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Friday, March 03, 2006

Visual aids

Everybody loves the good old Geological Column. On paper. Found on less than 0.5% of the planet in real life. Then there is the Horse Evolution Chart. Made the Evolution Times best-seller list in the fiction category. Even though the little horse at the bottom was living at the same time as the big horse at the top and the forms are not transitional throughout, it still appears in some textbooks today.












No husbands were harmed in the posting of these images (My wife thinks this one is funny). This is the one that always cracks up the students.

39 comments:

highboy said...

Horses all have a common ancestor: another horse.

Anonymous said...

The geological column, as you admit is found intact in a number of places - and almost invariably in order in most other places. Given how much geological movement there is (between volcanoes, plate tectonics, erosion, glaciers, etc.) I am entirely unsurprised that the entire geological column being all present in one place is rare (although it appears in a number of widely separated places across the world).

How, under a Young Earth model do you account for such geological findings?

As for your "A evolved into B but A and B were both alive at the same time" - you seriously misunderstand the nature of evolution. If you phrase it as "B was descended from A and both A and B were alive at the same time", you cease to have a problem - and the latter rather than the former is what happens.

- F

creeper said...

"Horses all have a common ancestor: another horse."

Is that the "creation science" lecture of the day?

highboy said...

Its a fact, pure and simple.

creeper said...

This word "fact" - I don't think it means what you and Radar think it means...

But I take your point that this is how "creation science" is taught: "Horse descended from horse, and that's a fact."

creeper said...

Re. the geological column: what F said.

And I second his question: "How, under a Young Earth model do you account for such geological findings?"

Anonymous said...

[Dan S.]

Claim CD101:
The geological column is a fiction, existing on paper only. The entire geological column does not exist anywhere on the earth.
(radar changes to allow 0.5% of the Earth, which sounds maybe a bit high?)

I think it's amazing that it does anywhere. What I really don't get is why this is supposed to be such a zinger, a gotcha! moment. That's what geology would predict! Deposits form under certain conditions, usually involving water. Let's say a rift valley or shallow sea has been happily collecting sediment for milllions of years, documenting, in a sense, what has been going on. Uh-oh! A collision with another plate uplifts the area. Now we have highlands, which erode away to create deposits elsewhere. Or they're subducted and melted away, or squoshed into metamorphic rock and left as the roots of mountains, or etc . . .

Except in those very few places where we have blanket coverage, so to speak - and these weren't recognized as such early on - the geological column isn't something that some lucky geologist or paleontologist found one day, nicely labled with eras and epochs and suchlike! It's the product of many hard-working scientists piecing together clues, joining bits together where they overlapped, etc.

Look at it this way. Take my old room in the apt. I grew up in. I'm a little bit messy, so (before it was sold) you could go in and find vast piles and layers of stuff. New stuff was constantly being laid down in various areas, while dire threats sometimes resulted in a portion of the room being swept clean of its previous record, for stuff-piling to begin again. Careful study resulted in identifying the following stratigraphy in different regions of my room:

*under the bed*
[college applications]
[guitar magazines]
[posters of girls]
[action figures]

*in the corner*
[job applications]
[college applications]
[action figures]

*in closet*
[action figures]
stuffed animals]
[pacifiers]

*random pile*
[dust]
[ramen packets]
[job applications]
[college applications]
[pacifiers]

Can *you* reconstruct the Messy Room Column? Can you find where cleaning occured? Etc.

"Then there is the Horse Evolution Chart."
Which has had an interesting history. After all, it's over 100 years old! It looks nowadays that a) early paleontologists had gotten the general details kinda right, and b) it was a lot more complicated than they realized, and they got some ideas wrong (current ideas: evolution as a bush, no rigid across-the-board march to larger size, with some species shrinking in size, little horses coexisting with bigger ones). Remember, the first account was in the late 19th century! Think of medicine in the late 19th century, physics in the late 19th century, IT in the late 19th century . . . The orginal Marsh-Huxley production was really the first draft of our account.
National Geographic article on more recent research, changes here. The idea of a straight march up the ladder, governed by inexorable trends, is an idea from the very early days of evolutionary theory (orthogenesis) Modern evolutionary theory doesn't expect that at all - you'd expect organisms to evolve in ways that make them better suited to changing conditions/habitats/nichess/etc. It's a process. We weren't given the answers. We have to find them by ourself, stumbling some along the way, always trying to get better and better - more accurate . . .

If the old-school straight-line picture of horse evolution is in any recently printed textbook, presented as the current state of knowledge and without additional clarification, that's misleading (of course, outdated, poor quality textbooks plague numerous fields, not just bio). My impression - and hope - is that few or no recently printed/revised textbooks would have this - but I might well be wrong. Evidence?

