Sep 24 2015

44 Reasons Creationists are Deceptive, Final Installment

This week I have been making my way through a list of old and debunked creationist arguments put together by Michael Snyder (a young-earth creationist), giving the old arguments new life on social media. As science communicators we often have to play this game of whack-a-mole, persistently addressing points that have already been refuted. Each time is an opportunity to educate more people about the real science of evolution, about logic and critical thinking, about science in general, and the vacuous and deceptive arguments of the science deniers.

This is the fourth and final installment of this series of posts. You can find the others here: Part I, Part II, and Part III.

The next five points that Snyder raises are all variations on the same theme:

#30 Which evolved first: blood, the heart, or the blood vessels for the blood to travel through?

#31 Which evolved first: the mouth, the stomach, the digestive fluids, or the ability to poop?

#32 Which evolved first: the windpipe, the lungs, or the ability of the body to use oxygen?

#33 Which evolved first: the bones, ligaments, tendons, blood supply, or the muscles to move the bones?

#34 In order for blood to clot, more than 20 complex steps need to successfully be completed. How in the world did that process possibly evolve?

Snyder, of course, is asking a false question, one with an unstated major premise that is wrong, or at least misleading. The implication he is trying to make is essentially the debunked notion of irreducible complexity – that complex structures or biological systems could not have evolved because they could not have simpler functional states.

Every example brought up to support irreducible complexity, however, has been falsified.

The questions themselves are misleading because no one component had to evolve first. They co-evolved from simpler yet fully functional systems. Sometimes one mentioned component did arise before the others, but in a system that did not yet require the others.

For example, animals evolved to use oxygen before lungs evolved, even before gills, or before a circulatory system to distribute the oxygen. In the simplest oxygen-using creatures, they relied upon simple diffusion – oxygen would directly diffuse through tissue. This works, but only for small creatures. Insects still use this basic approach.

Oxygen carrying fluid can then evolve in an open circulatory system, where the fluid simply bathes the tissue. This fluid can be progressively isolated from other tissue by endothelium, which eventually evolves into vessels. Of course the endothelium would need to be thin enough to allow oxygen to diffuse across, as in modern capillaries.

We have not fully fleshed out the evolution of every organ system in the body, but we have made great progress in understanding many of the big steps. The diversity of extant life on Earth allows us to see examples of simpler systems that still work, providing a plausible pathway for such evolution to occur. Genetic and fossil evidence then tell us about the actual path that evolution took.

The same is true of blood clotting. There are simpler systems in nature, like the lobster’s clotting system, that work fine. The vertebrate clotting system is more complex, but simpler versions do work also, just not as efficiently. Complexity evolves over time, tweaking the system to optimize function – but this does not mean it could not function prior to the development of that complexity.

The bottom line, however, is that Snyder’s question is based upon the persistent creationist misunderstanding that modern complex systems and structures had to evolve directly to their complex form. This is clearly not the case, and is not what evolutionary biologists claim. The evidence, rather, indicates that complex forms evolved from simpler but fully functional forms.

#35 DNA is so incredibly complex that it is absolutely absurd to suggest that such a language system could have “evolved” all by itself by accident…

This is just another naked argument from personal incredulity. All that is necessary is for a molecule that can make a crude copy of itself. Once you have replication, variation, and differential survival and reproduction, you have evolution. This did not happen “by accident.” DNA is the end result of an incremental evolutionary process that probably took tens of millions of years.

Once again Snyder is completely ignoring the science that indicates that complex systems can spontaneously arise. Snyder could avail himself of one of the many resources for the layperson on spontaneous complexity in self-organizing systems.

#36 Can you solve the following riddle by Perry Marshall?…

1) DNA is not merely a molecule with a pattern; it is a code, a language, and an information storage mechanism.

2) All codes are created by a conscious mind; there is no natural process known to science that creates coded information.

3) Therefore DNA was designed by a mind.

If you can provide an empirical example of a code or language that occurs naturally, you’ve toppled my proof. All you need is one.

This is not a proof. It merely assumes its conclusion when it states as a premise, “All codes are created by a conscious mind.” That is actually the question, isn’t it?

This is a rigged challenge, because it is designed to make any example impossible. What creationists do is dismiss any example that involves life, because life uses DNA. They dismiss any example that does not involve life because it does not contain a coding and decoding system (even though complex information may be spontaneously stored in a natural process). In other words, it does not contain the kind of complexity we only see in life.

The deeper point is that the challenge itself is bogus. It does not have to be answered. DNA evolved so that the order of nucleic acids determines which amino acid is added to a polymer to make a protein. Let’s say that is the only example in the universe of such a system evolving naturally. So what? Just because something is unique that does not mean it did not evolve, or that it is impossible to have occurred spontaneously without deliberate design.

The premise is flawed.

Of course, it’s possible that we may find examples of life that evolved elsewhere, and they may contain DNA or something other than DNA that serves the same purpose. I have no doubt that such examples will do nothing to dissuade creationists from this line of faulty argument.

#37 Evolutionists simply cannot explain why our planet is so perfectly suited to support life.

This is another iteration of the anthropic principle. Actually Snyder has it backwards – it is not that the Earth is so perfectly suited for life, it’s that life is so perfectly suited to Earth. This is because life evolved on Earth and adapted to its environment.

This is known as the puddle fallacy – it is similar to a puddle of water being amazed at the fact that the hole it is in is so perfectly shaped to hold it, when obviously it is the water that is conforming to the hole. I write about this more extensively here.

#38 Shells from living snails have been “carbon dated” to be 27,000 years old.

Ah, the radiocarbon gambit again. No one dating method is perfect. In order to apply it properly you have to understand how it works. Radiocarbon dating is based on the spontaneous radioactive decay of carbon 14, an unstable isotope of carbon that spontaneously decays into carbon 12 or 13, which are stable isotopes. Carbon 14 is created in the upper atmosphere from cosmic rays crashing into nitrogen 14, which then gets into the carbon cycle of the planet as CO2.

When creatures are alive and breathing the atmosphere they incorporate a certain percentage of carbon 14 into their tissue. When they die they no longer are breathing and so are not incorporating any new carbon 14. Their carbon 14 then radioactively decays at a predictable rate. We can therefore use the ratio of carbon 14 to total carbon to date how long it has been since the creature died.

Once you understand how radiocarbon dating actually works you can then understand why it does not apply in all situations. I already discussed the fact that this dating method is useful to about 20,000 years ago. For older samples the amount of carbon 14 remaining is so little that any signal is lost in the noise.

There is another way, however, that this dating method breaks down. If you are a mollusk, for example, that lives in water which is particularly lacking in CO2 from the atmosphere, you will incorporate less carbon 14 into your tissue. This lower amount of carbon 14 will then make it look like you are older than you are. It may even make the shell from a living mollusk look like it is thousands of years old – because the starting point of carbon 14 is lower than for creatures breathing in carbon 14 from the atmosphere.

This is yet another example of Snyder throwing out an isolated factoid without putting it into the context of the actual science.

#39 If humans have been around for so long, where are all of the bones and all of the graves?

