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Author Topic:   "The Edge of Evolution" by Michael Behe
Modulous
Member (Idle past 180 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 136 of 149 (533856)
11-03-2009 9:21 AM
Reply to: Message 130 by Kaichos Man
11-03-2009 6:02 AM


Re: Weasel redux
But it is precisely the "inherited traits" that are so misleading and dishonest. SNPs won't be seen by selection (unless they alter existing information). Genes will be seen by selection, but they are too complex to be built by random processes.

In the weasel example there are no nucleotides. There are single letter changes. Which are seen by the selection method. And each letter change is inherited by the offspring. So it shows precisely what it is meant to show: That inherited traits, with variations, can climb mount improbable if a selection method is employed.

It is nothing to do with 'genes', 'nucleotides' or 'natural selection', other than in the most broadest possible sense.

Dawkins program is akin to me flapping my arms and saying "There, feel the air pressure under your hands? That's how you fly- it's easy."

If Dawkins claimed that his program explained biological evolution by means of natural selection you'd have a point. But he explicitly says it doesn't and he explicitly says it explains something else.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 130 by Kaichos Man, posted 11-03-2009 6:02 AM Kaichos Man has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 140 by Kaichos Man, posted 11-04-2009 7:31 AM Modulous has responded

  
Coyote
Member (Idle past 182 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 137 of 149 (533878)
11-03-2009 11:14 AM
Reply to: Message 134 by Kaichos Man
11-03-2009 6:52 AM


New subtitle, finally
"Beneficial" mutations are too rare to calculate, according to Kimura.

Haven't you read any of the responses dealing with Kimura and what he actually said?

Or are you just ignoring those responses because you would rather believe your own version of things?


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.
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Drosophilla
Member (Idle past 1717 days)
Posts: 172
From: Doncaster, yorkshire, UK
Joined: 08-25-2009


Message 138 of 149 (533909)
11-03-2009 1:53 PM
Reply to: Message 129 by Wounded King
11-03-2009 4:25 AM


Re: Joe Thornton (and creationist targets).
Hi WK:

I find your hypothetical 19 neutral potentiating steps scenario almost totally ridiculous.

Yes, I agree - got a bit carried away there. I wanted to confer the issue of neutral changes not being actively selected against by Natural Selection, which so many creationists seem to demand in their mathematics of impbrobabilities.

As Dawkins would say We need to creep up the slope of Mount Improbable rather than try and leap up the front-facing precipice.

But point taken...bold statements are not good science either!


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 141 by Wounded King, posted 11-04-2009 7:56 AM Drosophilla has responded

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


Message 139 of 149 (533935)
11-03-2009 4:20 PM
Reply to: Message 134 by Kaichos Man
11-03-2009 6:52 AM


Re: Joe Thornton (and creationist targets).
You appear to be advocating the creation of complex novel genetic structures by random (non-selective) processes. Fine- Kimura believed in that.

No.

"Beneficial" mutations are too rare to calculate, according to Kimura.

I guess we'll just have to settle for observing them, then. Fortunately they're so abundant that this is very easy to do.

---

You might consider reading what Kimura wrote someday. Of course, this would inhibit your ability to talk arrant nonsense about this subject.


This message is a reply to:
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Kaichos Man
Member (Idle past 2564 days)
Posts: 250
From: Tasmania, Australia
Joined: 10-03-2009


Message 140 of 149 (533990)
11-04-2009 7:31 AM
Reply to: Message 136 by Modulous
11-03-2009 9:21 AM


Re: Weasel redux
If Dawkins claimed that his program explained biological evolution by means of natural selection you'd have a point. But he explicitly says it doesn't and he explicitly says it explains something else.

But you have just stated the purpose of the program:

So it shows precisely what it is meant to show: That inherited traits, with variations, can climb mount improbable if a selection method is employed.

Inherited traits? Variations? Selection? If the program wasn't designed to explain biological evolution then it was designed to con people into believing that it does.


"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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Replies to this message:
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Wounded King
Member (Idle past 2170 days)
Posts: 4149
From: Edinburgh, Scotland
Joined: 04-09-2003


Message 141 of 149 (533995)
11-04-2009 7:56 AM
Reply to: Message 138 by Drosophilla
11-03-2009 1:53 PM


New genes and potentiating mutation
Yes, I agree - got a bit carried away there.

