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Author Topic:   Any practical use for Universal Common Ancestor?
herebedragons
Member (Idle past 73 days)
Posts: 1513
From: Michigan
Joined: 11-22-2009


(6)
Message 424 of 1371 (850334)
04-06-2019 2:16 PM
Reply to: Message 407 by Dredge
04-05-2019 3:21 AM


It seems most tudents of biology have been indoctrinated to believe mendacious nonsense

Obviously you can dismiss what students of biology have been taught as "indoctrination," just as students of medicine are "indoctrinated" and students of theology are "indoctrinated." It makes for an easy way to dismiss opposing arguments. A better, and more honest approach would be to understand what biology students are being taught and why. Those of us that are students or already have advanced degrees should know what is being taught in biology classes regardless of what you claim we are being taught. Being educated about a subject hardly counts as indoctrination - even if you disagree with the premises or conclusions.

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" and "Evolution is the unifying theory of all biology."

These statements are not regarded as factual, but judgments based on the contribution the theory of evolution has made to our understanding of biological systems. It is certainly possible for a Creationist (or whatever variation of evolution denier you prefer) to work in a biological field, and even be quite successful, all the while denying the theory of evolution. However, they are standing on the backs of countless scientists who went before them and developed our current knowledge based on the theory of evolution. I know of NO significant advancement in knowledge put forth by adherents to the "theory of creationism"... since there is no such thing. (Actually the "theory of creationism" states that the theory of evolution is wrong and all who accept it are atheists). All creationists do is attempt to devalue the theory of evolution by employing misinformation and outright falsehoods.

They seem to think if we don't believe all life on earth evolved from microbes, the science of biology will be rendered useless.

Case in point! This is a false and misleading characterization of what evolutionary biologists "think." What we actually "think" is that if we were to give up conclusions based on evidence and accept conclusion based on religious ideology, biological sciences, and indeed sciences as a whole, would be rendered useless.

I am going to try to explain why the theory of evolution has such value to biological science and why we consider the ToE to be the "unifying theory of all biology." But first, about the question in the OP... it really doesn't matter if there is a single universal common ancestor or multiple ancestral populations - that has little to do with the ToE itself. Currently, we would say that it seems as if all life on earth have their origins in a single common ancestor - but if that is shown to be wrong, that is not an issue for the ToE. That said, I hope to make a case for how the concept of common descent is useful (and indeed a central concept) in biological science.

It seems to me as if you have a misunderstanding of what a theory is, why we have theories and how we use them to further scientific research. In order to make my point here, I am going to use the germ theory of disease (GT) as an example. Before the GT was developed, there was all kinds of wacky ideas about what caused disease. Angry and vengeful gods inflicted disease on rebellious persons, the four humors, evil night air, spontaneous generation etc. The GT gave us a framework with which to explain the cause of disease. No longer do we have to test all these alternate hypotheses about the cause of disease, we go straight to the germ theory and expect that disease is caused by some type of microorganism. Follow me so far? The GT gave us a framework that allows us to automatically reject discredited hypotheses and follow an hypothesis that can lead to curative treatments.

But wait! Hasn't the germ theory of disease been disproven? There are diseases that are genetic with no microbe association (ie. Down syndrome) and diseases that are caused nutrient deficiencies (ie. scurvy). So this disproves the GT right? Nope. We have learned to recognize the symptoms of the various types of diseases and can test for which category any particular disease belongs.

In the same way, the theory of evolution provides us with a framework by which we can reject failed hypotheses about how organisms change over time and allows us to focus on research that works. This is a really important aspect of scientific theories, they offer a cohesive explanation of the facts that allow us to immediately apply that framework to a question.

For example, my daughter and I have a good natured argument about the reality of mermaids. Her claim is that since we have not explored but a small proportion of the ocean we can't say for certain that mermaids don't exist. My argument is that I know mermaids don't exist because they would not fit anywhere on the tree of life. While this is kind of a silly example, it illustrates the concept of the predictive power that the ToE has. If I discover a new organism, I don't wonder if it was created yesterday... I know, based on the theory of evolution, that it has an ancestral population. When I study a group of species, I know, based on the ToE, that they share a common ancestor and the examination of how they are related can give insight into how they evolved, how traits are regulated, how they utilize resources, etc. Believe it or not, this idea of relatedness forms the foundation of most biological inquiries.

