Right Thinking From The Left Coast
Do, or do not. There is no 'try'. - Yoda

You Die Now

This has to be one of the most disgusting pieces of enviro-panic brainwashing I’ve ever seen.  Kids answer lifestyle type questions about how much they drive or compost or whatever and based on --- well, complete bullshit as far as I can tell—the site tells you when you should die so you don’t use up too many resources.

Apparently, I should have died at age 3.4.

What a bunch of stupid garbage.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 06/04/08 at 05:45 AM (Discuss this in the forums)

Comments


Posted by on 06/04/08 at 07:58 AM from United States

2.8 for me. Well, since I have passed that age...I reckon I am living on “borrowed” time and should increase the ever loving shit out of the CO2 I use. The environment tastes GOOOOOOODDDDDDD!

Posted by Lee on 06/04/08 at 08:20 AM from China

Ha!  I got a 1.2.  So I should have died 36.8 years ago.

Posted by on 06/04/08 at 08:29 AM from United States

Apparently I should have died 40 years ago....

Posted by on 06/04/08 at 08:35 AM from United States

Lovely.  And paid for with Australian’s tax money!

Posted by on 06/04/08 at 08:42 AM from Japan

I got 19. Sorry guys. I outlive you 10 to 1.

This has to be one of the most disgusting pieces of enviro-panic brainwashing I’ve ever seen. 

You know, when you said that, I thought you were referring to this (I thought, yup, Hal steps up to the plate):

NASA plays down global warming to protect Bush

NASA officials censored and suppressed scientific data on global warming in order to protect the Bush administration from controversy close to the 2004 presidential election, an internal investigation has found.
A 93-page report by the space agency’s Office of the Inspector General reveals that personnel in the agency’s public affairs office were guilty of “inappropriate political interference” in their attempts to play down climate change findings.

The staff, who were appointed by the White House, “marginalised or mischaracterised” studies on global warming between 2004 and 2006, denying media access to top global warming scientist James Hansen, cancelling a press conference about a space mission that was set to monitor ozone pollution and, on more than a dozen occasions, unilaterally edited or downgraded press releases on climate change.

This has to be one of the most disgusting pieces of enviro-panic brainwashing I’ve ever seen.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 06/04/08 at 08:52 AM from Australia

stogy, I agree that Bush’s disgusting tinkering with science for politics is reprehensible.  I know I’ve posted on it at my own site; I’m not sure if I posted on it here.

This is nothing new.  We’ve known for years that he was pressing NASA and NOAA to fudge the data.  Hell, he had energy interests editing “global warming” out of position papers!

Posted by dwex on 06/04/08 at 08:59 AM from Germany

3.2 for me.

I noticed that the question with the most impact was “how much money did you spend all up last year”.

Nope. No socialism here. None at all. This way to the Egress.

Posted by on 06/04/08 at 09:12 AM from United States

I got a 16.2.  Last year wasn’t a typical year for us, so I used prior year estimates.

Posted by on 06/04/08 at 09:15 AM from Japan

All of my power is nuclear, which has a much smaller footprint than fossil-based fuels. Wasn’t quite sure how to answer that one. Nucear, fwiw is pretty crap here - just waiting for the next accident. There’s usually one a year. And they built quite a few of the stations on fault lines…

The main reason for my (relative) longevity was the bicycle. I still flew a good 30,000 miles last year. Didn’t buy much though. I don’t know how they convert the dollar value into greenhouse gases. It all smells quite a bit.

Posted by on 06/04/08 at 09:35 AM from United States

3.8 for me-doing my share to wreck the planet!

Posted by on 06/04/08 at 09:58 AM from United States

I got a 22.2 but mostly because we use hydro. I don’t know how to figure how much money I “spent all up” so it’s probably worse.

What a complete and utter steaming pile.

Posted by on 06/04/08 at 10:09 AM from United States

I noticed that the question with the most impact was “how much money did you spend all up last year”.

Yeah, I noticed that, too.  Apparently, the more money you make (and therefore spend “all up” (whatever that’s s’posed to mean)), the bigger pig you are. In other words:

Success == Piggyness

By definition.

Typical left-wing loser crap. It isn’t surprising that the liberals here are bragging about higher scores (up to a whopping 19 years).  Apparently, the total annihilation of humanity is the best thing we can do for Mother Earth.

As if we didn’t already know that…

I’ve got a question.

If there is no God, and if Darwin’s quaintly ignorant 19th century explanation really is how we got here, then what difference does it make how “green” we are? I mean, if we’re pigs (which I apparently am, given my income), and we go extinct, So What? The Universe won’t care, so why should we?

Posted by on 06/04/08 at 10:12 AM from United States

I got a 3.8, and I think live a pretty conservation-minded lifestyle!

top global warming scientist James Hansen

It wouldn’t surprise me that the Bush admin would try to limit Hansen’s exposure.  The more and more this guy is given a platform, the more he pushes his climate alarmist agenda.  Hansen is a poor scientist at best.

Posted by on 06/04/08 at 10:13 AM from United States

Oh, and you’ve gotta love the idea that we all have an equal “fair share” of the Earth’s resources.

Posted by on 06/04/08 at 10:42 AM from Europe

So What? The Universe won’t care, so why should we?

Because it’s only fair that others should have a chance to live too?

I got to be 9.

Posted by on 06/04/08 at 11:02 AM from United States

I don’t think I’ve gotten enough back from the Earth so I think I need to take a bit more. Fair trade.

Posted by InsipiD on 06/04/08 at 11:52 AM from United States

I got 8.  Whoever thought of this is an idiot.  If they’re encouraging children to do it, then they’re an asshole, too.  PeTA tactics.

Posted by on 06/04/08 at 12:21 PM from United States

Because it’s only fair that others should have a chance to live too?

