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Author Topic:   Why creationist definitions of evolution are wrong, terribly wrong.
Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16085
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 10.0


Message 61 of 205 (546599)
02-12-2010 12:21 AM
Reply to: Message 59 by Arphy
02-11-2010 10:13 PM


Now to add my bit, this is more of a reply to the OP. When you (RAZD) say that a good definition of evolution is "evolution is the change in frequency of hereditary traits in a breeding population from generation to generation." then this may be all well and good but to be fair there's not too many people interested in arguing about this.

But see my responses to ICANT in this thread. The mere fact that you want to deny some things about evolution but not others does not give you the right, nor the ability, to redefine the word "evolution" to mean just the things you want to deny.

So what do we call the belief that living things began as simple organisms but these diversified to the extent that we now also have very complex organisms? What should we call it? What is this secret word that everybody seems to pretend doesn't exist?

Not everyone, just creationists.

Try "common descent" or "universal common ancestry". Or ... well, it depends on what in particular you want to deny. Perhaps you want to deny speciation, as well. In which case you could say: "I deny speciation". Or maybe you accept speciation, but deny that evolution can produce an increase in that elusive quality, "complexity". In which case you could say "I deny that that evolution can produce an increase in complexity".

Or you could pretend that you don't know any other way to express what it is that you want to deny except by calling it "evolution", and you could pretend that everyone else is joining you in pretending that this word doesn't exist.

Or is it ok to just say "evolution" and depending on the context of a person's argument realise the sense in which it was meant ...

But this is precisely what one can't do. When a creationist says: "I don't believe in evolution", then I understand him as meaning: "I don't believe in those particular facts about evolution that I wish to deny". But I don't know what those particular facts are, because not all creationists wish to deny the same thing.

... and continue on the conversation instead of detouring into the one of the all time favourite arguments that evolutionists use ...

You are sadly mistaken. It's not an "all-time favorite argument". It's not, in fact, an argument. It's a boring, tedious bit of explication which we have to go through time after time. The reason it comes up so often is not that we like it, but because of the near-universal pig-ignorance of creationists with respect to the very vocabulary of the subject they want to debate.

Meanwhile the creationist is left sitting wondering if the evolutionist even wants to get into a debate about origins or whether they are actually more interested in playing word games.

Psychologists refer to this as "projection". We have given you definitions on which we and the textbooks agree. Now you could discuss the issues or you could waste your time and ours by complaining that those evil evolutionists insist on speaking the English language.

We want to talk about the relevant facts of biogeography and morphology and embryology and genetics and so on, but you guys seem to want to avoid getting this far by falling down at the very first hurdle --- simply grasping the vocabulary of the subject under discussion.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


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ICANT
Member
Posts: 6187
From: SSC
Joined: 03-12-2007


Message 62 of 205 (546602)
02-12-2010 12:52 AM
Reply to: Message 56 by pandion
02-11-2010 1:43 AM


Re: why use ANY wrong definition?
Hi pandion,

I could not resist this one.

You said:

pandion writes:

These are speciation events (macro-evolution) in progress.

Berekely says:

"Macro evolution is defined by Berekely as the changes above speciation"

ABE to correct quote from Berkeley.

quote:
Macroevolution generally refers to evolution above the species level.

So, how can a speciation event be macro evolution when macro evolution is the changes above speciation?

God Bless,

Edited by ICANT, : correction for quote


"John 5:39 (KJS) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
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Kaichos Man
Member (Idle past 2565 days)
Posts: 250
From: Tasmania, Australia
Joined: 10-03-2009


Message 63 of 205 (546611)
02-12-2010 3:48 AM
Reply to: Message 53 by RAZD
02-09-2010 7:54 AM


Re: why use ANY wrong definition?
rather they need to be explained by evolutionary processes because they are there in the fossil record

Oh, RAZD, your slip is showing!

So you admit, then, that the theory drives the facts? That the evidence must be worked upon until it fits the theory?

Why must anything be "explained by evolutionary processes"? This is the mindset of a dogmatist. Not a scientist.


"Often a cold shudder has run through me, and I have asked myself whether I may have not devoted myself to a fantasy." Charles Darwin
This message is a reply to:
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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16085
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 10.0


Message 64 of 205 (546612)
02-12-2010 4:15 AM
Reply to: Message 63 by Kaichos Man
02-12-2010 3:48 AM


Re: why use ANY wrong definition?
Oh, RAZD, your slip is showing!

