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“Science commits suicide when it adopts a creed” Thomas Henry Huxley (ardent early supporter of Darwin)

Accepted theories don’t simply die, asserts Nessa Carl, The Epigenetics Revolution “Instead, there is a prevailing theory which dominates a field. When new conflicting data are generated, the theory doesn’t immediately topple..It may get tweaked slightly, but scientists can and often do continue to believe in a theory long after there is sufficient evidence to discount it.”

Years back, Dr. Michael Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, published Darwin’s Black Box, in which he questioned tenets of official Darwinism. It was a grave no-no-no, akin to doubting the divinity of Christ or the value of diversity. The Darwinian establishment started as if stung. Dr. Behe was soon viewed in Big Academe as Edward Snowden is viewed by NSA. In the sciences there are dogmas One Does Not Question.

So incensed were his fellows in the Department of Biology that he was duly anathematized on the university’s website. The couldn’t fire him because he has tenure, and poisoning went out of style with the Borgias. The denunciation is worth reading in is entirety:

The faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences is committed to the highest standards of scientific integrity and academic function. This commitment carries with it unwavering support for academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. It also demands the utmost respect for the scientific method, integrity in the conduct of research, and recognition that the validity of any scientific model comes only as a result of rational hypothesis testing, sound experimentation, and findings that can be replicated by others.

The department faculty, then, are unequivocal in their support of evolutionary theory, which has its roots in the seminal work of Charles Darwin and has been supported by findings accumulated over 140 years. The sole dissenter from this position, Prof. Michael Behe, is a well-known proponent of “intelligent design.” While we respect Prof. Behe’s right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.”

There is nothing of substance in this pledge of allegiance other than the attestation of the highness of their motives. However, there is in the lab world considerable dissent. Many of the unconvinced hold doctorates in biochemistry, molecular biology, and mathematics. For example:

The headline is a trifle overwrought. What the statement actually says is, “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

Which seems to be exactly what the Department of Biology at Lehigh University does not want. The university is against examination of evidence. Why? Of what are they afraid? Does science advance by not examining evidence?

The foregoing manifesto of dissent, note, does not say that evolution did, or did not, occur, or that natural selection does or does not occur, or to what extent, or anything at all about the origin of life. It is a careful statement about one of the shakier tenets of the Darwinian philosophy. It says nothing about religious ideas of creation, which are sillier than Darwin’s. Presumably all religions with a creation myth will welcome evidence against the vast Neo-Darwinian edifice. For example, the Cargo Cult probably believes that Boeing created the universe. This is logically unconnected with doubts of the official story.

However, the manifesto does make clear that disagreement with Darwinian apodicticism exists in many scientific quarters. Since severe professional damage remains associated with open doubt, you can bet that many others are skeptical but know better than to say so. What is going on here?

“A scientist is part of what the Polish philosopher of science Ludwik Fleck called a “thought collective”: a group of people exchanging ideas in a mutually comprehensible idiom. The group, suggested Fleck, inevitably develops a mind of its own, as the individuals in it converge on a way of communicating, thinking and feeling.

“This makes scientific inquiry prone to the eternal rules of human social life: deference to the charismatic, herding towards majority opinion, punishment for deviance, and intense discomfort with admitting to error.

As an interested layman of lukewarm but engaged intelligence, I would say thusly to the Department of Biology: “If you want to discredit Mr. Behe and persuade the thoughtful public of your views, perhaps you should go beyond assertions of virtue and actually answer some of Mr. Behi’s questions. And mine. The best way to quash dissent is to show it to be wrong. Please do so.”

I would further say to the Department, “Consider Dr. Behe’s flagellum. Inasmuch as it has been the focus of heated accusations of actionable heresy regarding irreducible complexity, and that you at Lehigh University have denounced his views, you would do the cause of Darwin a service by explaining how the flagellum could have evolved by small steps, and from what. Huffiness is not,, or should not be, part of the sciences, and arguments from authority (“Because I say so”) are better suited to Popes than cell biologists. In providing an explanation, you need to avoid the appearance of evasion. The boobitry won’t notice, but the intelligent increasingly will. Either you can clearly refute Dr. Behi’s case for irreducible complexity, or you can’t, in which case it will remain viable. Which?”

That is what I would say.

(For the reader unfamiliar with the dispute: “Irreducible complexity” refers to biological mechanisms, such as the immensely complex bacterial flagellum, which apparently cannot have evolved by gradual modification because all of their parts, individually useless, would have to appear all at once.)

My own question: Since evolution proceeds by the accumulation of small changes, all of them reproductively beneficial, in principle it should be possible to trace these changes back step by step to seawater. In practice this would be impossible in the case of, say, a blue whale, or even of Archaea.. But consider something far simpler (in its basics anyway). the synthesis of proteins. A protein of course is a catenation of amino-acid residues. DNA codes for aminos via codons, groups of three nucleotides. Since there are four nucleotiedes, A,T,C, and G, there are four-cubed or sixty-four possible combinations. These can code for the twenty aminos with sufficient left over for control codons and some degeneracy.

This I think is high-school biology. But, according to Darwin, the three-nucleotide codon system must have evolved from something simpler. What? Two nucleotides per codon? This would allow only sixteen aminos with no control with no control codons. This seems to me a clear, simple, and reasonable question about a simple and well understood coding system. Why is this not irreducible complexity?

Hauteur is not a coding system.

The question of complexity. On the principle that the more complex an event, the less likely it is to happen by chance, the likelihood that life came about by chance grows rapidly more remote If this is not true, tell me why it is not true.

Darwin began with the idea that life originated as an agglomeration of goo in a warm pond, not a foolish idea in light of what he knew–nothing–about cells. But then came DNA, mRNA, tRna, nc RNA, microRNA, two-part ribosomes, the nucleus, active transport, post-transcriptional modification,, endoplasmic reticula, nucleotides, amino acids, methylation of cytosine, acetylation of histones, deactivation of X chromosomes, introns, exons, replication complexes, reading frames, and so on for pages. Every succeeding discovery seems to increase the known complexity of life. Will the Biology Department at Lehigh University state, however approximately, when complexity overcomes probability?

“Scientific theories don’t change because old scientists change their minds. They change because old scientist die” Max Planck (he of the constant)

Abiogenesis? The fact is (tell me why it is not a fact) that the Biology Department does not know of what the ancient seas consisted, does not know what seas would be necessary for life to appear, bearing in mind that reactions depend crucially on concentrations, pH, reducing or oxidizing atmosphere, temperature, half-life of intermediates, and so on; cannot reproduce the event in the laboratory; cannot draw a reproducing, metabolizing molecule on paper; and cannot show the event to be mathematically probable. What reason, really, is there to believe that it happened, other than that the Biology Department cannot think of another acceptable explanation?

The response of the orthodox is usually “billions and billions of years,” and “lots and lots of seawater.” This is so vague as to embarrass a football player majoring in Breathing for Credit.

Next: An example of a large class of problems with Darwin appears in the horn of the rhinoceros, which (presumably) evolved to protect the beast from predators (“evolved to….: always the language of purpose) Since Darwinian evolution works through the accumulation of many small. changes, each of which must favor survival, there should be many intermediate fossils in different states of hornization. I can find nothing online about these intermediates, I am sure that someone in the Biology Department could point me to them. These would establish the fact of the horn’s evolution, though not the mechanism. (Remember, it is the mechanism that the thousand scientists specifically doubt.)

To show that the horn might have evolved through the accumulation of mutations, would it not be necessary to show which and how many genes code for the horn? And thus how many mutations and and which? If,reuctio ad absurdem, one mutation could do it, then the nutational theory would be plausible. If a hundred and fifty mutations were necessary, it would be mathematically infeasible. And of course each of these mutations would have to be beneficial enough to become fixed in the population.

To a layman, even at the macro level the the horn’s evolution makes no sense. Help us. The horn is made of keratin, the protein of hair, not of bone. This seems to imply that the horn must have formed from congealed hair. This would require (excuse the flip tone, but it has the virtue of being compact) a Hair Sticke’m Together mutation, assuming that one mutation would suffice. But why on the forehead and not all over, or on the left hind leg? So now we need a highly specific Hair Sicke’m Together Laterally Centered on Forehead mutation. Presumably we would then have a clump of clotted hair of no use whatever to the semi-rhino. Next, a Stuck Hair Grow Like Crazy mutation, since the thing would be of no value until long enough to poke lions. Then we need another mutation to give it a perfectly ovoid shape, not an obvious measure for survival, and then a Grow Faster In Middle mutation, to give the aborning horn a point. Pleasurably there is a Don’t Grow Too Much mutation to keep from growing and growing and turning the rhino into a nasal unicorn.

I cannot doubt that someone in the Department of Biology can give a clear answer to these questions as otherwise Darwin would seem inadequate.

At no risk of making friends in the Department: Darwin’s idea was less scientific than metaphysical, more akin to the elan vital or the will to power than to the Principia Mathematica. Like Communism, Christianity, Islam, and Freudian psychiatry, it was an overarching explanation of vast tracts of existence. These have emotional appeal and attract ardent adherents. Evolution inevitably was interpreted by the common run of men as a sort of biological Coueism, “Every day in every way, we are getting better and better.” as a human progression toward the more advanced and admirable. Of course it said no such thing, but few noticed.

Darwin’s vague idea took hold and grew in other directions. The idea of God as creator gave way to the Big Bang, which logically was no better as a theory of origins–where did either God or Big Bang come from?–but sounded scientific. Soon we had evolutionary psychology, which purports to show that all human behavior arose through evolutionary mechanisms. It was herd-think on a magnificent scale, complete with persecution of dissenters. This Inquisition was not as brutal as its predecessor, but as effective.

Herd-think can have curiosities when there are multiple overlapping herds. Consider the intersection of Darwinism, the political correctness of the sciences, with radical egalitarianism, the political correctness of politics. The politically correct hold tightly to Darwinism as a counter to religion and as a sort of membership card in the cognoscenti. When it is pointed out that different races, exposed to different selective pressures on different continents, might evolve differences, as for example in intelligence…ah, um, uh…urg. Darwin goes overboard. What, I wonder, does the Department of Biology at Lehigh University have to say about this matter?

