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Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4511
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 05 2004,21:52   

Meyer's Hopeless Monster

This thread is for further discussion of

Quote
Meyer, Stephen C. 2004. The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 117(2):213-239.


and the critique at the Panda's Thumb.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4511
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 05 2004,22:05   

On the erection and destruction of strawmen

The go-to guy for strawman creation and destruction at the moment would seem to be the pseudonymous "Mike Gene" over on ARN.

In response to the following,

Quote
When someone makes as many errors as we have documented Stephen Meyer does, one naturally does wonder about his scholarship and character. But we didn’t invent these problems in Meyer’s work; he did that to himself. As “Dave” says, we’re just doing the post-mortem.


"Mike" wrote:

Quote

I guess we are supposed to think that Elsberry, Gishlick, and Matzke had no idea who Meyer was before they approached his article. Then, as they sat down to objectively and fairly weigh it, they were stunned to find so “many errors.” Only then did it occur to them to wonder about his scholarship and character. If Elsberry expects us to believe that, he’s been hanging out in his personal echo chamber too long.

(Source: http://www.arn.org/boards/ubb-get_topic-f-14-t-000944-p-2.html)

Of course, I've never given a hint of asking the reader of our critique to believe any such thing. Not even by implication.

The fact that I've known Stephen Meyer to make various and sundry errors since our first encounter in 1997 doesn't at all ameliorate the number or severity of the errors Meyer packs into his paper in PBSW.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4511
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 06 2004,12:48   

Will He or Won't He?

"Mike Gene":

Quote

[...] Why should Meyer respond to a blog? [...]


I have no idea why he should (other than the obvious one of defending claims that have received credible criticism), but the Discovery Institute did at one point say that Meyer would do so:

Quote

On August 26th, a critique of the article authored by Alan Gishlick, Nick Matzke and Wesley Elsberry appeared on the Pandas Thumb website. For this reason, we have decided to make Dr. Meyer’s article available now in HTML format on this website. (Off prints are also available from Discovery Institute by writing to Keith Pennock at Kpennock@discovery.org….) We trust that the Pandas Thumb critique of Meyer’s article will seem a good deal less persuasive, and less substantive than . Meyer’s article itself, once readers have had a chance to read Meyer’s essay. Dr. Meyer will, of course, respond in full to Gishlick et al. in due course.


Hope that helps.

Just for completeness...

Meyer 2004

Critique of Meyer 2004

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4511
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 08 2004,16:42   

Meyer 2004 and Deja Vu All Over Again

The link above has my analysis of how over a third of the Meyer 2004 paper is lifted from the already-published Meyer, Ross, Nelson, and Chien 2003 chapter in "Darwin, Design, and Public Education".

Simply linking to the article caused "Tom Ames" to be banned from ARN. Who was saying something about "censorship"?

[Update -- Apparently, the banning was temporary and had more to do with the choice of title. - WRE]

Edited by Wesley R. Elsberry on Sep. 09 2004,11:36

--------------
"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4511
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 09 2004,22:37   

Out on a Limb at Evangelical Outpost

Here's what Joe Carter had to say about a section of our critique:

Quote


[MHM] 1. Meyer invokes Dembski’s “specified complexity”/”complex specified information” (SC/CSI) as somehow relevant to the Cambrian explosion. However, under Dembski’s technical definition, CSI is not just the conjoint use of the nontechnical words “specified” (as in “functional”) and “complexity”, as Meyer erroneously asserts. According to Dembski’s technical definition, improbability of appearance under natural causes is part of the *definition* of CSI. Only after one has determined that something is wildly improbable under natural causes can one conclude that something has CSI. You can’t just say, “boy, that sure is specific and complicated, it must have lots of CSI” and conclude that evolution is impossible. Therefore, Meyer’s waving about of the term “CSI” as evidence against evolution is both useless for his argument, and an incorrect usage of Dembski (although Dembski himself is very inconsistent, conflating popular and technical uses of his “CSI,” which is almost certainly why Meyer made this mistake. See here for examples of definitional inconsistency.). [/MHM]

Here is how Dembski actually defines “specified complexity”:

The distinction between specified and unspecified information may now be defined as follows: the actualization of a possibility (i.e., information) is specified if independently of the possibility's actualization, the possibility is identifiable by means of a pattern. If not, then the information is unspecified.

That appears to be exactly the way that Meyer uses the term:

1. Thus, we can pose a question, not only about the origin of genetic information, but also about the origin of the information necessary to generate form and structure at levels higher than that present in individual proteins. We must also ask about the origin of the “specified complexity,” as opposed to mere complexity, that characterizes the new genes, proteins, cell types and body plans that arose in the Cambrian explosion. Dembski (2002) has used the term “complex specified information” (CSI) as a synonym for “specified complexity” to help distinguish functional biological information from mere Shannon information--that is, specified complexity from mere complexity. This review will use this term as well.


