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Me, Derbyshire, and Darwin
An Excavation
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Over the years I have occasionally expressed doubts over the tenets of evolutionism which, perhaps wrongly, has seemed to me a sort of political correctness of science, or maybe a metaphysics somewhat related to science. As a consequence I have been severely reprimanded. The editor of a site devoted to genetic expression furiously began deleting any mention of me from his readers. Others, to include Mr. John Derbyshire of Taki’s Magazine, have expressed disdain, though disdaining to explain just why.

In all of this, my inability to get straight answers that do not shift has frustrated me. I decided to address my questions to an expert in the field, preferably one who loathed me and thus might produce his best arguments so as to stick it to me. To this end I have settled on Mr. Derbyshire.

He has the several advantages of being highly intelligent, an excellent writer, ardent of all things evolutionary and genetic, and well versed in them. I would profit by his instruction in things in which I am only an amateur—should he be so inclined. (He may well have other things to do.) To this end, I submit a few questions which have strained my admittedly paltry understanding for some time. They are not new questions, but could use answers. I agree in advance to accept his answers (if any be given) as canonical.

(1) In evolutionary principle, traits that lead to more surviving children proliferate. In practice, when people learn how to have fewer or no children, they do. Whole industries exist to provide condoms, diaphragms, IUDs, vasectomies, and abortions, attesting to great enthusiasm for non-reproduction. Many advanced countries are declining in population. How does having fewer surviving children lead to having more surviving children? Less cutely, what selective pressures lead to a desire not to reproduce, and how does this fit into a Darwinian framework?

Two notes: (1) The answer cannot rely on contraception, which is not a force imposed from outside. Just as people invented spears because they wanted to kill food and each other, they invented condoms because they wanted not to have children. The question is how that desire evolved. (2) The non-evolutionary explanation is clear and simple. “We could have two children and a nice condo, or fifteen and live in a shack.”

(2) Morality. In evolution as I understand it, there are no absolute moral values: Morals evolved as traits allowing social cooperation, conducing to the survival of the group and therefore to the production of more surviving children. The philosophical case for this absence of absolutes usually consists in pointing out that in various societies everything currently regarded as immoral has been accepted as acceptable (e.g., burning heretics to death).

I cannot refute the argument. However, I thnk it intellectually disreputable to posit premises and then not accept their consequences.

Question: Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded? This would seem beneficial. We certainly don’t want them to reproduce, they use resources better invested in healthy children, and it makes no evolutionary difference whether they die quietly or screaming.

(3) Abiogenesis. This is not going to be a fair question as there is no way anyone can know the answer, but I pose it anyway. The theory, which I cannot refute, is that a living, metabolizing, reproducing gadget formed accidentally in the ancient seas. Perhaps it did. I wasn’t there. It seems to me, though, that the more complex one postulates the First Critter to have been, the less likely, probably exponentially so, it would have been to form. The less complex one postulates it to have been, the harder to explain why biochemistry, which these days is highly sophisticated, cannot reproduce the event. Question: How many years would have to pass without replication of the event, if indeed it be not replicated, before one might begin to suspect that it didn’t happen? For all I know, it may be accomplished tomorrow. But the check cannot be in the mail forever.

(4) You can’t get there from here. Straight-line evolution, for example in which Eohippus gradually gets larger until it reaches Clydesdale, is plausible because each intervening step is a viable animal. In fact this is just selective breeding. Yet many evolutionary transformations seem to require intermediate stages that could not survive.

For example there are two-cycle bugs (insects, arachnids) that lay eggs that hatch into tiny replicas of the adults, which grow, lay eggs, and repeat the cycle. The four-cycle bugs go through egg, larva, pupa, adult. Question: What are the viable steps needed to evolve from one to the other? Or from anything to four-cycle?

Here I am baffled. As best I can see, the eggs of the two-cycler would have to evolve toward being caterpillars, which are enormously different structurally and otherwise from adults. Goodbye legs, chitinous exoskeleton; head, thorax, and abdomen, on and on. Whatever the first mutation toward this end, the resulting newly-hatched mutant would have to be viable—able to live and reproduce until the next mutation occurred.

It is difficult to see how the evolution from insect to caterpillar could occur at all, or why. But if it did, it would lead to a free-standing race of caterpillars, a new species, necessarily being able to reproduce. Then, for reasons mysterious to me, these would have to decide to pupate and become butterflies. Metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly is enormously complex and if you don’t get it right the first time, it’s curtains. Where would it have gotten the impossibly complex genetic blueprint of the butterfly?

Among intellectual loin-cloth-wearers like me, there seems no answer. I do not doubt that Mr. Derbyshire can provide one. Upon receiving same, I promise to shut up.

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(5) You can’t get anywhere else from here. Mr. Derbyshire believes strongly in genetic determinism—that we are what we are and behave as we do because of genetic programming. I see no flaw in this. From the baby’s suckling through walking and talking, the adolescent’s omniscience, making love and war, and cooling off with age things seem undeniably genetic.

Behavior less obviously biological also seems built-in. Political orientation, for example. Note that conservatives usually see the world as dangerous and life as struggle; to have intense loyalty to the pack (patriotism), to reverence the military, to feel empathy for members of their tribe (our fallen heroes, etc.) and none at all for enemy dead; to favor capitalism; and to be hostile to or disdainful of other racial and ethnic groups. That these traits tend strongly to appear together though they are logically independent suggests a genetic basis.

In his book, We Are Doomed, Mr. Derbyshire describes the brain, correctly as far as I can tell, as an electrochemical mechanism, and somewhat delicately hints at chemical determinism in that organ. I see no way of avoiding this conclusion.

But again, does one not have to accept the consequences of one’s suppositions? A physical (to include chemical) system cannot make decisions. All subsequent states of a physical system are determined by the initial state. So, if one accepts the electrochemical premise (which, again, seems to be correct) it follows that we do not believe things because they are true, but because we are predestined to believe them. Question: Does not genetic determinism (with which I have no disagreement) lead toa paradox: that the thoughts we think we are thinking we only think to be thoughts when they are really utterly predetermined by the inexorable working of physics and chemistry?

(That was fun. I recall Samuel Johnson’s remark on the existence of free will: All theory is against it, but all experience is for it.)

(6) The evolutionary noise level. In principle, traits spread through a population because they lead to the having of greater numbers of children. Consider the epicanthic fold, the flap that makes the eyes of East Asians seem slanted. In evolutionary writings this is often described as an adaptation either to save energy or to protect the eyes from icy winds. We will here assume that actual studies have shown that it actually does so.

I do not understand how the fold evolved.

Unless it results from a point mutation, (and I do not think it does), it must have evolved gradually. This means, does it not, that even a partial fold conferred so great an advantage in survival that the possessor had more children than their unfolded relatives.

Being as I am untutored in these matters, the idea seems ludicrous. Did the eyes of the unfolded freeze, leaving the Folded One to get all the girls? Did the folded conserve so much energy that they could copulate more vigorously?

While grounds can doubtless be found for dismissing the example of the epicanthic fold, countless instances exist of traits that become universal or nearly so while lacking any plausible connection to greater fecundity.

Here I sink into a veritable La Brea of incomprehension. Genes already exist in populations for extraordinary superiority of many sorts—for the intelligence of Stephen Hawking, the body of Mohammed Ali, for 20/5 vision, for the astonishing endurance in running of the Tarahumara Indians, and so on. To my unschooled understanding, these traits offer clear and substantial advantage in survival and reproduction, yet they do not become universal, or even common. The epicanthic fold does. Question: Why do seemingly trivial traits proliferate while clearly important ones do not?

(7) The universality of the unnecessary. Looking at the human body, I see many things that appear to have no relation to survival or more vigorous reproduction, and that indeed work against it, yet are universal in the species. For example, the kidneys contain the nervous tissue that makes kidney stones agonizingly painful, yet until recently the victim has been able to do nothing about them. Migraine headaches are paralyzing, and would appear to convey little advantage in having more children. (“No, honey, I have a violent headache….”)

Sensing pain clearly has evolutionary advantages. If you fall on your head, it hurts, so you are careful not to, and thus survive and have more children (though frankly I have sometimes thought that it might be better to fall on one’s head). Wounds are painful, so you baby them, letting them heal. But, Question: What is the reproductive advantage of crippling pain (migraines can be crippling) about which pre-recently, the sufferer could do nothing?

(8) Finally, the supernatural. Unfairly, as it turned out, in regard to religion I had expected Mr. Derbyshire to strike the standard “Look at me, I’m an atheist, how advanced I am” pose. I was wrong. In fact he says that he believes in a God. (Asked directly, he responded, “Yes, to my own satisfaction, though not necessarily to yours.”) His views are reasoned, intellectually modest, and, though I am not a believer, I see nothing with which to quarrel, though for present purposes this is neither here nor there. Question : If one believes in or suspects the existence of God or gods, how does one exclude the possibility that He, She, or It meddles in the universe—directing evolution, for example?

A belief in gods would seem to leave the door open to Intelligent Design, the belief that the intricacies of life came about not by accident but were crafted by Somebody or Something. The view, anathema in evolutionary circle, is usually regarded as emanating from Christianity, and usually does.

Though this column is not about me or my beliefs, to head off a lot of email let me say that I am not remotely a Christian but a thoroughgoing agnostic, more so it seems than Mr. Derbyshire, and my suspicions regarding Intelligent Design—suspicions is all they are—are not deductions from Christianity but inferences from observation. To my eye, the damned place looks designed. By what, I am clueless.

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To close, I ask these questions in a spirit of inquiry, not of ideological warfare. Mr. Derbyshire is far deeper in these matters than I, who can barely distinguish a phosphodiester bond from a single-nucleotide polymorphism. All I seek are clear, straightforward, unambiguous answers devoid of the evasion I have so often encountered. I do not doubt that he can help me if so inclined.

(Reprinted from Fred on Everything by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Darwinism, Evolution 
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  1. You know, Fred, people keep on telling me that I should take you seriously, but then you post dreck like this….

    “(2) Morality. In evolution as I understand it, there are no absolute moral values: Morals evolved as traits allowing social cooperation, conducing to the survival of the group and therefore to the production of more surviving children. ”

    Doing okay here…

    “The philosophical case for this absence of absolutes usually consists in pointing out that in various societies everything currently regarded as immoral has been accepted as acceptable (e.g., burning heretics to death).”

    And then you go off the rails. Human morality is actually less flexible over time, Fred. Certain traits are universal. Go and pick up Pinker’s THE BLANK SLATE; he has a whole list of human universals towards the back.

    “I cannot refute the argument. However, I thnk it intellectually disreputable to posit premises and then not accept their consequences.”

    MMMM, I think that someone is going to go slippery slope on us….

    “Question: Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded?”

    Do you have a genuine desire to do so, Fred? Alternatively, how many people of your acquaintance have such a desire?

    ” This would seem beneficial.”

    Preventing them from breeding, sure.

    “We certainly don’t want them to reproduce, they use resources better invested in healthy children, and it makes no evolutionary difference whether they die quietly or screaming.”

    Sure, but why would you want to go to the trouble of torturing them to death, Fred? Sterilization/euthanasia can be done in a painless fashion. Bit of a straw man there. On the plus side, though, you didn’t bring up Hitler. So kudos.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    hey syon, are you going to answer any of his questions? He was being respectful and at best you are insulting him. You and other atheist clones like you are the reason I can't tolerate atheists. You are complete bores and when querried you retreat to insults.
    , @Pantah
    That "whoosh" sound you heard wasn't a Nike streaking by, but the sound of Reed's points going over your head. His point about torturing the retarded to death is that no argument could be made against the practice when evolution rules out absolute moral practices. In other words, how could you say that killing the retarded gently or horribly could be wrong if you're a strict evolutionist?
    , @peter johnson
    I thought Fred's argument on that point was clever and thought-provoking, whereas your response has gone off the rails IMHO.
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  2. 1)r strategy vs k strategy- some people want fewer but better Russians or Republicans, some want fewer but better kids. Some figure the more the merrier.

    2) Moral systems end up invoking God or History or whatever’s handy to show that Nature is what were placed here to overcome.

    3) ‘It is all nonsense looking for the origin of life. One might as soon look for the origin of matter.’ Darwin to Huxley, foreshadowing what physicists think of Brilliant New Discoveries in Cosmology.

    4) Climbing Mount Improbable took billy-uns and billy-uns of years. Lots of insects shed their skins, which being exoskeletons, means more work for them than us, so radical changes in a new form are less of a puzzler than 3). Still looks odd, but Jack Horner thinks the fossil record is, maybe, 30% accurate. Yes, he means 70% wrong. And the fossil record is pretty sketchy.

    5) Free will or determinism? Beats me.

    6) Why shouldn’t evolution be mostly trivial? Most things are.

    7) See 6). How much of your life is unnecessary? More than some, less than mine, maybe.

    8) Evolution looks atheist because Huxley hated preachers in that good, informed, brave, honest 19th century atheist way. It ain’t necessary. The Archbishop of Canterbury said it wasn’t, back when Archbishops preached like Christians, back when Darwin’s book first came out.

    I’m more ignorant than you, but you left yourself open on this one.

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  3. Syon, I actually think you are letting your own predilections show. This piece is the man’s honest opinion. He is quite intelligent, and has arguments and speculations I don’t see you refuting. Plus I might add, that even without the humor, he has no problem admitting exactly what his qualifications are for these kinds of arguments.

    He is quite well read though, as I imagine you are?

    Now let’s clean up one of your statements:

    “You know, Fred, people keep on telling me that I should take you seriously, but then you post dreck like this…”

    I think it reads better like this:

    “You know, Syon, people keep on telling me that I should take you seriously, but then you post dreck like this…”

    That said, at least to my eye, I think there are some weaknesses to some of the arguments. One that jumps out is the Abiogenesis argument: “The less complex one postulates it to have been, the harder to explain why biochemistry, which these days is highly sophisticated, cannot reproduce the event. ”

    My understanding is that this was a pretty low probability event, to get self-assembling proteins. I frankly do not have the biochemical background to even speculate on this likelihood. Even if you are trying to “stack the deck” in an experiment, how likely are you to get an event in the limited number of trials you will undertake?

    The early world was as big a place as now, and had a lot of time to originate life. From a quick google, “So it appears life was underway at least within 700 million years of the formation of the Earth (4.5 billions years ago).” That’s a pretty big chunk of time.

    Plus as long as we are going to wonky places, can anyone totally discount Hoyle’s Panspermia theory? And not I’m not going to something like 2001 and the monuments, or whatever they were doing in Prometheus.

    In closing I’d like to say I wholeheartedly agree with Fred’s statement: “To my eye, the damned place looks designed. By what, I am clueless.”

    Of course I can’t say that my intuition isn’t some kind of anthropomorphism. But I dunno, sure seems like the whole thing is rigged. For what, and by whom is a question for religion I guess.

    But it sure seems to me this is a stacked deck of some kind.

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "Syon, I actually think you are letting your own predilections show."

    Well, yes. You see, I have an unfortunate predilection for science...


    " This piece is the man’s honest opinion."

    I never said that Fred was not giving us his honest opinions; it's simply a matter of his honest opinions being wrong.

    " He is quite intelligent,"

    People keep on saying that, but I have yet to see any evidence for it.


    " and has arguments and speculations I don’t see you refuting."

    Must have missed my little foray into Fred's sub-Nietzschean speculations regarding human morality...


    " Plus I might add, that even without the humor, he has no problem admitting exactly what his qualifications are for these kinds of arguments."

    Humor, eh? Feeble attempts at it, more like.


    "He is quite well read though,"

    Sadly, being well-read is no proof against being a fool (cf Derrida). For that matter, I'm not so sure that Fred is well-read. There was his bizarre gaffe a while back about Perez-Reverte being a Latin American. Perhaps even more telling was his curious belief that Perez-Reverte, a purveyor of middlebrow entertainments, is somehow worthy of being placed alongside Borges...

    "as I imagine you are?"

    "In some areas. Less so in others.

    Now let’s clean up one of your statements:

    “You know, Fred, people keep on telling me that I should take you seriously, but then you post dreck like this…”

    I think it reads better like this:

    “You know, Syon, people keep on telling me that I should take you seriously, but then you post dreck like this…”"

    MMM, the old reversal technique, eh?Well, dear fellow, if that's your idea of wit, no wonder you find Fred entertaining.



    "In closing I’d like to say I wholeheartedly agree with Fred’s statement: “To my eye, the damned place looks designed. By what, I am clueless.”"

    Try reading up on natural selection, dear fellow.
  4. @Sunbeam
    Syon, I actually think you are letting your own predilections show. This piece is the man's honest opinion. He is quite intelligent, and has arguments and speculations I don't see you refuting. Plus I might add, that even without the humor, he has no problem admitting exactly what his qualifications are for these kinds of arguments.

    He is quite well read though, as I imagine you are?

    Now let's clean up one of your statements:

    "You know, Fred, people keep on telling me that I should take you seriously, but then you post dreck like this…"

    I think it reads better like this:

    "You know, Syon, people keep on telling me that I should take you seriously, but then you post dreck like this…"

    That said, at least to my eye, I think there are some weaknesses to some of the arguments. One that jumps out is the Abiogenesis argument: "The less complex one postulates it to have been, the harder to explain why biochemistry, which these days is highly sophisticated, cannot reproduce the event. "

    My understanding is that this was a pretty low probability event, to get self-assembling proteins. I frankly do not have the biochemical background to even speculate on this likelihood. Even if you are trying to "stack the deck" in an experiment, how likely are you to get an event in the limited number of trials you will undertake?

    The early world was as big a place as now, and had a lot of time to originate life. From a quick google, "So it appears life was underway at least within 700 million years of the formation of the Earth (4.5 billions years ago)." That's a pretty big chunk of time.

    Plus as long as we are going to wonky places, can anyone totally discount Hoyle's Panspermia theory? And not I'm not going to something like 2001 and the monuments, or whatever they were doing in Prometheus.

    In closing I'd like to say I wholeheartedly agree with Fred's statement: "To my eye, the damned place looks designed. By what, I am clueless."

    Of course I can't say that my intuition isn't some kind of anthropomorphism. But I dunno, sure seems like the whole thing is rigged. For what, and by whom is a question for religion I guess.

    But it sure seems to me this is a stacked deck of some kind.

    “Syon, I actually think you are letting your own predilections show.”

    Well, yes. You see, I have an unfortunate predilection for science…

    ” This piece is the man’s honest opinion.”

    I never said that Fred was not giving us his honest opinions; it’s simply a matter of his honest opinions being wrong.

    ” He is quite intelligent,”

    People keep on saying that, but I have yet to see any evidence for it.

    ” and has arguments and speculations I don’t see you refuting.”

    Must have missed my little foray into Fred’s sub-Nietzschean speculations regarding human morality…

    ” Plus I might add, that even without the humor, he has no problem admitting exactly what his qualifications are for these kinds of arguments.”

    Humor, eh? Feeble attempts at it, more like.

    “He is quite well read though,”

    Sadly, being well-read is no proof against being a fool (cf Derrida). For that matter, I’m not so sure that Fred is well-read. There was his bizarre gaffe a while back about Perez-Reverte being a Latin American. Perhaps even more telling was his curious belief that Perez-Reverte, a purveyor of middlebrow entertainments, is somehow worthy of being placed alongside Borges…

    “as I imagine you are?”

    “In some areas. Less so in others.

    Now let’s clean up one of your statements:

    “You know, Fred, people keep on telling me that I should take you seriously, but then you post dreck like this…”

    I think it reads better like this:

    “You know, Syon, people keep on telling me that I should take you seriously, but then you post dreck like this…””

    MMM, the old reversal technique, eh?Well, dear fellow, if that’s your idea of wit, no wonder you find Fred entertaining.

    “In closing I’d like to say I wholeheartedly agree with Fred’s statement: “To my eye, the damned place looks designed. By what, I am clueless.””

    Try reading up on natural selection, dear fellow.

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    • Replies: @robwbright
    Given that homosexuals cannot naturally reproduce (sure, they can using surrogates or test tubes, but are you going to qualify that as "natural"?):

    How do you explain the existence of homosexuals? Pedophiles? Science tells us (or is beginning to tell us as the case may be) they were born that way - i.e. born to (at least) prefer a type of sex that cannot result in reproduction. For what it's worth, science is also beginning to tell us that some are born pedophiles. Assuming that the subject of desire is under the age of puberty, then that predilection also cannot result in reproduction. (Note: I do not deny that most homosexuals or pedophiles COULD have hetero post-pubertal sex and reproduce - and undoubtedly some do). A significant number of homosexuals appear pretty much uninterested in hetero sex - to the point that some males apparently cannot perform with a woman at all.

    Wouldn't natural selection tend to consider the homosexual and pedophile "less fit" and evolve them out of existence? The preference itself certainly makes further advancement through reproduction significantly less likely. As the preference became more and more prevalent, then the population would likely become more and more homosexual (percentage-wise) and the population would then begin dropping and eventually lead to extinction, would it not? Or would you propose that people would simply then evolve to become bi-sexual? Or perhaps parthenogenesis would become the norm?
  5. Here’s a comment from Peter Frost regarding Fred’s peculiarities:

    “I spent years on Steve Sailer’s human-biodiversity list, a conclave of very powerful and equally inelastic minds concerned with IQ and evolution, and was astonished at their capacity to ignore unwanted evidence”

    I, too, was a member of the hbd list. It was a heterogeneous group of people with widely varying opinions on human biodiversity. For most, in fact, HBD was only a secondary topic of interest, as reflected in the discussions (which seemed to focus on American politics).

    From time to time, you would go off on a tangent about how we all felt that IQ is key to reproductive success, about how we all felt that Mexicans have an IQ of only 87, about how we were all white supremacists of one sort or another, and about how we had no explanation for declining fertility rates in Western nations. You seemed to be raging against your own inner demons because you would just brush off anything we wrote in reply.

    Personally, I don’t believe that the mean IQ in Mexico is 87. My own reading of the IQ literature is that it’s somewhere in the low 90s. That, too, could be wrong. In any case, from an HBD perspective, IQ data become really interesting only when combined with adoption studies or twin studies (and more recently with studies on allele frequencies).

    No one believes that intelligence is always key to reproductive success. Most forms of life have no intelligence whatsoever, and yet they manage to do very well. Intelligence is only one adaptation among many, and it’s useful only in certain environments and under certain conditions. Take those conditions away and it becomes maladaptive.

    I could go on, but you don’t seem to listen to people with contrary opinions. You prefer to debate with an inner demon who has a lot of nutty ideas.

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  6. Sadly, but predictably, Fred’s column is met with derision, because he reminds us all that genetics do not determine everything. It’s always been a crapshoot with evolution. Not long ago everyone believed the Irish were sub-human. Not just the English, but everyone. Then it was the Italians. And now it’s hispanics. That doesn’t mean hbd isn’t a worthwhile project – it is! But let’s not all lose sight that it’s also conjecture at this point. Fred isn’t all that far removed from Sailer, who keeps his columns regarding hbd fun. But Derb takes it to another level. He actually believes in racial superiority. I wonder if its pure coincidence he is a Brit.

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    • Replies: @Rich
    The Irish, the Italians and the Hispanics were all considered "sub-human"? By whom? I know there were a small group of Germans back in the 1930s and 40s who believed such things about the Jews, but I've never read such things about the English or "everybody" else. I assume you mean that because the Irish immigrants (and Italian and Hispanic and Jewish and Polish, etc.) to the US were usually poor and under-educated they were considered less intelligent. Sub-human is a term, I think, that was exclusive to the National Socialists.
  7. No selective pressures leads to a desire not to reproduce, hence those with a tendency to this behaviour will become less common. So those genes lose., AOTBE. You only have run faster than the other fellow running from the bear.

    No Downs syndrome babies are being born in some countries now .

    People are nice to get a reputation for being nice so people will be nice to them.

    “Not long ago everyone believed the Irish were sub-human.” I think you’ll find that in the period where they were actually treated as subhuman it was because they were believed to be Catholics and hence not Christians. We are all Irish here in the eyes of the elite.

    John Derbyshire is a racial defeatist. A realist.

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    • Replies: @Shuddh Bharatiyaan
    “Not long ago everyone believed the Irish were sub-human.” I think you’ll find that in the period where they were actually treated as subhuman it was because they were believed to be Catholics and hence not Christians. "

    Monotheism is a b*tch.
  8. “Sadly, but predictably, Fred’s column is met with derision, because he reminds us all that genetics do not determine everything.”

    Who actually believes that genes determine “everything?” Once again, the straw man argument.

    “It’s always been a crapshoot with evolution. Not long ago everyone believed the Irish were sub-human. Not just the English, but everyone.”

    Everyone, dear fellow? Does that include the non-Irish people who married Irishmen and Irishwomen in the 19th century?Straw man again.

    ” Then it was the Italians.”

    Yes, I’m quite sure that people thought that Galileo, Leonardo, Virgil, etc, were subhuman.

    ” And now it’s hispanics.”

    Who is claiming that “Hispanics” are subhuman? What HBDers do note is that Amerinds and Mestizos have mean IQs that are below the White American average. And that does not bode well for America.

    “That doesn’t mean hbd isn’t a worthwhile project – it is! But let’s not all lose sight that it’s also conjecture at this point.”

    Quite a bit of it is well beyond conjecture. For example, the genes that allow the Tibetans to thrive at altitude, the genes that give Blacks dark skins that resist skin cancer, the genes that enable many West Eurasians to consume milk in adulthood….

    “Fred isn’t all that far removed from Sailer, who keeps his columns regarding hbd fun.”

    When has Steve attempted to argue that the mean IQs of Amerinds and Mestizos are equal to the White mean?

    ” But Derb takes it to another level. He actually believes in racial superiority.”

    What does racial superiority mean? Tibetans are racially superior to Whites when it comes to reproducing at altitude. Blacks are superior to Europeans at resisting skin cancer. Pygmies are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to playing basketball when compared to, say, Lithuanians.

    ” I wonder if its pure coincidence he is a Brit.”

    Well, that would make him the heir to the Anglo tradition of empiricism….

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  9. I’ve no interest in getting between Fred and Derb on this, but I thought it interesting that I first found Fred on Everything columns from a link by Derb.

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  10. Got no dog in this fight. I like Fred’s essays and find him funny. He reminds me a bit of Mike Royko. And it’s fine by me if he wants to tip over some sacred cows and ask impertinent questions.

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "And it’s fine by me if he wants to tip over some sacred cows"

    In terms of science, what is a sacred cow? The speed of light? the germ theory of disease? continental drift?


    " and ask impertinent questions."

    Science is all about asking the right questions; Fred, sadly, is only interested in asking the wrong ones.
  11. @shmiggen
    Sadly, but predictably, Fred's column is met with derision, because he reminds us all that genetics do not determine everything. It's always been a crapshoot with evolution. Not long ago everyone believed the Irish were sub-human. Not just the English, but everyone. Then it was the Italians. And now it's hispanics. That doesn't mean hbd isn't a worthwhile project - it is! But let's not all lose sight that it's also conjecture at this point. Fred isn't all that far removed from Sailer, who keeps his columns regarding hbd fun. But Derb takes it to another level. He actually believes in racial superiority. I wonder if its pure coincidence he is a Brit.

    The Irish, the Italians and the Hispanics were all considered “sub-human”? By whom? I know there were a small group of Germans back in the 1930s and 40s who believed such things about the Jews, but I’ve never read such things about the English or “everybody” else. I assume you mean that because the Irish immigrants (and Italian and Hispanic and Jewish and Polish, etc.) to the US were usually poor and under-educated they were considered less intelligent. Sub-human is a term, I think, that was exclusive to the National Socialists.

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  12. The editor of a site devoted to genetic expression furiously began deleting any mention of me from his readers.

    Razib Khan? His behavior has often led me to wonder if there’s a genetic predisposition toward censoriousness and intolerance in the Indian genome.

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    “Razib Khan? His behavior has often led me to wonder if there’s a genetic predisposition toward censoriousness and intolerance in the Indian genome.”

    Razib Khan does not suffer fools gladly. When it comes to topics like evolution and psychometrics (cf Fred’s curious belief that that the mean IQs of Amerinds and Mestizos are equal to the White American mean), Fred is a fool of the first water.
    , @Shuddh Bharatiyaan
    "His behavior has often led me to wonder if there’s a genetic predisposition toward censoriousness and intolerance in the Indian genome."

    As a South Asian myself, I wouldn't at all be surprised if there were.
  13. I think you are being flippant, Fred. You are asking why modern science cannot reproduce millions of years of biological decisions in a test tube before your eyes and then you wander off into morality, your topic of choice, your comfort zone. Well, I think your morality is excellent, Fred, but that’s not on topic.

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  14. @rod1963
    Got no dog in this fight. I like Fred's essays and find him funny. He reminds me a bit of Mike Royko. And it's fine by me if he wants to tip over some sacred cows and ask impertinent questions.

    “And it’s fine by me if he wants to tip over some sacred cows”

    In terms of science, what is a sacred cow? The speed of light? the germ theory of disease? continental drift?

    ” and ask impertinent questions.”

    Science is all about asking the right questions; Fred, sadly, is only interested in asking the wrong ones.

