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Author Topic:   Evidence for Evolution: Whale evolution
Percy
Member
Posts: 15680
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 226 of 443 (782566)
04-26-2016 6:56 AM
Reply to: Message 225 by AlphaOmegakid
04-25-2016 6:55 PM


Re: The Real Evidence of Whale Bones
AllphaOmegakid writes:

Percy writes:

If you presented this picture to random people and asked what the red arrow was pointing at, I doubt anyone would have a clue:

I agree 100%.

Why are you saying you agree when you obviously don't? Despite that the whale in the image is a blurry mess (how many people would even make out the flukes), you did this to it and embarked upon a detailed analysis:

If you presented this picture to random people and asked what the bones are, I doubt anyone would have a clue:

The point about your whale image is that you're overanalyzing it because it is very blurry. This image is labeled with very good clarity and so is not subject to that problem.

It also makes no sense that you think no one would "have a clue" what is in that image. It has bilateral symmetry of two long bones with what look like shoulder blades or a clavicle or a pelvis, so most people are going to guess front or rear legs. And if you inverted the orientation so it looked like this or anything similar:

Still legs.

Your problems with language and logic are displaying themselves again.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 225 by AlphaOmegakid, posted 04-25-2016 6:55 PM AlphaOmegakid has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 227 by AlphaOmegakid, posted 04-26-2016 9:32 AM Percy has responded
 Message 232 by Blue Jay, posted 04-26-2016 12:22 PM Percy has responded

    
AlphaOmegakid
Member (Idle past 373 days)
Posts: 564
From: The city of God
Joined: 06-25-2008


Message 227 of 443 (782579)
04-26-2016 9:32 AM
Reply to: Message 226 by Percy
04-26-2016 6:56 AM


Re: The Real Evidence of Whale Bones
Percy writes:

Why are you saying you agree when you obviously don't?

Because I do!.

I know you don't like what I say. And you want to rework it into something that works for you. But please stop distorting my words. I can't make this any clearer. I said I agree 100%. No one is going to think "legs" when they look at that picture of a whale. Once again you imply a strawman without citing my words, but interjecting you own. That's your deficient logic and poor reading skills, not mine.

Despite that the whale in the image is a blurry mess (how many people would even make out the flukes)
My guess is the vast majority.

you did this to it and embarked upon a detailed analysis:
Yes, of the length. Nothing else. The length can be ascertained from the image. I'm sorry you can't comprehend that.

The point about your whale image is that you're over analyzing it because it is very blurry.
Blurry camera images are used in forensics all the time to identify various important features. A length of 2 foot versus 4 foot can be unequivocally identified on blurry images. That's an error of 100%. Your logic isn't very good on this.

Percy writes:

so most people are going to guess front or rear legs.

Continuing with your baseless claims I see.

Still legs.
Let the brainwashing continue!

Edited by AlphaOmegakid, : No reason given.

Edited by AlphaOmegakid, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 226 by Percy, posted 04-26-2016 6:56 AM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 228 by Percy, posted 04-26-2016 10:26 AM AlphaOmegakid has not yet responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 15680
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 228 of 443 (782589)
04-26-2016 10:26 AM
Reply to: Message 227 by AlphaOmegakid
04-26-2016 9:32 AM


Re: The Real Evidence of Whale Bones
Trying to convince people through evidence and argument is exactly the right approach, but you're mixing in heavy doses of language confusion, illogic and attempted mockery. This makes resolving even simple issues so impossible that people eventually throw up their hands and walk away. Walking away for now...

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 227 by AlphaOmegakid, posted 04-26-2016 9:32 AM AlphaOmegakid has not yet responded

    
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 195 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 229 of 443 (782601)
04-26-2016 11:27 AM
Reply to: Message 224 by AlphaOmegakid
04-25-2016 5:54 PM


Re: A Whale of a Tale!
Hi, AOkid.

You sure spend a lot of time expounding on irrelevant details.

Did you notice the part in that post where I agreed with you? This part:

Blue Jay writes:

That said, I had noticed that Andrews' and Ruck's claims differed in that regard: Andrews seems to be assuming that 4'2" was the measurement of the total limb, rather than the measurement of the limb's extension from the body, and that the "femoral cartilage" was, in fact, entirely internal.

