 smacks of Bobo, the low 10 smacks. The experiment replicates.

    My interpretation of the result: sugar causes hyperactivity in kids (assuming one accepts smacking the clown as reflecting hyperactivity) because I’ve controlled for everything else (ideal situation), sugar is all that’s left (quite by design).

    But wait – what if I entertain the possibility of supernatural causation? In that case, I have to also entertain the idea that some supernatural force – not plain old materialistic sugar – may have caused the difference between my groups. That is, I’m not assuming methodological naturalism.

    Now, let’s look at OTHER possible causes for the discrepancy between my groups:

    Maybe the CEO of Sweet & Low is a really good Christian, Jew, Muslim, Whatever and prayed really hard that sugar gets a bad name, so God, Yaweh, Allah, FSM did him a solid and intervened.

    Maybe there’s a Stevia God that really hates other sweeteners.

    Maybe the One (or Twelve) True God(s) looked at the burgeoning diabetes epidemic and thought that this would be a good time to scare parents about giving their kids too much sugar, so he guided the high sugar group kids to smack the shit outta Bobo Clown.

    The problem is, all of these are possible interpretations of my simple little sugar experiment unless I assume only natural causation (i.e., sugar). If I don’t assume natural causation, I can never interpret an experiment because I can never know that what I manipulated (e.g., sugar) was the cause of my effect (greater Bobo smacking).

  84. BillyJoe7on 10 Jul 2011 at 3:24 am

    sonic,

    “It shocks me that science lovers are unaware of ‘action at a distance’ (magic) ”

    It shouldn’t shock you because it aint true. ;)
    What is referred to as “action at a distance” happens reliably and predictably (with an experimental accuracy that is second to none in science). How is this ‘magic’?

  85. BillyJoe7on 10 Jul 2011 at 5:53 am

    John Wisdom’s take on the disproof of god:

    Once upon a time two explorers came upon a clearing in the jungle. In the clearing were growing many flowers and many weeds. One explorer says, “some gardener must tend this plot.” The other disagrees, “There is no gardener.” So they pitch their tents and set a watch. No gardener is ever seen. “But perhaps he is an invisible gardener.” So they, set up a barbed-wire fence. They electrify it. They patrol with bloodhounds. But no shrieks ever suggest that some intruder has received a shock. No movements of the wire ever betray an invisible climber. The bloodhounds never give cry. Yet still the Believer is not convinced. “But there is a gardener, invisible, intangible, insensible to electric shocks, a gardener who has no scent and makes no sound, a gardener who comes secretly to look after the garden which he loves.” At last the Sceptic despairs, “But what remains of your original assertion? Just how does what you call an invisible, intangible, eternally elusive gardener differ from an imaginary gardener or even from no gardener at all?”

  86. BillyJoe7on 10 Jul 2011 at 5:56 am

    …the god hypothesis: death by a thousand qualifications. (J.C.)

  87. Steven Novellaon 10 Jul 2011 at 6:40 am

    What Occam’s razor says is that you should not introduce unnecessary new assumptions.

    If I flip a light switch to make the light go on and off, and there is a physical connection – a circuit- that can explain this effect, I don’t need to introduce a light fairy that makes the light go on and off. Even if I don’t understand everything about electromagnetism – there is no need for a light fairy. Even though my evidence is only “correlational” – every time I flip the switch to the on position the light goes on, etc.

    The brain is the same, just much more complex. A surgeon can touch a part of the brain and reliably cause a neurological reaction – muscle contraction, mental effect – whatever. It’s like flipping a switch.

  88. nybgruson 10 Jul 2011 at 7:09 am

    I have to chime in as well on this one:

    Neverknow:

    It doesn’t matter if they converge, they are still correlations. There is absolutely no scientific reason for making the inference that you made. That is the kind of error that scientists are supposedly trained not to make.

    To put it simply, that is flat out wrong. By that rationale no one could ever be convicted of murder unless they did it in a courtroom in front of the jury.

    Re: determing the function of the brain:

    How has that ever been determined? It hasn’t.

    That is just pure denialism. Brain lesions, selective interference of brain function, drug induced states, etc all have demonstrated quite clearly how discrete areas of the brain function to create every aspect of the mind – even things as fundamental as an identity of where “self” ends.

  89. nybgruson 10 Jul 2011 at 7:16 am

    @sonic:

    The main scientific observation that supports theism would be that the universe had a beginning. That was the standard up to the time– If the universe is eternal, then there is no God (materialism)– but if the universe had a beginning, then there would be to a first cause– ie. God.(theism)

    As has been pointed out, the universe having a beginning does not require a god. And it most certainly does not require a personal god. It may prove to require something and one may choose to call that something god, but it is most certainly not the god of Abraham and it is highly unlikely to be a personal god. Deism works just fine for me, but I just then see no reason to use such a loaded word as “god.”

  90. nybgruson 10 Jul 2011 at 7:21 am

    @mufi:

    The vacation was nice – very spur of the moment, last minute sort of thing. Just a 1 night getaway. It isn’t so hard to do such things out here since Australia is a rather pretty and exotic country in its own rights.

    As for me, I’d be happy to tell you more but there are others on this thread that I would be uncomfortable knowing more about me. Though my identity really isn’t a secret and is actually known pretty well if you happened to have read a particular article on SBM.

    Suffice it to say, I am American and I am spending part of my study in Australia, with the remainder to be done back in the States.

    Once again, thanks for your kind words.

    @everyone:

    lastly, I’ll try and re-work my comment in the next day or two to clarify. If I don’t have the time to properly address it, then just assume it is completely retracted and accept my apologies for it.

  91. titmouseon 10 Jul 2011 at 7:26 am

    @Titmouse:

    One of the most absurd attacks on atheists is to associate them with scientology or, worse yet, Stalin, as you did above. Guilt by association is illogical for a reason. There are horrible atheists and wonderful atheists, and their atheism is not what makes the either of those things.

    I’m sure I could find horrible people that share some belief with you – and what would that prove? Nothing.

    I’m sorry I wasn’t clear. I was responding to a claim that atheists are more rational than theists by giving examples of irrationality among atheists.

    The atheists who promote alt med are the bad atheists in my book.
    There are a lot of them.

    When someone says, “I’m an atheist,” I want to know if they take ridiculous amounts of supplements and/or hate “BigPharma” before I go near them.

    I am not going anywhere near Bill Maher or Jerry Coyne.

  92. BillyJoe7on 10 Jul 2011 at 7:39 am

    “What Occam’s razor says is that you should not introduce unnecessary new assumptions. ”

    …or unnecessary old assumptions. ;)

    This reminds me of Manu Singhams redefinition of:
    Atheist: One for whom god is an unnecessary explanatory concept.

    (Agnostics distinguish themselves from atheists for a variety of reasons. However, if they were forced to answer the question “Is God an unnecessary explanatory concept?” most would be atheists by this redefinition.)

  93. neverknowon 10 Jul 2011 at 9:26 am

    “Brain lesions, selective interference of brain function, drug induced states, etc all have demonstrated quite clearly how discrete areas of the brain function to create every aspect of the mind”

    Anything that happens to the brain will have some effect on conscious experience. That in no way demonstrates that the brain causes conscious experience.

  94. neverknowon 10 Jul 2011 at 9:28 am

    Notice that none of the materialists have commented on the Physical Review article I mentioned. Quantum effects appear to be relevant to life and cognition. Interesting that none of you have anything to say about that.

  95. doctor_zeuson 10 Jul 2011 at 11:26 am

    @neverknow:
    “Anything that happens to the brain will have some effect on conscious experience. That in no way demonstrates that the brain causes conscious experience.”
    Wrong. I can shut off your consciousness with ease by affecting the brain. I can even shut off parts of your consciousness and leave bits of it intact. What do you have?

    “Notice that none of the materialists have commented on the Physical Review article I mentioned. Quantum effects appear to be relevant to life and cognition. Interesting that none of you have anything to say about that.”
    What is there to comment on a physical ie. Material effect. Are you claiming quantum effects are magic?

  96. PhysiPhileon 10 Jul 2011 at 12:57 pm

    @neverknow

    If conscious was shown to be strongly influenced by quantum effects, it would take more than a letter to substantiate that claim. For the scientific community to accept this claim, we would need extraordinary evidence. Can you please present the evidence of quantum consciousness.

    Also I see you have a problem with assuming causation with the correlative evidence between brain and mind. You can never absolutely prove a causal relationship. You can only show such strong correlations between two events, that it is reasonable to assume a causal effect.

  97. robmon 10 Jul 2011 at 1:25 pm

    To the disoriented birds, the small magnetic field may have acted like static in a radio transmission tuned to match quantum properties of electrons in the protein cryptochrome, which lines the retina. Electrons in the molecule come in pairs, each with opposite spin, like the heads and tails on a coin. When light enters the bird’s eye and hits the cryptochrome, one of the electrons is kicked out. The wayward electron wobbles under the influence of the Earth’s magnetic field, but the protein-bound electron feels both the Earth’s field and the magnetic pull from the rest of the molecule. Since quantum entanglement keeps the separated electrons linked like two sides of the same coin, they feel each other wobbling. The difference in how the two electrons wobble creates patterns on the retina that the bird can use as a compass.

    A pair of entangled electrons, in a protein, create a visual pattern that ‘senses’ the earths magnetic field? Sounds surprising but plausible, and in no way points to any sort of immaterial mind. In fact sounds downright materialistic.

  98. Jeremiahon 10 Jul 2011 at 1:47 pm

    @neverknow
    “Notice that none of the materialists have commented on the Physical Review article I mentioned. Quantum effects appear to be relevant to life and cognition. Interesting that none of you have anything to say about that.”

    I had this to say:
    “Also, use of magnetism for predictive purposes is part of nature’s anticipatory functioning. Nothing to do with precognition, etc.”

    And then you had nothing to say about the references to anticipatory systems, all seemingly quite new to supernaturalists.
    Winds in danger of going out of sails and all that.

    Relevant excerpt from Mihai Nadin’s discourse on spooky computation:
    “Non-locality is, in the last analysis, distance independent.
    Furthermore, non-locality is not a limited characteristic of the universe, but a global rule. In the words of Gribbin (1998),
    non-locality “cuts into the idea of the separateness of things.” If the “no-signaling” criterion (energy or information travel no
    faster than the speed of light) protects the “chain of cause and effect,” (effects can never happen before their causes),
    non-locality ensures the coherence of the universe. Reconciliation between non-locality and causality might therefore be suggestive for our understanding of anticipation. In such a case, the co-relation among elements involved in anticipation
    can be seen as a computation, but one different in nature from a digital computer, i.e., in a Turing machine. It follows from
    here that anticipation understood as co-relation–a notion we will soon focus on–must be a computation different in type than
    that embodied in a Turing machine.”

    Effects, quantum or otherwise, can never happen before their causes.

    Neverknew that.

  99. neverknowon 10 Jul 2011 at 3:18 pm

    “A pair of entangled electrons, in a protein, create a visual pattern that ‘senses’ the earths magnetic field? Sounds surprising but plausible, and in no way points to any sort of immaterial mind. In fact sounds downright materialistic.”

    Materialists, including Steve Novella, have been insisting that quantum effects have no relevance to life and consciousness. So they have no comments when they are shown to be wrong.

  100. robmon 10 Jul 2011 at 3:36 pm

    “Materialists, including Steve Novella, have been insisting that quantum effects have no relevance to life and consciousness.”

    So far no connection to consciousness, just one property of one protein affecting vision, specifically the color blue. And it’s still a hypothesis.

    Even positing life and the brain broadly use quantum effects, it just means there is much more to learn about how the brain causes the mind.

  101. mufion 10 Jul 2011 at 4:03 pm

    steve12: I was think along these same lines just earlier today: What if the Tooth Fairy really is involved somehow in the tooth-for-money exchange? I thought that I or my spouse did the deed, but maybe I was deceived into thinking that (e.g. via false memory implantation or some other form of mind control).

    I think Dr. Novella’s last comment speaks to both of our examples; i.e. even in our everyday thinking, we use something like “Occam’s razor” (a.k.a. the law of parsimony, economy, or succinctness) to eliminate unnecessary assumptions. And, to borrow Fishman’s Einstein quote: “The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.”

    Besides, getting back to your example, intercessory prayer has been tested before and the hypothesis has thus far been rejected (except, I suppose, by those who prefer their prior belief in its effectiveness to what the scientific evidence suggests). So, even if you knew that CEO of Sweet & Low was praying for those results (which you didn’t mention beforehand as part of the experiment’s design), why would you consider that a more likely causal explanation than the sugar involved?

    Sure, one hypothesis is “supernatural” and the other “natural”, but as Fishman put it:

    Disease, lightning, meteorites, and comets were all considered ‘supernatural’ phenomena until they were given law-like ‘natural’ explanations consistent with other empirically supported ‘natural’ theories.

    So, it’s conceivable – albeit, highly unlikely, given what’s already been scientifically confirmed and disconfirmed – that intercessory prayer may one day be deemed a “natural” phenomenon. The same might be said of other phenomena that are suggestive (albeit, only by inference) of divine intervention. This, of course, would be greeted by theists as very good news, and rightly so. Unfortunately (for them), the news thus far from the science front has been mostly bad, leading them to invent all sorts of ad hoc hypotheses (a la “god of the gaps”) to explain away the negative results.

  102. mufion 10 Jul 2011 at 4:07 pm

    nybgrus: Welcome back.

    I perfectly understand. You have good reason to protect your anonymity here. :-(

  103. Mlemaon 10 Jul 2011 at 4:12 pm

    The question of whether the mind causes the brain or the brain causes the mind is a philosophical one. It’s irrelevant to science because the study of the brain can progress without answering that question. Should scientists feel compelled to convince everyone that there is nothing other than the material world? If so, why?
    Is there funding being mis-spent on certain kinds of research that don’t assume only the material world?

  104. Jeremiahon 10 Jul 2011 at 4:24 pm

    @neverknow,
    “Materialists, including Steve Novella, have been insisting that quantum effects have no relevance to life and consciousness. So they have no comments when they are shown to be wrong.”

    Some may question the nature of the relevance, but that’s far from insisting there is none at all.

    On the other hand, when you’ve been shown to be wrong about the nature of the most relevant aspects of quantum cause, you insist on nothing.

  105. PhysiPhileon 10 Jul 2011 at 4:37 pm

    @Mlema

    “It’s irrelevant to science because the study of the brain can progress without answering that question. Should scientists feel compelled to convince everyone that there is nothing other than the material world? If so, why?”

    I believe it’s important for people to understand the causal relationship from brain to mind because it leads to a greater understanding of the spectrum of personalities.

    In general, I find the people who believe the mind is separate from brain have less compassion for those with personalities drastically different than their own. For example, people who have a dualistic perspective often tell me they don’t understand how someone could be gay, have depression, or many other variations of their personal deep desires or emotions. If they believed that the brain causes these personality differences, I think they would be more accepting of the behavior of these people.

    I’m not sure why when someone understands the physical basis for something, they become more accepting. Like why do people who believe that homosexuality is wrong also do not believe that homosexuality is neurologically based (i.e. a function of the deep subcortical brain structures) and is not subject to change via conscious choice. But once one understands the physiologically basis for sexual orientation, they become more acceptable.

    Scientist SHOULD feel compelled to convince people of this brain-mind relationship because changing their perspective on this issue leads to positive ramifications.

  106. Mlemaon 10 Jul 2011 at 4:55 pm

    thanks PhysiPhile. Interesting take. I have seen this phenomenon you describe and I totally agree with you. But another person could read your comment to say that science has an agenda to make homosexuality more acceptable, which is an arena it has no business playing in. And that trying to make a biological cause of people’s will minimize personal responsibility.

    Your comment also illustrates the many levels on which this philosophical issue lies. It can be purely cerebral, but, down and dirty i guess there really are things that play out because of the fact that the argument goes on.

  107. Mlemaon 10 Jul 2011 at 4:57 pm

    left out a word!

    …..And that trying to make a biological cause of people’s PERSONALITIES will minimize personal responsibility.

  108. doctor_zeuson 10 Jul 2011 at 5:16 pm

    @PhysiPhilae: I don’t believe that to be a good basis or justification to treat homosexuality or any other personality or brain trait ethically. It is an Argument from Nature Fallacy. The issue you run into is that while you can argue that homosexuality is a not a choice but due to brain function, then if homosexuality is found to be “unnatural” or a brain defect then does it suddenly become okay for physicians to “cure” this defect?
    I personally believe that the ethical basis for the fair treatment for gays lies in a different direction.
    @Mlema: that’s a difficult question isn’t it? However much of what our society considers justice has to do with persecution as opposed to rehabilitation. But i don’t think by making the brain-mind link does it diminishes responsibility. An smoker has a very strong desire and urge to smoke. We understand a lot about this due to brain chemistry and we have drugs to suppress this urge. That understanding has lead to treatment. It has not lead to decreasing the responsibility of the smoker but it has lead to better therapy and treatments.
    Now the issue occurs if you meet a sociopath that has a strong desire to kill children. Will linking these urges with the brain diminish personal responsibility or will it lead to a better understanding and maybe even medications that could decrease these desires? Not all sociopaths kills, not all pedophiles go after children. There is still some personal decision and choice to be made.

  109. Danon 10 Jul 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Mlema,

    Would you please explain why you think the hypothesis that quantum effects have relevance to consciousness is a problem for ‘materialists’? If anything this hypothesis would actually strengthen the materialists case, and I believe the study you are citing actually undermines your position. If some parts of consciousness weren’t due to fixed laws, but were due to chance events, this would still be a huge problem for people who believe in a “ghost in the machine.”

  110. robmon 10 Jul 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Mlema,

    I have to disagree with PhysiPhile in that the purpose of science is to gain sound knowledge about the processes of the world around us. If at every observation science stopped to ponder what unseen causes are hidden behind the apparent world, knowledge would impossible.

    There could be orbit leprechauns, red shift elves, lensing unicorns and time dilation fairies instead of gravity. However general relativity is the best explanation because there is no evidence or even a prediction that distinguishes the two hypotheses.

    Hidden causes or agents may seem explanatory, but if they can’t yield testable predictions and instead rely solely on conjecture, they actually fail at producing knowledge from a scientific standpoint.

    I think many scientists first and foremost want to share their knowledge and discoveries about the material world with the public, whether they are of importance to society or not. Sadly this runs up against preexisting beliefs. This leads to backlash at worst, though more often someone will ask ‘why is science doing this to me?’ simply because the results don’t fit their world view.

  111. nybgruson 10 Jul 2011 at 6:09 pm

    @mlema:

    I would also add that it is not so much that scientists are trying to force others to accept there is nothing beyond the material world. It is that there are constantly people trying to claim that such-and-such can be explained by (and thus are) explained by metaphysical mumbo jumbo. In some cases, they find themselves in a gray area with no speficially robust empirical data to refute their claim. However the entirety of the rest of known scientific fact demonstrates to us the parsimony of a materialistic explanation for everything we do know thus far, so simple logic would dictate that continue until an exception is actually found (i.e. positive evidence as proof for the stipulation of non-material influence, not a claim that it cannot be disproven). But in reality, as has been demonstrated quite nicely by Steve12, it is important to teach all students that the basis of science not only is material but must be so. Once again we are left at the juncture where I would say that if one decides to ignore these tenets of science (aka, understanding the world and the universe) then that is 100% your right and I will defend it tooth and nail. But once you actually start to claim to others you are correct, or try to teach it to students, or pass laws to defend it, you have left the protective arena of self right.

    @neverknow:

    Anything that happens to the brain will have some effect on conscious experience. That in no way demonstrates that the brain causes conscious experience.

    It in fact absolutely demonstrates that the brain causes conscious experience. If X happens to the brain, then Y happens to the conscious experience. That is simply demonstrable, empirical fact. If you wish to assert that there is a duality and that the mind influences the brain you must give positive evidence for that. Determine a way to design an experiment and test that, then do so. The problem is no one has accomplished that.

    By analogy, I could say there is a hand/sense-of-touch duality and that my sense of touch is a separate entity, non-physical and dual from my hand. If I damage my hand, I damage my sense-of-touch. Your claim would then say that doesn’t prove that my hand causes my sense-of-touch. Every experiment demonstrates to us that sense-of-touch is a direct factor of the hand – we know the neural innervation, we know how they fire, what causes them to fire, the various types of nerves there, and that specific lesion cause specific deficits. Everything points to the hand causing sense-of-touch. Yet I can say (by your duality argument) that it doesn’t demonstrate that there isn’t a factor of sense-of-touch being separate and independent from the hand, because obviously anything that happens to the hand would affect the sense-of-touch.

    That argumentation seems silly when speaking about hands and sense-of-touch, but is entirely analagous to the mind/brain duality argument. The latter is only more complex and there is more we don’t yet know, but filling that unkown with an assertion of some duality for which there is no evidence makes just as much sense as saying that our sense-of-touch is somehow a separate and non-physical manifestation that informs the state of our hands.

    Notice that none of the materialists have commented on the Physical Review article I mentioned. Quantum effects appear to be relevant to life and cognition

    Robm did and so will I. The article demonstrates that there may be an example of an animal using an quantum effect to inform a sense. That in no way translates to the quantum effect actually being relevant to the basic biology of the animal. The notion of quantum effects dictating consciousness and biology (a la Chopra) is garbage since the fundamental level of these interactions are much to large to experience quantum effects (neurotransmitter and binary action potentials of individuals neurons are the basic driving force of the brain – even the tiniest NT is much to large to experience quantum fluctuation, therefore we need not incorporate it into an undertsanding of the function of the brain, let alone the rest of the body). Having an example where a quantum effect can by harnessed in a specific way, and then amplified biologically to the point where it can be observed simply shows us a really cool adaptation that an animal has harnessed. It does not show us an example of quantum interaction being fundamental to the basic function of said animal in any way.

    Which leads nicely into…

    Materialists, including Steve Novella, have been insisting that quantum effects have no relevance to life and consciousness. So they have no comments when they are shown to be wrong.

    No, we have never said it has “no relevance to life.” As I demonstrated above, we have said it does not form the basic premise upon which life is based. There is a distinct difference between claiming that life (molecular biology, neuronal interactions, etc) are based in and explained by quantum effects versus saying they can take advantage of a quantum effects. The former is incorrect and is what Dr. Novella, myself, and others have been saying (and is what the likes of Chopra are saying as well). The latter is what we (apparently) are observing. You haven’t ruffled any feathers with your linked article.

  112. neverknowon 10 Jul 2011 at 6:27 pm

    “Scientist SHOULD feel compelled to convince people of this brain-mind relationship because changing their perspective on this issue leads to positive ramifications.”

    So you think it’s just fine for scientists to have political motivations for promoting their preferred theories.

    Even if it were, which it isn’t, we could all find both positive and negative ramifications in different theories. For you, the brain causes mind theory is nice because it means people are not responsible for their behaviors. Well, I am not sure everyone would agree with you about that being positive. I wouldn’t.

    But the point really is that it doesn’t matter which theory inspires more compassion. What matters is the evidence, which you do not have.

    For example, when a patient has a damaged language center they can’t speak. So that means the neurons of the language center create speech? No, it means they are needed for speech. We do not know what else is needed, or how these neurons are involved in the production of speech. We only know they are necessary part of the process. We do NOT know that they are the whole story, and sufficient to create speech.

    And that goes for all the other so-called evidence cited by materialists on the brain causes mind theory.

    And I am not saying the brain and mind are separate. I am saying you have absolutely no scientific bass for saying the physical machinery of the brain currently known to science is what creates conscious experience and behavior.

  113. PhysiPhileon 10 Jul 2011 at 6:31 pm

    @Mlema

    “But another person could read your comment to say that science has an agenda to make homosexuality more acceptable”

    One could say that but they would be anthropomorphizing science. Science doesn’t have an agenda – that’s a human quality. If a greater understanding of nature (through science) leads one to give science human qualities so it can be dismissed, then one’s perspective is currently unchangeable.

    If I ask someone why my computer won’t turn on and they say the computer doesn’t like me, I will think they are joking because of the absurdity of the statement. Similarly, if someone is to say that science has an agenda against their belief – I find that equally absurd.

    “And that trying to make a biological cause of people’s will minimize personal responsibility.”

    Superficially, it may seem that if behavior is set in biology, then this eliminates personal responsibility for behaviors. But this argument falls apart under closer examination. What the biological understanding of behavior does is, one, allows us to potentially alter behaviors that are deleterious, and two, makes us feel more compassion for people with different behaviors.

    Those who believe that a physical basis for behavior eliminates personal responsibility are conflating the feeling of compassion with the understanding that the behavior should not persist.

    Here’s an example: Dr. Novella stated (either on the SGU podcast or on this blog) that he was glad his brain wasn’t structured in such a way that he was sexually attracted to children. I believe this shows compassion for those whose brains are structured in that way but I do not believe Dr. Novella thinks pedophiles who act on this attraction should not be stopped (i.e. he still believe they have personal responsibility).

    Also, as a general principle, ignoring scientific facts (e.g. behavior is neurological) makes you less relevant to the discussion. For example, if someone made the argument that any scientific facts against a geocentric universe forces them to change their perspective, then their current perspective will not be relevant to the discussion

  114. nybgruson 10 Jul 2011 at 6:31 pm

    now, to address my comment:

    But if you give me a pool of atheists and a pool of theists, I can tell you that, on average, the atheists doing science will come up with better results because, on average, they won’t have dogma to keep them from (consciously or not) tainting the work that they do.

    As was very accurately pointed out, many an atheist has an agenda, dogma, or is otherwise crazy. I fell into my own trap of referring to the attributes of a group which I say cannot have any attributes as a whole, because that would be a useless distinction (a la my “people with mustaches” argument). I apologize for the lapse – my only excuse is that I was in a rush to head out for my impromptu mini-vacation and simply wasn’t giving proper thought.

    What I was attempting to say is that theists as a whole will by definition hold some form of dogma or faith based belief. Some more than others, some more strongly than others, and relevant to all different fields (on average). However, in general it can be reasonably safe to say that a theist will hold some belief based entirely on faith, and will thus be immune to evidence against it (my example of Kurt Wise) or will change the outcomes of their science to fit that belief (as in Georgia Purdom). Therefore, if you take a random selection of theists and randomly assign them to study some field of science, you have a pretty good chance of having them run across something (as a group) that will contradict their faith based conviction and thus taint their science. That is also why I added the comment about theists being perfectly capable of doing excellent work in areas of science that do not contradict their faith based belief (which is why, indeed, dark matter research may indeed be relatively safe). However, my further point was that many times (more often than not, I would wager) not even the theist him/herself can predict where said faith based conflict may arise. Perhaps the implication of said dark matter research may come around and question a tiny passage in a holy text the theist holds dear which would then cause a cognitive dissonance requiring either abandonment of belief or adulteration of science. The point is we don’t know where, when, or how strongly that may happen and we have numerous examples where the latter option prevails.

    I feel pretty safe and justified in saying that, as a whole and on average, theists would have a fair number of such faith based beliefs that could very easily lead to bad science.

    My error was then in comparing that to atheists and claiming that, as a group, they would be less vulnerable to such faith based tainting of scientific endeavor. Besides the fact that you can’t really describe a group attribute to “atheist” besides “lack of belief in a deity,” besides the fact that many an atheist is also bound by some other form of faith based or otherwise irrational belief, I have no evidence whatsoever that the rate/incidence of such problematic faith based belief would be less in atheists as a whole. Specific subsets of atheists I may be able to argue more effectively, but really, that misses the point.

    I admit that my comment was based on thinking about atheists like myself, and that it was essentially an emotional and biased comparison that was indeed evidence-free – and wrong to boot. Obviously I’d like to think that is true, but I really doubt it is (when put in such general terms) and how I’d like for something to be means nothing.

    In closing, I’ll say that half my statement, about theists as presented above, I’ll still stand by but the other half can and should be dismissed.

    I hope that helps to clear things up and thanks for keeping me honest!

  115. mufion 10 Jul 2011 at 6:37 pm

    neverknow: I am saying you have absolutely no scientific bass for saying the physical machinery of the brain currently known to science is what creates conscious experience and behavior.

    On the contrary: We have only a scientific basis for saying that the brain causes the mind. If you want to go beyond what the scientific evidence suggests, and conjecture about mysterious extra-bodily and/or non-physical causes of mental activity, then that’s your choice.

    There’s no accounting for taste.

  116. Jeremiahon 10 Jul 2011 at 6:52 pm

    “The article demonstrates that there may be an example of an animal using an quantum effect to inform a sense. That in no way translates to the quantum effect actually being relevant to the basic biology of the animal. The notion of quantum effects dictating consciousness and biology (a la Chopra) is garbage since the fundamental level of these interactions are much to large to experience quantum effects (neurotransmitter and binary action potentials of individuals neurons are the basic driving force of the brain – even the tiniest NT is much to large to experience quantum fluctuation, therefore we need not incorporate it into an undertsanding of the function of the brain, let alone the rest of the body).”

    The notion that a biological function did not evolve to take advantage of quantum effects because it assertively could not have anticipated their advantages is where information in is turned to garbage out. Even fools like Chopra turn out more palatable varieties of garbage.

  117. nybgruson 10 Jul 2011 at 6:53 pm

    oh yes, and mufi – thanks for the welcome back and understanding. I really have nothing to hide, but you never know what kind of weird things the internet can come up with. There is a reason why I deleted my ages-old facebook account and set up a new one under a pseudonym with a cartoon instead of a photo and limited myself to only a handful of friends and family. Nothing actually happened – I just started getting worried about it is all.

  118. PhysiPhileon 10 Jul 2011 at 6:55 pm

    @neverknow

    “For you, the brain causes mind theory is nice because it means people are not responsible for their behaviors.”

    I strongly do not believe that if mind is a product of the brain, this eliminates personal responsibility. So your analysis of my motivation is incorrect. See my post above.

    “We do NOT know that they are the whole story, and sufficient to create speech.”

    But we can tell that an individuals capacity for speech lies within the volume of their nervous system.

    Here’s an example: There is a clicking noise inside my laptop. I know it’s inside my laptop because when I rotate it the noise changes and when I move my laptop the noise moves with my laptop. Any way I affect the location of my laptop, I affect the location of the noise. However, I am not sure what is the cause of the noise. It could be a wire touching a fan, a fan bearing, the spinning hard drive, speaker noise, etc. But the fact that I don’t know the cause of the noise doesn’t mean the noise isn’t being caused my something inside my laptop.

    Speech is analogous to the noise in my laptop. We know the capacity for speech is coming from the brain because we localized it to the nervous system. If one was able to affect speech without affect the nervous system, that would constitute evidence against speech being located in the nervous system.

    Do you have evidence of the mind being at a different location in space than the brain?

  119. Mlemaon 10 Jul 2011 at 7:00 pm

    PhysiPhile. No need to direct your excellent argument toward me. As I said, I totally agree with you. I’m just pointing out the issues inherent in this conflict.
    Also, as an aside, pedophiles are usually guys who were victims of pedophiles when they were kids. I’m sure it affects their brain and may have something to do with them becoming pedophiles themselves.

  120. neverknowon 10 Jul 2011 at 7:04 pm

    “We have only a scientific basis for saying that the brain causes the mind.”

    Then what is it? As I already said several times, we know that the brain is necessary for interacting with the world, which does not imply that the brain causes the mind. Did you see the wikipedia quantum mind article I linked?

  121. Mlemaon 10 Jul 2011 at 7:06 pm

    @Dan
    did you address a question to me that you meant to address to someone else? I don’t recognize what you’re referencing in your comment to have come from me.

  122. neverknowon 10 Jul 2011 at 7:12 pm

    “Do you have evidence of the mind being at a different location in space than the brain?”

    I have been talking about quantum processes related to the brain, which of course are not understood. The wikipedia article I linked describes some of the major theories. The concept of location is not relevant when we’re talking about quantum entanglement — that is the whole point!

    These ideas go beyond the old mechanistic world view. We really need to go beyond it if our understanding of consciousness is ever to progress. But no one is going to simply and easily replace the old mechanistic view. We can say the old ideas are wrong without having simple new ideas ready to snap into place.

  123. Mlemaon 10 Jul 2011 at 7:21 pm

    @robm
    what you say makes sense to me. I’m beginning to see this conflict as perhaps being one that actually may be a productive one in some ways, rather than simply stirring up ire. Science must remain scientific. Regarding materialism vs. idealism, scientists have to do the best they can to remain focused on the task at hand. Solid results will always withstand the scrutiny of those in the public who, as you describe, might try to make trouble for scientists because they don’t like what science is telling them.
    Perhaps Dr. Novella is in an especially difficult position here because of his area of expertise.

    In the circles within which I travel, people who would get angry over research results are few and far between. The usual response to science news: “oh, another ridiculous study, what are they telling us we should do now? Those guys just find lots of ways to use money don’t they?” :-(

  124. Danon 10 Jul 2011 at 7:26 pm

    @Mlema,

    My bad, I meant my question as a response to NeverKnow’s post. Your comment was right above while I was typing my reply, so I wrote your name instead of NeverKnow’s. Sorry.

    @NeverKnow,

    I accidentally addressed my earlier question to someone else, so here it is again. Would you please explain why you think the hypothesis that quantum effects have relevance to consciousness is a problem for ‘materialists’? If anything this hypothesis would actually strengthen the materialists case, and I believe the article you are citing actually undermines your position. If some parts of consciousness weren’t due to fixed laws, but were due to chance events, this would still be a huge problem for people who believe in a “ghost in the machine.”

  125. Jeremiahon 10 Jul 2011 at 7:34 pm

    @neverknow,
    “I have been talking about quantum processes related to the brain, which of course are not understood. The wikipedia article I linked describes some of the major theories. The concept of location is not relevant when we’re talking about quantum entanglement — that is the whole point!”

    No, your point about location was that the quantum present could locate effects from the future as causes to be reacted to and thus reconstitute the nature of the present.

    When advised of the present scientific consensus that
    “effects, quantum or otherwise, can never happen before their causes,” you reconstituted the nature of your argument, with no apparent sense of any distinction in the differences.

    Can effects happen before their causes in the quantum world or can’t they? Or do you no longer have an opinion about that basic parapshycological assumption?

  126. mufion 10 Jul 2011 at 7:45 pm

    neverknow: I share Dan’s consternation re: your use of quantum effects, as they relate to the “brain caused mind” hypothesis. I look forward to your response to him.

    And it’s disingenuous of you to pretend that we haven’t already been through examples of evidence for the “brain causes mind” hypothesis.” My sense it that you are so ideologically committed to that’s being false that no amount of evidence will ever convince you, in which case you’re wasting our time.

  127. neverknowon 10 Jul 2011 at 7:52 pm

    [Would you please explain why you think the hypothesis that quantum effects have relevance to consciousness is a problem for ‘materialists’?]

    Materialists usually ridicule anyone who says quantum effects may be relevant to the study of consciousness. They call it “quantum woo.” The old mechanistic laws do not hold at quantum levels, where time can go in reverse and physically separated things can be entangled, and where mind seems able to influence matter. So non-materialist physicists and neuroscientists, and parapsychologists, have all been pointing this out. But materialists, such as Steve Novella, keep on insisting that what goes on at quantum levels has absolutely no relevance at the macro level.

    [ If anything this hypothesis would actually strengthen the materialists case, and I believe the article you are citing actually undermines your position. If some parts of consciousness weren’t due to fixed laws, but were due to chance events, this would still be a huge problem for people who believe in a “ghost in the machine.”]

    We don’t necessarily believe in a “ghost in the machine,” for one thing. And I can’t see how it could be a problem anyway. If a person has some kind of set belief about how consciousness works, maybe it’s a problem for them.

    But I don’t have a set belief. So if “chance” is involved (and we don’t know what we mean by “chance” anyway), that’s perfectly fine with me. I can’t see why chance being involved is better for the materialists.

    I think I can say with confidence that quantum processes being involved in the mind/brain is a huge problem for materialists.

  128. PhysiPhileon 10 Jul 2011 at 8:00 pm

    @neverknow

    I looked into some of the theories on quantum mind and have a few points to make:

    First I need to say that I am not an expert in quantum mechanics, however, I’ve taken several quantum courses in college and in particular the coupling of photon energy with electrons.

    While I find the quantum theories of mind interesting, I also find them unconvincing. I know through my formal education on quantum mechanics that the matter wave is precarious and collapses as soon as spatial boundaries are placed or when the matter wave interacts with other forms of matter/energy.

    Because of this, I believe the brain is too packed with packets of energy (radiation, electrons, protons, etc) that will act to force any quantum particles to behave classically.

    Quantum mind theory isn’t really a theory because it just proposes a potential mechanism for consciousness but no evidence that differentiates it from the classical view of consciousness. You seem to be strongly against the classical view and strongly for the quantum view of consciousness, why?

  129. Jeremiahon 10 Jul 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Because he’s into parapsychology and needs something resembling science to support their probabilistic hypotheses that effects can happen before their causes.

  130. Jeremiahon 10 Jul 2011 at 8:27 pm

    From Mind – Anticipation and Chaos by Mihai Nadin

    http://www.oikos.org/naminds3.htm#anticipate

    Two observations should be made before continuing with the biological evidence supporting my ideas about the mind:

    1. It is not from the brain matter to the mind that changes in the mind’s state are triggered, but from the mind that biological changes of the brain are induced.

    2. These changes result in new biological configurations; that is, the relational network of minds, through which each individual mind comes to expression, determines the configuration of the brain.

  131. banyanon 10 Jul 2011 at 8:32 pm

    [1. It is not from the brain matter to the mind that changes in the mind’s state are triggered, but from the mind that biological changes of the brain are induced.]

    When a person takes a drug that alters the chemical functioning of their brain, it has “mind altering” effects. The mind is not causing the chemical changes; chemical changes are altering the mind. Why should it be any different with normal functioning?

  132. Jeremiahon 10 Jul 2011 at 8:49 pm

    The mind initiated the pro-active process involved in the decision to take the drug that alters the biological configuration of the brain.
    The mind pulls the brain’s trigger – that’s part and parcel of what its there for.

  133. robmon 10 Jul 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Mlema,

    It’s not that other explanations don’t have their place, philosophy has and will continue to be an important place in our understanding of the world. There will always be the question of whether or not what we are seeing is what is, and philosophers will continue to answer yes, no, maybe or kinda. That in itself is not necessarily bad, and may yield interesting questions, problems and areas of investigation.