You sound like Richard Dawkins, wringing his hands over all those genetic combinations that were never even conceived, let alone born…

We’re all gonna die. All extinction requires is that we fail to replenish our kind as fast as we die off.

Again, So What if that happens?

Eventually, old Sol’s going to become a Red Giant, and any life forms still stuck on this ball will be fried anyway. The atmosphere and oceans will boil away into space, and Earth will become a lifeless chunk of rock. Will the Universe give a tinker’s damn?

Posted by on 06/04/08 at 12:24 PM from United States

Because it’s only fair that others should have a chance to live too?

Simpler reply:

Why is that “fair”?

Posted by on 06/04/08 at 01:17 PM from United States

"Green” is, at its heart, pure junk science.  Essentially, all you have a is a mass of opinion and cherry-picked “facts” used to support a lifestyle choice made by a pack of fascist assholes.

If they all just wanted to be left alone, that would be fine, but these moronic and ill-informed pricks want to enforce their choices on the rest of us as well.

The only real way to deal with Greenies is to threaten them with massive violence…

Posted by HARLEY on 06/04/08 at 04:44 PM from United States

Hansen is a poor scientist at best.

at best, hes openly said that they need to exaggerate teh effects of global warming to archive their ends.

Posted by HARLEY on 06/04/08 at 04:53 PM from United States

i used up my “share” by age 6.1, and why is eatimg meat bad?

Posted by on 06/05/08 at 03:13 AM from Europe

Why is that “fair”?

Because I rather enjoy living, and no doubt others would too. Why wouldn’t I help them? I don’t need a Bible to tell me that that’s the decent thing to do (after I pick my way through, and bizarrely discount, the misogyny, racism, vindictiveness etc. also espoused, that is...)

Posted by on 06/05/08 at 03:54 AM from Australia

Will the Universe give a tinker’s damn?

Nope. Does that make your life any less fulfilling? It doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

Posted by on 06/05/08 at 04:31 AM from Japan

liberals here are bragging about higher scores (up to a whopping 19 years)

Yeah. Suck it up!

Somehow I don’t actually think that’s point of the exercise.

Because I rather enjoy living, and no doubt others would too. Why wouldn’t I help them?

Amen to that. A perfectly secular and logical basis for morality.

i used up my “share” by age 6.1, and why is eatimg meat bad?

Well technically it’s not bad - it’s neither good nor bad. But in terms of energy consumption it ‘costs’ a lot more in water, grain, and transport per kilo. If you were to look at the energy efficiency of a kilo of lentils, on the other hand…

Will the Universe give a tinker’s damn?

Actually, I suspect it would be rather pleased. It could move onto something much more interesting.

Posted by on 06/05/08 at 02:40 PM from United States

Because I rather enjoy living, and no doubt others would too.

So? Just because it’s something you “would like”, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “fair”. Try to come up with an objective argument that can actually hold water.

I mean, I can think of a dozen things that a person might “like”, but wouldn’t be “fair” to everybody.

Why wouldn’t I help them?

Why would you? That’s the more interesting question.

I don’t need a Bible…

When I asked my original question, I stipulated that there was no God, so bringing up the Bible is irrelevant.

Does that make your life any less fulfilling?

Whether I personally find my life to be “fulfilling” isn’t directly relevant. For example, what if I were to seek “fulfillment” by building what I personally considered to be an ideal society? What if my plans required me to slaughter certain problematic segments of existing society(ies) in order to fulfill my “dream”?

Remember, there is no God, and I am merely trying to determine what concepts like “fairness” or “meaning” or “fulfillment” objectively mean in such a context.

Posted by on 06/05/08 at 02:47 PM from United States

I suspect it would be rather pleased. It could move onto something much more interesting.

Such as . . . ?

The only thing the Universe has to look forward to, ulitmately, is burning out, the conversion of all energy into lifeless mass, a huge, cold, pitch-black void.

According to our current level of understanding, that’s what’s gonna happen at some point in the (admittedly distant) future.

No memory of you or your family will survive. No memory of Humanity will survive. In the most ultimate sense possible, nothing can have any lasting “meaning” whatsoever.

Posted by on 06/05/08 at 07:44 PM from Australia

What point are you trying to make, Iconoclast? That morality requires some sort of omnipotent being to judge us?

No memory of you or your family will survive. No memory of Humanity will survive. In the most ultimate sense possible, nothing can have any lasting “meaning” whatsoever.

So what? That doesn’t stop us enjoying our lives and the people we share them with.

Posted by on 06/05/08 at 10:41 PM from United States

What point are you trying to make, Iconoclast?

Do I have to “make a point” any and every time I post?  Why can’t I just ask a few questions?  Or make a few observations?

It wasn’t me who suggested that the Universe would be “pleased” by anything, or that the Universe would find our cosmic successors to be “more interesting” than anything. I was merely clarifying what the Universe’s ultimate end was.

Yes, I did ask whether the Universe would care if we went extinct, and the honest answer is obviously no. I find it interesting that I got a glib answer that anthropomorphized the Universe a bit more than necessary, instead of the honest answer.  It’s like people are timid about exploring such things.

That morality requires some sort of omnipotent being to judge us?

Interesting choice of rhetoric. No, I’m not claiming anything of the kind, but I am interested in where morality ultimately comes from. So far, I’ve been given the typical glib “it evolved” hand-waves, but nothing of substance.

So what? That doesn’t stop us enjoying our lives and the people we share them with.

Good for you, but what about those who cannot enjoy their lives, or those who try but are prevented?  Remember, I’m trying to ascertain what “fairness” is in a cold, indifferent Universe. What’s “fair” about your enjoying your life when so many cannot?

Posted by syddelish on 06/05/08 at 11:36 PM from United States

What’s “fair” about your enjoying your life when so many cannot?

Nothing.

As our parents were fond of saying, and I’m now fond of saying as a parent myself, “Life isn’t fair. Get over it.”

