Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Is evolution past its prime?

This is by Douglas Axe.

32 comments:

BeingItself said...

I have a hard time understanding why you associate with those buffoons.

Crude said...

If there's one thing BI can't stand, it's scientists speculating about science!

Victor Reppert said...

I think the questions posed by the intelligent design people are legitimate, and I think dismissive responses to them are misplaced. I also think the "creationism in a cheap tuxedo" attack is miles wide of the mark, for example.

The interesting thing is that they and the new atheists agree on the negative implications that undirected evolution theory has for theism. So, someone like Richard Dawkins should at least affirm that the intelligent design people have something importantly right. Dismissing people as IDiots just suppresses important and valuable questions, regardless of what you think the answers might be.

B. Prokop said...

The idea of "undirected evolution" is not only philosophically incoherent, it is semantically null in scientific terms. The scientific method can tell us all we'd care to know about the "how" of evolution, but it can never tell us the "why". The adjective "undirected" is an attempt to answer the "why" question, and is therefore definitively (in the truest sense of that word) outside of the purview of science, and squarely within that of philosophy (or perhaps theology).

im-skeptical said...

"I'm surprised at how quickly Darwinists have abandoned any claim that evolution is a powerful process at work today, retreating to the position that its power is a thing of the past. The convenience of that stance, of course, is that it enables them to insist that natural selection was a powerful mechanism without committing themselves to the more risky proposition that it still is."

I'm sure many scientists would be surprised to hear this. What I hear them saying is that evolutionary processes are generally too slow for us to observe speciation in the span of a lifetime, but not that there is evidence that it has stopped happening.

One thing of note is that this article and all others like it are found in religious or ID sites or publications, never in any mainstream scientific journals.

Crude said...

One thing of note is that this article and all others like it are found in religious or ID sites or publications, never in any mainstream scientific journals.

Nope.

BeingItself said...

cdesign proponentsists

Crude said...

No one cares, BI. ;)

B. Prokop said...

"cdesign proponentsists"

What does this mean? It doesn't even look like English.

Crude said...

Bob,

Right here.

Zach said...

Bob, it is a transitional form between 'creationism' and 'design proponents.'

Crude: does he talk about intelligent design once in that article? A very good analysis of the article by one of the people that did the studies is here.

Note the criticism isn't that ID folk don't ever publish anything anywhere. It's that they don't publish work that explicitly supports ID.

Note I don't get in these silly disputes usually--appeal to authority my impact factor is bigger than yours kind of bullshit. Who cares? Let's see the arguments.

Here is the knock-down argument:
Evolution is false because consciousness is real, not physical, and not an epiphenomenon wrt the physical. Hence, something was needed to hook them up, and it wasn't evolution (which only acts on physical processes).

Obviously this relies on substance dualism (or whatever), which no materialist would accept, but I take that as a battle easy to win against the antimaterialist who is clueless about consciousness and will cite studies about little machines firing off electrical signals, as if a lightning storm could be conscious.

BenYachov said...

Zack

>Note the criticism isn't that ID folk don't ever publish anything anywhere. It's that they don't publish work that explicitly supports ID.

Accept Im-skeptical's criticism was in fact "this article and all others like it are found in religious or ID sites or publications, never in any mainstream scientific journals.

Stop moving the goals posts. Mind you I reject ID & as far as I am concerned only Thomists are fit critics of ID.

Zach said...

Ben I was responding to Crude's article, which isn't about ID (unlike the original article imskeptical criticized). They are very different articles. One is decent review article by Behe, the other, linked by Victor, is a typical interweb dump that i'mskept took aim at rightly.

At any rate, these debates about publications are sort of lame, like those people that get all in a huff because someone won't debate someone, as if that shows anything worth writing about to intelligent people, rather than circus monkeys intent on flinging poo.

Thomists have an interesting position here, but in some cases design is needed even within Thomism. Explain the function of your suitcase, for instance. Design is real, and exists, and we would like to detect it sometimes. Thomists simply point out that even if God didn't actively tinker in evolution, that doesn't actually hurt their main ontological case for theism.

Fine, we all get it it is not complicated Ben. But design is still out there, and maybe these ID people are right for independent reasons.

cl said...

It always intrigues me how skeptics never change, but remain steadfastly stuck in doubt. Consider:

"One thing of note is that this article and all others like it are found in religious or ID sites or publications, never in any mainstream scientific journals."

