May 2008

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« World’s Most Annoying Man | Main | World Record Holder? »

Comments

RickD

It's unforunate that Mr. Adams continues to use his popular position as a platform from which to indulge anti-intellectualism. I suppose its his currency, but *shrug*, I don't quite get the point of this current post.

Mr. Adams, and the legions of anti-evolutionists who view evolution as simply a "theory", are typically more likely to win an argument with Bill Belichick about how to coach a winning football team than they are to win an argument with a biologist about evolution. But somehow, since we live in a free society, they start with the presumption that on this topic we are all co-equals, and that their mass-media based impressions of what the theory of evolution is has any relation whatsoever to the theory of evolution as it is understood by biologists and paleontologists.

It's kind of like screaming at the TV during a football game. Sure it makes you feel good, but it doesn't mean that in reality you understand football all that well.

The tone of Mr. Adams' post is distressing. It's like he's engaged in an exercise of playing "gotcha" with biologists.

With regard to this quote:

"Although we tend to see the march of species down through time as a single-file parade, with descendant succeeding ancestor in a neat line,"

..this quote displays a deep lack of understanding of what the theory of evolution has always been. (Well, at least since Darwin.) Darwinian style evolution has always consisted of a recognition that there are always a multitude of different populations. The single-file image only makes sense if you only care about the parental line, which makes no more sense in studying evolution than it would make to study history caring only about the history of people named "Adams". There has always been variation, and there have always been species dying off.

Mr. Adams, if you read and understand the article you link to, you will see that fossils are not "bullshit", but they simply do not represent a lot of information about how evolution proceeded. What is true is that paleobiologists made some suppositions about the course of evolutionary history that have been contradicted by newer evidence - for example the question as to whether humans were more closely related to chimps than gorillas, or whether they were more closely related to each other. The discovery of boatloads of evidence for evolution in DNA does not mean "fossils are bullshit".

I don't quite understand why there has been a tradition to think that any hominoid fossil necessarily represents an ancestral species to homo sapiens, since that conclusion was never integral to evolution as understood by Darwin. Evolution only requires that there was an ancestral species to homo sapiens, not that any hominoid would necessarily be related to homo sapiens.

Oran Kelley

Well, my bullshit detector is so incredibly powerful it's been classified by shadowy forces from deep within the Pentagon who fear its incredible bullshit detecting power. And though I can't talk about it so much, I have to say that your claims to bullshit detecting power set off my bullshit detector.

Scott, you clearly understand nothing whatsoever about evolution. You clearly haven't actually understood the Newsweek article you link to. Try reading it again slowly. And everything that you assume evolution says: forget it. It's all wrong.

The reason you see refutations of evolution everywhere is because you don't know what it is.

Everyone would probably be best served if you just shut up about evolution and did some nice cells about post-it notes or the latest corporate jargon.

Stomper

gr8hands:

Why do you insist that I am "willfully ignorant," when your original reference to the book indicates on its face that you are not referring me to something which answers my question? How am I "willfully ignorant" when I stop looking for the answer to my question because I already found the answer (with no help from you or Dawkins), online, without having to read through an entire book?

I wanted specific examples to plug a perceived hole in evolutionary theory, I got the examples, the hole is plugged, I am even more convinced of evolution than I was before my concern was addressed. Aren't you and I on the same team this time? Whay are you attacking me?

Your personal attack is unwarranted and groundless. I resent it.

--Stomper

paleobarbie

Please note that my post (about bones preserving) was attributed to "Rob", and somehow I got attributed some antievolutionist stuff.

Hey, I'm a real paleontologist (as well as a real doll) ;>

gr8hands

Sorry, Stomper, but when you keep asking for people to provide evidence of something, and I've told you where to find that evidence, and you refuse to go there -- then you're 'willfully ignorant' by definition, because you're choosing to remain ignorant.

It isn't the specific book that's the litmus test, but your refusal to go to a source that would answer the question you keep bringing up. You keep saying "that doesn't answer my question" without actually finding out for yourself whether it answers your question or not. Again, 'willfully ignorant' by definition.