Posted by on 06/06/08 at 04:42 AM from Europe

So? Just because it’s something you “would like”, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “fair”.

I disagree. I can’t think of anything that I “would like” that could be considered unfair.

Why would you? That’s the more interesting question.

Probably because we tend to have some element of altruism in our natures, because altruism helps to ensure the survival of the species. So, if I can help ensure the survival of the species by planting a few trees, I’ll do it.

That’s not my conscious thought though. I just want others to see the world and enjoy life the way I do.

Posted by on 06/06/08 at 04:45 AM from Australia

Remember, I’m trying to ascertain what “fairness” is in a cold, indifferent Universe. What’s “fair” about your enjoying your life when so many cannot?

As syddelish said, the universe is not an inherently fair place. That’s neither a good thing nor a bad thing, it just is.

Posted by on 06/06/08 at 10:33 AM from United States

“Life isn’t fair. Get over it.”

Indeed. Recall:

So What? The Universe won’t care, so why should we?

Because it’s only fair that others should have a chance to live too?

I’m the one who asked the question above. “It’s only fair” was the response.

I can’t think of anything that I “would like” that could be considered unfair.

How convenient, but I’m not buying it. Are you claiming with a straight face that you would not like winning a lottery? Or living in a good neighborhood?

As others have pointed out, life (inherently) is not fair, so if you like life, you like something that is not fair, whether you care to admit as much or not.

Probably because we tend to have some element of altruism in our natures, because altruism helps to ensure the survival of the species.

Yeah, this is the “it evolved” pat answer hand wave I consistently get, but it’s just as much a nonanswer as “GODDIDIT”. Simply replace “God” with “Natural Selection”, and you have the equivalent non-explanation.

As syddelish said, the universe is not an inherently fair place.

So why does our species care about “fairness” at any level, then?  Life and the Universe are inherently unfair, yet we collectively chase after and whine about “fairness” on a fairly consistent basis. Why chase after and whine about something that doesn’t exist? How is that any more rational than believing in a supreme being that allegedly doesn’t exist?

Posted by on 06/06/08 at 10:51 AM from Europe

I’m the one who asked the question above.

I don’t think those answers exactly refer to the same question, but no matter. Just because life isn’t fair doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make it so.

How convenient, but I’m not buying it. Are you claiming with a straight face that you would not like winning a lottery? Or living in a good neighborhood?

How are either of those things unfair? They’re only unfair if I prevent others from doing them to.

but it’s just as much a nonanswer as “GODDIDIT”.

Why? There are any number of simulations that show altruism increases the chances of survival. Evidence for God is, let’s face it, a bit thin on the ground.

Posted by on 06/06/08 at 10:52 AM from Europe

*too*

Posted by on 06/06/08 at 11:18 AM from United States

Just because life isn’t fair doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make it so.

Why not? Why try to make life into something it inherehntly is not? How is that “rational”?

How are either of those things unfair?

Because they would be happening to you and not to everybody.  I would think that to be rather obvious.

They’re only unfair if I prevent others from doing them to.

No, it’s inherently unfair if you live in a good neighborhood while others are unable to, for whatever reasons.

Hell, some would argue that it’s inherently unfair that some people have musical talent while others don’t, or superior intelligence while others are feeble-minded, and so on.  Yet you would expect me to believe that you would not like to have musical talent or above-average intelligence?

There are any number of simulations that show altruism increases the chances of survival. Evidence for God is, let’s face it, a bit thin on the ground.

You’re comparing apples to oranges. No one is denying that altruism exists, but the mere fact it exists certainly doesn’t prove that Natural Selection is the reason it exists, any more than it proves God created it. The question is not whether altruism exists, but how it originated.

You claim that altruism helps us survive as a species, yet you fail to explain how that actually happens. I’ve read The Selfish Gene and am aware of how altruism is supposedly a survival mechanism, but the “Selfish Gene” explanations really don’t explain much, expecially the level of altruism humans often exhibit.  Regardless, it does provide you with the convenient pat answer, so I guess a true explanation isn’t necessary, when pat answers “suffice”.

Posted by on 06/06/08 at 11:39 AM from Europe

Why not? Why try to make life into something it inherehntly is not? How is that “rational”?

Because I find it rewarding, and it helps others too. What’s wrong with that? I must confess, I no longer see what you’re driving at here.

Because they would be happening to you and not to everybody.

If everyone has the same opportunity, it’s fair. Everyone has the same odds when they buy a lottery ticket, everyone can choose to work hard at school and get a good job that lets them buy a house in a good area.

Now, not everyone has the opportunity to go to a good school. *That’s* unfair. And as said above, that’s not something that I “would like”.

Being born with musical talent, intelligence etc, isn’t unfair. It’s only unfair if your birth somehow stops another from having those talents.

but the mere fact it exists certainly doesn’t prove that Natural Selection is the reason it exists

Indeed, but it’s easy to prove that it is a trait that would be strongly selected for.

yet you fail to explain how that actually happens

You seriously want me to give an example of how altruism helps survival? I know you’re smarter than that…

Posted by on 06/07/08 at 08:09 AM from United States

Why not? Why try to make life into something it inherehntly is not? How is that “rational”?

Because I find it rewarding, and it helps others too. What’s wrong with that?

Why are you being defensive? Did I say something was “wrong” with anything?

People like Mao Zedong and Pol Pot sought to create better societies. For example, The Great Leap Forward was supposed to “help others” on a grand scale. If Zedong found the enterprise “rewarding”, should we conclude that it was “rational”?

I must confess, I no longer see what you’re driving at here.

My point is the you are being completely subjective, but what I am seeking is objective thought and analysis. Just because you personally find something to be “rewarding”, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “fair”, even if you personally think it does. The simple fact is that we cannot know all circumstances surrounding a given scenario.

If everyone has the same opportunity, it’s fair.