...or,

"One thing of note is that this article and all others like it were written by a 26-year-old patent clerk, 3rd class at that."

Of course, we all know how that went for the skeptics.

Crude said...

Zach,

Crude: does he talk about intelligent design once in that article?

Intelligent Design has two sides to it: criticisms of modern mainstream evolutionary theory, and the design inference itself. There, we have Behe focused on the former.

Granted, that side isn't exclusive to ID proponents. You see it with James Shapiro, you saw it with Lynn Margulis, etc. But it's a major component of the ID movement.

Note the criticism isn't that ID folk don't ever publish anything anywhere. It's that they don't publish work that explicitly supports ID.

No, that wasn't the criticism. Im-skeptical said 'this article and all others like it are found in religious or ID sites and publications, never in any mainstream scientific journals'. "This article" was Douglas Axe doing exactly what Behe was doing - questioning the explanatory power of mainstream evolutionary theory.

Go read Douglas Axe's entry. Said entry is just a criticism of the explanatory power of evolutionary theory.

Evolution is false because consciousness is real, not physical, and not an epiphenomenon wrt the physical. Hence, something was needed to hook them up, and it wasn't evolution (which only acts on physical processes).

That's not an argument. It's a statement.

A very good analysis of the article by one of the people that did the studies is here.

And a great response by the author of the paper Coyne replies to is here, here and here.

Ben I was responding to Crude's article, which isn't about ID (unlike the original article imskeptical criticized).

Zach, did you read the original article posted in this thread? If you haven't, I suggest you read it now.

Show me where in the article Axe infers design. In fact, show me where he mentions design.

im-skeptical said...

"It always intrigues me how skeptics never change, but remain steadfastly stuck in doubt."

I have observed that believers are often predisposed to accept claims of this nature because they tend to affirm beliefs already held. They exhibit credulity toward these things and are incredulous about things that oppose their beliefs, no matter how well supported they are.

If you claim to be conducting scientific research, you should have it published in a legitimate scientific journal and subjected to review by the scientific community. Otherwise, it cannot be regarded as established scientific knowledge.

So, do I doubt the legitimacy of this claim? You bet. The ID community in general does not follow the established methods of science.

cl said...

"I have observed that believers are often predisposed to accept claims of this nature because they tend to affirm beliefs already held."

C'mon. This is coming from the same person who hand-waved away as "trickery" an event that clearly contradicted the laws of physics. There's nothing noble in what you do. It's just doubt. Anyone can stick their head in the sand and say, "Nope! Didn't happen!"

Karl Grant said...

Im-skeptical,

They exhibit credulity toward these things and are incredulous about things that oppose their beliefs, no matter how well supported they are.

Atheists are just the same way. For example, the historical evidence pointing to Jesus of Nazareth's existence is substantial and the professional consensus of the secular historical and archaeological fields states his existence is a historical fact. Yet, we have people like PZ Meyers believing him to be a myth, some even going so far as to deny the town of Nazareth's existence.

By the way, since when is a skeptic more intelligent or rational than a believer? My experience has been that a dumbass can doubt the existence of something or the validity of belief/idea just as easily as a genius and that skeptics are usually true believers of a different belief than the one you are advocating.

If you claim to be conducting scientific research, you should have it published in a legitimate scientific journal and subjected to review by the scientific community.

Joseph A. Kuhn, “Dissecting Darwinism,” Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, Vol. 25(1): 41-47 (2012).

Douglas D. Axe, Philip Lu, and Stephanie Flatau, “A Stylus-Generated Artificial Genome with Analogy to Minimal Bacterial Genomes,” BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2011(3) (2011).

Michael J. Behe, “Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations, and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution,’” The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 85(4):1-27 (December 2010).

Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, “Mutagenesis in Physalis pubescens L. ssp. floridana: Some further research on Dollo’s Law and the Law of Recurrent Variation,” Floriculture and Ornamental Biotechnology, 1-21 (2010).

William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, “The Search for a Search: Measuring the Information Cost of Higher Level Search,” Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics, Vol. 14 (5):475-486 (2010).

David L. Abel, “The Universal Plausibility Metric (UPM) & Principle (UPP),” Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling, Vol. 6(27) (2009)

David L. Abel, “Complexity, self-organization, and emergence at the edge of chaos in life-origin models,” Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, Vol. 93:1-20 (2007).

