Deniers of Science By Richard Sale

  Richard Sale headshot (2)

A critic of Evolution thundered recently: “Scientific observations do not support biological evolution! What about the icons of evolution that have been presented in textbooks for almost 50 years? Don’t these icons support biological evolution? Some of these do show microevolution within species. This type of evolution, even if it permanently points in one direction, is not evolution. It is no more evolution than dog breeding.”  (What???) “However, if a dog could be bred into a cat, that would be evolution. Even icons like the peppered moths that were only examples of microevolution, used pinned dead moths on black tree trunks that were not a natural resting place for the moths. Hackle’s embryos, ape-to-man drawings, the horse series, etc.” 

The above is taken from a site urging the teaching of Creationism as an alternative to Evolution. That these words are incoherent are not the worst of their faults. Unfortunately, these remarks leave the question of evolution validity or falsehood. Not only are they erroneous, they are misconceived.  


A fundamentalist reading of the Bible leads to all sorts of nonsense.  In the 19th century, there occurs a belief in the spontaneous life. At one time, people maintained that the sun created crocodiles from the mud of the Nile. Mice were supposed to be created out of piles of old soiled rags.  Bluebottle flies had their origin in bad meat. Maggots were created in apples, which is why they at last appeared. U.S. fundamentalists believe this as well. They do think that the earth is only 6,000 years old. 

Alas, Louisiana, Tennessee and other states, clearly striving to be in the forefront of every backward movement, are increasing funding for the teaching of “Creationism” in schools there, demonstrating their support for this falsehood by  thumping their cave man’s clubs or perhaps enacting animal sacrifices. The problem is that the advocates of Creationism are spiritual and mental primitives. They haven’t evolved at all. 

The Creationist folks clearly don’t understand that Evolution is not really a controversy anymore. Evolution is no longer a theory because the debate has long ago moved from biology to chemical analysis. The building up of chemical molecules defines our Life’s beginning. What we have learned from scientists since Darwin is that the cycles of life have a chemical form. Scientists had to do much selfless work to learn how to express the cycles of life in a way that linked them to nature as a whole, and this meant studying chemistry. That’s what the Bible believers get wrong. 

In other words, scientific knowledge has moved way, way beyond Alfred Russel (sic) Wallace, and Darwin and Mendel. The blood that flows in our veins is millions and millions of years old. The history of the Earth is interesting to the point of fascination, but the man who solved the mystery of life’s earliest origins was the Frenchman Louis Pasteur who proved the chemical basis of all human life back in 1863, when the French Emperor asked him to solve the question of why wine went bad. Pasteur solved this in two years.  He discovered that the wine was a “sea of organisms.”  He said, “By some it lives, by some it decays.”  What was the most startling of his discoveries was that life could exist without oxygen. He found that no free oxygen existed before Life existed. 

After Pasteur, it was chemists, not biologists that began to look at amino acids as the building blocks of human life. When anyone of us moves his or her arm, we rely on something called myogiblin which consists of 120 amino acids. The difference in amino acids between a chimpanzee and a human is a small difference. But between a human and a sheep, the difference of amino acids is much greater. Yet the overwhelming conclusion about our life’s origins is that they have their base in chemistry, in molecules that can replicate. Basic molecules form DNA chains, etc. In fact, our life is controlled by four bases of DNA. 

The Earth’s Beginnings 

It is perhaps chastening to note that by 8 billion years ago, about two thirds of the history of our universe passed, and it had passed before the creation of the Earth which took place around 4.6 billion years ago. It was around 4.6 billion years ago that a mass the size of Mars crashed into the Earth at 25,000 miles per hour. There was a huge amount of dust that circled us, but our gravity held on to it and out of that dust the Moon was formed. I believe that it was the moon that gave us 24 hour days and seasons. (A lot of the above is still being refined and debated, so please be patient with my mistakes.)  So we humans were born out of chaos, collisions, ice ages, volcanic eruptions, and the like. No wonder we are so quarrelsome. 

Scientists returned to the beginning, asking, what was the surface of the Earth and what was our atmosphere like? From my own fitful reading, I discovered from reading was that the atmosphere of the Earth was originally a mixture of steam, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, ammonia, methane, but no free oxygen. A great step forward occurred in 1952 or thereabouts, thanks to a scientist named Steven Miller, who, with a colleague named Harold Urey, bottled up in a flask what they guessed was the Earth’s original atmosphere. Theirs was an experiment intended to simulate the conditions thought at the time to be present on the early Earth, and the experiment tested for the occurrence of our chemical origins of life. Specifically, the experiment tested Alexander Oparin's and J. B. S. Haldane's hypothesis that conditions on the primitive Earth favored chemical reactions that “synthesized organic compounds from inorganic precursors.”  (This language for me is a bit like tramping through a dense thicket in the woods and getting lost, but it is interesting nonetheless.) 

So Miller bottled up nitrogen, water, methane, ammonia, water, carbon dioxide, and other reducing gases. The mixture turned pink within a day. For days he and Urey subjected their flask to heat, to ultra-violet light, loud noises, trying to simulate the chaotic fury of the Earth’s original atmosphere. This went on for some time, maybe weeks. Suddenly as Miller and Urey looked on, they saw that the pink liquid had suddenly darkened. Their experiment had produced basic amino acids, rudimental protein.  The experiment was seen “as the classic experiment of the origin of life.(*)

A Wikipedia entry notes, “After Miller's death in 2007, scientists examining sealed vials preserved from the original experiments were able to show that there were actually well over 20 different amino acids produced in Miller's original experiments. That is considerably more than what Miller originally reported, and more than the 20 that naturally occur in life. Moreover, some evidence suggests that Earth's original atmosphere might have had a different composition from the gas used in the Miller–Urey experiment. There is abundant evidence of major volcanic eruptions 4 billion years ago, which would have released carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen (N2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) into the atmosphere. Experiments using these gases in addition to the ones in the original Miller–Urey experiment have produced more diverse molecules.[8]

There was another man of genius, Leslie Orgel, who also worked with Miller. There is hardly anything about him on his Wikipedia site, but somewhere I had squirreled notes on him back in the 1980s. Orgel was a Brit, breathtakingly brilliant, and he used ice as a research tool to discover more about the basic elements of air. Freezing things was a way of concentrating them. He froze ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, methane, and some other elements of the atmosphere. He produced amino acids, but he produced something else too something much more important. He produced one of the four constituents of the genetic alphabet, which directs all life. He had in fact discovered adenine, one of the four bases of  DNA. He ended by forming organic molecules, a big advance of our understanding.

I did find note of other achievements of his. “During the 1970s, Orgel suggested reconsidering the panspermia hypothesis, according to which the earliest forms of life on earth did not originate here, but arrived from outer space with meteorites.

His name is popularly known because of Orgel's rules, credited to him, particularly Orgel's Second Rule: "Evolution is cleverer than you are."

I am slowly realizing that the ability to analyze a batch of facts requires a certain kind of reasoning. It requires the talent of absorbing an abstraction.  To be astute means we have to be a good observer. J.S. Mill once said “The observer is not he who merely sees the thing which is before his eye, but he who sees that parts the thing is composed of.” Someone like me, sees a fact or make an observation, but I don’t realize its particularity. I get only a very general and inadequate view, a hazy gist of the thing. I don’t detect similarities to other observations. But the scientist breaks up the observation and notices the particular attributes of it. He suddenly sees what the rest of us don’t  – that the observation has properties which the original, basic observation didn’t have.

I really think that the dedication, the colossal capacity for focused effort, the self-effacing patience, the subordination of the appetite for glory in the service of solid achievement, the building of the powers of analysis in order to define a problem by breaking it down into its simplest elements, then testing a combination of them under different circumstances so something substantial can be proved — that is and was – nothing short of a miracle to me.  And I cannot imagine that God could not help but feeling affection and admiration for the intelligence in the creatures He created.

In the end, science is a test of temperament and mind that underlies a culture. Creationism fails that test. 

