Creation-Evolution Headlines
January 2011
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“The quest for understanding our universe as a whole benefits from the integration of knowledge from all areas of study, including those that consider questions of purpose, such as design engineering.  The synthesis of this knowledge that provides the most satisfying answers regarding human experience is one that admits the recognition of purpose and the existence of an (as yet, not-wellunderstood) engineering influence.”
— Halsmer, Asper, Roman and Todd, “The coherence of an engineered world,” Transactions of the Wessex Institute Jan 2011 (see analysis on Evolution News & Views).
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Evolutionary Magic     01/31/2011    
Jan 31, 2011 — What do evolutionists do when data bring surprises to their claims?  They find new ways for evolution to work magic.  See if these stories illustrate that or not.

  1. Plant-animal partnership:  One could hardly find two groups of organisms more disparate than plants and animals, but an article on PhysOrg claims that both groups hit on the same evolutionary solution to a problem independently.  The subtitle emphasized the disparity, saying, “Despite their divergent evolutionary history, membrane-bound kinase receptors in animals and plants rely on similar regulatory mechanisms to control their activity.”  To arrive at this solution, “plants took an evolutionary path different from their animal cousins,” the article continued.
        How to explain that in evolutionary terms?  “There seem to be only so many ways to build a robust signaling system,” Dr. Joanne Chory of Howard Hughes Medical Institute, “and plants and animals have hit upon the same mechanisms.”  Odd; there seem to be a lot of evolutionary solutions to many other common problems.  Conservation and convergence are contrary to predictions of Darwin’s branching tree of life, but evolutionists routinely invoke those terms within evolutionary theory, not as a falsification of it.
  2. Tooth loophole:  What is the truth about the tooth in frogs?  Most frogs lack teeth on the lower jaw, but a strange tree frog in the Andes named Gastrotheca guentheri has teeth on both upper and lower jaws – the only known frog species so equipped.  The headline on the BBC News announced, “Frogs re-evolved lost lower teeth.
        How to explain that in evolutionary terms?  Dr. John Wiens of Stony Brook University published his explanation in the journal Evolution: “I combined data from fossils and DNA sequences with new statistical methods and showed that frogs lost their teeth on the lower jaw more than 230 million years ago, but that they re-appeared in G. guentheri within the past 20 million years.”
        This would have to mean that genes for lower teeth sat dormant in frogs for 210 million years.  If they served no purpose, though, why would natural selection retain them?  “The reappearance of these lower teeth after such a long time fuels debate about whether complex traits are lost in evolution or if they can resurface,” reporter Ella Davies wrote.  Is this a kind of resurrection miracle?
    “The loss of mandibular teeth in the ancestor of modern frogs and their re-appearance in G. guentheri provides very strong evidence for the controversial idea that complex anatomical traits that are evolutionarily lost can re-evolve, even after being absent for hundreds of millions of years,” Dr Wiens says....
       What G. guentheri did was to put teeth back on the lower jaw, rather than having to re-evolve all the mechanisms for making teeth ‘from scratch’,” says Dr Wiens.
    While efficient for the frog, it seems to contradict the notion that natural selection continually sifts out the bad and adds up the good.  210 million years is a long time to keep genes around that don’t do anything.  But Dr. Wiens was not done with his evolutionary magic tricks:
    “This ‘loophole’ may apply to many other cases when traits appear to re-evolve, such as in the re-evolution of lost fingers and toes in lizards,” Dr Wiens tells the BBC.
        According to Dr Wiens, this theory could be applied to other recent studies that have suggested the re-evolution of lost traits.
        In the last decade, scientists have identified and debated several attributes that have apparently “re-evolved” over time including stick insect’s wings, coiling in limpet shells, larval stages of salamanders and lost digits in lizards.
    Update 02/10/2011:  National Geographic News reported the story, saying “The discovery challenges a ‘cornerstone’ of evolutionary thinking, according to experts.”  After some argument over whether lost organs can never re-evolve (Dollo’s Law), the article admitted scientists cannot explain this by neo-Darwinism:
    With that in mind, natural selection—the process by which favorable traits become more common over time within a species—is “not enough to explain” why the marsupial tree frog regained its lower teeth.
        “I can confidently say that we don’t know,” [Gunter] Wagner [Yale U] said.  “It’s an extremely interesting question.
  3. Who’s your daddy?  Now that the orang-utan genome has been deciphered, evolutionists are saying that parts of the human genome are more closely related to orang-utans than to chimpanzees (see Science Daily).  The BBC News, reported that the orang-utan genome “evolved slowly,” while another article on Science Daily claimed that the orang genome is simultaneously “More Diverse Than Human’s, Remarkably Stable Through the Ages.
        How to explain that in evolutionary terms?  It seems the only way is to make evolution run fast and slow, both genetically and phenotypically: “That doesn’t mean the species itself has evolved more slowly,” said Devin Locke (Washington University), of the orang-utan genome, “but that this particular mechanism of genome evolution has been proceeding at a lower rate.  Humans and chimps, in sharp contrast, have experienced an acceleration in this form of evolution over the past 5 million years or so.”
  4. Carnation race:  Why would evolution’s mechanisms not follow predictable natural laws?  PhysOrg announced that carnations “show the fastest known diversification rate in plants,” at the same time some of their neighbors in similar habitats do not.  The short article tried to explain “the most rapid rate ever reported in plants or terrestrial vertebrates” as a function of arid conditions, “suggesting a link between climate and biodiversity,” but then one would expect all organisms in the Pleistocene to respond similarly in evolutionary terms.  Clearly the “living fossil” species, and many other stable organisms, have not.  What in tarnation made the carnation go on a diversity kick?
Evolutionists are clearly having to juggle a confusing jumble of data.  Science Daily put forth a new theory about intron evolution, trying to bring order out of that seeming chaos, while PhysOrg tried to weave evolution and ecology into a curious feedback loop.  Thomas Schoener (UC Davis) looked at the oscillating beak sizes of Galapagos finches, and said, “If ecology affects evolution (long supported) and evolution affects ecology (becoming increasingly supported), then what?  The transformed ecology might affect evolution, and so on, back and forth in a feedback loop.
    This will certainly confuse cause and effect inferences, to say nothing of making evolutionary trends unpredictable.  A “major research effort” will be needed to find this out, he said.  But if evolution, ecology and environment are all interconnected, evolutionary theory will have a difficult time with this three-body problem being able to predict what will happen.  With apologies to Arthur C. Clarke, any sufficiently convoluted evolutionary theory is indistinguishable from magic.
Has there ever been a more vacuous theory than Darwinism?  Evolution is fast except when it is slow, chaotic except when it is stable, divergent except when it is convergent, a driver except when it is driven, selfish except when it is altruistic, exorbitant except when it is thrifty, accelerating at the same time it is pushing on the brakes, dependent on the climate except when it’s not, mechanistic except when it is random.  There is no observation that cannot be incorporated into this hodgepodge of explanation, rendering it little more than a flexible, dynamic, evolving, adjusting, backpedaling, ad hoc narrative.  But we MUST teach it as FACT in the schools! (Re-read 01/29/1011 now).
