Message 18

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To: Steve Rudd
Subject: Re: Patton Quotes 
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 04:21:16 -0500
From: Andrew Arensburger

On Thu, 10 Feb 2000 10:34:42 EST, Steve Rudd wrote:
> [Omitted at author's request]

	Which (and this is my point) Patton didn't even acknowledge.

> [Omitted at author's request]

	I hate to break this to you, but many, many fossils have been
found. So many, in fact, that far from being confined to museums, you
can buy them by the dozen at "nature" stores in malls, and at roadside
souvenir stands.

: Well, we are now about 120 years after Darwin and the knowledge of
: the fossil record has been greatly expanded. We now have a quarter
: of a million fossil species

	If you meant to say that the fossils unearthed since Darwin's
time do not support his claim that the fossil record would show
constant, slow change, then you're right: what they do show is change
proceeding in bursts.

> [Omitted at author's request]

	Ooh, flamebait!

> STEPHEN J. GOULD, HARVARD, "The Cambrian Explosion occurred in a geological 
> moment, and we have reason to think that all major anatomical designs may 
> have made their evolutionary appearance at that time. ...not only the 
> phylum Chordata itself, but also all its major divisions, arose within the 
> Cambrian Explosion. So much for chordate uniqueness... Contrary to Darwin's 
> expectation that new data would reveal gradualistic continuity with slow 
> and steady expansion, all major discoveries of the past century have only 
> heightened the massiveness and geological abruptness of this formative 
> event..." Nature, Vol.377, 26 10/95, p.682

	Yes, I know about the Cambrian explosion. What's your point?
	Before you answer, I'd like to point out the phrases
"geological moment" and "geological abruptness." The Cambrian period
lasted 70 million years.

> MORE EMBARRASSING, David M. Raup, U. Chicago; Ch. F. Mus. of N. H., "The 
> evidence we find in the geologic record is not nearly as compatible with 
> darwinian natural selection as we would like it to be. Darwin was 
> completely aware of this. He was embarrassed by the fossil record because 
> it didn't look the way he predicted it would.... Well, we are now about 120 
> years after Darwin and the knowledge of the fossil record has been greatly 
> expanded. We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but the 
> situation hasn't changed much. ....ironically, we have even fewer examples 
> of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin's time. By this I mean 
> that some of the classic cases of darwinian change in the fossil record, 
> such as the evolution of the horse in North America, have had to be 
> discarded or modified as the result of more detailed information." 
> F.M.O.N.H.B., Vol.50, p.35

	I believe this is one of the quotations I couldn't look up.
Could you please tell me:
	- What does "Ch. F. Mus. of N. H." stand for?
	- What does "F.M.O.N.H.B." stand for?

[Update, May 15, 2003: Alert reader Derek Muir says that "Ch. F. Mus.
of N. H." is the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History, and that
presumably "F.M.O.N.H.B." is a bulletin of theirs.]

Also, if you could supply some context (the paragraph leading up to
this quotation, the text that was replaced by ellipses, and the
paragraph after the quotation), I'd appreciate it.

> PREDICTION FAILED, Niles Eldridge, Amer. Mus. N. H., "He [Darwin] 
> prophesied that future generations of paleontologists would fill in these 
> gaps by diligent search.... One hundred and twenty years of paleontological 
> research later, it has become abundantly clear that the fossil record will 
> not confirm this part of Darwin's predictions. Nor is the problem a 
> miserably poor record. The fossil record simply shows that this prediction 
> was wrong." The Myths of Human Evolution, p.45-46

	Again, if you could supply the full quotation, that'd be
great. Assuming that this quotation refers to gradualism vs. "bursty"
evolution, then yes, Darwin was wrong about that part, as I keep
telling you. Also, as I've said before, this isn't as big a deal as
you seem to think it is.