(*) UPDATED KNOWLEDGE “Originally it was thought that the primitive secondary atmosphere contained mostly ammonia and methane. However, it is likely that most of the atmospheric carbon was CO2 with perhaps some CO and the nitrogen mostly N2. In practice gas mixtures containing CO, CO2, N2, etc. give much the same products as those containing CH4 and NH3 so long as there is no O2. The hydrogen atoms come mostly from water vapor. In fact, in order to generate aromatic amino acids under primitive earth conditions it is necessary to use less hydrogen-rich gaseous mixtures. Most of the natural amino acids, hydroxyacids, purines, pyrimidines, and sugars have been made in variants of the Miller experiment.[citation needed]

More recent results may question these conclusions. The University of Waterloo and University of Colorado conducted simulations in 2005 that indicated that the early atmosphere of Earth could have contained up to 40 percent hydrogen—implying a much more hospitable environment for the formation of prebiotic organic molecules. The escape of hydrogen from Earth's atmosphere into space may have occurred at only one percent of the rate previously believed based on revised estimates of the upper atmosphere's temperature.[23] One of the authors, Owen Toon notes: "In this new scenario, organics can be produced efficiently in the early atmosphere, leading us back to the organic-rich soup-in-the-ocean concept… I think this study makes the experiments by Miller and others relevant again." Outgassing calculations using a chondritic model for the early earth complement the Waterloo/Colorado results in re-establishing the importance of the Miller–Urey experiment.[24]


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133 Responses to Deniers of Science By Richard Sale

  1. Farmer Don says:

    Wait until people are asked to accept that we are pig/ape cross breeds!
    You have to admit we have a lot of characteristics of PIGS.

  2. Thanks Richard for this wonder of a post!
    And don’t forget FREE RADICALS!
    Extract from wiki:
    In chemistry, a radical (more precisely, a free radical) is an atom, molecule, or ion that has unpaired valence electrons or an open electron shell, and therefore may be seen as having one or more “dangling” covalent bonds.
    With some exceptions, these “dangling” bonds make free radicals highly chemically reactive towards other substances, or even towards themselves: their molecules will often spontaneously dimerize or polymerize if they come in contact with each other. Most radicals are reasonably stable only at very low concentrations in inert media or in vacuum.
    A notable example of a free radical is the hydroxyl radical (HO•), a molecule that is one hydrogen atom short of a water molecule and thus has one bond “dangling” from the oxygen. Two other examples are the carbene molecule (:CH
    2), which has two dangling bonds; and the superoxide anion (•O−
    2), the oxygen molecule O
    2 with one extra electron, which has one dangling bond. On the other hand, the hydroxyl anion (HO−
    ), the oxide anion (O2−
    ) and the carbenium cation (CH+
    3) are not radicals, since the bonds that may appear to be dangling are in fact resolved by the addition or removal of electrons.
    Free radicals may be created in a number of ways, including synthesis with very dilute or rarefied reagents, reactions at very low temperatures, or breakup of larger molecules. The latter can be affected by any process that puts enough energy into the parent molecule, such as ionizing radiation, heat, electrical discharges, electrolysis, and chemical reactions. Indeed, radicals are intermediate stages in many chemical reactions.
    Free radicals play an important role in combustion, atmospheric chemistry, polymerization, plasma chemistry, biochemistry, and many other chemical processes. In living organisms, the free radicals superoxide and nitric oxide and their reaction products regulate many processes, such as control of vascular tone and thus blood pressure. They also play a key role in the intermediary metabolism of various biological compounds. Such radicals can even be messengers in a process dubbed redox signaling. A radical may be trapped within a solvent cage or be otherwise bound.
    Until late in the 20th century the word “radical” was used in chemistry to indicate any connected group of atoms, such as a methyl group or a carboxyl, whether it was part of a larger molecule or a molecule on its own. The qualifier “free” was then needed to specify the unbound case. Following recent nomenclature revisions, a part of a larger molecule is now called a functional group or substituent, and “radical” now implies “free”. However, the old nomenclature may still occur in the literature.

  3. turcopolier says:

    Farmer Don
    Got any of them human/ape hybrids up there? You know, Sasquatch. pl

  4. Fred says:

    “A fundamentalist reading of the Bible leads to all sorts of nonsense.”
    The science of 2014 isn’t the science of 2014 BC.

  5. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I have somewhat mixed view on this, since I actually deal with public opinion research, specifically with regards to science.
    What we actually know is that, while we (Americans are relatively ignorant of science, ignorance is mostly function of education and income (obv, these two are linked) rather than politics. With regards evolution, the state of “knowledge” with regards basic facts are roughly the same given education for liberals and conservatives, fundies and atheists. The difference is that conservatives often don’t “believe” them while liberals do.
    In terms of “science,” both are wrong at a fundamental level: scientists don’t “believe,” at least when they do science. They only draw conclusions that can be supported by logic and data. If the data contradicts their conclusion and its reliability is indisputable, the scientist has to drop the conclusion. Nothing in science has the validity to override good data that contradicts it, whether it is evolution, gravity, or democracy. If one pretends that some idea is better than the data, that is a cargo cult, not science.
    One service that Bill Nye rendered for science education by debating that creationist fellow in Kentucky was that he laid out what kind of evidence would be needed to convince Him of creationism, while his opponent could only repeat that he unconditionally believes in creationism. This is the contrast between real science and a cargo cult. Science is always ready to bow to the facts if they are indisputable. A cargo cult equivocates, twists logic, and makes excuses to not accept inconvenient facts. Notwithstanding being on the right side on evolution, how many of the people who say they “believe” evolution are not themselves cargo cultists in their outlook? The way we react to world events makes me wonder how many people there are in this country that do not subscribe to any major cargo cult somewhere.

  6. r whitman says:

    The science of 2014 will be laughed at as witchcraft in 2114.

  7. GulfCoastPirate says:

    No it won’t.

  8. optimax says:

    Farmer Don
    Pigs are smart and according to this article can play video games–though I don’t think that is a sign of intelligence.

  9. Tyler says:

    Richard, to begin with please define speciation and how it occurs in nature.
    There is a large, large, LARGE gulf between Young Earth Creationism and Evolution. It is not one or the other. I’ll try to be polite here by saying you’ve built yourself a cute strawman to wail on, at best.

  10. Martin Oline says:

    I think it was only 150 years ago doctors were prescribing Mercury for treating syphilis.

  11. Nightsticker says:

    According to your theory, where did the
    Nitrogen, water, methane, Carbon Dioxide,
    lightning,etc,etc, come from???
    USMC 1965-1972
    FBI 1972-1996

  12. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Richard Sale:
    There are major gaps in the dominant Darwinian Evolution as propagandized by it proponents.
    Those are:
    origin of life,
    speciation (think of the evolution of man, or flowering plants),
    species stability – why sea turtles have remained stable for over 200 million years
    species extinction (dinosaurs became extinct but mammals survived)
    Largely, they feed you words and plausible scenarios – a species of fables now dressed in a more modern jargon.
    One of the most offensive ones has been evolutionary psychology – a pseudo-science par excellence – if there ever was one.
    I do not think that the existence of such gaps in knowledge discredits the Darwinian Evolution as such if its scope is more narrowly defined that some of its more emotional supporters.
    After all, science is a never-ending quest and one would discover new scientific puzzles as older ones are resolved.
    But the supporters of Darwinian Evolution seem to be a very insecure lot with very thin skins – it seems to me. They see a religious fanatic behind every bush and tree – who is waiting to burn them at the stake.
    They do not have the moral or scientific courage to admit that there are major gaps in their narrative and people are free to read God or Providence into those gaps (however undesirable that might be in certain circles)
    If you have time, please take a look at this science-fiction novel which thoroughly debunks atheistic scientism in its early chapters:

  13. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Are you a creationist? How cute.

  14. steve says:

    I think part of the problem is a misapplication of the “faith v. reason” argument.
    Religion is a matter of faith. Science is a matter of reason.
    Both faith and reason are great and legitimate traditions. Much of modern science arose out of the tension between faith and reason.
    Men of reason, scientists for example, can have a great deal of religious faith. And men of faith, religious believers for example, can have a great deal of reason.
    The problem arises when attempts are made to interpret religious faith in terms of reason, in other words to explain religion in terms of science (the earth is 6000 years old according to the bible, for example) and, also, when science is interpreted in terms of faith.
    It’s akin to interpreting apples in terms of oranges.
    Walk down the halls of a college. Knock on the door of a scientist and ask him if he can “prove” God’s existence scientifically. While he might well be religious, he would most likely tell you that particular “proof” is not within his purview or skill set, that it’s a matter of faith.
    Continue down the hall and ask a theologian whether or not he believes in God since science hasn’t “proven” it, he would most likely laugh and say as well that it’s a matter of faith, not reason.

  15. Charles says:

    You were sent a smoky photo of one “exactly as illustrated”!

  16. Charles says:

    Its the only way to cope with this much freedom, information, illusion and ignorance.