"Even though the little horse at the bottom was living at the same time as the big horse at the top "
You've mentioned this a few times. I'd never heard this before, and was a bit surprised. Eohippus (nowadays called Hyracotherium) living alongside/being found with modern-ish Equus? That would be an astonishing find! It wouldn't disprove evolution - let alone horse evolution - but people would have to redraw some trees, rethink some issues in horse evolution, for starters. On one hand, it would seem to show that Hyracotherium) had existed, relatively unchanged, for over 50 million years (completely unprecedented among mammals, I think) while its descendents evolved into numerous forms. On the other, maybe Hyracotherium's original placement was wrong, and it was a much more recent species (odd, considering its strong resemblance to other, slightly latter equids). Either way, why hadn't I heard of this? I try to keep up with things, on a low/popular level, and while I've been really busy the last few years, I think I would have heard about such a find.

I'll admit, given the past history of creationist claims, I was pretty dubious about it. Not that science is always perfectly right - I've been stressing the opposite - but it has a pretty good record of getting things right-er. You tend to have mistakes due to misinterpretations of data, rigorous attempts to find out what's going on, a progress towards increased and further-refined knowledge (also occasional duh! moments and a few frauds, as in the recent example of stem cell research, and suchlike - scientists are human - but the ratio of real to crap science seems rather high). Creationism has an unfortunate history of misrepresentation, from quote mining to falsified degrees, to ancient arguments stubbornly repeated, despite not accurately reflecting historical or current circumstances. (Nebraska man!!)

But maybe there was something to this? Maybe there was a discovery that would revamp horse evolution (something similar, if much less dramatic happened in American archaeology recently when carbon dating showed that Serpent Mound in Ohio was not from Adena times (1000-100BCE) as previously thought, but actually from ~1070CE, very likely a product of a very different Mississippian culture (which suggests a specific mythological meaning, based on artifacts and bits of later legends, but that's another story). Maybe a new species of small horse (not Hyracotherium) had been found. Hmm.

So I started searching the web. Haven't found a ton so far, but - you guessed it - there's a talk origins page on this claim: Did Hyracotherium and Equus Live at the Same Time? Hyracotherium and Equus - doesn't sound like a Classical legend about star-crossed lovers, or something? Anyway, to make a long story short, the writer traces the claim back from various creationist websites through Hitching's bookThe Neck of the Giraffe (1982) to Wysong's "The Creation-Evolution Controversy" (1976) to Rimmer's* Theory of Evolution and the Facts of Science(1935). Bizarrely, if he's correct, the reference to Eohippus/Hyracotherium disappears between 1976 and 1935 - supposedly Rimmer never made that specific claim, instead talking about two species of Equus (E. nevadensis and E. occidentalis supposedly found coexisting; while clearly assuming that our little dawn horse was living at the same time ("if the creature that evolved out of a tiny ancestor millions of years after that ancestor died out, really lived with that ancestor side by side, the supposed demonstration becomes a joke") he doesn't seem to offer any evidence. The current writer tries to find any of record of Hyracotherium being found in the same strata as Equus that Rimmer might have based this on, but can't. However, it turns out that - while many horse species coexisted during most of the group's history - E. nevadensis looks like it was actually an alternate, discarded name for E. occidentalis.

Now, I don't tend to have have six-decade old creationist books on hand, so I can't immediately verify this (although if it's kicking around the public library system, I'll take a look). All in all, this seems a whole lot of nuthin'. What do you think?

Talk Origin's Horse Evolution page. It's really quite good - best I've found so far. If you're interested in Kathleen Hunt's summary of what science was saying about horse evolution in the late 90s and early 00s. Might need some updating - I have no clue.

- Part of a college bio course: chapter notes on micro- and macro-evolution, interesting discussion of horse evolution and misconceptions thereof - chides bad textbooks - has pictures of the AMNH horse exhibit (I saw that! It was pretty cool), otherwise undated . . .

And bouncing off there, a nice, fairly non-technical site about "Evolution and the Fossil Record" presented by Paleontological Society" in order to "help the general public gain a better understanding of one of the fundamental underlying concepts of modern science."

Now, it's always possible that at some point folks will be saying that the modern account is governed by ideas from the dying days of evolutionary theory, and is mistaken. But you can't just say that. You need evidence. That's why they can say what they're saying *now*. Do you have anything better in terms of science? This sort of horse-play doesn't cut it.
The fossils say "Neigh!" Hay, lighten up . . . .

" the forms are not transitional throughout"
Dunno what you mean here. Current understanding has numeous species. some directly ancestral, as far as we can tell, to modern Equus, a bunch not. Um?

* No, not the guy from the Brit-scifi-com Red Dwarf. At least, I assume not. But then again, I wasn't there . . .
"It’s cold outside, there’s no kind of atmosphere,
I’m all along, more or less.
Let me fly, far away from here,
Fun, fun, fun, in the sun, sun, sun.

I want to lie, shipwrecked and comatose,
Drinking fresh mango juice.
Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes,
Fun, fun, fun, in the sun, sun, sun,
Fun, fun, fun, in the sun, sun, sun."
[Red Dwarf theme song lyrics . . .]