    Theres a bit of problem when people argue that what is philosophically valid is scientifically valid, or vice versa. And that has clearly led to some conflicts on this blog.

  134. steve12on 10 Jul 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Mufi:

    “So, even if you knew that CEO of Sweet & Low was praying for those results (which you didn’t mention beforehand as part of the experiment’s design), why would you consider that a more likely causal explanation than the sugar involved?”

    A couple of things that weren’t clear in my post:
    1. It doesn’t matter if I said any of this a priori. The examples I gave were random – any supernatural cause will do. If supernatural causation exists, anything can compete for an experimental confound.

    2. Experiments exist so that we don’t have to think what is the likely cause – they’re set up so that we can know the cause, i.e., what we manipulated. Getting rid of naturalistic assumptions takes experiments away form us because we can’t control for supernatural causes. Our manipulations are meaningless.

    IOW, bye bye naturalistic assumptions, bye bye experiments. This is why Fishman is wrong.

  135. robmon 10 Jul 2011 at 9:59 pm

    The old mechanistic laws do not hold at quantum levels, where time can go in reverse and physically separated things can be entangled, and where mind seems able to influence matter.

    There is nothing in quantum mechanics that says there is something called mind that can influence matter. Old conceptions of physics do break down, and give rise to new probabilistic laws. Most of the scientific community hasn’t had a problem with this for decades.

    I think I can say with confidence that quantum processes being involved in the mind/brain is a huge problem for materialists.

    What phantom “materialists” are you fighting? James Clerk Maxwell and Lord Kelvin? Those are the most recent people I know of who fit that description. This is an absurd strawman set up by proponents of quantum woo. Quantum mechanics has proven immensely helpful to many fields of science that deal with the macroscopic world by explaining how the macroscopic classical properties arise from the microscopic. However quantum effects can only be scaled up so far, any feline left unattended is not Schrodinger’s Cat. We know of quantum effects by observing them through experiments, so far there is no evidence of these effects actually playing a role in the brain, even if some of them have been scaled up large enough do so. The quantum entanglement in cryptochrome occurs within the molecule itself, quite a small scale.

    http://www.ks.uiuc.edu/Research/cryptochrome/

    Cryptochorme’s quantum entanglement is also a pretty rare property.

    I have been talking about quantum processes related to the brain

    We don’t necessarily believe in a “ghost in the machine,” for one thing.

    Good, if the brain creates the mind through quantum processes, and whether or not those processes are necessary or provide insight has been the actual debate. My, and many other peoples mistake. We thought you were arguing ghost in the machine, but if the debate is as described above there has been a huge misunderstanding. Quite silly really.

    As I already said several times, we know that the brain is necessary for interacting with the world, which does not imply that the brain causes the mind.

    The concept of location is not relevant when we’re talking about quantum entanglement — that is the whole point!

    Oh so it is ghost in the machine, backed up by quantumy baseless conjecture. Any quantum effects that could be part of the working of the brain would still mean that the mind was produced by the brain, it would be acting on the scale of molecules that make up and do the work of the brain. Just like the cryptochorme. That’s what real quantum mechanics is, to conflate that with the notion of something acting on the brain to act in the material world is chopraesque quantum woo.

  136. Jeremiahon 10 Jul 2011 at 10:40 pm

    It isn’t quantum woo that neverknow is expressing, it’s parapsychologic woo. Quantum mechanics does not hold that “time can go in reverse.”
    Of course the individual mind is a product of the individual brain.
    Quantum forces influence the brain through its sensory input systems, just as any other forces do, regardless of their theoretical sources. The individual brain assesses those effects through the use of its individual assessment process, IOW its individually constituted mind. Predictions, expectations, choices are made accordingly. Anticipations of the near and far future form based on how the mind learns from these experiences. The brain is the seat of that learning and reacting process.

    Of course that’s the bare bones explanation, leaving off where how and why begin. But if you don’t know bones, you likely don’t know jack.

  137. Mlemaon 10 Jul 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Jeremiah, I guess a person’s philosophy, or even a society’s philosophy, is important after all, even in scientific research. It affects certain anticipation, yes?

  138. mufion 10 Jul 2011 at 11:11 pm

    steve12: Experiments exist so that we don’t have to think what is the likely cause – they’re set up so that we can know the cause, i.e., what we manipulated.

    Then I should think that you would agree that, a priori, it doesn’t really matter whether we deem a cause to be “natural” or “supernatural”, so long as we have some thing that we can manipulate (as in a procedure we can carry out) to reliably produce a particular effect.

    Such is the assumption behind the intercessory prayer experiments. Had their results been positive, then theists could have claimed scientific (albeit, indirect) support for the idea that God reliably listens and responds to our prayers. Sure, it would be logically possible to interpret those results differently (e.g. by inferring some non-theistic mechanism by which prayer may heal a target from a distance), but even that suggestion would probably strike us today as supernatural, or at least paranormal, based on currently established theories of how the world normally works.

    In this sense, science is a metaphysically neutral endeavor, such that what’s deemed “naturalistic” evolves over time (albeit, in a generally slow, conservative way, based on specific social norms, such as peer review and reproducibility).

  139. Mlemaon 10 Jul 2011 at 11:21 pm

    mufi – people praying is not supernatural. Saying that a God is listening and intervening – that is supernatural. Were they simply testing to see what happens when people pray, or were testing for an intervening God?

  140. Mlemaon 10 Jul 2011 at 11:23 pm

    oh sorry, misread your comment, nevermind

  141. Jeremiahon 10 Jul 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Miema, yes to all of that. Especially to our cultures where lessons of individual experiences are retained and spread through one form or another of story telling. Note even now how scientists write their best books and papers in the form of stories.

  142. nybgruson 10 Jul 2011 at 11:32 pm

    Then I should think that you would agree that, a priori, it doesn’t really matter whether we deem a cause to be “natural” or “supernatural”,

    I would say that the distinction is pointless entirely. Supernatural reduces down to “impossible to observe empirically” since science dictates that if we witness something empirically, it is no longer “supernatural” – i.e. a force outside the “natural” realm of the universe.

    Show someone from the Civil War era an iPod and he may call that supernatural. As far as I am concerned, supernatural is essentially the tool of “god of the gaps.”

    I always find it entertaining though, when theists try and prove their “miracles” scientifically – such as this computer scientist who tried to prove the miracle of the Red Sea crossing using physical means such as the wind and claiming that was proof of the miracle being possible and therefore the bible was right (sorry, I can’t find the link to the actual guy at the moment). The funny thing is, if you prove the miracle was accomplished by normal physical means, you have just proved it isn’t a miracle.

    The circular logic of theistic and “supernatural” interpretations makes it so they can’t even prove themselves to be true, since the moment something is proven they either lose that special status or they must add another layer of complexity to retain their faith (i.e. god intervened and made the wind blow at that time and in that way to part the sea).

  143. steve12on 10 Jul 2011 at 11:39 pm

    Mufi:

    “Then I should think that you would agree that, a priori, it doesn’t really matter whether we deem a cause to be “natural” or “supernatural”, so long as we have some thing that we can manipulate (as in a procedure we can carry out) to reliably produce a particular effect.”

    This might be a misunderstanding of ‘manipulate’. A manipulation is not a generic term for a procedure or algorithm of some sort. In an experiment, it is the IV (independent variable) that I, the experimenter, manipulate (from the example above, amount of sugar administered to the kids) while holding all else (i.e., competing casual explanations) constant across conditions. This way, sugar – and ONLY sugar is the casual agent should I find an effect.

    But with supernatural causation as a possible cause for my effects, I can’t say sugar is the cause. I have to also entertain capricious causation of supernatural origin as competitors for what causes the effect (hitting the clown), so my experiment is useless. What’s the point of an experiment where I can’t control for things?

    Unless what we’re calling supernatural forces are simply unknown forces and actually follow laws, but then they’re no longer supernatural. Your prayer study (if it worked, let’s say) might work on some quantum force that’s imparted by consciouss well wishing, etc. That’s NOT supernatural, it just seems like it is because it’s so far removed from our current knowledge.

  144. Mlemaon 10 Jul 2011 at 11:48 pm

    This discussion is muddying supernatural/natural, materialism/idealism, and theism/atheism by linking them in various ways depending on personal viewpoints.

  145. mufion 11 Jul 2011 at 12:31 am

    steve12: Unless what we’re calling supernatural forces are simply unknown forces and actually follow laws, but then they’re no longer supernatural.

    Sorry to bust out the dictionary, but:

    Definition of SUPERNATURAL

    1: of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil

    2a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature b : attributed to an invisible agent (as a ghost or spirit)

    If intercessory prayer were demonstrated to work, I think it would be fair to describe those results as “supernatural” – at least until we’ve had time to adjust our notion of what’s “natural” to accommodate such unexpected phenomena.

  146. mufion 11 Jul 2011 at 12:37 am

    PS: Actually, even though intercessory prayer does not appear to work (i.e. the hypothesis has been rejected), I deem the claim that it does to be a supernatural one (i.e. according to one or more of the three definitions of “supernatural” listed above), and yet (as Fishman pointed out) it is nonetheless amenable to scientific evaluation.

  147. Jeremiahon 11 Jul 2011 at 12:57 am

    “If intercessory prayer were demonstrated to work, I think it would be fair to describe those results as “supernatural””

    Based on what brand of hypothetical assumption that prayer could only call up a force outside of the mind and brain itself to cause the anticipated effect?

    Self delusion is representative of some internal field of anticipatory force gone wrong. Hardly to be blamed on the supernatural powers of our internal imps. (Unless you’re a Jungian or some such.)

  148. steve12on 11 Jul 2011 at 1:39 am

    Mufi

    “If intercessory prayer were demonstrated to work, I think it would be fair to describe those results as “supernatural”….”

    “PS: Actually, even though intercessory prayer does not appear to work (i.e. the hypothesis has been rejected), I deem the claim that it does to be a supernatural one (i.e. according to one or more of the three definitions of “supernatural” listed above), and yet (as Fishman pointed out) it is nonetheless amenable to scientific evaluation.”

    I still say no – here’s why:

    Let’s say prayer did work. We manipulated whether people were prayed for or not, and those that were prayed for got better. It’s replicated and there’s no doubt that it’s a real effects.

    Interp 1: The cause is supernatural

    If you assume that the cause is supernatural, you’re done becasue it’s a dead end. Maybe God listened to the prayers and made the sick better. Maybe the devil saw a chance to sow more seeds of discontent between atheists and theists and intervened. Maybe God just really took a shine to the experimenter and wanted to make his career. Fact is, you have no explanation beyond “it’s supernatural”, which is not an explanation because it can mean literally anything, and something that can mean anything is ipso fact an explanation of nothing. At some point, you’re throwing up your hands and saying “God Did It”. That’s just not science – it’s something else.

    Interp 2: This effect has natural causes that we currently can’t explain.

    This allows for further INTERPRETABLE investigation, however hard that might be considering such a bizarre effect.

  149. mufion 11 Jul 2011 at 2:31 am

    steve12: Your Interp 2 (“This effect has natural causes that we currently can’t explain”) seems perfectly compatible with the dictionary’s second definition of “supernatural” (“departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature”).

    That said, if it turns out that you can’t explain the bizarre effect in terms of the laws of nature, then invisible agents are not your only alternative. You may instead have to revise our understanding of those laws, at which point, the formerly “supernatural” becomes the “natural” (as per the historical trend that Fishman alluded to).

    No throwing your hands up and saying “God did it” is required.

  150. eveshion 11 Jul 2011 at 7:36 am

    Dear Dr Novella,

    thank you for your response. Let me comment on it.

    So you say that your position on the mind-body issue is like that of many philosophers like Daniel Dennett. Since you mention Dennett, I will focus on his position.

    You should know that Dennett’s position is very controversial and, as I see it (I study philosophy), there aren’t many philosophers who share it. The reason
    for that is that Dennett takes an extremist view. He denies that qualia exist! You are familiar with the term ‘qualia’ — the experience of seeing colours, tasting chocolate, having an orgasm, and so on. There is something it feels like to have this experiences.

    Now Dennett says the following:
    Humans don’t have these experiences. They report to have them, but they are mistaken. What science has to do is to take a third-person stance
    (heterophenomenology) and to find out (via neuroscience) why people report that they have these odd things they call ‘experiences’. He thinks that the mind-body issue is settled once we have a complete neuroscience. There’s nothing left to explain once we have this knowledge. The question why people report to have experiences isn’t fundamentally different from the question why an automaton behaves in a certain way when we put a coin in it.
    In the automaton, we can look how the coin activates a causal reaction that leads to a certain ‘behavior’ of the automaton (‘putting its lights on’, for example). In humans, so Dennett, we can look how certain chemicals in the brain, for example, lead to a certain behavior of the person. When a person reports to feel pain, ‘reporting to feel pain’ is just a certain form of behavior, not fundamentally different from ‘moving’ or, in the case of the automaton,
    ‘putting the lights on’. There is no additional ‘inner life’, no qualia’:
    ‘On Dennett’s view, there is no consciousness in addition to the computational features, because that is all that consciousness amounts to for him: meme effects of a von Neumann(esque) virtual machine implemented in a parallel architecture.’ (John Searle, The Mystery of Consciousness, p. 111)

    But there is a little problem. We *know* that we experience something. It’s the foundation for doing empirical science (if you question this, ask yourself whether a unconscious person, say Osama bin Laden, can do empirical science).
    Dennett claims that we are mistaken about this, that it only ‘appears’ to us as if there were experiences, while in actuality, there aren’t. But this view has been thoroughly debunked. To be mistaken about something there has to be someone who can be mistaken in the first place. As John Searle puts it,

    ‘where consciousness is concerned, the existence of the appearance is the reality’. (The Mystery of Consciousness, p. 112)

    Or look what David Chalmers says:

    ‘If consciousness is an illusion, the illusion is consciousness.’ (in an interview)

    That’s so true.

    You can use a very simple example to illustrate how absurd Dennett’s position is:
    1. Humans aren’t conscious.
    2. Tables aren’t conscious either, i. e.:
    3. Tables are as unconscious as humans.
    4. There should be no difference between being a human and being a table, from the first-person point of view.

    That’s absurd, isn’t it?

    I don’t know if that is your position, Dr Novella. Perhaps you could briefly state what your view on consciousness is. Do you agree with Dennett that it doesn’t exist? Or do you think that it exists, but that it is an emergent property of the brain? Do you think that it is emergent like photosynthesis in plants, digestion in animals or redness in roses?

    You wrote that my position is not valid, since the ‘types of mind-causes-brain arrangements’ I were talking about were not making predictions that would distinguish them from ‘brain causes mind’.
    It’s not correct that they all are types of ‘mind causes brain’. Idealism is, but panpsychism, neutral monism and dualism aren’t.
    While idealism holds that the physical world is actually consisting of mind stuff, it is clear that, under this view, also brains are a result of this stuff.
    But there are more modest claims.
    Panpsychism simply states that mind is an irreducible feature of the world, regardless of whether the world consists of physical stuff, neutral stuff or mind stuff. It doesn’t claim that brains are *caused* by mind (but it also doesn’t claim that mind is caused by the brain).
    Neutral monism states that neither matter (including the brain) nor mind cause each other, but that both are caused by (and reducible to) a neutral stuff. So no ‘mind creates brain’ either.
    Dualism, in the form of substance dualism, claims that the physical and the mental are two different substances that somehow interact together, but aren’t creating each other.
    Dualism, in the form of property dualism, claims that there is only one substance (that it physical), but that non-physical properties (like consciousness) later emerge when certain physical configurations are achieved (added by some kind of ‘psychophysical law’, for example).

    So the only type of ‘mind causes brain’ is idealism. I don’t hold this view, but just wanted to point out that it is at least compatible with some of your predictions.

    Now, do some of the above non-materialist views make other predictions than physicalism does, with regards to empirical neuroscience? Well, I don’t think that they make so much different predictions. I think it might be very hard to tell, from neuroscience alone, which of the above views is correct. For example, I don’t think that the empirical findings of neuroscience in a world where property dualism is true were really different from those of a world where physicalism is true. I tend to think that the same broadly is true for panpsychism and neutral monism. I haven’t really thought about that, though. Possibly there are some predictions that could be said to be characteristic of neutral monism or panpsychism, or substance dualism — I’m not sure. What they all predict, however, is that a purely physical explanation of consciousness will always leave something out.

    Maybe we could also point to parapsychological findings as evidence for non-materialist views, but I know that you aren’t a big fan of parapsi, so I will leave it at that. My own arguments against physicalism are philosophical and have nothing to do with psi.

    Now is Occam’s razor sufficient to reject all of the above views? Well, I think it depends on the strength of the arguments for physicalism. I agree that we shouldn’t invoke entities that aren’t really necessary to explain a phenomenon. A physical explanation of the phenomenon of life is most probably possible, so we shouldn’t invoke an ‘elan vital’ to explain it, for example. (I’m a substance monist about the mind-body issue for the same reason. I think we should try to explain it in terms of a single substance before we go to (substance) dualism.)

    Do we have reasons to think that, in the case of consciousness, the situation is different? I think we have.

    There simply are truths about consciousness empiricism cannot deal with (please give me a fair hearing before you slash me ;) .

    Many scientists seem to assume that science (empiricism) alone can figure out how the world works (including consciousness). They think that philosophical talk about apparently non-falsifiable views like ‘neutral monism’ (‘wtf?!’) and ‘panpsychism’ (‘woooo!’) is meaningless, since these are hard to put to a scientific test. But they often fail to see that their own conviction (‘science alone can figure out how the world works’) already is a philosophical stance. You can’t prove that this conviction is right by empirical means.
    While I agree that science is a wonderful tool to explore the world and make it a better place (curing diseases, for example), I don’t think it is omniscient. There are truths about the world science simply cannot deal with in principle. You know how cookies taste, for example, but you don’t know this through science. I know that I just think about dogs, but science cannot prove this (yet it is true). These simple examples disprove the notion that everything can be known through science, or that something that is not falsifiable cannot be true. We shouldn’t restrict our understanding of the world through the limits of science. Other methods, like philosophy, might not be as conclusive like science (but never underestimate the power of a sound philosophical argument!), but they are the only tools that are available to us to explore the things science can’t deal with.

    So if we agree that science cannot deal with some phenomena (in our case consciousness), and therefore physicalism is incomplete, the above non-materialist solutions become reasonable options. I think that this is the point where we will most likely disagree. You will say that science *can* deal with consciousness, while I will dissent. I do not necessarily want to convince you that I’m right. When you briefly state what you think consciousness is, we can discuss this, but I don’t know if you have the time to do that. I’m certainly not annoyed if you don’t.

    But at least you should know that there are very good arguments, including mine :-) , against physicalism, brought forward by smart people. If they hold, as I think they do, and physicalism is false, there is no reason to reject non-materialist views out of hand.

    One of your colleagues, Prof V. S. Ramachandran, happens to take one of the views I mentioned above, neutral monism:
    “I believe this approach to consciousness will take us a long way toward answering the riddle of what consciousness buys you and why it evolved. My own philosophical position about consciousness accords with the view proposed by the first Reith lecturer, Bertrand Russell, there is no separate “mind stuff” and “physical stuff” in the universe, the two are one in the same, the formal term for this is neutral monism.”
    (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/reith2003/lecture2.shtml)

    Dr Giulio Tononi, also a neuroscientist, has developed a theory of consciousness as integrated information. As he himself admits, this theory leads to panpsychism.
    (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7502852812875314243# — Quote: ‘I am forced, against my better judgment, to be a panpsychist myself, based on the theory.’)

    I think these are reasonable positions to hold at the moment and not an invention of woo fans.

    Kind regards,
    eveshi

  151. banyanon 11 Jul 2011 at 9:07 am

    “For example, I don’t think that the empirical findings of neuroscience in a world where property dualism is true were really different from those of a world where physicalism is true. I tend to think that the same broadly is true for panpsychism and neutral monism.”

    “Physicalism” predicts that brain alteration would result in mind alteration. That result is not inconsistent with dualism, but dualism does not predict it. That’s the key difference.

    The fact that the results we’ve gotten can be shoe-horned into a theory does not put that theory on level with competing theories that actually predicts those results and continues to make successful predictions.

    It’s hard to say if dualism makes any predictions at all. Some attempts have been made. For example, some dualists think it should be possible to communicate with the minds of those whose bodies have died. I think it’s safe to say that all such attempts have been unmitigated failures.

  152. eveshion 11 Jul 2011 at 9:25 am

    Are you familiar with the distinction between property dualism and substance dualism?

    ‘Dualism, in the form of property dualism, claims that there is only one substance (that it physical), but that non-physical properties (like consciousness) later emerge when certain physical configurations are achieved (added by some kind of ‘psychophysical law’, for example).’

    Property dualism does not predict that communication with the deceased is possible. Under property dualism, when the brain is destroyed, consciousness vanishes.

    The reason why it was invented is that some philosophers came to the conclusion that physicalism doesn’t work (however successful it may be), but wanted to preserve naturalism.

    The predictions property dualism makes about brain alteration are basically the same that physicalism makes. In comparison with physicalism it has the benefit that it takes qualia seriously.

  153. mufion 11 Jul 2011 at 9:44 am

    eveshi, I think your comments jibe with what I wrote earlier; viz. that “science is a metaphysically neutral endeavor.”

    That said, I’m reminded of this entry by philosopher Ned Block, in which he argues in response to the “hard problem” that …we can substitute a dualism of concepts for a dualism of properties. This solution strikes me as both compatible with physicalism and “has the benefit that it takes qualia seriously”, as you put it.

  154. Jeremiahon 11 Jul 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Individual mind doesn’t cause individual brain, but need for individual mind caused organic (carbon-based) life to construct organic brain. Calculative and thus anticipative nature of universal energetic behaviors evolved (i.e., caused) choice making strategies which caused organic structures to form which found need for constructing brains to cause emergence of more competitive minds.
    Which contrary to any of their individual intentions, caused artifactual isms to proliferate.

  155. steve12on 11 Jul 2011 at 1:44 pm

    “steve12: Your Interp 2 (“This effect has natural causes that we currently can’t explain”) seems perfectly compatible with the dictionary’s second definition of “supernatural” (“departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature”).”

    Then we have a semantic argument over what supernatural means – it was never supernatural, it just appeared to be. But in this case, assuming naturalism will lead you to that natural explanation, while assuming supernatural will not. That you need to go to a natural explanation in the end tell you that assuming supernatural causation was an error to begin with.

    “That said, if it turns out that you can’t explain the bizarre effect in terms of the laws of nature, then invisible agents are not your only alternative. You may instead have to revise our understanding of those laws, at which point, the formerly “supernatural” becomes the “natural” (as per the historical trend that Fishman alluded to).

    No throwing your hands up and saying “God did it” is required.”

    I think my explanation above covers this as well.

    You still haven’t saved my sugar’s influence on hyperactivity experiment. We’re too 10,00 foot view here. The nuts and bolts of specific experimental methods is telling, and points out better than anything that at least methodological naturalism is required for experiments.

    If not, you should be able to save the interpretability of my experiment.

  156. steve12on 11 Jul 2011 at 2:01 pm

    I posted my simple sugar experiment for a reason: to show that ontological naturalism is as much a philosophical matter as it is a technical matter.

    Philosophy is a lot more fun to talk about, no doubt. But science is a particular epistemological system, and there are technical details which must be sufficed for one to be engaging in that system. It’s not anything goes.

    Science has axioms, and one is that there are natural laws that can be learned. If the universe is made of unknowable magical stuff, then an epistemological system that seeks to find knowable rules is useless.

    This means that science is not metaphysically neutral. That’s exactly wrong. The human search for knowledge can be said to be metaphysically neutral. But the human search for knowledge and science are not tantamount.

    Science is technical and constrained by axioms, however much it may have been romanticized into a general search for knowledge, which is a colloquial definition, not a technical one.

    So maybe we have another semantic argument here.

  157. mufion 11 Jul 2011 at 2:50 pm

    steve12: I’ll put it to you like this: If scientists only conduct research into hypotheses that are based on their current understanding of what’s “natural” (say, based on a bayesian analysis), it seems very unlikely to me that the research into intercessory prayer would ever have been conducted.

    I take that to be what Fishman was getting at: such hypotheses (at least today) are associated with “supernatural” assumptions, and yet they are nonetheless testable. (Whether such hypotheses should be tested, given scarce resources & funding, is a different question.)

  158. mufion 11 Jul 2011 at 2:56 pm

    steve12: If eveshi’s example is correct (as I currently believe s/he is) that the “predictions property dualism makes about brain alteration are basically the same that physicalism makes”, then it seems fair to say that science is “metaphysically neutral.”

    In other words, more than one metaphysical theory is compatible with the methodological assumption that natural laws can be learned.

  159. steve12on 11 Jul 2011 at 3:29 pm

    I’m sorry, Mufi, but you’re just sort of ignoring a lot of what I’m saying, including the technical issues. You can’t wish them away!

    “If scientists only conduct research into hypotheses that are based on their current understanding of what’s “natural” (say, based on a bayesian analysis), it seems very unlikely to me that the research into intercessory prayer would ever have been conducted.”

    This isn’t true. Tenets of how nature works are overturned all of the time. In fact, that is literally the entire purpose of science.

    This is counterfactual to history as well. E.g., when QM was discovered it overturned what nature was thought to be in the MOST major way without ascribing the strangeness to God. When I say natural, I don’t mean “as we understand the universe now” or simply prosaic. Nature can be as weird (to our minds) as it wants to be. But if it’s all run by an unknowable God, how is science going to find the rules of a universe that HAS NO RULES by definition. It’s tautological.

    “I take that to be what Fishman was getting at: such hypotheses (at least today) are associated with “supernatural” assumptions, and yet they are nonetheless testable. (Whether such hypotheses should be tested, given scarce resources & funding, is a different question.)”

    Fishman is simply mistaken, except to the degree that he used definition 2 of supernatural above (i.e., not REALLY supernatural, just strange to our current overall understanding of the universe).

    And you can do the prayer study all you like – but if your explanation at the end is “God did it” you’re doing something that has borrowed some elements from science but is in fact not science (except in some colloquial sense, as I outline above). Not only are there an infinite # of supernatural interpretations (as I outlined above), but in the end, you have no explanation, and further CANNOT have one, by design, as supernatural causes do not follow rules.

    So you’re using an epistemological system that exists to elucidate rules to investigate a world that you contend from the get-go does not have rules. Why would one do this?

    What kind of science can’t explain how things work by design?

    Hence, science must assume methodological naturalism.

  160. mufion 11 Jul 2011 at 4:21 pm

    steve12: I don’t think I’ve ignored anything you’ve said thus far, let alone wished it away (although I lack the time to respond to your every statement). But even if I’m wrong about that, it seems at least as likely that you overestimate how persuasive your previous comments were, relative to Fishman’s essay.

    That said, I would agree that your disagreement with Fishman probably boils down to semantics; i.e. what he calls “supernatural” is what you call “strange to our current overall understanding of the universe.” More strongly, I think you’re saying that only the latter description fits with scientific norms. OK.

    I still doubt (based partly on first-hand experience) that your average believer in the efficacy of intercessory prayer would see it that way – at least in the short run, until you come up with a better response than “we don’t yet know what the causes the phenomenon.” After all, the most likely reason that s/he holds that belief in the first place is because it is a fixture of theistic metaphysics, and the main reason to test it would be to shore that belief up and/or to use the results as an outreach tool to skeptics.

    So, of course, s/he would interpret positive results as circumstantial evidence in favor of his/her faith and would perceive your response “but that’s not how science works” as a philosophical cop-out, if not evidence of an atheist conspiracy among scientists.

    In that case, what Fishman seems to be suggesting is that theists don’t even have that to stick into their hats. The history of testing seemingly theism-friendly hypotheses like these has done more to embarrass theists than not.

  161. sonicon 11 Jul 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Regarding physicalism versus quantum mechanics and the implications for consciousness and the brain– an interesting read here–
    http://arxiv.org/abs/0803.1625
    (full pdf is free!)

    nybgrus-
    Thank-you for the clarification about theists/atheists doing science.
    I think you are more correct now than you were about the situation.
    I am impressed that you saw the error in your thinking.

    eveshi-
    You have been informative. Thanks.

    Mlema-
    And how would knowing that each person is a special creation of god make me like the person less? :-)

  162. nybgruson 11 Jul 2011 at 4:51 pm

    @eveshi:

    I don’t think it is omniscient. There are truths about the world science simply cannot deal with in principle. You know how cookies taste, for example, but you don’t know this through science. I know that I just think about dogs, but science cannot prove this (yet it is true). These simple examples disprove the notion that everything can be known through science, or that something that is not falsifiable cannot be true. We shouldn’t restrict our understanding of the world through the limits of science. Other methods, like philosophy, might not be as conclusive like science (but never underestimate the power of a sound philosophical argument!), but they are the only tools that are available to us to explore the things science can’t deal with.

    I disagree with you. Your examples are not out of the reach of science. In fact, for $100 I can buy a game from the SkyMall catalogue you get on flights that, with a small amount of modification, can tell me if you are thinking about dogs. Your perception of a taste of cookie is a chemical reaction combined with molecular receptor interactions that trigger specific neural impulses. I could also modify said game again and have it accurately tell me if you just took a bite of cookie vs a bite of steak.

    Granted that is currently very crude and we would need to establish a baseline first and then subsequent measurements would correlate and give us the answer. But the point is that such things you speak of – the qualia – are not even remotely out of the reach of science. There have already been experiments demonstrating that machines can detect how a person will choose or think hundreds of milliseconds before they themselves are consciiously aware of it.

    In a hypothetical situation, where neuroscience is indeed complete, these things would be trivial to ascertain and your philosophical cogitations would be reduced to mental masturbation.

    You also state:

    Well, I don’t think that they make so much different predictions. I think it might be very hard to tell, from neuroscience alone, which of the above views is correct. For example, I don’t think that the empirical findings of neuroscience in a world where property dualism is true were really different from those of a world where physicalism is true.

    So if there are no predictions that can differentiate them and empiricism can’t tell them apart, what is the point of making the distinction in the first place? Yes, you go on to say some interesting philosophical things but the reality is (as steve12 has been admirably demonstrating) that if you choose not to constrain yourself to physical naturalism you can literally devise any “just so” story to fit anything. Nothing can differentiate the two notions save for mental gymnastics, and we all know how easily those can go awry.

    What they all predict, however, is that a purely physical explanation of consciousness will always leave something out.

    The problem, of course, being that a) they predict it for no reason other than someone decided to make them predict that, and b) they either make no predictions to differentiate them from a purely physical naturalistic explanation (see your own quote above) or have no evidence to support the prediction. So we are left with only a philosopher’s assurance that “something is left out” with no other reason to assume that to be so.

    Now is Occam’s razor sufficient to reject all of the above views? Well, I think it depends on the strength of the arguments for physicalism. I agree that we shouldn’t invoke entities that aren’t really necessary to explain a phenomenon. …Do we have reasons to think that, in the case of consciousness, the situation is different? I think we have.

    And there is the crux of the issue. You think we have, but you have no evidence for such a claim beyond additional thinking.

    Dr. Novella and myself tend to ascribe to the notion that if you can’t empirically tell the difference, it the two theories make no different predictions, and the only “evidence” otherwise is “I think so” then there is absolutely no point in going outside physical naturalism for the explanation. There is simply no utility in it and no need for it.

    Many scientists seem to assume that science (empiricism) alone can figure out how the world works (including consciousness). They think that philosophical talk about apparently non-falsifiable views like ‘neutral monism’ (‘wtf?!’) and ‘panpsychism’ (‘woooo!’) is meaningless, since these are hard to put to a scientific test. But they often fail to see that their own conviction (‘science alone can figure out how the world works’) already is a philosophical stance

    If it is non-falsifiable it is meaningless. Science alone can figure out how the world works, because, by definition, if science can’t figure “it” out (not just based on current practical limitations, but in theory) then “it” can’t possibly affect us or anything we do. If you postulate X and after millennia of trying science simply cannot explain X in any way, shape, or form then what has X done for us? You can claim all sorts of philosophical cogitations about the amazing import of it, how science consistently leaves X out of the explanation/equation, how it could explain Y and Z and is compatible with all other scientific observations…. but at the end of the day X has exerted absolutely no influence on how we actually do things. It didn’t change how we practice medicine, give drugs, build rockets, do surgery, make coffee, or ride a bike. So, equivalently, X may as well not exist and thus science (and people like myself and Dr. Novella) would say it doesn’t.

    I just had a thought as I was writing this and realized that X could affect how we draw and paint, for example, and thought that might invalidate my claims. However, thinking a bit more, I realized that in that case X could be “religion” which has obviously influenced art and culture. In that sense, then philosophical cogitations and thinking about non-existent things can indeed exert an effect on something tangible, but obviously only through us as an intermediary. That makes them no more real, but I’ll concede can be useful for inspiration purposes. However, when X becomes claimed as actually existing and makes the claims that it must inform science and that science is simply incomplete without it, X has left the realm of artistic inspiration and tried to enter the real world and we can once again confidently say it simply does not exist.

    So if we agree that science cannot deal with some phenomena (in our case consciousness), and therefore physicalism is incomplete, the above non-materialist solutions become reasonable options.

    We do not agree, for the reasons I outlined above. Claim it all you like, if it isn’t testable then it cannot influence or inform our actions and how we actually do things, and therefore, for all intents and purposes, physicalism iscomplete. Therefore, unless you want to use it to inspire your next canvas, non-materialist solutions do not become reasonable options.

    But at least you should know that there are very good arguments, including mine , against physicalism, brought forward by smart people.

    Just because you are smart doesn’t mean you are right. And just because the argument sounds good doesn’t mean it is. I have yet to hear a good argument against physicalism.

  163. nybgruson 11 Jul 2011 at 4:54 pm

    @mufi/steve12: I won’t weigh in much except to say that I think steve12 is making some very excellent points re: science and experimentation and I think the discussion betwixt you to boils down to one of semantics. I will only add that a dictionary definition reflects what the popular consensus of the meaning of word is and thus can and does change over time. I would say that the argument steve12 is putting forth (and that I would agree with) is that the shift should be that, after all this time and experimentation, we should realize that there is no “supernatural” and our basic assumption should be as such. I think we have progressed far enough that advanced technology would not be called “magic” (as in my iPod shown to Abe Lincoln story) so we should also not be surprised and call an unexpted experimental finding “supernatural.”

  164. mufion 11 Jul 2011 at 4:59 pm

    nybgrus: I don’t know if you read the essay that inspired the conversation (here’s the link, again), but I think it made some very good points, as well – more than you might guess from steve12′s negative response to it.

  165. nybgruson 11 Jul 2011 at 5:00 pm

    @sonic:

    Thanks for that. I try and be as intellectually honest as I can be, but of course, nobody is perfect. I am happy to change my mind when presented with evidence and willing to admit my mistakes whenever I notice them. If I demand the same from others, I best be willing to do it myself, right?

  166. Mlemaon 11 Jul 2011 at 5:05 pm

    mufi: “In other words, more than one metaphysical theory is compatible with the methodological assumption that natural laws can be learned.”

    thank you!

  167. mufion 11 Jul 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Mlema: You’re welcome.

    But you may recall that I’m not a big fan of metaphysical speculation. (There’s no accounting for taste, right? :-) )

  168. Mlemaon 11 Jul 2011 at 5:18 pm

    sonic
    “And how would knowing that each person is a special creation of god make me like the person less?”

    Because now you are angry at that person for being no less special than you! :-)

  169. Mlemaon 11 Jul 2011 at 5:20 pm

    hey mufi, no one says you have to speculate…..me? I love it!

  170. mufion 11 Jul 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Mlema: I suppose that I enjoy it more than I like to admit, as suggested by some of the arguments that I wind up in here.

    After all, the scientific evidence for the “brain causes mind” hypothesis interests me, not only because of its pragmatic implications (e.g. in medicine), but also partly because of its metaphysical implications (e.g. pertinent to religious & spiritual doctrines regarding the afterlife or out-of-body experience).

    In that sense, I don’t believe that science is metaphysically neutral. But, as we often see here with respect to quantum mechanics, the same experimental results may be amenable to different interpretations – even if we exclude “supernatural” ones.

  171. Jeremiahon 11 Jul 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Panpsychism, conscious realism, process philosophy, anticipatory systems, are all connected by the shared proposition that all systems in the universe are self regulatory. All these particular “isms” are thus unrecognizable by the majority of the denizens of this blog, and some, unfortunately, to eveshi as well – who otherwise has made some very good points.
    Physicalism is not somehow invalidated by a consideration that the physical world is self regulatory. In fact it’s augmented by the understanding that natural laws are self determined rather than theistically determinative.

  172. Mlemaon 11 Jul 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Jeremiah, who’s saying that self-regulation tries to invalidate physicalism? Show me an’ I’ll beat ‘em up! But seriously, I think eveshi is giving a broad description of philosophical thinking that elucidates how the consciousness question may be more completely considered by theories other than the strict materialism so many here subscribe to. Then we have a framework to understand the “finer” levels of the modern philosophical subsets you have introduced us to.

  173. Jeremiahon 11 Jul 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Miema, the dominant position of those here is that there’s no intelligence in the universe outside of some higher forms of life. For them, there is also no consciousness or awareness outside of those higher forms that have some measure of intelligence. Evishi recognizes that some systems make intelligent use of information, hence his pansychism, but doesn’t seem to recognize that such use of information is common to all reactive and regulatory systems, including the biological.
    The physicalists, as represented here, don’t see that such intelligence is needed since, even with early forms of life, “It’s all done by an autonomic chemical reaction system with no intelligence involved.”

    So they don’t say that self-regulation invalidates physicalism, but that physicalism does not need it, and it’s an “unnecessary hypotheses” as far as that old razor chestnut is concerned.

    And essentially they are using that against eveshi’s positions on intelligence qua consciousness in general, and his responses suggest he doesn’t make all the obvious connections that refute that materialistic view of blind cause, blind consequence.

  174. Mlemaon 11 Jul 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Oh. This continues to be most interesting to me. Do you realize that your viewpoint disassembles 90% of the more contentious discussions on this site? They become suddenly meaningless. Like all the salmon that die before they make it upstream.