 

FOE goes to dark side! Earth wobbles in orbit! Follow this swamp of sedition and malfeasance on

Note: I recently asked readers to help me by writing the company AT Guys regarding a problwm I was having receiving a product I had bought. Many readers did, and have my gratitude. The result was that the president of the company contacted me and we solved the problem, which as it happens involved no evil-doing but only bureaucratico-computaional confusion. Again, my appreciation

(Republished from Fred on Everything by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Academia, Creationism, Darwinism 
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  1. For goodness’ sake, Mr. Reed, don’tcha know that evolution came about from a conspiracy to assassinate JFK in Dallas combined with instances of Israeli-devised controlled structural demolition and Navy missiles striking Boeing 747’s and Sirhan Sirhan’s double helix?

    Sheesh.

  2. Anonymous[220] • Disclaimer says:

    If Darwinism was proven, it would no longer be “Darwin’s Theory”. Given the time required, I am attracted to the “theory” that it is “Like believing that a tornando hit a junkyard and assembled a 747”.

  3. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:

    Another recycled column sure to generate lots of comments and maybe even a couple sales of those leftover books boxed up in the garage.

    Mr. Reed’s heterodox views on this topic do contrast oddly with the snarky smears of “CTs” in his last two columns, though.

    So let’s see if this self-styled curmudgeon’s brave enough to engage the faux who’ll faithfully show up in this thread…

  4. Now, that’s a breath of fresh air. Here’s an area in which I’ve agreed with Mr. Reed about for each column on the subject. It’s probably because he does some serious thinking here and not just his hate-Americans know-it-all psuedo-gonzo journalism bit with this subject.

    The response of the orthodox is usually “billions and billions of years,” and “lots and lots of seawater.”

    Yeah, good way to put it. To me, it’s not just the irreducible complexity, but also the time-line that makes me question the natural selection story. Yeah, I’ve read about the tree moth story from industrial-revolution England, in which the moths became brown instead of lighter colored to blend in with the sooty trees. That happened over just a generation or two, so it is a good example of natural selection, and on a human-scale time-line.

    However, with all of the amazing systems in the human (and other animal’s) body, I really wonder if the time-line for all the individual (random, remember) mutational changes and natural selection is short enough to even fit in with the time since the Earth cooled down. Are there mathematical models of natural selection out there? To me, that stuff would be very interesting. Maybe Mr. Reed could chime in on that, if he has read any on that AND is not too pissed off at one of his typical redneck worthless commenters.

    • Replies: @polaco
    , @Merlin
  5. Rich says:

    The origin of man is unknowable. Amusing as science fiction maybe, but unimportant in the day to day function of life. It is odd how so-called scientists don’t want to allow any dissent on this and also on global warming. I guess as the grant money goes up, scientific curiosity has to go down.

  6. Howard says:

    I’ve read this article several times before from Fred. Come up with some new material, Fred. It seems as though Fred regurgitates the same ten or so articles over and over.

    The only change in this article from the previous Darwin article is the lack of mention of the complexity of the human eye, and he doesn’t rant on about black dysfunctional behavior.

  7. Scientist are people. If people were smart they would be living in peace and prosperity.

  8. polaco says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    “with all of the amazing systems in the human (and other animal’s) body, I really wonder if the time-line for all the individual (random, remember) mutational changes and natural selection is short enough to even fit in with the time since the Earth cooled down.”

    I agree. With about 22K protein coding genes in the DNA. How do we get to a where we are- the fully functioning human. By accident? What’s the probability that the right kind of a single gene mutation occurs, one in 100,000 years if we’re extremely generous? More like one in 100 million years? What about several “random” mutations at once, it has to be significantly lower in this case, and they have to be the right mutations to produce some “gradual improvement” as Dawkins would like us to believe, but why would we get improvement? With no outside agent guiding the reactions? It’s hard to sustain the right conditions in a laboratory for a chemical reaction, like stable and steady temperature, left alone things decompose and disintegrate, not improve. Even if 20K genes is all there is that matters in the DNA, it appears impossible to get to where we are now, to randomly get the improbable but correct sequence of mutations to produce the amazingly complex system that is the human body. On top of that, in fact, in the universe, as in any laboratory, nothing happens randomly, nothing and none of us is an accident. This is a very basic property of the physical world.

    “The haploid human genome occupies a total of just over 3 billion DNA base pairs that means 6 billion base pairs per diploid cell.

    The Human Genome Project has revealed that there are probably about 20,000-25,000 ‘haploid’ protein coding genes. The completed human sequence can now identify their locations. But only about 1.5% of the genome codes for proteins, while the rest consists of non-coding RNA genes, regulatory sequences, introns, and noncoding DNA (once known as “junk DNA”).”

    https://www.edinformatics.com/math_science/human-genome.html

    • Replies: @SBaker
  9. buckwheat says:

    If you are going to recycle columns please do the good ones. This was lame……

  10. haole says:

    I like the article but I am an engineer and not a geneticist, I can only barely spell the word, its over my head. If biologist ever design a plane it would crash and they would all die, which would be darwinian.

    Nobody is commenting on this article. If you want to up your comments write more stuff about how the Mexicans are winning the struggle for land and genetic viability while due to haole America’s sick liberal women white America is heading for annihilation. Of course write this while your wife brings you a nice cup of coffee and you look over Lago Chapala. Enjoy the demise.

  11. Rurik says:

    No one knows how life (the DNA molecule) originated. Earth could have been seeded by sleestaks for all we (including the entire scientific community and all accumulated knowledge) know.

    But once it was here, we evolved through natural selection. We see it going on today.

    When Fredo’s Mexicans (a blend of European Spanish and Aztecs/Mayans, etc..) arrive in sufficient numbers, they’ll blend with N. America’s bodily fluids and create yet another breed.

    George P. Bush.

    as America devolves, er, I mean, evolves.

    the fossil record for all of these temporary manifestations are veritable.

    and like them, we too are temporary manifestations,

    which in a few decades will resemble a future manifestation:

    and so it goes…

  12. polaco says:

    they’ll blend with N. America’s bodily fluids and create yet another breed.

    The reshuffling of the genes that already exist is not evolution. What random mutations, and consequently- entirely new genes, which would give them significant distinguishing features that would prevail and become dominant in the human genome, are they going to get, while the gringos and their chamaquitas get on with it?

    And what new appears in the process of natural selection, when the only thing that happens is something old gets wiped out (entire species, or their subsets disappear)? Like when a plague strikes, those who have always had immunity, but never needed it up to that point, survive, while those whose genomes don’t equip them with the ability to successfully resist the infection perish.
    It may take some time to activate the defence mechanism, in response, but that ability has always been there. The descendants of survivors haven’t evolved, and especially not from the pestilence victims.

    When bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics, it means some have always had that ability. It’s not that the superbugs evolved from the previous generations, they just took the place of the vulnerable strains, and became dominant in the changed environment.
    Seems to me that all natural selection does is it reduces the earth’s biodiversity as various species, mostly insects and plants, go every year. Different apes, aka hominids, couldn’t compete with the coexisting human species any more than the Dodo bird could- that’s one example natural selection.

    • Replies: @Rurik
  13. Rurik says:
    @polaco

    The reshuffling of the genes that already exist is not evolution.

    Evolution doesn’t have to follow any rules we humans assign to it; like random new genes or mutations, as it generally has functioned in the past. We humans are now in a position to be our own ID (albeit not perhaps always ‘intelligent’) agents of change/evolution.

    When wolves are entirely extinct, and all that remains of their transcendental grandeur are domestic dogs, humans will have effectively effected evolution.

    So too, as the Neanderthal was replaced by Cro-Magnon man, humans effected their own evolutionary destiny. Just as we’re doing today.

    Evolution doesn’t have to be done on a macro scale, it can be as micro as a change, as Achmed above mentioned, in the way moths alter their pigments. Just as he humans are doing.

    I suppose the most drastic change in our evolutionary path was set in motion when humans came up with modern medicine and modern food production. It altered our evolutionary trajectory, by allowing the infirm and defective to prosper and breed more of the same. People who would have perished in a pre-industrial revolution world, now could live to pass on their mediocre genes, and eventually numerically overtake the productive and healthy, until they were a voting majority, thereby codifying into law their supremacy over the strong and capable. It was the very success of our evolutionary struggle, that doomed our future from an ascension of the strong and intelligent, to the dull and lackluster.

    Hence my photo for our future. A brave new kind of world. Viva la revolución!

    • Replies: @polaco
  14. One of the unpublished Miller-Urey experiments, which tried to recreate the environment around a volcanic vent, produced quite a lot of amino acids:
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081016141411.htm

    One argument often repeated against these experiments is that they tended to produce racemic mixtures, i.e. left- and right-handed amino acids. But pretty much all life as we know it used left-handed amino acids. A very logical explanation for this fact would be that once a self-replicating cell–life, simply described–formed, it was so successful in its environment that it formed the singular basis from which all other life was derived. Or, alternatively, both left- and right-handed cells were produced, but “racemic” isn’t perfectly 50/50 and left-handed amino acids were more prevalent and the subsequent life was more competitive than the right-handed version.

    Either way, it seems we all share a common ancestor in the way we produce and consume amino acids, the building block of life on Earth.

    I agree with Fred that there are many unanswered questions in evolution. Evolutionary biologists who are not fanatical readily agree on this fact. That’s why they find the topic so fascinating and continue to study it rather than just say “Darwin said it all, lock up the shop and let’s go have a beer.” I suspect the answer to why nobody can explain to Behe every step of the flagellum’s evolutionary history is because we don’t know it.

    The problem with admitting that is the admission of ignorance will be taken as proof of the opposite theory rather than academic honesty. An analogy would be to point to a skyscraper and ask an accountant to explain every step of how the skyscraper was built. The accountant will be stumped. Now if you ask a structural engineer, he will explain in great detail a huge chunk of how it was built. But, if you press him for more detail, e.g. what voltages serve the various HVAC equipment, why are the walls certain colors, or ask him to recreate the stone ornamentation on the facade, he will likely fail. If you’re honest, you’d thank him for his help and keep asking questions. If you’re not honest, you will use this lack of specificity to claim that the skyscraper was delivered to us by aliens because no man can explain every detail of its construction.

    Fred has pointed out before that “I don’t know” is a perfectly reasonable answer. In our modern “gotcha” culture, however, this is worse than an inadequate answer.

    • Replies: @Roger u
  15. I have a few comments on this article:

    1) I agree absolutely that it is unscientific to say that an idea is not worth discussing unless the person or persons putting the idea forward cannot provide a simpler (more probable, more rational) explanation for the phenomenon under discussion.

    2) Unnatural selection is obviously very powerful, it speeds up evolution, so that one can watch it happening. We are surrounded by its results. Therefore it is obviously stupid to deny the possibility or the power of natural selection.

