A commenter on this site, Kinuachdrach, has made a few comments on this posting, making a whole load of assertions about Darwinism, none of which I recognise as being true of any Darwinist writing I have ever read, and being generically insulting to Darwinists, amongst whose number I count myself. I am hereby exercising my property rights and elevating this discussion to a posting of its own. So, feel free to join in.
I guess you should read his comments first.
Ah, wtf, read the whole thread.
This is my reaction to his most recent comments.
Darwinists and Anthropogenic Global Warmers are on the same actively anti-scientific page.
K, you keep using the term Darwinist to describe views I have never encountered in any discussion of Darwinian theory. Are you able to back this up, or is this just, to use your words, a straw man for you to whip with wet spaghetti? Seriously. You keep ascribing views to Darwinists that I find anathema. Either put up or stop insulting me, Darwinist that I am. Hell even having to use that title is absurd, after all, who describes themselves an a Newtonist or an Archimedian, an Einsteinist or a Lorenzist? I am a scientifically trained and logically minded individual who finds Darwins hypothesis attractive, the data convincing, and the implications mindblowingly glorious. How does that jibe with your characterisations?
And people who are brain dead can take classes in Darwinism that start from the unexamined assumption that random chance explains everything.
Where? Brain Dead? Sneering insult again? Ok, If that is what they are being taught then they are not being taught Darwinism, that assumption forms no part of the theory. If that’s what you have been taught Darwinism is, then you have been badly misinformed.
Darwinism makes no assumptions about the source of variation (genetics is a very different field of study) and the selection? It may be natural, but it’s neither random nor chancy.
It seems that most of the people who critique Intelligent Design don’t have a clue what they are talking about. They build a straw man out of their own misconceptions and then assault that straw man. Very leftist!
K, you keep making assertions without producing evidence, and making claims about Darwinian thought which are foreign to anything I have ever encountered, and then you issue critiques on them. And you accuse me of erecting and assaulting a straw man?
It’s a long time since I have been called a leftist, although it has happened, much to my amusement at the time. What you need to remember at sites like this is that the Left/Darwinist vs Right/non Darwinist dispute is peculiar to America. Once you leave those shores this becomes a matter of intellectual discussion divorced from politics. In general, here with me in Australia, or with Nick in the UK, most people, regardless of their politics, are as satisfied with Darwin as they are with Einstein.
There is no such thing as settled science — in contrast to what warm-mongers and Darwinists claim.
I repeat, and you accuse me of erecting and assaulting a straw man? Where do Darwinists make this claim? Seriously? I have NEVER seen it.
There are clear problems with the inability of Darwinism to make testable predictions,
Sigh, this is a Dracula argument. It doesn’t matter how often it is beaten down and staked, it keeps coming back:
I refer you to:
references given for each point. As will be seen, universal common descent makes many specific predictions about what should and what should not be observed in the biological world, and it has fared very well against empirically-obtained observations from the past 140+ years of intense scientific investigation.In the following list of evidences, 30 major predictions of the hypothesis of common descent are enumerated and discussed. Under each point is a demonstration of how the prediction fares against actual biological testing. Each point lists a few examples of evolutionary confirmations followed by potential falsifications. Since one fundamental concept generates all of these predictions, most of them are interrelated. So that the logic will be easy to follow, related predictions are grouped into five separate subdivisions. Each subdivision has a paragraph or two introducing the main idea that unites the various predictions in that section. There are many in-text
Scriven, M. Explanation and Prediction in Evolutionary Theory. Science, New Series, Vol 130, No. 3374 (Aug. 28, 1959), pp 477-482
From that catchall for the lazy researcher, Wikipedia:
- Genetic information must be transmitted in a molecular way that will be almost exact but permit slight changes. Since this prediction was made, biologists have discovered the existence of DNA, which has a mutation rate of roughly 10−9 per nucleotide per cell division; this provides just such a mechanism.
