Message 14

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To: Steve Rudd
Subject: Re: Patton Quotes 
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 02:15:28 -0500
From: Andrew Arensburger

On Wed, 09 Feb 2000 14:56:05 EST, Steve Rudd wrote:
> >         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.
> [Omitted at author's request]

	I re-quote:

: innumerable transitional forms must have existed, why do we not find
: them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?

> [Omitted at author's request]

	I re-quote:

: It will be much more convenient to discuss this question in the
: chapter on the Imperfection of the geological record; and I will
: here only state that I believe the answer mainly lies in the record
: being incomparably less perfect than is generally supposed; the
: imperfection of the record being chiefly due to organic beings not
: inhabiting profound depths of the sea, and to their remains being
: embedded and preserved to a future age only in masses of sediment
: sufficiently thick and extensive to withstand an enormous amount of
: future degradation; and such fossiliferous masses can be accumulated
: only where much sediment is deposited on the shallow bed of the sea,
: whilst it slowly subsides. These contingencies will concur only
: rarely, and after enormously long intervals. Whilst the bed of the
: sea is stationary or is rising, or when very little sediment is
: being deposited, there will be blanks in our geological history. The
: crust of the earth is a vast museum; but the natural collections
: have been made only at intervals of time immensely remote.

To summarize the answer: fossilization is a very rare event.

> >         And how is that? What predictions were creationists making 200
> >years ago that were borne out?
> [Omitted at author's request]

	Ah. And did they also predict that most species would exist
only for a limited period of time? Did they also predict that no one
would ever find, say, sunflower fossils in the same stratum as

> > > [Omitted at author's request]
> >
> >         How do you figure?
> [Omitted at author's request]

	Well, absent evidence of a creator, I think that's eminently
sensible, don't you?

> [Omitted at author's request]

	Once again: punctuated equilibrium does not refute Darwin's
original theory, it merely refines it. It is still driven by natural

> [Omitted at author's request]

	No, just few transitions, not none (see below).

> [Omitted at author's request]

	Which fraud are you talking about? I searched, but
couldn't find this story.

> >         Oh? What about natural selection?
> [Omitted at author's request]

	By the way, I thought I'd point out some of the consequences
of your definition of "kind" (that organisms A and B are of the same
kind if and only if they can breed and have offspring):
	- Jackasses and mares are of the same kind; their offspring, a
	  mule, is of a different kind from either of its parents.
	- Likewise worker ants, being sterile, are not of the same
	  kind as the queen that laid them.
	- Every paramecium, every bacterium, every virus (if you
	  consider them to be alive), every asexual creature is in a
	  kind of its own.
	- Modern varieties of corn (maize) are incapable of
	  reproducing without human intervention, and are therefore
	  arguably of a different kind than earlier varieties.
	- Triticale cannot be bred with other varieties of wheat. It
	  is therefore a newly-created kind.
	- I'm not sure what to make of ring species: there are sets of
	  species A, B, ... Z such that A can interbreed with B, B can
	  interbreed with C, ... Y can interbreed with Z, but A cannot
	  interbreed with Z. A and B are of the same kind, as are B
	  and C, and therefore A and C, etc., so A and Z are both
	  members of the same and different kinds.
	- Viruses (assuming that they're alive) do not have any
	  reproductive organs: instead, they hijack other organisms'
	  reproductive equipment. Since a virus and its host can
	  produce more viruses like the original one, does that mean
	  that they are of the same kind?

	So with that in mind, I'm pretty sure that a male Great Dane
cannot have sex with a female Chihuahua, simply because of size
differences. Even if they did, the puppies would probably die in the
womb, or kill the mother (again, just because of size). If so, does
that mean that great danes and chihuahuas are of different kinds?

> > > > > [Omitted at author's request]
> > > >
> > > >         Okay, I'm going to be lazy and use someone else's list:
> > > >
> [Omitted at author's request]

	Ah. Would you care to explain why? If not, does that mean that
I can also get away with summarily dismissing inconvenient arguments?