Your idea is that every genus is specially created (or whatever your position is specifically) and that this idea explains observations just as well as the ToE. That's like saying that the idea of a painted dome above the earth explains why the sky is blue. I mean, yea it does explain it... but the explanation doesn't provide any predictive power. What predictive power does special creation have that allows us to better understand life on earth? What objective criteria do you use to determine if two organisms share a common ancestor or not? What advantage would a theory of special creation have over the current theory?

Summary: While the specifics of a universal common ancestor may not be particularly useful to biology, the concept of common descent is - in fact, it is central to biological studies. Biology relies on the concept of common ancestry to allow comparisons between organisms and to narrow down the search field to those comparisons that would provide the most likely chance of answering the question. Currently, there are no groups that are know to NOT share a common ancestor. Discovering that 2 or more groups do not share a common ancestor would have little effect on the ToE, but would introduce some caveats and not allow direct comparison between those groups.

HBD


Whoever calls me ignorant shares my own opinion. Sorrowfully and tacitly I recognize my ignorance, when I consider how much I lack of what my mind in its craving for knowledge is sighing for... I console myself with the consideration that this belongs to our common nature. - Francesco Petrarca

"Nothing is easier than to persuade people who want to be persuaded and already believe." - another Petrarca gem.

Ignorance is a most formidable opponent rivaled only by arrogance; but when the two join forces, one is all but invincible.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 407 by Dredge, posted 04-05-2019 3:21 AM Dredge has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 444 by Faith, posted 04-07-2019 7:30 PM herebedragons has responded
 Message 462 by Dredge, posted 04-10-2019 3:21 AM herebedragons has responded

  
herebedragons
Member (Idle past 73 days)
Posts: 1513
From: Michigan
Joined: 11-22-2009


(1)
Message 445 of 1371 (850428)
04-07-2019 8:10 PM
Reply to: Message 444 by Faith
04-07-2019 7:30 PM


Mendelian variations within a given species and not about the ToE at all.

You do realize that Mendelian inheritance is 19th century understanding of genetics. Mendelian genetics is barely mentioned in advance genetics courses anymore.

You offer no examples.

Examples are too difficult for you to understand. I have tried before.

Actually, I have an article that I am working on as part of a research report that would be great for this subject. I don't have time right now to break it down into pieces and explain each part in detail so there is even an inkling of possibility that you could understand it. And it would be pointless for me to just post the reference. But I will try to get to it in a couple of weeks after I get through this busy time.

Your piece is a marvel of straight assertion.

Lol. You're funny.

You think you base your conclusions on evidence but do you really?

Yes.

And most creationists do not base their thoughts on "religious ideology,"

Lol. You're funny.

so I'll come back to it.

I will look forward to your response that will be full of well-evidenced, non-assertion type arguments based on an advanced knowledge of modern genetics.

HBD


Whoever calls me ignorant shares my own opinion. Sorrowfully and tacitly I recognize my ignorance, when I consider how much I lack of what my mind in its craving for knowledge is sighing for... I console myself with the consideration that this belongs to our common nature. - Francesco Petrarca

"Nothing is easier than to persuade people who want to be persuaded and already believe." - another Petrarca gem.

Ignorance is a most formidable opponent rivaled only by arrogance; but when the two join forces, one is all but invincible.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 444 by Faith, posted 04-07-2019 7:30 PM Faith has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 446 by Faith, posted 04-07-2019 11:54 PM herebedragons has responded

  
herebedragons
Member (Idle past 73 days)
Posts: 1513
From: Michigan
Joined: 11-22-2009


Message 469 of 1371 (850537)
04-10-2019 10:15 AM
Reply to: Message 462 by Dredge
04-10-2019 3:21 AM


Well, you certainly have an interesting style of debate... reducing my responses to simple sound bites - quoting half sentences, taking statements out of context etc...

