Apr 11 2012

Tennessee “Monkey Bill” Update

I wrote two weeks ago about the latest state bill attacking the teaching of evolution, this one in Tennessee. This particular bill has perhaps attracted more media attention than other similar bills because Tennessee was the location of the famous Scopes Monkey trial. At the time the bill had passed the state house and senate, and we were awaiting the decision of Governor Bill Haslam on whether or not he would sign the bill.

Now our waiting is over. Haslam did not sign the bill, but neither did he veto it. He allowed the bill to pass without his signature.

I had speculated that perhaps Haslam was looking for a politically acceptable (for Tennessee) justification for vetoing the bill, as he stated publicly that the bill might represent legislative intrusion into an area reserved for the board of education. It now seems that speculation was overly optmistic, but not entirely without merit. Haslam indeed did not want to appear to be supporting the bill, but also did not want to veto a bill that is apparently popular in his state. About his decision he has officially stated:

“I have reviewed the final language of HB 368/SB 893 and assessed the legislation’s impact. I have also evaluated the concerns that have been raised by the bill. I do not believe that this legislation changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools or the curriculum that is used by our teachers. However, I also don’t believe that it accomplishes anything that isn’t already acceptable in our schools. The bill received strong bipartisan support, passing the House and Senate by a three-to-one margin, but good legislation should bring clarity and not confusion. My concern is that this bill has not met this objective. For that reason, I will not sign the bill but will allow it to become law without my signature.”

It seems that it is implied in the statement that the House and Senate could have passed the bill over his veto, not something executives like to have happen. The decision is disappointing, and seems politically calculating rather than brave. Haslam is correct in that the bill causes confusion and it is entirely unnecessary for its stated goals. The only reason he offers for not vetoing it is that it was strongly supported in both houses.

Eugenie Scott from the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), a group that vigilantly opposes anti-science regulation such as this, had this to say:

“Telling students that evolution and climate change are scientifically controversial is miseducating them. Good science teachers know that. But the Tennessee legislature has now made it significantly harder to ensure that science is taught responsibly in the state’s public schools.”

And that, of course, is the point of this law – to make quality control of science education harder. Missing from Haslam’s statement is any recognition of this fact. The law is crafted to provide cover for science teachers who want to introduce creationist pseudoscience into their public school science classrooms. Now they can claim that they are just following the law, by teaching the “weaknesses” of a “controversial” topic, evolution, specifically named in the law.

Tennessee is now the second state  to have such a law – Louisiana passed a similar law in 2008. A Nature article on the topic reports:

According to Barbara Forrest, a philosopher at the Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond and co-founder of the Louisiana Coalition for Science, the 2008 Louisiana law “has produced unintended changes in the state board of education’s implementation policy, which now doesn’t prohibit discussion of creationism or intelligent design and allows local school boards to select textbooks outside of those approved by the state”.

So the Louisiana law has had the intended effect – making it easier to teach creationism in public schools. The Tennessee law is a little different, because it specifically requires teachers to stay within the science curriculum. Many Tennessee school districts and teachers already violate the state science curriculum, however, so again we are left with the possibility that this law will simply provide them legal cover for doing so.

Tennessee should be embarrassed by this law – but of course if they knew enough to be embarrassed, they wouldn’t have passed the law in the first place. I think Haslam’s decision will be perceived as cowardly giving in to anti-scientific populism in his state and a failure of leadership. Now we wait to see if other states will put forward similar bills. It will also be interesting to see if any legal challenges are filed. So far there has been no legal challenge to the Louisiana law. Hopefully it’s just a matter of time.

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165 responses so far

165 Responses to “Tennessee “Monkey Bill” Update”

  1. dregstudioson 11 Apr 2012 at 11:36 am

    This law turns the clock back nearly 100 years here in the seemingly unprogressive South and is simply embarrassing. There is no argument against the Theory of Evolution other than that of religious doctrine. The Monkey Law only opens the door for fanatic Christianity to creep its way back into our classrooms. You can see my visual response as a Tennessean to this absurd law on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/04/pulpit-in-classroom-biblical-agenda-in.html with some evolutionary art and a little bit of simple logic.

  2. SARAon 11 Apr 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Honor and Bravery are not two words associated in my mind with politicians or politics generally. It is a world of power games. And sadly, power games seem to have a remarkable similarity to con games in that they both use lots of words that distract from what is really happening.

  3. cwfongon 11 Apr 2012 at 3:08 pm

    I predict that in the end the educational establishments will react strategically to their experiences, and two wrongs will evolve to make a right.

  4. Survivalist13on 11 Apr 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Is there not also the issue that there are science teachers who would teach creationism? If a science teacher believes in creationism should they be teaching science at all?

    It might be naive of me to assume that believing in creationism means your a bad science teacher.

  5. sciberdogon 11 Apr 2012 at 6:09 pm

    What really gets me is the dishonesty of the bill. I watched some of the Senate video. The proponents of the bill brought in a couple of stooges who recited Discovery Institute propaganda for 30 minutes, even having the gall to quote Michael Behe, who they neglected to mention had his ass handed to him at the Dover Trial.

    Then a wonderful Tennessee high school biology teacher testified against the bill, citing all the logical reasons why the bill would be a terrible disservice to Tennessee students in their ability to learn and compete with other states. But no one gave a damn what he had to say, or probably even understood it. I don’t recall hearing any actual representatives arguing against the bill. Sad sad sad….

  6. nybgruson 11 Apr 2012 at 7:50 pm

    I predict that in the end the educational establishments will react strategically to their experiences, and two wrongs will evolve to make a right.

    Sarcasm or actual naivete?

    It might be naive of me to assume that believing in creationism means your a bad science teacher.

    I don’t think so. In fact, I have argued for a while (and Dawkins wrote a piece in the Washington Post to the same effect) that it is an excellent litmus test not only for capacity to lead in science, but in anything. It is such a well publicized theory that is so well settled, that the only two reasons for denying its veracity are utter lack of critical thinking ability and/or theistic dogma. Either of which alone would (should) disqualify one from any sort of leadership.

  7. cwfongon 11 Apr 2012 at 8:02 pm

    nybgrus, that comment was only meant for people who knew something about the connection between experience and change.

  8. arachnaron 11 Apr 2012 at 11:20 pm

    I had a teacher in junior high-school who said something cryptic along the lines of “Evolution doesn’t explain everything” or “I don’t believe it holds up” nonsense. I think he only said it because someone asked him on his opinion. It was pretty disheartening to hear nonetheless but i think he was a good teacher otherwise and taught it anyway. He should have also kept his mouth shut or simply read the definition of a theory. I think like most “skeptics” or creationists he is smart and accepting of science ,however anything that doesn’t conform to his worldview or beliefs can be detoured around or rejected.

    He actually still lives right around the corner, I’m tempted to ask his opinion on the subject five years later on if I run into him.

    I wish the governor had rejected the bill and looked toward the future to see this could set a precedent for more quackery and religiously motivated legislation like anti-abortion bills.

  9. eiskrystalon 12 Apr 2012 at 4:10 am

    Spineless and pathetic.

  10. Steven Novellaon 12 Apr 2012 at 7:40 am

    nybrus – I would add a third reason, grossly misinformed about the facts. (these three reasons are also not mutually exclusive). Some people are drowning in a sea of misinformation about evolution, a dedicated campaign to misinform them in a systematic way to cast doubt on evolution.

  11. chrisgrammaron 12 Apr 2012 at 9:34 am

    A few thoughts. First evolution is a scientific theory and is falsifiable. That is, it makes statements that can be refuted by observation. Well take random variation and selection by survival of the fittest. Survival of the fittest is a tautology such as all bachelors are unmarried men. That is not a scientific statement, it is a definition. Survival of the fittest? What does fittest mean? Those who survive? This is a tautology and is not falsifiable. Second random variation. What is random? An event that occurs without an antecedent cause? How is that scientific as science is based on cause and effect. Miracles are events that occur without a worldly antecedent. Does random variation represent a miracle? The presumption that those who have problems with evolution are philistines is arrogant. After all Steven Gould had problems with the concept of gradualism in evolutionary theory.

  12. Steven Novellaon 12 Apr 2012 at 11:46 am

    chris – actually you just gave further evidence that those who have problems with evolution are scientific philistines.

    The tautology argument is decades old and has been thoroughly refuted. “Fit” is not merely defined as those who survive. It has many specific, operationally defined, and experimentally verified definitions – such as, better able to attract a mate, higher fertility, better camouflage, optimal wing to body ratio, etc. It has been demonstrated repeatedly that certain traits correlate with better survival and reproduction, leading to a preponderance of those traits in later generations – i.e. evolution.

    “Random” does not mean “without antecedent cause.” It means that there is no pattern to the mutations, that they are essentially equally likely to occur at any location in the DNA. But we know of many causes of these mutations – copying errors, ionizing radiation, chemical stress, etc. (As a side note, mutations are not completely random as they are more likely to occur in some locations and in other.)

    Finally, Gould was a staunch evolutionary biologist. Disagreement over details like the pace and patterns of evolution do not call into question, and cannot be equated with, doubting the fact of evolution itself. So this point is a complete non sequitur.

    That’s strike three. All of your points are recycled creationist nonsense long eviscerated. But, you can take solace in the fact that those types of arguments are the best that creationists can do.

  13. nybgruson 12 Apr 2012 at 12:04 pm

    @ Dr. Novella:

    I suppose you are right, though I tend to see “swimming in a sea of misinformation” as a subset of the “lack of critical thinking.” In other words, someone who can critically think should be able to swim out of the sea of misinformation with aplomb.

    However, I suppose it is fair to say that if all you have ever been told is creationist tripe, then I can’t directly fault you for going along with it. My comment was aimed not at the person who simply casually believes evolution to be “just a theory” and “wrong” but the person who actively argues that or touts creationism – in other words, a person who has been forced to actually think about the issue and knows at least that there exists the concept that scientists agree evolution to be a scientific theory.

    Even a small iota of critical thinking capacity should lead that person to seek out an answer. The next iota should readily demonstrate creationism false. That’s what I mean by “utter lack of critical thinking capacity.” Now, that line of questioning in an otherwise critically thinking person can (and is) stifled by theistic dogma, hence my second clause.

    But the way I see it you either care not about the issue at all, or you fall into my categories. Though I suppose I should clarify that the “theistic dogma” part could mean personal dogma or that imposed by the social network you are in.

  14. nybgruson 12 Apr 2012 at 12:05 pm

    @chris:

    Dr. Novella beat me to it, but I was going to say the exact same things. Your arguments are the same ones that have been demonstrated amazingly false so many times it boggles the mind.

  15. cwfongon 12 Apr 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Two evolution theories where change has little or no relationship to experience: Creationism and Dawkinsism.

    *“Random” does not mean “without antecedent cause.” It means that there is no pattern to the mutations, that they are essentially equally likely to occur at any location in the DNA.*
    Tell that to your bacteria.

  16. bgoudieon 12 Apr 2012 at 1:25 pm

    [i]Two evolution theories where change has little or no relationship to experience: Creationism and Dawkinsism.[/i]

    what exactly are you trying to say here cwfong?

  17. nybgruson 12 Apr 2012 at 5:20 pm

    bgoudie – I wouldn’t worry about it. cwfong doesn’t have the capacity to say anything useful.

  18. chrisgrammaron 12 Apr 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Adjective

    Having unpredictable outcomes. wikitionary definition.
    Are mutations unpredictable because they have no antecedent cause or because of what? Why would something be unpredictable? I appreciate the criticism but answer the question please. Antecedent cause is critical to the definition of random.

    Scientific statements are falsifiable. Capable of being proven wrong. The sun will rise tomorrow is capable of being proven wrong. Therefore it is a scientific statement. To say that evolution is absolutely true is not a scientific statement. ” It has many specific, operationally defined, and experimentally verified definitions – such as, better able to attract a mate, higher fertility, better camouflage, optimal wing to body ratio, etc. It has been demonstrated repeatedly that certain traits correlate with better survival and reproduction, leading to a preponderance of those traits in later generations – i.e. evolution” is this a falsifiable statement? A definition is not falsifiable.