These are publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals of various kinds that support, develop or apply the theory of intelligent design. This is by no means a complete list. So now, is intelligent design real science because articles supporting it got published in certain magazines? Me thinks no, that you will find some other reason not to give ID a fair hearing.

im-skeptical said...

Karl,

"Atheists are just the same way."
- I agree.

"historical evidence pointing to Jesus of Nazareth's existence is substantial"
- Actually I think it is pretty thin. But I'm not a historian. If the consensus is that he existed, I am in no position do dispute that.

"since when is a skeptic more intelligent or rational than a believer?"
- I didn't say that. I was responding to cl's remark. He feels that I am irrational because I offered a (possible) non-supernatural explanation for his story (in an earlier thread) about objects flying across the room, which he believes was a miracle.

Regarding the article that is the subject of this post, they cited research published in BIO-Complexity, and ID publication that is not mainstream. (Yes, they claim to be peer-reviewed. The fact that they need to say so is telling. The 'peers' are fellow IDists.) By the way, I am reading "Dissecting Darwinism" now.

Karl Grant said...

Im Skeptical,

Actually I think it is pretty thin

You think that evidence is thin you should take a look at the evidence for the existence of Socrates. The only evidence we have that he ever lived is the writings of his friend and disciple Plato. The evidence for Jesus's existence is a bit more substantial than that.

I was responding to cl's remark. He feels that I am irrational because I offered a (possible) non-supernatural explanation for his story (in an earlier thread) about objects flying across the room, which he believes was a miracle.

Yes, I saw that discussion. I don't think Cl classifies it as a miracle as opposed to a paranormal event. Also, I liked how you offered up your counter-theory without asking more penetrating questions about the incident or conducting even the most preliminary of investigations. Shows a real scientific mind at work.

Yes, they claim to be peer-reviewed. The fact that they need to say so is telling. The 'peers' are fellow IDists.

So telling people that there work has been published in peer-reviewed journals, which every researcher in just about any field I have ever read or talked to does (including people like Dawkins and Meyers), indicates lack of academic credentials? I shall be sure to remember that. And since we don't want peer reviewers to be an echo chamber, as the IDists you mentioned are doing, shall we have Young Earth Creationists review and approve articles about Evolution in mainstream scientific journals? And I wasn't aware the Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, one of the articles I mentioned was published in said journal, was an ID controlled organization.

im-skeptical said...

Karl,

I'm trying not to be too disagreeable, but you keep putting words in my mouth, and then shooting them down.

"you should take a look at the evidence for the existence of Socrates"
- I never said the evidence for Socrates was substantial.

"So telling people that there work has been published in peer-reviewed journals, which every researcher in just about any field I have ever read or talked to does (including people like Dawkins and Meyers), indicates lack of academic credentials?"
- I didn't say that. I was talking about the journal BIO-Complexity, not the authors of the article.

"Also, I liked how you offered up your counter-theory without asking more penetrating questions about the incident or conducting even the most preliminary of investigations. Shows a real scientific mind at work."
- I didn't think that was my task, especially given that that thread had been inactive for two years, if I recall. In response to cl's invitation, I simply offered a plausible explanation for the event as he described it, while noting the fact that the information I had was sketchy. I never claimed it was anything but a guess.

Crude said...

Regarding ID papers in publications, here's a good list. Sure, Bio-Complexity is there, along with PLoS One and others. And, of course, there was the Behe article I posted.

By the way: "If you claim to be conducting scientific research, you should have it published in a legitimate scientific journal and subjected to review by the scientific community. Otherwise, it cannot be regarded as established scientific knowledge."

That suffices to obliterate a lot of historical science and scientists on the spot. I await being told that publishing in a 'legitimate scientific journal subject to review by the scientific community' is only a requirement for scientific knowledge now, and not historically, for which there were different rules at certain points.

Karl Grant said...

I'm Skeptical,

I never said the evidence for Socrates was substantial

No, but you did say the evidence for Jesus's existence is pretty thin (Actually I think it is pretty thin you're exact words are they not?) I was merely pointing out that the evidence for Jesus's existence is quite a bit more than the evidence for other historical figures whose life details you accept without question. I thought the point that I was trying to make was pretty straight forward.

I didn't say that. I was talking about the journal BIO-Complexity, not the authors of the article.

You were implying that since the editors of the journal were either Intelligent Design proponents or sympathetic to Intelligent Design that the peer-reviewed process was a facade or at least somehow less than trust-worthy. I countered by pointing out that is the norm in all scientific journals, you don't exactly have YECs editing the Esteemed Journal of Evolutionary Biology do you? And that the works of these people have been submitted and published in other peer-reviewed journals that are not ID proponent controlled.