So you admit, then, that the theory drives the facts? That the evidence must be worked upon until it fits the theory?

If you really don't understand him, and you really don't, why not ask him what he means instead of making some crazy nonsense up in your head and attributing your drivel to him?

Or you could ask me, so long as you do it politely. I understood his point. It wasn't hard. Indeed, it was so simple that it would take an ordinary person some mental effort to manage not to understand him --- but perhaps to you it comes naturally.

Why must anything be "explained by evolutionary processes"?

Evolution has to be explained by evolutionary processes. The processes that explain it are necessarily evolutionary. By definition.

The word "duh" springs to mind.

This is the mindset of a dogmatist. Not a scientist.

You ever noticed how scientists --- actual scientists, not the imaginary ones who apparently inhabit your head --- have this overwhelming tendency to explain evolution through evolutionary processes? And indeed to explain chemistry in terms of chemical processes and in general to explain real things in terms of real processes? Rather than being a bunch of dogmatic creationists trying to smother reality in bullshit?

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


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Kaichos Man
Member (Idle past 2565 days)
Posts: 250
From: Tasmania, Australia
Joined: 10-03-2009


Message 65 of 205 (546617)
02-12-2010 6:01 AM
Reply to: Message 55 by Huntard
02-09-2010 9:01 AM


Re: why use ANY wrong definition?
From your source, Huntard:

Although the presence of cecal valves and large heads in hatchlings and juveniles suggests a genetic basis for these differences, further studies investigating the potential role of phenotypic plasticity and/or maternal effects in the divergence between populations are needed

Emphasis mine. Our old friend phenotypic plasticity. Made all the more likely by the fact that other lizards belonging to the same family possess cecal valves. Obviously, the researchers realised that genuine random mutation/natural selection was highly unlikely to bring about this change in such a short time frame (36 years, about 30 generations).

Which brings us back to the OP. Was the development of cecal valves evolution? Well, it certainly is descent with modification. Did it involve an increase in complexity?

Well yes- if it is indeed the result of purely random mutation and subsequent selection.

If however, it is merely a pre-existing genetic configuration that could be activated by changed conditions, (a cline, if you will), then it is not. The complexity was there all along- it was just dormant.

See the problem? Both of these scenarios are technically "evolution". We creationists agree with one, and not the other.


"Often a cold shudder has run through me, and I have asked myself whether I may have not devoted myself to a fantasy." Charles Darwin
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Percy
Member
Posts: 18309
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 66 of 205 (546622)
02-12-2010 7:53 AM
Reply to: Message 62 by ICANT
02-12-2010 12:52 AM


Re: why use ANY wrong definition?
ICANT writes:

Berekely says:

"Macro evolution is defined by Berekely as the changes above speciation"

Whoever provided this definition misspoke. What they meant to say was that, "Macro evolution is changes above the species level."

Where did you get that definition? A Google search reveals that on the entire Internet it occurs at just one website, and that's here at EvC Forum, and it appears to have originated with you. When I search the Berekely website here's what I find at Definition: What is Macroevolution?:

Berkeley writes:

Macroevolution generally refers to evolution above the species level.

When you quote a site use cut-n-paste. When you type it over from scratch then errors like this can creep in.

--Percy


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 Message 62 by ICANT, posted 02-12-2010 12:52 AM ICANT has responded

Replies to this message:
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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 775 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 67 of 205 (546630)
02-12-2010 10:29 AM
Reply to: Message 65 by Kaichos Man
02-12-2010 6:01 AM


Re: why use ANY wrong definition?
Hi, Kaichos Man.

There is a thread on the Pod Mrcaru lizards here on EvC: Rapid Evolution in Lizards.

I've posted a response for you there, if you care to discuss it.

{AbE: Okay, I must have messed up during the submission process, because it didn't show up. It will be there soon. Sorry}

Edited by Bluejay, : No reason given.

Edited by Bluejay, : Marked addition.


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


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Species8472
Junior Member (Idle past 2959 days)
Posts: 29
Joined: 01-13-2010


Message 68 of 205 (546633)
02-12-2010 10:40 AM
Reply to: Message 66 by Percy
02-12-2010 7:53 AM


Re: why use ANY wrong definition?
Percy writes:
quote:
Where did you get that definition? A Google search reveals that on the entire Internet it occurs at just one website, and that's here at EvC Forum, and it appears to have originated with you.

This is a common mistake made by most people, particularly by those who fail to regularly self criticize. We have the tendency to hear what we want to hear in order to support our preconceived notion of the subject.

