On the utility of evolution in experimental biology and medicine

A recurring theme amongst ID antievolutionists holds that evolution really doesn’t contribute useful directions or concepts in the realm of biology or medicine. Philip Skell regurgitates the theme in a recent commentary in Forbes magazine:

“Examining the major advances in biological knowledge, one fails to find any real connection between biological history and the experimental designs that have produced today’s cornucopia of knowledge of how the great variety of living organisms perform their functions. It is our knowledge of how these organisms actually operate, not speculations about how they may have arisen millions of years ago, that is essential to doctors, veterinarians, farmers and other practitioners of biological science.”

And later:

“The essence of the theory of evolution is the hypothesis that historical diversity is the consequence of natural selection acting on variations. Regardless of the verity it holds for explaining biohistory, it offers no help to the experimenter–who is concerned, for example, with the goal of finding or synthesizing a new antibiotic, or how it can disable a disease-producing organism, what dosages are required and which individuals will not tolerate it. Studying biohistory is, at best, an entertaining distraction from the goals of a working biologist.”

The blogosphere (and probably print media) are replete with summaries and specific cases that show Skell’s assertions to be a crock. This essay summarizes one such example. I have chosen this one because it refutes, specifically, the claim that an understanding of the evolutionary history of an organism “offers no help to the experimenter–who is concerned, for example, with the goal of finding or synthesizing a new antibiotic, or how it can disable a disease-producing organism”. It also ties Skell’s uninformed comments in with another subject that causes ID antievolutionists much consternation – the origins and evolution of organelles.

In the 1990′s, two parallel, seemingly unrelated areas of research came together in a most remarkable way; moreover, they were tied together by explicit evolutionary connections and reasoning. One field concerned the nature of the Apicomplexa, a group of protists that includes some of the most serious and problematic of parasites of humans. For example, the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum is a member of this group of organisms. The Apicomplexa possess (and require for survival) a novel organelle, the apicoplast. In the ’90′s, it was discovered that the apicoplast is related to another organelle, the chloroplast. As Kohler et al. stated in 1997:

“A plastid of probable green algal origin in Apicomplexan parasites.

Kohler S, Delwiche CF, Denny PW, Tilney LG, Webster P, Wilson RJ, Palmer JD, Roos DS.

Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.

Protozoan parasites of the phylum Apicomplexa contain three genetic elements: the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes characteristic of virtually all eukaryotic cells and a 35-kilobase circular extrachromosomal DNA. In situ hybridization techniques were used to localize the 35-kilobase DNA of Toxoplasma gondii to a discrete organelle surrounded by four membranes. Phylogenetic analysis of the tufA gene encoded by the 35-kilobase genomes of coccidians T. gondii and Eimeria tenella and the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum grouped this organellar genome with cyanobacteria and plastids, showing consistent clustering with green algal plastids. Taken together, these observations indicate that the Apicomplexa acquired a plastid by secondary endosymbiosis, probably from a green alga.”

In the meantime, scientists working in a different field were discovering interesting things about chloroplasts, and especially about the unique metabolic capabilities these organelles bring to the plant cell. Specifically, it was discovered that plastids possess a prokaryotic pathway for the biosynthesis of isoprenoids, the precursors of sterols and myriads of secondary metabolites in plants. This is in addition to the more usual pathway known in humans, a pathway also found in plants. These pathways are, respectively, the non-mevalonate and mevalonate pathways.

The apicoplast, which is needed by the parasite, became an obvious new target for therapies. This is where the two lines of research summarized in preceding paragraphs came together, linked through decidedly evolutionary reasoning. Briefly, several groups followed an obvious line of thought – since the parasite has an organelle that is evolutionarily-related to plastids, see if it has plant-like metabolic pathways or other targets that plant (and chloroplast)-specific drugs would act upon. And indeed, what was found that the Apicomplexa possess a non-MVA pathway for isoprenoid biosynthesis, that this pathway is apicoplast-associated, and that drugs that inhibit the non-MVA pathway inhibit the growth of parasites such as P. falciparum. As one early report summarized:

“Inhibitors of the nonmevalonate pathway of isoprenoid biosynthesis as antimalarial drugs.

Jomaa H, Wiesner J, Sanderbrand S, Altincicek B, Weidemeyer C, Hintz M, Turbachova I, Eberl M, Zeidler J, Lichtenthaler HK, Soldati D, Beck E.

Institute of Biochemistry, Academic Hospital Centre, Justus-Liebig-University, Friedrichstrasse 24, D-35392 Giessen, Germany.
hassan.jomaa@biochemie.med.uni-giessen.de

A mevalonate-independent pathway of isoprenoid biosynthesis present in Plasmodium falciparum was shown to represent an effective target for chemotherapy of malaria. This pathway includes 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate (DOXP) as a key metabolite. The presence of two genes encoding the enzymes DOXP synthase and DOXP reductoisomerase suggests that isoprenoid biosynthesis in P. falciparum depends on the DOXP pathway. This pathway is probably located in the apicoplast. The recombinant P. falciparum DOXP reductoisomerase was inhibited by fosmidomycin and its derivative, FR-900098. Both drugs suppressed the in vitro growth of multidrug-resistant P. falciparum strains. After therapy with these drugs, mice infected with the rodent malaria parasite P. vinckei were cured.”

It must be emphasized that, without the evolutionary connection, people would likely not have thought of looking for non-mevalonate isoprenoid pathways in Plasmodium. This pathway is chloroplast-localized in higher plants and is not known in animals. Without the evolutionary link, there is little chance of pulling this pathway “out of the hat”, as opposed to any of the hundreds of other pathways one has to choose from.

The abstracts I post here are relatively old; readers are encouraged to google terms such as “fosmidomycin” to see how fruitful this avenue of evolutionary reasoning has been. (They will find that I have omitted other examples of such reasoning; for example, the apicoplast also houses a prokaryotic fatty acid synthesizing system, and drugs that target this are also promising anti-malarials.) What I hope readers will appreciate is how a decidedly evolutionary line of reasoning has opened the door to a new generation of anti-malarial drugs. Far from being an arcane and irrelevant plaything of biologists, evolution sits at the very heart of this field of experimental biology and medicine. Without the evolutionary connection, there would be no links between isoprenoid biosynthesis in plants and malaria (or between prokaryotic fatty acid biosynthesis and malaria, for that matter). In other words, when ID antievolutionists assert (as Skell does) that evolutionary biology “offers no help to the experimenter–who is concerned, for example, with the goal of finding or synthesizing a new antibiotic, or how it can disable a disease-producing organism”, recall this essay, and think about how badly misinformed Skell and his ilk are.

The citations for the abstracts mentioned above:

Sabine Köhler, Charles F. Delwiche, Paul W. Denny, Lewis G. Tilney, Paul Webster, R. J. M. Wilson, Jeffrey D. Palmer, David S. Roos. A Plastid of Probable Green Algal Origin in Apicomplexan Parasites. 1997. Science 275, 1485-1489. DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5305.1485

Hassan Jomaa, Jochen Wiesner, Silke Sanderbrand, Boran Altincicek, Claus Weidemeyer, Martin Hintz, Ivana Türbachova, Matthias Eberl, Johannes Zeidler, Hartmut K. Lichtenthaler, Dominique Soldati, Ewald Beck. 1999. Inhibitors of the Nonmevalonate Pathway of Isoprenoid Biosynthesis as Antimalarial Drugs. Science 285, 1573-1576.
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5433.1573

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77 Responses to On the utility of evolution in experimental biology and medicine

  1. Dave R says:

    Thanks for that information; now I have yet another arrow in the quiver for the idiots who claim that medical advances don’t depend on evolution. I have been relying on an old favorite, the development of a semi-synthetic process for the production of Taxol, so it is nice to have another.

