Evolving Ideas and Intelligent Design

Feb 19 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Well, it seems that my earlier post on Darwin has ruffled some feathers in the Intelligent Design (ID) camp, so they've been trolling the comments section on my personal blog. This post started out as a response, but I decided to expand it to include some of the context surrounding Darwin's work.

A comment by VMartin

...One wonders why no one noticed “natural selection” before. And there were ingenous minds in the history! One answer might be this – it was never observed because it doesn’t exist. Darwin implanted this speculation there. And “On the origin of species” reads sometimes like comedy. One should try to count how many times Darwin used words like “which seems to me extremely perplexing” etc....

It's interesting how 'simple' natural mechanisms and systems can take longer to be acknowledged than one might have thought. Heliocentrism is another example of something that now seems very obvious, but was historically slow to be recognised (and is still not recognised or not known about by some). It's easy to blame organised religion for the suppression of such observational truths about the universe, since challenges to traditional belief were seen as heresy and dealt with accordingly, but there's far more to it than that.

One reason why some scientific theories have been slow to come to light

One reason why some scientific theories may have been slow to come to light

Let's set the scene - Darwin's formative years were tumultuous with regard to sociopolitical events. The Napoleonic wars drew to an end with the Battle of Waterloo when Darwin was six years old, the Peterloo Massacre occurred and the Six Acts were drawn up by the Tories to suppress radical reformers when he was ten - reflecting the ongoing social division between the establishment and the public.

Peterloo Massacre

When Darwin was in his twenties the power of the strongly traditional British establishment finally began to wane, when the Whigs came to government allowing the 1832 Reform Act and the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act to be passed. There was also the devastating Great Famine in Ireland when Darwin was in his thirties and all of this was set against a background of the Industrial Revolution, which was providing the impetus for science to play an increasingly important role in society.

This meant that Darwin's work was by no means formulated in intellectual isolation. Theories of evolution had been proposed 2,400 years previously, but they were poorly developed. Natural philosophers like Darwin's own grandfather Erasmus and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck raised the issue of evolution at around the time of Darwin's birth, but the mechanisms for evolution were either ignored or flawed. Evolution was an established topic of discussion and publication by the time Charles Darwin came onto the scene, with people like Robert Grant being more radical on the subject than Darwin found palatable in his early manhood. Despite this interest, the mechanism of evolution remained elusive - perhaps unsurprisingly, since the academic community addressing natural sciences was largely composed of members of the clergy and the natural theology of the time was seen as being mechanism enough.

But a literature base that was to inspire non-traditional hypotheses was also developing at the time - Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation in particular offered an alternative view that was seen as too radical by many - clearing a path for subsequent works that challenged orthodox views.  Given this context, it is perhaps unsurprising that Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace converged on the same premise at the same time. In short, the ideas evolved to fit the intellectual and social environment. The same has been true of other discoveries and inventions where there was a requirement for the right intellectual groundwork to be laid in advance. This groundwork is required before a robust theory can take root - and Natural Selection is a component of the robust theory of Descent with Modification, or evolution.

The critiques I have seen of evolutionary theory  have come from people who quite clearly don't understand it - and such critiques tend to rely on statements of incredulity rather than a strong factual base. No well-supported alternative hypotheses have been constructed or presented and a lack of understanding hardly counts as a robust refutation of a well supported theory.

An accusation by IDers is that 'Darwinists' (N.B. I don't know anyone who would call themselves a Darwinists following the New Synthesis) stick with Natural Selection because they are atheist. I think I see the real agenda emerging here, particularly when you see evolution as a theory being conflated with just one of the mechanisms involved. After all, Natural Selection is not the only mechanism involved in evolutionary adaptation and speciation - there are also other factors like hybridisationhorizontal gene transfergenetic drift, perhaps some epigenetic influences and artefacts of EvoDevo processes. But these factors are still constrained by the simple fact that if they are selected against, they will not be perpetuated.

Intelligent Design

The Intelligent Design agenda

John A. Davison left this comment on a previous post:

Natural selection is a powerful force in nature. It has but one function which is to prevent change. That is why every chickadee looks like every other chickadee and sounds like every other chickadee – chickadee-dee- dee, chickadee-dee-dee. Sooner or later natural selection has always failed leading to the extinction of nearly all early forms of life. They were replaced by other more prefected forms over the millions of years that creative evolution ws in progress...

First and foremost, the suggestion that Natural Selection prevents change is erroneous - change will occur if there is a change in the environment and/or if beneficial mutations arise in a population (tell me that mutations don't happen - I dare you...). The obvious response to the next statement is that I can think of six different 'chickadee' species, with an additional three subspecies (and this is ignoring numerous other very similar members of the Paridae), all are similar, but all are different - so the statement makes no sense as it stands. Getting to the meat of what is being implied about the Creationist interpretation of species, another bird provides a good example to the contrary. The Greenish Warbler shows a distinct pattern of hybridising subspecies across their vast range, until they form reproductively isolated species at the extreme ends of their range, where they happen to overlap yet not hybridise (a classic ring species [pdf of Greenish Warbler paper]). This is a well-known example of how genetic variation can accrue and give rise to new species without any supernatural intercession.