  175. Mlemaon 11 Jul 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Of course, it’s possible that your ideas are the ones that created the 90%! :-)

  176. Jeremiahon 11 Jul 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Yes, but there are the 10% who ask good questions, and I learn more from the quality of the questions than from the bulk of the objections.

  177. nybgruson 11 Jul 2011 at 9:52 pm

    @mufi:

    I have now read the essay and indeed, Fishman makes some good points. I would still say that steve12′s argumentation is pretty much spot on and the whole issue reduces to arguments of semantics. Obviously the crux is the notion of science testing the supernatural.

    The way I am seeing it, steve12 is arguing that science cannot test the supernatural since, by definition, we would not be able to independently control for them and would thus have no way of directly empirically testing the supernatural mechanism.

    However, this does not, as Fishman says, preclude science from testing a supernatural claim. If there is an outcome (hypothesis) it can be tested, regardless of what the proposed mechanism is. If the testing yields a negative claim (intercessory prayer), then we can say the supernatural mechanism proposed for it is false.

    Of course, since history has shown us that there are no examples of supernatural mechanisms, that any supernatural claim can be considered to have an exceedingly low a priori probability. It further tells us that should a supernatural claim be tested and found to have evidence in support of it, the mechanism behind it is almost certainly not supernatural, and thus a naturalistic explanation should be searched out and found.

    I think it is this latter point where steve12 takes a bit of a shortcut and states then that since we would search out a naturalistic explanation, there is therefore no such thing a truly supernatural mechanism for any claim (supernatural or not) and thus while not explicitly or a priori demanding a naturalistic framework, science can de facto only work upon the pre-supposition of naturalism. The only other option is that once a supernatural claim is validated as having a positive outcome through hypothesis testing we are then satisfied with a supernatural explanation as the mechanism.

    The problem with this is that if we accepted such explanations, making science truly and de facto not necessitating a naturalistic basis then science would stop. At what point and by what reference would we deem something as “supernatural” and thus be satisfied with the unknown mechanism of effect being labeled as such?

    Prior to our understanding of dopamine pathways in schizophrenia and the mechanism of action of anti-psychotic drugs we could have seen an effect (schizophrenia), dubbed it “supernatural possession by demons,” given drugs that succesfully treated the ailment, and decided the mechanism was “supernatural” in that the demons did not like some aspect of the pill and thus left (or were at least weakened for a time). When the drug effects wore off, we could say the demons “got stronger” or “adapted” to the drug and were once again able to exert their effects.

    Obviously the example is contrived, but you can imagine any number of equivalent “supernatural” explanations for any number of ailments, effects, anything really. To be content to accept them as the mechanism of the effect we are seeing makes science stop.

    So we are back to a game of semantics, where, yes by dictionary definition, science does not inherently require and pre-suppose naturalism thus excluding supernatural claims as testable within the realm of science (which I see as NOMA). However, at least de facto (and I would argue by definition), science does not accept supernatural mechanisms. Thus, I would argue (as steve12 has) that it then becomes an intrinsic property of science that it does in fact require naturalism. It is only the application of that presupposition that matters.

    In specific reference to Fishman’s paper, I would thus then have to agree that ID can be excluded from science because the pre-supposition of a supernatural mechanism (god) is antithetical to the very nature of science and would lead to any theory stemming from such a pre-supposition being inherently incoherent and untestable (back to the “where do we stop looking for natural explanations?” – the answer seems to be a)wherever scripture tells us, and b) wherever it becomes too complex for us to understand. Either way, it fails as a science, since scripture is abritrary and if we stopped when the going gets tough, we’d have thrown in the towel a long time ago.)

    I apologize if this isn’t fully coherent – it is a complex issue and I am writing off the top of my head between classes. Hopefully it makes enough sense.

    Steve12 – does this jive with what you have been saying?

  178. mufion 11 Jul 2011 at 11:37 pm

    nybgrus: Thanks for reviewing Fishman’s essay. What you say makes sense to me, and I suspect that he would agree with your claim vs. mechanism distinction.

    It’s late now and I’m tired, but I do have one question that I want to add…

    You said: I would thus then have to agree that ID can be excluded from science because the pre-supposition of a supernatural mechanism (god) is antithetical to the very nature of science

    ID is one thing, but would you agree that irreducible complexity is a testable (albeit refuted) hypothesis?

    Mind you: I don’t mean to suggest that, if the hypothesis is testable and yielded positive results, that science could abide by a supernatural mechanism. I think we’re past that confusion now.

  179. Mlemaon 12 Jul 2011 at 12:03 am

    mufi, excuse me for butting in, but I think irreducible complexity is a valid hypothesis. But no one’s found an example that’s held up. We’ve never found anything that is irreducibly complex. I think that’s what the edge of the most progressive research is all about. Science is continually breaking down what seems irreducibly complex. If someone says they have something that is irreducibly complex and therefore it must have come into being by God, they’ve stepped into supernatural. If they really did find something irreducibly complex, the obligation would be to find out how and why. Most likely something natural but not previously known, or not previously considered. (just my 2cents)

  180. Mlemaon 12 Jul 2011 at 12:04 am

    of course, we’re still not exactly sure how it all started. So far that seems to be irreducibly complex!

  181. nybgruson 12 Jul 2011 at 12:11 am

    Mufi:

    I’m glad my point came across and I also agree that Fishman and I are on the same page.

    As for your question about IC – that is indeed an interesting question.

    I think IC can only be a conclusion by exclusion. History has shown us that things thought to be IC have been shown not to be (flagellum, eye, clotting cascade, immune system, etc). So your question could be asked two ways:

    1) Is the concept of IC a testable hypothesis?

    2) Is a specific thing IC?

    The latter question must obviously be evaluated on an individual basis and is proven false by demonstrating a sequential evolution of the system to its current state. Determining something is indeed IC can only be done by exclusion or positive proof (I’ll get to that in a sec) – in other words, we have exhausted possibilities that would lead to sequential evolution. However, the acceptance of this conclusion must be made based upon the answer to question 1.

    I would say that indeed the concept of IC is a testable hypothesis and since a large number of previously extremely complex systems have been demonstrated not to be IC, that the hypothesis has failed. Thus, when a new system is proposed as IC we must simply say that it is very unlikely to actually be IC and that a conclusion it is by exclusion is no longer satisfactory. Failing to find a mechanism of gradual evolution would mean that we simply haven’t found it yet (much like not accepting a supernatural mechanism).

    Therefore, I would say that the only way to prove something is IC is by having some sort of positive proof that it is IC – say an alien comes and demonstrates how it designed and inserted the flagellum into bacteria early in their evolution (or something along those lines).

    But yeah, it is a testable hypothesis. It has simply failed the test.

  182. Mlemaon 12 Jul 2011 at 12:15 am

    mufi again. I probably shouldn’t be writing right now. But I’m seeing your point, if it’s about the theory of irreducible complexity being a hypothesis specifically proposed to try to prove a “designer”. The theory is “testable”, but pointless in that way, because that’s part of what evolutionary scientists do: break down how things evolved. So everything they don’t know yet is “irreducibly complex”. This is god-in-the-gaps again. And if the theory’s founder wants to “prove” a designer, that’s supernatural.

    I will say too that i am assuming that no one will find something that is irreducible. So this may be one of those can’t-prove-it-wrong things. Honestly, I don’t know! we’ll see what nygbrus says

  183. Mlemaon 12 Jul 2011 at 12:17 am

    oops – he beat me to the punch. good

  184. Jeremiahon 12 Jul 2011 at 12:42 am

    Miema,
    You counter punched him silly, also good.

  185. steve12on 12 Jul 2011 at 1:40 am

    Nybgrus:
    “Steve12 – does this jive with what you have been saying?”

    Pretty much exactly.

    I was not trying to make my comment tailored to Fishman’s article.

    And I never meant to imply that science couldn’t investigate supernatural claims, and do experiment to test them. We’re just not allowed to say “Yup, God did this one, mystery solved” when we interpret the data. Then we’re not scientists.

    I also think there are some semantic issues going on (which you also correctly diagnosed Nybgrus) between Mufi and me over what is meant by supernatural.

  186. steve12on 12 Jul 2011 at 1:59 am

    “steve12: I don’t think I’ve ignored anything you’ve said thus far, let alone wished it away (although I lack the time to respond to your every statement). But even if I’m wrong about that, it seems at least as likely that you overestimate how persuasive your previous comments were, relative to Fishman’s essay.”

    I was hoping you would answer the questions I posed about my experiment, because as I said, this issue becomes technical. Sometimes getting too philosophical can makes things broader than they need be.

    And it’s not my argument that you don’t find persuasive I’m basically giving you the Experimental Methods spiel – this is what just about all scientists think (methodilogical, if not ontological, naturalism) – and it’s how you’re taught to interpret experiments, for all of the reasons I’ve laid out. None of this is my take or my opinion on these issues.

    “I still doubt (based partly on first-hand experience) that your average believer in the efficacy of intercessory prayer would see it that way – at least in the short run, until you come up with a better response than “we don’t yet know what the causes the phenomenon.” After all, the most likely reason that s/he holds that belief in the first place is because it is a fixture of theistic metaphysics, and the main reason to test it would be to shore that belief up and/or to use the results as an outreach tool to skeptics.
    So, of course, s/he would interpret positive results as circumstantial evidence in favor of his/her faith and would perceive your response “but that’s not how science works” as a philosophical cop-out, if not evidence of an atheist conspiracy among scientists.”

    It seems like this is geared toward political reception. The political outcome is what it is. There’s still people who question common decent for chrissakes. If I don’t know the mechanism of a given effect, I’ll be honest about it. I’m not going to come up w/ a “better response” . I’m going to come up with a theory for how it may have happened, make some predictions, and test those predictions. Or test some boundary conditions, get some data, and formulate a theory form that data.

  187. nybgruson 12 Jul 2011 at 4:47 am

    steve12:

    Thanks. I was hoping I wasn’t mis-representing your argument.

    As for the semantics issue, the way I see it is that our understanding and intelligence as a species has outstripped the utility of the language. As far as I am concerned “supernatural” should be an archaic reference to the way our primitive forebears thought the world worked and nothing more. It simply is not a viable explanation for anything anymore – the body of science makes it a fringe notion that would have to be extremely robustly proven to hold any water whatsoever. Until then, the base assumption is naturalism. Which of course leads to physicalism. Which of course leads to the discord you and I have been having with some of the other commenters here who insist on adding additional layers of complexity and intangible “stuff” where none need exist.

  188. steve12on 12 Jul 2011 at 9:47 am

    “As far as I am concerned “supernatural” should be an archaic reference to the way our primitive forebears thought the world worked and nothing more. It simply is not a viable explanation for anything anymore”

    This is an interesting way to think of it. Once you operationalize the word (which is something neither Mufi nor me did until we were far into the discussion) it doesn’t really mean much anymore.

  189. mufion 12 Jul 2011 at 9:55 am

    nybgrus & Mlema: Thanks for your thoughts on my question re: irreducible complexity (IC). I agree (a nybgrus put it) that “it is a testable hypothesis. It has simply failed the test.” (In fact, I think that statement pretty much sums up Kenneth Miller’s expert testimony in the Dover trial.)

    That said, it’s not difficult to imagine why an ID proponent would propose it. Sure, the proposal was a stretch, but if it had succeeded, even the ID proponent might still have to admit (if only for legal/constitutional purposes) that a naturalistic explanation of IC is possible (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). But, in all likelihood, his immediate objective was to raise doubts about natural selection (NS) – not so much because NS is naturalistic (like all scientific mechanisms) as because NS is less compatible (philosophically speaking) with ID than IC.

    So, while perhaps it’s better (as in: less misleading) to label the IC claim something other than “supernatural”, I think the point here is that not all naturalistic explanations are created equally vis a vis a particular religious or spiritual doctrine – at least in the eyes of its adherents.

  190. mufion 12 Jul 2011 at 10:02 am

    PS: For that matter, not all naturalistic explanations are created equally vis a vis a particular political doctrine (e.g. egalitarianism, libertarianism, feminism, etc.), but I’m trying to stay focused here.

  191. Jeremiahon 12 Jul 2011 at 12:57 pm

    @nybgrus to steve12,
    “Which of course leads to physicalism. Which of course leads to the discord you and I have been having with some of the other commenters here who insist on adding additional layers of complexity and intangible “stuff” where none need exist.”

    Intangible stuff of intelligence? Which confirms, as I noted earlier, “the dominant position of those here is that there’s no intelligence in the universe outside of some higher forms of life. For them, there is also no consciousness or awareness outside of those higher forms that have some measure of intelligence.”
    For them, such use of information is NOT common to all reactive and regulatory systems, including the biological.
    “It’s all done by an autonomic chemical reaction system with no intelligence involved.”

    So no, they don’t say that intelligent self-regulation invalidates physicalism, but simply that physicalism does not need it, and it’s an “unnecessary hypotheses” ___ “additional layers of complexity and intangible “stuff” where none need exist.”
    No obvious connections that refute that materialistic view of blind cause, blind consequence.

  192. sonicon 12 Jul 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Actually there are various attempts to refute the notion that some things are irreducibly complex.
    In the case of the flagellum, those attempts have utterly failed to this point. In fact it has been demonstrated that losing any one of the 35 genes associated with the flagellum causes the whole to cease operation.
    This might be a positive test of IC.

    Of course it was after the Dover trial that a review article in Nature Reviews Microbiology stated “the flagellar research community has scarcely begun to consider how these systems have evolved.”
    Pallen & Matzke, “From The Origin of Species to the Origin of Bacterial Flagella,” Nat. Revs. Microbiology, Vol. 4:788 (2006).
    So while a judge determined that the flagellum wasn’t IC, the real scientists continue to try to find a pathway using actual scientific analysis.
    And they are continuing to try to find such a pathway today because there is a recognition that they have not done so.

    It seems the large problem is that the proposed link from a T3SS system (the current best guess) to the flagellum may very well fail.
    According to more recent research it turns out that the T3SS came later than the flagellum–
    Dan Jones, “Uncovering the evolution of the bacterial flagellum,” New Scientist (2-16-08)
    Currently it is not considered possible for something to evolve from something that came after it.

    No, no refutation of IC yet- even the ones claimed to be refuted (the flagellum).
    Amazing!!

  193. sonicon 12 Jul 2011 at 5:02 pm

    nybgus- did you see this about the mutations not being random?
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43431736/ns/technology_and_science-science/
    “This makes us think about what are the underlying mechanisms of these mutations, other than just a random process…”

  194. Jeremiahon 12 Jul 2011 at 5:25 pm

    @sonic
    “Currently it is not considered possible for something to evolve from something that came after it.”

    That’s because form largely follows function, and a basic functional apparatus can change, i.e., evolve, its operational structure as its peculiar combination of experience and needs would seem to require. Functions are in that sense anticipatory and adaptable.

    Something has to do the procuring, building and the fitting processes, and if not accomplished by the physical abilities and powers of the biological system itself, then what?

  195. Jeremiahon 12 Jul 2011 at 5:53 pm

    So then are genetic algorithms irreducibly complex? Check this out:

    http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/freeabs_all.jsp?arnumber=4424951

  196. sonicon 12 Jul 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Jeremiah-
    I can’t get the article you linked to.

    But I can read this–
    http://www.csicop.org/si/show/war_of_the_weasels

    It seems the computer programmers would have you believe that they can program reality into the computer. But the program is at best only as good as the assumptions of the programmer.
    In this case it is the assumptions that are being questioned. (That is natural selection doesn’t care about the shortest segments- the programmer does because he knows what he is trying to show–and mutations may or may not be random).

    Nobody has shown in real life how the flagellum could evolve.

    Why is it so hard for some to admit that fact?

    BTW- something can’t evolve from something that came after it– that’s a joke— :-)

  197. nybgruson 12 Jul 2011 at 7:11 pm

    oh dear. I’ve made a lapse in the rigor of my word usage. My apologies for that.

    Sonic:

    The development of the flagellum has been shown, quite nicely and by real scientists, to be possible in a stepwise evolutionary fashion. Now, the most interesting bit of all this, which was not really discussed much since the conversation did not require it (and this is where I was lazy in my word choices), is that the flagellum is an irreducibly complex structure. So really, the crux of the debate, vis-a-vis ID/evolution IC/NS really falls apart. From Behe’s own definition of IC:

    By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional. An irreducibly complex biological system, if there is such a thing, would be a powerful challenge to Darwinian evolution. (p. 39)

    This is just a rehash of Paley’s watchmaker argument, but lets pretend for a moment it hasn’t been thoroughly destroyed.

    The flagellum meets the first part of the definition – it is a system of well matched parts that should one be removed it will cease to function. The question then is, could evolution produce such a system or could it only have been designed? In other words, can it conceivably evolve in a stepwise fashion over millions/billions of years? The answer is yes. And once it has been shown how to be done, even if the finest minutiae aren’t yet ironed out, we are done with the conversation. The basic and most necessary piece of Behe’ argument is not that IC systems exist but that they cannot have evolved. Once a mechanism is shown for how they can possibly have evolved, then Behe’s argument is destroyed. Even if a detail changes about exactly which protein went where and how, that doesn’t matter one whit. So yes, we are done with the concept of the flagellum being IC. It is and IC system, but it can and did evolve. In other words, IC has moved from something that was introduced to support the ID movement (mufi: this was a good attempt on their part, it just failed quickly and completely) but turns out to simply be a valid concept explained by evolution. Yep, evolution is that powerful a theory that it accounts for IC systems.

    Now, I wrote the above based on my knowledge of evolutionary theory and the flagellum concept before reading the articles you linked to. Lets see how things stand up now.

    The TL;DR version for those who don’t want to get through the lengthy response that is about to ensue: Hold up just fine, the flagellum evolved, Behe is still wrong, and scientists rock.

    Firstly, you are either being mislead or are disingenuous, sonic. Your first article that you linked to (FullPDF free here) actually is completely and utterly counter to your argument. What you were referencing in regards to that article was this page from Evolution News a pro-ID propaganda site, written by none other than Casey Luskin himself.

    Before I continue, sonic, let me just be clear – Casey Luskin, William Dembski, Micheal Behe, the Discovery Institute, Evolution News, and anyone associated with them are 100% unequivocally ideologically driven pseudo-scientists. Each one of them has been so utterly destroyed in every argument they have ever made that using them as a reference is completely wrong – always. Casey Luskin can’t even do math right. William Dembski can’t explain his core tenet of “specified complexity” let alone apply it in his defense of ID. The DiscoTute has been shown to be underhanded and outright lie in order to achieve political goals irrespective of their “science.” And of course, Behe has been demolished over and over and Evolution News is just the media arm of the DiscoTute.

    I will dissect the articles you have given me, simply as an exercise because I actually did the proper research. But if you link or reference to articles which a) are counter to the argument you are trying to make, b) use any of the above sources as a reference, or c) are the product of quote mining (essentially a combo of a + b) then I will not address them fully and merely state “sorry you have given me no evidence, your point is forfeit.”

    Now, back to the first article (not the EvoNews quote mine of it). Right off the bat, we find in the abstract:

    Here we explore the arguments in favour of viewing bacterial flagella as evolved, rather than designed, entities. We dismiss the need for any great conceptual leaps in creating a model of flagellar evolution and speculate as to how an experimental programme focused on this topic might look

    So it is already clear to me your read the EvoNews blog entry on the article, which stated:

    Ironically, a review article in Nature Reviews Microbiology the following year admitted that “the flagellar research community has scarcely begun to consider how these systems have evolved.”38 Did Miller actually demonstrate the flagellum could have evolved by Darwinian evolution?

    However, taken in context from the actual paper:

    However, the flagellar research community has scarcely begun to consider how these systems have evolved. This neglect probably stems from a reluctance to engage in the ‘armchair speculation’ inherent in building evolutionary models, and from a desire to determine how a system works before wondering how it got to be that way. However, there are several good reasons for adopting an evolutionary approach to flagellar biology.

    In other words, the field is still rather new, much more research could be done, but (unlike the DI) real scientists don’t want to speculate and spin “just so stories” before actually understanding the system they are trying to describe. In fact, the contention is that besides the better understanding of homology and the overall view of flagellar evolution there is another good reason to devote more resources to an even deeper understanding of flagellar evolution:

    Notwithstanding the good scientific reasons for new forays in this direction, the lack of a scientific literature on flagellar
    evolution also has another undesirable consequence — it leaves open the suspicion among members of the public that maybe
    there is some mystery here, that maybe the ID proponents do have a point. Although all experts in this field agree that there is
    nothing to these claims,
    as Wilkins has recently pointed out in these politically charged times, it is no longer enough to say, for example, that bacterial flagella evolved and that is that. Instead, scientific experts have to engage with a sceptical public.

    (Emphasis mine). In other words, the article calls for more research in order to really hammer down those nails in the ID coffin. Not because there is any question as to the veracity of the research so far and not because there may be “something” to the ID argument. Your own referencing of these articles out of context proves that last point quite handily.

    So, no sonic, this paper does not show any faults or flaws in the research of flagellar evolution – it is a call to do more research which outlines specifics ways and areas in which that research could be done. It is science itself saying, “We haven’t done a good enough job – lets do more!” And the conclusion?

    Like Darwin, we have found that careful attention to homology, analogy and diversity yields substantial insights into the origin of even the most complex systems.

    So how about the second article you reference? Thankfully, I have a VPN which gives me full institutional access from home so I was actually able to read the whole article. (Short version: it also supports the evolution of the flagellum and demonstrates how science cleans house)

    It begins be referencing Paley, once again, and then goes on to describe basically what the flagellum is and how it is a scientific challenge to fully understand it. Once again, the opening comment is:

    It isn’t just a scientific challenge, though. The study of complex molecular systems has been given added impetus by the “intelligent design” (ID) movement – the intellectual heirs of Paley. To them, such systems are examples of “irreducible complexity”, a concept that goes to the heart of their opposition to the theory of evolution.

    Once again a “we need to really get our scientific house in order to shut up these IDiots and give them no more wiggle room” statement. The article even references the other paper you cited:

    The flagellum is certainly complex, but is it really too complex to have evolved through natural selection? Until recently it has been surprisingly hard for biologists to answer this question satisfactorily. “If you go back just six or seven years, the function of many of the components of the bacterial flagellum were unknown,” says Kenneth Miller, a biochemist at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. “It’s very difficult to work out the evolution of a complex system when you don’t understand how the system works.” In the absence of this knowledge, biologists all too often fell back on the assertion that “bacterial flagella evolved and that is that”, according to Mark Pallen, a microbiologist at the University of Birmingham in the UK.

    Yep, more of the same “this is a new field and we are trying to understand the system first but IDiots are using our gaps in knowledge to insert their ‘theory’ as valid” (how apropos then that this comes up in a “god of the gaps” post).

    Now we get to the heart of your complain – the T3SS system:

    The relevance to flagellum evolution? Variants of at least seven T3SS proteins are also found in the flagellum, within a subsystem called the protein export system. This sits within the basal body and funnels replacement flagellin subunits to the filament, using a mechanism remarkably similar to the T3SS. In fact, the two systems are so similar that the flagellar protein export system is now considered to be a subclass of the T3SS

    So what does the author think about this?

    The evolutionary events linking flagella and T3SSs are not clear, but the homology between them is a devastating blow to the claim of irreducible complexity.

    A devastating blow to IC, eh? Sounds about right to me. But you said that the T3SS evolved after the flagellum and therefore the whole thing falls apart. What does the author say about that?

    So how exactly is the flagellum’s protein export system related to the T3SS? One possibility is that the T3SS evolved first and was later co-opted as part of the flagellum. A second is that the flagellum evolved first and its protein-export system gave rise to the T3SS. It is also possible that both evolved in parallel from a common ancestor…. “The most parsimonious explanation is that the T3SS arose later,” says biochemist Howard Ochman at the University of Arizona in Tucson….Resolving which of these systems evolved first is just one part of the flagellum evolution problem. Another is reconstructing the sequence of events by which the individual proteins in the flagellum arose.

    On the surface that does seem like a blow to the evolutionary model for flagellar development. Until you realize that it is just an example of science “cleaning house.” As I’d said earlier, science will adjust and correct for new information. It was first proposed that perhaps the T3SS system accounted for the basic development of the flagellum. Now it seems that the T3SS developed from the flagellum. The beauty of science is that doesn’t mean the whole thing tumbles down like a house of cards (that is a feature of religion, dogma, and ideology). It just means that more reseach is needed. But wait! Doesn’t that demonstrate the very basis of our rationale for denying Behe his flagellar IC is wrong and therefore he is right and we are left holding the bag, having to aquiesce and give some credence to ID? Nope…

    One thing these genome scans have underlined is that there is no such thing as the bacterial flagellum: although all are built to roughly the same specifications there are many variations in aspects of form and function. This is additional strong evidence that the flagellum evolved, as it is exactly what you would expect to see if today’s flagella had diversified from a common ancestor. It also raises the question of why an intelligent designer would go to all the trouble of reinventing the flagellum over and over and over again (apparently reinventing the basic design twice more for good measure: flagella are also found in the other two domains of life, Archaea and Eukaryotes, but neither resemble bacterial flagella). Despite this variation, it is clear that all bacterial flagella have much in common – again, exactly what you would expect if they shared a common ancestor.

    So what does that mean?

    This suggests that all of these systems evolved from an ancestral “core” flagellum, probably made up of about 20 proteins…Such an ancestral core flagellum is still a complex molecular system in need of explanation, but yet again sequence homology helps. When Pallen and Matzke looked for homology among their 23 modern core-proteins, they found patterns of deeper evolutionary descent. Flagellin, for example, is homologous to the protein FlgL, which joins the hook to the filament. Furthermore, the rod and hook contains six proteins that are homologous to one another. These homologies suggest that the rod, hook and filament evolved from just two ancestral proteins – a proto-flagellin and a proto-rod/hook protein.

    (the reference made here, BTW, comes from the first paper you linked to)

    Further evidence based on homology rests with non-flagellar protein analogs:

    Flagellum-like proteins also turn up in non-flagellar systems, such as the enzyme complex called F1-ATPase that manufactures the chemical unit of energy ATP (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 104, p 485). Flagellar homologues have also been found in bacteria that do not have flagella.

    So, what does this all mean? (BTW, notice how I have to actually do very little talking here, since the article itself says it all, if one were to actually read it and not quote mine?)

    Taken together, this abundance of homology provides incontrovertible evidence that bacterial flagella are cobbled together from recycled components of other systems – and vice versa – through gene duplication and diversification. In other words, they evolved.

    (emphasis mine)

    So we are now back to where I had left off on my pre-article commentary. The evidence for evolution is there, hands down. But how did it actually happen? It seems that the T3SS theory isn’t quite panning out. Hence the author’s own question:

    The million-dollar question now is this: to what extent is it possible to reconstruct the entire sequence of evolutionary events that led to the flagellum?

    A team made a big push for it and came up with really solid (looking) evidence to answer that question. But did scientists just accept it, saying “Yep! Great work guys. We can now shut up those IDiots since we know it evolved and now we have a paper to cram down their throats?” Nope. Scientists found problems with the work and called out their own on it. That is what we mean by cleaning house. We don’t care if it supports or doesn’t support our pet ideas or pre-conceived notions. We only care if the science is good.

    Yet biologists have been quick to point out potential problems with these conclusions….Whatever the outcome of this new debate, its very existence is another two-fingered salute to the opponents of evolution. “Critics of evolution argue that Darwinian evolutionary theory has become a dogma that no one dare question,” says Miller. “Yet who tore into the study? Other scientists.”

    So what is the conclusion of all this? I’ll let Dan Jones speak for himself:

    Thanks to all the recent work, the big picture of flagellum evolution is much clearer than it was just a few years ago, and getting better all the time. “This work is just getting started,” says Matzke. Ultimately, though, it is unrealistic to hope to unravel every twist and turn of the bacterial flagellum’s 3-billion-year-plus evolutionary journey. “That is impossible,” says Doolittle. But he argues that the scientific imperative is not to reconstruct the entire process but simply to prove that the evolution of the flagellum is plausible using well-established natural processes.

    That won’t be enough for some opponents of evolution, of course. But just as it wasn’t good enough for biologists to say “bacterial flagella evolved and that is that”, neither is it good enough for defenders of ID to say “bacterial flagella are designed and that is that”. Evolutionary biologists have put their house in order. It’s time for their opponents to do the same.

    (BTW, I put all that up since I know it is behind a paywall and that way you can read what it ACTUALLY said, sonic).

    Hopefully I have shown you a few things. First, that the DI and anyone associated with them are lying cheats who can’t do science and are only pushing a political/ideologoical agenda and don’t care about the evidence. Second, that science cleans it own house quite well and there is no such thing as a dogma that we won’t question. And third, that picking apart small details of a theory does not simply collapse the theory on itself.

    Now to address your last link, since you seem interminably hung up on the concept of non-random mutation. (Short version: it doesn’t conflict with anything I have said before).

    The news article you cite (and we all know science news reporting is, on the whole garbage) quotes a scientist saying:

    “This makes us think about what are the underlying mechanisms of these mutations, other than just a random process,” said study researcher Philip Awadalla, of the University of Montreal in Canada. “Why are there differences in the rate or accumulation of mutations in individuals?”

    And then stating:

    This means that we are accumulating new genetic mutations — the foundation of evolution — about a third as quickly as previously thought.

    (Emphasis mine)

    So what does that mean? It means that random mutations are still occurring and are still the basis of evolution. It even says so right there in the article you cited! It is an article noting that there are non-random epigenetic factors that influence the rate at which random mutations are occurring. Most interestingly, it shows that these rates are different for different people!. This does not disprove that random mutation is the basis for evolutionary devolopment – it simply further proves what I have said to you many times before, sonic. Namely that there is non-random mutation that arose as an epi-phenomenon after random mutations accumulated to a sufficiently complex system. The fact that there is variance between individuals and families further proves that point! It demonstrates that there is some base level of random mutation but that there are variable factors that can influence that rate up or down.

    A slower mutation rate means we probably separated from chimpanzees evolutionarily longer ago than previously thought, the researchers say, adding that the finding may have medical implications, if some groups of people are more mutation-prone than others.

    It only refines our understanding of timelines of divergence and adds a deeper refinement of the methods we already use. There is nothing here that demonstrates anything else.

    In conclusion:

    The evolution of the flagellum is solidly proven, even though the details haven’t been (and never will be fully). Furthermore, the concept of the flagellum is false, since there are many parallel evolutions of it, further destroying the concept of it being intelligently designed.

    So yes, a very solid and complete refutation of IC which is very rightfully claimed – unless you read the dishonest quote mining of the DI instead of the actual articles you linked me to, which actually completely disprove your point. Be careful of quote mining, sonic. To many it can slip by and sound like a good argument to them. To people like myself who can and will actually read the original work it makes you look like a fool.

    And lastly, yet again, random mutation is still the basis for evolution. No refutations there whatsoever. You need to stop with the “all-or-none” thinking creationists are so prone to sonic. Just because non-random mutations exist, just because we are finding mechanisms which influence random mutation, doesn’t mean random mutation can’t also exist.

    This actually did take me a fairly long time to put together, so this will be the last time I do your homework for you sonic. Please, take my advice and stop reading anything from the DI. What I have written alone should demonstrate why, but look for yourself elsewhere for about a million more examples and reasons. If you want a question answered about evolution go to TalkOrigins or PandasThumb. They are actually very reputable sources. And for heaven’s sake – if you are actually that interested and concerned about evolutionary theory read the original articles yourself. I can understand that it isn’t your field of expertise and it would be hard to parse properly, but I simply don’t have the time to teach you evolutionary theory from scratch and debunk each and every peice you put forth. I have taken the time and effort I have because I know it is complex and a “hot button” issue. But by now, I hope you have seen enough examples where you can see that there is not serious challenge to evolutionary theory, that your go-to sources are garbage, and that now you need to make a decision. Either you can trust the actual expert consensus on the topic or you can take the time (years) to educate yourself properly on the topic. But nitpicking little details like you continue to do is a failing enterprise and one which I will not have the time or desire to keep educating you on.

    I laud your honest attempts to date. But you need to take the responsibility yourself and not be expecting to be spoon fed the answers every time you ask the same question in a slightly different way. You could take a course in evolutionary biology or genetics at your local community college if you are truly interested in learning what this is all about. But I’ll impore you one more time, please stop rotting your brain over at EvoNews.

  198. nybgruson 12 Jul 2011 at 7:14 pm

    @sonic:

    Nobody has shown in real life how the flagellum could evolve.
    Why is it so hard for some to admit that fact?

    I just posted up a very long reply to your questions – including the fact that indeed, the flagellum HAS been shown to have evolved. However, it has a number of links in it and is currently in moderation limbo. I hope you read it in its entirety once it gets put up.

    So yeah, it is so hard for me to admit that fact, since it isn’t a fact.

  199. Jeremiahon 12 Jul 2011 at 7:55 pm

    @sonic,
    “BTW- something can’t evolve from something that came after it– that’s a joke— :-)

    Tell that to neverknow.

    By the way here’s the abstract for that other paper cited (which the “scientists” here could get if they really wanted to).

    Abstract for ‘Irreducible complexity in a genetic algorithm’:
    “There has been much news about the ability of evolution to evolve systems where function ceases with the removal of any of its multiple parts. In particular, a challenge has been lofted to explain how evolution can evolve such a system, given its gradualistic nature. We present an example utilizing a dynamic fitness function and parsimony pressure. Given unambiguous definitions of system, function, and part, the genetic algorithm presented here readily produces such complex systems.”

  200. hippiehunteron 12 Jul 2011 at 9:54 pm

    I am waiting for a homeopath to claim divine mechanisms behind homeopathy. Having done that it is easy to claim that RCT’s do not work on homeopathy because ‘god is testing us’ and that scientists should cease criticism of homeopathy out of respect for peoples religious beliefs. NOMA really is nonsense.

  201. Mlemaon 13 Jul 2011 at 12:31 am

    Homeopathy is not supernatural. It’s been tested and found to be ineffective – chemically=water. If a person is going to say “I think it’s NOT water, but it TESTS as water because God is testing us.” Then there’s nothing you can do. I don’t see how it’s NOMA. It’s just a person not believing RCT.
    In the study that mufi referenced for us, the investigators seek to prove that God likely doesn’t exist by applying a probability formula to the “attributes” of God. The study doesn’t appreciate that the attributes of anything supernatural are man-made, and the probability of each and every one is interpretable and changeable at the will of the people who state them. Attributes are not supernatural. They are testable, but inconsequential.
    But for me the bigger question is: why is a scientist seeking to set up a way to disprove the existence of God? I’ve been taught, by people here especially, that science is not responsible to prove God’s nonexistence. It’s up to believers to prove God’s existence. NOMA remains, and scientists are left to carry the burden of shrinking the god-in-the-gaps as their only legitimate means of ferreting out the supernatural, by continuing to learn what really causes any phenomenon.
    If somebody wants to get their panties in a bunch because science can’t answer questions about ultimate meaning and moral value, well, then there’s nothing you can do about that either.

  202. Jeremiahon 13 Jul 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Here’s the extent of Nybgrus argument from condescending ignorance about the non-random aspects of adaptive mutation and their consequent lack of effectiveness.

    Although “this means that we are accumulating new genetic mutations — the foundation of evolution — about a third as quickly as previously thought, ” it only goes to show the following:
    “Namely that there is non-random mutation that arose as an epi-phenomenon after random mutations accumulated to a sufficiently complex system.”

    Non-intelligent shit happens to give rise to intelligent shit happening.

  203. sonicon 13 Jul 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Jeremiah-
    I get the point about the computer model now.
    What might have been a positive test for IC isn’t.
    And I don’t think there is a positive test for design either.
    I wish the people who are trying to come up with this stuff good luck.
    I’ve thought about a test for or unit of design. I hope the world doesn’t have to wait for me to come up with such– I’m getting nowhere.

  204. sonicon 13 Jul 2011 at 4:50 pm

    nybrus-
    First off, I thank-you for your response. I really would like to understand the claims and I am willing to learn new things.
    I do appreciate your willingness to help me. I do read from many sources- including the ones you suggest. Thank-you.

    Before I get into anything contentious let me say this–
    Intelligent Design is not a science. There is no unit of intelligence or design therefore the concepts are not scientific.
    I think there are a few who are trying to change that- that is they are trying to find a way to quantize design and/or intelligence.
    I don’t think they have been successful to this point.
    I wish them luck, but I have to say that I’m not so sure the prospects for coming up with a unit of design are all that good…

    My claim is that the pathway to the flagellum has not been demonstrated. This is not to say that there hasn’t been work done, or that some find it plausible to infer the evolution from various homologies and so forth, but just a simple statement– the actual pathway isn’t known and hasn’t been demonstrated. The statements you quote do not disagree with that. (It is one thing to infer that something evolved- it is another to demonstrate the pathway).

    From the most recent article–
    “Thanks to all the recent work, the big picture of flagellum evolution is much clearer than it was just a few years ago, and getting better all the time. “This work is just getting started,” says Matzke.”

    I believe this statement is in agreement with my statement. If the pathway were known, then the work wouldn’t be just getting started- would it? In fact Doolittle’s statement about a certain level of demonstration not being possible might be more to the point. In other words it might be that an actual exact account isn’t possible or needed.

    But that doesn’t disagree with what I’m saying either- does it?

    What I get is that the researchers have decided that there are good reasons to believe that the flagellum evolved (duh) and that there are plausible examples that might be the actual pathway, but that the actual pathway has not been demonstrated and may never be (impossible per Doolittle).

    I would agree that this is not evidence for ID. But it is important for me to keep track of what are facts, what is inferred and what is hoped for.

    What I take—
    The fact is that the pathway hasn’t been demonstrated. There are reasons to infer that these pathways exist. What is hoped for is a complete account. This might not be possible.

    None of the above is a positive case for ID.

  205. Jeremiahon 13 Jul 2011 at 4:55 pm

    sonic,
    Fractals are units of design. There have been experiments that demonstrate how biological systems use them in their procuring, building, and the fitting processes. And no experiments have been able to demonstrate that they are physically and selectively procured and made to fit intelligently and with such consistently anticipated accuracy, by random acts of nature.
    And look at the genetic engineering experiments that use the DNA from one source to self intelligently repair mistakes it has identified in other forms of biological and even, or apparently, non-biological concoctions.

