Should evolution be taught in high sc...

Should evolution be taught in high school?

There are 179697 comments on the www.scientificblogging.com story from Feb 24, 2008, titled Should evolution be taught in high school?. In it, www.scientificblogging.com reports that:

Microbiologist Carl Woese is well known as an iconoclast. At 79 years of age, Woese is still shaking things up. Most recently, he stated in an interview with Wired that...

"My feeling is that evolution shouldn't be taught at the lower grades. You don't teach quantum mechanics in the grade schools. One has to be quite educated to work with these concepts; what they pass on as evolution in high schools is nothing but repetitious tripe that teachers don't understand."

Join the discussion below, or Read more at www.scientificblogging.com.

Since: Jan 14

Stoke-on-trent, UK

#162988 Jan 25, 2014
Urban Cowboy wrote:
Also, this copy error, this duplication of a nucleotide sequence, will not and cannot code for any new or nascent tissue, limb, or organ in order for the E.coli to change into an organism that is not an E.coli. There is no evidence of intra-evolution or macroevolution or transmutation of species.
I'll just pause to acknowledge that you're shifting the goal posts here. I'm aware of what you're doing (ask for evidence for proposition A, receive it, ignore it, exclaim that evidence for proposition Z was not presented and that therefore proposition Z is correct). However, I don't care. I'm not writing this for you - you will never change your mind. I am writing for others that might be open-minded and looking for the truth.

Allow me to quote Lenski again: "The inability to use citrate as an energy source under oxic conditions has long been a defining characteristic of E. coli as a species". This mutation "transcends the phenotypic boundaries of a diverse and well studied species". Now, neither Lenski or I think this represents the evolution of a different species, but it is a radical change in E. coli.

"Intra-evolution" and "macroevolution" are both made-up nonsense words that appear to place boundaries where there are none. "Transmutation" is a term that has fallen out of use since evolution began to be studied. I'm also amused at the idea E. coli has tissues, limbs and organs.

Since: Jan 14

Stoke-on-trent, UK

#162989 Jan 25, 2014
Subduction Zone wrote:
<quoted text>
You might be correct about the initial duplication. But you dropped out an extremely important part of the claim Your dropping that is as much of a tell tail as other creatards trying to argue against only mutation or only natural selection, but never both together. It is indisputable that the genome will have new information if it undergoes the duplication of a segment, which is observed and further mutation of that duplication. It will now be different from its ancestors. By definition that is new information, like it or not.
<quoted text>
And you just admitted that gene duplication can add information to the genome. It can cause diseases. Who says that gene duplication CAN'T be a positive event? I don't think that you will find a respected geneticist that will support you in that claim.
I agree with you, but I'd just like to point out that this wasn't the duplication of a single gene alone. Another gene was copied at the same time and, most importantly, the promoter region of yet another gene was involved. This other promoter allowed the transcription of the citT gene (at a very low level) in the presence of oxygen. To claim that this new combination of citT gene and rnk promoter is not new information must be hard to do with a straight face.

The first Cit+ variants were only slightly fitter than their Cit- cousins. Their main source of energy was still glucose, but they were able to get a little energy from the citrate when the glucose was used up. It was subsequent duplications of this same complex that really increased the expression of the citT gene and made Cit+ so successful.

So, here we have an initial duplication that gave a little advantage, followed by many subsequent duplications that amplified this advantage. The bottom line is: duplication can be a Very Good Thing.

“Don't get me started”

Level 1

Since: Jul 09

Minneapolis

#162990 Jan 25, 2014
EXPERT wrote:
<quoted text>
So you except this on faith...
No. As I stated, I do not take ANY abiogenesis hypothesis on faith. I am however, open to anything that shows some credible evidence.

And I do not take evolution on faith. But I do agree with the sound, peer reviewed evidence for evolution.

