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Jun 12 2012

My vast powers transcend space and time!

After I explained that both Andrew Sullivan and Kevin Drum were wrong about the frequency of Young Earth Creationism in America, another disputant enters the fray: Robert Wright claims they’re both right, and further has identified the true cause of all those citizens jumping on the creationist bandwagon.

You’ll never guess whose fault it all is.

A few decades ago, Darwinians and creationists had a de facto nonaggression pact: Creationists would let Darwinians reign in biology class, and otherwise Darwinians would leave creationists alone. The deal worked. I went to a public high school in a pretty religious part of the country–south-central Texas–and I don’t remember anyone complaining about sophomores being taught natural selection. It just wasn’t an issue.

A few years ago, such biologists as Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers started violating the nonaggression pact. [Which isn't to say the violation was wholly unprovoked; see my update below.] I don’t just mean they professed atheism–many Darwinians had long done that; I mean they started proselytizing, ridiculing the faithful, and talking as if religion was an inherently pernicious thing. They not only highlighted the previously subdued tension between Darwinism and creationism but depicted Darwinism as the enemy of religion more broadly.

Gosh. Richard and I don’t know our own strength.

Just to help you all out, here’s the graph that is the subject of the discussion. I’ve helpfully added a couple of arrows to help you see exactly when we started to cause this problem.

How can you possibly argue with that dramatic correlation?

Pharyngula + Dawkins → increase in Christian commitment to anti-science!

Yeah, I also remember to going to high school in a fairly secular part of the country — western Washington state — and getting no exposure to evolution at all in my science classes. I also recall major court cases in 1968 and 1982 and 1987 in which creationists tried to force the teaching of creationism and block the teaching of science in our public schools — that was some nonaggression pact.

But then, 1968 was roughly when I first decided that religion was crap — I’m forced to conclude that it was the stirrings of doubt in a prepubescent kid near Seattle that fired up the creationists in Epperson v. Arkansas.

Damn, but I was ferocious.

Either that, or Wright is an idiot who knows nothing of the actual history of this subject and is willing to make up explanations that defy the evidence.

183 comments

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  1. 1
    thewhollynone

    Made “up explanations that defy the evidence”– seems to me to be a good description of religion.

  2. 2
    eric

    I mean they started proselytizing

    How dare two popular atheists do what most of the church-going population does on a regular basis! This means war!

    Everyone knows that the Treaty On Secular Education allows only Christians to proselytize, not atheists!

  3. 3
    jaranath

    Creationism hasn’t been a problem in science classes because Robert Wright learned natural selection in Texas.

    Sweet Jebus. He’s a senior editor.

  4. 4
    Sastra

    Wright seems to be a true believer in the Doctrine of Equivalence: that all “faiths” (including atheism) are basically the same because they share the same function. There is no “true” or “false” — there is only what is useful, or not, judged by the group or the individual themselves. Atheists must thus approach religion as if they were anthropologists with a tribe, or therapists with a client. Not like scientists with a hypothesis. Focus on people and their needs.

    Given this, the WORST thing you can do — the rudest, cruelest, most bigoted and arrogant thing — is tell someone their religious beliefs are wrong, to attack THEIR faith and try to “force” your own on them through reason, argument, evidence, and so forth. Bring up problems. Offer solutions. Engage in debate. Examine the evidence. Persuade. Seek consensus. How evil…

    This is the “outspoken atheists are just as bad as fundamentalist” position. A Good Atheist is one who refuses to explain why they’re an atheist. The only consensus they seek is a mutual agreement to either admire the other’s viewpoint or change the subject.

    Wright is living in a fantasy world.

  5. 5
    Glen Davidson

    Even though he’s backed down somewhat on the unilateralism of it, he yet seems unaware of the assault upon science as atheism that the IDiots mounted well before there was any real “New Atheism” agreeing that science is basically godless.

    Why don’t these bozos ever bother learning about a subject before they babble their uninformed opinions (yes, judging by the nonsense they write, they’ll probably still have uninformed opinions, just not as much so)? Dembski and other mindless fools were attacking theistic evolutionists as traitors before most of the counterattacks he mentions.

    Glen Davidson

  6. 6
    ricardodivali having sniffles over stiffles

    No doubt you were both instrumental in causing the scopes monkey trial too. How could you!

  7. 7
    Doug Little

    From what I remember I was atheist but pretty blase about it up until the creationist fuckwits had that wedge document leaked. He has it exactly backwards.

  8. 8
    truthspeaker

    Well we already knew that Charles Darwin was able to send “On the Origin of Species” several centuries into the past so that Martin Luther could read it and help invent German anti-Semitism, leading to the Holocaust.

  9. 9
    Martin Wagner

    If you use words like “Darwinian,” “Darwinism,” and “Darwinist” at all, you’re an idiot.

  10. 10
    jaybee

    Martin Wagner — don’t be so harsh, there is another good reason why someone would use those terms. These terms would be quite appropriate if you were born in 1870.

  11. 11
    Dick the Damned

    It’s goddamn disappointing &, dare i say it, demoralizing, to see a 6% increase over one year in the number of bozos who believe teh Bible Bogey created humans in their present form.

    Can i take solace in the fact that subtle differences in how such questions are asked can make a big difference to the range of responses?

  12. 12
    kayden

    I can imagine Wright singing “Blame PZ” sung to the tune of “Blame Canada”

  13. 13
    'Tis Himself

    Who makes a graph using three different shades of green?

  14. 14
    kp71

    Either that, or Wright is an idiot who knows nothing of the actual history of this subject and is willing to make up explanations that defy the evidence.

    Uh, yeah. Blame the atheists for not respecting religion. Never deal with the bankrupt theology that is a cancer on humanity. Permanent, all-time facepalm.

  15. 15
    Aratina Cage

    That one-two punch of yours and Dawkins’ sure showed them! Heh-hyuck!

  16. 16
    Storms

    The good news on this graph is not that the fundies polerized somewhat. It’s that while their constituency seasaws between GodDidIt and GodDidIt+Evolution; the “Evolutionist” rise at a steady rate of 2%/decade.

    I have hope that we’ll see this rate climb as more atheists come out and build social support organizations. People hold wrong beliefs for emotional reasons. They fear what they will lose if they don’t believe: family, friends, social support, face, political identity. We need to give them a place to go, not to tell them what to believe, but to give them emotional support and community while they transition.

  17. 17
    Matt Penfold

    If you use words like “Darwinian,” “Darwinism,” and “Darwinist” at all, you’re an idiot.

    Or you could have studied biology in the UK and use those words to refer to natural selection. And since that is what some people do who are clearly not idiots, maybe you are the idiot. Or maybe just ignorant, but that is not much of an excuse is it ?

    Is there any particular reason for your ignorance on this matter ?

  18. 18
    Matt Penfold

    Who makes a graph using three different shades of green?

    I was wondering that. It does seem rather odd. An example of style over substance, but then it is not even that stylish.

  19. 19
    imthegenieicandoanything

    Mr. Wright (and it’s a bad habit, but I LOVE ironically funny names) has that quality ALL regigious apologists for the idiocy and evil that is ‘Mer’kin Creationism (which, at the top, do NOT have honest ignorance as an excuse) have: a giant ass which, like Felix the Cat’s Bag o’Tricks, anything “needed” can be instantly pulled.

    What a, basically, stubbornly dumb, falsely proud nation is the USA!

  20. 20
    ChasCPeterson

    Who makes a graph using three different shades of green?

    The fucking Irish. Also Gallup.

    The correct answer looks better replotted.

  21. 21
    AJ Milne

    There are apparently a very large number of people around for which any excuse which demands unbelievers be quiet will do. And thus excuses will thus be found. Evidence? As if they’d actually be examining evidence. If the excuse goes where they want, it will be accepted. Wright is just the latest to hammer on this same ole’ tired nail. I’d call this particular exhibit hilariously blatant, and sure, it is, but, seriously, they so generally are, I’m not even sure it’s that notable. Call it, rather, just one more datum in the endless litany.

    And yes, many of those who so hammer are themselves unbelievers. I see it in part as a sorta last-ditch memetic defense religions put out there: this notion that criticizing one’s religion simply isn’t done, darling–that if we cannot dissuade you from disbelieving, at the very least, we will attempt to persuade you to shut up about it. And, even, to shut up others who aren’t following this unspoken rule.

    And apparently, you can dump the bulk of a religion’s cosmology just fine, and still hang onto that largely unconscious, unexamined preconception. Indeed, you can pick it up having never even been a member of a religion. Regardless, you’ll be finding largely absurd excuses not to call out this one, special, oddly protected class of bullshit, and, again, even to dissuade others from doing so, endlessly thereafter.

  22. 22
    Frank Asshole

    13. ‘Tis Himself: Style or color blindness (i presume deuteranopia)?
    ______
    I don’t want to sound like some kind of hipster, but, my observations and conteplations about New Atheist movement were similar. Before atheists gone full blown militant, some people was politely sitting on a fence between scientific (or scientifically based) worldview, and pink religious glasses. And sitting there wasn’t so bad. Until recently. If you are on a fence, you must choose. Whether you fall on a side of supernatural or on the opposite. I’m not surprised that society in terms of religiosity or non belief are, and in the future will be more divided. Some people confronted with facts are acitvely gathering new informations, changing prespectives, the others will seek comfort from new in their traditions, beliefs.
    ______
    If everyone is entitled to have own reality/truth, one cannot claim superiority of their beliefs. You must seek objectivity somwhere else, for example in science.

  23. 23
    screechymonkey

    AJ @21: “And yes, many of those who so hammer are themselves unbelievers.”

    This is true of Wright. He’s basically admitted that he really wants to believe, and he’s tried to make a sort of god out of his belief that there is some sort of (intelligent?) force leading to overall social and moral progress. He occasionally likes to brag that he “forced” Dan Dennett to admit this; in reality, Dennett appeared to be simply accepting Wright’s convoluted premise for purposes of discussion, but it’s very important to Wright’s ego to be able to claim that he “won” a debate with an atheist.

    It’s too bad, because there are things I like about the guy. He’s a decent writer on many topics.

  24. 24
    Gregory Greenwood

    My vast powers transcend space and time!

    Aha! The betentacled overlord finally admits that it is as I have always suspected – PZ is a Q.

    Naturally, his interest in humble Earth during this sojourn away from the Q Continuum is motivated solely by his desire to make contact with the superior cephalopod lifeforms that occupy the oceans, with the strange, mostly hairless, semi-sentient apes that are busy messing up the planet being no more than a source of idle entertainment…

  25. 25
    laurentweppe

    Shorter Robert Wright:

    Greedo shot first.

  26. 26
    Jasper of Maine

    I’m a Leeuwenhoekist, a Schrodingerist and I may have a touch of Malpighian in my world view.

  27. 27
    Gregory Greenwood

    A few decades ago, Darwinians and creationists had a de facto nonaggression pact

    Oddly enough, a situation where atheists are expected to stay in the closet and pretend they don’t exist, while creationists actively work to end the teaching of evolutionary theory and shoe horn in their own blather in its place, does not sound much like a ‘non-aggression pact’ to me.