  206. nybgruson 13 Jul 2011 at 5:23 pm

    sonic:

    You are welcome, though as I said, that will likely be the last time I dissect articles like that for you.

    However you stated quite clearly:

    No, no refutation of IC yet- even the ones claimed to be refuted (the flagellum).
    Amazing!!

    Now, I suppose quite technically that your statement is correct. And I even stated in my response that indeed the flagellum is IC. I have been lax with my usage of the language, since IC is used as the hallmark bench test for ID, and as such making a claim such as yours about the flagellum being IC makes it hard to distinguish that as a positive claim for ID (since that is precisely the tack and language that they take). For future clarity, I propose that we understand that IC is a feature of complex systems that is perfectly compatible with evolutionary theory. So from now on, when you make a post such as yours about the flagellum I can simply ignore it or comment “yep. it is” and move one, since discussing it in that capacity has no particular relevance to the status of evolutionary theory.

    Your conclusion is correct but ultimately uninteresting if that is what you had thought from the beginning – hence my confusion.

    But that doesn’t disagree with what I’m saying either- does it?

    No it doesn’t. But then what was the point of you saying it?

    I think there are a few who are trying to change that- that is they are trying to find a way to quantize design and/or intelligence.

    Yes, of course, the DI is trying to – specifically Dembski. That is his concept of “specified complexity” but even he can’t explain what the heck that is. He states that if something meets a minimum amount of “specified complexity” it must have been designed…. yet he himself can’t implement the concept and has admitted when attempting he has to fudge some factors since they just haven’t been worked out…. yet. He started saying that a decade ago (literally).

    So if you were already content that the flagellum evolved (duh) then what was the point of your comment? I apologize for the confusion, but hopefully you can understand why I would be so confused.

    Much like your continued insistence on non-random mutation. Yes, it occurs. Yes, it influences random mutation rates. Yes, it influences evolution. But no, it does not mean it is the basis of evolution or that the central tenet of “random mutation + natural selection = evolution” is called into question. So no matter how many links to a cool new example of non-random mutation you send, the answer (just the same as those regarding IC) will be the same.

    Another thing that I can add to the “answers will always be the same” category is that every step of an evolutionary process will never, ever, ever, be completely 100% elucidated. Period. But that doesn’t mean we can’t firmly conclude something evolved. In the case of the flagellum we know a few of the steps, have some idea about ancestral models, and have enough homology evidence to be quite satisfied in the conclusion. The articles were not pointing to some fundamental lack in understanding where scientists were content the flagellum evolved because “everything else did.” They are content it evolved because of distinct evidence, specific to the flagellum, that it evolved. The articles call for more research not because the evidence was lacking, but because 1) they believe there is intrinsic scientific value to that specific research and 2) they want to give IDiots less wiggle room by having less of the evolutionary steps unknown.

    But it is important for me to keep track of what are facts, what is inferred and what is hoped for.

    Let me make it easy for you then. In science:

    Nothing is a “fact”
    Everything is “inferred”
    and nothing is “hoped for”

    Some things are more strongly supported than others, so those inferences can be labeled “facts” (i.e. random mutation + natural selection) and things are “hypothesized” and tested, not “hoped for.” Yes, an individual scientists may speculate or wish for a certain outcome, but that is not science. Wild speculation nor personal desire must entire the scientific equation at any point. If it does, then it is likely bad science. Proper speculation (also known as hypothesization) and testing are fine. And if the desire doesn’t actually interfere with the science then it doesn’t matter. But as was further evidenced in the article, when researchers desire an outcome and use bad methods to get a more solid outcome as a result, they are picked apart by other scientists. Desire must never enter the scientific calculus and when discovered it will be rooted out.

    So I guess what I am saying is that at this point, after our long back and forths I’d expect you to be asking better questions. That is why I took your questions the way I did, because otherwise they become very “no duh” answers.

  207. robmon 13 Jul 2011 at 5:46 pm

    The DI version of irreducible complexity is the claim that God must have invented the automobile. Since of course pistons, cylinders, wheels, axles, not to mention steel, gasoline, and rubber are all useless individually, so they could not have come into existence individually. They could only have been created for the purpose they now serve and someone must have envisioned them all simultaneously in their working configuration. A person couldn’t have done it since they would need to envision not only the for of the parts but their material. They couldn’t have envisioned the material without a shape, and the shape make no sense without function.

    So with this paradoxical conundrum the only explanation must be a greater being, that somehow ignores the problems just raised.

  208. Mlemaon 13 Jul 2011 at 8:08 pm

    robm – your comparison makes no sense to me. Automobiles WERE intelligently designed – by humans! Unless you think they just sprang on the scene completely as is if by magic. Or maybe you think people aren’t intelligent? Either way, how does a person DESIGNING a car refute ID? Irreducible complexity proponents say that in the same way that a car doesn’t come into existence from a pile of parts, but instead requires a designer (man), a flagellum can’t come into existence from a pile of protein. They say: an intelligent being was required to design the car, therefore an intelligent being must have designed the flagellum.
    I think you meant your comment to be sarcastic, but it’s actually an illustration of the ID proposal.

    As an aside, I believe ID was proposed to show “intelligence” in the universe, not necessarily a “God”. But people aren’t disposed to think of intelligence as existing in any way that could influence evolution, except in the form of a supernatural God. IMO this may be an incomplete way of thinking.

  209. Jeremiahon 13 Jul 2011 at 8:27 pm

    A fact in science is a provable concept. Adaptive mutation is a provable concept. The central tenet of “random mutation + natural selection = evolution,” once thought provable, has not been proven; and is called into question by the observation that selection is made possible by the seemingly random nature of the universe’s systems, where the unknown origin of its forces are concerned, BUT made probable by the non-random calculative, i.e., intelligent, natures of the functional forms that have learned to take reactive or pro-active choice advantage of nature’s known properties and the inherent qualities and characters of their continuous and non-random presences.

  210. robmon 13 Jul 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Wheels , axles, steel and gears existed for thousands of years, pistons and cylinders had been in use in steam engines for over a century, and rubber and petroleum had been used for decades prior to the automobile.

    My point was about irreducible complexity and how it doesn’t really apply to things intelligently designed by humans! When a machine has a nut and a bolt its not the only possible purpose for that nut and that bolt. :) Things can be reduced and lose specific function but their components can be used for all sorts of different functions.

  211. Mlemaon 13 Jul 2011 at 9:33 pm

    robm – I guess I missed whatever the original comparison was that you were critiquing. sorry

  212. Jeremiahon 13 Jul 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Jesus Christ, that’s probably the worst possible differential analogy ever to be made.
    The components of biological mechanisms are the natural nuts and bolts materials found all over earth, moon, mars, and the rest of the observable universe. The biological forms that shape the nuts and bolts for assembly in a variety of their self engineered and assembled machines are human. The forms that self-engineer their biological mechanisms with nature’s ubiquitous sets of nuts and bolts may not be human but are no less biological.

  213. nybgruson 13 Jul 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Mlema:

    Intelligent design was conceived purely as a way around the laws against teaching religious dogma in public schools. It had nothing to do with demonstrating some “intelligence of the universe” and everything to do with a specific god, the christian one, as the intelligent designer.

    Google “cdesign proponentsists” and “the wedge document” for further information.

    robm:

    I get your analogy, but yeah, I’d have to say it isn’t one of the best and most clear. But I do get what you mean.

  214. robmon 13 Jul 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Epic fail on my part, irreducible complexity as a feature of human design makes little sense to me. Just about everything I’ve ever designed mostly involved figuring out how to get simple things working, then building on them and repeating the process to complexity and the intended function. Even if the end product was neat, simple, efficient, and elegant the process of figuring it out sure wasn’t.

  215. Jeremiahon 14 Jul 2011 at 1:41 am

    Our collectives of unconscious processes are far more competent and intelligent than the more conscious processes that, in effect, protect and feed them while they do their building, repairing and re-creative work to have kept the bushy tree of life alive for four billion years on this one planet. How long before that in some other places we will likely never know.

  216. sonicon 14 Jul 2011 at 4:01 pm

    nybrus-
    I agree that Dembski has problems with what he is trying to do.
    I think his ideas will be useful to some extent (or should I say might be), but I don’t think they have been developed to that point yet. I’m not sure he would disagree with that. He would agree that there can’t be a ‘filter’ to test design that will always work (we can’t rule out extremely improbable events). In this sense the notion of proving or disproving design is likely not possible.
    But if a hypothesis leads to the conclusion that numerous, highly unlikely events had to take place, then it might make sense to consider the alternative and I believe that is what his work is about.

    My point is that something that hasn’t been done is consistently claimed to have been done– and what is the point of that claim? From what I read the challenges that have been made by ID people are relevant for the most part and are interesting.
    I believe Lynn Margolis would agree with that- not that ID is correct-heck no!- but that the criticisms are relevant. (But she isn’t really mainstream either. But I’m not really either…)
    http://discover.coverleaf.com/discovermagazine/201104?pg=68#pg68

    The reason I mention that not all mutations are random is because it means that the hypothesis that all mutations are random is false.
    In science generally when a hypothesis has been demonstrated false the hypothesis is changed.
    In this case when the ‘random’ is tossed out it will have 3 good effects–
    1) It will make the theory agree with observation better
    2) It will open new avenues of research (‘it’s all random’ is a thought stopper)–
    the new research into why these mutations and what is the cause could lead to
    very useful discoveries
    3) It will end the need to teach evolution incorrectly to students– that is if not all mutations are random, then we can’t rule out things that make parents fight to get the theory out of school.

    So overall, more accurate theory. new research avenues, less confrontational to teach.
    Sounds like all winners to me.

    Facts are generally considered actual observations and experimental results.
    There is nothing inferred about a click on a counter (what caused the click is inferred), but the fact of the click is not.
    Hawkings has spent a lifetime trying to find solutions to mathematical equations that don’t involve a singularity. To say that his results were not hoped for doesn’t make sense to me. To say he wasn’t doing science isn’t right.

    I’m not sure that science is a Platonic form as you seem to be suggesting.

  217. sonicon 14 Jul 2011 at 4:13 pm

    robm-
    What you do in designing something (and I think your experience of the building process is usual) isn’t strictly analogous to how DNA is changed overtime.
    Irreducible Complexity is an attempt to make a testable statement about the ‘gradual change-each change with some selection advantage’ that is required for a Darwinian process.
    Your point might be better taken that design could also predict mistakes and errors and less than elegant results as well as elegant results we often associate with intelligent design.
    In other words the design hypothesis predicts both good design and bad and is therefore unfalsifiable on the basis of what is found in a genome.
    Of course saying it all happened randomly can’t really be falsified either- can it?

  218. robmon 14 Jul 2011 at 5:03 pm

    sonic,

    the very poorly made point was that irreducible complexity operates under the assumption that the parts of something are useless without being part of the whole. So it must have come into being all at once do to design. This is a false premise, step-wise processes that build complexity occur with or without intelligence. This can give rise to new and surprising features if the complexity that arises can have a use, again with or without intelligence.

    Truly random and truly non-random are impossible to prove, first you would have to test and disprove every possible cause to prove something is random, and you would have to observe every single and possible instance to determine non-random. However evidence for both can be found by testing to see if a correlation in the data can consistently be found, if it can its not random. Likewise if randomness proves the better explanation for the data, then that should be the prevailing explanation until evidence to the contrary emerges.

  219. nybgruson 14 Jul 2011 at 5:03 pm

    @sonic:

    Dembski isn’t “having problems.” He is a bad scientist, a liar, and a cheat. He once made a comment about his research that was out of line with scripture, was chastised, and came back to correct himself. His notion of specificied complexity is laughable. There is NOTHING redeeming about it. Period. He has literally been claiming “any day now” for TEN YEARS. In the meantime, he expects us to buy into ID, which as I’ve pointed out is designed from the ground up to be a vehicle for Christian creation mythology NOT a scientific endevor, by simply saying, “Yeah, it was designed…. this is really improbable…. and I’ve got this specified complexity that will prove it, I just haven’t gotten it to work…. yet.” For TEN YEARS. No, sonic. Dembski isn’t doing science. He is sticking up for religious ideology and NOTHING more. Hell, he hasn’t even published a peer reviewed paper that doesn’t support evolution. There was even an open call for ANY paper, whether rejected or not, submitted or not, that was a POSITIVE proof FOR ID. Nobody came forth. Don’t delude yourself sonic. ID has NOTHING to do with science in any way, shape, or form.

    But if a hypothesis leads to the conclusion that numerous, highly unlikely events had to take place, then it might make sense to consider the alternative and I believe that is what his work is about.

    The fact that it is unlikely means nothing. If it happened, it happened, no matter how unlikely it is. Getting a Burkitt’s lymphoma, for example is a VERY highly unlikely event. Yet plenty of people get it. Also, even IF evolution were wrong (it isn’t!) there is no “THE alternative.” And that is the point. They don’t spend time doing research to prove ID. They spend time trying to figure out ways to prove evolution is wrong, and thus ID must be correct. First off, that ISN’T SCIENCE! And second off, even if they DID somehow manage to prove evolution was wrong, that would NOT mean ID is correct! Oh, and of course, they haven’t been able to demonstrate in any way that evolutionary theory is wrong.

    Of course criticisms are relevant. And your mother probably told you “there’s no such thing as a stupid question.” Mine told me the same. But when you grow up and you get educated, you can actually ask stupid questions. Asking the same refuted things, over and over again, those are stupid questions. Dembski and his group keep doing that. And you are parroting them.

    As for the mutations.

    The reason I mention that not all mutations are random is because it means that the hypothesis that all mutations are random is false.

    The hypothesis is NOT that ALL mutations are random. Nobody is teaching that to anyone. How many times do I have to tell you that evolutionary theory accounts for random AND non-random mutation? The fundamental building block was random. And important random mutations still happen all the time (as do non-important ones). Just look at prion disease, for example. The majority of prion disease is from a RANDOM mutation leading to the highly specific and TRANSMISSABLE folding defect in endogenous proteins. Think about that. In a normal human being, there are still random mutations (mutations that can be inherited – look at cancer genes for an example). Most of these random mutations will just do nothing or completely destory the ability of a cell to make the protein encoded in that mutated DNA. But, AT RANDOM, you can get a protein that develops a very particular fold. One that is, ITSELF TRANSMISSABLE. That protein, synthesized by a single cell, can run around and infect OTHER PROTEINS by making them change their already existing folds. That, sonic, is an example of RANDOM mutation under natural selection leading to an organized and complex outcome. The mutation is random. The natural selection comes from the fact that either nothing will happen to the protein or the protein will be destroyed… unless it happens to be the mutation of a prion fold. The organized and complex outcome arises because that protein then literally becomes like a virus and alters the structure of other proteins.

    In this case when the ‘random’ is tossed out it will have 3 good effects–
    1) It will make the theory agree with observation better

    It should not be thrown out, because if it were, it would make the theory agree LESS with observation. We observe BOTH random AND non-random mutation. Period. A good theory accounts for BOTH and evolution does exactly that.

    2) It will open new avenues of research (‘it’s all random’ is a thought stopper)–
    the new research into why these mutations and what is the cause could lead to
    very useful discoveries

    No it wont. Those avenues of research are plenty wide open – hence why you can cite MSNBC articles at me about research into non-random mutations. Also, “it’s all random” is only a thought stopper in your head. Mostly because nobody says “its ALL random” except for ID proponents, creationists, and theists. Look at all the scientists continuing to do research. They are in the “it is BASED in random” camp and yet they haven’t had their thoughts stopped. Compare that with Dembski and the DiscoTute, where they say “it is not random at all!” and see that THEY are the ones whose thoughts have stopped at that point. Literally NOTHING novel has come out of the DI. EVER.

    3) It will end the need to teach evolution incorrectly to students– that is if not all mutations are random, then we can’t rule out things that make parents fight to get the theory out of school.

    Evolution is NOT being taught incorrectly. The basis is random mutation. Period. That plus natural selection is exactly what needs to be taught to high school students. Epigenetics and more complex aspects of the theory are something for college. You wouldn’t jump into teaching a kid calculus before algebra, so the same is with evolutionary theory. You and the IDiots seem to think that evolution is some small little theory that can be summed up in its entirety in a paragraph. My background is in evolutionary biology, medical anthropology, and molecular pharmacology and I am STILL learning new things about it. Just like math gets deeper beyond calculus by orders of magnitude so does evolutionary theory.

    So yeah, we can rule out the things that make parents fight to get the theory out of schools. Because the theory is bloody well sound and no amount of popular complaint will change that.

    So overall, more accurate theory. new research avenues, less confrontational to teach.
    Sounds like all winners to me.

    Yeah, that would be great. Except you are simply flat out wrong. It would be a much less accurate theory (as I explained above).

    Facts are generally considered actual observations and experimental results.

    Yep. And we can observe both random AND non-random mutations.

    I’m not sure that science is a Platonic form as you seem to be suggesting.

    The fact that you would even assert I am offering a Platonic Form of science means you haven’t been listening to a word I have said. From the wiki:

    Plato’s theory of Forms or theory of Ideas asserts that non-material abstract (but substantial) forms (or ideas), and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality.

    I assume that is what you are referring to. For the love of the FSM – NO!. I have offered nothing but actual empirical data and evidence. It seems to have either gone clear over your head or you are simply actively and willfully denying it.

    I thought you had come to this forum, and to me specifically, to try and actually learn. It seems quite clear you aren’t and are quite content with your already-decided notions that evolutionary theory is critically flawed and ID is the way to go. You take every tiny thing you can and try and use it to demonstrate some flaw in evolution. You twist or ignore anything I write to fit your preconceived notion. You rely on EvoNews for your information and argumentation. After all this time conversing with you sonic, you dissapoint me.

    1). Evolutionary theory is sound
    2). Mutation is both random AND non-random
    3). Random mutation + natural selection is the BASIS (although not the ENTIRETY) of evolutionary theory
    4). Anything from EvoNews, Dembski, Luskin, the DI, and anyone affiliated with them is complete and utter garbage

    I have given you plenty of explanations, examples, dissected articles, explained the science, and tied them into the theory to support those 4 statements. Until you accept them, our conversation is done. No, this is not dogma, this is not me requiring you to agree to everything I say. This is us not being able to get past those 4 points and until we do there is nothing left to say. These are facts, supported by evidence, proven a thousand times over. There is no “happy middle” in science. There are instances where someone is right and someone else is wrong. This is one of those. And as long as you actively and willfully deny it, as you have been, then there is no point in continuing. Believe what you will – it really makes little difference to me. But it seems clear you aren’t here to actually learn from the evidence.

  220. nybgruson 14 Jul 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Oh yeah, and from an old interview of Dembski (which he took down since):

    4. Does your research conclude that God is the Intelligent Designer?

    I believe God created the world for a purpose. The Designer of intelligent design is, ultimately, the Christian God.

    Nope, no ideological agenda there.

  221. nybgruson 14 Jul 2011 at 5:12 pm

    gradual change-each change with some selection advantage’ that is required for a Darwinian process.

    Wrong again. The change need not have a selection advantage. It can even have a selection DIS-advantage. Just so long as it doesn’t kill the organism and it can be passed on. Of course traits with an advantage are selected for strongly and traits with a disadvantage are selected against strongly (each in proportion to how advantageous or dis-advantageous it may be). But that does not mean at ALL that just because it is dis-advantageous it will be immediately and completely selected against. And you also don’t take into account neutral changes or trait linkages.

    In other words the design hypothesis predicts both good design and bad and is therefore unfalsifiable on the basis of what is found in a genome.

    The design hypothesis explicitly demands a perfect and omniscient designer, so bad design is a blow against that. If you are referring to a panspermia sort of designer, there isn’t much evidence for that yet, and it doesn’t change the basics of the evolution we know happened since the would-be pan-spermic event.

    You are basing every argument you make in a completely false understanding and representation of evolution. Something I have tried to disabuse you of yet you choose to ignore. Obviously, I am quite frustrated with that.

  222. neverknowon 14 Jul 2011 at 6:45 pm

    “Anything that happens to the brain will have some effect on conscious experience. That in no way demonstrates that the brain causes conscious experience.”

    “It in fact absolutely demonstrates that the brain causes conscious experience. If X happens to the brain, then Y happens to the conscious experience. That is simply demonstrable, empirical fact.”

    Anything that happens to the big toe causes conscious experience. Does that mean the big toe causes conscious experience?

  223. mufion 14 Jul 2011 at 10:50 pm

    Anything that happens to the big toe causes conscious experience. Does that mean the big toe causes conscious experience?

    I’m no expert, but I’d say: yeah, indirectly (e.g. if the nerves in the big toe are still in tact and they’re stimulated, thereby sending a signal to the brain).

  224. nybgruson 15 Jul 2011 at 1:32 am

    mufi, don’t get sucked into neverknow’s idiotic semantic games. You, steve12, and myself can work in an intellectually honest fashion to properly operationalize a word. Jeremiah and neverknow can’t. Seems sonic can’t either.

  225. Jeremiahon 15 Jul 2011 at 1:58 am

    sonic, pay no attention to the sophomoric version of the evolutionary process as insisted on by Nybgrus, the sophomoric med school student.
    Yes, the design hypothesis by the Dembski crowd requires a supreme designer with plan for the organism’s future. BUT, the self-designing process of adaptive mutation requires the organism to select the design to fit its short term strategies for survival. Does it need a function that can reach higher up for finding food, then it redesigns a form to fit the needed function. Or redesigns a beak to reach deeper into different flowers.
    As I noted earlier, a fact in science is a provable concept. Adaptive mutation is a provable concept.
    Nybgrus has switched his “central tenet” dogma now to: “Random mutation + natural selection is the BASIS (although not the ENTIRETY) of evolutionary theory.”
    But that still makes the statement meaningless since it implies that “natural selection” requires that mutations basically be selected randomly by chance.
    This again, has not been proven, as no function has yet been discovered that can accomplish the remarkable feat of melding chance and desire in anticipation of its causing those amazingly complex effects with such consistency.
    And he still can’t grasp that what has seemed to us as random from a causative standpoint, is not random at all from the end user’s standpoint, because with adaptive mutation, the causative end is with the adaptive users. They select for effectiveness by life’s choice making processes, and since nybgrus and friends don’t believe that early and primitive life forms had and have such processes, they just won’t get it.
    But to repeat what I pointed out before, self-selection, design and engineering as supportive of the newer adaptive theories was made provable by acknowledging the non-random calculative, i.e., intelligent, natures of the biologically functioning forms that have learned to take reactive or pro-active choice advantage of nature’s known properties and of the fact of their continuous and non-random presences among us.

  226. nybgruson 15 Jul 2011 at 3:55 am

    Jeremiah:

    you are a blithering imbecile.

    Oh, and I have switched nothing. I have always said the central tenet of evolution is random mutation + natural selection. That is still the case. I was merely clarifying that it wasn’t the entirety of evolutionary theory.

    Not that it matters much to you, since you are driveling moron.

    Oh yeah, and Dunning-Kruger.

    (can’t wait to smile at your next idiotic riposte)

  227. BillyJoe7on 15 Jul 2011 at 6:06 am

    …and so desperately trying to cling onto sonic for otherwise his mission here comes to nought.

    That makes me smile :)

  228. nybgruson 15 Jul 2011 at 6:54 am

    honestly BillyJoe, I simply cannot figure out what his goal is here. At least Sonic is kind of opening to learning. And he is conscientiously questioning things, even though his pre-conceived notions keep getting in the way. With jeremiah I am at a total loss. He isn’t quite the troll that Sid Offitt, Th1Th2, and Auggie are…. he isn’t crazy like “skeptical atheist” but there is certainly something way off.

    Just friggin weird. At least mike12 dissapeared after he was thoroughly shut down by everyone here (save Jeremiah of course).

    But yeah, I’m just at a total loss when it comes to Mr. “The bird can decide it wants a longer beak so it opens up character screen on its computer game of life and uses the XP he got to make his beak +3 length and +2 strength.”

    LOL

  229. SteveAon 15 Jul 2011 at 7:59 am

    “Intelligent design was conceived purely as a way around the laws against teaching religious dogma in public schools. It had nothing to do with demonstrating some “intelligence of the universe” and everything to do with a specific god, the christian one, as the intelligent designer.”

    Perhaps we’re missing a trick here, why not insist that creationism is taught in schools….

    “Where heat and cold met appeared thawing drops, and this running fluid grew into a giant frost ogre named Ymir.

    Ymir slept, falling into a sweat. Under his left arm there grew a man and a woman. And one of his legs begot a son with the other. This was the beginning of the frost ogres.

    Thawing frost then became a cow called Audhumla. Four rivers of milk ran from her teats, and she fed Ymir….”

    Then if anyone complains, ask them why their fairy story is any better…

  230. nybgruson 15 Jul 2011 at 9:57 am

    Nice idea, SteveA. But they already put up a fuss if you’d rather pray to Mecca instead of say the pledge every morning.

    Nope, giant ogres ain’t got nuthin’ on zombies. Zombie jesus for…. tha…. bi-winning!

  231. Jeremiahon 15 Jul 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Little nygbrus has another hissyfit! What I wrote is straight out of adaptive mutation theory, demonstrated by the academically and industrially supported experimental and peer reviewed and published work of a host of real scientists – the ones who are actually employed and working in the field, highly intelligent, highly respected, non creationist, evolutionary scientists of all its disciplinary stripes.
    Darwin was intuitively right about the giraffes and finches all along, and so was Lamarck, and so are all those presently supportive of the science I named earlier, especially Margulies – who I had forgotten to mention until sonic did.

    And let me repeat what I wrote to sonic earlier:
    “That’s because form largely follows function, and a basic functional apparatus can change, i.e., evolve, its operational structure as its peculiar combination of experience and needs would seem to require. Functions are in that sense anticipatory and adaptable.
    Something has to do the procuring, building and the fitting processes, and if not accomplished by the physical abilities and powers of the biological system itself, then what?”

    And the little hissy fitty nybgruses of the fast fading evolutionary fundamentalist world have no answers, except that:
    ““It’s all done by an autonomic chemical reaction system with no intelligence involved.”

  232. sonicon 15 Jul 2011 at 1:18 pm

    robm-
    You are right in that irreducible complexity can’t be tested for by showing each part is required for the whole to work. That is a necessary but not sufficient test.
    So the point might have been poorly made, but the point was basically correct.

    I agree- random or not random is not provable and this can be a very problematic situation- especially when you are talking about something that happens rarely or is difficult to observe first hand.
    My point is that the assumption of random is a thought stopper in that it would mean the search for reason (why did this mutation occur) would be fruitless. But we now can see that some- perhaps many – mutations are not well described as random and therefore there is an avenue to learn more about what causes mutations and why the ones that happen do.
    To say that mutations aren’t all random- that some mutations might happen for a reason- is a major change in thought.

    It’s a little like calling DNA ‘junk’. That was the worst hypothesis in the history of molecular biology because it stopped people from looking into the functions of large portions of DNA– functions that are being discovered regularly now- functions that turn out to be very important and interesting.

  233. sonicon 15 Jul 2011 at 1:26 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    Hello my friend. Hope all is well with you.
    I think we need to have a good argument before too long.
    I hope you are working on one, cause up to this point I always kick your ass. :-)

  234. sonicon 15 Jul 2011 at 2:13 pm

    nybrus-
    When I grow up I’ll stop asking stupid questions. :-)
    (Don’t hold your breath!)

    I was taught that a scientific theory was supposed to agree with the observations- all the observations.
    Isn’t that right?
    Currently the theory of evolution would be in better alignment with actual observation (which is what this is about) by saying ‘mutation’ rather than ‘random mutation’. This is due to the fact that not all mutations are random. The word mutation by itself doesn’t mean that they are never random. It could be pointed out that some mutations are random and some are not.
    But by including the word ‘random’, we are insisting that mutations be random when we know they aren’t.
    As far as I know, it is not usual practice in science to include qualifiers in statements about how things work that take a statement that is in agreement with all observations and makes it agree with fewer.
    Perhaps some other examples where a scientific theory includes qualifiers that make it agree with fewer observations than without the qualifiers would be helpful.
    I just can’t think of one.

  235. Jeremiahon 15 Jul 2011 at 2:16 pm

    sonic, speaking of “junk DNA” here’s an interesting paper on:
    Exaptation in human evolution: how to test adaptive vs exaptive evolutionary hypotheses.
    http://www.isita-org.com/jass/Contents/2011vol89/e-pub/Pievani.pdf

    Fits right in with how biological systems anticipate future environmental problems and devise little genetic building blocks as may or may not be needed to rebuild and reform their structures accordingly.

  236. Mlemaon 15 Jul 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I am so grateful to you ALL for arguing about evolution here! I am learning so much that I don’t think I would be able to sort out if I tried to navigate the information all by myself.
    cheers

  237. BillyJoe7on 15 Jul 2011 at 5:57 pm

    sonic,

    “Hello my friend. Hope all is well with you.
    I think we need to have a good argument before too long.
    I hope you are working on one, cause up to this point I always kick your ass.”

    I don’t actually buy into your false friendliness.
    They way you ended this post is just a clue. I do remember stronger dismissive insults, although not quite to the degree of your companion in crime.

    As for kicking ass, how do have you done that? Quitting an argument by posting a list of references that you falsely believe makes your argument for you, is not winning. It’s a cop out.

    Your companion is an idiot – just wait for the quantum connection. Or, if you like, read the reference to the chinese author he listed earlier. It reads like a Sokal Hoax, but the author actually believes what she writes and you companion swallows it whole like the truely independant thinker that he is not.

  238. Jeremiahon 15 Jul 2011 at 6:17 pm

    miema, sonic, you might like this paper:

    http://ffst.academia.edu/TonciKokic/Papers/561549/Non-randomness_of_genetic_mutations_Some_philosophical_implications

    Non-randomness of Genetic Mutations:
    Some Philosophical Implications
    Tonći Kokić, Split
    tkokic@ffst.hr
    UDC: 575.1:122
    Preliminary communication
    Received: February 10, 2010.
    Accepted: March 23, 2010.
    Excerpt: “The task of both scientists and philosophers is to doubt, question the supposed truth and challenge scientific claims. This article meets the task of challenging evolutionary theory’s (neo-Darwinian) claims of the random nature of genetic
    mutations. The neo-Darwinists’ theory of biological evolution views the transformation of living forms through stages of random mutations and non-random natural selection. Mutations are, by the definition of randomness, not caused by or aimed at the benefit of the organisms in which they occur. However, some
    experiments question the randomness of mutations claiming their non-random nature, and conceptual analysis points to the ambiguity of the concept of randomness and the notion of usefulness. In addition, it is not justified to apply the conceptual and methodological toolkit from physics in biology (except in
    molecular biology), because biology has its own domain with corresponding special concepts, principles and methodology. Harmonisation of the conceptual meanings indicates that the nature of non-random mutation process confirmed the specific economy of biological evolution. The evolutionary implication of
    the non-random nature of mutation process presumes a world in which the occurrence of biological diversity is highly probable.”

  239. Jeremiahon 15 Jul 2011 at 6:28 pm

    BillyJoe7, you wrote, “my wife was in the process of leaving me six years ago. She’d seen a solicitor and had picked out alternative accommodation for herself and the kids.”
    You forgot to mention that she actually filed papers on record at VCAT.

  240. tmac57on 15 Jul 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Why do I get the feeling that Steve Novella could post anything about evolution or consciousness,and go on vacation from this blog for a year,and when he came back,the thread would still be going strong? Oh,and vaccines, I forgot about vaccines.

  241. neverknowon 15 Jul 2011 at 7:53 pm

    “Anything that happens to the big toe causes conscious experience. Does that mean the big toe causes conscious experience?”

    “I’m no expert, but I’d say: yeah, indirectly (e.g. if the nerves in the big toe are still in tact and they’re stimulated, thereby sending a signal to the brain).”

    If you stimulate a person’s brain with an electrode, they will experience something. Does that show that consciousness originates in the brain? No, because if you stimulate their big toe with an electrode, they will also experience something– but we would never imagine the big toe is the ultimate source of consciousness.

    The brain is part of the body and anything that happens to the body can have an effect on our conscious experience.

    We don’t know what consciousness is or what causes it.I think it’s a natural property of the universe, existing at the foundation of all forces, fields and substances.

    If you divide matter into small enough particles, do you expect to find the ultimate tiny piece of matter that everything is made enough? No, we gave up on that long ago. So what do you think it’s made out of, if not information?

  242. nybgruson 15 Jul 2011 at 8:13 pm

    tmac57: indeed. Get a couple of trolls like Jeremiah and sonic and throw in people like myself and robm who are actually willing to write about the topic and there ya go.

    Jeremiah: no hissy fit. Just calmy calling you out as a complete moron. It’s a shame that not only do you not understand adaptive mutation, you apparently think you do so well you can make conclusions completely out of line with reality and the consensus. Oh wait, almost forgot about Dunning-Kruger. That does explain it. If there was ever evidence that the universe isn’t chock full of intrinsic “intelligence” it is you.

    sonic: Sorry chief, but if you can’t stop asking stupid questions “until you grow up” then I will just stop answering them. I honestly can’t understand why you are on this “remove random” from the terminology kick. I was never taught that random mutations are the only method by which traits are developed and inherited. No science is being “stopped” because the basis is random mutations. As you can see there is heaps of research on the non-random mutations out there – the whole friggin field is called epigenetics. But you really are not thinking at all if you think that teaching epigenetics to high schoolers is a good idea. You gotta learn the basics first. See, like right here, wtf are you saying??

    Currently the theory of evolution would be in better alignment with actual observation (which is what this is about) by saying ‘mutation’ rather than ‘random mutation’. This is due to the fact that not all mutations are random. The word mutation by itself doesn’t mean that they are never random. It could be pointed out that some mutations are random and some are not.

    The TOE already does make the distinction!. Nobody is taught it is all random. That is a fantasy you have in your head for some reason. How can I possibly disabuse you of that notion? The TOE is perfectly in line with observation. It is taught in a manner that, from day one is explained as “the basis of evolution is random mutation and natural selection but not all mutation is random and there are non-random epigenetic events that play a very important role. We can discuss those in more advanced biology courses.” So how much more can it fit in with observation and be taught more correctly?

    Jeremiah is just an idiot who doesn’t understand the basis of what he is saying, but you sonic seem to be intentionally blind, making claims about what evolutionary theory is and how it is taught that have no basis in reality.

  243. Jeremiahon 15 Jul 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Information is what happens, not what happenstance is made of.
    Information is how natural formations experience the energetic forces that both formed and continue to reform them. To experience some effect of force is to be aware – to be conscious of, but not necessarily cognizant of that effect. Biological choice making forms are cognizant of information, non-choice most likely not.
    Information is sequential in effect and basically a form of universal memory, and is not caused to exist before it happens.

  244. Jeremiahon 15 Jul 2011 at 8:35 pm

    nybgrus, I thought you weren’t reading my posts or I certainly would have avoided posting unfounded nonsense that nevertheless has the power to upset you so. Your mental health is very important to someone somewhere. Please try not to read any of the papers or books from any of the authors I referenced. That stuff will really cause your little brain to hurty head.

  245. nybgruson 15 Jul 2011 at 8:54 pm

    oh i’ve read them all jeremiah, including the links. I just generally don’t respond to you because besides being an idiot, you are also a hateful, spiteful POS with very little (well, none that I have noticed but I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt) redeeming quality.

    But go right ahead and keep posting your unfounded nonsense. If that’s what gets your rocks off who am I to stop you? However, I will continue to call you an idiot and an asshole until you prove otherwise.

  246. Jeremiahon 15 Jul 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Oooh, hurty hurty! Go see that blond engineer, he’ll make you feel all better.

  247. nybgruson 15 Jul 2011 at 9:00 pm

    lol… not sure if you are making a gay jab at me now. Not that I would be offended that you call me gay, but just seems very childish. Which of course does entirely fit with your personality.

    I really do feel sad for your Jeremiah, you are truly pathetic.

  248. Jeremiahon 15 Jul 2011 at 9:13 pm

    No, I had thought you were a girl.

  249. nybgruson 15 Jul 2011 at 10:24 pm

    I’d thought it was pretty clear I was male, especially considering I’ve oft referred to my girlfriend, amongst other things. But no matter. Confusion cleared up.

  250. Jeremiahon 15 Jul 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Too oft referred perhaps.

  251. BillyJoe7on 16 Jul 2011 at 12:04 am

    I once referred to his quantum woo author as “the female chinese author” (because I couldn’t remember her name) and was immediately accused of racism. Perhaps, by that token, what we have here is a homophobic sado-masochist.

  252. Jeremiahon 16 Jul 2011 at 12:32 am

    @BillyJoe7
    “I have a crush on one of my employees who works only one four-hour session per week. She charges my fantasy life and, through her, I can once again masturbate to orgasm. But I’m not so silly as to think I can make reality happen here. She is considerably younger and her other job brings her into contact with my wife – who got her this job. The pleasure she gives me by just being there once a week is enough. Anything more could end badly.

    
She is not a young woman. And nowhere did I state that she was. In fact she has two teenage children. In case you have made any more assumptions, she is not a buxom beauty, that is not why I am attracted to her. I love the way she smiles. I love the way she talks. I love the way she interacts with me. We are both married. We have some innocent fun and we leave it at that.

    Interestingly, my wife was in the process of leaving me six years ago. She’d seen a solicitor and had picked out alternative accommodation for herself and the kids. But we are still together and my life has changed dramatically. But you will never guess why she was leaving? She felt emotionally isolated (I’d become too wrapped up in my work).”

    And according to the records, she’s left BillyJoe again, and so has the employee he was whacking off to.

  253. 2_wordson 16 Jul 2011 at 1:02 am

    “Nothing to add to the discussion that’s knowledgeable about science. Any science?”

  254. BillyJoe7on 16 Jul 2011 at 2:29 am

    Oh, I forgot, our little idiot is also a liar.
    …water off a duck’s back though.

  255. Jeremiahon 16 Jul 2011 at 2:44 am

    Wrong answer. Stay tuned.

  256. tmac57on 16 Jul 2011 at 9:53 am

    Jeremiad

    What pseudonym do you plan to use after the next banning?

  257. ccbowerson 16 Jul 2011 at 10:19 am

    I’m still wondering what BJ7 has done (or is perceived to have done) to warrant the apparent hatred at an archnemesis level.