But the whole point is that everybody does not have the same opportunity. Some people cannot live in a “good neighborhood” because those simply don’t exist in their third-word military dictatorship nation, for example. And as for the lottery, is it “fair” that a well-to-do person wins while someone in desperate need doesn’t?

In the early days of the California state lottery, it seemed that illegal aliens won fairly often. Is that “fair”?

Being born with musical talent, intelligence etc, isn’t unfair. It’s only unfair if your birth somehow stops another from having those talents.

It appears that you are (re)defining “fair” to suit your argment. What if someone is born blind? Or without arms? Or extremely feeble-minded? Nobody else is “stopping” anything, so should we therefore conclude that it’s fair for someone to be born beautiful and talented while someone else is born hideously deformed and feeble-minded?

but the mere fact it exists certainly doesn’t prove that Natural Selection is the reason it exists

Indeed, but it’s easy to prove that it is a trait that would be strongly selected for.

Not in all cases. Kin selection, for example, requires kinship. Why would someone’s tendency to help someone completely unrelated be “selected for” if their genes aren’t being helped in the slightest?

yet you fail to explain how that actually happens

You seriously want me to give an example of how altruism helps survival? I know you’re smarter than that...

How smart I am or am not is irrelevant. Can you show how my personal altruism helps my personal genes survive into the next generation, when the people I help do not share any genes that I have?

I repeat, I’ve read about the mechanisms described in The Selfish Gene. I want you to explain how the desire to help completely unrelated strangers “evolved” in Man, in your own words.

Posted by on 06/10/08 at 02:04 AM from Europe

The Great Leap Forward was supposed to “help others” on a grand scale.

However, I doubt if you could call it an altruistic endeavour. From a selfish standpoint, yes, it is rational to eliminate opposition, but happily most people don’t seem to think that way.

Just because you personally find something to be “rewarding”, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “fair”, even if you personally think it does.

Because you personally think different? You’ve got to do better than that… :)

But the whole point is that everybody does not have the same opportunity. Some people cannot live in a “good neighborhood” because those simply don’t exist in their third-word military dictatorship nation,

Indeed. I used the example of attending a good school in my post above. I agreed that wasn’t fair, and added that I didn’t like it.

What if someone is born blind? Or without arms? Or extremely feeble-minded?

All right, touche. That’s unfair, in contrast to what I said above. These people cannot be considered to have the same opportunities as the able bodied, I concede.

Can you show how my personal altruism helps my personal genes survive into the next generation, when the people I help do not share any genes that I have?

Well, in the *extremely unlikely* event that you are unrelated to the person you are helping, (what’s an average tribe size? Eighty?) altruism is attractive. Suppose Joe Bloggs and Joe Bloggs, VC, are in competition for the same woman. Who’s more likely to sleep alone?

Posted by on 06/10/08 at 03:33 AM from Japan

Interesting discussion - I didn’t know it was still going.

Can you show how my personal altruism helps my personal genes survive into the next generation, when the people I help do not share any genes that I have?

Actually, I think you can make a broad argument that it helps to create stronger, more cohesive societies, ones where people are less likely to commit crime, more likely to trust others, and to behave with respect towards people that are different from them.

I think it’s not unreasonable to expect your progeny to have a better chance of pulling through in such a situation - there’s tons of medical evidence showing better health outcomes in societies with higher levels of social capital.

Posted by on 06/10/08 at 05:29 AM from Australia

There’s a common misconception that natural selection operates on individual organisms. It doesn’t, it operates on individual genes, the vast majority of which are shared with others in your species. My favourite example of this is Toxoplasma gondii, which causes rats to actively seek out cats instead of avoiding them. This ensures that whatever T. gondii parasites are hanging around in that rat when it’s eaten can reproduce. It’s highly unlikely that any of those parasites are responsible for the behaviour alteration, as those that were are likely to be long dead by the time the rat shuffles off this mortal coil.

Posted by on 06/10/08 at 06:37 AM from Japan

Toxoplasma gondii

Sounds like some kind of rabies for rats. I guess the same rabid biting behavior parallels your Toxoplasma gondii.

Posted by on 06/10/08 at 09:11 AM from Australia

It’s the parasite that gives pregnant women a free pass on emptying the litter tray, because toxoplasmosis can cause miscarriage in humans. Apparently it affects our minds, too:

http://tinyurl.com/yr9bhj

Ah, the weird and wonderful things that random variation filtered by natural selection can come up with. Makes you glad to be a product of such a remarkable process.

Posted by on 06/10/08 at 09:15 AM from Australia

Also, rabies for rats exists. It’s called “rabies”. (Yes, rats can get and transmit it too, it’s just not very common)

Posted by on 06/11/08 at 10:33 AM from United States

However, I doubt if you could call it an altruistic endeavour.

It was supposed to help people on a mass scale, yet we cannot consider it altruistic?  I can understand why you would adopt such an outlandish premise, because not doing so would undermine your argument. But the simple fact that you have to make such a claim still has the same effect—saying that black is white or night is day is, essentially, concession of the point.

From a selfish standpoint, yes, it is rational to eliminate opposition…

Are we talking about the same thing? The Great Leap Forward was Zedong’s plan to move Chine into the 20th century in terms of industry, agriculture and economy.  Like Communism itself, it was intended to better everyone, but like Communism itself, the reality was harshly uncooperative.  The Great Leap Forward was simply another failed socialist experiment, but it had nothing to do with “eliminating opposition”.

To everyone else…

The Darwinian model is rife with equivocation from its supporters. For example, Orpheus will insist that it’s centered on genes, and not individual organisms, but Dawkins, in his book The Selfish Gene, talks about the survival of individual “survival machines” (i.e., organisms) at length. And in his preface to the 1989 edition, he spends a fair amount of time explaining how they’re equivalent (bold emphasis added):

The selfish gene theory is Darwin’s theory, expressed in a way that Darwin did not choose but whose aptness, I should like to think, he would instantly have recognized and delighted in. It is in fact a logical outgrowth of orthodox neo-Darwinism, but expressed as a novel image. Rather than focus on the individual organism, it takes a gene’s-eye view of nature. It is a different way of seeing, not a different theory.
...
My point was that there are two ways of looking at natural selection, the gene’s angle and that of the individual. If properly understood they are equivalent; two views of the same truth. You can flip from one to the other and it will still be the same neo-Darwinism.

