Re: Random origin of biological information

From: Brian D Harper (
Date: Sat Sep 23 2000 - 23:18:02 EDT

  • Next message: "Random origin of biological information"

    At 11:49 AM 9/22/00 -0400, wrote:


    >Is this what "really happens in evolution"? Laurie Godfrey in "Scientists
    >confront creationism" pp. 89 addresses Yockey and shows the flaws in his
    >Or see

    Hi FMAJ (is there some other name I can use,
    that sounds a little awkward :)

    My suggestion is that you remove this link from your
    list of references. Its a real loser. A casual look through
    it reveals numerous mistakes. Before I get into that, let
    me make a more general comment. Looking through
    Carrier's material on Yockey my eye was attracted immediately
    to the following

    "[...] Besides the curious fact that he calls the Big Bang
    a "hydrogen bomb explosion" which, unless he is being
    metaphorical, throws his knowledge of science into doubt, ..."
    -- Richard Carrier

    There's no call for this type of _ad-hominem_. In the very
    least he should mention that Yockey has a PhD in Physics
    from UC Berkeley and that his advisory committee included
    E. O. Lawrence and Emilio Segre (E. O. Lawrence was a
    Nobel Laureate at the time while Segre would receive that
    honor later). With this information, perhaps his dear readers
    could make a better judgement.

    Well, I'm throwing this in primarily because Yockey is a friend
    and I'm worried people not familiar with him might follow your
    link and be swayed by such nonsense.

    Now to the mistakes. I'm not going to bore people with a long list.
    It turns out I can find two within the first few lines of the paragraph
    you quoted. Let's take a look.

    >"Yockey also generates another misquoted number. Assuming the maximimum
    >number of suitable planets and amino-acids, the known age of the
    >universe, and a recombination rate of twice per day (on average), he tells us
    >that 1.61 x 10^60 different 100-amino-acid chains will be produced.

    The only thing he gets right in this sentence is the number 1.61 x 10^60.
    This number has nothing to do with the number of chains produced, suitable
    planets etc. It is simply, as clearly explained in the paper, the number
    of sequences in the high probability set for sequences of length N=100
    and entropy H=2. The number can be easily calculated from a formula
    provided in the paper:

    number in HP group = 2^(NH) = 2^(100*2) = 1.607 (10)^60.

    >This in no way refers to the odds against life, since Yockey does not try to
    >figure how many of those combinations would be viable (certainly it
    >would not be only one),

    Actually, this is exactly what he *was* doing. Yes, of course it is not one,
    it is about 1.61 x (10)^60.

    >and all the same problems apply here as before.
    >Nevertheless, this number is cited as if it were a statistic by Bradley and
    >Thaxton in The Creation Hypothesis (discussed below)--indeed, they even get
    >it wrong, claiming the number to be 1 x 10^65 (they also get the
    >citation wrong, listing the date of Yockey's 1977 paper as 1981, and printing
    >his actual 1981 article not as vol. 91, but as 191).

    Now, this boo boo is very curious. Carrier claims B&T get the
    number wrong when he himself gets it wrong. The number
    B&T give is (10)^ -65 not (10)^65. Further, this number is not
    the number being calculated above but rather the ratio of that
    number to the total number of sequences possible.
    Further, B&T cite the correct paper with correct title and correct
    volume number (67, not 191). What they get wrong is the date.
    They write 1981 instead of 1977. Given that Yockey has a paper
    with exactly the same title and volume number you would think
    Carrier might take a look at it. The number B&T quote is not
    hard to find, it is in the abstract.

    OK, I think this is enough on Carrier. The other mistakes I found were
    equally as bad as these. The arrogance of this fellow is truly amazing.
    Can you imagine how he would treat a creationist who made the type
    mistakes he has made?


    Brian Harper
    Associate Professor
    Mechanical Engineering
    The Ohio State University
    "One never knows, do one?"
    -- Fats Waller

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sat Sep 23 2000 - 20:06:24 EDT