    Of course, a far simpler response to the idiots who want to believe that evolution can’t contribute to biomedical research is to ask them about any useful scientific contributions from creationism or intelligent design. It is more than a tad hypocritical for them to blast evolution when their own pet notions are scientifically bankrupt. Hypocritical, but somehow unsurprising.

    Thanks!

  2. Al says:

    Hell, even current AIDS therapies depend somewhat on knowledge of the evolution of resistance. HAART depends on the fact that evolving resistance to 3 or 4 drugs simultaneously is much more difficult than evolving resistance to one drug at a time. If one presumed some sort of supernatural entity intervening this simply wouldn’t be so (after all what are a few more changes to an intelligent designer?). Without the background knowledge of evolution we will never stave off any rapidly-evolving pathogen for any appreciable amount of time. Hitting more conserved targets, multiple targets, etc. all depend on a knowledge of what is likely to change in the pathogen to cause resistance. Sorry for the rant-obviously yours is much better than mine

  3. harold says:

    It’s no coincidence that this claptrap was published in Forbes.

    It’s just another example of American conservatives pandering to science-deniers.

    The only possible rationale for Forbes publishing something of this nature is that it is a not-very-subtle way of saying “science-denying religious nuts, please keep voting for the Republican party”.

    Of course there are plenty of conservatives who are appalled by this type of thing. If you don’t like it, cancel your subscription to Forbes and let them know why.

  4. Wiley says:

    Scientists assume evolution and common ancestry when working with DNA and proteins, in, e.g.: gene finding, determining protein function, determining protein and DNA binding sites, understanding biochemical pathways, etc. The aforementioned things apply in practical research, such as drug development and fighting cancer.

    When trying to look for genes, for example, one would search a database of genomes and look at homologous sequences (e.g. genes that are closely evolutionarily related). The human genome project was relatively useless in finding what parts of our genome were real genes until we sequenced the genome of mice. As scientists assumed close evolutionary relationship between mice and humans, they could see similarities in sequences between the two species, enabling them to see which regions are genes or not. Knowing what parts of our genome are genes is very important in understanding diseases and developing treatments against them.

    In drug development, one important thing to know is how a protein functions. This is helped by, again, lining up sequences among a variety of organisms. By analyzing shared regions of the protein, one could pinpoint which parts of the protein are its active and binding sites. Lining up sequences and inferring function in DNA and protein make sense only if one assumes evolution and common descent. In denying evolution, would the same creationist/ID proponent deny advances in research that use evolution and common descent as a driving theory?

  5. Frank J says:

    Nice essay, but as you know, Skell is more than “misinformed,” or maybe even “something other than misinformed.” Meaning that if you inform him, all he will do is ignore or misrepresent it, and keep peddling the same nonsense to his target audience. Anything but reply with “I stand corrected.”

    Like most anti-evolution activists these days, Skell mentions “millions of years” only in the context that implies “so science says.” Most IDers agree with the timeline of biological history if not the mechanisms of species change, but they don’t like to advertise it. A neat exercise would be to ask Skell, and similar anti-evolutionists, in front of their target audience – which probably includes YECs – if they agree with mainstream science regarding the millions (& billions) of years of life. With God as their witness of course.

  6. mrg says:

    I am not entirely convinced that evo science is exactly “applications oriented”, but even at that my attitude is: “SO?” How many fields of science or for that matter scholarship in general would survive if they had to pay their own way? Astronomy? Astrophysics? Theoretical math?

    The attempt to focus on applications seems to be an attempt to avoid the real question: “Is this the way the world works or not?” If people are interested in the way the world works, do applications really matter all that much? It’s not exactly an enquiring mind that says: “It’s not of practical importance in my work so I’ll put a bag over my head and say it doesn’t exist.”

    I wrote a book on the origins of radar for my website. Now somebody working on radars may not find it particularly useful for designing modern radars, but it would very surprising to find someone deep in radar design who wouldn’t be fascinated by the origins of the technology — and even more surprising for a person to condemn the book on the basis of its “irrelevance” to designing a modern active-array radar. That would go beyond mere indifferent ignorance to being determined to be ignorant.

    Of course, if it is suggested that maybe evo science can’t necessarily pay its own way, the next gibe is to say: “Well, then we shouldn’t be spending all this money on it.”

    All WHAT money? Venture capitalists will pump millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions into biotech startups — while evo science researchers struggle to get modest grants to support their work. Nobody
    gets rich in evo science, except maybe Dawkins, and if it’s a case of paying his own way he’s done it in aces on the best-seller lists.

    Cheers — MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

  7. Deamiter says:

    Forgive me while I put on my devil’s advocate hat on for a second, but wasn’t this development driven primarily by the genetic similarities between the apicoplast and the chloroplast?

    While the researchers probably DID make the evolutionary connection, if one assumed that a flying spaghetti monster designed each organism individually, the genetic similarity between apicoplasts and chloroplasts might lead to the same line of research.

    In other words, this discovery was not primarily dependent on an understanding of evolution, but an understanding that genes drive function, and organelles with similar genes are likely to have similar function.

    I’ll duck and cover now, but I just wanted to point out that it’s not as easy to come up with a discovery that REQUIRED an assumption of evolution even if the discovery itself was only made through the assumption of evolution by the researchers involved.

  8. LW says:

    That was fascinating. Thank you.

  9. mrg says:

    I am with Dreamiter to suspect that typical biomedical research is not strongly predicated on evo science.

    However, there’s another angle that I like to play on the critics. I’m a EE, and if you asked me or most other EEs what good Maxwell’s equations are to the job, it’s a very good bet the answer would be: “Little or none. Never used them except in school.”

    So I guess we say Maxwell’s equations are useless? Wrong. Maxwell’s equations are basic expressions of electrical theory — if we didn’t know them, we would not have any real understanding of electrical theory. If we DO have an understanding of electrical theory, we have the basic expressions in the form of Maxwell’s equations, no way around it. Directly useful or not, we can’t get rid of them and it would make no sense to try to do so.

    Similarly, if we understand biology, we understand evo science. Whether it comes in handy in specific applications is, if not irrelevant — it’s certainly all for the good if it DOES — at least much less significant than the fact that it simply cannot be eliminated from biological science.

    It would be like constructing a building with some rooms, hallways, and staircases left out. You might be able to do that and even get something that kind of works … but it would be hard to figure out a good reason as to why anyone would want to do so.

    Cheers — MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

  10. Deamiter Says (February 28, 2009 at 7:58 pm) —
    –Forgive me while I put on my devil’s advocate hat on for a second, but wasn’t this development driven primarily by the genetic similarities between the apicoplast and the chloroplast?