This phenomenon is demonstrated quite well by The Simpsons when a tv executive wanted Homer Simpson to represent "bald and impotent men". Homer replied "yup, I'm certainly bald and important."

Time can also play a role in this phenomenon by allowing our minds to insert false memories within the real ones.


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Arphy
Member (Idle past 2510 days)
Posts: 185
From: New Zealand
Joined: 08-23-2009


Message 69 of 205 (546719)
02-13-2010 5:19 AM
Reply to: Message 60 by Granny Magda
02-11-2010 11:27 PM


Hi Magda

Generally a good post. Just want to pick up on a few things though.

Let's have a closer look at the quote taken:

Evolution, as it is strictly intepreted in technical terms, deals with the suggested mechanisms
Guess you probably don't have too much of a problem with this part and it is the second half that you don't quite agree with:
for the progressive development of more complex lifeforms from simpler ones.
And I agree that in a sense evolution as such does not teach this. However, Is this not the goal of evolution? i.e. that everything that we learn about evolution is used in the explanation of universal common ancestry. Or in other words, the idea of universal common ancestry is fully accepted by most of the scientific world, or seen as a fact, so all that remains is the question of how. And the study of evolution fills in those missing details. So in an evolutionary worldview the effect is that evolution and universal common ancestry cannot be seperated. The above quote shows this. The first half shows what evolution is and the second half shows the purpose for studying evolution.
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Replies to this message:
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anglagard
Member
Posts: 2185
From: Socorro, New Mexico USA
Joined: 03-18-2006


Message 70 of 205 (546729)
02-13-2010 6:42 AM
Reply to: Message 69 by Arphy
02-13-2010 5:19 AM


unknown source writes:

Evolution, as it is strictly intepreted in technical terms, deals with the suggested mechanisms ...

for the progressive development of more complex lifeforms from simpler ones.

Arphy writes:

So in an evolutionary worldview the effect is that evolution and universal common ancestry cannot be seperated. The above quote shows this. The first half shows what evolution is and the second half shows the purpose for studying evolution.

Pardon me if I am mistaken, but isn't the title of this thread "Why creationist definitions of evolution are wrong, terribly wrong."

I am puzzled as to why you insist upon a definition no one here who supports evolution agrees with.

Now you wouldn't be trying to "palm the pea" as jar would say now would you?


The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas - uncertainty, progress, change - into crimes.
ó Salman Rushdie

This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. Itís us. Only us. - the character Rorschach in Watchmen


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RAZD
Member
Posts: 19756
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 5.5


Message 71 of 205 (546733)
02-13-2010 7:50 AM
Reply to: Message 68 by Species8472
02-12-2010 10:40 AM


Seeing what you want, not seeing what you don't want
Hi Species8472, and welcome to the fray.

We have the tendency to hear what we want to hear in order to support our preconceived notion of the subject.

This phenomenon is demonstrated quite well by The Simpsons when a tv executive wanted Homer Simpson to represent "bald and impotent men". Homer replied "yup, I'm certainly bald and important."

This is called confirmation bias. The flip side, where you don't hear what you don't want to hear in order to avoid conflict with our preconceived notion on the subject, and that is called cognitive dissonance. This is the root of denial.

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

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Percy
Member
Posts: 18309
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 72 of 205 (546736)
02-13-2010 8:05 AM
Reply to: Message 69 by Arphy
02-13-2010 5:19 AM


Arphy writes:

Evolution, as it is strictly intepreted in technical terms, deals with the suggested mechanisms...

Guess you probably don't have too much of a problem with this part and it is the second half that you don't quite agree with:

...for the progressive development of more complex lifeforms from simpler ones.

And I agree that in a sense evolution as such does not teach this. However, Is this not the goal of evolution? i.e. that everything that we learn about evolution is used in the explanation of universal common ancestry.

Universal common ancestry is an implication of evolution, and one could reasonably argue that it should be included as part of the definition. Certainly Darwin mentioned it at the end of Origins when he referred to life "having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one."

There are two problems with the definition under discussion. One is the phrase "progressive development" (not part of evolution), and the other is the phrase "complex lifeforms from simpler ones" (also not part of evolution). Since those two phrases are pretty much the whole definition, nothing about it is correct. About all they got right is the implication of change over time.

You ask, "Is this not the goal of evolution?" Just asking the question shows you don't understand what evolution is. Evolution no more has goals than does the Earth have the goal of maintaining a moderately consistent distance from the Sun.