"The Blind Watchmaker" is the de facto gold standard of explanation of just about every aspect of Darwinian evolution. Whether it's preaching to the choir or not, it presents the available information in an amazingly comprehensive and relatively easy to understand/entertaining format.

While perhaps intersting, none of the books you mentioned will possibly answer the question you asked -- the one I suggested will. The choice, of course (ignoring Scott's incorrect insistence that we have no free will) is up to you.

brightmoon

but could someone who knows more about this than I do provide an example of natural speciation supported by concrete evidence?


polyploid speciation is common in plants ...the chromosome number doubles becoming a 4N organism (most organisms are 2N , gametes are N -haploid)

this happens a lot in horticulture.... the 4N plants tend to have bigger flowers

Asters became Stokesia like this IIRC

this has happened in roses a few times

for a speciation event that happened while we were watching -Raphanobrassica .....the parent species are a cabbage and a radish ......they both have the same # of chromosomes ....the raphie plant is 4N... the chromosome number doubled after the haploid gametes had joined

radishes and cabbages are not even in the same Family and they coined a new family name for Raphanobrassica because its not a radish nor is it a cabbage .....it is fertile with only another raphie....it's not fertile with either parent species


for the biological species concept (with humans for an easy example of that) speciation is macroevolution


brightmoon

Fossils may tell us many things, but one thing they can never disclose is whether they were ancestors of anything else. ~ Colin Patterson

but fossils don't tell us which other bones are specifically grandchildren ...fossils DO tell us that they are RELATED to those other bones ....lovely quote ...usually misunderstood by most laymen

Rob

For all you die-hard religious evolutionists out there, why not take a look -- just a peek -- at what the critics say. For example, watch agnostic David Berlinski on this page:

http://www.theapologiaproject.org/video_library.htm

Just scroll down a bit ... and enjoy!

paleobarbie

OK, just a word for the person who insists that, if evolution was true, we should be knee deep in "transitional fossils"

Think of your average suburban garden, maybe a quarter of an acre or so. Let's take one that's been around for, oh, say 20 years. That garden will have probably a dozen pairs of resident birds, who have been producing a dozen or so young a year each. Plus at least one pair of squirrels, perhaps a pair of rabbits, etc. You get the picture. So, every year, at least several dozen new individuals are produced, and they all have to die sometime. Add that up over 20 years. Why isn't the garden knee deep in bones?

Bone preservation is extremely rare. The transferrence of preserved bones into the fossil record is extremely rare. The likelihood that we'll actually find something that is preserved somewhere in the fossil record is extremely rare. You get my drift.

bevets

Darwin produced embarrassingly little concrete evidence to back up some of his most important claims. This includes the change of one species into another in succeeding geological strata, or the production of new structures and taxonomic types by natural selection. ~ Ernst Mayr

Darwin's prediction of rampant, albeit gradual, change affecting all lineages through time is refuted. The record is there, and the record speaks for tremendous anatomical conservatism. Change in the manner Darwin expected is just not found in the fossil record. ~ Niles Eldredge

Fossils may tell us many things, but one thing they can never disclose is whether they were ancestors of anything else. ~ Colin Patterson

Evolutionism is the tinfoil hat atheists wear to keep God out of their brainwaves.

ML/NJ

(Back from an Internet Challenged visit to Israel (and by accident, Jordan!) and so late to comment on this topic which is of interest to me.)

Fossils aren't BS. It's our interpretation and so-called understanding of them that is BS. I continue to wonder why there are no partially fossilized things if it takes zillions of years for some former thing to become fossilized. I also wonder why nothing at Pompeii was fossilized since the conditions there would seem, according to the conventional wisdom, to be perfect for fossilization.

Velikovsky, especially in =Earth in Upheaval=. makes some particularly embarrassing points about fossils. (In case you don't know, today's "scientists" treat Velikovsky as a quack. My understanding is that Einstein proofread th manuscript for =Earth in Upheaval= and supplied comments to Velikovsky.)