  19. cwfongon 12 Apr 2012 at 6:34 pm

    bgoudie, I’m saying that this will be a good time to introduce the theories of adaptive mutation in highschools, if not earlier. Up to now, only neoDarwinist versions of evolution have been generally approved. You don’t have to agree with the theory to realize that it will undoubtedly become part of the argument, if Creationism becomes a subject of debate.

    Nybgrus seems to think that everything he now believes in science is settled. He’s always won that argument with friends.

  20. chrisgrammaron 12 Apr 2012 at 7:10 pm

    By the way the fact “evolution” has been observed and can be described as such. What we are talking about is the “theory of evolution” which is not a fact but a falsifiable i.e. scientific statement. It has not been falsified by the way but it is not a fact. “doubting the fact of evolution itself.” We are talking about the theory of evolution not the fact of evolution. A conceptual error on your part. Creationism is not a refutation of the theory of evolution on that you and I agree. Gould by the way did not see a contradiction between God and the theory of evolution nor does the Catholic church. That the theory of evolution has been “proven” shows ignorance on the inductive nature of science. You should always doubt a scientific theory.

  21. nybgruson 12 Apr 2012 at 7:30 pm

    antecedent causes have nothing to do with randomness. Something can be randomly caused, or a non-random cause can lead to a random effect. In the context of evolutionary theory, random means that there is no end-goal in the pattern of mutations. There is no “final form” that is pre-concieved as trying to be achieved, there is no preference for beneficial over deleterious mutations, and there is no intrinsic restriction to what or where the mutation may be.

    nobody says “evolution is absolutely true.” It is supported with such a mountain of evidence that no reasonable person can truly doubt its veracity. There always exists room to doubt a theory, and indeed some of the finer points regarding evolutionary theory are hotly debated. But the basic premise of it is not.

    Evolution is indeed falsifiable. The odd bits you seem to glom on to are asinine and improperly argued.

    Demonstrate that a modern rabbit existed in the pre-cambrian period and you have falsified evolution. Demonstrate that a cat gave birth to a dog and evolution is falsified.

    Demonstrating that you didn’t know the definition of “fit” and then, when corrected, trying to claim that definition of single part of the theory is the theory is simply idiotic.

    I normally have a little more steam for this, but I guess I am growing weary of countering the same absolutely inane creationist arguments for the millionth time. At least this is some motivation to stop procrastinating and continue the work I need to finish for tomorrow…

  22. nybgruson 12 Apr 2012 at 7:32 pm

    introducing adpative mutation earlier than high school? how about just starting with regular ol’ evolution? The concepts of adaptive mutation are much higher order thinking and learning, not something to be taught at such a low level.

    Next you’ll suggest that we should teach M-theory in high school physics courses and discuss the “controversy” of Newtonian mechanics.

    And I don’t believe that everything I know in science is settled. But certain things are well enough settled for me. What I do believe is that you know just enough to make an proper idiot of yourself.

  23. bgoudieon 12 Apr 2012 at 7:35 pm

    @chrisgrammer

    While we can reasonably predict a rate of mutation in a population or organism, specific mutations are unpredictable. They can arise through several means such as replication errors or environmental damage. The location and results of the mutation are effectively random.

    There are many ways in which evolutionary theory can be falsified. If we found fossils that were utterly out of sequence (such as rabbits before the development of the spine) that would be one way. DNA sequencing provided a major test of the theory, if say we had found that humans had more of our genome in common with clams than primates.

    @cwfong ah yes adaptive mutation. A hypothesis almost as weakly supported as special creationism.

  24. cwfongon 12 Apr 2012 at 7:43 pm

    nybgrus,
    If regular evolution is adaptive, why teach the santa claus version to children first? Talk about making an idiot of yourself, you’ve hardly done anything else that I can find. Wrong about adaptive mutation, wrong about something from nothing, wrong about whether the universe is or isn’t determinate, wrong about whether its laws are accidental or regulative, wrong about whether or not they evolved, wrong about the origin of biological instincts, etc., etc.

  25. cwfongon 12 Apr 2012 at 7:49 pm

    “ah yes adaptive mutation. A hypothesis almost as weakly supported as special creationism”

    And here I thought that you would have at least been supportive of allowing it to be debated in schools, since it seems to have flourished in many of the world’s most reputable universities. Especially, I might add, in Australia.

  26. nybgruson 12 Apr 2012 at 10:10 pm

    i picked M theory because it is also controversial and unproven. Perhaps string theory would be a good fit as well.

    but besides that, even assuming some tenets of adaptive mutation do bear out (and I actually think some, in some form, will) that does not mean it replaces evolution. Calculus does not replace algebra. It builds on algebra. You wouldn’t teach a middle schooler calculus before algebra, nor would you teach adaptive mutation before basic evolution, even if adaptive mutation were well supported.

    It has nothing to do with “santa claus” versions or any such stupidity.

    You should also try and realize that when everyone is wrong about everything that you are right about… well, you are probably the one that is wrong. And you keep amply demonstrating that with your absolutely vapid comments about evolution and its “santa claus” version.

    But keep trying there cwfong. it is mildy entertaining, albeit quite an unfair fight.

  27. cwfongon 12 Apr 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Adaptive mutation IS evolution, and if, as I and others think, it’s the best explanation so far of how we evolve, then the science itself has been evolved, not replaced. And as usual your analogies are terrible.
    Algebra and calculus are not conflicting theories, for one thing.
    If biological evolution is, as some say, the proximate result of the entity involved reacting strategically to its experience, then why would we want to tell children, no, it’s magical?
    And show me something that everyone else is wrong about that I’m not. I back up everything I say by references to the scientists that are working on it. You think I’m wrong, naturally, but you’re far from being a scientist. The problem on this forum is, of course, that ignoramuses like you and BJ7 try to outshout those they disagree with, and gratuitously insult them in the bargain. Many if not most of the smart ones choose to leave, since there’s little opportunity here for intelligent debate at that point.
    But blowhard and babble as you will, I choose to stay.
    And science is not supposed to be a fight, with winners and losers, etc., but I suppose if you’re a born loser, that’s how you see it.

  28. nybgruson 12 Apr 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Adaptive mutation IS evolution, and if, as I and others think, it’s the best explanation so far of how we evolve

    Wrong.

    then why would we want to tell children, no, it’s magical?

    nobody does. When did magic enter the equation? Evolution is not magic… adaptive evolution, as you seem to think it, is.

    And show me something that everyone else is wrong about that I’m not.

    You have yet to say something that is fundamentally correct.

    You think I’m wrong, naturally, but you’re far from being a scientist.

    Whatever makes you feel better.

    and gratuitously insult them in the bargain

    Only when it is deserved from repeated evidence of stupidity… as you have amply provided.

    But blowhard and babble as you will, I choose to stay.

    Feel free. I’ll keep pointing out you don’t have a clue what you are talking about…

  29. sonicon 12 Apr 2012 at 11:16 pm

    I have read a number of articles that try to explain why this bill is bad.
    The articles include one or more of the following—

    1) Start with an appeal to emotion.
    This is done by calling the bill a ‘monkey bill’ or they claim the bill will ‘roll the clock back…’
    The actual bill is titled SB0893.

    2) In the next part of the article we find the bill’s purpose is misstated-
    This is usually by making the claim that the bill promotes teaching religion in schools. As the bill “…only protects the teaching of scientific information,…” we can see the claims are patently false.

    3) There is a claim of future legal action and/or harmful economic consequences.
    Similar bills exist in other states– no legal action- no negative economic consequence (yet anyway). The states that have had legal difficulties with this are not the states that have these laws. In other words- the facts are not in agreement with the claims.

    I am hoping that someone could give me a link to an analysis that doesn’t include the above errors.
    Is there one?

  30. cwfongon 13 Apr 2012 at 12:01 am

    nybgrus babbles back as usual. A great foil. Trying to trash adaptive mutation gives me the best chance ever to promote it to a broader audience. And any form of science that relies on mother nature to accidentally cause highly intelligent strategies to evolve is promoting magic. Even the theists with their miracles know better than that.
    As to evidence of stupidity, at least I don’t argue blindly that something is able to come from nothing.
    Christ on a crutch was that exposition of bad science dumb.
    And the expectation of criticism by some egomaniacal snot or the other is par for the course.

  31. bgoudieon 13 Apr 2012 at 2:48 am

    @sonic

    The law is bad because it clearly sets up a way for a teacher to end run the restrictions on teaching religious based dogma in an academic setting. Having failed to find a constitutional way to teach a Judeo-Christian style creationism in public schools, this law simply removes any penalty for doing so.

    @cwfong
    Sorry, the fact that adaptive mutation is a topic for academic discussion is in now way the same as saying it is considered a valid, well supported hypothesis. Thus far the evidence to make it such just isn’t there.

  32. cwfongon 13 Apr 2012 at 3:44 am

    goudie,
    Google it and check out the results. You may see that it’s much more than an academic discussion.
    Also google the Baldwin Effect for more relevant material.
    I could give you a list of names of prominent scientists who do much more than discuss the subject, but I imagine you already have that list.
    The evidence is there, but the neo-Darwinists and such have been dug in for a long time and won’t give up their ‘true beliefs’ and academic privileges that easily. But the wind has started to go out of their sails, so we shall see

  33. eiskrystalon 13 Apr 2012 at 4:07 am

    We are talking about the theory of evolution not the fact of evolution.

    They are not actually mutually exclusive. Evolution is a “scientific” theory, which is a collection of observations, laws etc… that explain a particular concept. It is NOT the opposite of a fact.

    A theory can be considered a fact (common usage) if, to think it false you would have to be a huge idiot on par with someone who thinks the sun goes around the earth.

    When you say evolution isn’t a fact, what you are basically saying is “evolution doesn’t happen”.

  34. chrisgrammaron 13 Apr 2012 at 8:45 am

    Evolution does exist as a fact. When a volcanic island is formed, it has been observed to be colonized by a few species that then follow an adaptive radiation and produce new species. It is a theory to then apply this factual observation to the fossil record. Proponents of evolution make certain assumptions which they do not fully understand. Nor do they distinguish the fact of evolution from the theory of evolution. Your flippant declarations about randomness demonstrate a lack of abstract thought. Randomness is a difficult concept. It is a mathematical assumption without a physical mechanistic basis. You do not know that genetic mutations are random, you assume they are. There could be a sky god manipulating them. You simply assume there is not and then you act is if you have proven the atheistic hypothesis. Your as stubborn as the fundies. Even the flip of a coin is not random. With proper equipment and physical models you can predict the result of a coin flip and you would do that if you really had to. For most purposes though you make the mathematical not mechanistic assumption that it is random. That is for large numbers it can be modeled with mathematics. You have no understanding of fundamental cause and effect and don’t try to act as if you do. There may be a sky god out there manipulating things. Your mathematical assumptions are just that assumptions. You are on no firmer ground than the sky god people.
    By the way- Steve’s use of words such as “higher, better, optimal” are inappropriate. What he means are adaptive. Another serious error. What does he mean by adaptive. I read Gould’s refutation of the tautology argument and it is tortured. He almost suggests that Evolution is an engineer. A thinking engineer solving problems. Read it.

  35. chrisgrammaron 13 Apr 2012 at 9:09 am

    Also another problem that I would like guidance on by my mechanical atheist friends who give faith to the god of randomness which has no mechanical or observed basis. Just how does one generate a random number table? Can anything that has a mechanistic basis truly be random? I know you all feel comfortable with that and think I am an idiot, but really, to see that when I throw a dart and it hits the center of a target is not random but generating random numbers by using long division and taking the remainder and dividing by some other number is random is a concept that you are comfortable with? Anyway to my atheist friends there is a fact that I want to know your thoughts on. Children with hydrocephalus have been born before the invention of surgical treatment who have no optic cortex. This was found by imaging. Yet they can see. Evolutionary biologists assume that phenotypes are selected for their adaptive qualities. The optic cortex is one of them. Yet “Seeing” is apparently the adaptive entity and can exist separate from evolved phenotype. Are there deeper more abstract non-physical structures that are selected? You assume that function follows form and it is form that is selected. At least in this case their may be evidence that function is more fundamental than form.