    While the researchers probably DID make the evolutionary connection, if one assumed that a flying spaghetti monster designed each organism individually, the genetic similarity between apicoplasts and chloroplasts might lead to the same line of research. –

    I agree. The fact that evolutionary reasoning was applicable does not necessarily mean that evolution theory is true or that the mechanisms of evolution are well understood. For example, in engineering, imaginary-number math is used in the analysis of aerodynamics and alternating-current circuits, even though the imaginary-number math has no connection to reality.

    To me, dogmatic Darwinism is the real science-stopper. For example, many Darwinists simply dismiss co-evolution as just being the result of “mutual evolutionary pressure” between two different kinds of organisms and have no interest in further investigating the subject. However, by assuming that co-evolution is not necessarily always possible, I learned a lot about interspecies relationships and co-evolutionary mechanisms. My blog’s articles about co-evolution are in a post-label group titled “Non-ID criticisms of evolution” –

    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/search/label/Non-ID%20criticisms%20of%20evolution

  11. mrg says:

    “Imaginary math has no connection to reality”. That puts the DUMB in DUMBFOUNDED! Anybody with an electrical engineering background knows it means, at least in that context, a 90-degree phase change in a sinusoidal waveform. It is PERFECTLY understood!

    “Well gee SQRT(-1) is an abstraction.” So? You have square roots and you have negative numbers — you run into the combination of the two at times. Not only do you accommodate it but it turns out that it has APPLICATIONS! The alternative to using complex exponentials to describe composites of sinusoidal waveforms is REALLY, REALLY ugly!

    Cheers — MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

  12. Arthur Hunt says:

    Hi all,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    One thing I skipped over in my essay but needs to be stated, in light of some of the comments, is that the evolutionary relatedness of the apicoplast and chloroplast is not something that jumps out at you. You don’t look at a micrograph of a malaria parasite and say “wow! a chloroplast”. It took some very clever insight and good experimentation to discover this fascinating tidbit. In my opinion, a design-based approach misses this completely (be the designer the FSM, Santa Claus, or Q), because design is predicated on function and utility, and the parasite has nothing that approximates the function of a chloroplast.

    Larry, you’re quite wrong about co-evolution. Pathologists of all ilk study the process on a daily basis, and there are a whole lot of them out there. Close to my scientific home, the past decade has seen a remarkable revolution in our understanding of the disease-related arms race in plants. One of the sideshows (R genes, pathogen genes, “guards” and “guardees”, etc.) are studies that emphasize just how wrong Behe is about protein evolution.

  13. mrg says:

    I hope I do not give the impression that I am critical of the notion that evo science has practical applications. A good case can be made that it does.

    What I am pointing out is that when we say: “We have an answer to the questions of the critics.” — it should be realized that: “The question the critics are asking is bogus on the face of it.” They are not so much saying: “Evo science is not relevant to my application.” — as they are saying: “I am going to put a bag over my head about any concerns not immediately relevant to my application.” This is, again, not the ignorance of indifference — it is a determination to be ignorant.

    Cheers — MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

  14. mrg Says (March 1, 2009 at 9:07 am) —
    –“Imaginary math has no connection to reality”. That puts the DUMB in DUMBFOUNDED! Anybody with an electrical engineering background knows it means, at least in that context, a 90-degree phase change in a sinusoidal waveform. It is PERFECTLY understood! –

    I have an electrical engineering background — I am a degreed engineer and I have taken courses in AC circuit analysis. You make yourself look very foolish by immediately jumping to the conclusion that I don’t know what I am talking about. I was hoping that I would not have to explain this in detail.

    The imaginary-number — or more correctly, complex-number — math and graphics do not directly correspond to the physical quantities of the circuits. For example, the impedance vector is the vector sum of the reactance vector and the pure-resistance vector in the complex plane, and the voltages and currents are the real-number components of rotating vectors — called “phasors” — in the complex plane. It is just by coincidence that the behavior of AC circuits and some results of complex-number math correspond — there is no intuitive connection between the complex-number math and the AC circuits. The relationship between the AC circuits and the complex-number math is just abstract. Here is a good discussion of AC circuit analysis, with animated graphics –

    http://www.physclips.unsw.edu.au/jw/AC.html

    Also, in the Joukowski transformation of conformal mapping, the aerodynamics of rotating cylinders is used to analyze the aerodynamics of fixed-wing airfoils by means of complex-number math. Again, the relationship between the math and the physical systems is just abstract.

    So, the point is –
    Evolutionary analysis in biology, like complex-number math in engineering, can be regarded as something abstract with no direct connection to reality.

  15. mrg says:

    You’re trying to tell me that basic AC circuit analysis has “no direct connection to reality”? You’re trying to tell me that the basic tools of AC circuit analyis are a fantasy? You couldn’t get the power grid to work without them. You know, power grid? The thing your PC and lighting is hooked up to?

    Sir, you DON’T know what you’re talking about. Nobody with an EE background would fail to laugh at you.

    By this reasoning the concept of “zero” is an abstraction with no direct connection to reality. You have a number for “nothing”? What sense does that make? It took a long time for people to figure that out.

    Who do you think you’re fooling?

    Cheers — MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

  16. Dave R says:

    The sentence “Larry, you’re quite wrong about co-evolution” is two words too long. In the interest of saving electrons in the future, we should just stick with “Larry, you’re quite wrong.”

    MrG, I think we all understand that the presuppositions of the dedicated opposition will negate the effect of any logic or facts that we can point to. There are other targets here, however. Some rational people, who are not wedded to the proposition that evolutionary theory threatens their religious life, but who have had too much exposure to preachers and hucksters who tell them that, might benefit from hearing logic and facts. The college students whom I teach can certainly fall into that category. So it is nice to have more examples that relate to human health problems; those are the types of examples that most humans can relate to.

    Indeed, we can’t hope to reach the Larrys of the world, but we can hope to reduce the damage to the next generation.

  17. mrg says:

    “Indeed, we can’t hope to reach the Larrys of the world, but we can hope to reduce the damage to the next generation.”

    Sigh, unfortunately this is true but alas I could not resist such a staggering display of ignorance about elementary engineering and math. And then try to bluff his way out of it: “I know what I am talking about. These droids aren’t the ones your looking for.” The FORCE gives power over the WEAK of MIND!

    Cheers — MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

  18. mrg Says (March 1, 2009 at 11:12 am) –
    –You’re trying to tell me that basic AC circuit analysis has “no direct connection to reality”? You’re trying to tell me that the basic tools of AC circuit analyis are a fantasy? You couldn’t get the power grid to work without them. —

    I never said that AC circuit analysis by means of complex-number math does not work or is not accurate — all I said was that the relationship between the math and the circuits is very abstract and is not intuitive. I think that should be obvious to anyone who referred to the webpage that I linked to.

    –Sir, you DON’T know what you’re talking about. –

    WRONG, sir, I obviously know exactly what I am talking about. You are just trying to make a mere difference of opinion look like ignorance on my part.

  19. mrg says:

    “Tis’ but a scratch! A mere flesh wound! Come back here you coward I’ll bite your knees off!”

    Is there anyone out there who thinks this guy has two clues to rub together? One person? Anyone? No point in boring everyone in showing he doesn’t if it’s already obvious.