There are at least two problems with Joe's apologetic.

First: The quote from Dembski is not about either "specified complexity" or "complex specified information". The phrase "specified complexity" doesn't appear in the essay, and the quoted material comes from the section on "Complex Information" rather than the one on "Complex Specified Information". If Joe had read the entire article, he might have noticed that the full description of CSI was deferred to Dembski's book, "The Design Inference". The article merely gives a layman's gloss on the term. What Meyer references is Dembski's "No Free Lunch", which updates the definition Dembski gives for CSI.

Second: Informal usage of "specified complexity" has no power to distinguish anything from Shannon information. Meyer's phrasing does not admit of an appeal to exchanging prior informal usage of "specified complexity" for informal usage by Dembski; it is only Dembski's technical framework that might fit the bill that Meyer assigns it. (Although even then, the particular usage Meyer gives is problematic, see Elsberry and Shallit 2003 for details of the shortcomings of CSI as an information measure.)

Carter's further commentary depends upon taking Meyer's use of "specified complexity" and "complex specified information" as simply informal vernacular, and not in any way related to Dembski's formal argumentation. This puts Meyer on the horns of a dilemma. Meyer could accept the Carter apologetic and claim to be relentlessly informal, in which case there was no reason to cite Dembski other than to give Dembski a much-needed increment in the Citation Index. Further, Meyer's argument would collapse to the vague hand-waving common to Paleyists and neo-Paleyists that has been less than convincing to scientists ever since Darwin. On the other horn, Meyer could reject the Carter apologetic, and have all the problems associated with relying on a technique he obviously does not know how to deploy that we have already pointed out. I guess we will see which of these Meyer eventually selects.

Edited by Wesley R. Elsberry on Sep. 15 2004,04:26

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4511
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 15 2004,04:21   

Even Further Out on a Limb...

Joe Carter lit into PZ Myers over some harsh words PZ had for Stephen Meyer's arguments in Meyer 2004.

Carter doesn't pussyfoot around in making the broad claim:

Quote

While I appreciate the effort, Dr. Myers has only shown that even when he bothers to check the “esoteric literature”, he still remains unable to adequately address Meyer’s article. Let me clarify that I am not claiming that Meyer’s review is free of error or that it is a model of scholarship. My main contention is only that the critics at PT have failed to offer a persuasive or even relevant rebuttal. This latest effort only provides further evidence for my case:


What's so funny about this grandstanding of Carter's is how completely he falls on his face when actually dealing with the first part of Myers' critique.

Since I don't have multi-level quoting, I'll use the old BBS standby of prefixing initials to indicate who said what.

Quote

SCM> For over three billion years, the biological realm included little more than bacteria and algae (Brocks et al. 1999).

PZM> Uh-oh. This one is very misleading. Brocks et al. is a paper about molecular fossils: they analyzed trace materials in ancient rocks, looking for the chemical signatures characteristic of different domains of life. While it is talking about trace molecules left largely by bacteria, it makes no statement about the absence of other organisms, and explicitly states that the phylogenetic position of the eukaryotes responsible for the lipids they found is unclear.

JC> The claim that Meyer’s is being “misleading” is applicable only if PZ means that the “little more than bacteria and algae” excludes less developed forms of life.


And Carter is already off in the weeds. The claim that Meyer is being misleading stands if the cited reference does not support the claim that Meyer is making, which can be the case not only if more complex life is excluded, but also if Meyer and Brocks et al. don't agree on timing.

Quote

JC> While it is true that the article makes no mention of the “absence of other organisms” it does say:

Brocks et al.> Microfossils 11), stromatolites (2), and sedimentally carbon isotope ratios (3) all indicate that microbial organisms inhabited the oceans in Archcan times [>2500 million years ago (Ma)]. But these lines of evidence are not very informative about what these microbes were or how they lived. Potentially, a better insight into primordial biological diversity can be obtained from molecular fossils derived from cellular and membrane lipids ("biomarkers"). Although such soluble hydrocarbons were first extracted from Archean rocks more than 30 years ago, their significance was generally discounted after amino acids of recent origin were found in the same rocks (4). Prevailing models of thermal maturation dictated that complex hydrocarbons should not survive the metamorphism experienced by all Archcan terrains. However, indications of greater hydrocarbon stability (5) and observations of oil in Archean fluid inclusions (6) suggest that these maturation models are unduly pessimistic and that biomarkers could indeed be preserved in low-grade Archean metasedimentary rocks. Furthermore, systematic sampling strategies, improved analytical techniques, and greater geochemical knowledge (7} should make their recognition easier and their interpretation more rigorous. We now repo,1 molecular fossils in late Archcan shales that have suffered only minimal metarmorphisre. These molecular fossils reveal that the Archeart biota was considerably more complex titan currently recognized and that the domains Eucarya and Bacteria were already extant. [emphasis added]

JC> The article makes no mention of organisms that more advanced than microbes. In fact, as Brocks says in his final sentence, “The discovery and careful analysis of biomarkers in rocks of still greater age and of different Archean environments will potentially offer new insights into early microbial life and its evolution.”