Next headline on:  PlantsTerrestrial ZoologyMammalsEarly ManFossilsGeneticsDarwin and EvolutionPhilosophy of ScienceDumb Ideas
Dinosaur Bones Crack Open Surprises: Original Tissue     01/30/2011    
Jan 30, 2011 — Nature is kind.  That’s nice to know; but what was the context of the statement in New Scientist?  “Occasionally, though, nature is kind and fossilisation preserves details of an animal’s soft tissue.”  But has nature been kind for tens of millions of years?  In an article called “Soft-centred fossils reveal dinosaurs’ true colours,” Jeff Hecht spilled the beans that more researchers are finding soft tissue and original material in dinosaur bones said to be over 65 million years old and older – even more than twice as old.
    We’ve seen news about soft tissue before (e.g., 12/22/2010), but this article suggests that scientists are becoming more bold to look for it (cf. 02/22/2006).  Pete Larson, Phil Manning and Roy Wogelius, in particular, have been using synchrotron radiation at Stanford to look for unfossilized remains of dinosaurs.  Hecht suggested that they are not alone; “Their project is one of several challenges to the conventional wisdom that when animals fossilise, all the original organic material, from the bones to the blood, is lost.”  Their work could crack open old bones of contention: “First, however, researchers like Manning must convince other palaeontologists that their fossils really do preserve original material, which won’t be easy.”  Other paleontologists have been skeptical, because “Convincing evidence of original soft tissue older than the Ice Age was lacking.”  That’s because “DNA degrades much faster than proteins and other soft tissue components and nobody thinks it is possible to recover DNA that is older than about a million years.
    Hecht explained that, while soft tissue imprints are exceptional but not unknown, preservation of actual original material has been controversial.  Mary Schweitzer famously announced blood vessels, cells and other material in a T. rex femur in 2005 (03/24/2005), but “Schweitzer’s claim was met with scepticism, in part because of the immense age of the bone.”  She countered skeptics’ arguments that she had only found recent biofilms (07/30/2008) and then announced finding collagen, haemoglobin, elastin and laminin – strengthening her discovery of original material (04/30/2009).  Awaking from their dogmatic slumbers, more paleontologists have started on a soft tissue treasure hunt:
Others have begun to report similar findings, and not just from inside bones.  Manning and Wogelius have reported finding amino acids in the claw and skin of Dakota, the 66-million-year-old Edmontosaurus mummy (Proceedings of the Royal Society B, vol 276, p 3429).  Meanwhile, Orr’s former student Maria McNamara, now splitting her time between Dublin and Yale, claims to have found marrow inside the fossilised bones of 10 million-year old frogs and salamanders preserved in lake-bed deposits from Spain (Geology, vol 34, p 641).  Marrow is normally among the first tissues to decay, but she found organic residues preserved in three dimensions that retained the original colour and texture of the marrow.
    “The fidelity of preservation on a morphological level is remarkable, though it’s very unlikely that the biochemistry would be completely original,” says [Patrick] Orr [University College Dublin].  Preservation of very decay-prone soft tissues is probably more common than we realise, he adds.
So what of the latest test at Stanford?  Manning and Wogelius had been successful finding original pigment in an Archaeopteryx specimen in 2009 (05/10/2010), Hecht recalled; “Nobody had expected soft-tissue chemistry to be preserved in such places” as feathers.  Quoting Wogelius, “It’s amazing that that chemistry is preserved after 150 million years.”  Zinc and copper atoms were also detected with the synchrotron machine.  Others have found “more surprises,” like melanosomes still intact in a bird feather said to be 108 million years old using a scanning electron microscope; ditto by another team in China.
The new techniques have not yet answered any big questions about dinosaurs: researchers like Schweitzer and Manning have devoted much of their effort to persuading sceptics that their results are real.  Eventually they think they will win over the doubters and revolutionise palaeontology, but in the meantime they have the satisfaction that drives on amateur and professional fossil hunters alike.  “It’s quite amazing to discover something that has never been seen before,” says Wogelius.
Unfortunately, Hecht left us hanging on whether Manning’s team found something at Stanford in their latest test.  It sounds, though, like more announcements of original tissue preservation in fossils will be forthcoming, now that the credibility gap has been bridged.  “The claims are controversial, but if true they promise to breathe new life into our understanding of ancient life,” Hecht said.
You can read Hecht’s article and think, if you are intellectually lazy, “Isn’t this nice; science marches on.”  But it means that science was marching in the wrong direction for a long, long time.  The facts are making evolutionary paleontologists and geologists turn about face, with red faces: they didn’t expect to find soft tissue; they weren’t looking for soft tissue; and they couldn’t believe it when it was shown to them.  Schweitzer and Manning are having to act like drill sergeants, barking to the troops that they have been marching in lock step in the wrong direction.
    There is only one group that is not surprised by these findings: the young-earth creationists.  Yes, those despised, hated, expelled Henry Morris followers, relegated to the dregs of society by academia (both secular and theistic evolutionist camps), even shunned by many in the Intelligent Design community, are not at all surprised.  Like their foes, they also cannot believe that DNA and protein can last for 80 to 150 million years – because they believe those long ages are a fiction.  Now that the sleepers on EST (Evolution Standard Time) have been jolted awake, should we trust their alarm clocks?  Should we grant them credibility now, when they say, “Well, I’ll be darned!  DNA can survive for 150 million years!”?  Many of them are sidestepping the fact that soft tissue preservation wreaks havoc on evolutionary age assumptions (cf. 06/03/2005).
    While these findings do not vindicate the young earth creationists beyond all doubt – there are still many questions and tests to be made – it sure looks like they have the ball, and the momentum is with them.  So don’t let the evolutionists put Greek happy-masks over their red faces and spin this story with cheerful talk that such finds are going to “breathe new life into our understanding of ancient life” (how much did they understand before?), or that this is going to “revolutionize paleontology” somehow, in some vague, unspecified way.  It ought to revolutionize it, all right: by dismantling the evolutionary timeline and re-opening some old, imprisoned questions about the history of the earth.  See also the 01/28/2011 entry for more reasons to doubt the presumed authority of the moyboys.*  Don’t let them grab the ball.  Don’t let them make predictions that only a young-earth creationist would make, like “We expect more soft tissue will be found in dinosaur bones,” and then, when it is found, declare victory.  The ball is headed toward the other goal line, and it will take impartial referees to call the fouls.
Next headline on:  DinosaursFossilsDating MethodsGeology
*moyboys, n. pl.: scientists who glibly speak of “millions of years, billions of years.”
