Saturday, 7 April 2012

Live Blogging the C4ID 2011 Lecture - part three

OK here we go again!

Here are parts one and two.

Picking up now at 49 minutes.  Deep breath and . . .

Confirmation that Evolution is both randomness and the law-like properties of natural selection.  So why wouldn't he have mentioned this just a short while ago before making out that proteins can't possibly evolve and quoting statistics that ignore the impact of NS?

So NS is a way to overcome the problems of chance.  But apparently NS suffers from an obvious logical fallacy: begging the question.

Let's stop the video there and get the definition of this fallacy.

Here you go:
"Begging the question (Latin petitio principii, "assuming the initial point") is a type of logical fallacy in which a proposition is made that uses its own premise as proof of the proposition. In other words, it is a statement that refers to its own assertion to prove the assertion."
So lets see what this obvious and simple error that the whole of modern biology has missed these past 150 odd years.

Here is the definition of NS to help us:
"Natural selection is the gradual, nonrandom process by which biological traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of differential reproduction of their bearers. It is a key mechanism of evolution."
No clue so far then.

Here it is from Meyer: "NS presupposes self replication, the ability of an organisms to copy itself.  It presupposes a form of life in fact. But we are trying to explain the origin of the information necessary to reproduce life and self-replication in all living organisms depends upon sequence specific, that is information rich DNA and proteins."  

Yes he really thinks this is a point.  He is either so inept as to be accidentally mixing up the origin of life with the evolution of life or he is so incompetent he doesn't know he is doing it.

"In other words we are invoking the very thing we are trying to explain in order to explain it."

Or perhaps he is clumsily trying to claim that evolution can't explain the replication of life?  Again this is pretty vague.  If he is talking about the origin of replicating life then he is in fact talking about the origin of life.  If he is talking about the mechanisms of replication that life utilises now then evolution does a great job of explaining very many of them.  It certainly does a better job than his alternative which is that someone or something, at some time, for some reason in some way, er . . . designed it.  

Quote from a Nobelist.  Theories of pre-biotic replication . . .

There it is "pre-biotic".  Meyer is actually trying to get away with this fairly obvious bit of deception then.  He thinks he can keep switching between talking about the origin of life and the evolution of life and somehow make out that because evolution doesn't have the answers to one it doesn't have the answers to the other.

Dishonest and slippery or confused and incompetent.

Now a tale of hapless idiot who fell into a pit and an idiots way out.  

Again prebiotic natural selection is insulted.  

Prebiotic natural selection is not natural selection.  Do a google and you will find most instances of the use of the phrase comes from ID/creationists blowing smoke and erecting mirrors.

I have just done a third year biology module on evolution (equivalent to half a year at Uni) and it wasn't mentioned once.  ID is supposed to be an alternative to evolution but here Meyer is simply claiming that because origin of life researchers still have work to do (and he makes it look like a lot by not telling his audience what they are doing and have done and by making up the claim that the earliest life resembles today's simplest life) then evolution has problems.

RNA world - will solve all the claimed solutions of the RNA world for e.g. he has a long chapter on it in his book.  People don't normally counter an entire field of research in a book chapter, they at least publish an article or two in quality peer reviewed journals.  We only have Meyer's word that he has done the former and it is public knowledge that he has done none of the latter at all.

He is still focussing in on the origin of information as if this is something separate from the origin of replicating life.  It isn't.  

If he wants to show that the original information was injected into (pre-existing) life by a magic designer, he needs to produce some evidence and not just keep on pointing to holes in the current field of research.  Holes that continue to be filled as real researchers in labs do difficult work and labour to answer the questions.  

This is getting really tiresome now.

How many more examples of the same non-point are yet to come?

Now moving on to necessity i.e. self organising principles accounting for the origin of life.  Blah de blah.  He is slowly working out a case that life is not a crystal and that the amino acids might he ordered by self organising principles.  No one I know of or can find thinks that it is.  

More straw man arguing, this time while pointing to a diagram of DNA.  No one claims what you are taking a long time to tell us is not true, suggests that it is true Stephen!

Yawn.  Good job this isn't really live.

No one is seriously suggesting that life started with DNA leaping into existence because of the chemistry.  Why are you spending several minutes explaining this won't work?

The information is extrinsic to the chemistry.  Yes - that is what we explained in part one of this series of blog posts.