  258. 2_wordson 16 Jul 2011 at 11:01 am

    The place to look for Jeremiah is behind the gate of Dangerous Ideas (sign by courtesy of Edge).

    He probably wears a cape.

  259. mufion 16 Jul 2011 at 12:28 pm

    We don’t know what consciousness is or what causes it.I think it’s a natural property of the universe, existing at the foundation of all forces, fields and substances.

    First, a lengthy quote from Nobel Prize winning neuroscientist Gerald Edelman, from his book Wider than the Sky: The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness:

    We all know what consciousness is: it is what you lose when you fall into a deep dreamless sleep and what you regain when you wake up. But this glib statement does not leave us in a comfortable position to examine consciousness scientifically. For that we need to explore the salient properties of consciousness in more detail, as William James did in his Principles of Psychology. Before doing so, it will help to clarify the subject if we first point out that consciousness is utterly dependent on the brain. The Greeks and others believed that consciousness resided in the heart, an idea that survives in many of our common metaphors. There is now a vast amount of empirical evidence to support the idea that consciousness emerges from the organization and operation of the brain. When brain function is curtailed—in deep anesthesia, after certain forms of brain trauma, after strokes, and in certain limited phases of sleep—consciousness is not present. There is no return of the functions of the body and brain after death, and post-mortem experience is simply not possible. Even during life there is no scientific evidence for a free-floating spirit or consciousness outside the body: consciousness is embodied.

    Now, of course, Edelman is drawing an inference here from his scientific knowledge (from a domain in which he is an expert). And that is the point: to argue that consciousness is not embodied requires that one be inclined to go either beyond or against the scientific evidence.

    As you may have guessed by now, most of us here are not so inclined. But, if you are, then my attitude is: good luck with that—just so long as you don’t pretend that scientific evidence either led you to or supports that belief. It didn’t and it doesn’t.

  260. Jeremiahon 16 Jul 2011 at 12:31 pm

    @ccbowers,
    “I’m still wondering what BJ7 has done (or is perceived to have done) to warrant the apparent hatred at an archnemesis level.”

    BillyJoe7 is an uneducated vendor who lives in Mooroolbark, Australia, and tells the world that he’s cheating on his wife with one of her friends, who is also married with teenage children. Obviously he doesn’t care if his wife and children, or the other woman’s husband and children find this out, and that all are left with an image of this little short ugly ignorant gnome jerking himself off while typing vitriolic comments on various blogs about people of a different race, culture, or belief than his.

    I simply want him to shut up with the vitriol, and actually made him do it for a while. But now that he’s been found out by both his wife and the employee, he’s back at it. He’s a catalyst for attracting the seriously ignorant, as we can see by those who have come to dominate the discussions here.

    He’s a parasite and obviously there’s some symbiosis with his host here. And he’s clearly attracted the parasitic crowd to rally round.
    So he’s found his niche and won’t be easily dislodged, duties to his family not withstanding.

    Thanks for asking.

  261. mufion 16 Jul 2011 at 12:46 pm

    nybgrus: Thanks for the advice above (plus all the evolutionary bio info). I guess (like you) I’m a glutton for punishment. :-)

  262. BillyJoe7on 16 Jul 2011 at 12:49 pm

    ccbowers,

    He is artfulD, bindle, and [I've forgotten what his third incarnation was].

    He promotes a fringe/pseudo science as progressive mainstream and I called him on it. He posts links to articles that don’t actually support his view and I called him on that. And he references an author who supports quantum woo and I called him on that. He writes like he’s transcribing from a book where you would need context to understand whatever it is that he is trying to say (if indeed whatever he is trying to saying makes any sense at all). I called him on that as well.

    As a result I have been subjected to verbal abuse, insults, and veiled threats of personal harm. He has scoured the internet for information about who I am, where I live, what I do, and places I attend. He has implied that he lives in an adjoining suburb and he has let it be known that he is a boxing instructor for the army. He also has a file containing things that I have written on internet forums and blogs and trots them out whenever I dare to call him out.

    In short, he wants me to disappear from this blog so that he can continue his propaganda uncontested. The stupid thing is that it doesn’t even matter any more – because there are now many posters here, more knowledgable and erudite than myelf, who have done an excellent job of calling him out on his nonsense.

  263. BillyJoe7on 16 Jul 2011 at 1:00 pm

    ccbowers,

    Just to add…

    I have stopped reading his posts but I couldn’t help noticing his response to your question. I am not going to dignify that post with a pint by point correction. Let me just say that he is a deliberate and shameless liar. Nothing in that post bears any resemblance whatsoever to the truth of my situation.

  264. Jeremiahon 16 Jul 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Ah, he’s the self-selected contester of propaganda. The little boy from Mooroolbark out to save the scientific world by putting his pecker in the dike that protects the lowbrowlands from the sea of dangerous ideas. Even if it doesn’t matter any more, as at least one bigger dick has come up from down under to the rescue.

    And I notice that he no longer want to talk about his “situation.”
    So again, bowers, thanks for asking.

  265. neverknowon 16 Jul 2011 at 1:46 pm

    “When brain function is curtailed—in deep anesthesia, after certain forms of brain trauma, after strokes, and in certain limited phases of sleep—consciousness is not present.”

    I keep having to repeat this. Without a functioning brain, a person can’t communicate. So there are no signs of consciousness. But that doesn’t meant there is no consciousness. This is one of the basic errors of materialism.

  266. neverknowon 16 Jul 2011 at 1:50 pm

    “to argue that consciousness is not embodied requires that one be inclined to go either beyond or against the scientific evidence.”

    No, all the so-called evidence that consciousness depends on a brain is defective for the reasons I repeatedly mentioned. And the evidence that consciousness does not depend on a brain is discarded by the materialists because they “know” it is all hallucinations.

    Materialists have a closed, illogical system for “proving” that the brain creates consciousness.

  267. robmon 16 Jul 2011 at 2:10 pm

    The reasons you mention are mystery mongering that, if applied consistently, would make the whole enterprise of science invalid. The process of making the brain causes mind connection is the same process that led to the germ theory of disease, chemistry, relativity, real quantum mechanics (not the magic kind), etc.

    Were your ‘doubt’ consistently applied, or at least applied whenever science or technology stepped on any ones toes there would be all kinds of wacky ideas existing along side sound theories. Your argument is they can’t disprove magical causes behind physical ones, and that if a theory doesn’t explain everything it’s worthless and magic is a better explanation. That’s a very illogical system of proof.

  268. sonicon 16 Jul 2011 at 2:43 pm

    mlema-
    You do understand what I am talking about is not conventional thinking.
    I read what I read, but I am very ignorant. I try to learn more. Often I say things and draw conclusions that are wrong. But I keep plugging away–
    Of course every once in a while I have a good idea. :-)

    BillyJoe7-
    My conversations with you have always seemed very good natured and although there have been times when some level of insult was passed between us, I always took it more as good natured ribbing– the kind I’m used to from years of playing basketball.
    I sorry if it went beyond that- I didn’t mean it to.

    nybrus-
    BTW- new research on placebos show that they didn’t improve the ‘objective functions’ in asthma patients.
    http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2011/07/14/the-placebo-effect-this-time-in-asthma/
    Take that you Germans!! ;-)

    Perhaps this will help our understanding of each other–
    Here is an article of interest (from 2010)-

    http://classic.the-scientist.com/blog/display/56267/
    “Do genetic mutations really occur at random spots along the genome, as researchers have long supposed? Maybe not, according to a study published online today (January 13) in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, which proposes a mechanism for how new mutations might preferentially form around existing ones.”

    “My theory is going to shake things up majorly,” Amos said. “The concept of non-independent mutations simply wasn’t thought of before — this is completely new and it really changes how we think of DNA evolving.”

    This is the sort of thing I’m thinking of. The idea that these mutations are not random independent variables. If we look at physics as our guide (that is to say mutations follow the laws of physics) we can see that some mutations could be random, but others would not be.
    Apparently this is a somewhat radical notion.
    I will continue to read more.

  269. 2_wordson 16 Jul 2011 at 3:09 pm

    “Without a functioning brain, a person can’t communicate. So there are no signs of consciousness. But that doesn’t meant there is no consciousness.”

    If something exhibits “no signs of consciousness,” then it is not conscious. If “signs of consciousness” are part of the definition of mind, then no sign, no mind.

    If a definition can include “that which is beyond communication” and “things without signs of consciousness” this will include every none thing.

    It will be a definition of nothing.

  270. mufion 16 Jul 2011 at 4:54 pm

    neverknow said:

    So there are no signs of consciousness. But that doesn’t meant there is no consciousness.

    Like Edelman said: “We all know what consciousness is: it is what you lose when you fall into a deep dreamless sleep and what you regain when you wake up.” Of course, subjects can also report whether they were recently unconscious, which is itself a form of cognitive scientific evidence.

    In other words, first-person and third-person accounts agree: when there are no signs of consciousness (third-person), there is no consciousness (first-person).

    BTW, when I refer to “no signs of consciousness”, I’m not only talking about observations of outward behavior (e.g. external body movements or lack thereof). Scientists can also use brain imaging technology to judge whether someone is dreaming (a type of conscious state) or not.

    And the evidence that consciousness does not depend on a brain is discarded by the materialists because they “know” it is all hallucinations.

    I presume this is an allusion to claims of out-of-body or near-death experiences (NDE). Yet the phenomena (which, if we are to account for subjective reporting as I suggested above, then they do occur) can be explained neurologically (as this essay, courtesy of nybgrus, illustrates).

    The question then becomes: Will your metaphysical commitment allow you to accept such a neurological explanation? If not, then the honest thing to do is to simply admit that your ideology takes precedence over what science has to offer.

  271. neverknowon 16 Jul 2011 at 7:23 pm

    “I presume this is an allusion to claims of out-of-body or near-death experiences (NDE). Yet the phenomena (which, if we are to account for subjective reporting as I suggested above, then they do occur) can be explained neurologically”

    They have not been explained neurologically. Materialists make up far-fetched “explanations” for things they “know” cannot be real.

    “when there are no signs of consciousness (third-person), there is no consciousness (first-person).”

    We forget most of our dreams. Does that mean we didn’t have them? During waking consciousness, we usually do not remember what we experienced in other states, such as sleep. If a person is hypnotized, they usually will not remember the experience when they wake up.

    A person could be in a coma or under anesthesia, with no signs or consciousness, and they might have no memories for that time when they wake up. Yet they could have been dreaming and experience consciousness.

    First person reports and brain imaging cannot tell you if a person was dreaming, or having some kind of conscious experience, when they seemed to be unconscious.

    And there have been many reports of near death experiences — people remembered conscious experiences from time when they seemed to be unconscious. Your belief that these have been explained away is unrelated to the fact that people do have these memories.

    So your statement that people do not report conscious experiences when they seem to be unconscious is completely wrong.

    You do not have a logical scientific argument. Materialism is a faith.

  272. nybgruson 16 Jul 2011 at 7:31 pm

    @mufi: indeed, we both are, aren’t we? and you’re welcome for the evobio stuff. I really do enjoy it. :-)

    And your comments to neverknow have been quite excellent, I’ve enjoyed reading them. You’ve done such a good job, IMO, that I have nothing to add.

    @sonic:

    First off, thanks for the first article. I’ve long said that the placebo effect cannot change objective outcomes except, potentially, in a select few situations. I’m still trying to figure those out, and that article makes me think that there are differential responses to placebo effect on a physiological level.

    As for your second article, titled: “Are mutations truly random?”

    Rather than dissecting it for you, how about you try an exercise and dissect it for me. Take that one single article, read it carefully, and then write a comment (quoting relevent parts of it) and give an analysis on what the author is actually trying to say. Your claim is that the central tenet of evolution, which relies on random mutation and natural selection pressures, is incorrect. So demonstrate to me, in as much detail as you can, precisely how the article you have cited supports that claim.

    I’ll dissect it afterwards, if you (or others here) would like.

  273. nybgruson 16 Jul 2011 at 7:39 pm

    keep stretching neverknow. you might finally reach that unicorn.

    brain imaging cannot tell you if a person was dreaming, or having some kind of conscious experience, when they seemed to be unconscious.

    Yep, it sure can tell you. Pretty darned accurately too.

    Everything else you wrote is completely wrong as well.

    You can’t have a rational discussion, especially a scientific one, if you completely deny the fundamental facts in quuestion. It’s like Dawkins talking to Wendy Wright.

    WW: There are no transitional hominid fossils.
    RD: Yes there are, in the Smithsonian museum.
    WW: No, not drawings actual fossils.
    RD: Yes, those are there, you should just go and look at them.
    WW: I’ve been there, they aren’t there
    RD: Yes they are, perhaps you just didn’t see them?
    WW: No, I looked everywhere, they just simply don’t exist.
    RD: …..?

    Sounds a lot like the conversation we are having with neverknow right now.

  274. BillyJoe7on 16 Jul 2011 at 8:03 pm

    sonic,

    “My conversations with you have always seemed very good natured and although there have been times when some level of insult was passed between us, I always took it more as good natured ribbing– the kind I’m used to from years of playing basketball.
    I sorry if it went beyond that- I didn’t mean it to.”

    If that is true then I apologise.
    My example would be Australian Rules Football, so I understand what you mean. Perhaps I’m being a little oversensitive as a result of the attacks of that other poster. The particular post of yours that I had in mind came in the midst of the personal attacks by that other poster.

    However, I do think that simply linking to arguments made by others that you think support your own view is rarely of any help – unless you actually summarise what the links say and explain how they actually support your view. Otherwise it is just comes across as a dismissive way of avoiding answering valid questions.

    Most of us get pretty tired of being sent off to read long articles that do not actually seem to support the view expressed. That other poster has been quilty of this from day one under his various incarnations. In the beginning, I spent hours reading his references and responding to them in almost as much detail as nybgrus has in recent threads, only to have them dismissed with one line insults.

    Before the insults started, all that I did was to call him out on his dishonest tactics. He reated to this with a barrage of personal insults, continual reposting of out-of-context quotes, threats of personal harm, and now deliberate and shameless lies.

    I have not let threats of personal harm stop me from responding to nonsense. The only reason I have not done so recently is because I no longer read his posts, not becasue of the insults but because I consider his posts not worth reading. The purpose must be COMMUNICATION and, in that, he fails miserably.
    And, of course, now there are other posters doing an excellent job of countering his nonsense.

    regards,
    BillyJoe

  275. Jeremiahon 16 Jul 2011 at 8:08 pm

    sonic, note that nybgrus wants you to do what he’s never done, “Take that one single article, read it carefully, and then write a comment (quoting relevent parts of it) and give an analysis on what the author is actually trying to say.”
    He has absolutely never done that here with any papers cited that he claims to have dissected and found idiotic, etc. Why, because he hasn’t the intellect to understand the concepts to begin with, and he knows it. Don’t fall for that trick.
    Dare him to explain the article first, which really isn’t very complicated, as it’s already a science writer’s version of the real thing. But he won’t do it.
    He claims he read and understood this one for example:
    http://ffst.academia.edu/TonciKokic/Papers/561549/Non-randomness_of_genetic_mutations_Some_philosophical_implications
    But he clearly didn’t, as there’s no way he can explain what something means that’s clearly beyond his intellectual level.

  276. neverknowon 16 Jul 2011 at 8:36 pm

    “brain imaging cannot tell you if a person was dreaming, or having some kind of conscious experience, when they seemed to be unconscious.”

    “Yep, it sure can tell you. Pretty darned accurately too.”

    Brain imaging tells you if there is activity in the brain. If you start with the assumption that mind is caused by the brain, then brain activity equals consciousness.

    So your reasoning makes a nice round circle.

  277. BillyJoe7on 16 Jul 2011 at 8:36 pm

    nybgrus,

    “Rather than dissecting it for you, how about you try an exercise and dissect it for me. Take that one single article, read it carefully, and then write a comment (quoting relevent parts of it) and give an analysis on what the author is actually trying to say. Your claim is that the central tenet of evolution, which relies on random mutation and natural selection pressures, is incorrect. So demonstrate to me, in as much detail as you can, precisely how the article you have cited supports that claim. ”

    Excellent strategy, nybgrus! :)

    How about it, sonic?
    Do you want to communicate or are you happy to slide off into obscurantism like that other poster.

  278. sonicon 16 Jul 2011 at 8:51 pm

    nybrus-
    The article I linked to is about 600 words long.
    From the article–

    ‘Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) exist in clusters of varying size and density across the genome. Despite this non-random distribution, scientists believed for many years that these so-called mutational hotspots were the product of natural selection and other post-mutational processes, and that the mutations occurred at random. However, “in last two decades, the large amount of both genomic and polymorphic data has changed the way of thinking in the field,” Dacheng Tian of Nanjing University in China, who did not participate in the work, wrote in an email to The Scientist. “[This] idea provides a self-increasing hypothesis, which may be useful to rethink the formation of such non-randomness.”‘

    Um, isn’t that what I was saying? The mutations aren’t well described as random. Recognizing this leads to new avenues of research.
    To say that a word in a scientific hypothesis that doesn’t fit with the evidence should be removed might seem radical to some, but I do believe it is standard practice.

    What am I missing?

  279. nybgruson 16 Jul 2011 at 9:03 pm

    jeremiah, I thought you were really just an ignoramus or a denialist or maybe just a garden variety troll. But I am starting to think you really do have some sort of psychological pathology going on. I’m sorry for that and hope you manage to find some help for it.

    As BillyJoe pointed out, what you cite doesn’t say what you think it says. I’m not going to bother dissecting anything further.

    Neverknow: It isn’t circular logic because there is other empirical and “outside the circle” corroboration. You image someone’s brain when they are awake and get results. Then you ask them to think about certain things or answer questions and get results. Then you get images when they are asleep and get results. You looks for rapid eye movement and get imaging and get results. You wake them up and ask them what was going on. You compare all these results and find the correlate perfectly. There is nothing circular about it. The only one making assumptions here is you. I find no point in continuing to try and disabuse you of that notion. You clearly have a pre-conceived notion of what is right and wrong, so evidence means nothing to you. Keep stretching to make the evidence fit, keep discounting that which disagrees with your conclusion, and keep adding on your own distorted sense of reality. If that’s what makes you happy, then who am I to stop that? But then I’d ask you stop making pointless and inane assertions and try and convince others you are right. Just go off and be content the we are all blind materialists who can’t see “the truth” like you can and be content.

    As has been pointed out to you, when one uses the type of “logic” you employ, there is no point in having a conversation.

    @billyjoe:

    Thanks, I figured it might prompt sonic to start thinking more deeply about the topic, beyond just finding a title that jives with what he is asserting (sorry if my gender assumption is incorrect, sonic). Also, I would actually be quite interested to see just how in depth he can get, knowing that he is not an expert in the field, and see where he may be making mistakes in reading that I could possibly help correct. Plus, the article is actually rather interesting I enjoyed reading it myself.

    @sonic:

    I’ll second what BillyJoe said – Jeremiah is a complete write off, neverknow is just about there (at least he isn’t a malicious prick), but you still at least seem to be interested in an actual dialogue, though whatever biases you have are hard for you to shake. So how about it? Regardless of whether I have actually properly dissected an article or not (I hope others here would agree I have), it doesn’t have any bearing on whether you can do so. I’m not taking this as an opportunity to ridicule or insult you. It is a sincere attempt to have a critical and thoughtful discussion on the topic, focused on that one particular article, since I think it would illuminate the discourse quite nicely.

  280. sonicon 16 Jul 2011 at 9:10 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    I take it you have had some trouble with a particular poster.
    It seems I was fortunate to miss most of the insults and so forth- I really don’t like it when things get overly personal or vicious and I don’t read the comments.

    I have no reason not to like you and I find your ‘in-your-face’ approach to the back and forth to be fun most of the time.
    That is to say I do have reason to like you. You have helped me get some of my thinking straight and I appreciate that.

    OK, no reason to get maudlin…

  281. neverknowon 16 Jul 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Sorry I threatened your world view nybgrus. It obviously is getting you upset.

  282. nybgruson 16 Jul 2011 at 9:16 pm

    sonic:

    You are missing a fair bit.

    First off, you are not saying “The mutations aren’t well described as random.” You are saying, “the central tenet of random mutation and natural selection as the fundamental basis for evolutionary theory is incorrect” I don’t disagree with your first statement, but I do disagree with the second.

    It is that second claim that I am asking you to defend. I agree with you that not all mutations are random. I agree with you that non-random mutations are very important and are a great avenue of further research. I do not agree with you that such knowledge changes the fundamental basis of evolutionary theory, as you are claiming.

    The quote of the article you put forth demonstrates quite nicely that SNP mutations may indeed have a significant non-random component. But besides the fact that you ignored the later quotes,

    “But, she cautioned, the support for this hypothesis so far falls solely on a somewhat incomplete theoretical model.”

    and

    “While the idea is interesting and “it may be true,” Tenaillon said, “I’m not convinced.”

    I am asking you to apply it specifically to the central tenet of evolution, as we have been discussing.

    To say that a word in a scientific hypothesis that doesn’t fit with the evidence should be removed might seem radical to some, but I do believe it is standard practice.

    It is standard practice. The disagreement we have is that the evidence you are presenting does not warrant such a change, nor does it refute or change the current consensus of evolutionary theory.

    So, starting from the understanding that evolutionary theory accounts for and includes non-random mutations, and that I agree they are a very important and large part of evolution, explain why you think the article you cited gives evidence that no mutations are random or how they are trivial to the point of removing the term “random” from the central tenet of evolutionary theory is warranted.

  283. nybgruson 16 Jul 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Sorry I threatened your world view nybgrus. It obviously is getting you upset.

    Really? You’ve threatened nothing neverknow. And I am not in the slightest bit upset. I do always find it an interesting common trait. No matter who the other party is, as long as what they are defending is based in nothing but ideology and conviction instead of evidence they always resort to projection. Doesn’t matter if it is a theist, a sCAMster, a creationist, an AGW denialist, germ theory denialist, ant-vaxxer, mind/brain dualist, or any other such evidence-free person the result is always the same. They will always project their own feelings onto the other person, they will always make blatant logical fallacies and then claim the other person is making them, and, as we have seen will claim that the other’s world view is threatened when in fact the sole reason you are posting, neverknow, is because your worldview is threatened.

    It is a very interesting trait I have observed countless times. But I guess when you don’t have evidence, knowledge, and logic on your side, projection is the only thing left to do.

  284. Jeremiahon 16 Jul 2011 at 10:43 pm

    @nybgrus,
    “As BillyJoe pointed out, what you cite doesn’t say what you think it says. I’m not going to bother dissecting anything further.”

    Because as I predicted, you can’t understand it. We all know that BillyJoe7 has limited mental capacity, but you claim to be a medical student, and yet here you are, following his lame brained example.

    Even though I don’t have much in common with neverknow, I do agree that it’s you whose world view is threatened, not his or mine or for that matter, sonic’s.
    But of course you didn’t come to any world views on your own – as like BillyJoe7, you lack the intellectual capacity for intelligent abstraction of a personal view from anything. You listen to your chosen betters and you memorize and regurgitate. That’s the sum of it.

  285. nybgruson 16 Jul 2011 at 11:02 pm

    The only thing that comes to mind whenever Jeremiah posts

  286. Jeremiahon 16 Jul 2011 at 11:34 pm

    @nybgrus,
    “It’s all done by an autonomic chemical reaction system with no intelligence involved.”

  287. BillyJoe7on 17 Jul 2011 at 12:34 am

    And just to prove the point

  288. Jeremiahon 17 Jul 2011 at 12:46 am

    @BillyJoe7
    “It’s all done with my left hand.”

  289. nybgruson 17 Jul 2011 at 4:04 am

    If you’re going to be stupid and try and make fun of me by throwing out quotes you should keep 2 things in mind.

    1) Use a quote I actually made.

    2) Actually quote it correctly.

  290. sonicon 17 Jul 2011 at 4:18 am

    nybrus-
    If Newton had claimed his theory of gravity applied to spherical objects, then when it was discovered that it applies to any object, the limiter spherical would have been removed from the theory.
    Nobody would have to show that there aren’t any spherical objects to make that point.

    So the fact that not all mutations are random is the reason to remove the word from the TOE. I don’t have to show that there aren’t any that are random- only that there are some that aren’t.
    Now one could say that the mutations are random in terms of selection.
    But I would point to the SOS response as a falsification of that statement.

    When one realizes that not all mutations are random, then we can see that a theory about random mutations is not a theory about how life on this Earth evolved.
    And I thought that was what we were talking about.

  291. BillyJoe7on 17 Jul 2011 at 5:05 am

    sonic,

    The basic building blocks of matter are atoms. Atoms combine to form molecules. But the existence of molecules does not mean that atoms are not the basic building blocks of matter.

    Similarly, random mutation + natural selection results in life evolving to better suit its environment. Part of that process was the gradual appearance of non-random mutation (which was favoured because it accelerates the evolutionary process). But the appearance of non-random mutation does not mean that random mutation + natural selection is not the basis of evolution.

  292. nybgruson 17 Jul 2011 at 6:48 am

    For exactly the reason BillyJoe stated, your analogy is incorrect sonic.

    I am also genuinely confused as to why you would continue to make the same erroneous statements. How many times do I have to say that TOE includes both random and non-random mutation? You seem to completely fail to understand that while the central tenet and basis of TOE is random mutation with natural selection that non-random is also included and recognized as a major factor – they simply apply in different ways.

    That is why I asked you to actually analyze the paper because it in no way refutes the notion of random mutation. It is another paper on another facet of non-random mutation – something I have repeatedly said is a very important factor in evolution, but not the basis of it. Thus your claim that “random” should be removed from the TOE makes no sense – no matter how many more articles you find on non-random mutation.

    When one realizes that not all mutations are random, then we can see that a theory about random mutations is not a theory about how life on this Earth evolved.
    And I thought that was what we were talking about.

    Only if one thinks that TOE can only involve one or the other and not both. I’ll spell this out as simply as I can: The theory of evolution is NOT a “theory about random mutations.” It is a theory that INCLUDES random mutations as a fundamental facet, but NOT the only one.

    I am continually befuddled by your binary thinking. This is not a syllogism that can be disproven by an exception. If I say “All dogs are black” and you find a white dog you have indeed disproven my hypothesis. But if I said, “All dogs were originally black and now there are all colors” and you find a white dog, you have disproven nothing about my statement. TOE is the latter statement – “All life began with random mutation and selection pressure, and now there are non-random mutations that greatly impact evolution as well.” Finding examples of non-random mutations does nothing to refute that statement, same as finding a white dog doesn’t disprove the second syllogism.

    Either you simply can’t grasp the concept, you are tied to some ideology, or you truly don’t know what evolutionary theory is stating. Once again, that is why I asked you to dissect the article yourself and demonstrate with specifics from the article why you interpret it as being evidence disproving all random mutations, specifically in regard to their role as the central tenet of evolutionary theory. You still haven’t done so, and of course you won’t be able to since the article says nothing of the kind. However, if you at least tried to use the article that way it could demonstrate where you are making mistakes in understanding that I could help you to correct. That is assuming, of course, that you even wish to learn and be corrected. So far it seems that you only read the headline and quote mine a couple sentences to reinforce what you already think.

    I’m open to you proving me wrong.

  293. Jeremiahon 17 Jul 2011 at 12:13 pm

    nybgrus on 28 Jun 2011 at 4:43 am

    >Heinleimer, according to google, you’ve stated that bacteria don’t learn from experience and don’t make choices. It’s all done by an autonomic chemical reaction system with no intelligence involved<

    "Then heinleimer is pretty spot on. But maybe the next time I have a beer with an E. coli I’ll ask it if it wouldn’t really rather take control of its life and exhibit some intelligence."

    Open to being no longer pretty spot on?

  294. Jeremiahon 17 Jul 2011 at 12:38 pm

    sonic, it’s clear that nygbrus and billyjoe7 can’t define random as it applies to mutation, yet at the same time they can’t define mutation without using that qualifier one way or the other. Note that they both say “Part of that process was the gradual appearance of non-random mutation (which was favoured because it accelerates the evolutionary process).”
    But they can’t say what that gradual appearance involved, because if non-random means it was adaptive mutation, then horrors, there was a mechanism for selection within the organism, and worse, it must have been there in some fashion all the time.

  295. Jeremiahon 17 Jul 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Now billyJoe7 and nybgrus, since they think alike, are asking, if non-random doesn’t mean adaptive, does it mean something in between, like accidentally directed? (I know, they aren’t that smart, but these are their hypothetical selves.)
    But no, they say, that would leave us with mutations originally as random accidents which could be either directed or non-directed. Something like mistakes which could be corrected? But by what, something that knew a mistake when it perceived it?
    No, of course not, that would require an evolving organism to “take control of its life and exhibit some intelligence.”
    Which they’re both on record as knowing is not possible. Not even hypothetically.

  296. BillyJoe7on 17 Jul 2011 at 5:47 pm

    …and, of course, “purpose does not equal god”
    (hint: quantum consciousness.)

  297. Jeremiahon 17 Jul 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Jeremiah on 11 Jul 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Panpsychism, conscious realism, process philosophy, anticipatory systems, are all connected by the shared proposition that all systems in the universe are self regulatory. All these particular “isms” are thus unrecognizable by the majority of the denizens of this blog, and some, unfortunately, to eveshi as well – who otherwise has made some very good points.
    Physicalism is not somehow invalidated by a consideration that the physical world is self regulatory. In fact it’s augmented by the understanding that natural laws are self determined rather than theistically determinative.

  298. nybgruson 17 Jul 2011 at 6:46 pm

    No, it was “pretty” spot on. But still not my quote.

    Every time you post Jeremiah, this is what it is like for me because it is truly mind boggling just how incredibly wrong you can be. It’s like when I worked in the ER. You see something crazy and think, “Man, that one takes the cake. Can’t get cazier than that.” Now, with you posting, it is more like “Wow. He can’t possibly say anything dumber than that, can he?” At least you never fail to dissapoint :-)

    It’s actually rather entertaining. I’ve started showing a few of your posts and my responses to some classmates of mine over a beer and the next thing you know….

    So thanks for the entertainment Jeremiah.

  299. Jeremiahon 17 Jul 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Well, I suppose if they’re your classmates, they’re likely just as dumb as you are, all having met the same low standards for admission to whatever outlier med school let you in.

    Nybgrus reconstructed: “Bacteria don’t learn from experience and don’t make choices. That it’s all done by an autonomic chemical reaction system with no intelligence involved is pretty spot on since otherwise that would require an evolving organism to take control of its life and exhibit some intelligence.”

  300. Jeremiahon 17 Jul 2011 at 7:42 pm

    They’re not all dumb in Australia, however. Check out this site:

    http://www.adelaide.edu.au/environment/acebb/

    And this:

    http://adeluni.academia.edu/PamelaLyon

  301. nybgruson 17 Jul 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Oh dear little Jeremiah. How drole you are.

    Scratch the “autonomic” part since it doesn’t quite make sense and you are pretty much there.

    Hey, I know. Why don’t you take control of YOUR evolution, decide what trait you think would be most beneficial, and then will your children to have it? Since you are lacking a fully functional brain, I’d suggest that as a top pick for your evolution. Or can you pick more than one thing? Maybe you can also will your progeny to grow feathers on their arms to help avoid traffic? Oooh, nightvision. That would be cool. Maybe one of your offspring can grow armor plated skin and he can be a world renowned soldier of fortune?

    Or do I actually have to cause the stress to induce the decision to direct your evolution? Well, it obviously isn’t working for the brain part. But maybe I can chuck you off a cliff to induce some stress about flying? Or lock you in a cave for a while to spur a decision to get more rods in your retina? Or just drop you off in Fallujah to be shot at for a while so you can decide to grow some armor plating?

    I’m going to suggest this as an idea for a video game to some CS buddies of mine. We could call it “Jeremiah: Evolved”

  302. Jeremiahon 17 Jul 2011 at 7:45 pm

    And this interview with Lyons and James Shapiro, on The secret life of bacteria – small, smart and thoughtful!:

    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/allinthemind/stories/2009/2734062.htm

  303. nybgruson 17 Jul 2011 at 8:09 pm

    See what I mean? You never fail to show your stupidity Jeremiah.

    Yet again you cite sources that don’t say what you think they say. I agree – your links are indeed interesting and the topics fascinating. They show some really great research promise. But yeah, they don’t say what you think they say.

    Natasha Mitchell: Couldn’t it be argued that this sort of behaviour that you’ve spent a career measuring in bacteria is simply a case of chemistry in action, they detect their chemical environment and act accordingly?

    Jeffry Stock: Absolutely, that’s what they do. I think it’s been established, at least for biochemists, that that’s what neurobiology at some level is all about. The same thing happens with bacteria, the real question is why they wouldn’t be the most sophisticated intelligent organism on earth because they’ve been around a lot longer than animals, and they have evolved extremely rapidly, and they are very, very competitive with one another. So why wouldn’t they be as intelligent as an organism could possibly be? There’s an incredible selection pressure for intelligence.

    Pamela Lyon: Absolutely, because of this notion that became extraordinarily powerful in the 20th century that living creatures are essentially machines. We can say it’s all chemistry, we are all chemistry too, that hormones can have profound cognitive effects on us.

    Pamela Lyon: How the nervous system developed basically was not to facilitate cognition but to organise the movement of sheets of tissue, large numbers of cells, and in fact there may be more complexity in some organisms on the non neural side. For example myxococcus xanthus, which is a soil bacterium, if the honey bee is the primate of the insect world then myxococcus xanthus has got to be the primate of the bacterial world. They hunt in packs, secrete a substance that will bring E coli in closer, basically they lure them in so they can eat them.

    (emphasis mine)

    She stretches the notions a bit far, and makes more of an all encompassing definition of cognition and intelligence than I would, but overall she seems to be pretty reasonable. But she doesn’t even come close to asserting what you ramble on about and doesn’t even speak about evolution, except to say that it is correct and applies exactly as I have been saying.

    Keep going Jeremiah. Maybe one of these days you’ll learn how to actually understand what it is you are posting up.

  304. Jeremiahon 17 Jul 2011 at 8:24 pm

    nybgrus,
    Humans did evolve from having taken control of their life experiences. Obviously they don’t teach that where you’ve been, and you wouldn’t have understood the literature, so I shouldn’t have expected you to know that. My bad. Your opinions, as sonic likes to tease you with, are important to me.

    And I do appreciate the efforts you’ve made on my behalf to confess the full extent of your ignorance of the subject, or of apparently almost any subject. It’s said to be therapeutic, although it hasn’t done that much for WillyJoe7. However, I’m sure there’s more to come from you, and I can’t wait for your erstwhile friends to crown you as the new BillyJoe7 of the blogosphere.

  305. nybgruson 17 Jul 2011 at 8:32 pm

    I’m left with only one thing left to say to you Jeremiah

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yoe3KEkSG60

  306. Jeremiahon 17 Jul 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Ah, I see you’ve made another cherry picking effort to make up some meaning out of context. You intentionally and dishonestly skipped all the commentary from Shapiro, and everything that related to the subject at hand: The secret life of bacteria – small, smart and thoughtful!.

    And neither Lyons or Shapiro support your outdated random mutation theories. Shapiro is one of the foremost proponents of adaptive mutation and Lyons is well over on his side.

  307. Jeremiahon 17 Jul 2011 at 8:55 pm

    nybgrus’ first thought experiment:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ip6sz3xorFo&feature=related

  308. Jeremiahon 17 Jul 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Shapiro, J.A. 1994d. Adaptive mutation. Science 265, 94 (letter).

    Shapiro, J.A. 1995a. The discovery and significance of mobile genetic elements. In Mobile Genetic Elements – Frontiers in Molecular Biology, D.J. Sherratt (ed.), IRL Press, Oxford, pp. 1-17.

    Shapiro, J.A. 1995b. Adaptive mutation: Who’s really in the garden? Science 268, 373-4.

    Shapiro, J.A. 1995d. Adaptive mutation: The debate goes on. Science 269, 286-288 (letter).

    James A. Shapiro. 1996. “Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution.” (book review) National Review, Sep 16, 1996 v48 n17 p62(4)

    Shapiro, J.A. 1997. A third way [alternative to Darwinism & Creationism]. Boston Review 22 (1), 32-33.(http://www-polisci.mit.edu/BostonReview/BR22.1/shapiro.html )

    Shapiro, J.A. 1997b. Genome organization, natural genetic engineering, and adaptive mutation. Trends in Genetics 13, 98-104.

    Shapiro, J.A. 1999. Natural genetic engineering, adaptive mutation & bacterial evolution, in Microbial Ecology and Infectious Disease, E. Rosenberg (ed.), ASM Press, Washington, pp. 259-275.

    Shapiro, J.A. 1999. Genome system architecture and natural genetic engineering in evolution. In Molecular Strategies for Biological Evolution, L. Caporale, ed., Annal. NY Acad. Sci. 870, 23-35.

    Shapiro, J.A. 1999. Views about evolution are evolving. ASM News 65 (4) (meeting report).

  309. Jeremiahon 17 Jul 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Here’s a real challenge for you nybgrus, http://www.bostonreview.net/BR22.1/shapiro.html

    “A Third Way
    James A. Shapiro
    The recent reviews in your columns of books by Dennett, Dawkins, and Behe are testimony to the unflagging interest in controversies about evolution. Although such purists as Dennett and Dawkins repeatedly assert that the scientific issues surrounding evolution are basically solved by conventional neo-Darwinism, the ongoing public fascination reveals a deeper wisdom. There are far more unresolved questions than answers about evolutionary processes, and contemporary science continues to provide us with new conceptual possibilities.”

    And now see if you can intelligently dissect the rest of the article, and don’t just tell us, but actually show us where you know more than he does, and actually explain where, how and why he’s wrong.

    You can’t. You’ll have to make up some excuse to pass.

  310. sonicon 17 Jul 2011 at 11:11 pm

    nybrus-
    I must be defective. I forgot to give you this (about the article)–

    Earlier I gave three reasons for thinking that the word ‘random’ should be removed– two of which are relevant to the article I linked to:

    1) Not all mutations are random so removing the word brings the theory into alignment with actual observation.
    2) Realizing that they aren’t all random will open new avenues of research.

    I think the article is a plus for the first point- it says that scientists believed that mutation were random, but “in the last two decades, the large amount of both genomic and polymorphic data has changed the way of thinking in the field.” Tian of Nanjing.