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  15. (1) In evolutionary principle, traits that lead to more surviving children proliferate. In practice, when people learn how to have fewer or no children, they do. Whole industries exist to provide condoms, diaphragms, IUDs, vasectomies, and abortions, attesting to great enthusiasm for non-reproduction. Many advanced countries are declining in population. How does having fewer surviving children lead to having more surviving children? Less cutely, what selective pressures lead to a desire not to reproduce, and how does this fit into a Darwinian framework?

    I’m probably more an amateur than you, Fred. So I hope you and the gallery will forgive me my Philistine language and understanding, in advance.

    I think the idea you’re looking for is that “selection pressures vary.” I.e., if little green men occupied Earth and started killing all the smart people, then stupidity will be selected for; the stupid will have a survival advantage.

    See also r/K strategies and the like (in a nutshell, primitive organisms have many more offspring, and invest less in them, while complex have fewer offspring, and invest more in them).

    (2) The non-evolutionary explanation is clear and simple. “We could have two children and a nice condo, or fifteen and live in a shack.”

    I’m not so sure that’s a non-evolutionary explanation. Intelligence (combined with other human traits like tool-use and speech) is a game-changer. It’s a sort of trump card that allows a species to slap natural selection’s hand away and begin tinkering with its own evolution. Which obviously introduces the possibility of error.

    How many years would have to pass without replication of the event, if indeed it be not replicated, before one might begin to suspect that it didn’t happen?

    I would never expect someone to never suspect that something didn’t happen (exception: the Jewish holocaust). So, to answer your question: 0.

    It is difficult to see how the evolution from insect to caterpillar could occur at all, or why. But if it did, it would lead to a free-standing race of caterpillars, a new species, necessarily being able to reproduce. Then, for reasons mysterious to me, these would have to decide to pupate and become butterflies. Metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly is enormously complex and if you don’t get it right the first time, it’s curtains. Where would it have gotten the impossibly complex genetic blueprint of the butterfly?

    I certainly don’t know enough about the subject to answer you properly. But consider an organism that had a four-cycle life structure, but with low differentiation between the cycles. Is it hard to imagine that differentiation becoming greater, subsequent to the establishment of that four-cycle structure?

    That these traits tend strongly to appear together though they are logically independent suggests a genetic basis.

    I don’t see that they’re logically independent. They seem to me to form a thematically-linked bundle.

    A physical (to include chemical) system cannot make decisions.

    Says who?

    Unless it results from a point mutation, (and I do not think it does), it must have evolved gradually. This means, does it not, that even a partial fold conferred so great an advantage in survival that the possessor had more children than their unfolded relatives.

    Not necessarily. It could mean that a linked trait conferred an advantage (i.e., a tendency for possessors to have more surviving children who bred than non-possessors).

    Sorry, I got bored reading, so I’ll leave others to read and respond to the rest of your post. I don’t think you’re thinking too hard about these questions, and I’m not really qualified to answer them anyway.

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  16. Evolution looks atheist because Huxley hated preachers in that good, informed, brave, honest 19th century atheist way. It ain’t necessary. The Archbishop of Canterbury said it wasn’t, back when Archbishops preached like Christians, back when Darwin’s book first came out.

    Genesis isn’t all that out of line with the scientific theory. Life was formed from inert matter. The sexes differentiated from a non-sexually differentiated origin. Life started in the seas. Not too bad, actually.

    There’s nothing in a non-stupid (i.e., non-fundy/literalist) reading of Christianity that contradicts the idea of God using evolution to get ‘er done.

    “To my eye, the damned place looks designed. By what, I am clueless.”

    My dad, a theist, said the same thing. I call that anthropomorphization. Tomato, tomato.

    Of course I can’t say that my intuition isn’t some kind of anthropomorphism.

    Lol. The perils of commenting as I read.

    Not long ago everyone believed the Irish were sub-human.

    Speak for your own grand-parents.

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  17. syonredux [AKA "marlowe"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Svigor
    The editor of a site devoted to genetic expression furiously began deleting any mention of me from his readers.

    Razib Khan? His behavior has often led me to wonder if there's a genetic predisposition toward censoriousness and intolerance in the Indian genome.

    “Razib Khan? His behavior has often led me to wonder if there’s a genetic predisposition toward censoriousness and intolerance in the Indian genome.”

    Razib Khan does not suffer fools gladly. When it comes to topics like evolution and psychometrics (cf Fred’s curious belief that that the mean IQs of Amerinds and Mestizos are equal to the White American mean), Fred is a fool of the first water.

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    • Replies: @Shuddh Bharatiyaan
    "When it comes to topics like evolution and psychometrics (cf Fred’s curious belief that that the mean IQs of Amerinds and Mestizos are equal to the White American mean), Fred is a fool of the first water."

    I'm more curious about Bangladeshi mean IQ.
  18. @syonredux
    “Razib Khan? His behavior has often led me to wonder if there’s a genetic predisposition toward censoriousness and intolerance in the Indian genome.”

    Razib Khan does not suffer fools gladly. When it comes to topics like evolution and psychometrics (cf Fred’s curious belief that that the mean IQs of Amerinds and Mestizos are equal to the White American mean), Fred is a fool of the first water.

    “When it comes to topics like evolution and psychometrics (cf Fred’s curious belief that that the mean IQs of Amerinds and Mestizos are equal to the White American mean), Fred is a fool of the first water.”

    I’m more curious about Bangladeshi mean IQ.

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "I’m more curious about Bangladeshi mean IQ."


    Fred isn't.
  19. @Svigor
    The editor of a site devoted to genetic expression furiously began deleting any mention of me from his readers.

    Razib Khan? His behavior has often led me to wonder if there's a genetic predisposition toward censoriousness and intolerance in the Indian genome.

    “His behavior has often led me to wonder if there’s a genetic predisposition toward censoriousness and intolerance in the Indian genome.”

    As a South Asian myself, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if there were.

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  20. Only the blind — usually willfully so — can’t see the obvious design of this planet, and of the universe. A fallen, ruined, degraded, but clear design. Why are planets and stars essentially round? Oh yeah gravity solar winds secret triple-probation dark matter blahdeblah. Why do eclipses often EXACTLY blot out the sun etc.? Chance and evolutionary mechanisms did that? Spare me. But I’m sure they’ve got a formula, like most babies.

    I am weary of Godling Science, its arrogance, its massive funding, its pretensions, no better illustrated that the (enormously expensive and resource-depleting) God Particle nonsense. The joke’s on us! Not to mention the tab.

    Science is a language one can use to explain the universe, or a tool to manipulate primitive aspects of it. Instead, it’s probably the world’s major modern religion. Good luck with that.

    I’ve witnessed and experienced too many things in this life (sometimes concurrently witnessed by scientists and their beloved Equipment, sometimes to their consternation) to buy into the assurances of Holy Science. I had to be shown better. And I was. Love is the basic particle. Not leptons. If Scientists and Atheists are not shown, or refuse to see, it’s not my problem.

    Cheers.

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  21. @Sean
    No selective pressures leads to a desire not to reproduce, hence those with a tendency to this behaviour will become less common. So those genes lose., AOTBE. You only have run faster than the other fellow running from the bear.

    No Downs syndrome babies are being born in some countries now .

    People are nice to get a reputation for being nice so people will be nice to them.

    "Not long ago everyone believed the Irish were sub-human." I think you'll find that in the period where they were actually treated as subhuman it was because they were believed to be Catholics and hence not Christians. We are all Irish here in the eyes of the elite.

    John Derbyshire is a racial defeatist. A realist.

    “Not long ago everyone believed the Irish were sub-human.” I think you’ll find that in the period where they were actually treated as subhuman it was because they were believed to be Catholics and hence not Christians. ”

    Monotheism is a b*tch.

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  22. “Fred’s curious belief that that the mean IQs of Amerinds and Mestizos are equal to the White American mean”

    I’ve been thinking about this for a while. Probably with enough white genes (more than half), you can get a fairly elevated IQ. Pushkin was an eighth African, after all, and there’s no reason the half-to-quarter-Indian ladies Fred was showing a little while ago couldn’t be reasonably brainy. (IQ 120?) The one-drop rule defies common sense, anyway. There’s this belief that black or Indian blood is some pollutant that defiles everything it touches, but realistically you’re talking about breeding between two populations, each with its own mean and standard deviation, and selection pressures on top of that. You’re probably not going to get any Fields Medalists out of the results, but you can probably have a functional society, particularly if you have other things like religion helping out.

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  23. SFG:”I’ve been thinking about this for a while. Probably with enough white genes (more than half), you can get a fairly elevated IQ. Pushkin was an eighth African, after all,”

    12.5%

    SFG:” and there’s no reason the half-to-quarter-Indian ladies Fred was showing a little while ago couldn’t be reasonably brainy. (IQ 120?)”

    The gals that Fred paraded as evidence of Amerind abilities were, to put it mildly, not very Amerind-looking:

    Violeta: Based on her photo, she looks completely White. Useless even as an anecdote.

    Jasmin: Based on her photo, she looks completely White. Useless even as an anecdote.

    Natalia: Based on her photo, she might have some Amerind ancestry. On the other hand, she might not. Quasi-useful as an anecdote.

    SFG:”The one-drop rule defies common sense, anyway.”

    Yes.

    SFG:”There’s this belief that black or Indian blood is some pollutant that defiles everything it touches,”

    That belief was fairly widely held in terms of Black ancestry (cf the one drop rule). Where Amerinds were concerned, though, things were more complicated (cf FFVs boasting of descent from Pocahontas, the career of Will Rogers, etc).

    SFG:” but realistically you’re talking about breeding between two populations, each with its own mean and standard deviation, and selection pressures on top of that. You’re probably not going to get any Fields Medalists out of the results, but you can probably have a functional society, particularly if you have other things like religion helping out.”

    Mexico is a functioning society, but it is also an extremely mediocre society (cf such metrics as Nobel laureates, Fields Medal winners, etc). I, for one, am not keen on seeing America dragged down to the level of Mexico.

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  24. @Shuddh Bharatiyaan
    "When it comes to topics like evolution and psychometrics (cf Fred’s curious belief that that the mean IQs of Amerinds and Mestizos are equal to the White American mean), Fred is a fool of the first water."

    I'm more curious about Bangladeshi mean IQ.

    “I’m more curious about Bangladeshi mean IQ.”

    Fred isn’t.

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  25. syonredux [AKA "marlowe"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Old but useful article taking Fred to task for his ramblings:

    Fred Reed, right-wing creationist hero of the moment asked what he imagined to be hard questions that challenge the validity of evolutionary biology. They are actually rather tired and often answered “problems.” When confronted with any creationist making bold pronouncements, one should first look in The Index of Creationist Claims, or Creationist Lies and Blunders. That will take care of a majority of their so-called “evidenecs.” Several of Reed’s arguments have been debunked here already; The Neck of the Giraffe, and How I Spent My Morning. The key appeal of the Fred Reeds of the world is that they are ignorant, and lazy. It is neither a shame nor a crime to be ignorant, we are all born totally ingnorant. It is not a crime to be lazy, but it is a waste of ability. And true enough, it is not a crime to be ignorant and lazy, nor should it be even abstractly. But what chafes my butt is that I am actually forced to pay thousands of dollars a year on “professional liability insurance” because I am legally acknowledged as an expert in certain areas, and people, and courts of law, and corporations pay me cash money to provide them with my professional expert opinion. The salt in the wound is that ignoramuses like Fred Reed can promote their inanities without liability. Something to do with the First Amendment freedom of speech ‘guarantee.’ Nothing is ever truly secure and ironically the seperation of Church and State also ‘guaranteed’ in the First Amendment is under attack by the far-right. Because he isn’t an expert at anything, and even stressed that he doesn’t know what he is writing about, Fred’s not accountable for his false statements. This is a classic example of ‘buyer beware.”

    Fred Reed, and echoed by one of our local creationist pests, DaveScot, have also promoted insect metamorphosis and a “big” problem unexplained by science. There are many textbooks on insects, and evolution, and developmental biology of near a thousand pages a piece (some of which I’ll refer to below). There are also thousands of individual journal publications, many highly specialized. (Highly specialized means that I could hardly tell what they were about, and neither Fred nor Dave would have any clue at all. Otherwise, as honest and dillignet scholars they would have already read them all. Yeah, sure). Creationists count on that massive gap between what is known by science and even the literate public. {A personal note here: I come from a family which ranges from illiterates to doctorates. For example, my dear Grandmother couldn’t finish the sixth grade in 1908 because the family buggy lost its axle when their horse spooked one morning. She was never to return to school. I am not making fun of those less educated, Fred is far better educated than many of my kin. Therefore, he should be held far more accountable for willful ignorance}.

    Anyway Fred, just for openers, not all insects undergo metamorphosis and to start your ‘argument’ with the highly evolved lepidoptera (critters with caterpillars) is lamebrained at best.

    Endopterygota: Insects with complete metamorphosis Insects undergoing Metamorphosis

    Follow the tree, dofus. The evolution of metamorphosis started way way back, not just at the very end.

    An additional, and a bit easier to follow for beginners, version is available a Kendall Bioresearch Services: Insect Taxonomy – Agroecology – Biometrics – Expert Witness. Some people might be surprised at the “expert witness” category for Dr David A Kendall’s consulting entomology practice, but entomologists are significant members of the forensic science community which reaches far beyond the popular TV shows like “CSI: where-ever” (which are commended for at least making a decent effort of being scientifically acurate). This rather gives lie to the “would you convict someone based on this evidence?” argument we sometimes see from creationists. Yes, we would- and jury verdicts prove it!

    And I think that good start for little kids, Fred Reed, and our local eartick, DaveScot, is INSECT CHARACTERISTICS: METAMORPHOSIS: Growing Up. Good advice as well.

    Next, consider a popular introductory college level textbook, [u]The Insects: An Outline of Entomology Third Edition[/u] By: Penny Gullan, and Peter Cranston, University of California, Davis published by Blackwell, inc. They only devote one out of 17 chapters to issues relating explicitly to insect evolution. Why? Because there is no time to waste on issues that are already long resolved in general, and far too complex in the details specified by specialists devoted to minutiae.

    Another example with a bit more supplemental data is the chapter on Insect Metamorphosis found in the exemplary textbook [u]Developmental Biology, Seventh Edition[/u] by Scott F. Gilbert, published by Sinauer Associates. I strongly recommend the DivBio website, and consideration of Prof. Gilbert’s textbook for adoption.

    Fred Reed, “Or consider caterpillars. A caterpillar has no obvious resemblance to a butterfly. The disparity in engineering is huge. The caterpillar has no legs, properly speaking, certainly no wings, no proboscis.”
    This is the first very ignorant thing Fred has to say on the subject. Oh, it is of course the first thing Fred has to say on the subject. Caterpillars of course have legs. In fact, most have multiple sets of legs which are developmentally differentiated. I currently have at least 6 species of insect larva crawling around the front yard, and I just checked. Fred could too. In the entomology literature, these are often referred to as “protopodia” (those which undergo the least metamorphosis and typically different structurally from the other larval leg sets, plus are typically the front 3 pairs), and “pseudopodia” (those expressed on larval body segments that are not conserved in later stages). There is also an obvious evolutionary relationship here: the “protopodia” are conserved (that means ‘retained’ Fred) through all insect larva to adults. And they are not “engineered” Fred; that is called “assuming your conclusion.” It is a creationist “dead giveaway.” Remember you are pretending not to be a creationist?

    Back to Fred, “How did a species that did not undergo metamorphosis evolve into one that did? Pupating looks like something you do well or not at all: If you don’t turn into something practical at the end, you don’t get another chance.
    This is a more subtle error. The butterflies Fred has based his ‘shattering’ critique on are at the near end of an evolutionary trajectory of over 450 million years. The answer, of course, lies in the far end of this trajectory.

    Think about this. The ancestor of a modern caterpillar necessarily was something that could reproduce already. To get to be a butterfly-producing sort of organism, it would have to evolve silk-extruding organs, since they are what you make a cocoon with. OK, maybe it did this to tie leaves together, or maybe the beast resembled a tent-caterpillar. (Again, plausibility over evidence.) Then some mutation caused it to wrap itself experimentally in silk. (What mutation? Are we serious?) It then died, wrapped, because it had no machinery to cause it to undergo the fantastically complex transformation into a butterfly. Death is usually a discouragement to reproduction.
    Fred might have “thought” when he should have studied. First, butterflies don’t produce a silk cocoon, although some moths do. And even many moths don’t produce a silk cocoon and rely on a dried mucus chrysalis much like that of the butterfly. Some have a bit of both; a mucus chrysalis suspended loosely by a silk webbing. They all burst their enclosure simply by growing- and that growth is achieved by more by rearangement than by addition of new cells. A well known (but not to creationists) fact is that all insect larva store large amounts of fat prior to metamorphosis to feed the necessary cell growth and rearrangement.

    Tell me how the beast can gradually acquire, by accident, the capacity gradually to undergo all the formidably elaborate changes from worm to butterfly, so that each intermediate form is a practical organism that survives. If evolutionists cannot answer such questions, the theory fails.

    This is just stupid, Fred. Insect larva are not worms. Worms do not undergo metamorphosis to emerge as insects. There are obvious evolutionary links between the segmented “worms” and insects, but you will need to start with understanding some basics first. You are still restricted to the shalow end of the pool. Next, evolution of advanced organisms is not the product of “accident.” The technical use of the idea of “random” which Fred bastardized with the term “accident” referred to chemical events which are in of themselves not merely by chance (see; Jeffrey S. Wicken, 1979 The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion, Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 77 (April ), p. 349, or Kauffman, Stuart A. 1993 [u]The Origins of Order: Self -Organization and Selection in Evolution[/u] Oxford: Oxford University Press).

    Finally Fred, your gross ignorance has little to do with the success or failure of biological science. At worst, you and you pro-ignorance fellows will drive science off shore like the rest of America’s lost manufacturing employment base.

    Here the evolutionist will say, “Fred, caterpillars are soft, squashy things and don’t leave good fossils, so it’s unreasonable to expect us to find proof.”
    There are fossil data, but the more significant is the current, living species data. What is stupid of Fred is to ask for detailed fossil data from organisms that don’t fossilize well.

    Some of the current literature that Fred should have become very familiar with before poping off is:

    JAMES W. TRUMAN AND LYNN M. RIDDIFORD 1999 “The origins of insect metamorphosis” Nature 401, 447 – 452 (30 September 1999)

    Abstract: Insect metamorphosis is a fascinating and highly successful biological adaptation, but there is much uncertainty as to how it evolved. Ancestral insect species did not undergo metamorphosis and there are still some existing species that lack metamorphosis or undergo only partial metamorphosis. Based on endocrine studies and morphological comparisons of the development of insect species with and without metamorphosis, a novel hypothesis for the evolution of metamorphosis is proposed. Changes in the endocrinology of development are central to this hypothesis. The three stages of the ancestral insect species–pronymph, nymph and adult–are proposed to be equivalent to the larva, pupa and adult stages of insects with complete metamorphosis. This proposal has general implications for insect developmental biology.
    Note that in the last 7 years, a great deal more has been added to the information from the above publication. For example,

    Donning, Daryl P. “Metamorphosis and Evolution.” NCSE Reports 14 (2) 11.

    James W. Truman, Lynn M. Riddiford 2002 “ENDOCRINE INSIGHTS INTO THE EVOLUTION OF METAMORPHOSIS IN INSECTS” Annual Review of Entomology Vol. 47: 467-500 (Volume publication date January 2002) (doi:10.1146/annurev.ento.47.091201.145230)

    Shanavas A, Arif A, Murthy CRK, Dutta-Gupta A 2004 “Developmental and hormonal regulation of actin and tubulin in the central nervous system of silkworm, Bombyx mori during postembryonic development” CURRENT SCIENCE 87 (3): 383-388 AUG 10 2004

    Erezyilmaz DF, Riddiford LM, Truman JW 2004 “Juvenile hormone acts at embryonic molts and induces the nymphal cuticle in the direct-developing cricket” DEVELOPMENT GENES AND EVOLUTION 214 (7): 313-323 JUL 2004

    Abstract: During embryogenesis of hemimetabolous insects, the sesquiterpenoid hormone, juvenile hormone (JH), appears late in embryogenesis coincident with formation of the first nymphal cuticle. We tested the role of embryonic JH by treating cricket embryos with JH III, or the JH-mimic (JHM) pyriproxifen, during early embryogenesis. We found two discrete windows of JH sensitivity. The first occurs during the formation of the first (E1) embryonic cuticle. Treatment with JHM prior to this molt produced small embryos that failed to complete the movements of katatrepsis. Embryos treated after the E1 molt but before the second embryonic (pronymphal) molt completed katatrepsis but then failed to complete dorsal closure and precociously formed nymphal, rather than pronymphal characters. This second sensitivity window was further assessed by treating embryos with low doses of JH III prior to the pronymphal molt. With low doses, mosaic cuticles were formed, bearing features of both the pronymphal and nymphal stages. The nymphal characters varied in their sensitivity to JH III, due at least in part to differences in the timing of their sensitivity windows. Unexpectedly, many of the JH III-treated embryos with mosaic and precocious nymphal cuticles made a second nymphal cuticle and successfully hatched. JH treatment also affected the growth of the embryos. By focusing on the developing limb, we found that the effect of JH upon growth was asymmetric, with distal segments more affected than proximal ones, but this was not reflected in misexpression of Distal-less or Bric-a-brac, which are involved in proximal-distal patterning of the limb.
    Note: Those above are only ones I have, and have read. There are many many more. As I am far from an expert, and would never presume to publish an independent opinion a la our boy Freddy that there is no data regarding insect evolution that could explain metamorphosis, it is the responsibility of the “freddies” for analysis and to counter these scientific studies of which they are so ignorant. Even obsolete references serve to refute Fred Reed and his creationist compadres:

    Metamorphosis: Postembryonic Reprogramming of Gene Expression in Amphibian and Insect Cells. LAWRENCE I. GILBERT, JAMSHED R. TATA, AND BURR G. ATKINSON, eds. Academic Press. 1996. 687 pages. $125.00. ISBN 0-12-283245-0.

    reviewed : in American Zoologist, Feb 1997 by H Frederik Nijhout and presented online today.

    Much of the difficulty in understanding the role of JH in metamorphosis no doubt arises from the fact that metamorphosis and its endocrine control have undergone significant evolutionary divergence and specialization. Features that apply to one taxon are not fully generalizable to others. In the opening chapter Sehnal et al. make the case that the key to understanding the diversity and evolution of metamorphosis and its endocrine control lies in a comparative cladistic analysis of endocrine and developmental mechanisms. They are obviously correct. The remainder of this volume, preoccupied with molecular details of model systems and eschewing a comparative approach, suggests that the community of developmental endocrinologists is not yet ready to hear this plea. But the development Sehnal et al. call for is inevitable, because once we are done describing the shared primitive characters of the molecular mechanisms of metamorphosis we will be forced to deal with the things that make animals different, both in development and in evolution. We look forward to descriptions of such studies in Metamorphosis IV, which should appear in about 2010.

    Fred again: “I see the problem. But it is unreasonable to expect me to accept something on the grounds that it can’t be proved. Yes, it is possible that an explanation exists and that we just haven’t found it. But you can say that of anything whatever. Is it good science to assume that evidence will be forthcoming because we sure would like it to be? I’ll gladly give you evidence Wednesday for a theory today?
    Fred, you have not the least valid interest in biology, otherwise you would have learned a little bit about it before opening your mouth so wide. You clearly haven’t. You have swallowed a load in the back of the throat from creationist ignorance peddlers.

    Swallow hard, boy- you begged for it.

    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/03/swallow-hard-fr.html

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    • Replies: @robwbright
    "Insect metamorphosis is a fascinating and highly successful biological adaptation, but there is much uncertainty as to how it evolved."

    You still haven't answered the question as to how the evolution happened over thousands or millions or billions of years. We ALL agree that there is a process by which a caterpillar develops into a butterfly and that the articles you cited and quoted describe that process. That does not explain how that process developed over a period of millions of years. The process happens or it doesn't.

    Since you can't answer clear, direct questions without falling back on other people's research (that also admits they don't know how it happened), let me make it easy... I mean hard, for you:

    The first caterpillar "decides" he wants/needs to be a butterfly. What caused that need or desire? There's no apparent need for a caterpillar to fly. He seems to survive on his own without flying. Why not just be a caterpillar? Since the butterfly is presumably the more advanced form, why haven't caterpillars ceased to exist? Surely evolution could get rid of those slimy little worms and just leave us with the beautiful butterflies...

    Even though you can't actually answer those questions (because you don't actually know with any certainty), we'll continue: The caterpillar starts to evolve in the direction of butterfly. Since it takes "x" amount of time (presumably millions of years, since you describe "an evolutionary trajectory of over 450 million years) to evolve from caterpillar to butterfly, that particular caterpillar doesn't manage to actually become a butterfly.

    What did that caterpillar become instead of a butterfly? Did it survive? Could it reproduce? Did it have wings? Do we have evidence of something that existed between a caterpillar and a butterfly? Why do we not see such intermediate "something" living today? Did the other caterpillars at the same time evolve in the same way? Different ways? Do we have evidence of these other ways?

    Your answer is exactly what Fred predicted it would be. "It happened. Believe us. It's too complicated to explain here and you wouldn't understand it anyway."

    Instead of posting a bunch of articles describing the process of development from caterpillar to butterfly (and not describing the evolution of the process itself with any certainty), why didn't you just post, "I don't know how it happened."?

    After all the article YOU quoted admits as much: "...much uncertainty as to how it evolved."

    If I were the same sort of person as you, I'd probably call you a bunch of juvenile names and insults - which you will undoubtedly call me now. But you won't answer the questions with certainty because you simply don't know.
  26. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @syonredux
    You know, Fred, people keep on telling me that I should take you seriously, but then you post dreck like this....


    "(2) Morality. In evolution as I understand it, there are no absolute moral values: Morals evolved as traits allowing social cooperation, conducing to the survival of the group and therefore to the production of more surviving children. "

    Doing okay here...


    "The philosophical case for this absence of absolutes usually consists in pointing out that in various societies everything currently regarded as immoral has been accepted as acceptable (e.g., burning heretics to death)."

    And then you go off the rails. Human morality is actually less flexible over time, Fred. Certain traits are universal. Go and pick up Pinker's THE BLANK SLATE; he has a whole list of human universals towards the back.

    "I cannot refute the argument. However, I thnk it intellectually disreputable to posit premises and then not accept their consequences."

    MMMM, I think that someone is going to go slippery slope on us....

    "Question: Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded?"

    Do you have a genuine desire to do so, Fred? Alternatively, how many people of your acquaintance have such a desire?

    " This would seem beneficial."

    Preventing them from breeding, sure.

    "We certainly don’t want them to reproduce, they use resources better invested in healthy children, and it makes no evolutionary difference whether they die quietly or screaming."

    Sure, but why would you want to go to the trouble of torturing them to death, Fred? Sterilization/euthanasia can be done in a painless fashion. Bit of a straw man there. On the plus side, though, you didn't bring up Hitler. So kudos.

    hey syon, are you going to answer any of his questions? He was being respectful and at best you are insulting him. You and other atheist clones like you are the reason I can’t tolerate atheists. You are complete bores and when querried you retreat to insults.

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "hey syon, are you going to answer any of his questions?"

    Calling them questions is granting most of them a dignity that they do not deserve. That being said, I did respond to Fred's straw man bleatings about how believing in natural selection should make us want to torture to death the congenitally unfit.


    "He was being respectful"

    Actually, Fred's refusal to understand the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis (Yes, I am assuming that he is smart enough to understand it) marks him as a disrespectful dilettante.

    "and at best you are insulting him."

    Fred's postings on this subject, along with those on Amerind and Mestizo IQ, insult every thinking person.


    "You and other atheist clones like you are the reason I can’t tolerate atheists. You are complete bores and when querried you retreat to insults."

    Sadly, truth can be quite a bore.
  27. Syon

    Lighten up dude, you really give science a bad name. Acting like a cop and witch burner over a little easay.

    If anything it shows how thin skinned and arrogant you Evolutionists are. You guys have turned it into a religion and elected yourselves as inquisitors to any that even dare joke about it.

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "Lighten up dude, you really give science a bad name."


    Do I, dear fellow?

    " Acting like a cop and witch burner over a little easay."

    Not like a cop, I should think. More like a teacher who is shocked at how incompetent a student is.

    As for being a witch burner...I am an Anglo, and English witches were hanged, not burned.

    "If anything it shows how thin skinned and arrogant you Evolutionists are."

    I act more in sorrow than in anger, dear fellow. Reading Fred makes me despair. To think that Western Man has sunk so low....

    "You guys have turned it into a religion"

    Hardly, dear fellow. The Neo-Darwinian synthesis is merely the best theory going in terms of evolution. If something with greater explanatory power turns up, I will readily discard the Neo-Darwinian synthesis.

    "and elected yourselves as inquisitors to any that even dare joke about it."

    Again, no. I'm simply sad that Fred can't cope with reality.
  28. Marlowe: You call Fred Reed a lot of disrespectful names. Should we respect you ? You seem to know quite a lot. How about learning some basic manners? You don’t even have your zoological terminology straight. If you can write, “Insect larva are not worms” we may well call you an ignoramus.