    3) I agree that herd think is rife in “scientific” circles and is a grave hinderance to the advance of science. When questioning orthodoxy is taboo, as is far too often the case, progress must and does suffer. Take for example the unwillingness of most academics to touch the possible anti-gravity properties of gyroscopes.

    4) Anyone who has worked with large amounts of stringy material, e.g. cables,will know that one of its characteristic features is that it goes into tangles. If in the early days of the Earth, amino acids, which are string-shaped molecules, were produced in any great quantity they would have got tangled up in trillions of different ways. As there were no bacteria or fungi around to cause them to decay they would have had ample time to try trillions of different ways of getting knotted. This process could have taken place in many diffferent locations simultaneously. If just one of these tangles turned out to be capable of reproducing itself there would have been plenty of other amino acids for it to eat.

    5)

    I cannot doubt that someone in the Department of Biology can give a clear answer to these questions as otherwise Darwin would seem inadequate.

    Now here you give yourself away completely! This is the sort of “argument” that Creationists use. The fact that there are lots of things that science cannot explain, does not mean that science never will be able to explain them, it merely means that it cannot explain them yet.

    • Replies: @Olorin
  16. Roger u says:
    @Demeter Last

    .”An analogy would be to point to a skyscraper and ask an accountant to explain every step of how the skyscraper was built. The accountant will be stumped. ”

    Poor analogy. The accountant, with a little effort, can find somebody who can explain every step. Fred’s complaint is the people who should be able to explain evolution can’t or won’t and if anybody asks, they’re a heretic. Fred’s issue is with the refusal to admit gaps in the evidence or even that there are gaps. It’s global warming’s “the science is settled!” all over again; it’s becoming a religion if it hasn’t already.

  17. polaco says:
    @Rurik

    Evolution doesn’t have to follow any rules we humans assign to it

    We humans are now in a position to be our own ID (albeit not perhaps always ‘intelligent’) agents of change/evolution.

    People try to discover the laws that govern the natural world, they don’t assign rules for nature to obey- evolutionary biologists came up with various theories describing how more advanced organisms evolved from simpler ones. As things now stand, the idea is that a ‘random mutation’ is the backbone of the theory of evolution, that’s why I try to stick to this assumption.

    Yet, you are also assigning evolution a rule you think it will follow, that it can be guided, and controlled by men, and that it will comply. You have some degree of freedom as an individual in your life, but in the grand scheme of things it looks impossible, the advancement and failure of the American society (totally unrelated to the matter of evolution, if you ask me), to use your example, shows it’s not possible, if you can lose control- that means you’re not really in control, you can only watch the passing parade, in spite of your efforts; nobody is larger than life, there’s a lot of people who share your view and still you see your civilization crashing right before your eyes. There were no exceptions in history.

    Everything you write about, still amounts to playing with a definite, non-evolving gene pool, also, some genes fall out of it for good, as victims of natural selection, so to speak- if wolves were to disappear forever, to borrow your example.

    Change in individual physical characteristics, and evolutionary changes that are supposed to produce new species are different things. I can’t deny the change in the composition of the gene pool, but it occurs within a definite, non-evolving set. Homer describes ancient Greeks as blond haired people, they mostly lost those genes, but how is that change evolution, what evolutionary advantage does it bring?

    like random new genes or mutations, as it generally has functioned in the past.

    I go with ID, because I do not see how true randomness can exists in the physical world. Therefore, to me, evolution as such seems impossible. Just look how incredibly accurate weather forecasting has become since the advent of computer modeling, from what I know, they employ differential equations any bright HS student can understand. There is nothing random in the way weather phenomena occur. With quantum computing, and better models, it’s not unlikely to have very long term forecasts that approach 100% accuracy. The same can be said of seismology, when we know how, and what to pay attention to, and with enough computational power, we’ll be able to predict volcanic eruptions and earthquakes with astonishing accuracy, confirming that again, there’s nothing random about lava flow patterns inside the earth. The physical world is completely predictable, but we may never be able to do it.

    So too, as the Neanderthal was replaced by Cro-Magnon man, humans effected their own evolutionary destiny. Just as we’re doing today

    Natural selection at work, but the question is how these species evolved from the common ancestor. Fred writes how it’s impossible, and points to the relevant scientific literature.

    Evolution doesn’t have to be done on a macro scale, it can be as micro as a change, as Achmed above mentioned, in the way moths alter their pigments.

    I wrote about bacteria in my post. But did the moths really evolve, or did they always have the ability, coded in their genes, to adapt to a changed environment, and use it when needed. Seems to me they activated some dormant genes in response to external stimuli, but not evolved. Maybe not all possessed that ability, and predators could find those more easily, and only those with the ability remained and spread.

    I suppose the most drastic change in our evolutionary path was set in motion when humans came up with modern medicine and modern food production. It altered our evolutionary trajectory, by allowing the infirm and defective to prosper and breed more of the same.

    It also allowed many intelligent people to survive to adulthood, and contribute to our advancement, human lifespan has been increasing so I see no problem here, it’s success to me. In 1900, in the UK, life expectancy at birth was only about 48 years. The infirm and low IQ people are still humans, not some new species, but how many seriously defective people actually reproduce in numbers large enough to have an effect? If parents end up with a kid who has some genetic disorder, it will likely be totally unexpected because of a convergence of factors, a specific combination of genes he got from each parent. Then again, it can be a very high IQ, yet physically handicapped person, but it’s still their kid, not genetically different (evolved) from his parents. Animals also end up with defective offspring all the time, and don’t evolve as a result, even though predators kill these easily.

    But all the above examples are just natural selection really, which is obvious and cannot be denied. When an organism finds itself in a new or changed environment it either perishes or survives and spreads its old genes. I view it separately from evolution.

    It was the very success of our evolutionary struggle, that doomed our future from an ascension of the strong and intelligent, to the dull and lackluster.

    How could evolution have allowed that to happen. In such an “evolutionarily” advanced population, shouldn’t it have eliminated all the human traits that predispose this society to doom.

    What you talk about is analogical to a situation where someone, say a dictator, (we’re all part of nature, so this would be natural selection) made all people of a given race with IQs below 130, and with undesirable personality traits, disappear, I believe there would be enough left in the world to reproduce and create a genetically healthy population, we would end up with a master race, and again- without any evolutionary change. But would any of them want to work with their hands doing menial jobs? They would have to bring in foreigners to do it. Or do you just leave people of the right character, no matter their IQ? Anyway, these types of changes are not evolution, just natural selection of the sought for characteristics.

    I do not ascribe evolutionary forces to the boom and fall phases of changing societies. How much evolution was there between 1895, when JP Morgan had to arrange for a bailout for the US government in the UK, and 1959 when the US was probably at its peak. In the 19th century there were 15 depressions in the US, which was viewed as an emerging market at best by Europeans. I do not see evolution at work here. The majority non-white US will not be were most of the action is, but humanity is still ascending technologically (is this evolution?), not so much morally, or in terms of liberty and philosophy, unfortunately.

    • Replies: @Rurik
  18. Anonymous[403] • Disclaimer says:

    Darwin’s Black Box was published almost a quarter-century ago and is pretty passé. If you ever want to update your arguments, try referring to Darwin Devolves, published this year, instead.
    I’ve read it. Have you?

  19. Folks trying to “Gotcha” their way past evolution are tedious beyond endurance. They are as tedious as people who try to make the case for free will[1].

    With very few exceptions, the people who try to impugn evolution are trying to shoe-horn a supernatural entity back into explanations of the physical world. Not saying that’s Fred’s motivation, but it’s always in the background somewhere.

    “Irreducible complexity” is an attractive trope when faced with the bewildering range of complex bits and pieces that make up any life form.

    The better we get at looking at small things, the more interesting bits and pieces we discover.

    A whole bunch of these things behave quite like little machines – they just do a thing that contributes to some process that they (the little machine-like bits and pieces) cannot possibly understand. They have no agency, no will, no intent… and we cannot use our agency (such as it is) to directly influence their operation: all we can do is change the chemicals available to the process.

    In a very real sense, we can view our bodies as a collection of cells, the vast majority of which go about their business completely ignorant of, and indifferent to, the fact that they are part of a much larger organism: the brain tells itselfs that the collection is an individual, but almost no other part of us has any “allegiance” to the collection.

    My kidney cells do not know where I went to uni; the mitochondria in my quads don’t know if I’m on a bike; my fingernails don’t know if I like Indian food or not. And all of this is just the cells that are ‘me’ – i.e., that contain my DNA. There are trillions of cells in the me-system that don’t contain my DNA, and some of them are absolutely critical to the survival of me as an entity.

    That is far more awe-inspiring than some fucktarded Bronze Age bullshit.

    But back to complexity and Behe-tards.

    If the complexity of some structure is thought to be irreducible, and it’s thought that all the bits of the structure must have appeared contemporaneously, that is not evidence of a ‘creator’, or evidence that it must have been ‘created’.

    It is far more likely to be evidence of other things – e.g.,
    ① the researcher is assuming that a failure to find a “precursor” explanation for the bits is the final, definitive word on the matter; and/or
    ② at some point in time a very, very low probability even happened.

    is not science.

    ② does not require anything supernatural – low-probability events happen.

    A good example of a low-probability even that happened: at some point in the distant past there was a mutation in the gene that codes for the production of an enzyme L-gulonolactone oxidase (GULO).

    This ‘broken gene’ stops those who carry the mutation from creating Vitamin C endogenously.

    There was no evolutionary pressure on those carrying the mutation, because the diet was abundant in vitamin C (coz those affected had a diet consisting mainly of fruit). So the mutation persisted from then to the present.

    The broken GULO gene affects haplorhiniprimates, guinea pigs and some bats (fruit bats mostly).

    Guess what?

    Humans are a haplorhini primate ( haplorhini just means ‘dry nosed’) .

    So we can’t produce Vitamin C ourselves – whereas cats, dogs, horses, cows, chickens, pigs… they all can.

    Anyhow – interesting (and we should be able to fix it shortly).

    Point is…

    For the whole of human history, there have been people who sought an explanation for some puzzling phenomenon, failed to find one, and decided “Must’ve been a god or summink.“.

    Later, other people identified the non-supernatural explanation.

    And of course the logical impediment to the likes of Behe is that any putative ‘creator’ must – of necessity – be more complex than the irreducibly-complex component.

    So how did the ‘creator’ come about? It must also have had a creator – otherwise, something more complex than the ‘irreducibly complex’ thing must be assumed to have appeared spontaneously.

    I am old enough to remember when the god-botherers claimed that eyes were examples of things that had to work right out of the box, or they were useless… so that meant that Jesus’ DadSelf made everything.