In fairness, he does go on to say that the two views aren’t precisely equal, but again, he does discuss “survival machines” at length throught the text. For example, in chapter 4, after an extended discussion of evolutionarily stable strategies, he states:

We have been thinking of contests between members of the same species. What about inter-specific contests? As we saw earlier, members of different species are less direct competitors than members of the same species. For this reason we should expect fewer disputes between them over resources, and our expectation is borne out.

It would appear that both views are valid. So, in terms of altruism, how did we make the leap from “kin selection” (where some level of blood relation is assumed) to helping complete strangers? Sure, we can “make a broad argument that it helps to create stronger, more cohesive societies, ones where people are less likely to commit crime, more likely to trust others” as stogy suggests, but what would be the premises for such an argument? Why would “society” be something to select for, assuming it doesn’t yet exist?

Posted by dwex on 06/11/08 at 12:10 PM from United States

Hey Thrill - next time you jab me about not knowing when to let a thread go, I think I’m gonna point back to this one and tell you to go bug other people.

:)

Posted by on 06/11/08 at 12:29 PM from Australia

We don’t know exactly why altruism evolved, or what mechanism resulted in it. There’s an open debate about exactly what level natural selection operates on - gene, organism, species, group, etc. There’s no scientific debate that natural selection is the engine of evolution, it’s just that we’re not sure if it’s a V8 or a V6. Trying to turn that into “So Darwinism must be wrong” is ignorant, verging on intellectually dishonest.

Posted by on 06/11/08 at 12:30 PM from Australia

Also, this is talk.origins claim #CB411, so go and have a read of that and the papers it references.

Posted by on 06/11/08 at 04:14 PM from United States

Trying to turn that into “So Darwinism must be wrong” is ignorant, verging on intellectually dishonest.

Well, then, it’s a good thing I’m not doing that, isn’t it?

I have no problem with an “I don’t know” answer, and in fact I am encouraged by such honesty. However, I do have a problem with the smug implication that we absolutely will know, “some day”. I’m not accusing you of such, but the implication there. Whenever someone says, “scientists are working on it” (as Dawkins often does), that is all-too-often submitted as the final answer to a given issue, implying that the answer is at hand, when such implications are unwarranted.

Another point is that “Natural Selection Did It” is just as much an article of faith as “God Did It”.  Yes, we have evidence that natural selection exists, but we do not have any evidence that natural selection can create new genuses or classes or phyla.  Yes, something created them, but to assume that creator to be natural selection is just as intellectually dishonest as that of which you accuse me.

...not knowing when to let a thread go…

Take note that the response to my 06/07/08 08:09 AM posting was on 06/10/08 at 02:04 AM, nearly three days later.  My subsequent response to the postings for 06/10/2008 was the following day.

Posted by on 06/11/08 at 06:14 PM from United Kingdom

It was supposed to help people on a mass scale, yet we cannot consider it altruistic? 

Indeed, because it was not done at personal risk to Zedong himself. And even if it was, cases of misguided altruism hardly destroy the concept itself.

Posted by on 06/11/08 at 09:45 PM from Australia

but we do not have any evidence that natural selection can create new genuses or classes or phyla.

Bollocks.

Well, then, it’s a good thing I’m not doing that, isn’t it?

Yes you are. You’re taking a debate over the exact mechanisms of natural selection and using it to cast aspersions over the whole concept.

Posted by on 06/12/08 at 09:48 AM from United States

Indeed, because it was not done at personal risk to Zedong himself. And even if it was, cases of misguided altruism hardly destroy the concept itself.

On reviewing this discussion, it occurs to me that whether his actions are considered “altruistic” is secondary to the subjective argument that, just because it’s “fulfilling”, it must be “rational”. I brought Zedong’s Great Leap Forward up as a counter-example to that line of reasoning. I therefore concede the point of whether it qualifies as “altruism”, because that wasn’t my original point to begin with.

The point is that, just because one finds the idea of “creating fairness where there previously wasn’t any” to be a “fulfilling” task, and even if it is intended to “help others”, it simply doesn’t follow that it automatically creates fairness, nor does it guarantee that others are helped. Again, what I am seeking is objective quantification of these concepts, not subjective justification.

Bollocks.

I had hoped that we were past the point of letting Talk Origins do our thinking for us, and of simply lobbing skeptical questions at them instead of formulating our own responses.

From the cite:

Claim CB901.2:

No new phyla, orders, or classes have been observed appearing. Macroevolution remains unobserved.

Clever, but I never made the claim that “macroevolution remains unobserved”, so it’s a red herring. No, my claim is that we have no evidence that random variation filtered by natural selection can create new genuses or classes or phyla. Obviously, something created them, for they didn’t always exist. The question is, what was the causal agent? Your Talk Origins cite provides nothing in the way of evidence that natural selection is that creative agent:

Response:

1.  Evolution works almost exclusively
by gradual changes. It has taken
hundreds of millions of years of
evolutionary divergence to produce
the existing phyla, and probably
hundreds of thousands of years at
least for classes to develop. For
a new phylum, order, or class to
arise suddenly would be creationism,
not evolution.

2.  Macroevolution is evolution at or
above the species level, which has
been observed.

3.  Evidence is not limited to seeing
something happen before our eyes.
Evidence for macroevolution includes
the pattern of homology between organisms,
the fossil sequence (including abundant
transitional fossils), biogeography,
and other evidence. Furthermore, there
are no plausible mechanisms that would
prevent macroevolution, given the
variation which we observe. Indeed,
plausible mechanisms leading to diversity
do exist (Lee et al. 2003).

