Monday, October 25, 2010

Where are the Thought Police when you need them?

What do evolutionary scientists do when they find a kind of amber that is supposed to be about 140 million years old in 320 year old rock? They deny the chemical evidence, says Jay Wile:

So what does an evolutionist do when a fossil find contradicts his treasured hypothesis? He just waves the magic wand of “convergent evolution.” Remember, similarities between species are strong evidence for evolution, except when the hypothesis of evolution cannot accommodate them. When that happens, the similarities are a result of “convergent evolution,” a process by which species have similarities based on sheer coincidence alone.

So in this case, the fact that the amber has all the chemical features of being made by an angiosperm must be ignored. Instead, because the amber appears “too soon” in the fossil record for angiosperms, we must assume that it was made by something other than an angiosperm. Furthermore, we must assume that the similarities between its chemistry and the chemistry of resin made by angiosperms is the result of sheer coincidence.

That’s the kind of mental gymnastics it takes to be an evolutionist today.

I didn't know anyone could say these things anymore. Isn't it illegal or something? Where are the thought police? Are they on coffee break?

I don't know what this country is coming to.

37 comments:

KyCobb said...

Martin,

The thought police are far too busy busting professors at christian institutions for daring to suggest that there might be something to evolutionary theory and mainstream earth sciences to bother themselves with creationists, who are doing a booming business. Just this year, William Dembski had to recant the daring suggestion that Noah's Flood might not have been global in order to avoid being fired from Southwestern Theological Seminary.

Martin Cothran said...

These are institutions that are chartered for explicitly dogmatic purposes. They're religious institutions; that's what they do. It shouldn't surprise anyone. This is quite different from the institutions and disciplines that claim not be dogmatic but really are.

KyCobb said...

Martin,

I noticed that you have not named any such institutions. Even though evolution is as well established a fact as gravity, purveyors of pseudoscience like Behe continue to enjoy comfortable academic existences. And as you noted, there are jobs for creationists at religious institutions, so long as they remember that the Bible trumps reality.

Martin Cothran said...

Several of these institutions were named in the movie "Expelled." Did you just miss that controversy?

Singring said...

Martin, once again I am gobsmacked in the face of your complete lack of understanding of not only evolutionary science, but science in general.

If a Biologist finds something or makes an observation that contradicts the currently accepted theory, then there are two options of interpreting that piece of information:

1.) The entire huge body of evidence from geology, chemistry, physics and biology that supports an evolutionary model with a billion-year old earth is all due to some freak coincidence or misinterpretation.

2.) The one piece of evidence he (or she) has uncovered is due to some freak coincidence or misinterpretation.

It's obvious which one you would choose as an explanation.

I'm also sure that in the article, the scientist makes it abundantly clear that his interpretation of teh results is tentative and subject to change as mnew data is collected.

Of course, such subtleties of interpretatuion do not exist in your black or white world-view, Martin.

Found one piece of evidence that does not obviously fit with the millions of pieces of evidence that point another way?

OF COURSE you throw out the millions and go with the one! That's what passes for 'rational' in Martin's world.

Anonymous said...

Here is the abstract from the paper that Mr. Cothran's creationist buddy is misrepresenting:
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/326/5949/132
Identification of Carboniferous (320 Million Years Old) Class Ic Amber
P. Sargent Bray* and Ken B. Anderson
The presence of amber, the fossil form of the resins produced by many types of higher plants, has been reported from many localities in Mesozoic and Cenozoic rocks. We have found Class I (polylabdanoid) amber in Carboniferous sediments dating to ~320 million years ago. This result demonstrates that preconifer gymnosperms evolved the biosynthetic mechanisms to produce complex polyterpenoid resins earlier than previously believed and that the biosynthetic pathways leading to the types of polylabdanoid resins that are now typically found in conifers and those now typically found in angiosperms had already diverged by the Carboniferous.

Joe_Agnost said...

Martin wrote: "Several of these institutions were named in the movie 'Expelled.'"

Expelled? Really? Somehow I'm not surprised...

www DOT expelledexposed DOT com

One Brow said...

As a documentary, Expelled has lower standards than anything produced by Michael Moore.