Salamander ring species (picture from Thelander, 1994)

Salamander ring species

Another comment by VMartin

...But no wonder that Darwin considered “natural selection” for such a complicated force. Even nowadays Dawkins speculates that NS operates on genes, whereas E.O.Wilson has brushed up “group selection” recently (citing of course Darwin as debeatur est .

So may we “uncredulous” ask on which level “natural selection” operates?

As to this question about the level on which Natural Selection operates, I thought the answer was pretty obvious - it operates at every level. Change the focus of Natural Selection from passing on genes to the only alternative outcome - the inability to pass on genes. It doesn't really matter which level this occurs at or why - be it a reduction in reproductive success when not in a group, or a deleterious single point mutation - if it happens then Natural Selection can be said to have occurred. Being 'fit' simply means that an organism has not been selected against.

There's a lot more to modern evolutionary thought than Darwin's key early contribution, but Darwin is still respected because he was the first to provide a viable mechanism by which evolution is driven. This mechanism has helped make sense of an awful lot of observations that were previously unaccounted for and, moreover, evolution has been observed and documented on numerous occasions [here's a pdf summary of some good examples].

I fail to see why Intelligent Design has been taken seriously by some people - it relies on huge assumptions about supernatural interference (so it fails to be a science) and I have as yet never seen a single piece of evidence that actually supports ID claims. The only research I have seen mentioned by proponents of ID are old, cherry-picked studies that report a null result from an evolutionary study - this is not the same thing as support for ID, as anyone who can spot the logical fallacies of false dichotomy and Non sequitur (in particular the fallacy of denying a conjunct) will tell you.

I like to keep an open mind, but as soon as I see logical fallacies being wheeled out I lose interest in getting involved in the discussion. This may be a failing on my part, because I should probably challenge misinformation, but quite frankly I don't have the time or the patience - much as I hate to stoop to an ad hominem, my feelings on this are best summed up by the paraphrase:

when you argue with the ID lot, the best outcome you can hope for is to win an argument with the ID lot

and my time is far too precious to waste arguing with people who ignore the arguments of others and construct Straw man arguments based on cherry-picked and deliberately misrepresented information. I have no problem with other people believing in any of the numerous gods that are available, but please don't try to bring any god into science (and heaven-forbid the classroom) - since it is neither necessary nor appropriate.

Intelligent design as a scientific idea

Intelligent design as a scientific idea

54 responses so far

  • To help understand "Intelligent Design" it might help to understand unintelligent design first.

    Unintelligent design is the process by which a god is created so as to perfectly fit into the gap in the knowledge of Creationists. This isn't an intelligent process but happens as the line of least resistence is followed from the starting point of stupidity and ignorance towards a required outcome with the minimum of effort and thinking, provided it always passes the test of fitness to the underlying environmental dogma.

    I hope that explains it.

  • David Craven says:

    In fact, the idea of Natural Selection can be traced back nearly 4000 years and has arisen separately and independently not only in Europe and Ancient Greece and Rome, but in ancient natural philosophy in Egypt, Persia, China, and Japan.

    So far from only being observed by Darwin 150 years ago, it has been observed across the world and throughout history. Exactly as you'd expect for any observable fact.

    I also have to ask, given gravity was "only" spotted 400 years ago, should we doubt that too?

    • paolo says:

      Ah yes, but gravity is probably just God's will - after all, we still aren't entirely sure what causes it and therefore the only possible explanation is God.

      This God-of-gaps has been pushed into smaller and smaller gaps as science allows us to understand more and more about our universe, yet the ID crowd still cling on to their unfounded beliefs.

      I normally don't get bothered by such things, but the misinformation (by which I mean outright LIES) that I've seen spread by people like this John A Davidson guy really wind me up. I dread to think how pervasive his hogwash has become with those who are unable to check the facts for themselves in an objective way.

  • gerty-z says:

    Great post. It does often seem pointless to argue with the ID nutjobs, but thanks for (yet again) laying out the arguments.

    • paolo says:


      It does seem pointless and I almost wish I hadn't let myself get side-tracked by their ill-formed opinions. Almost!

  • Torbjörn Larsson, OM says:

    Oh, where to start...

    1. Davison and his adorer ("simpering sycophant", PZ Myers) WMartin aren't IDists as they are commonly known. Davison is an associate professor in biology that over the years went nuts/senile and started to push for "alternative theories of evolution". Mostly he is shunned by IDists.

    Davison has a laughable "blog" where he is the only running commenter on _one_ post. This incompetent, along with WMartin, is a known troll. The best way to answer him is not to.

    To continue, the history bit was AFAIU outstanding. One can argue if Anaximander fits in, but OK. The biology is, again AFAIU (layman), a bit vague:

    2. "I don’t know anyone who would call themselves a Darwinists following the New Synthesis"

    However I dislike the terms darwinist (and 'evolutionist'!) I have seen Dawkins do this. I think the term has undergone a glide to mean those that acknowledge that selection fixate visible traits. (Drift fixate mutations at large.)