Now I'm wondering if I was right. I have just started a new thread about genes generated de novo in the human lineage, New genes in the Human lineage, and I'm wondering if these would be a counter example. Surely the pre-existing sequence could be considered to consist of the product of multiple potentiating mutations? But the real question is whether these de novo coding genes are in fact beneficial. Perhaps rather they are themselves selectively neutral.

Certainly we would have to wonder if such a de novo mutation gave rise to something like a highly sequence specific transcription factor. Does the putative pre-existing sequence for the NylB, Nylonase, gene in Flavobacterium consist of multiple neutral potentiating mutations? The maintenance in the antisense strand of the pre-existing sequence of so called 'Nonstop frame' suggests that perhaps these sequences are not selectively neutral. What could drive this maintenance is unclear though it has been suggested that it could be a strategy for imcreased evolvabilty specifically because it can give rise to such de novo mutations (Yomo et al., 1992).

TTFN,

WK

Edited by Wounded King, : No reason given.

Edited by Wounded King, : Updated thread link


This message is a reply to:
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Modulous
Member (Idle past 180 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 142 of 149 (533997)
11-04-2009 8:03 AM
Reply to: Message 140 by Kaichos Man
11-04-2009 7:31 AM


Re: Weasel redux
Inherited traits? Variations? Selection? If the program wasn't designed to explain biological evolution then it was designed to con people into believing that it does.

No - it was designed to show how the core idea behind biological evolution works: How a selection method can help ratchet up probabilities so that what appears to be a highly improbable end product isn't necessarily as improbable as it first appears.

As Dawkins says:

quote:
Although the monkey/Shakespeare model is useful for explaining the distinction between single-step selection and cumulative selection, it is misleading in important ways. One of these is that, in each generation of selective 'breeding', the mutant 'progeny' phrases were judged according to the criterion of resemblance to a distant ideal target, the phrase METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL. Life isn't like that. Evolution has no long-term goal. There is no long-distance target, no final perfection to serve as a criterion for selection, although human vanity cherishes the absurd notion that our species is the final goal of evolution. In real life, the criterion for selection is always short-term, either simple survival or, more generally, reproductive success.

Con men all over know that it is always a bad idea to explain that your con is a con and why it is a con to the mark. Either that or Dawkins wasn't intending to con anyone and creationists have spent the last twenty years working themselves up over what is essentially a quote mine.

It was a little example, hardly worth getting excited about that discussed the concept of cumulative selection. After he comments how it doesn't really model biological evolution in any reasonable way he goes onto discuss his biomorph idea which he argues, does resemble biological evolution more closely.

You should probably read the book.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 140 by Kaichos Man, posted 11-04-2009 7:31 AM Kaichos Man has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 145 by Kaichos Man, posted 11-07-2009 7:33 AM Modulous has responded

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


Message 143 of 149 (534045)
11-04-2009 2:52 PM
Reply to: Message 140 by Kaichos Man
11-04-2009 7:31 AM


Re: Weasel redux
Inherited traits? Variations? Selection? If the program wasn't designed to explain biological evolution then it was designed to con people into believing that it does.

But no-one does, in fact, believe that it "explains biological evolution". It is therefore a ludicrous fantasy to postulate its purpose was to induce such a belief.

In particular, anyone who's bothered to read Dawkins' book would know that its sole purpose is to illustrate one very simple and very obvious point: so simple that a bright child could understand it and so obvious that you'd have to be a creationist to miss it.

Your ability to misunderstand it so grossly and so continuously doubtless makes you a king amongst creationists. Round here, though, it simply makes you contemptible.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : it's / its typo


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Drosophilla
Member (Idle past 1717 days)
Posts: 172
From: Doncaster, yorkshire, UK
Joined: 08-25-2009


Message 144 of 149 (534113)
11-05-2009 3:00 AM
Reply to: Message 141 by Wounded King
11-04-2009 7:56 AM


Re: New genes and potentiating mutation
Hi WK:

Now I'm wondering if I was right. I have just started a new thread about genes generated de novo in the human lineage, New genes in the Human lineage, and I'm wondering if these would be a counter example.