Snyder quotes Don Batten who calculated that there should be billions of human skeletons buried around the world. This, of course, assumes that all or most human remains would survive for tens of thousands of years. Batten glosses over this assumption by stating that older bones have been found, implying that therefore all younger bones should still be around.

However, whether or not bones are preserved depends highly on the conditions in which they end up. Most bones do decay over time, unless specific cultural practices or lucky conditions resulted in preservation. Batten has an out for that explanation also, writing: “However, even if the bodies had disintegrated, lots of artefacts should still be found.”

You know, there is an entire field of science dedicated to finding and digging up artifacts of past human civilization, called archaeology. There are vast numbers of archaeological finds all over the world, complete with large numbers of artifacts. Batten makes no attempt at a scholarly analysis of the density and number of archaeological finds compared to how many one would expect to find, given the extent of searching that has happened. He is just shooting from the hip and confirming his own bias based on nothing but ignorance.

Give me a peer-reviewed scholarly analysis and I’ll take it seriously.

#40 Evolutionists claim that just because it looks like we were designed that does not mean that we actually were.  They often speak of the “illusion of design”, but that is kind of like saying that it is an “illusion” that a 747 airplane or an Apple iPhone were designed.  And of course the human body is far more complex that a 747 or an iPhone.

This is the “design inference” gambit. Snyder is attempting to address the scientific response, but is only doing a terrible job of addressing a straw man version. The design inference is that because there is the appearance of design in nature, then nature was intelligently designed.

However, this is asking the wrong question. Scientists do not actually doubt the appearance of design in nature. It is not the “illusion of design” – it is actual design. But it is a bottom-up evolutionary design, not a top-down intelligent design.

That there is design is not questioned, it is the nature of that design that is at issue. Evolution is not a random process. It is a creative process, although without any evidence to suggest that there is anything guiding the creative process. If we ask the actual question – does life look like it was designed by a spontaneous bottom-up process, or a deliberate top-down process, the answer is overwhelming and obvious. The design of life looks evolved, not intelligent. I discuss this distinction in more detail here.

#41 If you want to be part of the “scientific community” today, you must accept the theory of evolution no matter how absurd it may seem to you.  Richard Lewontin of Harvard once made the following comment regarding this harsh reality…

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, . . . in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated commitment to materialism. . . . we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

This is wrong on multiple levels.  Science is not a priesthood – you don’t have to accept any particular conclusion of science in order to be accepted as a scientist. What you have to do, however, is demonstrate that you understand how science works.

Scientists propose new ideas that go against current beliefs all the time. That is how they make their careers, by discovering new stuff.

Scientists are dedicated to the scientific method. Scientists are judged by how rigorous their methods are, how valid their logic, and how sound their conclusions. If evolution were not true, as Snyder believes, then a scientist should be able to find evidence against evolution, or in favor of an alternative. If they had the evidence and logic, they could make their case. Other scientists could replicate their work.

What Snyder is demonstrating is nothing but his abject ignorance of science and scientists.

Lewontin’s statement is similarly problematic. I reject his assertion that scientists accept absurd conclusions out of nothing but a dedication to materialism. Scientists question everything. But we also have come to understand that our intuitions don’t always accord themselves accurately to the universe. Why should they?

At the core of Lewontin’s claim, which has become standard in the ID community, is that the game of science is rigged against “divine” causes. This is misleading, as it implies that this choice is arbitrary and unfair. As I have discussed extensively here before, methodological naturalism is a necessary premise for science. Science cannot function otherwise.

You cannot test a miracle. Supernatural notions do not lend themselves to falsification. Science can therefore not operate with such ideas. Science has to follow methodological naturalism by definition, or else it is not science.

Lewontin might as well complain that youth is wasted on the young, or that democracy gets bogged down in all those elections.

We haven’t had a quote taken out of context in a while, so here ya go:

#42 Time Magazine once made the following statement about the lack of evidence for the theory of evolution…

“Yet despite more than a century of digging, the fossil record remains maddeningly sparse. With so few clues, even a single bone that doesn’t fit into the picture can upset everything. Virtually every major discovery has put deep cracks in the conventional wisdom and forced scientists to concoct new theories, amid furious debate.”

The link Snyder provides does not go to the Time article, but an article by the Institute for Creation Research, which itself does not bother to provide the primary reference or even mention the author. I had to dig up the primary reference myself, which is an article by Michael D. Lemonick in 1994. The quote, therefore, is not even from a scientist but a science journalist, and is 21 years old.

It is also taken out of context. What the ICR is doing here is another common form of creationist misdirection. There are at least three main aspects to the science of evolution: the fact of common descent, the proposed mechanisms for evolutionary change, and the history of what evolved from what and when.

The article is specifically about human evolution. The main point it is making is that the history of hominins is one of a diverse branching bush of adaptive radiation.  Out of this complex web we have a few pieces here and there. If you count Homo naledi. there are now 9 known species in the genus Homo. There are also three genera closely related to humans after the split with chimpanzees – Kenyanthropus, Australopithecus and Paranthropus.

The picture is slowly coming into focus, but we are still at the point that a new fossil find adds significant complexity to our understanding of human evolution. Twenty-one years ago, when the article was written, there were far fewer known species, and it was even more true that each new discovery was redrawing the family tree.

Creationists are committing two levels of confusion. First they are confusing the details of evolutionary history with the fact of common descent. Each new fossils adds to our total evidence for common descent, and strengthens our understanding of the evolution of humans. Creationists pretend that each new discovery calls into question the underlying basic fact of common descent when they don’t.

They are also making the classic science denier mistake of pretending that arguments over the details call into question the bigger picture. Scientists can argue about whether or not Homo naledi is really its own species, and whether or not modern humans evolved from naledi, habilis, erectus, or some other species – without calling into question the bigger picture that all these species represent a diverse family tree of hominins that are closely related to modern humans.

#43 Malcolm Muggeridge, the world famous journalist and philosopher, once made the following statement about the absurdity of the theory of evolution…

“I myself am convinced that the theory of evolution, especially the extent to which it’s been applied, will be one of the great jokes in the history books of the future. Posterity will marvel that so very flimsy and dubious an hypothesis could be accepted with the incredible credulity that it has.”

A quote from a creationist criticizing evolution is worth literally nothing. Muggeridge is just invoking the unassailable authority of the future. Such appeals to the future cannot be directly countered, because everyone is free to project their own biases onto the future without the fear of being contradicted, at least anytime soon. Muggeridge gives himself even more protection by not giving any time frame.

I, of course, can find quotes to support whatever position I want. I can quote Michael Palin who said of Muggeridge:

“He was just being Muggeridge, preferring to have a very strong contrary opinion as opposed to none at all.”

Snyder concludes:

#44 In order to believe the theory of evolution, you must have enough blind faith to believe that life just popped into existence from nonlife, and that such life just happened to have the ability to take in the nourishment it needed, to expel waste, and to reproduce itself, all the while having everything it needed to survive in the environment in which it suddenly found itself. Do you have that much blind faith?

This is complete nonsense. No blind faith is required to accept the scientific consensus regarding the fact of evolution. The evidence is overwhelming. Snyder’s characterization is, typically, a straw man. No one believes that life just “popped into existence.” There is active research going on regarding the development of life from possible precursors. There was likely a period of chemical evolution prior to organic evolution.

