Message 7

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To: Steve Rudd
Subject: Re: Patton Quotes 
Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2000 10:44:13 -0500
From: Andrew Arensburger

On Tue, 08 Feb 2000 08:38:01 EST, Steve Rudd wrote:
> >         Now, Darwin may have been wrong, but he did have some possible
> >answers. Yet Patton makes Darwin sound as if he were utterly baffled
> >by the question.
> [Omitted at author's request]

	Care to give a reference for that statement?

> >         Likewise, in chapter 9, Patton quotes:
> >: Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of
> >: such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such
> >: finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most
> >: obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.
> >
> >but omits
> >
> >: The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of
> >: the geological record.
> [Omitted at author's request]

	You're missing the point: Darwin had an answer to the
question. If it's correct, Patton should quote it, summarize it, or at
least acknowledge it.
	If Darwin's answer is incorrect, Patton should explain why it
is incorrect.

> >         Yes, puncuated equilibrium was introduced to explain why the
> >fossil record looks the way it does. But this is much less of a big
> >deal than you seem to think it is.
> [Omitted at author's request]

	And how is that? What predictions were creationists making 200
years ago that were borne out?

> [Omitted at author's request]

> [Omitted at author's request]

	How do you figure?

> [Omitted at author's request]

	Oh? What about natural selection?

> >These days, nobody disputes that
> >evolution happened; the debate concerns which precise mechanisms are
> >involved (genetic drift, the founder effect, yadda yadda) and how
> >important each one is.
> [Omitted at author's request]

	Oops! You're right. I take that back.
	I should have said: there is plenty of evidence for evolution;
no one who has examined this evidence--and understands it--denies that
it happened.

> > > [Omitted at author's request]
> >
> >         Okay, I'm going to be lazy and use someone else's list:
> >
> >Granted, a lot of these are individual speciation events, so you might
> >have to slog through a number of articles that don't directly answer
> >the precise question you asked.
> [Omitted at author's request]

	I didn't say "deceptive misrepresentation." I said "blatantly
dishonest quotation." As I've said before, it's this one:

: The taxonomic status of KNM-ER 1805, whose estimated cranial
: capacity is 582 cm3 (9, 14) is uncertain and workers have questioned
: whether its affinities are with Homo or Australopithecus (15). The
: evidence presented above shows that KNM-ER 1805 [Patton inserts the
: words "Homo habilis"] should not be attributed to Homo. In keeping
: with this, Fig. 4 shows that the shape of the endocast from KNM-ER
: 1805 (basal view) is similar to that from an African pongid, whereas
: the endocast of KNM-ER 1470 is shaped like that of a modern human.
: As noted by Radinsky (6), shape differences may be the result of a
: packaging phenomenon that reflect size differences.
: -- Dean Falk, ``Cerebral Cortices of East African Early Hominids,''
: Science, Vol. 221, p. 1073, 1983

	Anyway, you asked me for "just one example" of a transitional
sequence. The URL above has plenty of references, should you ever be
interested in looking any of them up.

> >         Let me turn the question around, though, and ask you for
> >evidence of creation. By this, I mean:
> >         - Evidence that creation happened. Not evidence that evolution
> >           didn't happen (logically, they could both be wrong).
> [Omitted at author's request]

	>BZZT!< Thank you for playing, contestant numer one. The
judges are declaring a foul! Okay, folks, let's parse that statement
into some semblance of an argument and take a look at it on the
slow-motion instant-replay screen:

	1) Evolution says that organisms (or their precursors) came
	   together through chance.
	2) Andrew is a complex organism.
	3) (from (1) and (2)): The odds of a bunch of molecules
	   spontaneously assembling into anything as complex as Andrew
	   are nearly zero. Therefore, it didn't happen.
	4) There are only two explanations for the existence of life
	   on Earth: evolution and creation.
	5) (from (3) and (4)): Since evolution didn't happen, Andrew
	   must have been created.

	(1) is what's known in debating circles as a strawman. The
theory of evolution does _not_ say that organisms self-assemble by
chance. On the contrary, it says that the main driving force behind
evolution is natural selection, which is quite the opposite of chance.
	I don't know whether you introduced this strawman argument
through ignorance or malice, so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt
and assume that you simply don't know what the theory of evolution is,
and suggest that you read up on it.

	(3) is valid as far as it goes: I'll bet good money that no
collection of molecules spontaneously self-assembled to become me, or
any other mammal. However, this is irrelevant since, as pointed out
above, nobody says that that's what happened.
	Another way of putting this is "I can't imagine how this could
have happened, therefore it didn't happen." This is known as the
argument from disbelief, and isn't a valid argument.

	(4) is the argument of the excluded middle. You're trying to
use evidence against evolution as evidence for creation. But in fact,
mainstream evolution and biblical creationism are _not_ the only
alternatives. Other obvious possibilities include
	- Solipsism. None of this really exists; everything is a
	  figment of my imagination.
	- None of us exist. We're just mental processes in Shiva's
	- The universe sprang into being last Tuesday, with all of our
	  memories in place, so that we just think it's a lot older
	  than that.
	- The Biblical creation story is wrong. The Apache one is
	- Time travelers from the future went back in time and seeded
	  prehistoric Earth with the original life forms, from which
	  they themselves are descended.
	- Lamarckism: evolution happens through organisms passing on
	  their acquired characteristics to their offspring.

	Granted, some of these possibilities are rather far-fetched.
But my point is that disproving evolution would not be evidence for
biblical creation. I originally asked you to present evidence for
creationism. You haven't done so.

> >         - Evidence that will convince a skeptic. A skeptic is someone
> >           who hasn't made up his mind one way or another, but whose
> >           attitude is "show me."
> [Omitted at author's request]

	See above.

> [Omitted at author's request]

	It's interesting that you should bring this up. There is
something called evolutionary programming, which uses evolutionary
techniques to solve complex problems. It's a fascinating field, and
these techniques work remarkably well in most of the cases I've tried
	There are also people working on "breeding" programs in this
way, so in a few years or decades we may, in fact, see widespread use
utilities that were evolved rather than written by hand.
	However, having said this, no, I don't believe that Windows
2000 "happen[ed] all by itself."

> > > [Omitted at author's request]
> >
> >         Yup. The two most likely explanations for this, IMHO, are:
> >         1) He figured you wouldn't change anything, and decided not to
> >            bother responding.
> >         2) He did respond, but you didn't do anything about it.
> [Omitted at author's request]

	Perhaps if your web page weren't so hostile, he'd respond. If
you have an environment that's hostile to criticism, no one will ever
point out mistakes that might creep in. If no one points out mistakes,
you'll never get a chance to fix them.

> >         Oh, and what doctoral degree(s) does Patton hold? From which
> >institution(s)? Has he published anything in any peer-reviewed
> >journals?
> [Omitted at author's request]

> 4.      Two years, Pacific School of Graduate Studies, Melbourne, Victoria,
> 5.      Australia (Education). Ph.D. granted 12/10/1993 (Education).

	Weird. Neither Yahoo, AltaVista, Lycos, nor Google have any
references to this place. I didn't know an organization could remain
hidden on today's Internet. <shrug>

Andrew Arensburger, Systems guy		Center for Automation Research			University of Maryland
		  Losing lottery tickets sold here.
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