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

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

"LifeEngineer" (Warren Bergerson), incompetent yet overconfident anti-Darwinist

I have written about some of the truly nutty claims that one Warren Bergerson (aka 'LifeEngineer') has made regarding evolution (he claimed to have falsified it) and science in general.

Today, I read a thread at the ARN discussion board in which Bergerson took part, and he exhibits some truly baffling behavior.

To pre-sum up -
1. He declares that evolutionary biology makes no predictive theories. **
2. He is provided with a link to a paper in which evolutionary tenets were used to make predictions.
3. He responds by declaring the paper can actually be used to falsify 'Darwinism.'
4. He is asked to explain how this is so.
5. He responds by first pointing out that he cannot understand most of the paper...

So tell me, gentle reader - Were you in a situation where you were presented with information that you did not understand, would YOU make proclamations premised on that information?

Well, let's take a look at how this transpired.

First, Bergerson writes:

The pseudo science DarwinDefenders will never produce predictive theories.**
Note also the cute little denigratory moniker he employs to insult actual scientists that accept evolution.

He is reponded to by the poster 'Myrmecos':

Here's one for you:

Phylogenetics predicts protein function.


Bergerson responds:

You realize, of course, that the study you referred to provide an excellent basis for falsifying both GD and modern Darwin dogma?
Myrmecos asks:


How so?
And the coup de grace from Bergerson, in its entirety (emphasis mine):

First, the study is interesting. Second,
I openly admit I don’t completely understand all the technical jargon used nor am I familiar with most of the background materials referred to.

What the study appears to present is a descriptive/predictive statistical mapping from genotypes to proteins to functions. As I understand it, the statistical mapping technique developed matches or fits established mapped elements and produces or predicts stochastic relationships for elements that have not yet been mapped.

Whether this type of descriptive stochastic correlation/mapping would be considered a predictive theory is not entirely certain. But for the sake of discussion here, I have no particular problem with recognizing that some type of predictive theory could be formulated from the stochastic model described. Such a theory would not and could not, however, be characterized as compatible with GD or with Darwinism.

The study demonstrates the existence of a stochastic or correlational mapping from genotype to proteins to function. This mapping, however, is not logically compatible with a causal mapping from genes to proteins to functions. There is not sufficient information in a gene to cause or produce a protein and there is not enough information in a protein to ‘cause’ a function. The study, in effect, demonstrates that there must be some process, mechanism or ‘intelligence’ responsible for the demonstrated stochastic mapping. The research referenced shows that there are clear correlations between genotypes and proteins and proteins and functions in much the same way there is a correlation between the codes on a vending machine and the type of item that comes out when you push the code.

Lots of researchers performing real research formulate, test and refine predictive models and theories (or use logical structures that could be expressed as predictive theories). It is when the research is translated into written form for review and distribution that the predictive theories that might conflict with established dogma seem to disappear. In the report referenced, was there any discussion of a predictive theory or how such a theory would have reconciled to GD or Darwinism? I think not.


He doesn't understand "all the technical jargon used" nor is he "familiar with most of the background materials referred to" yet goes on to write 4 paragraphs 'explaining' how it is actually bad for 'Darwinism' and 'GD' (genetic determinism).
Reading Bergerson's 'explanation' about 'causes' and the like should inform the reader that Bergerson is really out of his league in discussing this material, and the fact that he is ignorant of the background material and the 'technical jargon' of the field yet feels confident in declaring that because it does not meet his personal criteria for , whatever it is he has criteria for, just reinforces the apparent fact that Bergerson is more of an ignorant blowhard than anything else...
Of course, when you are ignorant of the things you pontificate about but really want to hit your opponants where they live, just make stuff up:

My impression is that most of the genetic models are based on intentionally false assumptiions. [sic]
Oh - did I mention that Bergerson, whose background is apparently in engineering and actuarial math, has claimed that genetics is pseudoscience?

He has made such claims before, and if you bother to read through any of Bergerson's self-absorbed, unnecessarily verbose nonsense, you will see that he NEVER provides any sort of documentation or support for ANY of the things he claims.

He is an example of one of the problems with American society - the ability of ignorance to instill confidence (even arrogance) in strongly opinionated individuals.


**It should be noted that Bergerson seems to indicate that, as he understands it, a "predictive theory" is really a prediction, or something that can be summarized by a simple formula. He does not seem to understand what a "theory" or a "prediction" is.

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