    Then we discovered all manner of structures that were eye-ish or eye-adjacent; light-sensitive patches and so forth… and the god-botheres just slunk away and started looking for other gaps into which to sticky-tape their invisible friend.

    Now they have the flagellum – they think.

    Then again… they’ve thought a lot of things over the last 20 centuries, and pretty much all of them fall apart under scrutiny (which is why they shut down science whenever they get in charge, lest their silly book be exposed as a gallimaufry of nonsense and a congeries of primitive drivel).

    [1] Free will – in the sense of being the conscious author of all your decisions – does not survive dispassionate assessment. Not least because all decisions originate in the subconscious, over which we do not have conscious control.

    There is an even simpler statement that refutes free will –

    All ‘voluntary’ actions are done because we expect them to contribute to something we want , however we do not control our wants.

    The actual argument behind that statement takes several pages to unpack properly… but it’s remarkably robust.

    • Replies: @polaco
  20. @Roger u

    I assume you read until offended and then replied.

    The point of the analogy is that there is no one person who can explain every step of the construction of a skyscraper in every detail, and yet they stand in cities all over the world. The fact that the details can’t be fully described by one person, or five people, or a dozen people doesn’t mean that it can’t be described. It does mean that it takes a lot of people to describe it. It also means that, even if you could get all ten dozens of the people required to explain it in a single room to relate every detail to you, I’m betting you wouldn’t understand all of it. None of that proves at all that aliens built the skyscraper.

    I understand Fred’s arguments quite well. I’ve read this article at least three times. Possibly four times, by my accounting, which could certainly be suspect. I have no insight into Fred’s motivations, but I think that he’s poking the hornets’ nest because he’s a reporter at heart, and reporters worth their salt poke every insect nest they see, hornets or no.

    Evolution science is about as old as the science of the quantum mechanics of light. (Darwin and Kirchhoff could be considered contemporaries.) While not complete, they work remarkably well as a framework to try to understand the things we don’t know.

    But I’m sure you have all the answers. So, let’s hear them. The accountant couldn’t describe the skyscraper, but you insist that the accountant could find the answers. Tell me the secrets of the universe.

    • Replies: @Rogeru
  21. Rurik says:
    @polaco

    ‘random mutation’ is the backbone of the theory of evolution

    that’s part of it, but not the whole story

    The environment also plays a large part. Our ancestors would have never achieved what they did were it not for the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs. Thereby opening up all kind of possibilities for our progenitors. Evolution is a combination of DNA interacting with the environment.

    Yet, you are also assigning evolution a rule you think it will follow, that it can be guided, and controlled by men, and that it will comply

    a full-blown nuclear war would have noticeable effects on the evolution of life on this planet. A man-made difference, on a macro level. But when you see a pretty girl, and it culminates in a baby, you’ve personally made a decision that has effected evolution on this earth.

    Evolution is about results. It doesn’t matter whether the changes came about from a gene mutation or an asteroid. All that matters is the way the DNA has interacted with the environment to accomplish the results; you there right now reading these words. Everything that has transpired for four billion or so years (at least that we know about) has resulted in this outcome.

    if you can lose control- that means you’re not really in control,

    I (we) were never in control. We are all at the mercy (and a product of) our genes and the environment. But that doesn’t mean we should stay in bed, and wax gloomy because we’re not created by a divine Being- with divine souls. Rather it means we should revel in the knowledge that we, as mortals, are privy to the secrets of our existence. Something mankind has struggled to understand since the beginning of time. Now we know. It’s a wonderful and astounding thing to glimmer.

    you can only watch the passing parade, in spite of your efforts; nobody is larger than life, there’s a lot of people who share your view and still you see your civilization crashing right before your eyes.

    are you gloating?

    Just because I’m a product of my genes and environment, doesn’t mean I can’t be an agent for change in my life. Far from it, and quite the contrary. By knowing my nature, and understanding my limitations, I’m made a thousand times more free than a man shackled by ignorance and clinging to emotional feel-goodisms. I see the world- and my place in it- clearly, and in spite of your gloom, am not nearly as convinced of the hopelessness you apparently revel in. There are things going on right now that could overturn the applecart of human folly. AI, and genesplicing and God knows what else, that no mortal human can predict what the future may bring.

    I go with ID, because I do not see how true randomness can exists in the physical world.

    So that means that this ‘intelligent’ agent is apart from the physical world? Where does it exist? In the super-natural world?

    Natural selection at work, but the question is how these species evolved from the common ancestor. Fred writes how it’s impossible, and points to the relevant scientific literature.

    Does Fred also believe that the extinct hominid Australopithecus is impossible?

    Take a look at an Eskimo vs. an Ethiopian. Can you see how if an Ethiopian child was born to an Eskimo family, that such a child would be at a disadvantage in a cold environment?

    Evolution/natural selection favors those traits that are conducive to survival and reproduction. It’s really quite simple. When a cow is born with two heads, (as occasionally through gene mutation they are), they’re simply less likely to survive. It’s the same with everything else. This is why organisms have sex, because it makes slight alterations in the offspring more likely, and therefor advantageous differences more common.

    (I’m obviously no scholar on evolutionary biology. But I do ‘get’ the basics.)

    but how many seriously defective people actually reproduce in numbers large enough to have an effect

    whoo boy

    well, ask yourself, how many people actually voted for John McCain, or Lindsey Graham?

    How many voted for Hillary Clinton?!

    You wrote:

    “..you see your civilization crashing right before your eyes.”

    now why do you suppose that is, eh?

    Turn on the Talmudvision sometime, and take a look at what you see there. If the popularity of Kim Kardashian isn’t manifest proof of legions of “seriously defective people”, then I don’t know what is.

    When an organism finds itself in a new or changed environment it either perishes or survives and spreads its old genes. I view it separately from evolution.

    You shouldn’t. It’s part of the process.

    How could evolution have allowed that to happen. In such an “evolutionarily” advanced population, shouldn’t it have eliminated all the human traits that predispose this society to doom.

    No. Because evolution is not necessarily a linear process towards advancement. From my perspective, Western civilization will be doomed by an evolutionary trait (compassionate altruism) that was advantageous for the survival of the people of the West in their tribal and Neolithic societies, but that same trait will be the ultimate death of that civilization.

    Wolves are superior to dogs, but it is dogs that will likely be here when the last wolf breaths his last earthy breath. Just like with leopards vs. house cats. Because evolution is effected by the environment, and the environment includes billions of myopic, greedy and stupid humans.

    15 depressions in the US, which was viewed as an emerging market at best by Europeans. I do not see evolution at work here. The majority non-white US will not be were most of the action is, but humanity is still ascending technologically (is this evolution?), not so much morally, or in terms of liberty and philosophy, unfortunately.

    So it sounds like since there is so much human folly, that it can’t possibly the result of evolution, and must thereby be attributed to the very agent of your Intelligent Design?

    Do you see a contradiction there?

  22. evolution proceeds by the accumulation of small changes, all of them reproductively beneficial,

    Not necessarily. It’s enough that each small change be reproductively harmless–not reduce the organism’s chance of survival. If it’s also genetically dominant (as opposed to recessive; I don’t know how that works, but I’m sure any geneticist does), it should spread through the population given enough generations.

    It surprises me that so many believers in God reject evolution, because it seems to me that evolution is strong evidence for God’s existence. If a species arose by means of tens of thousands of successive mutations, and the chance of those mutations happening randomly is as near zero as makes no difference, what but God could have caused them? (My answer to that is “I don’t know; there must be something about nature that we haven’t discovered yet.” But I can understand someone thinking it has to be God.)

  23. polaco says:

    Our ancestors would have never achieved what they did were it not for the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs

    I don’t know if they’re not hoaxes. But there are supposed finds, that contain modern human bones in geological layers millions of years old.

    We are all at the mercy (and a product of) our genes and the environment.

    Just because I’m a product of my genes and environment, doesn’t mean I can’t be an agent for change in my life. Far from it, and quite the contrary.

    True, you can’t escape being part of the natural world, and as such, everything you do is nature taking its course- your agent role too, while implementing changes in your life, which I never denied. When humans created animals and plants using crude methods, like selective breeding, or sophisticated gene editing, it does looks more like our own attempts at ID, not evolution. We draw from what we have, play with the cards we were dealt, nothing really new gets created, certain ‘junk DNA’ dormant genes turn out not to be. Most of these animals cannot survive outside the environment humans created for them, most dogs won’t be able to compete with the feral Dingo, which would not be able to compete with wolves. Animals are agents of change too, Chimps would likely kill all other ape species if they could, and even insects like the Chinese tree beetle, that could arrive at the shore on a log, can wipe out entire forests.

    well, ask yourself, how many people actually voted for John McCain, or Lindsey Graham?
    How many voted for Hillary Clinton?!

    I don’t see that as serious defects that prevent them from functioning. Half of the population have IQs below the average. But even high IQ people can act stupid. Bruce Schneier has a picture of himself on his blog with a laptop that has a “this machine kills fascists” sticker on it, but if he actively engages in subversive propaganda, he may be perfectly rational and justified in acting in his interest, not stupid, he voted Clinton. But I meant physically defective- and gave a general example of a genetic disorder.

    One example, from the top of my head, is Kurt Goedel, who was a sickly man, so the advancements in medicine that preserve defective people are to be hailed.

    So that means that this ‘intelligent’ agent is apart from the physical world? Where does it exist? In the super-natural world?

    A dog or even a chimp, a much more intelligent creature, can’t do Indian math from thousands of years ago, let alone 18th century math, which most people can’t do. I accept our limitations, and don’t believe we can comprehend certain things. Initial, large technological leaps, get smaller and are harder to do, and the challenges and avenues to explore multiply faster than we can cope with them. Extremely intelligent mathematicians face problems they can’t solve. The slope keeps getting steeper. Some theoretical physicists are suggesting everything may be a simulation. As a religious Catholic, I believe in God.

    Take a look at an Eskimo vs. an Ethiopian. Can you see how if an Ethiopian child was born to an Eskimo family, that such a child would be at a disadvantage in a cold environment?

    The Eskimo came from Asia. Their closed gene pool does not allow for birthing different looking kids. I already wrote how organisms with traits that don’t allow them to survive in a changed environment perish or leave. Northern Europeans live in less harsh conditions, still cold and snowy, and are way different from the Eskimo.

    Western civilization will be doomed by an evolutionary trait (compassionate altruism) that was advantageous for the survival of the people of the West in their tribal and Neolithic societies, but that same trait will be the ultimate death of that civilization.

