Skip to comments.Darwin loses again
Posted on 04/17/2007 8:13:01 PM PDT by conmanning1
Dr. Steven Novella doesnt think much of people who disagree with him about Darwinism. Dr. Novella, a Yale neurologist, assistant professor and specialist in neuromuscular disorders, is also a skeptic and co-founder and president of the New England Skeptical Society. Hes quite unskeptical about Darwinism:
evolutionary theory is complex. Evolution is a beautiful and subtle theory one of my favorite scientific theories to study. I have spent years reading about it, learning from the best like Dawkins, Leakey, and Gould
He took issue recently with those of us who doubt the adequacy of Darwins theory to account for all natural biological complexity:
there is enough complexity in all of this that if someone smart and eloquent like IDers Behe or Demski [sic] want to create confusion they easily can. They pull an intellectual three card monte and the evolutionary rubes buy it.
Im an "evolutionary rube" myself. Dr. Novella insists:
This is not an excuse for Dr. Egnors ignorance he threw his hat into the ring, he deserves what he gets. He should have had the proper humility to stay out.
Actually, all I did was ask a question: how much biologically relevant information can Darwins mechanism of chance and necessity actually generate? I didnt settle for hand-waving or for reassurances that "Darwins theory is a fact." I wanted a measurement of biological complexity, with empirical verification, in a way that was meaningful to biology. I never got an answer to my question.
Nonetheless, Dr. Novella is disdainful of Darwin-doubting "evolutionary rubes" who lack his immersion in the field:
Now I dont blame the rank and file for not having read dozens of books and hundreds of articles on evolution. But I do blame them for thinking they deserve to have an opinion if they havent
It seems that those of use who "dont deserve to have an opinion" also havent been thinking the right way:
Also, it is obvious in their arguments that they do not have a proper mental image of what genetic information is like.
He tells us that "a proper mental image" of genetic information is books:
Each time this volume of books is copied there is the potential to make mistakes. Because of the complexity, the arrangement of paragraphs in a chapter can change, altering the meaning of the chapter in some way. Entire chapters that are active can become skipped, and vice versa. Entire chapters can be copied twice, and rarely entire volumes can be duplicated. Imagine the text of these books. A change might cause a sentence to go from today is a sunny day to today is a foggy day (remember, in this language every possible three letter combination has meaning there are no nonsense words).
With a reasonable working model of genetics, it is much easier to imagine how shuffling around information, duplicating, and altering the information could easily result in meaningful and even useful new information.
Distancing himself from his literary metaphor (it's hard for rubes to relate), he switches to a farm-machinery metaphor. Dr. Novella explains how Darwins theory of chance and necessity can account for all natural biological complexity:
Evolution is like a two-cycle engine: mutations increase the amount of information and then natural selection gives that information specificity.
Dr. Novella is missing a much better example of random mutation and natural selection thats not metaphorical at all. Cancer is a test of Darwins theory. Cancer is real biological evolution by random mutation and natural selection, writ fast. Theres no reason to invoke encyclopedia typos or tractor engines in order to understand what "chance and necessity" can do to a living system. Brain tumors are perfect little Novellian "two-cycle engines" nestled inside the skull, "random mutations" coming out the ears, and "natural selection" like theres no tomorrow (excuse the metaphors). Brain tumors are constantly generating new biological variation, and they are avatars of natural selection. They provide a tremendous spectrum of variation, from "variation jet-engines" like malignant glioblastoma multiforme to "variation tortoises" like benign pilocytic astrocytomas. Cancer wards are full of patients brimming with "two-stroke engines" of evolutionary change.
Dr. Novella, again:
it is [easy] to imagine how shuffling around information, duplicating, and altering the information could easily result in meaningful and even useful new information.
The best real biological test of "shuffling around information, duplicating, and altering the information" is cancer. According to Dr. Novellas reasoning, brain tumors ought to be generating quite a bit of "meaningful and even useful new information." Better neuroanatomy and better neurophysiology ought to be popping up "easily." Better frontal lobes and cognition, from cancer. Better temporal lobes and memory, from cancer. Better cerebellums and coordination, from cancer. If random mutations and natural selectionDr. Novellas "two stroke engine"is the source of all functional integrated biological complexity, brain tumors ought to help our brains evolve in some way.
Perhaps Dr. Novella has data that show real evolutionary improvements in the brain caused by brain tumors. If he has, he should show us.
I'm just a rube, not a Darwinist from Yale. But Ive never seen cancer make a brain better.
yawn, I’ve taught physics for premeds. for the most part, doctors are smart in that they can learn from experience.
theoretical physics is beyond them and actually theoretical anything is beyond them.
And what makes you think doctors can’t be scientists? Many of us were scientists before we were docs.
I have taught physics for premeds as well, before going to medical school. I am not sure what you are saying. There are just as many idiot MDs and Ph.Ds as there are non doctor idiots.
Physics was possibly my toughest course in College. Differential Equations and Finite Element Analysis seemed a snap in comparison.
But, I’d bet you wouldn’t want to be treated by someone
trying a “theoretical” cure on you or anyone you
Also you shouldn’t use the term “theoretical” since
the root word is “theos”(i.e. God)... in science
you should never use anything that smacks of belief in God.
Right? Maybe the term should be anthroretical, or perhaps
cerebroretical, or phrenoretical, or rna-oretical, or
They pull an intellectual three card monte and the..................rubes buy it.
algore, gungrabbers, SCOTUS, etc, have learned this same game well.
It appears that one must be seriously insecure in one's faith in order to post such drivel.