I really don't understand what's going on here: you keep interpreting everything I say as if I'm just out to get you and pull the wool over your eyes, even when I directly and clearly say that I agree with you.

Let me say it a little more directly: Andrews clearly thought Mr Ruck was wrong about the entire limb being 4' 2" from the body.

In fact, let me reiterate where I said this exact thing in the first full post I wrote about the Andrews paper:

Blue Jay writes:

I actually find this argument to be at least somewhat compelling. The photographed bones seem to be consistent with humpback phalanges in size and shape, and the leg seems shorter than the claimed 4' 2".

Message 192

Blue Jay writes:

That said, I wouldn't guess that this "leg" is much longer than three feet. It's possible that the 4' 2" was not measured from the body, but from the base of the "leg" that was buried inside the body; in which case the claimed measurements would be perfectly consistent with the reported measurements from Roy Chapman Andrews; but it's pretty much impossible to verify that.

Message 192

And how many times have I repeated that I find the hoax hypothesis plausible? I agree that the limb is shorter than Mr Ruck claimed. I agree that Andrews thought it was too short. And I agree that the whalers might have been pulling a hoax.

Where I diverge from you is in how strong I believe that case for your hoax hypothesis is. Consider this alternative scenario:

Mr Ruck, whaling boss, is writing his letter to Francis Kermode, BC museum director, about his find. He looks over his shoulder at the man behind him, and says, "Hey, Ralph, how long did you say this thing was before it shrunk?"

Ralph responds, "I don't know, but the guys on the dock measured it. They said it stuck out four foot two inches from the body."

Mr Ruck says, "Oh yeah, that sounds right: I remember that number."

And so Mr Ruck writes that the limb stuck out 4' 2" from the body, when in fact the measurement had been the total length of the limb.

Of course, our intrepid Dr Roy Chapman Andrews (aka Indiana Jones) examines the bones and decides that it is more likely that 4' 2" is the measurement from the pelvic attachment, not from the body wall. However, he only alludes to this fact obliquely in his manuscript, possibly because he is a post-Victorian gentleman who is friends with and partially indebted to Mr Ruck, and does not wish to offend him by being more direct; or because he considers it too minor a point to dwell on in a manuscript about a frickin' whale with legs.

See, it's not hard to interpolate hypothetical motives and narratives from the available evidence. The facts can be quite harmoniously fit together in several different ways. Your insistence on one specific narrative --- specifically, the one that validates your conspiracy theory --- is a clear indicator of your pre-existing bias, a nothing more. Good luck convincing the hypothetical jury that your conspiracy inference is superior to the alternative inferences.

AOkid writes:

There's an old saying...Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me! Blue Jay you should be shamed.

I feel like I've done a pretty bang-up job at being objective here. Sure, I've been a jerk at times; but I've also admitted several mistakes I've made, conceded to you when I was wrong or when I didn't know how to answer your arguments, and have clearly and repeatedly stated that my preferred hypothesis may not be correct.

On the other hand, you have never (as far as I'm aware) admitted even the slightest possibility that you might be wrong about even the most insignificant details, have repeatedly accused everyone else of incompetence and dishonesty when they disagree with you, and have now gone off on a condescending and insulting tirade when you apparently failed to recognize that I had agreed with you.

And yet, somehow you think I'm the one who's more likely to have been deceived and misled?


-Blue Jay, Ph.D.*

*Yeah, it's real

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 224 by AlphaOmegakid, posted 04-25-2016 5:54 PM AlphaOmegakid has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 230 by AlphaOmegakid, posted 04-26-2016 11:51 AM Blue Jay has not yet responded
 Message 231 by AlphaOmegakid, posted 04-26-2016 11:56 AM Blue Jay has responded

  
AlphaOmegakid
Member (Idle past 373 days)
Posts: 564
From: The city of God
Joined: 06-25-2008


Message 230 of 443 (782603)
04-26-2016 11:51 AM
Reply to: Message 229 by Blue Jay
04-26-2016 11:27 AM


Re: A Whale of a Tale!
Admonishment acknowledged.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 229 by Blue Jay, posted 04-26-2016 11:27 AM Blue Jay has not yet responded

  
AlphaOmegakid
Member (Idle past 373 days)
Posts: 564
From: The city of God
Joined: 06-25-2008