In response to cl's invitation, I simply offered a plausible explanation for the event as he described it, while noting the fact that the information I had was sketchy. I never claimed it was anything but a guess.

And how can you offer a plausible explanation for an event without learning the details of said event?

im-skeptical said...

Crude,

A good list of ID resources. Thanks. And I agree that there was a time when our modern scientific community had not yet evolved. In today's environment it would be difficult to get recognition among the broader scientific community if you don't adopt their established methods, including publishing. The ID community has created their own little community, and they exist in a bubble, isolated from the mainstream.

As long as they continue to reject well-established scientific knowledge in favor of the ill-supported, bypass mountains of evidence in favor of cherry-picked facts, and fail to produce hypotheses that predict outcomes of well-designed experiments, they will continue to be isolated from the mainstream of the scientific community.

Take this "Dissecting Darwinism" paper, for example, on the chemical origins of life. Where has Kuhn been for the past half century since the Miller-Urey experiments? Here's an update: Origins Of Life. There's a wealth of research that Kuhn has completely ignored. That's typical of these ID folks.

cl said...

"I was responding to cl's remark. He feels that I am irrational because I offered a (possible) non-supernatural explanation for his story (in an earlier thread) about objects flying across the room, which he believes was a miracle."

Not quite. For one, I don't believe it was a miracle. For two, I feel your irrational and hypocritical: irrational, because you simply hand-waved away an event that clearly contradicted all known natural laws, offering a naive, unthinking "you were tricked" retort; and hypocritical, because I caught you here saying believers are "predisposed" a certain way when in fact, it is your state of being "predisposed" to atheism that caused you to hand-wave away the event.

Just to clarify.

im-skeptical said...

cl,

Good to hear from you again. Sorry, not a miracle. It's just that something like that would seem like a miracle to me. But I understand that to Christians, a miracle is something different altogether. So I'll try not to make that mistake again.

cl said...

I love how you ignore the real problems and focus on the technicality. Classic.

im-skeptical said...

Ok, I don't buy a supernatural explanation unless I see more evidence than has been presented. You said this event happened, but you didn't even see it. That's all? I'm supposed to believe it? I would be irrational if I accepted that it was supernatural, because everything I know and everything I've experienced tell me otherwise.

Hypocritical? After agreeing that I too am predisposed to accept things that affirm what I already believe? That's human nature, and I don't deny it.

cl said...

No. You don't get it. Not one bit. The way you just said, "Your friends probably tricked you" shows that you aren't putting one bit of genuine rational thought into this, at all. You just buried your head like any other skeptical ostrich.

The details of the event, as described in my post, disallow for the "trickery" you proffer as a "rational" explanation.

Just quit playing the game already.

Crude said...

And I agree that there was a time when our modern scientific community had not yet evolved.

In other words, Galileo? Not a scientist. Isaac Newton? Not a scientist. By defining scientific knowledge as 'that which has been published in a peer reviewed journal', you've destroyed any claims about the value and benefits of science. It turns out that whatever system Isaac Newton and others were using - you know, not science - is actually extremely productive.

The ID community has created their own little community, and they exist in a bubble, isolated from the mainstream.

I just gave you a list of various ID-related papers, many of which were published in non-ID, peer-reviewed journals. The guy who lives in a bubble is apparently you.

As long as they continue to

All I hear here is 'Polly wanna cracker? Pretty bird! Pretty bird!' because you're simply regurgitating what you've heard from third hand sources. When I show you evidence to the contrary, you ignore it and switch topics.

Worse, you don't even understand what you read. Hence:

Take this "Dissecting Darwinism" paper, for example, on the chemical origins of life.

Kuhn's paper was about a variety of topics - and he explicitly states in there that the theorizing has moved beyond Urey_Miller: "Modern textbooks expand on the largely debunked Miller-Urey experiment
and further propose that the nucleotides form together in a primitive environment with explanations that include the RNA world hypothesis (16), thermogenesis (17), and hypercycles (18). Unfortunately, the student is not taught that those theories still require complex and specifi ed information contained in functioning proteins, which cannot be explained or selfgenerated (19). Furthermore, the student is not taught that the four nucleotides do not spontaneously form in nature(20)."