    I believe you had to be a ruthless murderer, suspicious of foreigners to survive in the Neolithic period. Altruism would only have survived as a trait, if only one tribe, altruistic to itself, remained- killing all others. Why did they lose the ‘hate the stranger’ traits, while there have always been foreigners around. Europe has been constantly at war until the 1940s, the average English guy in WWI hated the Krauts deeply, it did not matter to him who started the war and for what reasons, this was not the Neolithic.

    Socialism coupled with its usually inherent corruption (Northern Europe is not as socialist as various apologists claim), will be the death of the West, brought to the US with southern and eastern Europeans. It was spreading in Europe in the 19th century, so the US was the only remaining, civilized place that treated capital best so it grew economically, while Mao was destroying his country. Now capital is less restricted in China and can bring better returns there. The West has gone through many ups and downs, as people remained genetically unchanged.

    I don’t revel in “gloom and hopelesness”. Even if the US disintegrates, I’m sure the new White territory will not be as dysfunctional and horrible a country as Russia, with its boorish attitudes, disrespect for privacy and property, corruption and public distrust, for example. It will never sink that low. And never to the level of real third world countries. It should regrow as an advanced country, maybe Europeans will reassert themselves too, but expelling foreigners is an extraordinary challenge. There are more causes to be pessimistic.

    So it sounds like since there is so much human folly, that it can’t possibly the result of evolution, and must thereby be attributed to the very agent of your Intelligent Design?

    If all humans were created infallible, and equally highly intelligent the world wouldn’t function. Everything is a part of this complex system and is needed as created. Perfection will be on the other side, in the afterlife.

    • Replies: @polaco
    , @Rurik
  24. Rogeru says:
    @Demeter Last

    A swing and a miss.

    Whether or not there’s a group who can explain everything isn’t the point.
    Feel free to try again, somebody else might read it.

  25. The sole purpose of life, and therefore our only human purpose may simply be, life itself. That, upon reflection, would appear to be quite enough. The life force does have its urges though, lots of them, it would appear. After countless eons of self-replication along came sexual reproduction, life had apparently gotten to be in somewhat more of a hurry. Life then pursued bigger and better forms of itself as mobility, size, vision etc. ensued over time.

    Vision was very unique and a promising end in itself, but life appeared to desire a different platform with which to fully employ this new sense. Many prototypes came and went, and eventually on the scene appeared humankind complete with a newly acquired awareness. Did life, with this move, express desire for an ego to admire itself or, more positively, to express itself? Why else create a platform embellished with consciousness? Then, alas, something went very wrong with life’s dedicated pursuit of life? Human behavior. We know large portions of the recent history of our species and it’s not very good. Considering our known history, can we begin to significantly amend our ways if life demands a timely accounting?

    So if and when life decides we have exhausted all possibility of further usefulness, and our excesses overwhelm life’s other vital interests, do we then risk severance of the thread with life? Should not we begin to tug ever more gently at this tether to lessen our risk? Does life even care about the fate of us, its creature? Probably not, countless other species have traveled along on life’s quest, prospered to a degree and vanished. Will we join them?

    Whence came then, this thing, this awareness, this brightness in the void, so cherished by life our very species could be made forfeit to preserve it? Perhaps it was the animal curiosity of some lumbering hominid possessed of sufficient cranial matter that chanced upon a source. The menu of vegetable suspects is quite large. The plants, cacti, mushrooms and vines that possess the chemical soups that have the ability, and perhaps desire to exert themselves aggressively when combined with suitable host brain, is legion. We currently regard these substances as “mind altering” but could they perhaps have been “mind creating” at some remote point in time?

    Students of psychedelic phenomenon have reported a tendency among this family of substances to exhibit a strong urge to promote its own agenda over the host consciousness at times. Life, in this way, may have introduced the initial spark of awareness in receptive hominid brains with suitable vegetable matter containing psychedelic chemical ingredients. Imagine the wonder this revelation surely produced in a previously unconscious world. The binges and quest for more light shows that followed in the still only partially illuminated minds of these creatures must have been incredible.

    Perhaps this initial visitation of consciousness onto a receptive human brain and the incredible awakening produced therein is responsible for the ongoing human quest for enlightenment. Our species has demonstrated a universal affinity for various visions, ecstasies and raptures and they have been zealously sought for millennia. Perhaps then, a racial memory of, and longing for a return to that original staggering event gives impetus to the universal spiritual quests we humans faithfully follow to this day.

    Of course it is possible life may now be providing itself with a non-life fallback to the dilemma posed by our misuse of awareness and consciousness. If humankind becomes suspect of probable catastrophic losses to many of its other progeny, life then may seek to substitute Artificial Intelligence for flawed human intelligence. We, ourselves, may rapidly be creating the instruments for our future replacement with life’s resigned encouragement. Life may value this tediously acquired awareness beyond all measure. More the pity for humankind.

    These phenomena are unique on the planet; life, the life force and the awareness/consciousness of one primate species. What we regard as ultimate reality is simply the stories we tell ourselves and others combined with whatever actions humans are capable of accomplishing. Humanity must now learn to live with 5 Gigabit technology becoming a reality and should perhaps begin to wonder which future Gigabit number will be the one to provide the artificial intelligence and awareness deemed sufficient by the life force to render our kind redundant if it chooses to do so?

  26. Rurik says:
    @polaco

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply Polaco,

    It was a pleasure to banter with you, but I suppose we should let others play in the sandbox as well.

    I respect your belief in whatever religion or belief system that suits you, and you’ve obviously given it all some thought.

    Maybe there is a God, or Gods, or providence or ID that deigns to care about the affairs of earthly denizens like we. Why, I can’t quite figure, maybe it’s bored. But I don’t rule anything out, being as the only thing I’m certain of, is my inability to know for sure how we got here or why. But that we’re here is good. I’m also certain of that. God, in His or Her wisdom, but beer here, and the opposite sex, and music and untold amazing blessings, so perhaps it all does have a purpose.

    Thank you, and God bless.

    • Replies: @polaco
    , @polaco
  27. polaco says:
    @Rurik

    All your points well taken. Godspeed.

  28. polaco says:
    @Rurik

    I wish and hope your country prospers, it’s a shame because if white countries, and yellow too, cooperated in good faith how much brighter the future would be. Should it become populated with creatures like that guy you posted- well in a dystopian, post nuclear war future, even rats we view as vermin now, may be the only cheap food source available.

    God bless.

    • Agree: Rurik
  29. My (admittedly casual) impression is that Lehigh is populated entirely by morons. Why should views expressed there be of interest one way or the other?

  30. Olorin says:
    @foolisholdman

    Well done.

    Anyone who has worked with large amounts of stringy material, e.g. cables,will know that one of its characteristic features is that it goes into tangles.

    Indeed, and considering stringy materials like simple or increasingly complex polymeric molecules agitated in a medium such as heaving seawater underscores what you are saying.

    As do many articles in knot theory, this one being just a single example with which I’m guessing you are familiar:

    Spontaneous knotting of an agitated string
    Dorian M. Raymer and Douglas E. Smith
    PNAS October 16, 2007 104 (42) 16432-16437; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0611320104

    Edited by Leo P. Kadanoff, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, and approved July 30, 2007 (received for review December 21, 2006)

    Abstract

    It is well known that a jostled string tends to become knotted; yet the factors governing the “spontaneous” formation of various knots are unclear. We performed experiments in which a string was tumbled inside a box and found that complex knots often form within seconds. We used mathematical knot theory to analyze the knots. Above a critical string length, the probability P of knotting at first increased sharply with length but then saturated below 100%. This behavior differs from that of mathematical self-avoiding random walks, where P has been proven to approach 100%. Finite agitation time and jamming of the string due to its stiffness result in lower probability, but P approaches 100% with long, flexible strings. We analyzed the knots by calculating their Jones polynomials via computer analysis of digital photos of the string. Remarkably, almost all were identified as prime knots: 120 different types, having minimum crossing numbers up to 11, were observed in 3,415 trials. All prime knots with up to seven crossings were observed. The relative probability of forming a knot decreased exponentially with minimum crossing number and Möbius energy, mathematical measures of knot complexity. Based on the observation that long, stiff strings tend to form a coiled structure when confined, we propose a simple model to describe the knot formation based on random “braid moves” of the string end. Our model can qualitatively account for the observed distribution of knots and dependence on agitation time and string length.

    Compare this, regarding knotting in proteins:

    Conservation of complex knotting and slipknotting patterns in proteins
    Joanna I. Sułkowska, Eric J. Rawdon, Kenneth C. Millett, Jose N. Onuchic, and Andrzej Stasiak
    PNAS June 26, 2012 109 (26) E1715-E1723; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1205918109

    Edited by* Michael S. Waterman, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, and approved May 4, 2012 (received for review April 17, 2012)

    Abstract

    While analyzing all available protein structures for the presence of knots and slipknots, we detected a strict conservation of complex knotting patterns within and between several protein families despite their large sequence divergence. Because protein folding pathways leading to knotted native protein structures are slower and less efficient than those leading to unknotted proteins with similar size and sequence, the strict conservation of the knotting patterns indicates an important physiological role of knots and slipknots in these proteins. Although little is known about the functional role of knots, recent studies have demonstrated a protein-stabilizing ability of knots and slipknots. Some of the conserved knotting patterns occur in proteins forming transmembrane channels where the slipknot loop seems to strap together the transmembrane helices forming the channel.

    And finally this piece on the mathematics of tangle in DNA:

    http://math.sfsu.edu/mariel/sugakuDNA-English.pdf

    In this article, we consider enzymes which change the topology of DNA. In particular we deal with site-specific recombinases and topoisomerase and show how knot theory is applied to their study.

    DNA topology is the study of geometrical and topological properties of circular DNA. Essentially all reactions involving DNA are influenced by its topology. [4] is a good reference book for general DNA topology. Some knot theory books include expository chapters on the applications of low-dimensional topology and knot theory to the study of DNA ([1, 16, 22]).

    These books focus on the tangle method of Ernst and Sumners and the analysis of site-specific recombination [14]

    Book “[4]” is Bates and Maxwell on DNA topology (catenation, supercoiling, knotting). Highly recommended. Though hardly the sort of thing Mr. Reed would consider before recycling a column like this one for advancement of his favorite memes for general readers.

    The topology of DNA structure, and the enzymes that control it, goes a long way toward explaining how cellular life might have arisen.

    I excised a digression here about spirals, string, knots, tangles, and fibers as the major obsessions Chez Olorin. My tl;dr point was that people who don’t work with these tangible phenomena, and their transformations, at both the tool/concrete and mathematical level, really should never speak of “biology” or “DNA” or “evolution.” Coz it ends up being just primate politics and grunting.