    It might be best if Wright is never called upon to mediate peace terms in a war. He might leave the citizenry of one side in concentration camps while their adversaries ocupy their country, and still call it a reciprocal peace.

  28. 28
    YOB - Ye Olde Blacksmith is a Spocktopus cuddler

    It might be best if Wright is never called upon to mediate peace terms in a war. He might leave the citizenry of one side in concentration camps while their adversaries ocupy their country, and still call it a reciprocal peace

    Well, I suppose to some minds that would be a kind of peace.

  29. 29
    timgueguen

    Any chance Wright is one of the “It may not be true, but we need religion to keep the proles from running amok” crowd?

  30. 30
    laurentweppe

    It might be best if Wright is never called upon to mediate peace terms in a war. He might leave the citizenry of one side in concentration camps while their adversaries ocupy their country, and still call it a reciprocal peace

    Wasn’t it the kind of “reciprocal peace” the american settlers obtained at gunpoint from the native people?

  31. 31
    bjtunwarm

    I thought “a few years ago” Atheism was statistically irrelevant in the US and it was only when the GOP started flirting with theocracy under Bush it shot up. Pretty amazing how 5-10% of the population that are atheists are tearing America apart and the 65% + Christian are utterly defenseless.

    Anyway, I see since there omitted Hitchens from the very dangerous unbelievers list that Hitchens’ post mortum conversion to Christianity is now complete. One can only imagine Hitchens in Heaven wondering how did he ever get there.

  32. 32
    'Tis Himself

    laurentweppe #25

    Shorter Robert Wright: Greedo shot first.

    You win one internets.

  33. 33
    madscientist

    Well, obviously the writings of Myers and Dawkins diddled the time-space continuum and changed history! Now the religious have an excuse for their historical revisionism as well – it’s all PZ and Richard’s fault and none of their own.

  34. 34
    jaybee

    Matt Penfold #17, you objected to

    If you use words like “Darwinian,” “Darwinism,” and “Darwinist” at all, you’re an idiot.

    I guess this comes from a US provincialism. It seems like these are the terms that creationists use to describe people who believe in evolution. Darwin certainly got things off to a great start, but evolution has come a long way since then. Creationists love to point out things that Darwin didn’t get right as proof that evolution is wrong, and thus “Darwinist” can be seen as a subtle means of binding the argument to 1870s thinking on the subject.

    College courses on the topic have “Evolution” in the title, not “Darwinism.” To me, “Darwinism” sounds antiquated.

  35. 35
    Dabu

    I’m sure John Scopes would’ve been happy to “reign”, sans creationist interference, in his biology class!

    Wright’s ‘truce’ sounds about as real as Rousseau’s social contract: a bit of historical fiction meant more as an ideal to aim for than an accurate description of how things were. The best state of affairs, according to Wright, is for atheists and theists to hold their beliefs privately and leave each other alone on matters of faith.

    Granted, that would be vastly better than the lot of nonbelievers throughout most of history. But Wright has joined the tiresome roll call of pundits who claim that atheists shouldn’t vigorously advocate their beliefs in opposition to those of Christians and creationists. He uses the alarmist trope of “being mean will make the undecided join the religious ranks, and then you’ll have more of them to deal with!”. We’ve heard that old lay before. But experience has shown, time and again, that a boisterous approach is far more effective at gaining attention than a polite, genteel one.

    Religious beliefs lay themselves so open to ridicule that only enforced, ongoing social coercion can dissuade people from doing so. In contrast, whenever the creobots try to ridicule the atheist/evolutionist position, the result looks weak and steeped in ignorance. Wright is affiliated with the coercers. Unfortunately for him, that lot are being exposed for the pusillanimous idiots that they are.

  36. 36
    Amphiox

    In the US, at least, “Darwin—” is a creationist code-term for their standard meme of “you’re just like us/you believe in evolution only because of faith/and you worship Darwin as your prophet.”

  37. 37
    ChristineRose

    I’m not seeing anything in the top line except noise. What I see is people who are reasonable about the evidence are shifting from non-literal theism to secularism.

    There’s a lot of interesting content there–huge numbers of Americans still reject evidence and it seems that the rising number of secularists are not coming from that extreme group. There’s a ton of fun stuff there. Is it still possible to be educated, reasonable and religious? Are we creating a two-tier society? Who ends up in which half, and why? How do these numbers reflect other strongly differentiated groups in our society, like young vs. old, rich vs. poor, race, etc.?

    But to look at that graph and say that aggressive atheists are causing a backlash–it’s just not in that graph, sorry. The article just left me scratching my head.

  38. 38
    bad Jim

    It’s been said that before the Sputnik panic in the 1950′s, which led to an increased emphasis on teaching science in schools, evolution was typically left out of the curriculum. The backlash was the result of actually teaching biology for a change.

  39. 39
    benjimin

    I wonder what the strategic consequences really are? If new atheists do increase the degree to which readily-disproven assertions are integral to people’s religion, then (aside from polarising the discourse) does it make people of those denominations more vulnerable to completely abandoning their religion (rather than merely diluting it like a liberal christian who maintains some vague core faith-dependent views despite successively releasing other component)? Also, does the public existence of American YECs weaken the position of other religious people everywhere (in the same way as if the old Norse and Classical religions were still alive in a few modern areas then it would be harder for anyone today claiming that personal revelation uniquely verifies their own community’s religion)?

  40. 40
    Amphiox

    PZ is a Q.

    I thought he is a Time Lord.

  41. 41
    Heliantus

    A few decades ago, Darwinians and creationists had a de facto nonaggression pact [...] I went to a public high school in a pretty religious part of the country–south-central Texas–and I don’t remember anyone complaining about sophomores being taught natural selection.

    I don’t get it. Does he means that when he was young, one could go through school without ever being exposed to biology lessons? And this is a good thing?

    @ Gregory Greenwood

    Oddly enough, a situation where atheists are expected to stay in the closet and pretend they don’t exist, [...] does not sound much like a ‘non-aggression pact’ to me.

    I think you nailed it.

    For an encore, I propose Robert Wright to tell us the real reason why US Christians (among others) are so obsessed with gay marriage or women’s rights.

    “Back in the days, God-fearing people and homosexual people had a non-aggression pact: homosexuals would only demonstrate their affection in the privacy of their home. Gays broke this pact then they started holding hands in public.”

    “Until recently, men and women had a non-aggression pact: women would stay in the kitchen and be happy with menial work. The feminists broke this pact when they asked for equal access to the job market.”

  42. 42
    Ingdigo Jump

    I wonder what the strategic consequences really are? If new atheists do increase the degree to which readily-disproven assertions are integral to people’s religion, then (aside from polarising the discourse) does it make people of those denominations more vulnerable to completely abandoning their religion (rather than merely diluting it like a liberal christian who maintains some vague core faith-dependent views despite successively releasing other component)? Also, does the public existence of American YECs weaken the position of other religious people everywhere (in the same way as if the old Norse and Classical religions were still alive in a few modern areas then it would be harder for anyone today claiming that personal revelation uniquely verifies their own community’s religion)?

    Maybe it’s like Reaper indoctrination where if you can cause enough cognitive dissonance in some people the illusion can break. Except hopefully without the “and then I kill myself” part

  43. 43
    Rip Steakface

    Poopyhead says:

    Yeah, I also remember to going to high school in a fairly secular part of the country — western Washington state — and getting no exposure to evolution at all in my science classes.

    Well, if that’s the case, things have improved a lot in your old stomping grounds. My high school biology class was just last year and we had roughly eight weeks of curriculum relating to the evidence for evolution, its predictions, and how it works (and yes, the word evolution was used frequently) – and I live in Olympia. The rest of the year often related back to evolutionary concepts in a couple ways at least once or twice.

    So, that’s at least one region of the country that’s committed itself to decent science education. Now for the rest :P

  44. 44
    stanton

    Permanent, all-time facepalm.

    That reminds me of the time I replaced this one guy’s facial cleanser with rubber cement.

  45. 45
    sadunlap

    Read the article – it’s hilarious. My favorite part:

    “My theory is highly conjectural”

    Really? I would never have guessed.

  46. 46
    Koshka

    Update in the article states;

    their reaction may well have abetted anti-scientism in areas unrelated to evolution, such as climate change.

    It would appear that PZ is also responsible for climate change denial as well.

    What else is PZ responsible for?

  47. 47
    ChristineRose

    @benjimin

    The thing is that creationism is not disprovable. Either the evidence was planted by Satan or God created the world with a complete set of ready-made fossils or the Bible is such strong evidence of a young earth that when we see contradictory evidence we must search for the best harmonization of the science to the Bible.

    The “Satan did it” theory is kind of fringe but is still thrown around by some people, mostly older and with a fairly limited view of science. The ready-made fossils assertion sounds silly, but is sometimes applied as an extension of the theory that God made the redwoods full grown and with tree rings indicating age they did not actually have.

    The last theory is put forward by Ham and the AIG folks and is actually fairly new. Until recently the trend was to insist that the scientists were faking their radioactive dating and mislabeling gorilla bones. The difference may be that now it is easy for anyone who looks to find good discussions of the mountains of evidence aimed directly at the creationist distortions. I would have thought that the sheer bizarreness of the harmonizing position would cause people to abandon creationism, but alas, this seems not to be the case.

  48. 48
    Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness

    A few decades ago, Darwinians and creationists had a de facto nonaggression pact:

    A few decades ago, I didn’t notice what a mess this all was.

    Creationists would let Darwinians reign in biology class, and otherwise Darwinians would leave creationists alone. The deal worked.

    Because I didn’t notice the mess.

    I went to a public high school in a pretty religious part of the country–south-central Texas–and I don’t remember anyone complaining about sophomores being taught natural selection. It just wasn’t an issue.

    Because if it didn’t bother me, then it wasn’t important.

    A few years ago, such biologists as Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers started violating the nonaggression pact. [Which isn't to say the violation was wholly unprovoked; see my update below.]

    Suddenly, I noticed these dudes were getting popular! Actual people I had met read them or heard of them!

    I don’t just mean they professed atheism–many Darwinians had long done that; I mean they started proselytizing, ridiculing the faithful, and talking as if religion was an inherently pernicious thing.

    And they were like, all squicky!

    They not only highlighted the previously subdued tension between Darwinism and creationism but depicted Darwinism as the enemy of religion more broadly.

    And I noticed that they were winning some of the time!!! So, well, come on, I had to do something!

    /annotated article.

  49. 49
    nonny

    This post is a good laugh but it also makes me wonder why exactly America is so slow to embrace the idea of evolution? I mean, even the Pope says the evolution happens, in Europe (with a little help from god). What is it about American Christianity that makes it so anti-science? There’s the climate change denialism as well. How did it happen and how can it be fixed?

  50. 50
    saguhh00

    @ Antigodless

    Well I was drivin’ down I-95 the other night.
    Somebody nearly cut me right off the road.
    I decided it wasn’t gonna do any good to get mad.
    So I wrote a song about him instead.