Message 231 of 443 (782605)
04-26-2016 11:56 AM
Reply to: Message 229 by Blue Jay
04-26-2016 11:27 AM


Re: A Whale of a Tale!
My apologies if I offended you. My claim is not that it is a hoax, or a fraud, but there is no scientific evidence regarding atavism here. The evidence doesn't hold up to scrutiny and at a minimum it is untrustworthy. Someone is wrong, and it could be both Andrews and the whalers. Either way, this paper doesn't pass the smell test of "scientific peer review and integrity".
This message is a reply to:
 Message 229 by Blue Jay, posted 04-26-2016 11:27 AM Blue Jay has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 233 by Blue Jay, posted 04-26-2016 1:04 PM AlphaOmegakid has not yet responded

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 195 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 232 of 443 (782607)
04-26-2016 12:22 PM
Reply to: Message 226 by Percy
04-26-2016 6:56 AM


Re: The Real Evidence of Whale Bones
Hi, Percy.

Percy writes:

It also makes no sense that you think no one would "have a clue" what is in that image. It has bilateral symmetry of two long bones with what look like shoulder blades or a clavicle or a pelvis, so most people are going to guess front or rear legs.

I don't know, Percy: this seems overly optimistic. If the bones are presented out of context, it may be quite a lot to expect of your average layperson to recognize such extensively modified leg bones.

But, if presented in context (i.e., in the proper position and orientation on a complete whale skeleton), there's certainly a better chance: a high percentage of people who put a minimum of effort into their examination are likely to guess "leg bones."

But, without any actual data, it's really hard to say.


-Blue Jay, Ph.D.*

*Yeah, it's real

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 226 by Percy, posted 04-26-2016 6:56 AM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 234 by Percy, posted 04-26-2016 3:15 PM Blue Jay has not yet responded

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 195 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 233 of 443 (782609)
04-26-2016 1:04 PM
Reply to: Message 231 by AlphaOmegakid
04-26-2016 11:56 AM


Re: A Whale of a Tale!
Hi, AOkid.

AOkid writes:

My apologies if I offended you.

I'm not offended: I just wanted to reassure you that this is an honest debate, and to be given similar reassurance in response.

AOkid writes:

My claim is not that it is a hoax, or a fraud, but there is no scientific evidence regarding atavism here.

I can certainly acknowledge this point. However, a hoax is really the only viable alternative hypothesis for you. If the extra appendage on the whale and the bones are legitimate, you can't seriously believe that there is a biological explanation that's better than atavism, can you? The coincidences there would be astounding: an appendage that looks like a leg, growing right where a leg should be, given the consensus views on the evolution and homology of whale skeletons. That's the point Andrews was making when he said:

quote:
I am well aware that zoologists are inclined to accept reported instances of reversion with extreme reluctance and that, at first sight, the tendency will be to consider this a teratological case of no reversionary significance, but the evidence is so strong that I can not interpret it in that way.

I agree with his assessment: the only viable hypotheses are (1) atavism, and (2) hoax. Anything other hypothesis begs far too many questions to be granted equal status with these two.

AOkid writes:

The evidence doesn't hold up to scrutiny and at a minimum it is untrustworthy.

I'd say, at a minimum the evidence is imperfect. I don't think you've really made the case that this evidence is untrustworthy: you've raised a couple of "perhapses" that I'm not qualified to fully refute, but I still think these alternatives are less plausible than a simple "game of telephone" error.


-Blue Jay, Ph.D.*

*Yeah, it's real

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 231 by AlphaOmegakid, posted 04-26-2016 11:56 AM AlphaOmegakid has not yet responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 15680
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 234 of 443 (782616)
04-26-2016 3:15 PM
Reply to: Message 232 by Blue Jay
04-26-2016 12:22 PM


Re: The Real Evidence of Whale Bones
Blue Jay writes:

I don't know, Percy: this seems overly optimistic. If the bones are presented out of context, it may be quite a lot to expect of your average layperson to recognize such extensively modified leg bones.

Well, I guess it's often safe to bet against "your average layperson," but it seemed obvious to me because there are no other bilaterally symmetric pair of long bones in your normal quadruped, are there?

