Should evolution be taught in high sc...

Should evolution be taught in high school?

There are 180369 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.

“Think&Care”

Since: Oct 07

Location hidden

#173838 May 1, 2014
HTS wrote:
<quoted text>
You seem to me to be content to dodge the issue and not provide a definition, because you cannot explain the evolution of complexity without intelligence.
OK, here are a couple different possible definitions of complexity:

1. The complexity of a system is the minimal size of a Turing machine necessary to describe the system. This is a standard definition in algorithm analysis.

2. A system is complex if there is exponential divergence from initial conditions: in other words, if the system is prepared several times with small differences in initial conditions, the system will change in ways that differ exponentially.This, by the way, is a standard definition for dynamical systems.
If my definition is "ill-forumulated" and you suggest that there is no definition... then am I to presume that you don't really believe that complexity exists?
More to the point, your definition of complexity is 'a system with intricate, interacting parts'. That is clearly NOT the definition of 'complexity'. It *may* turn into a definition of a 'complex system', but that is a slightly different thing.
There is a fundamental flaw in logic here...
You imply that because I cannot provide a succint definition of complexity that satisfies you, that you can ignore it altogether and assume that no intelligence can create it.
I still await your response concerning an example of a natural, non-intelligent force that has been observed to create complexity.
Using either of the two standard definitions above (which give different conceptualizations of complexity), there are many systems that form naturally and are complex. Weather is such a system: it has many interacting parts, it has exponential divergence of initial conditions, and it requires a large turing machine to describe. By *any* of the standard definitions (even yours!), it is a complex phenomenon that requires no intelligence to form.
.. which could realistically be extended to the creation of a genetic code by the simple addition of a vast amount of time and space. The creation of ice, regardless of a decrease in entropy, is not a valid example.
Once again, the issue of entropy in ice was to show that *order* can spontaneously form without intelligence. That is a different issue than whether *complexity* can form spontaneously. As I have pointed out, you frequently confuse the two concepts.

You have claimed that order cannot form without intelligent intervention. You were wrong. next, you claimed that complexity cannot form without intelligent intervention. By the usual definitions, you are wrong again. If you want to use a different notion of complexity, please give a precise definition of the term and explain, for example, why weather does not form a complex system by your definition.

“Think&Care”

Since: Oct 07

Location hidden

#173839 May 1, 2014
HTS wrote:
<quoted text>
What direct evidence can you provide that the coalescing of the earth "was an extremely hot affair"? I believe that you are simply assuming that the earth was not created by God.
No, we are simply assuming that the formation of the Earth followed the known laws of physics. When things collapse, the gravitational energy will be converted into heat energy. That heats things up. if you go down in the Earth *today*, you will find a lot of heat under your feet. Given that it has been cooling for quite some time, it would have been hotter in the past.
Why is it illogical to believe that God might have taken a lifeless planet like Mars, which had been static for billions of years, and created a planet like earth from it? Why do you presume that extreme heat was involved?
Nothing illogical at all about the *possibility*. But the actual evidence we have is that all the planets were hot initially and then cooled. That is a natural effect of condensation and contraction as well as the conversion of gravitational energy to heat energy. Furthermore, the actual evidence is that bacterial life existed on Earth about 3.8 billion years ago and the solar system formed about 4.5 billion years ago.

“Think&Care”

Since: Oct 07

Location hidden

#173840 May 1, 2014
HTS wrote:
<quoted text>
If life evolved through RNA-based precursors, then you will have to agree that specific assemblies of those nucleotides would have been required. If you simply hand wave my probability challenges away by your faith that anything's possible, then my challenge to you is to provide mathematical justification for that belief. Specifically, what is the probability of the spontaneous self-assembly of a specific sequence of, say, 10,000 nuleotides [a very conservative number for autonomous life]?
I have no way of calculating such an answer. Without knowing the different pathways, there is no way of determining the dependent probabilities. You are also assuming the first useful sequence was 10,000 nucleotides. That is very ulikely to be the case since sequences of even 50 are sufficient for catalysis of metabolically relevant reactions. Genetics, per se, would have been a later development.
Another challenge... What is the MINIMUM number of nucleotides required for a self-replicating genetic code to begin with? I'm sure you don't know the answer to that question, so what makes you think that abiogenesis is possible?
Good question. Probably less than a hundred nucleotides for a simple self-replicator. Initially, there probably wasn't a 'code' per se, because the RNA did both the replication and the catalysis. The code (DNA->protein) would have been a later development.

You might be interested in this paper:
http://www.cell.com/chemistry-biology/abstrac...

Or this one:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/...