Man, what a great show . . .
-Dan S. Felis sapiens . . . well, no. Drinking fresh mango juice? No again. : (

Anonymous said...

[Dan S.]
creeper said:
"This word "fact" - I don't think it means what you and Radar think it means..."

Inconceivable!!

-The Dread Pirate Dan S.

Anonymous said...

[Dan S.]

Ok, horses come from other horses (you actually hit the big point of evolution here. If horses had to be manufactured, it would be a different story . . )

Ok. Now what? How do you explain horse fossils (all sorts of species, some pretty different), genetic studies that indicate horses are related to other organisms, etc . . .?

-Dan S.

highboy said...

""How, under a Young Earth model do you account for such geological findings?"

What geological findings?

"But I take your point that this is how "creation science" is taught: "Horse descended from horse, and that's a fact."

Kind of like this: "If you phrase it as "B was descended from A and both A and B were alive at the same time", you cease to have a problem"

I bet if I re-worded everything I had a problem with I'd cease to have a problem.

Re.the Geologic Column:

"Hundreds of locations are known where the order of the systems identified by geologists does not match the order of the geologic column. Strata systems are believed in some places to be inverted, repeated, or inserted where they do not belong. Overturning, overthrust faulting, or landsliding are frequently maintained as disrupting the order. In some locations such structural changes can be supported by physical evidence while elsewhere physical evidence of the disruption may be lacking and special pleading may be required using fossils or radiometric dating"

"The evidence of rapid sedimentation is now so easily recognized that geologists observing a strata system these days often ask where to insert the "missing time" of which the strata do not show sedimentary evidence. Catastrophism, quite naturally, is making a come-back. There is good reason to believe that entire strata systems, and even groups of systems, were accumulated in a hydraulic cataclysm matching the description of Noah's Flood in the Bible."

"R. H. RASTAL, Cambridge University, "It cannot be denied that from a strictly philosophical standpoint geologists are here arguing in a circle. The succession of organisms has been determined by a study of their remains embedded in the rocks, and the relative ages of the rocks are determined by the organisms that they contain." ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNIA, Vol.X, p.168

Its all right here.

creeper said...

highboy,

"How, under a Young Earth model do you account for such geological findings?"

"What geological findings?"


It's really not that hard to scroll up and look at what F was referring to:

"The geological column, as you admit is found intact in a number of places - and almost invariably in order in most other places. Given how much geological movement there is (between volcanoes, plate tectonics, erosion, glaciers, etc.) I am entirely unsurprised that the entire geological column being all present in one place is rare (although it appears in a number of widely separated places across the world)."


"I bet if I re-worded everything I had a problem with I'd cease to have a problem."

If you re-worded it quite drastically, maybe. It sure would help if you learned the meaning of the word 'fact' one of these days.


"It's all right here."

It sure is. Quote mining, misinterpretations, even the Paluxy River hoax. It starts with an outright lie and moves on to a statement with easily detectable faulty logic. After that I started thinking maybe highboy's trying to slip us something a little dubious here... Seriously, highboy, this 2nd link of yours is a complete trainwreck.

The first one seems much more sober and reasonable. Thanks for the link - though it, too, claims that the geological column only exists on paper. Even Radar knows better than that. In case you didn't, you can find some interesting information regarding the geological column claims here .

The entire geologic column is found in 26 basins around the world, piled up in proper order. These basins are:

* The Williston Basin of Montana, North Dakota and southern Canada
* The Ghadames Basin in Libya
* The Beni Mellal Basin in Morrocco
* The Tunisian Basin in Tunisia
* The Oman Interior Basin in Oman
* The Western Desert Basin in Egypt
* The Adana Basin in Turkey
* The Iskenderun Basin in Turkey
* The Moesian Platform in Bulgaria
* The Carpathian Basin in Poland
* The Baltic Basin in the USSR
* The Yeniseiy-Khatanga Basin in the USSR
* The Farah Basin in Afghanistan
* The Helmand Basin in Afghanistan
* The Yazd-Kerman-Tabas Basin in Iran
* The Manhai-Subei Basin in China
* The Jiuxi Basin China
* The Tung t'in - Yuan Shui Basin China
* The Tarim Basin China
* The Szechwan Basin China
* The Yukon-Porcupine Province Alaska
* The Williston Basin in North Dakota
* The Tampico Embayment Mexico
* The Bogata Basin Colombia
* The Bonaparte Basin, Australia
* The Beaufort Sea Basin/McKenzie River Delta


I have no idea why Radar finds it significant that the geological column only exists in 0.5% of the world.

It may interest him to know also that the geological column was initially devised by creationists, as your link made clear.

highboy said...

"It sure is. Quote mining, misinterpretations, even the Paluxy River hoax."

Yeah, right. Talk Origins is SOOO objective.

highboy said...

I forgot to sk what you proof you have to refute my claims other than another online source?

creeper said...

"It sure is. Quote mining, misinterpretations, even the Paluxy River hoax."