    It goes like this…

    Were you born an asshole?
    Or did you work at it your whole life?
    Either way it worked out fine
    ’cause you’re an asshole tonight.
    Yes you’re an A S S H O L E…
    And don’t you try to blame it on me.

    You deserve all the credit.
    You’re an asshole tonight.
    You were an asshole yesterday.
    You’re an asshole tonight.
    And I’ve got a feelin’
    you’ll be an asshole the rest of your life.

    And I was talkin’ to your mother
    just the other night.
    I told her I thought you were an asshole.
    She said, “Yes. I think you’re right.”
    And all your friends are assholes
    ’cause you’ve known them your whole life.
    And somebody told me
    you’ve got an asshole for a wife.

    Were you born an asshole?
    Or did you work at it your whole life?
    Either way it worked out fine
    ’cause you’re an asss…hole tonight.

  51. 51
    microraptor

    It would appear that PZ is also responsible for climate change denial as well.

    What else is PZ responsible for?

    Reaganomics.

  52. 52
    Rob in Memphis

    I went to a public high school in a pretty religious part of the country–south-central Texas–and I don’t remember anyone complaining about sophomores being taught natural selection. It just wasn’t an issue.

    How long ago was that? I took high school biology in a small town outside Memphis in the mid-80s, and one of the biology teachers went through every textbook before she handed them out to her students and stapled the chapter on evolution shut. (I had the only other teacher who taught basic biology, fortunately.)

    Apparently the religious wackaloon teacher didn’t realize that the quickest way to get her students to read about evolution would be to make that particular chapter seem forbidden! (And I don’t think she intentionally used reverse psychology, either; she really was that insanely religious.)

  53. 53
    txpiper

    ChristineRose,

    “huge numbers of Americans still reject evidence”

    There is more to it than that. For one thing, the whole enterprise is acutely politicized. Evolution has acquired a reputation as something that has to be imposed, and can’t be questioned.

    I think there is also a growing contingency of people who recognize that the baseline mechanisms that evolution depends on simply don’t appear to be dependable, if they are even plausible. Just today I read one in a series of short articles in NewScientist that ended with this paragraph:

    “If we consider all the mutations that led to these pivotal points in our evolution, human origins begin to look like a trail of unfeasible coincidences. But that is only because we do not see the harmful mutations that were weeded out, points out John Hawks at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “What we’re left with is the ones that were advantageous.” It is only from today’s viewpoint that the mutations that give us our current physical form appear to be the “right” ones to have. “It’s hindsight,” says Hawks. “When we look back at the whole process, it looks like a stunning series of accidents.” “

    This is dreadfully honest language. It is also rare inasmuch as statistics and probabilities are seldom ever mentioned. But Hawks’ candor is pointing out that the whole thing is hanging on cooincidence. It just depends on how much of it you can stand.

  54. 54
    PZ Myers
    PZ is a Q.

    I thought he is a Time Lord.

    Silly. As everyone knows, I am a poopyhead.

  55. 55
    petzl20

    A few decades ago, Darwinians and creationists had a de facto nonaggression pact: Creationists would let Darwinians reign in biology class, and otherwise Darwinians would leave creationists alone. The deal worked.

    What is he talking about? I at least understand the first part, where he’s proposing that creationists didn’t try to invade biology classes 30 years ago. (It’s not true, but in any case, as to the second part:) What is the “Darwinian” analog? Where did they refrain from going where _they_ didn’t belong? Just how does a “Darwinian” leave a creationist alone? The fact that they didn’t trundle into churches and start disputing Bible origin myths, is in itself notable and part of the “cease fire”?

    When have scientists or atheists or anyone tried to trespass upon the Church and impose secular doctrine therein? It’s a completely noodle-headed thesis.

    40-50 years ago, creationists were somewhat less apeshit, mostly because their cultural doctrine (birth control, abortion, school prayer) and political doctrine (disenfranchising women, minorities, lgbt) were still in place and hadn’t yet been thrown out of whack. There’s yer problem.

  56. 56
    Dabu

    txpiper

    Even if the factual support for evolution is as tenuous as you claim, any sort of theistic explanation is, and always will be, the lazy way out.

    Anyone wanting to topple evolution needs to do it with better science.

  57. 57
    PZ Myers

    txpiper: Are you illiterate? He’s saying exactly the opposite. He’s making a nice argument that the chain of events has only the appearance of “right” choices — that what you call a chain of coincidence is actually an example of the retrospective coronation of the surviving variants.

  58. 58
    FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!)

    Evolution has acquired a reputation as something that has to be imposed, and can’t be questioned.

    It has been questioned, over and over and over again. And every time it’s questioned by those without presuppositions that must be satisfied to protect their dogma it passes with flying colours based on the overwhelming evidence.

    It just depends on how much of it you can stand.

    Argument from ignorance. Fail.

  59. 59
    'Tis Himself

    Why am I not surprised that txpip doesn’t have a fucking clue about what Hawks is actually saying? Of course txpip, being the dishonest shithead that he is, is going out of his way to misunderstand Hawks. I also wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some quotemining going on. Txpip is not the most honest or reliable reporter to comment on Pharyngula. Quite the contrary, in fact.

    What Hawks is saying is that there are advantageous and harmful mutations. The harmful ones are weeded out because they kill the organisms that have them before those organisms can reproduce. So only the advantageous ones (and the neutral ones) are passed on to offspring. It looks like a series of coincidences that humans evolve from other critters but it really isn’t.

  60. 60
    John Morales

    txpiper:

    This is dreadfully honest language.

    The which you are not good at grokking, O creobot.

    “When we look back at the whole process, it looks like a stunning series of accidents.”

    (Did you read on at all?)

    I know you pretend you don’t remember, but twice now I’ve pointed out teleonomy to you. And many others have (at least dozens of times) explained everything to you.

  61. 61
    txpiper

    PZ,

    I am by no means an expert, but I do recognize that there are constraints involved. Hawks stated the obvious, but he didn’t pause on the reality that the number of “harmful mutations that were weeded out” would be staggering, with very long periods of time passing between even those. Regardless of what dates are used, there is a limited amount of time for astonishingly complex things to develop by way of “a stunning series of accidents”.

  62. 62
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    PZ, txpiper is such an ignoramous and loudmouth, as proven at SB most recently, it should be confined to TZT for proper sharpening of newbie fangs. Its also a liberturd for our snarling pleasure…

  63. 63
    FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!)

    Regardless of what dates are used, there is a limited amount of time for astonishingly complex things to develop by way of “a stunning series of accidents”.

    I was going to call argument from ignorance again but that’s not strictly true. It’s an argument from incredulity. Sorry txpiper, your lack of understanding doesn’t mean you’re right.

    I can’t for the very life of me understand why people choose to go through life thinking that their opinions are always valid. Have they never experienced that lovely moment of “Oh shit, I was wrong!” where the embarrassment is suddenly overcome by the joy of realising “Hey, I just learned something!”

    That’s one of the real harms in faith based epistemology IMO. By denying and distorting evidence to fit your presupposed conclusions the joy of discovery is snuffed out. Allowing the evidence to lead one to conclusions fills life with an unending series of “Oh WOW! That’s so cool!” moments.

  64. 64
    txpiper

    Another interesting quote from the lead article was this:

    “Based on what we already know about DNA, the vast majority of these changes would not have affected our physical traits. That’s either because the change to the DNA is so minor that it would not influence a gene’s function, or because the mutation is in a region of so-called junk DNA. It is estimated that out of the 15 million differences, perhaps 10,000 were changes to genes that altered our bodies and were therefore subject to natural selection.

    It’s still a formidable target, and that’s not counting mutations to the regulatory regions of our DNA, which act as on/off switches for genes. It is not yet possible to calculate a figure for this type of mutation in the human line, although they are thought to have played a crucial role in evolution.”

    There is a very profound reason why it isn’t currently possible to calculate a figure for the cooincidental regulatory regions. These had to develop by another, parallel series of stunning accidents, only much more complicated. The control mechanisms are what enable 23,000 genes to code for 3 or 4 times that many proteins.

  65. 65
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I am by no means an expert,

    No, you are a presuppositional liar and bullshitter who thinks they know more than scientists, but can’t evidence their way out of a torn wet paper bag with a map, a GPS, and a book of clues. Nothing but a loudmouthed idjit who can’t/won’t show conclusive physical evidence for their imaginary deity…

  66. 66
    No One

    txpiper:

    I think there is also a growing contingency of people who recognize that the baseline mechanisms that evolution depends on simply don’t appear to be dependable, if they are even plausible.

    I “think” the mechanisms for evolution are not only plausible, but they are dependably predictive. If there are other alternative theories or even an hypothesis or two that you are aware of that are both falsifiable and or predictive, have at it. I’m dying to hear of them.

  67. 67
    John Morales

    [meta]

    I foresee the creobot will derail this thread via inane repetition of its eternal incredulity, unless a certain event occurs.

  68. 68
    txpiper

    You can find the articles here: http://www.newscientist.com

    Search for “Lucky You”

  69. 69
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Search for “Lucky You”

    Typical fuckwitted “evidence”. Vague, quotemined, and not from the peer reviewed scientific literture. Where is the evidence for your imaginary deity???? It isn’t where you think it is, as science explains life on Earth. You need the eternally burning bush or equivalent, or you need to shut the fuck up as a liar and bullshitter should do when exposed…Dishonest, all the way down with texpip…

  70. 70
    mikmik

    This is dreadfully honest language.

    LD50 of irony here.

    It is also rare inasmuch as statistics and probabilities are seldom ever mentioned.

    Fuck, are you ever a intellectual smarty pants, Mr Tex!

    But Hawks’ candor is pointing out that the whole thing is hanging on cooincidence.

    Rope, knot,

    It just depends on how much of it you can stand.

    If I was you, I would just get it over with then. The world needs more martyrs like you. G’ head, kick the chair out.

    PZ?

  71. 71
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    I flipped a coin 40 times, and got this result:
    H H T H T T T H T H H H T T H T T T H H H H T T T T H H T H T T H H H H T T H T

    You know what the odds are of getting that result? Over one in a trillion! That’s right, 1 in 1,099,511,627,776!

    Clearly, that couldn’t have happened by chance. Therefore God!

  72. 72
    Koshka

    txpiper,

    After your staggering inability to comprehend what was said in the New Scientist article at #53, how can you expect anyone to take you seriously?

  73. 73
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    After your staggering inability to comprehend what was said in the New Scientist article at #53, how can you expect anyone to take you seriously?

    It’s also a liberturd. No end to its ignorance and/or arrogance. And it keeps proving both on a regular basis. *Sniff*, I smell TZT in its future.

  74. 74
    Ingdigo Jump

    But Hawks’ candor is pointing out that the whole thing is hanging on cooincidence.

    You are aware that coincidence is a psychological phenomena right? It’s the result of a mind imposing importance on events it has mentally decided are connected thematically and judges their likelihood to be low.