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "Marlowe: You call Fred Reed a lot of disrespectful names. Should we respect you ? You seem to know quite a lot. How about learning some basic manners? You don’t even have your zoological terminology straight. If you can write, “Insect larva are not worms” we may well call you an ignoramus."

    I didn't write the bit about insect larva; that was from an article that I reposted.
  29. Can cognition be retrocausal?
    Does Time have dimensions?
    Are mechanical repairs to history subject to a temporal narrative?
    Ask a plumber, or an electrical engineer. Or a god.
    Fluid dynamics, differential equations, backwards neutrinos.
    Heh, electromagnetic dirt tornados. Most do not even know what they are trying to look at.
    Do not miss electric bacteria, they coax electrons , forever.
    Evolution. Mechanics. Like a dense spy novel. Not about the questions; more what is not said.

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  30. @syonredux
    "Syon, I actually think you are letting your own predilections show."

    Well, yes. You see, I have an unfortunate predilection for science...


    " This piece is the man’s honest opinion."

    I never said that Fred was not giving us his honest opinions; it's simply a matter of his honest opinions being wrong.

    " He is quite intelligent,"

    People keep on saying that, but I have yet to see any evidence for it.


    " and has arguments and speculations I don’t see you refuting."

    Must have missed my little foray into Fred's sub-Nietzschean speculations regarding human morality...


    " Plus I might add, that even without the humor, he has no problem admitting exactly what his qualifications are for these kinds of arguments."

    Humor, eh? Feeble attempts at it, more like.


    "He is quite well read though,"

    Sadly, being well-read is no proof against being a fool (cf Derrida). For that matter, I'm not so sure that Fred is well-read. There was his bizarre gaffe a while back about Perez-Reverte being a Latin American. Perhaps even more telling was his curious belief that Perez-Reverte, a purveyor of middlebrow entertainments, is somehow worthy of being placed alongside Borges...

    "as I imagine you are?"

    "In some areas. Less so in others.

    Now let’s clean up one of your statements:

    “You know, Fred, people keep on telling me that I should take you seriously, but then you post dreck like this…”

    I think it reads better like this:

    “You know, Syon, people keep on telling me that I should take you seriously, but then you post dreck like this…”"

    MMM, the old reversal technique, eh?Well, dear fellow, if that's your idea of wit, no wonder you find Fred entertaining.



    "In closing I’d like to say I wholeheartedly agree with Fred’s statement: “To my eye, the damned place looks designed. By what, I am clueless.”"

    Try reading up on natural selection, dear fellow.

    Given that homosexuals cannot naturally reproduce (sure, they can using surrogates or test tubes, but are you going to qualify that as “natural”?):

    How do you explain the existence of homosexuals? Pedophiles? Science tells us (or is beginning to tell us as the case may be) they were born that way – i.e. born to (at least) prefer a type of sex that cannot result in reproduction. For what it’s worth, science is also beginning to tell us that some are born pedophiles. Assuming that the subject of desire is under the age of puberty, then that predilection also cannot result in reproduction. (Note: I do not deny that most homosexuals or pedophiles COULD have hetero post-pubertal sex and reproduce – and undoubtedly some do). A significant number of homosexuals appear pretty much uninterested in hetero sex – to the point that some males apparently cannot perform with a woman at all.

    Wouldn’t natural selection tend to consider the homosexual and pedophile “less fit” and evolve them out of existence? The preference itself certainly makes further advancement through reproduction significantly less likely. As the preference became more and more prevalent, then the population would likely become more and more homosexual (percentage-wise) and the population would then begin dropping and eventually lead to extinction, would it not? Or would you propose that people would simply then evolve to become bi-sexual? Or perhaps parthenogenesis would become the norm?

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "Given that homosexuals cannot naturally reproduce (sure, they can using surrogates or test tubes, but are you going to qualify that as “natural”?):

    How do you explain the existence of homosexuals?"


    Greg Cochran has a theory that sounds quite promising:


    "I’ve said it before, but it’s probably time to say it again. The most likely explanation for human homosexuality is that it is caused by some pathogen. It’s too common to be mutational pressure (and we don’t see syndromic versions, as we would in that case), it’s not new, identical twins are usually discordant (~75% of the time), and it’s hell on reproductive fitness. There is no way it is adaptive: the helpful gay uncle notion, group selection, compensating advantage in females, etc: these range from impossible to bloody unlikely. It doesn’t exist in most hunter-gatherers: you have to explain what it is you’re even talking about when you ask them. Presumably with diagrams.

    As for Freudian explanations, exotic-becomes-erotic, etc: just reading the social-science literature on the subject is enough to make you wonder if the human brain really does exist to cool the blood.

    A fair number of the smarter people interested in the subject agree with me. Not that they think it proven, but they agree that it is the only theory out there that makes any evolutionary sense. Bill Hamilton thought it made sense. So does Alan Grafen. Mike Bailey thinks it more likely than any other explanation tendered thus far."

    http://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/depths-of-madness/
  31. @syonredux
    Old but useful article taking Fred to task for his ramblings:

    Fred Reed, right-wing creationist hero of the moment asked what he imagined to be hard questions that challenge the validity of evolutionary biology. They are actually rather tired and often answered “problems.” When confronted with any creationist making bold pronouncements, one should first look in The Index of Creationist Claims, or Creationist Lies and Blunders. That will take care of a majority of their so-called “evidenecs.” Several of Reed’s arguments have been debunked here already; The Neck of the Giraffe, and How I Spent My Morning. The key appeal of the Fred Reeds of the world is that they are ignorant, and lazy. It is neither a shame nor a crime to be ignorant, we are all born totally ingnorant. It is not a crime to be lazy, but it is a waste of ability. And true enough, it is not a crime to be ignorant and lazy, nor should it be even abstractly. But what chafes my butt is that I am actually forced to pay thousands of dollars a year on “professional liability insurance” because I am legally acknowledged as an expert in certain areas, and people, and courts of law, and corporations pay me cash money to provide them with my professional expert opinion. The salt in the wound is that ignoramuses like Fred Reed can promote their inanities without liability. Something to do with the First Amendment freedom of speech ‘guarantee.’ Nothing is ever truly secure and ironically the seperation of Church and State also ‘guaranteed’ in the First Amendment is under attack by the far-right. Because he isn’t an expert at anything, and even stressed that he doesn’t know what he is writing about, Fred’s not accountable for his false statements. This is a classic example of ‘buyer beware.”

    Fred Reed, and echoed by one of our local creationist pests, DaveScot, have also promoted insect metamorphosis and a “big” problem unexplained by science. There are many textbooks on insects, and evolution, and developmental biology of near a thousand pages a piece (some of which I’ll refer to below). There are also thousands of individual journal publications, many highly specialized. (Highly specialized means that I could hardly tell what they were about, and neither Fred nor Dave would have any clue at all. Otherwise, as honest and dillignet scholars they would have already read them all. Yeah, sure). Creationists count on that massive gap between what is known by science and even the literate public. {A personal note here: I come from a family which ranges from illiterates to doctorates. For example, my dear Grandmother couldn’t finish the sixth grade in 1908 because the family buggy lost its axle when their horse spooked one morning. She was never to return to school. I am not making fun of those less educated, Fred is far better educated than many of my kin. Therefore, he should be held far more accountable for willful ignorance}.

    Anyway Fred, just for openers, not all insects undergo metamorphosis and to start your ‘argument’ with the highly evolved lepidoptera (critters with caterpillars) is lamebrained at best.

    Endopterygota: Insects with complete metamorphosis Insects undergoing Metamorphosis

    Follow the tree, dofus. The evolution of metamorphosis started way way back, not just at the very end.

    An additional, and a bit easier to follow for beginners, version is available a Kendall Bioresearch Services: Insect Taxonomy - Agroecology - Biometrics - Expert Witness. Some people might be surprised at the “expert witness” category for Dr David A Kendall’s consulting entomology practice, but entomologists are significant members of the forensic science community which reaches far beyond the popular TV shows like “CSI: where-ever” (which are commended for at least making a decent effort of being scientifically acurate). This rather gives lie to the “would you convict someone based on this evidence?” argument we sometimes see from creationists. Yes, we would- and jury verdicts prove it!

    And I think that good start for little kids, Fred Reed, and our local eartick, DaveScot, is INSECT CHARACTERISTICS: METAMORPHOSIS: Growing Up. Good advice as well.

    Next, consider a popular introductory college level textbook, [u]The Insects: An Outline of Entomology Third Edition[/u] By: Penny Gullan, and Peter Cranston, University of California, Davis published by Blackwell, inc. They only devote one out of 17 chapters to issues relating explicitly to insect evolution. Why? Because there is no time to waste on issues that are already long resolved in general, and far too complex in the details specified by specialists devoted to minutiae.

    Another example with a bit more supplemental data is the chapter on Insect Metamorphosis found in the exemplary textbook [u]Developmental Biology, Seventh Edition[/u] by Scott F. Gilbert, published by Sinauer Associates. I strongly recommend the DivBio website, and consideration of Prof. Gilbert’s textbook for adoption.

    Fred Reed, “Or consider caterpillars. A caterpillar has no obvious resemblance to a butterfly. The disparity in engineering is huge. The caterpillar has no legs, properly speaking, certainly no wings, no proboscis.”
    This is the first very ignorant thing Fred has to say on the subject. Oh, it is of course the first thing Fred has to say on the subject. Caterpillars of course have legs. In fact, most have multiple sets of legs which are developmentally differentiated. I currently have at least 6 species of insect larva crawling around the front yard, and I just checked. Fred could too. In the entomology literature, these are often referred to as “protopodia” (those which undergo the least metamorphosis and typically different structurally from the other larval leg sets, plus are typically the front 3 pairs), and “pseudopodia” (those expressed on larval body segments that are not conserved in later stages). There is also an obvious evolutionary relationship here: the “protopodia” are conserved (that means ‘retained’ Fred) through all insect larva to adults. And they are not “engineered” Fred; that is called “assuming your conclusion.” It is a creationist “dead giveaway.” Remember you are pretending not to be a creationist?

    Back to Fred, “How did a species that did not undergo metamorphosis evolve into one that did? Pupating looks like something you do well or not at all: If you don’t turn into something practical at the end, you don’t get another chance.
    This is a more subtle error. The butterflies Fred has based his ‘shattering’ critique on are at the near end of an evolutionary trajectory of over 450 million years. The answer, of course, lies in the far end of this trajectory.

    Think about this. The ancestor of a modern caterpillar necessarily was something that could reproduce already. To get to be a butterfly-producing sort of organism, it would have to evolve silk-extruding organs, since they are what you make a cocoon with. OK, maybe it did this to tie leaves together, or maybe the beast resembled a tent-caterpillar. (Again, plausibility over evidence.) Then some mutation caused it to wrap itself experimentally in silk. (What mutation? Are we serious?) It then died, wrapped, because it had no machinery to cause it to undergo the fantastically complex transformation into a butterfly. Death is usually a discouragement to reproduction.
    Fred might have “thought” when he should have studied. First, butterflies don’t produce a silk cocoon, although some moths do. And even many moths don’t produce a silk cocoon and rely on a dried mucus chrysalis much like that of the butterfly. Some have a bit of both; a mucus chrysalis suspended loosely by a silk webbing. They all burst their enclosure simply by growing- and that growth is achieved by more by rearangement than by addition of new cells. A well known (but not to creationists) fact is that all insect larva store large amounts of fat prior to metamorphosis to feed the necessary cell growth and rearrangement.

    Tell me how the beast can gradually acquire, by accident, the capacity gradually to undergo all the formidably elaborate changes from worm to butterfly, so that each intermediate form is a practical organism that survives. If evolutionists cannot answer such questions, the theory fails.

    This is just stupid, Fred. Insect larva are not worms. Worms do not undergo metamorphosis to emerge as insects. There are obvious evolutionary links between the segmented “worms” and insects, but you will need to start with understanding some basics first. You are still restricted to the shalow end of the pool. Next, evolution of advanced organisms is not the product of “accident.” The technical use of the idea of “random” which Fred bastardized with the term “accident” referred to chemical events which are in of themselves not merely by chance (see; Jeffrey S. Wicken, 1979 The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion, Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 77 (April ), p. 349, or Kauffman, Stuart A. 1993 [u]The Origins of Order: Self -Organization and Selection in Evolution[/u] Oxford: Oxford University Press).

    Finally Fred, your gross ignorance has little to do with the success or failure of biological science. At worst, you and you pro-ignorance fellows will drive science off shore like the rest of America’s lost manufacturing employment base.

    Here the evolutionist will say, “Fred, caterpillars are soft, squashy things and don’t leave good fossils, so it’s unreasonable to expect us to find proof.”
    There are fossil data, but the more significant is the current, living species data. What is stupid of Fred is to ask for detailed fossil data from organisms that don’t fossilize well.

    Some of the current literature that Fred should have become very familiar with before poping off is:

    JAMES W. TRUMAN AND LYNN M. RIDDIFORD 1999 “The origins of insect metamorphosis” Nature 401, 447 - 452 (30 September 1999)

    Abstract: Insect metamorphosis is a fascinating and highly successful biological adaptation, but there is much uncertainty as to how it evolved. Ancestral insect species did not undergo metamorphosis and there are still some existing species that lack metamorphosis or undergo only partial metamorphosis. Based on endocrine studies and morphological comparisons of the development of insect species with and without metamorphosis, a novel hypothesis for the evolution of metamorphosis is proposed. Changes in the endocrinology of development are central to this hypothesis. The three stages of the ancestral insect species–pronymph, nymph and adult–are proposed to be equivalent to the larva, pupa and adult stages of insects with complete metamorphosis. This proposal has general implications for insect developmental biology.
    Note that in the last 7 years, a great deal more has been added to the information from the above publication. For example,

    Donning, Daryl P. “Metamorphosis and Evolution.” NCSE Reports 14 (2) 11.

    James W. Truman, Lynn M. Riddiford 2002 “ENDOCRINE INSIGHTS INTO THE EVOLUTION OF METAMORPHOSIS IN INSECTS” Annual Review of Entomology Vol. 47: 467-500 (Volume publication date January 2002) (doi:10.1146/annurev.ento.47.091201.145230)

    Shanavas A, Arif A, Murthy CRK, Dutta-Gupta A 2004 “Developmental and hormonal regulation of actin and tubulin in the central nervous system of silkworm, Bombyx mori during postembryonic development” CURRENT SCIENCE 87 (3): 383-388 AUG 10 2004

    Erezyilmaz DF, Riddiford LM, Truman JW 2004 “Juvenile hormone acts at embryonic molts and induces the nymphal cuticle in the direct-developing cricket” DEVELOPMENT GENES AND EVOLUTION 214 (7): 313-323 JUL 2004

    Abstract: During embryogenesis of hemimetabolous insects, the sesquiterpenoid hormone, juvenile hormone (JH), appears late in embryogenesis coincident with formation of the first nymphal cuticle. We tested the role of embryonic JH by treating cricket embryos with JH III, or the JH-mimic (JHM) pyriproxifen, during early embryogenesis. We found two discrete windows of JH sensitivity. The first occurs during the formation of the first (E1) embryonic cuticle. Treatment with JHM prior to this molt produced small embryos that failed to complete the movements of katatrepsis. Embryos treated after the E1 molt but before the second embryonic (pronymphal) molt completed katatrepsis but then failed to complete dorsal closure and precociously formed nymphal, rather than pronymphal characters. This second sensitivity window was further assessed by treating embryos with low doses of JH III prior to the pronymphal molt. With low doses, mosaic cuticles were formed, bearing features of both the pronymphal and nymphal stages. The nymphal characters varied in their sensitivity to JH III, due at least in part to differences in the timing of their sensitivity windows. Unexpectedly, many of the JH III-treated embryos with mosaic and precocious nymphal cuticles made a second nymphal cuticle and successfully hatched. JH treatment also affected the growth of the embryos. By focusing on the developing limb, we found that the effect of JH upon growth was asymmetric, with distal segments more affected than proximal ones, but this was not reflected in misexpression of Distal-less or Bric-a-brac, which are involved in proximal-distal patterning of the limb.
    Note: Those above are only ones I have, and have read. There are many many more. As I am far from an expert, and would never presume to publish an independent opinion a la our boy Freddy that there is no data regarding insect evolution that could explain metamorphosis, it is the responsibility of the “freddies” for analysis and to counter these scientific studies of which they are so ignorant. Even obsolete references serve to refute Fred Reed and his creationist compadres:

    Metamorphosis: Postembryonic Reprogramming of Gene Expression in Amphibian and Insect Cells. LAWRENCE I. GILBERT, JAMSHED R. TATA, AND BURR G. ATKINSON, eds. Academic Press. 1996. 687 pages. $125.00. ISBN 0-12-283245-0.

    reviewed : in American Zoologist, Feb 1997 by H Frederik Nijhout and presented online today.

    Much of the difficulty in understanding the role of JH in metamorphosis no doubt arises from the fact that metamorphosis and its endocrine control have undergone significant evolutionary divergence and specialization. Features that apply to one taxon are not fully generalizable to others. In the opening chapter Sehnal et al. make the case that the key to understanding the diversity and evolution of metamorphosis and its endocrine control lies in a comparative cladistic analysis of endocrine and developmental mechanisms. They are obviously correct. The remainder of this volume, preoccupied with molecular details of model systems and eschewing a comparative approach, suggests that the community of developmental endocrinologists is not yet ready to hear this plea. But the development Sehnal et al. call for is inevitable, because once we are done describing the shared primitive characters of the molecular mechanisms of metamorphosis we will be forced to deal with the things that make animals different, both in development and in evolution. We look forward to descriptions of such studies in Metamorphosis IV, which should appear in about 2010.

    Fred again: “I see the problem. But it is unreasonable to expect me to accept something on the grounds that it can’t be proved. Yes, it is possible that an explanation exists and that we just haven’t found it. But you can say that of anything whatever. Is it good science to assume that evidence will be forthcoming because we sure would like it to be? I’ll gladly give you evidence Wednesday for a theory today?
    Fred, you have not the least valid interest in biology, otherwise you would have learned a little bit about it before opening your mouth so wide. You clearly haven’t. You have swallowed a load in the back of the throat from creationist ignorance peddlers.

    Swallow hard, boy- you begged for it.

    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/03/swallow-hard-fr.html

    “Insect metamorphosis is a fascinating and highly successful biological adaptation, but there is much uncertainty as to how it evolved.”

    You still haven’t answered the question as to how the evolution happened over thousands or millions or billions of years. We ALL agree that there is a process by which a caterpillar develops into a butterfly and that the articles you cited and quoted describe that process. That does not explain how that process developed over a period of millions of years. The process happens or it doesn’t.

    Since you can’t answer clear, direct questions without falling back on other people’s research (that also admits they don’t know how it happened), let me make it easy… I mean hard, for you:

    The first caterpillar “decides” he wants/needs to be a butterfly. What caused that need or desire? There’s no apparent need for a caterpillar to fly. He seems to survive on his own without flying. Why not just be a caterpillar? Since the butterfly is presumably the more advanced form, why haven’t caterpillars ceased to exist? Surely evolution could get rid of those slimy little worms and just leave us with the beautiful butterflies…

    Even though you can’t actually answer those questions (because you don’t actually know with any certainty), we’ll continue: The caterpillar starts to evolve in the direction of butterfly. Since it takes “x” amount of time (presumably millions of years, since you describe “an evolutionary trajectory of over 450 million years) to evolve from caterpillar to butterfly, that particular caterpillar doesn’t manage to actually become a butterfly.

    What did that caterpillar become instead of a butterfly? Did it survive? Could it reproduce? Did it have wings? Do we have evidence of something that existed between a caterpillar and a butterfly? Why do we not see such intermediate “something” living today? Did the other caterpillars at the same time evolve in the same way? Different ways? Do we have evidence of these other ways?

    Your answer is exactly what Fred predicted it would be. “It happened. Believe us. It’s too complicated to explain here and you wouldn’t understand it anyway.”

    Instead of posting a bunch of articles describing the process of development from caterpillar to butterfly (and not describing the evolution of the process itself with any certainty), why didn’t you just post, “I don’t know how it happened.”?

    After all the article YOU quoted admits as much: “…much uncertainty as to how it evolved.”

    If I were the same sort of person as you, I’d probably call you a bunch of juvenile names and insults – which you will undoubtedly call me now. But you won’t answer the questions with certainty because you simply don’t know.

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "The first caterpillar “decides” he wants/needs to be a butterfly."

    The first caterpillar never decided on anything, dear fellow.

    " What caused that need or desire?"

    There was neither need nor desire involved, dear fellow.


    " There’s no apparent need for a caterpillar to fly. He seems to survive on his own without flying. Why not just be a caterpillar? Since the butterfly is presumably the more advanced form, why haven’t caterpillars ceased to exist? Surely evolution could get rid of those slimy little worms and just leave us with the beautiful butterflies…"


    Last time I checked, dear fellow, evolution seems to prioritize (forgive the pathetic fallacy) natural selection over aesthetics...

    "Even though you can’t actually answer those questions (because you don’t actually know with any certainty),"

    Those were questions, dear fellow? I though that they were just a bunch of bleatings about a caterpillar somehow deciding that it wants to be a butterfly...


    " we’ll continue: The caterpillar starts to evolve in the direction of butterfly. Since it takes “x” amount of time (presumably millions of years, since you describe “an evolutionary trajectory of over 450 million years) to evolve from caterpillar to butterfly, that particular caterpillar doesn’t manage to actually become a butterfly."


    MMM, a bit cartoon style, but serviceable...

    "What did that caterpillar become instead of a butterfly? Did it survive? Could it reproduce? Did it have wings? Do we have evidence of something that existed between a caterpillar and a butterfly? Why do we not see such intermediate “something” living today? Did the other caterpillars at the same time evolve in the same way? Different ways? Do we have evidence of these other ways?"

    Oh dear, more creationist blathering....

    "Your answer is exactly what Fred predicted it would be. “It happened. Believe us. It’s too complicated to explain here and you wouldn’t understand it anyway.”"

    I fear that your posting reveals the unexpected wisdom of Fred's post. It really is too complicated for you.

    "Instead of posting a bunch of articles describing the process of development from caterpillar to butterfly (and not describing the evolution of the process itself with any certainty), why didn’t you just post, “I don’t know how it happened.”?"

    We do know, dear fellow. Natural selection.

    "After all the article YOU quoted admits as much: “…much uncertainty as to how it evolved.”"

    Uncertainty as to the stages, dear fellow. there is no doubt as to the process. Natural Selection.

    "If I were the same sort of person as you, I’d probably call you a bunch of juvenile names and insults – which you will undoubtedly call me now. But you won’t answer the questions with certainty because you simply don’t know."

    Again, dear fellow, natural selection. Darwin's great discovery was not evolution. That had been discussed for quite some time. No, his great discovery was finding the underlying mechanism governing evolution.
  32. The basic problem with this debate is that no one has yet to come up with a scientifically credible competitor to the theory of evolution. In science, one runs with whatever theory the best describes the phenomenon, until someone comes up with a better explanation. Until someone comes up with a more plausible explanation, I consider evolution to be the best available theory.

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  33. @robwbright
    "Insect metamorphosis is a fascinating and highly successful biological adaptation, but there is much uncertainty as to how it evolved."

    You still haven't answered the question as to how the evolution happened over thousands or millions or billions of years. We ALL agree that there is a process by which a caterpillar develops into a butterfly and that the articles you cited and quoted describe that process. That does not explain how that process developed over a period of millions of years. The process happens or it doesn't.

    Since you can't answer clear, direct questions without falling back on other people's research (that also admits they don't know how it happened), let me make it easy... I mean hard, for you:

    The first caterpillar "decides" he wants/needs to be a butterfly. What caused that need or desire? There's no apparent need for a caterpillar to fly. He seems to survive on his own without flying. Why not just be a caterpillar? Since the butterfly is presumably the more advanced form, why haven't caterpillars ceased to exist? Surely evolution could get rid of those slimy little worms and just leave us with the beautiful butterflies...

    Even though you can't actually answer those questions (because you don't actually know with any certainty), we'll continue: The caterpillar starts to evolve in the direction of butterfly. Since it takes "x" amount of time (presumably millions of years, since you describe "an evolutionary trajectory of over 450 million years) to evolve from caterpillar to butterfly, that particular caterpillar doesn't manage to actually become a butterfly.

    What did that caterpillar become instead of a butterfly? Did it survive? Could it reproduce? Did it have wings? Do we have evidence of something that existed between a caterpillar and a butterfly? Why do we not see such intermediate "something" living today? Did the other caterpillars at the same time evolve in the same way? Different ways? Do we have evidence of these other ways?

    Your answer is exactly what Fred predicted it would be. "It happened. Believe us. It's too complicated to explain here and you wouldn't understand it anyway."

    Instead of posting a bunch of articles describing the process of development from caterpillar to butterfly (and not describing the evolution of the process itself with any certainty), why didn't you just post, "I don't know how it happened."?

    After all the article YOU quoted admits as much: "...much uncertainty as to how it evolved."

    If I were the same sort of person as you, I'd probably call you a bunch of juvenile names and insults - which you will undoubtedly call me now. But you won't answer the questions with certainty because you simply don't know.

    “The first caterpillar “decides” he wants/needs to be a butterfly.”

    The first caterpillar never decided on anything, dear fellow.

    ” What caused that need or desire?”

    There was neither need nor desire involved, dear fellow.

    ” There’s no apparent need for a caterpillar to fly. He seems to survive on his own without flying. Why not just be a caterpillar? Since the butterfly is presumably the more advanced form, why haven’t caterpillars ceased to exist? Surely evolution could get rid of those slimy little worms and just leave us with the beautiful butterflies…”

    Last time I checked, dear fellow, evolution seems to prioritize (forgive the pathetic fallacy) natural selection over aesthetics…

    “Even though you can’t actually answer those questions (because you don’t actually know with any certainty),”

    Those were questions, dear fellow? I though that they were just a bunch of bleatings about a caterpillar somehow deciding that it wants to be a butterfly…

    ” we’ll continue: The caterpillar starts to evolve in the direction of butterfly. Since it takes “x” amount of time (presumably millions of years, since you describe “an evolutionary trajectory of over 450 million years) to evolve from caterpillar to butterfly, that particular caterpillar doesn’t manage to actually become a butterfly.”

    MMM, a bit cartoon style, but serviceable…

    “What did that caterpillar become instead of a butterfly? Did it survive? Could it reproduce? Did it have wings? Do we have evidence of something that existed between a caterpillar and a butterfly? Why do we not see such intermediate “something” living today? Did the other caterpillars at the same time evolve in the same way? Different ways? Do we have evidence of these other ways?”

    Oh dear, more creationist blathering….

    “Your answer is exactly what Fred predicted it would be. “It happened. Believe us. It’s too complicated to explain here and you wouldn’t understand it anyway.””

    I fear that your posting reveals the unexpected wisdom of Fred’s post. It really is too complicated for you.

    “Instead of posting a bunch of articles describing the process of development from caterpillar to butterfly (and not describing the evolution of the process itself with any certainty), why didn’t you just post, “I don’t know how it happened.”?”

    We do know, dear fellow. Natural selection.

    “After all the article YOU quoted admits as much: “…much uncertainty as to how it evolved.””

    Uncertainty as to the stages, dear fellow. there is no doubt as to the process. Natural Selection.

    “If I were the same sort of person as you, I’d probably call you a bunch of juvenile names and insults – which you will undoubtedly call me now. But you won’t answer the questions with certainty because you simply don’t know.”

    Again, dear fellow, natural selection. Darwin’s great discovery was not evolution. That had been discussed for quite some time. No, his great discovery was finding the underlying mechanism governing evolution.

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    • Replies: @Pantah
    Still not a single direct response to Reed's comments. It's rigidity like yours that Reed has long noted in those who blindly defend evolution. Don't answer the question (e.g. why would a caterpillar morph through the highly complex changes to become a butterfly, and would it ever survive such a transition in the intermediate stages), just blow your stack that anyone would have the temerity to question the gospe--, er, theory of evolution. With defenders like you, Darwin is lost.
  34. syonredux [AKA "marlowe"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Eustace Tilley (not)
    Marlowe: You call Fred Reed a lot of disrespectful names. Should we respect you ? You seem to know quite a lot. How about learning some basic manners? You don't even have your zoological terminology straight. If you can write, "Insect larva are not worms" we may well call you an ignoramus.

    “Marlowe: You call Fred Reed a lot of disrespectful names. Should we respect you ? You seem to know quite a lot. How about learning some basic manners? You don’t even have your zoological terminology straight. If you can write, “Insect larva are not worms” we may well call you an ignoramus.”

    I didn’t write the bit about insect larva; that was from an article that I reposted.

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  35. @robwbright
    Given that homosexuals cannot naturally reproduce (sure, they can using surrogates or test tubes, but are you going to qualify that as "natural"?):

    How do you explain the existence of homosexuals? Pedophiles? Science tells us (or is beginning to tell us as the case may be) they were born that way - i.e. born to (at least) prefer a type of sex that cannot result in reproduction. For what it's worth, science is also beginning to tell us that some are born pedophiles. Assuming that the subject of desire is under the age of puberty, then that predilection also cannot result in reproduction. (Note: I do not deny that most homosexuals or pedophiles COULD have hetero post-pubertal sex and reproduce - and undoubtedly some do). A significant number of homosexuals appear pretty much uninterested in hetero sex - to the point that some males apparently cannot perform with a woman at all.

