Special searches for special people


This is absolutely brilliant. MnCSE has taken advantage of Google’s ability to set up custom search filters to create special purpose search engines.

  • MnCSE Real Science Search Engine: This one explicitly excludes over 300 creationist sites from its results—if you want to search for a general topic of evolutionary interest while cutting out the worst of the crap, this is the one for you.

  • MnCSE Snow White Search Engine: Quite a bit narrower in scope, this one only returns .edu and .gov sites.

  • MnCSE "Eat the Apple Dearie" Search Engine: Want a laugh? Searches here return only stuff from the 300+ sites excluded in the first search.

Comments

  1. Rey Fox says

    “Searches here return only stuff from the 300+ sites included in the first search.”

    I think you mean “excluded.”

  2. Scott Hatfield says

    I think you meant ‘excluded’ in the final sentence.

    And, I agree, this is a good notion. I’ll direct my Biology students to use this particular search engine in the interest of efficiency for most topics….SH

  3. says

    MnCSE “Eat the Apple Dearie” Search Engine: Want a laugh? Searches here return only stuff from the 300+ sites included in the first search.

    But Talkorigins shows up on that search engine. It might belong with the “drank the Kool-Aid” sites due to the subject matter, but it’s no “Eat the Apple, Dearie” site.

    They should be more careful with what comes under what labels.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

  4. daenku32 says

    Indeed the “Apple” one shows up a lot of non-Creationist sites. I searched for “Common Descent”. I suppose I should try to use a more creationist phrase.

    I would have to disagree with Glen about talkorigins site being part of some “drank the kool-aid” crowd.

  5. Apikoros says

    So MnCSE thinks that searching .gov sites for information on climate change will produce honest results? Pure as the driven snow, so to speak? Under THIS administration? Err… OK.

  6. says

    I would have to disagree with Glen about talkorigins site being part of some “drank the kool-aid” crowd.

    Keep it in context: It might belong with the “drank the Kool-Aid” sites due to the subject matter, but it’s no “Eat the Apple, Dearie” site. Perhaps you might notice that Talkorigins responds to the drank the Kool-Aid crowd, thus related in “subject matter”.

    It was quite a short post, and not that tough to understand, really.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

  7. daenku32 says

    Sorry, Glenn, mistook your meaning. Maybe I was distracted by the color scheme on your own site.. ;-)
    But I do recommend that you try to redo your site. All the different font sizes, colors etc, make it pretty unbearable. It currently harms, I would say, your representation.

  8. says

    I searched for “homologies” in the “Eat the Apple” engine and Panda’s Thumb posts came up. Looks like they need better filters.

  9. George says

    This is great! I can search in the second one for Pharyngula and see all the nasty things people say about PZ and his blog. I’ve always wanted to do that.

    I also noticed it is pulling up Talk Origins stuff… isn’t that supposed to be one of the good ones?

  10. George says

    This is fun. PZ! Did you realize you’ve won yet another award?

    It’s the 2006 Blog Efficiency Award

    Here are the details, via Uncommon Descent
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/archives/1903

    24 December 2006
    2006 Blog Efficiency Award Goes To…

    PZ Myers!

    By removing all the irrelevant bloviation he’s succeeded in getting Pharyngula’s content compressed to its core essentials. A remarkable invention in blog efficiency. Follow this link to see how the invention works.

    http://tinyurl.com/ya3bbw

    That Dave Scot. What a card!

  11. says

    I also tried the Eat-The-Apple engine using “Common Descent”. I got a pretty good mix, perhaps 60/40 of cretinist / reality sites, including lots of hits for The Panda’s Thumb and TalkOrigins.

    The first thing I tried, though, was “Maximum Liklihood Phylogenetic Analysis”. ALL of the hits were reality-based, including, happily, a mention of a 2002 paper in Molecular Biology & Evolution that’s actually relevant to a manuscript I should be writing right now (instead of messing around on the ‘web).

  12. Michael says

    I tried the eat-the-apple engine on “Atheism”. I actually got an overwhelming number of normal, good sites. The only ones that weren’t were from CARM.org (worth a look to see what the “smart” theists think about us) and then it was just that site repeated, mixed in with few others. I have to say I was kinda disappointed. I was looking for a laugh and only got a frustrating mix of boring bland crap. Oh well.