“Don't get me started”

Level 1

Since: Jul 09

Minneapolis

#162991 Jan 25, 2014
Urban Cowboy wrote:
<quoted text>
That's basically true, but what you are mistaken about is that it's all downhill. In a nutshell, the more copies that are made, the more the mistakes will accumulate. The smaller the population, the higher the probability of genetic disease. We can observe this directly in endangered species. We have laws to prohibit incest for the same reason. If two of a species that both carry the same genetic disorder mate, the tragic result is disease and death. Copying errors are always bad. Yes, this means that the ToE has no mechanism to work with. It's change by genetic mutation plus natural selection over time all right, but all the changes are all disease and eventual extinction. Every generation is accumulating these slightly harmful genetic mutations. Some estimates in humans is 100 to 300 per generation. If you go back 200 generations or so, inbreeding would not have been a problem because there would be few if any accumulated mutations in the still pristine human genetic code. Now 200 generations later, we certainly have catalogued hundreds of tragic genetic mutations that surface in the population, especially those which reproduce in close families. This idea that of Darwin's Tree of Life and the notion of the universal common ancestor of all life is a pipe dream. There is no evidence of speciation or transmutation of species anywhere. It's not in the fossil record and modern genetics clearly shows us that it's not in the genetic record either. You've got millions of fossils collected and not one example. You've got long-term genetic studies but not one example of a mutation that creates new information that codes from some new or nascent tissue, limb, or organ that makes the organism into something more complex. Evolution of the type where there is a transmutation of the species or macroevolution or vertical evolution or forward progress evolution or whatever you want to call it, is not evident. Evolution is variation within species or inter-speciation and not intra-speciation. There is no evidence, that for example, that a bacteria changed into a fish, and then into a amphibian, and then into a reptile, and then into a bird or a mammal, and then into a person. And there is no evidence that a genetic mechanism exists to improve on or add any new, more complex information to the genome. The only thing possible with copy errors is disease.
Change can be uphill or downhill. There's no set genetic target for what a mouse or a snake or a human has to be. If a change increases the survival rate of any species, that change is beneficial.

Look at the cheetah. Right now it has a high probability of going extinct because its low population gives it little genetic variation. However, if it does gain a highly beneficial mutation before it goes extinct, it would have a better chance at fixing that mutation then if the population was much larger. And if,(a big if) a beneficial mutation is fixed in the population, it could gain enough members to eventually provide the genetic variation it needs to thrive again. Lots of species go extinct. But enough do thrive to maintain a considerable variety of species on the planet.

Since: Jan 14

Stoke-on-trent, UK

#162992 Jan 25, 2014
Urban Cowboy wrote:
<quoted text>
That's basically true, but what you are mistaken about is that it's all downhill. In a nutshell, the more copies that are made, the more the mistakes will accumulate. The smaller the population, the higher the probability of genetic disease. We can observe this directly in endangered species. We have laws to prohibit incest for the same reason. If two of a species that both carry the same genetic disorder mate, the tragic result is disease and death. Copying errors are always bad. Yes, this means that the ToE has no mechanism to work with. It's change by genetic mutation plus natural selection over time all right, but all the changes are all disease and eventual extinction. Every generation is accumulating these slightly harmful genetic mutations. Some estimates in humans is 100 to 300 per generation. If you go back 200 generations or so, inbreeding would not have been a problem because there would be few if any accumulated mutations in the still pristine human genetic code.
An interesting idea. I want to examine it to see whether it has any theoretical basis. This is going to be long, so please bear with me while I try to post multiple messages.

Your scenario is that:
1. We have a starting population of organisms with no mutations.
2. With each generation, mutations accumulate.
3. If there are too many mutations, the organism will die.

Your conclusion is that, eventually, the entire population will die from their mutations and the species will be extinct.

You have one more axiom that is very important. You do not believe there are any beneficial mutations. I will ignore this one for now, but I promise I will come back to it.

I modelled a scenario like this one. I made the following assumptions:
1. Each generation, an individual would produce 1 offspring.
2. Each offspring was subject to bad mutation, modelled as a Poisson process with lambda=1 (i.e. each offspring has an average of 1 more mutation).
3. Each offspring was also subject to good mutation, modelled as a Poisson process with lambda=0.1 (i.e. on average, 1 good mutation per 10 offspring).
4. The population was resource-constrained in some way (e.g. competition for food) and were therefore subject to a death rate proportionate to the size of the total population. I tuned it so a population of 10,000 would experience a death rate of 10% per generation, and a population of 20,000 would experience a death rate of 40% per generation.