    If someone is stacking a deck and dealing it out to poker players, then to one of the players getting a hand of 4 aces is an amazing coincidence, but not one at all to the dealer who has greater information on situation.

  75. 75
    Ingdigo Jump

    Coincidence could mean two people think of the same song at the same time, or it could mean two people wear the same color shirt to dinner…or it could mean all of NY wears the same color shirt. It’s useless for determining the likelihood of an event. All it means is “Hey my brain thinks that’s funny”! We might as well be dismissing evidence based on dejavu

  76. 76
    Koshka

    We are Ing,

    I was asked once to select lotto numbers for someone. I suggested 1,2,3,4,5,6.

    Their response? “There is no chance those numbers will come up!”

    They didn’t ask me again.

  77. 77
    mikmik

    txpiper
    12 June 2012 at 9:47 pm

    You can find the articles here: http://www.newscientist.com

    Search for “Lucky You”

    You can’t even link to the quote you provided, can you?
    What does that say, Tex, what do you think that means?

    It means cherry picking, it means dishonesty, it means evading substantiating your fucking claims and interpretations, it is a dead giveaway of shysterism. It means your pomposity looks even more ridiculous, if that is even possible.

    Grow the fuck up. On top of that, it’s already been pointed out that your reading comprehension is so far from reality that you conclude the opposite of what little you quoted means.

    Tell me, how long does it take to weed out a detrimental mutation? How many detrimental mutations even result in a viable fetus, let alone a live birth, let alone survival to reproductive age, let alone to reproductive success?

    Are you even capable of such advanced arithmetic?

    On top of that, you fucking self destructive moron, every single article that wasn’t behind a wall, and every single intro to those that are, all support evolution, you colonic cretin.

  78. 78
    mikmik

    txpiper:

    I think

    Oh stop it, you’re killing me ;)

  79. 79
    ChristineRose

    txpiper, it sounds like you are saying that you simply find the whole process bizarre and complex, while you think that the we should look for simple and elegant explanations.

    The problem is that God makes the equation more bizarre and more complex because God is far more complex than any human and anything that relies on a supernatural process is by definition strange and exceptional.

    Hawks’ point is that while the process is quite complex, we can track it quite well by means of statistics, and the more we learn about the complex details of the process, the more convincing the theory of evolution becomes. After all, we haven’t yet found a Crocoduck or any oddball creature that contradicts the theory.

    As far as terms like “coincidence,” imagine this process. Roll 10 dice, pick whichever one you like best, roll 10 more dice, pick again, repeat a few million times. Is it coincidence if almost all the selected dice are sixes? You really have to be careful when arguing that a certain thing is unlikely because (1) some sequence of dice is guaranteed to have happened, even if the particular sequence you got is unlikely and (2) natural selection is a non-random component which does favor certain sequences over others.

  80. 80
    vaiyt

    @We Are Ing:

    And, more importantly, in the end the players have to end up with SOME hand. If it weren’t four aces, it would be two kings or whatever. What txpiper is doing is trying to pretend the player would have either four aces or NO CARDS AT ALL in their hands.

  81. 81
    Ingdigo Jump

    I was asked once to select lotto numbers for someone. I suggested 1,2,3,4,5,6.

    Their response? “There is no chance those numbers will come up!”

    EPIC. FAIL.

    And, more importantly, in the end the players have to end up with SOME hand. If it weren’t four aces, it would be two kings or whatever. What txpiper is doing is trying to pretend the player would have either four aces or NO CARDS AT ALL in their hands.

    yes Tixpiper is basically staring with mouth agape like he’s training for the 12th annual Las Vegas blow job competition, at the coincidence that the people who got shit cards got disqualified from the poker tournament.

  82. 82
    txpiper

    “it’s already been pointed out that your reading comprehension is so far from reality that you conclude the opposite of what little you quoted means”

    No, I concluded that Hawks recognized the problem, but halted his analysis before it insulted the paradigm. On the surface it looks implausible, but in depth it only gets worse. There is a long list of factors that accumulate into enormous odds against the idea of rare cooperative mutations producing even one complex biological specialty. But it isn’t just one. It is every single one.

  83. 83
    ChristineRose

    No, I concluded that Hawks recognized the problem, but halted his analysis before it insulted the paradigm. On the surface it looks implausible, but in depth it only gets worse. There is a long list of factors that accumulate into enormous odds against the idea of rare cooperative mutations producing even one complex biological specialty. But it isn’t just one. It is every single one.

    Really? What are these problems? Mutations–some are positive. One positive mutation gets propagated in a species. A secondary positive mutation that depends on the first occurs. The individuals with both mutations are more likely to thrive. Repeat far more than 15 million times and you get 10,000 cooperative mutations.

  84. 84
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Christine, as I’ve alluded above, this specimen is of the Order of Perpetual Incredulity, not just an ignoramus; what you write, you write for others, not for it.

    (It denies even denies the significance of the success of genetic evolutionary algorithms in computer science)

  85. 85
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    RIP Steakface:

    So, that’s at least one region of the country that’s committed itself to decent science education. Now for the rest :P

    Good. It’s nice to know there are *some* bastions of hope out there.
    Let me guess though, there are some troublemakers trying to change that, huh?

    Koshka:

    What else is PZ responsible for?

    A fundie Christian would probably blame him for Noah’s Flood, or better yet, one of his tentacles looked like a serpent in the garden of Eden.

  86. 86
    txpiper

    ChristineRose,

    “it sounds like you are saying that you simply find the whole process bizarre and complex, while you think that the we should look for simple and elegant explanations

    No, honestly I don’t think that. I am a Christian, but you needn’t be one to observe the flaws in a theory. Theories should stand or fall on their own merit. If something is unworkable, no alternate idea is necessary to notice that. You can abandon a ship on fire without another one to swim to.

  87. 87
    Ingdigo Jump

    No, I concluded that Hawks recognized the problem, but halted his analysis before it insulted the paradigm. On the surface it looks implausible, but in depth it only gets worse. There is a long list of factors that accumulate into enormous odds against the idea of rare cooperative mutations producing even one complex biological specialty. But it isn’t just one. It is every single one.

    Keep those stretches up and you’re sure to take home the gold this year!

  88. 88
    Ingdigo Jump

    No, honestly I don’t think that. I am a Christian, but you needn’t be one to observe the flaws in a theory

    O RLY!?

  89. 89
    Koshka

    txpiper from #53 quoted

    “If we consider all the mutations that led to these pivotal points in our evolution, human origins begin to look like a trail of unfeasible coincidences. But that is only because we do not see the harmful mutations that were weeded out, points out John Hawks at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.“What we’re left with is the ones that were advantageous.” It is only from today’s viewpoint that the mutations that give us our current physical form appear to be the “right” ones to have. “It’s hindsight,” says Hawks. “When we look back at the whole process, it looks like a stunning series of accidents.”

    I have bolded the parts that txpiper appears unwilling to understand.

    Or you could simply quote mine as follows;

    …human origins begin to look like a trail of unfeasible coincidences… the mutations that give us our current physical form appear to be the “right” ones to have…it looks like a stunning series of accidents

    I don’t believe you are illiterate so I am beginning to come around to Nerd’s conclusion that you are a liar and bullshitter.

  90. 90
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    I wonder if txpiper knows this:

    PZ Myers is a biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris.

    txpiper:

    I am by no means an expert, but I do recognize that there are constraints involved.

    I think a biologist might know a thing or two about evolution. Perhaps you should sit down, STFU and listen to people who know quite a bit more than you.

  91. 91
    vaiyt

    “Theories should stand or fall on their own merit.”

    And what’s the merit of your theory, txpiper? What does it explain? What does it predict? How does it match up with other lines of knowledge?

    Evolution is going pretty well on all three accounts.

  92. 92
    Koshka

    You can abandon a ship on fire without another one to swim to.

    If I am on a ship and see smoke I will check to see that it is not just the smoke coming from the engine before I jump overboard into the icy water.

    /furthering stupid analogy

  93. 93
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    txpiper:

    Regardless of what dates are used, there is a limited amount of time for astonishingly complex things to develop by way of “a stunning series of accidents”.

    hundreds of millions of years is a *limited amount of time*?
    Oh, wait, creationist timeline. Forgot the stupid 6000 yr thing.
    I just don’t understand why creationists attempt to refute things they know *nothing* about.

  94. 94
    txpiper

    “Keep those stretches up and you’re sure to take home the gold this year!

    If you are up to it, I will present the obstacles to you and just you, one at a time. And I will let you and just you, explain why they are not a problem, one at a time.

  95. 95
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    txpiper wrote:

    Theories should stand or fall on their own merit.

    A pity you haven’t applied the same standard to Christianity.

  96. 96
    FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!)

    There is a very profound reason why it isn’t currently possible to calculate a figure for the cooincidental regulatory regions. These had to develop by another, parallel series of stunning accidents, only much more complicated. The control mechanisms are what enable 23,000 genes to code for 3 or 4 times that many proteins.

    Annnnnd, once again the argument from incredulity Though to be fair this time it’s an implied argument running thusly: “Gee, this whole gene thing is really, really, like, totally complicated, I just don’t understand it. God must exist.”

  97. 97
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    txpiper:

    No, honestly I don’t think that. I am a Christian, but you needn’t be one to observe the flaws in a theory.

    Very true.
    You need to be someone who has actually *studied* the theory in question.
    Since you act like you know what you’re talking about, please give us your credentials.
    No, reading Cliff’s Notes on evolution from the Discovery Institute doesn’t qualify you.
    ______________
    I must say, it’s quite nice having to look up teleonomy. I actually learned something.

    :::looks around the room at someone who could stand to learn a few thousand things before running off at the mouth:::

  98. 98
    Snoof

    If you are up to it, I will present the obstacles to you and just you, one at a time. And I will let you and just you, explain why they are not a problem, one at a time.

    This should be entertaining. A few things to keep in mind:

    * If you’re going to talk about probability, you’d better show your working as to how said probabilities are calculated. Pulling numbers from thin air does not pass muster.

    * Just because you find something difficult or impossible to imagine doesn’t mean everyone else does.

    * Make sure you’re addressing the actual theory of evolution, not the lazy caricature that creationists typically address.

    * “Evolution has undesirable consequences, therefore evolution is untrue” is a non sequitur.

    * Make sure you’re actually addressing the theory of evolution. The theory of evolution does _not_ encompass cosmology, astrophysics, geology or abiogenesis.

    Have fun!

  99. 99
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    txpiper:

    If you are up to it, I will present the obstacles to you and just you, one at a time. And I will let you and just you, explain why they are not a problem, one at a time.

    Great Caesar’s Ghost!
    Where do you find these creobot things PZ?

  100. 100
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Wowbagger:

    txpiper wrote:
    Theories should stand or fall on their own merit.
    A pity you haven’t applied the same standard to Christianity.

    Ouch. That was sharp!

  101. 101
    echidna

    Txpiper,

    Your incredulity seems to stem from the mistaken idea that evolution is no more structured than random chance, and I’m not sure that you understand probability all that well, either.
    I’ll also assume that you’ve never bred dogs, or birds, or similar, or else you would have a better idea of just how quickly change can occur.