ML/NJ

Gil Dodgen

After 150 years of armies of people digging up fossils with the explicit, predetermined goal of confirming Darwinian gradualism, we have a few speculative examples with no means of establishing ancestor/descendent relationships, but mountains of examples of long periods of stasis and sudden appearance. In no other scientific field would this state of affairs be taken as confirmation of a theory, with the excuse that the theory is just fine but the evidence is faulty.

Mats

Man, the moment the cornerstone of materialism is under scrutiny, evolutionists get all nasty in the defence of their religion.

Sailorette/Foxfier

Well... I was going to try to reply to some of the roaring jerks here, but there's just way too many to even try. You'd think that you walked into a High Mass and gave a holla out to the Pope or something, rather than saying you're not convinced of a theory.

For what (little) it's worth, I agree with you. We *don't* have very good information, and it annoys me when folks insist that something is proven and all who deny it are evil/stupid/lying on too little proof.

It's an interesting theory, the vague idea works, and micro evolution (see: selective breeding of animals) works nicely. But having folks react like it's a religion kinda makes me back off, too.

Stomper

gr8hands:

If you saw my subsequent posts in this thread, then you would know I already have the evidence of speciation, without having to read Dawkins, thanks. I wasn't challenging evolution, and there is no need to insist that I read an entire book just to find those examples (if Dawkins even cites them; your post gave me no reason to believe he did).

Besides, your own description of the part of the book you specifically referred me to was enough to tell me that is not what I wanted. I stand by my assertion that evidence of similarities in DNA is, at best, circumstantial evidence of speciation. It is far from conclusive, and should not be cited as such.

That's the kind of argument that actually detracts from the credibility of evolutionary theory. There's plenty of sound evidence, and we merely lose ground when we try to stretch the evidence too far.

No need to impugn my interest in the scientific method. Reading Dawkins is not a litmus test for deciding whether someone is really interested in the scientific method or merely faking it.

My refusal to read a book you cite does not mean I am willfully ignorant. It merely means there is not enough time in my life to read every book suggested by every person I encounter. I recently finished "Collapse" and "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond, and I am still trying to find the time to finish "Team of Rivals," by Doris Kearns Goodwin. No way I can read Dawkins' book, even if I were interested.

If Dawkins' book is going to try and convert me to atheism, then reading it would be a waste of my time. And if Dawkins is only going to prove and explain evolution for me, then I really don't need to read his book, because I am already convinced. He would be "preaching to the choir," if you like a little irony with your metaphors. ;)

--Stomper

Kevin Moore

Scott, by the way you have been attacked by guests on your own blog you would think that you had just attacked someone's religion, rather than calling foul on what should be unemotional and unbiased scientfic evidence, that is open and available to all to investigate the inference to the best explanation...But then again, maybe you have?

Anthony

Damn it. I should know better than to read the personal writings of cartoonists (as well as musicians and actors). Now that I know Scott Adams is a wingnut and a wacko, I will never be able to read Dilbert the same way again.

Sparky

An interesting abstract:

"According to classical evolutionary theory, phenotypic variation originates from random mutations that are independent of selective pressure. However, recent findings suggest that organisms have evolved mechanisms to influence the timing or genomic location of heritable variability. Hypervariable contingency loci and epigenetic switches increase the variability of specific phenotypes; error-prone DNA replicases produce bursts of variability in times of stress. [b]Interestingly, these mechanisms seem to tune the variability of a given phenotype to match the variability of the acting selective pressure.[/b] Although these observations do not undermine Darwin’s theory, they suggest that selection and variability are less independent than once thought."

Rando OJ and Verstrepen KJ (2007) “Timescales of Genetic and Epigenetic Inheritance” (review) Cell, Vol 128, 655-668, 23.

Ok this was not published by an ID advocate or creationist, but a darwinist... Bolding is mine. Doesn't this just happen to seem a tiny bit too coincidental?

