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Fripp
SFN Regular

USA
727 Posts

Posted - 04/20/2005 :  12:43:22  Show Profile Send Fripp a Private Message
Long time lurker, first time post. This excerpt from a blog called fredoneverything.net got published today in the Editorial section of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

[BEGIN QUOTE]
"I have been on several lists on the Internet that deal with matters such as evolution. ... I wanted to see how serious proponents of evolutionary biology would respond to awkward questions. It was like giving a bobcat a prostate exam. I got everything but answers. They told me I was a crank, implied over and over that I was a creationist, said that I was an enemy of science (someone who asks for evidence is an enemy of science). ... They told me I didn't know anything (that's why I was asking questions), and that I was a mere journalist (the validity of a question depends on its source rather than its content).

But they didn't answer the questions. They ducked and dodged and evaded. ... It was like cross-examining hostile witnesses. I tried to force the issue, pointing out that the available answers were "yes," "no," "I don't know," or "the question is not legitimate," followed by ... discussion. Still no straight answer. ... This is the behavior not of scientists, but of advocates, of true believers. I used to think that science was about asking questions, not about defending things you didn't really know. Religion, I thought, was the other way around. I guess I was wrong."

[END QUOTE]

Anyone know anything about this clown and how full of BS he is?

"What the hell is an Aluminum Falcon?"

"Oh, I'm sorry. I thought my Dark Lord of the Sith could protect a small thermal exhaust port that's only 2-meters wide! That thing wasn't even fully paid off yet! You have any idea what this is going to do to my credit?!?!"

"What? Oh, oh, 'just rebuild it'? Oh, real [bleep]ing original. And who's gonna give me a loan, jackhole? You? You got an ATM on that torso LiteBrite?"

Edited by - Fripp on 04/20/2005 12:49:14

bloody_peasant
Skeptic Friend

USA
139 Posts

Posted - 04/20/2005 :  13:23:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send bloody_peasant a Yahoo! Message Send bloody_peasant a Private Message
His site doesn't appear to be a blog but more of just posting of his writings. His bio indicates he is an ex-pat moved to Mexico and fed up with the U.S. and an ex employee of Soldier of Fortune mag. He seems like maybe he's watched one too many A-Team episodes.

Maybe we should invite him over here and see if we can answer any of his "tough" questions

Edited to add. We could pose it as a test of his man hood, (e.g. is he afraid to engage in an open discussion of the facts on this board?)
Edited by - bloody_peasant on 04/20/2005 13:24:59
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 04/20/2005 :  13:25:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
I know something about him now that I've skimmed "Fredwin on Evolution." The biggest problem with this piece is the numerous logical mistakes, appeals to anonymous authority (like "I have been on several lists on the internet that deal with matters such as evolution," while never mentioning those places by name), and invalid probability arguments, all wrapped up with a nice bow woven from the misunderstanding that abiogenesis is a separate discipline from evolution.

The idea that he can properly judge anything about evolution - up to and including the character of the people who defend it - when he's too damn lazy to find out if giraffes have seven cervical vertebrae (he knows they've got more, since they're not "hinged"), is simply ludicrous.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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furshur
SFN Regular

USA
1536 Posts

Posted - 04/20/2005 :  13:51:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send furshur a Private Message
Like many, this guy does not understand what evolution even is. In his conclusion he says for him to fully accept evolution science must create life in the conditions that existed on the early earth. The formation of life is not adressed by evolution.

He sounds like an intelligent fellow but he does not know science - he discusses the evolution of the giraffe and concludes that modern giraffes probably have more vertebrae that proto giraffes... Of course giraffes have the same number of vertebrae (7) as almost all other mammals including man.

edited to say: Dave you beat me to the punch on the giraffe thing.... plus I didn't state that I was talking about cervical vertebrae, Damn.

Edited to say: And abiogenesis! Damn, Damn!!



If I knew then what I know now then I would know more now than I know.
Edited by - furshur on 04/20/2005 13:59:34
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 04/20/2005 :  14:57:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
quote:
bloody_peasant:
Maybe we should invite him over here and see if we can answer any of his "tough" questions


Go for it... First we can straighten him out on abiogenesis.

Oh, and welcome to SFN Fripp!

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 04/20/2005 :  15:23:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Kil

quote:
bloody_peasant:
Maybe we should invite him over here and see if we can answer any of his "tough" questions


Go for it... First we can straighten him out on abiogenesis.

Oh, and welcome to SFN Fripp!

What Kil said.

I think that we can accomadate him here easily enough, if indeed he's serious about his questions. I wonder which forums he's been hanging at.