  36. sonicon 13 Apr 2012 at 12:52 pm

    bgoudie-
    Here is a link to the actual biil-

    http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/107/Amend/SA0901.pdf

    It is only a few sentences long.
    Could you tell me which sentence or clause could possibly be used to protect a teacher from firing if they started teaching religion or creationism as science?
    Please be specific.

  37. robmon 13 Apr 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Chris, what is random is the apparent result, not the underlying chemical reactions, you’re making a strawman argument. Just like a coin flipped by a human the variables cannot be determined or controlled well enough to predict the outcome any better than chance, even though a deterministic model has been possible for centuries. Likewise finding an encryption key without knowledge of the algorithm that generated the key requires the person trying to break it to test every possible key as though it were random, despite the fact it isn’t. What is important in science is the usefulness of a description in understanding observations.

    Your critique that invisible agencies or forces are producing the observed changes applies equally well to all of science, not just evolution. The observed effects of gravity could all be unrelated phenomena under the domain of a myriad of undetectable supernatural entities that merely act as though they obey the physical laws. The two hypotheses are experimentally indistinguishable, however the supernatural one posits beings that cannot be observed, while the naturalistic hypothesis makes the fewest possible claims that cannot be observed. For that reason one is science, the other is not. You state the theory of evolution is atheistic, it isn’t, it makes no claims about the existence or nonexistence of a deity, in the sky or otherwise. If that was your hang up congratulations, problem solved.

  38. sciberdogon 13 Apr 2012 at 3:27 pm

    @ sonic. This is the clause that protects teachers from firing:

    “Neither the state board of education, nor any public elementary or secondary school governing authority, director of schools, school system administrators, or any public elementary or secondary school principal or administrators shall prohibit any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught within the curriculum framework developed by the state board of education.”

    It is true that the next clause says “This section only protects the teaching of scientific information, and shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine…” but that’s weak… what is “scientific information” in this case… is it anything the teacher believes is scientific information? Even if it’s misinformation, like creationist propaganda disguised as scientific information that is put out by the Discovery Institute?

    There is no reason for this law. The science standards are enough to go by, and anyone who teaches science should and must discuss what aspects of theories are strong and which are weak.

    But by specifically calling out only these “controversial” topics (controversial only in religious and political discussions, not scientific), the only purpose of the law to wedge open the door for non-scientific information to infiltrate the classroom.

    The entire intent of the law is to implement the Discovery Institute’s Wedge Strategy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_Strategy). The Discovery Institute’s mission is to water down evolution education so that it can promote creationism. They failed at actual creationism (Edwards v. Aguillard) and then failed at Intelligent Design (Kitzmiller v. Dover), so their current strategy is to disguise the trashing of evolution in the form of allowing teachers to discuss the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution. Their subversive strategy is very clear for all to see, and this bill fits their strategy perfectly.

    The law can only accomplish two things: If the law is truly meant to provide the ability for teachers to teach legitimate alternative scientific theories, then there’s no reason for the law because that’s what science teachers are supposed to do, under the guidelines of the state board of education. If the law is instead meant to provide a wedge where science teachers can teach non-science or worse religious dogma, then it’s a bad law.

    So the law is either worthless, teaches students bad science, or worse is unconstitutional. There is nothing good about it.

  39. chrisgrammaron 13 Apr 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Dear Robm,
    Thank you for the reply. You actually read my note and addressed some of my concerns. This is how civilized people discuss. The dismissive tone by certain others is irritating. Let me digest this as I agree with most of what you say. You will agree though that the statement “what is random is the apparent result” is an assumption. Tell me how you would prove something is random? You have constructed from your imagination the concept of random. It is not based on observation. I have never observed a random phenomenon. It is a useful mathematical assumption. Random variation is a useful assumption not some profound insight into the nature of the universe. I’m okay with that. I think Christians object to evolutionists somehow claiming that evolution proves that the universe is random. It is logically equivalent to saying that the theorems of Euclidean Geometry prove the Postulates. Random variation is a postulate of evolutionary biology and hence cannot be a logical result of evolutionary biology. Randomness is a pretty absurd idea but is useful, sort of like imaginary numbers. As if real numbers actually existed.

  40. etatroon 13 Apr 2012 at 5:53 pm

    I think that chrisgrammar has an unhealthy fixation with the concept of randomness and a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of randomness in biology (evolutionary and otherwise). I have read through this thread and contemplated replying to each of his supposed concerns, but I have noticed a few trends. He seems to make straw-man arguments, whether intentional or out of ignorance. He seems to conflate the meaning of “random” in our conceptions and in practice (as applied to various fields of science). He also dismisses or ignores responses to his “concerns” and simply repeats them in different forms by (A) Begging yet more mysticism in verbiage, (B) Making new falsely equivalent comparisons, (C) Introducing new unsubstantiated assumptions. He’s seems to be engaging in classic Sophistry without actually accepting new information or building a logical framework based in reality. This is a rabbit hole not worth falling into.

  41. nybgruson 13 Apr 2012 at 8:51 pm

    @etatro:

    I agree. I’ll also add that not only is a truly random number generator not possible (and anyone worth their salt knows this), but that randomness is something that is a field studied in and of itself – people have PhDs in random number theory. It is not so simple as to just say something is or isn’t random, and getting into inane pedantry about it obfuscates any real discussion.

    To say that evolution is based on random mutation is to say that statistical analysis demonstrates with a high likelihood that there is no specific bias to the mutations one way or another. Such analyses are done regularly – take a set of numbers and a statistician would be able to tell you how likely it is that they are a random distribution.

    Of course, other things influence genetic mutations, but the models developed demonstrate quite well that the most fundamental mechanism of evolution is random mutation directed by natural selection – a function of fitness. Other mechanisms can (and have) evolved to remove deleterious mutations from the population at a greater efficiency. And there is some interesting research to show that there may be mechanisms in place to increase the rate of beneficial mutations. But at base, it is all just a random distribution, born out by the law of large numbers, and honed in by fitness curves.

    Of course, I doubt that chrisgrammer will even begin to understand this. I await the next random straw man (haha, see what I did there?)

  42. cwfongon 13 Apr 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Spoken like a true believer. How does natural selection direct the removal of deleterious mutations without access to the learned experience of the organism. And if the argument is that it HAS access to such experience, does it also add replacement mutations that will work better than those it has been instructed to delete. And thus is it the organism that uses mutations to its advantage or some other random process of nature that uses the organism as a lucky or unlucky recipient of its favors?

    And yes, nybgrus, I doubt also that chrisgrammer will understand your version of the process, since your description is more like a summary by rote than a reasonable explanation of anything..

  43. nybgruson 13 Apr 2012 at 10:49 pm

    How does natural selection direct the removal of deleterious mutations without access to the learned experience of the organism.

    It’s called fitness you imbecile.

  44. cwfongon 13 Apr 2012 at 11:50 pm

    As expected, all you can do is hurl insults.
    It’s called fitness? Fitness given regardless of some recognition of the organism’s experience and determined needs? You are indeed a lot like BJ7, a cutter, paster, and labeler of the accepted dogma with little understanding of what it means, how it works, where it originated, etc., etc. Another form of the magical creationist, but in some ways even dumber. And you’re trying to instruct such as chrisgrammer, who already shows about twice the intelligence that you do.

    It’s called fitness therefor it’s a fitness function? Smart.

  45. cwfongon 14 Apr 2012 at 12:09 am

    Here’s another question nybgrus can’t answer:
    How do random mutations alter genes in not only an intelligent but heritable fashion, while intelligently self induced mutations supposedly will not be functionally suitable for inheritance?

  46. bgoudieon 14 Apr 2012 at 3:36 am

    @cwfong

    anyone who is trying to argue for “intellegently self induced mustations” surely knows a great deal more about magic than most folks.

  47. BillyJoe7on 14 Apr 2012 at 3:52 am

    Here is why “adaptive mutation” will never displace “random mutation and natural selection”:

    It is not possible for “adaptive mutation” to get off the ground on its own.
    In other words, it takes “random mutation and natural selection” to set the scene for “adaptive mutation”.
    And “adaptive mutation” is itself an accelerated form of “random mutation and natural selection”.

    That’s about it.

    As a specific example, when the immune system is challenged, it produces numerous slightly different immunoglobulins. This capacity has been built into the organism as a result of “random mutation and natural selection”. And the production of these numerous slightly different immunoglobulins is the result of what can be described as accelerated “random mutation”. Then the immunoglobins that most effectively fight off the invading organism, feed back to increase their own production at the expense of the immunoglobulins that are ineffective. This is just accelerated “natural selection”.

    Certainly, nowhere in this process of “adaptive mutation” is there any directedness or striving towards or inheritance of acquired characteristics (see next paragraph).

    It is true that there can be changes to DNA as a result of “adaptive mutation” (such as methylation) that is passed onto the next generation, but this is lost after only a few generations and therefore cannot be the cause of evolutionary change.
    And, again, this capacity for “adaptive mutation” is provided in the first place by “random mutation and natural selection”.

  48. BillyJoe7on 14 Apr 2012 at 3:55 am

    bgoudie: ” Sorry, the fact that adaptive mutation is a topic for academic discussion is in now way the same as saying it is considered a valid, well supported hypothesis. Thus far the evidence to make it such just isn’t there.”

    Well said.

  49. cwfongon 14 Apr 2012 at 4:23 am

    BillyJoe7 is merely parroting something he read in a Dawkins book. I’ve asked him to read the literature that directly contradicts everything he’s cutting and pasting here, but he won’t. Shapiro, Jablonka, Margulis, Mae-Wan Ho, etc.

    As to bgoudie, I thought you were smarter. Adaptive mutation is an intelligent process, solving problems on an experiential trial and error basis, as does the Baldwin Effect. Natural selection is, as Dawkins argued, also intelligent but blind to experience. All organisms use intelligently acquired strategies to survive. Can you, for example, repair your wounds, without the intelligent methods devised by your cells, which evolved from self-mutating and evolving bacteria?

    I know I’m wasting my time here, but if it irritates BJ7 and his pal in the process, it’s fun. Also, he has a chinese friend named Andrew Leung, which is supposed to make us friends. Who nobody ever heard of, but he wouldn’t lie.

  50. BillyJoe7on 14 Apr 2012 at 5:07 am

    cwfong,

    You are not wrong because you are Chinese.

    “he has a chinese friend named Andrew Leung, which is supposed to make us friends”

    Indeed I do. That does not make us friends though. And changing your name into cwrong is not racist, it’s just appropriate. It takes the Chinese away – because it is not relevant – and replaces it with wrong – which IS relevant.

    “BillyJoe7 is merely parroting something he read in a Dawkins book.”

    I have never heard Dawkins say anything on the subject of adaptive mutation.
    (That should actually tell you something)

    “he’s cutting and pasting here”

    I never cut and paste.
    If you think I have, prove it. Simply google a sample of what I have written and see if you can find a link to my supposed source. But don’t waste your time because you won’t find anything. Everything I write here is in my own words.

  51. cwfongon 14 Apr 2012 at 5:29 am

    You’re parroting what you said about evolution from Dawkins. You don’t know diddly about adaptive mutation so obviously can’t parrot anything there. And how would you like it if I called you billybonehead?
    (Or called you Billytistic but that would insult the other tistics.)

  52. BillyJoe7on 14 Apr 2012 at 7:04 am

    cwfong: “You’re parroting what you said about evolution from Dawkins”

    Didn’t you mean: you are parroting what Dawkins said about evolution?
    Go to bed, cwfong, you are obviously very tired.
    The argument was that I was parroting Dawkins regarding adaptive mutation.
    I have never heard Dawkins say anything about adaptive mutation.
    Please provide a link to where I have parroted him on adaptive mutation.

    “You don’t know diddly about adaptive mutation”

    You wish.
    Shapiro is excellent when it comes to microbiology. Evolution? Not so much.