    But I will assume that you do know that just by the breeder/farmer selecting which animals or plants to breed from, that it is possible to change the characteristics of a breed very, very quickly, such as the Russian experiment on silver foxes, which over 50 years yielded some amazing changes. Change can happen quite quickly, just by selection in a controlled breeding program.

    Now imagine that there is no person selecting which animals or plants will breed, but selection occurs nonetheless by the operation of adverse weather conditions, predators, injuries and disease, availability of food, competition and so on. This is the big idea that Darwin had, that nature alone is sufficient to explain the variation that we see.

    Chance mutations, even if rare, that confer speed, immunity, tolerance to cold or heat, tolerance to various toxins will provide a survival advantage that is more likely to persist than chance mutations that are harmful.

    There has been lots of work done since and there is not a single piece of data that speaks against evolution. We do, however, know an awful lot more now than Darwin ever dreamed of.

  102. 102
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    Tony… therefore God wrote:

    Ouch. That was sharp!

    I don’t post very often (these days); when I do I like to make it count…

  103. 103
    echidna

    Koshka@89,

    txpiper’s quotemining is pretty blatant evidence of dishonesty. Since txpiper had to lie like that to support his position, then he/she doesn’t really believe what he is saying.

  104. 104
    anteprepro

    txpiper: Okay, I know that you aren’t actually honest and have shown virtually no capacity for grasping evolution or addressing people who discuss evolution with any degree of (the creationist equivalent to) intelligence. But I just love providing a troll with an opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot more thoroughly, more deeply. It’s how I entertain myself.

    Here is the big, important passage you cited again:

    “If we consider all the mutations that led to these pivotal points in our evolution, human origins begin to look like a trail of unfeasible coincidences. But that is only because we do not see the harmful mutations that were weeded out, points out John Hawks at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “What we’re left with is the ones that were advantageous.” It is only from today’s viewpoint that the mutations that give us our current physical form appear to be the “right” ones to have. “It’s hindsight,” says Hawks. “When we look back at the whole process, it looks like a stunning series of accidents.”

    You read this paragraph as saying “coincidence! hindsight! accident!” and start groping yourself in pleasure. The way that people who can actually read might actually be able to understand that it isn’t damning to evolution at all.

    The first sentence says that evolution might look like a series of coincidences, with the second sentence explaining why it looks that way, CLEARLY IMPLYING THAT IT ISN’T ACTUALLY THAT WAY. The last three sentences serve to illustrate this same point: It only looks like coincidence in hindsight, but it really is just “accidents”.

    So, here comes the key point that I am sure you fail to understand (otherwise it would be more obvious that Hawks is CLEARLY CLAIMING THAT THESE AREN’T MAGICAL COINCIDENCES). You are a creationist and are thus heavily invested in not actually understanding what evolution is and how it works, so it is no surprise that you don’t grasp it, and will probably continue to fail to grasp it. That point is: Natural fucking selection. Negative mutations lead to worse survival and reproduction, positive mutations lead to better survival and reproduction. The accumulation of positive mutations and comparative lack of negative mutations seems remarkable, a miracle, a mark of supreme good fortune. But it is in fact a matter of necessity.

    The whole of that paragraph explains this. But because you were distracted by the possibility that someone might be attacking evolution, you couldn’t be arsed to read for comprehension. You were too busy drooling to the sound of hallucinated dog whistles.

    Hawks is not questioning the paradigm or any such bullshit. He is describing, uncontroversially, the facts of evolution as described in any modern-day biology course. You are just too ignorant and incompetent to realize that. So incompetent, in fact, that you need to salvage your argument by using a convoluted conspiracy theory, suggesting that Hawks is indeed challenging evolution but covering his ass so that his statements are indistinguishable from NOT challenging evolution. Ridiculous. Absurd. You should be embarrassed. If only it were possible for creationists to be ashamed of idiocy.

  105. 105
    John Morales

    anteprepro, so intellectually dishonest is it, that it disdains even theistic evolution.

    (God-STILL-diddit, but that the evolutionary process is real is admitted)

  106. 106
    Anri

    No, I concluded that Hawks recognized the problem, but halted his analysis before it insulted the paradigm. On the surface it looks implausible, but in depth it only gets worse. There is a long list of factors that accumulate into enormous odds against the idea of rare cooperative mutations producing even one complex biological specialty. But it isn’t just one. It is every single one.

    And – wow! – you, self-admittedly having no expertise in the field have somehow, through the reading of popular literature, managed to singlehandedly overturn the basis for almost all actual advancement in biology in the last 100 years… which every single biologist has managed to utterly and completely miss! That’s amazing, and were I you, I would apply for my Nobel at once, as clearly you are vastly smarter and more perceptive than the entire field of experts in biology!

    Either that… or you don’t understand fully what’s going on and have made a fairly common mistake.

    Speaking of probability, which of the two possibilities listed above do you find more likely?

  107. 107
    FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!)

    Either that… or you don’t understand fully what’s going on and have made a fairly common mistake.

    Speaking of probability, which of the two possibilities listed above do you find more likely?

    Very nice. Won’t convince txpiper of course but it’ll give lurkers something to consider.

    Just for my own amusement I’ve dropped a prediction of txpipers response to this in another thread. Assuming of course xe responds which is a big ask considering xe’s prior record of dodging difficult questions.

  108. 108
    ibyea

    Heh, funnily enough, by coincidence, it looks as if The God Delusion caused a temporary downward swing in Creationism.

  109. 109
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    The only positive I can take away from the graph is the slow and steady course one would expect empirical evidence to have on a navel-gazing, credulous populace that’s spent centuries insulating itself from reality. The little retrogression at the end could not be attributed to anything other than the realization from the god-botherers that skepticism was making headway, so they’ve doubled down on the liars for Jebus tactics, having a quasi-credulous supreme court allow for prayer groups in public schools, Texas textbooks spreading their ignorance, utterly chickenshit politicians knuckling under to the squeaky wheels of TeaBaggers and making up asinine laws against women, gays, and even fucking global warming tides.

    If anything can be taken from this, it’s that PZ and Richard aren’t being mean enough, because it’s obvious that the noise affects the population more than the ability to cite reality and reason. Oh, John Q. Public, are you really that fucking stupid?

  110. 110
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    No, honestly I don’t think that. I am a Christian, but you needn’t be one to observe the flaws in a theory. Theories should stand or fall on their own merit.

    And what part of a million scientific papers supporting a theory means it has a lot of simplistic flaws? You are the one who doesn’t understand what you are doing, not the scientists. You won’t publish your fuckwittery in the scientific literature, which tells us all we need to know about your lack of honesty and integrity. All you do is carp on blogs. Loser writ large over such behavior.

  111. 111
    mikmik

    Koshka
    12 June 2012 at 10:08 pm

    We are Ing,

    I was asked once to select lotto numbers for someone. I suggested 1,2,3,4,5,6.

    Their response? “There is no chance those numbers will come up!”

    They didn’t ask me again.

    I used to play those numbers all the time, but then I realized that I would share the pot with about 50 other people, probably high school kids that had just learned probability.

    I first remember in the book ‘How we Know What Isn’t So’ the analogy of a NBA player hitting 8 from the floor in a row, and the announcers remarking that he was really ‘on’ tonight. Gilovic points out that the player was about 50% over all, and that if you flip a coin enough times, around a few hundred or less I think, you would get series of 8 H or T happening(on average – maybe never, who knows!) in a row, and therefore, in a season, a player that shot 50% would do this occasionally as a matter of chance, not skill.

  112. 112
    mikmik

    txpiper says:


    12 June 2012 at 10:49 pm

    “it’s already been pointed out that your reading comprehension is so far from reality that you conclude the opposite of what little you quoted means”
    No, I concluded that Hawks recognized the problem, but halted his analysis before it insulted the paradigm. On the surface it looks implausible, but in depth it only gets worse. There is a long list of factors that accumulate into enormous odds against the idea of rare cooperative mutations producing even one complex biological specialty. But it isn’t just one. It is every single one.

    LMAO! On the surface, it looks plausible, but in depth, it only makes more and more sense, and the more numbers and graphs and research into the actual occurrence rates of various good or bad mutations, the more it predicts, or accounts for, the rate of change leading to speciation.

    As has been said ad nauseum already to you, and I imagine this thread is far from the first time the mechanics of mutation has been explained, you provide one paragraph out of hundreds of thousands, which you misinterpret, as has been already pointed out, and you rest your fucking entire argument on that one mis-comprehension!

    You are so very lame, no one that even slightly understands science can possibly take you seriously. No one with a shred of common sense pays attention to the crank that obviously hasn’t considered the enormity of the facts in opposition. You are very feeble, and I don’t like to say this about very many people, but it seems to me you are unwilling to change your perception of matters whatsoever, and are becoming troll like.

  113. 113
    mikmik

    txpiper:

    If you are up to it, I will present the obstacles to you and just you, one at a time. And I will let you and just you, explain why they are not a problem, one at a time.

    If you are up to it? We’re all more than up to it, we’re all already doing it!

    And what’s this ‘just you’ bullshit? That’s not science whatsoever. You are mistaking one to one debate as a form of credible research, FFS, and that is yet another ‘tell’ of ignorance and pseudo-science. They all want to debate. What you ******’s don’t do is actually discover your own evidence and present it to be analyzed, you only play the game of attacking to try to assume the position of power and attempt to get us on the defensive.

    It is a cheap, transparent game. If you are such a chicken shite that you can only talk to one person to increase the, very small, possibility that you can weasel something by, fuck off from here, because we all subject our arguments to anyone and everyone.

    You see, we like as much light on our ideas and observations as possible; that’s the only honest method to truth, ya fucking weasel.

  114. 114
    brianbowman

    The last line, Made “up explanations that defy the evidence”– should be Made “up explanations that deify the evidence”

  115. 115
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Brian, take a bow, man!

  116. 116
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Txpip seems to think showing unscientifically derived flaws (i.e. his OPINION) will negate the science of evolution. It won’t even touch it txpip. In order to refute science, you must do more science and publish it in the peer reviewed scientific literature. I have linked manuscript submission information to you several times for Science and Nature, and you claim ignorance or some other excuse (more like chicken shit) every time. Ergo, you have no evidence.

    Txpip is a typical creobot. It believes without evidence in its imaginary deity/creator. It believes its creator went *POOF* and all life started out perfect as now. All mutations are bad. Evolution has to be an all or nothing situation (rolling the present genetic code from scratch), rather a gradual affair like Dawkins’ Methinks it is a weasel program (after all, all mutations are bad). Natural selection doesn’t work, and don’t bother it with the facts. And, of course, it believes without evidence that quotemining an article destroys what the rest of the article says, which is usually the opposite of the quotemine. Never mind the article remains intact.

    In short, its head is inserted firmly up its ass, with the tenacity, ignorance, and arrogance of a liberturd. Point, laugh, and make fun of it.