"Yeah, right."


Yeah, right. That's exactly what was in the link you posted:

"Complete Geologic Column Is NonExistent, Except In Text Books"

Either a lie or, if you want to interpret it more charitably, outdated information.

"If a pile were to be made
by using the greatest thickness of sedimentary beds of each geological
age, it would be at least 100 miles high. ....lt is, of course,
impossible to have even a considerable fraction of this great pile
available at any one place. The Grand Canyon of the Colorado, for
example, is only one mile deep."


Why would anyone want to make a pile "using the greatest thickness of sedimentary beds of each geological age" and expect the total height of this to have any significance?

"Because we cannot find sedimentary rocks representing all
of earth time neatly in one convenient area, we must piece together the
rock sequence from locality to locality. This process of tying one rock
sequence in one place to another in some other place is known as
correlation, from the Latin for 'together' plus 'relate'".


So? (Dan S. also addressed this being an issue in his amusing analogy above.)

A couple more mined quotes, meaningless "points" (Dawkins), and when I spotted the Paluxy River hoax, I started wondering why you had bothered to link to this.

I still don't know exactly what you and Radar see in this geological column business. Could you explain the problem, or point to a well-argued essay or paper that does this for you?

And how, given that you believe in the young earth thing, do you account for these geological findings being the way they are? It is more consistent with an old earth than a young one.

"Talk Origins is SOOO objective."

If you actually looked at the link, feel free to point out factual inaccuracies in the link I posted. Failing that, you're just being childish.

creeper said...

"I forgot to sk what you proof you have to refute my claims other than another online source?"

What claims?

highboy said...

"Either a lie or, if you want to interpret it more charitably, outdated information."

Prove it.


"And how, given that you believe in the young earth thing, do you account for these geological findings being the way they are? It is more consistent with an old earth than a young one."

The site I posted says otherwise:

"Before radiometric dating was devised, uniformitarian geologists postulated "periods" of millions of years duration to slowly deposit the strata systems. A single sedimentary lamina, or bed, was supposed by uniformitarian geologists to represent typically a year or many years duration. It was concluded, therefore, that multiplied thousands of laminae and beds superimposed required millions of years. Recently, however, geologists have discovered that laminae and beds form quickly on floodplains of rivers during floods, in shallow marine areas during storms, and in deep water by turbidity currents. The evidence of rapid sedimentation is now so easily recognized that geologists observing a strata system these days often ask where to insert the "missing time" of which the strata do not show sedimentary evidence. Catastrophism, quite naturally, is making a come-back. There is good reason to believe that entire strata systems, and even groups of systems, were accumulated in a hydraulic cataclysm matching the description of Noah's Flood in the Bible.

"Failing that, you're just being childish."

Or, I'm waiting for absolute proof that Talk Origins is any more credible than any Creationist site.

Anonymous said...

[Dan S. said] . . .

highboy said "Prove it." (refering to creeper's claim that "Complete Geologic Column Is NonExistent, Except In Text Books" is a lie/outdated info)

Um, did you see creeper's 2:40PM comment, or was it not up when you started typing? Or do you disagree with the information he's giving?

Creationist Claim CD241: Varves can form in less than a year

Creationist Claim CD102:Geological column order

Creationist Claim CD200: Uniformitarianism:
"Geologists today no longer subscribe to Lyell uniformitarianism. Starting in the late ninteenth century, fieldwork showed that natural catastrophes still have a role in creating the geologic record. For example, in the later twentieth century, J. Harlan Bretz showed that the Scablands in eastern Washington formed from a large flood when a glacial lake broke through an ice dam; and Luis Alvarez proposed that an asteroid impact was responsible for the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Actualism (modern uniformitarianism) states that the geologic record is the product of both slow, gradual processes (such as glacial erosion) and natural catastrophes (such as volcanic eruptions and landslides). However, natural catastrophes are not consistent with creationist catastrophism, such as "Flood geology." First, they are much smaller than the world-shaping events proposed as part of the creationists' catastrophism. More to the point, they still represent processes observed in the present. Meteorites, glacial melting, and flash floods still occur regularly, and we can (and do, as in the examples above) extrapolate from the observed occurrences to larger events of the same sort. The scale of events may change, but the physical laws operating today are key to the past".


Now, I'm not posting these because I think they will convince highboy. That would completely astound me. However, if someone's reading this, I want them to see that a) this is an argument that has already been responded to (often the reponse exists before the argument, really, as creationists come up with odder and odder explanations that conflict with what we know of how the world works), and b) here's a link to a quick and dirty scientific response, put together by all sorts of people, but representing the pro-science side - the folks who actually accept modern physics, geology, biology, astronomy, chemistry, etc. - often with links for further reading so you can find out some more. Good luck!

-Dan S., getting tired.

Anonymous said...

highboy wrote:
I bet if I re-worded everything I had a problem with I'd cease to have a problem.