  53. nybgruson 14 Apr 2012 at 9:14 am

    It is not possible for “adaptive mutation” to get off the ground on its own.
    In other words, it takes “random mutation and natural selection” to set the scene for “adaptive mutation”.
    And “adaptive mutation” is itself an accelerated form of “random mutation and natural selection”.

    Spot on mate.

    Shapiro, Jablonka, Margulis, Mae-Wan Ho, etc

    I’ve already destroyed Shapiro’s work on this very blog a few times before. He doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about. Go back and read the relevant threads if you are interested. I won’t waste my time on it anymore.

    t’s called fitness? Fitness given regardless of some recognition of the organism’s experience and determined needs?…It’s called fitness therefor it’s a fitness function? Smart

    Why do I bother trying to explain? You have no genuine interest in actually understanding.

    You asked “How does natural selection direct the removal of deleterious mutations without access to the learned experience of the organism.”

    The answer is: fitness. A deleterious mutations makes and organism less fit. If it is less fit, it passes on fewer copies of its deleterious mutation. As fewer and fewer copies exist, the deleterious mutation is removed… via fitness. If it is beneficial, there are more copies, since the organism is more fit, and can pass on more of the beneficial mutation. That is so incredibly basic that even my 8 year old nephew grasps the concept which completely and utterly evades you. Hence you are quite aptly called an imbecile.

  54. sonicon 14 Apr 2012 at 12:06 pm

    sciberdog-
    A similar law exists in two other states. In Louisiana the law was enacted in 2008.
    There have been no incidents of creationism or religion being protected under these laws.
    Your concerns are apparently not warranted.
    The factual evidence is contrary to the assertion.

    Does that matter at all?

  55. nybgruson 14 Apr 2012 at 1:02 pm

    sonic-

    So your argument is that there hasn’t been an issue or challenge yet and therefore that is evidence that the law does not enable what we are claiming?

    We are stating that the law emboldens and gives opportunity for teachers to bring more creationism and pseudo-science into the classroom, which, if challenged, would be more easily defended.

    A lack of challenge is not evidence that the law doesn’t do this. It is merely evidence of a lack of challenge. The subservise teaching of creationism in science classes is a common occurance, usually not challenged because in most cases most students and parents agree with the ideology (do remember that 2/3 of people in the country don’t think evolution a valid theory and think creationism is a better substitute). Those that would otherwise challenge it don’t for a variety of social and political reasons.

    That is why cases like Freshwater and Kitzmiller are pretty rare.

    The point is not to say that there are no challenges so the law must be OK – not only does that miss all the challenges that should happen but don’t, but it is also completely irrelevant. Even if you are right, and not a single person ever uses the law as a defense from illegitimate “science” teaching it would still be our duty to oppose the law on principle. As was stated above and is quite clear, the law either does absolutely nothing or gives more leeway for defense of bad science teaching. Either way we should oppose the law, but obviously the more serious reason for opposition is the implications for science teaching… which is why we focus on that. Though please note the other reason to oppose the law is also mentioned readily.

  56. cwfongon 14 Apr 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Yes, BJ7, you were parroting what you said about evolution from Dawkins, and you are parroting what Dawkins said about evolution. And while he has commented on adaptive mutation, and in a conversation with Jablonka as I recall, I’m sure you never saw it, or know anything about it.

    “The argument was that I was parroting Dawkins regarding adaptive mutation.”
    No, it wasn’t. You’re the one that needs a bit more sleep.

    Then here comes the egomaniac nybgrus who parrots the dogma about fitness but can’t answer the rest of my initial question. Of course his 8 year old nephew grasps the concept. It’s juvenile.

    “If it is less fit, it passes on fewer copies of its deleterious mutation.” Meaning that the less fit have lesser offspring than the fit, or that the less fit in the group die off, and those that weren’t so accidentally mutated survive? Nice solution mathematically, but it has little connection to reality. The fact is it was the best idea they could come up with when the theories of Lamarck (which Darwin had at first accepted) were subsequently rejected (in mistake) by Weismann. Now, however, the working evolutionary biologists have moved on with the ideas that had initially helped motivate Darwin. And they’ve had great success, Shapiro’s being an excellent example.

    Nybgrus claims he destroyed Shapiro here on this blog? In his fantasy life, perhaps. What did he do, wave mother nature’s magic wand and pronounce that he was an imbecile. (I love it when they make these idiotic errors, where they destroy a world famous science in their dreams and publicize it, albeit anonmously.)

    Now BJ7 chimes in that he Shapiro is excellent when it comes to microbiology, but not so much in evolution. How does that work when his expertise involves the evolutionary capacities of bacteria?

    These two mental midgets are a joke, although BJ7 has the excuse that he only went to high school. Nybgrus claims he has degrees or some such in the subjects under discussion. Wow.

  57. cwfongon 14 Apr 2012 at 2:02 pm

    sonic, I expect you’ve already spotted this bit of nybgrus logic by dichotomous comparison:

    “As was stated above and is quite clear, the law either does absolutely nothing or gives more leeway for defense of bad science teaching. Either way we should oppose the law.”

    But then there a few other ways that suggest we should not bother to.

  58. Mlemaon 14 Apr 2012 at 4:12 pm

    I suspect this new law in Tennessee is simply a way for the state’s politicians to appease their religiously conservative constituents without actually subverting the science curriculum in the schools.
    It’s no accident that these laws are passing in the most religiously conservative areas of the U.S.

    After all, the law ostensibly says nothing except that scientific information and scientific method should be protected, and no particular doctrine should be advanced (it says nothing new I guess) but since it’s been promoted and argued about in the media as allowing for creationism to be taught in the schools, then the voters who believe that the bill promotes creationism and makes teaching creationism possible may be more likely to keep their incumbent in office if he or she helped to pass the bill.

    At the same time, the state gets to hold on to some semblance of modernity because the law doesn’t actually say anything at all about trashing evolution or supporting creationism. And the governor gets the benefit of walking the middle line too, by simply not signing the bill and saying it’s confusing or not necessary.

    Politicians like to have their constituents believe they are representing their interests.

    Me? I think we have far bigger problems facing our youth than whether or not they are taught that evolution is accepted fact or not. And as others have said, this is a distraction from the real problems in government. I’m thinking that representatives placating their religious constituents while pandering to corporate interests and voting away the economic rights of middle and working class folks is a bigger problem.

    Several states have passed, or are working to pass, laws that will help bust teacher’s unions (Tennessee is one of them). How do you think that will affect science education?

  59. cwfongon 14 Apr 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Good question, Miema. No easy answer. Is the union corrupt or protecting its own interests ahead of the teachers or their students? Is it blocking competency standards for teachers, and if so why? Is it defending the good teachers against the criticism from incompetent legislators? In the end, if good teachers want good unions, no union should be busted by the usual political slaves of the ideologies that they owe their office to. Thus I have spake.

  60. robmon 14 Apr 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Mlema, the bill was designed to allow various forms of science denial in the class room. The controversies it specifically lists “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning;” are all political controversies rife with bad science and science denial.

    My guess is its designed to allow promote disinformation and doubt as opposed to actual opposing opinions, and leave things vague enough to avoid a lawsuit. A handful of climate denier or creationist talking points about the “weaknesses” of the theory will sow enough doubt to allow students to believe the truth even though it is contradicted by all the facts. Whether these laws lead to significant changes in the classroom, or this is just there to pump up the religious right remains to be seen.

  61. nybgruson 14 Apr 2012 at 6:07 pm

    As robm said. And bear in mind the well documented tactics of creationists and ID propagandists. Mlema’s interpretation is quite reasonable if we don’t assume that the likes of science denialists don’t use such intentionally underhanded tactics… but they do.

  62. cwfongon 14 Apr 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Unfortunately some science deniers are those who deny that science has advanced beyond their knowledge.
    Underhanded tactics are the norm in academia on all sides when newer and auxiliary evolutionary theories compete with their older versions.

  63. Dirk Steeleon 14 Apr 2012 at 7:22 pm

    I am not sure that we should restrict debate. The wrong debate is eventually futile. Surely if we educate our children to be critical and skeptical then they will ask the right questions of their teacher. Or else be diagnosed with ADHD….

  64. cwfongon 14 Apr 2012 at 8:08 pm

    The wrong debate is eventually futile? That’s like saying the justice system works, eventually, since after twenty years or so the occasional innocent is freed. Sorry, that’s a pet peeve of mine.

  65. BillyJoe7on 15 Apr 2012 at 2:30 am

    Dirk Steele

    “I am not sure that we should restrict debate.”

    Where there is genuine disagreement between experts in the field, there is no problem informing students about these differences. What is debatable is whether students are in a position to debate these differences. But what is not debatable is that the so called “alternative theories” that are the undercurrent to these laws are actually part of that debate. They are not.

  66. cwfongon 15 Apr 2012 at 4:02 am

    It’s a good thing, then, that you have no authority in the science field.

  67. BillyJoe7on 15 Apr 2012 at 7:26 am

    This should suffice as a reply:

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/are-evolution-and-creationism-compatible/comment-page-3/#comment-41765

  68. BillyJoe7on 15 Apr 2012 at 8:29 am

    I am under the impression that osteporosis does not cause back pain untill you suffer a vertebral compression fracture. Does anyone know if this is correct. I tried googling for an answer unsuccessully.

  69. BillyJoe7on 15 Apr 2012 at 8:57 am

    …oops, wrong blog!

  70. nybgruson 15 Apr 2012 at 10:08 am

    Unfortunately some science deniers are those who deny that science has advanced beyond their knowledge.
    Underhanded tactics are the norm in academia on all sides when newer and auxiliary evolutionary theories compete with their older versions.

    And some science cranks think anything published in peer review means it is legit and fail to recognize that these fanciful ideas are marginalized by the consensus for a reason.

    The wrong debate is eventually futile? That’s like saying the justice system works, eventually, since after twenty years or so the occasional innocent is freed. Sorry, that’s a pet peeve of mine.

    At least we can agree on one thing.

  71. nybgruson 15 Apr 2012 at 10:10 am

    I am under the impression that osteporosis does not cause back pain untill you suffer a vertebral compression fracture. Does anyone know if this is correct. I tried googling for an answer unsuccessully.

    Wrong blog, but I’ll answer it for you – yes, you are correct. It is completely silent until a pathological fracture occurs.

  72. chrisgrammaron 15 Apr 2012 at 12:34 pm

    If I may cut and paste from our esteemed. Steve Novella-The tautology argument is decades old and has been thoroughly refuted. “Fit” is not merely defined as those who survive. It has many specific, operationally defined, and experimentally verified definitions – such as, better able to attract a mate, higher fertility, better camouflage, optimal wing to body ratio, etc. It has been demonstrated repeatedly that certain traits correlate with better survival and reproduction, leading to a preponderance of those traits in later generations – i.e. evolution.
    Are you really going to let him get away with words like “better” “optimal” I think he means “adaptive” i.e., better able to reproduce. Thank you for slam dunking the tautology argument. Guess will just have to go to the museum and watch those cavemen stand more upright to become Europeans wearing a business suit. Guess those blue eyed Aryans are more optimal, better, smarter, I guess evolution moves towards optimization. Thank you Steve. Could we have a little more humility here? Embracing evolutionary biology is useful because the people who believe in it do useful things. You cannot prove it true as Hume demonstrated by the proof that induction is true by using inductive arguments. A self referential contradiction.

  73. cwfongon 15 Apr 2012 at 1:02 pm

    @nybgrus, “And some science cranks think anything published in peer review means it is legit and fail to recognize that these fanciful ideas are marginalized by the consensus for a reason.”

    Anything published in peer review by renowned professors and researchers on the subject deserves to be taken seriously as a matter for both the students and their teachers of the subject to debate.

    Science cranks who can’t deal with the requisite progressions of the science can sit it out.

  74. sonicon 15 Apr 2012 at 1:03 pm

    nybrus-
    You misread what I said.
    1) The law specifically states it protects the teaching of science only.
    2) There is a claim that it protects something else.
    3) The factual evidence– what has actually occurred and what is actually written in the bill- both suggest the claim the law protects something else is false.

    So the opposition to the bill is based on things that the bill does not say and on actions that have never occurred.
    That is to say the opposition is baseless.

