Carl Zimmer brings up another essential point about the HAR1F study: it was work that was guided by evolutionary theory. The sequence would not have been recognized in the billions of nucleotides in the genome if it hadn’t been for an analysis directed by the principles of evolution.
Wells’ diatribe was amazingly wrong. I looked at it again and there could be another half-dozen essays in just picking up apart the stupidity in it.
Maybe Wells is genuinely upset, jealous, even, but is redirecting his anger in such a negative way because he realizes that he is wholely incapable of making even the most minor positive contribution to Science and Knowledge?
I must be snorting more of those stinkbugs than I realize.
It’s obvious how ID contributes to genome research: once you find which parts of one species’s genome encode version numbers, component maps, create dates, angelic credits, and commentary, it should be easy to find this in the genomes of other species.
The problem with most IDers is that they have utterly no idea what would count as evidence of design. Or maybe some do, and just pretend otherwise.
Dave Carlson says
It seems almost cruel to point out all of the stupidity in Wells’ latest essay. After all, as an IDist, he’s bringing a plastic spork to a gunfight. It’s no wonder they’re forced to resort to dishonesty and mirepresentation; they certainly don’t have any facts!
The problem is that it does take time, but if it isn’t done the fact that it hasn’t been done is pointed to as proof that the claim(s) are valid. This is common to all pseudoscience — it’s easier making stuff up than showing that the madeup stuff is wrong. Watch:
Dung beetles are mammals.
Okay, that took less than 10 seconds to write; write up a sentence, with refs, showing that it’s wrong. Takes a couple minutes, right? Maybe a minute for someone fast. Now consider how many “facts” like this are in every pro-ID article. It’s gonna take you several times as long to refute nonsense as it does to create it, so you always fall behind. (Plus you’re just “being negative”.)
The point for ID is not to create a theory that stands up, it’s to win a public, political, debate, and so this technique works wonders, as their opponents have to do much more work than they do… and with far less funding. You have organizations with multi-million dollar budgets hiring people to churn this stuff out, full of errors. Countering that is hard, very hard, but needed.
steve s says
I think Salvador actually suggested something like this one time.
Problem is, God was a lazy coder and didn’t document anything. Sure, he pushed out a quickie manual later on, but have you read the thing? It was clearly a rush-job, and outsourced at that.
I think Ed Brayton has a good point on this too: how can Wells, who is a Moonie, which means he believes that JESUS WAS NOT THE SON OF GOD AND FAILED IN HIS MISSION and some Korean dude is now the CROWNED KING OF ALL JESUSLAND, possibly get away with claiming that he is a defenders of “traditional Christianity” from us big bad non-christians?
I may not believe in the divinity of Jesus, but at least I don’t run around claiming that because a Congressman set a plastic tiara on my head that I’m now God’s chosen one on earth, superior to jesus. I should think THAT belief system would be priority alert #1 instead of PZ’s innocent little evolving zebrafish.
Hoo boy. So I read Zimmer’s excellent post, then the comments. There’s only one negative comment, by a Jonathan Bartlett, who refuses to understand Zimmer the same way Wells refuses to understand the original research paper. (Bartlett refers to the process that found HAR1F as “comparative anatomy.”)
In a compact response that clearly outlines the vital role played by evolutionary theory, Zimmer refers to the fact that Bartlett has a pro-Creationist, pro-ID blog. Curious, I have a look.
The penultimate post on Bartlett’s blog is framed as “Creationist research” by a fellow named Ian Juby. So how, one asks, does a Creationist do research? Why, by going to the Royal Tyrrell and bringing his powerful intellect to bear on ferreting out the Darwinist propaganda there, of course. Here, Juby incontrovertibly proves that the dinosaurs must have perished in a great flood by acute analysis of the neck angles of dinosaur skeletons in situ:
“I have claimed that the heads are arched back due to suffocation: The last thing to go underwater when drowning is the head. Furthermore, while some of the animals exhibiting this death pose have their mouths open, others do not. In either case, even humans that are suffocating arch their heads back. I used to have asthma, that’s how I know.”
Ah, that last sentence. Far better thought out than anything in “Origin of Species,” which Darwin tossed off in a mere 30 years or so (doubtless because he was in such a rush to kill God and reduce all morality to a brute struggle for self-advantage). “I used to have asthma, that’s how I know.” Now *there’s* research for you!
Asthma? I’d think rigor mortis would be a better model. Not that he’s experienced that (yet) mind you, at least not in a literal sense.
The bigger problem is that they don’t have any idea of the subjects (DNA, genomics, gene regulation etc. and biology as such) to which they want apply their ideas (I refuse to call this stupid beliefs hypotheses)
This very true, and very well put.
The problem isn’t just that they can make things up faster than we can refute them, but also that pseudoscientific memes are so damn reproductive. Our modern semi-literate society is a hearty, nutrient-rich growth medium for virulent bullshit memes to flourish. Since pseudoscientific memes aren’t hindered by any sort of truth requirements, they can can spread and mutate much faster than science ever will. Beyond that, they tend to be a whole lot simpler in detail and more sallacious, so that people consume them and spread them voluntarily much faster than.
For example, spreading a story about a how the oil industry is covering up saltwater-powered cars is considered “activism” by some, since if it is true, it would mean the beginning of a new era of untolod prosperity and freedom. At the same time, brainstorming and raising awareness of possible biomimetic non-statistical macromolecule synthesis technologies is considered “activism” by others, since this could mean the beginning of a new era of equally untold prosperity and freedom. So, which research topic do you think has more advocating blogs, usenet groups, books, proponents, etc.?
So, how does one change this? While essay writing is an option, I don’t believe this alone is going to be effective. Even if we could write well-reasoned essays as fast as they can lie and make things up, the problem is that their ideas will spread faster and further than ours everytime, and the people who should read those wonderful essays rarely will.
I think the only long-term effective strategy will be to make the growth medium inhospitable to them. Obviously, children should be taught critical thinking skills in school, but even this is not enough: somehow, there needs to be an outreach to adults as well, to end this culture of ignorance and sloppy thinking.
Heh. The phrasing reminds me of “What would Jesus do?”
ivy privy says
This is presumably the same Jonathan Bartlett who put in appearances at the Evolution and Design course blog over the summer. He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
Organic Chemistry says
I don’t understand what the ID would have to contribute either. Seems like someone here has an agenda.