There are probably many ways one could define evolution, here are three:

  1. Evolution is populations evolving adaptations to changing environments.

  2. Evolution is descent with modification filtered by natural selection.

  3. Evolution is changing allele frequencies over time in a population.

These definitions are pretty short. The longer the definition the more comprehensive one can be, and the better one can cover various aspects.

--Percy


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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16085
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 10.0


Message 73 of 205 (546741)
02-13-2010 9:21 AM
Reply to: Message 69 by Arphy
02-13-2010 5:19 AM


And I agree that in a sense evolution as such does not teach this. However, Is this not the goal of evolution? i.e. that everything that we learn about evolution is used in the explanation of universal common ancestry.

The goal of the theory of evolution is to explain the facts of evolution. And almost everything that we learn about evolution can be used to explain, or more precisely to prove, the most glaringly obvious fact about evolution, namely common descent. Wow, that must blow for you.

But there it is.

Or in other words, the idea of universal common ancestry is fully accepted by most of the scientific world, or seen as a fact, so all that remains is the question of how. And the study of evolution fills in those missing details.

And it does. Once again, you have my sympathy.

But what can I say? It's as though you wrote: "The idea that Saturn has rings is fully accepted by most of the scientific world, or seen as a fact, so all that remains is the question of how. And the study of gravity fills in those missing details."

Well, so it does. Is that a reason to deny the rings of Saturn or the theory of gravity?

So in an evolutionary worldview the effect is that evolution and universal common ancestry cannot be seperated.

If that was true, then why is it that all the people who do in fact have an "evolutionary worldview" keep on telling you that these are two distinct concepts? And why is it that all the people who keep saying that they're inseparable turn out to be creationists?

Think that over for a few seconds, and maybe you'll figure it out.

The above quote shows this.

No, Arphy. The quote shows that creationists, who do not have an "evolutionary worldview" insist that the two things can't be separated. Because it is a quote from creationists.

Meanwhile an evolutionist started this whole darn thread just to say that that quote was a complete misrepresentation of evolution.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


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Granny Magda
Member
Posts: 2380
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 74 of 205 (546751)
02-13-2010 10:59 AM
Reply to: Message 69 by Arphy
02-13-2010 5:19 AM


Hi Arphy,

Guess you probably don't have too much of a problem with this part and it is the second half that you don't quite agree with:

My only problem with the first part of the quote is the phrase "strictly intepreted in technical terms", which, in my view, places a burden upon its user to get it right. Let's be clear, there are no technical terms used and the second part is just wrong. If one is going to build a statement up like this, one needs to get it right. This falls way short.

And I agree that in a sense evolution as such does not teach this. However, Is this not the goal of evolution?

No, it's not. As a statement, the quote is wrong. As an all-encompassing definition of evolution, it's embarrassing.

Evolution need not always make a creature more complex. Think of a flightless bird or a cave-dweller that has lost its eyes. Natural selection will act to favour the population that has the most useful adaptations; that may or may not be synonymous with the most complex. If simplicity is required, then evolution can provide simplicity.

Certainly there is a trend toward increasing complexity, but this is not the core of evolution. Using this as the definition of evolution is deeply misleading.

Mutate and Survive


"A curious aspect of the theory of evolution is that everybody thinks he understands it." - Jacques Monod
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RAZD
Member
Posts: 19756
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 5.5


Message 75 of 205 (546755)
02-13-2010 12:34 PM
Reply to: Message 59 by Arphy
02-11-2010 10:13 PM


Hi Arphy, what's to barge in about talking on the topic?

... then this may be all well and good but to be fair there's not too many people interested in arguing about this.

And I've always maintained that creationists should not have any problem/s with evolution per se, rather the issue of contention is common ancestry (how many ancestors when).

What people do have a problem with is the question of origins. Your definition above makes no mention of this.

Correct. Evolution has no real attachment to origins, hence the separation of abiogenesis from evolution. Evolution is bedded in the present: what we observe occurring in life today.

So what do we call the belief that living things began as simple organisms ...

Origins or abiogenesis.

... but these diversified to the extent that we now also have very complex organisms? What should we call it? What is this secret word that everybody seems to pretend doesn't exist?

This is confusing the definition of the process of evolution with (a) the natural history of life and (b) the predictions of the theory of evolution.

The evidence shows only basic (prokaryotic) single cellular life 3.5 billion years ago, with the first known evidence of more complex single cell life (eukaryotes) occurring some 2.1 to 1.7 billion years ago. The first multicellular life appears in the fossil record after that. The evidence of the natural history of life on this planet is not related to the definition of evolution, rather they are the facts that can be explained by the theory of evolution.