> [Omitted at author's request]

	Hurm. I think I'm not getting across to you. Perhaps a parable
would help.
	Let's say some people decide to investigate the claim that the
Israelites traveled from Egypt to Palestine. They find some
remains--ancient campfires, discarded tools, and so forth--on the
Egyptian border; they also find remains in Palestine, 500 km away,
about forty years younger than the remains found in Egypt.
	Now, 500 km in 40 years works out to 1.4 meters/hour. So our
investigators draw a straight line from the Egyptian remains to the
Palestinian, and start digging at various points along this line,
looking for the Israelites' trail. They find one or two pottery
shards, but not nearly as much as they'd hoped for. Eventually, they
get tired of digging, and write a paper that ends in a hope that
future archeologists will be able to find this missing evidence.
	A few decades pass. The original researchers have grown up and
are raising a new generation of graduate students. The desert between
Egypt and Palestine has been dug up pretty thoroughly by oil
companies, builders, tourists, even other archeologists. Lots of
pottery, tools, garbage dumps, campfire remains, etc. have been found
this way, a lot of which looks like it might have belonged to the
traveling Israelites.
	The new grad students decide to assemble all of this stuff,
date it, and take another look. And lo, a pattern emerges: it turns
out that the Israelites weren't traveling in a straight line at a
constant 1.4 meters/hour for 40 years! Instead, they'd pitch camp
someplace, stay there for a few weeks or months, then travel for a day
or so, and pitch a new camp some kilometers further away. This
continued until they wound up in Palestine and settled down

	So the second group of researchers, who had access to much
better and more complete data, did in fact disprove the original
researchers' claim that the Israelites traveled in a straight line at
a constant speed for 40 years. The core theory was still valid,
though: that the Israelites did travel from Egypt to Palestine.

> > > [Omitted at author's request]
> >
> >         Which fraud are you talking about? I searched, but
> >couldn't find this story.
> [Omitted at author's request]

	So which is it? Fraud, or sensationalism?

> 1 November 1999
> Dr. Peter Raven, Secretary
> Committee for Research and Exploration
> National Geographic Society
> Washington, DC 20036

	Let me paraphrase this letter, so you can tell me whether I'm
missing something:

	Christopher Sloan wrote the article "Feathers for T. rex?" in
	the Nov. 1999 issue of National Geographic. He prematurely
	named one of the specimens described.

	The specimen was known to have been illegally exported from
	China. This is bad.

	In 1998, I was asked to comment on a different article by
	Sloan. I found out that National Geographic isn't interested
	in presenting any viewpoint other than that birds evolved from
	dinosaurs. Ain't so! Is not is not is not!

If this is more or less accurate, then I really don't see your point.
If National Geographic did, indeed, knowingly publish an article about
an illegally-obtained fossil, then that is reprehensible. It isn't
fraud, though.
	As for the second part of the letter, my main question is, if
Olsen doesn't think birds evolved from dinosaurs, what _does_ he think
they evolved from? He doesn't say.

	But all of this is beside the point. I see nothing here to
indicate National Geographic "promoting such a fraud in Nov 99" as you
say. Perhaps you sent me the wrong article?

> >         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]

	Are they, now? What's the URL?
	<Shrug> I'm not a dog breeder, so I'm not going to argue the
point. I just figured that if the pups inherited their sire's size,
they'd grow too large for the bitch's womb and crush each other to

	Anyway, since you didn't answer the rest of my message, I'll
assume that you accept that new kinds are appearing all the time, and
that there are a number of transitional fossils. And since you haven't
said anything in your past few messages about Patton's honesty as a
quoter, I figure that means you're conceding the point. So just to
bring closure to this discussion, could you please:

	- Tell whether you agree or disagree with my evaluation of
Patton's math, and why. Or, if you aren't qualified to do so, please
just say so.
	- Present an outline of the theory of creationism (or
whichever theory of origins you subscribe to).
	- Present some evidence for this theory.
	- Present an experiment that might falsify this theory.

PS: Something just occurred to me: if evolution doesn't happen, then
rats, rabbits etc. aren't related to humans, and there's no reason for
them to have anything in common.
	Have you considered writing the Ministry of Health to ask them
to stop requiring animal testing for new drugs? This practice is
obviously a waste of time, and it would be better to test on humans
from the start, so that life-saving drugs can get to market faster.
	For that matter, if evolution doesn't happen, you should tell
your friends and acquaintances not to bother getting new influenza
shots every winter.
	Do you own any stock in a chemical company? At the next
stockholders' meeting, you may want to tell them to stop wasting money
developing new pesticides every year. If a chemical kills bugs this
year, and the bugs can't evolve, then it'll still work next year, and
the next, and the next, right?

Andrew Arensburger, Systems guy		Center for Automation Research			University of Maryland
	  Why do people with so few clues have so much time?
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