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

Monday, January 23, 2006

When all you have is a hammer.... [Pogge again...]

... EVERYTHING is a nail.

R. David Pogge is an electrical engineer and a creationist. He maintains a website that purports to provide information that 'evolutionists don't want you to know '.
The webite is, however, more of a clearinghouse for propaganda and disinformation, and I have written a few articles about the sort of hogwash you can expect from Pogge.
However, creationists with engineering backgrounds - specifically, electrical or computer engineering backgrounds - seem to have a tendency to assert that "they understand thermody­namics, probability, system design, and information theory" and therefore have some sort of unique insight into... biology.

Well, let's see if Pogge's knowledge of thermodynamics, probability, system design, and information theory REALLY provides for him some special insight into things that have nothing to do with electrical engineering.


Gene Duplication
More of the same.

On several occasions we have said that new genetic information
cannot arise by chance. Jeff disagreed. He said,
Actually new information can appear in the genetic code by gene
duplication. An interesting article outlines a study of Colobine monkeys and a gene duplication. The study was done by Jianzhi Zhang of the university of Michigan.
We replied,
“genetic code by gene Actually new information can appear in the
genetic code by gene duplication. Jianzhi Zhang An interesting article
Actually new information an appear outlines a study of Colobine monkeys and a gene duplication. The study Actually new information can appear was done by Jianzhi Zhang of the university of Colobine monkeys Colobine monkeys Michigan.”

We hope he got the point. Random repetition of words does not increase information. If you buy two copies of USA Today, you won’t get any more information than if you just bought one. Furthermore, the redundant words tend to increase confusion, not knowledge.
Incredible. In one short, arrogant little essay, Pogge nicely demonstrates the danger of directly applying one field of knowledge to another. Don't get me wrong - I do not dimiss the potential benefits of thinking 'outside the box' and the like. What I find silly is the fairly common antic of creationists with engineering backgounds to declare without doubt that information theory, etc., as they use and understand it, applies directly to genetics and gene expression.
Sure, merely duplicating lines of text in an email or a news article will likely only confuse. I assume the same is true of lines of code in computer software in most applications. Similarly, putting more of a particular word into a sentence will likely not change the meaning of the sentence:
"The study was done done done by Jianzhi Zhang ..."
Unfortuantely for Pogge and a host of people that employ similar "reasoning", genes do NOT, in fact, work just like lines of text in written English or computer software.
It would also appear that Pogge did not bother to read the linked-to article, because after all, he is a creationist engineer, and he KNOWS that gene duplication is irrelevant... But if he HAD read the article, he would have seen things like:
"Of the more than 40,000 genes in the human genome, for example, about 15,000 appear to have been produced by gene duplication....
Most primates have one gene encoding the enzyme, but the researchers found that the douc langur, a colobine monkey from Asia, has two---one encodes RNASE1, and its duplicate encodes a new enzyme, which they dubbed RNASE1B.
... Zhang's analysis shows that the duplication occurred some six million years after colobines began eating leaves. "So leaf-eating did not depend on the new gene, but the new gene apparently improved the efficiency," he concludes. "
But we wouldn't want Pogge to spoil his certainty by considering scientific information...
Gene duplication can result in a number of things, and not merely 'confusion.' For example, duplicating a gene could double the amount of a particular protein product. Depending on when that happens, a number or very real phenotypic or metabolic changes could occur.
That is, the "meaning" of the information has changed despite it being merely being "redundant."
Similarly, increasing a gene's expression can produce not only metabolic effects, but beneficial metabolic effects.
So, in reality, genes and their expression and effects are, at best, only superficially analogous to written words or lines of computer code. Unfortunately, people like Pogge do not bother finding out such things, instead relying on their certainty that what they know trumps all, and the belief that mere superficial analogies are sufficient to 'disprove' established scientific facts.
Such is the way of the internet creationist.
*Pogge received another message on this subject and wrote a similarly simplistic bit of gibberish in reply. I will respond to that shortly.

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