Fishy Just-So Stories     01/29/2011    
Jan 29, 2011 — “How the Seahorse Might Have Got Its Shape” (italics added) is a backpedal on the Just-So Story formula (e.g., “How the Zebra Got Its Stripes,” Kipling).  Was the evolutionist hedging his bets this time?  PhysOrg continued the possibility thinking with its subtitle, “The shape of the seahorse has long baffled marine scientists, but new research suggests the seahorse’s unique shape may have evolved to allow it to catch its food when it was further away.”  May have, might have; that’s the power of suggestion.  The BBC News, however, threw caution to the waves and declared that the seahorse’s body shape has been “explained”.
    The storyteller is a Belgian scientist, Sam Van Wassenbergh (U of Antwerp).  He compared seahorses with their relatives, the pipefish, which lack the characteristic curvature that makes seahorses distinctive in their upright swimming position.  He found that the curvature helps the seahorse, a weak swimmer, increase its striking range to catch prey.  A video clip explains the theory, followed by this paragraph at the end of the PhysOrg article:
Dr Van Wassenbergh said the foraging behavior would have come first and then natural selection would favor those fish that had a larger strike distance.  According to their research this created a selective pressure for the angle between head and trunk to increase.
The video clip was less bashful about the Just-So Story, ending, “...and that’s how the seahorse got its shape.”
    What Wassenbergh didn’t explain, though, was why pipefish didn’t follow suit, if this is such a good strategy for natural selection to work on.  In fact, the pipefish and seahorses seem to live in the same environments and do equally well at feeding and surviving.  It would seem an equally good story could be told about “How the Pipefish Got its Shape” – how selection pressure straightened out the weak-swimming, ungainly seahorse so that it could approach its prey with more speed.  Perhaps a more scientific title, then would be, “Why the Seahorse Has Its Shape,” not how it got its shape.  Then it becomes a story about biophysics, not evolution.
    A slightly stranger story on PhysOrg proposed that angelfish can do math.  When joining a group, or shoal, they appear to always prefer a shoal size with a ratio of 1.8 over another.  The article hedged its bets on what this might mean about angelfish brains and abilities, and even whether the observations hold true under other circumstances.  This second article did not mention evolution.
What’s the matter with the angelfish researchers?  They didn’t do their job.  They didn’t tell a story about how evolution accounted for the angelfish’s mathematical mind.
    The first one did it right.  Natural selection made pipefish straight, and it made seahorses curved.  This is known as scientific explanation.  Opposite outcomes occur from the same law of nature, the law of natural selection (12/19/2007).  These opposite outcomes can be subsumed under the Stuff Happens Law, which explains everything (see 09/15/2008 commentary for why this law is scientific).
    To exercise scientific restraint, you can say Stuff Might Happen; then when it does, you are acclaimed as The Scientist – a Priest of sorts, mediating between the mysterious workings of the cosmos and the peasants, providing them the comfort and assurance that comes with understanding.  Assume the lotus position and recite the mantra Stuffffff Happpppennnnnzzzzz till a state of nothingness descends upon you.  You have arrived at Niwrada (01/26/2010 commentary).
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
  “Darwin Acid Eats Literature” – what?  What does that mean?  Find out in the alarming 01/27/2006 entry – and be sure to read the commentary last.

Darwinists Alarmed at Teachers’ Caution Over Evolution     01/29/2011    
Jan 29, 2011 — “Creationism” refuses to die in American high schools.  Two researchers at the University of Pennsylvania sounded the alarm in Science,1 with suggestions for what to do about it.  The only suggestion off the table was to have debates about the evidence; no, that was completely out of the question: the report was focused on “Defeating Creationism.”
    Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer, professors of political science at U Penn, surveyed a “national representative probability sample” of 926 high school biology teachers about their teaching of evolution.  Only about 28% of the respondents consistently teach evolution “unabashedly”.  The rest are either bashful or unabashedly “creationist” when teaching the subject of origins, the survey found.2  13% of the teachers “explicitly advocate creationism or intelligent design by spending at least 1 hour of class time presenting it in a positive light (an additional 5% of teachers report that they endorse creationism in passing or when answering student questions).”  This sounds like a very small amount of time to worry about in a semester-long course, but Berkman and Plutzer’s alarm was palpable: “The boldness and confidence of this minority should not be underestimated.
    Of greater concern, however, “the cautious 60%” who sit on the fence to avoid controversy.  Some of them avoid the topic, or just teach to the test, or teach various views to let the students make up their own minds.  Few of the fence-sitters are advocates of young-earth creationism, which Berkman and Plutzer said “would prevent them from becoming strong advocates for evolutionary biology.”  The authors worry that many students, who will take biology as their only science course, will fail to hear from these cautious teachers the “evidence that evolution has occurred,” and that instruction in evolution will be “absent, cursory, or fraught with misinformation” in American high schools.  They worry about a “cycle of ignorance” in many communities, especially the “socially conservative” communities, where more of the “creationist” and “cautious” teachers tend to reside.  The cycle must be broken to prevent a “systematic undermining of science.
    As a result, they advocated three things: (1) Academic scientists need to get more involved in testifying at court cases.  While “Creationism has lost every major U.S. federal court case for the past 40 years, and state curricular standards have improved,” they claimed, “supporters of evolution, scientific methods, and reason itself are losing battles in America’s classrooms” unless scientists get involved.  The Dover decision, though representative of academia’s feelings that “intelligent design Intelligent design was not science ... but rather an effort to advance a religious view via public schools, a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause.”  Many evolutionists cheered that decision; “We suggest that the cheering was premature and the victory incomplete,” they said.  More Dover decisions are needed: “federal courts have been shown to limit effectively the ability of state and local governments to endorse nonscientific alternatives to evolution.
    Second, they encouraged academic scientists to get more involved in constructing state science standards, although “further improvements in state standards may be difficult,” they asserted, “because public opinion has been remarkably immune to outreach and public science efforts over the past three decades.”  Third, they felt one of the most promising solutions was to get pre-service teachers to take an evolution course.  Not many teaching colleges provide instruction in evolution, they claimed.  Their survey found stronger support for evolution among teachers who had taken a course in it.  As a two-pronged approach, they encouraged courses in evolution for pre-service biology teachers, and outreach efforts like “webinars, guest speakers, and refresher courses” for both the upcoming teacher class and their instructors.  “Better understanding of the field should provide them with more confidence to teach evolution forthrightly, even in communities where public opinion is sympathetic to creationism.”  As a side benefit, this approach may also have the indirect effect of encouraging students who cannot accept evolution as a matter of faith to pursue other careers.”  In a nutshell,

Effective programs directed at preservice teachers can therefore both reduce the number of evolution deniers in the nation’s classrooms, increase the number who would gladly accept help in teaching evolution, and increase the number of cautious teachers who are nevertheless willing to embrace rigorous standards.  This would reduce the supply of teachers who are especially attractive to the most conservative school districts, weakening the cycle of ignorance.