As noted in the abstract presented by anonymous, the authors interpreted this finding as an indicator of when the ancestors of angiosperms started making amber. In other words, it looks like angiosprem amber because it is from an ancestral population to angiosperms.

Dr. Wile took a comment by a magazine editor as the ultimate explanation for the data, which was ludicrous, if quite convenient for the point Dr. Wile was trying to make.

Martin Cothran said...

One Brow,

I'm sure you're an expert in documentary production values and I should just accept your assertion on authority. But I have this nagging doubt in the back of my mind...

Maybe you could compare it to PBS's anti-ID "Judgement Day," which I reviewed here: http://vereloqui.blogspot.com/2007/11/hatchet-job-pbss-dishonest-assault-on.html

Singring said...

'As noted in the abstract presented by anonymous, the authors interpreted this finding as an indicator of when the ancestors of angiosperms started making amber. In other words, it looks like angiosprem amber because it is from an ancestral population to angiosperms.'

I'll have to correct you on this One Brow, before Martin gets a chance to do so.

The author's in fact make quite clear that they do not think the amber is evidence of an early split between angisperms and gymnosperms. This is actually what Martin and his Creationist friend are all in a dizzy about - though I doubt they understand this. They seem to think that if this amber was angiosperm amber it would contradict evolution. Of course, it would not: it would only mean that angiosperms split from gymnosperms much earlier than previopusly thought.

Why did the authors not conclude this (Conclusion A) and instead argued that this amber is an 'astounding' example of convergent evolution of early gymnosperms and angiosperms separated by 150 million years (Conclusion B)?

Easy: Because there are no unambiguous fossils of angiosperms from the Carboniferous period to support this hypothesis. Molecular clock data also indicates that the split of angiosperms and gymnosperms occurred much later than 300 million years ago.

IF they had tried to argue that Conclusion A was the case, they would have gotten their ass kicked by the reviewers and their paper would probably have been rejected because you simply cannot overthrow reams of evidence that point one way (i.e. a late split of angios and gymnos) with a SINGLE piece of evidence.

That's not how sciene works, but apprently all the labour I put into explaining this to Martin when we were debating what is 'rational' and what is not went to waste as he does not seem to realize this.

IF...IF researchers find more amber that supports this paper and IF molecualr data and fossil data pushes back the angiosperm and gymnosperm split - THEN Conclusion A will maybe gain acceptance.

But based on a single piece of evidence?

Nope. Cinvergetnt evolution is the more reasonable explanation in this instance, at least until further evidence comes in.

Singring said...

Just to clarify (my post isn't really specific on this):

The authors hypothesize a split in the biosynthetic pathways of amber within gymnosperms, one branch of which is similar to later angiosperm amber bisynthetic pathway - but not a split into gymnos and angios.

One Brow said...

Singring,

When you correct me, it would be nice if you corrected a position I actually made. There is nothing about the phrase "ancestral to angiosperms" that indicates a date after the angiosperms ane the gymnosperms split.

Certainly, one possible explanation is that the split of angiosperms and gymnosperms was earlier than expected, but it does not "only mean" that. Another possible explanation is that this amber is from an ancestral population to both angiosperms and gymnosperms, and that the amber of ancestors of angiosperms changed much less after the split than the amber the ancestors of gymnosperms. A third would be that the changes that make the amber look like angiosperm amber are simple enough to have happened more than once.

One Brow said...

Martin,

Having only your review to go on, it's quite possible that the documentary was indeed as much propaganda as informational. That's hardly startling when it comes to documentaries.

Since the article is a few years old, I'll forgo say too much about it, outside of my being unaware of any use of astrology that qualifies as scientific, and that (based on my memory of the trial transcripts) portraying the plaintiff experts as being confident and the defense experts as bumbling was not a stretch.

Anonymous said...

Dover trial transcripts can be found here:
http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/intelligent-design-trial-kitzmiller-v-dover

Singring said...

'Another possible explanation is that this amber is from an ancestral population to both angiosperms and gymnosperms, and that the amber of ancestors of angiosperms changed much less after the split than the amber the ancestors of gymnosperms.'

I've read the papaer and you are right - the authors are suggesting that the biosynthetic pathways for resin production diverged some 300 million years ago.

My apologies.