  117. 117
    No One

    The irony is that txpipers incredulity is being addressed in the article it was reading. And it responds with incredulity.

    And back on topic for a moment… Robert Whites “truce” reminds me of Hitchens in that debate where he was so drunk he couldn’t sit up straight in his chair. During the Q&A one of the audience members asked “Why don’t you just keep your atheism to yourself”, or something to that effect, and sat there glaring at Hitch with a barely suppressed rage for the rest of the session. Apparently this man felt that some convention had been violated, much like telling children about Santa too early in their lives.

  118. 118
    No One

    And one more thing…

    Are there really such a thing as positive/negative, good/bad mutations? If a mutation doesn’t outright kill you or keep you from fucking, it stays. Future function might depend on environmental pressures.

  119. 119
    stanton

    If you are up to it, I will present the obstacles to you and just you, one at a time. And I will let you and just you, explain why they are not a problem, one at a time.

    You’ve kept saying this, txpiper, but, all you’ve done is present lies, present your own invincible incredulousness, and insult us and scientists and other experts as being stupid, evil idiots, mired in a conspiracy of peer pressure simply because we don’t blindly agree with your inane incredulousness.

  120. 120
    Snoof

    Are there really such a thing as positive/negative, good/bad mutations? If a mutation doesn’t outright kill you or keep you from fucking, it stays. Future function might depend on environmental pressures.

    Well, there are certainly mutations that will be selected against that don’t immediately kill the host or prevent it reproducing.

    If organism A typically has 1 successful offspring, and mutant strain B typically has 0.95 successful offspring, and there are no other differences, Bs will be much rarer than As over the long term. That’s the thing about populations – even a small difference in reproductive success will lead to the more productive strain to dominate the population, all other things being equal.

  121. 121
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    I’m a bit perplexed why religious people are so willing to become annoyingly and tediously picky about the 1% of things that have given evolutionary scientists puzzling moments, but they have the glaring hypocrisy not to dedicate the same attention to minutiae of detail in the ravings of long-dead, superstitious know-nothings. How about raking the fine-toothed comb through your own library before questioning others on the veracity of theirs?

  122. 122
    One Day Soon I Shall Invent A Funny Login

    How come nobody is talking about the right-hand end of that graph? That’s some significant move, which Wright addresses:

    Check out the extreme right of the graph above. Over the past two years, the portion of respondents who don’t believe in evolution has grown by six percentage points. Where did those people come from? The graph suggests they’re people who had previously believed in an evolution guided by God–a group whose size dropped by a corresponding six percentage points.

    Wright blames that shift on prodding by the militant atheists. Maybe, maybe not, but something in the past 12-18 months has made a significant number of people harden their positions. What?

  123. 123
    markr1957

    Since I’m not a biologist I make comments here with due caution, but as a math graduate I do vaguely understand statistics to some degree – certainly enough to take umbrage at the crass stupidity of the comments by txpeabrain.

    Start by trying to calculate the probability of YOU!!!!!!! The YOU that exist depends on the conjunction of one sperm out of an ‘average’ of 1.5 billion sperm cells per ejaculate, and the probability of any sex act resulting in conception (the conjunction of the egg with a viable sperm) is approximately 1 in 8. So just for YOU to exist the probability is 1 in 12,000,000,000. Any other sperm and it’s a different ‘YOU’.

    We’re not done yet though, because you need to take into account the probability of your parents existing, and their parents, and their parents, ad nauseum. Taking this over 500 generations (and allowing 20 years per generation as the babble seems to do, with 500 generations being the maximum possible number of generations in the 10,000 years since Creation Week) means the probability of YOU is vanishingly small, and way too small for my puny scientific calculator to find for me (in the order of 1 in 10^4000) – so according to the mooks who profess knowledge of probabilities in religion this means YOU DON’T EVEN FUCKING EXIST, so shut the fuck up until you actually understand the shit you spout!

    The problem with this kind of idiocy is that you clearly do exist or you wouldn’t be here spouting crap, so equally clearly no matter how improbable anything might APPEAR to be that alone does not mean it cannot and does not happen! The probability of ME is almost non-existent, but here I am attempting to teach math to a moron!

  124. 124
    No One

    Snoof: in response to my question. So a minute change can amplify through time. Unless I misunderstood.

    davidcortesi:

    As txpiper has pointed out it has become politicized. After all we have a “negro” in the White House, so the wagons have been circled and anything outside the perimeter that so much as twitches gets shot.

  125. 125
    vaiyt

    @txpiper:

    Your current trolling game sucks. Everyone here is well aware of all your tactics, and the only reason they entertain you is for the sake of occasional lurkers.

    Maybe you could step up your game and try to be banned, then you would have a great martyr card to add to your inventory.

  126. 126
    Area Man

    This is pretty sad. Robert Wright is normally an excellent writer who knows how to delve into an issue. It’s possible he has a point with respect to militant atheism, but he badly flubs the whole thing. Militant creationists predate the “new atheists” by decades at least. This is sort of like blaming WWII on those Russians at Stalingrad who dared to fire back.

  127. 127
    stanton

    I’m a bit perplexed why religious people are so willing to become annoyingly and tediously picky about the 1% of things that have given evolutionary scientists puzzling moments,

    They are searching for a magic bullet with which to kill Evolution(ary Biology)

    but they have the glaring hypocrisy not to dedicate the same attention to minutiae of detail in the ravings of long-dead, superstitious know-nothings.

    That’s because they’re not interested in soul-searching: they’re interested in searching for an imaginary magic bullet in a 150 year old haystack that’s waiting to devour them alive before vomiting them into the trashcan.

    How about raking the fine-toothed comb through your own library before questioning others on the veracity of theirs?

    Pearls before swine.

  128. 128
    Area Man

    How come nobody is talking about the right-hand end of that graph? That’s some significant move, which Wright addresses:… Wright blames that shift on prodding by the militant atheists. Maybe, maybe not, but something in the past 12-18 months has made a significant number of people harden their positions. What?

    I really doubt that “militant atheists” are responsible for that change. Let’s face it, outside of the atheist subculture and certain religious conservatives who hate it, not many people pay attention to Dawkins and the like. Moreover, the shift is not from religious to non-religious, it’s a shift within the demographic that believes in God. That seems like an odd way to react to uppity atheists.

    My hypotheses for what they’re worth:

    1. It’s a statistical outlier.

    2. It’s a reaction among more conservative believers to gay marriage and the Obama presidency; basically a hyped-up tribal signifier.

    3. The people at Gallup are having a hard time adjusting their polling model to the recent inclusion of cell phones.

    Interestingly, there was a recent unexplained spike in Gallup’s tracking polls of people calling themselves pro-life and in people opposed to gay marriage. That would seem to weigh in favor of #2 or #3.

  129. 129
    Area Man

    “3. The people at Gallup are having a hard time adjusting their polling model to the recent inclusion of cell phones.”

    Okay, I did some checking, and their methodology did indeed change between Dec. 2010 (the last survey before the present) and today.

    In 2010:

    Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone-only). Each sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone-only respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. …

    Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, education, region, and phone lines.

    In 2011:

    Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. …

    Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number).

    Some pretty massive differences here. The most obvious are that they added Spanish speakers, weighted for Hispanic ethnicity, and massively increased their cell phone quota.

    Being polling experts, you’d think the people at Gallup would take the necessary steps to ensure that their new methodology was comparable to their old one, but we’re only taking about a few percent here, so it’s quite possible that methodological differences are to blame.

  130. 130
    Anri

    txpiper:

    If you are up to it, I will present the obstacles to you and just you, one at a time. And I will let you and just you, explain why they are not a problem, one at a time.

    We’re waiting…

    …but you weren’t being honest, were you?

  131. 131
    myeck waters

    We’re waiting…

    …but you weren’t being honest, were you?

    Hey, they’re a creationists talking about evolution – of course they’re not being honest.

  132. 132
    unclefrogy

    this is a good example of other areas where the religious think anything is true if they say it. It is not even ancient history but recent history that they feel free to distort and use in their arguments for belief.
    It is bible thinking, parable and metaphor meant to point to believed “truth” with complete disregard to actual objective reality in this case recent history.
    it is so pathetic and would be pitied if was not such a f’n dangerous way to think it so easily leads to many profound mistakes in judgment

    uncle frogy

  133. 133
    ChristineRose

    I ain’t no statistical expert, but I know enough to be dangerous, so I ran a MANOVA on the data. I had to guesstimate the years. This is what I found: the Creationists and God-guidests are varying randomly, but the Evolutionists are increasing.

    I’d say “Yay!” except that the only way all three of these things could be true would be that if the undecideds are turning into evolutionists, and that doesn’t seem to show up in the graph either. So maybe the undecideds are switching back and forth fast enough to obscure actual drops in the theistic beliefs.

    The next to the last Creationism number–the 40%–is unusually low; the 2012 number is not unusually high. Dropping the 2012 number which may have used a different methodology does not result in meaningful differences in the results.

    So maybe something happened in 2011 that caused creationists to drop and that something has been undone or maybe the whole thing is just noise, but there isn’t really support for the notion that creationist numbers were dropping until 2011 and suddenly jumped back for 2012.

  134. 134
    Richard Smith

    @anteprepro (#104):

    That point is: Natural fucking selection.

    Then again, it’s probably not all strictly sexual selection…

  135. 135
    Die Anyway

    If you consider the 2011 numbers as the outliers/anomaly then the 2012 numbers don’t seem so odd at all. 14 points apart. There are historic times with separation of 10 and 12 points. There are no historic times with just 2 points of separation as in 2011. Area Man’s points 1 – 3 still apply. I doubt that the separation jumped as much as the graph indicates but if their methodology is at all accurate, the “God did it all” group has increased slightly. Obviously it’s at the expense of the “God maybe sort of did it” group… the fence sitters. I’m inclined toward Area Man’s point 2. It’s a TeaParty phenomonon, a circle-the-wagons mentality. It would not surprise me then, if PZ, Dawkins, Hitchins, and a few other science popularizers and atheism proponents had a bit of a hand in it. The general religious population may not recognize those names but their leaders do and will have heightened their rhetoric because of them. Bring out the cyber pistol and they come back with the cannon (canon?).

  136. 136
    alwayscurious

    It appears that txpiper reads/responds ~9:45-11:30pm, blog time. So until that time has come & past, I think it’s early to say txpiper isn’t returning. If he has anything to bring, I’m betting his list of evidence is shorter than the discovery institute’s list of publications “supporting” ID. What, no one here betting against me?

  137. 137
    stanton

    It appears that txpiper reads/responds ~9:45-11:30pm, blog time. So until that time has come & past, I think it’s early to say txpiper isn’t returning. If he has anything to bring, I’m betting his list of evidence is shorter than the discovery institute’s list of publications “supporting” ID. What, no one here betting against me?

    txpiper always comes back, if not this thread, then another, instead.

    And he never brings any evidence that isn’t his own mystical, science-trumping authority shrouded in fake humility, his own hypocritical hyper-incredulity, or insults about how we’re all evil idiots mired in a conspiracy of peer pressure for not agreeing with him in his claim that evolution is an impossible fairytale because he’s too lazy to understand it.