    Wouldn't natural selection tend to consider the homosexual and pedophile "less fit" and evolve them out of existence? The preference itself certainly makes further advancement through reproduction significantly less likely. As the preference became more and more prevalent, then the population would likely become more and more homosexual (percentage-wise) and the population would then begin dropping and eventually lead to extinction, would it not? Or would you propose that people would simply then evolve to become bi-sexual? Or perhaps parthenogenesis would become the norm?

    “Given that homosexuals cannot naturally reproduce (sure, they can using surrogates or test tubes, but are you going to qualify that as “natural”?):

    How do you explain the existence of homosexuals?”

    Greg Cochran has a theory that sounds quite promising:

    “I’ve said it before, but it’s probably time to say it again. The most likely explanation for human homosexuality is that it is caused by some pathogen. It’s too common to be mutational pressure (and we don’t see syndromic versions, as we would in that case), it’s not new, identical twins are usually discordant (~75% of the time), and it’s hell on reproductive fitness. There is no way it is adaptive: the helpful gay uncle notion, group selection, compensating advantage in females, etc: these range from impossible to bloody unlikely. It doesn’t exist in most hunter-gatherers: you have to explain what it is you’re even talking about when you ask them. Presumably with diagrams.

    As for Freudian explanations, exotic-becomes-erotic, etc: just reading the social-science literature on the subject is enough to make you wonder if the human brain really does exist to cool the blood.

    A fair number of the smarter people interested in the subject agree with me. Not that they think it proven, but they agree that it is the only theory out there that makes any evolutionary sense. Bill Hamilton thought it made sense. So does Alan Grafen. Mike Bailey thinks it more likely than any other explanation tendered thus far.”

    http://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/depths-of-madness/

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    • Replies: @Muse
    Homosexuality may very well be adaptive should it exisit at regular rates within a population. Societies with specialized roles for individuals might benefit as a whole if individuals with certain traits (gender preference linked) are present.

    Priests come to mind immediately. Imagine a group of individuals, selected by sexual preference, with extremely high social skills running an institution such as the church. This group is tasked with maintaining academic, cultural and artistic knowledge, as well as maintaining structure and theatrical rituals designed to keep the less cognitively gifted working and not having bastards willy nilly.

    A proclivity for caddiness and gossip might very well provide for effective informal communication channels, information sharing and consensus building prior to the invention of things like the printing press, twitter and blogs. Once you have the printing press, perhaps the old ways fall to literate protestants, and homosexual traits become evolutionary artifacts, leaving us with Broadway musicals, fashion magazines et.c...
  36. @rod1963
    Syon

    Lighten up dude, you really give science a bad name. Acting like a cop and witch burner over a little easay.

    If anything it shows how thin skinned and arrogant you Evolutionists are. You guys have turned it into a religion and elected yourselves as inquisitors to any that even dare joke about it.

    “Lighten up dude, you really give science a bad name.”

    Do I, dear fellow?

    ” Acting like a cop and witch burner over a little easay.”

    Not like a cop, I should think. More like a teacher who is shocked at how incompetent a student is.

    As for being a witch burner…I am an Anglo, and English witches were hanged, not burned.

    “If anything it shows how thin skinned and arrogant you Evolutionists are.”

    I act more in sorrow than in anger, dear fellow. Reading Fred makes me despair. To think that Western Man has sunk so low….

    “You guys have turned it into a religion”

    Hardly, dear fellow. The Neo-Darwinian synthesis is merely the best theory going in terms of evolution. If something with greater explanatory power turns up, I will readily discard the Neo-Darwinian synthesis.

    “and elected yourselves as inquisitors to any that even dare joke about it.”

    Again, no. I’m simply sad that Fred can’t cope with reality.

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  37. @Anonymous
    hey syon, are you going to answer any of his questions? He was being respectful and at best you are insulting him. You and other atheist clones like you are the reason I can't tolerate atheists. You are complete bores and when querried you retreat to insults.

    “hey syon, are you going to answer any of his questions?”

    Calling them questions is granting most of them a dignity that they do not deserve. That being said, I did respond to Fred’s straw man bleatings about how believing in natural selection should make us want to torture to death the congenitally unfit.

    “He was being respectful”

    Actually, Fred’s refusal to understand the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis (Yes, I am assuming that he is smart enough to understand it) marks him as a disrespectful dilettante.

    “and at best you are insulting him.”

    Fred’s postings on this subject, along with those on Amerind and Mestizo IQ, insult every thinking person.

    “You and other atheist clones like you are the reason I can’t tolerate atheists. You are complete bores and when querried you retreat to insults.”

    Sadly, truth can be quite a bore.

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  38. John Derbyshire’s response:

    Fred: You’ve been posing these questions for as long as I’ve known you (15 years?). You posed the question about insect evolution back in 2005, for example. Here’s Gary Hurd responding. Oddly, I don’t see a response from you in the comment thread.

    True, Hurd’s response is snarky and ill-spelt, but he provides a sheaf of books and papers where you can find answers. Did you read them all?

    What did you think, for example, of Truman & Riddiford’s ENDOCRINE INSIGHTS INTO THE EVOLUTION OF METAMORPHOSIS IN INSECTS in the Annual Review of Entomology Vol. 47: 467-500? Did it commit logical errors? Beg questions? Leave important things unsaid? Hm?

    Back in the early 2000s when Intelligent Design was having its little vogue the National Council for Science Education started the TalkOrigins website, providing both concise refutations and massive reading lists for all creationist claims. Here’s their section on abiogenesis, for example.

    If you sincerely want to educate yourself in biology, there’s plenty of material available on the internet, like the items I’ve just cited, to give you a start.

    Since this stuff’s easy to find, and since you are still asking the same questions now as you were asking ten or fifteen years ago, is it unreasonable of me to conclude that you’re not deeply interested in learning the answers? That you just get some kind of psychic reward from repeatedly asking the questions?

    If I’m wrong, and you are sincerely trying to acquire understanding, I could draw up a study plan for you, though it might take me a while.

    For these kinds of consultancy services I normally bill $150 an hour, but for auld acquaintance I’ll drop it to $133 for you.

    Let me know.

    http://nicholasstixuncensored.blogspot.com/2014/07/questions-about-evolution-fred-reed.html

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  39. This is a conundrum. Syon is the type that absolutely must get the last word no matter what.

    (I am psychic.)

    So is it better to engage in all out flame war with someone who has rubbed you the wrong way? I mean even if he were correct, I’m hardly going to be enlightened by him at this point. So in a sense if he speaks truth he is doing a disservice to it by his very existence.

    There are a lot of philosophical angles involved in this one. Not to mention a lot of reading to verify or discredit his claims.

    So what to do?

    Think it is best to ignore him. That preserves harmony and is perhaps the most useful path. Still if I had my magic internet button that administered electric shocks to people I didn’t like, he would be a scorched ball of meat.

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "This is a conundrum. Syon is the type that absolutely must get the last word no matter what."

    Not if the other fellow's last word happens to be correct, dear boy.

    "(I am psychic.)"

    MMM, well, a belief in psychic phenomena would certainly be compatible with your theory that we live in the MATRIX

    "So is it better to engage in all out flame war with someone who has rubbed you the wrong way?"

    And here I thought that we were having a discussion.


    "I mean even if he were correct, I’m hardly going to be enlightened by him at this point."

    None are so blind, dear fellow.


    "So in a sense if he speaks truth he is doing a disservice to it by his very existence."

    Dear me, I never imagined such a Cosmic, Ahriman-esque role for myself.

    "There are a lot of philosophical angles involved in this one."

    Fewer than you might think, dear fellow.


    " Not to mention a lot of reading to verify or discredit his claims."

    But such a reading program would be highly edifying, dear fellow.

    "So what to do?"

    The eternal question.

    "Think it is best to ignore him."

    Well, they do say that ignorance is bliss.

    "That preserves harmony and is perhaps the most useful path. "

    Dear fellow, truth cares not for harmony.


    "Still if I had my magic internet button that administered electric shocks to people I didn’t like, he would be a scorched ball of meat."

    And yet I wish you nothing but chocolate rivers and candy trees, dear fellow.
  40. I see that Derbyshire is smart enough to avoid this debate as he’d almostly certainly get ko’d.

    Now I’ve written a book about evolution, granted it was a SF novel, but hey….book. And in Derbyshire’s arguement (and also Marlowe’s) the mere fact that someone somewhere wrote something overcomes logic, even if those books are filled with the same kind of drippery as has assaulted us here.

    So…I win…cuz book.

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "I see that Derbyshire is smart enough to avoid this debate as he’d almostly certainly get ko’d."

    MMM, it's rather more likely that he would die of ennui; Fred's "arguments" are the most tedious that I have ever encountered. Well, outside of grade school.

    "Now I’ve written a book about evolution, granted it was a SF novel, but hey….book."

    Oh, dear. An SF author.

    " And in Derbyshire’s arguement (and also Marlowe’s) the mere fact that someone somewhere wrote something overcomes logic, even if those books are filled with the same kind of drippery as has assaulted us here."


    Rather more than one book has been written on evolution, dear fellow.

    "So…I win…cuz book."

    MMMM, I take back what I said about Fred. This "Eric Ashley" fellow is even more tedious...
  41. Razib Khan does not suffer fools gladly.

    Neither do I, but I don’t draw the circle of foolery so broad as to make the it tantamount to disagreement.

    “His behavior has often led me to wonder if there’s a genetic predisposition toward censoriousness and intolerance in the Indian genome.”

    As a South Asian myself, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if there were.

    Neither would I. Consolation prize: South Asians aren’t signing their own collective death warrant. After the population bottleneck has done its work, Europeans will have psychological profiles like South and West Asians (Ashkenazi Jews included for these purposes). The only question is how many will be left. I’m hoping for 10%, but that may be over-optimistic.

    “CSI: where-ever” (which are commended for at least making a decent effort of being scientifically acurate)

    At the expense of practical accuracy. I found The Mentalist to be a far more accurate depiction of how police work actually works, which is ironic for a show about a former “psychic” that takes mesmerism at face value.

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "Neither do I, but I don’t draw the circle of foolery so broad as to make the it tantamount to disagreement."

    Scientific disagreements need to be grounded in actual knowledge and understanding of the facts at hand. Fred's "creationism's greatest hits" posts reveal that he has neither knowledge nor understanding. Hence, Fred has nothing of value to contribute.
  42. Note to admin: something you did recently caused tags to no longer be able to span multiple paragraphs (I copy and paste from Notepad++, if it matters).

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  43. Fred could have asked a simpler question than the one about four-cycle insects: how did evolution give rise to sexual dimorphism? The earliest living creatures (certainly the first one) must have reproduced asexually. At some point one of these produced a female which could only reproduce if fertilized by a male, or a male which could only reproduce by fertilizing a female. But how did the first of these reproduce without the other being present? Are we supposed to believe that, just by chance, both mutations happened at the same time, or at least within the lifespan of the same organism?

    (I confess to not having visited TalkOrigins; if this question is answered there, I stand chastised.)

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    Sex is too complex for its origin to be explained by evolution. Males and females would have to evolve independently, and any incompatibility in any of the physical, chemical, or behavioral components would have caused extinction. Furthermore, evolutionary theory predicts that asexual reproduction would be favored because asexual species can reproduce faster.
    Source:

    Brown, Walt, 1995. In the Beginning: Compelling evidence for creation and the Flood. Phoenix, AZ: Center for Scientific Creation, pp. 14-15.
    Response:

    The variety of life cycles is very great. It is not simply a matter of being sexual or asexual. There are many intermediate stages. A gradual origin, with each step favored by natural selection, is possible (Kondrashov 1997). The earliest steps involve single-celled organisms exchanging genetic information; they need not be distinct sexes. Males and females most emphatically would not evolve independently. Sex, by definition, depends on both male and female acting together. As sex evolved, there would have been some incompatibilities causing sterility (just as there are today), but these would affect individuals, not whole populations, and the genes that cause such incompatibility would rapidly be selected against.

    Many hypotheses have been proposed for the evolutionary advantage of sex (Barton and Charlesworth 1998). There is good experimental support for some of these, including resistance to deleterious mutation load (Davies et al. 1999; Paland and Lynch 2006) and more rapid adaptation in a rapidly changing environment, especially to acquire resistance to parasites (Sá Martins 2000).
    References:

    Barton, N. H. and B. Charlesworth, 1998. Why sex and recombination? Science 281: 1986-1990.
    Davies, E. K., A. D. Peters and P. D. Keightley, 1999. High frequency of cryptic deleterious mutations in Caenorhabditis elegans. Science 285: 1748-1751.
    Kondrashov, Alexey S., 1997. Evolutionary genetics of life cycles. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 28: 391-435.
    Paland, Susanne and Michael Lynch. 2006. Transitions to asexuality result in excess amino acid substitutions. Science 311: 990-992. See also: Nielsen, Rasmus. 2006. Why sex? Science 311: 960-961.
    Sá Martins, J. S., 2000. Simulated coevolution in a mutating ecology. Physical Review E 61(3): R2212-R2215.
    Further Reading:

    Judson, Olivia, 2002. Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation, New York: Metropolitan Books.

    Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan, 1990. Origins of sex: three billion years of genetic recombination, New Haven: Yale University Press.

    Wuethrich, Bernice, 1998. Why sex? Putting theory to the test. Science 281: 1980-1982. See also several related articles in the same issue.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB350.html
  44. So, does that represent the very cutting edge of creationist argument? If so, I guess that I’ve been debating their highest elite for years without knowing it.

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  45. @syonredux
    You know, Fred, people keep on telling me that I should take you seriously, but then you post dreck like this....


    "(2) Morality. In evolution as I understand it, there are no absolute moral values: Morals evolved as traits allowing social cooperation, conducing to the survival of the group and therefore to the production of more surviving children. "

    Doing okay here...


    "The philosophical case for this absence of absolutes usually consists in pointing out that in various societies everything currently regarded as immoral has been accepted as acceptable (e.g., burning heretics to death)."

    And then you go off the rails. Human morality is actually less flexible over time, Fred. Certain traits are universal. Go and pick up Pinker's THE BLANK SLATE; he has a whole list of human universals towards the back.

    "I cannot refute the argument. However, I thnk it intellectually disreputable to posit premises and then not accept their consequences."

    MMMM, I think that someone is going to go slippery slope on us....

    "Question: Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded?"

    Do you have a genuine desire to do so, Fred? Alternatively, how many people of your acquaintance have such a desire?

    " This would seem beneficial."

    Preventing them from breeding, sure.

    "We certainly don’t want them to reproduce, they use resources better invested in healthy children, and it makes no evolutionary difference whether they die quietly or screaming."

    Sure, but why would you want to go to the trouble of torturing them to death, Fred? Sterilization/euthanasia can be done in a painless fashion. Bit of a straw man there. On the plus side, though, you didn't bring up Hitler. So kudos.

    That “whoosh” sound you heard wasn’t a Nike streaking by, but the sound of Reed’s points going over your head. His point about torturing the retarded to death is that no argument could be made against the practice when evolution rules out absolute moral practices. In other words, how could you say that killing the retarded gently or horribly could be wrong if you’re a strict evolutionist?

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "That “whoosh” sound you heard wasn’t a Nike streaking by, but the sound of Reed’s points going over your head."

    Odd. I though that sound came from between my thighs...


    " His point about torturing the retarded to death is that no argument could be made against the practice when evolution rules out absolute moral practices."

    MMMM, which seems to miss the point, dear fellow. Because nature is amoral, does that mean that we must be amoral? Never confuse is with ought, dear fellow.


    "In other words, how could you say that killing the retarded gently or horribly could be wrong if you’re a strict evolutionist?"

    Readily enough, dear fellow.

    1. Horribly: Only a small number of people (psychopaths, Fred Reed, etc) derive pleasure from inflicting pain on others. Hence, most of us would prefer to see such killings done in a painless fashion.

    2. Gently: Of course, that still leaves us with the question of killing the unfit. Again, pleasure rears its head. most people dislike killing, and prefer to avoid it when possible. For example, if cloned meat ever gets off the ground, I'm pretty sure that the slaughter of animals for their flesh will end. If there is no necessity, why do something that is not pleasurable?
  46. @syonredux
    "The first caterpillar “decides” he wants/needs to be a butterfly."

    The first caterpillar never decided on anything, dear fellow.

    " What caused that need or desire?"

    There was neither need nor desire involved, dear fellow.


    " There’s no apparent need for a caterpillar to fly. He seems to survive on his own without flying. Why not just be a caterpillar? Since the butterfly is presumably the more advanced form, why haven’t caterpillars ceased to exist? Surely evolution could get rid of those slimy little worms and just leave us with the beautiful butterflies…"


    Last time I checked, dear fellow, evolution seems to prioritize (forgive the pathetic fallacy) natural selection over aesthetics...

    "Even though you can’t actually answer those questions (because you don’t actually know with any certainty),"

    Those were questions, dear fellow? I though that they were just a bunch of bleatings about a caterpillar somehow deciding that it wants to be a butterfly...


    " we’ll continue: The caterpillar starts to evolve in the direction of butterfly. Since it takes “x” amount of time (presumably millions of years, since you describe “an evolutionary trajectory of over 450 million years) to evolve from caterpillar to butterfly, that particular caterpillar doesn’t manage to actually become a butterfly."


    MMM, a bit cartoon style, but serviceable...

    "What did that caterpillar become instead of a butterfly? Did it survive? Could it reproduce? Did it have wings? Do we have evidence of something that existed between a caterpillar and a butterfly? Why do we not see such intermediate “something” living today? Did the other caterpillars at the same time evolve in the same way? Different ways? Do we have evidence of these other ways?"

    Oh dear, more creationist blathering....

    "Your answer is exactly what Fred predicted it would be. “It happened. Believe us. It’s too complicated to explain here and you wouldn’t understand it anyway.”"

    I fear that your posting reveals the unexpected wisdom of Fred's post. It really is too complicated for you.

    "Instead of posting a bunch of articles describing the process of development from caterpillar to butterfly (and not describing the evolution of the process itself with any certainty), why didn’t you just post, “I don’t know how it happened.”?"

    We do know, dear fellow. Natural selection.

    "After all the article YOU quoted admits as much: “…much uncertainty as to how it evolved.”"

    Uncertainty as to the stages, dear fellow. there is no doubt as to the process. Natural Selection.

    "If I were the same sort of person as you, I’d probably call you a bunch of juvenile names and insults – which you will undoubtedly call me now. But you won’t answer the questions with certainty because you simply don’t know."

    Again, dear fellow, natural selection. Darwin's great discovery was not evolution. That had been discussed for quite some time. No, his great discovery was finding the underlying mechanism governing evolution.

    Still not a single direct response to Reed’s comments. It’s rigidity like yours that Reed has long noted in those who blindly defend evolution. Don’t answer the question (e.g. why would a caterpillar morph through the highly complex changes to become a butterfly, and would it ever survive such a transition in the intermediate stages), just blow your stack that anyone would have the temerity to question the gospe–, er, theory of evolution. With defenders like you, Darwin is lost.

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "Still not a single direct response to Reed’s comments."


    I did respond to Fred's confused ramblings on morality, dear fellow; you just did not like the response.

    " It’s rigidity like yours that Reed has long noted in those who blindly defend evolution. "

    I'm actually quite limber, dear fellow.


    "Don’t answer the question (e.g. why would a caterpillar morph through the highly complex changes to become a butterfly, and would it ever survive such a transition in the intermediate stages),"

    That one has been answered by others. Cf the postings by Marlowe, etc.

    " just blow your stack"

    More in sorrow than in anger, dear fellow.

    " that anyone would have the temerity to question the gospe–, er, theory of evolution. With defenders like you, Darwin is lost."

    MMMM, why should I defend Darwin, ? Science is not religion, dear boy. We know a lot more about the mechanisms of evolution than Darwin ever did....
  47. The answers to these questions are for the most part freely and easily available, Fred. You wouldn’t even need to pay Derb $133, though this seems like a reasonable price to pay for a study guide with no doubt very entertaining commentary. Heck, I’d probably take him up on it. But it seems he’s been answering you for years – I haven’t been following and I plan to quit before I’m ahead. I’ll go back to reading you when you get back to your expertise.

    Read West Hunter, read Jayman’s, read talkorigins.org – the answers are there, to some extent or another. Heck, read Charles Darwin if you’re up to it. You don’t even need to venture much further than Origin of the Species and Descent of Man to get at least partial answers to some of these questions. Some of them can’t be fully answered – yet, but your piece reads like some yokel doubting that he’ll fall from a cliff because we still haven’t proven the graviton.

    It strikes me that your opposition to evolution may be rooted in your belief in God. Allow me to add a book free of charge to the hypothetical study guide – Finding Darwin’s God by Kenneth Miller. Evolution and religious belief are not incompatible in the slightest. I also found The Faith Instinct by Nicholas Wade to be quite interesting.

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  48. Fred, your main problem is that, despite your acknowledgement that your understanding of the theory of evolution is “paltry,” you do not seem to understand that your understanding is, you know, paltry. Your objections to evolution are very much like the objections of a smart liberal arts major who is unconvinced of the truth of the theory of relativity, because no one has been yet able to explain to him, in terms a smart liberal arts major can understand, exactly why E=mc^2. So clearly the whole thing must be dubious, right?

    Did you know Fred that there are actually respected scientists who argue that the theory of relativity is wrong? Not many, but they do exist. And do you know why they are respected? Because at some point they have demonstrated that they actually understand the theory of relativity! So Fred, if you want people to take you seriously when you object to evolution, you should spend a couple of years earning yourself a degree in evolutionary biology, so that you understand the theory you are criticizing well enough to offer intelligent criticism. Come back then and we’ll listen to you.

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  49. Jamie wrote:

    “So, does that represent the very cutting edge of creationist argument? If so, I guess that I’ve been debating their highest elite for years without knowing it.”

    Do you actually think this guy is a creationist?

    Actually what do you think a creationist is? Give me your definition of one. I’ll just bet it is associated with certain behavioral, and thought and speech patterns, that just make you feel all smug.

    I also notice you didn’t address any of his arguments. I think the one about the insects is pretty solid. Though I can’t say I have done much reading on what the theories concerning this are. It may be (as I found his abiogenesis argument not convincing) that this one is not going to stand up either.

    I wouldn’t know without pulling a lot of strings, and doing a lot of reading. Boy, that sounds like a dilettante doesn’t it? “Do a lot of reading.” But I’ve been to grad school in a different field, and I can tell you with confidence that the bulk of you “biologists” didn’t do a bunch of hands on experiments to confirm or deny what you heard in class or the conventional wisdom.

    You did a lot of reading. Just like Fred. And somehow anyone who reads this thread is to find your argument or just opinion sounder than his.

    And lastly I have a question for you Jamie. I tend to think of this one as being the same argument as intelligent design, or god, or whatever. Maybe you don’t.

    Let’s say all of reality is a computer simulation by someone for reasons unknown. And whoever is conducting the sim, for whatever reason decides it’s too f$#ing dull the way it’s been going and makes a few “adjustments” along the way. You know to spice it up, or just for fun.

    Disprove this.

    Inherent in your world view I think is the assumption that there isn’t something beyond it all out there, that is f$%ing with you.

    And my question is, given your likely background, how would you know? I’d think rather that being a different kind of “creationist” you would never consider the question.

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "Do you actually think this guy is a creationist?"

    Fred Reed? Yeah.

    "Actually what do you think a creationist is? Give me your definition of one. I’ll just bet it is associated with certain behavioral, and thought and speech patterns, that just make you feel all smug."

    The belief that life on Earth was engineered by an alien intelligence.

    "I also notice you didn’t address any of his arguments. I think the one about the insects is pretty solid. "

    It's not.


    "Though I can’t say I have done much reading on what the theories concerning this are. It may be (as I found his abiogenesis argument not convincing) that this one is not going to stand up either."

    It doesn't.



    "And lastly I have a question for you Jamie. I tend to think of this one as being the same argument as intelligent design, or god, or whatever. Maybe you don’t."

    It's the same argument.

    "Let’s say all of reality is a computer simulation by someone for reasons unknown. And whoever is conducting the sim, for whatever reason decides it’s too f$#ing dull the way it’s been going and makes a few “adjustments” along the way. You know to spice it up, or just for fun.

    Disprove this."

    Disprove an unfalsifiable assertion, dear fellow? Can't be done. Just like you can't prove that the universe was just created one second ago. This is fun stuff for sophomore philosophy classes, but nothing more than that.

    "Inherent in your world view I think is the assumption that there isn’t something beyond it all out there, that is f$%ing with you."

    Looks like Charles Fort still has followers...
  50. @syonredux
    You know, Fred, people keep on telling me that I should take you seriously, but then you post dreck like this....


    "(2) Morality. In evolution as I understand it, there are no absolute moral values: Morals evolved as traits allowing social cooperation, conducing to the survival of the group and therefore to the production of more surviving children. "

    Doing okay here...


    "The philosophical case for this absence of absolutes usually consists in pointing out that in various societies everything currently regarded as immoral has been accepted as acceptable (e.g., burning heretics to death)."

    And then you go off the rails. Human morality is actually less flexible over time, Fred. Certain traits are universal. Go and pick up Pinker's THE BLANK SLATE; he has a whole list of human universals towards the back.

    "I cannot refute the argument. However, I thnk it intellectually disreputable to posit premises and then not accept their consequences."

    MMMM, I think that someone is going to go slippery slope on us....

    "Question: Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded?"

    Do you have a genuine desire to do so, Fred? Alternatively, how many people of your acquaintance have such a desire?

    " This would seem beneficial."

    Preventing them from breeding, sure.

    "We certainly don’t want them to reproduce, they use resources better invested in healthy children, and it makes no evolutionary difference whether they die quietly or screaming."

    Sure, but why would you want to go to the trouble of torturing them to death, Fred? Sterilization/euthanasia can be done in a painless fashion. Bit of a straw man there. On the plus side, though, you didn't bring up Hitler. So kudos.

    I thought Fred’s argument on that point was clever and thought-provoking, whereas your response has gone off the rails IMHO.

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "I thought Fred’s argument on that point was clever"

    Clever? We must have different definitions of what constitutes "clever." To my way of thinking, straw man arguments are seldom clever.

    " and thought-provoking,"

    MMM, I found it thought-suppressing myself.

    " whereas your response has gone off the rails IMHO.""

    Chacun a son gout, dear fellow.
  51. “The only Americans worth listening to are those having imbibed foreign culture(s)”.
    Fred – you are the living proof of this; and a shining example if ever there was one !

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  52. @peter johnson
    I thought Fred's argument on that point was clever and thought-provoking, whereas your response has gone off the rails IMHO.

    “I thought Fred’s argument on that point was clever”

    Clever? We must have different definitions of what constitutes “clever.” To my way of thinking, straw man arguments are seldom clever.

    ” and thought-provoking,”

    MMM, I found it thought-suppressing myself.

    ” whereas your response has gone off the rails IMHO.””

    Chacun a son gout, dear fellow.

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  53. syonredux [AKA "marlowe"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Svigor
    Razib Khan does not suffer fools gladly.

    Neither do I, but I don't draw the circle of foolery so broad as to make the it tantamount to disagreement.

    “His behavior has often led me to wonder if there’s a genetic predisposition toward censoriousness and intolerance in the Indian genome.”

    As a South Asian myself, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if there were.


    Neither would I. Consolation prize: South Asians aren't signing their own collective death warrant. After the population bottleneck has done its work, Europeans will have psychological profiles like South and West Asians (Ashkenazi Jews included for these purposes). The only question is how many will be left. I'm hoping for 10%, but that may be over-optimistic.

    “CSI: where-ever” (which are commended for at least making a decent effort of being scientifically acurate)

    At the expense of practical accuracy. I found The Mentalist to be a far more accurate depiction of how police work actually works, which is ironic for a show about a former "psychic" that takes mesmerism at face value.

    “Neither do I, but I don’t draw the circle of foolery so broad as to make the it tantamount to disagreement.”

    Scientific disagreements need to be grounded in actual knowledge and understanding of the facts at hand. Fred’s “creationism’s greatest hits” posts reveal that he has neither knowledge nor understanding. Hence, Fred has nothing of value to contribute.

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  54. syonredux [AKA "marlowe"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    RE: Butterflies,

    Butterfly metamorphosis is too complex to have evolved.
    Source:

    Poirier, Jules and Kenneth B. Cumming, 1993. Design features of the monarch butterfly life cycle. Impact 237 (Mar.); http://www.icr.org/index.php?module=articles&action=view&ID=366
    Response:

    This is an argument from incredulity. Because one does not understand how butterfly metamorphosis evolved does not mean it is too complex to have evolved.