It is also a non sequitur to say that life “just happened” to have the ability to take in energy, expel waste, and reproduce – these are characteristics of life. Living systems evolved over time, nothing just “popped into existence.” Life also did not just “find itself” on Earth – it evolved on Earth and therefore was adapted every step of the way to its environment.

Equating a well-established scientific theory to “blind faith” lies somewhere between abject intellectual dishonesty and complete ignorance about the nature of science.

Conclusion

Snyder actually has an epilogue to his 44 reasons – a challenge for anyone to lay out the evidence for evolution. This is also a completely disingenuous challenge. He can just put out the challenge, pretend that the evidence does not exist by simply ignoring it, and then claim victory.

If Snyder wants to see the evidence for evolution, he can start with Darwin’s Origin of Species. Darwin actually makes a very compelling argument. There are many more updated sources, however. He can read Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne.

Here is a free online reference that lays out the evidence for macroevolution. It is a slam dunk. He could even listen to the Evolution 101 podcast by Zachary Moore.

Snyder, of course, does not want to genuinely engage with scientists or the actual scientific evidence for the various aspects of evolutionary theory. Creationism is not a coherent belief system, and it is certainly not a science. It is nothing more than a campaign of doubt and confusion, trying to muddly the waters of the public understanding of evolution as much as possible.

As I have carefully documented over these four essays, they accomplish this goal of confusion by lying about the facts, giving partial information, quoting scientists and others out of context, and heavily employing logical fallacies.

What they never do is make a coherent scientific argument that accounts for the actual evidence and the current claims of scientists. They don’t do this because they can’t. That is because evolution is true, and creationism is not science.

By doing such a horrible job of attacking evolution, Snyder actually demonstrates how solid a scientific theory it is. If evolutionary science had any real weakness or vulnerabilities, creationists would be gleefully pointing it out.

I will end with a counter-challenge to Snyder. I will happily engage with him on any or all of his 44 reasons. He can simply respond in the comments, or send me a response which I will publish. It would probably be best to pick one or a few related points so that we can do a detailed analysis. He can choose. I have corrected him on many clear factual errors. Let’s see if he has the intellectual integrity to admit any of them.

68 responses so far

68 thoughts on “44 Reasons Creationists are Deceptive, Final Installment”

  1. Pete A says:

    Dr Novella, Thank you very much for writing this series of articles. I’ve found them interesting to read and educational.

    During my lifetime it has been clear to me that some religions (and even non-religious people who) totally reject the plethora of empirical evidence that shows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, humans share a common ancestor with other primates, let alone with non-primates.

    I don’t even know which religions they are because there are so many different religions it is overwhelming to learn about them. Is there a list or chart that provides an overview?

    You wrote: “By doing such a horrible job of attacking evolution, Snyder actually demonstrates how solid a scientific theory it is. If evolutionary science had any real weakness or vulnerabilities, creationists would be gleefully pointing it out.” I think this is a profound message that is also applicable to other areas of science and medicine that are frequently attacked by those using agenda-driven motivated reasoning — e.g. homeopathists.

  2. Kestrel says:

    I can just see Steve dropping the mic at the end of this series. Masterfully done, thanks for all the hard work.

  3. Willy says:

    Clearly, the ability to poop evolved first, as demonstrated by the fact that Snyder, an obviously primitive life form, nonetheless has the ability to spread shit around.

  4. daedalus2u says:

    Humans also solely rely on O2 diffusion, and not by O2 being carried by the blood, during the stage of a human’s life before it has blood, blood vessels to carry it around in and a heart to pump it.

  5. banyan says:

    The point about people in the future considering evolution the most amazing hoax of all time makes me yearn for the days of Intrade (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intrade). I could set up a page for “the theory of common descent will cease being the dominant theory explaining the current state of life on Earth by 2020” or something like that, and then actually suggest that people put money down on it. Hey, if they’re right, they’d stand to make a lot of money. If they’re wrong; I would make a little money. Seems worth it to me.

    Thanks for this series. It’s full of references that will be helpful to point to in future pointless arguments with my mother. 😉

  6. RickK says:

    “#39 If humans have been around for so long, where are all of the bones and all of the graves?”

    Forget humans – where are all the MICE and RABBIT bones??

    “#40 Evolutionists claim that just because it looks like we were designed that does not mean that we actually were.”

    What are some other examples of “bottom-up” design? When debating the “design gambit” I like to use the Naica Crystal Caves, snowflakes and other crystals. And of course, every galaxy, star and planet is the result of undirected components interacting through some set rules.

    Another example I like is your morning cinnamon roll – specifically the enormous, complex web of people and processes that are required to reliably deliver that cinnamon roll to your hands each morning. Our global food production and distribution network is clearly an example of highly complex design. Who designed it? Or did the complexity (and the obvious design) just happen spontaneously out of the interaction if small, independent actors over time?

    Does anyone else have other examples of spontaneous emergent complexity or bottom-up design?

  7. DanDanNoodles says:

    I will never understand why someone would be deliberately deceptive in trying to support a point they are making — assuming, of course, that their intentions in making the point are honest. I guess I can see why someone would want to believe that Creationism was true, if it fit into their overall philosophy/religious views. And of course I know that people can deceive themselves quite easily, by discounting or downright ignoring contrary evidence.

    But why would you take a quote that you know does not support your point, and twist it so that it appears that it does? I simply do not understand what that gets you. Even if your dishonesty is not discovered by others, you know what you did. If you honestly believe something, why would you want “evidence” for it that was dishonestly achieved?

    I’m not being Pollyannish here. I know there are many incentives for people to lie. But again, I’m assuming that the Creationists are intellectually honest at least in the sense that they truly believe that creationism is the correct answer to the question of how our world came to be. In that case, though, I cannot grasp why they would attempt to make things sound differently.

    I mean, trying to make Stephen Jay fucking Gould sound like he is casting doubt on evolution? That’s like taking a Ken Ham quote and making it sound like it is supporting evolution — which you can totally do, but what would be the point? Everyone with even passing familiarity of the field knows that Gould would not actually be calling evolution into doubt, just as they know that Ham wouldn’t really be saying anything in support of it.

  8. tmac57 says:

    “#44 In order to believe the theory of evolution, you must have enough blind faith to believe that life just popped into existence from nonlife, and that such life just happened to have the ability to take in the nourishment it needed, to expel waste, and to reproduce itself, all the while having everything it needed to survive in the environment in which it suddenly found itself. Do you have that much blind faith?”

    But of course you could make the exact same argument which would have to be 100’s of orders of magnitude more demanding, about a supposed being that could do everything that god is alleged to be capable of.
    And it’s even worse than that, because at least we actually HAVE examples of complex life that we are free to examine, dissect, test, experiment with, extrapolate from observation, dig up bones and relics of fossils and biological material, see evidence of ongoing evolution in the lab, make comprehensive theories about based on such things previously mentioned, and see whether those pan out or not, and modify them accordingly.
    What coherent evidence of “god” even rises to a fraction of that standard? All they have is argument from ignorance, argument from authority, and argument from incredulity.