As we can plainly see, the cite spends its time attacking the “macroevolution” straw man, but utterly fails to provide the evidence I claim to be non-existent.

Yes you are.

No, I’m not.

You’re taking a debate over the exact mechanisms of natural selection and using it to cast aspersions over the whole concept.

What I am doing is questioning your faith in the concept. Yes, something created the phyla. As an article of faith, you will insist that the causal agent is natural selection, but the truth is that we simply don’t know what the causal agent is.

Posted by on 06/12/08 at 12:06 PM from Australia

I’m not a biologist, I’m a physicist. There’s an awful lot of people out there who know more about evolution than I do, and pointing you at them is a perfectly reasonable approach. Consult the experts directly and all that. Demanding that you won’t accept evolution unless some random blog commenter explains it in words of one syllable seems a bit ... demanding.

If you really want the evidence, it’s out there in the journal papers - go and read the bloody things for once. Did you read the paper by Lee et al, 2003 that lays out these plausible mechanisms? If you haven’t got access to academic journals then visit your local university library. If you are actually serious about trying to understand this stuff, then I’m happy to send you journal articles by email, but not if you’re just trying to justify a predetermined creationist position. You simply won’t find any evidence for that nonsense in the literature.

What I am doing is questioning your faith in the concept. Yes, something created the phyla. As an article of faith, you will insist that the causal agent is natural selection, but the truth is that we simply don’t know what the causal agent is.

It’s not a question of faith. The process goes like this.

1) Observation. Different phyla exist.

2) Hypothesis. The variation is due to random variation filtered by natural selection.

3) Look for evidence in favour. Speciation has been observed - tick.

Molecular evidence tells us that the rate of genetic drift matches the observed genetic differences across different clades - tick.

Developmental biology gives us clues about ancestral forms. Do these match the ancestral forms predicted by evolution? Yes, when you were a few weeks old you looked distinctly fish-like - tick.

Are the fundamental biological mechanisms the same across different phyla, therefore pointing to common descent? Yes, the genes that make your heart grow are mostly the same ones that make a crocodile’s heart or a bird’s heart or a fish’s heart grow. The reason you have four limbs and so does just about everything else in the animal kingdom is because it’s the same genes that do it. Insects departed our lineage earlier, but they still have an even number of limbs - the genes that code for that come from the common ancestor of you, me and the cockroach rummaging through my rubbish bin. Tick.

4) Look for evidence against. Is there a fundamental difference between frogs and cats? No, they share enough genetic material and mechanisms that evolution could conceivably have produced the difference over geologic time frames - tick.

Is there any case of a new phylum forming *faster* than evolution would predict? No - tick.

5) Repeat steps 3 and 4 until a better theory comes along. Until then, the explanation we have is the best one there is. It works. It matches the observed evidence.

Is it going to be wrong in some details? Yes, of course - we don’t know everything perfectly.

Is there any dispute that the only source of biological variation is natural selection? No. None whatsoever, except in the minds of the wilfully ignorant.

Posted by on 06/12/08 at 12:36 PM from United States

Absolutely nothing in your analysis precludes the possibility of (front-loaded) design. Nothing. It’s merely an a priori assumption that natural selection is the creative agent, and that a priori assumption is rooted in materialist philosophy.

The genome of the humble sea anemone provides evidence that can be interpreted as support for front-loaded design, for example. Orthodox Darwinian theory certainly failed to predict the complexity found in the sea anemone’s genome, so this does represent a challenge to Darwinian orthodoxy.

The newly decoded DNA of a few-centimeter-tall sea anemone looks surprisingly similar to our own, a team led by Nicholas Putnam and Daniel Rokhsar from the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, California, reports on page 86. This implies that even very ancient genomes were quite complex and contained most of the genes necessary to build today’s most sophisticated multicellular creatures.

For the record, I am not disputing common descent, nor do I dispute “evolution” in the general sense. What I do dispute is the notion that the only creative/causal agent that is ever considered is “natural selection”. In addition, I dispute the notion of laypersons, such as the people on this blog, simply tossing out “natural selection” as a pat answer to all questions of origin. Doing so is no better than saying “God did it” in terms of providing an actual explanation.

Consult the experts directly and all that.

Indeed. Good advice, and, for what it’s worth, I have read The Selfish Gene, like I’ve stated a number of times. I have also read The Blind Watchmaker and Endless Forms Most Beautiful. But all of that is ultimately beside the point, which is, can the people on this blog who espouse Darwinian evolution actually defend their views? That is the question I am posing. Telling me to go to the experts completely sidesteps that issue.

Posted by on 06/12/08 at 01:59 PM from Australia

What I do dispute is the notion that the only creative/causal agent that is ever considered is “natural selection”

No evidence has ever been found against natural selection. It’s been tested repeatedly. Predictions have been made that have been confirmed by subsequent discoveries. No other alternative explanation has survived rigorous examination. It is falsifiable, but it has not been disproved. That is as strong as scientific evidence gets. You’re demanding an impossible standard of proof, one which *no* scientific theory could possibly stand up to.

The reason I say “natural selection” in response to the questions you pose is that the full story is beyond me - and, I say without malice, I suspect beyond you as well. I don’t have a PhD in molecular biology, but I know enough about science to evaluate claims made by those who do.

What reason is there to consider an alternative explanation? What is there about our current theories on biological diversity that can’t be explained by natural selection?

http://tinyurl.com/d42bo

That’s a nice long well written article explaining why natural selection is capable of explaining macroevolution. Now, before you get up in arms about straw men and so forth, remember this:

No, my claim is that we have no evidence that random variation filtered by natural selection can create new genuses or classes or phyla.