    3. "As to this question about the level on which Natural Selection operates, I thought the answer was pretty obvious – it operates at every level."

    This is correct but goes cross the question asked. "Group selection" is a biological dud as far as I understand most biologists, instead kinship selection is observed and all of it goes back to impose on "the level of" genes, see Dawkins.

    4. "Being ‘fit’ simply means that an organism has not been selected against." This is correct but again doesn't reveal the whole context. Fitness is a measure not of survivability but of differential reproduction. Selection can thus be positive (more alleles that increase fitness) as well as negative (less alleles that lower fitness).

    So while 'fit' may mean an allele that hasn't been purifying selected out of existence ("not ... selected against"), changes of fitness can't be observed without having changes of selection, of all kinds. In fact, I see that there is an alternative measure of fitness that is defined _only_ as an outcome of selection. (Hartl: "The fitness of the individual - having an array x of phenotypes - is the probability, s(x), that the individual will be included among the group selected as parents of the next generation.")

    • paolo says:

      Thanks for taking the time to put together a considered comment!

      I must admit that I was rather hasty when pulling this post together, so many of the nuanced aspects of Selection and fitness have been more poorly communicated than I would normally allow myself to get away with (the same goes for the history). I'm glad that you have addressed some of those issues.

      Unfortunately I wasn't kidding when I said that my time is too precious to waste - I have a huge amount on at the moment and I should probably have exercised more discretion before bothering to respond to Davison, since it distracted me from writing the post I was originally planning and the lecture I am giving on Monday - that I am meant to be writing right now.

      Thanks again!

  • Peggy says:

    One thing I've noticed in discussions with creationists is that they seem to assume Darwin's theories just appeared out of nowhere - that they just popped into Darwin's head, he wrote them down, and scientists blindly chose to use Origin of Species as their "Bible".

    I think you make a nice case for evolution being an idea that owed a lot to Darwin's scientific predecessors and colleagues (as most good scientific ideas do).

    • paolo says:

      Absolutely - they also seem to think that these spontaneously generated ideas are regarded as some kind of gospel. So if one part doesn't hold up, the whole ceases to function - as with the Bible.

  • VMartin says:

    Some remarks - the article seems to be also about my opinions:

    1. You haven't quoted all what I have written. I've brought forward the level of science around 1830 when the "Natural Selection" was still to wait another 30 years to be "discovered" : Lobachevsky’s New Foundations of Geometry was published, in the same year passed away Joseph Fourier, the author of Fourier sequences, Infinitesimal calculus was known more than 170 yeras, microscope 240 years, etc...

    2. Despite this interest, the mechanism of evolution remained elusive – perhaps unsurprisingly, since the academic community addressing natural sciences was largely composed of members of the clergy and the natural theology of the time was seen as being mechanism enough.

    The opus "On the origin of species" appeared in the 1859. At that time Voltaire, Diderot and other encyklopedists were dead, in Orthodox Russia there were Chernychevsky and other atheists who were ridiculed by Fyodor Dostoevsky in his masterpiece "The Devils". One cannot presume that educated people or even scientists at that time were so afraid of clergy, as the picture of burning heretcis above seems to suggest.

    3. The critiques I have seen of evolutionary theory have come from people who quite clearly don’t understand it...

    This argument of "not understanding" is scarcely used in serious sciences, but is almost overused by Marxists in "Scientific atheism" and by Neodarwinists in "Evolutionary biology". I wonder if critics of Darwinism - all of them Uni professors, botanists, zoologists - like Goldschmidt, Grasse, Wilhelm Troll, etc... if none of them understand "Natural selection"? Even atheist Friedrich Nietzsche ridiculing Darwin didn't really understand "Natural selection"? None of them had known what is evolution?

    4....and such critiques tend to rely on statements of incredulity rather than a strong factual base.

    This "argument of uncredulity" that Darwinists like to resort to is a peculiar one. It sounds so medieval. But I hit on it even by Plato, when Socrates discussing reincarnation of souls asked his disciples not to be uncredulous! Nowadays it is not reincarnation of souls, but evolution of men from an ancient fish by means of natural selection, where we should be credulous.

    5. I like to keep an open mind, but as soon as I see logical fallacies being wheeled out I lose interest in getting involved in the discussion.

    Is refutation of natural selection as the source of aposematism and protective adaptations of insects really based on logical fallacy? - There was a great research around 1910 on Nearctic birds that had been done by the United States Biological Survey and which had taken 45 years. Stomachs of 80.000 birds had been dissected and 237.399 food items had been identified. Ornitologist McAtee summarized these results in his treatise “The Effectiveness in the Nature of the So-Called Protective Adaptations…” (1932) and concluded that protective adaptations have little or no effectiveness...

    Poulten was unhappy with the results and nowadays Darwinists pretend that the research doesn't exist and again perform their unnatural experiments with aposematic insects and stressed birds in cages.

  • Robert Hagedorn says:

    Intelligent Bible thinking is not oxymoronic. Do a search: The First Scandal.