  138. 138
    Amphiox

    Hey, the fact that the texpip has actually managed to muster up the courage to post of FtB, rather than haunt the ghost threads of the old Sciblogs site where only a few bother to go and expose its various stupidities and dishonesties, counts as some sort of progress.

    Of sorts.

  139. 139
    Amphiox

    If you are up to it, I will present the obstacles to you and just you, one at a time. And I will let you and just you, explain why they are not a problem, one at a time.

    Broken record rerun #1732 and counting…..

    Intellectually dishonesty, spiralling, all the way down.

  140. 140
    Amphiox

    On the surface it looks implausible, but in depth it only gets worse. There is a long list of factors that accumulate into enormous odds against the idea of rare cooperative mutations producing even one complex biological specialty. But it isn’t just one. It is every single one.

    E pur si MUTATES.
    E pur si COOPERATES.
    E pur si PRODUCES.
    E pur si SELECTS.

    E PUR SI EVOLVES.

  141. 141
    stanton
    On the surface it looks implausible, but in depth it only gets worse. There is a long list of factors that accumulate into enormous odds against the idea of rare cooperative mutations producing even one complex biological specialty. But it isn’t just one. It is every single one.

    E pur si MUTATES.
    E pur si COOPERATES.
    E pur si PRODUCES.
    E pur si SELECTS.

    E PUR SI EVOLVES.

    One wonders what kind of moronic excuse txpiper would give to explain antibiotic resistance in bacteria, or new breeds of dogs, goldfish and orchids?

    Demons?

    Or maybe evil evolutionists with magic rayguns zapping bacteria and domesticated organisms just so they can perpetuate the allegedly impossible lie of evolution?

  142. 142
    txpiper

    Markr1957,

    “The YOU that exist depends on the conjunction of one sperm out of an ‘average’ of 1.5 billion sperm cells per ejaculate”

    Yeah, I was going to mention that (more like 300,000), along with one out of perhaps a few hundred thousand eggs. That is one of the problems with the mutations idea. The article I referenced is about very impressive human traits, each of which supposedly developed by way of rare, incremental mutations. Not every candidate germ cell is going to be a rare mutant. As to how rare they are, you can use any reasonable number that pleases you. But even if it is one per thousand, the chances of the mutant being involved in reproduction are pitifully low. I’m sure that you, as a math graduate, understand this.

  143. 143
    Snoof

    Not every candidate germ cell is going to be a rare mutant. As to how rare they are, you can use any reasonable number that pleases you. But even if it is one per thousand, the chances of the mutant being involved in reproduction are pitifully low.

    One per thousand? The mutation rate in humans is a fair bit higher than that.

    More importantly, just because something is improbable does not make it impossible.

    Consider this: The probability of drawing a royal flush in poker is about 0.000154%. Pretty low, right? If there’s two million hands dealt each year (which is a huge underestimate) that means you can expect around three royal flushes _each year_. A low probability event with a huge number of chances means they _do_ come up.

  144. 144
    Owlmirror

    Not every candidate germ cell is going to be a rare mutant.

    Every germ cell is indeed going to be a rare mutant. Mutations are rare, but they occur in every single gamete.

    You are a mutant, and so is everyone else.

    But even if it is one per thousand, the chances of the mutant being involved in reproduction are pitifully low.

    The probability of a mutant being involved in reproduction is 1, or certainty.

    Otherwise, everyone would be a clone. Hint for stupid people: This is not the case.

  145. 145
    vaiyt

    The low probabilities for mutations are for individual loci. Since the entire genome has a whole fucking lot of loci, the overall probability of mutation IN THE ORGANISM is high. So high, in fact, that each new organism is expected to have several new mutations.

  146. 146
    Amphiox

    On average, every single human germ cell has about 100 new mutations. This is a fact long demonstrated by genetic sequencing studies comparing parents and children.

    Of course the texpip already knows this, because it has already brought this up (more than once) on the old Sciblogs site), and it has already been told this, with citations.

    Feel free to cycle on to the next already-discredited lie in your pitiful database of dishonest arguments, texpip.

    Intellectual dishonesty all the way down.

    E PUR SI MUTATES.
    E PUR SI SELECTS.

    E PUR SI EVOLVES.

  147. 147
    txpiper

    Snoof,

    “One per thousand? The mutation rate in humans is a fair bit higher than that.”

    Well, the article you linked to says “They calculated that there are 100-200 new DNA mutations (single base changes in our DNA sequence that are different from the sequence inherited from our parents) from generation to generation.”

    So we can use your number, 200 errors per 3 billion bases.

    But don’t lose sight of the fact that the mutation rate that they are talking about has nothing whatever to do with fortuitous replication errors building new biological features, as the article goes on to notice:

    “The findings and method developed by the researchers furthers our understanding of mutation rates and could help us test ways to help reduce mutations. Mutation is the source of genetic variation, which can lead to diseases such as cancer. They also provide a ‘molecular clock’ for measuring evolutionary timescales.

    “New mutations are responsible for an array of genetic diseases,” said Dr Chris Tyler-Smith of the Sanger Institute and the study’s coordinator.”

    Diseases isn’t the object of the game.

  148. 148
    vaiyt

    “But don’t lose sight of the fact that the mutation rate that they are talking about has nothing whatever to do with fortuitous replication errors building new biological features,”

    It has EVERYTHING to do with that, you fucking liar. Mutations are mutations, whether they cause cancer or make your reproductive cells swim faster.

  149. 149
    Amphiox

    But don’t lose sight of the fact that the mutation rate that they are talking about has nothing whatever to do with fortuitous replication errors building new biological features, as the article goes on to notice

    As the article DOESN’T go on to notice, since the dishonestly quote-mined following quote doesn’t say what the texpip is trying, in its usual lying way, to imply it says.

    Intellectual dishonesty ALL the way down.

    E PUR SI MUTATES.
    E PUR SI SELECTS.

    E PUR SI EVOLVES.

  150. 150
    txpiper

    “It has EVERYTHING to do with that…Mutations are mutations, whether they cause cancer or make your reproductive cells swim faster”

    This is what you have been told, and this is what you believe. The reality is that fast-swimming ‘reproductive cells’, if they show up, will show up…screwed up. And that is no lie. Search “mutations” and you are not going to find success stories. You’re going to find disease, not happy mutants.

  151. 151
    Amphiox

    the chances of the mutant being involved in reproduction are pitifully low

    So low that evolutionary theory predicts that large scale evolutionary change will require tens of thousands if not millions of years to occur.

    Exactly as the fossil record shows it does!

    Thank you, texpip, for conceding, yet again, the entire argument.

    And thank you, texpip, for, yet again, demonstrating simultaneously the accuracy and usefulness of evolutionary theory, and the utter intellectual bankruptcy and fundamental dishonesty of creationism and design.

  152. 152
    Amphiox

    Search “mutations” and you are not going to find success stories. You’re going to find disease, not happy mutants.

    Predictable as clockwork the texpip cycles on to the next dishonest, already-debunked argument in its database.

    It was positively buried in an avalanche of citations for beneficial mutations multiple times back over at Sciblogs. It has ignored every single one and shamelessly repeats the above lie.

    Intellectual DISHONESTY all the way down.

    E PUR SI MUTATES.
    E PUR SI BENEFITS.
    E PUR SI SELECTS.

    E PUR SI EVOLVES.

  153. 153
    Amphiox

    The reality is that fast-swimming ‘reproductive cells’, if they show up, will show up…

    The reality is that the texpip, if it shows up, when it shows up, LIES.

    There is an open stall in TZT for you, texpip.

  154. 154
    txpiper

    This is another quote from the NewScientist articles that shows inordinate expectations:

    “Humans have wimpy jaw muscles by comparison. This could be down to a single mutation in a gene called MYH16, which encodes a muscle protein. The mutation inactivates the gene, causing our jaw muscles to be made from a different version of the protein. They are consequently much smaller.

    This finding, which came in 2004, caused a stir when the researchers argued that smaller jaw muscles could have allowed the growth of a bigger skull (Nature, vol 428, p 415). Primates with big jaw muscles have thickened supporting bone at the back of their skull, which arguably constrains skull expansion, and therefore that of the brain too. “We are suggesting this mutation is the cause of the decrease in muscle mass and hence the decrease in bone,” says Hansell Stedman, a muscle researcher at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who led the work. “Only then do you lift the evolutionary constraint that precludes other mutations that allow your brain to continue growing.” “

    In other words, DNA replication errors provided a bigger brain after other DNA replication failures reduced jaw muscle size which opened the way for a bigger brain case, the inevitable result of more cooincidental mutations.

    If this kind of stuff makes statistical sense to you, I don’t know what to say. I’ll stick with incredulity.

  155. 155
    microraptor

    Human ancestors ate hard to chew food and needed big jaw muscles that had heavy attachment points in the back of the skull.

    Human ancestors stopped being as dependent on heavy foods and started eating softer foods that didn’t require as much effort to chew.

    Human ancestors had a mutation that caused them to have smaller, weaker jaw muscles. However, because they weren’t dependent on the ability to chew heavy, tough plant fibers like gorillas do, this did not adversely affect them very much.

    Smaller jaw muscles required smaller attachment sites on the skull. Smaller attachment sites enabled the skull to expand, providing more room for the brain, and thus, except in certain, obvious cases, enabling humans to have a large brain.

  156. 156
    John Morales

    [meta]

    txpiper’s misunderstanding of pop science is notable.

    As far as that goes: Humans Have a Mighty Bite, New Research Shows

  157. 157
    txpiper

    microraptor,

    “Smaller jaw muscles required smaller attachment sites on the skull. Smaller attachment sites enabled the skull to expand, providing more room for the brain, and thus, except in certain, obvious cases, enabling humans to have a large brain.”

    Don’t try to pass ‘enabling’ off as gaining something. You don’t get a long, tedious, protein-altering sequence of DNA replication errors just because the skull expanded. The process is unguided, which means that mistakes that result in accomodations are meaningless.

    We are very early in the mutations game, and already you are miles away from statistical realities, not to mention emperical evidence. You are already only excusing your theory, not supporting it.

  158. 158
    txpiper

    empirical

  159. 159
    John Morales

    txpiper:

    empirical

    Geez you’re slow!

    Once again:

    As far as that goes: Humans Have a Mighty Bite, New Research Shows

    You are already only excusing your theory, not supporting it.

    Ain’t microraptor that’s cherry-picking and misrepresenting stuff, but sure, go accuse others of what you do.

    (Who with any familiarity with this specimen would expect better?)

  160. 160
    Snoof

    But don’t lose sight of the fact that the mutation rate that they are talking about has nothing whatever to do with fortuitous replication errors building new biological features…

    Neither were you, at first. You didn’t say _anything_ about that, just that the mutation rate was “low”. Your attempt at moving the goalposts is noted.

    Search “mutations” and you are not going to find success stories. You’re going to find disease, not happy mutants.

