All posts by Andrew Arensburger

Drunken Walks 2: Neutral Drift Boogaloo

In our last episode, our heroes saw that just by taking lots of steps in random directions, you could wind up arbitrarily far from where you started. This time, we’ll take a look at what it means for population genetics and evolution.

As we’ve all learned, evolution is “allele frequency change in a population over generations”. And the way we all visualize this, I think, is to think of a population in which one member has a slight advantage over the others, such as sharper teeth, better resistance to poison, slightly more efficient camouflage, etc. As generations pass, a greater and greater percentage of the population has this advantageous trait, until eventually it’s the norm. Either that, or detrimental traits get removed from the gene pool.

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Kent Hovind Gets Taken Again

Oh, this is just too precious.

The April 2005 issue of Scientific American included an editorial entitled “Okay, We Give Up” and subtitled, “We feel so ashamed”. The editors said they were contrite for ignoring creationism and ID, simply because there’s no evidence for either one.

That’s what makes ID a superior scientific theory: it doesn’t get bogged down in details.

Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody’s ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts.

This was clearly an April Fools joke. Perhaps not the funniest ever, but still pretty blatant. But Kent Hovind fell for it anyway.

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Frequently Unanswered Questions about Intelligent Design

I’ve started putting together a list of questions about Intelligent Design that ID proponents have yet to answer, as far as I know.

Some of these questions are fairly basic, such as “what is the scientific theory of Intelligent Design?”, “Who is the designer?”, and “What is the lesson plan for teaching ID?” If IDists can’t give sensible answers to questions like these, what the hell are they doing pushing it in public schools?

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Rant O’ the Day

Kung Fu Monkey explains why George Bush’s endorsement of Intelligent Design is a crock, and why it matters. A lot.

Includes the best characterisation of ID ever:

Intelligent Design, or as it’s more commonly known: “Creationism Trying to Look Serious By, Say, Squinting — Like Denise Richards Playing the Nuclear Weapons Expert In That Bond Movie“.

I’m jealous. I wish I had that kind of flamage-fu.

Splitting the Conservative Creationist Wedge

This Free Republic article is just a repost of George Bush’s recent endorsement of ID. (Thanks to Fred at Pharyngula for the pointer.)

The interesting part is in the comments. It’s interesting to see two factions of Freepers emerge: those who support teaching creationism, and those who think, “It’s really hard to support the president when he starts pushing obscurantist nonsense.” It’ll be interesting to see whether creationism or anti-evolutionism becomes a wedge issue splitting the Republican party.
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Bush Endorses ID

According to several sources, including this Seattle Times article, president Bush has endorsed Intelligent Design Creationism:

WASHINGTON — President Bush waded into the debate over evolution and “intelligent design” yesterday, saying schools should teach both on the origins and complexity of life.

In a wide-ranging question-and-answer session with a small group of reporters, Bush essentially endorsed efforts by Christian conservatives to give intelligent design equal standing with evolution in the nation’s schools.

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Drunken Walks (But Not the Pubcrawl Variety)

Imagine a drunk standing in the middle of a field. Every time he tries to walk a step, he winds up staggering in a random direction: north, south, east, or west. How long will it take him to get to the edge of the field?

We can look at it intuitively, and say that he’s as likely to stagger north as south, as likely to go east as west. So after 100 steps, he will most likely have made 25 steps north and 25 steps south, which cancel out; and 25 steps east and 25 west, which also cancel out. So he’ll just keep staggering around his spot in the middle of the field until he sobers up.
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Google vs. Creationism

One of the claims made by young-earth creationists (YECs) is that the Grand Canyon was formed when the waters of Noah’s flood subsided; a whole lot of water drained off and carved a channel in the rock.

Geologists have known for a long time that this idea is ridiculous. For regular folks like me, though, Google Maps can help illustrate why it’s nonsense. Read More

The ID Job Market Sucks

In his latest entry at Uncommon Descent, Dembski laments the state of the job market for ID supporters, as well as the fact that people who criticize ID can get promoted:

It’s gratifying to see that ID is helping people make careers and bring home the bacon. Robert Pennock is happily ensconced at Michigan State University for criticizing ID. Barbara Forrest was promoted to full professor at South Eastern Louisiana State University for her work debunking ID. And most recently Niall Shanks moved from East Tennessee State University to an endowed chair at Wichita State University so that he can provide a counterblast to ID in Kansas (go here for the announcement of Shanks’s appointment — I understand that this appointment involved a hefty pay increase). Meanwhile, ID supporters are not just having a hard time getting academic jobs but even getting their PhDs (e.g., the case of Bryan Leonard).

From the article, and from the comments that haven’t been deleted, we learn that this is because the scientific establishment feels threatened by ID; the good old boy network rewards those who criticize ID.

It has nothing — nothing! — to do with the fact that ID isn’t a theory or even a coherent hypothesis, makes no testable predictions, is based on misinformation, obfuscation, and the notion that “somewhere, somehow, there’s something wrong with evolution”, or that ID proponents aren’t submitting ID-related papers to peer-reviewed journals.

That obviously couldn’t be it. Obviously it’s that they’re being persecuted.

Jefferson, Madison, Bush, and Separation of Church and State

I just listened to a particularly interesting show about Jefferson, Madison, and their attitudes on the separation of church and state. Go listen to it.
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