“Think&Care”

Since: Oct 07

Location hidden

#173841 May 1, 2014
HTS wrote:
<quoted text>
Weather is random and has no predictability.
No, it is *complex* so has little predictability: exponential divergence from initial conditions does exactly that.
Exponential divergence from intitial conditions does not make it a complex phenomenon.
Then you are using a non-standard definition.
No intelligence is required because weather could go any of an infinite number or directions and still be weather. Regardless of all of the interacting factors that make up weather, there is a statistical certainty that the end result will be some kind of (unrpedictable) weather.
Actually, weather is predictable to a limited extent. It is certainly NOT random: the equations governing weather are pretty well understood and deterministic. The problem is that initially close solutions to the equations diverge quite rapidly, leading to no predictability given the accuracy of our data.
DNA is not random and has predictability. You can't take a given number of nucleotides and rearrange them infinite numbers of ways and result in any functional outcome. The vast majority, by billions of orders of magnitude, will be functionless DNA.
DNA only has predictability in a limited environment consisting of a host of other chemicals.

Once again, we come to the definition of the term 'complexity'. The standard ones have been rejected by you. You provided an intuition, but that is useless without more detail.
HTS

Englewood, CO

#173842 May 1, 2014
polymath257 wrote:
<quoted text>
OK, here are a couple different possible definitions of complexity:
1. The complexity of a system is the minimal size of a Turing machine necessary to describe the system. This is a standard definition in algorithm analysis.
2. A system is complex if there is exponential divergence from initial conditions: in other words, if the system is prepared several times with small differences in initial conditions, the system will change in ways that differ exponentially.This, by the way, is a standard definition for dynamical systems.
.
Neither of those definitions remotely defines complexity as is commonly understood.
Both definitions simply ignore purpose and predictability of an outcome. According to those definitions, a rock is as complex as a space shuttle.

Why is it impossible for the proverbial junkyard tornado to produce a 747? Because a 747 is too complex to form by chance. You are attempting to over-intellectualize at the expense of common sense.
HTS

Englewood, CO

#173843 May 1, 2014
polymath257 wrote:
<quoted text>

Good question. Probably less than a hundred nucleotides for a simple self-replicator. Initially, there probably wasn't a 'code' per se, because the RNA did both the replication and the catalysis. The code (DNA->protein) would have been a later development.
Even if you set your lower limit at, say, 50 nucleotides... you are still faced with an impossibility. What is the probability of a specific sequence of 50 nucleotides to randomly occur by chance? It is impossibly low... even given billions of years and billions of planets. Also,.. your scenario would require other factors to fortuitiously exist, such as the first "proto-cell" to be sufficiently stable so as to not be immedidately denatured by ionizing radiation, protection by a cell membrane, etc.
HTS

Englewood, CO

#173844 May 1, 2014
polymath257 wrote:
<quoted text>

Nothing illogical at all about the *possibility*. But the actual evidence we have is that all the planets were hot initially and then cooled. That is a natural effect of condensation and contraction as well as the conversion of gravitational energy to heat energy. Furthermore, the actual evidence is that bacterial life existed on Earth about 3.8 billion years ago and the solar system formed about 4.5 billion years ago.
I see bacteria nearly every day under a high powered microscope. I am required to make judgments as to whether entities are truly bacteria or are the result of any myriad of artifacts. Unlike proponents of evolution, I am forced to be intellectually honest and don't call something a bacterium unless I know that it is. Even under controlled laboratory conditions, with excellent fixation and staining, it can be very difficult to determine is a given structure is a bacterium vs junk. I remain highly doubtful that 3.5 billion-year-old casts in lava flows can be accurately determined to be bacteria. Where is the proof? You show me a screenshot of one of those casts, and I'll tell you that there is no documentation....only statements by individuals who face no accountability for incorrect statements. I have many times seen groups of small objects the size of bacteria and look like bacteria, but are not bacteria, so how do you now? No one has ever actually demonstrated through unbiased experimentation that casts in lava flows can be produced by bacteria, and what they would actually look like. There are no proven references through science...only wishful thinking.
The Dude

Wallasey, UK

#173845 May 1, 2014
HTS wrote:
<quoted text>
I have provide a definition of complexity...a system of intricate interacting parts.
You have not disagreed. Do you have an alternative explanation?
You believe that complexity exists, don't you?
What evidence do you have that complexity can be created without intelligence?
How is complexity measured Hoots?

Explain orthology Hoots.
The Dude

Wallasey, UK

#173846 May 1, 2014
HTS wrote:
<quoted text>
You're the one who is playing a "little game"...
Every "piece of evidence" that you present is flawed... from Homo erectus to the creation of the earth. You expect me to dismiss all of this in favor the "coherent whole". You fail to see that everything you have is nothing more than a massive house of cards. All you have are layers of assumptions, most of which are philosophically-based, founded on other assumptions.
So you claim but you've never been able to refute any of it.