Really? What is your definition of the theory of evolution? If Douglas Futuyma is correct - "The theory of evolution is a body of interconnected statements about natural selection and the other processes that are thought to cause evolution"

I don't know where you quoted this sound bite from, but I have Futuyma's textbook 'Evolution' and he devotes an entire chapter to defining evolution - the chapter is called "What is Evolution?" So your quote can hardly capture what Futuyma thinks evolution is. As for me, I would essentially agree with Futuyma's statement but would add that these processes of evolution are sufficient to explain the diversity of life on earth. It seems to me this is the part of the concept of evolution you disagree with. It would be much better if you would just argue against that concept rather than arguing about definitions.

I once encountered a Ph.D biologist (on the BioLogos site) who claimed it was necesssary to accept that all life on earth evolved from a common ancestor in order for mice to be useful for testing human drugs on. That poor deluded soul was so brainwashed by the cult of evolution that the concept of UCA had become a "reality" that he couldn't think outside of.

You "once encountered"??? And he speaks for all of us?

Thanks for the junior-high biology lesson, but I graduated several decades ago.

It wasn't a biology lesson, it was an example - an example that I thought was non-controversial. It appears to me that you are not clear how biologists use a theory, since you have stated that theories are useless to applied biology. It seems to me you think theories are just ponderings that we don't really use. So I thought a simple example would make clear how we use theories.

Anyone above the age of about three (and clueless about ToE) would assume that any organism has an ancestral population.

Everyone above the age of three except you. You have made it clear that you don't think common descent is sufficient to explain the diversity of life and that some diversity events require special creation. A creature that comes into existence by special creation does not have an ancestral population.

So what? My idea is not a scientific theory.

If you are presenting this as a personal philosophy, then I have no problem with that. I pretty much agree. I believe that God is the creator of all that is seen and unseen. I also except evolution as the best scientific explanation for the diversity of life on earth.

Even the village idiot could observe two species of magpies and conclude they are related, but so what?

Hardly. Since we have begun to use molecular methods for determining relatedness, traditional classifications are being reexamined. The problem is we don't always know what traits are important to classification. What is important is evolutionary history - that is, what traits have been inherited from an ancestor and what traits are derived.

Evolutionary history is an integral part of any study of populations and is usually where a researcher will start - that is develop a phylogenetic hypothesis. This provides that framework for studying local adaptation, life history traits, development, community assemblage, etc.

Even when studying a genus where we would all agree the members all share a common ancestor, you need a way to anchor, or root the tree. Unrooted trees do serve some purpose, but without an ancestral character state, you can't tell what traits have changed. Determining the appropriate choice of outgroup - that is, the ancestral character state, is dependent on common ancestry between groups.

As far as a practical advantage goes - none that I can think of.

Do you work in the biological sciences?

"It is my BELIEF that currently there are no groups that don't share a common ancestor." There is a big difference between belief and knowledge.

Wrong. It is not my "belief." There is no evidence or even any convincing arguments that there are gaps between species that cannot be explained by the processes of evolution. There is also no need to add unsubstantiated and untestable factors to explain diversity. In fact, those factors, such as special creation, add unnecessary complications to scientific studies.

Pick any creature... was it specially created or did it evolve from a common ancestor? How would you know? Use your magpie example... you find a new species of magpie, did it evolve from a common ancestor or was it specially created? How would you know? How could that be tested? If it was specially created, how would that change how it fit into the tree of life?

All unnecessary and unanswerable questions.

The theory of evolution is sufficient to explain the diversity of life on earth. It provides us with a useful framework with which to study biodiversity, evolutionary forces, and classification.

None of this precludes God intervening in the history of life.

HBD


Whoever calls me ignorant shares my own opinion. Sorrowfully and tacitly I recognize my ignorance, when I consider how much I lack of what my mind in its craving for knowledge is sighing for... I console myself with the consideration that this belongs to our common nature. - Francesco Petrarca

"Nothing is easier than to persuade people who want to be persuaded and already believe." - another Petrarca gem.