The confusion has arisen because the blog post Martin has linked to in his post, the author (Jay Wile) cites a comment from the same issue of Science in which another researcher interprets the results differently (no surprises there, that's what these comment sections in journals are all about).

But he cites that comment in a way that suggests the commenter is trying to gloss over a problem this result poses for Evolutionary Theory, when of course it does not - it simply pushes back the split of resin biosuynthetic pathways associated with conifers and angiosperms today and ancestral gymnosperms.

So that blog article is bunk.

Can you imagine?

A Creationist misrepresenting scientific discourse?

'A third would be that the changes that make the amber look like angiosperm amber are simple enough to have happened more than once.'

'That's what the commenter is suggesting: convergent evolution.'

So you have two competing interpretations - both compatible with evolutionary theory, yet somehow Mr. Wile construes it as a case of scientists glossing over problems with evolution.

Joe_Agnost said...

singring wrote: "Can you imagine?

A Creationist misrepresenting scientific discourse?"

Not only that - but VitalRemnants reports this as if there was controversy with the theory itself.

And I thought these creationists were men of god...

Martin Cothran said...

Dover trial critique can be found here: http://vereloqui.blogspot.com/2007/12/logical-bankruptcy-of-argument-that.html

Martin Cothran said...

I assume the rest of you will take this up with Dr. Wile over at his blog like Onebrow has done so Dr. Wile can address these points?

Anonymous said...

As usual, Martin misrepresents science when it is convenient. The last paragraph of the paper by Bray and Anderson (2009) states:
“The observation of Class Ic ambers in Carboniferous sediments suggests that preconifer gymnosperms were using complex polyterpenoid resin in a manner similar to that seen in a wide variety of modern species.  Modern resins that are structurally analogous to Class Ic ambers are primarily derived from angiosperms.  Our data do not imply that angiosperms existed in the Carboniferous, because the fossil record does not record unequivocal angiosperm fossils until the Cretaceous.  However, our data do suggest that the divergence of the biosynthetic mechanisms needed to produce resins based on regular and enantio-series labdanoid diterpenes predates both the emergence of true conifers and the differentiation of angiosperms and gymnosperms.  Furthermore, these basic biosynthetic pathways have been retained in both gymnosperms and angiosperms through several major extinction events and over 300 million years of evolution. Based on genomic evidence, previous workers have postulated initial differentiation of terpene synthase genes associated with the production of resin-related diterpenes during the Carboniferous.  Our data support this hypothesis.”

Anonymous said...

Martin Cothran said...
I assume the rest of you will take this up with Dr. Wile over at his blog like Onebrow has done so Dr. Wile can address these points?


I'm not sure it would be worth the effort. Dr. Wilie's knowledge of paleontology is abysmal. I just looked at the comments on his blog and note that he claims Charles Walcott only published one paper on his Burgess Shale discoveries in an obscure journal and hid the fossils away in the Smithsonian for years. This claim is an outright lie. Do a google scholar search for a fraction of what Walcott published.
The only reason I bother to participate in this blog is that you have influence here in Kentucky.

KyCobb said...

Martin,

Expelled was pure propaganda. Lets look at the two most prominent "expelled" scientists:

Guillermo Gonzalez: As one would expect in a free market economy, Universities are in business to make money. Researchers make money by obtaining outside grants for research. Gonzalez drew very little grant money for research, so like many other similarly situated astronomers, he was denied tenure.

Richard Sternberg: He didn't lose a job and he wasn't denied access to the Smithsonian. People criticized him in emails. I would assume you wouldn't have a problem with that, since you regularly criticize people on the internet.

The fact is, that of the people who appeared in the movie "Expelled", the only one who was forced to recant his scientific position due to dogmatism was Bill Dembski. As I noted above, the thought police can primarily be found at educational institutions affiliated with fundamentalist sects, which do not tolerate academic freedom.

Martin Cothran said...

Anonymous,

Right. Just post here anonymously in a safe place where no one has the scientific expertise to counter you. You all are so brave.

I suppose you're one of those people who think peer review is important too.

Anonymous said...

Martin Cothran said...
Anonymous,

Right. Just post here anonymously in a safe place where no one has the scientific expertise to counter you. You all are so brave.