  9. Pete A says:

    “Does anyone else have other examples of spontaneous emergent complexity or bottom-up design?”

    The Network Time Protocol designed by David L. Mills, upon which all modern computers and financial institutions rely.

  10. Ivan Grozny says:

    Rick, you hit the nail on the had: free market and system of price signals and private property is one of the most sophisticated Darwinian mechanisms thus far seen, evolving over time as a part of the process or random mutations, selection and adaptation. Even more canonical example than cinnamon roll, is the pencil:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5Gppi-O3a8

    But careful with this! Naturalist Darwinians usually do not like “social Darwinism” at all: there, they so often adopt the same creationist superstitions such as “irreducible complexity of society” that cannot be left to the “blind forces” of market competitions, by has to be designed or re-designed by an Intelligent Human Designer aka government Regulator or Bureaucrat.

  11. tmac57 says:

    Ivan, why can’t the creation of laws and regulations also be seen as a ‘market’ response to social problems?

  12. RickK says:

    Pete A – Yep, the internet in general is such an example of emergent complexity from independent actors interacting through a simple set of rules. Or better yet, viral news and meme distribution and other such examples of seemingly intentionally-designed complexity that grew out of simple components without the need of a designer’s intent.

    Ivan – True, but that doesn’t diminish the truth that nobody designed the vast global network that delivers cinnamon rolls and pencils. Thanks for the link.

    I’d still like to find more examples of such emergent design in nature, preferably inanimate.

  13. Ivan Grozny says:

    tmac57,

    because they are not. Laws and regulations are attempts to consciously and deliberately plan and design human social interactions and institutions. They are the products of human design, whereas traditional social institutions, such as prices and private property are products of human action but NOT of deliberate human design. They are the products of a long “blind” evolution of successful patterns. Just as the biological species producing the most useful mutations and adaptations had a better chance of survival, so the human groups practising useful adaptive mechanisms had a better chance of survival and economic advance than the other groups disregarding them. the concept of using legislation and regulation to “correct” the effects of “blind market forces” is the product of the same crude “intelligent designer” fallacy that dr Novella so convincingly debunks.

    Darwin was actually influenced by political economy of Adam Smith and evolutionary theory of law by David Hume in devising his biological theory. I believe that Darwin’s granddad was a friend of Adam Smith’s…

    The best source for this is
    http://www.libertarianismo.org/livros/lllfh.pdf

  14. Ivan Grozny says:

    “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

    Friedrich August von Hayek

    this is the most pregnant critique of social Intelligent Designers or creationists. 🙂

  15. bachfiend says:

    I think I’ve read that the genetic code isn’t actually a code at all. Technically it’s a cipher. Certainly, it’s not a code similar to the Enigma code, in which each letter of the alphabet in a message is represented by different letters each time it recurs. This sort of code is arbitrary.

    It’s more similar to a cipher, such as one in which a word or a common phrase is always represented by the same word. For example ‘Apple’ in the original message is always represented by ‘orange’.

    The genetic code isn’t arbitrary. A given triplet codon always represents a certain amino acid (or action, such as ‘stop’). And it’s also not arbitrary – each triplet codon by physicochemical forces preferentially binds to the amino acid it codes for.

    Presumably, in some far distant time when there was an inheritance molecule before DNA, polypeptide synthesis occurred directly on the the genetic storage molecule. Later ithe system became more complex, with the addition of a complementary chain as in DNA to add control to the polypeptides being made, and polypeptide synthesis moved away from the storage molecule with mRNA (which retains the complementary structure) and tRNA, which again bears the triplet codon for its amino acid.

    It’s not arbitrary. Everything is determined by physicochemical forces. And preferential binding between triplet codons and its corresponding amino acid.

  16. hardnose says:

    “free market and system of price signals and private property is one of the most sophisticated Darwinian mechanisms thus far seen,”

    It’s a good example of evolution, a bad example of evolution driven by random accidents.

    Natural evolving systems always involve some degree of randomness, but more than randomness is involved.

  17. bachfiend says:

    Oops, it must be too early in the morning. I’ve made a blooper when I stated that the genetic code isn’t arbitrary and also that it’s arbitrary. I’m not certain what the heck I was meaning to write. Perhaps I meant that the genetic code isn’t changeable. A given triplet codon always represents the same amino acid or action. And it’s not arbitrary. If you could accurately model the DNA molecule with all the physicochemical forces, then you’d be able to predict which amino acid each triplet codon encodes.

    Anyway. I think Lewontin’s quote has been taken out of contex. It’s from his review of ‘the Demon Haunted World’, in which he noted that much of science is counterintuitive and apparently nonsensenical, such as the matter causing smells (and everything else we know in the world) consists largely of a combination of three colourless, odourless and tasteless quarks. And it’s even stranger than he imagined. Protons and neutrons (forming most of the atom) contain 3 valence quarks, which accounts for 2% of the mass of the particle. The remaining 98% of the mass is due to a sea of virtual particles which flash into and out of existence.

    When protons are smashed together in the Large Hadron Collider, what happens is that a swarm of particles (valence quarks and virtual particles) in one proton pass through the corresponding swarm in the other proton. And occasionally one component particle in one collides with a component particle in the other, with the remainder of both protons continuing on. And it’s collisions of the virtual particles which are most interesting because they have most of the mass and energy to generate really interesting other particles.

  18. RickK says:

    hn said: “It’s a good example of evolution, a bad example of evolution driven by random accidents.
    Natural evolving systems always involve some degree of randomness, but more than randomness is involved.”

    Oh, so Pet Rocks, Angry Birds, selfie sticks and the music of Weird Al Yankovic were all part of a grand plan? There’s a guiding force steering us to these and other developments? If we replayed history, it would all work out the same way?

    Also – saying evolution is “driven by random accidents” is a transparent strawman. Evolution can’t happen without variation, but neither can it happen without replication or selection. hardnose, was your mischaracterization driven by an intention to deceive or simple ignorance?

  19. mumadadd says:

    Ivan Grozny,

    Why would you equate acceptance of the evolution of species with libertarian politics? It’s almost like you’re saying, “We evolved, so let’s just keep evolving and forget about regulating society; let evolution sort it out.”

  20. Pete A says:

    RickK, The Internet has been described (rightly I think) as the most complex entity that we know of. Its incredible complexity isn’t because a few humans designed it, it results from the Internet machine having self-adapted so well to its environment that it is the only machine that doesn’t have an off switch and it cannot be destroyed — only temporarily inconvenienced within narrow locales. Even the vast resources of China has been incapable of denying all of its citizens access to the whole World Wide Web.

    No nation would survive if it severed all of its physical links to the Internet, and no nation is capable of jamming all possible radio links to the Internet (terrestrial and satellite comms).

    The Internet delivers an unbelievable level of both information and interpersonal connectivity across the globe, simply by using routing protocols that have far less communication complexity and dexterity than that of ants.

    NB: Internets were designed long before the conception of the World Wide Web. The Internet is one of many internets that provides transport layer communications between devices. The Internet is capitalized for the same reason that the Sun and the Moon are capitalized: to differentiate them from general internets, suns, and moons. Web services and e-mail are application layer protocols that require a transport layer, but they would work even if the transport layer was a Morse code link.