JC>Does PZ know of evidence for more advanced life forms during this period?


PZ doesn't need to provide evidence for more advanced life forms in the Archean period that is the subject of the quotation Carter provides from Brocks et al..

That's right, Brocks et al. is dealing with stuff that is way, way old. They are dealing with things that are older than 2.5 billion years old. That's how to parse that technical note of "[>2500 million years ago (Ma)]" that was in the quote Carter provided.

Let's look at Meyer 2004 again:

Quote

The Cambrian explosion represents a remarkable jump in the specified complexity or “complex specified information” (CSI) of the biological world. For over three billions years, the biological realm included little more than bacteria and algae (Brocks et al. 1999). Then, beginning about 570-565 million years ago (mya), the first complex multicellular organisms appeared in the rock strata, including sponges, cnidarians, and the peculiar Ediacaran biota (Grotzinger et al. 1995). Forty million years later, the Cambrian explosion occurred (Bowring et al. 1993). The emergence of the Ediacaran biota (570 mya), and then to a much greater extent the Cambrian explosion (530 mya), represented steep climbs up the biological complexity gradient.


Meyer is deploying the Brocks et al. study as establishing that life consisted of "little more" than bacteria and algae right up to 570mya. But as Joe has established, the period Brocks et al. discuss is from 2.5 billion years ago and older. That leaves a mere 1.93 billion years of life's history intervening between what Brocks et al. were talking about and where Meyer implies that they left off. I'd say that was pretty misleading.

Let's review Carter's braggadacio at the outset one more time:

Quote

While I appreciate the effort, Dr. Myers has only shown that even when he bothers to check the “esoteric literature”, he still remains unable to adequately address Meyer’s article. Let me clarify that I am not claiming that Meyer’s review is free of error or that it is a model of scholarship. My main contention is only that the critics at PT have failed to offer a persuasive or even relevant rebuttal.


Carter's counter-argument has all the faults that he claims for Myers.

Edited by Wesley R. Elsberry on Sep. 15 2004,04:32

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
genesemon



Posts: 5
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(Permalink) Posted: June 14 2005,17:05   

Response to Response

Let me introduce myself to your WWWsite  by categorically denouncing fundamentalists of all stripes. We should oppose their attempts to control school boards, formal curricula, government regulatory agencies, the direction of scientific research, etc.

I would like to defend a "middle ground", i.e. ID does not rise to the level of a scientific theory, but a place exists for it in formal curricula. I apologize if this is not the exactly correct thread, but I also want to register my objections to your rough handling of Meyer and Dembski.
Unnecessary, since your counterarguments are sufficient to the task.

And now the substance: Evolution and Anthropic Principle can be seen as generalizations from facts by induction. In this sense neither qualify as ¡°theory¡±. One can make design or intelligence or both inferences from neither, either or both.  Same applies to the multiverse conjecture of physics and the Big Bang itself.  As Jacob Beckenstein has stated, ¡°(A) current trend . . . is to regard the physical world as made of information, with energy and matter as incidentals.¡±  So Dembski has done nothing controversial by sticking his neck out and proposing a mathematical ¡°theory of everything¡±, which is most obviously not a theory of every THING.

No doubt, Meyer and Dembski have been soundly trounced on ¡°informational genomics¡±. They¡¯ve learned a hard lesson on the perils of venturing out of one¡¯s field. Also learning, hopefully, from your criticisms, they should refocus their telescope on the history of matter before the emergence of the RNA World, IMHO, if they are serious about making a contribution. But MY monkey brain can¡¯t see where their main question has been answered in your rebuttal. (Notwithstanding your excellent brief review of pre-Cambrian metazoan evolution - omigod, we are just worms with stiff tubes inside.) The point stands: neo-D is not SUFFICIENT to explain in-formed living matter. Where the #### does form come from? It appears to me that neo-Darwinism has been superceded by better theories on the ¡°origin of form¡± from the Big Bang to the present.  Additionally, there appears to be a legitimate debate over whether natural selection can actually be tested.  

POP QUIZ:

1. Who said, "(L)essons in neo-Darwinist religious dogme are exceedingly easy to find" and "fashionable computable neo-Darwinist nonsense perpetuates itself"?

2. Who said, "I have proposed a quantum algorithmic mechanism for DNA replication and protein synthesis. This genetic information processing takes place at the molecular level, where quantum physics is indeed the dominant dynamics . . ."?

