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, December 07, 2006

Poor, confused Looney

This guy is in over his head - WAYYYYY over his head - and he does not seem to realize it at all (that creationist/engineer arrogance at work).

Take this post of his for instance. The title says much:
"Why Darwinism remains hopelessly bound to Spontaneous Generation"

His 'answer' is the Miller-Urey experiments. He declares that because there is a question about it on the SAT II test, that this shows that it is "thus considered vital knowledge by the Darwinian community."

First, he never says what the "Darwinist community" is. But it appears to be his paranoid fantasy that some cabal of "Darwinists" is in charge of writing the SAT II exams and felt that the Miller-Urey experiments on the origin of life - which Looney foolishly refers to as 'spontaneous generation' - are of paramount importance in accepting 'Darwinism.'
Looney, like most creationists with limited knowledge of the relevant science, goes on to distort what the experiments were set up to do. Which is odd, since he provides a link to a Wikipedia article on the experiments. He claims, for example, that "Also, proteins formed from amino acids aren't sufficient to form life by themselves either. They need something more, like DNA and RNA." Which is all well and good, but, again, this has nothing to do with the Miller-Urey experiemtns, as the link Looney provides indicates:

The molecules produced were simple organic molecules, far from a complete living biochemical system, but the experiment established that the hypothetical processes could produce some building blocks of life without requiring life to synthesize them first.


But Looney the creationist cannot be bothered with details.

He also comments on my introducing him to the Salem hypothesis and what I call the Kruger-Dunning effect. Both of which he misinterprets, by the way.

Of the Salem hypothesis, Looney writes:

The Darwinist will most likely attribute this to a deficiency in science. As the engineer views his discipline more as Applied Science + Design, we tend to take a dim view of this attitude. The other possibility is that engineers are more likely to have a proper respect for Design than scientists and prefer a unified world view with design near the center. The Darwinist must necessarily have a split world view where Intelligent Design is mandatory in high-tech, but impossible in biology. It is a bit schizophrenic.


Again we see 'Darwinist', but we are never told what this is. Looney claims that he sees engineering as applied science and design, which I do, too. Applied science is not science per se. It is taking the hard lab/experimental work of scientists, boiling it down to its most useful form, and using it as a jumping-off point of sorts (and don't forget to mix in a bunch of trial and error).
And yet again we see that all-too-common conflation of human actiity (intelligent design) with Intelligent Design Creationism, as in 'the bacterial flagellum is so complex, it must have come form an Intelligent Designer.' I have asked Looney to clarify this illogical, simplistic analogy/conflation, and he has thus far refused to even reply.
Looney then distorts the Kruger-Dunning effect:

This states that people of lower intelligence have a habit of making ignorant statements about the big things. If I recall correctly, Darwin didn't do too well in school ...

Not quite - it states that people with limited understanding of a particular subject lack the ability to know how poorly they understand that subject. It says nothing about intelligence. In fact, the term "intelligence" does not once appear in the article.
Looney may well be intelligent, but he is clearly pretty ignornat of science in general and especially the biological sciences. Problem is, he also happens to be a creationist with an engineering background, and thus believes himself able to comment authoritativley on the subjects. Problem is, he clearly does not understand as much about them as he thinks he does. He is a prime example of the Kruger-Dunning effect, another aspect of which is the inability of the overconfident to understand how little they understand of the subjects they know little about.

15 comments:

Looney said...

I use the term Darwinist to describe those who downgrade science in order to make it fit Darwinist thinking. For example, one of the most basic concepts of science is that identical systems behave identically, or at least in a statistically similar manner (quantum mechanics). This is the basis for all of the sciences that makes high tech run: mechanics, electro-magnetics, ...

It also implies how a system got into its configuration is irrelevant to the behavior of the system.

Darwinists, however, insist that what you believe about the history (i.e. evolution) is vital to understanding how the system works (biology). This is in direct violation of the science 101 concept above. That is why I do not refer to them as scientists, even though I am sure you have mastered a large amount of science.

Science is the tail, but Darwinism is the dog that wags things.

Looney said...

A simpler form:

Darwinism = Spontaneous Generation + Rhetoric

scripto said...


It also implies how a system got into its configuration is irrelevant to the behavior of the system.


Have you run this idea by your mom and dad?

Doppelganger said...

Wow... You are one paranoid, out of touch dude.. Looks like you get way too much information form AM talk radio and creationist websites.

I use the term Darwinist to describe those who downgrade science in order to make it fit Darwinist thinking.


Then you have described nobody. You have no clue what scientists do as you are not one, but you feel the need to downgrade scientists to make yourself appear more worthy.

For example, one of the most basic concepts of science is that identical systems behave identically, or at least in a statistically similar manner (quantum mechanics). This is the basis for all of the sciences that makes high tech run: mechanics, electro-magnetics, ...

It also implies how a system got into its configuration is irrelevant to the behavior of the system.

Darwinists, however, insist that what you believe about the history (i.e. evolution) is vital to understanding how the system works (biology). This is in direct violation of the science 101 concept above.


What in the world are you yammering about? Nothing you wrote above bears any resemblence to anything done in any science. You are taking your simplistic (engineering) view and declaring that if all do not employ the same view, they are 'downgrading' science. How utterly idiotic!

That is why I do not refer to them as scientists, even though I am sure you have mastered a large amount of science.

Science is the tail, but Darwinism is the dog that wags things.


You are just another clueless creationist non-scientist yammering away about things you clearly cannot understand.

Go back to your tinker-toy reality.
I've grown tired of showing how arrogant and ignorant you are .

Doppelganger said...

Darwinism = Spontaneous Generation + Rhetoric

An even simpler form:

Creationism = ignorance + arrogance + a background in an unrelated subject

Davis said...