    So, yes, the mind-boggling technology that enables us to have this discussion is based on a very simple system that just relies on electrons being real entities — bless them, for they know not what they are doing! Just as the electrons and ions in us know not what they are doing. Just as hardnose knows not what he is actually doing 🙂

  21. BetaclampDan says:

    I would like to thank Steven Novella for these interesting posts although I haven’t as yet seen the 44 reasons, I’m positive they will make an appearance soon on my Facebook page :(.

    I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and was a member up until the age of about 20 wherein I discovered I had inadvertently been led deep into the rabbit hole of self-deception and taught a few tropes about evolution.

    Ironically it was when one of our brothers (brothers and sisters designed to make you feel warm and fuzzy when comparing yourself to a family) said that if evolution were true then why are there still apes. I had no answer but was sure that it was so obvious a point that it must surely have been answered by the many intelligent evolutionary biologists working in the field so I did a little “research”, a term so oft misused almost makes me feel a little ashamed about using it. But then I found that there were many answers and retorts to these common misconceptions.

    Then I read ‘origin of the species’ and found that I too could albeit in my own little unspecialised way percieve a “grandeur in this view of life.” From there I read Dawkin’s ‘evidence for evolution’ and Jerry Coyne’s ‘Why evolution is true.’ I also decided to pick up Mark Ridley’s ‘Evolution’ textbook. It’s been a fascinating glimpse into a spectacular process, although one of my friends is still a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses we remain somewhat on good terms. However he is still convinced that the air of transparency is a sure sign that he has the right religion out of how many?

    These posts and many like it will serve to enlighten the honest inquirer of the world and for that reason I would like to say thanks again.

    In addition one of the chief factors that finished my religiosity was a number of misquotes and quotes taken out of context, a factor I see going on all around me. In the end I suppose the bubble these religions have will be popped by the digital age, either that or they will seek out that which fits and filter that which doesn’t.

  22. Pete A says:

    BetaclampDan, Likewise for me “one of the chief factors that finished my religiosity was a number of misquotes and quotes taken out of context, a factor I see going on all around me.”

    It was the obvious scientific errors and the deliberate misquotes in the JW’s printed literature that inspired me to devote tens of thousands of hours to discover the truth and to undertake the very painful process of letting go of my false beliefs, hopes, and dreams.

  23. Davdoodles says:

    “It was the obvious scientific errors and the deliberate misquotes in the JW’s printed literature that inspired me to devote tens of thousands of hours to discover the truth and to undertake the very painful process of letting go of my false beliefs, hopes, and dreams.”

    Same here. I wonder if religions realise that they are, too a great extent, sowing the seeds of their own demise.

    They seem to blame the emergence of science for all their ills. People are ‘turning away from god’, are seduced by baubles, etc. But in fact once a person’s brain asks ‘if they are wrong about that, what else are they wrong about?’, the game is up.

    I think the catholics at least understand the issue. Most catholics I know find the bronze-ager’s insistence on preaching scientific gibberish embarrassing and recognise it’s strategically counterproductive to their cause.

    Better, I’d imagine, to cede the facts as they emerge but preserve one’s stranglehold on the numinous.

  24. BetaclampDan says:

    Pete A, I’m sure that the devotion to spend “tens of thousands of hours to discover the truth” was the preferred choice as opposed to spending a lifetime burdened with a truth that couldn’t be questioned and therefore meaningless.

    I think Richard Feynman’s quote here is pertinent: “I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong.”

  25. BetaclampDan says:

    Good point Davdoodles,

    “I wonder if religions realise that they are, too a great extent, sowing the seeds of their own demise.”

    I often see that manifest in the filtering process which all were expected to do in my past life as a Witness.

    The “great works of creation” could be easily seen in something like the eye (not paying attention of course to the flaws.) but not so easily in the shrike a bird which wilfully impales its victims on throns or barbed wire.

    Then there was the uncomfortable parastic wasps, all things that I found fascinating, but these went unmentioned. Apparently they don’t make the argument for a benevolent God a particularly easy one to make. But I wanted to look at all of nature not just a watered down version.

    It would appear that a good deal of us have strayed and good grief been liberated.
    “Better, I’d imagine, to cede the facts as they emerge but preserve one’s stranglehold on the numinous.”

    The areas or gaps are certainly getting smaller as science serves as a “candle in the dark” to plagiarise Sagan.

  26. BetaclampDan says:

    “throns” is a unique way of typing thorns apparently, my bad.

  27. RickK says:

    Davdoodles said: “I think the catholics at least understand the issue. Most catholics I know find the bronze-ager’s insistence on preaching scientific gibberish embarrassing and recognise it’s strategically counterproductive to their cause.”

    Yep – Augustine of Hippo was quite clear on that point – if your interpretation of scripture is absurdly out of sync with the facts we find in nature, then it is your interpretation that is wrong, not nature. The long history of the Catholic Church includes some serious intellectual efforts to reconcile nature and scripture.

    The evolution-denying faiths are, without exception and by definition, anti-intellectual. Maybe the Catholics were on to something by keeping scripture out of the hands of anyone who hadn’t put in the academic effort to learn Latin.

  28. Willy says:

    In case anyone is wondering about ME, he’s over on his own blog worrying about Satan: http://egnorance.blogspot.com/

  29. RickK says:

    Willy – If it weren’t for bachfiend, there would be nobody commenting on ME’s blog ever. I think the best thing for Dr. Egnor in the long run is zero comments on every post.

  30. hardnose says:

    [I think Richard Feynman’s quote here is pertinent: “I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong.”]

    I certainly agree with that. Materialists “know” how life evolved, so their minds are completely shut to more interesting and plausible ideas.

  31. Sylak says:

    I would like to says, merci à vous Dr Novella. Already that you are my Skeptical hero and the person who taught me the most about my own mind ( I know we shouldn’t have hero and whatever, but I can’t help it), you are also probably the most brilliant person I ever read or listen to ( and I hope to had “met” in that list one day). And, wow, you manage to impressed, again. So much patience! M. Snyder is one of the most “arrogant with his ignorance/belief” person I’ve read. The kind of person that, for me, is not even worth any trouble. But you did it, used you resources and did a deep dive in his claims. I suppose that People in the US share a lot more this kind of stuff on Facebook, except for your SGU updates, I wouldn’t have known about it. I guess it needed to be addressed, especially with the fight creationist are putting in some state. This articles series was great, not only because of the debunking, but also in a learning perspective, explaining a lot of key point about the science of evolution, I learn new things. Really a great read. So thanks.

    And is that just me but a lot of Snyder point sounds really childish. Like a kid who don’t want to accept that Santa isn’t real.

  32. Willy says:

    Carbon dating and soft goo in dino bone fossils. One of the more comical things I’ve seen recently is creationists, more than one, demanding that the goo be carbon dated. They assert that the goo won’t be dated because those evil scientists know it will prove dinos lived very recently. The irony–creationists routinely dispute the validity of carbon dating, yet demand it when an opportunity arises. One sure can’t say they’re consistent! Of course, if the goo did date young, it would strongly imply contamination.