    The article is strong evidence for the second reason– new avenues of research.
    “Random” implies without mechanism. This does not lead to many viable research paths– But the idea that there is a mechanism and that there are reasons gives numerous possible paths to discovery.
    But I don’t have to explain that to you.

    Now you will note that point 1 is “Not all mutations are well described as random.” This is a very different statement than ‘there are no random mutations.’
    I’m sorry if my wording confused you, but I have never stated that no mutations are random, only that we know that not all mutations are random.
    See the difference?

    So if we could discuss what I’m actually talking about it would be helpful.

  311. sonicon 17 Jul 2011 at 11:12 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    So the theory is about the non-observable past and is a misstatement about what we actually see and know to be true by observation?

    Doesn’t sound like science to me– try again.

  312. Jeremiahon 17 Jul 2011 at 11:28 pm

    sonic, maybe you should read the Shapiro paper too:

    Excerpt:
    “It has been a surprise to learn how thoroughly cells protect themselves against precisely the kinds of accidental genetic change that, according to conventional theory, are the sources of evolutionary variability. By virtue of their proofreading and repair systems, living cells are not passive victims of the random forces of chemistry and physics. They devote large resources to suppressing random genetic variation and have the capacity to set the level of background localized mutability by adjusting the activity of their repair systems. “

  313. Jeremiahon 18 Jul 2011 at 5:21 am

    Nybgrus seems to have passed up his chance to analyze Shapiro’s doctrine, just as he passed up Shapiro earlier.

    But perhaps we can compare Shapiro’s to the latest Nybgrus’ cellular life doctrine:
    “Bacteria don’t learn from experience and don’t make choices. That it’s all done by a chemical reaction system with no intelligence involved is pretty spot on since otherwise that would require an evolving organism to take control of its life and exhibit some intelligence.”

    Now if I’m not mistaken, this Nybgrus precept says in short that bacterial life is a non-choice making chemical reaction system with no intelligence involved.

    And again, the Pamela Lyons version that he cherry picked out earlier is that bacterial life is a chemical reaction system that uses cognitive choice process to detect and react to its surroundings.

    Nybgrus then claims his selected passages showed Lyons’ version as consistent with his – because of course a “bacterial” cognitive process in his view would and could not require some exhibition of intelligence.

    But Shapiro (that Nybgrus so studiously edited out) says that, to the contrary, bacteria are very very smart. To edit him back in:

    “James Shapiro: And we’ve also learned a great deal about how bacteria communicate with each other. Groups of cells can do lots of things that individual cells can’t do, they communicate with each other by sending out chemical signals just like people do, we emit pheromones, other organisms do that, flowers do it, bees do it, educated fleas do it. There’s also a lot of touchy/feely that goes on among bacteria, they have specialised structures which attach to other cells, they can organise themselves spatially.
    And then added Microbiologist Professor Jeffry Stock: They can learn, they have memory, they adapt. They behave intelligently with respect to their environment and change themselves in response to environmental stimuli. What else is intelligence?”

    Ask ngybrus, because in his view, as regards life at the microbial level, it’s not any of the above.

  314. nybgruson 18 Jul 2011 at 6:53 am

    I haven’t passed up anything Jeremiah. I have this thing called a “life” and “obligations.” I do take a fair bit of time on these forums since I learn a lot from it, but I also do have actual responsibilities. Besides my own studying, where I you know, learn shit and how to apply it (unlike you), I teach as well and today was a teaching day for me. So excuse me for not dropping everything to respond to yet another asinine claim of yours immediately rather than prepare my presentation and go teach people who can actually learn (once again, unlike you) for 2 hours.

    I did read the “article” and a number of others by him as well. I actually gave it a bit of a think, rather than just jot down whatever came to mind as you often do.

    Since you are impatient, I’ll give you the off the cuff summary:

    Shapiro is a fringe guy promoting fringe views which you blow vastly out of proportion – same thing we have been saying from the beginning.

    He takes some very real and very good data, some of which is very cutting edge and interesting, and anthropomorphises it and blows it out of proportion.

    Now I know where you get your stupid ideas from and why you are trying to redefine “intelligence” to be so broad as to be a useless term. Shapiro is essentially doing the same thing.

    He argues against Dawkins, claiming that he specifically and the “neo-Darwinist synthesis types” are all holding steadfast to some dogma about evolution while he, lone maverick that he is with 42 years of experience has figured out that bacteria really are brilliantly intelligent.

    You, of course, take that even one step further making your analysis completely worthless.

    Yes, the basic fundamental function of an individual bacteria is a complex cascade of biochemical reactions which act as signal transduction. Some of these can effect lasting changes on the bacteria. These are automatic and chemically based, honed by the unintelligent pressures of natural selection to exist by giving the bacteria a survival advantage. There is nothing new here.

    The bacteria can then transmit these changes to other bacteria via sex pilus, generalized transduction, etc. They can also secrete other chemical compounds which signal other bacteria, either friendly for colonly forming or hostile for predation. Once again, this is an adaptive response developed over billions of years. No one is debating that the simplest prokaryote, or even archea, are immensely complex with myriad of signal transduction cascades and the ability to alter self and other, even “communicate” with each other, in a way.

    The issue comes to describing that as “intelligence” (as Shapiro incorrectly does) and what is done with said “intelligence” (as you incorrectly do). To call the bacteria “intelligent” Shapiro has to define the term in his own, very broad, way. And this is indeed the very fringe of the debate. The problem with Shapiro’s analysis, as has been pointed out by many other scientists, is that defining “intelligence” so broadly, makes it essentially a useless metric. When referring to bacteria having a complex input/output schema does not make them “intelligent” – unless you want to call an iPhone intelligent as well. iPhones can process information, have complex cascades and signal transduction, can communicate with other iPhones, and with the right app, can even act cooperatively with other iPhones. This, just like the bacterial interaction in colonies, is remarkable – but not intelligent.

    Now, the real crux is not that Shapiro takes intelligence too far and renders the word useless – it is that he still uses the word in the anthropomorphic sense, where the bacteria are actively making decisions on the the matter at hand and synthesizing information to come up with novel outputs. The reality is, that at a base level, the human brain operates in exactly the same way – that is what Lyons is talking about in her research. Cognition and consciousness is an epi-phenomenon of the aggregate of trillions of neurons allowing for the de novo synthesis of new information and ideas. That is something an individual bacteria cannot do in the slightest, and that colonies of bacteria can exhibit in only extremely rudimentary forms. To call that intelligence with the anthropormorphic connotion intact is to go far beyond reality and is exactly why the IDiots love Shapiro’s work and Dawkin’s does not.

    On the flipside, Lyons take a more moderate and reasonable look at things and realizes that since human self-awareness and intelligence is an epi-phenomenon of the trillions of parralel neuronal circuits and analog integration of basic chemical signaling in the brain, that it must have come from somewhere (evolutionarily speaking) and is thus advocating a bottum-up understanding and synthesis of actual intelligence by looking at the very rudimentary building blocks of it in bacterial cells. This is indeed a pretty radical departure, but one I think makes sense.

    However, just as a pile of bricks is not a house until they are assembled properly, similarly the rudimentary “intelligence” of bacteria is not actually intelligence. But also similarly to how you can examine and understand the details of a brick more easily than a house and then expound upon that knowledge, so does Lyons call upon the same bottom-up synthesis.

    The next mistake Shapiro makes (and you expound upon intensely) is the notion that the bacteria can choose what evolutionary path to take. The implications of what Shapiro says, and you seemingly have taken to heart and then some, is that the bacteria, when presented with a selection pressure can create a de novo pathway to ameliorate the pressure. That is simply incorrect. They can only work with the basic set of information they have as a starting point. Where Shapiro (and you) get completely lost, is that there are ways evolved the enhance the chances of a succesful solution to the selective pressure – but all of them are trial and error and random in nature. Mutational “hot spots,” down regulation of proofreading mechanisms and cell cycle checkpoint proteins, use of somatic hypermutational machinery, transposable elements, etc can (and are) all employed as inducible stress factors to increase the rate at which random mutations can occur (sometimes in a directed fashion to further improve the odds of a succesful adaptation). But that is fundamentally different from the bacteria (or any other organism) actively choosing the pathway it wishes to take.

    So that is why Shapiro is still considered fringe in his ideas, why you and he are incorrect in your synthesis, and why the basis for evolution is still random mutation and natural selection. To address a point sonic raised earlier as well:

    So the theory is about the non-observable past and is a misstatement about what we actually see and know to be true by observation?

    The first part makes no sense – most of what we “know” through science is non-observable and only inferred through converging lines of evidence (unless you can tell me how else we know the sun is a nuclear fusion reactor of hydrogen into helium?). The second part is just false, because we still see random mutation, meaning it exists as a concept, and we still see it affecting animals (people) in macroscopically relevant ways, so we know it still has at least some direct influence in the overall evolution of life. However, we also see non-random mutations, but even those are based upon the basic building blocks of random mutations as an epi-phenomenon of the mutational process itself. So yes, sonic, it is indeed science to claim that random mutation and natural selection are still the basis of evolutionary theory.

    So to close on the whole Shapiro thing – he is utilizing the great discoveries in molecular biology and biochemistry (specifically of bacteria) to claim that the integrative signal cascades and and transduction and extremely basic bacterial communication indicate “intelligence.” Well, your red blood cells can change shape and change their chemical properties to help load and unload oxygen and carry CO2. They can (in your terms) “decide” to unload the oxygen in tissues that need it more. They can “hold on” to more CO2 when the body is under alkalotic stress. They fend off complement proteins in the blood via decay accelerating factor. BUt they do so secondary to changes in temperature and pH and differential metabolism. By the defintions you and Shapiro seem to like, they should also be “intelligent” – they take in large amounts of “data” from their surroundings, they “communicate” with other cells in tissues, and they defend themselves from hostile environments. But they aren’t intelligent.

    So that is my dissection of the work you claim so highly. You (and Shapiro) take things out of proportion and assign value judgements to the terminology that are uncalled for, all whilst redefining the terms to suit your needs. There is a reason why most scientists disagree with Shapiro and the consensus rests the way it does.

    Now, go ahead and spout off some more nonsense about how “intelligence” can be redefined and applied. I’m going to have a beer and some salmon and relax :-)

  315. SteveAon 18 Jul 2011 at 8:11 am

    Jeremiah: “BillyJoe7 is an uneducated vendor who lives in Mooroolbark”

    That reminds me. Did we hear any hint of Jeremiah’s level of education or type of employment? He was asked, repeatedly, but I don’t recall seeing an answer.

  316. nybgruson 18 Jul 2011 at 8:44 am

    SteveA: I believe you are correct. Not that it matters. He could be president of Harvard but his arguments are stupid

  317. mufion 18 Jul 2011 at 11:30 am

    First, neverknow said: We don’t know what consciousness is or what causes it.I think it’s a natural property of the universe, existing at the foundation of all forces, fields and substances.

    Then, in a later comment, s/he said: A person could be in a coma or under anesthesia, with no signs or consciousness, and they might have no memories for that time when they wake up. Yet they could have been dreaming and experience consciousness.

    In response, nybgrus said: You image someone’s brain when they are awake and get results. Then you ask them to think about certain things or answer questions and get results. Then you get images when they are asleep and get results. You looks for rapid eye movement and get imaging and get results. You wake them up and ask them what was going on. You compare all these results and find the correlate perfectly.

    Aside from the usual semantic issues that surround the word “consciousness”, it seems clear to me now that neverknow is committed to a denial of unconsciousness. In other words, s/he cannot accept any amount of evidence that unconsciousness actually occurs – whether it be from first-person or third-person account, or an intersection of both accounts – lest his/her worldview crumble. That is a very fragile and weak position to be in, empirically speaking, and I do not envy him/her for it.

  318. mufion 18 Jul 2011 at 11:44 am

    On a different note, I had said earlier (in a reply to steve12) that “more than one metaphysical theory is compatible with the methodological assumption that natural laws can be learned.”

    If so, and if we think of the embodied mind thesis as having already achieved a law-like status in cognitive science, then all of neverknow’s accusations or conspiracy theorizing about a “materialist” bias in science are misplaced. Instead, what s/he ought to do (i.e. given the obvious importance of metaphysics in his/her thinking, combined with his/her desire to reconcile that interest with science), is to think about which metaphysical theories are compatible with this natural law. After all, the alternative seems to be to place oneself at odds with science (or at least on its fringe), which is not the most comfortable place to be.

    As much as I think that some variant of physicalism is sufficient (or “the one to beat”, from a parsimonious standpoint), far be it from me to assert that it is the only metaphysical theory that is (logically) compatible with this law.

    Anyway, that’s my (layman’s) advice to neverknow, having been in a similar position (albeit, from a more traditional theistic perspective) during an earlier phase of my life.

  319. ccbowerson 18 Jul 2011 at 11:45 am

    “Now, the real crux is not that Shapiro takes intelligence too far and renders the word useless – it is that he still uses the word in the anthropomorphic sense”

    They are both big fans of equivocation

  320. ccbowerson 18 Jul 2011 at 11:50 am

    “That reminds me. Did we hear any hint of Jeremiah’s level of education or type of employment? He was asked, repeatedly, but I don’t recall seeing an answer.”

    This question has been dodged a number of times. Depending if we are lumping in artfulD and bindle, he has described himself as an “evolutionist,” which says very little to me. Nybgrus is correct, it matters little for the arguments, but the fact that the topic has been actively avoided does say something

  321. Jeremiahon 18 Jul 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Thanks nygbrus for that great surge of rationalizational dogma straight out of Dawkins. But you did try.

    I like this especially: “there are ways evolved the enhance the chances of a succesful solution to the selective pressure – but all of them are trial and error and random in nature.” Even Dawkins knows better than than that.

    Trial and error processes are the opposite of random. They require the ability to calculate, to observe, to probe, to examine responses, to remember feedback from prior probes and the differences, to assess what the differences give meaning to, to develop elementary plans as options, and predict consequences of each optional choice, form expectations of success accordingly and take actions, make mistakes, and if not fatal, learn from the results, and repeat the process on a non-stop basis.
    That’s the basis of intelligence in every living cell, including all of ours. This is far from a fringe notion, and its surprising that you haven’t learned that, or even more surprising that it’s not been taught you.

    Instead they’ve taught you that somehow these chemically reactive efforts of bacteria are:
    “all employed as inducible stress factors to increase the rate at which random mutations can occur (sometimes in a directed fashion to further improve the odds of a succesful adaptation). But that is fundamentally different from the bacteria (or any other organism) actively choosing the pathway it wishes to take.”

    Sometimes in a directed fashion by what? A non-choice making random process that is somewhere outside the organism and assesses odds of success regardless of experiencing any prior failures?

    That last was a rhetorical question, asked to and never answered by any of the Dawkins crowd.

    Because as Shapiro points out to those that wish to see it, bacteria do actively choose by an endless series of incremental short term steps, which fork in the hypothetical path to take in the anticipated direction to their eventual longer and longer term success. So far surviving 3.5 billion or more years of it.

  322. Jeremiahon 18 Jul 2011 at 1:17 pm

    And nice to see that nurse bowers has confirmed her state of ignorance equals that of BillyJoe and Nygbrus and the rest here who agree with their simplistic views on evolution. We don’t know the nature of her education either, but we don’t have to. We know the deliberate nature of her resultant ignorance.

    Shapiro is a big fan of equivocation? Straight out of the mouth of miss banality incarnate?

  323. BillyJoe7on 18 Jul 2011 at 5:32 pm

    When you open your sentence with a lie…

  324. tmac57on 18 Jul 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Pay No Attention…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZR64EF3OpA

  325. Jeremiahon 18 Jul 2011 at 8:14 pm

    tmac57, thanks. Here’s another paper you’ll have trouble reading.

    ADAPTIVE MUTATION: The Uses of Adversity
    Patricia L. Foster, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02118;

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989722/?tool=pmcentrez

  326. nybgruson 18 Jul 2011 at 9:17 pm

    not terribly much to explain. Yet another example of your poor understanding of the paper and overblowing the conclusions, which the author states quite clearly are “tentative” and expounds that at base does not conflict with random mutation and natural selective pressures.

    The paper itself is a preliminary look at a potential mechanism by which selective mutation rate increases can be directed by cellular processes in bacteria. It even says so right in the abstract!

    The model that most readily explains the evidence is that cells under stress produce genetic variants continuously and at random, but these variants are immortalized as mutations only if they allow the cell to grow.

    (Emphasis mine)

    He goes on to propose a number of potential mechanisms to explain the data – which are indeed fascinating. But the notion that a bacteria can induce hypermutability in specific regions of DNA (which is the primary postulate of this piece) is not at odds with the basic premise of random mutation and selection, it merely adds another interesting layer of epi-phenomenon to it (you know, kinda like I’ve been saying all along). It most certainly does not indicate that the bacteria are “intelligent” or cognitively “selecting” for the beneficial mutations, unless you change the definitions to be wide enough to encompass automatic signal transduction cascades to environmental stimuli, as Shapiro and you do. In fact, once again, the paper even states that random mutation is not in question!

    Cairns et al (16) drew upon these discordant results and their own experiments to argue for “a non-random, possibly product-oriented form of mutation” (p. 142). First, however, they presented a critical discussion of the classical studies, emphasizing that, although these experiments proved that random mutations do occur, the use of lethal selections excluded the possibility of detecting any other sort. Thus, the occurrence of nonrandom mutations was not disproved.5

    In other words, yeah, we get that random mutations do occur and do drive evolutionary process… but that isn’t the end of the story! There is more to it than just that…. which, once again, is exactly what I have been saying this whole time.

    Even in the conclusion, the author states it quite clearly:

    Regardless of how mutations arise, the real mystery is why they appear to do so only when they are useful. The simplest explanation is that the role of selection is not to direct a process, but to stop a process that is creating transient variants at random. However, we still do not know the nature of the transient variants or the identity of the editing mechanism.

    Yes, there is a mystery. A complex and interesting non-random epi-phenomenon that evolved to increase and constrain mutability for the benefit of the organism. Oh, did he say random again? Meaning that the basis of the mutation is random in nature, but that the evolved epi-phenomenon and molecular regulatory systems of the bacteria act to constrain said random mutations to increase the efficiency at which they can act.

    Hmmm, once again, seems pretty darned well in line with what I have been saying. No need to chuck out random mutation as the most basic building block of evolution, no need to invoke “intelligently directed pathways,” just complex molecular cascades, evolved over billions of years to constrain and heighten the beneficial effect of random mutation.

    Nope, no real challenges to the basic premise of evolution. No evidence of “intelligence” behind the process. And the language of the article seems very much in line with when it was written – 1993 (since Jeremiah can’t seem to find more recent articles, something written 18 years ago [which is a lifetime in molbio] that tangentially supports his hyperbolic ideas will suffice). Back then the importance of non-random mutations and epi-phenomenon such as described was indeed not recognized properly. It is much more so now, and something I have been saying from the get go.

    Nice try Jeremiah.

  327. Jeremiahon 18 Jul 2011 at 10:24 pm

    nybgrus,
    There are any number of more recent articles and papers on adaptive mutation that anyone who’s interested could find for themselves. Those I’ve sent are from my research library, that I’ve saved since they were new, and that are relatively easy for those new to the science to understand.
    I also have the newest books on the subject, and I’ve given you a list of authors, etc. So it’s rather a lame excuse for a lack of understanding what you’ve read to blame it on the publication dates.

    What those dates really show is that these studies have been around for quite a while, and the wonder is that you’ve not seen them until now.

    “Back then the importance of non-random mutations and epi-phenomenon such as described was indeed not recognized properly. It is much more so now, and something I have been saying from the get go.”

    What a crock. You’ve not said anything of the kind. You’ve just finished arguing that Shapiro is seriously wrong in many of his findings, and I suppose that means he’s more seriously wrong now? Because basically what he said quite clearly was that your random mutation theory was wrong from the get go. And has not gotten less wrong over time if you’ve been keeping up.

    You’re an apologist for neo-Darwinisms, so what else can you say except that this stuff is just a little bump in your blind maker’s magically constructed highway.

    By the way, I did cite this newer study that show your random mutation nonsense has lost almost all its ground since those papers were written, so perhaps it’s time you got around to giving that an analytical go.

    http://ffst.academia.edu/TonciKokic/Papers/561549/Non-randomness_of_genetic_mutations_Some_philosophical_implications

    Non-randomness of Genetic Mutations:
    Some Philosophical Implications
    Tonći Kokić, Split
    tkokic@ffst.hr
    UDC: 575.1:122
    Preliminary communication
    Received: February 10, 2010.
    Accepted: March 23, 2010.
    Excerpt: “The task of both scientists and philosophers is to doubt, question the supposed truth and challenge scientific claims. This article meets the task of challenging evolutionary theory’s (neo-Darwinian) claims of the random nature of genetic
    mutations. The neo-Darwinists’ theory of biological evolution views the transformation of living forms through stages of random mutations and non-random natural selection. Mutations are, by the definition of randomness, not caused by or aimed at the benefit of the organisms in which they occur. However, some
    experiments question the randomness of mutations claiming their non-random nature, and conceptual analysis points to the ambiguity of the concept of randomness and the notion of usefulness. In addition, it is not justified to apply the conceptual and methodological toolkit from physics in biology (except in
    molecular biology), because biology has its own domain with corresponding special concepts, principles and methodology. Harmonisation of the conceptual meanings indicates that the nature of non-random mutation process confirmed the specific economy of biological evolution. The evolutionary implication of
    the non-random nature of mutation process presumes a world in which the occurrence of biological diversity is highly probable.”

  328. Jeremiahon 18 Jul 2011 at 10:36 pm

    You’ve also read this book, right?
    Wetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell [Hardcover]
    Dennis Bray (Author)

    From product description:
    How does a single-cell creature, such as an amoeba, lead such a sophisticated life? How does it hunt living prey, respond to lights, sounds, and smells, and display complex sequences of movements without the benefit of a nervous system? This book offers a startling and original answer.

    In clear, jargon-free language, Dennis Bray taps the findings of the new discipline of systems biology to show that the internal chemistry of living cells is a form of computation. Cells are built out of molecular circuits that perform logical operations, as electronic devices do, but with unique properties. Bray argues that the computational juice of cells provides the basis of all the distinctive properties of living systems: it allows organisms to embody in their internal structure an image of the world, and this accounts for their adaptability, responsiveness, and intelligence.

    (Oops, did someone say logical and intelligence?)

  329. Jeremiahon 18 Jul 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Shapiro, 2006

    Bacteria are small but not stupid: Cognition, natural genetic engineering, and sociobacteriology

    http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/2006.ExeterMeeting.pdf

  330. nybgruson 18 Jul 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Oh please. I’m not about to dissect every fracking article you can throw at me.

    The point is that your basic premise is valid, but you make very false assertions about what that means. This is something not only I have been saying from the beginning.

    Yes, I argued Shapiro was wrong. No, that does not contradict my most recent post. I argued Shapiro was wrong because he was overblowing his findings, making a new definition of “intelligence” that borders on worthless, and then compounding the error by continuing to use the term in the anthropomorphic sense when it is clearly not warranted.

    You latest attempt at throwing studies and books at me further hammers in that point. Yeah, someone said intelligence. And yeah, it was his “whoops.” Once again, the author uses the term incorrectly. By the data put forth, smartphones and Furbies would have to be considered intelligent.

    You completely miss the entire point of what I and many others here have been saying. No one contends that adaptive mutation (as it were) exists – i.e. the yet incompletely described mechanism of selective hypermutability in unicellular organisms. No one contends that it isn’t a significant factor in (specifically) bacterial evolution. However, we do contend that it does not denote “intelligence” and it does not eschew random mutation as a definitive and necessary basic building block of evolutionary diversity.

    The interesting bit is that these “adaptive” phenomenon are observered primarily in modern bacteria not in indivudual eukoryotic cells or in higher multi-cellular organisms. Which makes perfect sense when you realize that modern bacteria are not stagnant and identical to the first bacteria to arise some 3-4 billion years ago. They themselves are the product of 4ish billion years of evolution and so developing complex signal transduction cascades as means of furthering their fitness only makes sense. This is further corroborated by the fact that there are some non-random mutations that occur in both prokaryotic unicellular organisms and eukaryotic multicellular organisms (such as transposable elements) whereas this adapative evolution of selective hypermutability does not exist in eukoryotes, save for the somatic hypermutation of immune cells (which likely separately evolved through the development of VDJ recombination machinery which is different from the bacterial model).

    Once again, the basic premise of this is something I have said from the very beginning and the data is not something I have ignored or am ignorant to. It is the application of that data where Shapiro and you are wrong, because you invoke uneccesary and poorly defined “intelligence” as a driving factor behind it. There is no reason to think it necessary, no evidence to support it, and nothing it predicts that is useful. It merely adds some anthropomorphic quality that is seized upon by other fringe scientists and IDiots to cling desperately to some notion of intrinsic or extrinsic “intelligence” guiding evolution.

    This is indeed a battle of worldview between those of the neo-Darwinian synthesis on one end of the spectrum and the IDiots on the other. You and Shapiro are perilously close to the IDiot side of the spectrum and I obviously lean close to the other end. The difference is that I have evidence on my side – which is why you can only site a few fringe authors that take good data a step or two too far and why they are consistently derided by the scientific consensus.

    You are free to argue that your “intelligence” postulate is somehow reasonable. The problem is that you assert definitively it is the case – something even Shapiro won’t do explicitly as you do. That is because he knows the science doesn’t support it, even though he believes it. But you don’t care about that. You are content to be contrarian to the scientific consensus on the matter because it is fun to be the “lone maverick” and “buck the system.” And, as has been noted here a multitude of times, you do so inconsistently and the definitions you must employ and the way you operationalize your words to support your thesis is intellectually dishonest and so convoluted and broad as to be useless. You, of course, contend otherwise. But the consensus on this forum alone is quite different – including from posters who actually have credentials and relevant experience whereas you still have yet to state yours.

    There is a reason you have only been able to cite authors who are either fringe or philosophically based (like Kokic and Lyons). Only fringe thinkers and people whose expertise is thinking up “just so stories” can come to the conclusions you think are so robust.

    The mistake you (and Shapiro) make is the concept that because people like myself and Dawkins hold steadfast that indicates we are ascribing to a “dogma” and are ideologically motivated as “new-Darwinist apologists.” While that could theoretically be a correct interpretation, an equally correct one is that we are correct based on the science. Being a skeptic doesn’t mean letting every article you read change your mind. It means being open to having your mind changed. You have yet to offer anything at all that overturns what I have been saying and I disagree with the additional steps of interpretation proffered by those you cite. And if that means I am in the same camp as Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Gould and Novella then I am quite happy with the company I keep.

    So go ahead and make some other bullshit plea about my apologism or how stupid we all are. You are still wrong, no matter how loudly and oftenly you scream otherwise.

  331. nybgruson 18 Jul 2011 at 11:11 pm

    I’ve already read the Shapiro article you just linked to. I did so when I looked up other things he had written to synthesize my overall analysis. You are presenting nothing new or interesting.

  332. Jeremiahon 18 Jul 2011 at 11:15 pm

    Also from my catalog:
    Realizing Social Intelligence of Bacteria
    http://star.tau.ac.il/~eshel/realizing_bacteria.html

  333. nybgruson 18 Jul 2011 at 11:28 pm

    besides the fact that you keep citing very odd sources, they do nothing but demonstrate that modern bacteria, as the product of billions of years of evolution, are more complex than previously thought.

    If you were simply trying to assert that bacertia have more complex cell signaling pathways and social behaviors than we had previously thought, I would agree and say that indeed you have informed me further on the topic.

    However, you insist this translates to “intelligence” – a word whose operationalization you are failing to do properly. Your further assertion that this indicates the bacteria can “choose” its own evolution and that somehow the basic principle of random mutation is now out the window is what I so vehemently disagree with you on.

    So lets put to rest the notion that I don’t think bacteria to be complex little buggers – they are, as I stated not a frozen state of early evolution. They are just as much the end product of billions of years of evolution as we are, not a living snapshot of what all life was like on earth in the days of the primordial soup. The modern evolutionary synthesis takes this into account, without taking the inane leaps you do (and Shapiro dabbles in). And it most certainly does not indicate an intelligently directed evolution, whether that intelligence be intrinsic or extrinsic (i.e. “universe is made of information and is therefore inherently intelligent” vs “goddidit”). It in no way demonstrates that the bacteria can “choose” the direction of its evolution any more than a liver cell can “choose” to produce acute phase proteins in response to an infection. It only indicates that the bacteria has intrinsic molecular signaling cascades that allow it to function more efficiently and be more fit in its environment – a process that does not need “intelligence” to describe it and that is quite nicely included in the modern evolutionary synthesis.

  334. Jeremiahon 18 Jul 2011 at 11:45 pm

    @nybgrus,
    “The interesting bit is that these “adaptive” phenomenon are observered primarily in modern bacteria not in indivudual eukoryotic cells or in higher multi-cellular organisms. ”

    Are you serious? Read Bray’s book, read Margulies, read Jablonka.
    Without their intelligent processes, bacteria never would have reached their modern state.

    Also, the multicellular elephant that you can’t see in the room is the problem your random mutation has with the physical, material, engineering, and functionally operative aspects of building anything at all, let alone as enormously complex as even the most primitive of biological formations.

    And nobody I’ve cited as made the argument that ‘the bacteria can “choose” the direction of its evolution,’ as you put it.
    Although by virtue of their single cell status, they can certainly accelerate it in ways that we, for example, can’t.

    They choose by trial and error the direction of their adaptive processes. They build their own adaptive functions. Right now, they’re in there endlessly building ours.

  335. ccbowerson 19 Jul 2011 at 12:00 am

    “And nice to see that nurse bowers has confirmed her state of ignorance equals that of BillyJoe and Nygbrus and the rest here who agree with their simplistic views on evolution. We don’t know the nature of her education either, but we don’t have to. We know the deliberate nature of her resultant ignorance.”

    Once again, displaying your favorite argument Ad hominem… leaving equivocation a distant second. I guess thats what happens when you don’t have logic on your side. Refering to me as a nurse and a female when you know that I am not speaks volumes. Apparently you think little of nurses or females when you use them as insults (why else would you keep repeating these untruths other than attempted insults)

    The reason I dont give too much detailed info about myself is that there are jerks out there, Jeremiah. I know it sounds unbelievable, but some may actually look up details about a person’s personal life and use it against them in the comments section of a blog… be careful.

    I have given some information… I have 2 degrees: a B.S. in psychobiology, and doctoral level professional degree. That narrows it down enough and that is the extent of my personal info I am willing to disclose… how about yourself? I expect cricket sounds and tumble weeds.

    Regarding evolution, you seem to fancy yourself as having a more sophisticated understanding, but all you are doing is adding an uneccessary layer of an amorphous/incoherent use of the word intelligence. You reassure yourself by attacking a strawman view of a modern understanding of evolution by arguing against dated and overly simplistic concepts.

  336. nybgruson 19 Jul 2011 at 12:09 am

    succinctly and well said, Mrs. Nurse Bowers (sorry, just ribbing you – I am just as shocked as you are that there are mean jerks out there on the intertubes).

    Also, the multicellular elephant that you can’t see in the room is the problem your random mutation has with the physical, material, engineering, and functionally operative aspects of building anything at all, let alone as enormously complex as even the most primitive of biological formations.

    And now we reach the crux of why our illustrious zealot insists on anthropomorphising “intelligence” – he takes issue with th enotion that random events, limited by the basic laws of the universe and selected for by their reproducibility, can lead to complex life. So in addition to ad hominem, false equivocation, and poor operationalization, we can add “personal incredulity” to the list of fallacies Jeremiah commits on a regular basis.

    And nobody I’ve cited as made the argument that ‘the bacteria can “choose” the direction of its evolution,’ as you put it.

    No, but you have made that argument.

    Although by virtue of their single cell status, they can certainly accelerate it in ways that we, for example, can’t.

    Which is exactly what I said, but that you seem to disagree with in your own comment in response to me.

    You’re floundering Jeremiah, and showing your true ideology.

  337. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 12:54 am

    nybgrus,
    They aren’t choosing the direction of their evolution, they’re choosing the means to solve immediate problems. They have no plans to evolve at all. So what I said about accelerating their adaptation is obviously a byproduct of problem solving. It’s adaptation based on experience, which the random mutation process is not.
    You’re floundering because I’ve shown up your true ideology as false.
    I have no ideology except that I “believe” in an energetic self regulating systemic universe.

    By the way, personal incredulity is not a fallacy unless that’s your only argument against credulity. You boys and girls use it almost exclusively as your only argument.

    As to “nurse” bowers, I just thought s/he was a woman by the motherly advice, cautionary but typically banal. Also the use of 2 initials is typical of women, who somewhat justifiably fear to be openly identified as such. With such limited knowledge of biology, it’s hard to believe that token skill would be put to use in any hospital. And if s/he is (really?) not a nurse and not a woman, that’s all the better for the reputation of nurses and women in general.

  338. nybgruson 19 Jul 2011 at 1:10 am

    I stumbled across this which seems to sum up Jeremiah’s writing pretty well.

    I’m not floundering at all. I have succinctly demonstrated that not only does adaptive mutation not eschew random mutation in any way (using your OWN sources), but that the mechanism for adaptive mutation is still rooted in and best described by an epi-phenomenon and complex molecular signaling cascades upregulating and constraining random mutation (once again, using your OWN sources).

    The fact that you cling to some vague, bullshit definition of intelligence and that you choose to take that data to deny random mutation (which YOUR OWN SOURCES DO NOT) as an integral part of evolution is a product of your own personal incredulity. Hence, it is definitely a fallacy you are employing. And personal incredulity isn’t always a fallacy only because there are times when personal incredulity and science happen to coincide. But to use it as the basis of reasoning, as you do, is always a fallacy.

    Nice try projecting your own failures back on me though.

    And nice job showing your incredibly chauvinistic, idiotic, and disgusting characterization of how you evaluate the world around you. You really think you can claim that you assumed implied “motherly advice” and that the use of “2 initials is typical of women” and that they “justifiably fear to be openly identified as such” and be considering anything but a presumptious ass? And that admitting such “analysis” (especially in light of the fact that ccbowers has repeatedly stated, quite clearly the he is neither female nor a nurse and you continued to assert so as part of derogatory ad hominem despite this) somehow bolsters anyone’s opinion of how well you can parse a scientific paper? Please! You make asinine assumptions, ignore clearly stated information, and continue to ramble ad homimen but I’m supposed to take your opinion on anything seriously? Ha!

  339. robmon 19 Jul 2011 at 1:16 am

    Jeremiah, if we can give people nicknames based on fuzzy inferences (I disagree we can create knowledge with them), can we call you Mental Patient Jeremiah?

  340. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 2:21 am

    I could care less if you take my opinion seriously, nybgrus. I’m here to reach a wider audience, and the attempts by neo-Darwinists such as yourself to kill the messenger just help to speed along the process. Because you and the others of your stripe just make that old outdated version of the science look even more decrepit. Especially with a poseur like yourself as the token spokesperson.

    @nybgrus: “If you were simply trying to assert that bacertia have more complex cell signaling pathways and social behaviors than we had previously thought, I would agree and say that indeed you have informed me further on the topic.”

    You didn’t even know that much about bacteria before? Then how would you have known one way or another if they were to that extent intelligent? No answer needed, you don’t have any to be taken seriously.

    And I still believe that Ms. Bowers is a nurse. No hospital would ever hire her to do biology.

  341. steve12on 19 Jul 2011 at 3:09 am

    “As to “nurse” bowers, I just thought s/he was a woman by the motherly advice, cautionary but typically banal. ”

    So women are “typically banal”?

    I think this sort of misogyny has no place in this “discussion”.

    Shame on you.

  342. nybgruson 19 Jul 2011 at 4:02 am

    Keep reaching that “wider audience” Jeremiah. You are clearly succeeding as evidenced by the amazing response you’ve gotten. So many converts to your inane babble, and all.

    Especially with your continued misogynistic commentary.

    And yes, of course you would have informed me further on the topic. My background is evolutionary biology – I am not an expert in it and never claimed to be. Nor is my expertise in bacteriology. So I can always learn more – but so far you have yet to demonstrate anything convincing to sway the consensus here or in the scientific community at large.

  343. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 4:09 am

    No, Ms Bowers motherly advice is typically banal for Ms Bowers.
    So is yours for whatever you are for that matter. In any case she says she’s not a woman. Could be a liar then as some women are allegedly liars. But even if she’s not a woman, she should be ashamed for getting so upset at being seen as one by a natural mistake. “cc” IS a woman’s moniker.

  344. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 4:42 am

    nybgrus, every negative response comes from those who admittedly are dedicated neo-Darwinists. Or worse, dedicated Dawkinsians.
    The bulk of the undedicated community who would otherwise have posted here have faded away since you lot have vociferously taken up the cause. As to swaying the scientific community at large, they’re already swayed in my direction. Everyone at the cutting edge of the evolutionary sciences is working on the assumption that adaptive mutations are the only way to go if they want career advancement. The old random selection theories are (unofficially) out the window. Deal with it.

  345. SteveAon 19 Jul 2011 at 7:28 am

    nybgruson: “SteveA: I believe you are correct. Not that it matters. He could be president of Harvard but his arguments are stupid”

    Simple curiosity on my part (assuming an honest answer was forthcoming).

    Jeremiah: ““cc” IS a woman’s moniker.”

    Yeah like those hot dames ‘JRR’, ‘HG’ ‘HP’ and ‘GK’. Hubba-hubba.

    Seriously, where do you get your ideas?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_literary_initials

  346. nybgruson 19 Jul 2011 at 10:22 am

    So if the scientific community is in lock step with your analysis, and we are just some idiotic fringe of hold outs, why bother wasting your breath on us? And more importantly why be a misogynistic prick about it too boot?

    I mean, I don’t go over to creationist blogs and be a flaming asshole, so why come over here and be a raging douchebag?

    Oh, right. Because you are an uneducated troll with an ideology, shown clearly by how mercilessly you have been picked apart and how you’ve had to come back with new ‘nyms to keep spouting your nonsense.

    In case you’ve forgotten, you were initially given an opportunity to make your case in a friendly and open manner. When people picked apart your interpretation and demonstrated the bad logic and terrible redefining of words you made, you became a hostile prick. Not to mention your thinly veiled threats of actual violence and attempts to search out the details of people’s lives.