I ran this model, starting with a population of 10,000, to test whether your conjecture was correct, that the population would go extinct. It did not go extinct. It grew, oscillated, then settled down at just over 12,100. 2% of the population had no mutations. Over 9% had one mutation, 29% had two and 60% had three. And this mixture was stable. This population could continue indefinitely, even while accumulating approximately one bad mutation per generation each.

“Don't get me started”

Level 1

Since: Jul 09

Minneapolis

#162993 Jan 25, 2014
Urban Cowboy wrote:
Evolution is variation within species or intra-speciation and not inter-speciation!
When a population loses the ability to reproduce with its original group but still maintains the ability to reproduce within its own population, it becomes a new species.

Since: Jan 14

Stoke-on-trent, UK

#162994 Jan 25, 2014
[continued]
So maybe I made a mistake somewhere. I looked back and realised that I was "good" mutations to happen, mutations that would reverse the damage done by the "bad" mutations. To be fair to your premise, I made it impossible for "good" mutations to happen. So, what happened?

The population grew to just over 12,000 and stabilised. None of the population were mutation free. In fact, given long enough, the entire population had their maximum of 3 mutations. But this was still a stable population. They did not go extinct.

Had I made another mistake? I've assumed that more than 3 mutations would kill an organism, but I've not taken into account the fact that organisms with 3 mutations might be less able to reproduce or more likely to die. This seems unfair, so I changed the model again. This time, organisms without mutations would experience the same birth and death rates as before, but each mutation acquired would reduce the birth rate to half its previous value and increase the death rate to twice its previous.

I ran the model again, but this time the population decreased. And then it stopped decreasing and stabilised at just over 8,900. You'll be interested in the composition of this population. This time, none had two or three mutations, 27% had one mutation and 73% were mutation-free. Remember, each individual produces one offspring per generation, and that offspring will have, on average, one mutation. But 73% of the resulting population will be mutation-free.

I don't agree with your assumption that beneficial mutations are impossible. However, even when I allowed for this, I was unable to get a population to collapse because of accumulated mutations. Your idea sounds attractive, but your conclusion does not follow from your premise. When I began this process I suspected that the model might show a catastrophic population collapse beyond a certain point and I would have to argue with your assumption that beneficial mutations are impossible. At the end of this process, I don't feel it necessary to do that.

Since: Jan 14

Stoke-on-trent, UK

#162995 Jan 25, 2014
Urban Cowboy wrote:
<quoted text>
That's basically true, but what you are mistaken about is that it's all downhill. In a nutshell, the more copies that are made, the more the mistakes will accumulate. The smaller the population, the higher the probability of genetic disease. We can observe this directly in endangered species. We have laws to prohibit incest for the same reason. If two of a species that both carry the same genetic disorder mate, the tragic result is disease and death. Copying errors are always bad. Yes, this means that the ToE has no mechanism to work with. It's change by genetic mutation plus natural selection over time all right, but all the changes are all disease and eventual extinction. Every generation is accumulating these slightly harmful genetic mutations. Some estimates in humans is 100 to 300 per generation. If you go back 200 generations or so, inbreeding would not have been a problem because there would be few if any accumulated mutations in the still pristine human genetic code.
An interesting idea. I want to examine it to see whether it has any theoretical basis. This is going to be long, so please bear with me while I try to post multiple messages (this might appear twice, or after the second message...)

Your scenario is that:
1. We have a starting population of organisms with no mutations.
2. With each generation, mutations accumulate.
3. If there are too many mutations, the organism will die.

Your conclusion is that, eventually, the entire population will die from their mutations and the species will be extinct.

You have one more axiom that is very important. You do not believe there are any beneficial mutations. I will ignore this one for now, but I promise I will come back to it.