  17. Charles says:

    I would consider speciation to be a widely agreed and practical paradigm imposed on the fossil and anthropologist record to attempt further analysis of Creation’s organizing principles, a cargo cult if you must, but one yet awaiting discovery of a fossil a man riding a dinosaur by its detractors.

  18. kao_hsien_chih says:

    One of the problems that I had encountered doing public opinion research on this is that many people who are on the “right” side of evolution are different from creationists only in that they “believe” the “right” answer, not so much that they “understand” it better. Yes, they may be on the right side on evolution, but they also believe a lot of pseudosciences too. (This shows up again when you start surveying people on their beliefs on climate change: many people who say they “believe in” seriousness of climate change tend to mix up climate change and other environmental issues, some true but unrelated, others completely bunk pseudoscience. The number of people who say ozone and climate change are related among self-identified “environmentalists” is stunning.)
    The real challenge seems to be that people, regardless of political stripes, just don’t know what “science” is, that it is not just matter of believing things and having opinions on things. They don’t understand that science does not tell people to do moral things, but simply consists of logical conclusions drawn from data, regardless of what they think the world should be like. I tend to think this is borne from the same mindset as the “shapers of history” who imagine themselves free of facts about the world. Not too many people are equally skeptical of BHO as they were of GWB–the people who gather here represent the rare exception. Many who imagined themselves part of “reality-based community” vis-a-vis Bush have jumped into a different reality once BHO came into office. I see the same forces driving them as those who pride themselves for “believe in” evolution but rant about (scientifically unsubstantiated) ill effects of genetically modified crops (for the record, there may be many good reasons, including economic ones, for being concerned with GMO crops, but there is hardly any evidence that they cause illness or such, at least not yet.).

  19. Tyler says:

    And like the sun rising in the east, you miss the point yet again.

  20. Tyler says:

    Well my point was that I don’t think its..shall we say wise to declare that anyone who disagrees with evolution is against science when something like speciation and its definitions are so variable and fuzzy.
    I’d say Sale’s essay is a good example of Science as Religion and the lack of thinking that goes with that outlook.

  21. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In fact, everything written on the origin of life is just so many fables for the gullible who are in awe of the sciences or intimidated by it.
    We do not know the origins of life and have no plausible mechanisms to explain it; words such as “Molecular Evolution” etc. are the modern versions of the “Let there be Light”.

  22. Tyler says:

    In other words there’s no call for the smug tut tutting by Dawkins and his ilk followed by the tempore tantrums when someone points out the unanswered questions in evolution. Evolution is hardly this towering fortress of unassaliable logic that its high priests imagine it to be.

  23. GulfCoastPirate says:

    The necessary elements came from supernovas.

  24. Stephanie says:

    They’re not insecure or thin-skinned, Babak. They’re just awfully tired of having to re-fight the same battles. I saw an interview with the late Stephen Jay Gould not long before he died, and he talked sadly about how much valuable time scientists had lost while spending their time arguing this stuff, time that might have been spent doing actual science. The Catholic Church recognizes Darwinian evolution within a theistic context.
    There aren’t as many gaps as the creationists like to make out, nor do you have to resort to supernatural explanations to fill them. But whatever floats your boat.

  25. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Complete nonsense.

  26. GulfCoastPirate says:

    I missed nothing. You are a creationist and just don’t want to admit it.

  27. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Hilarious. Evolution has been around about 160 years and in that short period of time it hasn’t found every fossil necessary to prove its main thesis to people like you to your satisfaction yet your good book has been around for thousands of years and still hasn’t proven one single thing nor can any of you who take it literally prove anything in it. I’d say when evolution has been around for thousands of years it will have a much better track record of proof than anything in your good book.
    Have you folks found that ark yet? Oh yea, it’s in a Kentucky theme park. LOL.

  28. Tyler says:

    Conflating theory with fact: the GCP experience

  29. steve says:

    Hence, the limits of psychology.
    As a kid I wanted to learn what made people tick, like most young folks I suppose.
    So, I began studying psychology in college. I quickly found that there was a much broader scope and deeper understanding of the human condition to be found in literature rather than the social sciences. At least for me.

  30. Cieran says:

    Not very likely. The science of 1914 isn’t laughed at today. Among other things, it powers your car and heats your home.
    Real science is seldom laughed at, even in retrospect. For but one example, Newtonian mechanics has been supplanted by better idealizations, but for the vast majority of our interactions with the physical world, Newton’s idealizations are perfectly accurate. And his work is a lot older than a mere century.
    Science is a process and a product, and its product is a set of idealizations of how the natural world works. Those idealizations may get improved and revised over time, but that doesn’t make the older versions laughable. It just makes the newer versions better, and often only slightly.

  31. Peter Brownlee says:

    You do not seem to understand scientific methodology and appear to be using non-scientific/religious terminology rather carelessly — what are “tempore tantrums”, please?

  32. Peter Brownlee says:

    As Carl Sagan said decades (!) ago, we are made of star stuff.

  33. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Supernovas are theory?
    Whatever …

  34. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Stephanie wrote:
    ‘The Catholic Church recognizes Darwinian evolution within a theistic context.’
    This is true. I went to a Catholic elementary (through 7th grade, in the 60’s) and those of us in the class who transferred to public school at that point were significantly more advanced in math/science than our new public school counterpoints. About half of those who transferred (mostly for monetary reasons) and a number of those who went on to Catholic high school chose technical careers.
    We studied religion in religion class and science in science class. There is nothing wrong with understanding both concepts as long as they are placed in the proper context. The problem today with the creationist types is instead of teaching their religious concepts in their homes or their own private schools they want to impose their religious concepts on public school science classes and other areas in the public sphere. They should learn to keep their religion to themselves in these areas.

  35. Tyler says:

    Still can’t define speciation and wailing on a straw man. Keep it up GCP.

  36. Tyler says:

    No the fact that the elements of life came from supernovas.

  37. Tyler says:

    I would say that’s an amazing case of the pkt calling the kettle black. Theres already been several good points on the failings of the theory of evolution, and they should be easy to answer if evolution is so bulletproof.
    Instead youre acting like someone challenged your article of faith in the high cult of Dawkins.

  38. Tyler says:

    Nah. Just that there’s serious questions about evolution that leave holes you could drive a truck through. Just admit you’re a cultist about evolution broseph.

  39. Tyler says:

    A tempore tantrum is me hitting the wrong letter on my phone, you silly cint.

  40. Tyler says:

    By fighting the same battles you mean straw manning their opponents with CAVEMEN RIDING DINOSAURS.
    Its like arguing with global warming cultists.

  41. Tyler says:

    Okay Stephanie, answer the questions Babak posed in your own words instead of doing the passive aggressive written equivalent of rolling your eyes and declaring, like a true leftist, the science is settled and can we stop talking about this please.

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Gould, rather than admitting that Darwinian mechanisms cannot give rise to either life or new species, coined a new phrase “Punctuated Equilibrium” to obfuscate the profound ignorance of scientific community in regards to the origin of species and origin of life.
    Punctuated equilibrium, did not supply a plausible research program nor a plausible framework within which one could carry out research which would explain such things as the evolution of man or the co-evolution of plants and flying insects.
    Or take cilia; only a dogmatic person would insist that such a structure could be the result of random mutations and changes.
    You state they are tired of arguing the same point over and over again; that might be true but that also is part of their duty to expound on areas where human knowledge is adequate and also admit as to where it is not.
    Many physicists write popularized science books on Quantum Theory, Cosmology etc. for the scientifically illiterate – rehashing the same material over and over again. But they make money and lay claim to some limited fame and never complain about having gone over the same trite material.
    The creationist, like their Wahabi counterparts, no doubt wish to remain ignorant. That is a problem of protestantism but the evolutionary biologists must also refrain from feeding the rest of us fables and admit ignorance when it is warranted.
    I think that Gould and his ilk were indeed carrying out an anti-religious agenda which they are loath to admit.

  43. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your detailed and meaty rebuttal of my assertions.

  44. Alba Etie says:

    Off topic completely – but what do you reckon will be the final deposition of the Bliven Family grazing stand off with the BLM ? And it looked liked armed militia where pointing sniper rifles from the bridge at the Federal officers down in the draw , what are we to make of that apparent threat of deadly force against Federal Officers ? . Is the Sage Brush Rebellion about to reignite out West ? Did it ever really go away ?

  45. Stephanie! Even Professor Gould missed it. He had concluded
    that human evolution ended about 50K years ago and now only about cultural evolution.
    One example: Lactose intolerance. The norm! But abot 6000 years ago two cattle cultures arose. The Danes [Celts?] and the Masai in Africa, where in both cultures genetic evolution allowed adults to become lactose tolerant.