Explain orthology Hooter.
The Dude

Wallasey, UK

#173847 May 1, 2014
HTS wrote:
<quoted text>
Spontaneous self-assembly of a genetic code is impossible because it violates laws of probability.
Um, Hoots? The words "probability" should not be in the same sentence as "impossible". At least not the way you've used it here.

For if something is impossible then the probability is eternally fixed at zero. Which uh... kinda makes the word "probability" kinda redundant don't you think?

Explain orthology Hooter.
The Dude

Wallasey, UK

#173848 May 1, 2014
HTS wrote:
<quoted text>
It is perfectly clear what you and Polymath are doing... you are dodging the question by your incessant haggling over definitions. How does a complex genetic code self-organize?
Take a bottle of water and shake it up as many ways as you like... put it in the freezer.
You will end up with ice EVERY TIME.
Take a bottle of nucleotides, phosphates, sugars, etc... and shake it up...
You will NEVER end up with human DNA.
You will ALWAYS end up with a worthless random mixture that cannot code for a single protein.
Rather than squarely addressing these obvious facts, you make absurd, unsubstantiated statements about how natural forces can result in order, implying that these observations actually address these barriers to abiogenesis. The formation of snowflakes by lowering temperature does not provide the slightest hint of evidence that DNA can spontaneously self organize over millions of years. It is irrelevant, regardless of your definition of "order".
If we pretend for a moment you had a valid argument, any barriers to abiogenesis are utterly irrelevant to the validity of evolution, as long as life exists.

But I just thought I'd mention that you still haven't apologized for your incorrect usage of the term "order" when you mixed it up with entropy.

Explain orthology Hooter.
The Dude

Wallasey, UK

#173849 May 1, 2014
HTS wrote:
<quoted text>
You're dodging, Polymath.
You make no effort to define complexity, because you know that once you do I will demonstrate that no observable natural process can create it without intelligent input.
I again challenge you to...
Define complexity.
Explain how non-intelligent mechanisms can create complexity.
BONG!!! Hoots accusing other people of dodging.

Hit this one then Hoots - explain orthology.
The Dude

Wallasey, UK

#173850 May 1, 2014
polymath257 wrote:
<quoted text>
Simply false.
Especially in light of the fact zero intelligent design is required for any living organism on Earth. At least as far as we can tell so far.
The Dude

Wallasey, UK

#173851 May 1, 2014
HTS wrote:
<quoted text>
You seem to me to be content to dodge the issue and not provide a definition, because you cannot explain the evolution of complexity without intelligence.[/QUOT]

Sure we can, using the mechanisms of evolution previously described. However this does not address abiogenesis, nor does it have to.

Abiogenesis and evolution are separate concepts.

[QUOTE who="HTS"]
If my definition is "ill-forumulated" and you suggest that there is no definition... then am I to presume that you don't really believe that complexity exists?
Except he didn't say that. In fact he's repeatedly stated the opposite.

So why do you have to lie?
HTS wrote:
There is a fundamental flaw in logic here...
More than say claiming ERV's show homology instead of common ancestry while simultaneously claiming homology has been debunked?

Not that we've READ this debunking yet.
HTS wrote:
You imply that because I cannot provide a succint definition of complexity that satisfies you, that you can ignore it altogether and assume that no intelligence can create it.
Well yes. If you don't back up your claims with evidence your claims can be ignored.(shrug)
HTS wrote:
I still await your response concerning an example of a natural, non-intelligent force that has been observed to create complexity... which could realistically be extended to the creation of a genetic code by the simple addition of a vast amount of time and space. The creation of ice, regardless of a decrease in entropy, is not a valid example.
Yet you are unable to articulate why. Nor are you able to explain anything, at all, WITH intelligence.(That sentence can be read a couple of ways by the way).

Explain orthology Hooter.
The Dude

Wallasey, UK

#173852 May 1, 2014
HTS wrote:
<quoted text>
Weather is random and has no predictability.
Sure it has. You have warm air rising between two layers of air moving in opposite directions you can get a tornado.
HTS wrote:
Exponential divergence from intitial conditions does not make it a complex phenomenon. No intelligence is required because weather could go any of an infinite number or directions and still be weather.
Doesn't mean none of it is complex. So why don't you come right out and categorically state that "intelligence" and "complexity" are exactly the same thing in your mind? Doesn't matter that you're flat wrong, since you pretty much always are on a daily basis.(shrug)
HTS wrote:
Regardless of all of the interacting factors that make up weather, there is a statistical certainty that the end result will be some kind of (unrpedictable) weather.
Statistical certainty of unpredictability?