HINT: not IDists

  
genesemon



Posts: 5
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(Permalink) Posted: June 15 2005,10:58   

Much ado about nothing?

I found this using a simple google search:

Specified complexity is a concept developed by mathematician, philosopher, and theologian William Dembski. It is commonly presented as part of the critique of natural selection put forward by the intelligent design movement, with which Dembski is associated. The term "specified complexity" was originally coined by origin of life researcher Leslie Orgel, and later employed by physicist Paul Davies in a similar manner, to denote what distinguishes living things from non-living things"

"In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their ¡®¡¯specified¡®¡¯ complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures that are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity." (L. Orgel, The Origins of Life, 1973, p. 189)

So what if Meyer actually used the term in Orgel's sense; what is his great crime? Does it really diminish his substantive points? He smuggled Dembski into a peer-reviewed journal to fool state education officials? With the "peer review" of Dembski on the WWW, these points of higher quibbling seem to me moot in this age of information. After all, where are we now getting substantive information on our Republic's extant constitutional crisis? The "domesticated media"?

  
PaulK



Posts: 37
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(Permalink) Posted: June 16 2005,07:01   

Quote (genesemon @ June 15 2005,10:58)
So what if Meyer actually used the term in Orgel's sense; what is his great crime? Does it really diminish his substantive points? He smuggled Dembski into a peer-reviewed journal to fool state education officials?

Nobody has said that the content of Meyer's article constitutes a literal crime.

However if one of Meyer's major arguments relies on falsely conflating Orgel's usage of "specified complexity" with Dembski's then it is invalid.

If Meyer was aware that he was conflating two distinct definitions then he was being intentionally dishonest.  If he did not then he literally did not understand his own argument.

Equally the reviewers should have caught the error and insist that it was corrected before publication.

Taken together these points argue that Meyer's paper should not have been published as it stands.  That it passed peer review is a testament to the inadequacy of the review, not the quality of the paper.

  
genesemon



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(Permalink) Posted: June 17 2005,12:47   

I'm sorry, what is this "falsely conflating" the reviewers are supposed to catch in a journal of taxonomy?! It seems to me that Information Theory is not only a work in progress, so that the meanings of ITS terms may not be completely "specified", but that the criticism is unfair when applied to a MATHEMATICAL theory. An error would be a statement by Meyer that is inconsistent with Dembski' math. Has anyone found such an error? And why should Myer's peer reviewers be obligated to spot something that is outside their field, especially when Meyer's use of the term is consistent with a definition used by one of the founding fathers of molecular biology?

Again, we're talking about a tempest in a teapot.

  
PaulK



Posts: 37
Joined: June 2004

(Permalink) Posted: June 20 2005,02:11   

Quote (genesemon @ June 17 2005,12:47)
I'm sorry, what is this "falsely conflating" the reviewers are supposed to catch in a journal of taxonomy?! It seems to me that Information Theory is not only a work in progress, so that the meanings of ITS terms may not be completely "specified", but that the criticism is unfair when applied to a MATHEMATICAL theory. An error would be a statement by Meyer that is inconsistent with Dembski' math. Has anyone found such an error? And why should Myer's peer reviewers be obligated to spot something that is outside their field, especially when Meyer's use of the term is consistent with a definition used by one of the founding fathers of molecular biology?

Again, we're talking about a tempest in a teapot.

1) Orgel's definition of "specified complexity" and Dembski's are very different.  The paradigmatic example of Dembski's "specified complexity" are VERY simple from the perspective of Orgel.

2) Strictly speaking, neither definition is a term in information theory.  Orgel's usage was never intended to be a formal term in information theory.

3) Conflating definitions is a serious LOGICAL error.

4) In mathematics definitions must be strictly defined and must never, never be confused.  Why would it be unfair then to point to such an error when dealing with a MATHEMATICAL theory as you claim ?  That would be one of the cases when such an error is most serious.

5) Why should none of the reviewers be familiar with Dembski's work ?  Or investigate the basics - how hard is it to find Dembski's definition ?  If none of the reviewers were capable of spotting the error then there is a problem in the review process.

6) The "storm" appears to be a fabrication on your part.

  
genesemon



Posts: 5
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(Permalink) Posted: June 20 2005,18:32   

My good friend Mr Paul K,

You've raised, apparently, points of formal logic that purport to shed light on "information theory". I'm sure you are aware that scientific theories are not strictly based on formal logic. When we are confronted with a theory in development based on the idea that  information is fundamental in the universe, there should be a "grace period" for those who appear to be making important contributions. Especially in peer review, at this stage, we really can't say that Dembski's math plus Meyer's application won't turn up something of value.