    Mlema-
    there are surveys of teachers that indicate confusion about what is OK to do in this area.
    One might consider this is an attempt clarify the situation.
    Of course one might say that it is politicians pandering.
    Of course one might say those two are not mutually exclusive…

    cwfong-
    One observed instance of speciation is the evening primrose. In this case we find a variant that has 28 chromosomes instead of 14 as a result of a gene double.
    In other words a dog gave birth to a cat.
    Nybrus seems to think this should falsify ‘evolution’…

    Another example– he seems to think that if a fossil was found out of place this would be a problem.
    But fossils are found out of place regularly. One method of dealing with this is called ‘ghost lineage’. So not only are fossils found out of place– there is a standard handling for it.

    Finally- I gave a link to an article that suggests ‘genetic darwinism’ can’t be a foundation for a theory as it is not in alignment with observation.
    One might ask– what is the difference between ‘genetic darwinism’ and ‘random mutation’?

    You tell me.

    (Of course anyone who can refute Shapiro…) :-)

  75. cwfongon 15 Apr 2012 at 1:05 pm

    And as to BJ7′s reference to: http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/are-evolution-and-creationism-compatible/comment-page-3/#comment-41765 – please do go and check that out. Especially as it relates to his authority.

  76. cwfongon 15 Apr 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Sonic, thanks for the reference. Of course it won’t make any difference to the nybgruses. They will destroy its source.

  77. BillyJoe7on 15 Apr 2012 at 5:42 pm

    sonic,

    “One observed instance of speciation is the evening primrose. In this case we find a variant that has 28 chromosomes instead of 14 as a result of a gene double.”

    Gene doubling is simply a macromutation. Nothing in the modern synthesis precludes macromutations from occurring. However, macromutations are not evolution, they are merely the substrate upon which (further) random mutation and natural selection operates. In other words, there is no survival advantage to gene doubling until further random mutation and natural selection of the duplicated genes occurs.
    This is just part of the modern synthesis.

  78. BillyJoe7on 15 Apr 2012 at 5:49 pm

    sonic,

    “But fossils are found out of place regularly. One method of dealing with this is called ‘ghost lineage’.”

    Yes, earthquakes tend to upset the order. ;)
    The modern synthesis is dead and buried in an earthquake!
    Ghost lineage is is a lineage that is inferred to exist but has no fossil record. It has nothing to do with finding fossils out of place or of “dealing” with finding fossils out of place.

  79. cwfongon 15 Apr 2012 at 5:51 pm

    sonic, if that were true, the modern synthesis is in worse trouble than we thought.

  80. nybgruson 15 Apr 2012 at 9:03 pm

    buggeringly dense, the three of you.

    Chris – that was one of the most meaningless rants of gibberish I’ve read in a while. It’s not even remotely worthwhile discussing the topic with you.

    cwfong – So we should very seriously consider Vitamin C as curative of everything because Linus Pauling said so? Or that DNA can literally transport itself because Luc Montagnier published an article on it? Please. Go ahead and take it all seriously. You obviously don’t discriminate between good ideas and bad ideas from people who have had other good ideas.

    sonic –

    So the opposition to the bill is based on things that the bill does not say and on actions that have never occurred.
    That is to say the opposition is baseless.

    As I said, even then we should oppose the bill. If everything you say is absolutely true we should still oppose the bill because it is completely and utterly superfluous and, as the governor himself said, only serves to sow confusion and be pointless.

    But, as I said, the precedent is abundantly clear that creationist/ID types use very subtle attempts like this with clear intention to use it as a subversive tactic. I have pointed you over to The Wedge Document, right??

    One observed instance of speciation is the evening primrose. In this case we find a variant that has 28 chromosomes instead of 14 as a result of a gene double.
    In other words a dog gave birth to a cat.
    Nybrus seems to think this should falsify ‘evolution’…

    After all out chats, you still just end up right back at the same, typical, trite, shallow creationist arguments?

    No – a primrose with double chromosomes is still a primrose. That is not speciation, and it is not evern remotely an example analagous to a dog giving birth to a cat.

    And indeed, there has never been one single fossil discovered out of geological space ever. Not one. That is 100% creationist lie. Go ahead and find one example from a legitimate source…

    And as BJ pointed out, ghost lineage has nothing to do with finding fossils out of place. Because there is no such term for it. Because, in case you missed it, no fossils have ever been found out of place.

    I gave a link to an article that suggests ‘genetic darwinism’ can’t be a foundation for a theory as it is not in alignment with observation.

    I didn’t read the article. I’d be willing to bet it is extremely underwhelming, but I can’t comment.

    I honestly don’t know why I waste my time with… well, whatever label describes the lot of you.

  81. cwfongon 15 Apr 2012 at 9:49 pm

    nybgrus asks,
    “So we should very seriously consider Vitamin C as curative of everything because Linus Pauling said so? Or that DNA can literally transport itself because Luc Montagnier published an article on it? Please. Go ahead and take it all seriously. You obviously don’t discriminate between good ideas and bad ideas from people who have had other good ideas.”

    Obvious to you perhaps who has never had a new idea to object to. Sure, I would have expected Pauling’s research to be promising, and some of those who did nevertheless found fairly soon that Pauling was wrong. (I never knew him, but knew his son, who was far from a nut.)
    As to Montagnier, what he has proposed seems at first glance implausible, but then we make strategic communications electronically all the time, which was implausible not that long ago, and just examining the fallout from his proposals will be interesting.
    Or didn’t you know that cells of all types communicate electronically or multicellularity wouldn’t work.
    We can’t be sure that none of it is wireless in our bodies, now can we? So let’s give the guy a chance to fail before we punish him for the misgotten attempt.

    But of course I’m a positive minded skeptic and you’re not.

  82. cwfongon 15 Apr 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Oh, and did you not know that molecules stay formed by reacting strategically to the apparently predictable and expectant movements of the adjoining electrons? But then they supposedly don’t think so thinking oriented molecules should have no truck with them.

  83. BillyJoe7on 16 Apr 2012 at 12:22 am

    Regarding cwfong…
    We surely have a Dunning-Kruger Effect operating here.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

    “The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes.”

    One clue is that he never really answers any questions because he does not have the required knowledge and skills to do so.

  84. cwfongon 16 Apr 2012 at 1:40 am

    I’ll readily admit I don’t have any answers that he’s capable of understanding. Here’s why:

    I’ve done research in the past that relates to the various levels of abstract reasoning abilities in humans, as well as such levels in a number of other species – even strains of bacteria solve problems at different levels of complexity. And in a sense, even the concrete reasoning of humans is abstractive, with ‘concrete’ representing our lowest level of dealing with our day to day complexity. The standards are necessarily arbitrary but so are all our standards when it comes to intelligence.
    I should have recognized by now that BillyJoe7 has to operate at that lowest human level, but I didn’t. He left all the clues, but I admittedly missed them.
    What I’ve learned however is that those on the lower rungs of the intelligence hierarchy mask their competitive deficiencies by fakery. His fakery has always been easy to spot, but the reasons that such fakery had become necessary were less obvious. The stubbornness in maintaining that fakery has recently reached such extremes that the mental problem behind that strategy is now obvious.
    People that can’t think as well abstractly don’t necessarily know that they can’t, since may not know in general what abstraction is or feels like. So they think instead that those who claim and appear to be thinking at a higher level have somehow learned to fake it.
    In BJ7′s case, he makes the excuse that he didn’t go past highschool, so the learning that it takes to fake it wasn’t afforded to him. So he’s taught himself to fake such abilities competitively in return.
    As a consequence, he can’t debate intelligently and cooperatively on any matter of complexity above the concrete level. He hasn’t learned how to, and his abilities have offered him no incentive to do so. He’s told himself that everything presented as unusually complex is to some extent a lie, and any argument in dispute of such contentions will be essentially a liars contest. Which he has convinced himself he’s good at, because he has no other options.

  85. cwfongon 16 Apr 2012 at 1:41 am

    BillyJoe7, I think you need to read these articles.
    http://www.differencebetween.net/language/difference-between-concrete-and-abstract-thinking/
    http://www.projectlearnet.org/tutorials/concrete_vs_abstract_thinking.html

  86. cwfongon 16 Apr 2012 at 1:49 am

    These deficiencies are common to people in the autistic spectrum – is that perhaps the problem?
    They’re also common results of brain damage, as the articles I asked him to read have indicated.

  87. nybgruson 16 Apr 2012 at 6:30 am

    As to Montagnier, what he has proposed seems at first glance implausible, but then we make strategic communications electronically all the time, which was implausible not that long ago, and just examining the fallout from his proposals will be interesting.
    Or didn’t you know that cells of all types communicate electronically or multicellularity wouldn’t work.
    We can’t be sure that none of it is wireless in our bodies, now can we? So let’s give the guy a chance to fail before we punish him for the misgotten attempt.

    And there you have it ladies and gents. Lets give Montagnier a chance and entertain the possibility that DNA teleports wirelessly and that may explain part of multicellular communication.

    But of course I’m a positive minded skeptic and you’re not.

    Skeptic. You use this word, but I do not think you know what it means.

    If you hear a giant squish as you are walking one day, it might be the sound of you stepping on your brains as they have fallen out of your head.

    I think I am done wasting my time with you. I’ll leave you to BJ who has more time and also actually knows what he is talking about.

  88. BillyJoe7on 16 Apr 2012 at 6:41 am

    Meanwhile, there is a question which involves a fairly reasonable degree of abstract thinking to both ask and answer. I have asked the question. But can cwfong answer it?
    Watch this space…

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/are-evolution-and-creationism-compatible/comment-page-3/#comment-41798

    It should be fun.

  89. cwfongon 16 Apr 2012 at 1:09 pm

    nybgrus thinks BillyJoe7 knows what he’s talking about. No surprise there.

    I propose that neither of them can answer this question, and there’s no trickery involved:

    If the intelligent survival strategies of life’s first organisms were instinctive, and not related to any organism’s prior experience, were they again the result of random selection where the first organism that got some of the more lucky mutations survived? Was there also a first organism mutation included that had a replicative strategy embedded? So that eventually there arose somehow a colony of these essentially unexperienced organisms?

    Or absent that mutation that conferred a replicative system without the help of prior experience, how did these instinctive trait mutations get into the genome? And did a multitude of organisms need to have the same lucky strikes of apparently intelligent change to ‘evolve’ the genome?

    Or did the first organism test it’s mutated capacities and learn somehow to strategize by experience. But then again, how did that learning spread to other organisms as a genome wide instinctive behavior system, if learned traits could not be replicated?

  90. cwfongon 16 Apr 2012 at 3:26 pm

    “Lets give Montagnier a chance and entertain the possibility that DNA teleports wirelessly and that may explain part of multicellular communication.”

    No, it’s the known and suspected methods of multicellular communication that make us curious about what Montagnier can demonstrate convincingly about his hypothetical version of the electronic communicative process. We have tested the possibility of humans sending messages through the medium of the atmosphere from one brain to another, and we now know (or should) that we can’t communicate our thoughts in that way – at least in a way that serves our evolved linguistic processes. But our cells have nevertheless evolved to signal the appropriate strategic responses to each other electronically. And clearly we don’t yet know enough about how that works.
    Professionals in science are curious at a professional level that the non-professionals can’t be expected to understand. But they should at least be aware that such curiosity is there for a good reason.

  91. cwfongon 16 Apr 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Check this out from: http://mr.caltech.edu/press_releases/13508

    Just another surprising method of meaningful communication processes.

  92. BillyJoe7on 16 Apr 2012 at 4:00 pm

    The other thread has slipped off the front page so I am posting my challenge to cwfong here.

    ———————————————————————————————————-

    cwfong,

    You have no idea do you?
    After all this time of accusing me of ignorance on special relativity because of my inablility to think abstractly, it is you who have no idea of what you are talking about. And I’m going to prove this to anyone still reading.

    When Olsen said…

    1 million years and 1 day represent the same time interval

    …I suggested that he must have meant the same distance in spacetime. Cwfong then chimed in and claimed that Olson’s statement was correct and that my suggestion indicated I was ignorant about special relativity. So here is his chance to prove my ignorance and inability to think abstractly. All he needs to do is answer the following question:

    “If 1 million years and 1 day represent the same time interval between two events, WHAT IS THAT TIME INTERVAL?”