    Does anyone have a good source for the latest info on the goo? Most everything I find is quite dated.

  33. BetaclampDan says:

    hardnose,

    What other interesting and more plausible ideas are there?

    I absolutely agree that one should avoid dogmatism whenever possible, I have encountered little of that in the skeptical community, it is more often in my own experience at least found in the realms of religion.

    Along with my question above could you also put forward the evidence for your opposing theory by which evolution works.

    Thanks in advance hardnose.

  34. edamame says:

    Betaclamp wrote:
    I absolutely agree that one should avoid dogmatism whenever possible, I have encountered little of that in the skeptical community

    Ummm, you must be new. 🙂

    There’s plenty of it among skeptics, it can be pretty off-putting. Pretty much club that caters to a particular political/sociological/ideological group is going to have dogmatists.

    I have found much better luck with thing like the community of actual scientists, programmers, etc.. But skeptics tend to be people who don’t do or know much science, and have very strange but entrenched views of how science works (and attachments to weird theories like sociobiology, and more recently, overcommit to ideologies like Bayesianism).

    The way I see it, dogmatism is annoying from any sect. One nice thing about this blog is Dr Novella is fairly even-tempered on that front (the main time I have seen any dogmatism on this site from him is when he discusses acupuncture, but it is frankly less dogmatism, more stridency, there’s a difference :)).

    Anyway this was a fun buffet of ideas to take down.

  35. BetaclampDan says:

    edamame, “There’s plenty of it among skeptics, it can be pretty off-putting. Pretty much club that caters to a particular political/sociological/ideological group is going to have dogmatists.”

    Agreed that dogmatism can follow any ideology, I suppose I have naturally gravitated towards the skeptics that tend to back up a claim with citations and a genuine desire to educate themselves as well as combat some of the more pernicious areas of pseudoscience.

    This blog as well as ‘Science-based medicine’ and Orac’s ‘respectful insolence’ are well constructed and often contain sources such that I can go and investigate further.

    I have come upon many who call themselves skeptics but don’t remain true to a certain ethos of honest skepticism, as with any group you may have a small subset who uphold the standards of intellectual debate but there will I suppose always be those who label themselves skeptics but avoid skeptical integrity.

    Another thing I like is the willingness to engage all the commentators here, even if the ideas are not shared they are at least discussed and debated, all of which signals that I am in the right place.

    Very much enjoyed these posts and look forward to sharing the ideas.

  36. Lukas Xavier says:

    If you are a mollusk, for example, that lives in water which is particularly lacking in CO2 from the atmosphere, you will incorporate less carbon 14 into your tissue.

    I never thought about that, but of course you’re right. The calibration depends on an equilibrium with the atmosphere. If the sample is taken e.g. from the bottom of the ocean, the calibration will obviously be off, since the organism is to some degree isolated from the source of C-14.

    In order to properly date such a specimen, you’d have to factor in how far it’s removed from the atmospheric carbon; how long it would take the C-14 to filter down through the food chain and how much of it would decay on the way.

    I only expected to laugh at creatinist nonsense, but I actually learned something new. Good job.

  37. goldmund52 says:

    Ivan Grozny: I agree that understanding the nature of evolved human social and cultural forms is essential to the question of good governance. In that vein, I propose to you that people of the laissez-faire libertarian political bent need to do some homework. The current science of evolutionary psychology does not support the strong libertarian world view. Human political organization is the result of evolution as much as is market structure, and the basic fact is that “in the world’s advanced economies, a substantial fraction of total income is regularly transferred from the better off to the less well off, and the governments that preside over these transfers are regularly endorsed by publics”*. The social welfare state is simply here to stay. The reason for this is that “a compelling argument can be made that people support the modern welfare state because it conforms to deeply held norms of reciprocity and conditional obligation to others. *

    The scientific notion here is Strong Reciprocity, defined as “a propensity to cooperate and share with others similarly disposed, even at personal cost, and a willingness to punish those who violate cooperative and other social norms, even when punishing is personally costly and cannot be expected to entail net personal gains in the future.* Perhaps not too surprisingly this empirically supported notion leads to some policy positions that are actually in line with some traditional conservative values. But it does not lead to abolition of the social safety net. Two examples:

    1. “Public policies should recognize that there is substantial support for generosity towards the less well off as long as they have tried to make an effort to improve their situation and are in good moral standing.”*

    2. “Thus, instead of proposing highly centralized governance systems, the best empirical evidence we can bring to bear on the question of building sustainable democratic systems for sustainable resource use is to design polycentric systems.” “Thus, much of contemporary policy analysis and the policies adopted in many modern democracies crowd out citizenship and voluntary levels of cooperation.” “Crowding out reciprocity, cooperation, and citizenship is a waste of human and material resources and presents a serious challenge to the sustainability of democratic institutions over time.” Elinor Ostrom

    My gripe with libertarians is that they marginalize themselves politically with overstated antigovernment ideology, when what they should be doing is working inside the model of government as a cooperative endeavor, trying to improve outcomes by applying current knowledge of the evolutionarily determined natural characteristics of human cooperation.

    *Moral Sentiments and Material Interests: The Foundations of Cooperation in Economic Life. Gintis and Bowles 2005.

  38. Pete A says:

    Asking a creationist/IDiot to provide their ‘interesting’ alternatives to the theory of evolution will always be met with either silence or an attack on modern science, scientists, and atheists. Why? We need to look at the mission statements of the Discovery Institute and its affiliates.

    “The mission of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture is to advance the understanding that human beings and nature are the result of intelligent design rather than a blind and undirected process. We seek long-term scientific and cultural change through cutting-edge scientific research and scholarship; education and training of young leaders; communication to the general public; and advocacy of academic freedom and free speech for scientists, teachers, and students.” — retrieved 2015-09-27 from the website of the Discovery Institute.

    See also
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Discovery_Institute
    (especially the links to its articles:
    A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism
    Biologic Institute
    Michael Egnor
    Non-materialist neuroscience)
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Intelligent_design
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy

    Creationists/IDiots do not actually possess an alternative to the theory of evolution, or even just an interesting testable alternative hypothesis, which is why they can’t and won’t tell us what it is when we ask them. All they have to offer as evidence is: the Bible; endless misquotes of real scientists; and the writings of ancient philosophers and theologians who were blissfully ignorant / are currently wilful deniers of 21st Century science, evidence, logic, engineering, and medicine.

  39. hardnose says:

    Alternative evolution ideas come from, for example: engineering (information theory), computer science (digital physics), biology (epigenetics).

    Materialists pretend there are only two alternatives — the western bible’s creation myth, or blind chance.

    We don’t know how many other possibilities may exist. Getting stuck on one theory, Darwinism, prevents scientific progress.

    It is a mistake to equate materialism with science. Materialism has become popular, thanks to misunderstandings about evolution. But modern science was around for centuries before Darwinism became the accepted evolution theory.

  40. Pete A says:

    Dr Square Brackets has perfectly illustrated my point: no alternative testable hypothesis can be offered; only an attack on Darwinism, which is a straw man that doesn’t actually exist in 21st Century science.