  • paola

    You should let my message appear as I took the precaution of reproducing it on my website before I sent it. If you fail to present it here, it will make your blog and Scientopia generally look weak and impotent to those interested in the twin mysteries of phylogeny and ontogeny.

    "Neither in the one nor in the other is their room for chance."
    Leo Berg, Nomogenesis, page 134.


    • paolo says:

      I've not deleted or blocked any of your comments, although they are so spurious that I don't think I would be forgiven for doing so. Your comment may have been picked up by the automatic spam filter - which wouldn't surprise me. If that's the case then one must ask themselves why the spam filter kicked in...

  • VMartin says:

    Professor Davison's comment couldn't have been blocked by automatic spam filter - it is nonsense. But obviously some knowledgeable evolutionists understand not only evolution, linguistics, but also how spam filters work.

    Professor Davison claims on his blog that someone has deleted his posts, comment 488:


  • Ian Musgrave says:

    VMartin wrote:

    One wonders why no one noticed “natural selection” before. And there were ingenous minds in the history! One answer might be this – it was never observed because it doesn’t exist.

    A.R. Wallace independently observed it. To notice natural selection requires quite a few prerequisites, just as to notice the Earth orbits the Sun requires a degree of technical sophistication. You need long term observations of population variation, the ability to link variation to heredity, the ability to link variation to survival and the ability to look at populations in differing environments.

    While elements of these observations were occurring before the 19th century, it was only in the late 18th and 19th century that you begin to get large scale organised natural history collecting and collections (and the ability to disseminate this information widely) critical for understanding natural selection.

    Isolated collections of fossils and animal as curiosities were replaced by systemic collections, revolutions in anatomy allowed detailed comparisons of contemporary and extinct organisms. The large scale expeditions of the late 18th and early 19th centuries greatly expanded the repertoire of organisms that were available to study, and the understanding of the ecologies they lived in (as well as improvements in preservation and the ability to bring back live specimens for study).

    As never before were people able to understand the role of the environment in the web of life, Darwin was instrumental in launching the science of ecology, and Wallace and Darwin gave birth to bio-geography, both prerequisites for understanding natural selection.

    Revolutions in scientific instrumentation helped too (Darwin himself was responsible for several advances in lens design so microscopic analysis of organismal variation could be conducted as never before). At the same time animal breeding was moving from an ad hoc system to an organised, scientific process with meticulous breeding records over large numbers of species and time periods and national meetings to discuss advances where information could be exchanged. The scientific approach to artificial selection informed Darwin's view of natural selection. Again, people have been doing stock breeding for improvement since time immemorial, but it was only in the late 18th and early 19th centuries that a wealth of quantifiable data became available.

    Darwin spent decades doing experiments, and corresponding with other experimenters, Wallace spent years in the field quantifying variation. These findings were not available to people like Lamark and earlier evolutionary thinkers.

    VMartin ridicules the notion that clerical antipathy to evolutionary ideas would have influenced the development of evolutionary theories, however there was indeed a strong clerical antipathy towards evolutionary ideas in the 1800's. The 'Veistiges of Creation", published in 1844, was met with a storm of clerical criticism (although it was widely feted by nonconformists and Unitarians). This response was at least part of the reason Darwin delayed publication.

    ANd umm Nietzsche doesn't exactly say what you think he says

    [Nietzsche] accepted the most
    controversial ramification of Darwin’s theory: humankind had
    evolved from remote apelike ancestors, in a completely
    naturalistic way, through a process of chance and necessity...

  • VMartin says:

    Ian Musgrave:

    Nietzseche said what I wrote. Check my blog where you can see also his words in German (Nietzsche about Darwin post):


    Another prominent atheist who dismissed Darwin's "struggle for life" as the void concept was Friedrich Engels. See my entry Marxistic critique of Darwinism on the same blog.

    • Ian Musgrave says:

      So, your understanding of what Nietzsche wrote is on par with your understanding of the development of biology in the 18th and 19th centuries.

      And who the heck cares what Engels thought? Was he a working biologist? It isn't even vaguely relevant to the reality of natural selection. Neither is outdated observations from the 1930's.

  • paola

    You are a lying pig and VMartin has proved it.

    • paolo says:

      I'm not sure who this Paola is, but you ought to be careful accusing them of being a liar without good grounds. Some people resort to lawsuits for something called 'libel' and if they're really angry and they really want to win the case they bring the case to England. Read about it here.

      If you were directing the comment at me then you are lucky, because I support freedom of speech, even for obnoxious bigots and even if I am being insulted. I'm not sure what makes me a 'lying pig' and I'm even less sure of how this has been 'proved' by VMartin, but your behaviour here has been very educational.

      I am going to guess your comment relates back to an earlier comment that you erroneously think I deleted. If it does relate to that then your assumptions and accusations are entirely unfounded. I have not deleted any of your comments. My only thought is that it contained a combination of words that flagged the spam filter, or that you didn't post it properly in the first place. Perhaps you even posted it on a different page, since you've been trolling several of my posts - quite frankly I don't know and I really don't care. You have done nothing to make me want to go looking for your phantom post and with each of your outbursts you are demonstrating how unpleasant you are as an individual.