    Growth patterns intermediate to full metamorphosis already exist, ranging from growth with no metamorphosis (such as with silverfish) to partial metamorphosis (as with true bugs and mayflies) complete metamorphosis with relatively little change in form (as with rove beetles), and the metamorphosis seen in butterflies. It is surely possible that similar intermediate stages could have developed over time to produce butterfly metamorphosis from an ancestor without metamorphosis. In fact, an explanation exists for the evolution of metamorphosis based largely on changes in the endocrinology of development (Truman and Riddiford 1999).
    References:

    Truman, J. W. and L. M. Riddiford, 1999. The origins of insect metamorphosis. Nature 401: 447-452.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB311.html

    Evolution can’t explain a butterfly evolving from a caterpillar.
    Source:

    Brown, Walt, ~2000. Twenty questions for evolutionists. http://www.linda.net/question.html
    Response:

    Butterflies don’t evolve from caterpillars; butterflies develop from caterpillars. How it happens is a problem in developmental biology, not evolutionary biology. It is akin to the problem of how adult humans develop from embryos. It happens every day, so it obviously is not a theoretical difficulty.

    Fruit flies go through the same developmental stages as caterpillars and butterflies, and the research on fruit fly genetics is very extensive. Anyone who is interested in how butterflies develop is advised to look in that research.

    The evolution of metamorphosis is not a problem, either.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB311_1.html

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  55. syonredux [AKA "marlowe"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Rex Little
    Fred could have asked a simpler question than the one about four-cycle insects: how did evolution give rise to sexual dimorphism? The earliest living creatures (certainly the first one) must have reproduced asexually. At some point one of these produced a female which could only reproduce if fertilized by a male, or a male which could only reproduce by fertilizing a female. But how did the first of these reproduce without the other being present? Are we supposed to believe that, just by chance, both mutations happened at the same time, or at least within the lifespan of the same organism?

    (I confess to not having visited TalkOrigins; if this question is answered there, I stand chastised.)

    Sex is too complex for its origin to be explained by evolution. Males and females would have to evolve independently, and any incompatibility in any of the physical, chemical, or behavioral components would have caused extinction. Furthermore, evolutionary theory predicts that asexual reproduction would be favored because asexual species can reproduce faster.
    Source:

    Brown, Walt, 1995. In the Beginning: Compelling evidence for creation and the Flood. Phoenix, AZ: Center for Scientific Creation, pp. 14-15.
    Response:

    The variety of life cycles is very great. It is not simply a matter of being sexual or asexual. There are many intermediate stages. A gradual origin, with each step favored by natural selection, is possible (Kondrashov 1997). The earliest steps involve single-celled organisms exchanging genetic information; they need not be distinct sexes. Males and females most emphatically would not evolve independently. Sex, by definition, depends on both male and female acting together. As sex evolved, there would have been some incompatibilities causing sterility (just as there are today), but these would affect individuals, not whole populations, and the genes that cause such incompatibility would rapidly be selected against.

    Many hypotheses have been proposed for the evolutionary advantage of sex (Barton and Charlesworth 1998). There is good experimental support for some of these, including resistance to deleterious mutation load (Davies et al. 1999; Paland and Lynch 2006) and more rapid adaptation in a rapidly changing environment, especially to acquire resistance to parasites (Sá Martins 2000).
    References:

    Barton, N. H. and B. Charlesworth, 1998. Why sex and recombination? Science 281: 1986-1990.
    Davies, E. K., A. D. Peters and P. D. Keightley, 1999. High frequency of cryptic deleterious mutations in Caenorhabditis elegans. Science 285: 1748-1751.
    Kondrashov, Alexey S., 1997. Evolutionary genetics of life cycles. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 28: 391-435.
    Paland, Susanne and Michael Lynch. 2006. Transitions to asexuality result in excess amino acid substitutions. Science 311: 990-992. See also: Nielsen, Rasmus. 2006. Why sex? Science 311: 960-961.
    Sá Martins, J. S., 2000. Simulated coevolution in a mutating ecology. Physical Review E 61(3): R2212-R2215.
    Further Reading:

    Judson, Olivia, 2002. Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation, New York: Metropolitan Books.

    Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan, 1990. Origins of sex: three billion years of genetic recombination, New Haven: Yale University Press.

    Wuethrich, Bernice, 1998. Why sex? Putting theory to the test. Science 281: 1980-1982. See also several related articles in the same issue.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB350.html

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  56. A curiosity. Recently I purchased a facsimile of a book by Alfred Russel Wallace published in 1911 entitled, “The World of Life: a manifestation of creative power, directive mind and ultimate purpose.” Wallace says in the preface that the book summarizes and completes his half-century of thought and work on the Darwinian theory of evolution. It probably would be hard to find a contemporary of Darwin who understood Darwin’s work as well as Wallace did. I have not finished the book but from what I have read I think it might be of interest to Fred Reed, John Derbyshire, and the other learned commenters here.

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  57. This article is a bit embarrassing. I’m surprised Unz posted it. I doubt Derb will ever respond, as he has addressed all of these points dozens of times. In fact, many others have done the same.

    This is just boob bait for the bubbas.

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  58. […] for a good link if not necessarily always for a convincing argument about it, and today’s is Me, Derbyshire and Darwin – from Fred Reed, linked from the Unz Review. It’s another one of these people less […]

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  59. Okay, time out.

    I vaguely know about John Derbyshire from his brouhaha with National Review (or whichever interchangeable forum it was).

    What is the guy’s background? Did he complete a degree in the sciences of any sort? I had the idea he was simply “Yet Another Pundit.”

    What makes him qualified for anything? Why should I care about what he writes? (Come to think of it, why did Fred Reed mention him by name? Is it just one of those cool names to write?) I’ve noticed that he touches on stats every now and then. How would he do at the actuary qualifying exams?

    Just saying, I have read a couple of his pieces. I found nothing compelling about what he chose to write about, nor what he said in those pieces.

    Hmmm seems to me we need to sit Fred Reed and Derbyshire down somewhere. Give them IQ tests, things like the actuary exam (you know to establish some kind of base knowledge of stats). Put the curriculum vitae up.

    Then we know who to take seriously, and who to disparage. Got no time for the dummies, ya know.

    Come to think of it though, given the nature of this site, maybe I am not joking. Be interesting to see some real numbers on these guys.

    I mean what would be your personal go/no go IQ score on credibility for a writer? 120? 130? Go much higher and presumably they have something better to do with their time.

    Thing is you could do it. I would love, just love to get every journalist to do this. Be really interesting to see what the columnists on this site score.

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    • Replies: @Lurker
    Good idea Sunbeam WWIQ. Im sure writing ability and IQ are correlated but there are other intangibles in the mix. Like the talk about measuring 'creativity'. We know it when we see it but can we test for it?
    , @keypusher
    He has a website, with his published stuff on a variety of topics. http://johnderbyshire.com/ So check him out. I think he's great (I think Fred is too, most of the time), but YMMV.

    Both Derbyshire and Reed would admit that there are better qualified people than either of them to have this debate, I'm sure. As for why Reed called on Derbyshire, see his article.
    , @syonredux
    "Okay, time out.

    I vaguely know about John Derbyshire from his brouhaha with National Review (or whichever interchangeable forum it was).

    What is the guy’s background? Did he complete a degree in the sciences of any sort?"

    He read mathematics, dear fellow. Next time consult WIKIPEDIA


    "I had the idea he was simply “Yet Another Pundit.”"

    MMMM, well much smarter and more daring than the average pundit. Well, more daring and more intelligent than Fred Reed, at any rate.

    "What makes him qualified for anything?"

    MMMM, mathematical training does overlap a tad with the sciences, dear fellow.


    "Why should I care about what he writes?"

    Because he knows and understands more than Fred Reed?


    " (Come to think of it, why did Fred Reed mention him by name? Is it just one of those cool names to write?)"


    Probably envy on Fred's part.

    "I’ve noticed that he touches on stats every now and then. How would he do at the actuary qualifying exams?"

    Probably better than Fred....

    "Just saying, I have read a couple of his pieces. I found nothing compelling about what he chose to write about, nor what he said in those pieces."

    Sadly, the truth is seldom compelling.
  60. “Sure, but why would you want to go to the trouble of torturing them to death, Fred? Sterilization/euthanasia can be done in a painless fashion”

    Sure, but why would Fred CARE if the sterilization or euthanasia is done in a painless fashion? After all, administering drugs to permit painless sterilization requires effort on Fred’s part (thus decreasing his available energy to reproduce or care for healthy children). In fact, the cold equations of fitness would tell Fred to not only kill the genetically retarded with the least effort Fred can muster (pushing off a cliff, say) but then to *eat* the carcass.

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  61. It’s always been a crapshoot with evolution. Not long ago everyone believed the Irish were sub-human. Not just the English, but everyone

    Everyone? And the English? When was it that we English (presumably all of us at the time) believed this? I strongly doubt there was ever a time when all English people believed this. Irish people have been settling in England for 100s of years, why would that have been allowed if we all believed them to be sub-human?

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  62. @Sunbeam
    Okay, time out.

    I vaguely know about John Derbyshire from his brouhaha with National Review (or whichever interchangeable forum it was).

    What is the guy's background? Did he complete a degree in the sciences of any sort? I had the idea he was simply "Yet Another Pundit."

    What makes him qualified for anything? Why should I care about what he writes? (Come to think of it, why did Fred Reed mention him by name? Is it just one of those cool names to write?) I've noticed that he touches on stats every now and then. How would he do at the actuary qualifying exams?

    Just saying, I have read a couple of his pieces. I found nothing compelling about what he chose to write about, nor what he said in those pieces.

    Hmmm seems to me we need to sit Fred Reed and Derbyshire down somewhere. Give them IQ tests, things like the actuary exam (you know to establish some kind of base knowledge of stats). Put the curriculum vitae up.

    Then we know who to take seriously, and who to disparage. Got no time for the dummies, ya know.

    Come to think of it though, given the nature of this site, maybe I am not joking. Be interesting to see some real numbers on these guys.

    I mean what would be your personal go/no go IQ score on credibility for a writer? 120? 130? Go much higher and presumably they have something better to do with their time.

    Thing is you could do it. I would love, just love to get every journalist to do this. Be really interesting to see what the columnists on this site score.

    Good idea Sunbeam WWIQ. Im sure writing ability and IQ are correlated but there are other intangibles in the mix. Like the talk about measuring ‘creativity’. We know it when we see it but can we test for it?

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  63. I can’t see many people choosing Evolution as a religion, its process, one of mutations and death, is just too horrible, yet, I believe it is true, for the lack of any more convincing theory. Is being conscious of the process dysgenic? It is for individuals who really don’t like life and don’t see any point in continuing the saga, but it probably isn’t for the species as a whole, which is probably better off without members of that mindset.

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  64. sorry lurker, I stand corrected. it was not the ordinary english, but rather the British aristocracy.

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  65. @Sunbeam
    Okay, time out.

    I vaguely know about John Derbyshire from his brouhaha with National Review (or whichever interchangeable forum it was).

    What is the guy's background? Did he complete a degree in the sciences of any sort? I had the idea he was simply "Yet Another Pundit."

    What makes him qualified for anything? Why should I care about what he writes? (Come to think of it, why did Fred Reed mention him by name? Is it just one of those cool names to write?) I've noticed that he touches on stats every now and then. How would he do at the actuary qualifying exams?

    Just saying, I have read a couple of his pieces. I found nothing compelling about what he chose to write about, nor what he said in those pieces.

    Hmmm seems to me we need to sit Fred Reed and Derbyshire down somewhere. Give them IQ tests, things like the actuary exam (you know to establish some kind of base knowledge of stats). Put the curriculum vitae up.

    Then we know who to take seriously, and who to disparage. Got no time for the dummies, ya know.

    Come to think of it though, given the nature of this site, maybe I am not joking. Be interesting to see some real numbers on these guys.

    I mean what would be your personal go/no go IQ score on credibility for a writer? 120? 130? Go much higher and presumably they have something better to do with their time.

    Thing is you could do it. I would love, just love to get every journalist to do this. Be really interesting to see what the columnists on this site score.

    He has a website, with his published stuff on a variety of topics. http://johnderbyshire.com/ So check him out. I think he’s great (I think Fred is too, most of the time), but YMMV.

    Both Derbyshire and Reed would admit that there are better qualified people than either of them to have this debate, I’m sure. As for why Reed called on Derbyshire, see his article.

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  66. Bizarre how almost everyone has missed Fred’s point. Fred lives in Mexico, and based upon what he sees, he is merely letting everyone know that it isn’t a slam dunk that Mexicans are racially inferior.

    That’s it, that’s the controversy. In these parts, rife with white nationalists, that is a controversial thing to say. I added that a lot of people used to feel that way about the micks and the wops. Now they don’t.

    But they do feel that way about the ‘spics. Fred reminds us that there is a lot left to chance, that evolution isn’t linear, and that the ‘spics that are flooding the country just may make it better – and more vibrant.

    I see nothing wrong with this.

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "Bizarre how almost everyone has missed Fred’s point. Fred lives in Mexico,"

    Fred does more than live in Mexico, dear fellow...

    " and based upon what he sees,"

    Allan Wall also has intimate knowledge of Mexico, and his opinions differ from Fred's

    " he is merely letting everyone know that it isn’t a slam dunk that Mexicans are racially inferior."

    Who is claiming that "Mexicans" (a group that includes Whites, Amerinds, Mestizos, etc) are inferior? We are merely noting that Mexican Amerinds and Mestizos have IQs that are below the White American mean, and that that is bad news for the USA.

    "That’s it, that’s the controversy. In these parts, rife with white nationalists,"


    Who's a White nationalist, dear fellow? Certainly not me.

    "that is a controversial thing to say.
    I added that a lot of people used to feel that way about the micks and the wops. Now they don’t.

    But they do feel that way about the ‘spics. Fred reminds us that there is a lot left to chance, that evolution isn’t linear, and that the ‘spics that are flooding the country just may make it better"

    Very little chance of that, dear fellow.


    " – and more vibrant."

    Ah, "vibrant" rears its head. Let's see, what word can I use to describe a horde of low IQ immigrants. I need to say something that sounds good but doesn't really mean anything.....Aha! I'll use vibrant!

    "I see nothing wrong with this."

    Anything that lulls people into thinking that the mass immigration of Mexicans into the USA is a positive thing is all kinds of wrong.
  67. Hey I’ll leave the ins and outs of critique to others, but something has always bothered me about some of these reported IQ scores (and this may be something I read in a previous Fred Reed column; he writes so many).

    Namely that I have met, talked, and interacted with people who are retarded. How in the name of god can you have a whole country with a 70 or 75 average IQ, as I have seen reported for some groups (subsaharan africans and abos from Australia, I think).

    I do not know the IQ ratings of the retarded people I have met. I’d think it is below 70. But there is no way that you could have a nation of people with an actual 70 IQ and have anything work. At all.

    While it may not be rocket science, it takes some amount of brains to do basically anything. Fish, make tools, hunt, build crude structures, not get bitten by snakes, identify edible plants, grow crops, take crops to market, sell crops, buy stuff you need etc.

    These are all things that the people in question managed to take care of by themselves before anyone had the slightest idea that there was such a thing as a white person. Well the abos may not have been doing the crop thing, but anyway.

    The people I have met who had what I think are 70 IQ’s, well they aren’t doing any of that. Put them in a survival situation outside of our current environment, and my guess is they die pretty quickly, even if you gave them a training program first.

    They sure aren’t going to create and maintain a society, no matter how primitive it would be considered by others.

    So explain to me how this works. My notion of how the world works is that a 70 IQ person dies pretty quickly in these kinds of situations.

    What am I missing?

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    Greg Cochran provides some good starting points here. :

    People working in the field usually divide cases into organic and familial retardation. Which may not be the best possible categories, but there you are.

    A fair fraction of mental retardation is caused by some kind of environmental insult: birth trauma, infections such as rubella, iodine deficiency, fetal alcohol exposure, closed-head injures, etc. I’m not talking about that.

    Probably more than half of all cases have some kind of genetic cause, although we have a limited understanding of the genetic details. We know of > 450 genes that can caused retardation when mutated, but there are probably many more. They’re being found at a rapid clip.

    If retardation is defined as an IQ below 70, most retarded individuals are only mildly retarded, having IQs between 55 and 70.

    People with IQs between 40 and 54 makes up about 10% of the retarded: this is usually called moderate MR. Between 20 and 39, severe (3-4%). Lower still, profound: 1-2%

    Mild retardation is more common among ‘minorities’ and low SES people, since those groups have lowmean IQs. A lot more common. The percentage of people in the US with an IQ below 70 must be at least twice as high as it is in Finland or Japan. If you look at young people, more like three times.

    As the IQ decreases, the fraction dubbed ‘organic’ increases. At IQ 70, that fraction is higher for whites than blacks.

    People with organic retardation often have other physical anomalies (are funny-looking). Generally speaking, their siblings do not show lower-than-average IQ.

    The siblings of people with familial retardation show the same sorts of correlations as the siblings of people with +2sigma IQ: they regress up just as much as the others regress down.

    I think that genetic kinds of ‘organic’ retardation are generally caused by mutations of major effect, either recessive or de novo. Think of it as a spanner in the works.

    Familial retardation looks to be caused (in part) by differences in the number of deleterious mutations of small effect. Sand in the gears. Different mutation rates in different populations would, all else equal, lead to between-population differences in the average number of deleterious mutations of small effect. Differences in average IQ between populations could also be caused by differing selective pressures. Both effects may contribute.

    If genetic differences were the main cause of group differences in average IQ, how would you tell what kind of genetic factors had caused this? Well, you could do high accuracy whole-genome sequencing and try to find out the frequency of busted-up genes in the two populations. You could calculate the correlation of IQ with load, within-population. This might be tricky: we can recognize when a coding gene is totally hosed, but it’s harder to evaluate the effect of less dramatic changes. A higher genetic load could be generated by relaxed selection, rather than a higher mutation rate – but a specific mechanism like increased paternal age would cause an increase in a particular class of mutations (mostly point mutations), rather than an across-the-board increase.

    If extra load was involved, you would probably see elevated rates of other kinds of brain malfunction, various flavors of crazy. On the other hand, weaker selective pressure for intelligence might not imply more insanity: dogs aren’t as smart as humans, which is the fruit of a different selective history, but they don’t seem particularly crazy.

    Are there big differences in the frequency of various kinds of lunacy in different populations? Sure. Everyone knows that – don’t they?

    A single gene variant can contribute to the risk of autism, manic-depression, depression, and schizophrenia, and having a close relative with one of those syndromes ups the risk for all of them. I never thought that DSM categories carved nature at a joint, but they may be worse than useless.

    http://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/mental-retardation/
    , @syonredux
    “Hey I’ll leave the ins and outs of critique to others, but something has always bothered me about some of these reported IQ scores (and this may be something I read in a previous Fred Reed column; he writes so many).

    Namely that I have met, talked, and interacted with people who are retarded. How in the name of god can you have a whole country with a 70 or 75 average IQ, as I have seen reported for some groups (subsaharan africans and abos from Australia, I think).”

    Range of variation. The thick part of the Bell Curve for White Americans is located between 85 and 115, average dull to average bright. A White American with an IQ of 70 is 2 SD below the mean and has something wrong with him. He’s not just dull-witted; he’s dysfunctional.

    In contrast, the thick part of the Bell Curve for Black Americans is located between 70 and 100, average dull to average bright. Hence, a Black American with an IQ of 70 is not dysfunctional; he is simply not very smart.
  68. syonredux [AKA "marlowe"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “Hey I’ll leave the ins and outs of critique to others, but something has always bothered me about some of these reported IQ scores (and this may be something I read in a previous Fred Reed column; he writes so many).

    Namely that I have met, talked, and interacted with people who are retarded. How in the name of god can you have a whole country with a 70 or 75 average IQ, as I have seen reported for some groups (subsaharan africans and abos from Australia, I think).”

    Range of variation. The thick part of the Bell Curve for White Americans is located between 85 and 115, average dull to average bright. A White American with an IQ of 70 is 2 SD below the mean and has something wrong with him. He’s not just dull-witted; he’s dysfunctional.

    In contrast, the thick part of the Bell Curve for Black Americans is located between 70 and 100, average dull to average bright. Hence, a Black American with an IQ of 70 is not dysfunctional; he is simply not very smart.

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  69. syonredux [AKA "marlowe"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Sunbeam
    @shmiggen

    Hey I'll leave the ins and outs of critique to others, but something has always bothered me about some of these reported IQ scores (and this may be something I read in a previous Fred Reed column; he writes so many).

    Namely that I have met, talked, and interacted with people who are retarded. How in the name of god can you have a whole country with a 70 or 75 average IQ, as I have seen reported for some groups (subsaharan africans and abos from Australia, I think).

    I do not know the IQ ratings of the retarded people I have met. I'd think it is below 70. But there is no way that you could have a nation of people with an actual 70 IQ and have anything work. At all.

    While it may not be rocket science, it takes some amount of brains to do basically anything. Fish, make tools, hunt, build crude structures, not get bitten by snakes, identify edible plants, grow crops, take crops to market, sell crops, buy stuff you need etc.

    These are all things that the people in question managed to take care of by themselves before anyone had the slightest idea that there was such a thing as a white person. Well the abos may not have been doing the crop thing, but anyway.

    The people I have met who had what I think are 70 IQ's, well they aren't doing any of that. Put them in a survival situation outside of our current environment, and my guess is they die pretty quickly, even if you gave them a training program first.

    They sure aren't going to create and maintain a society, no matter how primitive it would be considered by others.

    So explain to me how this works. My notion of how the world works is that a 70 IQ person dies pretty quickly in these kinds of situations.

    What am I missing?

    Greg Cochran provides some good starting points here. :

    People working in the field usually divide cases into organic and familial retardation. Which may not be the best possible categories, but there you are.

    A fair fraction of mental retardation is caused by some kind of environmental insult: birth trauma, infections such as rubella, iodine deficiency, fetal alcohol exposure, closed-head injures, etc. I’m not talking about that.

    Probably more than half of all cases have some kind of genetic cause, although we have a limited understanding of the genetic details. We know of > 450 genes that can caused retardation when mutated, but there are probably many more. They’re being found at a rapid clip.

    If retardation is defined as an IQ below 70, most retarded individuals are only mildly retarded, having IQs between 55 and 70.

    People with IQs between 40 and 54 makes up about 10% of the retarded: this is usually called moderate MR. Between 20 and 39, severe (3-4%). Lower still, profound: 1-2%

    Mild retardation is more common among ‘minorities’ and low SES people, since those groups have lowmean IQs. A lot more common. The percentage of people in the US with an IQ below 70 must be at least twice as high as it is in Finland or Japan. If you look at young people, more like three times.

    As the IQ decreases, the fraction dubbed ‘organic’ increases. At IQ 70, that fraction is higher for whites than blacks.

    People with organic retardation often have other physical anomalies (are funny-looking). Generally speaking, their siblings do not show lower-than-average IQ.

    The siblings of people with familial retardation show the same sorts of correlations as the siblings of people with +2sigma IQ: they regress up just as much as the others regress down.

    I think that genetic kinds of ‘organic’ retardation are generally caused by mutations of major effect, either recessive or de novo. Think of it as a spanner in the works.

    Familial retardation looks to be caused (in part) by differences in the number of deleterious mutations of small effect. Sand in the gears. Different mutation rates in different populations would, all else equal, lead to between-population differences in the average number of deleterious mutations of small effect. Differences in average IQ between populations could also be caused by differing selective pressures. Both effects may contribute.

    If genetic differences were the main cause of group differences in average IQ, how would you tell what kind of genetic factors had caused this? Well, you could do high accuracy whole-genome sequencing and try to find out the frequency of busted-up genes in the two populations. You could calculate the correlation of IQ with load, within-population. This might be tricky: we can recognize when a coding gene is totally hosed, but it’s harder to evaluate the effect of less dramatic changes. A higher genetic load could be generated by relaxed selection, rather than a higher mutation rate – but a specific mechanism like increased paternal age would cause an increase in a particular class of mutations (mostly point mutations), rather than an across-the-board increase.

    If extra load was involved, you would probably see elevated rates of other kinds of brain malfunction, various flavors of crazy. On the other hand, weaker selective pressure for intelligence might not imply more insanity: dogs aren’t as smart as humans, which is the fruit of a different selective history, but they don’t seem particularly crazy.

    Are there big differences in the frequency of various kinds of lunacy in different populations? Sure. Everyone knows that – don’t they?

    A single gene variant can contribute to the risk of autism, manic-depression, depression, and schizophrenia, and having a close relative with one of those syndromes ups the risk for all of them. I never thought that DSM categories carved nature at a joint, but they may be worse than useless.

    http://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/mental-retardation/

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  70. syonredux [AKA "marlowe"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Sunbeam
    @shmiggen

    Hey I'll leave the ins and outs of critique to others, but something has always bothered me about some of these reported IQ scores (and this may be something I read in a previous Fred Reed column; he writes so many).

    Namely that I have met, talked, and interacted with people who are retarded. How in the name of god can you have a whole country with a 70 or 75 average IQ, as I have seen reported for some groups (subsaharan africans and abos from Australia, I think).

    I do not know the IQ ratings of the retarded people I have met. I'd think it is below 70. But there is no way that you could have a nation of people with an actual 70 IQ and have anything work. At all.

    While it may not be rocket science, it takes some amount of brains to do basically anything. Fish, make tools, hunt, build crude structures, not get bitten by snakes, identify edible plants, grow crops, take crops to market, sell crops, buy stuff you need etc.

    These are all things that the people in question managed to take care of by themselves before anyone had the slightest idea that there was such a thing as a white person. Well the abos may not have been doing the crop thing, but anyway.

    The people I have met who had what I think are 70 IQ's, well they aren't doing any of that. Put them in a survival situation outside of our current environment, and my guess is they die pretty quickly, even if you gave them a training program first.

    They sure aren't going to create and maintain a society, no matter how primitive it would be considered by others.

    So explain to me how this works. My notion of how the world works is that a 70 IQ person dies pretty quickly in these kinds of situations.

    What am I missing?

    “Hey I’ll leave the ins and outs of critique to others, but something has always bothered me about some of these reported IQ scores (and this may be something I read in a previous Fred Reed column; he writes so many).

    Namely that I have met, talked, and interacted with people who are retarded. How in the name of god can you have a whole country with a 70 or 75 average IQ, as I have seen reported for some groups (subsaharan africans and abos from Australia, I think).”

    Range of variation. The thick part of the Bell Curve for White Americans is located between 85 and 115, average dull to average bright. A White American with an IQ of 70 is 2 SD below the mean and has something wrong with him. He’s not just dull-witted; he’s dysfunctional.

    In contrast, the thick part of the Bell Curve for Black Americans is located between 70 and 100, average dull to average bright. Hence, a Black American with an IQ of 70 is not dysfunctional; he is simply not very smart.

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  71. Fred is a very smart man and a lot of fun to read – may I have a go until Mr Derbyshire gets here?

    (1) What selective pressures lead to a desire not to reproduce, and how does this fit into a Darwinian framework?

    Humans have long realized that sex is the bait dangled in front of their noses by those selfish genes, needing to reproduce. Only yesterday, in evolutionary terms, have they figured out how to reliably gobble the bait without taking the hook. Then look what happened.

    (2) Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded?

    Even if you had that right, I can’t see how it changes evolutionary thinking – morality is surely a uniquely human construct which itself probably evolved because it benefited societies.

    (3) How many years would have to pass without replication of the event, if indeed it be not replicated, before one might begin to suspect that it didn’t happen?

    You can work out the probability that those monkeys, bashing away on their typwriters, will eventually produce a page of Shakespeare – let’s say it is ten to the minus fifty – but in any case it’s finite. Now look at the primordial soup and stir it for several billion years: shooting it up regularly with bolts of lightning and you have a very finite probability of forming amino acids which, given the uncountable time available, might just band together and start competing with one another for tit-bits floating in the soup.

    (4) What are the viable steps needed to evolve from one to the other? Or from anything to four-cycle?

    Given mind-boggling amounts of time, as in (3), astounding numbers of unsuccessful combinations are possible

    (5) Does not genetic determinism (with which I have no disagreement) lead to a paradox: that the thoughts we think we are thinking we only think to be thoughts when they are really utterly predetermined by the inexorable working of physics and chemistry?

    I am sure this happens a lot – people in isolation come up with remarkably similar ideas and inventions – I find that things I mused over as a kid have been mused over by many others.

    (6) Why do seemingly trivial traits proliferate while clearly important ones do not?

    It’s a good question: some of the plumage of birds of paradise for example; how on earth could a gigantically cumbersome feather projecting from the crown facilitate survival? – I don’t have the answer myself but this is not enough to explode the theory.

    (7) What is the reproductive advantage of crippling pain (migraines can be crippling) about which pre-recently, the sufferer could do nothing?

    Possibly as a mechanism for removing from the pool those who whine too much? “Not tonight dear”

    (8) If one believes in or suspects the existence of God or gods, how does one exclude the possibility that He, She, or It meddles in the universe—directing evolution, for example?

    You cannot. But the point is that, whether directed or not, evolution is the sanest explanation we have for what we observe.

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  72. @Marlowe I think I read that when Cochran first put it out. Not going to quibble with any of that, but it just strains my credulity that an IQ 70 society could exist at all, and in a lot of ways the places I mentioned that usually get the low rankings (West Africa and Australia), aren’t very easy environments to exist in. Siberia may be worse, but neither of those locations is Tahiti.