PhysOrg and Science Daily, the stereo speakers of academic press releases, both summarized U Penn press release without any critique.  They saluted the party line: “Colleges and universities should mandate a dedicated undergraduate course in evolution for all prospective biology teachers, for example, and follow up with outreach refresher courses, so that more biology teachers embrace evolutionary biology.”  Jennifer Welsh at Live Science also echoed the authors’ concerns, but added the opinions of Randy Moore [U of Minnesota], who doubts that simply providing refresher courses in evolution would change things.  “If someone wants to learn about evolution, it’s not hard to.  It’s hardly a science education problem,” Moore countered.  “Scientists think if teachers just take a class they will accept it, but many simply reject it.
1.  Michael B. Berkman and Eric Plutzer, “Defeating Creationism in the Courtroom, But Not in the Classroom,” Science, 28 January 2011: Vol. 331 no. 6016 pp. 404-405, DOI: 10.1126/science.1198902.
2.  Note: the survey article conflates creationism with intelligent design with the conglomerate term “intelligent design creationism”; see IntelligentDesign.org for comparison and contrast of the two views.
Pardon, boys, your elitism is showing....
    This paper reads like directive from a 1930s Supreme Soviet Minister of Education to the KGB, giving them orders for ensuring the populace are getting properly indoctrinated and are being shielded from counterrevolutionary propaganda.  To understand why, read the 01/26/2011 entry again.  Everyone knows that communist ideology in Stalin’s Russia was a house of cards, a self-perpetuating code of self-reinforcing dogmas that nobody believed.  The rulers and teachers interpreted everything in terms of the class struggle, social Darwinism, bourgeoisie and proletariat, the inevitable worldwide communist utopia, etc. whether it matched reality or not.  The official doctrines claimed to be based on science and reason (as opposed to superstition and ignorance), but by the time of the Great Terror, only the ignorant believed the Party line any more, and those profiting from the regime spoke the ideological lingo like code to maintain their power.  It would be a fun project (and not that hard to do) for a trained Baloney Detector to cast the Berkman and Plutzer article in 1930s communist jargon.  Comrade Dogmakov to Igor Rigorovich: “Your orders are to seek out and destroy the remaining nests of counterrevolutionary insurgencies, do you understand?”
    Let them worry.  They are an imploding regime of self-contradiction.  They have denounced superstition by creating another – Evolution by Mistake (aka Stuff Happens) – and they don’t want any competition against their idols, Tinker Bell and the Bearded Buddha.  Like communists, they originally moaned sheepishly in the Victorian age about the need to allow alternatives to the design argument of Paley.  Like communists, they worked surreptitiously via the X-Club, grabbing control of journals and publishers, arranging the burial of the Bearded Buddha in Westminster Abbey for its propaganda value, creating an appearance of progress and a new day of enlightenment, infiltrating the schools and churches.  And like the communists, once they had power, they turned it into a dictatorship.  They seized control of the scientific institutions, the media, the courts, the law.  Here in America, a constitutional republic, they gnash their teeth at government of the people, by the people, and for the people, as exemplified by community school boards who hold hearings with citizens rather than carry out the orders of the Darwin Party elites.  Does anyone really believe that Berkman and Plutzer wouldn’t crave the opportunity to outlaw creationism and lock up any “Darwin deniers” in jail if they could?  This article was nothing about evidence, debate, and seeking the truth.  It was all about strategizing to “defeat” their ideological enemies.  Do the DODO dogma! (Darwin only, Darwin only) is their battle cry.
    A vast majority of Americans feel it only fair that if the evidence for evolution is taught, the evidence opposing it should also be taught.  “But does a 15-year-old student really have enough information to reject thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers?” Berkman and Plutzer cried (see exaggeration, glittering generalities and big lie in the Baloney Detector; those “thousands of papers” are about microevolution; they never establish that bacteria become philosophers by an unguided, purposeless process).  They say, we can’t teach the controversy to weak skulls full of mush.  “This approach tells students that well-established concepts like common ancestry can be debated in the same way we debate personal opinions.”  My goodness; of course not.  Everybody knows that Stuff Happens.  It’s intuitively obvious.  It’s not personal opinion; random mutation (stuff happens) and natural selection (stuff happens) is science.  You can’t have debates about science, and confuse impressionable teenagers with convincing design arguments.  It might inspire them to invent things or look at biology with the eyes of design engineers (12/10/2010).  Hydrogen forbid.
    The Darwin Party thrives on power, and maintains its power through indoctrination.  They have already lost, for by acting that way, they have denied their founder’s principles.  He said of his own theory, “A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question” (Introduction, Origin of Species).  Darwin believed in teaching the controversy.  By acting in opposition to official Party policy, his disciples are guilty of counterrevolutionary propaganda.  We hereby put Berkman and Plutzer under citizen’s arrest (09/30/2007 commentary) and sentence them to the goo-logos (01/16/2011).
Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionIntelligent DesignPolitics and EthicsEducation
Rescuing Theories from the Evidence     01/28/2011    
Jan 28, 2011 — If you believed what scientists were saying 5, 10, or 20 years ago about the march of evolution through time, be prepared to reset your clocks or think outside the box.  Things didn’t happen that way, some recent stories claim.  Documentaries based on the old stories may need to be scrapped.  But since we trusted the leading scientists then, can we believe what they are telling us now?  This set proceeds from molecules to man, looking at evolutionary theories in four different branches of science:
  1. Cosmology: Imaging cosmic ghostsScience Daily reported the “Most Distant Galaxy Candidate Yet Seen: Hubble Sees Farther Back in Time Than Ever Before.”  The new (temporary) record-holder is said to be 13.2 billion light-years away, 150 light-years beyond the previous record-holder.  According to the standard cosmological timeline, it was shining only 450 million years after the big bang.  A co-author of the paper in Nature announcing the find said, “We are thrilled to have discovered this galaxy, but we’re equally surprised to have found only one.”  What does that mean?  “This tells us that the universe was changing very rapidly in early times.”  But if they did not predict the surprising finding, is it legitimate to alter the theory to keep it from being falsified?  The astronomer remarked, “This is an astonishing increase in such a short period, happening in just 1% of the age of the universe.”
        This galaxy has a redshift of z=10, but redshifts of 15 or higher are theoretically possible.  In regions beyond this galaxy, theory predicts earlier stars were made of pure hydrogen – so-called Population III stars – before heavy elements had been cooked inside the first generation stars, because only hydrogen and helium atoms emerged from the particle soup of the big bang.  (Population III stars have never been observed.)  “Will we ever glimpse the universe’s first stars?New Scientist asked.  A probing question; certainly; the answer is that even with the next-generation James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) the first stars may be undetectable: “The earliest galaxies may be too distant and dim to see with JWST.”  Since science is supposed to be founded on evidence, a follow-up question might be: then how do we know the theoretical entities ever existed?  For all we know, the oldest observable stars are the oldest stars.