I modelled a scenario like this one. I made the following assumptions:
1. Each generation, an individual would produce 1 offspring.
2. Each offspring was subject to bad mutation, modelled as a Poisson process with lambda=1 (i.e. each offspring has an average of 1 more mutation).
3. Each offspring was also subject to good mutation, modelled as a Poisson process with lambda=0.1 (i.e. on average, 1 good mutation per 10 offspring).
4. The population was resource-constrained in some way (e.g. competition for food) and were therefore subject to a death rate proportionate to the size of the total population. I tuned it so a population of 10,000 would experience a death rate of 10% per generation, and a population of 20,000 would experience a death rate of 40% per generation.

I ran this model, starting with a population of 10,000, to test whether your conjecture was correct, that the population would go extinct. It did not go extinct. It grew, oscillated, then settled down at just over 12,100. 2% of the population had no mutations. Over 9% had one mutation, 29% had two and 60% had three. And this mixture was stable. This population could continue indefinitely, even while accumulating approximately one bad mutation per generation each.
Mugwump

London, UK

#162996 Jan 25, 2014
Urban Cowboy wrote:
<quoted text>
<....>

You stated that if there was worldwide flood, then all the fossils should have been mixed up uniformly? Do you have support for that? Because nothing could be further from the truth. You start off with a false premise and ask me to defend it? That's no how it works.
There is a worldwide sedimentary layer and all fossils and rocks in general require catastrophic deposition. Sandstone, shale, limestone, etc. Igneous rock, metamorphic rock, catastrophic erosion. I hope they aren't still teaching that when an animal dies it falls over on the ground and gets covered by a thin layer of dust that accumulates a little each year for millions of years until it finally becomes a fossil. Now that's just silly. A plant or an animal becomes a fossil by quickly being buried in heavy mud at high pressure like cement drying. It's a sudden, violent death. And this is what is observed. The fossils show the animals with food in their mouths, babies being born, being drowned, etc. Many rock formations show that they were once pliable and wet and were bent in various shapes before hardening. There is fossils that extend through several of your "layers" which show the layers are not related to time, they are related to order.

<......>

.
You seem to be quoting what you see as anomalies / contradictions for the evolutionary explaination (polystrate fossils, instances of rapid fossilization etc) but these are the exceptions , and also have naturalistic explainations.

You still haven't addressed the fact how a worldwide global flood with its rapid laying down of the strata accounts for what we observe in the main, I.e. Fossils of more complex forms being found in strata ABOVE those of less complex forms.

The only such layering that would be expected from a flood would be finding fossils of heavier animals below those of lighter ones as the former sunk more rapidly in the deluge.

And this is NOT what is observed , which seems to suggest the reality conflicts with the Genesis account (or at least one aspect)

Unless you can provide a rational explaination.
Urban Cowboy wrote:
<quoted text>
<....>
I'm working a new alternative 5/4 work schedule where I can take every other Friday off. Have been wanting to surf fish for Pompano with "Sand Fleas" (Mole Crabs). And conditions are just about right: High tide, west wind, cool temps, moon, season. First I have to catch a bunch sand fleas though! But the weather here in South Florida is to die for this time of the year. Sunny in the mid-60s and dry. Tourists love it too.
Am jealous, partly the weather here in UK is so dire that am glad to be in an office, but also that am currently working 5 days , then a day at weekend to keep up with stuff at mo.

Did do 4 long days with a day off for Uni years ago though and although the MSc was a bit full on workwise did appreciate the 'mixing it up' so enjoy the opportunity.
KAB

Wilson, NC

#162997 Jan 25, 2014
Mugwump wrote:
<quoted text>
You seem to be quoting what you see as anomalies / contradictions for the evolutionary explaination (polystrate fossils, instances of rapid fossilization etc) but these are the exceptions , and also have naturalistic explainations.
You still haven't addressed the fact how a worldwide global flood with its rapid laying down of the strata accounts for what we observe in the main, I.e. Fossils of more complex forms being found in strata ABOVE those of less complex forms.
The only such layering that would be expected from a flood would be finding fossils of heavier animals below those of lighter ones as the former sunk more rapidly in the deluge.
And this is NOT what is observed , which seems to suggest the reality conflicts with the Genesis account (or at least one aspect)
Unless you can provide a rational explaination.
<quoted text>
Am jealous, partly the weather here in UK is so dire that am glad to be in an office, but also that am currently working 5 days , then a day at weekend to keep up with stuff at mo.
Did do 4 long days with a day off for Uni years ago though and although the MSc was a bit full on workwise did appreciate the 'mixing it up' so enjoy the opportunity.
The Genesis account does not conflict with reality. It is the "Six-24-hour-day" creationists who conflict with reality.
Level 6