> [Omitted at author's request]

	First of all, biology is a real-world science, not math.
"Proof" is a mathematical concept; there is no such thing as proof in
science, only successive approximations to the truth.
	Secondly, evolution is both a fact and a theory, much like
gravity. There is the fact of gravity: things fall. There are also
theories of gravity, which explain why things fall. Likewise, the fact
of evolution is that living populations change over time. The theory
of evolution by natural selection explains why they do so.

	Having said this, I think the best evidence for the fact of
evolution is the fossil record: I think you'll agree that there used
to be dinosaurs, and now there aren't any; before the twentieth
century, there weren't any cockroaches that ate plastic, and now there
are. This constitutes evolution.
	To my mind (and this is merely a layman's opinion), the most
convincing argument for the validity of evolution by natural selection
is its logical inevitability, which seems obvious in retrospect: any
time you have imperfect self-replicators in an environment that only
allows a certain number of these self-replicators to exist at one
time, there will be selection. If the entity doing the selecting is
non-sentient, it is natural selection. If the selection is non-random,
then the characteristics of the population of replicators will change
over time in such a way as to favor survival.

	(Yeah, yeah, I know you asked for a single sentence. But what
I had to say was best expressed as several sentences, and I refuse to
artificially contort my writing to fit such an arbitrary restriction.)

	As for transitional fossils: pick any except the ones at the
ends (since they're not transitional between two elements in the

Protoclepsydrops haplous
Dimetrodon, Sphenacodon
Oligokyphus, Kayentatherium
Pachygenelus, Diarthrognathus
Adelobasileus cromptoni
Eozostrodon, Morganucodon, Haldanodon
Kielantherium, Aegialodon
Steropodon galmani
Vincelestes neuquenianus
Pariadens kirklandi
Kennalestes, Asioryctes
Cimolestes, Procerberus, Gypsonictops

	Or perhaps you'd prefer

Herpestes antiquus
Protictitherium crassum
Plioviverrops orbigny
Tungurictis spocki
Ictitherium viverrinum
Thalassictis robusta
Hyaenotherium wongii
Miohyaenotherium bessarabicum
Hyaenictitherium hyaenoides
Palinhyaena reperta
Ikelohyaena abronia
Belbus beaumonti
Leecyaena lycyaenoides
Parahyaena brunnea
Hyaena hyaena
Hyaena brunnea
Pliocrocuta perrieri
Pachycrocuta brevirostris
Adcrocuta eximia
Crocuta crocuta

> >         I didn't say "deceptive misrepresentation." I said "blatantly
> >dishonest quotation." As I've said before, it's this one:
> [Omitted at author's request]
> >: 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
> [Omitted at author's request]

	Look, why don't you just link your web pages to mine, and that
way visitors can see for themselves whether or not Patton's distorting
his quotations.
	Would you like me to to add <A NAME="..."> links, so you can
link directly to each quotation? I can do that, no problem.
	Or, if you don't think I've accurately quoted Patton's sources
(and I'm not asking you to believe me; a certain amount of skepticism
is a good thing), then you can always look them up yourself.

	Oh, and just to clear up some loose ends:

	You dismissed my critique of Patton's math with a simple "[Omitted at author's
request]" Would you care to expand on that? Specifically, whose math is
correct, whose is wrong, and why?

	Could you please present some evidence for creationism? As
I've mentioned before, evidence against evolution is not evidence for
creation. And disbelief is not evidence of anything.

	For that matter, could you please give me an outline of the
theory of creation? I've been looking, but I can't seem to find such a
thing. In particular, there are old-earth and young-earth
creationists, as well as theistic evolutionists who argue that
evolution is a tool that a creator used to produce humans. Then there
are those who say that a bunch of living creatures were created all at
once in the distant past, but have been evolving since then.
	Which, if any, of these ideas do you subscribe to, and why?
How is your theory falsifiable? That is, it should be possible to say,
"If we do <such-and-such>, and <blah> happens, then this theory is

	You may want to fix the first quotation in
One of the numbers is still off by six orders of magnitude (that's a
factor of a million, by the way).

Andrew Arensburger, Systems guy		Center for Automation Research			University of Maryland
       Data is not information is not knowledge is not wisdom.
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