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evolution-digest Saturday, April 24 1999 Volume 01 : Number 1420
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1999 08:16:49 -0400 (EDT)
From: Rich Daniel <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Evolution: dead man walking
On April 8, Cummins wrote:
> Okay, I'll give you this one. There was no visible light until energy
> decoupled from matter, at which point, the energy expanded at the speed of
> light and didn't hang around for us to detect as background radiation thus
> the Big Bang model doesn't really predict background radiation so I don't
> need to appeal to diffused energy from stars to explain it...
You misunderstand. The universe is very much larger than you imagine.
The cosmic microwave background radiation that we see today has not been
bouncing around in the interstellar gas for the last 13 billion years;
it comes to us directly in a straight line from the edge of the visible
Many people think Big Bang theory has the initial universe shrunk down to
a very small point. Not so. It was instead a very large volume of matter
with maximum density. For all we know, it might even have been infinitely
If the CMBR came from stars or interstellar dust, it would be stronger
in the galactic plane. It's not.
Rich Daniel firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.dnaco.net/~rwdaniel/
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1999 17:29:46 GMT
From: "David J. Tyler" <D.Tyler@mmu.ac.uk>
Subject: Criticisms of "Darwin's Black Box"
An interesting article has appeared on the Leadership University
It opens as follows:
Rebuttals to Common Criticisms of the Book Darwin's Black Box
Robert DiSilvestro, Ph.D. Biochemistry Associate Professor, Human
Nutrition, The Ohio State University
# 1. This is a new version of the God of the gaps.
# 2. Gene duplication provides the complexity.
# 3. Evolution can create systems from genes that are already around
for other purposes.
#4. Some steps of evolution are no longer seen, but were there before
a system looked irreducibly complex.
#5. Some seemingly complex systems initially worked at a simpler
level, which eventually evolved to a more complex, even an
irreducibly complex system.
#6. We have examples of criticism 5 (simpler versions of more
complex biological systems).
#7. Today, we can see examples of genetic evolution that support some
of the above criticisms.
#8. "I don't know how it could happen" doesn't equal "It couldn't
The book Darwin's Black Box, by biochemistry professor Michael Behe,
has challenged the idea that Darwinian evolution explains many of the
complex biochemical systems we see today. Instead, Behe proposes,
these systems are the result of intelligent design. The book's message
has been received with great enthusiasm by many people, including many
evangelical Christians. On the other hand, much of the biological
research community has dismissed the book. This dismissal is based on
various criticisms. Sometimes, the criticisms are made fairly simply,
while at other times, they are dressed up with many complex
biochemical details. Whether the objections sound complicated or not,
the most common objections distill down to about eight basic
criticisms. I contend that these criticisms are flawed. Below, I
provide a very short summary of the basic ideas of the book, and then
briefly describe the eight main criticisms and give my rebuttals to
Hope this is of interest.
David J. Tyler.
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1999 16:07:34 -0700
From: Brian D Harper <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: My last word
At 05:21 PM 4/21/99 EDT, Kevin wrote:
>In a message dated 4/21/99 12:02:52 PM Mountain Daylight Time,
>> >To my knowledge, no one said that Wells did not have the RIGHT to raise
>> >objections. What we were saying is that his lack of knowledge of the
>> >peppered moth and his lack of experience in biological field work (and
>> >apparantly in scientific research in general), not to mention his more
>> >political ambitions, has led him to make foolish accussations that he
>> >support, yet stubbornly clings to even after more knowledgeable and
>> >experienced people have explained how and why he is wrong. We do not
>> >to Wells because he has the wrong credentials; we object to Wells because
>> >he is a fool.
>> How nice for you. I have no expertise in industrial melanism,
>> biological field work etc. I do know something, however, about
>> experimental methods. Nothing Wells has said in this regard
>> strikes me as foolish. In fact, quite the opposite.
>Then I guess you haven't been paying attention to what Don Frack has been
Well, as I indicated previously, I have only scanned Don's posts. I received a
copy of Majerus book today. I'll look at it first and then go back and look
at Don's posts again.
>> >> What occurred to me originally was that a photograph of a moth
>> >> sitting on an exposed tree trunk will reinforce not only the
>> >> idea of increased visibility due to coloration but also increased
>> >> visibility due to being out in the open on an exposed tree trunk.