Perhaps. But the way you have worded things is a misunderstanding of the evolutionary perspective. Therefore by arguing against it you are arguing against a strawman and any points you do make are irrelevant. You can only properly argue against a position when you understand it and argue against an honest representation of that position.

Its all right here.

What? A selection of out of context quotes opening with something that even Radar knows to be false.

And many of those quotes are wilful distortions. I decided to see what was actually said by the writers of the quotes in question on the first large section - the one entitled "Circular Argumentation".

R. H. Rastall: It cannot be denied that from a strictly philosophical standpoint geologists are here arguing in a circle. The succession of organisms has been determined by a study of their remains embedded in the rocks, and the relative ages of the rocks are determined by the organisms that they contain. Nevertheless the arguments are perfectly conclusive. This apparent paradox will disappear in the light of a little further consideration, when the necessary limitations have been introduced. The true solution of the problem lies in the combination of the two laws above stated, taking into account the actual spatial distribution of the fossil remains, which is not haphazard, but controlled by definite laws. It is possible to a very large extent to determine the order of superposition and succession of the strata without any reference at all to their fossils. When the fossils in their turn are correlated with this succession they are found to occur in a certain definite order, and no other. Consequently, when the purely physical evidence of superposition cannot be applied, as for example to the strata of two widely separated regions, it is safe to take the fossils as a guide;

In short, Rastal is saying that the problem listed would be a problem if it was the only method used rather than simply one of a numbe of methods used. He is actively arguing against the quote taken from him.

Niles Eldredge: And this poses something of a problem,: If we date the rocks by their fossils, how can we then turn around and talk about patterns of evolutionary change through time in the fossil record?. He then went on to say how you can get an independent source of dating. In short he was saying "Here is a problem and here is a solution to that problem" - whereas your link tries to make out that there is no solution.

Tom Kemp: A circular argument arises: Interpret the fossil record in the terms of a particular theory of evolution, inspect the interpretation, and note that it confirms the theory. Well, it would, wouldn't it? Spearheaded by this extraordinary journal, palaeontology is now looking at what it actually finds, not what it is told that it is supposed to find. As is now well known, most fossil species appear instantaneously in the record, persist for some millions of years virtually unchanged, only to disappear abruptly - the "punctuated equilibrium" pattern of Eldredge and Gould.

The odd thing here is that Tom Kemp wasn't even talking about the geological column. He was talking about an argument between evolutionary biologists about which model of evolution best fitted the data (which was won by Punctuated Equilibrium - and punctuated equilibrium is also what computer models show, but I digress).

I am equally unable to find the source of the O'Rourke quotation.

D. B. Kitts: "But the danger of circularity is still present.... The temporal ordering of biological events beyond the local section may critically involve paleontological correlation....for almost all contemporary paleontologist it rest upon the acceptance of the evolutionary hypothesis. Despite these pitfalls we can with reasonable care avoid the danger of presupposing what it is we want to ultimately to test and have at our disposal a distribution of organisms in space and time that we suppose to have been related to one another by descent. Something more is, however, needed. When paleontologists invoke paleontological evidence in support of evolutionary theories that evidence invariable includes assertions about the particular relationship of one [p. 467] fossil organism to another, which is to say, assertions about phylogeny. I have misgivings about the use of phylogenies as instruments of theoretical investigations but they do not stem from the fact that phylogeny construction obviously presupposes whatever theoretical principles they purport to test. They are grounded rather in the belief that, despite some valiant and interesting efforts, paleontological phylogeny construction has not been provided with a solid theoretical foundation (for a recent review of the problem of phylogeny construction see Ghiselin, 1972). Providing this foundation is, in my opinion, the most urgent task now facing theoretically disposed paleontologists.

Like Niles Eldredge, he was saying that this is one possible danger and here's how we avoid it.

David M Raup: The charge that the construction of the geologic scale involves circularity has a certain amount of validity...Thus, the procedure is far from ideal and the geologic ranges are constantly being revised (usually extended) as new occurrences are found.

This quote actually appears to be valid and not a distortion of what David Raup was saying.

So that's two passages that say "Here's a possible problem and here's how we deal with it" clipped to say "Here's a problem", one quote that is dealing with another issue entirely, one quote I can't find and one quote that in context means what your source says it does. Even giving you the benefit of the doubt, that's four lies out of six.

Lies, hoaxes, and wilful distortions of what people have said. And you consider that good evidence?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, should have mentioned that that last comment (the one dealing with the misrepresentations in highboy's source) was me.

- F

Anonymous said...

This sort of thing, of course, is why creationists have such a bad reputation.

There have been exceptions - the first creationist to admit microevolution, for example, if I remember correctly, but . . .