Let's look at this point first: "Or investigate the basics - how hard is it to find Dembski's definition ?" Not hard at all! In fact, Information as a Measure of Variation[I], which provides Demski's complete mathematical treatment of his version of "information theory", can be easily specified in a Google search. There is no mention in Version 3.0 of the term "complex specified information", but his meaning is clear from reading the paper. If you can find an inconsistency with anything in this paper and Meyer's application I'm sure you'll let me know.

You said, "Orgel's definition of 'specified complexity' and Dembski's are very different.  The paradigmatic example of Dembski's 'specified complexity' are VERY simple from the perspective of Orgel." Considering Demski's suggested applications of his theory for biology at the end of the paper, I can't see this great difference. Of course, Orgel's version can be simpler, that is the point of a deductive application within a paradigm.

And, "In mathematics definitions must be strictly defined and must never, never be confused.  Why would it be unfair then to point to such an error when dealing with a MATHEMATICAL theory as you claim ?  That would be one of the cases when such an error is most serious."

Bur mathematics is a closed system of logic! The original complaint against Meyer was outside of this closed system. Like many scientists before him, he's lifted someone else's idea from the field he is theorizing in. Still can't see an "error" when proceeding in this manner.

  
Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: June 23 2005,07:58   

Quote

Still can't see an "error" when proceeding in this manner.


Those of us who can see the errors don't mind pointing them out.

So far, my original commentary on Meyer looks fine.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
genesemon



Posts: 5
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(Permalink) Posted: June 23 2005,17:07   

"So far, my original commentary on Meyer looks fine."

Sir, with all due respect, I see bits in your commentary that look like a hatchet job. BTW, I've pointed some of these out on Randi Rhodes' Blog under the evolution threads. I think they undermine your strong counter-arguments against Meyer's position. (I am one of those strange people who likes a good, CLEAN fight in science.)

As far as the hairsplitting within a tangle of the words "specified", "information" and "complexity", I can only ask, how many dogs can chase their tails on the head of a pin?

Even if they are, in their heart of hearts, "really" creationists; I believe Meyer, Demski and the rest of the ID gang have stumbled onto a large hole in evolutionary theory. Also, they may have a contribution to make in information-theoretic biology, notwithstanding the "tempest in the teapot".

Best regards!

  
evopeach



Posts: 248
Joined: July 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 07 2005,10:28   

Four elements O,N,C,H are considered essential to all life forms on earth. Certainly c12 or carbon twelve amounts to 98% of all life giving carbon. In fact the only difference between a number of non-organic molecules with the same atoms is the way they are combined and spacially oriented. Which causes one to wonder at what point did life enter in?

System Definition:

A system may be defined as a group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole. Complex will be distinguished from ordered though not mutually exclusive by the presence of sensible information content most commonly in the form of sequences or codes that can be and are readily understood to convey actionable messages or signals.

At the atomic level every living cell depends on a physical combination of the elements C,N,O, H in building molecules and assemblies of molecules to carry out the tasks that define life from non-life.

A living cell is a conjunction of these four elements at the atomic level in many special physical arrangements which make life possible with the addition of properly directed energy and information based codes and sequences.

A living cell is then a system as defined above whose components at the atomistic level are the operative "elements".

Life at the cell level is irreducibly complex because one cannot remove any of the subsystems/elements C,N,O,H where a subsystem is the entire collection of atoms of a particular type and still have a functioning cell capable of meeting the life process of self replication.

In any extant life form from abiogenesis plus one genetic change to life at present there is no substitute atom which can be used instead of any of the four listed and have replication proceed, stay alive whether the C, the N, the O or the H cell component sets comprising a sub-sysytem.

The cell is then irreducibly complex because none of the four may be removed and the cell remain alive and capable of replication. Neither can the cell be accounted for by gradual steps or changes in which any one of the subsystems is absent in a prior state of evolution and alive capable of replication and capable of evolving into a state where all four subsystems are present and functioning in replicative processes.

Evolution is thus falsified by its own definition of same for surely Darwin himself stated that if any complex "entity" should be shown as impossible to arise by small incremental steps by natual selection and mutation his theory would be falsified. Certainly we can define any and all organs and entities of being made of cells and cells of molecules and molecules of atoms. Thus the chosen level of examination and system definition are logically sound in the context of Darwin's statement.

Since the cell is IC and cannot be accounted for by any probable or demonstrable process that is abiogenesis has not ever been demonstrated or made imaginatively probabilistic producing an entity of replication in any sense that would ever give rise to the cell we conclude the cell must have been designed; the cell has been IDed.

QED

  
Russell



Posts: 1082
Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 10 2005,14:23   

Quote
I believe Meyer, Demski and the rest of the ID gang have stumbled onto a large hole in evolutionary theory.
The "ID gang" throws everything they can at evolutionary theory - including debunked exemplars of "irreducible complexity", bogus mathematics, accusations of fraud, atheist proselytizing... To what "large hole" are you referring, genesmon?