Thinking about this he is actually using simplified versions of very early origin of life research to try to cast doubt on established evolutionary science.  I suppose it means he doesn't need to address any actual relevant science then.

The idea of an intelligent cause came from an intelligent cause came through and I quote "intuitive reasoning".

Intuit - to work out by instinct

Reasoning - thinking in a logical sensible way

So either "intuitive reasoning" cancels itself out like the phrase "military intelligence" or like matter and anti-matter or perhaps it means something akin to a knee-jerk reaction - perhaps a "mind-jerk"?

Now claims that ID can be formulated as a rigorous scientific argument.  No actually he wonders if it can be.

Now quoting Darwin to set up another little set piece that predicting results is not a key part of science as apparently Darwin says that his theory explained data without predicting it and so it is the best theory as it is the best explanation.  Sorry I am jumping ahead but I have heard this formula before.

Lets see.


That's it.

BTW no.  We have no scientifically rigorous formulation of ID.

Evolution does make predictions and has done so repeatedly in labs in in the field around the world.  But Meyers will simply ignore all that and just looking at ID whilst wiggling his eyebrows vigorously.

All of a sudden he is now slyly referring to "historical science" and so he can just ignore all the actual experiments going on as we speak.

Now he is trying to make out that early disputes about geology somehow mean he can ignore modern biology. 

Only fifteen minutes left now.

Using quotes from Lyell's arguments about uniformitarianism (a long dead debate in geology) to somehow suggest that because we know humans can design things god must have designed life.  This is simply Paley's watchmaker argument re-phrased.  Once again I ask why wouldn't Meyer mention this is passing?  Once again I am forced to question the ethics of the way he is putting his points across.

Perhaps his reticence is simply because Darwin himself answered Paley's argument and Meyer wants to suggest this is all something new that he has come up with.

From Wiki:

There are three main arguments against the Watchmaker analogy. The first is that complex artifacts do not, in fact, require a designer, but can and do arise from "mindless" natural processes (as in the "Infinite Monkey Theorem"). The second argument is that the watch is a faulty analogy. The third argument is that the watchmaker is arguably a far more complex organism than the watch, and if complexity proves intelligent design, then the question arises: who designed such a complex designer?

Anyway - apparently these bolts from the blue allowed Meyer to realise he can come up with a genuine scientific argument for a designer - let's see if he tells us what it is?

Doesn't seem like it.  Seems like Meyer is actually using Darwin as a reference to justify and argument that Darwin demolished.  Once again Chutzpah!

More about how complicated DNA is.  Yawn.

We are asked to think about this by way of our normal everday experience.

Not by way of science, hard won data.  Don't think about it properly, just feel your "mind-jerk" folks!

Now he is back full circle.

Oh so no scientific argument for a designer then.

I can see him telling us we were about to hear this case.  I can see him telling us he has made the case.  I can't see what the case actually is.

Now claims that design strategies are clearly visible in the DNA.  No actual description of what one is. So nicely untestable.  Again.

Now claims that all of the so called junk DNA is now known to have a function.  Once again a simple lie.

Even claims that it operates as an operating system directing the timing and regulation of the protein coding regions.

Once again this stuff is pulled out thin air.  Perhaps you can just google it yourselves.

Weary, weary stuff.

Now claims all this rubbish is actually a theory.

One question.

What is science?

ID is not science claim all academic and scientific institutions.

(BTW - Doug Axe directs their lab - WOW.  What has this Lab output?  Where is the data?

There isn't anything I can find - perhaps you can point me to some in the comments.)

Stephen Meyer doesn't care if it isn't science ir not.  People just say that to avoid answering the questions it raises.

So it looks like I am breaking new ground here tonight.

Oh and by the way if ID isn't science then neither is Darwin.

Once again. Out of thin air.  Just asserted.

Breathtaking dishonesty.

Now he is saying that it is just a demarcation argument.  If things are unobservable they are still part of science - well doh yes.  Oh Sorry he just made up another straw man argument so he can demolish it neatly.

Nothing about testability at all.  Convenient for him.

Now having a go at the Judge in the Kitzmiller trial.  Judges can't rule if things are science or not.  Not bothering to address the reasons the judge gave then.

Now Lord McKay is repeating part of Meyers argument - will he mention the G word?

Wait for it.

Wait for it.


Now he claims Richard Dawkins doesn't know what life is.

I will summarise the main issues these three "live blogs" have raised shortly.

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