      If you want to keep trolling here then I ask you to remain civil. If you can't do that I will block you (which I am loathe to do, since I do think that free speech is important).

  • Paolo

    I do not troll and never have. I present my thesis wherever I am allowed. That thesis is in marked contrast with the neo-Darwinian interpretation of phylogenesis. I can't imagine a spam filter that would block my lengthy message that never appeared here. That message is available on my weblog on the "Prescribed Evolution" thread. It is most certainly not a phantom because I copied it before sending it here. That has become a standard practice with me largely due to the sort of behavior I evoke on websites like this one where criticism of Darwinism is often not permitted to appear. At least you haven't summarily banished me yet.

    I suggest you retrieve that message and present it. If you do not, I will send it again. If you are unable to get it from your spam bin, you can get it from my weblog where it now resides. I will look for it and if it does not appear, that too will be noted on my weblog .

    I recommend you start treating this adversary with respect if you expect to receive any from him.

    As for who paola is, that was my error. I meant paolo or does he not exist either? I have never been impressed by websites run by unknown administrators. Even Paul Zachary Myers and Wesley Royce Elsberry disclose their identity - even proudly!

    Of course I am not allowed to speak there and haven't been for years.

    • paolo says:

      "I do not troll and never have. I present my thesis wherever I am allowed."

      Lol! You clearly haven't a clue what a troll is:

      "In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. [Wiki, accessed 23/02/2011]"

      You presenting your thesis wherever you are 'allowed' (by which I assume you will post it anywhere you have not been banned from, which doesn't leave many places) is very clearly trolling according to these criteria.

      "I can’t imagine a spam filter that would block my lengthy message that never appeared here"

      The fact that you can't imagine it is more a reflection of your lack of imagination than the true situation. If you have been posting your 'thesis' anywhere that you are 'allowed' I strongly suspect that it will have been flagged as spam by some of the unlucky recipients. That means it will has a very good chance of being picked up by the Network Abuse Clearinghouse and I'm sure WordPress will be using a Bayesian spam-filter that will pick up on it - regardless of the length.

      In fact, your initial statement not only demonstrates that you are a troll, it also indicates that you are a spammer (in the pre-Usenet sense of the term). You talk about respect, but your behaviour doesn't really encourage it and furthermore I do not consider you as an 'adversary' any more than I would consider an annoying fly an adversary. Buzz off.

  • VMartin says:

    Ian Musgrave.

    I see. Nietzsche wrote a paragraph which he titled "Anti-Darwin". But actually only Darwinists themselves are entitled to interpet the real meanings of Nietzsche's profound words (without any knowlegde of German of course).

    And we have here also the darwinian beloved evergreen - all field observations that contradict their armchair fancies are "outdated". Oddly enough in their peer-review journals they do not hesitate mention 90 years old peculiar experiments done by Edward Poulton.

    • Ian Musgrave says:

      So when Nietzsche says Malthus is wrong, is he talking about Darwinian natural selection, or is he talking about cultural institutions? (and why precisely are you fixated on Nietzsche? How many biological experiments did he do?)

      And yeah, field observations and experiments are "armchair fantasies" are they, cherry picking outdated observations gets you nowhere, science didn't stop in the 1930's. So what was the problem with the real experiments I linked too?

  • Paolo

    Here again is the message that was not allowed to appear when sent on February 21, 2011 at 5:08 am.

    I trust that it will appear this time and not be deleted.

    John A. Davison says: February 21, 2011 at 5:08 am

    I thank paolo for reprinting my comments and those by my friend and ally VMartin. We both stand by what we have written. If there was ever a time when the environment was rapidly changing it is right now, yet all we see is rampant extinction, fully supporting my thesis that evolution, to include true speciation, is no longer in progress. While you seem convinced that what we say is wrong, neither you nor anyone else has as yet provided any concrete evidence to support that contention.

    Incidentally, neither of is a Bible thumping religious zealot as this thread makes us out to be. I have rejected both the Fundamentalist Christian and the Atheist inspired Darwinian models as having nothing whatsoever to do with phylogenesis and I suspect that so has Martin.

    Thanks again for bringing your reader’s attention to the reality that Darwinism still has, as it always has had, critics devastating every aspect of its childish precepts. That Darwinism still has not been totally rejected by the scientific community is a scandal unprecedented in the history of evolutionary science. It persists for one reason only. It is the only conceivable explanation for the congenital atheist mindset.

    Please visit my website where you will find ample evidence supporting a planned and now terminated organic evolution, a phenomenon in which chance played at best a trivial role.



  • Paolo

    I have no intention of "buzzing off." To muzzle me you will have to banish me and, by so doing, prove that you are just as intolerant as [names deleted for the reasons cited below] and whoever runs ARN, EvC, richarddawkins.net and every other so-called "forum" that purports to discuss the twin mysteries of ontogeny and phylogeny, concerning which Leo Berg had this to say -

    "Neither in the one nor in the other is their room for chance."
    Nomogenesis, page 134.