    Cheers — MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

  20. Dave R says:

    MrG

    I have no familiarity with the topic you are discussing, but in my experiences with Larry re topics as diverse as co-evolution, medicine, and the Holocaust, Larry has shown himself to be remarkably resistant to logic and fact. He admits that he submits book reviews after reading the preface and a few other pages. He is, in short, a bizarre ignoramus whose jabberings are almost certainly wrong, no matter what the topic.

  21. Arthur Hunt says:

    So, the point is –
    Evolutionary analysis in biology, like complex-number math in engineering, can be regarded as something abstract with no direct connection to reality.

    Larry, that is approximately the gist of Skell’s article. My essay discusses one specific example that shows how mistaken Skell is. Your point is also mistaken, for the same reasons.

  22. mrg says:

    “Your point is also mistaken, for the same reasons.”

    AH, I can assure you as an EE that he is also using as a standard of comparison a mathematical formalism that, to an EE, has a connection to reality on the level of FORCE = MASS * ACCELERATION.

    In other words the comparison is to something *extremely* well-established. I admit complex math in circuit analysis is arcane, but I know what the alternative is, and nobody in their right mind uses it.

    Isaac Asimov once wrote one of his essays on how those with no familiarity with math try to pounce on the absurdity of imaginary numbers
    – SQRT(-1) — mostly because of the use of the word “imaginary”. No more or less imaginary than the concept of “zero” in reality.

    Cheers — MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

  23. Arthur Hunt says (March 1, 2009 at 10:38 am) –
    –Larry, you’re quite wrong about co-evolution. Pathologists of all ilk study the process on a daily basis, and there are a whole lot of them out there. Close to my scientific home, the past decade has seen a remarkable revolution in our understanding of the disease-related arms race in plants.–

    There are no arms races in obligate mutualism, an important subject concerning coevolution. Why don’t you read my ideas about coevolution before knocking them — those ideas are summarized in the following article:
    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2009/01/summary-of-thoughts-about-co-evolution.html

    –One of the sideshows (R genes, pathogen genes, “guards” and “guardees”, etc.) are studies that emphasize just how wrong Behe is about protein evolution.–

    Who knows, maybe those studies were inspired or motivated by Behe’s ideas! I learned a lot about interspecies relationships and coevolutionary mechanisms by assuming that coevolution may sometimes be virtually impossible, but dogmatic Darwinists would never make that assumption because such an assumption is unthinkable to them. Dogmatic Darwinism is a real science-stopper.

  24. Dave R driveled,
    –The sentence “Larry, you’re quite wrong about co-evolution” is two words too long. In the interest of saving electrons in the future, we should just stick with “Larry, y.”ou’re quite wrong–

    mrg driveled,
    –Sigh, unfortunately this is true but alas I could not resist such a staggering display of ignorance about elementary engineering and math.–

    “I’m always kicking their butts — that’s why they don’t like me.”
    –Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

  25. mrg says:

    “Tis but a scratch! A mere flesh wound!”

  26. mrg Says (March 1, 2009 at 12:36 pm) —
    –AH, I can assure you as an EE that he is also using as a standard of comparison a mathematical formalism that, to an EE, has a connection to reality on the level of FORCE = MASS * ACCELERATION. –

    Wrong. Acceleration is the time rate of change of velocity. So, for example, if the mass is kept constant and the force is doubled, then the time rate of change of velocity is doubled. If the force is kept constant and the mass is doubled, then the time rate of change of velocity is halved. And so forth. Anyone who would say that that is no more intuitive — or no less abstract — than AC circuit analysis is out of his mind.

  27. mrg says:

    Yes yes yes of course. Care for a jelly baby?

  28. Dave R says:

    Ah, Larry. Living in a fantasy world where he wins and everyone else gets their butts kicked. Too bad it’s not the same world that everybody else lives in.

    Larry, I’ve looked at your coevolution blather. I’m a biologist. All I can say about it is that you are fractally wrong, on just about every angle. And the hilarious part is that, despite your pleadings and moanings, none of the other idiots in your normal haunts (e.g UncommonDescent) have chosen this coevolution angle as a new wedge against the evil darwinists. So the biologists say that you are wrong, and the idiots ignore you. That had to leave a mark.

    I’ll leave it to Art to point out why your alleged rebuttal to him is yet another instance where you ignore facts and logic. But suffice it to say that he never excluded mutualism from the realm of coevolution; he merely included an example (pathogen resistance in plants) that you are ignorant about, and that, coincidentally, blows holes in your position. So rather than discuss that, you drag the red herring of mutualism across the screen and hope that it throws him off the trail. Nice try.

  29. mrg says:

    I’m running a message board myself these days and I think this thread is at the point where I would say: “OK, we’re just going nowhere now, everybody take your final shots, then the thread gets locked down.”

    BTW, AH, nice job here, thank you.

  30. harold says:

    While the researchers probably DID make the evolutionary connection, if one assumed that a flying spaghetti monster designed each organism individually, the genetic similarity between apicoplasts and chloroplasts might lead to the same line of research.

    Damn, I can’t force myself to ignore this stupidity.

    First of all, the theory of evolution also helps predict what will happen in the future, once evolving organisms are exposed to novel therapies.

    Second of all, if we thought it was all designed by the FSM, it is exquisitely obvious that we would be less likely to know where and when to expect genetic relationships.

  31. Dave R Says (March 1, 2009 at 1:18 pm) —
    –Larry, I’ve looked at your coevolution blather. I’m a biologist. All I can say about it is that you are fractally wrong, on just about every angle.–

    But you can’t say how I am wrong. You won’t even try. You are just a big bag of hot air.

    –And the hilarious part is that, despite your pleadings and moanings, none of the other idiots in your normal haunts (e.g UncommonDescent) have chosen this coevolution angle as a new wedge against the evil darwinists. –

    Maybe this is a case of the “not-invented-here” syndrome — the ID proponents probably see my coevolution ideas as competing with ID as a criticism of evolution. Maybe you could ask them why they are not promoting my ideas about coevolution.

    I don’t post at UD anymore, but I did discuss my ideas about coevolution when I did post there.

    –I’ll leave it to Art to point out why your alleged rebuttal to him is yet another instance where you ignore facts and logic. But suffice it to say that he never excluded mutualism from the realm of coevolution; he merely included an example (pathogen resistance in plants) that you are ignorant about, and that, coincidentally, blows holes in your position–

    I show on my blog that obligate mutualism is a much bigger challenge for coevolution than “arms races” are — I say,

    –The co-evolution of obligate mutualism presents a particular problem because this kind of co-evolution may require simultaneous changes in both kinds of organisms in the same geographical location, because the co-dependent traits in both kinds of organisms may be immediately fatal in the absence of the corresponding co-dependent traits in the other kind of organism. In contrast, in the evolution of parasitism and commensalism, for example, change may be required — or immediately required — in only one of the organisms.–
    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2009/01/summary-of-thoughts-about-co-evolution.html

    And how have I shown that I am “ignorant” about pathogen resistance in plants, bozo?

  32. Arthur Hunt Says (March 1, 2009 at 12:18 pm) —
    –”So, the point is –
    Evolutionary analysis in biology, like complex-number math in engineering, can be regarded as something abstract with no direct connection to reality.”