Since: Aug 07

Miami, FL

#162998 Jan 25, 2014
Mugwump wrote:
<quoted text>
You seem to be quoting what you see as anomalies / contradictions for the evolutionary explaination (polystrate fossils, instances of rapid fossilization etc) but these are the exceptions , and also have naturalistic explainations.
You still haven't addressed the fact how a worldwide global flood with its rapid laying down of the strata accounts for what we observe in the main, I.e. Fossils of more complex forms being found in strata ABOVE those of less complex forms.
The only such layering that would be expected from a flood would be finding fossils of heavier animals below those of lighter ones as the former sunk more rapidly in the deluge.
And this is NOT what is observed , which seems to suggest the reality conflicts with the Genesis account (or at least one aspect)
Unless you can provide a rational explaination.
<quoted text>
Am jealous, partly the weather here in UK is so dire that am glad to be in an office, but also that am currently working 5 days , then a day at weekend to keep up with stuff at mo.
Did do 4 long days with a day off for Uni years ago though and although the MSc was a bit full on workwise did appreciate the 'mixing it up' so enjoy the opportunity.
Yes, I love my 4/5 schedule. Didn't get any Sand Fleas (Mole Crabs) and therefore have no bait to fish for Pompano and here's why: They replenished the beach last year with sand from 100s of truck loads coming from inland quarries and the Lifeguard on duty said that is probably why their numbers are way down. I used to see them everywhere, especially at low tide right where the wave recedes. Now gone.

Anyway, the fossil order is not a problem. It's even better for a flood than for evolution. Most of the lower fossils are random evolution-wise but predictable flood-wise. You would predict that creatures on the bottom of the sea would be the first to be buried. Next, you expect to find fish and this is what you find. And by that same reasoning - it was a flood you know - the larger animals would have sought higher ground, so that is why the most able are found at the highest layers.

Going to see the Cleveland Orchestra tonight and leaving in half an hour. Gotta go...
Level 6

Since: Aug 07

Miami, FL

#162999 Jan 25, 2014
I forgot to mention the lowest layer I would predict would be the algae and fungi because that should be pre-flood and they fossilized slowly in non-catastrophic conditions. (There is a name for what they make but I forget it right now.) I'm literally out the door...
Level 6

Since: Aug 07

Miami, FL

#163000 Jan 25, 2014
Stromatolites!

“I am Sisyphus”

Since: Nov 07

Location hidden

#163001 Jan 25, 2014
KAB wrote:
<quoted text>
The Genesis account does not conflict with reality. It is the "Six-24-hour-day" creationists who conflict with reality.

The Genesis account of Six-24-hour-days.

Glad to hear you agree that Genesis conflicts with reality even if you did not intend to.

Do you remember losing this argument before? No? Then perhaps an appointment with a neurologist would be in order.

“I am Sisyphus”

Since: Nov 07

Location hidden

#163002 Jan 25, 2014
Urban Cowboy wrote:
<quoted text>
Anyway, the fossil order is not a problem. It's even better for a flood than for evolution. Most of the lower fossils are random evolution-wise but predictable flood-wise.

You like to say this but it simply isn't true. With evolution the fossil record makes sense. With creotardism you have to make all sorts of shit up to try to make it work. And it still does not work.
Urban Cowboy wrote:
<quoted text> You would predict that creatures on the bottom of the sea would be the first to be buried. Next, you expect to find fish and this is what you find.

This is not what creationism would predict. Why would fish (if any) not be at the very top. Actually there should be no fish since the flood is described as killing off creatures that breath air. You would have to have a VERY powerful and damaging flood which is the sort of thing that many creationists are against as there should be evidence of a flood like this. Maybe you should check your own sources.
Urban Cowboy wrote:
<quoted text> And by that same reasoning - it was a flood you know - the larger animals would have sought higher ground, so that is why the most able are found at the highest layers.