  13. Michael says

    Actually scratch that last suggestion. Don’t go check in on CARM. You’ll just be disappointed like I was.

  14. says

    But I do recommend that you try to redo your site. All the different font sizes, colors etc, make it pretty unbearable. It currently harms, I would say, your representation.

    I plan a redo (it was originally meant to be experimental), but have some problems with the system as well as with getting around to it.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

  15. CL says

    Does the Snow White engine exclude nutty .edu’s? (I’d assume so, but I don’t want to go looking for something and get a page of links from Biola University or somesuch place.)

  16. O-dot-O says

    FWIW, kent-hovind.com is not a pro-creationist site — it is an anti-Hovind site — but it is included in the “Eat the Apple” search.

  17. says

    I’ve gotta agree with the guys saying “something fishy here.” I typed in “genetic algorithms,” and the first site on the list was Talk Origins’ site on “Genetic Algorithms and Evolutionary Computation.”

  18. says

    Folks, panda’s thumb and like sites are entirely relevant to creationism.

    Yeah, but they’re not creationist sites, which is what the first filter is supposed to be excluding.

  19. llewelly says

    I understand the ‘Eat the Apple’ search was intended to search only creationist sites.
    I was trying to humorously imply that the bug had positive side effects.

  20. Richard Harris, FCD says

    I’m in a debate with a Creationist Gumby, the publisher of “The Delusion of Evolution”, who’s sent me the following:

    Dr John C Sanford, whose PhD in 1980 was on plant breeding and genetics, was between 1980 and 1986 an assistant professor at Cornell University, and then from 1986 to1998 he was an associate professor. Although retiring in 1998, Sanford continues at Cornell as a courtesy associate professor. He held an honorary Adjunct Associate Professor of Botany at Duke University. Sanford is a prolific inventor with 27 patents. At Cornell Sanford and Theodore Klein developed the ‘Biolistic Particle Delivery System’ or so-called ‘gene gun'[1][2]. He is also the co-inventor of the Pathogen-derived Resistance (PDR) process and the co-inventor of the genetic vaccination process. He was given the ‘Distinguished Inventor Award’ by the Central New York Patent Law Association in 1990 and 1995. He has founded two biotechnology companies, Sanford Scientific and Biolistics. Most of the transgenic crops grown in the world today were genetically engineered using the gene gun technology developed by Sanford .

    He has recently written a book, ‘Genetic Entropy and The Mystery of the Genome’. In this book he applies the concept of signal-to-noise ratios (from information theory) to show that the selection pressures are too weak for natural selection to transmit useful information into the genome. In fact, he shows that the human genome cannot evolve because mutations result in degeneration of the genome.

    In his own words:

    “Modern Darwinism is built on what I will be calling “The Primary Axiom”. The Primary Axiom is that man is merely the product of random mutations plus natural selection. Within our society’s academia, the Primary Axiom is universally taught, and almost universally accepted. It is the constantly mouthed mantra, repeated endlessly on every college campus. It is very difficult to find any professor on any college campus who would even consider (or should I say – dare) to question the Primary Axiom….

    “Late in my career, I did something which for a Cornell professor would seem unthinkable. I began to question the Primary Axiom. I did this with great fear and trepidation. By doing this, I knew I would be at odds with the most “sacred cow” of modern academia. Among other things, it might even result in my expulsion from the academic world.

    “Although I had achieved considerable success and notoriety within my own particular specialty (applied genetics), it would mean I would have to be stepping out of the safety of my own little niche. I would have to begin to explore some very big things, including aspects of theoretical genetics which I had always accepted by faith alone. I felt compelled to do all this – but I must confess I fully expected to simply hit a brick wall.

    “To my own amazement, I gradually realized that the seemingly “great and unassailable fortress” which has been built up around the Primary Axiom is really a house of cards. The Primary Axiom is actually an extremely vulnerable theory – in fact it is essentially indefensible.

    “Its apparent invincibility derives mostly from bluster, smoke, and mirrors.