Creating new genuses, classes and phyla *is* macroevolution! That’s the definition of the word - evolution that occurs at (maybe) or above (definitely) the level of “species”. Those levels are all above “species” and so they form part of macroevolution.

The genome of the humble sea anemone provides evidence that can be interpreted as support for front-loaded design, for example. Orthodox Darwinian theory certainly failed to predict the complexity found in the sea anemone’s genome, so this does represent a challenge to Darwinian orthodoxy.

Was this predicted in the Origin of Species? No, of course not - Darwin had no idea what a genome was. The book is nearly a hundred and fifty years old, it would be ludicrous to expect everything in it to be perfectly true. This is the straw man you keep attacking - the idea that there is this blind faith that everything Darwin wrote is gospel. It’s not. The ideas he had about common descent, natural selection and so forth have never been seriously challenged, but that doesn’t mean he got the details right. We’ve got a century and a half of scientific progress on those details, but in that time nobody has managed to find a skerrick of evidence against the basic concepts.

To address the anenome thing directly, it doesn’t challenge the theory of evolution at all. The data they have there shows quite clearly that anenomes and humans had a common ancestor. Common descent, which you don’t dispute, leads directly to our current theory of evolution, which you do dispute! Let’s go through it, step by step.

At some point in the past, an organism existed whose descendants include you, me and every anenome on the planet. That organism had a certain set of genes including, apparently, the one that (sort of) causes breast cancer in humans. A subset of those genes were passed on to all of its offspring.

In the many, many years since that occurred, that genetic code was subject to mutation. Some have been lost entirely. Some new ones have appeared. Some old ones still exist, but in a changed form. This process occurred in all of the descendants of that organism.

Here’s the thing, though - each path of descent had a different set of mutations! That’s what random implies, after all. Some of those mutations resulted in evolutionary branches dying out. Some of them did absolutely nothing. Some of them helped survival and increased in frequency.

The branch that led to us experienced selection pressure in favour of bipedalism, binocular vision, air-breathing lungs and so on. The branch that led to the anenome experienced different selection pressures and, unsurprisingly, turned out differently. Not very differently, because they still come from a common ancestor - just different enough to thrive in a different niche.

Now, this evidence shows a complete, unbroken chain of ancestors back from you to the ancient organism, me to the ancient organism and any particular anenome back to the ancient organism. But that organism did not belong to two different phyla! It couldn’t - you can’t have one organism be two different species, let alone different phyla (ignore bacteria, they have different rules). But I am indisputably not in the same family as an anenome, and I’m sure you aren’t either.

So if you don’t dispute common descent, what other mechanism is there to explain the differences?

Genes are hereditary.

We can trace a genetic path back from a tree and a dog to a single common ancestor.

Trees are plants, dogs are animals.

The common ancestor was not simultaneously a plant and an animal.

Unfiltered random mutation does *not* explain the differences between trees and dogs. Mutations is far too likely to be harmful for undirected random change to successfully result in a viable species.

Therefore there must be some sort of process that rewards more beneficial mutations.

Natural selection has been observed to reward beneficial mutations.

There is nothing that rules out natural selection operating over billions of years.

Natural selection is therefore a complete and sufficient explanation for the fact that we now have trees and dogs.

Posted by dwex on 06/12/08 at 02:10 PM from United States

On some TV show I saw the other night, they suggested an inquiry to people who believe in ID: If God designed humans, why did He put the Waste Treatment Plant so close to the Playground?

Posted by on 06/13/08 at 05:49 PM from United States

What I do dispute is the notion that the only creative/causal agent that is ever considered is “natural selection”

No evidence has ever been found against natural selection.

That is a meaningless statement that merely says that natural selection exists, which few would dispute.

It’s been tested repeatedly.

Yes, in the most trivial of cases. We keep hearing about bacterial resistance to antibiotics, etcetera, but natural selection most emphatically has not been observed to create new phyla or genuses, and testing the deep time aspects of the Darwinian model cannot be done. The best we can do is computer simulation and looking at many generations of bacteria, for example. But even at that, the bacteria remain bacteria.

Predictions have been made that have been confirmed by subsequent discoveries.

Again, at the most trivial levels possible, which, again, few would dispute.

No other alternative explanation has survived rigorous examination.

No other alternative explanation is given serious consideration. One can go so far as to argue that the Darwinian model is a science-stopper. We have a materialist explanation that we can pass off as the explanation, which, apparently, is all we need.

It is falsifiable, but it has not been disproved.

The deep time aspect is not falsifiable.

That is as strong as scientific evidence gets. You’re demanding an impossible standard of proof, one which *no* scientific theory could possibly stand up to.

Sheer nonsense. I can test gravity any time I like. I cannot test the deep time aspects of the Darwinian model. No one can. It’s just assumed to be true.

It’s interesting how Darwinian evolutionists keep telling us that “evolution is as well-established a theory as gravity”, but you never hear physicists telling us that “gravity is as well-established a theory as evolution”. There is a reason for that. Gravity, again, can be tested by anyone at any time. Darwinian evolution, especially the deep time aspects, cannot be. No, we just have to take it on faith from the biologist in the lab coat whose entire career is based on the Darwinian premise.

The reason I say “natural selection” in response to the questions you pose is that the full story is beyond me - and, I say without malice, I suspect beyond you as well. I don’t have a PhD in molecular biology, but I know enough about science to evaluate claims made by those who do.

Do you really? I am skeptical of all claims made by the scientific community, or, to be more precise, how those claims are presented by the media, which, most emphatically, does not understand the actual methods of doing science and disseminating findings.

As a mathematics major who studied statistics rather extensively, I am well-aware of just how tedious real science can be. After coming up with a hypothesis, a scientist has to design experiments to test the hypothesis, and thought has to go into that design to avoid skewing results. The experiment has to be repeated N number of times, and the results tabulated. Statistical analysis is applied, and a tolerance criterion is set, which affects just how the results are to be interpreted. All of this is pretty much ignored by the media, but it’s the backbone of doing actual science.