Welcome to SFN, Fripp!

Edit: Fred's bio is an interesting read. Might be fun to have him here.


"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

Edited by - filthy on 04/20/2005 15:31:04
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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9677 Posts

Posted - 04/20/2005 :  16:39:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message
Perhaps someone should write Philadelphia Enquirer and telling how wrong this guy is...

Dr. Mabuse - "When the going gets tough, the tough get Duct-tape..."
Dr. Mabuse whisper.mp3

"Equivocation is not just a job, for a creationist it's a way of life..." Dr. Mabuse

Support American Troops in Iraq:
Send them unarmed civilians for target practice..
Collateralmurder.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 04/20/2005 :  17:58:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Unfortunately, Mab, if the OP quotes everything in the excerpt, there's nothing to correct:
But they didn't answer the questions. They ducked and dodged and evaded...
He doesn't mention who "they" are. He doesn't state what his questions were (nor how they were worded). He doesn't give any examples of the evasion. It's not possible, with such a dearth of information, to correct anything. He may even be accurately portraying the replies he got, and the whole thing was just an object lesson in how post-graduate degrees in biology don't necessarily give a person patience or a good attitude.

Obviously, given the fact that not a few of the things he says on the complete web-site article are "not even wrong" (in the parlance of several Panda's Thumb writers), I doubt the latter. I suspect that his questions were posed within the same sort of error-filled screed he wrote about his questions, which very well might give the people on the front lines of the "debate" the impression that he's an anti-scientific creationist, considering they've seen a lot of "honest questions" aimed at them by people who were anti-science creationists playing wolf-in-sheep's-clothing. Fred's article is very close to the textual equivalent of the Gish Gallop: so much stuff that it's nearly impossible to answer in a reasonable way.

However, if Fred shows up here, I suggest we put aside that particular article, and let him start fresh. If it's more his approach that's screwy (saying things that "aren't even wrong"), we should focus on that, rather than get into the actual questions. After all, it doesn't help matters when people talk past each other.

Oh, and furshur wrote:
quote:
Of course giraffes have the same number of vertebrae (7) as almost all other mammals including man.
It's the "of course" that I would have avoided. It isn't by any means obvious to a layperson that a giraffe "should" have any particular number of neck bones. Had evolution gone a different way, it's possible we might have had giraffes with 34 of 'em (since we know variable numbers of them are possible within mammalia).

(And what's truly amazing about giraffes is that they, like most other mammals, have a vagus nerve which runs from the brain, all the way down into the chest, loops around the aorta, and then goes back up the neck to the larynx and tongue.)

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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furshur
SFN Regular

USA
1536 Posts

Posted - 04/20/2005 :  20:04:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send furshur a Private Message
Dave said:
quote:
It's the "of course" that I would have avoided. It isn't by any means obvious to a layperson that a giraffe "should" have any particular number of neck bones. Had evolution gone a different way, it's possible we might have had giraffes with 34 of 'em (since we know variable numbers of them are possible within mammalia).

The 'of course' was put in because Fred was writing in the capacity of an expert (his article even appeared on the Discovery Institute web site) and therefore should have some working knowledge of the animal he was using as an example. As far as a variable number of cervical vertebrae I thought only the manatee and sloths vary from the typical 7 vertebrae.

By the way, thanks for the info on the vagus nerve, I did not know that - very interesting.


If I knew then what I know now then I would know more now than I know.
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 04/21/2005 :  00:55:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by furshur

Dave said:
quote:
It's the "of course" that I would have avoided. It isn't by any means obvious to a layperson that a giraffe "should" have any particular number of neck bones. Had evolution gone a different way, it's possible we might have had giraffes with 34 of 'em (since we know variable numbers of them are possible within mammalia).

The 'of course' was put in because Fred was writing in the capacity of an expert (his article even appeared on the Discovery Institute web site) and therefore should have some working knowledge of the animal he was using as an example. As far as a variable number of cervical vertebrae I thought only the manatee and sloths vary from the typical 7 vertebrae.

By the way, thanks for the info on the vagus nerve, I did not know that - very interesting.


Interesting indeed, but really no more than just another evolutionary fuckup. The world is full of them.
quote:
Flatfish skulls

The twisted skulls of bony flatfish (order Pleuronectiformes): around 500 species including halibut, plaice, sole and turbot. If you are a fish and want to hug the contours of the sea bed, there are two ways your body can be flattened. The most obvious is front to back, laying on your tummy, as rays and some sharks are. Sharks are generally already slightly flattened dorsoventrally. Most bony fish, however, tend to be flattened in a vertical direction (higher than they are wide). No surprise to an evolutionary biologist, then, that those bony flatfish that do swim at the bottom are flattened sideways, and lay on their side.