        Dating stars and galaxies assumes we understand time and clocks.  Space.com rattled reader’s imaginations with the headline, “For Fully Mature Black Holes, Time Stands Still.”  How old, then, is a black hole?  The answer may depend entirely on your observing platform.  Whatever the answer might be, physicists can’t even approach the question: “It is really beyond the physics we know,” Juan Antonio Valiente Kroon [mathematician at Queen Mary, University of London] admitted.  “To understand what happens inside a black hole, we need to invent new physics.”  But if man invents physics, how does he know when he has the ultimate physics?  Newton thought he had it; Einstein thought he had it....
  2. Planetary Science: What to do with the body that won’t die:  “Geophysicists expected this little world to be a lump of ice, cold, dead, and uninteresting,” said Dennis Matson of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and former project scientist of the Cassini mission.  “Boy, were we surprised!”  He added, later, “This discovery resets our clocks!” in a press release on PhysOrg.  Nevertheless, the astronomers are convinced that this little moon is 4.5 billion years old.  Could it really have been active that long?
        There are several ways to rescue this theory in crisis.  One is to play with models.  The Cassini scientists did find salt in the plume particles.  A new model suggests the existence of a fizzy ocean under the icy crust: “The model he and his colleagues propose suggests that gasses dissolved in water deep below the surface form bubbles,” the article explained, contradicting conclusions by Nimmo and Roberts in 2008 (03/25/2008).  Another technique is analogy: “Since the density of the resulting ‘sparkling water’ is less than that of the ice, the liquid ascends quickly up through the ice to the surface.”  Who wouldn’t be tempted by visions of sparkling soda to be attracted to such a model?
        We still, however, haven’t heard how Enceladus could be serving sparkling soda for 4.5 billion years.  Larry Esposito recognized this: “Where’s the heat coming from on this tiny body?” he wondered.  So the next strategy is to make contributions: “We think tidal heating could be contributing.”  Unfortunately, the contribution does not appear to be anywhere near sufficient to pay the heating bill (see 08/04/2007, 03/13/2007).
        When all else fails, there’s distraction: “It’s clear now that, whatever is producing the heat, Enceladus meets many requirements for life,” Esposito continued (cf. 03/26/2008).  “Whatever” has turned the reader’s attention toward something more sexy.  The brief excursion into astrobiology was followed by the admission, “No one knows for sure what’s going on under the ice, but it seems this little moon has quite a story to tell: erupting jets, an underground ocean, the possibility for life.
        A final point of agreement: “And they thought this place was dull.”  True; watching a theory in crisis being rescued is anything but dull.
  3. Paleontology: Twiddling dinosaur extinction:  “University of Alberta researchers determined that a fossilized dinosaur bone found in New Mexico confounds the long established paradigm that the age of dinosaurs ended between 65.5 and 66 million years ago.”  Sounds like trouble.  What happened?  According to Science Daily, a hadrosaur bone was dated at 64.8 million years old.  That seems old, but not old enough.  “That means this particular plant eater was alive about 700,000 years after the mass extinction event many paleontologists believe wiped all non-avian dinosaurs off the face of earth, forever.”  (Avian dinosaurs are, in current taxonomic parlance, the birds.)
        The good news was that uranium-lead dating appeared to confirm the general time period for the strata in which the femur was embedded.  The bad news was this problem of dinosaurs surviving a wipeout.  Believers in the dinosaur dating story may have not been aware of these problems stated in the article:
    Currently, paleontologists date dinosaur fossils using a technique called relative chronology.  Where possible, a fossil’s age is estimated relative to the known depositional age of a layer of sediment in which it was found or constrained by the known depositional ages of layers above and below the fossil-bearing horizon.  However, obtaining accurate depositional ages for sedimentary rocks is very difficult and as a consequence the depositional age of most fossil horizons is poorly constrained.
    That paragraph went on to say that fossils can drift from their original positions in the sediments and give false impressions of their age (called reworking).  The U of Alberta researchers feel that their direct radiometric dating increased confidence in the timeline: “The researchers say their direct-dating method precludes the reworking process.”
        Whether accurate or not, the date raises this problem of dinosaurs surviving a global extinction event at the K-T boundary (Cretaceous-Tertiary), whatever caused it.  “It’s commonly believed debris from a giant meteorite impact blocked out the Sun, causing extreme climate conditions and killing vegetation worldwide.”  Enough vegetation must have survived, though, to keep mammals, birds, worms, butterflies, and many more delicate creatures carrying on as if nothing happened.
        The press release offered a theory-rescuing device: “it’s possible that in some areas the vegetation wasn’t wiped out and a number of the hadrosaur species survived.”  But if so, wouldn’t they have survived to the present, along with all the mammals and butterflies?  Does another ad hoc rescue device, a second extinction just for these hadrosaurs, have to be added?  Don’t reset the clock just yet.  The article ended, “Heaman and his colleagues believe if their new uranium-lead dating technique bears out on more fossil samples then the KT extinction paradigm and the end of the dinosaurs will have to be revised.”  Bottom line: stay tuned for the next paradigm shift.
  4. Paleoanthropology: Out of “Out of Africa”:  Read this MSNBC report on another paradigm shift: the story of early man’s alleged migration “Out of Africa” has been shaken up – again (12/29/2010, 10/28/2010, 06/03/2009 bullet 3, 11/24/2006, 09/01/2006, 01/24/2006).  Stone tools found in Arabia are said to be up to twice as old (100,000 to 125,000 years) as earlier claims about when humans were thought to have moved north out of their African Eden (60,000 years ago; 10/28/2010).
        But several other curiosities are evident in the article: (a) the people (hominids? Neanderthals? modern humans?) who migrated would have had to build boats to cross the 0.5 to 2.5 mile channel at the south end of the Red Sea.  (b) The tools look “primitive,” in conflict with the technological needs of boat-building.  (b) Arabia was not what we know today: “Because of the different climate at the time, Arabia was moister and would have been a grassland with plenty of animals for prey.”  Let’s hope stone tools did not lead to anthropogenic global warming.  (c) No evidence was claimed of human occupation in Arabia from such an ancient time to the present.  (d) Would not humans intelligent enough to build boats have left numerous artifacts, and migrated around the world, in a period representing well over 10 times recorded history, in which their offspring reached the moon?
        PhysOrg’s coverage claims that anatomically modern humans “had evolved in Africa about 200,000 years ago.”  If so, they sure stayed in one place for a long time.  Another theory-rescue device was evident in the PhysOrg article, claiming the migrants were simultaneously smart and stupid: “This toolkit includes relatively primitive hand-axes along with a variety of scrapers and perforators, and its contents imply that technological innovation was not necessary for early humans to migrate onto the Arabian Peninsula.”  But would not anatomically modern humans, or even Neanderthals, spurred on by wanderlust, have wandered to the ends of the earth long ago?  “Our findings should stimulate a re-evaluation of the means by which we modern humans became a global species.”  Have legs; will travel; have ships, will sail.