    So you go right ahead and do what you have to do, what you were "prescribed" to do probably millions of years ago.

    You really should apologize for the way you have insulted a real scientist but I doubt you are capable of it.


  • VMartin says:

    So our Darwinian opponents Paolo and Ian are accusing us of "not understanding evolution", "not understanding English" and "not understanding Nietzsche".
    They do not discuss the topic of aposematism, because of their lack of expertise and because of an "outdated" experiment from the 1930 that I've just used as one example of many (and therefore accused immediately also of another sin: "cherry-picking"!).

    So have a look on their article "Ring Species: Unusual Demonstrations of Speciation" linked in the main post.

    Yeah, one must agree - the demonstration of speciation is really UNUSUAL!

    First we must conclude that the "ring species" is probably another darwinian armchair speculation, because it is actually very rare: "At least 23 cases have been proposed, but most of them are not such clear examples as the salamanders and warblers." So only these two examples are discussed, which should be "clear examples".

    Btw. the coclusion about warbles ring species dates back to the 1930 when it was observed in museum! Obviously this observation is up-to-date, because this one fits into darwinian agenda.

    Now what is the difference between salamanders forms: they differ "dramatically in color"(!!!) and "the two expanding fronts were so different that they rarely interbred, and were therefore different species."

    1. So if we have got two "dramatically different" coloration of ladybirds in the same area are we witnissing speciation as well? See my blog where 102 coloration of ladybirds are presented (post about Franz Heikertinger). So maybe we have got 102 species?

    2. German shepards and dachshunds interbred and interbreed very rarely. According to the previous definition thay are two species as well.

    and now warblers: "they differ in color patterns" (!!!!) and in "the songs that males sing...females listen to songs when deciding which male to choose as a mate"(!)

    1 see above
    2 women often marry men of the same language. According darwinism French and Czechs must be two species now (they were one species using Proto-Indo-European).

    Thank you for the article, excellent cherries.

    • paolo says:

      This is a fantastic example of strawman arguments - thanks! I may use these in a blogpost on logical fallacies if you don't mind.

    • Ian Musgrave says:

      They do not discuss the topic of aposematism, because of their lack of expertise and because of an “outdated” experiment from the 1930 that I’ve just used as one example of many (and therefore accused immediately also of another sin: “cherry-picking”!).

      Yes, you have cherry picked one elderly indirect study (NOT an experiment), and ignored the wealth of actual examples, including the two modern examples given. Why is that?

      What about http://www.pnas.org/content/100/22/12792.full and the citing papers linked to it such as http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/5/1/51.full (part of my research is on frog defense peptides, so I have a fair bit of expertise in this).

      Not to mention Coppingers classic study http://www.jstor.org/pss/2459118

      • VMartin says:

        So I've checked the second one, part of your research. We can read:

        Of our 1260 models, 139 (11%) were attacked. Attacks attributable to mammals (primarily rodents) and unknown assailants (60 and 30, respectively) made up the vast majority of attacks. Twenty-nine attacks (21% of total) were attributable to visual (avian) predators. Phenotype was not a significant predictor of non-avian predation (G=2.42, p=0.299; figure 2).

        60 + 30 + 29 = 119 , not 139. Or am I wrong?

  • There is a documented case of a St. Bernard dog spontaneously fertilizing a Dachshund bitch which subsequently delivered a pup named "Rollmops" This pup, a bitch, subsequently delivered pups herself. Rollmops inherited her large size from the St. Bernard father, the short legs from her Dachshund mother. During Rollmops' pregnancy her belly dragged on the ground and had to be protected with towels. The documentation can be found in "Inheritance in Dogs" by Ojvind Winge. All dogs are wolves. The genes that produce the various breeds of dog are all Mendelian alleles none of which ever had anything to do with evolution,. They are simply intraspecific varieties produced through artif icial selection. I am confident that, while it might require artificial insemintion, that a cross between a chihuahua and a Great Dane would produce fertile offspring as well. If the bitch is the great Dane there will be a large litter; if the Chihuahua is the bitch there will be a single pup, as there was in the cross between the Male St. Bernard and the Dachshund bitch described by Winge.

    Darwinians will probably not conduct the necessary experiment to test my prediction. Darwinians rarely do experiments. Accordingly, most Darwinians are not scientists and never have been. They believe they have already discovered the mechanism of organic evolution but the truth is they have not even scratched the surface of that great mystery.

    I know that seems provocative but it surely is not grounds for banishment.

    I thank paolo for allowing me to leave messages here, unlike Mark Chu-Carroll and grrlscientist [name removed PV], both of whom have banished me with much ceremony and insult. I hope that paolo will set a new standard of tolerance to improve the image of Scientopia. If Scientopia is to succeed it must abandon the practices that typify Panda's Thumb, After the Bar Closes, Uncommon Descent and Pharyngula, For starters I recommend replacing Mark Chu-Carroll whose filthy mouth has no place in civil dialogue and only promotes animus.