    • Replies: @polaco
  31. Rurik says:

    I excised a digression here about spirals, string, knots, tangles, and fibers as the major obsessions Chez Olorin. My tl;dr point was that people who don’t work with these tangible phenomena, and their transformations, at both the tool/concrete and mathematical level, really should never speak of “biology” or “DNA” or “evolution.” Coz it ends up being just primate politics and grunting.

    but yet the people with all that accumulated knowledge and expertise, pouring over the minutia of their art..

    are still utterly, hopelessly, (dare I say fecklessly) unable to explain, in either layman’s terms, or using the affected jargon of their trade, how the DNA molecule came to be. Let alone how it got here on earth. Or, for us of the philosophical bent; why.

    But that doesn’t stop them from pooh-poohing those of us whose interest in these discussions have little to do with “spirals, string, knots, tangles, and fibers”, but rather what are the philosophical, existential, epistemological, theological and every day common sense answers to ancient questions that man has wondered over since the beginning of time. “Where did we come from? How did we get here? And perhaps most earnestly, “why are we here”?

    I suspect Fredo, and many others are also very much concerned with ‘what happens next?’ Does our ‘soul’ simply end with its corporeal expression?

    Not exactly “spirals, string, knots, tangles, and fibers”, to be sure. But for some of us unwashed Hoi polloi, we’re interested in such things.

    Is it bad form for us to demean your thread with such piddling guff?

    primate politics and grunting.

    Exactly so!

    What we’ve learned is that we humans are some 98% molecularly identical to the other great apes (chimps in particular). We share their DNA in near absolute terms.

    Is that remaining two percent of DNA, composed of an ethereal supra-natural substance that defies microscopic examination? Or is it just nucleotides, A,T,C, and G- arranged in a slightly different way, like the difference between a tall man and a short one?

    Are we to continue with the vanity that we’re somehow removed from the great apes by a difference in kind, or are our differences one of degree?

    That is un-knotty the question, my didactic friend, that isn’t answered by ‘spirals, string, knots, tangles, and fibers’, but requires that we look deeper, into the meaning of what science has given us since Watson and Crick unraveled it.

    • Replies: @polaco
  32. God. You write and write and don’t know anything. Look up punctuated equilibrium.

  33. polaco says:
    @Rurik

    but rather what are the philosophical, existential, epistemological, theological and every day common sense answers to ancient questions that man has wondered over since the beginning of time. “Where did we come from? How did we get here? And perhaps most earnestly, “why are we here”?

    I suspect Fredo, and many others are also very much concerned with ‘what happens next?’ Does our ‘soul’ simply end with its corporeal expression?

    Exactly. To me, if there was no eternal life, I would be as good dead as alive- just a collection of interacting atoms, no different from a fly on the wall, a metamorphic rock, or any other physical element that’s part of the universe- when viewed through the ‘eyes of the cosmos’ and science. The laws of physics don’t give a damn if I step on a landmine. Death, and the ultimate end of consciousness as such wouldn’t really seem so scary either, but what the hell are life and all the efforts worth then, when I’m not around anymore to witness our accumulative success. Just to enjoy myself, and strive for comfort, while knowing some day I’m gonna be reduced to nothing, why try harder, because some minuscule parts of my DNA will keep getting recycled for a time?

    I wouldn’t mind, but I’m skeptical that some day technology will allow humans to live forever or to transfer our minds to brand new bodies or bio-mechanical machines, 10K years from now, and say that we finally made it, won the game, and are in control from now on. I’m prone to think there is a side of reality we’ll never be able to see, explore, and make use of, that there is a wall we’ll eventually, inevitably hit.

    • Replies: @Rurik
  34. Flemur says:

    There is nothing of substance in this pledge of allegiance other than the attestation of the highness of their motives.

    If you want point-by-point refutation of Behe’s ideas, read some of the results from this internet search:

    site:whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com “behe”

  35. Rurik says:
    @polaco

    Hello Polaco,

    Perhaps it’s fate (or God’s will? ; ) that I find myself conversing with you once again.

    To me, if there was no eternal life, I would be as good dead as alive- just a collection of interacting atoms, no different from a fly on the wall, a metamorphic rock, or any other physical element that’s part of the universe- when viewed through the ‘eyes of the cosmos’ and science.

    To me it’s the exact opposite. We are so very, very much more than rocks

    or even flies, just look at us!

    What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
    infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
    admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
    a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals—and yet,
    to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me—
    nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.

    I’m not equipped to properly expound on man’s unique place in the universe, but looking at it from a scientific perspective, what is abundantly clear is our miraculous unlikelihood.

    You see it doesn’t matter if we came about through ID, or happenstance. Like existence itself, we and all life are a marvel. To be celebrated as such, no matter how we got here.

    If one day God (or the Gods or providence) deigns to reveal that last secret of its creation, and whisper to us our purpose, perhaps we’d be unequipped to deal with having arrived at the last of our spiritual and intellectual frontiers. (having, as you noted, figured out so much else in physics). Perhaps having frontiers, both intellectual and spiritual, are part of our DNA/imbued magic of life.

    The laws of physics don’t give a damn if I step on a landmine.

    But your loved ones do, and you must certainly acknowledge that many people’s lives are more than the sum of their molecules. Look at Jesus Christ as an example. Perhaps he was God Himself, or just an extraordinarily heroic and beatific man. Nevertheless He/he left an amazing impact. He touched hearts and led people to their better angels, even thousands of years after His death.

    And not just the Christ, but too many men and women to count. Joan of Arc is one of my heroes even from the grave. So many others!

    Death, and the ultimate end of consciousness as such wouldn’t really seem so scary either, but what the hell are life and all the efforts worth then, when I’m not around anymore to witness our accumulative success.

    They’re worth living your life as an honorable and decent man, and basking in the ineffable gift that life is. Loving and being loved, are their own reward. When you make the most of this life, the reward is self-evident with every breath, even with life’s misfortunes. You’re alive. “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

    Just to enjoy myself, and strive for comfort, while knowing some day I’m gonna be reduced to nothing, why try harder, because some minuscule parts of my DNA will keep getting recycled for a time?

    It’s not all about immortality. I like that scene in the movie Troy, when Achilles (Brat Pitt) explains to the priestess why mortal life is the envy of the Gods.

    It’s not all about legacy, either genetic or cultural either. Or just striving for comfort. It is about all of that.

    This is the thing, as far as organized religions go..

    If they’re right, and this life is just a test, and the best way to pass it is to renounce this life as ‘of the flesh, and sinful’, and to live an ascetic life of service to our religious leaders and the church, (or synagogue or mosque or temple), based on a rejection of the pleasure of our senses and appetites, because by doing so, we’ll be rewarded with eternity after we’re dead.

    OK fine. But what if they’re wrong. What if this life is all there is going to be? What if we’ve been given something from God (or the Gods or providence or ID or sleestaks, etc..) and this is it?

    What if I had a pretty good idea that I was right about that, but then came upon a man starving himself of all earthly delights, and engaged self-flagellation for all ‘his sins’, 24/7.

    If I were to ask him, ‘pray sir, why must you torment yourself so?’

    And his response was so that he’ll enter the gates of heaven, when all his desires will be fulfilled.

    But I pretty much knew that he was rejecting his one and only chance at true happiness- would I be right to leave him to his self-abuse? Or try to explain to him that the touch of a woman, or the taste of a well-cooked meal, or so infinitely many joys there are out there, are for him to revel in. What would the moral thing be to do? Leave him to it? Or try to get him to question the wisdom of an earthly life rejected?

    and say that we finally made it, won the game, and are in control from now on. I’m prone to think there is a side of reality we’ll never be able to see, explore, and make use of, that there is a wall we’ll eventually, inevitably hit.

    Human will no-doubt figure out the human genome to the point they’ll be able to accomplish a kind of limited immortality. Our cells don’t die out of old age, but rather by way of genetic time bombs, that ordain for how long we all should live. One day they will figure out how to defuse those time bombs. And you’re right, with the nascent cybernetics going on, humans will have active accesses to all known knowledge though implanted super-computers the size of miniscule RRD tags. Perhaps with access to ‘the collective’, like a Borg-like dystopia.

    Who knows. But you’re right about hitting the wall. Because with all of that, we’ll never be able to do what we all seem to long for, and that is to reach out and touch the hand of our maker.

    Reminds me of this scene. It reflects our powerful urge (and perhaps folly) to know God.

    Thanks again, my friend for your always thoughtful comments.

    • Replies: @polaco
    , @polaco
  36. Mulegino1 says:

    “Evolution” as a descriptive term is not an etymologically faithful term for the theories which have derived from Darwin- the more correct term would be “transformism.” The word “evolution” literally means opening something which is rolled up, as a book or a scroll. Transformism, as it is commonly understood, appropriates to time, matter and the false idea or myth of endless linear progress, the work of creation and merely substitutes the creative Word with a purely random, yet somehow fortuitous emergence of something from nothing and biological complexity from inorganic chaos. In other words, it is an anodyne process for those who are uncomfortable with the notion of real metaphysics and formal and final causality.

    Marx attempted to turn Hegelian philosophy on its head and Darwin-unwittingly perhaps- attempted to do the same thing with Aristotle’s causality. Interestingly, both appealed to gross materialism as a substitute for Absolute Being and its concomitant Word or Reason.

    In the more productive aspects of Darwin’s work, he illustrates how the “survival of the fittest” – a truism if ever there was one- comes about as a result of the variations within a species and their successful adaptability – or lack thereof- to their environment.

    But the core of transformism- the origin of species- is replete with organic absurdities and biological impossibilities. Little has really changed from Darwin’s concept of “bathybius” and the notorious “primordial soup of life” made famous by the champions of abiogenesis.

    We now know with certainty that the genetic code is not the product of randomness and that there is a vertical aspect to causality which is indeed preeminent over its material and efficient aspects. Nature is replete with the signatures of formal and final causality, which are in no wise quantitative or time bound, but work through time and space as relational categories.

    Materialist reductionism is dying a slow death, and it is not surprising that its final redoubts will be the halls where its intransigent and bigoted champions in academia roam in the grossest of all superstitions.

  37. polaco says:
    @Rurik

    Perhaps it’s fate (or God’s will? ; ) that I find myself conversing with you once again.

    Nothing is truly random…

    thanks for the reply Rurik.