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

[Dan S. said . . .]
Found it! . . . Frank Lewis Marsh, it was ( Robert Pennock (2000). Tower of Babel: The evidence against the new creationism, p. 55.) It's in the midst of a discussion of how science works, what is proof, and the a nifty metaphor for the two kinds of induction (Baconian and hypothetico-deductive method (ie, ~scientific method): buckets and flashlights. Instead of being vulgar Baconians, just wandering around dumping facts into their metaphorical buckets, scientists use a metaphorical flashlight. "One tests a hypothesis as one tests a flashlight - by turning it on and seeing whether and how well it can illuminate one's surroundings. If the light is dim one might have to twiddle the bulb or clean the contacts. If it provides no light at allone might have to put in some new batteries or just get a whole new flashlight. Particularly powerful flashlights are like searchlights that shed a broad, bright, and sharply focused beam upon the world, allowing us to clearly see and distinguish its features . . . Evolutionary theory is such a searchlight." (p. 54).

He goes to to frame creationist insistences on literally seeing, say, a salamander turn into a frog (to use a rather garbled example* from another post here, is an example of bucket-thinking, basically - demanding on a solid fact to dump into their little bucket, instead of getting the who inferential thing. Interestingly, hypothetico-deductive reasoning is, in Piaget's classic model of development psychology, part of the formal operational stage, which can be seen, more or less, starting around early adolescence. However, it turns out that many people, especially cross-culturally, and including many college grads - don't seem to master formal operational reasoning fully - or at all. More specifically, it seems to track experience in handling these kinds of problems - ie, people who do much better in fields where they've had experience thinking abstractly and hypothetically, while in a lot of places, people just refuse to deal with the silly hypothetical questions being asked by some strange Western researcher person. . .

* - why on earth should a salamander turn into a frog? That's much much worse than insisting a chimp turn into a human . . .we're talking two different orders, separated by I don't know how many millions of years - that's like talking about a lion turning into a lamb!

-Dan S.

highboy said...

Anonymous one and two: I've noted both of your responses and admit to their veractiy, but I'm confused at to what is being said here:

"However, natural catastrophes are not consistent with creationist catastrophism, such as "Flood geology." First, they are much smaller than the world-shaping events proposed as part of the creationists' catastrophism. More to the point, they still represent processes observed in the present. Meteorites, glacial melting, and flash floods still occur regularly, and we can (and do, as in the examples above) extrapolate from the observed occurrences to larger events of the same sort. The scale of events may change, but the physical laws operating today are key to the past".

Is he saying that because we don't see these catastophies on a global scale now, that they couldn't have happened back then? If so, couldn't we just as easily claim that the dinos could not have been destroyed by a global effective astroid? Meteorites strike the earth all the time at present, but not with the force of 10,000 nukes.

"that's like talking about a lion turning into a lamb!"

That was a cheap shot but I'll give you points for style.

Anonymous said...

highboy wrote:
Or, I'm waiting for absolute proof that Talk Origins is any more credible than any Creationist site.

More credible than any creationist website? Try doing the debunking I did (actually looking up quotes and finding what they said in context) on any talk.origins page. You almost certianly won't find any such wilful misunderstandings and you certainly won't find such a group of them. That automatically makes it more credible than any random creationist website as random creationist websites are known to do such mendacious tactics and talk.origins is not.

Then take into account the position of talk.origins - it is one of the two big contributers from the evolutionary perspective (the other being the NCSE). It earned that reputation the hard way - and as such is comparable to the really big players on the Creationist side (Answers in Genesis, the ICR, the Discovery Institute etc.). Not only has it earned credibility the hard way (certainly as of the end of 2002 it had no external funding), it is a promenant enough source that were it to make mistakes these would be immediately picked up on and trumpeted. Its only assets are voulnteer time and credibility and it doesn't dare imperil the latter.

Then there's expertise. talk.origins largely sticks to what it knows - evolution. The information on the site is provided by hundreds of volunteers (on the talk.origins newsgroup - to which creationists are welcome to post) cross-checking each other as to sources. No man is infalliable - but with multiple cross-checks, the probability of error is much lower.

In short, talk origins starts off as more credible than just about any other site on the internet by virtue of having earned credibility, by virtue of there not being known to be mistakes, by virtue of fact-checking being one of its specialities and by virtue of a relatively strong review process.

There may be a creationist site that is more accurate than talk.origins but there are none known to be so.

As for absolute proof, I'm afraid that I don't have it (and that it is impossible to provide) - but I have illustrated a case here that is beyond reasonable doubt.

- F

creeper said...

"I'm waiting for absolute proof that Talk Origins is any more credible than any Creationist site."

You have yet to demonstrate any dishonesty in any of the points in the links from Talk Origins. In return we have taken apart a number of claims you have passed on from creationist sites that you provided, conclusively demonstrating credibility problems (quote mining, outdated information or lying, reference to known mistakes or hoaxes that even Answers in Genesis AND EVEN RADAR know to be false).

So you, highboy, have shown us links with massive credibility problems. You, highboy, have made arguments that are not supported even by creationist sites. And you, highboy, have not taken on a single argument from Talk Origins and demonstrated how it was false or presented dishonestly.