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 232 by Blue Jay, posted 04-26-2016 12:22 PM Blue Jay has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 235 by Granny Magda, posted 04-27-2016 7:35 AM Percy has acknowledged this reply

    
Granny Magda
Member
Posts: 2302
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


(4)
Message 235 of 443 (782656)
04-27-2016 7:35 AM
Reply to: Message 234 by Percy
04-26-2016 3:15 PM


Re: The Real Evidence of Whale Bones
Hi Percy,

...there are no other bilaterally symmetric pair of long bones in your normal quadruped, are there?

Which raises an interesting question; do we see these totally-not-atavistic-leg-bones in any tetrapod other than those with reduced or absent limbs? Because if we did see this phenomenon in, say, cats, it would provide superlative evidence for AOKid's theory. But we don't. There are around half a billion cats on the planet and, AFAIK, they don't display anything like this, whereas whales do. Other limb-reduced tetrapods do; snakes for instance show atavistic limbs from time to time.

Seems to me that is a major problem for AOKid's hypothesis. If these features are only seen in tetrapods with reduced/absent limbs, it can only be interpreted as very strong evidence for the evolutionary explanation.

Mutate and Survive


On two occasions I have been asked, – "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" ... I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question. - Charles Babbage

This message is a reply to:
 Message 234 by Percy, posted 04-26-2016 3:15 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply

Replies to this message:
 Message 236 by Blue Jay, posted 04-27-2016 11:01 AM Granny Magda has responded

    
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 195 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 236 of 443 (782668)
04-27-2016 11:01 AM
Reply to: Message 235 by Granny Magda
04-27-2016 7:35 AM


Re: The Real Evidence of Whale Bones
Granny's back!

Granny Magda writes:

Which raises an interesting question; do we see these totally-not-atavistic-leg-bones in any tetrapod other than those with reduced or absent limbs? Because if we did see this phenomenon in, say, cats, it would provide superlative evidence for AOKid's theory. But we don't.

That may be more difficult to prove than you're thinking, though. I mean, what would a cat with this trait look like? It doesn't have any skeletal structure equivalent to a whale's rudimentary pelvis, that could readily develop into aberrant growths or appendages, so it's hard to imagine how this could happen in a cat.

As one approach, I tried googling "six-legged cat," and there were a couple things like these:

They call it "polymelia": growing supernumerary (extra) limbs; and it happens in practically all vertebrates, I think.

The task of supporting your argument involves demonstrating that this kind of deformity is distinguishable from presumed atavistic limbs in whales. There are some distinctions in overall patterns --- for example, the general anatomy of the extra growths is consistent across most cats, but it's variable in whales; while the position on the body is variable in cats, but consistent in whales.

But, in a venture like this, it can get a little tough to tell where the line between distinction and obfuscation lies. That line is kind of where AOkid has been residing: he's arguing that we can't cleanly distinguish atavisms from any other deformity or aberration, and that means we have to dismiss large chunks of data about whale atavisms because of this.

I tried telling him several times that a consistent pattern in data trumps the low quality of the individual data points, but he wasn't buying that: he thinks it's better to look at trees than at the whole forest. So, I'm following him on his tree-hunt for awhile to see what comes of it. We haven't even gotten past the first tree yet!


-Blue Jay, Ph.D.*

*Yeah, it's real

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 235 by Granny Magda, posted 04-27-2016 7:35 AM Granny Magda has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 237 by Granny Magda, posted 04-27-2016 12:22 PM Blue Jay has acknowledged this reply

  
Granny Magda
Member
Posts: 2302
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


(1)
Message 237 of 443 (782672)
04-27-2016 12:22 PM
Reply to: Message 236 by Blue Jay
04-27-2016 11:01 AM


Re: The Real Evidence of Whale Bones
Hi Bluejay, I hope you and yours are well.

It doesn't have any skeletal structure equivalent to a whale's rudimentary pelvis,

Well, except for it's, y'know, pelvis.

I'm aware that supernumerary limbs exist, but I don't think that they do creationists much good here; to form an extra limb, an organism must first have the genes that code for hind limbs. I don't see any reason for whales to have those under AOKid's theory. I seem to recall seeing something about whales having those genes, but I've lost the link.

To be clear, I would not characterise this as a knockdown argument against AOKid's position. I see it more as an absence of a very convenient piece of evidence that could support his ideas. As far as I can tell, it doesn't exist in any of the countless domestic animals with which we are so very familiar. It doesn't destroy his argument, but it sure is inconvenient.