  38. polaco says:
    @Olorin

    Book “[4]” is Bates and Maxwell on DNA topology (catenation, supercoiling, knotting). Highly recommended. Though hardly the sort of thing Mr. Reed would consider before recycling a column like this one for advancement of his favorite memes for general readers.

    Fred’s “general readers” can at least do simple additions, something a 5 year old can do on his smartphone, which you seem unable to. Like the following comment of yours, when you post a table that directly contradicts your statement:

    https://www.unz.com/pbuchanan/can-trump-stop-the-invasion/#comment-3085919

    Olorin:

    Judaists?

    Just two Catholic volags received the lion’s share of federal refugee resettlement dollars from 1996 to 2011.

    Response from somebody who actually took the time to scrutinize the table:

    Comparing apples :: apples, Jews took in 32 times the amount of federal grant money that Catholics did, 1996 – 2002

    You stated elsewhere you had worked in/with the field of social [justice] work, I know Fred can deal with advanced math, he even has the credentials/degree, I’m not sure about you in light of this. I seriously doubt you had read what you linked to.

    When Saker and Phil Giraldi keep “recycling” their topics, most readers don’t mind as new facts and details appear, and circumstances change. I can’t help noticing that diverting attention away from judaistic machinations, and advancing judaistic interests are what you’re after.

  39. polaco says:
    @Kratoklastes

    “Irreducible complexity” is an attractive trope when faced with the bewildering range of complex bits and pieces that make up any life form.

    What evolutionary advantage does complexity bring? Bacteria can survive in active volcano craters and other extreme environments humans cannot. We don’t have an edge against them, we get cancer and are quite fragile. Why would there be complexity when a closed system tends towards disorder, it clearly gets harder to sustain the cycle of life. Seems everything sholud tend to be simpler and simpler, less complex systems are more reliable, they have ever smaller failure rates. To decay, disintegrate, and be ground into stardust is a much more probable outcome.

    That is far more awe-inspiring than some fucktarded Bronze Age bullshit.

    I have a minor quibble and I know it’s not what you meant, but nothing can be dismissed on account of the historic era it’s associated with. The term ‘BA Bullshit’ has become fashionable. Humans were as intelligent in the Bronze Age as today. Although not exactly the same period, how many Unz Review readers would come up with something small, like the Pythagorean theorem by themselves? Or how to produce actual bronze?

    There was no evolutionary pressure on those carrying the mutation, because the diet was abundant in vitamin C (coz those affected had a diet consisting mainly of fruit).

    Vitamin C is very poorly absorbed through diet and rapidly excreted through urination, you really would need to take high, around 1000mg, doses every few hours to compensate.
    Could you achieve that through dietary intake alone? Won’t the fruit diet kill you? Quite a lot of carbs for the body to absorb, which is done much more readily than fat or anything else. Even if wild fruit has multiple times more Vitamin C than domesticated fruit, and less carbohydrates, I find it hard to believe that fruit dominated diet would sustain human life.

    Interestingly, the Bible talks in the book of Genesis, how the humans of old used to live for hundreds of years, but God has put a stop to it and decided that 120 years would be the man’s number of years from then on. Animals that internally produce the vitamin, live 8 to 10 times their age of physical maturity, while those that do not only about between 3 and 4 times. If physical development stops at 25 for humans, so the upper limit would be 100 years, for example, while before the mutation it would be 250 years.

    And of course the logical impediment to the likes of Behe is that any putative ‘creator’ must – of necessity – be more complex than the irreducibly-complex component.

    So how did the ‘creator’ come about? It must also have had a creator – otherwise, something more complex than the ‘irreducibly complex’ thing must be assumed to have appeared spontaneously.

    Expecting humans to answer these types of questions isn’t even analogical to asking a chimp to solve an integral, the chimp will never see math, it will never know that abstract, yet highly applicable and useful concepts exist. There are measurable (roughly) absolute IQ differences between apes and humans. God is infinitely intelligent and powerful, as understood.

    Then we discovered all manner of structures that were eye-ish or eye-adjacent; light-sensitive patches and so forth… and the god-botheres just slunk away and started looking for other gaps into which to sticky-tape their invisible friend.

    The polish comedian- an unapologetic Catholic, Wojciech Cejrowski- has maintained all the miracles the Bible talks about will one day be explained by science and reproduced, as everything must conform to the laws of physics that the way it’s created, govern the physical world. But I disagree, will we ever be on that level? But who knows… “The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”- Nikola Tesla:
    https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/139502-the-day-science-begins-to-study-non-physical-phenomena-it-will

    Then again… they’ve thought a lot of things over the last 20 centuries, and pretty much all of them fall apart under scrutiny (which is why they shut down science whenever they get in charge, lest their silly book be exposed as a gallimaufry of nonsense and a congeries of primitive drivel).

    Rather from the fall of Rome, or the early Medieval Period to Reformation, than 20 centuries.

    This is actually an argument against power, not religion. The average Unz reader knows this- there were times throughout history, when the dynamics of politics, science, and religion would converge, because the cynical and psychopathic types who often seek, and end up in positions of power, saw that if their subjects hold religion important, it was necessary to have been legitimized and blessed by religious leaders. But priests were always second to political operatives. The god-emperors and Dei Gratia kings of yore, were always at the top of the food chain, and you’d better not try to undermine their divine rights, questioning religion meant not recognizing their authority.

    The Mayan, Mesopotamian and Egyptian scientists = priests would use their knowledge of astronomy, like ecliptic events, to advance the rulers’ agendas and keep the population in check. The pagan emperor Constantine reported visions from God to win favor with his majority-Christian subjects, to ensure loyalty, when the Licinus’ army he was facing was perceived as Christian. Polish kings would have important, and high status bishops imprisoned or executed, if they dared criticize them, like Saint Stanislaus, consequences varied with respect to the high and low rank subjects’ collective mood, that could be captured and exploited by political enemies to advance their interests. Philip IV hounded the pope out, he died after being severely beaten by the king’s men, and replaced him with a new one in Avignon. These subsequent popes would naturally approve of his actions- confiscating the estate of the Knights Templar for example. Ironically both the pope and the king died that same year, before Christmas, as Jacques de Molay invoked divine justice upon them, from the stake. Saint Thomas Moore was a close friend of king Henry VIII, before his insistence on the importance of religious matters killed him. If Americans seriously believed in Voodoo, the president might be a voodoo priest, not because he believed in it, but because his electorate did. Haiti’s dictator- Papa Doc Duvelier, was doing exactly that, dissipating rumors of being an all-seeing witch doctor/spirit.

    Religion deals with morality and abstract ideas, the New Testament doesn’t specify any strictly scientific laws, or that it’s a sin to accept/appreciate them. The Church hasn’t even bothered to do away with the Index of Prohibited Books, for it has no relevance to the matters of faith, it faded into obscurity when religion became the focus after the civil authorities had gone away. But it was always the government’s discretion to enforce it, not all Italian city states were doing it, as most countries had their own government censorship in place. For all practical purposes, the Church and State separated during the Protestant Reformation era, not at the end of the 18th century. However, state and science will not separate.

    The power struggles after the fall of Rome, with governments not involved significantly, resulted in monasteries’ becoming centers of science, where textbooks were being copied, before universities emerged in Italy. It was this entanglement of science and religion, that the academic community of the day grew out of, when Galileo was put on trial. They weren’t going to tolerate any attempts to invalidate their life’s worth of ‘research’ they had been teaching to generations of students. The earth’s being the center of the universe, or the flat earth concept predate Christianity by millennia and are not found in the Old Testament. That very situation was non-religious at the core. Like the fear we see today when academics refuse debate and are hostile to even mild instances of questioning of the prevailing ideas their careers are build upon. The Daniel Everett – Noam Chomsky spat (https://www.chronicle.com/article/angry-words/131260), is one current example, and I have no doubts the challenged parties do wish ill on the heretics, and would have them neutralized if they could. They know they’re wrong but won’t concede.

    Thank God I don’t get stirred up like that, and do enjoy Fred’s writings, and I respect that my going to Church doesn’t bother him any more than my [non]going to the cinema. He’s not a Talmudist, after all, his agenda is drinking beer.

    Not least because all decisions originate in the subconscious, over which we do not have conscious control.

    All decisions? How do you know? Have you arrived at that conclusion sub- or consciously? So when kids sit down to compete in the Math Olympiad, do they solve problems subconsciously? Or consciously decide that if they have A and B and C, they can get F and in turn it can allow them to get E, that A, B, C, etc., have such and such properties and relationships which allow them to arrive at the solution. Do they subconsciously analyze all the accumulated knowledge behind a theorem that takes up a single line on paper.

    Maybe the process of retrieving memories and information is subconscious, but they’re consciously evaluating what’s important at the moment. When they mull the paths to choose and when they decide on the simpler and not the harder but more interesting path, do they do that subconsciously? Newton, and the thinkers from all the generations before him, saw a curve in nature, in a painting, or any other place, and begun to consciously analyze it, which led him to his discoveries in math and physics.

    All ‘voluntary’ actions are done because we expect them to contribute to something we want , however we do not control our wants.

    Can this statement be rephrased as:

    All ‘voluntary’ actions are done because we want them to contribute to something we want?

    And further: All ‘voluntary’ actions are done because we want them?

    Is there a good definition of a ‘want’. Free will is about deciding to pursue or not to pursue our wants, it’s about which wants we choose to satisfy- expect to fulfill, in theory the number of our wants can grow indefinitely, but we can’t take an infinite number of actions, and as such cannot contribute to all our wants. It may address many, but no single action will take care of all the wants. Free will is the selection of a subset of our wants we want to deal with. We do not take action/actions we expect to contribute to every single one of our wants. It’s about which wants we’re after.

    This is like trying to disprove the idea of free will with the chicken and egg argument. I take action (want to) to contribute to a want, therefore I want (take action) not to contribute to my other wants because I haven’t taken/am not taking the action to contribute to them. When I take no action at all, I expect to contribute to the want not to contribute to any wants. What about the order, in which various persistent wants can be satisfied, do I have any leeway here? Is time a dimension relevant to humans but not to abstract logical arguments represented on paper?

    But what about thoughts? Can they be thought of as instantaneous actions that are simultaneous with wants, do wants equal actions in this case, actions that satisfy nothing else but themselves? When I’m thinking about X, I obviously want to think about it, and don’t when I’m not, the activity becomes the want. Can we find the boundaries where a want ends and the action begins, as far as thoughts are concerned? I can’t think about real things I have not encountered- I don’t know they exist, but I can think about imaginary things, that could very well be real, and I can choose from an infinite set of ideas, things, numbers to think about. I can control my wants by thinking about different ones, or not thinking at all. I cannot deeply think about several things at a time, my conscious mind cannot be occupied by several deeply engaging thoughts concurrently, but my thoughts are controllable.