        The upsetting find hinges on the validity of the optically stimulated fluorescence dating method used on the artifacts.  While the paleontologists are struggling to keep this discovery within the old paradigm – e.g., to decide if Neanderthals or modern humans made the tools, and what route they might have taken – it might be appropriate to ask how many theory-rescue devices are permitted before a scientific revolution is in order.  Meantime, someone should tell the team that Cretans appear to have been sailing much earlier (01/06/2011), maybe 700,000 years ago.  How did they get there out of Africa?
According to Thomas Kuhn’s theory of scientific revolutions, paradigms permit the “guild” of scientists to work in harmony on common questions, using shared assumptions.  Anomalies accumulate until the paradigm can no longer accommodate the growing weight of anomalies.  Brave new scientists, usually of the younger generation, propose a new paradigm.  A scientific revolution occurs, and the new paradigm becomes the new comfort zone.  It is very difficult for guild scientists to see themselves within a paradigm.  To them, the paradigm is intuitively obvious.  It takes courage to ask new questions and think outside the box.  Sometimes it risks ridicule and ostracism.
    We know of cases where the maverick eventually won against the consensus: e.g., J Harlan Bretz (04/30/2009, 07/25/2008), and Benoit Mandelbrot (11/12/2010).  Those cases might support the opinion that science is ultimately progressive and self-correcting, given enough time.  What we don’t know are the cases when the mavericks died in vain, asking questions that nobody else asked, seeking alternative explanations that might have proved fruitful had anyone listened.  For those sad cases, a whole civilization could persist down a wrong path till it collapses, never having asked the right questions.  Such a fate cannot be ruled out by the scientific method.  It’s not a question of science.  It’s a question of philosophy about science.
This is an important entry on philosophy of science illustrated with recent, real-world examples.  The scientists involved are not being intentionally deceptive or lazy in their thinking.  Most scientists are hard working, highly intelligent, and personable.  There are just some things nobody could ever know.  There’s also a big difference between scientific discovery and scientific explanation.  With the scientists’ skill at observation, and with expensive equipment they helped design, they discovered the geysers of Enceladus.  Explaining how Enceladus could be active for 4.5 billion years is an entirely separate matter.  How could one know how old they are, or how long they’ve been erupting, without having watched them throughout their history?  Same for discovering a dinosaur bone in New Mexico, a human femur in Arabia, or a faint galaxy.  The “surprise factor” in the discovery should tell us something about the validity of the explanation given.
    In their defense, it could be said that these scientists are doing the best they can with limited information, albeit with the advantage of expensive tools, specialized training, and a vast corpus of accumulated data.  It’s only human to speculate beyond the data and try to understand it.  Remember, though, that scientists are granted a high level of credibility in our culture.  They can proclaim things to the media that are rarely criticized or questioned.  Moreover, they hang out with their own, in somewhat insular environments, where criticisms from their peers are usually limited to questions within the paradigm, not outside of it.  They are not immune from social pressure to stay within their thought collectives; it could mean the difference between publishing and perishing.
    Many science reporters have inherited a sense of awe for the opinions of the scientific priesthood (those with presumptive authority to mediate between Nature and the people).  They see their job not as critics, but as translators, taking the abstruse mutterings of the journals and delivering them in easily digested form to the masses.  Science reporters tend to be scientific realists, trained in the triumphalist tradition of science as a march of progress toward understanding reality.  But while discoveries may be cumulative, explanations are not necessarily so.  It appears many reporters are oblivious to the hard questions philosophers of science would pose.
    Pay attention to the questions embedded in the text.  They are questions the snooze media never ask.  They can’t ask them, because they’re asleep.  As we all know from experience, dreams can seem very realistic.
    Maybe we are all dreaming.  That’s an extreme view a solipsist might propose.  How would you know the one shaking you, shouting at you to wake up, is not part of the dream?  How do we know our senses give a true picture of the world?  After all, the world would seem very different to a deep-sea fish living in the dark punctuated by bioluminescent glows.  Such a fish, if it had a mind, might not even be cognizant of the watery medium in which lives, and define darkness as light.  Consider that we’ve only known of the vast field of electromagnetic radiation outside visible light for a tiny fraction of human history.  What else are we missing? (Consider Young’s Law, right sidebar.)
    One cannot escape faith.  It takes faith to believe that our perceptions correspond to reality.  Assumptions are assumed; axioms are axiomatic; but without them, one cannot reason.  Only the Biblical world view provides the grounds for the faith that makes reason reasonable.  All scientists depend on that world view, intentionally or not.  Why?  One cannot evolve truth and reality from a materialistic world view made up of particles and forces without begging the question whether truth is true and reality is really real.  The laws of logic are concepts, not particles; to use them, one must assume that they are universal, timeless, and certain.  And one must believe that communication in the conceptual realm, to be intelligible, must derive from a communicating Mind that is universal, timeless, and certain.  One must, in short, be a theist.  A corollary is that atheists are de facto theists in spite of themselves.
    Start with the Biblical world view – creation by a purposeful, designing intelligence – and the legitimacy (if not the reliability) of the quest for scientific knowledge logically follows.  Only then can one hope to ask the right questions.
Next headline on:  CosmologyStars and AstronomySolar SystemDinosaursFossilsEarly ManDating MethodsPhilosophy of ScienceMedia
Hikers Stay Healthy, Happy, Sharp-minded     01/27/2011    
Jan 27, 2011 — A study at the University of Toronto reinforces the growing body of evidence that being active outdoors is good for you.  PhysOrg printed an interview with Guy Faulkner, in the Physical Education faculty at U of Toronto, who shared that exercise not only provides physical benefits; it beats depression and appears to slow the onset of dementia in the later years.
    Even 10-minute walking breaks can have a noticeable effect on mood.  All it takes to benefit from exercise is self-monitoring, action planning, and overcoming barriers.  “As researchers, we’ve looked at how physical activity adds years to life,” Faulkner said, “but the flip side of this is that physical activity also adds life to years.”
Suggested previous entries:
  • 06/06/2010 “Get a Life with Nature”
  • 01/27/2010 “Barefoot Is Better”
  • 10/23/2009 “Modern Men Are Wimps,”
  • 10/11/2009 “Conservationists Moan Lack of Hikers,”
  • 08/10/2009 “Don’t Just Sit There; Do Something,”
  • 02/20/2009 “Back to Nature; Back to Health”
    and other entries under the Health chain links.
    People in Biblical times walked a lot.  Look at the Holy Land and you see hills and valleys everywhere.  Getting anywhere required walking up and down; getting from Jericho to Jerusalem, for instance, was a 3,400 foot ascent in 15 miles – a hefty workout.  Soldiers, farmers, and travelers took all this walking in stride (pun intended) unless a horse did the work.  Jesus walked that trail many times.