The problem with this is that one eye would always be pointing at the sea bed. They solve this by the skull contorting during development, so that one eye migrates to the other side. You will notice though that their mouths are still sideways on. They are cartoon stereotypes of what a mutant should look like. How is this 'intelligent design', rather than design constrained by history, by the materials it started with?

Surely, if there were a Designer, he/she/it must be more Intelligent than this! Hell, Rube Goldberg could have done a more competent job of it. And if there were such a Designer, I'd have a serious bone to pick with him/her/it concerning human spines and knees as well, no pun.


"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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bloody_peasant
Skeptic Friend

USA
139 Posts

Posted - 04/21/2005 :  05:36:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send bloody_peasant a Yahoo! Message Send bloody_peasant a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Kil

quote:
bloody_peasant:
Maybe we should invite him over here and see if we can answer any of his "tough" questions


Go for it... First we can straighten him out on abiogenesis.

Oh, and welcome to SFN Fripp!



An invitation has been sent. Maybe he will join, maybe he won't.
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Fripp
SFN Regular

USA
727 Posts

Posted - 04/21/2005 :  06:11:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Fripp a Private Message
Thanks all. I've written a letter to the Inquirer to clear up misunderstandings. I feel that it is most important (and this where the creationists have succeeded when they have) to keep the dialogue open with the general public. The average person spends little time researching or thinking for themselves, so when anti-evolutionists make claims and evolutionists stay quiet, the average person will begin to side with the creationist.

"What the hell is an Aluminum Falcon?"

"Oh, I'm sorry. I thought my Dark Lord of the Sith could protect a small thermal exhaust port that's only 2-meters wide! That thing wasn't even fully paid off yet! You have any idea what this is going to do to my credit?!?!"

"What? Oh, oh, 'just rebuild it'? Oh, real [bleep]ing original. And who's gonna give me a loan, jackhole? You? You got an ATM on that torso LiteBrite?"
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 04/30/2005 :  19:22:03   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by bloody_peasant

An invitation has been sent.
Have you gotten any sort of reply?

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 04/30/2005 :  20:04:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Fripp

Long time lurker, first time post. This excerpt from a blog called fredoneverything.net got published today in the Editorial section of the Philadelphia Inquirer . . .


Hey, Fripp. I just now had a chance to look through this guy's blog scrawl on evolution. It sucks. And so does he. As has been noted, but nevertheless cannot be stressed enough, abiogenesis is not the same thing as evolution. Thus this drivel:
quote:
I was probably in college when I found myself asking what seemed to me straightforward questions about the chemical origin of life . . . I just didn't know how life came about. I still don't. Neither do evolutionists.
is worthless. My guess is that 'evolutionists' don't know much about the cover two defense either, but that invalidates neither evolution nor cover two. So why bitch about it? Because he sucks, that's why.

Unfortunately, it doesn't end. But my patience does. Time and again, he makes false anologies, misrepresents science, and overall just sucks. But if he wants to come here and address things pint by point, then that's great. By the way he writes (that is, with capital letters, (more or less) proper prepositions and coherent thought), I get the sense that it should be interesting and challenging!
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 04/30/2005 :  21:36:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Cuneiformist

My guess is that 'evolutionists' don't know much about the cover two defense either...
Oh, too coooool!

There exist "evolutionists" who don't know squat about sex, which means I'm a virgin again! And Santa Claus exists! Damn, this is great! Why didn't I think of it?

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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bloody_peasant
Skeptic Friend

USA
139 Posts

Posted - 05/02/2005 :  06:42:24   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send bloody_peasant a Yahoo! Message Send bloody_peasant a Private Message
Well I did get a small reply from my invitation, but now its been almost 2 weeks with no reply so I am guessing the notion of him coming aboard is dead. This mysterious group of unanimous scientists who supposedly interviewed with him is the most suspicious part of all of this. First I've never known too many scientists who were concerned about putting them name along with the stuff they discuss or publish. In fact most are quite adamant to do so. Secondly this whole notion of politically incorrectness is quite absurd especially when he tries to tie it to things like the book "The Bell Curve", which every biology and anthropology professor I have ever had since it was published has trashed.

In his reply he also seemed to just drop some technical terms in some sort of random fashion maybe in hopes that I wouldn't know what they meant and scaring me off. It also doesn't excuse him from inaccurately portraying evolution as happening only by point mutations (a tehcnical term he was all too happy to drop on his lay readers with no explanation provided).