You've demonstrated your own credibility problem in abundance (from your monkey post onwards), but now you want us to believe Talk Origins has a credibility problem - just on your say so, before you've even demonstrated any dishonesty on their part?

creeper said...

"highboy said "Prove it." (refering to creeper's claim that "Complete Geologic Column Is NonExistent, Except In Text Books" is a lie/outdated info)"

"Um, did you see creeper's 2:40PM comment, or was it not up when you started typing? Or do you disagree with the information he's giving?"


My comment with the disproof was up even before my claim that the quote was either a lie or outdated info, so it was there for him to see.

He has not made any attempt to rebut it.

creeper said...

highboy,

"Is he saying that because we don't see these catastophies on a global scale now, that they couldn't have happened back then?"

That doesn't seem to be the case:

"we can (and do, as in the examples above) extrapolate from the observed occurrences to larger events of the same sort"

highboy said...

creeper: You will now show the quote where I said Talk Origins has a credibility problem. If not, you are now lying and have a credibility problem.

"As for absolute proof, I'm afraid that I don't have it (and that it is impossible to provide)"

Exactly my point from the time I started debating this stuff. Just because YOU deem a site more credible doesn't mean the rest of the world does. I'll also add that support from a majority of evolutionist scientists doesn't exactly make a site more credible than any Creationist site backed by the Christian realm.

Anonymous said...

[Dan S. said . . .]

highboy quoted:
"Before radiometric dating was devised, uniformitarian geologists postulated "periods" of millions of years duration to slowly deposit the strata systems."

That of course raises two questions:
How does one reconcile support for young-earth creationism with the clear and consistant results of radiometric dating (by denying them, of course! - Creationist Claim CD010: Radiometric dating gives unreliable results - if you return to the index of keep clicking next claim, you go through a whole set of responses to various specific claims about dating methods.

Luckily that strategy takes care of the next question, which is why radiometric dating results are consistant with the geological column . . .

***
Additionally, TalkOrigins' credibility rests upon the science it presents: it's only as good as the research. The factors discussed in the above posts help make sure that it tracks rather well with the best -available and -supported science - it would be nice if it could have a few funded positions, but still, like wikipedia, it represents one of the unique strengths of the internet (there are rough parallels in earlier projects - the OED, for example). Despite real attempts by creationist equivalents like AiG to become more respectable - see Maintaining Creationist Integrity: A response to Kent Hovind - ha, now you guys get to see what it's been like for pro-science side! But note however, the concern throughout isn't that some arguments are wrong, but that they're weak, and look bad), in the end it depends on the science.

highboy asks: "Is he saying that because we don't see these catastophies on a global scale now, that they couldn't have happened back then? "
Don't forget the part right before the bit creeper requoted: " The scale of events may change, but the physical laws operating today are key to the past"." Creationist catastrophism doesn't (in various ways) follow these physical laws

I wrote:"that's like talking about a lion turning into a lamb!"
And highboy responded: "That was a cheap shot but I'll give you points for style."

Thanks. But it's true, and there's an important point here - most people - myself included - have an extremely limited familiarity with (and awareness of) the natural world. Various traditional peoples can often name and identify large numbers of local organisms. Urbanized folks, while having through media a global reach, are from exposure and limited necessity generally familiar with a motley collection of: 'pest' species adapted to disturbed or human-dominated conditions (pigeons, rats, cockroaches, dandelions), a collection of pet (cats, dogs, etc.) and ornamental species (Norway maple, ginko, etc.), various domesticated food species (cattle, pig, tomato, etc.) which are for more and more people rarely experienced alive firsthand, only in cultural representations, and a grabbag of charismatic megafauna seen on tv or at the zoo. This helps explain both why evolution popped up in not one but two heads at the specific time and place it did (given both particularly British fixation on animal breeding and -fancying, and widespread exploration (with collecting and study). It also helps explain one reason why certain aspects of evolution are so confusing to people. If you're not familiar with domestication, even 'microevolution seems unlikely; if you have only a superficial knowledge of a few random species, it's not obvious how one can start seeing connections and gradations beyond the boundries of 'kind'.

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

[Dan S. said . . .]

Creeper:"As for absolute proof, I'm afraid that I don't have it (and that it is impossible to provide)"

Highboy:Exactly my point from the time I started debating this stuff."

Again and again, the demand for absolute proof, far beyond what we depend on in daily life, or what is built into the theory of science (which is only a very specialized and formalized version of that).

Highboy: "Just because YOU deem a site more credible doesn't mean the rest of the world does."
Of course. What's important here is the criteria used to judge this credibility.

Highboy: "I'll also add that support from a majority of evolutionist scientists doesn't exactly make a site more credible than any Creationist site backed by the Christian realm."

What would be more credible; a site supported by the majority of doctors, or a quack site (pick your own quackery!) supported by a specific faction of some group because it confirms/conforms to their beliefs?