    I’m sorry, did you just argue “some mutations are deleterious, therefore all mutations are deleterious”? Because if so, you’re either ignorant or lying. Lactase persistence in humans and nylonase production in Flavobacterium are both known adaptive mutations. Anyone else in the thread care to list a few? Plus, we just established 100-200 mutations _per generation_, so most mutations are going to be neither adaptive nor maladaptive, but neutral.

    Don’t try to pass ‘enabling’ off as gaining something.

    I agree, actually. Evolution doesn’t “look forward” like that. On the other hand, a mutation with no deleterious effects can and will go to fixation in a population. Once it’s _gone_ to fixation, then further variation which takes advantage of the existing structures can most certainly be selected for.

    Or there’s the resource allocation argument: Smaller jaw muscles require less bodily resources to produce and maintain. In a situation where nutrient supplies are limited, this is an _advantage_.

  161. 161
    Anri

    txpiper:

    Ok, so, just so we know we’re making progress, you’ve figured out you were utterly and completely wrong in your assumptions as to the likelihood of any given egg/sperm combo having mutations, yes?
    I ask because you started off by saying that the chances of any given human fertilized egg being a mutant were extremely low. People who knew what they were talking about came in and corrected your error.

    I bolded that bit just to remind you what has happened already once in this thread – you were wrong, and folks here demonstrated that you were. This is not a coincidence. This is occurring because you are less well informed than many of the folks here you are arguing with.

    Your incredulity is due to ignorance and misunderstanding.
    That’s fine – there’s nothing wrong with that – happens to (literally) everyone. What is your fault, however, is when you are corrected again and again in the same way, on the same topic, by the same people, and yet you refuse to believe that these people know more about that topic than you do.

    You’re doing the rhetorical equivalent of picking yourself up off of the mat after the fourth time you’ve been thrown while rushing the aikido sensei, once more saying “Well, yeah, but I’m still better than you!” Stupid people keep telling themselves it’s some sort of fluke they’re getting tossed around like a ragdoll, while smarter once finally say “Hunh, this guy apparently knows his shit.”

  162. 162
    Amphiox

    I’m sorry, did you just argue “some mutations are deleterious, therefore all mutations are deleterious”? Because if so, you’re either ignorant or lying.

    It is lying.

    It has used this exact same argument before, several times, back on sciblogs, and has been corrected before, oft times with multiple citations.

    So we know it is not ignorant.

    It just ignores all prior corrections and repeats its lies like some broken record.

    Intellectual DISHONESTY all the way down.

  163. 163
    Amphiox

    The process is unguided, which means that mistakes that result in accomodations are meaningless.

    E PUR SI MUTATES.
    E PUR SI ACCOMMODATIONS.
    E PUR SI SELECTS.

    E PUR SI EVOLVES

  164. 164
    Amphiox

    If this kind of stuff makes statistical sense to you, I don’t know what to say.

    You can say “yes, I accept the evidence that shows it makes statistical sense, and acknowledge that the theory of evolution is the best available explanation we currently have for the diversity of life on earth.”

    That would be the honest response.

    But you don’t do honesty, as well already well know.

  165. 165
    Amphiox

    Don’t try to pass ‘enabling’ off as gaining something.

    You are not entitled, arrogant pretentious liar, to tell other people what they can and cannot try, and what they should and should not accept as reasonable evidence.

    E PUR SI MUTATES.
    E PUR SI ENABLES.
    E PUR SI GAINS.
    E PUR SI SELECTS.

    E PUR SI EVOLVES.

  166. 166
    Amphiox

    In other words, DNA replication errors provided a bigger brain after other DNA replication failures reduced jaw muscle size which opened the way for a bigger brain case, the inevitable result of more cooincidental mutations.

    Exactly.

    Thank you for conceding the argument.

  167. 167
    Amphiox

    We are very early in the mutations game, and already you are miles away from statistical realities

    Yes, creator/design concepts are completely incompatible with statistical realities.

    Nor are they capable of any explanatory power whatsoever.

    WHY OH MIGHTY MAKER, WHY????

  168. 168
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    Someone pondered upthread about what could have been responsible for the change over the last 12-18 months. Even given the change in the way the polling is done, there’s probably a more obvious thing that has transpired over that time: the endless political campaigning.

    There’s a huge portion of the population that carries its political affiliation as an attachment to their religious whims. The bottom end of the IQ bell curve in the population is only marginally sharper than Forrest Gump, but that is a large enough number to fluctuate madly with a mood of the moment. Frustration with Obama is going to move the easily moved over to following GOP, and with all the religious whackery that those dabates have contained, the easily moved will also be easily swept along with the religious tide contained in the political one, at least in terms of a poll response.

  169. 169
    tkreacher

    Anri #161

    You’re doing the rhetorical equivalent of picking yourself up off of the mat after the fourth time you’ve been thrown while rushing the aikido sensei, once more saying “Well, yeah, but I’m still better than you!”

    I don’t think this is accurate. Hell, I’d even have a little respect for the underdog in this analogy.

    txpiper is more like a fighter who hasn’t touched his opponent, been thrown four times, beaten while down, suffered multiple major cuts, the ref calls the fight – who then wobbly stands up and proclaims himself the winner.

  170. 170
    tkreacher

    Dammit, a major point in my revision of the analogy was supposed to be him, bloodied and bruised, claiming that his opponents fighting style was ineffective before declaring himself the victor… but this stupid alcohol.

    :)

  171. 171
    John Morales

    [meta + OT]

    tkreacher, stupefying alcohol, not stupid alcohol.

    (Don’t go reifying it!)

  172. 172
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    Dont’ ask me what a ‘dabate’ is. It must have something to do with one proofreading better before hitting the submit button.

  173. 173
    vaiyt

    In other words, DNA replication errors provided a bigger brain

    Along with many other things, but the bigger brain was enough of an advantage that it spread…

    after other DNA replication failures reduced jaw muscle size which opened the way for a bigger brain case

    Of course. You couldn’t have the bigger brain without the bigger brain case, for example, or it wouldn’t be an advantage. Our brains-too-big-for-their-head monkey ancestors died out before they could make a significant impact on our phenotypes.

    the inevitable result of more cooincidental mutations.

    PLUS selection mechanisms. Which you deliberately omit because you’re a liar.

  174. 174
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    txpiper:

    We are very early in the mutations game, and already you are miles away from statistical realities, not to mention emperical evidence. You are already only excusing your theory, not supporting it.

    And you are a long way from explaining your idea. You know,the one the involves your unevidenced and imaginary deity/creator/designer, which until your provide conclusive physical evidence for, will remain imaginary. And it will, because it doesn’t exist. You can’t prove your imaginary deity by trashing evolution. You have to provide direct evidence. And we are waiting for you to present any evidence whatsoever….

    Dishonesty, all the way down and forever, nothing but lies and bullshit, repeated ad nauseum, and ad stooopidium…

  175. 175
    Nightjar

    Lactase persistence in humans and nylonase production in Flavobacterium are both known adaptive mutations. Anyone else in the thread care to list a few?

    I wouldn’t bother, unless it’s just for the lurkers. Like Amphiox said, he was buried in examples back over at Sb Pharyngula, complete with links to the primary literature and everything. IIRC, “pathetically short list” and “not complex enough” was all he could come up with in response. It’s txpiper. No list will ever be long enough for him. No example of a newly evolved feature will ever meet his criteria of complexity/novelty (and if it’s too hard to simply shrug off that way, it will most likely be ignored). He’s simply not interested.

  176. 176
    Snoof

    No example of a newly evolved feature will ever meet his criteria of complexity/novelty (and if it’s too hard to simply shrug off that way, it will most likely be ignored).

    Oh. He’s _that_ txpiper.

    I take back my “ignorant” comment, then.

  177. 177
    Richard Smith

    I’ve heard tell that Darwin, in his early studies of pigeons, discovered a hereditary trait in the frequency of the birds’ calls, passed down through the generations. I’m sure, however, that txpiper would only dismiss this as “cooincidence.”

  178. 178
    Amphiox

    Point of fact, the actual replication “error” (two separate duplication “errors” of the same gene) likely directly responsible for the enlarged brain, has recently been identified. The link, too, was given to the texpip back at Sciblogs, during a period when it was cycling through the “duplications are impossible” part of its circular database. Naturally there has been only a profound silence in response.

  179. 179
    Amphiox

    The texpip demands the step by step list of ALL the mutations that produce the feature, EVERY sequenced change, an EXACT description of ALL the selective pressures, in temporal sequence, with magnitudes and durations, and the fossils of each individual mutant in the whole chain.

    And if it is given that, it will doubtless ask for a description with video if the exact Brownian motion jiggle of the DNA polymerase that produced the exact mutation.

    When asked in return for an equally detailed description of how creationism/design explains the mechanism for the production of a feature, it responds with crickets.

  180. 180
    Jerry

    Getting back to the original article, there is a good comment on Wright’s Atlantic article (see above link) by “joan38″, who said:
    “If you put the error bars on the graph of + or – 4% ( from the footnote of Gallup data), the new poll does not show anything except random variation around the mean.”

    From what little I remember of statistics, I think she’s right. Look at the last 2 points on the creationist line: 40+/-4 goes up to 44 and 46+/-4 goes down to 42, so these points with error bars overlap. Same goes for the god-guiding-evolution line, 32 vs. 38. They look like big differences, but cannot be reliably separated due to uncertainty. This does not mean the numbers are wrong, just that any polling has an inherent +/- built in.

    Another commenter noted that all three lines are (on average) pretty flat from the beginning to the end of the chart.

    I think the only way to tell if this bump from 2010 through 2012 is real or noise, is to wait until next year and see which way the polling numbers go. Anything else is speculation, as is guessing about the “causes”.

  181. 181
    vaiyt

    txpiper is playing the “oh, we just HAPPENED to have JUST the right mutations to become smarter, what an amazing coincidence!” dishonest game.

    There’s no coincidence, bub. AMONG the MANY mutations we got in the meantime, the ones that made us smarter happened to be beneficial. We don’t talk about the apes with small jaws and small brains, or the ones with large jaws and brains too big for their heads, because they weren’t sucessful. There’s no miracle involved, just good ol’ natural selection.

    There might be some anthropocentrism mixed in. txpiper’s remarks have a smattering of “we humans HAD to exist in our present form, so any evolutionary path that couldn’t produce us is not viable”. If being smarter wasn’t that much an advantage, then the stupid apes would have remained stupid and maybe adapted in some other way. Or not. Nature doesn’t give a fuck.

  182. 182
    txpiper

    In other words, DNA replication errors provided a bigger brain after other DNA replication failures reduced jaw muscle size which opened the way for a bigger brain case, the inevitable result of more cooincidental mutations.

    Exactly.

    Well how would you suppose that actually worked?

  183. 183
    ChristineRose

    @180, Jerry

    The third line is actually a statistically significant rise–the mean is 12.4 and all the points fall in the error bars, but it is unlikely that out of 11 points all the numbers low by chance would end up on the left end and all the numbers high by chance would end up on the right end.

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