    Things just blow up, one string pulled leads to something else. Namely that in my experience quite often people with high IQ’s are very poor at doing things like improvising tools, or figuring out how to move that big log out of the yard. Now you might bring up something like verbal IQ versus spatial, but at this point I have to wonder what these tests are measuring. Because the people I have met who were good at these sorts of things, aren’t good at IQ tests.

    Now I read your excerpt. But it doesn’t answer my question. Let’s say median IQ is 70. The low end is 55, the high end is 85. Based on my own experience, I have not a qualm in the world thinking an IQ 85 person could function in a situation requiring them to have a number of skills like identifying plants, basic woodworking, tying knots, knowing animal habits, making tools and weapons, avoiding snakes and other lethal things.

    I have a lot harder time imagining an IQ 70 person doing it. And I can’t imagine an IQ 55 person doing it at all. And according to my worldview, the village must be pretty kind because I can’t see an IQ 55 person being able to exist in this kind of world without dying, thus being selection pressure of a sort. One a good bit harsher than Western Europe’s was.

    Rereading that piece, I think the retarded people I am thinking of must have had very low IQ scores. I really didn’t know you could measure IQ when it got be at a 35 level.

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    Some interesting points regarding IQ and mental age:

    "Intelligence quotient (I.Q.) tests are designed to measure intellectual functioning. An I.Q. score provides a rough numerical assessment of an individual's present level of mental functioning in comparison with that of others. [....] To be diagnosed as having mental retardation, a person must have an I.Q. below 70-75, i.e. significantly below average. If a person scores below 70 on a properly administered and scored I.Q. test, he or she is in the bottom 2 percent of the American population10 and meets the first condition necessary to be defined as having mental retardation.

    Although all persons with mental retardation have significantly impaired mental development, their intellectual level can vary considerably. An estimated 89 percent of all people with retardation have I.Q.s in the 51-70 range. An I.Q. in the 60 to 70 range is approximately the scholastic equivalent to the third grade.11

    For the lay person or non-specialist, the significance of a low I.Q. is often best communicated through the imprecise but nonetheless descriptive reference to "mental age." When a person is said to have a mental age of six, this means he or she received the same number of correct responses on a standardized I.Q. test as the average six year old child.

    · Earl Washington, who confessed to a murder he did not commit, has an I.Q. of 69 and a mental age of ten. That is, he cannot perform intellectual tasks beyond the capacity of a typical ten-year-old.

    · Jerome Holloway, who death sentence was ultimately reduced in the face of overwhelming evidence that he had been unable to comprehend the proceedings against him, has an I.Q. of 49 and a mental age of seven.

    [...]



    The threshold I.Q. level for a diagnosis of mental retardation has been progressively lowered over the years, in part because of awareness of the damaging social prejudice suffered by those labeled "retarded." In 1959, the American Association on Mental Deficiency set 85 as the I.Q. below which a person was considered to be retarded.14 In 1992, the renamed American Association on Mental Retardation lowered the mental retardation "ceiling" to an I.Q. of 70-75"
  73. syonredux [AKA "marlowe"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “@Marlowe I think I read that when Cochran first put it out. Not going to quibble with any of that, but it just strains my credulity that an IQ 70 society could exist at all, and in a lot of ways the places I mentioned that usually get the low rankings (West Africa and Australia), aren’t very easy environments to exist in. Siberia may be worse, but neither of those locations is Tahiti.”

    How does West Africa compare to Tahiti in terms of environment?There are more dangerous animals in West Africa (I think) but is it actually more difficult to survive and reproduce?

    “Things just blow up, one string pulled leads to something else. Namely that in my experience quite often people with high IQ’s are very poor at doing things like improvising tools, or figuring out how to move that big log out of the yard. Now you might bring up something like verbal IQ versus spatial, but at this point I have to wonder what these tests are measuring. Because the people I have met who were good at these sorts of things, aren’t good at IQ tests.”

    Most of the people that I know who are good at improvising tools are not actually good at improvising tools; they have simply been taught what to do in a given situation.

    “Now I read your excerpt. But it doesn’t answer my question. Let’s say median IQ is 70. The low end is 55, the high end is 85. Based on my own experience, I have not a qualm in the world thinking an IQ 85 person could function in a situation requiring them to have a number of skills like identifying plants, basic woodworking, tying knots, knowing animal habits, making tools and weapons, avoiding snakes and other lethal things.

    I have a lot harder time imagining an IQ 70 person doing it. And I can’t imagine an IQ 55 person doing it at all. And according to my worldview, the village must be pretty kind because I can’t see an IQ 55 person being able to exist in this kind of world without dying, thus being selection pressure of a sort. One a good bit harsher than Western Europe’s was.”

    Is West Africa harsher than Western Europe? The impression that I have is that moving out of the tropics and into the temperate zone was very difficult, necessitating the development of a new toolkit, etc.

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  74. My meaning is that if you are stupid, you die.

    Whereas in a place like Western Europe you might have had the church giving bread to the poor. Plus it’s been a while since animals actually posed a life ending kind of threat in that locale. Europe must have had big cats at some point, they seem to be found in just about all ecosystems. But what else? Wolves? Weren’t they a distant memory in Western Europe by the 1700′s?

    Just saying I would think you could find a lot more immediate threats to your existence in the form of poisonous reptile and the like in West Africa than Europe.

    Read More
    • Replies: @syonredux
    "My meaning is that if you are stupid, you die."

    But what constitutes the cut-off line for stupidity?

    "Whereas in a place like Western Europe you might have had the church giving bread to the poor."

    In relatively recent times, yes.

    "Plus it’s been a while since animals actually posed a life ending kind of threat in that locale. Europe must have had big cats at some point, they seem to be found in just about all ecosystems. But what else? Wolves? Weren’t they a distant memory in Western Europe by the 1700′s?"

    How much IQ do you need to know to stay away from dangerous animals?

    "Just saying I would think you could find a lot more immediate threats to your existence in the form of poisonous reptile and the like in West Africa than Europe."

    On the other hand, the actual environment of Western Europe poses challenges that are not found in the tropics. For example, note how having a cold season (with killing frost) necessitates the development of cognitive skills (planning ahead, low time preference, etc).
  75. syonredux [AKA "marlowe"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Sunbeam
    @Marlowe I think I read that when Cochran first put it out. Not going to quibble with any of that, but it just strains my credulity that an IQ 70 society could exist at all, and in a lot of ways the places I mentioned that usually get the low rankings (West Africa and Australia), aren't very easy environments to exist in. Siberia may be worse, but neither of those locations is Tahiti.

    Things just blow up, one string pulled leads to something else. Namely that in my experience quite often people with high IQ's are very poor at doing things like improvising tools, or figuring out how to move that big log out of the yard. Now you might bring up something like verbal IQ versus spatial, but at this point I have to wonder what these tests are measuring. Because the people I have met who were good at these sorts of things, aren't good at IQ tests.

    Now I read your excerpt. But it doesn't answer my question. Let's say median IQ is 70. The low end is 55, the high end is 85. Based on my own experience, I have not a qualm in the world thinking an IQ 85 person could function in a situation requiring them to have a number of skills like identifying plants, basic woodworking, tying knots, knowing animal habits, making tools and weapons, avoiding snakes and other lethal things.

    I have a lot harder time imagining an IQ 70 person doing it. And I can't imagine an IQ 55 person doing it at all. And according to my worldview, the village must be pretty kind because I can't see an IQ 55 person being able to exist in this kind of world without dying, thus being selection pressure of a sort. One a good bit harsher than Western Europe's was.

    Rereading that piece, I think the retarded people I am thinking of must have had very low IQ scores. I really didn't know you could measure IQ when it got be at a 35 level.

    Some interesting points regarding IQ and mental age:

    “Intelligence quotient (I.Q.) tests are designed to measure intellectual functioning. An I.Q. score provides a rough numerical assessment of an individual’s present level of mental functioning in comparison with that of others. [....] To be diagnosed as having mental retardation, a person must have an I.Q. below 70-75, i.e. significantly below average. If a person scores below 70 on a properly administered and scored I.Q. test, he or she is in the bottom 2 percent of the American population10 and meets the first condition necessary to be defined as having mental retardation.

    Although all persons with mental retardation have significantly impaired mental development, their intellectual level can vary considerably. An estimated 89 percent of all people with retardation have I.Q.s in the 51-70 range. An I.Q. in the 60 to 70 range is approximately the scholastic equivalent to the third grade.11

    For the lay person or non-specialist, the significance of a low I.Q. is often best communicated through the imprecise but nonetheless descriptive reference to “mental age.” When a person is said to have a mental age of six, this means he or she received the same number of correct responses on a standardized I.Q. test as the average six year old child.

    · Earl Washington, who confessed to a murder he did not commit, has an I.Q. of 69 and a mental age of ten. That is, he cannot perform intellectual tasks beyond the capacity of a typical ten-year-old.

    · Jerome Holloway, who death sentence was ultimately reduced in the face of overwhelming evidence that he had been unable to comprehend the proceedings against him, has an I.Q. of 49 and a mental age of seven.

    [...]

    The threshold I.Q. level for a diagnosis of mental retardation has been progressively lowered over the years, in part because of awareness of the damaging social prejudice suffered by those labeled “retarded.” In 1959, the American Association on Mental Deficiency set 85 as the I.Q. below which a person was considered to be retarded.14 In 1992, the renamed American Association on Mental Retardation lowered the mental retardation “ceiling” to an I.Q. of 70-75″

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  76. syonredux [AKA "marlowe"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Sunbeam
    My meaning is that if you are stupid, you die.

    Whereas in a place like Western Europe you might have had the church giving bread to the poor. Plus it's been a while since animals actually posed a life ending kind of threat in that locale. Europe must have had big cats at some point, they seem to be found in just about all ecosystems. But what else? Wolves? Weren't they a distant memory in Western Europe by the 1700's?

    Just saying I would think you could find a lot more immediate threats to your existence in the form of poisonous reptile and the like in West Africa than Europe.

    “My meaning is that if you are stupid, you die.”

    But what constitutes the cut-off line for stupidity?

    “Whereas in a place like Western Europe you might have had the church giving bread to the poor.”

    In relatively recent times, yes.

    “Plus it’s been a while since animals actually posed a life ending kind of threat in that locale. Europe must have had big cats at some point, they seem to be found in just about all ecosystems. But what else? Wolves? Weren’t they a distant memory in Western Europe by the 1700′s?”

    How much IQ do you need to know to stay away from dangerous animals?

    “Just saying I would think you could find a lot more immediate threats to your existence in the form of poisonous reptile and the like in West Africa than Europe.”

    On the other hand, the actual environment of Western Europe poses challenges that are not found in the tropics. For example, note how having a cold season (with killing frost) necessitates the development of cognitive skills (planning ahead, low time preference, etc).

    Read More
  77. syonredux [AKA "marlowe"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “In 1959, the American Association on Mental Deficiency set 85 as the I.Q. below which a person was considered to be retarded.14 In 1992, the renamed American Association on Mental Retardation lowered the mental retardation “ceiling” to an I.Q. of 70-75″”

    interesting to compare the dates. In 1959, the cut-off for retardation was 85, but in 1992 they lowered the threshold to 70-75. I suspect that that had a lot to do with the differing IQ means for Black and White Americans.

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  78. @syonredux
    "Given that homosexuals cannot naturally reproduce (sure, they can using surrogates or test tubes, but are you going to qualify that as “natural”?):

    How do you explain the existence of homosexuals?"


    Greg Cochran has a theory that sounds quite promising:


    "I’ve said it before, but it’s probably time to say it again. The most likely explanation for human homosexuality is that it is caused by some pathogen. It’s too common to be mutational pressure (and we don’t see syndromic versions, as we would in that case), it’s not new, identical twins are usually discordant (~75% of the time), and it’s hell on reproductive fitness. There is no way it is adaptive: the helpful gay uncle notion, group selection, compensating advantage in females, etc: these range from impossible to bloody unlikely. It doesn’t exist in most hunter-gatherers: you have to explain what it is you’re even talking about when you ask them. Presumably with diagrams.

    As for Freudian explanations, exotic-becomes-erotic, etc: just reading the social-science literature on the subject is enough to make you wonder if the human brain really does exist to cool the blood.

    A fair number of the smarter people interested in the subject agree with me. Not that they think it proven, but they agree that it is the only theory out there that makes any evolutionary sense. Bill Hamilton thought it made sense. So does Alan Grafen. Mike Bailey thinks it more likely than any other explanation tendered thus far."

    http://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/depths-of-madness/

    Homosexuality may very well be adaptive should it exisit at regular rates within a population. Societies with specialized roles for individuals might benefit as a whole if individuals with certain traits (gender preference linked) are present.

    Priests come to mind immediately. Imagine a group of individuals, selected by sexual preference, with extremely high social skills running an institution such as the church. This group is tasked with maintaining academic, cultural and artistic knowledge, as well as maintaining structure and theatrical rituals designed to keep the less cognitively gifted working and not having bastards willy nilly.

    A proclivity for caddiness and gossip might very well provide for effective informal communication channels, information sharing and consensus building prior to the invention of things like the printing press, twitter and blogs. Once you have the printing press, perhaps the old ways fall to literate protestants, and homosexual traits become evolutionary artifacts, leaving us with Broadway musicals, fashion magazines et.c…

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "Homosexuality may very well be adaptive should it exisit at regular rates within a population. Societies with specialized roles for individuals might benefit as a whole if individuals with certain traits (gender preference linked) are present."

    This is the group selection hypothesis (aka the gay uncle theory); it's extremely unlikely:


    "You can imagine situations in which natural selection would favor an increase in frequency for a trait that aided group survival while hurting individual reproductive success – but it’s not all that easy. Here’s the problem: imagine a situation in which some individuals in the group have an allele that causes them to fight in a way that saves the collective – the catch is that some get killed in the process. Members of the tribe that don’t have this allele are saved as well, but they don’t pay the price. At the end of this fight, the frequency of the self-sacrificing allele has gone down, not up. So how can the altruistic allele hang around? How would it ever have become common in the first place?

    If the altruistic act (defined as one that increases the fitness of another individuals while reducing personal fitness) is aimed at close relatives, an altruistic allele can succeed. As Haldane once said, “I would lay down my life for two brothers or eight cousins”. It’s called kin selection. Close relatives are more likely to carry a copy of that same altruistic allele than the average bear, so altruistic acts focused on close relatives can pay off – can cause the causal alleles to increase in frequency. This is particularly so if circumstances allow very big payoff from altruistic acts, for example, species that nest in cavities. Successful defense of a breach in the nest is tactically easy, rather like Horatius at the bridge, and greatly increases the fitness of many relatives.

    You also see a kind of altruism among some infectious organisms. Some bacteria make a toxin that furthers the infection process. Each individual bacterium would be better off if he stopped making that toxin and relied on all the other bacteria to do it – it would save energy – but if the infection starts with a single organism, the descendants are all closely related and kin selection can favor expensive cooperation. In some cases, like cholera or diphtheria, phages carry genes that code for the production of toxins. You can think of this as a method of forcing high relatedness.

    Some people have suggested that human homosexuality is an adaptation produced by group selection. I can’t see how this could possibly work. They would have to do stuff for close relatives – lots of stuff. This is a quantitative question: if they concentrated on the closest possible relatives, nephews and nieces, they’d have to cause far more to survive than would otherwise. We’re talking a behavior stronger and more effective than mother love. It doesn’t exist. And how would being homosexual help?

    In some other loony scenarios, homosexuality was favored by benefits to the group as a whole. Disregarding the fact that this kind of selection is almost impossible in the first place, and that we don’t even find homosexuality in most hunter-gatherer populations, what is it they are supposed to have done to save or aid the tribe?"

    http://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/group-selection-and-homosexuality/
  79. Google of course knows the answers to Fred’s questions. See, for instance: “How Did Insect Metamorphosis Evolve?” by Ferris Jabr (Scientific American, Aug. 10, 2012). Science writer Jabr acknowledges he is offering a plausible explanation, not a rigorous proof. But a plausible explanation is all Fred wants. Fred’s question is how COULD insect metamorphosis have evolved.

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  80. @Muse
    Homosexuality may very well be adaptive should it exisit at regular rates within a population. Societies with specialized roles for individuals might benefit as a whole if individuals with certain traits (gender preference linked) are present.

    Priests come to mind immediately. Imagine a group of individuals, selected by sexual preference, with extremely high social skills running an institution such as the church. This group is tasked with maintaining academic, cultural and artistic knowledge, as well as maintaining structure and theatrical rituals designed to keep the less cognitively gifted working and not having bastards willy nilly.

    A proclivity for caddiness and gossip might very well provide for effective informal communication channels, information sharing and consensus building prior to the invention of things like the printing press, twitter and blogs. Once you have the printing press, perhaps the old ways fall to literate protestants, and homosexual traits become evolutionary artifacts, leaving us with Broadway musicals, fashion magazines et.c...

    “Homosexuality may very well be adaptive should it exisit at regular rates within a population. Societies with specialized roles for individuals might benefit as a whole if individuals with certain traits (gender preference linked) are present.”

    This is the group selection hypothesis (aka the gay uncle theory); it’s extremely unlikely:

    “You can imagine situations in which natural selection would favor an increase in frequency for a trait that aided group survival while hurting individual reproductive success – but it’s not all that easy. Here’s the problem: imagine a situation in which some individuals in the group have an allele that causes them to fight in a way that saves the collective – the catch is that some get killed in the process. Members of the tribe that don’t have this allele are saved as well, but they don’t pay the price. At the end of this fight, the frequency of the self-sacrificing allele has gone down, not up. So how can the altruistic allele hang around? How would it ever have become common in the first place?

    If the altruistic act (defined as one that increases the fitness of another individuals while reducing personal fitness) is aimed at close relatives, an altruistic allele can succeed. As Haldane once said, “I would lay down my life for two brothers or eight cousins”. It’s called kin selection. Close relatives are more likely to carry a copy of that same altruistic allele than the average bear, so altruistic acts focused on close relatives can pay off – can cause the causal alleles to increase in frequency. This is particularly so if circumstances allow very big payoff from altruistic acts, for example, species that nest in cavities. Successful defense of a breach in the nest is tactically easy, rather like Horatius at the bridge, and greatly increases the fitness of many relatives.

    You also see a kind of altruism among some infectious organisms. Some bacteria make a toxin that furthers the infection process. Each individual bacterium would be better off if he stopped making that toxin and relied on all the other bacteria to do it – it would save energy – but if the infection starts with a single organism, the descendants are all closely related and kin selection can favor expensive cooperation. In some cases, like cholera or diphtheria, phages carry genes that code for the production of toxins. You can think of this as a method of forcing high relatedness.

    Some people have suggested that human homosexuality is an adaptation produced by group selection. I can’t see how this could possibly work. They would have to do stuff for close relatives – lots of stuff. This is a quantitative question: if they concentrated on the closest possible relatives, nephews and nieces, they’d have to cause far more to survive than would otherwise. We’re talking a behavior stronger and more effective than mother love. It doesn’t exist. And how would being homosexual help?

    In some other loony scenarios, homosexuality was favored by benefits to the group as a whole. Disregarding the fact that this kind of selection is almost impossible in the first place, and that we don’t even find homosexuality in most hunter-gatherer populations, what is it they are supposed to have done to save or aid the tribe?”

    http://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/group-selection-and-homosexuality/

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  81. @shmiggen
    Bizarre how almost everyone has missed Fred's point. Fred lives in Mexico, and based upon what he sees, he is merely letting everyone know that it isn't a slam dunk that Mexicans are racially inferior.

    That's it, that's the controversy. In these parts, rife with white nationalists, that is a controversial thing to say. I added that a lot of people used to feel that way about the micks and the wops. Now they don't.

    But they do feel that way about the 'spics. Fred reminds us that there is a lot left to chance, that evolution isn't linear, and that the 'spics that are flooding the country just may make it better - and more vibrant.

    I see nothing wrong with this.

    “Bizarre how almost everyone has missed Fred’s point. Fred lives in Mexico,”

    Fred does more than live in Mexico, dear fellow…

    ” and based upon what he sees,”

    Allan Wall also has intimate knowledge of Mexico, and his opinions differ from Fred’s

    ” he is merely letting everyone know that it isn’t a slam dunk that Mexicans are racially inferior.”

    Who is claiming that “Mexicans” (a group that includes Whites, Amerinds, Mestizos, etc) are inferior? We are merely noting that Mexican Amerinds and Mestizos have IQs that are below the White American mean, and that that is bad news for the USA.

    “That’s it, that’s the controversy. In these parts, rife with white nationalists,”

    Who’s a White nationalist, dear fellow? Certainly not me.

    “that is a controversial thing to say.
    I added that a lot of people used to feel that way about the micks and the wops. Now they don’t.

    But they do feel that way about the ‘spics. Fred reminds us that there is a lot left to chance, that evolution isn’t linear, and that the ‘spics that are flooding the country just may make it better”

    Very little chance of that, dear fellow.

    ” – and more vibrant.”

    Ah, “vibrant” rears its head. Let’s see, what word can I use to describe a horde of low IQ immigrants. I need to say something that sounds good but doesn’t really mean anything…..Aha! I’ll use vibrant!

    “I see nothing wrong with this.”

    Anything that lulls people into thinking that the mass immigration of Mexicans into the USA is a positive thing is all kinds of wrong.

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    • Replies: @Old fogey
    How do you know that animals do not understand the link between sex and reproduction?
  82. Priss Factor [AKA "Andrea Ostrov Letania"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “In evolutionary principle, traits that lead to more surviving children proliferate. In practice, when people learn how to have fewer or no children, they do. Whole industries exist to provide condoms, diaphragms, IUDs, vasectomies, and abortions, attesting to great enthusiasm for non-reproduction. Many advanced countries are declining in population. How does having fewer surviving children lead to having more surviving children? Less cutely, what selective pressures lead to a desire not to reproduce, and how does this fit into a Darwinian framework?”

    That ain’t no principle. It just is.

    Why do people have fewer kids in the modern world? Because they find more pleasure not having kids. But that doesn’t prevent them from having sex and getting jollies through other ways: porn, devices, etc.

    The thing is no non-human organism has sex to reproduce. Only humans consciously have sex to reproduce as only humans know that having sex leads to reproduction. So, only humans have sex to reproduce.
    For what reason do other organisms have sex? Non-conscious organisms do it for mechanical reasons. They were bio-programmed to mix their genes that way. There is no emotion, there is no consciousness. They function like machines function. If you create a program in a computer that makes things within the program ‘multiply’, the things will multiply according to the programming.

    With complex conscious creatures, it’s more complicated. As they have strong emotions & consciousness and must survive in a difficult and dangerous world, they tend to be wary of other creatures, even of their own kind. So, in order for them to come together and mate, there has to be strong impulse for pleasure(and strong pain for lack of such pleasure). And animals feel this sexual drive for pleasure, and they go into heat and bang one another. But they don’t know they’re doing it for reproduction. Tigers don’t know having sex will lead to tiger cubs. Wolves don’t know that having sex will leads to wolf pups.

    No, they have sex for PLEASURE. They get mighty horny and they wanna get down and boogie.
    And so, they come together and get their jollies by having sex.
    Likewise, why do animals eat? They get hungry and find pleasure through eating. That keeps them alive. If animals didn’t feel pain through hunger and didn’t find pleasure through food, they wouldn’t eat and would just starve to death. But it wouldn’t bother them since starvation wouldn’t be painful.
    But because animals feel pain when they starve, they want food, and so they hunt or forage for food, and that keeps them alive. And they gorge and wolf down a lot with great pleasure since they might have to go for a long stretch without food as food isn’t easy to come by in nature, especially if you’re a predator.
    Same goes for sex. Animals feel pain when they can’t get any. Female animals want some dick, and male animals want some pussy. Just look at lions or chimps in heat. They get ornery being horny, and they be getting it on like like wildass mofos. But they have no idea what the ultimate purpose of sex is all about. A female bear doesn’t know that it will grow pregnant as the result of sex.

    But humans do know. In the old days, lots of babies died, so it was necessary for women to have lots of kids. Also, as life was tough and there was little in the way of security and recreation, humans prized close-knit communities. And as there wasn’t much in the way of entertainment and stuff, they found pleasure in family life as well as with sex. Also, there was the pleasure of pride in being a mother as barren women were looked down upon.

    But today, people in the modern world can have so much pleasure from movies, music, books, TV, ‘free love’ with contraceptives/condoms/etc, porn and other sexual entertainment, and etc.
    They can have so much pleasure without having kids. Indeed, many people have sexual pleasure even without real sex. If virtual reality stuff gets underway, who knows what people might do? A bunch of guys and girls might have imaginary computer sex all night long.

    So, in this sense, human behavior isn’t different from animal behavior. Both are acting on the ‘pleasure principle’. Animals have sex for pleasure, and so do humans. But since animals don’t know the connection between sex and pregnancy, they must deal with the consequences of their sex act. But because humans do know that sex leads to pregnancy, they’ve come up with all sorts of clever ways to separate the pleasure of sex from the heavy responsibility of pregnancy.

    Of course, even now, lots of women do decide to have kids since they get tired of one-night-stands after awhile and want some kind of deeper relationship and want the deeper(as opposed to merely immediate and ephemeral) pleasure that comes from family life.

    But then, lots of women–and men– just want to be free and have pleasure forever and ever. It’s like vampires in Twilight can stay young and beautiful and have sex without pregnancy forever and ever. It’s like that 80s anti-drug commercial where, when monkeys were provided with cocaine, they just sniffed joke and didn’t do anything else. So, the very force that ensured animal/human survival through its existence can be used against it. The pleasure principle made monkeys forage for food and sex, but if super-pleasure could be delivered through drugs, monkey might just prefer that and ignore all else. Indeed, meth seems to have had the same impact in many small-town and rural white communities. Poor white folks find such pleasure in meth that they ignore all else, including their own health. So, anything that ensures our survival in certain doses can be made counterproductive in heavier doses. If desire for pleasure makes us struggle hard and work hard and have sex and deal with the consequences of sex–children and family–, it can be productive and constructive for us. Pleasure would motivate us to drive ourselves harder. But if pleasure is made easy, and if pleasure is made so powerful through a simple use of a drug, then people will grow lazy and crazy just for another dose of that drug. It’s like what happened to some Chinese with the opium trade in the 19th century.

    What this goes to show is that what had once been productive and useful to a species can turn unproductive and useless(even destructive) to a species IF the conditions are changed. The pleasure of sex made men and women have sex in the past, and this led to women having kids and ensuring the continuation of the species. But once mankind, with its intelligence, was able to separate(and even heighten) the pleasure from its consequences, many people were likely to choose the pleasure without dealing with what had been its natural consequences. Today, women can have the pleasure of sex without the worry of pregnancy. They can have the pleasure without the pain(of childbirth). And this pleasure has become so addictive and expanded through modern industry of entertainment and travel that it now works against the survival of the species.

    But this can be said for hunger itself too. In the past, food was scarce, so it was good for humans to have a healthy appetite since they better wolf it down when the going was good–because there was going to be long stretches of shortage and hunger. So, this great pleasure in eating food was to man’s advantage since man was likely to eat his fill when the food was available.

    But today, that evolutionary advantage has become a disadvantage because we have too much food in the modern world. We don’t have to wolf things down like our ancestors did in the past because we have more than enough food.. but many people still eat like pigs because we have inherited our great hunger from our evolutionary past. So, we have all sorts of obesity problems. Some women are so fat that no one man even split her hips/ass-cheeks apart to stick his thingy into her poon.

    But this goes for animals too. If you give a dog lots of food, it will keep eating and eating and eating even when it doesn’t have to.

    Our great pleasure in sex and food was developed when our survival was very precarious through 100,000s of yrs of human existence.

    But with modern technology and abundance, our great lust and hunger can undermine the survival and well-being of our species.

    The problem of sex/pleasure is apparent in both Africa and the West albeit in different ways.
    With modern medicine, many more African babies survive to adulthood, so African women no longer need to have so many kids. But they still keep pumping the babies out because African men and African women still feel mighty horny and find so much pleasure through sex. So, this leads to overpopulation and competition for scarce resources like water.

    If the problem of Africa is that modern medicine ensures survival of African babies but African men and women still crank out too many kids, the problem of the West is that white folks have found such a convenient way to enjoy the pleasure of sex without having kids that white folks are addicted to sex without the consequence of childbirth. So, white folks are fuc*ing like rabbits or whanking like them chimps you see on youtube, but they aren’t having enough kids to ensure the survival of their race.

    So, what does evolution have to ‘say’ about this? Nothing. Evolution is a process, not a principle. There is no mind or reason behind it. There’s nothing in evolution that ensures the survival of any species. When conditions change, traits that had once been useful can become useless. Evolution can only be understood by pondering the relationship between the genes within and the conditions outside the organism. The fact is that the conditions surrounding us has changed drastically, but we are still driven by traits formed through 100,00os of yrs.