I'm glad you finally admit to having no expertise in science. Perhaps you will cease supporting ID creation bills in the KY Legislature. Trouble is that Wilie doesn't appear to have any knowledge of science either, in spite of an advanced degree in a subject other than what he is writing about. However, you gave him a forum with your post here. Why don't you get him to post here?

Even the mildest of peer review would eliminate obvious lies such as Wilie's claim that Walcott hid the Burgess Shale fossils from the rest of the paleontological community. The claim by Wilie that Walcott did this is not a matter of interpretation; a bibliography of Walcott's professional papers would disprove the claim. You gave Wilie a forum, but are now complaining when his misrepresentations of science are exposed.

Martin Cothran said...

Anonymous,

Where did I ever claim any expertise in science? And when have I supported an "ID creation" bill?

Art said...

Well, this is going to make it much easier to teach the A Beka view in schools.

Anonymous said...

Martin Cothran said...
Anonymous,

Where did I ever claim any expertise in science? And when have I supported an "ID creation" bill?


Does someone else write your blog? You constantly pontificate on your version of science. You have an entire Blog category labeled "science".

As for your support of ID creationism bills, read your own blog for Thursday, March 04, 2010, a press release in support of last spring's failed KY ID Bill. Of course you may not support your own press release since you are a lobbyist for the KY Family Foundation. Are you claiming to not support the things they have you do?

Martin Cothran said...

I got this comment in my e-mail from Anonymous but for some reason I don't see it posted here. Blogspot is acting screwy. So I'll post it myself:

Martin Cothran said...
Anonymous,

Where did I ever claim any expertise in science? And when have I supported an "ID creation" bill?


Does someone else write your blog? You constantly pontificate on your version of science. You have an entire Blog category labeled "science".

As for your support of ID creationism bills, read your own blog for Thursday, March 04, 2010, a press release in support of last spring's failed KY ID Bill. Of course you may not support your own press release since you are a lobbyist for the KY Family Foundation. Are you claiming to not support the things they have you do?

Martin Cothran said...

Anonymous,

I read the press release you referred to. It says nothing about "ID creationism." Can you quote for me the section of the press release or the bill itself that discusses "ID creationism" please?

And the posts under the Science label are not posts that engage in science, they make comments mostly about public policy issues relating to science. Mostly, they discuss what happens when scientists step out of their field of expertise and engage in philosophy or law or politics.

But again, enlighten us on where in the posts under the "science" label I say that I have scientific expertise.

Forget about whether I have someone else write my blog, you need to find out if there is someone other than you reading it.

Anonymous said...

You even label it under the category ID


Thursday, March 04, 2010
 
NY Times features KY "Teach the controversy" bill on human origins, global warming
For Immediate Release
March 4, 2010

LEXINGTON--A Kentucky bill that calls for critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion concerning the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories was featured today in the New York Times. The bill, House Bill 397, was introduced by State Rep. Tim Moore (R-Elizabethtown).

"The Family Foundation is in full support of an open-minded approach to issues of human origins, global warming, and human cloning in our schools," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation of Kentucky. Cothran has also written for the Discovery Institute, which has worked for similar legislation in other states.

"Our students need to be learning how to think about all these issues," said Cothran, "they don't need to be indoctrinated with the current fads in science. Global Warming is just one issue in which some in the scientific community have decided which views are acceptable and which are not. We need to make sure our students are taught that there are others sides to some of these controversial issues."

The Bill, called the "Kentucky Science Education and Intellectual Freedom Act," allows a teacher to use materials other than state-approved textbooks, with the approval of the local site-based council, "to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, including but not limited to the study of evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."

###
Labels: education, global warming, ID, Kentucky


# posted by Martin Cothran @ 3:00 PM 19 comments links to this post

Martin Cothran said...

Okay, blogspot just doesn't like Anonymous's posts and has again sent me an e-mail of his comment and not registered it on the page for the post. So here goes again:

You even label it under the category ID


Thursday, March 04, 2010
Â
NY Times features KY "Teach the controversy" bill on human origins, global warming
For Immediate Release
March 4, 2010

LEXINGTON--A Kentucky bill that calls for critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion concerning the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories was featured today in the New York Times. The bill, House Bill 397, was introduced by State Rep. Tim Moore (R-Elizabethtown).