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Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
Wesley R. Elsberry



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Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: June 20 2013,10:32   

Nick Matzke gives a preliminary review of Stephen Meyer's new book, "Darwin's Doubt". And he titled the post as "Meyer's Hopeless Monster, Part II".

Meyer has apparently learned pretty much nothing from his earlier fiasco.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
OgreMkV



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(Permalink) Posted: June 20 2013,10:49   

I wrote up a series of predictions for DD on my blog at skeptic ink.

I thought the book was coming out next week, but it looks like most of my predictions are confirmed.

Yay me.

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Ignored by those who can't provide evidence for their claims.

http://skepticink.com/smilodo....retreat

   
Doc Bill



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(Permalink) Posted: June 20 2013,14:13   

At Barnes & Noble, von Meyer sat at #1 on the eve of release, dropped to 29 in a few hours, plummeted to 111 by this morning and is now sinking below 200.

On the review and comment threads at Amazon, not surprisingly, the Evilutionists are actually discussing points directly from von Meyer's book, while the creationists are flinging poo, shouting "atheist" and all the usual stuff.

JoeG showed up being JoeG!  That's pretty much the level of von Meyer's support.

I managed to get on-line access to the first three chapters and I must say I was very surprised, nay, astounded to read von Meyer articulating Creationism 101.  Not even sneaky.  Absolute Pandas&People full-on 100 percent Grade A creationism:  animals poofed into existence fully formed, no transitional fossils, Darwin was RONG and on and on.  Quite bold.  I thought he was going to be sneaky but it's obvious he's trying to reach a wider creationist audience than with Ciggie in the Cell.

  
JohnW



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(Permalink) Posted: June 20 2013,14:34   

Quote (Doc Bill @ June 20 2013,12:13)
At Barnes & Noble, von Meyer sat at #1 on the eve of release, dropped to 29 in a few hours, plummeted to 111 by this morning and is now sinking below 200.

On the review and comment threads at Amazon, not surprisingly, the Evilutionists are actually discussing points directly from von Meyer's book, while the creationists are flinging poo, shouting "atheist" and all the usual stuff.

JoeG showed up being JoeG!  That's pretty much the level of von Meyer's support.

I managed to get on-line access to the first three chapters and I must say I was very surprised, nay, astounded to read von Meyer articulating Creationism 101.  Not even sneaky.  Absolute Pandas&People full-on 100 percent Grade A creationism:  animals poofed into existence fully formed, no transitional fossils, Darwin was RONG and on and on.  Quite bold.  I thought he was going to be sneaky but it's obvious he's trying to reach a wider creationist audience than with Ciggie in the Cell.

So: the Fictional Cambrian Explosion, in which every phylum was independently poofed into existence without precursors on the same Thursday between three and four in the afternoon, disproves evolution.  Well, that's me convinced.

I'd like to propose the Stephen Meyer Drinking Game:  knock one back every time a creationist mentions Meyer's (entire) academic CV (Stephen C. Meyer, "The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories," Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, Vol. 117(2):213-239 (2004)) [the "Sternberg" paper]).  I'm up to two already, and I'm just on the first page.  Sorry, liver!

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Math is just a language of reality. Its a waste of time to know it.
- Robert Byers

  
OgreMkV



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(Permalink) Posted: June 20 2013,14:36   

If JoeG ever supported anything I wrote, I would immediately apologize to the entire planet and then shoot myself.

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Ignored by those who can't provide evidence for their claims.

http://skepticink.com/smilodo....retreat

   
OgreMkV



Posts: 3335
Joined: Oct. 2009

(Permalink) Posted: June 21 2013,16:26   

IF anyone wants to come play with some Meyer supporters, here's the link: http://www.skepticink.com/smilodo....diction

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Ignored by those who can't provide evidence for their claims.

http://skepticink.com/smilodo....retreat

   
dvunkannon



Posts: 1377
Joined: June 2008

(Permalink) Posted: June 21 2013,21:59   

Quote (Doc Bill @ June 20 2013,15:13)
At Barnes & Noble, von Meyer sat at #1 on the eve of release, dropped to 29 in a few hours, plummeted to 111 by this morning and is now sinking below 200.

On the review and comment threads at Amazon, not surprisingly, the Evilutionists are actually discussing points directly from von Meyer's book, while the creationists are flinging poo, shouting "atheist" and all the usual stuff.

JoeG showed up being JoeG!  That's pretty much the level of von Meyer's support.