    Piss off Jeremiah. You are a terrible human being. Seek some help, you need it.

  347. steve12on 19 Jul 2011 at 12:38 pm

    “No, Ms Bowers motherly advice is typically banal for Ms Bowers.
    So is yours for whatever you are for that matter. In any case she says she’s not a woman. ”

    Well, that’s not what you said. Your prose is actually not that bad – I think it’s pretty clear that what you said is misogynistic, and was intended as such. Now you’re cowardly slinking away from your own comment.

    I think the most telling aspect of your misogynistic attitude is that even in the post where you attempt (and fail) to defend yourself above, you still refer to Bowers as “she”, while acknowledging that he is a man.

    I guess “she” is an insult to you, as that’s clearly how you intend it.

    You should apologize – being a nut is one thing, but people don’t come to this blog to be subjected to your hate. What other groups are planning on calling out? I don’t think this blog needs a David Duke.

  348. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Biologists who never heard of Cecie Starr?

    And yes Nybgrus, you are a particular idiot on the fringe, and nobody cares if you hold out. You’ve been flummoxed. I made you try to analyze the work of Shapiro, the leading figure in the field, and you failed the test in spades. You let down all of those poor wretches you tried to lead here, and now you’ve reverted to your hissyfitting alter.
    Misogynist? Is that the best you can come up with when I pull your chain? You came up with nothing when BillyJoe7 pulled out his pud and publicly demeaned his wife and children. Instead, it seems you found your soul mate then and there.

    “I mean, I don’t go over to creationist blogs and be a flaming asshole, so why come over here and be a raging douchebag?”

    Because you came here to be the flaming asshole? You certainly were when a leading creationist came here and whupped your ass.
    Behe has the tragic flaw of being able to see purpose, yet unable to see where it came from. You have the more fatal flaw of fatuously seeing something come from nothing.

  349. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Steve12, I intended to expose bowers as the resident Polonius and thought a better fit to be the daughter of Pangloss. Because of course you already had the male role of resident phony.

  350. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 1:36 pm

    And really, can you see Bowers as fatherly?

  351. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Speaking of someone who’s the resident expert on purpose:
    “Purpose is a quality that you attribute to an entity or idea by looking at the outcome, and is not something intrinsic to that entity or idea. ccbowers.” (Google)

  352. steve12on 19 Jul 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Blah, Blah, Bullshit. You’ve already said it – too late to take it all back. We’re done: you’re a bigot, case closed. I mean, even you supposed exculpatory comments are soaked in hatred of women!

    People like you are the reason women have to work twice as hard to make it in this world. How much scientific progress do we miss because misogynists like you discourage women from participating?

    You’re a pig. At least we know exactly what kind now…

  353. 2_wordson 19 Jul 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I wonder what part of that aforementioned wider audience is reached by clumsy insults.

  354. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Actually, the smartest posters here are women. And your attempts to use them as a foil make you and nybgrus the true misogynists.
    But of course he has an excuse – he likes blond engineers.

  355. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 2:04 pm

    2_words on 19 Jul 2011 at 1:55 pm

    “I wonder what part of that aforementioned wider audience is reached by clumsy insults.”

    You tell me, that’s been your two word specialty.

  356. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 2:20 pm

    And I still think ccbowers is a woman, even though the rest of you may feel strongly that she’s somehow too intelligent to be one.

  357. 2_wordson 19 Jul 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I am not trying to “reach” anyone.

    I am not trying to “whup” anyone.

    I am not trying to “kill the messenger.”

  358. steve12on 19 Jul 2011 at 2:25 pm

    “Actually, the smartest posters here are women. ”

    Unfortunately for you, it’s too late to backpedal. You think the above, but consider it an insult to call someone a women. As I said. you have shown you are a misogynist, and it is too late to take it back. You may as well try another handle, because Jermemiah@neurologica = misogynist, now and forever. Too late sir.

    I just wonder why an intelligent creature such as yourself could not anticipate such a reception of obvious bigotry?

  359. robmon 19 Jul 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Steve, 2_words, its a common tactic of jeremiahs to backpedal and counter accuse when he gets called on his behavior. He basically tries to push the limit of whats acceptable behavior to try to piss us off, then portray himself as a noble victim for the same reasons.

    Don’t expect anything other than inane babble and insults back from him. He’ll probably continue with his misogyny now for no other reason than it gets him attention.

  360. steve12on 19 Jul 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Sometimes it can be fun to poke him in the eyes a bit, I must admit. Especially now that we know he’s also a bigot.

    I won’t engage his arguments anymore – I knew they were ‘not even wrong’ immediately, as did everyone else.

    But he’s clearly in his bedroom fuming (in between the mandatory masterbatory excursions that teenage boys living with their parents engage in), and somehow that makes me laugh.

    Simple joys, ya know? No worries – I’ll go back to ignoring his existence soon enough…

  361. robmon 19 Jul 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Actually this is a time we should call him out on his misogynistic bullshit. Using gender as an insult is not ok.

    I agree we should ignore his (un)intelligence bs, aka the grand crankified theory of everything.

    Good synthesis btw, I had two competing hypotheses that he trolled for an insane vendetta or because he got off on it, literally. But now you’ve convinced me both are the case. :)

  362. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Hey, robm, if you can be insulted by the mention of your gender, then I think that’s not only OK, that’s almost a requirement.

    By the way, you’ve never had a hypothesis that could compete intelligently with anything. And Behe also whupped your sorry ass.

    Steve12 has come up with this as well:

    “I just wonder why an intelligent creature such as yourself could not anticipate such a reception of obvious bigotry?”

    Given the enormously satisfactory results, what makes you think I didn’t anticipate it?

    Bigotry after all is “intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself,” and you and I are mutually intolerant.
    And not being all that intelligent yourself, the argument from bigotry, as it always has been, was your only recourse.

    Now if I can only get BillyJoe7 to whack off to a dog or something.
    No, I meant an actual dog.

  363. robmon 19 Jul 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Jeremiah missing the point so badly as to be considered intentional.

    predicted and confirmed.

    Jeremiah ignoring his own usage of feminine qualities as a pejorative.

    predicted and confirmed.

    Jeremiah using insults and inane babble. predicted and confirmed.

    Jeremiah’s self depiction as a noble victim. predicted and confirmed.

    Jeremiah’s obsession with the sex acts of billyjoe7. further evidence he gets off on it.

    Now those are some intelligent and competitive hypotheses.

  364. steve12on 19 Jul 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Misogynist:

    Everyone knows you’re full of shit and don’t know what you’re talking about Jeremiah. CAsually reading some links is no substitute for training in science, and you’re living proof of that. The closest you’ll ever be to the scientific community is here, and you know it.

    There’s a reason you’re not actually working in science, despite your obvious lies to the contrary.

    FAIL

  365. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Hey robm, that was pretty good stuff, especially the equating of feminine qualities with gayness. You’re clearly the new David Duke that steve12 was hoping for. (Or is that rob for robin?)
    And it IS hard to stop that image of a short little gnome energetically contemplating his “navel” from popping up every time you mention his name. Gnomes do have that androgynously disturbing quality.

  366. robmon 19 Jul 2011 at 4:52 pm

    More of your bigoted bullshit, more of your unhealthy fixation, hardly surprising, and consistent with theory.

  367. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 4:57 pm

    But Steve12, you clearly weren’t even trained to read the links. Multiple choice just hasn’t been working for you, has it.

    Have you adopted nybgrus’ new mantra by the way?
    “Bacteria don’t learn from experience and don’t make choices. That it’s all done by a chemical reaction system with no intelligence involved is pretty spot on since otherwise that would require an evolving organism to take control of its life and exhibit some intelligence.”

    And is it not better for me to keep my education to myself than to do as you have and be forced to lie about it?

  368. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 5:08 pm

    And robin, can we get your approval of that new nybgrus version of your common mantra? Bacteria are still suitably androgynous but now not all that disturbing.

  369. SteveAon 19 Jul 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Jeremiah: “And is it not better for me to keep my education to myself than to do as you have and be forced to lie about it?”

    So you would be forced to lie about your own education would you?

    Why?

  370. nybgruson 19 Jul 2011 at 5:41 pm

    At least the case is closed on our misogynist troll. I feel no further compunction to engage in any sort of conversation with it, intellectual (as if) or flamewar.

    Although I do have to say, it can always make me laugh when it asserts that mike12 “whupped” me. Thanks for that Jeremiah. Always nice to start off the day with a grin.

    Now piss off. I’m done with ya, boy.

  371. steve12on 19 Jul 2011 at 6:11 pm

    “But Steve12, you clearly weren’t even trained to read the links. Multiple choice just hasn’t been working for you, has it.”

    Right – I was trained to be a scientist. That’s why I am one, and you’re Jeremiah.. Or should I say Ignatius J. Reilly?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Confederacy_of_Dunces

    It is hillarious that he won’t divulge anything about his training, but continues to claim to be a scientist. Who does that? No need to say where/ when or any other identifiable info.

    Simply: “I, misogynist Jeremiah, have a ______ in ______.”

    Why won’t he do that? It’s bizarre, but par for the course.

  372. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 6:25 pm

    @nybgrus,
    “I’m done with ya, boy.”

    That’s what you said last time. Bwahahaha.

    @steve12,
    “Right – I was trained to be a scientist. That’s why I am one”

    That’s what I said last time. Bwahahaha.

  373. steve12on 19 Jul 2011 at 6:43 pm

    “That’s what I said last time. Bwahahaha.”

    Well I’m glad we agree on that.

  374. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 7:10 pm

    “Bacteria don’t learn from experience and don’t make choices. That it’s all done by a chemical reaction system with no intelligence involved is pretty spot on since otherwise that would require an evolving organism to take control of its life and exhibit some intelligence.”

    I’ll concede however that they left that part out of my curricula.

  375. nybgruson 19 Jul 2011 at 7:33 pm

    “not even wrong” – I like that SteveA, quite apt in this circumstance

  376. steve12on 19 Jul 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Yeah, I love that phrase, but I did’t make it up. Pauli did, and Peter Woit popularized it by using it in reference to M theory:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_even_wrong

  377. nybgruson 19 Jul 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Ah, sorry if I confused the two Steve’s. I knew I’d heard it before but was unsure of its origin. Thanks for that!

  378. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Gee, little nybgrus, back already? Easy to confuse the two Steves here; all you neoDarwinists need to think alike. Anything else I can sucker y’all into analyzing? Evolution of Androgynous traits in Aboriginal Australia?
    Politics, gender, and time in Melanesia and Aboriginal Australia
    http://eksilverman.com/downloads/time%20and%20gender.PDF

  379. ccbowerson 19 Jul 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Just catching up in these comments. Jeremiah kept digging and digging despite being at the bottom of a huge hole he dug himself. Nice disingenuous defense… if I hadn’t told you a half a dozen times before your female nurse juvenile attempts at ridicule were inaccurate you might have had a deniability. And your “defense” were further insults to women. You are incorrigigble.

    And if CC are my initials, would you honestly confuse that with the female nickname (Cecie, CiCi, etc)? How about Craig Carson, Charles Chaplain, etc… I know you a bit slow on the uptake, but come on, really. Am I to assume that you are a prophet from the Hebrew bible? Do I assume that Steve12 is 12 years old? Is nygbrus’s real name “New York G. Brus?”

    And your use of “neo darwanian” is further evidence of creating a strawman, since this term was coined in the late 1800′s and does not reflect the more recent advances in the synthetic theory. I realize that this is sometimes used in common language… it is misleading since is was used to describe the combination of natural selection with Mendelian inheritance.

  380. Jeremiahon 19 Jul 2011 at 11:09 pm

    “Neo-Darwinism
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Neo-Darwinism is a term used to describe the ‘modern synthesis’ of Darwinian evolution through natural selection with Mendelian genetics, the latter being a set of primary tenets specifying that evolution involves the transmission of characteristics from parent to child through the mechanism of genetic transfer, rather than the ‘blending process’ of pre-Mendelian evolutionary science. Neo-Darwinism also separates Darwin’s ideas of natural selection from his hypothesis of Pangenesis as a Lamarckian source of variation involving blending inheritance.[1]“

  381. Jeremiahon 20 Jul 2011 at 12:01 am

    And Bowers, I have no need to defend my suspicions about your gender. You started off with questioning my right to enter an opinion without my first presenting in great or greater detail the authority I needed to have earned that privilege. Which actually I had done on another thread, and then some doofus wanted a list of my publications. But the point is in the end that opinions should be able to stand and fall on their own merits, and if you doubt the merit, attack the reasoning and supporting documents with your own reasoning and support.
    But you and your pals here don’t do that. Most just go straight to an attack on the messenger. Others try the reasonable approach and fail (note Nybgrus actually thinking he knows more than Shapiro) and when that doesn’t work, guess what, attack the messenger.
    But darlin’, this messenger bites back. And consequently I bit you.
    I don’t give a shit what sex you are, but I know you do. And know you’re capable of disguising it to protect your identity. And know you think like the proverbial little old lady, as you did just now with that homily about the proper age of neo Darwinism.

    Read some of the papers I cited. They are quite specific about the nature of neoDarwinism and why adaptive mutation is in effect the old Darwinism new again. I you disagree, try to stay on point. You know, “just be a man about it.”

  382. 2_wordson 20 Jul 2011 at 12:23 am

    That wider audience must be giving you a standing ovation about now. Because I am sure they have now been reached.

    This is sarcasm and an obvious attack on the MESSENGER OF DANGEROUS IDEAS, but do try to suffer on anyway. Be strong, that wider audience needs the good news you bring. They are so very lost without you.

  383. steve12on 20 Jul 2011 at 12:37 am

    “You started off with questioning my right to enter an opinion without my first presenting in great or greater detail the authority I needed to have earned that privilege. Which actually I had done on another thread. ”

    BS. Link to that if this is true.

  384. Jeremiahon 20 Jul 2011 at 12:55 am

    The wider audience now knows you both, as representatives of the old order, are idiots. You’ll do anything to defend the status quo. Like biting on this old Dawkinsian canard:

    “Bacteria don’t learn from experience and don’t make choices. That it’s all done by a chemical reaction system with no intelligence involved is pretty spot on since otherwise that would require an evolving organism to take control of its life and exhibit some intelligence.”

    Gotcha again.

  385. 2_wordson 20 Jul 2011 at 1:01 am

    I’ve done nothing of the sort. I do not defend status quo and represent no old order. There is no us here.

    I only insult Mr. Dangerous Idea, floating on the Sea of Dangerous Ideas, behind the Gate of Dangerous Ideas.

    Surely you can see why you are a joke?

  386. ccbowerson 20 Jul 2011 at 1:03 am

    “You started off with questioning my right to enter an opinion without my first presenting in great or greater detail the authority I needed to have earned that privilege.”

    Umm no. Nice try. You have been commenting in this blog for years, and I did not questioning of your right to do anything. You play a victim very easily…I guess you have to to rationalize your behavior.

    If I’m not mistaken, I remember you referencing a paper and you stated that one of the names listed was yours. Unless I am thinking of someone else, it appeared to be a name of Chinese origin. None of that really matters though, it has no bearing on the fact that your ideas are “out there” and not supported by the evidence you put forth.

    Boy the comments section of this post is getting long, and is gone too far from the original post. I think its best to be done here, and wait until the next “controversial” topic like the next post mentioning religion, or a passing mention of “free will.”

  387. nybgruson 20 Jul 2011 at 1:35 am

    In college I used to play a lot of poker. And after I graduated I played semi-professionally for 6 months, with cards being my only source of income.

    We had an old saying, either taken from or used by the movie “Rounders,” that seems apropos here:

    “If you don’t spot the fish within 5 minutes of sitting down at the table, that means you are the fish.”

    Except the difference is that at the poker table, no one else will be kind enough to tell you that you are the fish.

  388. Jeremiahon 20 Jul 2011 at 2:14 am

    nybgrus, I don’t believe that poker bullshit for a minute. I’ve played the game with pros in Reno, Vegas, Tahoe, and California for years, and I know you’re a phony. Because if and when you’re the real fish, nobody lets you know it. Until of course they get you to agree to this:

    “Bacteria don’t learn from experience and don’t make choices. That it’s all done by a chemical reaction system with no intelligence involved is pretty spot on since otherwise that would require an evolving organism to take control of its life and exhibit some intelligence.”

    Bwahahaha.

    And goodnight Ms. Bowers.

  389. nybgruson 20 Jul 2011 at 3:01 am

    WTF? LOL!

    Except the difference is that at the poker table, no one else will be kind enough to tell you that you are the fish.

    vs

    …and I know you’re a phony. Because if and when you’re the real fish, nobody lets you know it.

    Isn’t that exactly what I said? hahahahaha….

  390. SteveAon 20 Jul 2011 at 4:30 am

    Jeremiah: “But the point is in the end that opinions should be able to stand and fall on their own merits…”

    But the point is that you said this…

    “BillyJoe7 is an uneducated vendor who lives in Mooroolbark”

    …not so long ago.

    You raised the issue of qualifications yourself.

    If it doesn’t matter, then don’t use someone’s alleged lack of education to try and belittle them.

    You are a hypocrite.

  391. BillyJoe7on 20 Jul 2011 at 8:05 am

    …a hypocrite and a liar.

  392. nybgruson 20 Jul 2011 at 8:19 am

    …a hypocrite and a liar and a mysogynist.

  393. Jeremiahon 20 Jul 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Nybgrus, what you said was:
    “”We had an old saying, either taken from or used by the movie “Rounders,” that seems apropos here:
    “If you don’t spot the fish within 5 minutes of sitting down at the table, that means you are the fish.”
    Except the difference is that at the poker table, no one else will be kind enough to tell you that you are the fish.”

    Aside from the fact that real players never say that, this means apparently that you knew how to successfully play poker and not be the “fish.” Which of course you don’t, because you were the fish here that most easily got caught.
    You could never play the real game in any case, you are a walking, talking bundle of tells. You could never keep your mouth shut at the table, and are oh so easily provoked into tipping off your hand, which in your case will be mostly empty.
    Poker is the ultimate game of strategy, which takes a lot more to win than just memorizing some table of the odds and remembering the sequence of the cards. You have to know what’s in the other player’s minds, and you clearly do not have that mind reading talent. You are so easy to outsmart it’s almost pitiful.
    And so the difference here would be you think you’re a player, so sure you’d never be the sucker, no matter they try to tell you. And thus the sharks you can’t see coming will always eat you first.
    If only just to get you to shut up.

  394. Jeremiahon 20 Jul 2011 at 1:42 pm

    ******
    @SteveA on 20 Jul 2011 at 4:30 am
    Jeremiah: “But the point is in the end that opinions should be able to stand and fall on their own merits…”
    But the point is that you said this…
    “BillyJoe7 is an uneducated vendor who lives in Mooroolbark”
    …not so long ago.
    You raised the issue of qualifications yourself.
    ******

    Hardly, he was the erstwhile leader of the pack that cried out interminably for some proof of my authority to have the opinions that disturbed them so. That was virtually his only strategy and he never shut up about it
    Consequently I found proof of his, which turned out to be none.

    nybgrus has now taken over his job, and also, as you’ve just seen, makes up stories that attest to his authority.

    BillyJoe7 has been reduced to calling me a liar, but about what he can’t seem to say. Since he’s the very one that that posted the vendor information, the location, etc., on these forums.

    nybgrus has also been reduced to calling me a liar about whatever BillyJoe7 must be basing that on, manufacturing more of his own lies in the process. Semi-professional poker player? What the hell would that be anyway? Meshugana?

    (And we do know both claim to like women, except more in their imagination than in reality.)

  395. 2_wordson 20 Jul 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Keep going Jeremiah, the wider audience is about to be reached. Everyone has almost been shut up.

    You have whupped them all.

    You are so close to winning.

  396. Heinleineron 20 Jul 2011 at 3:20 pm

    I’m just going to have to disagree with Jeremiah here.

    Poker, the ultimate game of strategy? Please. Go is the ultimate game of strategy.

  397. Jeremiahon 20 Jul 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Go, if I’m not mistaken involves 2 players, and a proper game of poker takes a minimum of three. Go has all its pieces in the open, poker always has some form of hidden cards. Go, chess, and similar games use strategies at the more abstract levels, but essentially are limited by rules that require the same level of honesty – no cheating sanctioned in other words. Poker is played at much higher levels of deception and sanctioned dishonesty than any of these others. There are few tells to be concerned with in Go, chess, etc. Tells in poker are most often the keys to detecting hidden strategies. And on and on.

    And in the end, poker strategies work better in real life’s competitive and deceptive gaming than those of Go, chess, etc. At least where the rewards for winning are concerned.
    In terms of ethical and cooperative behaviors, I agree that Go, chess, etc, are winners.

  398. nybgruson 20 Jul 2011 at 5:28 pm

    OMFG, SRSLY? STFU lol

    Keep digging Jeremiah. Here’s a shovel.

  399. BillyJoe7on 20 Jul 2011 at 5:36 pm

    “Hardly, he was the erstwhile leader of the pack that cried out interminably for some proof of my authority”

    That is an outright lie. I have never asked you for your qualifications. I have challenged you to clearly state your view. I have questioned your grasp of what you have read in the links you have provided. And I have challenged your claim that your view is the progressive mainstream view instead of the fringe view that it actually is. And I have ridiculed your quantum connection because that is all it deserved.

    I don’t actually care about qualifications.
    But I care about misrepresentations and lies.
    If you had come here simply to put your view and actually clearly explain what that view is, I would have had no problem.

    ” That was virtually his only strategy and he never shut up about it”

    You are lying and you know it. I have never asked for your qualifications. I have none myself in the area of evolutionary biology. Why on Earth would I be demanding your qualiifications?

    “Consequently I found proof of his, which turned out to be none.”

    You are a liar.

    “BillyJoe7 has been reduced to calling me a liar, but about what he can’t seem to say.”

    Liar. I have quoted you and corrected you. If you can’t read, that is not my problem. You have simply made up stuff about me that you have continued to post even after my corrections. That makes you a liar.

    “Since he’s the very one that that posted the vendor information”

    Liar. You have simply extrapolated that or assumed that and then believed it. That information has not come from me.

    “And we do know both claim to like women, except more in their imagination than in reality”

    Both in imagination and in reality.For me, if it were not for women, life would not be worth living.
    Each to his own though.

  400. Jeremiahon 20 Jul 2011 at 6:36 pm

    ****
    @BillyJoe7“And we do know both claim to like women, except more in their imagination than in reality”
    Both in imagination and in reality.For me, if it were not for women, life would not be worth living.
    ****
    So it’s OK to cheat on your wife with your employee, liking one for one thing and the other for the another.

    Also: “BillyJoe 17th October 2009 09:28 AM
    Location 
Mooroolbark
    
Occupation
 Self-Employed Public Servant
    
I employ five people part time to keep me employed full time.
”

    Are you saying that’s not you?

    And it’s not worth the effort to dig up all the evidence that you repeatedly asked for my qualifications. You know it and I know it, and we both know you’re the liar here. And the proof will be that you’ll keep doing it. Also I saw that you did the same thing with someone named Paisley, who called you out repeatedly as intellectually dishonest for exactly that kind of argument.

    And then there’s VCAT

  401. Jeremiahon 20 Jul 2011 at 6:58 pm

    As to that megalomaniacal nybgrus, who clearly suffers from a psycho-pathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies, we should began to wonder if anything he dearly loves to say about himself bears any resemblance to the truth.

    He’s an evolutionary biologist by background yet doesn’t know a damned thing about its evolution as a science. But nevertheless a med student who already teaches medicine? A “semi-professional” gambler who made money at it but doesn’t know a damned thing about the game he’s supposed to have been playing. Talk about a shovel and a shovelful.

  402. nybgruson 20 Jul 2011 at 7:28 pm

    now I understand why he believes his own bullshit…. he thinks he is psychic too and can read my mind and already knows everything about me. All while not having a clue about how med school works, apparently.

    Keep digging Jeremiah. It is fun, watching you yell from the bottom of the hole with your fantasy world swirling around you, making you think you are actually on top.

    A shovel isn’t enough for you. Here is a tractor….

  403. 2_wordson 20 Jul 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Wow, Jeremiah that sure is some fancy science talking you’re doing.

    So many audiences are being convinced.

    Who exactly is this “we” you speak of when you say “we should began to wonder..?” Looks like you are out there on that sea of yours all alone.

  404. Jeremiahon 20 Jul 2011 at 8:21 pm

    @2_words,
    blah, blah.

    @nybgrus
    Right, I don’t know your imaginary med school works.
    Perhaps it lets you teach imaginary poker as medicinal.

  405. nybgruson 20 Jul 2011 at 8:35 pm

    You see Jeremiah, we’ve been trying to give you good advice but instead you just keep on making it worse for yourself.

    Have you struck oil yet? Or are ya gonna keep digging?

  406. robmon 20 Jul 2011 at 9:03 pm

    He will only say he has struck oil if an oil baron disagrees with him.

  407. Jeremiahon 20 Jul 2011 at 10:01 pm

    nybgrus,
    I’ll have Shapiro call you. He’s been devastated by the hole you dug for him. He’s giving up biology for poker.

    robm
    Say something smart so we don’t mistake you for bacteria.

  408. Jeremiahon 20 Jul 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Nybgrus and BillyJoe discuss their poker skills.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5__zd7opRY

  409. robmon 20 Jul 2011 at 10:25 pm

    “Say something smart so we don’t mistake you for bacteria.”

    I wouldn’t want that, given the way you feel about them.

    Jeremiah on 19 Jul 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Bacteria are still suitably androgynous but now not all that disturbing.

  410. BillyJoe7on 21 Jul 2011 at 12:58 am

    To the blog liar,

    How does that extract confirm in any way shape or form that I am a vendor? A public servant is not a vendor. And pray tell what is a self-employed public servant? Maybe you didn’t see the joke? And how does employing five people (six now!) make me a vendor? I have nothing against vendors. I’m not even stating that I am not one. I’m just pointing out that I have never stated that I am one.

    And I have not cheated on my wife. Not ever. And do you mean to say that I have to avoid liking everyone else because I have a wife? You have no idea of my situation, so you just assume and lie.

    Finally. I have never asked you or anyone else for their qualifications on any forum I have ever commented on. If they want to tell me that is fine, but I look at the arguments presented all the same. If they are shit I will call them on it like I have with you.

    And what the hell is VCAT got to do with anything?

  411. Jeremiahon 21 Jul 2011 at 2:04 am

    @BillyJoe7,
    “I look at the arguments presented all the same. If they are shit I will call them on it like I have with you.”

    Exactly. You look at the arguments and those that you don’t understand, you call shit. That’s it. It soon becomes obvious that, formally educated or self-educated, there’s very little that you are capable of understanding. But instead of at least confessing your ignorance on that subject, you try your best to hide it and call out shit. (Intellectually dishonest? Without an identifiable intellect, even more so.)

    And when asked what your qualifications are to make such a judgment without some understanding of the subject, you invariably turn that to a question of our qualifications to question how you’ve come up with shit. Having shit for brains may be your excuse, but not a reason to continue to see shit when presented with the newest version of shinola.

    As to the vendor thing, you’ve just admitted that given what you’ve already admitted, it’s quite reasonable to assume you are a vendor. So when did a reasonable assumption become a lie?

    And publicly confessing that you can only get your rocks off while fantasizing about the fun you have with your “likeable” employee sounds like cheating, especially when you don’t want your wife to know about it. It’s cheating if she thinks its cheating, and everybody knows that. It’s cheating if your children think so, and cheating if your employee’s husband learns about it, that’s a given.

    What does VCAT have to with anything? It has to do with the settlement of domestic problems, cheating past and cheating present, as you well know.

  412. BillyJoe7on 21 Jul 2011 at 7:17 am

    VCAT is the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. They have nothing to do with the settlement of domestic problems of which I have exactly none in any case.

    And I see that by your act of redefining that word, you have become the very definition of the word ‘cheat’.

  413. SteveAon 21 Jul 2011 at 7:18 am

    Jeremiah: “So when did a reasonable assumption become a lie?”

    When you present an assumption as a fact

    Jeremiah: “….you can only get your rocks off while fantasizing about the fun you have with your “likeable” employee sounds like cheating, especially when you don’t want your wife to know about it. It’s cheating if she thinks its cheating, and everybody knows that. It’s cheating if your children think so, and cheating if your employee’s husband learns about it, that’s a given.”

    When did thinking about something become the same as doing it? (Note the morph from ‘sound like’ to ‘is’.)

    Jeremiah: “And it’s not worth the effort to dig up all the evidence that you repeatedly asked for my qualifications.”

    This surprises me, producing this evidence would be slam-dunk would it not? Why not try a little harder.

  414. ccbowerson 21 Jul 2011 at 8:35 am

    Jeremiah keeps referencing educational background as “authority,” yet they are 2 very different things. No one is saying that if you have a PhD you would be right or not then you are wrong. Although not necessary for the arguments, the (lack of) education may help explain why he doesn’t understand the articles he cites.

    In addition, it may be relevant to his ability to criticize academic concensus if he doesn’t understand it. It is arrogance of ignorance for a person with an insufficient background in a topic to read a couple of books and papers and say that the experts have it all wrong (the Jenny McCarthy of evolution?). Many of these experts have spent most of their lives on this topic, and it is ridiculous for commenters on this blog to spend all of this time “correcting” someone with no transparency about his qualifications for such ridiculous arguments. The educational background comes up because your arguments are far fetched.

  415. Jeremiahon 21 Jul 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Nurse Bowers, give it a rest. I recently, for example, have presented citations and explanations of adaptive mutation, anticipatory systems, and conscious realism (although not the first to cite it) and many here understood and benefited from those efforts. You and your small coterie of whiners couldn’t grasp the concepts, and boo hoo, it’s all because I wouldn’t tell you where I got the brains from to see what you knew for certain wasn’t there.
    What, by the way, from the cutting edge of science have you ever presented to the group? Nada, zip, nichts. And that goes for every one of you backwater self proclaimed “scientists.”

    The laugher is that I needled your new megalomaniacal leader mybgrus into actually reading the Shapiro papers and he switched from your usual mantra of me not understanding the papers to that of the author of the papers not understanding the subject he was renowned for having developed as an evolutionary scientist.

    So you’re now a step behind, as that’s the new directive for you and the other Dawkinsian nincompoops – Dawkins being the only author any of you lot seem to have been able to cite for your support. (And I do have his books somewhere in my interesting but old history file.)

    And here’s the new nbgrus tell that you all can’t hide: “Bacteria don’t learn from experience and don’t make choices. That it’s all done by a chemical reaction system with no intelligence involved is pretty spot on since otherwise that would require an evolving organism to take control of its life and exhibit some intelligence.”

    (Yes, from the same nybgrus that is now advising real doctors on another thread that serotonin lowers itself to cause depression rather then the other way around.)

  416. Jeremiahon 21 Jul 2011 at 1:43 pm

    *****
    @SteveA,
    Jeremiah: “And it’s not worth the effort to dig up all the evidence that you repeatedly asked for my qualifications.”
    This surprises me, producing this evidence would be slam-dunk would it not? Why not try a little harder.
    *****
    Because it’s not worth effort to prove to you what he already knows is his routine. Although his bosom buddy Bowers has just confirmed that’s what they both have done by justifying the practice.

    Also BJ has as much as admitted he’s a vendor, as my assumption was based on facts he admittedly presented. What’s to lie about there in any case” Is being a vendor a bad thing? Are we not all vendors? It’s the fact that he’s admittedly a vendor selling shit that’s most important.
    And what walks, talks and quacks like a cheating duck can safely be assumed to be one.

    And VCAT is where they keep the records of domestic actions filed in Mooroolsbark, as he well knows. He says there’s no record of the “settlements,” but that’s a tell right there. It’s settled, for example, that the buxom employee in question no longer works there.

  417. 2_wordson 21 Jul 2011 at 2:27 pm

    So many here understand and have benefited from Jeremiahs efforts. The wider audience is so very reached. Jeremiah have whupped everyone with his cutting edge sciences.

    All the false scientists have been obviously bested by Jeremiah.

    Also, I’ve played baseball once. I bet Jeremiah is a pro who played the game with professionalls in Reno, Vegas, Tahoe, and California for years.

    Also, I am scientist and you are not. Therefor I am right and you are not, so stop disagreeing with me. If you do so you will seem meglomanical. I understand and you do not. It’s all because I got brains and you do not.

    I will call you people women even though you state you are otherwise because I think it is in insult to do so.

    None of this is a joke.

  418. SteveAon 21 Jul 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Jeremiah: “What’s to lie about there in any case” Is being a vendor a bad thing?”

    Jaw dropping.

    Are you now claiming that

    “an uneducated vendor”

    was not intended as an insult?

    Jeremiah: “Because it’s not worth effort to prove to you what he already knows is his routine.”

    If you had any proof you’d have cut and pasted it many posts ago.

  419. SteveAon 21 Jul 2011 at 2:35 pm

    nybgrus, can you tell me why he keeps pasting the following into his posts?

    “Bacteria don’t learn from experience and don’t make choices. That it’s all done by a chemical reaction system with no intelligence involved is pretty spot on since otherwise that would require an evolving organism to take control of its life and exhibit some intelligence.”

    I’d ask the man himself, but…well. You know.

  420. robmon 21 Jul 2011 at 3:01 pm

    SteveA to his mind the quote seems ridiculous, mainly because he wants a ‘why’ that it doesn’t give him. Basically take any complex or ordered phenomena and he’ll ask ‘why why why’ to infinite regress, “intelligence” gives him a stopping point. The kind of why he’s looking for implies a director, or an underlying source of order, which natural laws and forces don’t provide.

    It’s like when debating the source of morality with a devout believer, you get questioned ‘why, why, why’ that is really asking ‘who’s gonna make me’. Both cases amount to begging the question in search a just so answer with illusionary explanatory power. He thinks he’s smart because he sees ‘the answer’, but fails to realize he’s asking the wrong question.

  421. robmon 21 Jul 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Case in point…

    Sometimes in a directed fashion by what? A non-choice making random process that is somewhere outside the organism and assesses odds of success regardless of experiencing any prior failures?

    That last was a rhetorical question, asked to and never answered by any of the Dawkins crowd.

  422. Jeremiahon 21 Jul 2011 at 3:35 pm

    *****
    Are you now claiming that
    “an uneducated vendor”
    was not intended as an insult?
    *****
    No, I intended the uneducated part to be insulting.

  423. Jeremiahon 21 Jul 2011 at 4:02 pm

    @robm,
    “The kind of why he’s looking for implies a director, or an underlying source of order, which natural laws and forces don’t provide. ”

    That’s very good, now you’re starting to use reason as your tool.
    Because my argument is exactly that natural laws and forces are evidence of an underlying strategy of order, although not necessarily from a “source” as both the creationists and Dawkins would deem necessary for the establishment of order.
    And that’s not just my argument, but a theme that runs through most every author’s works that I’ve made reference to.

    And we do see the answer being found by studying the way that universal systems consistently evolve themselves. Life is the latest evidence we have of how those systems continue to evolve in what we can see has been a predictably consistent fashion.
    But I’ve said all this before in great detail, and you’ll agree that I’d be wasting my time and yours to repeat it.

  424. Jeremiahon 21 Jul 2011 at 4:14 pm

    steveA, are you in disagreement with that mantra? It was fashioned specifically to meet with nybgrus’ approval, specifically as his counter to Shapiro’s and others theories that microbial life intelligently adapts. And as your leader, he gave it his metaphorical blessing.

  425. nybgruson 21 Jul 2011 at 4:21 pm

    steveA:

    Robm had it mostly right. He keeps quoting that, because at one point heinleiner said something similar, Jeremiah then paraphrased it in order to call heinleiner stupid, and I agreed with heinleiner. So now he attributes the quote to me. He also thinks that the papers he cited and his amazing intellect demonstrate that statement to be completely and utterly false, so he keeps bringing it up like some sort of victory flag he is attempting to wave over me.

    He really is delusional though. He seems to think that there has been anyone (besides sonic, to a limited degree) that he has “reached” or that remotely agrees with him. Keep dreaming Jeremiah. Not one single person here has done anything but handily rip you apart.

    He also has absolutely no reading comprehension (well, we already know that, but here is yet another example – and it isn’t a scientific paper):

    Yes, from the same nybgrus that is now advising real doctors on another thread that serotonin lowers itself to cause depression rather then the other way around

    Which makes perfect sense because I actually wrote:

    My understanding of the pathophys and pathogenesis of depression is that it is an actual remodeling of neural pathways either triggered by, in response to, or reinforced by decreased serotonin and/or noradrenalin levels (not in all cases, but in many).

    So me stating that it is my understanding, stating that I am unsure (because the science is unsure) if the serotonin drop causes the depression or vice versa (likely both, depending on the case), even adding in noradrenalin, and closing with “not all cases…” – yeah, that is some me “advising” that serotonin “lowers itself to cause depression.”

    Whatever you say Jeremiah. You can’t even comprehend simple written English, let alone a scientific paper.

    And for the record, I’m pretty much back to not reading your posts anymore though I’ll skim the shorter ones.

  426. 2_wordson 21 Jul 2011 at 4:42 pm

    “Because my argument is exactly that natural laws and forces are evidence of an underlying strategy of order”

    So would underlying strategy of order be evidence of natural laws and forces?

    So would natural laws and forces be evidence for an underlying stratey of order?

    Or would your statement be precisely meaningless?

  427. Jeremiahon 21 Jul 2011 at 5:25 pm

    @2-words,
    “So would underlying strategy of order be evidence of natural laws and forces?”

    No. You have to examine the regulatory effectiveness of the forces to then form hypotheses as to the nature of their strategic purposes based on the consistency of those effects.

    Making your entire attempt at using reason as if all explanations were somehow tautologically reversible an exhibition of stupidity.

  428. SteveAon 21 Jul 2011 at 5:42 pm

    nybgrus: “so he keeps bringing it up like some sort of victory flag he is attempting to wave over me.”

    Thanks (and to robm). This was the bit I didn’t get, the fact that he treats it like some sort of smoking gun.

    The paragraph isn’t written in great English (it’s a little mangled), but essentially nothing I’d disagree with.

  429. Jeremiahon 21 Jul 2011 at 5:44 pm

    nybgrus,

    “So now he attributes the quote to me.”