    Larry, that is approximately the gist of Skell’s article. My essay discusses one specific example that shows how mistaken Skell is. Your point is also mistaken, for the same reasons.–

    As I remember, Skell made an informal survey of scientists in which the respondents told him that evolution theory did not guide their research.

    Arthur Hunt Says (March 1, 2009 at 10:38 am) —
    –One thing I skipped over in my essay but needs to be stated, in light of some of the comments, is that the evolutionary relatedness of the apicoplast and chloroplast is not something that jumps out at you . . . . In my opinion, a design-based approach misses this completely (be the designer the FSM, Santa Claus, or Q), because design is predicated on function and utility, and the parasite has nothing that approximates the function of a chloroplast. –

    Intelligent design studies are not restricted to “function and utility” — ID studies can include, for example, genetics and morphology.

    OK, let’s just suppose, for the sake of argument, that this research was based on evolution theory. However, as I pointed out, I learned a lot about interspecies relationships and coevolutionary mechanisms by assuming that evolution theory could be wrong. IMO the important thing is flexible thinking.

  33. Dave R says:

    Larry

    I have no interest in asking the IDiots at UD why they are ignoring you. The less I need to think about their mental processes (or lack thereof), the better.

    Re my rebuttal of your ignorance about coevolution, I don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You have had your ignorant claims rebutted many times on the internet, including this recent butt-kicking at Aetiology.

  34. raven says:

    A lot of other exaamples besides apicoplasts.

    1. We now know that pests and pathogens will evolve resistance to anything we use to treat them with. Herbicides, insecticides, antibiotics, antivirals, etc.. This informs how we use these anti-anythings and implies that we will always be in a race with evolution.

    2. Evolutionary theory predicts that as a new niche opened up on earth, hordes of large bipedal primates that pathogens would evolve to take advantage of this. We see a new emerging disease every few years. These diseases could potentially kill millions or billions of people. One of them was successful and is known today as HIV/AIDS. Others have been beaten back at no little cost to biomedical scientists. Some of the scientists fighting SARS caught it and died.

    3. Of course evolution is used to constantly improve our agricultural crops. We feed 6.7 billion people, an astounding number that owes it success to several green revolutions.

    Evolutionary biology only matters to people who eat and want to live a long, healthy life.

    Skell is just an evil kook and Forbes is sliding into irrelevancy.

  35. Dave R driveled (March 1, 2009 at 4:58 pm)) —
    –Re my rebuttal of your ignorance about coevolution, I don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You have had your ignorant claims rebutted many times on the internet, including this recent butt-kicking at Aetiology.–

    WHAT? You call yourself a biologist? You phony, you are nothing but a lousy garden-variety troll. My chief antagonist over at Aetiology was a troll who just kept saying over and over again, “How is that a problem for evolution?”, in response to my following points:

    –”In the co-evolution of obligate mutualism, unlike in evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed features of the environment, e.g., air, land in its different forms (e.g., forests, plains, mountains, deserts), and water in its different forms (fresh, salt, and brackish), there may be nothing to adapt to because the corresponding co-dependent trait in the other organism is likely to be locally absent.

    “The atmosphere, for example, is constantly everywhere and is always available for the adaptation of flying. Oceans, mountains, forests, plains, deserts, etc. cover very large areas and are permanent or semi-permanent and therefore offer a tremendous number of opportunities for adaptation. However, a mutation that is immediately fatal in the absence of a corresponding mutation in another kind of organism at the exact same time and place offers very little opportunity for adaptation.”–

    raven Says (March 1, 2009 at 8:08 pm) —
    –Skell is just an evil kook and Forbes is sliding into irrelevancy.–

    Wrong. You Darwinazis are sliding into irrelevancy — opinion polls show that only a small fraction of the public believes in Darwinian evolution.

  36. Arthur Hunt says:

    I think the discussion about coevolution can be continued on Larry’s blog.

    Thanks for your cooperation.

  37. Ichthyic says:

    Is there anyone out there who thinks this guy has two clues to rub together?

    no.

    …and Larry has been banned from more websites than you can shake a stick at, simply because he’s such an annoying troll.

    seriously, he’s insane, and you really shouldn’t bother.

    and that’s NOT an ad-hominem, because it’s entirely accurate.

  38. mrg says:

    Oh yeah I remember — Larry “Banned By Santa Claus” Fafarman.

    Normally when one of these guys says something really dense about evo science, I have learned to goggle for a moment and then move on. But hearing one cross over and try to play up the use of complex math in engineering as some kind of controversy that was just too much.
    “IMAGINARY NUMBERS! BOOGA-BOOGA!”

    No, the normal use of complex math in EE is about as controversial or outrageous as bricklaying or pipefitting. It’s cut and dried, something taught in vocational schools after you learn Ohm’s law. It’s dusty and dull. It may seem like an obscure tool but it was simply the one that did the job.

    Cheers — MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

  39. Ichthyic drivels,
    –Larry has been banned from more websites than you can shake a stick at, simply because he’s such an annoying troll. –

    You are the troll, bozo. Since when is that on-topic here? My comments here have been serious and on-topic — your comment is neither.

    I get kicked off of websites because my comments are too persuasive. Unpersuasive dissenting commenters are allowed to stay in order to give a false impression that the opposition is weak.

    mrg drivels,
    –Normally when one of these guys says something really dense about evo science, I have learned to goggle for a moment and then move on. But hearing one cross over and try to play up the use of complex math in engineering as some kind of controversy that was just too much.–

    mrg, YOU are too much. You are making yourself look very foolish. I did not say that the use of complex math in engineering is some kind of controversy — I already explained my opinion that this use is abstract and not intuitive. We already know that you do not agree with that opinion and you are just wasting space here by kicking a dead horse.

  40. Stephen Wells says:

    Just delurking to say that Larry’s arguments aren’t persuasive or even well-informed. Cheers.

  41. Stephen Wells barfed,
    –Just delurking to say that Larry’s arguments aren’t persuasive or even well-informed.–

    If my arguments aren’t persuasive or even well-informed, bozo, then how do you explain my banning by a lot of websites?

    Your stupid comment contains nothing but scoffing. Here is a good definition of scoffing –

    –Scoffing — the scornful treatment of what is worthy — is based on an illusion whereby falsehood is made to look large and important and truth small and stupid, not by thorough and studied reason, but mere belittlement. –
    http://merecomments.typepad.com/merecomments/2008/12/scoffing.html

    On my blog “I’m from Missouri,” I don’t allow comments that contain nothing but scoffing — scoffing must be accompanied by legitimate commentary. I don’t know why the blogger here tolerates it — such comments just clutter up a thread with garbage.

    Also, the blogger here asked that discussion of coevolution be moved to my blog, “I’m from Missouri.” Articles about coevolution there are in the post-label group titled, “Non-ID criticisms of evolution.”

    “I’m always kicking their butts — that’s why they don’t like me.”
    – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

  42. mrg says:

    Sure you don’t want a jelly baby?

    Cheers — MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

  43. SAWells says:

    Larry whined: “If my arguments aren’t persuasive or even well-informed, bozo, then how do you explain my banning by a lot of websites?”

    Because the only reason anyone is ever banned is for being too persuasive and well-informed, right?