[Is there a URL for that article? -- Scott]

Art Battson

DARWIN ADMITS TO DIRECTLY OPPOSITE CONCLUSIONS

"I am well aware that there is scarcely a single point discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result could be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts on both sides of each question, and this cannot possibly be done here."

Charles Darwin
Introduction
On the Origin of Species
1859

Check out www.charlesdarwin.org for more details.

john

It's quite easy to prove the existence of evolutionary forces without fossils. Fossils are just something tangible that people can relate to; but, it's rather ridiculous for you to suggest that this or that misunderstanding of a certain set of fossil records would throw into disarray discussion of evolution, which has trillions of empirically observed/observable quanta to back it up. If you mean to say that evolutionists have yet to show a completely airtight progression of fossils from x mammal to the genesis of homo sapiens, then I agree.

Sillion Nightfrost

Have you read
Figments of Reality: The Evolution of the Curious Mind ?
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Figments-Reality-Evolution-Curious-Mind/dp/0521663830/

It explains in very good way was there perhaps is no free will
Only free won't :)

gr8hands

bloodrage bob -- it appears you purposely ignored what I wrote in favor of some drivel on your part. I have no rage against ann coulter -- she has demonstrated herself to be contemptible, rude and not very bright.

I don't see that she's an expert on anything, including her poor quality writing. That's why it is foolish for anyone to use her as an authority on anything scientific. And why I suggested she was less legitimate than a ouija board -- which we all should know is completely fake.

I don't care about her politics, her hair color, her gender, or really anything about her. So your armchair psychology is completely wrong -- much like her armchair science.

Using her as some kind of reference only lets other people know you're not legitimate about whatever it is you're saying. I'd suggest a different role model.

gr8hands

Stomper -- did you actually read the book and section I suggested prior to telling me that it wasn't what you were looking for? Please, just for the sake of completeness and accuracy, respond to what I suggested and the information presented, rather than what you thought I wrote.

Richard Dawkins gives examples of exactly what you're requesting. I'm not going to give you the exact pages to read -- if you're unwilling to do a little work yourself, then you're not really a person used to using the scientific method and it's a waste of time furthing this conversation.

His book "The Blind Watchmaker" is available for free via pdf. Please read it.

Scott T.

Mr. Adams, I respect your attitude toward pointy haired bosses but differ with you regarding your reaction to your "bullshit filter" going off. If something is discovered that doesn't agree 100% with an accepted scientific theory, that doesn't automatically invalidate either that particular part of the theory (hominid succession) or the global theory itself (evolution). I invite you to explore the evolution site at Berkeley (I have no affiliation) for more about the nature of science and evolution.

Matt

I cannot believe your comments on evolution.
You are so amazingly ignorant of that which you have chosen to disparage it's really quite stunning.
Seriously.
Just know one thing about evolution, chew on it for a while, see what you come up with:
Everything in biology is evidence for evolution.
That's it.
Seem too simple?
Well, turn it around a bit:
So far not one single piece of scientific evidence has 'disproved' evolution. And really, so many things could. If DNA, for example, did not reveal relationships between species indicating common ancestry, or if the fossil record revealed a 'rabbit in the precambrian', these things would send evolutionary biologists back to the drawing board.
And just so you know, all the problems in the science of evolution are being worked on by actual scientists, and when it appears someone is promoting bullshit, it's the other scientists who do the work necessary to discover/reveal/correct errors or reveal hoaxes (piltdown, for ex) not blog writing cartoonists who simply "can't understand for themselves how it works" so they throw their two cents in like you did and reveal themselves to be ignorant tools.
But hey, can't be an expert at everything, right?
What else escapes your vast intellect?
Where next to cast your aspersions eh? Quantum science? Plate tectonics? BIg Bang theory?
Do you even understand what a scientific theory is?
Do you know the difference between a fact and a theory?
How about a hypothesis?
You know that old saying about opening one's mouth and removing all doubt?
Well good job on that!

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