I tried telling him several times that a consistent pattern in data trumps the low quality of the individual data points, but he wasn't buying that: he thinks it's better to look at trees than at the whole forest.

I hear ya. Exactly how much evidence are we supposed to have about whales? How good might we expect the evidence to be with a sparsely populated marine creature? "Not great" would be my answer. And yet we have some examples of limb atavism in cetaceans. Domestic species on the other hand we can observe in their billions, yet I've never seen any weird flank outgrowths that could be compared to whatever-the-heck AOKid thinks these appendages are.

I dunno. It's food for thought.

Mutate and Survive


On two occasions I have been asked, – "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" ... I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question. - Charles Babbage

This message is a reply to:
 Message 236 by Blue Jay, posted 04-27-2016 11:01 AM Blue Jay has acknowledged this reply

Replies to this message:
 Message 239 by AlphaOmegakid, posted 04-28-2016 5:26 PM Granny Magda has responded

    
AlphaOmegakid
Member (Idle past 373 days)
Posts: 564
From: The city of God
Joined: 06-25-2008


Message 238 of 443 (782767)
04-28-2016 5:22 PM


Last comments on Andrews...
This will be my summary regarding the evidence that Andrews presents regarding atavism in a humpback whale. These are his words....

Andrews writes:

The limbs, according to the statements of the whalers, were symmetrical; they are in the exact position in which the hind-limb rudiments have been found in embryonic Megaptera.; there are strong indications that the cartilaginous femur was attached to the pelvic elements; they are homologous in many respects to the flippers, or fore limbs, and, were this a teratological case, it is doubtful if these homologies would exist.

Unwilling as are many evolutionists to accept reported cases of reversion, I can see no other explanation for the facts presented here.

My claim is not as Blue Jay indicates, that this is a "hoax", or as Percy complains about my using the word "fraud". My claim is that there is no scientific evidence of whale hind limb atavism. Now I will examine that claim relative to Andrews' "evidence" from which he can see no other explanation but reversion or atavism.

The limbs, according to the statements of the whalers, were symmetrical;

Well the physical evidence is two bones and two cartilages which are all connected, and one picture. The physical evidence of the bones is not symmetrical. The picture also just shows one "leg". The physical evidence of the picture does not warrant a symmetrical claim. So there is no physical evidence of symmetry.

So now we are down to the testimony of the whalers. I have shown by pure geometry that the image does not represent the claim of the whalers that the leg is "4 feet 2 inches long from the body." (I will present more on this in the future). Apparently Andrews also does not deem this testimony accurate or trustworthy, because two times he infers that the physical "leg" only sticks out 35 inches from the body and 15 inches is inside.

So regarding the whalers claim of symmetry, there is no scientific evidence to warrant this claim.

they are in the exact position in which the hind-limb rudiments have been found in embryonic Megaptera.

This claim refers to the only paper that Andrews cites, from Professor Kukenthal. I have supplied the actual image from the pdf file from Andrews' paper, because there are some manual edits here by the AMNH NY.

You will notice that the lengths of the "hind limb rudiments" have been manually marked through signifying an "inaccuracy." Kukenthal reeks of the essence of Haeckel. Kukenthal claims that these embryos at stage I have a hind lim length of 12mm and at stage II 9mm and at stage III the rudiments are back to a "papillae".

Well we now know this is false. It was a lie from the beginning and a damned lie at that. A lie that led poor unskeptical Mr. Andrews to a false inference. At most these embryos have a bud beside the genital which is 1-2 mm long maximum. This is much like the dolphin. No limbs ever form. The bud eventually decreases in size.

A study of humpback whale embryos was published in 1960 by Stump et al.

This paper provides about 70 images of embryos and parts of embryos. From this image you can see the hind bud. This embryo is ESN57 and it is 30 mm long. The bud is about 1.5mm long. Never does the bud form limbs just like in the dolphin embryos. There is also an image showing how the p-bone cartilage starts forming substantially internal to the bud.

So the evidence shows that Kukenthal's embryos were fictitious like Haeckel's. Therefore, Andrews inferences regarding these embryos is also false. Even the AMNH NY realizes this, and to my knowledge, no other paper cites Kukenthal. . There is no scientific evidence of whale embryonic hind limbs forming.

there are strong indications that the cartilaginous femur was attached to the pelvic elements

Oh really? Where is it? Here is what Andrews says...