    When I use thoughts (instantaneous wants = actions) to decide which persistent wants (potential delayed actions, which will become instantaneous when I get around to doing them) to contribute to, and to select the order, ain’t that free will?

    Are wants much different from accumulated memories/knowledge that come to the forefront and go away, or can be brought to the focus on demand? We can’t desire something we haven’t heard about. You can have many languages, but retrieve the info as you please/want. Wasn’t it a conscious decision to intensely think about something distant, to avoid the embarrassment, as a kid at grade school- to make a bnr go away? Seems like a controllable want. Oh, but that would come involuntarily… If you began to thing about the right stuff it would come on demand.

    I used to be a big chocolate lover, but have since given up all sweets, and now it all tastes nauseating to me. How did my want to stop eating morsels overcame the want to eat them? Can wants be quantified? Can some wants exceed and take precedence over others? Does the want not to offend an elderly aunt exceed the want not to indulge?

    I want to kiss all the pretty girls I see, but have other persistent wants too, like drinking whisky. Does the want not to be MeToo’ed, or not to be seen as a drunkard exceed those? These wants usually appear in pairs and compete, but sometimes 10 smaller wants compete against 3 medium value wants, while the values of all the wants oscillate with time. These wants come, intensify, and go away with time as external circumstances, and my various estimates change. When I ignore them, do I satisfy the want to ignore, or do I assign a higher value to some other want, so that I’ve effectively cancelled a want out with another? I don’t want to rape anybody, but what about a guy who does and at the same time doesn’t want to go to jail, yet commits the crime and is prosecuted. His wants haven’t naturally changed at all, but his assessments and calculations were off, when he decided to act on his want to rape. He had estimated the outcome incorrectly- his actions stemmed from that, and contributed to something he didn’t want- he voluntarily and unwittingly elected to be locked up. His expectations were fulfilled initially. But the time dimension caught up with him later.

    What if I’m about to be interrogated by the NKVD, and take the ‘easy’ way out. I want to live, does my want not to suffer outweigh the want to live? How do I know if the pain I inflict on myself will be any worse than the anticipated torture? My actions stem from my estimates of outcomes, not my wants. My expectations that my possible actions will contribute to something I want, are quite low, they’re essentially zero. Sure, when I’m gnawing on my wrists, I obviously want to do it while I’m doing it, but do I really, do instantaneous wants (actions in progress) take precedent over persistent wants? When is a want synonymous with action that’s occurring simultaneously and instantaneously, what are these- flash wants?

    When you chose a wife consciously, in your best estimate, she’s just a set of desirable, visible and invisible characteristics (your wants) to which you assign constant, and at times varying values, when comparing her against other women. You have eliminated love- a subconscious emotion, at the outset. Now what, blond is better, blond it is? Why? Satisfying my want. Why do you have it, where does it come from? It’s about as useful a statement as thinking ‘jazz is better’ or ‘God bless America’ (which lots of confused people used to equate with ‘God don’t bless any other countries’),to make a logically valid decision in this situation.

    You don’t have a persistent want to eat chocolate, what if I put a gun to your head and tell you to eat chocolate, or else… You eat- you live; but you have options- either milk or dark, I don’t care what you choose, as long as you pick one. You decide to go along with my demands, reject the ‘no-chocolate/no-choice made’ option. I, and your wanting/not-wanting to live, are out of the equation, it’s only you and two chocolate bars now, you will have to make a subjective decision, something computer algorithms cannot do, they can’t act on an illogical statement like ‘dark is better’. Are we back to square one – I’m choosing dark, because I want to, since I’m choosing it? What if you’re not allowed to know which bar is which? You will voluntarily make a choice, you have already contributed to ‘something you want’, namely to staying alive, yet you have a choice that will not contribute to anything you want anymore, an abstract decision, you will also not be doing it subconsciously and involuntarily, how could a machine do it when the paths that lead to the final choice are identical and indistinguishable? What if you’re making the decision whether to take somebody, you have absolutely no feelings about, off of life support or not. Are you contributing to your want to want to decide? It’s not about you, all your wants are already satisfied, it’s about the choice, about to be made, itself, it exists outside of your wants. I don’t see how we’re just machines that could have only done the things we had done, machines that had to follow predetermined paths, where absolutely nothing different than what happened could have occured. Life/existence forces us into making choices independent of our wants: “Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord But you’re gonna have to serve somebody” – Bob Dylan.

  40. polaco says:
    @Rurik

    I should have written ‘this different, temporary arrangement of atoms thanks you’, and posted my picture, but as ‘seen’ by the server/computer it would be yet another set of reshuffled zeros and ones, in its essence not fundamentally different than another, its fate irrelevant.

    Good to be here anyway.

    • Replies: @Rurik
  41. SBaker says:
    @polaco

    You scratched the complexity surface, but just barely. In order for transcription to occur, the messenger RNA, the tRNA, had to be present at the same time to generate those proteins and some force must move those proteins where they are needed; so need a protein shuttle of some sort too. There is also the DNA in mitochondria, a dozen organelles, needed to produce energy into some useable currency, the enzymes necessary to catalyze the synthesis, the cellular membranes to contain their elements in packages for various functions facilitating cell survival, the intercellular constituents necessary to define the shape and function of organs, the homeostatic mechanisms for every organ and cell type to work in harmony for the primitive lifeform to survive. I’m only here to add one more scratch to the surface. Why is it that only humans think they are solely capable of creating complex systems? Is some inborn arrogance involved–where does this come from? Why is the earth, its moon, its orbit, the tilt of its axis, and its place in the universe the perfect petri dish for life? Keep scratching. Life is but a puff of smoke in the wind followed by the death of the planet and then

    • Replies: @atlantis_dweller
  42. Merlin says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    I have read that there is a mathematical model of RMNS called Mendel’s Accountant. Apparently, it shows that random mutations break things and natural selection cannot remove the broken things efficiently enough to do much good.

    Sorry.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  43. @Merlin

    I’ll look that up, Merlin. Thanks.

    Sorry for what?

    • Replies: @Merlin
  44. Merlin says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    I understand that Mendel’s Accountant ruins the Theory of Evolution by RMNS. I hope you are openminded enough to handle that.

  45. I hope you are openminded enough to handle that.

    Well, you replied to this here comment. Didn’t you read it all?

    I read some on his site, but did not get into the guy’s software. I’m open-minded about it, but there’s no way the one guy’s amateur project can be trusted to have all the right constants and factor in it to actually model the reality. It’s something that one would need a lot of real-life experimentation on, and observation (on mutation rates, etc.) of, to even make a start. All it takes is one little factor to be off to negate the value of such a model.

    Even so, kudos to the guy for working on it. I think it’s a more straightforward problem than the modeling of the entire Earth’s climate, and it’d be great to see articles from scientists in genetics that tried to come up with a good model of a time-line to TRY to verify the soundness of evolutionary theory.

  46. Rurik says:
    @polaco

    Good to be here anyway.

    I suspect that’s the point of it all

  47. Darwin was a Christian who thought evolution was about adapting to one’s environment, explaining why the fishes in humanity’s seawater womb do not see the warm range of daylight colors since they don’t need to in their environment, and the backtracking on academic freedom in the PC Conformist Epoch is proof that humans are not progressing via evolution, as is the new, sneaky way to censor: denying tenure and full-time work to most PhDs, i.e. the indirect subverting of academic freedom.

  48. Note to site staff: this piece shows in the Anti-Darwinism slot on the home page, but it is missing in the Anti-Darwinism page proper reached clicking the slot’s header in the home page.

  49. @Roger u

    It has the earmarks of a religion. But then, normal people, and still more normal scientists, need something to be sure of, a prop for their worldview to rest on and feel established.

    • Replies: @atlantis_dweller
  50. @atlantis_dweller

    Thus the likeness between Christianity, Socialism, psychoanalysis, evolutionism that Reed notices. It’s nothing more than the likeness between the common run of people (including what today is called scientists) then and now, adherents to one or another depending on age and circumstance.

    Also: genetic inheritance is a more solid theory than evolution.
    Evolution really imitates the Biblical account of world/life coming to being — and fights against it with no apparent notion that it is fighting a twin.

    The evolution-natural selection pair dpes, however, a rather good job of explaining animal & human behaviour which in my opinion is not explained anywhere else. (The myriad of unconscious and semi-conscious and conscious acts (physical and mental acts) that make sense only in a “war of all against all” and form the universal social rules hinted in the article.)

    • Replies: @atlantis_dweller
  51. @atlantis_dweller

    When you look at (no need to look into) coursthip and romance and grouping, the comedy and drama and battle of the sexes and herd dynamics, anything but sociobiology/evolutionary psychology fails to explain what, interpreted otherwise, amounts to an imposing pile of pettiness and absurdity.

    Also, both in mating and in grouping how would one explain the reach of the similarity within, and between, mammalian species, primate species, humans?

    It’s true that sociobiology is no scientific (let alone philosophical) moloch but as a tool to forecast behaviour and detect a logic in it it is the best we have.

  52. SBaker says:
    @atlantis_dweller

    the end of my diatribe as a bio scientist.

  53. milan says:

    “Which seems to be exactly what the Department of Biology at Lehigh University does not want. The university is against examination of evidence. Why? Of what are they afraid? Does science advance by not examining evidence?”

    LOL If evidence is what is needed might I suggest a book by Gerry Fox entitled Climate Change the Work of God. Believe me one will not be the same nor will one look at climate change in the same way again after reading that monumental treatise on the true origins of climate change.

    And to think it is written by a man with no university /college degrees whatsoever is perhaps the most amazing thing of all?

    Or maybe???

    A military base?

    Baseball sized hailstones damage cars at Fort Carson

    https://www.msn.com/en-ca/video/wonder/baseball-sized-hailstones-damage-cars-at-fort-carson/vi-BBVLZ8u?ocid=spartandhp

    in light of such a sentence shouldn’t we be saying hmmmmm with a question mark?

    “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? Job 38:22

    What God is a military commander? That’s in the bible?

  54. Jett Rucker says: • Website

    The highest of all ramparts in academia are those defending the Holocaust, its gas chambers, and its six million.

  55. joe2.5 says:

    ” The response of the orthodox is usually “billions and billions of years,” and “lots and lots of seawater.” This is so vague…”

    Showing your crass statistical cluelessness of things quantified long ago. Not the best condition for sitting in judgment.

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