    I know that he cannot answer that question because there is no answer to that question. There is no time interval that can represent 1 day and 1 million years. But there is a distance in spacetime, and I can tell him exactly what that distance in spacetime is.

    There is no way out this time, cwfong.
    ANSWER THE QUESTION.

  93. BillyJoe7on 16 Apr 2012 at 4:06 pm

    cwfong: “first organism”

    First organism?

    cwfong: “Or did the first organism test it’s mutated capacities and learn somehow to strategize by experience.”

    The only response to this is laughter.
    Surely no one takes this guy seriously anymore.

  94. cwfongon 16 Apr 2012 at 5:02 pm

    BJ7, I expect it’s you that no-one will take seriously any more.

    One of the most important unanswered questions in science is, “what were the first living things and when did they appear?” You should check this out, its about the first life on earth. (Of course I don’t mean you literally, as you don’t think you have anything to learn.)

    http://paleobiology.si.edu/geotime/main/htmlversion/archean3.html

    As to the question that others (other than you of course) have about the evolution of instincts it’s addressed here, for example:
    http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=16535.0

  95. cwfongon 16 Apr 2012 at 5:09 pm

    @BillyJoe7,
    “There is no time interval that can represent 1 day and 1 million years. But there is a distance in spacetime, and I can tell him exactly what that distance in spacetime is.”

    No, you can’t tell me the distance in spacetime because there isn’t any such consistent distance among all frames of reference. Inertia, for example, is not invariant. It dominated the expansion in the early universe, It’s expected that the cosmological constant will dominate in the future, but at present, they take control in approximately equal measure.

  96. BillyJoe7on 16 Apr 2012 at 5:39 pm

    cwfong,

    ANSWER THE QUESTION:

    “If 1 million years and 1 day represent the same time interval between two events, WHAT IS THAT TIME INTERVAL?”

    I assure you I can tell you the distance in spacetime between two events separated by 1 million years in one frame of reference and 1 day in another frame of reference.

  97. cwfongon 16 Apr 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Do it.

  98. BillyJoe7on 16 Apr 2012 at 5:58 pm

    When you admit that you cannot answer this question….

    “If 1 million years and 1 day represent the SAME time interval between two events, WHAT IS THAT TIME INTERVAL?”

    ….I will tell you exactly what the distance in spacetime is between two events separated by 1 million years in one frame of reference and 1 day in another frame of reference.
    All you have to do is admit to your ignorance and I will teach you a lesson (in special relativity). ;)

  99. cwfongon 16 Apr 2012 at 6:13 pm

    You couldn’t do it.

    And your time intervals are not equally measurable, that’s the point. They are in different frames of reference. Space doesn’t measure itself, it has no apparent need of doing so. For us to measure it, we have to understand that the same ‘human’ measurements don’t apply consistently to those different frames. Scientists have no problem with dealing with those differences, and continue to make their complex measurements successfully. They understand the effects of inertia, for one. I know about inertia, but I certainly don’t know how to take its measure. Neither do you.

  100. nybgruson 16 Apr 2012 at 7:38 pm

    cwfong: “Or did the first organism test it’s mutated capacities and learn somehow to strategize by experience.”

    The only response to this is laughter.
    Surely no one takes this guy seriously anymore.

    Indeed. First organism? Really? As if the first “living thing” was already a cell or some other complexly interacting entity. Your understanding of evolution is so off the rails it boggles the mind.

    No, you can’t tell me the distance in spacetime because there isn’t any such consistent distance among all frames of reference.

    I don’t remember the equations and couldn’t solve this off the top of my head myself. However, off the top of my head….

    One meter is defined as a unit of distance the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1 ⁄ 299,792,458 of a second.

    One second is defined as the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom.

    And your time intervals are not equally measurable, that’s the point.

    In other words, since the speed of light is invariable in any frame of reference, and the problem assumes an equal amount of time (as defined by number of atomic oscillations), with the perceived time elapsed stated, that leaves one variable to solve for. At least, that’s what I can come up with for now. But you do have me curious as to the answer and explanation BJ. :-D

  101. cwfongon 16 Apr 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Nybgrus has no clue to the alleged answer either. He also appears to be as concrete a thinker as BJ7.
    Apparently just as tricky, although considering his ignorance in other areas, his curiosity here may not be feigned.

    And according to him, there was no thing such as a first organism. Of course it’s an arbitrary place to look for the first life form, or the nature of the transition from complex organic molecules to living cells.
    But it may be the first entity that acquired the behavioral traits that we now refer to as instinctive. As a neoDarwinist, it’s his duty to duck all questions about the mechanics of their origins however.

    I’d ask him this, but since he won’t be able to give a proper answer, I’ll consider it to be rhetorical:
    How exactly is life separate from non-life, and if you think you know, tell us how essentially dead chemical molecules assemble themselves as living forms? Is it possible that the transition is a quite natural and intelligent one in our otherwise non-living non-intelligent universe? Or all quite accidental.

  102. nybgruson 16 Apr 2012 at 8:18 pm

    How exactly is life separate from non-life, and if you think you know, tell us how essentially dead chemical molecules assemble themselves as living forms? Is it possible that the transition is a quite natural and intelligent one in our otherwise non-living non-intelligent universe? Or all quite accidental.

    Well clearly it was when god breathed vital force into dust and created us. Any idiot knows that.

  103. Dirk Steeleon 16 Apr 2012 at 8:30 pm

    I am glad that I live in Europe and therefore this whole pathetic argument does not really emerge. I do not even understand the Creationist position apart from ‘God did it’. Can anyone enlighten me? As I stated previously – have the debate. The methodology of science will not fail. If the US wants to fall behind in knowledge and understanding of reality… then let it. Tough shit.

  104. cwfongon 16 Apr 2012 at 8:36 pm

    As to the particular measurement problem, nybgrus has now committed BJ7 to give an answer to a question that he was using as a bluff. Nybgrus thinks as well that time is a physical constant, subject to consistent measurement of any of the space it’s melded with or some such. Setting BJ7 up to give an answer that can’t help but make them both seem the proper fools.

    Which nybgrus does the fool act quite well all by himself, by just ducking any answer to my non-life versus life question. No wonder they flunked him out of med school.

  105. Dirk Steeleon 16 Apr 2012 at 8:50 pm

    @cwfong

    ‘As to the particular measurement problem, nybgrus has now committed BJ7 to give an answer to a question that he was using as a bluff. ‘

    Does anyone give a toss?

  106. cwfongon 16 Apr 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Well, if you like slapstick -

  107. nybgruson 16 Apr 2012 at 9:03 pm

    No wonder they flunked him out of med school.

    I’ve been found out! What ever will I do now?

  108. Dirk Steeleon 16 Apr 2012 at 9:05 pm

    As Wilhelm Riech has proved – intellectual wanking in public is now a criminal offence. So shut it all of you…. stick to sanity.

  109. nybgruson 16 Apr 2012 at 9:09 pm

    I am glad that I live in Europe and therefore this whole pathetic argument does not really emerge. I do not even understand the Creationist position apart from ‘God did it’. Can anyone enlighten me? As I stated previously – have the debate. The methodology of science will not fail. If the US wants to fall behind in knowledge and understanding of reality… then let it. Tough shit.

    I’ve been asked why I don’t just leave for somewhere else. I have European citizenship and I will be licensed to practice medicine in both America and Australia. I guess the simple answer is… I don’t care on whit about the people who are the hardline creationists. They can go and pray themselves into oblivion for all I care. But they are taking with them gullible but otherwise innocent people and, more importantly, forcing indoctrination and false controversy down the throats of completely innocent children. The US has been my home for the vast majority of my life. I feel like I should try and do something.

    As for what the creationist argument is… well… you’ve summed it up. They just gussy it up with a lot of fancy sounding words to make it seem sciencey. And throw in a lot of logical fallacy to make it seem like a good argument to anyone who doesn’t know better.

    But cwfong is a different breed. He “believes” in evolution… but he doesn’t understand it. He thinks there is some sort of intelligence driving evolution consciously… and that said intelligence is within the organism itself. It is some weird blend of Lamarckian evolution with intelligent design, using complex molecular genetics he can’t understand to try and justify the inane concept of “adaptive evolution.”

    Oh yeah, Shapiro wrote about it so it must be true. Please see above reference to Pauling and Montagnier.

  110. Dirk Steeleon 16 Apr 2012 at 9:11 pm

    @cwfongon

    ‘Well, if you like slapstick -’

    I can think of worse ways to spend my time…

  111. Dirk Steeleon 16 Apr 2012 at 9:13 pm

    @nybgruson

    ‘I’ve been found out! What ever will I do now?’

    I can think of worse ways to spend my time…

  112. Dirk Steeleon 16 Apr 2012 at 9:17 pm

    nybgrus,

    ‘But cwfong is a different breed. He “believes” in evolution… but he doesn’t understand it. He thinks there is some sort of intelligence driving evolution consciously… and that said intelligence is within the organism itself.’

    Define intelligence.

  113. cwfongon 16 Apr 2012 at 9:21 pm

    nybgrus, evolution IS driven by an intelligent trial and error process. Didn’t you know?
    Somehow you seem to know that Shapiro and the like are riding for a fall – although intelligence does have it’s error problems.

  114. nybgruson 17 Apr 2012 at 6:14 am

    @dirk:

    cwfong should define intelligence. He is the one that seems to think that at its base evolution is driven by active intelligence. In his cartoon version of things, bacteria and giraffes are scientists that analyze the environment and their own interaction with it, tinker with their DNA to intentionally induce beneficial mutations, and then pass it on to their progeny.

    And yes, I do know that Shapiro and the like are riding for a fall. They have mistaken epigenetic factors that influence mutation rates and locations as intelligent parsing of environmental stimulus to intentially engineer new beneficial mutations. He is wrong. And so are you.

  115. BillyJoe7on 17 Apr 2012 at 6:56 am

    cwfong.

    “You couldn’t do it.”

    You mean ‘wouldn’t’.
    But I will – right after you admit that there is no time interval that is represented by the 1 million years in one frame of reference and 1 day in another frame of reference that separates two events.

  116. cwfongon 17 Apr 2012 at 11:39 am

    That’s like admitting that you’re not a concrete thinker. You’d still be a concrete thinker, regardless.
    Plus a rather sorry sort of trickster

  117. cwfongon 17 Apr 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Dirk, intelligence as defined in the dictionary is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. All biological organisms have this ability. It’s the particularity of the process that differs. In every case, however, trial and error is the strategic procedure.

  118. BillyJoe7on 17 Apr 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Come on, cwfong, admit you cannot tell us the time interval between two events that is supposed to be represented by 1 day in one frame of reference and by 1 million years in another frame of reference. Or even how to go about calculating it. There is no such time interval and no such calculation. Just admit it and all will be revealed about the invariance of distances in spacetime.

  119. cwfongon 17 Apr 2012 at 6:20 pm

    But I CAN tell you the time interval and where it is, you see. So I can’t oblige you otherwise. But if you’re so sure there’s no such time interval, you should prove it. You’ve assured us that you can.

  120. nybgruson 17 Apr 2012 at 7:20 pm

    ah yes, flashbacks:

    intelligence as defined in the dictionary is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.

    The trick here is define intelligence so loosely as to be utterly meaningless. Then apply it in the specific sense that doesn’t fit when referring to adaptive evolution. Then when pressed, claim a much more vague definition that doesn’t make sense. And we are back to square one.

    So the bacteria acquire knowledge that they need a new protein – lets say nylonase – because their normal food source has been depleted and replaced with nylon runoff from a factory.

    The analyze the nylon byproducts in their environment, realize they need to harvest the carbon from it, and then apply that knowledge to mutate their own DNA in a way to intentionally and actively create a novel protein completely unlike anything the genus has done before. How skillful of them.

    Yet not one whit of evidence supports that claim. Nor does it make any sense. Yet that is was cwfong (and Shapiro) would like us to believe. Please.