        Our comfortable society, with powered transportation, has made exercise a choice that is too easily crowded out of our schedules.  See what the article prescribes about small ways you can get at least a little activity into your routine.  You don’t need a gym or expensive equipment.  One of the best means to physical and mental health is walking outdoors surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation:
  • Short walk from a city
  • Trail overlooking a metropolis
  • Desert hike
  • Wildflowers just minutes from home
  • A remote mountain glory land
    Next headline on:  Human BodyMindHealth
  •   Curious about the La Brea Tar Pits?  Read our 01/24/2005 for a look beyond the interpretive signs.

    Evolutionists Admit It’s About Mistakes     01/26/2011    
    Jan 26, 2011 — “Evolution by Mistake” is the headline of an article about evolution on Science Daily.  Can the protagonists get mistakes to create eyes, wings, and brains?
        The rest of the headline reads: “Major Driving Force Comes from How Organisms Cope With Errors at Cellular Level.”  Right off the bat, a tension seems set up between errors, which are directionless and purposeless, and how organisms cope with them, which at first glance seems a matter of design and purpose (as in a corporate security policy or anti-virus software).  But this is not an appeal to intelligent design.  “Charles Darwin based his groundbreaking theory of natural selection on the realization that genetic variation among organisms is the key to evolution,” the opening sentence declared.  The tip of the hat to Darwin means they intend to explain all of the wonders of the living world by descent with modification from bacteria to man.  Can they pull it off with “evolution by mistake”?
        Like Darwin, Joanna Masel and Etienne Rajon at University of Arizona (smiling at the whiteboard in a photo), recognize the exquisite adaptation of organisms to their environment.  “But exactly how nature creates variation in the first place still poses somewhat of a puzzle to evolutionary biologists,” the article admitted.  That may appear strange to readers who thought Darwin or the neo-Darwinists had that issue wrapped up long ago.
        Masel and Rajon “discovered the ways organisms deal with mistakes that occur while the genetic code in their cells is being interpreted greatly influences their ability to adapt to new environmental conditions – in other words, their ability to evolve.”  They are implying that ability to evolve will lead to innovation (wings, eyes, brains), because later, the phrase “how nature creates innovation” appears.  Can they get from errors to innovation?  If so, they need to do it without personifying evolution, so readers had best forgive this line that mixes up personified evolution with intelligent design:

    Evolution needs a playground in order to try things out,” Masel said  “It’s like in competitive business: New products and ideas have to be tested to see whether they can live up to the challenge.”
    Overlooking that slip, they delved into the details of their idea:
    In nature, it turns out, many new traits that, for example, enable their bearers to conquer new habitats, start out as blunders: mistakes made by cells that result in altered proteins with changed properties or functions that are new altogether, even when there is nothing wrong with the gene itself.  Sometime later, one of these mistakes can get into the gene and become more permanent.
    Keep your eyes on the ball.  The reader wants to see innovation, like an eye, or a wing, or a brain, where it didn’t exist before.  So far we have blunders that alter proteins.  The gene was fine, but something happened downstream.  “Sometime later, one of these mistakes can get back into the gene,” they claimed.  Any evidence?  None in the article.
        They next distinguished between global and local solutions.  The global solution, they said, is “to avoid making errors in the first place, for example by having a proofreading mechanism to spot and fix errors as they arise.”  Something “watches over the entire process,” they said, begging the question again of how an entire process that watches for errors and fixes them could itself be a product of mistakes.  Regardless, global solutions are about preserving integrity of the genome, not innovating wings, eyes, and brains.  Innovation will have to be local:
    The alternative is to allow errors to happen, but evolve robustness to the effects of each of them.  Masel and Rajon call this strategy a local solution, because in the absence of a global proofreading mechanism, it requires an organism to be resilient to each and every mistake that pops up.
        “We discovered that extremely small populations will evolve global solutions, while very large populations will evolve local solutions,” Masel said.  “Most realistically sized populations can go either direction but will gravitate toward one or the other.  But once they do, they rarely switch, even over the course of evolutionary time.”
    This paragraph is full of strategy – another ostensibly purposeful concept.  If an organism has a strategy to allow some errors to creep in, but then “evolve robustness” to their effects, did that strategy itself evolve by mistake?  They didn’t say.
        Next, they introduced a contrast between “regular variation, which is generally bad most of the time, since the odds of a genetic mutation leading to something useful or even better are pretty slim,” (see online book for calculation), “and what they call cryptic variation, which is less likely to be deadly, and more likely to be mostly harmless.”  Even so, a poison pill and a placebo are not likely to produce wings, eyes, and brains.  If you have an antidote to the poison pill, or a process to avoid swallowing it in the first place, it won’t kill you, but the placebo (cryptic variation), even if it is “mostly harmless,” contains no power to innovate.  You are not likely to get a third eye from it. 
    So how does cryptic variation work and why is it so important for understanding evolution?
        By allowing for a certain amount of mistakes to occur instead of quenching them with global proofreading machinery, organisms gain the advantage of allowing for what Masel calls pre-selection: It provides an opportunity for natural selection to act on sequences even before mutations occur.
    The critical reader of this paragraph is going to want to know not just whether their theory can produce innovation from mistakes, but how their theory itself arose from mistakes.  In other words, they talked about cryptic variation working, about importance, about understanding, about strategies of allowing some mistakes but not others – who or what decides?  They swept right past the question of how “global proofreading machinery” could ever arise from mistakes, to the grand fallacy (see Weinberg’s Corollary) of pre-selection as “an opportunity for natural selection to act”.  Is natural selection a person?  Does it have a plan?  How would natural selection have any precognition of the need for an eye, a wing, or a brain?
        A mistake that leads to a misfolded protein, they admitted, could be “very toxic to the organism.”  Creationists would agree that “In this case of a misfolded protein, selection would favor mutations causing that genetic sequence to not be translated into protein or it would favor sequences in which there is a change so that even if that protein is made by accident, the altered sequence would be harmless.”  Purifying selection (eliminating mistakes) and compensating selection (tolerating mistakes) are not controversial: unless you avoid taking the poison pill, or have no antidote, you die without passing on your genes.  Having those protections still won’t give you a wing, an eye, or a brain.  But if you just had the opportunity to get them, wouldn’t you want them?
    Pre-selection puts that cryptic variation in a state of readiness,” Masel said.  “One could think of local solutions as natural selection going on behind the scenes, weeding out variations that are going to be catastrophic, and enriching others that are only slightly bad or even harmless.
        “Whatever is left after this process of pre-selection has to be better,” she pointed out.  “Therefore, populations relying on this strategy have a greater capability to evolve in response to new challenges.  With too much proofreading, that pre-selection can’t happen.