>> >If you did not already know that the moths were resting on tree trunks,
>> >could you distinguish that from say a large diameter bough? The point is
>> >still, though, that the PLACE mattered little, only the color contrast.
>> Interesting. Below you give differences in hunting styles which
>> show that the place does matter. Of course, this would matter
>> little wrt the central claim that bird predation is the cause
>> for the differential success of the two colorations. Nevertheless,
>> it is an indication that place *might* matter.
>Look again at what I said: I said the place matters little, I didn't say it
>didn't matter at all.
OK. Nevertheless, it seems that Majerus disagrees:
#"If the relative fitness of the morphs of the peppered moth does depend
#on their crypsis, the resting position is crucially important to the estimation
#of fitness differences between the morphs. This is particularly the case
#in changing or intermediate habitats with respect to pollution, because in
#such habits the distribution of lichens on trees is likely to be more
#heterogeneous than in very unpolluted or very polluted habitats. It is
#therefore valuable to consider, albeit briefly, on which parts of trees
#lichens of different types seem to grow in different situations."
# -- Majerus p. 123
>By the way, the differences in hunting styles do not
>increase the probability that place would matter. Pattern recognition
>predators can still be fooled by camouflage; the classical experiments and
>the more recent follow-up experiments demonstrated that when the moths did
>rest on trunks that pattern recognition predators still preferentially took
>moths whose color had the highest contrast with the background. As such,
>since camouflage is even more effective against movement/color contrast
>predators, you would expect the preferential predation would be even stronger
>in the canopy.
>> Has anyone demonstrated
>> empirically that selective predation occurs where moths normally
>According to Majerus, yes; the details and references are in his book.
Perhaps you could help me out a little. What I've found so far seems
to contradict what you say. For example:
#"Although observations of peppered moths being taken from natural resting
#positions are still lacking and are urgently needed, it is highly probable
#that predation levels are significant." -- Majerus
and then a little later on the same page:
#"Yet, surprisingly, experiments to show formally that the degree of crypsis
#of the different peppered moth forms does affect the level of predation
#inflicted on them by birds have never been carried out." --Majerus
>> As another possible influence of location, would you happen to
>> know off hand whether lichens grow better on tree trunks as opposed
>> to branches?
>It depends upon the species, but generally no.
Once again, it seems that you disagree with Majerus.
>> Please accept my humblest apologies if I am acting overly
>> foolish :).
>For someone who criticizes others for discourtesy in their writings, you can
>be very sarcastic when you want to be.
Well, I guess you've probably caught me on that one ;-).
The Ohio State University
"All kinds of private metaphysics and theology have
grown like weeds in the garden of thermodynamics"
- -- E. H. Hiebert
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1999 20:53:12 -0400
From: Tim Ikeda <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Criticisms of "Darwin's Black Box"
Thanks for the URL. I've seen DiSilvestro's comments before.
Rather general and too non-specific, IMHO. For example, the section
about gene duplication doesn't seem terribly detailed. There are
many papers in the literature which describe mechanisms and models
of divergence in gene families. It's not as if this is a mechanism
Overall, a condensed rehash of Behe's arguments.
email@example.com (despam address before use)
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1999 22:17:45 EDT
Subject: Re: My last word
In a message dated 4/23/99 3:04:39 PM Mountain Daylight Time,
> > Look again at what I said: I said the place matters little, I didn't
> > it didn't matter at all.
> OK. Nevertheless, it seems that Majerus disagrees:
> #"If the relative fitness of the morphs of the peppered moth does depend
> #on their crypsis, the resting position is crucially important to the
> #of fitness differences between the morphs. This is particularly the case
> #in changing or intermediate habitats with respect to pollution, because in
> #such habits the distribution of lichens on trees is likely to be more
> #heterogeneous than in very unpolluted or very polluted habitats. It is
> #therefore valuable to consider, albeit briefly, on which parts of trees
> #lichens of different types seem to grow in different situations."