Here is the email conversation:

My invitation
quote:
Hi Fred,

I'm not sure what yahoos you talked to online since you never point out the boards or the threads you visited, but if you want some real answers to your questions then why don't you visit us on the Skeptic Friends Network. We've already started a thread if you would like to join and get a better understanding of the science and evidence behind evolution.

http://www.skepticfriends.org/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4249

BTW a quick Google search would have told you how many vertebrae giraffes have
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/mammals/giraffe/Giraffecoloring.shtml
Even though the giraffe's neck is extremely long, it has only seven neck vertebrae, the same number that people and most other mammals have.

Also as another example of some more misinformation you have been fed, evolution works by more than just point mutations. There are deletions, inversions, duplications, full chromosomal mutations, and even incorporation of viral dna into eukaryotic genomes.

I can also ensure you that if we come to something we don't know, we will clearly state "we don't know". No metaphysics or speculation need apply.

I hope you join in for some serious discussion otherwise I would have to assume your just blowing smoke up people's asses.

Thanks,

John


His reply:
quote:
Mostly research bio guys at places like Stanford, but the list is invitation-only and a ground rule is no quotation by name. This is necessary since many of the conclusions of human genetics are highly politically incorrect. You are right about the giraffe, but substitute "snake vertebrae" and the questions remain.

You might find it difficult writing for a general readership about Dayhoff and PAM matrices, indels, open reading frames and things like the difference between transition and transversion and the mathematics of gene flows. Also irrelevant to what I was saying. Few people can handle matrix mult or know what a clotting cascade is. No reason why they should, but it limits treatment.

Best,
Fred


My follow up
quote:
Hi Fred,

As far as describing mutations and the lay reader goes, you don't have to go into these details to give a high level overview of the variety of mutations on genes. Simple analogies work great and I'm sure a creative writer such as yourself could do it well. We don't need to describe how Dayhoff's PAM250 matrix is used to weigh amino acid differences nor do we need to describe ORF's or what a transition or transversion is. A good description could simply indicate that changes happen to our genes in a wide variety of ways called "mutations" and these can have an effect on our traits.

You stated that it was simply point mutations and gave no qualifiers about other mutations. This leads to a false impression of what evolution is about to someone who might know what point mutations are, but not much about evolution. Also you weren't worried about dropping a term on your readers, "point mutations", without defining it, so why not drop a few more on them such as indels or chromosomal mutations and provide some general definitions.

In response to your snake question I thought I would do some preliminary research. I admit I'm not an expert on snake evolution or any of its advancements. As I expected the evolution of its vertebrate is related to modifications to its Hox genes and the fact that the vertebrate are repeated segmentation sequences.

Here are a few article abstracts and a review abstract.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=10365960

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=10508578

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=12492145

Embryonic development consists of regulated programs running in certain sequences, for certain duration, with certain genes and certain proteins involved. Changes to these programs can be caused by adding new steps, repeating steps, removing steps, increasing or decreasing the duration of a step, and so on. These kind of changes affect the final morphology of the individual.

Here is one article on embryonic development as it relates to genetics and evolution especially in regard to Hox genes.
http://www.ucalgary.ca/UofC/eduweb/virtualembryo/hox.html

And a more general description
http://www.molbio.princeton.edu/courses/mb427/2001/projects/03/development.html
"Similarly, human Hox gene mutations have shown the involvement of Hox genes in human limb development. A mutation in the human Hoxd13 gene results in polydactyly, or the duplication of a digit resulting in the development of six fingers "

http://pharyngula.org/comments/558_0_1_0_C/
"Hox gene expression is also associated with segmental organization in arthropods and vertebrates."

And here related directly to snakes
http://www.zoo.utoronto.ca/dgodt/ZOO328lecture16to17.html
"snake: snakes have no legs and a very long trunk; they evolved from reptiles that had four legs. The axial skeleton of snakes shows a rather uniform morphology throughout the whole trunk with (almost) all trunk vertebrae showing a typical thoracic morphology and ribs. The morphological transformations appear to be caused by changes in the expression pattern of the Hox genes: The anterior and posterior expansion of Hoxc-6 and Hoxc-8 expression could be responsible for the extension of thorax identity at the expense of other vertebral identities, and for the loss of the forelimbs."

I'm not trying to just throw up a bunch of links here to drown you with facts. The main thing I would like to show, is although we don't have even close to half of the details, we do have a lot of details. More than any single individual can digest. We are mapping genes to traits and mutations that can effect them. We are comparing genetic similarities between closely related species and noting the actual differences and so on. This is a far cry from metaphysics.

Since I can't know who your "experts" were I can't comment on t
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