  41. Pete A says:

    BTW, Dr Square Brackets, various forms of ‘digital physics’ and ‘digital chemistry’ have proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that homeopathy (something that you support) is impossible. Furthermore, your Internet connection wouldn’t work if your silly accusations of modern science had any merit whatsoever.

    If you wish to criticize an aspect of science then it’s best to firstly gain a reasonable grasp of the subject in order to avoid looking like a complete prat.

  42. RickK says:

    oops, somebody pulled hardnose’s string and he said “materialist” and “Darwinism” again – two words that he can’t define and doesn’t understand.

    Everybody keep your hands away from that string.

    Pete A – when you’re quoting the mission of the Discovery Institute, don’t forget:

    “Governing Goals:

    To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.
    To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.”

    — “The Wedge Strategy”

  43. Pete A says:

    RickK, Indeed, he can neither define nor understand the words “materialist” and “Darwinism”.

    Thank you for quoting directly the DI’s goals of “The Wedge Strategy”.

  44. BetaclampDan says:

    Thanks for responding HN, much appreciated.

  45. BetaclampDan says:

    RickK, “oops, somebody pulled hardnose’s string and he said “materialist” and “Darwinism” again – two words that he can’t define and doesn’t understand.

    Everybody keep your hands away from that string.”

    Apologies it was not intentional to pull strings, only to see if I could pin HN down to something specific and concrete. 🙂

    I am grateful to HN for responding :”Alternative evolution ideas come from, for example: engineering (information theory), computer science (digital physics), biology (epigenetics).

    I see natural selection has won out as the mechanism of evolution, and is evidently the most fit to survive all other explanations or ideas from the very same fields HN mentioned.

    There is something that pulls me into thinking that perhaps HN is really arguing for its own sake, but who knows. If there came a time when new evidence comes to oppose natural selection perhaps I too will see it as archaic and erroneous, but for now I see no other theory to seriously challenge it.

    Pete A, “BTW, Dr Square Brackets, various forms of ‘digital physics’ and ‘digital chemistry’ have proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that homeopathy (something that you support) is impossible”

    Homeopathy terrifies me in its ability to so capture the imagination of those who preach its virtues in the absence of any real data. I did however feel somewhat pleased when I recently reasoned with a family member who had been following homeopathy for years, it wasn’t too difficult when the subject of chemistry and the dilutions which take place came up. It was a nice win but the emotional investment is startling.

  46. Willy says:

    So, hardnose, why don’t you tell us what the alternatives are. You babble about “materialism”, you degrade “modern science”, but you offer exactly zero in return. Questions are asked and they go unanswered. I think you are an empty suit. Whoops, let me modify that: you ARE an empty suit.

    Pete A: I have been quite struck lately about the “anti-whatevers” (evolution, AGW, etc.) and their approaches. I’ve really come to understand that when one’s entire case rests on nitpicking that of one’s opponents, one has no case. Your post was spot on.

    Kurt Wise has acknowledged that creationists do not yet have any really scientific theories explaining life on this planet. He is dead wrong in pursuing creationist, young earth ideas, but he’s at least honest enough to admit he doesn’t yet have a better explanation. ME and hn are just true believing buffoons who like to hurl insults and empty accusations without offering anything in the way of plausible alternatives.

    C’mon, hn. Tell us what you think explains evolution.

    You can’t, can you? Do you realize that you are not “open-minded”, but are instead totally void of any factually based thoughts or ideas. It’s easy to be critical; it ain’t so easy to offer plausible ideas.

  47. Davdoodles says:

    “Materialists pretend there are only two alternatives — the western bible’s creation myth, or blind chance.”

    It would be difficult to make this statement less true. Nonetheless, it is a useful object lesson in projection*, as it in fact seems to be precisely the basis of theCreationist/ID argument ad nauseum:

    If we pretend that ‘chance’ is what science means by ‘evolution’ (hint: it doesn’t), and then pretend that we’ve proved that ‘chance’ is impossible (hint: you haven’t), then the only other possibility (hint: it isn’t the only other possibility) is ‘the western creation’s bible myth’ is true (hint: good grief).

    *and false-dichotomy and begging-the-question and, heck, it pings most chapters in the Big Ol’ Book of Embarrassingly Shitty-Arguments.

  48. hardnose says:

    ” Furthermore, your Internet connection wouldn’t work if your silly accusations of modern science had any merit whatsoever.”

    I never accused modern science of anything. I said, many times, that materialism and modern science are NOT the same thing.

  49. hardnose says:

    ‘you degrade “modern science”’

    There are some people here with very poor reading comprehension.

  50. Pete A says:

    Your Internet connection is made available to you by modern ‘materialist’ science. It is a material (physical) connection, it uses materials, and it does NOT rely on any non-materialist principles — if it did, it wouldn’t work. However, *you* cannot explain how your computer, Internet connection, and many other things work using modern materialist science.

    Unlike you, I know exactly how these things work; right down to the level of electrons, photons, stochastic noise, impulsive noise, and the quantized nature of reality. Ditto for many other electrical and electronic devices. There is no magic, there is no ghost in the machine, just as there is no dualism or deity involved in the brain/mind.

  51. Paulz says:

    @hardnose

    “I never accused modern science of anything. I said, many times, that materialism and modern science are NOT the same thing.”

    You never really provide proof of this assertion that there are a vast number of working scientists shaping the field outside of a materialist perspective in any sort of rational way.

    Really, by now I’ve come to realize that you just enjoy the feeling of being a contrary voice.

  52. hardnose says:

    There is no connection between the scientific method and materialism. Most scientists are not materialists, since the majority have some kind of religious or spiritual beliefs.

    Materialism does have an effect on contemporary science in certain areas, especially biology and medical research. For example, there tends to be a focus on chemical processes and neglect of electrical processes. Electricity is at least as important in living things as chemicals.

    Materialists don’t usually bother to define materialism, or naturalism, but I guess I would defined it as the idea that intelligence can arise from non-intelligent substances. This idea does influence research in certain areas.

    But modern science, in general, has no necessary connection to materialism. Outside of biology and medicine, it doesn’t make a difference if a researcher believes in the philosophy of materialism or not.

  53. RC says:

    @hardnose

    You seem to like to define things in ways that have nothing to do with the way the rest of the word defines them. You should ask yourself why that is.

    Electricity does not fall outside of materialism.

    Your statement about intelligence is sophisticated nonsense.

  54. BillyJoe7 says:

    “Materialism does have an effect on contemporary science in certain areas, especially biology and medical research. For example, there tends to be a focus on chemical processes and neglect of electrical processes. Electricity is at least as important in living things as chemicals.”

    If this doesn’t convince everyone to leave this boy alone, I don’t know what will.

  55. BillyJoe7 says:

    …in fact his whole post makes about as much sense as my toilet paper.

  56. steve12 says:

    HN:

    YOU don’t even know what YOU mean when you say materialism:

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/is-fibromyalgia-real/

    This whole materialism bullshit is just a cudgel to advance your “What the Bleep Do We Know?” narrative. We get that there’s a lot we don’t know HN. Denying what we do know isn’t required for that to be understood.

    When you can specifically articulate what you mean by materialism, I’ll take you seriously. But you never do. You came close in the above referenced thread (and I gave you kudos for this) but now back you are to throwing the word around with little care as to it’s meaning….