FEMUR.-The larger bone is deeply concave proximally and to it is
attached a massive cartilage (Fig. 3) which, in its present shrunken
condition, is 5 1/4 inches in length and 1 5/8 inches wide. I estimate that
this cartilage was at least 15 inches long and 3 inches wide when fresh.
I believe that this cartilage represents the femur. It probably lay
entirely within the body, its proximal end being attached to the pelvic
vestiges. Such a massive cartilage must necessarily have had a firm
support and leads me to believe that the pelvic elements in this individual
were of extraordinary size. The pelvic bones, as usually present in
the Megaptera, are slender ossifications about 6 or 8 inches in length
and would not furnish a firm enough base for the attachment of a
cartilage which, in its fresh condition, was as large as a man's wrist.

There is no evidence that these bones were attached to the p-bone of the humpback whale. Only wild inferences from circular reasoning used by Andrews. The only evidence is his wild imagination.

they are homologous in many respects to the flippers, or fore limbs, and, were this a teratological case, it is doubtful if these homologies would exist.

Doubtful, why? If this was polymelia, since humpback whales do not have hind legs, we would fully expect the bones to be homologous with the front flippers. What would be doubtful, is that the bones and cartilage would look almost identical to the phalanges in a humpback whale this size! And this is where the "hoax" hypothesis comes from. However, It is unreasonable to assume that there is no other explanation if these really were bones forming homologous to the front flippers. This is a silly inference from Andrews and it comes from extreme confirmation bias. Unfortunately, all the evidence Andrews sees in his mind is from extreme confirmation bias, because he has not shown one ounce of critical thinking regarding the whaler's story, the picture, and the analysis of the "legs". This is a clear case of confirmation bias, where there is literally no physical evidence of atavism, and the testimonial evidence is highly questionable.


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AlphaOmegakid
Member (Idle past 373 days)
Posts: 564
From: The city of God
Joined: 06-25-2008


Message 239 of 443 (782768)
04-28-2016 5:26 PM
Reply to: Message 237 by Granny Magda
04-27-2016 12:22 PM


Re: The Real Evidence of Whale Bones
Hi Granny,

Well, except for it's, y'know, pelvis.

I think if you look closely at the first cat, the legs are most likley not forming from the pelvis.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 237 by Granny Magda, posted 04-27-2016 12:22 PM Granny Magda has responded

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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 195 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 240 of 443 (782830)
04-29-2016 10:36 AM
Reply to: Message 238 by AlphaOmegakid
04-28-2016 5:22 PM


Re: Last comments on Andrews...
Hi, AOkid.

AOkid writes:

My claim is not as Blue Jay indicates, that this is a "hoax", or as Percy complains about my using the word "fraud". My claim is that there is no scientific evidence of whale hind limb atavism. Now I will examine that claim relative to Andrews' "evidence" from which he can see no other explanation but reversion or atavism.

Your dedication to rigorous methodology is commendable, but I think you're completely overlooking a huge chunk of the philosophy of science. One of the main rules is that abstention isn't allowed. It's okay to say, "I don't know" when you legitimately don't know something, but the entire purpose of the scientific method is basically to allow us to make decisions when we don't really know the right answers. Everything is tentative, but nothing is left at "I don't know."

So, I'm making a decision here about this whale. Is this an atavism, or is it a hoax, or what? I don't know. But, now that we've established that I don't know, the next step is to decide what we're going to do. You advocate dismissing the evidence as if it never existed: I advocate using reason to find the best available explanation, and stick with that until another explanation becomes better.

I can think of three possible hypotheses:

  1. Atavism
  2. Hoax
  3. Other deformity that resembles an atavism

Basically, my task is to decide which of them should be my "null hypothesis," or the explanation I default to in the absence of other evidence. Remember, abstention isn't allowed: I can't just pretend this evidence doesn't exist, because it clearly exists, and requires an explanation.

So, how do I decide?

Well, Occam's razor gives me an a priori reason to prefer "atavism" over "other deformity that resembles an atavism," so clearly "other deformity that resembles an atavism" cannot be my null hypothesis: I would need some real compelling evidence to explain why a non-atavistic deformity just happens to look like an atavism.