Ignorance is a most formidable opponent rivaled only by arrogance; but when the two join forces, one is all but invincible.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 462 by Dredge, posted 04-10-2019 3:21 AM Dredge has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 514 by Dredge, posted 04-19-2019 3:15 AM herebedragons has responded

  
herebedragons
Member (Idle past 73 days)
Posts: 1513
From: Michigan
Joined: 11-22-2009


(2)
Message 470 of 1371 (850538)
04-10-2019 10:24 AM
Reply to: Message 467 by edge
04-10-2019 9:51 AM


Herbie states:

I have been wondering who 'Herbie' was... now I realize it's me

HBD (correct signature)


Whoever calls me ignorant shares my own opinion. Sorrowfully and tacitly I recognize my ignorance, when I consider how much I lack of what my mind in its craving for knowledge is sighing for... I console myself with the consideration that this belongs to our common nature. - Francesco Petrarca

"Nothing is easier than to persuade people who want to be persuaded and already believe." - another Petrarca gem.

Ignorance is a most formidable opponent rivaled only by arrogance; but when the two join forces, one is all but invincible.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 467 by edge, posted 04-10-2019 9:51 AM edge has not yet responded

  
herebedragons
Member (Idle past 73 days)
Posts: 1513
From: Michigan
Joined: 11-22-2009


(4)
Message 487 of 1371 (850610)
04-11-2019 8:06 AM
Reply to: Message 446 by Faith
04-07-2019 11:54 PM


Mendelian genetics is good enough to describe the majority of genetic events within a species genome no matter what sophisticated hooha is being taught in the name of the ToE.

As I said, our understanding of genetics has gone way beyond Mendelian inheritance. We barely even talk about Mendelian inheritance anymore it is so rare. I don't understand why you feel insulted when I present a simple example of a theory (my illustration using germ theory) because I was talking at an "elementary school level" but you can only think of genetics in terms of Mendelian inheritance which is itself "elementary level genetics."

But anyway... Let's assume you're right and Mendelian inheritace is the primary mechanism that generates variation in a species. This of course would apply to sexually reproducing diploid organisms. Shuffling alleles through recombination is what creates genotypic and phenotypic differences. What about asexually reproducing haploid organisms (these types of organisms make up the vast majority of species on earth)?

So what I'm thinking is that if Mendelian inheritance is the primary driver of diversity and the other factors are hooha, then asexual haploids should have very low genotypic and phenotypic diversity since they don't shuffle alleles around. Is that what you would predict?

I am asking a serious question here and want you to really think about it and make a prediction as to what diversity in asexual haploids would be like. They do not undergo recombination so they cannot shuffle alleles around in that way. I predict, based on your theory of genetics, that asexual haploids would have almost no diversity. Do you agree?

HBD


Whoever calls me ignorant shares my own opinion. Sorrowfully and tacitly I recognize my ignorance, when I consider how much I lack of what my mind in its craving for knowledge is sighing for... I console myself with the consideration that this belongs to our common nature. - Francesco Petrarca

"Nothing is easier than to persuade people who want to be persuaded and already believe." - another Petrarca gem.

Ignorance is a most formidable opponent rivaled only by arrogance; but when the two join forces, one is all but invincible.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 446 by Faith, posted 04-07-2019 11:54 PM Faith has not yet responded

  
herebedragons
Member (Idle past 73 days)
Posts: 1513
From: Michigan
Joined: 11-22-2009


(4)
Message 599 of 1371 (851566)
04-28-2019 8:47 PM
Reply to: Message 514 by Dredge
04-19-2019 3:15 AM


I accept that evolution is the best scientific explanation for the diversity of life on earth ... but what a pity it's not a very good explanation.

But you think that adding "God did it" anywhere there are gaps in our knowledge improves our ability to explain things scientifically? Scientists are always open to new theories or modifications to existing theories that better explain the data and provide a more effective framework with which to work in. Special creation doesn't offer a suitable scientific answer. We would be better off just saying we don't know.

If creationists or ID proponents would spend their time developing explanations that helped move our understanding of diversity forward, they would be much better off. Instead, all they do is disparage evolutionary theory. They think that if evolutionary theory is false, then creation is true by default. But what you don't seem to get is that even if evolutionary theory was actually a terrible theory, we would still continue to use it until a better theory came along - simply because it IS the best theory we have regarding the diversity of life on earth.

what chance does puny science have of explaining the miracle of creation?

On a philosophical level, I agree. But as a scientist, it is the best we got... so that's what we use.

What is the difference between inherited traits and derived traits?

Sorry, Typo. It should have been: shared and derived traits

What is this - an appeal to authority? But I'll play along - No, I don't work in the biological sciences ...