  121. cwfongon 17 Apr 2012 at 7:45 pm

    No that’s not at all what Shapiro said, but if that’s what you thought he said, I won’t try to disabuse you.

    And adaptive evolution is the phrase that refers to Darwinian theories in general. The auxiliary that Shapiro and numerous others represent is usually referred to as adaptive mutation.

  122. cwfongon 17 Apr 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Those reading this (other than nybgrus) might want to check this book out, the author who is not, to my knowledge, an advocate of adaptive mutation. Nevertheless he describes the problem solving abilities of single celled creatures as almost as sophisticated as nybgrus’ fantasy creatures.

    http://yalepress.yale.edu/book.asp?isbn=9780300141733
    Wetware
    A Computer in Every Living Cell
    Dennis Bray

  123. BillyJoe7on 18 Apr 2012 at 12:27 am

    “if you’re so sure there’s no such time interval, you should prove it. You’ve assured us that you can.”

    No proof necessary. There are clearly two time intervals – 1 day and 1 million years.
    There cannot be single time interval represented by those two time intervals.
    The idea does not even make sense.
    Think about it.

    That is why Einstein came up with spacetime – he needed an invariant quantity for hsi equations.
    For all frames of reference, there is only one and the same distance in spacetime between the two events – that was the whole point of the exercise!

  124. BillyJoe7on 18 Apr 2012 at 12:30 am

    http://yalepress.yale.edu/book.asp?isbn=9780300141733

    That will depend on whether he is speaking metaphorically or not.

  125. nybgruson 18 Apr 2012 at 12:57 am

    from the little blurb there, I don’t disagree. But that is not what Shapiro talks about, that is not what “adaptive mutation” is purported to be, and it has no bearing on the concept of intelligence any more than my cell phone is intelligent.

    As BJ said – depends on whether he means it metaphorically or not.

    And while a bacteria may have problem solving abilities on par with you, they certainly do not hold a candle to the average person.

    Though a book filled with “many entertaining and telling anecdotes” doesn’t strike me as a hard hitting scientific discourse on the topic.

  126. cwfongon 18 Apr 2012 at 1:11 am

    “There cannot be a single time interval represented by those two time intervals.” Where does it say there was? In any case, if you think you’ve got a winner, show your cards and I’ll show mine.

    And then as to the book, why wouldn’t I have been speaking metaphorically as well as Shapiro, as we’re all proposing essentially the same thing? All abstractions have a metaphorical component. Which, to those of you who need to think concretely, makes them wrong.

  127. cwfongon 18 Apr 2012 at 1:26 am

    nybgrus, you are a caution. Nobody argues that bacteria think like a person. if they did, we’d not survive, since the largest part of human ‘thinking’ is done by the bacteria that make up 90% of us, and if they didn’t do it, we couldn’t.
    As to dismissing metaphor as somehow fraudulent where its meaning is concerned, worst argument ever.
    Your habitual substitution of insult for argument a close second.

  128. nybgruson 18 Apr 2012 at 6:27 am

    then please, grace us with what “intelligence” is that fuels “adaptive mutation.” Because I have had this argument before. I honestly can’t remember if you were involved or not, but it specifically involved Shapiro’s work and exactly what I described above. And I demonstrated quite clearly why Shapiro is off the mark.

  129. BillyJoe7on 18 Apr 2012 at 8:22 am

    My task is to prove that the following is true:

    From the frame of reference of one observer, the time between two events is 1 day.
    From the frame of reference of another observer, the time between the same two events is 1 million years.
    However the distance in spacetime between those two events is the same in the frame of reference of both observers.

    However, one thing I’ve realised is that the calculations become messy for such large differences in times (for example one calculation involves taking the square root of a number that extends to 9 decimal places). Therefore I propose to use much more manageable times. This should not be a problem. If this can be proven for these two times, it will obviously apply to the original times as well.

    I trust no one has a problem with that.

    Also, no details of the scenario were mentioned in the original post, so I am obviously free to chose these details myself. I propose to consider the scenario detailed below.
    (This scenario is also arbitrary and many other scenarios could have been chosen. But they all leading to the same result! So which scenario we chose actually does not matter)
    Consider then the following scenario:

    Planet A and planet B are two planets in our galaxy.
    A spaceship is moving at constant speed in a straight line.
    Event 1: The spaceship moves past planet A.
    Event 2: The spaceship moves past planet B.
    There are two observers, X and Y.
    Observer X is on planet A.
    Observer Y is on the spaceship.
    In the frame of reference of observer X, the time between the event 1 and event 2 is one second.
    In the frame of reference of observer Y, the time between the event 1 and event 2 is two seconds.
    (I have chosen these two times for a good reason as will be revealed futher down below)

    My task then is to prove that the distance in spacetime in the frame of reference of observer X is the same as the distance in spacetime in the frame of reference of observer Y.

    The proof is rather simple!
    It makes use of the Time Dilation Factor and The Spacetime Equation:

    The time dilation factor = 1/sqrt(1 – v2/c2)
    (v = speed of the spaceship; c = speed of light; v2 means v squared; c2 means c squared)
    This time dilation factor has been shown experimentally to be correct. For example it has been used to calculate the extended lifetimes of muons in particle colliders and found to be experimentally accurate.

    The Spacetime Equation: s2 = (ct)2 – (vt)2
    (s = the distance in spacetime; c = the speed of light; t = time between event 1 and event 2 in frame of reference of the observer; (ct)2 means ct squared; (vt)2 means vt squared)
    Again, the accuracy of this equation has been verified to be correct and has been used to correct times on satellites orbiting the Earth.

    The distance in spacetime in the frame of reference of observer Y (on the spaceship):
    The Spacetime Equation: s2 = (ct)2 – (vt)2
    t = 1 second
    v = speed of spaceship in frame of reference of observer Y (on the spaceship) = 0
    Therefore, s2 = c2
    s = c

    The distance in spacetime in the frame of reference of observer X (on the planet):
    The Spacetime Equation: s2 = (cT)2 – (vT)2
    (Note that, in order to avoid confusion, I have used t to represent the time in observer Y’s frame of reference, and T to represent the time in observer X’s frame of reference)
    T = 2 seconds.
    If t = 1 second, and T = 2 seconds, then the Time Dilation Factor = 2.
    But, Time Dilation Factor = 1/sqrt(1 – v2/c2).
    Therfore, 1/sqrt(1 – v2/c2) = 2
    Solving for v:
    1/sqrt(1 – v2/c2) = 2
    sqrt((1 – v2/c2) = 1/2
    1- v2/c2 = 1/4
    v2/c2 = 3/4
    v/c = sqrt(3/4)
    v = c * sqrt(3/4)
    Solving The Spacetime Equation:
    s2 = (cT)2 – (vT)2
    s2 = c2T2 -v2T2
    s2 = 4c2 – (c * sqrt(3/4)T)2
    s2 = 4c2 – c2 * (3/4)*4
    s2 = 4c2 – 3c2
    s2 = c2
    s = c

    Therefore, the spacetime distance between event 1 and event 2 for both observer X and observer Y = 299,792,458 meters

    ————————————-

    Corrollary:
    You will note that observer Y travelled through spacetime at 299,792,458 meters in one second.
    In fact, as can be deduced from the above, everyone travels through spacetime at a rate of 299,792,458 meters per second.
    And the above tells us that in every frame of reference this holds true.
    In other words, everyone travels through spacetime at the rate of 299,792,458 meters per second in their own and in everyone else’s frame of reference.
    In other words, everyone agrees that everyone travels through spacetime at the rate of 299,792,458 meters per second in everyone’s frame of reference.

    In other words, not only are distances in spacetime invariant……spacetime itself is invariant!

  130. BillyJoe7on 18 Apr 2012 at 8:25 am

    There are lots of other scenarios.
    Some are much more complicated and involve the three dimensions of space with both observers moving relative to the spaceship and at angles to each other and the spaceship.

    I hope no one asks me to write out the solutions to theses scenarios.

  131. Dirk Steeleon 18 Apr 2012 at 9:20 am

    @BillyJoe7

    ‘I hope no one asks me to write out the solutions to theses scenarios.’

    Er…… Yes please.

  132. cwfongon 18 Apr 2012 at 12:31 pm

    nybgrus, it’s the trial and error process, which can be, and is, done at many levels of abstraction. Bacteria developed their trial and error algorithmic processes over the past 4 billion years. I don’t know that Shapiro has felt the need to point this out, as it’s elemental to most scientists. In any case, if you think you’ve beaten Shapiro, who wasn’t even in whatever argument you had except in your imagination, it’s not my task to argue otherwise. If you want to learn more about such calculative processes, read Bray’s book. You may tell yourself that calculators can’t think, because the thinking was done by the programmers. But bacteria have, by their own experience, programmed their own calculators. So I call that the exercise of intelligence.
    Maybe you should too, but nobody ever said you have to.

  133. cwfongon 18 Apr 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Billyjoe7, you have overlooked the following, and thus cannot have come up with the correct dimensions, as well as having demonstrated Olsen’s alleged error. Note that he clearly referenced inertia as the key. And so did I.

    From Wiki: “In physics, an inertial frame of reference (also inertial reference frame or inertial frame or Galilean reference frame) is a frame of reference that describes time homogeneously and space homogeneously, isotropically, and in a time-independent manner.
    All inertial frames are in a state of constant, rectilinear motion with respect to one another; they are not accelerating in the sense that an accelerometer at rest in one would detect zero acceleration. Measurements in one inertial frame can be converted to measurements in another by a simple transformation (the Galilean transformation in Newtonian physics and the Lorentz transformation in special relativity). In general relativity, in any region small enough for the curvature of spacetime to be negligible one can find a set of inertial frames that approximately describe that region.”

    Note that, as I said earlier, time is the measure of change. If the inertial speed of change accelerates or decelerates, so does the reflection of the measuring system. The interval would be determined by the theoretical observer of the thought experiment. (This is about a thought experiment, remember. Not something that can be accomplished by a real life experimenter.)
    The measurements take place in the different frames of reference that the experimenter can theoretically observe. If the inertial speed of change accelerates in one frame, the measurement of its time decelerates. Thus if one measurer comes back with a different time on his watch than the measurer from the other frame comes back with, you nevertheless have both that were away for the same interval that the thought experimenter has measured on his watch.

  134. BillyJoe7on 19 Apr 2012 at 6:52 am

    Our discussion devolved into one about spacetime.
    And I have done what I said I would do:

    To demonstrate that the distance in spacetime between two events is the same in all frames of reference. Moreover I have demostrated that everyone and everything moves through spacetime at the same rate.
    (BTW, this also demonstrates that the speed of light is not special)

    You have still to reveal your time interval.

  135. cwfongon 19 Apr 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Hell has still to freeze over.

  136. BillyJoe7on 19 Apr 2012 at 5:31 pm

    My assessment is that you cannot fault my understanding of special relativity and spacetime invariance either because you know it is correct or because, through your own ignorance on the topic, you have no idea whether or not it is correct.

    In any case, I have answered the question posed, whereas you have evaded both a meaningful response to my answer and an answer to your own question by retreating back to an old post three threads back.

    I didn’t really expect any different.

  137. cwfongon 20 Apr 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Olsen was right, you were wrong. Get used to it.

  138. BillyJoe7on 20 Apr 2012 at 5:13 pm

    And that time interval represented by 1 billion years and 1 day that you promised to reveal was…….

  139. cwfongon 20 Apr 2012 at 5:24 pm

    The same interval.
    ▪ time dilation (moving clocks tick more slowly)
    ▪ length contraction (moving objects are shortened in the direction of motion)
    ▪ relativity of simultaneity (simultaneous events in one reference frame are not simultaneous in almost all frames moving relative to the first).

  140. cwfongon 20 Apr 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Olsen was right, you were wrong. Get used to it.

  141. BillyJoe7on 21 Apr 2012 at 5:14 am

    And that time interval represented by 1 billion years and 1 day that you promised to reveal was…….

  142. cwfongon 21 Apr 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Asked and answered.