I managed to get on-line access to the first three chapters and I must say I was very surprised, nay, astounded to read von Meyer articulating Creationism 101.  Not even sneaky.  Absolute Pandas&People full-on 100 percent Grade A creationism:  animals poofed into existence fully formed, no transitional fossils, Darwin was RONG and on and on.  Quite bold.  I thought he was going to be sneaky but it's obvious he's trying to reach a wider creationist audience than with Ciggie in the Cell.

Sternberg has changed over time to 'von Sternberg' but I think Meyer is just plain Meyer. Unless the Bavarian Illuminati have come through with a title and a new secret decoder ring...

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I’m referring to evolution, not changes in allele frequencies. - Cornelius Hunter
I’m not an evolutionist, I’m a change in allele frequentist! - Nakashima

  
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4511
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: June 21 2013,22:02   

Quote (OgreMkV @ June 21 2013,16:26)
IF anyone wants to come play with some Meyer supporters, here's the link: http://www.skepticink.com/smilodo....diction

Thanks. Had to add a response to the knee-jerk antievolution response that Matzke is unworthy to comment on Meyer.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Quack



Posts: 1788
Joined: May 2007

(Permalink) Posted: June 22 2013,04:54   

Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ June 21 2013,22:02)
 
Quote (OgreMkV @ June 21 2013,16:26)
IF anyone wants to come play with some Meyer supporters, here's the link: http://www.skepticink.com/smilodo....diction

Thanks. Had to add a response to the knee-jerk antievolution response that Matzke is unworthy to comment on Meyer.

Seems a link to UcD is the ultimate trump card...

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The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.
                                                                                               Richard Feynman

  
OgreMkV



Posts: 3335
Joined: Oct. 2009

(Permalink) Posted: June 22 2013,08:08   

Quote (Quack @ June 22 2013,04:54)
Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ June 21 2013,22:02)
 
Quote (OgreMkV @ June 21 2013,16:26)
IF anyone wants to come play with some Meyer supporters, here's the link: http://www.skepticink.com/smilodo....diction

Thanks. Had to add a response to the knee-jerk antievolution response that Matzke is unworthy to comment on Meyer.

Seems a link to UcD is the ultimate trump card...

The problem with UD trump cards is that they are playing bingo.

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Ignored by those who can't provide evidence for their claims.

http://skepticink.com/smilodo....retreat

   
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4511
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: June 22 2013,11:14   

Quote (Quack @ June 22 2013,04:54)
 
Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ June 21 2013,22:02)
     
Quote (OgreMkV @ June 21 2013,16:26)
IF anyone wants to come play with some Meyer supporters, here's the link: http://www.skepticink.com/smilodo....diction

Thanks. Had to add a response to the knee-jerk antievolution response that Matzke is unworthy to comment on Meyer.

Seems a link to UcD is the ultimate trump card...

And here's my reply to the comment linking to Uncommon Descent:

 
Quote


 
Quote

Galkat:  
Oh nick's a real pro all right, at BS. Check out the link.

http://www.uncommondescent.com.../.....co.....com...


I checked the link, and I concur that it is BS, but the author is clearly stated to be "DonaldM", not Nick Matzke. It isn't like they are similar authors or anything.

It isn't surprising that antievolutionists can't be bothered to acknowledge plain error on their part, such as the blatant but erroneous credentialism Galkat led with. Even when avoiding taking responsibility for error, Galkat persists in going for the ad hominem.

"DonaldM" insists that the figures that Nick used are a bluff and that they convey the same thing Meyer is claiming, which includes the "geologically sudden appearance of complex and novel body plans" with a graph strongly implying that the "sudden appearance" is also *simultaneous* across groups. But even casual reference to the Peterson et al. 2004 Figure 4 that "DonaldM" presented shows that it in no way can be claimed to be saying just what Meyer is saying. For nine groups in different phyla, the graph shows at least six different "first fossil appearance" times spanning some 50 million years. ("DonaldM" claims the figure he notes is the same as the one Nick used in his PT post, but "DonaldM" is wrong: Nick's figure is Figure 2 in Peterson et. al. 2005. Not that it would have much helped "DonaldM" any to have competently identified the figure: it shows 5 separate first fossil appearance times for representatives of 9 phyla spanning about 50 million years.)

"DonaldM" also doesn't bother to quote Nick's summary statement:

"All of this is pretty good evidence for the basic idea that the Cambrian “Explosion” is really the radiation of simple bilaterian worms into more complex worms, and that this took something like 30 million years just to get to the most primitive forms that are clearly related to one or another living crown “phyla”, and occurred in many stages, instead of all at once. But, the reader gets very little of the actual big picture from Meyer."