"The Family Foundation is in full support of an open-minded approach to issues of human origins, global warming, and human cloning in our schools," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation of Kentucky. Cothran has also written for the Discovery Institute, which has worked for similar legislation in other states.

"Our students need to be learning how to think about all these issues," said Cothran, "they don't need to be indoctrinated with the current fads in science. Global Warming is just one issue in which some in the scientific community have decided which views are acceptable and which are not. We need to make sure our students are taught that there are others sides to some of these controversial issues."

The Bill, called the "Kentucky Science Education and Intellectual Freedom Act," allows a teacher to use materials other than state-approved textbooks, with the approval of the local site-based council, "to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, including but not limited to the study of evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."

###
Labels: education, global warming, ID, Kentucky

Martin Cothran said...

Anonymous,

This is the second time you have argued that because you can find a tag on my blog on something that I therefore support it or claim some expertise in it(First you did it with "science" and then you did it with "ID")

I also have tags on "animals rights," "gay rights," "abortion," "adulterers' rights," "atheism," "Darwinism," "domestic partner benefits," "euthenasia," "evolution" "forced busing," "gambling," "gay domestic violence," "horse racing," "international trade," "Marxism," "neuroscience," "physics," "population control," "poverty," "psychology," "theology," "wine," and "women in combat."

I even have a tag on "cooties."

Does having these tags ipso facto mean that I claim expertise in these areas or that I support them?

The only one that I can even claim any personal experience with is "cooties," since I was accused by my sister when I was young of having them.

You seem to assume that just because somebody has an opinion on something they are therefore claiming some kind of expertise in it, which, of course, is preposterous. You apparently have opinions on religion. I'd love to know your expertise in it.

You still haven't produced a single quote where I have claimed expertise in science or where I have supported an "ID creationist" bill.

I'm still waiting...

KyCobb said...

Martin,

Drop the act. We know that the whole point of the "Kentucky Science Education and Intellectual Freedom Act," is to allow teachers to use cdesign proponentsists materials in Kentucky classrooms.

Anonymous said...

He is just doing this for deniability in case the Family Foundation gets the legislature to pass such a law. In the past, the FF supported creationism; they even used to link to the ICR on their web page. Oddly, this has disappeared. Wonder why? ;-)

Rob Murphy said...

Mr. Cothran,

I know discussing topics can usually lead to logical conclusions, based on facts and level-headed logic, but I do not see the reason why you continue to address these child like remarks from the senseless fingers (albeit minds, but if evolution is true then they do not have one) of people who seemingly have nothing to do, than to contradict you at every turn without evidence and impose their ideas and beliefs without substantial evidence or experience to back them up.

It is evident, and they will dispute this no doubt, to logical thinking men and women that these self-promoted commentators are entirely intolerant to any view displacing their own or that which makes them feel uncomfortable.

My One Question: How do you know Evolution is true (such as the Big Bang or even the age of this fossil) when you were not there to observe it?

Creationism has its Witness, who is yours?

Joe_Agnost said...

Rob Murphy wrote: "My One Question: How do you know Evolution is true (such as the Big Bang or even the age of this fossil) when you were not there to observe it?"

You would have been wise to have kept your ignorance to yourself... the theory of evolution (ToE) has nothing to do with the big bang. That you think the big bang is some sort of evidence for evolution just shows how ignorant you are on the subject (which isn't surprising - most creationists/IDers don't know much about the ToE but deny it with every ignorant breath!)

How do we know the ToE is true? Because every piece of evidence found to date has supported the theory. Because in over 150 years of scientists trying to falsify the theory none have succeeded.

Because many branches of science have shown evidence for the theory (biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy, ...).

Rob cont'd: "Creationism has its Witness, who is yours?"

It has a "witness"! OMG! I had no idea... present your witness please - but only ~real~ people qualify (I suspect that excludes your witness.)

KyCobb said...

Rob Murphy,

In order to answer your question, I would have to send you back to high school to sign you up for science courses, then you would have to actually pay attention to the material.

Singring said...

'Creationism has its Witness, who is yours?'

Oh really?

Who?

Observational evidence of evolution:

Nylon-digesting bacteria, look it up.

Or read this:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html