    “But modern science, in general, has no necessary connection to materialism. Outside of biology and medicine, it doesn’t make a difference if a researcher believes in the philosophy of materialism or not.”

    I must have explained to you why this is wrong about 10^28 times. But you NEVER counter. What is the point of a discussion if you refuse to engage? Or only answer posts when you feel you have a rhetorical advantage?

    You got some issues kid….

  57. arnie says:

    BJ7 – “If this doesn’t convince everyone to leave this boy alone, I don’t know what will.”

    Only the willingness, in any given thread, to let his previous nonsense statement go without response.

  58. arnie says:

    And that’s never easy, for sure. Just goes against the grain.

  59. hardnose says:

    You can be a scientist and make observations and do experiments, without having the preconception that nothing can exist beyond what is already known.

    As for my comment about medical science and electricity, I don’t know how you can deny that. Most medical treatments involve either chemicals or surgery, and electricity, and energy in general, is often not considered.

    Yes I know that electricity is a form of “matter,” since it is something already recognized by science.

  60. steve12 says:

    HN:

    “You can be a scientist and make observations and do experiments, without having the preconception that nothing can exist beyond what is already known.”

    Who, ever, in the history of science said anything different than this?

    “Yes I know that electricity is a form of “matter,” since it is something already recognized by science.”

    WHAT?!? You think materialism means that which is already recognized by science? You never bothered to read up a bit about it’s usage?

    It’s just silly. You’re just looking for a false pretense to be critical of work you don’t understand.

    You’re either Andy Kaufman-ing us, or you have a personality disorder.

  61. hardnose says:

    steve12,

    The easiest way to “win” an argument and look superior is to apply a psychiatric label to your opponent.

    Yes, it is true, most materialists deny the possibility that fields, energies, substances, can exist if they are not already recognized by science.

    That is why they/you get crazy if anyone dares to hypothesize about biological fields, or information structures in water.

    Oh no, that can’t possibly be real! If it is, we might have to revise our textbooks, we might have to change some of our cherished beliefs.

  62. RC says:

    @hardnose

    We don’t know exactly how gravity works – whether it’s a field of some sort, or there’s a particle, or what – but we know it’s there, and we can test that. We can test it’s magnitude, and can make predictions about it.

    We don’t know about anything that allows water to store information – there is no evidence that it can, no examples of it doing so, and no credible theories that would allow it to. Simply put – it is a fantasy.

    If you can’t understand the difference between those two – then you not only don’t understand what we’re talking about, you don’t understand what science even is.

    The facts of science change on a daily basis, and textbooks get rewritten yearly – what drives this is new evidence and new data – something your theories don’t have any of.

  63. steve12 says:

    “Yes, it is true, most materialists deny the possibility that fields, energies, substances, can exist if they are not already recognized by science.

    Just ab-so-lute, Gaade A Horseshit. USDA Prime. I’m a scientist, I hang out with scientists and no one I know would deny anything given EVIDENCE.

    “That is why they/you get crazy if anyone dares to hypothesize about biological fields, or information structures in water.”

    What’s the EVIDENCE!!!!!

    “The facts of science change on a daily basis, and textbooks get rewritten yearly – what drives this is new evidence and new data – something your theories don’t have any of.”

    And who is processing all this amazing and changing scienitific landscape if not professional, working scientists? The very same ones who completely disagree with you?

    EVIDENCE!!!!! EVIDENCE!!!!! EVIDENCE!!!!!

    Bring me EVIDENCE or STFU!

  64. steve12 says:

    HN has divined that :
    a. Scientific understanding changes!

    and

    B. Science doesn’t understand everything!

    Whoa!!!! Thank goodness you’re here to let us know! I better put down this drink and get back to the lab!!!!

  65. arnie says:

    RC – “If you (HN) can’t understand the difference between those two – then you not only don’t understand what we’re talking about, you don’t understand what science even is.”

    There!! That says it all. And it’s all I’ve ever learned from or about HN these past two years. And there’s no evidence any of us will ever learn more about or from him. No evidence he’s even open to understanding what science is learning. Maybe he can’t, I don’t know. Appears to be in a fantasy world all his own. I’m not even sure he truly understands what it means to say that “scientific understanding changes” or to say “science doesn’t understand everything”. But if he at least understands what those words mean then, well, I guess maybe he’s ready to advance on to the third grade.

    I don’t dislike HN, I just don’t see how his fantasy world adds one iota of value to the context of this blog. Enough already!

  66. RickK says:

    hardnose – we won the argument ages ago.

    We’re just going through the tortuous process of explaining to you why you lost.

  67. Davdoodles says:

    hardnose: “The easiest way to “win” an argument and look superior is to apply a psychiatric label to your opponent….

    …That is why they/you get crazy if anyone dares to hypothesize about biological fields”

    All from the one post.

    Congratulations, HN, an ‘easy’ win for you. Looking really ‘superior’ there.
    .

  68. Bill Openthalt says:

    hardnose —

    You can be a scientist and make observations and do experiments, without having the preconception that nothing can exist beyond what is already known.

    If scientists would have that attitude, we’d still be at the “four elements” stage of understanding nature. The problem here is believing in something that is incompatible with what we know sufficiently well to use in ubiquitous technology, or believing in something for which there is no observable proof. If homeopathy were effective, there would be a reason to understand why it is effective. But it isn’t — and thus speculating about water memory is pointless.

    As for my comment about medical science and electricity, I don’t know how you can deny that. Most medical treatments involve either chemicals or surgery, and electricity, and energy in general, is often not considered.

    Electricity is used (think reanimation, electroshock therapy), but we know enough about the human body, and biological systems in general, to use it where and when it is effective. But magnetic bracelets do not work, and magnetic fields are not effective against cancer. Speaking of cancer, energy is used in radiotherapy, because we know how ionizing radiation affects cells. Cooling and heating (which is adding or removing energy from parts of the body) are used in many therapies. And extracting teeth does require energy.

    What science (and evidence)-based medicine does not consider is “fields” and “energy” that cannot be observed. Reiki claims to transfer energy, but this “energy” is not observable. Take reiki, what’s the point speculating about “energy” that cannot be observed but produces observable results (healing) when the purported results turn out to be non-existent?

    Methinks you don’t grok energy.

    Yes, it is true, most materialists deny the possibility that fields, energies, substances, can exist if they are not already recognized by science.
    That is why they/you get crazy if anyone dares to hypothesize about biological fields, or information structures in water.
    Oh no, that can’t possibly be real! If it is, we might have to revise our textbooks, we might have to change some of our cherished beliefs.

    As has been repeated over and over, the fact our knowledge is limited doesn’t mean any crazy concept is true. If neither the hypothetical thingamabob, nor its hypothetical effect(s) are observable (directly or indirectly), then the parsimonious conclusion is that said thingamabob does not exist.
    Plus we don’t get crazy, we just point out why and how you are deluding yourself, and show signs of exasperation when after twenty iterations it still hasn’t sunk in.

    To quote George Harrison:

    You can take a horse to the water
    but you can’t make him drink
    Oh no, oh no, oh no

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