    “A large part of what keeps the Axiom standing is an almost mystical faith, which the true-believers have in the omnipotence of natural selection.

    “Furthermore, I began to see that this deep-seated faith in natural selection was typically coupled with a degree of ideological commitment – which can only be described as religious. I started to realize (again with trepidation) that I might be offending a lot of people’s religion!

    “To question the Primary Axiom required me to re-examine virtually everything I thought I knew about genetics. This was probably the most difficult intellectual endeavour of my life. Deeply entrenched thought patterns only change very slowly (and I must add — painfully).

    “What I eventually experienced was a complete overthrow of my previous understandings. Several years of personal struggle resulted in a new understanding, and a very strong conviction that the Primary Axiom was most definitely wrong.

    “More importantly, I became convinced that the Axiom could be shown to be wrong to any reasonable and open-minded individual. This realization was exhilarating, but again – frightening.

    “I realized that I had a moral obligation to openly challenge this most sacred of cows. In doing this, I realized I would earn for myself the most intense disdain of most of my colleagues in academia – not to mention very intense opposition and anger from other high places.

    “What should I do? It has become my conviction that the Primary Axiom is insidious on the highest level – having catastrophic impact on countless human lives. Furthermore, every form of objective analysis I have performed has convinced me that the Axiom is clearly false. So now, regardless of the consequences, I have to say it out loud: the Emperor has no clothes!

    “…To the extent that the Primary Axiom can be shown to be false, it should have a major impact on your own life – and on the world at large. For this reason, I have dared to write this humble little book – which some will receive as blasphemous treason, and others – revelation.

    “If the Primary Axiom is wrong, then there is a surprising and very practical consequence. When subjected only to natural forces, the human genome must irrevocably degenerate over time. Such a sober realization should have more than just intellectual or historical significance. It should rightfully cause us to personally reconsider where we should rationally be placing our hope for the future.”

    I’ve searched for a refutation of this, but couldn’t find anything. Has anyone got a reply to this? It looks to me that if Dr Sanford has taken due account of selection pressures (& how difficult is that?) this would blow Darwin’s theory apart. Have Sanford’s assumptions & methodology been assessed by other experts?

  21. MartinC says

    For Richard Harris FCD,
    Your creationist opponent simply used a classic appeal to authority ploy on you. No scientist is likely to have tried to refute these claims because scientists can really only refute published peer reviewed material. Anything else is simply speculation – as the claims of Dr Sanford are. If its so obvious and groundbreaking then why doesnt he write it up as a scientific paper, submit it to a journal and a few years later collect his nobel prize. Maybe because its all aload of crap that requires you to place biblical creationist theory above empirical evidence ?
    Every time you see a report of an eminent ‘expert’ who used to be a ‘darwinist’ and who now believes in intelligent design-creationism try looking for the missing link. Its always there, I guarantee it, and its got nothing to do with science.
    The missing link is always a personal crisis that leads them to take up religion. Its there for Sanford (see the Wikipedia entry on him) just as its there for practically every ‘expert’ wheeled out by the Discovery Institute.

  22. Richard Harris, FCD says

    MartinC, thanks for your comment. I feel like I’ll lose, in the Creationist’s eyes, if I can’t hit him with something a bit more explicit.

    There’s some good stuff on other creationist canards, such as the bacterial flagellum not being irredicbly complex. Maybe this one’s too recent to have attracted scholarly refutation?

  23. says

    Richard:

    I can’t really help refute that, but I also wanted to point out that there’s a lot of unnecessary info in that first paragraph about the professor; like Martin said, it’s an appeal to authority. All of the parts about him being an inventor, and winning awards for his inventions and such are completely irrelevant. In fact, I think the only relevant info was that he worked with genetics and made that genetic gun or whatever. Everything else is meant to make you think, “Wow, he’s a really smart and accomplished guy, so I should listen to what he says.” Anti-science woos like to flash credentials as if they’re replacements for evidence.

    It does mention that he relies on information theory. I remember a great article on that that I saw once, and why it isn’t a problem for evolution at all. I’ll see if I can find it again and post a link. I think it was mentioned at the Panda’s Thumb many moons ago if anyone else wants to help me find it. I think the author was one of those big name guys, like Mark CC or Dawkins.