    I explain it by your being boring, repetitive, illogical, wrong on points of fact, and tedious beyond human endurance. Since you ask. Toodle-pip.

  44. mrg says:

    I was thinking: “Boyo, I hope this guy doesn’t ever quit his day job to get into electrical work.”

    But then I thought: “Then again, consider the potential [so to speak] of bringing him into association with high voltages.” And then we could see evolution in action.

    Cheers — MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

  45. SAWells barfs,
    –I explain it by your being boring, repetitive, illogical, wrong on points of fact, and tedious beyond human endurance.–

    And the comments of you lousy trolls are on-topic, intelligent, knowledgeable, perceptive, astute, logical, scholarly, wise, etc..

    NOT!

    Look at all the comment space that you lousy trolls have wasted here with your abusive comments. I would not allow it on my blog. On my blog, I have a rule — scoffing must be accompanied by legitimate commentary.

    This is probably my last comment responding to you lousy trolls — I should stop feeding you.

  46. Dave R says:

    LarryF teases us – “I should stop…”

    Please do.

  47. eric says:

    Arthur’s post is very interesting, but I can’t help thinking the whole ID argument is a red herring.

    If some scientists find TOE useful, they’ll use it. If others don’t, they won’t. Those scientists whose ideas most accurately predict how the world actually works will be more successful in their research. And if, as Larry says, TOE is a science stopper, then it should be no skin off the backs of ID researchers: THEY can continue to reap the rewards of not relying on the TOE to help select which hypotheses they test.

    We have competition in the marketplace of ideas. There is no need, Larry, for IDers to try and win that competition by teaching school children that evolutinary biologists don’t find the TOE useful. Compete fairly by letting the output of your non-TOE research speak for itself, or stop complaining.

  48. mrg says:

    “Arthur’s post is very interesting, but I can’t help thinking the whole ID argument is a red herring.”

    Yeah, not picking on AH, his argument is good as far as it goes, but the ID argument is bogus. It’s not a question of saying: “I don’t have any personal use for evo science.” The only news in that is a personal preference, one shrugs and says: “So ya don’t. I find it interesting for my purposes.”

    What they’re saying is: “I don’t have any personal use for it and so it’s bogus.” That’s a nonsequiter and, as mentioned, determined ignorance.

    Cheers — MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

  49. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says:

    Thanks for an interesting post, even for non-biologists. Add to the fact that is skewers Skell (and of course poor Fafarman), and it is quite perfect!

    It may seem like an obscure tool but it was simply the one that did the job.

    Of course, besides the plethora of time domain transforms that does the job without, as you say, turning it into a really, really ugly thing there is also the domain of solving for geometry, where complex methods do the same work. The reason they do so in both cases isn’t a coincidence as Fafarman implies, but for natural reasons by way of analyticity (smoothness and finiteness, intuitively enforced by physics, but more specifically by continuity and energy).

    And if we really want to nitpick about potential EE areas we could include the QM background of semiconductor devices where it is necessary to get an intuitive picture of wave function behavior in bounded systems and the discrete states that result.

    Now, what does the effect of analyticity, to pick out the physically possible complex smooth solutions among all mathematically possible real continuous functions, reminds me of? Doh, common descent picking out (homologous) genes in a genome of course!

    Seems science and math incompetents invent a lot of imaginary scenarios.

  50. Ichthyic says:

    I get kicked off of websites because my comments are too persuasive delusional.

    fixed.

    I would not allow it on my blog. On my blog, I have a rule — scoffing must be accompanied by legitimate commentary.

    well, then, the obvious response should be that you go back to your blog and enjoy the company you have made for yourself.

    I’m sure you have lots of fun making “legitimate” commentary to your own posts there. You’re nothing but an insane troll anywhere else.

    bye-bye, Larry Farfromsane

  51. mrg says:

    Oh, LF seems sane, he’s just one of these guys who says anything that comes into his head, thinks it’s solid gold, and keeps on yakking. Reminds me of SHREK: “A talking donkey!”

    “Gettin’ him to talk is easy. It’s gettin’ him to SHUT UP that’s hard!”
    But he’s not as clever as Eddie Murphy.

  52. Torbjörn Larsson barfs (#49) –
    –Of course, besides the plethora of time domain transforms that does the job without, as you say, turning it into a really, really ugly thing there is also the domain of solving for geometry, where complex methods do the same work. The reason they do so in both cases isn’t a coincidence as Fafarman implies, but for natural reasons by way of analyticity (smoothness and finiteness, intuitively enforced by physics, but more specifically by continuity and energy). –

    WHAT? You stupid ignoramus, complex-number analysis of AC circuits is derived from the voltage-current relationships of resistors, capacitors, and inductors — and it has nothing to do with semiconductors!. Here it is again:

    http://www.physclips.unsw.edu.au/jw/AC.html

    The relationship is a coincidence — there is nothing intuitive about the application of complex-number math to AC circuits (the same is true of the Joukowski transformation of conformal mapping in aerodynamics). The relationship of the math to the AC circuits is abstract and not intuitive. Similarly, evolution theory is not just non-intuitive but is actually counter-intuitive — it does not make sense that the great complexity and diversity of living things could arise from random processes. As an engineer, this non-intuitivemess and abstractness of evolution theory are things I can relate to.

    You Darwinist trolls are making yourselves look very foolish — you don’t know when to stop kicking a dead horse. We already know that you don’t agree with my opinions. Look at all the comment space that has been wasted here going over the same simple ideas over and over again. You disagree with me just for the sake of disagreeing with me. In your desperate efforts to discredit me, you have only fallen flat on your stupid faces.

    Eric says (#47) –
    –Compete fairly by letting the output of your non-TOE research speak for itself, or stop complaining.–

    I can’t compete fairly — my ideas about coevolution have been censored on the Internet. For example, the Florida Citizens for Science blog banned my discussions of coevolution.

    Dave R. says (#20) –
    –He admits that he submits book reviews after reading the preface and a few other pages –

    There is nothing wrong with that — for example, the Panda’s Thumb blog did a group book-review of Jonathan Wells’ “Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design” by having individual bloggers review individual chapters.

  53. mrg says:

    Don’t want a jelly baby? How about a nice hot cup of decaf?

  54. mrg says:

    Oh … lest anyone think this guy has any clues as to what he’s talking about … while use of complex exponentials in AC circuit analysis is probably the simplest (to the point of crude) and most common by far use of complex math, complex math has far more usage in the EE than that.

    Stability of filters and feedback systems by analysis of poles and zeros in the complex plane comes to mind … it’s ugly, don’t ask. It comes up all the time in signal processing — design of a pulse-doppler radar for example. I believe TL has an advanced degree in semiconductor physics and if he says complex math shows up there — I’m gonna believe him, no reason to question it.

    And I sitting here literally laughing at the proclamation that “complex math just happened to an abstract mathematical procedure that could be used to describe current-voltage phase shifts in AC circuits”. Sure is, but there isn’t a better one.

    Elementary geometry just happened to be the abstract mathematical procedure that you can use to calculate the weight of a figure cut out of sheet metal. If one’s a fantasy so is the other.