  143. BillyJoe7on 21 Apr 2012 at 10:16 pm

    If you don’t know the answer to your question (and you surely don’t, otherwise you would have given a clear answer by now), then perhaps you can deconstruct the answer I gave to my question – which includes an explanation of special relativity and invariant spacetime.

    My assessment is that – because of your obvious ignorance of the topic (evidenced by you making no sense at all whenever you have not resorted to cut an pastes and tried and failed miserably to explain relativity in your own words) – you have no idea how to go about doing that, otherwise you would surely have done so by now.

    Of course, you could just admit that you gambled (that I would not know the answer or understand special relativity and invariant spacetime) and that you lost.
    No chance of that of course

    Also, I have had a look at your wiki link on inertial reference frames and it contains nothing that contradicts anything I have said. Again this is standard procedure for you: simply post a link – which usually turns out to be either irrelevant or which actually supports what I said – and cut and paste paragraphs from the link which, similarly, are either irrelvant or actually support what I said, and pretend (to anyone who may still be reading) that you have thereby answered the question.

    In the mean time, my answer at 18 Apr 2012 at 8:22 am is slapping you in the face. ;)

  144. cwfongon 21 Apr 2012 at 10:48 pm

    If you say so.

  145. BillyJoe7on 22 Apr 2012 at 12:05 am

    If this is meant to be your answer….

    “The same interval.
    ▪ time dilation (moving clocks tick more slowly)
    ▪ length contraction (moving objects are shortened in the direction of motion)
    ▪ relativity of simultaneity (simultaneous events in one reference frame are not simultaneous in almost all frames moving relative to the first).”

    …then who the hell do you think you are trying to fool.
    It is a complete NON answer, and it is you who are the fool. ;)

  146. cwfongon 22 Apr 2012 at 12:26 am

    If say you so.

  147. cwfongon 22 Apr 2012 at 1:07 am

    Olsen was wrong?

  148. BillyJoe7on 22 Apr 2012 at 4:08 am

    Don’t blame Olsen.

    He possibly made a typo – which is why I asked him if the meant “spacetime interval” instead of “time interval”. It was a simple query, which he chose not to answer – possibly because he hasn’t been back to the blog.

    In any case, he is not obligated to respond. If, however, he chooses to respond at some stage and explain why his wording is correct, no problem. I could simply have misunderstood his meaning. Again, no problem.

    You, however, have failed miserably to put your case.

  149. BillyJoe7on 22 Apr 2012 at 4:18 am

    There is another corrollary that I forgot to mention:

    The speed of light is not really so very special. Everything – you, me, planets, galaxies, and light – travels through spacetime at 299,792,458 meters every second. However, the speed of light through space is the same as the speed of light through spacetime.

  150. cwfongon 22 Apr 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Watching the rationalization process of a concrete thinker is fascinating.

  151. BillyJoe7on 22 Apr 2012 at 5:03 pm

    No rationalisations, just pointed questions ;)
    But watching you evading meaningful answers certainly is entertaining.

    So you have…

    No response to the post that you were certain I could not produce.
    No response to question put to you.
    No response to how your wikilink relates to any of this.
    No indication that you have any understanding of special relativity and spacetime invariance.

    I make that a win for me and an embarrassing no show for you.

  152. BillyJoe7on 23 Apr 2012 at 12:16 am

    …but you still have a couple of days till the thread slips off the front page.

  153. cwfongon 23 Apr 2012 at 2:21 am

    Don’t worry, be happy.

  154. BillyJoe7on 23 Apr 2012 at 6:28 am

    Did you swallow that catch in your voice or did you choke on it. :D

  155. sonicon 24 Apr 2012 at 2:09 am

    nybrus- bJ7-
    Please explain why talkorigins gives the evening primrose as an example of ‘observed instances of speciation’.
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html
    “5.1.1.1 Evening Primrose (Oenothera gigas)
    While studying the genetics of the evening primrose, Oenothera lamarckiana, de Vries (1905) found an unusual variant among his plants. O. lamarckiana has a chromosome number of 2N = 14. The variant had a chromosome number of 2N = 28. He found that he was unable to breed this variant with O. lamarckiana. He named this new species O. gigas.”

  156. cwfongon 24 Apr 2012 at 2:53 am

    sonic, BillyJoe7 will tell you it’s all due to a typo.

  157. nybgruson 24 Apr 2012 at 7:35 am

    How about I tell him it was due to an error on my part?

    No – a primrose with double chromosomes is still a primrose. That is not speciation, and it is not evern remotely an example analagous to a dog giving birth to a cat.

    Which was in response to:

    One observed instance of speciation is the evening primrose. In this case we find a variant that has 28 chromosomes instead of 14 as a result of a gene double.
    In other words a dog gave birth to a cat.

    I did not look up the case of the primrose specifically. However, chromosomal doubling or other aneuploidy in plants is common and does not de facto lead to speciation. It is a common step in speciation, and in fact is often the source of novel proteins. But it does not inherently mean speciation (the same way that a Down syndrome child is still a human). I have been proven wrong that in this case of the primrose it did.

    The reason that it did in this case was because the aneuploid varietal could not breed with the parent population but could breed on its own (i.e. not sterile) – that is the definition of speciation. I’ll be honest that I did not look at the case of the primrose itself, because I focused on the part of sonic’s post which I bolded above.

    A primrose speciation event by chromosomal doubling is in no way even remotely analagous to a dog giving birth to a cat. How you managed to assert that is completely beyond me. If the doubling led to the primrose becoming an apple tree then that would be analagous.

    Hopefully that clears up that. Interesting though, that after all this time the response given was to pick a nit (a valid one, albeit) rather than addressing a much more salient point:

    But fossils are found out of place regularly. One method of dealing with this is called ‘ghost lineage’. So not only are fossils found out of place– there is a standard handling for it.

    to which I responded

    And indeed, there has never been one single fossil discovered out of geological space ever. Not one.

  158. sonicon 26 Apr 2012 at 1:24 am

    nybrus-
    read this article about ghost lineage.
    http://archosaurmusings.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/ghost-lineages/

    “The crux of the ghost lineage problem is where we have disparity between where we find certain organisms in the fossil record, and where we think we should find them. Everyone agrees that plants are older organisms than animals and thus we should find plants earlier in the fossil record than animals and we do, but we also think that birds evolved from derived maniraptoran theropod dinosaurs, yet we find birds (well, OK, Archaeopteryx) *before* those dromaeosaurs and troodontids that they supposedly evolved from.”

  159. nybgruson 26 Apr 2012 at 7:03 am

    I don’t have time to respond fully, but this paragraph later on in the same post is quite useful to read:

    But just how much of a problem is this? Are these really very important and what do they mean? Well that all (inevitably) depends on the exact situation which is a combination of phylogeny and preservation. Generally however I would say that they are interesting but not necessarily that important –they tell us that there is potentially a problem with either our understanding of the fossil record or our phylogenetic hypotheses and neither of these is especially enlightening – we know this already – and some circumstances are pretty much unavoidable.

    In short, refer to Dr. Novella’s post about the paradox paradox. This author is not discussing finding a fossil that is actually out of order. It is about discussing potential discrepancies in the predicted phylogeny and an incomplete fossil record (i.e. ghost lineage). It is a hypothesis generator that tells us there is some extra information to look for, not something that demonstrates to us that evolution is wrong. Note he even specifically references Archeopteryx. Also note that since that time, new fossils have been discovered that fix that issue quite nicely – in other words, filled in that area where we lacked knowledge.

    These discrepancies are also for cladistically close species. You’ll never find such an issue over bigger time scales.

  160. nybgruson 26 Apr 2012 at 7:11 am

    I kept reading a bit even though I really need to get running:

    The real problems begin where we have a good fossil record and a well established phylogeny but the two are still at odds. We can’t immediately think that our phylogeny is amiss nor that our well scoured rocks are failed to preserve the well represented (or we have not found it). The truth however is that these situations are incredibly rare and to be honest I cannot think of an obvious candidate to use as an example here</B though they abound for others with either phylogentic issues or preservational ones. Haldane’s rabbit is the only think I can think of and that itself is a hypothetical example.

    So the reference you are throwing at me to disprove my statement regarding the fossil record in fact… supports my statement about the fossil record. It discusses nuances and finer points, but is clearly demonstrating the integrity of the process and teh veracity of evolution.

    Yet you cherry pick the one paragraph in the entire piece that seems to support your statement. Why is that sonic?

  161. sonicon 26 Apr 2012 at 1:50 pm

    nybrus-
    I never said any of this would falsify evolution.

    If you say that something never happens and I show an example of where it did– even one time– how is that cherry picking?

    I point out that one species gave birth to a different species in one generation (a dog gave birth to a cat)..
    You are the one who claimed this would falsify evolution when in fact it clearly does not.

    You claimed that ‘no fossil has ever’… but clearly this is not the case (the need for ghost lineage). You said this would falsify evolution- just one instance. I did not and it does not.

    You are claiming my examples falsify evolution.
    I say my examples don’t. And clearly they don’t.

    It is your claim that these examples would falsify evolution that I am suggesting is incorrect.

  162. nybgruson 26 Apr 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Interesting.

    Yet…

    a new species did occur in a single generation. But that is not a dog giving birth to a cat. Not even remotely close. I never said that speciation in a single generation would falsify evolution. I said that a dog giving birth to a cat would.

    And yes, no fossils ever. As I said, if you read the rest of the post, the author clearly demonstrates that, still, no fossils ever have been found out of place. The apparent paradox of ghost lineages always ends up becoming resolved (eventually). That is why the paragraph you picked was cherry picking – it was not representative of the thrust of the article nor the author’s intent. That is why I directed you back to Novella’s post on paradox – the “ghost lineage” is just a term given to a placeholder for the yet-unknown lineages.

    I did misunderstand your point. However, your examples were also incorrect.

  163. sonicon 27 Oct 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I believe it was on this thread that I suggested that the word “random” be removed from the theory of evolution.
    We should not say ‘random mutation’ but rather ‘mutation’.

    Here is an experiment that goes directly to this point–
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121025130922.htm
    Title–
    “Far from Random, Evolution Follows a Predictable Genetic Pattern”

  164. BillyJoe7on 27 Oct 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Sonic,

    Random simply means that the outcome was not determined by its consequences.
    You want a coin to flip heads because you win if it flips heads, but the outcome is 50% heads, 50% tails regardless.

    The article touches on epigenetics but epigenetics is fully and completely explained by random mutation and non-random selection. The epigenetic mechanisms were put in place in the genome by random mutation and non-random selection through evolutionary history, and the epigenetic mechanisms themselves clearly consist of random mutation and non-random selection, though this time within the organism itself. It’s always still a coin flip or a throw of the dice, with the environment selecting the winner.

    But the article is mainly about convergent evolution. As if that contradicts the prevailing paradigm. All organisms are made from DNA, so its no mystery that different organisms converge on the same “good tricks”.

  165. nybgruson 28 Oct 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Sonic, this article in no way refutes or even attempts to refute random mutation as the basis of evolution.

    This article points out that evolution is not random. Of course it isn’t! There is selective pressure to develop traits to survive in the environment. It even goes into gene duplication and how that allows the organism to “experiment” with the protein while keeping a full functional copy intact to survive.

    Think about that. Why does the extra copy need to be “experimented” on if the mutations were purposeful? If it were non random, you would expect that the mechanism of evolution would know what it needed to mutate and then just do it. But it doesn’t. So the gene duplicate is used to create random mutations – experiments – until a protein that works really well under the selective pressure is arrived at by chance. That organism will then have an advantage over its competitors and the gene duplicate that was randomly mutated will proliferate throughout the population.

    This article is about convergent evolution and how environmental stress directs common solutions to common problems. And it is absolutely no different than how bacteria develop antibiotic resistance. There is also epigenetic and proteomic level control which evolved from random mutations to create system which limits the randomness and arrive at solutions more quickly but still as a result of random mutations.

    You’d do better understanding more fully why this is than continually trying to dig up articles that you think might disprove the random part of things. It is the fundamental driving force of evolution, guideed by natural selection, and modified by epigenetic and proteomic factors. That is simply a fact, Sonic. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

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