No, this is not an appeal to authority. But you can makes all kinds of claims about what biologist do and do not need to do, because you never actually have to put your claims to the test. For example:

As a biologist you don't need to think of common ancestors of genera. You don't need to "root the tree" beyond the genus you're studying. It's a waste of time because it's useless information.

You can make the claim since you never need to actually do anything that requires this type of study. You never have to test your claims. Same way Faith makes wild claims about genetics... she never has to put those claims to the test. Do you think I am going to go to work next week and apply your claims to my work? No, I am going to go with what has been proven to work.

I have no need to ask such questions (other than ones relating to common ancestry within a genus, which might prove useful).

How could you possibly know if all members of a genus shared a common ancestor? How could you know if several genera shared a common ancestor. For example: in the cat family, Felidae, there are at least 14 extant genera. Are each of these separate creations? or is each of the 8 lineages a separate creation? Or is the whole family descended from a common ancestor - as most creationists claim? What is your criteria for determining the answer?

I don't believe you ... and no one needs to explain the diversity of life on earth - certainly, no biologist needs such an explanation in order to be competent and productive.

There is a lot of things you could argue we don't "need", but we do it anyway. We are a curious sort. We want to understand our planet and our universe. But beyond that, understanding diversity helps us understand how to preserve diversity, a problem we are increasingly confronted with. Understanding how organisms adapt and change can help us predict how creatures will be affected by our changing world. Understanding diversity helps us develop food crops and medicine.

If you are disparaging basic research in general, sure, often times basic research has no application in applied science. But that building block will be added to by another basic researcher and another until something useful does come from it. Just because it doesn't have a useful application (in the view of a non-biologist) doesn't make it wrong. That's where you argument fails (despite your false claim of victory).

HBD


Whoever calls me ignorant shares my own opinion. Sorrowfully and tacitly I recognize my ignorance, when I consider how much I lack of what my mind in its craving for knowledge is sighing for... I console myself with the consideration that this belongs to our common nature. - Francesco Petrarca

"Nothing is easier than to persuade people who want to be persuaded and already believe." - another Petrarca gem.

Ignorance is a most formidable opponent rivaled only by arrogance; but when the two join forces, one is all but invincible.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 514 by Dredge, posted 04-19-2019 3:15 AM Dredge has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 739 by Dredge, posted 05-05-2019 8:14 PM herebedragons has responded

  
herebedragons
Member (Idle past 73 days)
Posts: 1513
From: Michigan
Joined: 11-22-2009


Message 668 of 1371 (851818)
05-02-2019 5:20 PM
Reply to: Message 661 by Faith
05-02-2019 4:12 PM


Re: Just to interject the YEC floodist view
Mutation will only change the genes governed by the genome for a particular species, it's not going to change the function of those genes in order to produce something different from what the genome does.

I think the problem is you don't really understand what the genome does. Your view is way too over-simplistic for you to make sense of what happens when genes change.

variations that are also built into the species genome.

I asked this question a while ago and you never responded, so I'll ask again.

If the way that new varieties or subspecies (or whatever you want to call them) occur is through the recombination of existing alleles, what would you expect genetic diversity to be like in clonal organisms? I would think that since they don't undergo recombination and they don't shuffle around existing alleles, they should have very little diversity between subspecies. Is that what you predict as well?

I came across a paper as part of a project I recently worked on and I will start a new thread on it once you give me an answer about what you expect genetic diversity to be like in clonal organisms according to your understanding of genetics.

HBD


Whoever calls me ignorant shares my own opinion. Sorrowfully and tacitly I recognize my ignorance, when I consider how much I lack of what my mind in its craving for knowledge is sighing for... I console myself with the consideration that this belongs to our common nature. - Francesco Petrarca

"Nothing is easier than to persuade people who want to be persuaded and already believe." - another Petrarca gem.

Ignorance is a most formidable opponent rivaled only by arrogance; but when the two join forces, one is all but invincible.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 661 by Faith, posted 05-02-2019 4:12 PM Faith has not yet responded

  
herebedragons
Member (Idle past 73 days)
Posts: 1513
From: Michigan
Joined: 11-22-2009


(1)
Message 991 of 1371 (852548)
05-13-2019 2:43 PM
Reply to: Message 739 by Dredge
05-05-2019 8:14 PM


HBD writes:

But you think that adding "God did it" anywhere there are gaps in our knowledge improves our ability to explain things scientifically?