    Another thing about humans is that the achievements of ablest humans affect all humans. All this modern technology and science and economics were created by the top 0.01% of humanity with high intelligence, vision, and etc, but it has come to affect all humans, even those with low IQ and with emotions not far above those of apes. So, the impact of new conditions on one set of humans at the top is bound to very different from its impact on the rest of humanity that is still pretty dumb and crude.

    For intelligent and responsible people with foresight, things of modern conveniences and advantages mean that they can have two or three children, raise them right, and find long-term pleasure and meaning.

    But for many other people, things of modern technology just mean they get to rely a lot of condoms and sleep around and act like they’re gonna be young forever. Or it means guys and girls masturbating to porn without having a real life. Or among folks such as black women in places like Detroit and New Orleans, it means having a whole bunch of chillun with a whole bunch of men and having white taxpayers provide them with everything so they can have fun doing nothing but watching TV and playing video games and shaking their booty to some jiveass rap music.

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    • Replies: @Old fogey
    How do you know that animals do not realize that sex leads to reproduction?
  83. @Sunbeam
    Okay, time out.

    I vaguely know about John Derbyshire from his brouhaha with National Review (or whichever interchangeable forum it was).

    What is the guy's background? Did he complete a degree in the sciences of any sort? I had the idea he was simply "Yet Another Pundit."

    What makes him qualified for anything? Why should I care about what he writes? (Come to think of it, why did Fred Reed mention him by name? Is it just one of those cool names to write?) I've noticed that he touches on stats every now and then. How would he do at the actuary qualifying exams?

    Just saying, I have read a couple of his pieces. I found nothing compelling about what he chose to write about, nor what he said in those pieces.

    Hmmm seems to me we need to sit Fred Reed and Derbyshire down somewhere. Give them IQ tests, things like the actuary exam (you know to establish some kind of base knowledge of stats). Put the curriculum vitae up.

    Then we know who to take seriously, and who to disparage. Got no time for the dummies, ya know.

    Come to think of it though, given the nature of this site, maybe I am not joking. Be interesting to see some real numbers on these guys.

    I mean what would be your personal go/no go IQ score on credibility for a writer? 120? 130? Go much higher and presumably they have something better to do with their time.

    Thing is you could do it. I would love, just love to get every journalist to do this. Be really interesting to see what the columnists on this site score.

    “Okay, time out.

    I vaguely know about John Derbyshire from his brouhaha with National Review (or whichever interchangeable forum it was).

    What is the guy’s background? Did he complete a degree in the sciences of any sort?”

    He read mathematics, dear fellow. Next time consult WIKIPEDIA

    “I had the idea he was simply “Yet Another Pundit.””

    MMMM, well much smarter and more daring than the average pundit. Well, more daring and more intelligent than Fred Reed, at any rate.

    “What makes him qualified for anything?”

    MMMM, mathematical training does overlap a tad with the sciences, dear fellow.

    “Why should I care about what he writes?”

    Because he knows and understands more than Fred Reed?

    ” (Come to think of it, why did Fred Reed mention him by name? Is it just one of those cool names to write?)”

    Probably envy on Fred’s part.

    “I’ve noticed that he touches on stats every now and then. How would he do at the actuary qualifying exams?”

    Probably better than Fred….

    “Just saying, I have read a couple of his pieces. I found nothing compelling about what he chose to write about, nor what he said in those pieces.”

    Sadly, the truth is seldom compelling.

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  84. @Sunbeam
    Jamie wrote:

    "So, does that represent the very cutting edge of creationist argument? If so, I guess that I’ve been debating their highest elite for years without knowing it."

    Do you actually think this guy is a creationist?

    Actually what do you think a creationist is? Give me your definition of one. I'll just bet it is associated with certain behavioral, and thought and speech patterns, that just make you feel all smug.

    I also notice you didn't address any of his arguments. I think the one about the insects is pretty solid. Though I can't say I have done much reading on what the theories concerning this are. It may be (as I found his abiogenesis argument not convincing) that this one is not going to stand up either.

    I wouldn't know without pulling a lot of strings, and doing a lot of reading. Boy, that sounds like a dilettante doesn't it? "Do a lot of reading." But I've been to grad school in a different field, and I can tell you with confidence that the bulk of you "biologists" didn't do a bunch of hands on experiments to confirm or deny what you heard in class or the conventional wisdom.

    You did a lot of reading. Just like Fred. And somehow anyone who reads this thread is to find your argument or just opinion sounder than his.

    And lastly I have a question for you Jamie. I tend to think of this one as being the same argument as intelligent design, or god, or whatever. Maybe you don't.

    Let's say all of reality is a computer simulation by someone for reasons unknown. And whoever is conducting the sim, for whatever reason decides it's too f$#ing dull the way it's been going and makes a few "adjustments" along the way. You know to spice it up, or just for fun.

    Disprove this.

    Inherent in your world view I think is the assumption that there isn't something beyond it all out there, that is f$%ing with you.

    And my question is, given your likely background, how would you know? I'd think rather that being a different kind of "creationist" you would never consider the question.

    “Do you actually think this guy is a creationist?”

    Fred Reed? Yeah.

    “Actually what do you think a creationist is? Give me your definition of one. I’ll just bet it is associated with certain behavioral, and thought and speech patterns, that just make you feel all smug.”

    The belief that life on Earth was engineered by an alien intelligence.

    “I also notice you didn’t address any of his arguments. I think the one about the insects is pretty solid. ”

    It’s not.

    “Though I can’t say I have done much reading on what the theories concerning this are. It may be (as I found his abiogenesis argument not convincing) that this one is not going to stand up either.”

    It doesn’t.

    “And lastly I have a question for you Jamie. I tend to think of this one as being the same argument as intelligent design, or god, or whatever. Maybe you don’t.”

    It’s the same argument.

    “Let’s say all of reality is a computer simulation by someone for reasons unknown. And whoever is conducting the sim, for whatever reason decides it’s too f$#ing dull the way it’s been going and makes a few “adjustments” along the way. You know to spice it up, or just for fun.

    Disprove this.”

    Disprove an unfalsifiable assertion, dear fellow? Can’t be done. Just like you can’t prove that the universe was just created one second ago. This is fun stuff for sophomore philosophy classes, but nothing more than that.

    “Inherent in your world view I think is the assumption that there isn’t something beyond it all out there, that is f$%ing with you.”

    Looks like Charles Fort still has followers…

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  85. @Pantah
    Still not a single direct response to Reed's comments. It's rigidity like yours that Reed has long noted in those who blindly defend evolution. Don't answer the question (e.g. why would a caterpillar morph through the highly complex changes to become a butterfly, and would it ever survive such a transition in the intermediate stages), just blow your stack that anyone would have the temerity to question the gospe--, er, theory of evolution. With defenders like you, Darwin is lost.

    “Still not a single direct response to Reed’s comments.”

    I did respond to Fred’s confused ramblings on morality, dear fellow; you just did not like the response.

    ” It’s rigidity like yours that Reed has long noted in those who blindly defend evolution. ”

    I’m actually quite limber, dear fellow.

    “Don’t answer the question (e.g. why would a caterpillar morph through the highly complex changes to become a butterfly, and would it ever survive such a transition in the intermediate stages),”

    That one has been answered by others. Cf the postings by Marlowe, etc.

    ” just blow your stack”

    More in sorrow than in anger, dear fellow.

    ” that anyone would have the temerity to question the gospe–, er, theory of evolution. With defenders like you, Darwin is lost.”

    MMMM, why should I defend Darwin, ? Science is not religion, dear boy. We know a lot more about the mechanisms of evolution than Darwin ever did….

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  86. @Pantah
    That "whoosh" sound you heard wasn't a Nike streaking by, but the sound of Reed's points going over your head. His point about torturing the retarded to death is that no argument could be made against the practice when evolution rules out absolute moral practices. In other words, how could you say that killing the retarded gently or horribly could be wrong if you're a strict evolutionist?

    “That “whoosh” sound you heard wasn’t a Nike streaking by, but the sound of Reed’s points going over your head.”

    Odd. I though that sound came from between my thighs…

    ” His point about torturing the retarded to death is that no argument could be made against the practice when evolution rules out absolute moral practices.”

    MMMM, which seems to miss the point, dear fellow. Because nature is amoral, does that mean that we must be amoral? Never confuse is with ought, dear fellow.

    “In other words, how could you say that killing the retarded gently or horribly could be wrong if you’re a strict evolutionist?”

    Readily enough, dear fellow.

    1. Horribly: Only a small number of people (psychopaths, Fred Reed, etc) derive pleasure from inflicting pain on others. Hence, most of us would prefer to see such killings done in a painless fashion.

    2. Gently: Of course, that still leaves us with the question of killing the unfit. Again, pleasure rears its head. most people dislike killing, and prefer to avoid it when possible. For example, if cloned meat ever gets off the ground, I’m pretty sure that the slaughter of animals for their flesh will end. If there is no necessity, why do something that is not pleasurable?

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  87. @Sunbeam
    This is a conundrum. Syon is the type that absolutely must get the last word no matter what.

    (I am psychic.)

    So is it better to engage in all out flame war with someone who has rubbed you the wrong way? I mean even if he were correct, I'm hardly going to be enlightened by him at this point. So in a sense if he speaks truth he is doing a disservice to it by his very existence.

    There are a lot of philosophical angles involved in this one. Not to mention a lot of reading to verify or discredit his claims.

    So what to do?

    Think it is best to ignore him. That preserves harmony and is perhaps the most useful path. Still if I had my magic internet button that administered electric shocks to people I didn't like, he would be a scorched ball of meat.

    “This is a conundrum. Syon is the type that absolutely must get the last word no matter what.”

    Not if the other fellow’s last word happens to be correct, dear boy.

    “(I am psychic.)”

    MMM, well, a belief in psychic phenomena would certainly be compatible with your theory that we live in the MATRIX

    “So is it better to engage in all out flame war with someone who has rubbed you the wrong way?”

    And here I thought that we were having a discussion.

    “I mean even if he were correct, I’m hardly going to be enlightened by him at this point.”

    None are so blind, dear fellow.

    “So in a sense if he speaks truth he is doing a disservice to it by his very existence.”

    Dear me, I never imagined such a Cosmic, Ahriman-esque role for myself.

    “There are a lot of philosophical angles involved in this one.”

    Fewer than you might think, dear fellow.

    ” Not to mention a lot of reading to verify or discredit his claims.”

    But such a reading program would be highly edifying, dear fellow.

    “So what to do?”

    The eternal question.

    “Think it is best to ignore him.”

    Well, they do say that ignorance is bliss.

    “That preserves harmony and is perhaps the most useful path. ”

    Dear fellow, truth cares not for harmony.

    “Still if I had my magic internet button that administered electric shocks to people I didn’t like, he would be a scorched ball of meat.”

    And yet I wish you nothing but chocolate rivers and candy trees, dear fellow.

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  88. @Eric Ashley
    I see that Derbyshire is smart enough to avoid this debate as he'd almostly certainly get ko'd.

    Now I've written a book about evolution, granted it was a SF novel, but hey....book. And in Derbyshire's arguement (and also Marlowe's) the mere fact that someone somewhere wrote something overcomes logic, even if those books are filled with the same kind of drippery as has assaulted us here.

    So...I win...cuz book.

    “I see that Derbyshire is smart enough to avoid this debate as he’d almostly certainly get ko’d.”

    MMM, it’s rather more likely that he would die of ennui; Fred’s “arguments” are the most tedious that I have ever encountered. Well, outside of grade school.

    “Now I’ve written a book about evolution, granted it was a SF novel, but hey….book.”

    Oh, dear. An SF author.

    ” And in Derbyshire’s arguement (and also Marlowe’s) the mere fact that someone somewhere wrote something overcomes logic, even if those books are filled with the same kind of drippery as has assaulted us here.”

    Rather more than one book has been written on evolution, dear fellow.

    “So…I win…cuz book.”

    MMMM, I take back what I said about Fred. This “Eric Ashley” fellow is even more tedious…

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  89. Synon,

    ‘the truth is rarely compelling’.

    After your pretense of boredom, you say Derb can’t handle a fifth grader. Well, if you say so…

    And more than one book has been written in favor of creationism. We could weigh the books on a giant scale, and determine truth by whichever is heavier.
    u
    Or, hey, we could present logic and facts….its just so crazy it might work. Problem is, that way leads to Genesis, so you’re stuck making lying insults.

    As to my not being as interesting as Fred, well duh.

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "After your pretense of boredom,"

    Far from pretense, dear boy....


    "you say Derb can’t handle a fifth grader. "

    How does one "handle" someone who refuses to understand the issues at hand? As an activity, it has a good deal in common with running headfirst into a brick wall. I only recently became aware of Fred's inability to understand evolution. A quick scan through his previous efforts on the topic indicates that Fred is an inert, acephalic mass when it comes to evolution.

    "And more than one book has been written in favor of creationism."

    More than one book has been written in favor of the flat Earth, dear boy.


    "We could weigh the books on a giant scale, and determine truth by whichever is heavier."

    Well, if that's how things are done amongst the creationist horde, dear fellow. Personally, I favor reading what's inside them and evaluating on that basis....

    "u
    Or, hey, we could present logic and facts….its just so crazy it might work."


    MMM, here is a place that you might want to try out:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html#CB0

    Problem is, that way leads to Genesis, so you’re stuck making lying insults."

    Genesis, dear boy? Do you actually believe that Iron Age claptrap?

    "As to my not being as interesting as Fred, well duh."

    Low bar, dear boy.

  90. @syonredux
    "Bizarre how almost everyone has missed Fred’s point. Fred lives in Mexico,"

    Fred does more than live in Mexico, dear fellow...

    " and based upon what he sees,"

    Allan Wall also has intimate knowledge of Mexico, and his opinions differ from Fred's

    " he is merely letting everyone know that it isn’t a slam dunk that Mexicans are racially inferior."

    Who is claiming that "Mexicans" (a group that includes Whites, Amerinds, Mestizos, etc) are inferior? We are merely noting that Mexican Amerinds and Mestizos have IQs that are below the White American mean, and that that is bad news for the USA.

    "That’s it, that’s the controversy. In these parts, rife with white nationalists,"


    Who's a White nationalist, dear fellow? Certainly not me.

    "that is a controversial thing to say.
    I added that a lot of people used to feel that way about the micks and the wops. Now they don’t.

    But they do feel that way about the ‘spics. Fred reminds us that there is a lot left to chance, that evolution isn’t linear, and that the ‘spics that are flooding the country just may make it better"

    Very little chance of that, dear fellow.


    " – and more vibrant."

    Ah, "vibrant" rears its head. Let's see, what word can I use to describe a horde of low IQ immigrants. I need to say something that sounds good but doesn't really mean anything.....Aha! I'll use vibrant!

    "I see nothing wrong with this."

    Anything that lulls people into thinking that the mass immigration of Mexicans into the USA is a positive thing is all kinds of wrong.

    How do you know that animals do not understand the link between sex and reproduction?

    Read More
    • Replies: @syonredux
    "How do you know that animals do not understand the link between sex and reproduction?"

    Did I say that they don't?


    Leaving that to one side, I really don't know how we could even begin to test such a proposition. How could we get the opinions of a chimpanzee on the matter*?

    * Before anyone brings up sign language, read the literature.

    http://www.skepdic.com/essays/apinglanguage.html

  91. “Do you actually think this guy is a creationist?”

    I simply assumed. Why?

    “Actually what do you think a creationist is?”

    I would say anyone who invokes the supernatural at any point in any ‘explanation’ for anything. Why?

    “I’ll just bet it is associated with certain behavioral, and thought and speech patterns, that just make you feel all smug.”

    You know me so well.

    “I also notice you didn’t address any of his arguments.”

    Been done. A thousand times over, in fact. I no longer bother, since debating creationists is a bit like shooting zombies: they can have a fatal wound, but fail to recognize the fact, and continue to march mindlessly onward.

    “I think the one about the insects is pretty solid.”

    Should I be surprised?

    “…I can tell you with confidence that the bulk of you ‘biologists’ didn’t do a bunch of hands on experiments to confirm or deny what you heard in class or the conventional wisdom.”

    Yes, we biologists really need to learn how to think for ourselves. Again, you know me so well.

    “Let’s say all of reality is a computer simulation … Disprove this.”

    Ooh, you got me! I can’t disprove that reality is a computer simulation. Ouch!

    “Inherent in your world view I think is the assumption that there isn’t something beyond it all out there, that is f$%ing with you.”

    Yeah, that stupid scientific method: what a crock!

    “…given your likely background…”

    And yet more mind-reading. Do you always paint pictures of your enemy, and then ‘debate’ the painting?

    Read More
  92. Jamie, are you a biologist? You do realize that there aren’t many experts in any field we talk about that post here, at least verifiably.

    I used the term “biologist” sarcastically. If the context wasn’t clear I apologize.

    Now are you a biologist? If so, how far did you get in grad school, and what is your specialty? Do you actually work in the field? And if so how? There really aren’t a lot of jobs in the field. I’ve heard of people with phd’s in it who wound up as waiters. Life’s losers maybe, but a lot of guys never got further than a postdoc or stuffing neutrons in things for a few years at Fermilab with their physics Phd’s.

    Now, I want to know if you have taken classes in genetics and molecular biology. What programming language do you use? If you got a Phd, what was your dissertation?

    Read More
  93. “While grounds can doubtless be found for dismissing the example of the epicanthic fold, countless instances exist of traits that become universal or nearly so while lacking any plausible connection to greater fecundity.”

    Yes, such as emotional weeping in men.

    I read some asinine article in SciAm many years back that claimed emotional weeping evolved and took hold in homo sapiens (or some long lost ancestor) because it increased group cohesion or some such, which somehow leads to more baybeez, etc. It was like a haymaker to my prefrontal cortex: WTF?! How is it adaptalicious for a man to weep when he gets emotional? In my experience, a man incapable of emotional weeping would have a significant advantage over men prone to emotional weeping, especially if a woman sees it — male weeping is universally regarded as weakness, especially by women.

    And even if emotional weeping provided a “group cohesion” benefit, would this benefit be so great that literally EVERY person alive sheds emotional tears? Wouldn’t there be a fairly significant chunk of the population who doesn’t weep when emotional? And that first evolved dude who wept emotionally thanks to evolution, were his emotional tears so irresistible to women that he studded virtually the entire female population back in the day? And of course the SciAm writers didn’t bother explaining, base pair by base pair, how this trait supposedably “evolved” — they just assume it happened because St. Darwin tells them so.

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  94. “The basic problem with this debate is that no one has yet to come up with a scientifically credible competitor to the theory of evolution. In science, one runs with whatever theory the best describes the phenomenon, until someone comes up with a better explanation. Until someone comes up with a more plausible explanation, I consider evolution to be the best available theory.”

    This is a form of pseudoargumentation known as burden shifting.

    For me, until someone comes up with just a single observed instance of speciation, I consider evolution to be forever stuck in the hypothesis stage of scientific inquiry.

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  95. Sunbeam: “Jamie, are you a biologist?”

    Not exactly. I have a bachelor’s in biology, and have worked in a chemical/microbiological testing lab for a little more than ten years.

    “…how far did you get in grad school…”

    Not even half a semester (with ambitions of becoming an entomologist) before dropping out.

    “…have (you) taken classes in genetics and molecular biology.”

    Yes.

    Was there a point to your questions?

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  96. Totally worthless responses to Fred’s column. As Pantah stated not one intelligent refutation. Game, Set, and match to Fred Reed.

    Whether its PZ Meyers, or the “evolutionists” who commented here, the lack of intelligence among the evolutionist ideologues is minimal.

    Read More
    • Replies: @syonredux
    Go through this. It might open your mind:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html#CB0
    , @ogunsiron
    Yes, indeed, the lack of intelligence is lacking on the evolution side and is rather not lacking on the creationist side.

    What a sad, pathetic thread.
    , @rod1963
    I got to agree with you. More than a few of the so-called refutations of Fred border on the gutter nasty and vulgar especially by Syon who seems to place snark and personal insults as intelligent rejoinders to Fred and anyone who dares cross this self-appointed evolutionist cop.

    Personally I was never against evolution but it's abundantly clear you better not joke or dare ask questions about because it's followers will come down on the questioner like the inquisition. They are not good representatives for evolution at all. They're simply bullies with a college degree.
  97. Getting back to Fred’s point, he asks how one could exclude the possibility that God “meddles in the universe—directing evolution, for example …”

    Here lies the essence of the argument: are we looking at a random, spontaneous process or one that is ‘directed’? And of course this question is impossible to answer – and I personally believe it will remain so. If the process is random and its progress bound by the chemical templates available and the laws of physics then, of course, we come to the question “how did matter get organized in the first place?” and “where did the order come from?” and then we are back to the Big Bang and to singularities and to the Ultimate Mystery … I personally have no objection if you want to call that “God”.

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  98. Religion only become important for uncertainty or unknown. No body will pray for things people have solid control.

    More unknown in your life, more religious you are.

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  99. @Eric Ashley
    Synon,

    'the truth is rarely compelling'.

    After your pretense of boredom, you say Derb can't handle a fifth grader. Well, if you say so...

    And more than one book has been written in favor of creationism. We could weigh the books on a giant scale, and determine truth by whichever is heavier.
    u
    Or, hey, we could present logic and facts....its just so crazy it might work. Problem is, that way leads to Genesis, so you're stuck making lying insults.

    As to my not being as interesting as Fred, well duh.

    “After your pretense of boredom,”

    Far from pretense, dear boy….

    “you say Derb can’t handle a fifth grader. ”

    How does one “handle” someone who refuses to understand the issues at hand? As an activity, it has a good deal in common with running headfirst into a brick wall. I only recently became aware of Fred’s inability to understand evolution. A quick scan through his previous efforts on the topic indicates that Fred is an inert, acephalic mass when it comes to evolution.

    “And more than one book has been written in favor of creationism.”

    More than one book has been written in favor of the flat Earth, dear boy.

    “We could weigh the books on a giant scale, and determine truth by whichever is heavier.”

    Well, if that’s how things are done amongst the creationist horde, dear fellow. Personally, I favor reading what’s inside them and evaluating on that basis….

    “u
    Or, hey, we could present logic and facts….its just so crazy it might work.”

    MMM, here is a place that you might want to try out:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html#CB0

    Problem is, that way leads to Genesis, so you’re stuck making lying insults.”

    Genesis, dear boy? Do you actually believe that Iron Age claptrap?

    “As to my not being as interesting as Fred, well duh.”

    Low bar, dear boy.

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  100. @Old fogey
    How do you know that animals do not understand the link between sex and reproduction?

    “How do you know that animals do not understand the link between sex and reproduction?”

    Did I say that they don’t?

    Leaving that to one side, I really don’t know how we could even begin to test such a proposition. How could we get the opinions of a chimpanzee on the matter*?

    * Before anyone brings up sign language, read the literature.

    http://www.skepdic.com/essays/apinglanguage.html

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    • Replies: @Old fogey
    Sorry, syon, whoever you are - my comment was intended for another person who made such a statement on this site. I have tried again and hope this time it will link correctly.
  101. If one who believes that “intelligence”, i.e., consciousness, comes from somewhere else is a “creationist”, doesn’t that make one who believes it merely a result of material processes an “animist”?

    As far as the oxymoronic “homosexuality” is concerned, while I think it comes from a cocktail of nature, nurture and will, I can easily see how it could survive pure natural selection. The homo hates sex. So, how to get out of it if you’re in a tribe where marriage and family are almost mandatory?

    Why, frequent pregnancy! You only have to do it once a year, and everyone in the tribe is happy. Except maybe the other parent.

    Indeed, I do know one family where a lesbian who married produced more children than all but one of her siblings before “coming out”. But her gay nephew has produced none. So maybe liberation itself will take care of the “gay gene”.

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  102. syonredux [AKA "marlowe"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Honesthughgrant
    Totally worthless responses to Fred's column. As Pantah stated not one intelligent refutation. Game, Set, and match to Fred Reed.

    Whether its PZ Meyers, or the "evolutionists" who commented here, the lack of intelligence among the evolutionist ideologues is minimal.

    Go through this. It might open your mind:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html#CB0

    Read More
  103. An informative article on insect metamorphosis:

    Metamorphosis is a truly bizarre process, but an explanation of its evolution does not require such unsubstantiated theories (for a critique of Williamson’s hypothesis, see this study). By combining evidence from the fossil record with studies on insect anatomy and development, biologists have established a plausible narrative about the origin of insect metamorphosis, which they continue to revise as new information surfaces. The earliest insects in Earth’s history did not metamorphose; they hatched from eggs, essentially as miniature adults. Between 280 million and 300 million years ago, however, some insects began to mature a little differently—they hatched in forms that neither looked nor behaved like their adult versions. This shift proved remarkably beneficial: young and old insects were no longer competing for the same resources. Metamorphosis was so successful that, today, as many as 65 percent of all animal species on the planet are metamorphosing insects.

    The egg of an idea
    In 1651 English physician William Harvey published a book in which he proposed that caterpillars and other insect larvas were free-living embryos that abandoned nutrient-poor “imperfect eggs” before they matured. Harvey further argued that the cocoon or chrysalis a caterpillar entered during its pupal stage was a second egg in which the prematurely hatched embryo was born again. He entertained the idea that a caterpillar was one creature and a butterfly was an entirely different beast.

    Some of Harvey’s ideas were prescient, but he mostly misinterpreted what he observed. In 1669 Dutch biologist Jan Swammerdam rejected Harvey’s notion of the pupa as an egg and the butterfly as a different animal than the caterpillar. Swammerdam dissected all kinds of insects under a microscope, confirming that the larva, pupa and adult insect were phases in the development of a single individual, not distinct creatures. He showed that one could find immature moth and butterfly body parts inside a larva, even before it spun a cocoon or formed a chrysalis. In some demonstrations, for example, Swammerdam peeled the skin off silkworms—the larval stage of the domesticated silk moth (Bombyx mori)—to reveal the rudimentary wings within.

    Today, biologists know that these adult structures arise from clusters of cells called imaginal discs, which first form when an insect embryo develops in its egg. In some species, imaginal discs remain largely dormant until the pupal stage, during which they rapidly proliferate and grow into adult legs, wings and eyes, using dissolved larval cells as fuel and building blocks. In other species, imaginal discs begin to take the shape of adult body parts before the insect pupates (See Sidebar: How Does a Caterpillar Turn Into a Butterfly?)

    Swammerdam also recognized that not all insects metamorphose in the same way. He proposed four kinds of metamorphosis, which biologists later distilled into three categories. Wingless ametabolous insects, such as silverfish and bristletails, undergo little or no metamorphosis. When they hatch from eggs, they already look like adults, albeit tiny ones, and simply grow larger over time through a series of molts in which they shed their exoskeletons. Hemimetaboly, or incomplete metamorphosis, describes insects such as cockroaches, grasshoppers and dragonflies that hatch as nymphs—miniature versions of their adult forms that gradually develop wings and functional genitals as they molt and grow. Holometaboly, or complete metamorphosis, refers to insects such as beetles, flies, butterflies, moths and bees, which hatch as wormlike larvae that eventually enter a quiescent pupal stage before emerging as adults that look nothing like the larvae. Insects may account for between 80 and 90 percent of all animal species, which means 45 to 60 percent of all animal species on the planet are insects that undergo complete metamorphosis according to one estimate. Clearly, this lifestyle has its advantages.

    A new generation
    Complete metamorphosis likely evolved out of incomplete metamorphosis. The oldest fossilized insects developed much like modern ametabolous and hemimetabolous insects—their young looked like adults. Fossils dating to 280 million years ago, however, record the emergence of a different developmental process. Around this time, some insects began to hatch from their eggs not as minuscule adults, but as wormlike critters with plump bodies and many tiny legs. In Illinois, for example, paleontologists unearthed a young insect that looks like a cross between a caterpillar and a cricket, with long hairs coating its body. It lived in a tropical environment and likely rummaged through leaf litter for food.

    Biologists have not definitively determined how or why some insects began to hatch in a larval form, but Lynn Riddiford and James Truman, formerly of the University of Washington in Seattle, have constructed one of the most comprehensive theories. They point out that insects that mature through incomplete metamorphosis pass through a brief stage of life before becoming nymphs—the pro-nymphal stage, in which insects look and behave differently from their true nymphal forms. Some insects transition from pro-nymphs to nymphs while still in the egg; others remain pro-nymphs for anywhere from mere minutes to a few days after hatching.

    Perhaps this pro-nymphal stage, Riddiford and Truman suggest, evolved into the larval stage of complete metamorphosis. Perhaps 280 million years ago, through a chance mutation, some pro-nymphs failed to absorb all the yolk in their eggs, leaving a precious resource unused. In response to this unfavorable situation, some pro-nymphs gained a new talent: the ability to actively feed, to slurp up the extra yolk, while still inside the egg. If such pro-nymphs emerged from their eggs before they reached the nymphal stage, they would have been able to continue feeding themselves in the outside world. Over the generations, these infant insects may have remained in a protracted pro-nymphal stage for longer and longer periods of time, growing wormier all the while and specializing in diets that differed from those of their adult selves—consuming fruits and leaves, rather than nectar or other smaller insects. Eventually these prepubescent pro-nymphs became full-fledged larvae that resembled modern caterpillars. In this way, the larval stage of complete metamorphosis corresponds to the pro-nymphal stage of incomplete metamorphosis. The pupal stage arose later as a kind of condensed nymphal phase that catapulted the wriggly larvae into their sexually active winged adult forms.