    Cheers — MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

  55. KP says:

    My eyes started crossing at all the EE arguments and bickering. I’m not entirely sure what Larry’s angle is, but I don’t see how having a few lines of research where evolution isn’t the driving force somehow negates the value of evolutionary theory.

    I am an ecologist. I focus on population dyamics and habitat selection behavior. Most of my experimental work involves short term measurement of things like demographic parameters (growth, immigration, emigration, etc.) for species in which these are not well known. Each of these parameters can be shaped by evolution, or maybe the organisms have a certain amount of plasticity in them (which can, itself, be shaped by evolution). I am not studying them on that temporal or spatial scale at the moment, so you could say that my research is “not driven by evolution.” However, whatever results I find are most usefully interpreted in the context of the evolutionary history of the species I’m studying.

    So the first quote of Skell’s that Arthur presents,

    “Examining the major advances in biological knowledge, one fails to find any real connection between biological history and the experimental designs that have produced today’s cornucopia of knowledge of how the great variety of living organisms perform their functions. It is our knowledge of how these organisms actually operate, not speculations about how they may have arisen millions of years ago, that is essential to doctors, veterinarians, farmers and other practitioners of biological science.”

    shows blatant ignorance. I don’t see how I am a “Dogmatic Darwinist” for using evolution as a theoretical framework to the extent that is appropriate for interpreting the results of my studies.

  56. eric says:

    LF says:

    I can’t compete fairly – my ideas about coevolution have been censored on the Internet. For example…

    First, that is not censorship. No one is arguing your right to have your own web page, and you DONT have an absolute right to decide the content of other people’s web pages. You have a right to speak – but not to control the forums set up by other speakers.

    Second of all, I wasn’t talking about an internet submission to a citizen’s political action group. I’m talking about real science, where you submit your experimental methods and results to peer reviewed journals.

    Lastly and most importantly, you are still not answering my main point. The creationist argument that TOE is useless for research is an attempt to misrepresent the value of TOE to other researchers. Creationists can choose not to use it – that’s their choice. They can teach their kids that they don’t use it. But it is both factually wrong and malicious to try and make kids believe that other researchers don’t use it.

  57. mrg drivels,
    –“Gettin’ him to talk is easy. It’s gettin’ him to SHUT UP that’s hard!”–

    mrg, you are the one who won’t shut up. You just keep kicking dead horses.

    – from mrg (March 3, 2009 at 12:03 pm) –
    –Oh … lest anyone think this guy has any clues as to what he’s talking about … while use of complex exponentials in AC circuit analysis is probably the simplest (to the point of crude) and most common by far use of complex math, complex math has far more usage in the EE than that.–

    mrg, you stupid troll, that has nothing to do with the points I was trying to make — I said that the use of complex-number math in AC circuit analysis is abstract and not intuitive. And I am aware that there are other uses of complex-number math in engineering, e.g., the Joukowski transformation of conformal mapping, where the aerodynamics of rotating cylinders is used to analyze the aerodynamics of fixed-wing airfoils.

    –Stability of filters and feedback systems by analysis of poles and zeros in the complex plane comes to mind … it’s ugly, don’t ask. –

    So you are arguing my point for me — that there are engineering applications of complex-number ,math that are even more abstract and less intuitive than AC circuit analysis?

    My discussion about complex-number math in engineering was just a minor point and you are trying to blow it up into something big. I never intended to make anything big about it, you disgusting troll.

    –And I sitting here literally laughing at the proclamation that “complex math just happened to an abstract mathematical procedure that could be used to describe current-voltage phase shifts in AC circuits”. –

    It’s not just for determining phase shifts — it’s also for determining peak current values, analyzing resonance, etc..

    KP Says (March 3, 2009 at 2:16 pm) –
    –So the first quote of Skell’s that Arthur presents . . . .shows blatant ignorance–

    I think that Skell is just talking about the fossil record.

  58. eric says (March 3, 2009 at 3:17 pm)
    –First, that is not censorship. No one is arguing your right to have your own web page, and you DONT have an absolute right to decide the content of other people’s web pages. –

    Florida Citizens for Science blogger Brandon Haught did not say that I was cluttering up his blog with off-topic stuff — he said that my ideas about coevolution would have to be approved by “experts” before I could post those ideas on his blog! Now THAT is censorship! See –

    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2008/04/co-evolution-theory-censored-by-florida.html

    –The creationist argument that TOE is useless for research is an attempt to misrepresent the value of TOE to other researchers.–

    As I said, I believe in flexible thinking.

  59. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says:

    it has nothing to do with semiconductors!

    Seems you have a reading comprehension problem, since I didn’t say so. In fact, I specifically mention it as another area to consider (of semiconductor devices in electronics). [I really should know - both my MSc in engineering and my PhD is in electronics.]

    As for the rest of your comment, you ignored the math and physics to instead restate your misapprehensions of the subjects. There is no reasoning with those who can’t, or refuse, to reason.

    But to leave you with some potential food for your thought then: just because you personally doesn’t understand a subject doesn’t mean that aspects of it can’t be intuitive for those who do.

    [To restate: smoothness (i.e. existence and continuity of derivatives) and finiteness are natural requirements on physical solutions, from which one can easily intuit the requirement of analyticity, which directly leads to math on the complex plane.]

  60. mrg says:

    I am glad to hear that LF said he really didn’t have any significant point to make in his reference to the use of complex math in electric circuit analysis. Since there’s about as much profound to say on that subject as for, say … sheet-metal fabrication or
    design of concrete forms … we are in agreement.

    Cheers — MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

  61. Torbjörn Larsson barfed,
    –But to leave you with some potential food for your thought then: just because you personally doesn’t understand a subject doesn’t mean that aspects of it can’t be intuitive for those who do.–

    Bozo, I referred readers to a webpage on AC circuit analysis using complex-number math so that they could judge for themselves whether it is intuitive or not.

    You are a stupid ignoramus who is just trying to play one-upmanship, so my last word to you is to go to hell, dunghill.

  62. mrg says:

    Sure you don’t want a nice hot cup of decaf?

  63. mrg says:

    I got to thinking that design of concrete forms can get entirely nontrivial. Think of the headaches for designing the forms for the Sydney Opera House.

  64. Stephen Wells says:

    Why not have a go at Clifford algebras? The Clifford algebra of 3-D Euclidean space generates three bivectors and a trivector, and all four of those objects square to -1. Clifford algebra of 2-D Euclidean plane as a single bivector which squares to -1 and complex math is completely intuitive.

    Larry should stop projecting his cognitive deficits onto the rest of the world.

  65. eric says:

    Larry said:

    “[Brandon Haught] said that my ideas about coevolution would have to be apporved by “experts” before Icould post those ideas on his blog!”

    Larry, your claim of censorship is refuted by the words “his blog.” Its his. He controls the content on his page, just as you control the content on your page.

    If a missionary comes to your door, you have the right to refuse him entry. Because its your house. That’s not censorship. And that situation is exactly analogous to what FCS is doing: they are refusing you entry to their virtual house. If you can’t see that your censorship claim is spurious, I’m not going to argue with you further.