    • paolo says:

      This is a strawman John. I don't think there are many (if any) biologists who would not consider a Great Dane Chihuahua cross to produce fertile offspring (although whether a female Chihuahua would be able to successfully carry even a single pup to term would be more doubtful for physical reasons).

      As to the claim about Darwinians not being scientists, I'm not quite sure who you mean, since Darwin is only one of many influential people in the field of evolutionary biology, so few evolutionary biologists would call themselves Darwinists. So not only are you creating strawman arguments, you're creating strawman opponents... probably because nobody takes your ideas seriously enough to actually consider them to be serious opposition.

      As I said before, I support free speech - which is why I have not deleted any of your posts. Your ideas are not provocative (slightly exasperating perhaps) and I suspect that it's more the way in which you phrase your views that makes people intolerant. Now you may have noticed that I made a small editorial deletion in the post above - that is because I believe that personal privacy is important. If you insist on violating the privacy of others in the comments on my blog I will ban you.

      Now although I don't agree with you and I don't like the way in which you conduct yourself on my blog, I will allow you to post as long as you remain civil. If you insist on making insulting outbursts about other people I will ban you. I don't care if someone has insulted you in a different forum - don't bring that here. I have already told someone else off for insulting you on my other blog and yet you have insulted me for something that I was innocent of. I'm a very tolerant person, but I must say that you have come very close to the limits of my patience. Once more unnecessary outburst and you will be banned. I think that's fair warning.

    • Ian Musgrave says:

      Darwinians rarely do experiments. Accordingly, most Darwinians are not scientists and never have been.

      You have seen a recent issue of the Journal of Molecular Evolution, have you not. Not to mention all the other journals where evolutionary experiments are reported, or the cottage industry in reconstructing ancestral proteins.

      No experiments? Yeah right.

  • Paolo

    I have insulted no one. I have described others entirely with their own words and actions. That is all that I have ever done as is clear to anyone who has fairly reviewed my history. I am the most thoroughly abused scientist in the history of internet communcation. I have answered in kind only after being insulted and never before.

    I am sorry that you must defend pseudonomy. I believe it only promotes abuse and denigration. If it were not tolerated, internet communication would be vastly improved. People would be much more careful about what they say if they had to undersign their comments with their real, complete names.

    Your attitude toward a perfectly valid experiment which I have proposed indicates a profound ignorance of what in embryology is called regulation . You have no business judging an experiment prior to its execution and neither does anyone else.

    I am pretty much through here anyway but would appreciate leaving my messages intact for future students of the great mystery of phylogenesis to draw their own conclusions about the validity of the proposals I have presented here.



    • paolo says:

      "I have insulted no one."

      You called me a "lying pig", if that's not considered to be an insult then I'm not sure what is. In fact, by stating that you 'have insulted no one' you have demonstrated yourself to be a liar, within this very thread - you can check for yourself. Notice that I didn't feel the need to add 'pig' to my accusation that you are a demonstrable liar - because I'm not interested in getting an emotional response from you.

      I had a feeling you might lose interest once I made it clear that I don't mind you venting your nonsense here. Your arguments are all vitriol and accusation and they lack any substance when it comes to science, so it's no wonder that you consider yourself "pretty much through here". I probably wasn't giving you enough of an emotional response to be worth baiting any longer and you don't actually have anything of substance to say. The fact that you seem to want an emotional reaction from the people you troll suggests that something important may be missing from your life - if that is the case then you have my pity.

      I do apologise for not addressing more of your specific comments, but they were all so trite I simply couldn't be bothered. Given a choice between arguing with you and spending time with my awesome wife who can blame me?

  • Dalius Balciunas says:

    You deny that chance plays a role in evolution. Why then do you use probability arguments to prove that evolution is irreversible (Manifesto, part III-2)?

  • Dalius Balciunas

    Good question. The Manifesto was written prior to 2000.

    I have since changed my mind about the question of randomness. In my last peer reviewed paper, "A Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis, Rivista di Biologia 98: 155- 166, 2005. I reviewed evidence which shows that chromosome rearrangements are not random but occur on what the authors call "hotspots." This provided further evidence against a random process. I have since taken the position that NOTHING has EVER been random about any aspect of the evolutionary sequence. I join with Robert Broom who believed there was a Plan, a word he capitalized much to the distress of the Darwinians. I have furthered Broom's thesis by taking the position that evolution reached its climax some time ago and is now finished with the contemporary biota. I believe only extinction lies in the future and is already well under way. That challenge has gone unanswered and even unacknowledged.

    The Darwinian faithful have traditionally pretended that they never had credible critics. Nothing could be further from the truth. I recommend my essay "What's wrong with Darwinism?" which can be found in my book -

    "Unpublished Evolution Papers of John A. Davison, Lulu Publishers, $18.96.

    I long ago issued challenges to produce examples of true speciation currently in progress and have yet not received any convincing and tested proofs that it is taking place. I also reject any hypothesis that claims evolution has ever been gradual because I do not believe that any more than either Otto Schindewolf or Richard B. Goldschmidt did. I have a thread dedicated to this topic on my weblog (Evolution is Finished) and welcome anyone to respond to me there. I expect my users to use their real names but if they insist on pseudonymy, I will respond anyway while I call attention to their failure to comply with my standards for meaningful dialogue. I don't take comments from unknown sources seriously and never have. Try to get something published in a scientific journal under an alias. Good luck!