It's a little more difficult to decide between "atavism" and "hoax": both are viable, and neither is inherently preferable in terms of Occam's razor; so I need to look in a little more detail here.

So, what evidence can we find for the "atavism" hypothesis? Well, the general morphology of the whale's growth is consistent with an atavistic leg, and an expert identified it as probably atavistic. And aberrant pelvic-region growths seem to occur repeatedly in cetaceans (and in other vertebrates that lack hind limbs). This is all circumstantial, but it does lend some weight.

What is the evidence for the "hoax" hypothesis? Well, the whalers' reported measurement was apparently wrong. And you claim that whalers sometimes played practical jokes on naturalists. And, Roy Chapman Andrews was a bit of a showman. Oh, and two non-experts think the bones look a bit like whale phalanges. Clearly, none of this evidence is smoking-gun quality either. In fact, it's all pretty damn weak.

On balance, the "atavism" hypothesis looks like the best explanation to me, even though the evidence isn't exceptionally great. But, if I were forced to decide (like someone had a gun to my head or something), I'd feel marginally safer betting on atavism at this point. So, that's my null hypothesis.

And, that's science. Yay!

AlphaOmegakid writes:

You will notice that the lengths of the "hind limb rudiments" have been manually marked through signifying an "inaccuracy." Kukenthal reeks of the essence of Haeckel. Kukenthal claims that these embryos at stage I have a hind limb length of 12mm and at stage II 9mm and at stage III the rudiments are back to a "papillae">

Well, we now know this is false. Is was a lie from the beginning and a damned lie at that.

Lots of people are wrong about stuff without lying, AOkid. Can you please stop immediately concluding "lie" or "fraud" every time you find something that's wrong? There are a lot of explanations for things like this:

  1. Kükenthal lied.
  2. Andrews lied.
  3. Kükenthal made a mistake.
  4. Andrews misread or misquoted Kükenthal's paper.
  5. A typesetter accidentally left out a decimal point.

Incidentally, I was able to access the Kükenthal source here. Would you like to know what it says? Well, so would I, but I can't read German. But, here's a line that looks a little promising:

quote:
Die Länge jeder Anlage beträgt 1,2 mm, ihre Breite an der Basis 0,9 mm.

Google offers this translation:

quote:
The length of each plant is 1.2 mm, the width of the base 0.9 mm.

I can't actually vouch for the accuracy of Google's German here, but this really doesn't sound like a comparison of the lengths of limb buds in Stadium I and Stadium II embryos. The words "embryo," "Stadium I" and "Stadium II" do appear in the paragraph, and the numbers "12 mm" and "9 mm" do not appear anywhere in the source; so my guess is that Andrews simply misreported these numbers. Maybe he didn't know that Europeans use commas for decimal places, or maybe his typesetter thought it was an error and "corrected" it.

At any rate, there's no evidence of fraud or dishonesty here, and it obviously wasn't on the part of Mr Kükenthal anyway. So, you apparantly just impugned the integrity and insulted the odor of a competent scientist, all because of your own failure to look things up.

But, aside from all that, you've once again missed the forest for the trees. The reason Andrews mentioned this at all is because it shows that whale embryos have hind limb buds like any other mammal embryo, and that the buds disappear at a very early stage. This offered a very plausible hypothesis for the abnormal growth from Mr Ruck's whale: abnormal hind limb buds that didn't disappear like normal, but partially developed into leg-like growths. Evidence of such hind-limb buds really strengthens the case for the atavism hypothesis relative to the teratology hypothesis, which is why Andrews prefers atavism for this example.

It was a pretty straightforward argument, with a lot of internal consistency, and the exact dimensions of the buds was extraneous detail, largely irrelevant to the point being made. But you got too close to the topic and made a big deal out of nothing. Here's something Percy said upthread:

Percy writes:

There is much that isn't clear about the whale in that image. The recent detailed examination can only yield meaningless speculation.

These words are resonating very loudly right now.

Edited by Blue Jay, : No reason given.

Edited by Blue Jay, : No reason given.


-Blue Jay, Ph.D.*

*Yeah, it's real

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 238 by AlphaOmegakid, posted 04-28-2016 5:22 PM AlphaOmegakid has not yet responded

  
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