Evolution (as properly defined in why use a wrong definition? (Message 1)) is also not the theory of evolution (or the science of evolution). The process of evolution in different ecosystems results in different results in subpopulations and this can lead (and has led) to speciation, the process where daughter population become differentiated to the point where interbreeding no longer occurs between the subpopulations.

The theory of evolution (ToE) is essentially that the process of evolution within breeding populations, and the process of speciation dividing parent populations into reproductively distinct daughter populations, are sufficient to explain the diversity of life as we know it, from the life around us, from history, from prehistory, from archeology, paleontology, geology and the fossil record, and from chemistry, microbiology, and the genetic record.

The nested hierarchy pattern of descent from common ancestors is a prediction of the theory of evolution, based on evolution within populations, speciation forming reproductively isolated daughter populations, and the subsequent divergent evolution of daughter populations.

The theory of evolution works backwards from today into the past, to see if it can explain the natural history of life (fossil and genetic).

So what do we call the belief that living things began as simple organisms but these diversified to the extent that we now also have very complex organisms?

This is the tentative conclusion reached by biologists in general and evolutionists in particular, from the evidence of natural history (fossil and genetic) and from the prediction of common ancestry based on the theory of evolution.

Is this appropriate or must the world continue to walk in darkness as to what this word that describes this belief is? Or is it ok to just say "evolution" and depending on the context of a person's argument realise the sense in which it was meant and continue on the conversation ...

The problem is that if you just say "evolution" then the creationist will understand (wrongly) one thing, while the evolutionist will understand (correctly) something else, and you will not be talking about the same thing.

And yes, evolutionists get to define the proper definition, because they are the scientists studying the process.

Meanwhile the creationist is left sitting wondering if the evolutionist even wants to get into a debate about origins or whether they are actually more interested in playing word games.

Except that the evolutionist will likely say that if you want to discuss origins then we can talk about abiogenesis, the development of protobionts from chemical processes and the processes that can then give rise to simple prokaryotic forms. You will note that these processes do not involve the change in hereditary traits in breeding populations from generation to generation, and thus cannot be considered to be evolution in the proper technical sense.

Message 69: ... it is the second half that you don't quite agree with:
for the progressive development of more complex lifeforms from simpler ones.
And I agree that in a sense evolution as such does not teach this.

So you agree that this is wrong, so therefore it should not be presented as a "strictly interpreted in technical terms" definition of evolution, yes? This is, after all, the crux of the thread: that using false definitions does not lead to clear understanding or debate.

However, Is this not the goal of evolution? i.e. that everything that we learn about evolution is used in the explanation of universal common ancestry. Or in other words, the idea of universal common ancestry is fully accepted by most of the scientific world, or seen as a fact, so all that remains is the question of how. And the study of evolution fills in those missing details. So in an evolutionary worldview the effect is that evolution and universal common ancestry cannot be seperated.

The goal of the science of evolution is to explain both the natural history of life on earth and the diversity of life as we know it. The theory of evolution predicts common ancestry for related groups, and this theory is tested against the patterns found in the natural history of life (fossil and genetic). So far it looks like the theory of evolution, based on the process of evolution within populations, the process of speciation forming reproductively isolated daughter populations, and the subsequent divergent evolution of daughter populations, is sufficient to explain the evidence of the diversity of life as we know it.

Evolution, as it is strictly intepreted in technical terms, deals with the suggested mechanisms

... The above quote shows this. The first half shows what evolution is ...

No it doesn't. It does not say a single thing about what evolution is, there is no mention of hereditary traits, breeding populations, and changes from generation to generation. It absolutely fails to define what the process evolution involves.

for the progressive development of more complex lifeforms from simpler ones.

... The above quote shows this. ... and the second half shows the purpose for studying evolution.

And again, it fails in this because it does not talk about speciation or common ancestry or the formation of nested hierarchies, nor does it talk about explaining the natural history and diversity of life. Instead gives a totally false implication of a necessary progression to increased complexity. It absolutely fails to define what the scientific study of evolution involves.

And that is why it is wrong, terribly wrong, to use such definitions in discussions about the diversity of life and the natural history in the fossil and genetic record, and about the role that the processes of evolution (the change in frequency of hereditary traits in breeding populations from generation to generation) and speciation (forming reproductively isolated daughter populations) have played in the formation of that natural history.

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

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