    It would help a great deal if you would read my papers, published and unpublished, since the Manifesto was finished and then pose your questions. My book covers the time beginning with the Manifesto through 2010. Essays written since can be found under "New Essays" at the top of my home page. My seven published evolution papers beginning in 1984 through 2005 are of course now secure in the libraries of the scientific world. All my published evolution papers are available through "brainstorms" forum as well as on the side bar of Uncommon Descent under John A. Davison. David Springer (Davescot) was kind to put them and leave them there before he banished me from Uncommon Descent for I believe the third and last time. Three strikes and I'm out, never to return!

    I hope this helps answer your question.

  • Daliu Balciunas

    Thank you for your courtesy. If anyone would like to find out more about our evolutionary views, I recommend my book "Unpublished Evolution Papers of John A. Davison, Lulu Publishers. The following link will take to to it and four reviews of it.


  • I see that my messages no longer appear. The last one I tried to send never made it. I take it then that paolo, like Pee Zee, "godless ejaculating liberal" Myers, Dicky "blind watchmaker climbing mount improbable" Dawkins and Wes "you can't teach an old dogma new tricks" Elsberry has finally banished me from this website too. All for one and one for all.

    It doesn't get an better than this.


  • And don't try to deny that you have deleted my comments. I can prove otherwise.


    • paolo says:

      John, I think you've got yourself turned around. Your last comments were on a different post: http://scientopia.org/blogs/guestblog/2011/02/26/who%e2%80%99s-that-trotting-over-my-bridge/#comment-185

      I find it hilarious that you think you can PROVE that I deleted your comments, when you've actually just forgotten where you've posted them. I guess your concept of PROOF is a bit different to mine, since I have not deleted a single post that you have made and what seems to be happening is that you are getting confused by all the different posts you have trolled.

      It doesn't get better than this. It can't!

      I love it so!


    • paolo says:

      Oh, by the way John, I'm glad you mistakenly thought I deleted your posts, because I went and checked the spam folder to retrieve them if they were in there, and who did I find relegated to the spam pile but Nancy Malik!

      You'll love Nancy - she trolls posts that mention homeopathy in the same way that you troll posts that mention Darwin. Maybe you guys should get together and create some kind of pseudoscience uber-troll babies. How sweet!

      I love it so!

  • When one is dealing with thousands of Darwinian imbeciles occupying God only knows how many internet flame pits, it is easy to see how a decent real scientist like myself might easily get confused.

    I love absorbing abuse from the unwiped asses of the internet like paolo, and all the other cowardly, anonymous blowards with which Scientopia is so blessed.

    SOCKITOME!, especially now that I'm gone.


    • paolo says:

      Oh John, I've not offered you abuse - I certainly don't intend 'troll' in a derogatory way, it's merely descriptive of your behaviour.

      Given your abusive and aggressive comments I think I've been remarkably polite and gentle with you. Why go now, when I've actually started engaging with what you're saying? If you leave now it will look like you're running away at the first sign of opposition.

  • paolo, whoever you are,

    At least you were deranged enough to allow me to hold forth. Pee Zee "godless ejaculating liberal" Myers, Wesley " you can't teach an old dogma new tricks" Elsberry and Dicky "blind watchmaker climbing mount improbable" Dawkins wouldn't dream of being that foolish. Congratulations.

    I love it so!

    • paolo says:

      Thanks John,

      I'll take that as the compliment it was no doubt intended to be.

      It doesn't get better than this. It can't!

  • I have already labeled those three phonies as the "Three Stooges" of evolutionary science. At least I know whom I have insulted and they know who insulted them and why. You don't even exist and never will any more than will any other cowardly blowhard who hides his identity. Live with yourself - your own worst enemy.


    • paolo says:

      No need to be a Mr. Grumpy-pants - I did tell you my full name (maybe you forgot it) and Paolo is no pseudonym as you keep insisting - it's the name that I go by.

      Really though, I don't feel particularly insulted by what you've been saying, I know you're just blowing off steam because you're frustrated that nobody takes you seriously. Except VMartin, perhaps (although he's far more coherent than you've managed to be so far, if I'm honest).

      Why not turn that frown upside-down and try to be a bit more positive?

  • Paolo, whoever that is.

    I don't recall being told your full name so let's have it again right now. I'm betting you won't do it or, if you do, it will be a phony one.

    I'm sublimely happy with my position in evolutionary science. You just wish I was unhappy.


  • [...] Fortunately I am not in the same position as PZ Myers when it comes to visitor figures, so I don’t need to worry so much about huge volumes of nonsense being posted in my comments sections. It means I can afford to be a bit more tolerant of cranks and kooks that inhabit the internet. My grounds for banning relate to behaviour towards other commentators - I am a supporter of free speech, so I didn’t want to ban John on the grounds of his content, but I did come close to barring him for his lack of respect for the privacy of others. [...]