There are very large animals that are buried very deep. Early dinosaurs, very large fish...... Yet there are very tiny deep sea creatures that are not found in the fossil record at all or not till near top level strata.
Urban Cowboy wrote:
<quoted text> Going to see the Cleveland Orchestra tonight and leaving in half an hour. Gotta go...

oooh. What are they preforming? I recently saw the Indianapolis Symphony do Verdi's Requiem. It was breathtaking. The best performance of the piece I have ever heard, even factoring in that live is always better than recordings.

“I am Sisyphus”

Since: Nov 07

Location hidden

#163003 Jan 25, 2014
Urban Cowboy wrote:
I forgot to mention the lowest layer I would predict would be the algae and fungi because that should be pre-flood and they fossilized slowly in non-catastrophic conditions.(There is a name for what they make but I forget it right now.) I'm literally out the door...

LOL. Nice just-so story. Too bad we have recent examples of algae and fungi fossils.

And you have to COMPLETELY ignore dating.

“I am Sisyphus”

Since: Nov 07

Location hidden

#163004 Jan 25, 2014
Urban Cowboy wrote:
Stromatolites!

Trees from swamp regions that have had multiple flood layers formed around them. What about them?

“Proud Member”

Level 8

Since: Dec 10

The Basket of Deplorables

#163005 Jan 25, 2014
Dogen wrote:
<quoted text>
Trees from swamp regions that have had multiple flood layers formed around them. What about them?
UC has the great flood ring around the inside of his skull.

“I am Sisyphus”

Since: Nov 07

Location hidden

#163007 Jan 25, 2014
Aura Mytha wrote:
<quoted text>
UC has the great flood ring around the inside of his skull.

Hydrocephelic, eh?
Level 6

Since: Aug 07

Miami, FL

#163008 Jan 25, 2014
HillStart wrote:
Text is a poor analogue for genetic code. It is not possible to tear half the pages from one book and staple them to half the pages from another and have a resulting book that makes sense, yet this is what happened to your DNA when you were conceived. The analogy with written text does not make sense, so it is a poor choice for you to use. Your assertion that changes of this type can only be detrimental appears feeble when presented with the evidence that a change of this type resulted in the new variant out-competing the old one to the point where it comprised 99% of the population.
More like one paragraph that was repeated twice in a row as the sequences that duplicated are actually back to back. And this certainly doesn't explain where the sequence originated in the first place, does it?
HillStart wrote:
Actually, there are many instances of recipes containing repetition. There's a whole list of twice-baked foods on Wikipedia, not to mention the repetitive folding required to make puff pastry, double-frying, etc. Your analogies are inappropriate and, worse than that, they fail to make the points you are aiming for.

Equivocation. I said specifically place the meatloaf in the oven at 425 degrees and bake for 45 minutes. If you did this twice it would be ruined, wouldn't it? You can't just make up some other recipe, it has to be the genetic code calls for, the exact instructions.
HillStart wrote:
Your claim that these organisms are less fit than their wild type ancestors is laughable. Quoting from Lenski's work: "All twelve populations underwent rapid improvement in fitness". This was even before the Cit+ variant evolved. Once it appeared, after 30,000 generations, the population exploded to over 8 times its previous size. So, in summary, we are already starting from a population with higher fitness than the wild type. We then add this new mutation and produce the Cit+ variant. This variant is so successful it increases the population size by over 8 times and it outnumbers its Cit- counterparts 99 to 1. Let me quote Wikipedia: Fitness is "equal to the average contribution to the gene pool of the next generation that is made by an average individual of the specified genotype or phenotype". The Cit+ variant makes up 99% of the population - it is fitter than the Cit- variant. There is nothing left to argue here.
Apparently you don't understand. If those mutant E. coli were returned to their normal environment, they would no longer be able to discern or differentiate when or which digestion is appropriate. They have lost functionality. It is as if you have a perfectly good working lock that only works with the correct key but then the lock is broken and other keys can unlock it as well.

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