Commentary on the so-called Creation/Evolution/Intelligent Design Debate and Right-Wing nuttery in general - and please ignore the typos (I make lots!)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A response to "Hemi" on NAIG

I posted a link to this blog at the No Answers in Genesis discussion board, and "Hemi" (Tim Russell) responded to one of my articles here, there.

Rather than engage in a prolonged mud-fest over there, I thought I would deal with Hemi's comment here. Hemi's statements in blue:

So how many mutations do you predict would have occurred in the past 4,000 years? And seeing as how you claim above...

Quite simply - as far as mutations go, we should expect to see them in the
genomes of the specimens under investigation.We do.

Now all of a sudden it's a strawman to ask you to back up your claim?

I don't predict anything about exact numbers of mutations in a specific and arbitrary timeframe. Pogge does:

"If humans had 30 million mutations in 6 million years, and chimpanzees had 10 million mutations in 6 million years, then humans had an average of five mutations per year. In the last 4,000 years of recorded human history, there would have been about 20,000 mutations. Is there any evidence of that?"

Since Pogge's position is at best unwarranted and at worst a complete strawman, responding to it or anything drawn from it is a waste of time and effort.

I will say, however, that we would expect roughly an equal number of mutations to have occurred/accumulated in both the human and chimp genome in any particular time frame.

You didn't argue with Pogges number of predicted mutations in the past 4,000
years, you simply claim "we see them and to ask for verification is a strawman".

That is correct. There was no reason to argue with Pogge's numbers because they were premised on a strawman. Recall what he wrote -

"The first sentence seems to imply something more like a 30/10 split rather than a 20/20 split because "humans have changed dramatically" compared to chimpanzees."

The sentence implied no such thing. Pogge simply ran with his misinterpretation and set up the strawman. I am unsure why this is so difficult for you to grasp.

So instead of you claiming it's Pogge's ignorance or "purposeful deception",
just what is it you're doing? You claim you see the the predicted mutations,
then claim you shouldn't have to explain yourself.

No, I claim that we can see them - I should have remembered not to use such non-specific language as it is confusing for folks like you. Do I know which exact mutations occurred in any given time frame? No, and at this point in our technological ability, I do not think that this is possible in most cases. However, we can observe, if you will, a genetic distance between sequences which, in all cases I am familiar with, correlates with what we would expect under evolutionary constraints.

What are the changes to the human species these 20,000 mutations, or whatever number you say it should actually be based on your predictions, are observed? Eye color variations, skin color variations, maybe? Since it's a strawman for you to give a reference to these listed 20,000+- mutations you first claim you see, then ask "what mutations" can you at least give referencece to the list of the 20,000+- changes these mutations have caused in the human species in the past 4,000 years you claim we see?

No, again, the strawman is in concocting that number in the first place. Of course, it is only your unfamiliarity with genetics and biology in general that gives you the impetus to ask such a question. For if you had a basic understanding of these issues, you would realize that a mutation does not necessarily correlate to a particular change in phenotype. Asking for a list of altered traits, therefore, is premised on ignorance.

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