With science, it is, ultimately, put up or shut up (which doesn't at all preclude going back, doing more work, and succeeding). Evolution has worked to help explain what we see- not perfectly, not with absolute proof, which you don't get in science, but very, very well. Creationism - no.
You guys are always free to prove us wrong. . .

creeper said...

highboy,

"You will now show the quote where I said Talk Origins has a credibility problem. If not, you are now lying and have a credibility problem."

First you will show me the quote where I said that you said Talk Origins had a credibility problem. If not, you... well I guess you just continue to have that credibility problem of yours, so that doesn't really change much.

I said you you want us to believe Talk Origins has a credibility problem, and you did say this:

me: "It sure is. Quote mining, misinterpretations, even the Paluxy River hoax."

you: "Yeah, right. Talk Origins is SOOO objective."


and

"I'm waiting for absolute proof that Talk Origins is any more credible than any Creationist site."

Since you've already demonstrated how dishonest creationist sites are, your insinuation that Talk Origins is no more credible indicates that you think they have a credibility problem.

If you now want to claim that you don't think Talk Origins has a credibility problem, fine by me.

What a silly person you are.

radar said...

"Claim CD101:
The geological column is a fiction, existing on paper only. The entire geological column does not exist anywhere on the earth. (radar changes to allow 0.5% of the Earth, which sounds maybe a bit high?)"

The exact representation is not found anywhere on earth, or hasn't yet, anyway. Some places are close enough in proximity to the representation to be considered a match and that is about 0.4%, to be precise.

One big problem with modern catastrophism is that there are layers of sedimentary rock found around the world which are very similar, as if laid at the same time by the same forces. Good for world-wide flood proponents, bad for local flood people. It is of particular interest that salt water evidences are found in so many of the fossil remains so that it is known that the flood source was not local fresh water, or at least not local water only.

I grow weary of being accused of posting things that I know to be false. Just exactly what is it that I posted you show to be false??? Not talking about things you disagree with, but rather falsehoods. I don't do that, it destroys the purpose of my posts.

creeper said...

Radar,

the comment about the geological column you replied to was not in response to you, but to Highboy who posted a ridiculous link with all kinds of falsehoods, including the claim that the Geological Column exists nowhere on Earth. He was duly corrected, and it was pointed out to him that even you knew that this was not so.

Took him a while to drop that ball though.

highboy said...

"but now you want us to believe Talk Origins has a credibility problem -"

You claim in that sentence that I want you to believe Talk Origins has a credibility problem. Not only are you a liar, (yes, flat out calling you a liar, since what you say is untrue)but you are also implying that you are able to read my mind, and I'd be interested to see the scientific evidence you have to support it.

"well I guess you just continue to have that credibility problem of yours, so that doesn't really change much."

To who? A couple of evolutionist bloggers who CLAIM to have exposed my sources to be lies? I'll get over it.

creeper said...

"You claim in that sentence that I want you to believe Talk Origins has a credibility problem. Not only are you a liar, (yes, flat out calling you a liar, since what you say is untrue)but you are also implying that you are able to read my mind, and I'd be interested to see the scientific evidence you have to support it."

No, I'm drawing conclusions based on your behavior. If I was wrong about that, it doesn't make me a liar. Lying involves knowingly speaking an untruth and since I, like you pointed out, can't read your mind, I can only go by your words - and those sure seem to indicate that regarding Talk Origins all you're interested in is an ad hominem attack - attacking the credibility of a source instead of engaging the argument at hand.

"To who? A couple of evolutionist bloggers who CLAIM to have exposed my sources to be lies? I'll get over it."

Both the quote mining and lies/outdated info were clearly demonstrated above. We didn't just claim to do that, we did it, as is clear for all to see.

Here's a hint, highboy: once you get to the bottom, you're supposed to stop digging.

Anonymous said...

Radar wrote:
Just exactly what is it that I posted you show to be false???

Let's start with your (mis-) understanding of statistics. Move on through your claims of the lists of Creationist Scientists (who weren't signing up to anything of the sort). Move on through your list of supposedly peer-reviewed sources from the Discovery Institute (which apparently counts things as peer-reviewed if the reviewer has even heard of the text before hand).

And that's just off the top of my head and from my own rebuttals - and I'm sure that creeper and DanS can both add rebuttals they can remember. Still, at least you seem to be much better at presenting a creationist case than highboy.

- F (Getting exasperated)

highboy said...

Making a case for Creation is easy enough. Like so.

Anonymous said...

highboy said...
Making a case for Creation is easy enough.

So is making a case for a flat earth. Making a good case on the other hand is almost impossible.

- F

highboy said...

"So is making a case for a flat earth."

You're saying the earth isn't flat? Now I know you're stupid.

Anonymous said...

"One big problem with modern catastrophism is that there are layers of sedimentary rock found around the world which are very similar, as if laid at the same time by the same forces"

And in many cases they have been! In some cases you find deposits that are now widely separated but were much closer together in the past, via continental drift; other cases represent the fact that similiar depositional environments make similar sediments. That's what uniformatarianism (in the modern sense) really means.

-Dan S.