Nick is clearly taking Meyer to task for Meyer's characterization (or mischaracterization) of the Cambrian period. This needs to be kept in mind as one looks at "DonaldM"'s discussion of a snippet he took from Peterson et al. 2004 as "bilaterans do not have a significant precambrian evolutionary history." "DonaldM" continues:

"Note that Peterson et.al.‘s point is exactly the point that Meyer is making with the diagrams he used. The bilateran body plans found in the Cambrian fossils appear to have no evolutionary history. That is Meyer’s main point in this section of the book. So all of Matzke’s moaning about Meyer’s “oversimplified” diagram is just bluffing on his part. Somehow he thinks that the fancier more detailed diagrams refute Meyer, I guess, when in fact, they’re making the exact same point."

Nick's point, though, primarily concerned the duration and progression of the Cambrian explosion itself, and his graphs do demonstrate that there is not the sort of simultaneity that the figure used by Meyer implies within the Cambrian; "DonaldM" is apparently trying to divert attention away from what Nick *actually* argued to something else. Nor does "DonaldM" do well when we note that his highlighted sentence snippet cannot be be interpreted except in light of what the rest of the article discusses. The "significant precambrian evolutionary history" refers to what uncorrected molecular clock studies proposed, not a blanket statement that there is no precambrian history to the bilateria. Here's Peterson et al. 2004 on the alternative, "significant", precambrian history:

"A number of previous clock studies (reviewed in refs. 3 and 4) have suggested that the last common ancestor of bilaterians (LCB) lived well over one billion years ago (5, 6), whereas others suggest that LCB arose 900 million years ago (Ma) (e.g., refs. 7–10), and still others are more consistent with an origination closer to the Cambrian (11–13). These deep estimates for the origin of LCB raise the question of how hundreds of millions of years of bilaterian evolution can escape detection, given that LCB and its near relatives should have had the capability of leaving both body and trace fossils (14–16)."

And later we have Peterson et al. 2004 saying this:

"Interestingly, both our analysis and the analyses of Aris-Brosou and Yang (11, 12) conclude that LCB evolved 570 Ma and split from cnidarians somewhere between 600 and 630 Ma (Fig. 4)."

The authors of Peterson et al. 2004 can hardly be claimed to have disputed any precambrian history of bilateria when they explicitly provide an estimate of the last common bilaterian having lived at 570 mya, well within the precambrian.

"DonaldM"'s discussion of Nick's deployment of the first figure similarly fails to note what Nick was actually arguing. That figure does show that the evidence within the Cambrian period does show a history of increasing diversity over millions of years. "DonaldM"'s obsession with the precambrian part of the figure ignores the fact that Nick clearly was making a point about the part that was within the Cambrian. "DonaldM"'s self-congratulatory closing is pathetic; Meyer does invoke the Cambrian explosion, so acting as if only the precambrian fossil record has any bearing on things is simply a strawman.

Nick was making a point about Meyer, scholarship, and a responsibility to inform his readers about the actual state of the science. "DonaldM"'s rejoinder is that Meyer didn't need to include detail that did not favor Meyer's argument; ironically, that reinforces rather than rebuts Nick's argument.


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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
stevestory



Posts: 8994
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: June 22 2013,18:58   

Quote (OgreMkV @ June 20 2013,15:36)
If JoeG ever supported anything I wrote, I would immediately apologize to the entire planet and then shoot myself.

Don't worry--if you were dumb as Joe you wouldn't be able to figger out how the gun worked.  :p

   
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4511
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: June 26 2013,20:52   

Casey Luskin has his usual form of reply to criticism of a DI fellow, long on outrage over pettifogging minutiae concerning words.

It is interesting for one thing, though. Luskin makes much of the fact that Matzke did not get a prepublication review copy, while noting that DI fellow traveler David Snoke (you know, of Behe and Snoke, that guy) did receive a prepublication review copy. This continues the DI fellows' strategem of denying early access to interested critics for books published, while providing in-group members with early access, the better to game sites like Amazon.com with flowery early reviews. Criticism is to be deferred as long as possible, the better to manage initial reception and sales. Earlier this month, Kelley Unger from the DI CSC sent out emails requesting $35 donations to "send the book to an opinion maker". David Snoke is an opinion maker, and Nick Matzke is not? LOL. Nick's ability to get a technical review out there quickly strikes directly at the DI's carefully laid plans for an unimpeded early love-fest for the book.

The DI has done exactly this on several different occasions, screening early access by whether they judge the recipient is likely to have a favorable opinion of the work. This is not how reputable academic publishing works for review copy requests.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Doc Bill



Posts: 1006
Joined: April 2007

(Permalink) Posted: June 26 2013,22:06   

Several of the ID brethren have pointed out on the Amazon review thread that it would be impossible for Matzke to produce a 9400 word review in such a short time because the probability of producing two simultaneous critiques is or less than ten to the minus 40th.

Therefore, I guess they're saying that Matzke's review was intelligently designed.  It's the only answer.

  
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