    Some anatomical, hormonal and genetic evidence supports this evolutionary scenario. Anatomically, pro-nymphs have a fair amount in common with the larvas of insects that undergo complete metamorphosis: they both have soft bodies, lack scaly armor and possess immature nervous systems. A gene named broad is essential for the pupal stage of complete metamorphosis. If you knock out this gene, a caterpillar never forms a pupa and fails to become a butterfly. The same gene is important for molting during the nymphal stage of incomplete metamorphosis, corroborating the equivalence of nymph and pupa. Likewise, both pro-nymphs and larvae have high levels of juvenile hormone, which is known to suppress the development of adult features. In insects that undergo incomplete metamorphosis, levels of juvenile hormone dip before the pro-nymph molts into the nymph; in complete metamorphosis, however, juvenile hormone continues to flood the larva’s body until just before it pupates. The evolution of incomplete metamorphosis into complete metamorphosis likely involved a genetic tweak that bathed the embryo in juvenile hormone sooner than usual and kept levels of the hormone high for an unusually long time.

    However metamorphosis evolved, the enormous numbers of metamorphosing insects on the planet speak for its success as a reproductive strategy. The primary advantage of complete metamorphosis is eliminating competition between the young and old. Larval insects and adult insects occupy very different ecological niches. Whereas caterpillars are busy gorging themselves on leaves, completely disinterested in reproduction, butterflies are flitting from flower to flower in search of nectar and mates. Because larvas and adults do not compete with one another for space or resources, more of each can coexist relative to species in which the young and old live in the same places and eat the same things. Ultimately, the impetus for many of life’s astounding transformations also explains insect metamorphosis: survival.

    The Biology of the Translucent Jewel Caterpillar, the Nudibranch of the Forest

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/insect-metamorphosis-evolution/?WT.mc_id=SA_Facebook/?WT.mc_id

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  104. @Honesthughgrant
    Totally worthless responses to Fred's column. As Pantah stated not one intelligent refutation. Game, Set, and match to Fred Reed.

    Whether its PZ Meyers, or the "evolutionists" who commented here, the lack of intelligence among the evolutionist ideologues is minimal.

    Yes, indeed, the lack of intelligence is lacking on the evolution side and is rather not lacking on the creationist side.

    What a sad, pathetic thread.

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "Yes, indeed, the lack of intelligence is lacking on the evolution side and is rather not lacking on the creationist side."


    This argues otherwise:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html#CB0

    "What a sad, pathetic thread."

    Well, considering that Fred started it with an exercise in sheer foolishness....
  105. @Honesthughgrant
    Totally worthless responses to Fred's column. As Pantah stated not one intelligent refutation. Game, Set, and match to Fred Reed.

    Whether its PZ Meyers, or the "evolutionists" who commented here, the lack of intelligence among the evolutionist ideologues is minimal.

    I got to agree with you. More than a few of the so-called refutations of Fred border on the gutter nasty and vulgar especially by Syon who seems to place snark and personal insults as intelligent rejoinders to Fred and anyone who dares cross this self-appointed evolutionist cop.

    Personally I was never against evolution but it’s abundantly clear you better not joke or dare ask questions about because it’s followers will come down on the questioner like the inquisition. They are not good representatives for evolution at all. They’re simply bullies with a college degree.

    Read More
    • Replies: @syonredux
    "I got to agree with you. More than a few of the so-called refutations of Fred border on the gutter nasty and vulgar"


    MMMM, nothing is as vulgar as idiocy, dear boy. And Fred's posting was pure idiocy.

    " especially by Syon who seems to place snark and personal insults as intelligent rejoinders to Fred"

    Only the intelligent are worthy of intelligent responses, dear boy.

    "and anyone who dares cross this self-appointed evolutionist cop."

    Self-appointed? I'll have you know that I have been officially deputized dear boy.

    "Personally I was never against evolution but it’s abundantly clear you better not joke"

    MMM, Fred's posting was supposed to be funny? From Bierce and Twain to Fred Reed. What a decline and fall.


    "or dare ask questions about"

    Intelligent questions are always welcome dear boy. Fred, in contrast, just gives us stuff out of the Creationist back catalogue.

    "because it’s followers will come down on the questioner like the inquisition."

    Given Fred's predilection for obscurantism, I should think that he would have welcomed the Inquisition....
  106. syonredux [AKA "marlowe"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @ogunsiron
    Yes, indeed, the lack of intelligence is lacking on the evolution side and is rather not lacking on the creationist side.

    What a sad, pathetic thread.

    “Yes, indeed, the lack of intelligence is lacking on the evolution side and is rather not lacking on the creationist side.”

    This argues otherwise:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html#CB0

    “What a sad, pathetic thread.”

    Well, considering that Fred started it with an exercise in sheer foolishness….

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  107. @rod1963
    I got to agree with you. More than a few of the so-called refutations of Fred border on the gutter nasty and vulgar especially by Syon who seems to place snark and personal insults as intelligent rejoinders to Fred and anyone who dares cross this self-appointed evolutionist cop.

    Personally I was never against evolution but it's abundantly clear you better not joke or dare ask questions about because it's followers will come down on the questioner like the inquisition. They are not good representatives for evolution at all. They're simply bullies with a college degree.

    “I got to agree with you. More than a few of the so-called refutations of Fred border on the gutter nasty and vulgar”

    MMMM, nothing is as vulgar as idiocy, dear boy. And Fred’s posting was pure idiocy.

    ” especially by Syon who seems to place snark and personal insults as intelligent rejoinders to Fred”

    Only the intelligent are worthy of intelligent responses, dear boy.

    “and anyone who dares cross this self-appointed evolutionist cop.”

    Self-appointed? I’ll have you know that I have been officially deputized dear boy.

    “Personally I was never against evolution but it’s abundantly clear you better not joke”

    MMM, Fred’s posting was supposed to be funny? From Bierce and Twain to Fred Reed. What a decline and fall.

    “or dare ask questions about”

    Intelligent questions are always welcome dear boy. Fred, in contrast, just gives us stuff out of the Creationist back catalogue.

    “because it’s followers will come down on the questioner like the inquisition.”

    Given Fred’s predilection for obscurantism, I should think that he would have welcomed the Inquisition….

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    "Self-appointed? I’ll have you know that I have been officially deputized dear boy."

    So, how much is Unz paying you to drive comments to this article? Is it by the number of words you write (seems likely e.g., Ref: @Syon 108) or by the number of comments?
  108. First you have this:

    “Perhaps 280 million years ago, through a chance mutation, some pro-nymphs failed to absorb all the yolk in their eggs, leaving a precious resource unused. ”

    Then you have this:

    “In response to this unfavorable situation, some pro-nymphs gained a new talent: the ability to actively feed, to slurp up the extra yolk, while still inside the egg.”

    The first part didn’t decrease the reproductive fitness of the speculated organisms? And you have to have first part in place, so the second will be of some use. Or even arise in the first place.

    I seem to remember from the arguments about homosexuality that anything that confers a negative reproductive fitness tends to be harshly selected against. (Let’s not bring up culture and civilization and eyeglasses and whatnot).

    So let’s say we have a prospective something that evolves a mutation that makes it presumably less fit to survive than other members of it’s species “through a chance mutation, some pro-nymphs failed to absorb all the yolk in their eggs, leaving a precious resource unused.”

    How does the initial mutant survive the Hobbesian war against all to pass on it’s genes? How do the descendants of this initial mutant survive to pass on their genes, assuming that luck favored the first one for some reason, instead of being outcompeted by “normal” members of it’s species?

    Now just to give you some ammo, I kind of think of this mutation as a “signal.” I think of the initial negative fitness as being a “damper.” And I can tell you that my impression of the simulation is that this signal is not going to survive, rather it is quickly going to disappear.

    So how do we get from a negative mutation being harmful, to beneficial when a second mutation occurs to synergize with it?

    Heck why is it good at all? I mean why slurp when you can absorb?

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  109. @Priss Factor
    "In evolutionary principle, traits that lead to more surviving children proliferate. In practice, when people learn how to have fewer or no children, they do. Whole industries exist to provide condoms, diaphragms, IUDs, vasectomies, and abortions, attesting to great enthusiasm for non-reproduction. Many advanced countries are declining in population. How does having fewer surviving children lead to having more surviving children? Less cutely, what selective pressures lead to a desire not to reproduce, and how does this fit into a Darwinian framework?"

    That ain't no principle. It just is.

    Why do people have fewer kids in the modern world? Because they find more pleasure not having kids. But that doesn't prevent them from having sex and getting jollies through other ways: porn, devices, etc.

    The thing is no non-human organism has sex to reproduce. Only humans consciously have sex to reproduce as only humans know that having sex leads to reproduction. So, only humans have sex to reproduce.
    For what reason do other organisms have sex? Non-conscious organisms do it for mechanical reasons. They were bio-programmed to mix their genes that way. There is no emotion, there is no consciousness. They function like machines function. If you create a program in a computer that makes things within the program 'multiply', the things will multiply according to the programming.

    With complex conscious creatures, it's more complicated. As they have strong emotions & consciousness and must survive in a difficult and dangerous world, they tend to be wary of other creatures, even of their own kind. So, in order for them to come together and mate, there has to be strong impulse for pleasure(and strong pain for lack of such pleasure). And animals feel this sexual drive for pleasure, and they go into heat and bang one another. But they don't know they're doing it for reproduction. Tigers don't know having sex will lead to tiger cubs. Wolves don't know that having sex will leads to wolf pups.

    No, they have sex for PLEASURE. They get mighty horny and they wanna get down and boogie.
    And so, they come together and get their jollies by having sex.
    Likewise, why do animals eat? They get hungry and find pleasure through eating. That keeps them alive. If animals didn't feel pain through hunger and didn't find pleasure through food, they wouldn't eat and would just starve to death. But it wouldn't bother them since starvation wouldn't be painful.
    But because animals feel pain when they starve, they want food, and so they hunt or forage for food, and that keeps them alive. And they gorge and wolf down a lot with great pleasure since they might have to go for a long stretch without food as food isn't easy to come by in nature, especially if you're a predator.
    Same goes for sex. Animals feel pain when they can't get any. Female animals want some dick, and male animals want some pussy. Just look at lions or chimps in heat. They get ornery being horny, and they be getting it on like like wildass mofos. But they have no idea what the ultimate purpose of sex is all about. A female bear doesn't know that it will grow pregnant as the result of sex.

    But humans do know. In the old days, lots of babies died, so it was necessary for women to have lots of kids. Also, as life was tough and there was little in the way of security and recreation, humans prized close-knit communities. And as there wasn't much in the way of entertainment and stuff, they found pleasure in family life as well as with sex. Also, there was the pleasure of pride in being a mother as barren women were looked down upon.

    But today, people in the modern world can have so much pleasure from movies, music, books, TV, 'free love' with contraceptives/condoms/etc, porn and other sexual entertainment, and etc.
    They can have so much pleasure without having kids. Indeed, many people have sexual pleasure even without real sex. If virtual reality stuff gets underway, who knows what people might do? A bunch of guys and girls might have imaginary computer sex all night long.

    So, in this sense, human behavior isn't different from animal behavior. Both are acting on the 'pleasure principle'. Animals have sex for pleasure, and so do humans. But since animals don't know the connection between sex and pregnancy, they must deal with the consequences of their sex act. But because humans do know that sex leads to pregnancy, they've come up with all sorts of clever ways to separate the pleasure of sex from the heavy responsibility of pregnancy.

    Of course, even now, lots of women do decide to have kids since they get tired of one-night-stands after awhile and want some kind of deeper relationship and want the deeper(as opposed to merely immediate and ephemeral) pleasure that comes from family life.

    But then, lots of women--and men-- just want to be free and have pleasure forever and ever. It's like vampires in Twilight can stay young and beautiful and have sex without pregnancy forever and ever. It's like that 80s anti-drug commercial where, when monkeys were provided with cocaine, they just sniffed joke and didn't do anything else. So, the very force that ensured animal/human survival through its existence can be used against it. The pleasure principle made monkeys forage for food and sex, but if super-pleasure could be delivered through drugs, monkey might just prefer that and ignore all else. Indeed, meth seems to have had the same impact in many small-town and rural white communities. Poor white folks find such pleasure in meth that they ignore all else, including their own health. So, anything that ensures our survival in certain doses can be made counterproductive in heavier doses. If desire for pleasure makes us struggle hard and work hard and have sex and deal with the consequences of sex--children and family--, it can be productive and constructive for us. Pleasure would motivate us to drive ourselves harder. But if pleasure is made easy, and if pleasure is made so powerful through a simple use of a drug, then people will grow lazy and crazy just for another dose of that drug. It's like what happened to some Chinese with the opium trade in the 19th century.

    What this goes to show is that what had once been productive and useful to a species can turn unproductive and useless(even destructive) to a species IF the conditions are changed. The pleasure of sex made men and women have sex in the past, and this led to women having kids and ensuring the continuation of the species. But once mankind, with its intelligence, was able to separate(and even heighten) the pleasure from its consequences, many people were likely to choose the pleasure without dealing with what had been its natural consequences. Today, women can have the pleasure of sex without the worry of pregnancy. They can have the pleasure without the pain(of childbirth). And this pleasure has become so addictive and expanded through modern industry of entertainment and travel that it now works against the survival of the species.

    But this can be said for hunger itself too. In the past, food was scarce, so it was good for humans to have a healthy appetite since they better wolf it down when the going was good--because there was going to be long stretches of shortage and hunger. So, this great pleasure in eating food was to man's advantage since man was likely to eat his fill when the food was available.

    But today, that evolutionary advantage has become a disadvantage because we have too much food in the modern world. We don't have to wolf things down like our ancestors did in the past because we have more than enough food.. but many people still eat like pigs because we have inherited our great hunger from our evolutionary past. So, we have all sorts of obesity problems. Some women are so fat that no one man even split her hips/ass-cheeks apart to stick his thingy into her poon.

    But this goes for animals too. If you give a dog lots of food, it will keep eating and eating and eating even when it doesn't have to.

    Our great pleasure in sex and food was developed when our survival was very precarious through 100,000s of yrs of human existence.

    But with modern technology and abundance, our great lust and hunger can undermine the survival and well-being of our species.

    The problem of sex/pleasure is apparent in both Africa and the West albeit in different ways.
    With modern medicine, many more African babies survive to adulthood, so African women no longer need to have so many kids. But they still keep pumping the babies out because African men and African women still feel mighty horny and find so much pleasure through sex. So, this leads to overpopulation and competition for scarce resources like water.

    If the problem of Africa is that modern medicine ensures survival of African babies but African men and women still crank out too many kids, the problem of the West is that white folks have found such a convenient way to enjoy the pleasure of sex without having kids that white folks are addicted to sex without the consequence of childbirth. So, white folks are fuc*ing like rabbits or whanking like them chimps you see on youtube, but they aren't having enough kids to ensure the survival of their race.

    So, what does evolution have to 'say' about this? Nothing. Evolution is a process, not a principle. There is no mind or reason behind it. There's nothing in evolution that ensures the survival of any species. When conditions change, traits that had once been useful can become useless. Evolution can only be understood by pondering the relationship between the genes within and the conditions outside the organism. The fact is that the conditions surrounding us has changed drastically, but we are still driven by traits formed through 100,00os of yrs.

    Another thing about humans is that the achievements of ablest humans affect all humans. All this modern technology and science and economics were created by the top 0.01% of humanity with high intelligence, vision, and etc, but it has come to affect all humans, even those with low IQ and with emotions not far above those of apes. So, the impact of new conditions on one set of humans at the top is bound to very different from its impact on the rest of humanity that is still pretty dumb and crude.

    For intelligent and responsible people with foresight, things of modern conveniences and advantages mean that they can have two or three children, raise them right, and find long-term pleasure and meaning.

    But for many other people, things of modern technology just mean they get to rely a lot of condoms and sleep around and act like they're gonna be young forever. Or it means guys and girls masturbating to porn without having a real life. Or among folks such as black women in places like Detroit and New Orleans, it means having a whole bunch of chillun with a whole bunch of men and having white taxpayers provide them with everything so they can have fun doing nothing but watching TV and playing video games and shaking their booty to some jiveass rap music.

    How do you know that animals do not realize that sex leads to reproduction?

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    • Replies: @Priss Factor
    "How do you know that animals do not realize that sex leads to reproduction?"

    Because they get no sex ed.
  110. @syonredux
    "How do you know that animals do not understand the link between sex and reproduction?"

    Did I say that they don't?


    Leaving that to one side, I really don't know how we could even begin to test such a proposition. How could we get the opinions of a chimpanzee on the matter*?

    * Before anyone brings up sign language, read the literature.

    http://www.skepdic.com/essays/apinglanguage.html

    Sorry, syon, whoever you are – my comment was intended for another person who made such a statement on this site. I have tried again and hope this time it will link correctly.

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  111. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @syonredux
    "I got to agree with you. More than a few of the so-called refutations of Fred border on the gutter nasty and vulgar"


    MMMM, nothing is as vulgar as idiocy, dear boy. And Fred's posting was pure idiocy.

    " especially by Syon who seems to place snark and personal insults as intelligent rejoinders to Fred"

    Only the intelligent are worthy of intelligent responses, dear boy.

    "and anyone who dares cross this self-appointed evolutionist cop."

    Self-appointed? I'll have you know that I have been officially deputized dear boy.

    "Personally I was never against evolution but it’s abundantly clear you better not joke"

    MMM, Fred's posting was supposed to be funny? From Bierce and Twain to Fred Reed. What a decline and fall.


    "or dare ask questions about"

    Intelligent questions are always welcome dear boy. Fred, in contrast, just gives us stuff out of the Creationist back catalogue.

    "because it’s followers will come down on the questioner like the inquisition."

    Given Fred's predilection for obscurantism, I should think that he would have welcomed the Inquisition....

    “Self-appointed? I’ll have you know that I have been officially deputized dear boy.”

    So, how much is Unz paying you to drive comments to this article? Is it by the number of words you write (seems likely e.g., Ref: @Syon 108) or by the number of comments?

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    • Replies: @syonredux
    "So, how much is Unz paying you to drive comments to this article? Is it by the number of words you write (seems likely e.g., Ref: @Syon 108) or by the number of comments?"

    Sadly, compensation for my efforts has been entirely spiritual in nature. Of course, if Ron wants to throw some cash my way.....
  112. Observations from The Z Blog: “Reed knows John Derbyshire well enough to know his CV so he has been reading the guy for a while. John has been writing about these topics for a couple of decades, at least.If I were to guess, I’d bet John has written about evolution more than any other topic. A close second is education followed by race.

    John spent years debating these guys about intelligent design, young earth creationism and Darwin. If Fred Reed has yet to “profit from John’s instruction” by this point, he never will. Again, this is just an oleaginous attempt to present himself as something other than an ideologue looking for an argument. I’ll also note that again he places the burden to educate him on others. Therefore, if he continues to clutch at his superstitions, it is the fault of others.

    The last bit is an outright lie wrapped in a falsehood. His questions have all been answered thousands of times by thousands of people over the last century. He has rejected all of those attempts so there is no reason to believe this one last try by his chosen bogeyman will do the trick.

    He knows all of this, but he lacks the honestly and integrity to simply say he prefers his own voodoo. I can respect people who prefer their religious explanations for the natural world. I disagree with them, but if they are sincere and honest about the why and the what, I have no quarrel with them. That’s not Fred Reed.”

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  113. The Derb, if so inclined, may answer, though whether it is a choice he makes himself may not be. Yet no doubt he puts his pants on one leg at a time, the human condition being impossible to escape from.

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  114. If Fred had written ‘Evolution is good biology and bad metaphysics: John Derbyshire, please expand’ he’d have gotten zero responses. But (I think) he’d have written what (I think) he and John Derbyshire both believe, and believe more strongly than what he wrote. Helas and heckbutt, Fred Reed spent a lot of time in American journalism.

    Flying insect larvae wriggle around a lot, and for them to spend a little time supporting themselves as worms or caterpillars before they grow wings isn’t a bit deal.

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  115. @Anonymous
    "Self-appointed? I’ll have you know that I have been officially deputized dear boy."

    So, how much is Unz paying you to drive comments to this article? Is it by the number of words you write (seems likely e.g., Ref: @Syon 108) or by the number of comments?

    “So, how much is Unz paying you to drive comments to this article? Is it by the number of words you write (seems likely e.g., Ref: @Syon 108) or by the number of comments?”

    Sadly, compensation for my efforts has been entirely spiritual in nature. Of course, if Ron wants to throw some cash my way…..

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  116. >>> Sure, but why would Fred CARE if the sterilization or euthanasia is done in a painless fashion?

    Because he has empathy, which, among other things, has evolved due it its capacity to allow non-kin to (relatively) peacefully interact with each other.

    >>> After all, administering drugs to permit painless sterilization requires effort on Fred’s part (thus decreasing his available energy to reproduce or care for healthy children). In fact, the cold equations of fitness would tell Fred to not only kill the genetically retarded with the least effort Fred can muster (pushing off a cliff, say) but then to *eat* the carcass.

    A society in which the average person were comfortable killing and eating invalids would not likely have a bright future.

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  117. I notice something else in this discussion that seems superfluous to the discussion of evolution theory. That is the issue of meaning and purpose. For some reason, some people think these have to come from an external source. This position makes no sense to me. Meaning and purpose are self-created. I have always created my own meaning and purpose in life as part of creating my long-term dreams and goals. I see no reason why these have to be external to my self-created dreams and goals. I create my own life and my happiness in it and that works well for me. I see no reason or value in these coming from external sources at all.

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  118. Priss Factor [AKA "Andrea Ostrov Letania"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Old fogey
    How do you know that animals do not realize that sex leads to reproduction?

    “How do you know that animals do not realize that sex leads to reproduction?”

    Because they get no sex ed.

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  119. @Abelard Lindsey

    I am with you in what you say about “meaning” and “purpose” – evolution theory renders them irrelevant. They are human constructs only; just like beauty and morality.

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  120. I thought Fred asked some pretty good questions. Maybe the best was the last one: How can we be sure no deity tampered with evolution? If there were gods or ETs or whatever, were they constrained by the Federation’s Prime Directive?

    As a side note, the sniffy, indignant tone of the folks who tell him to go see their reading list is a mite amusing because, of course, the gods of the reading list have long since dissolved all the doubts.

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  121. Weird that people like sunbeam would think it’s unlikely that people with 70 IQs could survive. Is he not aware that that would have been an average IQ for our ancestors at some point? Is he not aware that animals are much less intelligent than that, but survive?

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  122. “Less cutely, what selective pressures lead to a desire not to reproduce, and how does this fit into a Darwinian framework?”

    Valuing quality and longevity of offspring over quantity obviously is a value or preference that would fit into a Darwinian framework.

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  123. Priss Factor [AKA "Andrea Ostrov Letania"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Fred Fred Cabbage Head, you have evolution all wrong.

    There is no mind behind evolution. It’s purely a mechanism. The products of evolution are the results of the mechanism.
    It’s like geology. There are rules as to how geology works, and it can create oceans, mountains, hills, lakes, and etc. But there is no mind or intention behind it. Depending on how the forces are arrayed, geology can create mountains or destroy mountains.

    Of course, one could argue that evolution acquired a mind and intention-ality with the rise of humans who came to understand how biology works and have worked to create specific kinds of plants, animals, and even humans.

    But before man gained such knowledge, evolution had no mind or intention behind it.

    Evolution works like this:

    Consider a world of organisms made up of gabblers, gebblers, gibblers, gobblers, and gubblers.

    Suppose certain conditions led to the rise of simple organisms called simple-gabblers. All simple-gabblers do is take in sunlight and multiply. And it keeps multiplying and multiplying. But suppose a mutation takes place whereby a simple-gabbler is able to use sunlight even more efficiently and multiplies even faster than other gabblers. So, the xtra-sun-gabblers multiply faster than simple-gabblers, and as the xtra-sun gabblers pile on top of the simple-gabblers, they hog all the sunlight and simple-gabblers die out. Evolution didn’ t mean for simple-gabblers to die out, but the extinction happened because a mutation created a more efficient gabbler.

    Suppose another random mutation takes places that turns a xtra-sun-gabbler into a moving gabbler. We’ll call it the motion-gabbler. As motion-gabblers can move, it can move to areas with most sunlight. So, it will get more sunlight and multiply faster than xtra-sun gabblers that can’t move. So, eventually, there are many more motion-gabblers than xtra-sun gabblers, and motion-gabblers pile on top of xtra-sun gabblers and hog all the sunlight for themselves.

    Suppose another mutation takes place that allows motion-gabblers to live not only on sunlight but feed on other motion-gabblers. We’ll call these eating gabblers the gebblers. Gebblers have mouths that can feed on motion-gabblers. So, Gebblers gain dominance. There is nothing in evolution that ensures the survival of motion-gabblers.

    Suppose a new mutation creates vision in some gebblers. We’ll call these seeing-gebblers ‘gibblers’. Since Gibblers can see, it can find food much more easily. It can also flee from danger easily. So, gibblers multiply in number and gain dominance.
    But then, a new mutation takes place that adds a primitive brain to a gibbler, and this new creature, we shall call the gobbler. Gobbler is able to strategize somewhat, and this ability gives it a huge advantage, and it starts beating on the gibblers.
    And then a new mutation takes place that allows gobbler to cooperate as a team with other gobblers. So, instead of every gobbler for itself, it becomes a game of we gobblers unite against those gobblers. We’ll call this new kind of gobbler the ‘gubbler’. Since gubblers work as a team, they are advantaged over gobblers that just work on their own.

    Also, as the environment changes, traits that had been advantageous can become disadvantageous. Take the blind cave fish. Out in sunlight, it’s advantageous for fish to have eyes. But in total darkness, fish with eyes cannot see. And if they bump against the wall, they might scratch the eyes and get an infection and die. So, it’s more advantageous to have no eyes in the darkness of the cave than to have eyes. Also, having no eyes allows the cave fish to focus on other senses. Even in total darkness, organisms with eyes will still try to ‘see’ and waste energy and effort. But without eyes altogether, it will focus on more useful senses in the dark. So, over time, the fish without eyes are favored over fish with eyes in the total darkness of the cave world.

    Same goes for humans. Good will and cooperation among white people were advantageous to their development of civilization. The ability to feel guilt and conscience led to moral progress and a society of greater trust and responsibility. It also favored the ‘beta males’ over the ‘alpha males’ who are more unruly and aggressive.

    But such traits and values, which were useful in the past when most whites lived in white-dominant societies, can become dangerous to whites in a new environment dominated by hostile Jews and filling up with non-whites, especially blacks. As Jews control the culture and narrative, white conscience and morality have been redefined to make whites hate themselves and gain redemption only by bowing down to other races, especially Jews and Negroes. The rules of the white environment are now controlled and shaped by hostile Jews, not by proud white folks.

    Also, even though the rise of the ‘beta white male’ was good for development of white civilization, it was bound to create problems for white folks if and when confronted with the sexual-physical threat of Negroes who were bred by evolution in hot and dangerous Africa to be alpha warriors.
    As long as whites stuck together, it didn’t matter if white males were alpha or beta since white males were the only males that white females knew. But in the presence of Negroes, white women start having the hots for the muscled Negroes and begins to feel contempt for the ‘faggoty’ white male.
    Thus, even though the rise of ‘beta white male’ was good for the development of white civilization, white civilization is threatened by alpha black males who be whupping white boy ass and humping all them white girls. The advantage has become a disadvantage.

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  124. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    One general explanation (out of many) for the persistence of a trait that has a genuine negative influence on reproductive success:
    1. Suppose gene A does something conducive to reproductive success and, thus, is maintained in the population at some non-zero frequency.
    2. Suppose gene B does something conducive to reproductive success and, thus, is also maintained in the population at some non-zero frequency.
    3. Suppose gene A and gene B in combination make people’s heads spontaneously explode during childhood.
    4. Though this phenotype (i.e., head spontaneously exploding during childhood) ensures a carrier of both genes A and B does not pass on these two genes to his offspring (because he is never afforded the opportunity to have offspring), these two genes (as stated before) are still maintained at a certain frequency within the population — because when not located within the same organism, they are conducive to reproductive success.
    5. Because these two genes are maintained at a non-zero frequency within the population, a seemingly “evolution-defying” phenotype is maintained at a non-zero frequency within the population. Then, people write about how evolution can’t be true (or might not be true or must have been “guided”) because they can’t conceive of a way that exploding heads could be “selected for.”

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  125. The non-zero percentage can be calculated. Gene distribution is a polynomial function, where, if you can define the variables, you can determine the rate at which the gene will manifest itself in the population. Simple mathematics can accurately predict the incidence of blue-eyes/brown-eyes in a given population when a count of the observable phenotype can be made. At least, that’s what I was taught in my basic genetics course.

    With regard to “non-conducive to reproduction genes”, it can be shown that the base rate for homosexuality, for example, is 3% (social predation factors being disregarded). That suggests a recessive gene, or gene complex, although such is yet to be discovered, if it exists and in utero effects do not necessarily contribute.

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