  46. Fred says:

    Where did those supernova’s come from? Just keep repeating. “And where did that come from?”

  47. Nightsticker says:

    And the supernovas came from????????
    Not necessary for you to respond; I am certain
    you can work out how a continued discussion
    would go.
    USMC 1965-1972
    FBI 1972-1996

  48. Tyler says:

    I have it on reliable source from someone high in BLM’s law enforcement arm that it was the closest they came to dying (their personal opinion ). BLMs uniformed branch of rangers number something like 400, and Special Agents half that I believe. Something like 2000 plus people against that. There were snipers on both sides and it would have been a blood bath if someone had pulled a trigger.
    Personally what do they expect when Obama makes law via executive fiat, a dead Border Patrol Agent lies unjustified, illegal alien criminals are beatified, BUT HEY WE GOT TO MAKE SURE THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT IS FOLLOWED NATION OF LAWS MAN!
    In other words when you decide to only follow the laws you want don’t be surprised when other people get the same idea.
    There is a very strong sentiment that I pick up around here that favors ‘my neighbor’ over ‘my nation’. I imagine this will give heart to other people looking to defy the FedGov.

  49. Tyler says:

    Gould’s mismeasure of man is PC good think dogma and his assertion that “human evolution ended” is pretty obviously him rolling on his side and pissing himself while exposing his belly to his academia master begging ‘pwease don’t hurt me”.

  50. Fred says:

    “They should learn to keep their religion to themselves…”
    Yes, please get those elected officials of ours to outlaw actually putting religious beliefs into action. Who do these people think they are, Americans or something. What other rights will you take away next?

  51. no one says:

    I had been meaning for a day or two to toss in the caveat to evolution theory is that speciation has never been demonstrated in the lab – nor conclusively from fossil records or any other evidence. In fact, theories explaining speciation are as whimsical as Genesis. A gene mutates in a single specimen and, instead of the organism dying – as most mutants we can observe do – you get giraffes from fish and vocals chords in humans. Quite a flight of fancy.
    Incidentally, if speech is such a huge evolutionary advantage and if evolution is true, why are there not talking mongooses, cats and horses? It’s these simple questions that strict evolutionists just can’t seem to answer.
    The big bang is another suspicious theory. A whole bunch of something out of nothing. How is that not the same as Genesis in quality of explanation?
    Any how, it seems Tyler has beaten me to the drop. I’ll just support then, I hope.

  52. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Fred said:
    ‘Where did those supernova’s come from?’
    Dying stars. The facts are readily available to anyone who cares to educate themselves.

  53. GulfCoastPirate says:

    See my reply to Fred. Same answer.

  54. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Fred said:
    ‘What other rights will you take away next?’
    They have NO RIGHT to teach their version of religion in the public schools. Especially in science class.

  55. Alba Etie says:

    Thanks Tyler .
    Lots to digest these days .” My neighbor over my nation” will be a vexing conumdrum for many years hence. Most of us I am sure are not wishing to have to make that choice – perhaps others already have .,,

  56. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Tell us that ark story again. That’s a good one.

  57. GulfCoastPirate says:

    no one said:
    ‘The big bang is another suspicious theory. A whole bunch of something out of nothing. How is that not the same as Genesis in quality of explanation?’
    That’s not how the theory goes but don’t let that stop you.

  58. Cieran says:

    There are serious questions about any scientific theory, because that’s the nature of the fruits of science. Science produces idealizations about the world, not mystical seamless truths. Idealizations are valued solely on their ability to predict the response of nature, and those predictions invariably have holes in their domains of understanding.
    The harder it is to observe (and the origin of species is a tad hard to observe given our status as newcomers on this planet), the bigger the holes, and this is not a problem: it’s a simple value-free fact.
    So picking out evolution as not a valid science is like deciding not to value the law of gravity because there are some rough spots in the field theories that explain that all-too-obvious phenomenon. It’s not the absence of holes in a theory that renders it useful: it’s whether that theory can predict future events, and whether that theory can be validated by other independent observations.
    And therein lies the problem with pseudo-sciences like creationism: they simply don’t lead to predictions that can be tested for purposes of validation. Evolution can be validated, and in fact much of old-school biology from Linnaeaus to Darwin has been validated remarkably well by independent research in more modern fields such as molecular biology. The mechanisms that Darwin postulated have considerable utility in predicting biological outcomes, so they are valued as scientific theories. If they can predict important outcomes, we simply don’t care about the presence of some holes. Those gaps just mean that we have more work to do.
    And if someone wants to believe that God made man in his image, then that’s great, because last time I checked, freedom of religion was a key part of the foundation of this nation. But belief occurs in the absence of validation, so the intellectual realm where science resides is completely disjoint from the venue of religion. It’s never a good idea to confuse reproducible events in the physical world with irreproducible events in the spiritual realm. Good fences do indeed make good neighbors, and that applies to the intellectual landscape as well as to the field next door.
    If you don’t want to believe in evolution, then don’t: that’s your right. But your disbelief doesn’t entitle you to demand rigorous technical proofs from others who are comfortable with the fact that there is no such thing as seamless scientific truth: there are only idealizations of the natural world, and over time, the refinement of those idealizations so the holes get smaller and fewer.

  59. Babak! Gould lived in a time when knowledge of genetics snowballing! His problem? MUTATIONS– MOST SPONTANEOUS AND SOME GOOD BUT MOST BAD!

  60. YUP! No Louis Aggaisi! [sic]

  61. no one says:

    OK then GCP, Maybe I have it wrong. Please enlighten me. Where did all of the stuff that makes up the planets and stars come from in the beginning?
    You probably didn’t notice the section of my comment (or Tyler’s or Babak’s) concerning speciation, but, now that I draw your attention in that direction, maybe you could say something to clear my ignorance on that issue as well.

  62. The Twisted Genius says:

    “There are serious questions about any scientific theory, because that’s the nature of the fruits of science. Science produces idealizations about the world, not mystical seamless truths.”
    Well said. My favorite course was “The Century of Darwin” in the history department of RPI. We looked at the long gradual process of assembling the theory of evolution in the 19th century. Darwin’s “Origin of Species” contained some of the toughest critiques of the theory in the best tradition of the scientific methodology. This process attempts to discover the best explanation for a phenomena, but does not settle for an ultimate truth. It’s always looking for the next best thing. Comparing this to any of the creation myths is absurd. A creation myth, whether it be Genesis or any other myth, is a truth that must be either accepted or not. It requires no proof, just faith. Darwin’s faith changed over time. He began as an Anglican, then a Unitarian. Through doubt and examination he became a Theist and finally an Agnostic. Not all scientists go through this journey of faith. Gregor Mendel didn’t. To me creation science is about doubt of faith and an attempt to dispel those doubts through science or a semblance of science.

  63. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Nonsense. The guy hadn’t been paying his grazing bill since 1993. What does Obama or any law have to do with the fact the guy is nothing but a deadbeat and a lot of know-nothings (also probably deadbeats) were supporting him? Harry Reid is correct – it isn’t over. Once they take his cattle they need to give him a bill for 150+ years of overdue taxes since he thinks his family has owned that land for that long.

  64. Cieran says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head with this: “To me creation science is about doubt of faith and an attempt to dispel those doubts through science or a semblance of science.”
    The beauty of faith is that it doesn’t require external validation, and those folks seeking scientific justification for their religious beliefs are looking in all the wrong places.
    Your “Century of Darwin” course sounds like a history of science dream come true. But then again, RPI is one of the finest schools of science and engineering in the world, so it’s no surprise you got a great education there.
    I just got home from a few days spent at RPI (well, at Watervliet for work, but whenever I get the chance to spend time near a great university, I always take it, so Troy is where I like to stay). We even had some snow there this week to remind me why I no longer live in the north!

  65. GulfCoastPirate says:

    no one asked a couple of questions:
    1. Energy
    2. Yes, I noticed your and Tyler’s comments. Personally, I’m not that interested in the question. Scientists will work it out over time and there will be appropriate reworkings of the theory. I’m more interested in making sure that people like you and Tyler don’t bring your religious dogma into science classes in the public schools. If you want to teach religion you can do it in private schools like the Catholics (where I sent my kids and grandkids) or you can do it at home. Your religious dogma has no place in public schools.