  24. George Atkinson says

    R Harris asks: Has anyone got a reply to this?

    Look at the start: “Modern Darwinism is built on . . . the Primary Axiom . . . that man is merely the product of random mutations plus natural selection . . .”

    With the first two words, the author signals “creationist codswallop to follow” and the remainder of the sentence erects the straw man. [After all, not even Early Darwinism as expressed in Darwin’s writings ever included that claim.] Dr Sanford demonstrates that his talent for invention also extends into the literary field, and valiantly slays the strawman.

  25. Richard Harris, FCD says

    George, I’m not quite following. I thought that evolution basically was the result of natural selection acting on random mutations of heritable material, the genome.

  26. George Atkinson says

    George, I’m not quite following. I thought that evolution basically was the result of natural selection acting on random mutations of heritable material, the genome.

    It’s the “man is merely the product of random mutations plus natural selection” part. Darwin didn’t know about mutations, and couldn’t have called them random; Darwin wrote of variation and selection, devoting an entire chapter to sexual selection. [Note too that the discussion refers to “Darwinism”, not evolution.]

  27. MartinC says

    Richard,
    Theres really nothing new in his claims, its simply a different way of labeling the old claim that mutations will only cause the genome to degenerate rather than lead to positive mutations. It simply doesnt take into consideration modern findings such as the fact that the biggest variation between individuals are large scale genomic duplications, called copy number polymorphisms or CNPs. These gene duplicative events allow mutations to occur in duplications of key genes and thus eventually result in new genes with new functions(and, of course, information) being added to the genome).
    Ask your creationist opponent about his answer to the CNP problem (or essentially any of the questions raised by the results of the various genome sequencing efforts – which basically show the similarity of genomic nucleotide sequnce following on practically exactly as predicted by evolutionary theory).

  28. Richard Harris, FCD says

    Thanks to all of you for your contributions. I know how I’ll respond to him – Andrew Halloway, publisher of The Delusion of Evolution. But every time I hit him with something he’s always got some cockeyed analogy that doesn’t work, or a theory by a Creationist with apparent scientific credentials. He’s even brought Antony Flew into our discussion, & makes out that he’s supporting ID.

  29. MartinC says

    Richard,
    I think he’s correct there about Anthony Flew and the ID question but that is still an appeal to authority and in this case an authority who is not a biologist (so what expertise that actually brings to the question of biological evolution I will leave to you to figure out).
    Ask for the published scientific evidence for ID/creationism and ask him why it is so weak compared to the hundreds of thousands of evolution based studies published in peer reviewed journals (if he claims there is a conspiracy preventing non evolution material getting published then point out that he himself has pointed out many non evolution believers who presumably would be reviewers of at least some journals – how come the sum total of actual evidence to support their position is practically zero ?)
    The standard creationist/ID tactic – and the real reason they cannot actually manage to publish in peer reviewed scientific journals – is that they argue by means of sophistry rather than empirical evidence.
    Remember, evolution as a scientific theory could be destroyed or falsified by one solid piece of evidence. What the cretins/IDiots do, however, is throw heaps of weak questions at evolutionary theory hoping they will overcome the evolutionist when he or she cannot immediately answer one of the questions. This method works very well in a public debate setting and sometimes on a messageboard – if it is done quickly, but hopelessly unravels when tried in the standard scientific setting, the peer reviewed journal, where one lie will get a paper rejected.

  30. guthrie says

    dammit, lost first comment because of no name and e-mail.

    Anyway, short version:

    The primary axiom as quoted is total mince. What happens is that the fact that humans evolved by mutation and natural selection is not a basis for evolution, it is a result of evolutionary biology. There is nothing built upon this “Primary axiom”. It is the end of the investigation, not the basis for its beggining.

    The rest of it is the standard hand waving with no evidence. Keep pushing for his evidence. Eventually he’ll start on about how science is atheistic.

  31. David Harmon says

    What’s the link to Sanford’s Wikipedia page? Their search is pretty useless…. I did find a wiki-style bio at ResearchID.org noting that the Raelians seem to like him….