  66. –Larry, your claim of censorship is refuted by the words “his blog.” Its his. He controls the content on his page, just as you control the content on your page. –

    Eric, you stupid Darwinist dummox, if Brandon Haught had said that he didn’t want me to discuss coevolution because it was off-topic, I would have been fine with that, but he said I had to get my ideas approved by “experts” before I could post them on his blog! That is especially ridiculous because my ideas about coevolution are non-technical (except for some easily defined terminology) and can be easily understood by anyone! `The issue wasn’t blog content — the issue was that no one could refute my simple arguments!

    –If you can’t see that your censorship claim is spurious, I’m not going to argue with you further. –

    Well, then don’t argue with me further, you stupid Darwinist sack of #$(@&*. That’s fine with me.

  67. DaveS says:

    NEWSFLASH:

    ID doesn’t dispute common descent from one or more common ancestors over the course of billions of years. Just ask Mike Behe if he has a problem with that. The bone of contention is not that all known forms of life are deeply related rather it is that law and chance alone are insufficient to account for it all.

  68. Dave R says:

    DaveS

    Strawman alert. Nobody is claiming that we can “account for it all.” As soon as we are able to “account for it all”, evolutionary science is a dead research area. However, contrary to what you might imagine, there is a lot of it that can be accounted for. So please give up the pretension that it is all accounted for, or please give us your explanation of how life’s diversity came about using the think-poof scenario envisaged by IDists, including Mike Behe.

    Chirp chirp chirp

  69. Arthur Hunt says:

    The bone of contention is not that all known forms of life are deeply related rather it is that law and chance alone are insufficient to account for it all.

    The bone of contention is Skell’s article, that had nothing to do with “law and chance” and everything to do with Skell’s claims that the study and understanding of the history of biological organisms makes no contributions to other fields of biological research.

    I recommend that DaveS go back and read what Skell actually wrote. Pay close attention to Skell’s own opinions as to what passes for evolutionary biology.

  70. Stephen Wells says:

    Why, exactly are natural processes insufficient to account for what’s observed in nature? ID has tried to claim that natural evolution can’t produce “irreducibly complex” structures, and we know that this is false, as the property of “interlocking complexity”- the same thing- is a _prediction_ of evolutionary theory (Muller, 1918). ID was obsolete before it ever began.

  71. rayjs says:

    “ID doesn’t dispute common descent from one or more common ancestors over the course of billions of years.”

    Well of course ID doesn’t dispute it. ID is so vague that it can’t take a position on the subject!

    Consider this: “ID doesn’t dispute creation ex nihilo less than 10,000 years ago.”

    This statement is just as true as the first so the fact is that ID can’t distinguish between these two statements. What kind of allegedly scientific theory can’t distinguish between diametrically opposed alternatives?

    Glorious vagueness!

    ID survives only because it’s so bloody vague. But because it’s so vague it has no explantory power. It can’t explain real-world observations such as degrees of relatedness among species, genetic similarities, biogeographic patterns and sequences of fossils. ID doesn’t even know such things exist!

    Since when did we start accepting vagueness as a character of scientific theories?

  72. Lars says:

    I was impressed with your essay on Douglas Axe’s 2004 article and its conclusions… it seemed an impressive example of fair treatment and restrained tone, in a landscape littered with unrestrained scornful and dismissive criticism of ID.

    So I’m disappointed to see this essay begin by adopting unnecessarily loaded words like ‘regurgitate’. My estimation of Hunt’s willingness to fairly consider ID arguments has gone down.

  73. Lars says:

    @rayjs:
    Einstein’s general theory of relativity also doesn’t distinguish between the two hypotheses you mentioned… they are outside its scope. That doesn’t make the theory vague.

  74. Lars says:

    > Of course, a far simpler response to the idiots who want to believe that evolution can’t contribute to biomedical research is to ask them about any useful scientific contributions from creationism or intelligent design.

    Start with Linnaeus’ taxonomic system, which was based on creationist assumptions and motivations. The article on which this essay is based relies on the system Linnaeus founded. Event the abstract uses it four times: “phylum Apicomplexa”, “Toxoplasma gondii”, etc.

  75. Lars says:

    Your point is well taken that working under a theory of common descent, indeed an evolutionary theory, motivated the discovery of similarity between these organelles, which in turn led to promising research into therapies.

    On the other hand, the discovery depended directly on shared characteristics, and only secondarily on assumed evolutionary history. Similar discoveries have been made under creationist assumptions as well, which also lead to a theory of common characteristics, due to common design (in the case of Linnaeus’ Systema Natura, due to a divine order).

    So research motivated by assumptions of common descent (e.g. under evo theory) can lead to discoveries of common structures and functions, which in turn can lead to significant medical advances. And ID proponents would do well to bear this in mind. But evo theory and even common descent are not necessary for those discoveries, as competing hypotheses can and have also led to discoveries of common structures and functions, which in turn can lead to significant medical advances. If Kohler, Delwiche et al. had been performing their phylogenetic analysis under e.g. Linnean (non-evolutionary) assumptions, how would their research have been any less directed or robust?
    I don’t see any evidence from the above that evolutionary assumptions helped them. The key to the discovery was finding a relatedness between two biological structures in different organisms — an area of investigation that began centuries before Darwin and does not depend on common descent or natural selection.

  76. Lars says:

    I now have read Deamiter’s comment, which overlaps a lot with my previous comment, and I read your reply in comment 191. So in reply to 191:

    the evolutionary relatedness

    Or in less question-begging terms: the relatedness

    of the apicoplast and chloroplast is not something that jumps out at you. You don’t look at a micrograph of a malaria parasite and say “wow! a chloroplast”. It took some very clever insight and good experimentation to discover this fascinating tidbit.

    It seems to me that this is key to your criticism of Skell. So can you tell us what experimentation and insight, that would not also be motivated by other theories, led to the discovery of relatedness? We sometimes forget that evolutionists do not have a monopoly on research into genetic similarities between organisms.

    In my opinion, a design-based approach misses this completely…because design is predicated on function and utility, and the parasite has nothing that approximates the function of a chloroplast.

    Since when is design predicated only on function and utility? And again, by contrast, what was Kohler et al’s approach based on that helped their discovery, and which was unique to an evolutionary approach? Common descent doesn’t count unless it contributes something distinct from general relatedness or similarity between organisms or structures.

  77. Arthur Hunt says:

    Hi Lars,

    You asked:

    It seems to me that this is key to your criticism of Skell. So can you tell us what experimentation and insight, that would not also be motivated by other theories, led to the discovery of relatedness? We sometimes forget that evolutionists do not have a monopoly on research into genetic similarities between organisms.

    I’m afraid that I don’t understand your question.

    If perchance you are trying to say that ideas other than deep common ancestry might conceivably had led to the discovery I describe in my essay, I guess the only thing I can do is point out that such hypotheticals are but armchair musings. The fact of the matter is that ’twas Darwinian ideas, through and through, that actually led to these remarkable discoveries. This fact suffices to make my point (which was to refute Skell’s claims).

    Since when is design predicated only on function and utility?

    What else is there?

    As aside (that I’ll admit, was a motivation for continuing this discussion) – you said on UD that you will be asking Meyer about this essay. If you don’t mind, bring his comments over to this blog. Clive Hayden waits until my comments will not appear on the current comments tab on UD, which sometimes can take a day or more. And that is if he allows my comments to fly. If you want me to participate in a discussion about Meyer’s reactions, it’s best done here.

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