    Exactly, as it’s your revision of my original. And you are now having second thoughts. But as they say in the movies, them ain’t the cards we dealt ya.

    And I’ll close with this from a real player I once watched in action:
    “Nobody is always a winner, and anybody who says he is, is either a liar or doesn’t play poker.” (Amarillo Slim)

  430. Jeremiahon 21 Jul 2011 at 5:47 pm

    And now SteveA agrees with something Nybgrus now has second thoughts about. Are we having fun now or what.

  431. BillyJoe7on 21 Jul 2011 at 5:52 pm

    “And VCAT is where they keep the records of domestic actions filed in Mooroolsbark, as he well knows. He says there’s no record of the “settlements,” but that’s a tell right there. It’s settled, for example, that the buxom employee in question no longer works there.”

    That is another outright lie – actually three lies.

    Firstly, what ‘domestic action’?
    What domestic action in any way relevant to what you’ve posted here about me could possibly be kept at VCAT?
    Secondly, what ‘buxom’ blond?
    You forget that was part of your assumption about my employee that I corrected for you a long time ago. But I notice you’ve dropped the ‘young’ part.
    Thirdly, what ‘settlement’?
    The employee in question has not taken action against me because there is absolutely no reason for her to do so. And she still works with me.

  432. 2_wordson 21 Jul 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Okay. So “underlying strategy of order” is not synonymous with “natural laws and forces.” They are obvious not the same thing, definitely not interchangeable.

    That clears up a lot. You sure showed me how I exhibited stupidity. Thank you MR Dangerous Idea.

    So natural laws and forces have a strategic purpose based on consistency of effect.

    So dangerous. So purposeful.

    Not all explanations are reversible but Jeremiah’s are.

  433. Jeremiahon 21 Jul 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Natural “laws” and forces in a parallel universe could have evolved differently through experiencing its different circumstances and yet have used or be using the same basic strategies as ours.

    And they don’t need to HAVE a strategic purpose in order to serve the purposes of strategies in general, which is to try to solve the evolving problems that their users are to be inevitably confronted with. Which gets us into the anticipatory nature of all strategic systems, and way over your head.

  434. Jeremiahon 21 Jul 2011 at 6:45 pm

    BillyJoe7, where did I say buxom blond in reference to you? (You must have been thinking fondly of nybgrus imaginary friend.)
    And it was your wife that has taken action against you, which you seem to forget you had earlier admitted. (And did so again by your deliberately deceptive choice of words.)
    And that employee doesn’t still work at any place that could be considered “with” you – another choice of words that gives the game away.

  435. 2_wordson 21 Jul 2011 at 6:46 pm

    What isn’t a strategic system?

  436. SteveAon 21 Jul 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Jeremiah: “And now SteveA agrees with something Nybgrus now has second thoughts about. Are we having fun now or what.”

    Wow. So now nybgrus thinks that bacteria are intelligent and can direct their own evolution? I’m sure that will be news to him.

  437. 2_wordson 21 Jul 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Anyway. Enjoy whupping everyone.

    I just know that however much I exhibit my stupidity and talk about things way over my head and clumsily insult people and generally just not be as good at stuff as Jeremiah is.

    I know my audience. The wider audience out there, they get it. They have been reached and it has all been worthwhile.

    Also my story on the internet about who I am is more truthy than yours.

  438. SteveAon 21 Jul 2011 at 7:05 pm

    “Are you now claiming that
    “an uneducated vendor”
    was not intended as an insult?”

    Jeremiah:” No, I intended the uneducated part to be insulting.”

    So why use the word vendor?

    Jeremiah: “And it’s not worth the effort to dig up all the evidence that you repeatedly asked for my qualifications.”

    Still waiting for the ol’ cut and paste. Unless of course you don’t have any evidence.

    Come on Jeremiah. You must try harder.

  439. Jeremiahon 21 Jul 2011 at 7:22 pm

    2-words, I didn’t know you even had a story. But yes, you do a clumsy insult well.

    SteveA, nice try, but adaptive mutation is not directed evolution.
    Even if you buy into the stochastic versions of the process, bacteria still need to use intelligence to communicate, compete, cooperate, and continually try to perceive, assess, and solve their immediate and ongoing survival problems.

  440. 2_wordson 21 Jul 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Yes, the audience loves them, the wider audience. They especially enjoy the following insults such as “women” or “nurse” or “vendor.”

    Also, I am professional at whatever your hobby is and probably taller too.

  441. tmac57on 21 Jul 2011 at 7:43 pm

    440- Impressive, Master Manipulator! Kudos! Not only can you pull the strings,you can walk a pretty mean tightrope as well (when you are self-disciplined that is).It is only a matter of time before the trigger is pulled, I suspect (make that self pulled).

  442. Jeremiahon 21 Jul 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Well when it comes to games of strategy, I’m an amateur that studies professionals for a living. And I know a phony when I study one.

    Would you be insulted if I referred to you as a woman, nurse, or vendor? If so, consider yourself insulted, shorty.

  443. 2_wordson 21 Jul 2011 at 8:23 pm

    When it comes to games of strategy, you study professionals for a living? What? So you are a professional amateur of professional studying? And you study phonies?

    This in-between your stretches of amateur study of professionals for a living ? Gosh Mr Dangerous Idea you must be busy.

    Well I professionally study amateurs who study professionals at games of strategies for a living. I know you are a phony because of my professional study of amateurs who study professionals at games of strategy.

    Also, I am a woman, nurse, vendor who is also short, with so many PhD’s, like so many.

    Wider audience, reached.

  444. steve12on 21 Jul 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Wow – this thread must have set some record low for # of posts:enlightenment ratio. Ted Kaczynski couldn’t make this discussion crazier.

    Another observation:
    Mr. Misogyny may be a Teenager of Mystery, but I know this for sure:

    Considering the length and frequency of his posting, there is no way in hell that he has a demanding job (e.g., in science), even with summer’s slower pace (Aussies excluded, of course!).

  445. Jeremiahon 21 Jul 2011 at 8:44 pm

    This investigation of phonies and how cheating as a biological strategy has evolved is part of my research, or did I forget to mention that? But you do tend to present evidence that nygbrus may not be attending to his alleged responsibilities at some down yonder medical school.

  446. 2_wordson 21 Jul 2011 at 8:58 pm

    How does an amateur study professionals for a living? Once you do it for a living isn’t that a profession?

    I will stop poking the crazy now.

  447. nybgruson 21 Jul 2011 at 11:14 pm

    now it is just downright comical.

    poke poke

    and to both the steve’s – yes, I agree. not a very big #ofpost:enlightenment ratio, and indeed, news to me

    interestingly enough he managed to change his wording to actually make a bit more sense, without realizing it, and then lobbing off some shells chock full ‘o’ crazy again.

    c’est la vie

  448. nybgruson 21 Jul 2011 at 11:17 pm

    oh yeah, and I just noticed – he never addressed the point where he completely and utterly fabricated a lie about what I’d said on a different thread when I called him out.

    What was that Jeremiah? Oh, you can fling around insults, claiming you know your shit, but when called out that you can’t read a simple comment you just slink away and ignore it.

    Lets see, I predict there will be some further insult to me, a comment about how my intelligence is so low that my rebuke deserves no further commentary, and how his intellect is so massively superior that only he could understand why the insult was indeed properly served and correctly interpreted.

    Can’t wait to hear it :-D

  449. Jeremiahon 22 Jul 2011 at 12:07 am

    Don’t hold your breath. My translation of your cleverly equivocated commentary was accurate. And I had a good laugh at the real doctor’s wry response. :-D

  450. BillyJoe7on 22 Jul 2011 at 12:21 am

    To the lying idiot:

    “where did I say buxom blond in reference to you?”

    Right here:

    “And VCAT is where they keep the records of domestic actions filed in Mooroolsbark, as he well knows. He says there’s no record of the “settlements,” but that’s a tell right there. It’s settled, for example, that the buxom employee in question no longer works there.”

    Not sure where the ‘blond’ that neither you not I mentioned before suddenly came from though.

    “And it was your wife that has taken action against you, which you seem to forget you had earlier admitted.”

    I have not forgotten.
    But have you forgotten that it is past history.
    But no connection to VCAT there either.
    Keep trying.

    “And that employee doesn’t still work at any place that could be considered “with” you – another choice of words that gives the game away.”

    She works for me. She works with me. I work with her. We work together. Eat your heart out, because she is still there working away, helping me to do my job.

  451. nybgruson 22 Jul 2011 at 12:35 am

    oh I’m not holding my breath. You have absolutely nothing intelligent to say on the topic at all. Your so fracking wrong you can’t even mention it again.

    One thing I will grant is that bacteria are most certainly more intelligent than you.

  452. Jeremiahon 22 Jul 2011 at 12:54 am

    Still there working away at it is she? Wife never found out?

    But we both know better, don’t we. VCAT.

  453. nybgruson 22 Jul 2011 at 1:39 am

    gleep blork nub nub jamt higzz beenz zeebs jurkin fratelino

    poke poke

    juranstimote?

    poke

  454. Jeremiahon 22 Jul 2011 at 1:58 am

    nybgrus, “either triggered by, in response to, or reinforced by decreased serotonin” in each and every sense makes depression the effect and not the cause. Biological systems are anticipatory. Try to grasp what that means, or have a real doctor explain it to you. I just play one on TV. You know, the place where you play imaginary poker.

  455. nybgruson 22 Jul 2011 at 4:00 am

    you truly are retarded.

    try breaking down a complex sentence with multiple clauses into the single clause version:

    depression is a neural pathway restructuring that is:

    triggered by decreased serotonin
    – the neural pathway restructuring is triggered (initiated) by the decrease in serotonin; ergo the cause is decreased serotonin and depression is the effect

    a response to decreased serotonin
    – granted, this overlaps a bit from the first but is different in that instead of the serotonin decrease itself directly causing the neural restructuring it is a secondary result; ergo the cause is indirectly the decreased serotonin and the effect is depression

    reinforced forced by decreased serotonin
    – the depression happens first, irrespective of the serotonin decrease, but the decrease makes it more difficult to get out of the depression; ergo the depression is independent of or caused the decreased serotonin

    and of course, you missed a key part of my statement:

    “not in all cases, but in many”
    – indicating that serotonin decreases are not the cause of depression “in all cases, but in many

    All of which is completely in line with the monoamine theory of depression, which is not fully validated and incomplete, hence my addition of the caveat at the end.

    So, I count 2 times where depression is the effect and not the cause and 2 times where it is independent or the cause, not the effect.

    So, care to try and be a fracking idiot again and explain how what I said “in each and every sense makes depression the effect and not the cause.”??

    Which of course doesn’t matter, except insofar as to point out that your reading comprehension is pitiful.

    bleep blork

    poke poke

  456. Jeremiahon 22 Jul 2011 at 4:46 am

    “not in all cases, but in many”
    – indicating that serotonin decreases are not the cause of depression “in all cases, but in many”

    The decreases aren’t the CAUSE of depression in any of the cases. And you’re unable to point out the cases where they are. But you’ll undoubtedly make something up, expecting that nobody here will know the difference. At least that’s the plan.

  457. SteveAon 22 Jul 2011 at 5:40 am

    steve12: “Wow – this thread must have set some record low for # of posts:enlightenment ratio.”

    Freefall.

  458. nybgruson 22 Jul 2011 at 6:26 am

    “The decreases aren’t the CAUSE of depression in any of the cases.”

    ah, so now you back pedal and change the point of your story.

    from:

    “Yes, from the same nybgrus that is now advising real doctors on another thread that serotonin lowers itself to cause depression rather then the other way around.”

    to:

    ” in each and every sense makes depression the effect and not the cause.”

    and now you are claiming the issue is with the claim that any depression is caused by decreased serotonin, no longer that I claimed it was only caused.

    Not only can you not keep your criticisms straight, but you obviously know more than anyone else about the monoamine theory of depression. But of course, that makes sense – you are an expert on everything aren’t you?

    Keep floundering Jeremiah. I am having fun watching you continue to make a fool of yourself.

  459. nybgruson 22 Jul 2011 at 6:31 am

    @the steve’s:

    This thread has long gone the way of the dodo when it comes to intellectual discussion. I am just having fun poking at our (not so) new idiotic troll. He is the absolute epitome of Dunning-Kruger and in between my actual studies I am having fun poking him more and more. It is like when I realize for a moment that people like nephilimfree actually exist – I just can’t wrap my head around that because it is just so foreign to me. It is the same with Jeremiah – I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that there actually exists someone who is just smart enough to be a flaming idiot and keep going with it relentlessly.

    Feel free to ignore the thread… it won’t get any better and I will likely tire of it sometime soon. But for now, I’m indulging in my guilty pleasure.

  460. SteveAon 22 Jul 2011 at 7:15 am

    nybgrus: “Feel free to ignore the thread.”

    I feel a bit bad about leaving you to it (since you are now, apparently, my leader) but Dr N is posting again and I only have a limited amount of time to devote to the blogs

    Good luck.

  461. BillyJoe7on 22 Jul 2011 at 7:22 am

    To the lying village idiot:

    It’s time to present your evidence.
    I am now totally convinced that you have absolutely no idea who I am.

  462. nybgruson 22 Jul 2011 at 7:50 am

    steveA:

    lol… I’m your “leader” – how funny. I’m sure you realize that is only in Jeremiah’s head and not mine in the slightest, but I figured I would make it plain just in case.

    But don’t feel bad about leaving me. As I said, I am just poking the stupid bear. No luck needed. I think I can manage to keep poking it with a stick.

    hey jeremiah! poke poke!

  463. SteveAon 22 Jul 2011 at 8:48 am

    nybgrus: “I’m sure you realize that is only in Jeremiah’s head and not mine in the slightest”

    No worries.

  464. Jeremiahon 22 Jul 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Anyone who’s actually a doctor will know that nygbrus was simply flat out wrong to begin with and has been trying to wiggle out of it as usual. Each way that I used to point out his error was correct, and for a medical student at a decent institution, that error would be seen as extremely serious.

    But watch how he switches my original statement following around to make it seem I said the opposite:

    ME:”nybgrus, “either triggered by, in response to, or reinforced by decreased serotonin” in each and every sense makes depression the effect and not the cause.”
    Which means of course that all of those explanations of HIS are making serotonin the cause of depression.

    So later on he takes the last part out of context and pretends it was ME that said that serotonin causes depression, not the reverse.

    While at the same time both admitting and confirming I was right on all counts that decreases in serotonin aren’t the CAUSE of depression in any of the cases.
    He clearly wrote at the outset that decreases in serotonin will in some cases cause depression. NO IT WON’T.
    Which the little weasel wording phony now confirms.

    To sum up:
    ME: “The decreases aren’t the CAUSE of depression in any of the cases. And you’re unable to point out the cases where they are. But you’ll undoubtedly make something up, expecting that nobody here will know the difference. At least that’s the plan.”

    NYBGRUS (retrospectively translated from weasel): Yes, I am unable to point out any cases where decreases in serotonin are the cause of depression, so therefor if it’s your plan that I will make something up and further show that I’m a compete phony and don’t know my ass about how biological systems work, then despite your being kind enough to warn me, I’ll be the sucker at the table and walk right into the trap.
    Again.

    Bwahahahahahahaha.

  465. steve12on 22 Jul 2011 at 2:49 pm

    “Anyone who’s actually a doctor will know that nygbrus was simply flat out wrong”

    I’m a doctor (Ph.D.) in cog neuro, and you’re wrong, Nybgrus is right (per usual). I read back a bit, and Nybgrus was perfectly deferential to the chicken-egg problem of NTs and behavioral symptoms.

    “He clearly wrote at the outset that decreases in serotonin will in some cases cause depression. NO IT WON’T.”

    Uhhh. what? It’s far from clear how it works (and certainly involves more than serotonin), but you’re just plain old wrong to make a definitive statement like this, especially considering the PILES of evidence that say this is indeed possible:

    Square this paper:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/301/5631/386.short

    With Mr. Misogyny’s above statement.

    And it’s not just one paper. There’s a lot of evidence – a sampling:
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006322303009521

    http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1986-23907-001

    http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1993-10670-001

    And I didn’t even get to the animal models.

    So we have serotonin depletion challenges, genetics studies, animal knockouts – loads and loads of convergent evidence that cannot be reconciled with your above statement.

    Depression is too complicated to be completely accounted for by this, and may not be etiologically monolithic anyway.

    But I do know this: you don’t know what the F you’re talking about, but it does not stop you from pontificating. THAT I know for sure.

  466. nybgruson 22 Jul 2011 at 4:19 pm

    thanks SteveA, I appreciate your comment. Even though he is rambling like an idiot on the topic (what’s new?) it is still nice to hear from someone who actually does know what they are talking about. I was about to toss up the following:

    Evidence for a biochemical lesion in depression

    and a 2010 paper on the same topic:

    Biological theory of depression in the light of new evidence

    the latter of which states:

    “As for the present therapeutic implications, the monoaminergic theory of depression is paralleled with the chronobiolgy theory and mainly with the theory of circadian rhythm dysregulation. All of the above lead to the rationale of the correct choice of antidepressants.”

    Hmm… seems pretty much exactly what I said… decreases in serotonin (oh yeah, and I included noradrenalin in my original comment) do lead to depression! But not in every case of depression.

    NYBGRUS (retrospectively translated from weasel): Yes, I am unable to point out any cases where decreases in serotonin are the cause of depression, so therefor if it’s your plan that I will make something up and further show that I’m a compete phony and don’t know my ass about how biological systems work, then despite your being kind enough to warn me, I’ll be the sucker at the table and walk right into the trap.

    So not only did I not ever say that serotonin was the sole cause, but you’ve now got SteveA and myself throwing up exactly what you asked for – cases where decreases in serotonin cause depression.

    so, um…. bwahahahahaha to you too buck-o

    Of course, I just anticipate what troll-boy will say.

    “The system is anticipatory and all these scientists and the decades of research have been interpreted incorrectly because they never new this. This shit is cutting edge and only me and 4 other people understand it. Once the rest of the medical establishment realizes it then they will figure out that depression is the CAUSE not the EFFECT!”

    Or some such fracking nonsense.

  467. nybgruson 22 Jul 2011 at 4:21 pm

    @SteveA: I do truly appreciate you taking the time to say what you have, but as I’d said to Steve12 this thread is no longer a coherent, rational discussion. I am just enjoying poking our pet troll for the lulz so no need to waste your time following the thread. Of course, if you have your own morbid curiosity like mine by all means, the more the merrier.

  468. Jeremiahon 22 Jul 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Yes, Steve12, I knew that you’d be the next phony here to bite. None of those papers show any mechanism through which serotonin depletion CAUSED depression, and you’ve as much as admitted that. A series of relatively unmanageable experiences, external or internal to the organism, starts the chain reaction from unrealized and unrealizable expectations to adjustments of the signaling processes in the brain, in which serotonin plays the role of a transmitter of signals – thus NOT a causative role.
    And the reduced transmissions are essentially evidence that a defensive mechanism is in play, and depression is the emergent process that the brain uses in its own defense. The anticipatory signaling processes are re-tuned by dampening the feedback signals that would bring what is now expected to be bad news to the brain.

    This is the intelligent process that goes on below the level of your consciousness that you’ve already shown you have no knowledge of – much the same process that activates bacterial responses to danger. Except bacteria don’t (as far as we can tell) go into a depressed state, no doubt because they are incapable of having long term expectations. They do go into states of dormancy however, which is similarly defensive.
    And this may be partly why depression has persisted as a defensive mechanism, even though our rational processes have been persuaded that depression has to be a pathological condition of the brain.

    Naturally you will now pooh pooh all of this as anthropomorphism and far worse, but nevertheless you’ve admitted that root causes of depression are still a mystery. Put that with your inability to consider that biological systems are and always have been innately intelligent, and denial seems to be your only choice when it comes to explanations that involve innate intelligence.

  469. Jeremiahon 22 Jul 2011 at 4:30 pm

    And yes, nybrus, please don’t pay any more attention. We wouldn’t want your wittow head to hurty hurty any more than you’ve had to learn to get used to.

  470. nybgruson 22 Jul 2011 at 4:37 pm

    ack! I keep getting my Steve’s confused! I’m sorry Steve12! I plead 6:15am and only half my coffee. Many apologies… again :-/

  471. nybgruson 22 Jul 2011 at 4:40 pm

    oh my, he surprised me with his stupidity.

    None of those papers show any mechanism through which serotonin depletion CAUSED depression

    Well, except the studies that show depression being CAUSED by intentional experimental depletion of serotonin…. but never mind those! Lets ramble on about other stupid shit like bacteria getting depressed as well.

    I wonder what drugs I would have to do to get my thinking as warped as that.

  472. steve12on 22 Jul 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I know, Nybgrus, but when someone makes a statement that’s THIS stupid:

    ““He clearly wrote at the outset that decreases in serotonin will in some cases cause depression. NO IT WON’T.””

    It’s hard not to respond considering the literature!

    I mean, causation is always tough with this stuff, but to declare with certainty that it ISN’T causal considering the breadth & convergence of literature leaning that way… what can I say? I’m weak.

    OK, I’ll stop. I’m playing basketball with a retarded kid and calling him for double dribble – it’s just not right (I can’t take credit, that’s a Chris Rock joke).

  473. steve12on 22 Jul 2011 at 4:42 pm

    and no worries about the Steve confusion! Too many Steves to think about here – I’m confused!

  474. nybgruson 22 Jul 2011 at 4:59 pm

    steve12: Yeah, I know – I read the first few lines and immediately started thinking about all the journal articles I could inundate him with. Such is our burden of having brains that actually work and can critically think. Le sigh.

    As for playing basketball with a retard…. yeah, pretty spot on. But this is a mean, spiteful retard who is also an adult. I’ll call a double dribble, take the ball away and hurl it at this particular retard’s face.

    But not too much more for the rest of the day. I am about to go put in 75k on the bike and then I have a board review session. Unlike jeremiah, I actually have to learn real science so I can pass my boards and not kill patients.

  475. steve12on 22 Jul 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Good luck with both!

  476. Jeremiahon 22 Jul 2011 at 5:10 pm

    @nybgrus,
    “Well, except the studies that show depression being CAUSED by intentional experimental depletion of serotonin.”

    Exactly, it was INTENTIONAL depletion of serotonin by the researchers that caused depression, which is what the brains anticipatory processes would otherwise do intentionally to cause depression as a defensive response. Why these two bozos cannot grasp that serotonin itself cannot intelligently cause anything is the mystery. (Mystery to them in any case.)

    Read this article as to depression as an evolved defensive mechanism (those of you who can get past the bullshit bombs thrown by the atavistic gate keepers).

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/feb/27/mentalhealth

  477. 2_wordson 22 Jul 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Yeah. You atavists, stop throwing bullshit bombs. People are trying to get into the DANGEROUS IDEA gate.

  478. Jeremiahon 22 Jul 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Gate’s open here:
    http://edge.org/conversation/future-science

  479. 2_wordson 22 Jul 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Oh. My.

    It is so full of DANGEROUS IDEAS!!!

    Thank you, Jeremiah your outreach has been so effective.

    We, the wider audience, are dodging bullshit bombs and phonies with your superb guidance and years of amateur study of professionals for a living.

  480. nybgruson 23 Jul 2011 at 4:16 pm

    oh troll! have you hidden under your bridge?

    I looked at your articles… nice try shifting the point of the conversation :-)

    I never discussed whether or not depression was bad or good for you. just whether it was caused by serotonin in some cases. which you still haven’t been able to dodge around.

    Steve and I nailed you down bucko

    “He clearly wrote at the outset that decreases in serotonin will in some cases cause depression. NO IT WON’T.”

    Well YES IT WILL! And you haven’t been able to say dork about it so you changed it to whether depression is somehow a positive adaptive feature.

    troll fail! wa…. wa….. waaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  481. Jeremiahon 23 Jul 2011 at 5:12 pm

    nybgrus,
    This is the sum of what I wrote that you don’t seem to get:

    “it was INTENTIONAL depletion of serotonin by the researchers that caused depression, which is what the brains anticipatory processes would otherwise do intentionally to cause depression as a defensive response. Why these two bozos cannot grasp that serotonin itself cannot intelligently cause anything is the mystery. (Mystery to them in any case.)”

    Failing to anticipate the inanity of your last response, I should have added that the experimental “depression” was just that, experimental. It was a defensive reaction that was symptomatic of the real thing. No clinically recognizable syndrome of depression there at all.

    So in its fuller context, what you actually claimed earlier was that it’s the decrease that causes depression without regard to what causes the decrease. And then you’ve both claimed in detail that the experiments prove that.

    Additionally, both you and Steve12 said the following explanation was bullshit:

    “A series of relatively unmanageable experiences, external or internal to the organism, starts the chain reaction from unrealized and unrealizable expectations to adjustments of the signaling processes in the brain, in which serotonin plays the role of a transmitter of signals – thus NOT a causative role.”
    (And the article I referenced and you claim read supports this.)

    And I repeat, serotonin itself is a messenger. Its proximity to an event is not its cause.

    You’d have serotonin be more intelligent than bacteria. Somehow I don’t think that’s the case, but if that makes you the winner in your judgment, go for it.

  482. steve12on 23 Jul 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Nybgrus:

    This is pretty funny, I gotta say, only because HE’s calling attention to it:

    The following quote reveals the dumbest interpretation of an experimental result I’ve ever read. I would fail a kid in methods for this interpretation because it evinces such a lack of the basics of the scientific method:

    “it was INTENTIONAL depletion of serotonin by the researchers that caused depression, which is what the brains anticipatory processes would otherwise do intentionally to cause depression as a defensive response. Why these two bozos cannot grasp that serotonin itself cannot intelligently cause anything is the mystery. (Mystery to them in any case.)”

    Someone who writes this doesn’t even understand what an IV with that simply baffling “INTENTIONAL”comment. I’ve noticed that most IVs in non-natural exps tend to be quite intentional. And then the notion that instead of interpreting in accordance with what was manipulated, you invent a homonculus (“brains [sic] anticipatory processes”) and then simply guess about what it would do in the absence of the manipulation (“would otherwise do intentionally”) is simply guffaw inspiring. What kind of scientific method is this?

    This is the problem with the armchair “experts”. They never bothered to learn the basics (not sexy enough), and then everything that follows is shit, and they can’t even grasp why.

  483. nybgruson 23 Jul 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Steve12:

    It is pretty entertaining. That is why I decided to poke the troll again. It is always amazing what direction he can go with this stuff because my brain just doesn’t work that way (i.e. mine brain ain’t broken).

    It does seem like he has injected some sort of quantum observational flavor to it though in that somehow INTENTIONAL depletion of serotonin is somehow fundamentally different from ACCIDENTAL depletion of it.

    Besides that, the INTENTIONAL depletion is only one (albeit pretty strong) part of the evidence for the monoamine theory of depression. The rest happens to converge there (once again, at least for many cases, but certainly not all).

    It was a defensive reaction that was symptomatic of the real thing.

    What does that even mean?? The depletion of serotonin caused a defensive reaction in the brain (which was due to the fact that the depletion was INTENTIONAL) which lead to the patient only being symptomatic of the “real thing” (real depression?) but not actually having real depression just the symptoms of it??

    How does your troll brain do such gymnastics, Jeremiah?

  484. Jeremiahon 23 Jul 2011 at 6:38 pm

    I gymnastically exercise my brain at a higher level than you two (alleged) medical mechanics seem capable of.

    symptomatic |ˌsim(p)təˈmatik|
    adjective
    serving as a symptom or sign, esp. of something undesirable
    • exhibiting or involving symptoms

    Do you both really believe that the experiments actually caused the subjects to be clinically depressed? How long did this faux (artificially induced) depression last? Never mind, you won’t have an intelligent answer,except to say the length of time is unimportant.
    Also, did this experimental version of depression clear up when serotonin levels were artificially restored? Then why don’t you two monkeys alert the medical media? Never mind, you’d much rather it be your little secret to be hidden in the medicine for dummies knowledge store.

  485. nybgruson 23 Jul 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Thanks for defining symptom. Pretty sure I already knew that one oh wise King of Trolls.

    The length of time is not unimportant. In fact, the length of time was roughly what we’d expect if the return of serotonin were to remedy the issue.

    And why would we need to alert the media? That is ALREADY the scientific consensus and the media already knows.

    You’re flying further and further off the rails troll-boy.

    Keep exercising those mental gymnastics – it’s all you’ve got buck-o

  486. Jeremiahon 23 Jul 2011 at 7:00 pm

    nybgrus
    Alert the media that you’ve found the cure for depression, dumbass.
    Just deal chemically with the signaling systems. Which psychiatry has already been roundly criticized for doing as a stopgap “cure,” but what the hell do those critics know.

  487. nybgruson 23 Jul 2011 at 11:33 pm

    more than you buck-o!

    I never said I found “the cure” for depression. Boy howdy can you twist things up inside that cavernous calvarium of yours. Do ideas just randomly bounce around between your ears, banging into goblins and gremlins, until they finally get spat back out, some decrepit diseased mutant of their former selves?

    Sure seems like it.

    glorp beep, troll-boy

    poke poke

  488. Jeremiahon 24 Jul 2011 at 1:54 am

    But we’ll tell the media anyway that little nybgrus found the cause.
    Bwahahahahaha.

  489. nybgruson 24 Jul 2011 at 2:15 am

    you are MUCH too kind, jeremiah.

    But really, I don’t deserve credit here. I know that to someone like you, seeing someone who is actually scientifically literate must be awe inspiring, but I assure you – I am not godly or mythological. I just have a capacity to read and understand science. If you try really, really hard you might just be able to as well!

    I believe in you Jeremiah. Shed your ugly troll exoskeleton and let that beautiful scientifically literate butterfly deep inside you fly free!

  490. Jeremiahon 24 Jul 2011 at 2:44 am

    Megalomaniacs are known to be sore losers. They can’t seem to get used to it. Maybe you should go back to cheating little old ladies in Gardena. I hear you’re good at that.

  491. nybgruson 24 Jul 2011 at 2:53 am

    I know that’s why it is tough for you Jeremiah. But admitting it is the first step to being rid of it! Face your inner troll, realize it for the megalomaniac it is, and toss it out! Then you can start learning how to actually read and understand science and you won’t have to deal with being a sore, uncomfortable loser.

    I believe in you, Jeremiah. You can do it!

  492. steve12on 24 Jul 2011 at 2:55 am

    “Bwahahahahaha.”

    I don’t think you use this enough. It’s sooo funny, but you only used it like 124 times!

    Come on, man! Don’t skimp on the good material…..

  493. Jeremiahon 24 Jul 2011 at 3:09 am

    It seems to drive nygbrus nuts, so why waste good material.

  494. 2_wordson 24 Jul 2011 at 3:10 am

    “The place to look for me is behind the gate of Dangerous Ideas (sign by courtesy of Edge).”

    Sounds like what someone tells batman. Not at all megalomaniacal. Not even a little.

    It was, I am sure, anticipated to be so and therefor you lose, you cheats.

  495. steve12on 24 Jul 2011 at 3:23 am

    Serious Q:

    How old are you Big J? Just curious….

  496. nybgruson 24 Jul 2011 at 3:26 am

    I’m curious as well. I’ll start – I am 28 years old (as of April this year).

    Side note: I’m honestly surprised anyone else is still reading this. The entertainment factor has been dwindling though… sorry, having trouble keeping the troll uppity.

  497. steve12on 24 Jul 2011 at 3:36 am

    I guess this is my guilty pleasure – I don’t watch reality TV

    I’m 38. Aquirius.

  498. Jeremiahon 24 Jul 2011 at 4:40 am

    “Bacteria don’t learn from experience and don’t make choices. That it’s all done by a chemical reaction system with no intelligence involved is pretty spot on since otherwise that would require an evolving organism to take control of its life and exhibit some intelligence.
    To what purpose when even now we do it all with chemicals? You, know, archeo-intelligent stuff like serotonin!”

  499. BillyJoe7on 24 Jul 2011 at 5:03 am

    That was a strange reponse to a question about his age!

    Of course I don’t need to give my age, because the little fella knows all about me doesn’t he?
    Here, I going to give him some help anyway:
    Just fill in the blanks little fella: BillyJoe is _ _ years of age.

    (Hint: In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m older than 9 and younger than 100 :D )

  500. nybgruson 24 Jul 2011 at 6:01 am

    Indeed it was an odd response…. and now i get to claim the 500th comment! woohoo!

    And steve12 – I don’t watch much TV either so I guess that explains why I see you around here a fair bit :-)

  501. BillyJoe7on 24 Jul 2011 at 7:36 am

    Ditto…but I did follow the Le Tour de France!

    (After being runner up twice, Cadel Evans finally won one.
    Unfortunately, Andy Schleck has now been runner up THREE times!)

  502. steve12on 24 Jul 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Should have known there wouldn’t be an answer. I’m just curious – middle aged guy who’s never kissed a girl and lives with mom? Teen rebelling against authority? Ted Kaczynski conspiracy nut? Considering his paranoia about giving ANY personal info at all (age?), I’m going with #3. But I also don’t believe he’s ever kissed a girl*.

    And you Aussie’s are having quite a time in sports, ha? Not just the Tour, but you kicked our asses in the 4×100 free relay at Worlds to boot!

    *excepting as financial transaction

  503. Jeremiahon 24 Jul 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Actually I’m a middle aged gnome who was born in a Croyden tattoo joint. I am married but can’t stand sex with my wife. It got so bad I couldn’t even get it up around her. But now I get off at least once a week by fantasizing about sex with an employee that was hired for that purpose. She charges my fantasy life and, through her, I can once again masturbate to orgasm. But I’m not so silly as to think I can make reality happen. Every time I try to do the real thing with a human, it ends badly.
    Although there’s something about those sissy bikers in France that intrigues me.

  504. 2_wordson 24 Jul 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Delightfully outreaching.

  505. nybgruson 24 Jul 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Damnit! I missed the tour this year. I actually really wanted to watch it last night and was too busy and when I was done working made dinner and fell asleep. I’m glad to hear that Evans took it though!

    And steve12, I agree – probably conspiracy nut type guy. Maybe the kind of guy that ends up on that TV “Hoarders.” We got pretty tipsy with some friends last weekend and someone mentioned it – I’d never even heard of it so we downloaded an episode and wow! I could see Jeremiah being one of those.

    How about it Big J? You sitting in a dark, dank room, piles of boxes and random garbage everywhere to the point where you can barely make it to the fridge, maybe a little aluminum foil in strategic locations, huge nappy beard on your face, and a guard terrier for added security?

    Hey, you may never get out of your house, but at least you are reaching a wider audience!

  506. BillyJoe7on 24 Jul 2011 at 5:45 pm

    8 factual errors in 8 lines.
    I can’t even be bothered to correct them anymore.
    Just reverse all the signs.

  507. Jeremiahon 24 Jul 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Actually, I am reaching a wider audience, including those who will surely recognize you by your nybgrus moniker at University of Queensland School of Medicine, Brisbane, Australia. They will be more interested, however, in the ignorance and psychotic behavior I have caused you to exhibit, rather than anything else I’ve had to say – that stuff is already in the main stream of real science.

  508. 2_wordson 24 Jul 2011 at 5:56 pm

    How does one exhibit psychotic behavior in a comments thread?

  509. nybgruson 24 Jul 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Indeed you are reaching that wider audience Big J. Keep reaching mon ami!

    BTW, congratulations on figuring out something that has been public knowledge for quite some time, and pretty darned obvious to boot. Let’s see… I have openly said I am in Brisbane and studying medicine. That essentially narrows it down to 2 choices. I also said my SoM was ranked quite high (better than top 50 in the world) which now drops it to one choice. Don’t quite your day job, Big J – detective work ain’t your strong suit. (wait, do you have a day job?)

    And I have actually been complimented on my contributions and commentary by faculty and my colleagues, so I am not concerned about them “finding out” – they already know :-)

    But nice try Jeremiah!

  510. Jeremiahon 24 Jul 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Which is why you told Mufi that you’d rather not say where the school was, you were so afraid of little me? Doesn’t take that much detective work to google nybgrus in any case. Or to discover that you come from San Clemente and most likely used collusion at nearby Gardena and Irvine to “professionally” cheat old ladies. :-)

  511. nybgruson 24 Jul 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Congratulations! You know how to do a google search! You should be proud of yourself Big J.

    But you are right, I didn’t want to hand anything to you since you really are a despicable human being. But I have nothing to hide nor nothing to be ashamed of, so I don’t go out of my way to make things secret. So I am not afraid of you in that regard. And I am not terribly afraid for my own personal safety, since I think the likelihood of you actually being violent is small (but not zero) and I know how to handle myself in such situations. My chief concern is that of my family, friends, and loved ones. And if there is even a whiff of you harassing any of them, I will contact every authority necessary and make it a mission to make your life a legal hell.

    So feel free to bring it on over to me – I have no problems with that. But know that you are duly warned if you try anything else.

  512. Jeremiahon 24 Jul 2011 at 7:21 pm

    “So feel free to bring it on over to me – I have no problems with that.” No I expect your problems will be with some nearby Aussies who have had enough of loud mouth American phonies in their midst.

  513. nybgruson 24 Jul 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Then that is my problem, Jeremiah. And as long as we keep it that way, I think everything will be just fine.

  514. 2_wordson 24 Jul 2011 at 7:48 pm

    The message Jeremiah brings to the wider audience is that he will track you down and call you a phony and a cheat.

    During this marvelous exhibition of self unaware psychotic behavior in a comments thread. You will be diagnosed with a debilitating psychosis such as megalomania and labeled with the title “cheat, phony, nurse,women or vendor. ”

    Do not try to reply this diagnosis or label because repudiation of the learned assessment of your mental state and occupation or gender is considered an attack on the messenger of dangerous ideas.

    Mr Dangerous Idea will deal with you. Mr Dangerous Idea has anticipated it and you will be “whupped.” For he is an amateur, for a living, at studying professionals, when it comes to games of strategy.

  515. nybgruson 08 Aug 2011 at 2:47 am

    I really do apologize for the necromancy I am about to perform, but I couldn’t resist tossing in this link to a review about why Shapiro is wrong. Essentially, another take reinforcing exactly what I have been saying is wrong with Shapiro’s synthesis.

    I won’t be debating it further, but the article was just too delicious to pass up :-)

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