  66. Charles says:

    Life and vision are fuzzy.
    These commonly perceptible established paradigms have irrefutably advanced both our store of knowledge, and our capacity to retain, utilize, preserve and manitain it. Anyone who believes in both Creation and the laws of physics etc, i.e., the planet is billions of years old, I cannot argue with per se. Unless their evidence, or system of analysis is as variable and as fuzzy as our sacred texts.
    Its my understanding from Northrup Frye, the great Canadian biblical scholar, that we are currently on the 7th iteration of an ancient Sumerian account of Perfect Creation, human imperfection, wanton destruction, redemptive intervention and elevation to Grace.
    Same story, but the details and accounts are fabulously varied, contradictory and open to many, many interpretations, applications and ends. To the point where there can be basic disagreement as to why the sky is blue in a way no prism subject to the, er Laws of physics would or could entertain.
    Notwithstanding that, Frye also observed that with the passing of the Biblical universal codex our souls will be adrift in a hopelessly unstructured amalgam of truth, lies, power and human nature streaming at us 24 7 at the speed of light.

  67. Charles says:

    agreed, except I pity the Creationist foll who is a biblical literalist

  68. Charles says:

    Anybody watching You Inner Fish on PBS this week, its pretty fascinating.
    I am a man of science. Prepared to put faith in the notion of a 13bn+ yea old universe, cause and effect and all that has unfolded as it apparently should have according to models we have built by reverse enginneering the available evidence, as we did with Enigma in WWII. E&Os Excepted.
    Big bang, Creation, that Cause awaits, but accepting evolution from 3.4 billion years ago, mindful Creationism as expressed in our times cannot be, but by chance or Divinity, as set out in those human accounts stipulating temporal in-errancy of divine prescription generated in the past few thousand of years by humans.
    Our Creation myths have yet to address many of these questions in a coherent manner that science has at least attempted to order and replicate to manifest universal human application and substantial material benefit. I pray for the continued success of their experiments.
    So for life I go with science for now, although my science includes personal experience with physcotropically enhanced encounters with Nature demonstrating that something greater than I or my conscious apprehension is capable of anything more than believing it occurred, must underlie the phenomena observed and perceptions of the moment. Something in my mind and soul most seemingly incorporeal and non-temporal occurred though I in the same breath emphatically insist I FELT it. Whatever It is. I tend to electricity and biochemistry I am led to believe originated from distant stars.
    I cannot explain them all. I would stake my life that the Purpose Creationists seek can not be found denying science without systematic explication, replication, and challenge of their own paradigms as best as they can manifest in this temporal world to explicitly support Creationist assertions. As science does on its way to the consumer and military markets.

  69. optimax says:

    A scientific theory can be proven false but not true. Evolution, like the general theory of relativity, has never been proven false, though it has been refined by modern fossil finds and genetic observations, experiments and applications. Because the origin of life and a species is not observable through experimentation and the fossil evidence is incomplete, there is a great diversity of hypothesis as to many of the inner workings of of evolution, the theory remains intact.
    One of many facts I find persuasive of evolution is that the modern human is 98.4 percent indistinguishable from the modern chimpanzee. There is more difference between a zebra and a horse, or between a dolphin and porpoise, than between man and chimp. Calling someone a Monkey’s Uncle (which I haven’t heard since sixth grade) is more truthful than insulting.

  70. Tyler says:

    By the giant walls of text you built to assauge an argument I never made, you prove my point about evolution adherents acting more like cultists while smugly wrapping themselves in Sciencianity.

  71. Tyler says:

    Lol yeah Harry Reid also forgot to mention that his son lobbied hard for the land in order to benefit a Chinese company.
    Again, you either enforce all the laws or you’ll be able to enforce none of them.Keep defending your chocolate messiah though.

  72. Tyler says:

    Its said to see someone reduced to bitchy sniping when he knows he doesn’t have an argument. : /

  73. Tyler says:

    Dude you could have just written “I can only parrot the words of other people and in reality have no clue how evolution works” and saved yourself some time.

  74. no one says:

    GCP, magical ever existing Energy?
    “Personally, I’m not that interested in the question.”
    I can see that. Such a lack of interest seems unscientific to me.
    “Scientists will work it out over time and there will be appropriate reworkings of the theory.”
    Ah, so you are given to faith after all.
    “I’m more interested in making sure that people like you and Tyler don’t bring your religious dogma into science classes in the public schools.”
    I don’t think I said anything that suggests I adhere to a religious dogma. All I did is point to big holes in your pet theory – as did a few others.
    How scientific is it to teach evolution dogma in schools, as if it were absolute truth, when even you admit that theories will have to be re-worked because they fall short? Why not present a range of beliefs and discuss their relative merits and shortcomings. This seems to me to be a better way of stimulating young minds.

  75. All, there is an old expression regarding wrestling with one of those video game players mentioned above but I’ll jump into the mud anyway.
    I do not understand why the onus is only on scientists to defend evolution and creationists are never expected to rationally defend their position. It also seems to me that science doesn’t take the position that creationists are wrong, if they address the subject at all it is pointed out there is no scientific evidence to support it.
    Creationists instead spend quite a lot if time formally instructing their children that the theory of evolution is incorrect using only anecdotes and derision.

  76. GulfCoastPirate says:

    no one wrote:
    ‘Ah, so you are given to faith after all.’
    Do you practice mischaracterizing the words of others or does it come naturally? If the theory needs to be reworked it will. If it doesn’t it won’t.
    ‘All I did is point to big holes in your pet theory – as did a few others.’
    It’s not MY theory.
    ‘Why not present a range of beliefs and discuss their relative merits and shortcomings.’
    That’s what homes and churches are for. Keep it out of science class.

  77. ALL: It would be more accurate in this thread if all understood the term “science” and “science theory” to mean the “scientific method”!

  78. ALL:
    wiki extract!
    consider splitting content into sub-articles or condensing it. (June 2013)
    An 18th-century depiction of early experimentation in the field of chemistry
    The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.[1] To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.[2] The Oxford English Dictionary defines the scientific method as: “a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.”[3]
    The chief characteristic which distinguishes the scientific method from other methods of acquiring knowledge is that scientists seek to let reality speak for itself,[discuss] supporting a theory when a theory’s predictions are confirmed and challenging a theory when its predictions prove false. Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, identifiable features distinguish scientific inquiry from other methods of obtaining knowledge. Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses via predictions which can be derived from them. These steps must be repeatable to guard against mistake or confusion in any particular experimenter. Theories that encompass wider domains of inquiry may bind many independently derived hypotheses together in a coherent, supportive structure. Theories, in turn, may help form new hypotheses or place groups of hypotheses into context.
    Scientific inquiry is generally intended to be as objective as possible in order to reduce biased interpretations of results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive, and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, giving them the opportunity to verify the results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of the data to be established (when data is sampled or compared to chance).

  79. Tyler says:

    Versus your cult views that you can’t fully explain being put into schools.

  80. Tyler says:

    This is exactly what I’m talking about. This smug attitude that you don’t have to answer the questions asked about evolution and instead you get to wail on this strawman that has been built up in your head ffs.
    Projection much?

  81. Tyler says:

    Yeah that’s exactly what happened, and not the FedGov constantly taking him to court, losing in court, and then changing the rules so they could sue him again.
    Let’s not even get started on the Reids and their role in “acquiring” federal land in order to lease it to solar power companies.
    I wouldn’t expect you to understand how this government ignoring rule of law factors into this, but that’s just the GCP experience.

  82. Tyler says:

    Uh actually, yes my disbelief allows exactly that. Defining speciation isn’t a “rigorous technical proof”.
    The fact you wrote a towering block of words to attack a strawman just goes to show you don’t regard evolution as “science” and more like a cult where disbelievers ‘just don’t get it’.

  83. Tyler says:

    Well accepting things are fuzzy the high priests of the Evolution Cult should be able to answer basic questions instead of responding like offended matrons when someone questions their “theory”.

  84. Cieran says:

    Well, Tyler, pardon me while I point out the obvious, namely that you have no idea what I think, or how I regard evolution. So you’re not fooling anybody by pretending that you do.
    If you have something substantiative to disagree with about what I wrote, feel free to contend on technical grounds: I’m quite familiar with the principles of evolution, so I’m pretty sure I can handle an honest debate just fine.
    But you’re on pretty thin intellectual ice if all you can bring to the conversation here is to tell total strangers what you believe they think.