What reason is there to consider an alternative explanation?

None, if you are personally satisfied with the orthodox explanation, or if your career is based on it. But many prefer a better explanation of the existing data and evidence, even if that better explanation fails the materialism test.

What is there about our current theories on biological diversity that can’t be explained by natural selection?

Just about all of it. Natural selection is observed to reduce diversity, yet we are expected to believe it increases it.

http://tinyurl.com/d42bo

That’s a nice long well written article explaining why natural selection is capable of explaining macroevolution. Now, before you get up in arms about straw men and so forth, remember this:

No, my claim is that we have no evidence that random variation filtered by natural selection can create new genuses or classes or phyla.

Creating new genuses, classes and phyla *is* macroevolution! That’s the definition of the word - evolution that occurs at (maybe) or above (definitely) the level of “species”. Those levels are all above “species” and so they form part of macroevolution.

I am aware of that. The Talk Origin article discussed macro-evolution at length, but it’s primary objective was to support common descent, which I am not disputing. Again, I am disputing the idea that random variation filtered by natural selection is the creative causal agent for all biodiversity.

(Continued)

Posted by on 06/13/08 at 05:52 PM from United States

The genome of the humble sea anemone provides evidence that can be interpreted as support for front-loaded design, for example. Orthodox Darwinian theory certainly failed to predict the complexity found in the sea anemone’s genome, so this does represent a challenge to Darwinian orthodoxy.

Was this predicted in the Origin of Species? No, of course not - Darwin had no idea what a genome was. The book is nearly a hundred and fifty years old, it would be ludicrous to expect everything in it to be perfectly true.

Thank you for a splendid example of a straw man argument. To be fair, I do use the term “Darwinian evolution”, but that’s simply a label that refers to random variation filtered by natural selection. Sure, to be more precise (bordering on pretentiously pedantic, perhaps), I could use the term neo-Darwinian evolution, or neo-Darwinian synthesis, but that’s too awkward to type, frankly, and the simple fact is that I the term “Darwinian” to refer to the neo-Darwinian synthesis.

This is the straw man you keep attacking - the idea that there is this blind faith that everything Darwin wrote is gospel.

Umm, no, not even close. Like I said, when I refer to the Darwinian model, I am referring to the specific model that Darwin is credited for discovering, random variation filtered by natural selection. We are all aware of Darwin’s ignorance regarding genetics. In fact, Mendel, the one credited with discovering the concept of genetics, actually rejected Darwin’s hypothesis, but I digress.

Dawkins, in his book The Blind Watchmaker, explicitly states that Darwin’s book contains factual errors. Darwin talked of the “blending” of traits, but was blissfully ignorant of the genetic mechanisms involved. He was also ignorant of the cell’s complexity, of DNA and a host of other things.  But he is still credited with popularizing the notion that this force called natural selection had the power to create “endless forms, most beautiful”, and many simply attribute that to his ignorance.

In the current day, we do have knowledge of the cell’s complexity, and of DNA and genetics. The mechanisms of mutation have been studied at length, and we know that the vast majority of them are harmful, so that natural selection selects against them. Another large group are neutral, and natural selection fails to select for them in any explicit sense. Beneficial mutations are extremely rare.

Dr. Spetner goes into this at length in his book, Not by Chance, where he discusses the mathematics involved based on information theory, which he taught for ten years. Also, Dr. Sanford, the inventor of the gene gun, discusses the feasibility of random mutations providing the raw material for natural selection to act on in his book, Genetic Entropy, the premise of which is that our genome is deteriorating over time due to the number of harmful mutations vs. neutral vs. beneficial.

It’s not. The ideas he had about common descent, natural selection and so forth have never been seriously challenged, but that doesn’t mean he got the details right. We’ve got a century and a half of scientific progress on those details, but in that time nobody has managed to find a skerrick of evidence against the basic concepts.

You are entitled to believe whatever you want, but evidence against the theory has indeed been found by ID proponents.

To address the anenome thing directly, it doesn’t challenge the theory of evolution at all.

Of course not. It never does.

The data they have there shows quite clearly that anenomes and humans had a common ancestor.

But it doesn’t explain the level of complexity in the anemone’s genome, which far surpasses the level necessary to account for its phenotype. That is the point you are evading.

(Explanation of evolution snipped.)

So if you don’t dispute common descent, what other mechanism is there to explain the differences?

Front-loaded design is a possible explanation, but it has the serious problem of not being a materialistic explanation, and it has the other serious problem of having theistic implications, which is no doubt why it isn’t given serious consideration by “real” scientists.

Posted by on 06/13/08 at 06:04 PM from United States

Iconoclast gets a reward here for keeping a thread alive for the longest length of time.  June 6.  Nine days and counting....

(Sorry for the interruption.  Carry on.)

Posted by on 06/13/08 at 06:06 PM from United States

June 4.  Sorry.

Posted by on 06/13/08 at 06:35 PM from United States

You actually keep track of such things? I think you need to get out more… ;)

Posted by on 06/13/08 at 06:44 PM from United States

I think you need to get out more… ;)

Probably so.  :)

It’s not hard to notice, though, that the post has been around for a while, and keeps popping up.

Posted by on 06/13/08 at 07:03 PM from United States

Like the proverbial bad penny?  Of course, I blame the fact that this thread is on page 6 (!) on nothing other than WVR’s blogging diarrhea…

Posted by on 06/13/08 at 07:14 PM from United States

Of course, I blame the fact that this thread is on page 6 (!) on nothing other than WVR’s blogging diarrhea…

That would be hard to argue with!  :)

I tease (it is Friday night, afterall), but in reality, Iconoclast, I’m always impressed with you, your knowledge, and your persistence.

Posted by on 06/13/08 at 07:39 PM from United States

Aw shucks, ma’am, t’wernt nuthin’…

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