He wrote a broad paper giving an overview of a variety of problems that currently exist in the biological sciences in general - it wasn't a paper exclusively about the OoL, nor did he treat Urey-Miller as the beginning and end of OoL research.

Meanwhile, you give me a link to a skeptic blog with an entry written by a lunatic: "All it would take is one experiment. One bit of chemistry to show that, most definitely, it is physically impossible for x and y to combine in this way, which means that natural origins of life are impossible."

Yes, all it would take is one experiment to... uh, what? "For X and Y to combine in a way such that you have a living being."? The existence of living beings is *data*. Does he mean "one experiment to show that no possible process, even by unknown processes, could result in life"? Think about what he's asking for a moment - it's something that science, as science, cannot provide, because you cannot account for what you don't know. That's the point of OoL research - and the mainstream ID arguments don't propose to show that the OoL is 'totally impossible'. They argue that the given evidence shows an undirected origin of life is extraordinarily unlikely, and not even unique to ID.

The guy doesn't know what he's talking about, and misrepresents criticisms of OoL research. But man, he's a skeptic and he linked to an *actual paper* in his article, so hey, just lap it up. Even then you clearly didn't understand a word.

Zach said...

It is amazing how little content is generated once people start to focus on who published where, and other appeals to authority, and the inevitable quicksand discussion of what science is.

Crude he doesn't use the word 'ID' but I hope I don't have to spell out how different the target here is from Behe's decent article, and the obvious ID shades. For instance "So, to Moran I say, regale us with heroic stories of magically evolvable apes and magically evolvable enzymes if you must, but when you're finished with the stories, be sure to join us in doing the science that should convince everyone one way or the other as to their plausibility."

If you don't see how that is ID trash talk, then you are just being willfully obstinate, which would be so unlike Crude.

Me 1 Crude 0.

Also, my argument was indeed an argument, not a "statement." I don't know if you were looking at something else, perhaps skipped what I wrote, or have short bus reading comprehension skills.

For the slower, let me repeat exactly what I wrote, but with numbers added
1 Consciousness is real
2 Consciousness is nonphysical
3 Consciousness is not an epiphenomenon wrt the physical (that is, there is interaction).
4 Evolution only works on physical processes.

Conclusion
Therefore, evolution cannot explain the origins of consciousness.

How someone could call the above a statement, rather than an argument, needs to learn some basic distinctions from High School debate class about propositions vs arguments.

I won't bother unpacking the enthymeme in there, as it is a trivial exercise for anyone with a cerebral cortex and rudimentary understanding of Freshman logic. Sorry, Crude, that might leave you in the dark.

Me 2 Crude 0.

But who's keeping score.

Crude said...

Crude he doesn't use the word 'ID' but I hope I don't have to spell out how different the target here is from Behe's decent article, and the obvious ID shades.

Zach, you said that the article im-skeptical was responding to was about ID. But you made the mistake of not reading the article - all Axe did was discuss experimental results regarding the power of mainstream evolutionary processes. Lo and behold, that's all that Behe did.

Hence you earlier saying:

Ben I was responding to Crude's article, which isn't about ID (unlike the original article imskeptical criticized).

Crude: does he talk about intelligent design once in that article? A very good analysis of the article by one of the people that did the studies is here.

But Axe didn't mention intelligent design once in his article. All he did was criticize what he views as a mainstream conception of evolutionary processes' capability. Much like certain atheists around here, you criticized something without even reading it, much less comprehending it.

Also, my argument was indeed an argument, not a "statement."

You said: Evolution is false because consciousness is real, not physical, and not an epiphenomenon wrt the physical. Hence, something was needed to hook them up, and it wasn't evolution (which only acts on physical processes).

You simply asserted consciousness is non-physical, not an epiphenomenon, that 'something was needed to hook them up' and that 'evolution only acts on physical processes'.

Statements, Zach. You gave no argument for consciousness being non-physical, no argument for it not being an epiphenomenon, and didn't even give an argument for why consciousness would need to 'be hooked up' to begin with (as opposed to always being around, for instance, a la panpsychism.)

Look, I appreciate that your favorite pasttime is 'pretending to be a theist instead of an atheist', but some advice. When you snarkily talk about an article, do yourself a favor and read it before trash-talking it. When it becomes plainly obvious you didn't even read the thing, and 'his article was all about intelligent design' becomes 'well he engaged in trash talk, that's such an ID thing to do', you're not fooling anyone.

Now, go back to Loftus' and hang out with your friends. ;)