  85. optimax says:

    Cieran’s clear and intelligent explanation of scientific theory is not a “strawman”, for it answers your question directly by explaining why the holes in scientific theories do not nullify the theory; and cannot be considered “a towering block of words”, for it is coherent and rational, unlike your emotional response.
    Can you prove evolution false using the scientific method, or do you believe evolutionary theory is not a science but a cult? That is the creationists argument and Anne Coulter’s too. Here is a short and precise refutation to Anne Coulter’s argument that the concept “survival of the fittest” is a tautology. Her argument is based on a falsified definition of the term.
    I don’t know what you believe, Tyler. But I can understand why some Protestant evangelicals feel separation anxiety from their god when secular schools teach godless science. Like poorly raised dogs, they tear apart the house in frustration. After all, humans are animals too.
    I realize this is bad timing on my part.

  86. GulfCoastPirate says:

    If the deadbeat didn’t want to pay his bills maybe he should petition the government to allow him to give the land back to the Shoshone whom his family ripped off and stole the land from long ago.

  87. GulfCoastPirate says:

    They have NO right to teach religion in public schools.

  88. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Science is a cult?
    LOL – Put down all that scientific equipment you use on a daily basis. Start with your computer.

  89. Tyler says:

    Dude, you think I haven’t seen this arrogant tut tutting/strawman kabuki before whenever someone asks the obvious questions about evolution? Your response is not at all unique, including your construction of a giant strawman with 20000 more words than necessary to dance around the questions already posed.
    So here they are again: define speciation and how it occurs in nature. Specifically what’s the average rate of speciation and how many mutations are required to per speciation? That’s four questions.
    Babak asked some good questions about things like origin of life and species stability. How do those fit in with evolution?
    How do you go from molecules floating around to DNA to dinosaurs? These are serious questions and that’s why I think its a matter of massive hubris to hand wave these questions and proof that science is more and more about cult of personality (Darwin, Einstein) and less about actually discovering things.

  90. Stephanie says:

    True, Gould made his share of mistakes, although his theory about the decline of the .400 hitter has held up pretty well.

  91. no one says:

    WRC, What you quoted is an ideal of what science is as method of inquiry. That ideal often falls short because the method is practiced by humans whose need to eliminate uncertainty and cognitive dissonance in their lives trumps the need to arrive at truth; whatever it is and whatever its ramifications may be.
    What we seen in this thread of discussion is people who are not practicing the science they claim to adhere to. It’s more important to them to have everything wrapped up nice and tidy in a little box that can be put away on a shelf so they can stop thinking or worrying about it and onto to something else.
    “……giving them the opportunity to verify the results by attempting to reproduce them”
    Speciation has never been produced, let alone reproduced, by scientists. Darwin noted adaption – meaning emphasis of certain genes already existing within a species’ gene pool – not speciation. Adaptation certainly is real and we can see it in the lab and reproduce it.
    Scientists have tried and failed to zap the equivalent of the primordial ooze with electricity and produce life; or at least the building blocks of it.
    These are facts and they would be worrisome for scientists operating from the ideal you quote.
    I have an area of interest wherein I repeatedly run into scientific materialists’ absolute refusal to be rational and to deal with reality because that reality runs counter to what they have faith in. That area of interest is in the so called “near death experience” (NDE) and the scientific materialist counter faith is that we are nothing more than biological robots – a brain with electro-chemical impulses creating all thought, emotion and memory that becomes extinct for ever upon cessation of said impulses.
    I became interested after having a fairly classic NDE myself wherein my awareness separated from my physical body and looked down at it and the happenings around it and then moved on to experience some wondrous things. My perceptions were very clear, awareness heightened, and not at all foggy or hallucinatory. I later was able to *accurately* report what was happening around my physical body even though it would have been impossible to have seen those things from the physical vantage point of my body; which was unconscious at the time anyhow.
    I didn’t know much if anything about the phenomenon at the time, but once I began researching I came to know that many people have had similar experiences. Many with veridical perceptions of things that could not be seen from the physical body. The physical body often being flatlined – meaning no brain activity according to monitors – at the time of the event. These events and veridical perceptions have frequently been witnessed and attested to by physicians. The body of evidence strongly suggesting that NDEs are real events and real proof that mind does not equal brain has grown to be quite impressive and continues to grow.
    Yet, the scientific materialist crowd comes up with all sorts of highly improbable poorly fitting materialist explanations because NDEs pose a challenge to their model of humans as biological robots. They flippantly dismiss the evidence as if it doesn’t exist. They go so far as to lie about reported/verified cases and to attack the character of both the experiencer and any professionals lending support to the claim (e.g. physicians involved in the resuscitation). The better the case in terms of evidence for the reality of the NDE, the more vicious and underhanded the attacks. They try to damage professional reputations of scientists who do honest research in this area and who come away with a positive opinion of the phenomenon.
    I’d seen science manipulated for profit, but the reaction to the NDE really opened my eyes to science as religion.

  92. Tyler says:

    Uh I never said his focus on the scientific method was a straw man. It was his belief that I was somehow defending creationism that was the straw man I was pointing out. So your argument is starting to get Inception level straw man here.
    The irony is that evolution cultists will mock creationists for taking things on faith when they do the exact same thing! Just replace a creator with “science” or “scientists” and you’ve got the exact same chain of thought. Is linking Coulter supposed to be some sort of new variation of argumentum ad Hitlerum fallacy or something?
    Finally, you’re really asking me to prove a negative? I’ve yet to see an honest attempt to answer any of the questions about evolution, just a lot of smug, twee responses, strawmanning, and “lol creationist” level of ridiculousness.

  93. Tyler says:

    20 million illegal aliens, an AG ignoring the laws, a President who doesn’t follow the laws and creates them by fiat: okay with GCP.
    Dude refuses to sell out due to arbitrary regulation: WHOA WHOA WHOA NATION OF LAWS.
    Gcp would have been declaring the Stamp Act was a law and who were these Sons of Liberty to be rebelling against their King.

  94. Tyler says:

    Conflating a half ass theory with science, your first mistake.

  95. Some future asteroid strike on planet earth will end this thread! Thanks for the memories.

  96. the Twisted Genius says:

    I’ll take a shot at giving you some answers to your burning questions on evolution theory.
    Define speciation. Let’s start with defining a species as a group of individuals or organisms that actually or can potentially interbreed in nature. In essence, a species is the biggest gene pool possible. Not perfect since bacteria and viruses reproduce without interbreeding… a definite complication in this whole explanatory endeavor. Speciation is the emergence of two or more species from a single ancestral species or can it also be the emergence of a new species from a catastrophic loss of an ancestor species? Or is that just evolution?
    How does it occur in nature? Through the process of biological evolution involving genetic mutation and natural selection. A lot of mechanics are involved in the process, but many of them are the same as breeding new domesticated animals and crops. The difference lies in the interbreeding in nature as opposed to forced interbreeding. Genetic mutation in nature is a crap shoot… or a matter of probability. Mutations occur in individuals all the time. Some do nothing. Some are individually catastrophic or fortuitous. A virus can cause genetic mutation in a population that leaves a breeding population with a different genetic make up. This mechanism, only recently discovered, may be a loaded dice in the crap shoot of genetic mutation.
    What is the rate of speciation? Well that certainly varies. It’s certainly not a constant rate. Look at flu viruses and bacterial infections. New species appear in a year or less. Fruit flies have been fully speciated (no successful interbreeding) in the lab after 25 generations (fruit fly generations, that is.) The Galapagos Finches speciated over millions of years. The humans and great apes speciated from their common ancestor some 4 to 8 million years ago and we share over 98% of our DNA with the chimpanzee.
    How many mutations are required? I don’t know. I doubt the number is consistent across species. I’m sure the genetic history of that fruit fly speciation demonstration would give an answer for fruit flies at least. I’d be interested in seeing that. Given the 98% similarity in human – chimpanzee DNA, it probably doesn’t take that many mutations. It just has to be the right mutations or combination of mutations.
    I’m under no illusion that these answers will fully satisfy you. They even raise questions that I will probably research. I think it would take the equivalent of a full semester of study to understand the present state of evolution theory. It’s also a moving target. There are 1.5 million animal and plant species classified to date with 10,000 new species being discovered every year. There are an estimated 8.7 million species in the world. That’s based on a predictive model that I don’t understand. My ignorance of that mathematical field does not invalidate the estimate.

  97. the Twisted Genius says:

    no one,
    Tonight’s episode of Cosmos covered an excellent example of the misuse of science by the petroleum and chemical industries to further their profiting from lead additives. Fortunately, it was an extremely persistent scientist’s work that helped prove the dangers of these additives to humans and the environment. Yes, scientists with other than pure motives do exist just like in every other field.
    I applaud your interest in NDE. I think it’s a valid field of research, including neuro-chemical and neuro-electrical research. There are a lot of things in this universe that we just don’t understand or are willing to understand… or both. I have an interest in remote viewing which I investigated by learning how to do it to the point that I am convinced that it is real. This dovetailed nicely with my anthropological interest in shamanism.