    “At Cornell Sanford and Theodore Klein developed the ‘Biolistic Particle Delivery System’ or so-called ‘gene gun'”

    Almost certainly that should have been “Ballistic …”, not “Biolistic”. (snicker)

    Also, IIRC, Darwin didn’t even know about genes as such — evolution depends on having some sort of “heritable variation”, but “genes and mutations” are just “implementation details” for Terran biology.

  32. Richard Harris, FCD says

    Thanks for the help: I’ve sent him the following:

    Andrew,

    I remember hearing that Anthony Flew has changed his mind about the ID hypothesis, nevertheless, yours is just an appeal to authority, and in this case an authority who is not a biologist, so what expertise that actually brings to the question of biological evolution is questionable.

    I found this on the internet:

    Dr John Sanford New Honorary Guide of the Raelian Movement

    Following the publication of his latest book, Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome, Rael, founder and spiritual leader of the International Raelian Movement has named Dr. John Sanford an Honorary Priest.

    Now, if he’s got evidence to disprove the theory of evolution by natural selection, why doesn’t he publish it in a peer-reviewed journal?
    Where is the published scientific evidence for ID/creationism, and why it is so weak compared to the hundreds of thousands of evolution based studies published in peer reviewed journals? If you claim there is a conspiracy preventing non-evolution material getting published, then I would point out that you have referred to several non-evolution believers who presumably would be reviewers of at least some journals, so how come the sum total of actual evidence to support their position is practically zero ?

    The standard creationist/ID tactic – and the real reason they cannot actually manage to publish in peer reviewed scientific journals – is that they argue by means of sophistry rather than empirical evidence. There is no evidence for any of the ID argument; there is nothing that shows the hand of a designer, but everything to show the gradual accumulation of complexity, exactly as one would expect from evolution by natural selection. Evolution as a scientific theory could be destroyed or falsified by one solid piece of evidence. Dr Sanford’s work would likely gain him a Nobel Prize, if he were right. But no, there is really nothing new in his claims, it’s simply a different way of labelling the old claim that mutations will only cause the genome to degenerate rather than lead to positive mutations. It simply doesn’t take into consideration modern findings such as the fact that the biggest variation between individuals are large scale genomic duplications, called copy number polymorphisms or CNPs. These gene duplicative events allow mutations to occur in duplications of key genes and thus eventually result in new genes with new functions(and, of course, information) being added to the genome). He must have assumed values for many poorly defined parameters in making his analysis. If you tweak the initial conditions, then the final result may be very different. It’s obviously not good science, as anyone can see, anyone not blinded by ideology.

    You seem to be fond of making false analogies < < Can I ask your opinion of the methodology of SETI? ... Intelligent Design theorists' criteria. Unknown intelligent being designing coded signals in outer space? Cool. Unknown intelligent being designing coded signals and complex machinery inside a cell? Impossible. >>

    If we find a signal from outer space that carries information that is sufficiently complex & organized, it may be inferred that it was created by an intelligent being. That’s not what’s likely to be found by the ID religious & Raelian nuts, now is it? I mean, not even Behe thinks anyone’s going to find a stretch of DNA in a non-coding region that is organized in a complex non-random manner, yet performs no function. Now that really would be evidence! No, all they can come up with are appeals to ignorance, such as irreducible complexity, with what really boils down to the god of the gaps argument. And don’t forget, evolution’s had about four billion years to perfect the machinery of the cell. Multi-celled eukaryotes didn’t evolve until less than a billion years ago. A prokaryote can undergo binary fission in minutes. The number of generations from the first ancestor to today is probably in the order of 1013. Multiply this by, say, half the number of organisms in the world today, and that gives a rough approximation of the amount of opportunity for mutations to occur. That is an unimaginably large number.

    You can trot out all sorts of magic-believers like Sanford, and I’m not impressed. Find someone with real evidence, that stands up to scrutiny.

    The evidence for any god is nothing more than the argument from ignorance and hearsay. The evidence against any theistic gods making their presence felt in the world is overwhelming.

    Richard.