Darwinists, however, insist that what you believe about the history (i.e. evolution) is vital to understanding how the system works (biology). This is in direct violation of the science 101 concept above.

Similarly, understanding star formation tells us nothing about how we should expect our sun to behave.

Right.

It always amuses me when engineers think they understand science better than the scientists. It leads to all sorts of amusingly ignorant statements.

Looney said...

Davis, I am fairly certain that cosmologists have done nothing more than speculate about star formation.

Although mechanics is derived from the motions of the planets, it is not linked to any particular belief about the origin of the solar system. Prehistoric beliefs are irrelevant to the understanding of mechanics, and every other branch of physics that I have studied.

Biologists insist that it is impossible to understand biology without adapting a particular belief system about prehistoric events. This is nonsense.

bigdumbchimp said...

Biologists insist that it is impossible to understand biology without adapting a particular belief system about prehistoric events. This is nonsense.

No, Biologists insist that it is impossible to understand biology without accepting the evidence.

peter said...

Darwin' school record is irrelevent. It's what he did later that counts. Groundbreaking work in geology, botany, ecology, marine biology, animal behaviour, anthropology, palaeontology. And he proved that worms can't heat bassoons.

Sailed round the world, sick most of the way, almost killed off Cape Horn (and a voice from heaven was not heard to say 'damn, missed'), and with an 'uneducated' (but obviously open, brilliant) mind came up with the first theory of evolution by natural selection supported by evidence. Not bad for a trainee cleric.

I'm a Darwinist in that I admire the man and respect the canon of his work, but that's not the term to accurately describe evolutionary biology, a field now so complex and advanced that it's easy to misrepresent and traduce.

JackalMage said...

Re:"I use the term Darwinist to describe those who downgrade science in order to make it fit Darwinist thinking."
Circular definition. You're saying that Darwinists are people with Darwinist ideas. Define "Darwinist ideas". And please don't say, "The beliefs of Darwinists."

Re:"For example, one of the most basic concepts of science is that identical systems behave identically, or at least in a statistically similar manner (quantum mechanics)."
This is true for systems that can be described by state functions. Not all things are like that. Some systems have different effects based on which path they took to get from one state to another.

Re:"This is the basis for all of the sciences that makes high tech run: mechanics, electro-magnetics, ..."
I notice that biology is not on that list. There is, of course, a reason for that. The sciences that you mention rely on systems that *can* be described by state functions. Two systems will have the same effect transitioning from one state to another, no matter what path they took.

They are also all described by physics, which is fairly straightforward and deterministic most of the time. Biology is quite a bit more complicated.

Re:"It also implies how a system got into its configuration is irrelevant to the behavior of the system."
Again, this is true only for systems that can be described by a state function (otherwise known as path-independent functions/systems). With path-dependent systems, the "how" of the configuration may be just as important as the "what".

Re:"Darwinists, however, insist that what you believe about the history (i.e. evolution) is vital to understanding how the system works (biology)."
Ah, now we get to the point. The previous sections were irrelevant to this, because this is talking about something completely different.

I must ask you a question. As an engineer, do you use the laws of physics? Do you know and use mathematics in your job? If you, say, happened to believe that the cross-product of two vectors was *actually* in the same plane as the original two, would that affect your job?

If so, then your beliefs about the system (that math and physics as you were taught in school and learned on the job) are indeed necessary to understand how whatever it is you do works.

This is, of course, a vacuous statement. If a system is *built* on certain rules, then you have to understand those rules to understand the system. This is basic common sense - without understanding the underlying concepts, the system sitting on top of it may seem to act randomly. Even if you detect patterns, you have no idea *why* those patterns emerge.

This leads us to biology. In biology, there are many, many patterns. Evolution explains those patterns - it tells us why they appeared and it can help us predict patterns into the future. Of course, as biology is a relatively abstract science that does not deal simply deterministic elements like physics, the predictive power is somewhat limited, but we can still make important statements about how systems will change by using evolution.

Re:"That is why I do not refer to them as scientists, even though I am sure you have mastered a large amount of science."
As noted above, unless you yourself do your job without relying on any knowledge of mathematics, physics, or mechanics, then you too feel that one must understand what lies underneath a system before one can truly understand the system itself.

Re:"insist that what you believe about the history "
I'm returning to this because I see a note in this that I didn't actually address. Strictly, the history of a species isn't important in biology or evolution. If one had perfect knowledge of how an organism would act and reproduce, then we could tell perfectly how the genetic code (which evolution concerns itself with) had changed over time, in much the same way that I can use physics to tell where a thrown ball has come from and where it will go.

However, biology is far too 'fuzzy' to allow such precise calculations except in very controlled circumstances. Instead, we look at the history of the species to tell us what the genetic code was like in the past. We examine the phenotype (how the organism looks) to get at the genotype (how the DNA looks). By examining the effects that the genetic code has had in the past and continues to have in the present, we can understand how it has changed over time.

Looney said...

"No, Biologists insist that it is impossible to understand biology without accepting the evidence."

OK. Biology is distinct from the other sciences in that it insists that beliefs (i.e. faith) regarding indirect EVIDENCE of prehistoric events that imply things which could be construed to represent a scenario of something that might of happened (noting that they know none of the details of what actually did happen) is mandatory, or you will be hopelessly incompetent about biology.

Again, I think that the true evidence is that everything in biology can be mastered by someone who rejects Darwin and his ideas, including drug designs which need to account for mutation rates.

Doppelganger said...

Looney has finally admitted that he actually believes that the analogy between human 'intelligent design' and Supernatural Intelligent Design is evidence that Supernatural Intelligent Design is real.

That alone should tell readers how well Looney understands science, not to mention simple logic.

bigdumbchimp said...

Yep.

/yawn

Same old same old.

Designs said...
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Designs said...
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