- Some DNA sequences are shared by very different organisms. It has been predicted by the theory of evolution that the differences in such DNA sequences between two organisms should roughly resemble both the biological difference between them according to their anatomy and the time that had passed since these two organisms have separated in the course of evolution, as seen in fossil evidence. The rate of accumulating such changes should be low for some sequences, namely those that code for critical RNA or proteins, and high for others that code for less critical RNA or proteins; but for every specific sequence, the rate of change should be roughly constant over time. These results have been experimentally confirmed. Two examples are DNA sequences coding for rRNA, which is highly conserved, and DNA sequences coding forfibrinopeptides (amino acid chains that are discarded during the formation of fibrin), which are highly non-conserved.
- Prior to 2004, paleontologists had found fossils of amphibians with necks, ears, and four legs, in rock no older than 365 million years old. In rocks more than 385 million years old they could only find fish, without these amphibian characteristics. Evolutionary theory predicted that since amphibians evolved from fish, an intermediate form should be found in rock dated between 365 and 385 million years ago. Such an intermediate form should have many fish-like characteristics, conserved from 385 million years ago or more, but also have many amphibian characteristics as well. In 2004, an expedition to islands in the Canadian arctic searching specifically for this fossil form in rocks that were 375 million years old discovered fossils of Tiktaalik.
- Evolutionary theory predicts that novel inventions can arise, while creationists predict that new "information" cannot arise, and that the Second Law of Thermodynamics only allows for "information" to be lost. In an ongoing experiment, Richard Lenski observed that E. coli evolved the ability to metabolize citrate, which constitutes a novel invention, and an increase in the information of the DNA of the E. coli.
The claim that Darwinism can’t make testable predictions is not just absurd, it is contrary to the evidence and insulting to the intelligence of the listener.
and with its inability to explain the punctuated equilibrium seen in the fossil record.
Now, this one really is a gift to me. Thank you. I don’t even have to go to Wikipedia.
I don’t know who trained you, but I do suggest you go get your money back. The punctuated equilibrium hypothesis is a Darwinian formulation, first put forward by Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge in a 1972 paper as an explanation for the observed gap in the fossil record you referred to. Personally, I think it is a brilliant piece of work. Brilliant in its simplicity. Like Darwinism itself. Not really any room for its details here, but I can go into it later if you wish. For reference, Gould, until his death, was one of the worlds best known Darwinian theorists, author of a vast number of popular articles on biology, and had a long term dislike of Dawkins argument that the gene was the unit of selection. Sometimes scathing in fact; he much preferred the more traditional view that the entire phenotype, as expressed in the whole body, was that unit.
See? Two experts, at the top of the tree, arguing about central issues. Nothing settled there.
Natural selection is a very reasonable hypothesis, but it fails to explain the world around us.
Given that both examples you have given for this failure have both failed as examples I suggest you rethink this statement.
Personally, I doubt that Intelligent Design does an adequate job of explaining the world either. But it may be that both Darwinism and Intelligent Design are blind men touching different parts of the same elephant. We need to stick to the scientific method, and gradually improve our understanding of the world.
You are right, we do need to stick to the scientific method. That’s why I am sticking with Darwinism until something better comes along. And from what I have seen, ID isn’t that something better.
In all of this you have knocked Darwinism with the most risible criticisms, but you have not given one single justification why Intelligent Design is an acceptable alternative, or co process. Can you? Or is your entire strategy for promoting ID based on nothing bar misrepresenting Darwinism?
The last thing we need is a libertarian version of left-wing anti-scientific Political Correctness, deeming certain things to be unalterable truths and other things to be impermissible lines of inquiry.
This is not the United States. This is an Anglo-Australian blog and on that basis it is exclusively a matter of science. To us there is nothing political about this issue. To us, left and right simply don’t come into it. But, if you insist in thinking in those terms, I am a right wing Darwinist, as is Nick, as, I suspect, will be most other people who come here (although I prefer libertarian or anti statist to right wing, these wing thingies are too simplistic).
No one is trying to shut anyone down, no one is being Politically Correct, but if you are happy to insult me to the extent you have, expect to be asked to justify yourself. And with something better than assertion.
Update: I have read some stuff on ID, but not for a long while. I’ll do you a deal; I’ll read an ID book of your choice, no conditions, but I would regard it as courteous if you were to agree to read The Selfish Gene in return.