> # -- Majerus p. 123
Since I do not have a copy of Majerus' book, I can only speculate as the the
context of that quote. It sounds like Majerus is discussing the relationship
of lichen coverage to crypsis. In that case, place would have an effect ONLY
if crypsis were largely dependent upon lichen coverage and ONLY if lichen
coverage varied from place to place. According to Don's posts (including
reprints of posts sent to him by Majerus) crypsis is not necessarily
dependent upon lichen coverage, though it was undoubtably a factor in
England. Yet considering that Majerus is convinced that "that the rise and
fall of the carbonaria form of the peppered moth has resulted from changes in
the environments in which this moth lives", that these changes "have come
about as a result of changes in pollution levels which have altered the
relative crypsis of the forms of this moth", and that the "main, if not the
only selective factor that has lead to changes in the frequencies of the
forms over time is differential bird predation", it would seem to me that
even if lichen grows differently on branches than on trunks, the research
presented by Majerus in his book (according to Don Frack and Majerus) show
that they played only a very small role in crypsis, and that place indeed
played little or no role in the fitness of the morphs. This leads me to
believe that the quote you give above is the beginning of a discussion that
will ultimately conclude with something like "in fact the resting place is
not crucial to fitness estimation after all." Otherwise Majerus' strong
claim connecting crypsis, pollution and bird predation -- without adding
resting place qualifiers -- makes no sense. And it makes even less sense
when you consider that Majerus is the leading proponent of the canopy as the
normal resting place of the moth. Obviously he must believe that crypsis and
selective bird predation is just as important there as on the trunk. But you
have his book; what does he say?
> >> Has anyone demonstrated
> >> empirically that selective predation occurs where moths normally
> >> rest?
> > According to Majerus, yes; the details and references are in his book.
> Perhaps you could help me out a little. What I've found so far seems
> to contradict what you say. For example:
> #"Although observations of peppered moths being taken from natural resting
> #positions are still lacking and are urgently needed, it is highly probable
> #that predation levels are significant." -- Majerus
> and then a little later on the same page:
> #"Yet, surprisingly, experiments to show formally that the degree of
> #of the different peppered moth forms does affect the level of predation
> #inflicted on them by birds have never been carried out." --Majerus
This is what Don Frack said in his first post on the peppered moth, posted by
me under the title "Peppered Moths - in black and white (part 1 of 2)":
"Finally, Coyne's reference to a 'mystery' of where peppered moths rest
appears to contradict Majerus, who refers to his and others experiments on
branch-related resting sites - apparently the most common location.
Experiments with moths attached to these locations support the cryptic
advantage of earlier studies from trunks." In other words, Don is saying
that Majerus is saying that there have been experiments done on branch
resting sites and that these experiments confirm those of the trunk resting
sites. They may not be "formal" experiments in which direct observation of
birds taking moths from branches confirm the experimental setup, but they
seem good enough for Majerus.
> >> As another possible influence of location, would you happen to
> >> know off hand whether lichens grow better on tree trunks as opposed
> >> to branches?
> >It depends upon the species, but generally no.
> Once again, it seems that you disagree with Majerus.
Maybe, maybe not. The above quote merely raises the possibility that lichens
might grow differently on different parts of the tree, and you cut off the
quote right at the point where he is just about to reveal if that was true
and to what extent it was true. And these lichens may be one of those
species that does grow differently in different places (Majerus is not making
a general statement about all lichens). Also, if you look more closely at
what Majerus said, the only time you would expect lichen coverage to be
heterogeneous is when the tree was in transition between a very unpolluted
state and a very polluted state. Even so, since Majerus is convinced by the
research that crypsis and selective bird predation plays as important a role
in the canopy resting places as it does on the trunk, he must also believe
that even if lichen coverage is heterogeneous, it has little affect on
fitness as determined by crypsis.
Kevin L. O'Brien
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1999 21:45:26 -0500
From: "Glenn R. Morton" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Neanderthal/Human Hybrid?
John Lynch wrote:
> Am I the only one wondering how we know the _spleen_ of a 25,000 old
> skeleton is modern?
I interpreted the part about the spleen, as reporter stupidity. Spleens
are not part of the skeleton and can't be part of the skeletal material.
In fact, I have never heard a discussion of the spleen from any anthro
text or article.
Foundation, Fall and Flood
Adam, Apes and Anthropology
End of evolution-digest V1 #1420