  98. optimax says:

    no one
    I was raised on the modernist side of American Protestantism that believed in modern science and separation of church and state. Both are Christian but there has been a war between the modernist and Protestant evangelicals, who believe in creationism and the centrality of religion in government and education, since the early twentieth century. Some of our congregation were scientists, engineers and science teachers. They were able to separate religion from science and many still can.
    I think you’re over reaching to condemn all scientists because you’ve had a bad experience with a few of them. Science is the study of natural phenomena and a scientific theory can only be inductively reasoned from hard evidence or mathematical formulation.
    Copernicus blew apart geocentric dogma, and though much of his theory was wrong, and it took years to be accepted, everyone with a basic education knows the planets revolve around the sun. Maybe we will never reach the point were we can create life or new species in a lab. It would be intellectually exciting but I hope we never do. I still have enough superstition and Old Testament echoes to believe there is some Forbidden Knowledge that is too dangerous for us to find.
    That a Higher Intelligence, which I believe in, isn’t considered in evolutionary theory doesn’t bother me, and I don’t think it should be forced into it and taught to other people’s children.

  99. Martin Oline says:

    No One:
    I too have had a NDE as you call it. I was in darkness but discerned some light in the distance. I attempted to “go” that way but was not coporal in the sense of having a body. I did seem to be getting nearer as the light became larger. It made me excited that I was making progress. I neared the light and saw shapes moving about. I had heard we sometimes are reunited with loved ones after death and was looking forward to that. When I got close I realized that they were all people I owed money! Fortunately at that moment I awoke on the operating table…

  100. Tyler says:

    Addendum: 19 fold increase in scientific finding retractions, mainly due to falsification.

  101. Tyler says:

    Addendum: 19 fold increase in scientific finding retractions, mainly due to falsification.

  102. no one says:

    TTG, Interesting. The NDE experience I mentioned was a number of years ago. As a result I too developed an interest in practical use of altered states of awareness. I too find remote viewing and that sort of thing to be valid and achievable (though I’m certainly no adept). Thanks for sharing.

  103. no one says:

    Optimax, I am certainly not condemning all science. I am just commenting that science is often not science, but faith/belief.
    Obviously the scientific method, objectively applied, is a very powerful way of understanding and manipulating the physical realm.

  104. fanto says:

    at no one- I agree with you about the Big Bang theory and about the 13.8 billion years since it happened. For example, if Einstein’s theories are correct (here Babak may add his thoughts) – than the time counting in our solar system time units must be wrong, for the simple reason that the expansion of the universe in the first few seconds or hours was happening at the speed of light and therefore any counting of time was impossible, there was no reference system from which to observe the whole spectacle!So, the time since it cannot be extrapolated backward, because the time stood almost still due to the speed of the expansion.
    I am totally confused.. and still happy to be alive..:)

  105. Tyler says:

    Its almost like there’s a bunch of questions and all this posturing of “settled science” by others on this thread is just that.
    Thanks for making my point.

  106. optimax says:

    no one
    I understand that. Some people like to preach instead of discuss no matter the system of thought. People that think they know everything because they are good at something are the worst.
    This post has rekindled my interest in biology, something I haven’t study since college, and then not deeply. Just bought “DNA: The Secrets of Life” by James D. Watson.
    Thank you, Richard.

  107. optimax says:

    I was interested in astral projection at one time. Never did have a successful and intentional launch. Decided it was best to stay were I’m at. Have been interested in herbal medicine. A distant relative of mine during the end of the 18th century was known for his apple cider vinegar cures–Dr. Josiah Bartlett.

  108. no one says:

    “Fruit flies have been fully speciated (no successful interbreeding) in the lab after 25 generations (fruit fly generations, that is.) ”
    My understanding is that whether or not such speciation has actually been observed is still an open question (see link for example).
    “The Galapagos Finches speciated over millions of years. ”
    But, millions of year later, they’re still finches.
    “Given the 98% similarity in human – chimpanzee DNA, it probably doesn’t take that many mutations. It just has to be the right mutations or combination of mutations.”
    We also have 50% DNA similarity to a banana. Our genetics are so similar to the African Clawed Frog that the frog is being used to study human diseases, like cancer, and potential cures. The point being that a valid alternative perspective on genetic similarities is simply that DNA is the building block of carbon based organic life forms so a) all life forms contain DNA b)the more similar the life form, the more similar the particular DNA blocks used to build it.
    It doesn’t necessary follow that because the blocks are similar, one life form must have evolved out of the other (or both from a common ancestor). I understand that once you’ve tossed out God, this seems like a temptingly reasonable answer to “where did we all come from”. Unfortunately, it also causes a necessary fallback to some very comic book-esque unprovable positions; lighting bolts striking primordial ooze, big bangs, etc.
    Then you have the problem of what is awareness/consciousness and how does something immaterial arise amidst the material. OTOH if consciousness is primary, then what is to say that there isn’t some thought behind speciation as opposed to random mutation theory?

  109. Thanks Tyler for that link [links]! Research falsification grows each year worldwide but in particular USA!

  110. Optimax! As you read the book understand that Watson was handed a photo of the double helix by a female co-worker before “discovering” it!

  111. Cieran says:

    I used to be in the science education business, but not any more, so pardon me for not bothering to explain basic principles of biology to you.
    The most important thing I did learn from teaching was that there’s no point in presenting knowledge until the student is ready to listen, and with all due respect, I doubt that’s the case here. Your noise-to-signal ratio is way too high to permit the kind of listening that leads to understanding.
    My advice to you for answering your questions is a suggestion that our host here at SST regularly employs: go look it up! I’m sure Wikipedia has lots of information on the topics you’re so concerned about. So look them up!
    And you’ve taken the right tack here: I suggested that if you wanted to disagree with what I wrote, then engage me in a technical debate on my assertions. You chose not to, and frankly, that’s the right choice for you.

  112. Cieran says:

    Not a theory: an observable. The production of heavier elements from lighter ones is a well-established principle of physics, and it’s readily apparent from examining the spectra of stars, including supernova.
    We happen to know a lot about the curve of binding energy (in large part thanks to the cold war arms race and its need for more advanced nuclear science understanding), and there’s no substantial problems with the scientific idealizations of this particular topic.
    If you’re interested in where the missing pieces of science might be found, then good for you for having some skepticism, but you won’t find many holes in this particular venue of science. It’s well-understood, and equally well-validated by observation.

  113. Cieran says:

    The term science generally refers to the process (the scientific method) and the product (those idealizations that we refer to as theories).
    So while the method is important (essential, in fact), the products are equally important, as they are the discoveries of reproducible phenomena that we utilize to produce useful objects, e.g., technologies.
    It’s easy to figure out from context whether process or product is being referred to, so there’s no need to limit the definition as you suggest.

  114. Cieran says:

    Thanks for your well-considered answer here. The point you make of time scales is especially relevant for questions of biology in general, and evolution in particular. It makes the notion of scientific proof much more complex and difficult than in most other fields of science.
    The age of the earth is about 5 billion years, but recorded human history is about 5 thousand years, so we’ve been modern enough to record our presence here only for about one-millionth of the history of the planet. And if we consider the history of science (less than 500 years), then we’ve been studying the world around us for less than one-ten-millionth of its duration. And therein lies a big part of the problem.
    Anyone who has studied even the rudiments of information theory will appreciate that it’s hard to observe secular (i.e., slow) natural phenomena without an appropriately-lengthy span of observation. And we simply don’t have that much experience for complex organisms like ourselves, so we look instead to faster-living organisms (e.g., fruit flies) and even to organisms that are barely alive (e.g., viruses).
    And the fossil record doesn’t help us much, because it’s not like the processes of geology help to preserve the fossil record: quite the opposite is true. So nature is doing something of a strip-tease with us, tantalizing observers by uncovering bits and pieces of evidence, while hinting of fundamental processes that are too slow for us to readily observe.
    Sometimes we get lucky. My favorite example is for those folks here who don’t think the Big Bang ever happened. I guess it’s not widely known that Penzias and Wilson discovered (and were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1978 for discovering) the cosmic background radiation that is the Doppler-shifted signal from the origin of the universe.
    In other words, one can see the Big Bang, or at least, one can image it in the microwave region where motion has red-shifted it to. So there’s no question of its existence: it’s an observable, not a mere theory. We can’t see what preceded the Big Bang, but those questions may not even lie in the intellectual venues that can be determined by science. Science deals with reproducible phenomena, and “the creation of the known universe” is clearly a once-in-a-universe-lifetime not-particularly-reproducible affair.
    Evolutionary science has not yet been so lucky as cosmology to get a multi-billion-year-old stroke of luck validating its predictiveness, but there are plenty of other forms of validation available, e.g., molecular biology. Apparently those forms of evidence aren’t enough for some folks to be comfortable with the scientific idealizations, but old ideas die hard, both within the domain of science and outside of that intellectual realm.
    As always, thanks for your comments here.