Dredge writes:

Don' t be silly.

OK... so what do you think adding "God did it" does for our ability to explain the fossil record?

You say "Don't be silly" to my question and then go on to say this:

The best scientific explanation for the history of life is that aliens performed feats of genetic engineering.

Who's being silly?

Apart from the fact that there is no evidence of aliens, that explanation hardly provides a suitable explanation. So what are you thinking? Did these aliens tinker around for millions of years manipulating the DNA of a species until they came up with something they liked... that was just a little bit different than the previous version? Because genomes are a mess. There is no obvious organization or methodical restructuring to genomes, they are put together chaotically, disorganized and lack any indication that they have been systematically engineered.

To you, it may seem plausible. We find a fossil of Thrinaxodon from 230 mya, then Probainognathus from 210 mya, and then Morganonucodon from 200 mya and we can observe the changes in the shape of bones in the jaw and to you it may seem that genetic engineering aliens is as good an explanation as any (since we don't have a fossil example from every single generation between those three creatures). But it's really no explanation at all, unless you can point to some reason other than you don't want it to be evolution.

The Darwinist explanation is a nineteenth-century idea that is inadequate and outdated.

That's why modern evolutionary biologists don't use Darwinist explanations. We have moved on since then to more modern theories and explanations. We now know how DNA and inheritance works for one thing. Why do anti-evolutionists always harp on Darwin? It's not like we worship him - any more than Pasteur, or Francis and Crick, or Wallace, or Mayr, or Haldane, or Einstein, or Galileo, etc. They are scientists who have made significant contributions to our understanding of our natural world. That's it.

HBD writes:

How could you possibly know if all members of a genus shared a common ancestor? How could you know if several genera shared a common ancestor. For example: in the cat family, Felidae, there are at least 14 extant genera. Are each of these separate creations? or is each of the 8 lineages a separate creation? Or is the whole family descended from a common ancestor - as most creationists claim? What is your criteria for determining the answer?

Dredge writes:

Why would I need to answer these questions?

Well, I guess you wouldn't, seeing as how you are not a biologist and do not study biology or biological systems. If you did... these ARE questions you would want to know the answer to.

What are you talking about? Why the hell would I want to you stop using "what has been proven to work"?

Oh... I must have misunderstood. I thought you said the ToE was a failed theory and your theory about genetic engineering aliens was the best scientific explanation. Oh wait!! You did say that...

All I want you to do is explain why is it necessary to "root" a plant you are studying to some extinct "ancestor" that supposedly existed millions of years ago - because this sounds like a complete waste of time to me.

Well, judging by how you asked the question, you really have no clue as to what you are talking about even though you seem quite confident that you are right.

If you don't know what the ancestral state of a character is, how can you determine what the derived state is? How would you determine what traits were locally adapted? How would you determine how selection is affecting the character?

The idea that all life shares a common ancestor is central to biological studies. Of course, if I am studying a family of plants, the idea that those plants share a common ancestor with an elephant is pretty much irrelevant. However, if two organisms share a common ancestor, we can assume they will have similar genomes except where evolution has cause modifications. These modifications are clues as to adaptive traits. It is this framework that provides context within which to view biological organisms.

With genetic engineering aliens, all bets are off. We would have no context within which to put the genome differences.

HBD


Whoever calls me ignorant shares my own opinion. Sorrowfully and tacitly I recognize my ignorance, when I consider how much I lack of what my mind in its craving for knowledge is sighing for... I console myself with the consideration that this belongs to our common nature. - Francesco Petrarca

"Nothing is easier than to persuade people who want to be persuaded and already believe." - another Petrarca gem.

Ignorance is a most formidable opponent rivaled only by arrogance; but when the two join forces, one is all but invincible.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 739 by Dredge, posted 05-05-2019 8:14 PM Dredge has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 993 by JonF, posted 05-13-2019 4:52 PM herebedragons has not yet responded
 Message 1027 by Dredge, posted 05-21-2019 10:02 PM herebedragons has not yet responded

  
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