I would think a neurosurgeon should know a thing or two about biology.
Faith? That’s a neurosurgeon speaking. Not a priest.
What sad drivel.
actually, a really good neurosurgeon loses a lot of general scientific knowledge as time goes on.
the same is true of a lot of phds, they know a lot about a narrow subject but were actually a much more rounded scientist before they got their doctorate.
I wasn't referring to the occupation(s) of the people referenced in the article.
Why exactly did you post this?
The Real Question Is Would You Want Egnor As Your Doctor?
Our esteemed creationist M.D., Michael Egnor, continues distorting evolutionary theory and its relationship to medicine. In a Evolution News and Views piece yesterday, Egnor makes fun of an Alliance for Science essay contest for high school students where they are asked to answer the follwoing question: "Why would I have wanted my doctor to have studied evolution?". PZ (several times) and Orac (again, several times) demonstrate Egnor's ignorance on the topic of evolution as well as the relationship between evolutionary biology and medicine.
The day is still young...
You don't mind if scientists continue looking, do you?
“Also you shouldnt use the term theoretical since
the root word is theos(i.e. God)...”
I didn’t know that. The potential implications are quite interesting.
“Perhaps Dr. Novella has data that show real evolutionary improvements in the brain caused by brain tumors. If he has, he should show us.”
If evolutionary theory predicted that brain tumors would lead to improvements in the brain, he might have a point.
Sort of a long screed to set up such a pathetic strawman.
I posted it because I thought it was interesting. I’m familiar with the common arguments back and forth - irreducible complexity, not enough time for evolution, etc. This is a new one I’d never heard before and I wanted to hear other people’s thoughts on it. If you think it’s a crap idea, I’d rather have you explain why than have you just call it drivel and insult my “faith.”
The neurosurgeon quoted in the article supports Darwin. Although, the way you have removed the formatting of the blockquotes, it may be hard to see that.
You need to study a bit more astronomy. The fact that we haven't seen any earth like planets is because of optics, not because they're not there. If we were sitting on a planet around another near by star, we would not be able to see the Earth with our existing equipment.
I should have known better to post to one of these medieval fear threads, but occasionally I find it irresistible.
I'm sure you are strong in your faith.
The whole argument over Darwin as the antichrist is just misdirected.
Whaddaya know. You can actually have a productive career in a science-based field like medicine without finding evolution useful. But...but...surely this can't be. Fanatical devotees of evolution have told us repeatedly, right here on FR, that teaching of evolution, even at the middle school level, is absolutely necessary, because it is "basic science," "absolutely fundamental," and we will sink into technological backwardness if we don't.
Hope it will be OK with you if I clarify something. Evolutionary theory does not address creation of the Heavens and Earth. That is not its goal.
Biological evolution is commonly defined as followed:
change in the frequency of alleles in a gene pool from one generation to the one that follows it.
Yeah, and isn’t it ironic that our utterly pathetic public schools teach evolution religiously, whereas many academically high-performing Christian schools teach creation. (I’m not claiming that I believe in literal biblical creation; I am merely stating an observed fact.)
Your post does not say that that the word “theory” does not derive from “theo” or “God.” What is your source?
Also, what does “L.L. theoria (Jerome)” mean?
Uh, excuse me, but it's the "Intelligent Design" crowd who claim that they can measure that. Take it up with them.
No. The neurologist supports Darwin. The neurosurgeon wrote the article. “Although, the way you have removed the formatting of the blockquotes, it may be hard to see that.” I didn’t edit at all, just cut and pasted. You should read more carefully. It’s really not hard to see it. Again, why doesn’t anyone explain why it’s wrong?
Some people are so beguiled by the obvious—the flux of things—that they ignore how fixed things generally are. Books that are copied down a thousand different times remain subantially the same. We know how Aristotle thought, even though that thought came, not from him buty from his students. Thought has a certain fixity, because the “structure” of it must be respected, and too many changes simply destroy it, make it meaningless. A cancer is meaningless life.
Sorry. I just re-read it. The way it came out, it’s not that clear. The whole article was written by Dr. Egnor, the neurosurgeon. The guy he quotes is a neurologist collegue of his. None of it is mine.
Quite possible that Earth is unique. But since we are afraid of death, we are afraid of being alone, of the idea that we are alone in the universe, that all the worlds except ours is dead. Having banished spirits, we are left to long for visits from men from “Mars”. We turn our instruments to the skies and look, and listen, and long for familiar sights and sounds.
Besides, American history, at least the non-revisionist, pro-American variety, is one of the things disappearing from middle and high school education. Evolution and other materialistic themes are not disappearing or threatened. Far from it.
Evolution is not "basic science." Quit claiming it is.
Or, some of us are driven by a burning desire to learn as much as we can about the world(s) around us.
I may have to eat my words. The Latin theoria does in fact appear to be based on the root theo (God). Getready, you seem to be correct.
And pretend we will never die.
BS. That is your biased, apologetic, interpretation of what scientists do.
It has no necessary relationship to the real world.
Thanks for your honesty. The next question is: what does theory have to do with God? Do we become a bit like God when we understand a theory (a correct one, that is)?
What kids should be learning in middle school is math and basic physics and chemistry. Those are what biology is based on. Evolution can come later, and only for those who need it. I think the real reason for teaching it to young impressionable middle school students is to inculcate a materialistic, reductionist view of human nature, which is encouraged by evolutionary thinking in the absence of other values; values which have been purged from our schools.
There is no serious, massive threat that evolution will be purged from the curriculum. That's hype and paranoia. However, American students are woefully deficient in hard science and math.