  115. no one says:

    Cieran, What I here you saying is that you can’t answer the questions, then you trot out some credentials to back up your condescension and dismissal. The assumption that someone who questions your beliefs hasn’t been educating properly is classic because, why, after all, everyone just knows…..
    And seriously, Wikipedia? That’s a source recommended by a science educator?
    Incidentally, have you, as an educator, ever read Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of morphic resonance?
    Sheldrake has serious creds as a PhD biology researcher and an educator (Cambridge I think it is). He too pokes a lot of holes in the standard evolution theory. Some are the same holes as presented by people on this thread. Sheldrake’s theory fills those holes nicely and has one foot squarely in intelligent design and the other in biological processes.
    Ever heard of him? Go ahead, look it up.

  116. Cieran says:

    That might be what you “here”, but it’s not even close to what I wrote. You simply heard wrong.

  117. Tyler says:

    You could have just said “I don’t know and here’s my appeal to authority fallacy” from the get go and saved yourself a lot of time.

  118. Tyler says:

    No, he nailed it.

  119. optimax says:

    no one
    You accuse Cieran of trotting out his credentials, in which reality he went much deeper than that, and then say Sheldrake should be believed because of his “serious creds.” Are you being ironic. I read a little of Sheldrake from your link and he is what we use to call a new ager. I no longer waste my time on such nonsense. My ex was into that but I realized that modern medicine is more efficacious than crystals waived over a body. That was many years ago.

  120. GulfCoastPirate says:

    ‘Members of the scientific community who have looked at morphic resonance have characterised Sheldrake’s claims as being pseudoscientific. Critics cite a lack of evidence for morphic resonance and an inconsistency of the idea with data from genetics and embryology, and also express concern that popular attention from Sheldrake’s books and public appearances undermines the public’s understanding of science.[a] Despite the negative reception Sheldrake’s ideas have received from the scientific community, they have found support in the New Age movement,[26] such as from New Age guru Deepak Chopra.[27][28] Sheldrake argues science should incorporate alternative medicine, psychic phenomena, and a greater focus on holistic thinking.[29]’
    ‘Morphic resonance is rejected by numerous critics on multiple grounds, and has been labelled pseudoscience and magical thinking. These grounds include the lack of evidence for the hypothesis and the inconsistency of the hypothesis with established scientific theories. Morphic resonance is also seen as lacking scientific credibility for being overly vague and unfalsifiable. Further, Sheldrake’s experimental methods have been criticised for being poorly designed and subject to experimenter bias, and his analyses of results have also drawn criticism.[b]’
    ‘Sheldrake questions conservation of energy; he calls it a “standard scientific dogma”,[29]:337 says that perpetual motion devices and inedia should be investigated as possible phenomena,[29]:72–73 and has stated that “the evidence for energy conservation in living organisms is weak”.[29]:83 He argues in favour of alternative medicine and psychic phenomena, saying that their recognition as being legitimate is impeded by a “scientific priesthood” with an “authoritarian mentality”.[29]:327 Citing his earlier “psychic staring effect” experiments and other reasons, he stated that minds are not confined to brains and remarks that “liberating minds from confinement in heads is like being released from prison”.[29]:229 He suggests that DNA is insufficient to explain inheritance, and that inheritance of form and behaviour is mediated through morphic resonance.[29]:157–186 He also promotes morphic resonance in broader fashion as an explanation for other phenomena such as memory.[29]:187–211’

  121. Tyler says:

    Sheldrake provided an answer. Cieran said “lol Wikipedia”.
    You’re really conflating the two? Like I said earlier, as with global warming alarmists you can’t question evolution without its cultists jumping around the question at hand.

  122. Tyler says:

    Because science is less about answering questions and more about “proving my voodoo right – at any costs”.
    There’s big money to be made inventing new reasons for things like the ‘achievement gap’. Not so much for pointing out the reality staring us in the face.

  123. Cieran says:

    Not even close, Tyler. In fact, posters like “no one” should be careful of what they ask for, because they might just get it.
    Like Optimax and GCP, I did take the opportunity to review Mr no one’s “serious creds” authority, and Dr. Sheldrake is nothing more than yet-another new age huckster. He does have a Ph.D. (1967 in biochemistry) but on a quick examination of his web pages, it looks like he hasn’t published anything scientific in decades.
    And it seems that he managed to disappear from his technical field right around the time that it got really interesting, so he’s contributed nothing I can find in his pseudo-CV to all the recent real-world science advancement of biochemistry topics like computational simulation of protein folding. He’s missed all the excitement in his field while writing deep tomes with titles like “Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home” instead.
    If this guy Sheldrake is the kind of figure that you and no one think is an expert, then heaven help you on the topic of science, because nothing Sheldrake is doing is remotely scientific. Scientific theories are by definition predictive and verifiable, and Sheldrake’s work is neither.
    What I find downright hilarious about the whole thing is that “no one” raises Sheldrake up as some kind of expert on what’s missing from Darwinian evolution. But Sheldrake’s assertions on pseudoscientific pap like “morphic resonance” are so chock-full of technical holes that Darwin’s work looks rock-solid perfect in comparison.
    Ahhh, the irony…

  124. Tyler says:

    And what does Wikipedia says about it?
    Still waiting for answers to my questions. Words words words words words words words from you and still no answers forthcoming.

  125. optimax says:

    Who are you, the Grand Inquisitor?

  126. no one says:

    of course my point wasn’t that morphic resonance is THE answer (although it is an interesting theory). My point was that some people that understand and speak to the issues from an educated perspective disagree with the popular consensus for obvious reason that the popular consensus seems unable to look at, let alone address. It is easy to denigrate anyone with whom we disagree. Anyone. It is much more challenging to actually have a constructive objective discussion concerning the merits and negatives of the view point they offer.
    It occurs to me that our host on this blog is denigrated by some who disagree with his positions and observations. See how easy it is?
    Like Tyler, I’m hoping that the reserves of condescension and derogation are spent and that some answers will soon be forthcoming. What is consciousness and how does it arise from the material (if there is no spiritual world)? How does speciation occur in the real world and what is the evidence for it?

  127. turcopolier says:

    no one
    There are those who denigrate me? pl

  128. no one says:

    Sir, Boorish louts with ulterior motives, all.

  129. fanto says:

    To no one and others more competent than myself –
    I have written a comment several days ago but it was not posted, I do not know if that was because of typepad malfunction or if it was ‘editorially’ dropped. Anyway, I have this problem with the science: we are told that there was a big bang, and that it happened 13.8 billion years ago. We also were told by reputable scientists that the time slows down when the speed of the system (as observed from another place *) is approaching the speed of light. We are told that in the first few seconds, minutes, hours, years after the big bang the expansion of the universe was occurring at speed approaching the speed of light. My questions are therefore – (1) how can we calculate the age of the universe in our solar system years, if there was slowing of time in the early phases after the big bang, this slowing should be very difficult or impossible to calculate into our earth years. (2) the expansion of the universe still continues, and the our solar system has probably attained some fraction of speed of light in all those years since the big bang (3) our galaxy with our solar system inside it did not exist until some time after the big bang, so that any calculation in our solar years should be impossible. Lastly, * the asterisk from above – the universe which presumably started at Big Bang would have a space/time continuum which would not be amenable to ‘outside’ observer, so – where are we to start thinking about the relativity (the requirement of relativity is the presence of two things ‘relating’ to each other). Therefore the discussion of evolution of the matter and of the universe, animate and inanimate, is a matter of faith IMHO. Please, help me 

  130. Tyler says:

    If only! Things would get done then!

  131. optimax says:

    You can be entertaining.

  132. optimax says:

    no one
    At least you have kept to the high road.

  133. Tyler says:

    I think I saw someone smiiiiiiile…

Comments are closed.