You uh, messed up on another piece of terminology thar, Hoots.
HTS wrote:
DNA is not random and has predictability. You can't take a given number of nucleotides and rearrange them infinite numbers of ways and result in any functional outcome. The vast majority, by billions of orders of magnitude, will be functionless DNA.
Wrong. Mutations are random, but are tempered by the non-random phenomena called natural selection. Since we've SEEN new DNA give rise to new functions (and we have presented documented observed labwork demonstrating this that you've never been able to address) then the simple fact is you are categorically plain and utter incorrect. We agree that random mutations can be functionless (which by the way contradicts all your previous claims in months past that the genome is 100% functional) but we don't agree over the fact of new function.

That's because you deny facts.

Explain orthology Hooter.
The Dude

Wallasey, UK

#173853 May 1, 2014
HTS wrote:
<quoted text>
If life evolved through RNA-based precursors, then you will have to agree that specific assemblies of those nucleotides would have been required. If you simply hand wave my probability challenges away by your faith that anything's possible, then my challenge to you is to provide mathematical justification for that belief. Specifically, what is the probability of the spontaneous self-assembly of a specific sequence of, say, 10,000 nuleotides [a very conservative number for autonomous life]?
Another challenge... What is the MINIMUM number of nucleotides required for a self-replicating genetic code to begin with? I'm sure you don't know the answer to that question, so what makes you think that abiogenesis is possible?
What makes us think that it's possible is that you DON'T have the ability to claim it's IMpossible. This is because we don't know all the variables involved and therefore won't be able to assign accurate numbers TO those variables. This is how we know that when you claim something to be "impossible" we know you haven't bothered to back yourself up with a calculator.

There is also the plain fact that at some point in time (we say it's 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago, you say it's not, but when doesn't really matter to this point) we observe that abiogenesis took place. There is biochemistry recorded in the geological record at this point and ZERO biochemistry taking place before then, leaving us with absolutely positively NO evidence of life.

Ergo, abiogenesis.

Explain orthology Hooter.
The Dude

Wallasey, UK

#173854 May 1, 2014
HTS wrote:
<quoted text>
What direct evidence can you provide that the coalescing of the earth "was an extremely hot affair"? I believe that you are simply assuming that the earth was not created by God. Why is it illogical to believe that God might have taken a lifeless planet like Mars, which had been static for billions of years, and created a planet like earth from it? Why do you presume that extreme heat was involved?
Yeah, God could have made it cool. Remind us again why we should give a crud about this baseless idea with zero backing and why we should bother considering it at all in the slightest?

Explain orthology Hooter.
The Dude

Wallasey, UK

#173855 May 1, 2014
HTS wrote:
<quoted text>
Neither of those definitions remotely defines complexity as is commonly understood.
Both definitions simply ignore purpose and predictability of an outcome. According to those definitions, a rock is as complex as a space shuttle.
Why is it impossible for the proverbial junkyard tornado to produce a 747? Because a 747 is too complex to form by chance. You are attempting to over-intellectualize at the expense of common sense.
747 junkyard, OH NOES!!!

:-(

Explain orthology Hooter.
The Dude

Wallasey, UK

#173856 May 1, 2014
HTS wrote:
<quoted text>
Even if you set your lower limit at, say, 50 nucleotides... you are still faced with an impossibility. What is the probability of a specific sequence of 50 nucleotides to randomly occur by chance? It is impossibly low... even given billions of years and billions of planets. Also,.. your scenario would require other factors to fortuitiously exist, such as the first "proto-cell" to be sufficiently stable so as to not be immedidately denatured by ionizing radiation, protection by a cell membrane, etc.
Chemistry is random?

Odds can be impossible AND low?

Who knew?

And who else knows how to explain orthology beyond an evolutionary context?

Inquiring minds wanna know.

Since: Apr 14

San German, Puerto Rico

#173857 May 1, 2014
Tddoff wrote:
Only if it is explained that evolution is nothing more than one theory with very little evidence and that intelligent design also should be taught as another possibility. Otherwise if not, evolution should be removed from the schools.
You are confusing "evolution" (which is a fact) with the Theory of Evolution which is a scientific theory very well founded and verified by facts explaining evolution. The Theory of Evolution is science, intelligent design is not. Thus, the teaching of the Theory of Evolution belongs in a science class and intelligent design belongs in Sunday School. Do not mix the two.
By the way, you do not seem to understand the word "theory" as used in science. You seem to equate it with "speculation" which it is not. Do you thing Gravitational Theory, which allowed us to go to the moon and get modules on Mars, is also "just a theory"?

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