I will follow this with interest, although I have to say you are clearly much more knowledgeble in the field of genetics than I. My background is straight biology (Hull University 1983) with an ancilliary course in genetics from back then.

I am guessing you are either a geneticist working in the field or, if not, someone very very gen'd up on the subject. I'll follow this with interest from the sidelines I think...

Regards...


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Kaichos Man
Member (Idle past 2564 days)
Posts: 250
From: Tasmania, Australia
Joined: 10-03-2009


Message 145 of 149 (534363)
11-07-2009 7:33 AM
Reply to: Message 142 by Modulous
11-04-2009 8:03 AM


Re: Weasel redux
Con men all over know that it is always a bad idea to explain that your con is a con and why it is a con to the mark.

Point taken. However, the core idea you believe it was designed to show:

How a selection method can help ratchet up probabilities so that what appears to be a highly improbable end product isn't necessarily as improbable as it first appears.

Is a neat way of side-stepping Irreducible Complexity, in that it assigns selective advantage to each of a sequence of small modifications. No wonder Tricky Dicky used an abstract model for that. The reality of SNPs and genes would soon expose the impossibility of the process.

You should probably read the book.

Yes. Given a parallel lifetime


"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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cavediver
Member (Idle past 1719 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


Message 146 of 149 (534364)
11-07-2009 8:02 AM
Reply to: Message 145 by Kaichos Man
11-07-2009 7:33 AM


Re: Weasel redux
Is a neat way of side-stepping Irreducible Complexity... No wonder Tricky Dicky used an abstract model for that.

Yeah, Richard is amazingly tricky, given that he published the Weasal program in 1986, whilst Behe was working on his idiotic IC in the 90s, not appreciating that IC had been discussed for decades in the context of it being a prediction of the ToE I'm sorry KM, but don't worry - we're laughing at you, not with you.


This message is a reply to:
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Modulous
Member (Idle past 180 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 147 of 149 (534372)
11-07-2009 9:03 AM
Reply to: Message 145 by Kaichos Man
11-07-2009 7:33 AM


Re: Weasel redux
How a selection method can help ratchet up probabilities so that what appears to be a highly improbable end product isn't necessarily as improbable as it first appears.

Is a neat way of side-stepping Irreducible Complexity, in that it assigns selective advantage to each of a sequence of small modifications. No wonder Tricky Dicky used an abstract model for that. The reality of SNPs and genes would soon expose the impossibility of the process.

You should probably read the book.

Yes. Given a parallel lifetime

Yeah - I'd advise against constantly bringing up a small starting example used by an author to give his readers an idea on what cumulative selection means and arguing against it as if it was designed with a hidden agenda to propagandize for evolution. You'd do much better to argue against the biomorphs.
And you'd probably do well not to try and argue that the model doesn't perfectly replicate nature, since they are all by necessity simplifications that are meant to make it easier to understand the concepts that underly the complex system of biology to people that have not spend years studying it.

I think that just about concludes our discussion since this thread is not about Dawkins' Blind Watchmaker but about Behe's Edge of Evolution...which contains problems enough of its own to fill a thread I think.


This message is a reply to:
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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16085
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 10.0


Message 148 of 149 (534388)
11-07-2009 3:03 PM
Reply to: Message 145 by Kaichos Man
11-07-2009 7:33 AM


Re: Weasel redux
Is a neat way of side-stepping Irreducible Complexity, in that it assigns selective advantage to each of a sequence of small modifications. No wonder Tricky Dicky used an abstract model for that. The reality of SNPs and genes would soon expose the impossibility of the process.

So you really don't understand what Dawkins is talking about at all?

Yes. Given a parallel lifetime

According to the hypothesis of parallel universes, there does indeed exist an alternative spacetime continuum in which creationists have the basic intelligence and integrity to research the subjects that they bloviate about.

So much for the hypothesis of parallel universes.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 145 by Kaichos Man, posted 11-07-2009 7:33 AM Kaichos Man has not yet responded

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


(3)
Message 149 of 149 (646236)
01-03-2012 6:39 PM


Behe's Muddled Thinking
I was looking at Behe's Edge of Evolution again. I might go through it bit by bit if I can be bothered, but in the meantime the following is perhaps a fair sample of his thought, displaying as it does an amusing inability not only to understand the ideas of his opponents, but also to understand his own ideas, or the consequences thereof. Here he is discussing medicines which require multiple simultaneous mutations on the part of their target organisms to produce resistance:

On matters of public health, Darwin counsels despair. A consistent Darwinist must think that random mutation will get round any antibiotic eventually --- after all, look at all that molecular machinery it built .... But intelligent design says there's always real hope. If we can find the right monkeywrench, just one degree more difficult to oppose than chloroquine, it could be a show-stopper.

(Emphasis and ellipses are as in the original.)

Now, where to start with this farrago of nonsense?

First, let's observe that evolutionary medicine is in fact practiced (AFAIK) exclusively by evolutionists. Indeed, this paragraph comes just after Behe's description of an experiment in E.M. carried out by Barry Hall, a fierce critic of Behe, of ID, and of Behe's blather about "irreducible complexity". The "Darwinists" aren't "counseling despair" in the development of such drugs, they're the people developing them while the ID crowd sit on their useless arses whining about Darwinists.

But of course, he isn't complaining about real Darwinists who actually exist, but the "consistent Darwinists" who think what he thinks they ought to think, rather than what all Darwinists everywhere actually do think. Let's look at what he thinks they should think:

A consistent Darwinist must think that random mutation will get round any antibiotic eventually ...

But a "consistent Darwinist" only thinks that that must happen "eventually" in the same sense that Behe would be forced to admit it himself. It is of course true that if something has a one-in-quadrillion chance of happening per year, then after a quadrillion years it is likely to have happened, and even Behe must admit this; but this is not particularly a "counsel of despair", since a drug for which the time to develop resistance was a quadrillion years would in fact be a hopeful development. The consistent Darwinist in fact thinks that if you produce a medicine for which an extremely long shot is required for resistance, then the expected time for this long shot to come off is itself long.

But Behe wants his "consistent Darwinist" to think something different from the bleedin' obvious thing they do in fact think, and here's how he implies this untruth:

A consistent Darwinist must think that random mutation will get round any antibiotic eventually --- after all, look at all that molecular machinery it built ....

But of course the consistent Darwinist does not think, and never says, and indeed flatly and repeatedly denies, that this molecular machinery was formed by the repeated coming off of extremely long shots. Rather, the point on which they disagree with Behe is that lots of simultaneous changes in the genome were required for the formation of this machinery. He says that they were, and infers a designer, they say that they weren't, and that the machinery can be produced by ordinary stepwise Darwinian processes.

Hence in order to be consistent, Darwinists must in fact agree that if we can make evolution of resistance to a drug into a long shot requiring many simultaneous mutations, then a long shot is in fact what it will be. Which is why they do in fact develop drug therapies based on this solidly Darwinian principle.

This, is, then, a sad misrepresentation of the "consistent Darwinist". Let Behe, if he can, expound his own ideas, but he should not attempt to speak either for Darwinists or for people who are consistent, since he evidently has no idea what they think or why they think it.

Behe's own consistency, or rather lack thereof, is shown in the penultimate sentence, where he loses his grip on his own ideas, and writes:

But intelligent design says there's always real hope.

Now, let's remember that Behe believes in evolution strictu sensu (i.e. descent with modification). He thinks that his Designer has been intelligently intervening throughout the history of life (not just "in the beginning" as an orthodox creationist would have it) to ensure that long shots, exceedingly unlikely to be caused by chance, do in fact come off again and again by design.

So where is the "real hope" that remains to us if such a Designer exists? We can make an antimalarial drug that would require a zillion-to-one shot for the development of resistance --- at which point Behe's Designer can intelligently and purposefully tinker with malaria to make the zillion-to-one shot come off, actuated by the same consuming hatred of humanity that led him to invent malaria in the first place. To be consistent, Behe must postulate a Designer with both the ability to bring this about and a desire that people should die of malaria. The only way we could have "real hope" for the success of such medicines is to ascertain that the Designer is dead --- or, if he's still alive, to hunt him down and kill him.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


  
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