    Masel’s wording recalls Darwin’s personified depiction of his theory: “Natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, the slightest variations; rejecting those that are bad, preserving and adding up all that are good; silently and insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life.”  But even Darwin might have balked at the idea of pre-selection, that natural selection would keep harmless variations in a junkyard for scrutinizing later.  Masel argued that “the organism doesn’t pay a large cost for it, but it’s still there if it needs it.
        How big a junkyard can an organism afford to keep around?  Masel and Rajon recognized the cost of error correction:
    Avoiding or fixing errors comes at a cost, they pointed out.  If it didn’t, organisms would have evolved nearly error-free accuracy in translating genetic information into proteins.  Instead, there is a trade-off between the cost of keeping proteins free of errors and the risk of allowing potentially deleterious mistakes.
    The accuracy of error correction is indeed surprisingly high, but there is also a cost of hanging onto useless junk.  All the junk has to be copied every time a cell divides, and transported in a dynamic environment where the need to eat, eliminate, defend and adapt are ever present.  It may be that some organisms carrying around huge genomes are at a disadvantage and are headed for extinction.  Maybe they still need time to sift through their junk for parts of eyes, wings, and brains.
        The authors ended on a biomimetic theme.  Engineers, too, may want to imitate the practice of evolution by mistake:
    “We find that biology has a clever solution.  It lets lots of ideas flourish, but only in a cryptic form and even while it’s cryptic, it weeds out the worst ideas.  This is an extremely powerful and successful strategy.  I think companies, governments, economics in general can learn a lot on how to foster innovation from understanding how biological innovation works.
    Most entrepreneurs, while admitting the value of brainstorming, trial and error, and even “evolutionary algorithms” (10/04/2005, 04/18/2009) will recognize that what they do has purpose and intent.  The same cannot be said of mistakes in yeast cells that Masel and Rajon studied.

    Paper View
    It might be said in the authors’ defense that the popular press had to oversimplify and personify their ideas for the lay public; the original paper in PNAS is where the goods are.1  A look at the abstract, though, shows a strong requirement: “The local solution requires powerful selection acting on every cryptic site and so evolves only in large populations.”  Yet the local solution is the only one pregnant with innovating potential, because “Strongly deleterious effects can be avoided globally by avoiding making errors (e.g., via proofreading machinery) or locally by ensuring that each error has a relatively benign effect.”  If large populations with mistakes of “relatively benign effect” is the best one can hope for, will wings, eyes, and brains follow?
        In the body of the paper, the words innovate or innovation are nowhere to be found.  The stem improve is only found in reference to “improved proofreading machinery,” which they assume already existed.  There are equations about fitness, but with apparently no linkage to innovation: “components of fitness associated, respectively, with the expression of cryptic sequences, with deleterious sequences becoming permanently expressed through new mutations and with the cost of proofreading during protein synthesis.”  But cryptic sequences, remember, are only variations that do not kill the organism.  They are mistakes that are tolerated and kept in store.  Other mentions of fitness concern deleterious mutations, loss of function, and null fitness, except where additive fitness is offered hopefully: “Fitness in the additive scenario depends on the total concentration of all deleterious products within the cell and on their toxicity.”  It sounds more like a bomb shelter than a lab for innovation.  The authors use fitness primarily as a measure of mutations that assimilate in a population without getting edited out.  The last paragraph sums it up:

    Our core result is that a solution acting at many sites at once evolves in small populations, and local solutions at each independent site evolve in large populations, whereas either outcome is possible in populations of intermediate size.  Local solutions, associated with large populations, have both higher mean fitness and greater evolvability.
    Again, though, the authors never linked “higher mean fitness” with anything better than assimilation of harmless mutations.  In fact, what they present as a “positive feedback loop” is merely a loophole for mutations to escape the scrutiny of the editing machines: “This positive feedback loop between accuracy and the proportion of cryptic sequences that are strongly deleterious would ultimately lead to the evolution of an infinitely small error rate if avoiding errors did not come at a cost, resulting in a trade-off between the cost of expressing deleterious sequences and the cost of accuracy.”  Tolerance for harmless mutations was never linked to the innovation of wings, eyes, or brains, or anything even simply adding a new function to a cell – no matter how small – except for one vague reference in a table to “subfunctionalization” (split of functions between copies)2 or “neofunctionalization” (no examples provided; cf. 10/24/2003).
        Apparently, then, all the authors hope for is the opportunity for evolution to work its magic (see 01/23/2011): “The local solution facilitates the genetic assimilation of cryptic genetic variation and therefore substantially increases evolvability” – i.e., the opportunity to innovate.  But they cannot assume that evolvability entails the ability to innovate new organs of extreme perfection without begging the very question Darwin’s original idea proposed 150 years ago.3  They lead the reader to hope that evolution may “tinker” with the assimilated junk: “cryptic sequences that are not strongly deleterious may tinker with rather than destroy function and so contribute to adaptation.”
    1.  Etienne Rajon and Joanna Masel, “Evolution of molecular error rates and the consequences for evolvability,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print January 3, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1012918108 PNAS January 3, 2011.
    2.  On subfunctionalization, see 06/20/2005, 07/26/2006, 10/17/2007, and 01/03/2011.  Note that the word neofunctionalization begs the question whether natural selection is capable of producing new function. 3.  For previous attempts to explain “evolvability,” see 08/04/2004, 10/04/2005, 10/16/2006 bullet 3, 02/05/2007, 10/17/2007 bullet 4, 03/20/2008 commentary, 02/18/2009, and 01/05/2010.
    It may seem like this long entry was like a cruel cat playing with its captive mouse, or the hangman letting the victim draw his own rope, but it was necessary to give them all the space they wanted before showing there is no escape.  They chose to bounce on the cat’s paws; they built their own gallows.  We wanted them to have the space to make their case and try to escape, but they should have known it was doomed from the start.  Can you get wings, eyes, and brains by mistake?  Intuitively, none of us could ever believe that.  Yet academia presents that weird idea as unquestionable scientific truth.
        OK, give it your best shot.  Here you had it – one of the most optimistic explications of evolutionary innovation you could ever find, by trained Darwin Party sophists, letting us all know why our intuitions are misguided.  And all they could do was tell us the old “If you build it, they will come” theory of evolution (03/29/2007, 10/31/2010, 11/29/2010 commentaries).  Merely give Tinker Bell the tools (08/30/2006, 11/29/2010), and wings, eyes, and brains are sure to follow.  Impressed by the song and dance?
        This series of remakes about evolvability is like American Idol with never a star.  It didn’t help change the judges’ decision when they tiptoed offstage with a little biomimetics flower toss.  Entrepreneurs, before taking their business advice, realize that this weird science show would probably never have been produced without your tax money from the National Institutes of Health.  The government always has your business interest in mind.
    Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
    Update: Maple-Copter Evolves by Design     01/25/2011    
    Jan 25, 2011 — The rotating helicopter resembling a maple seed, reported on 10/21/2009, has undergone numerous rounds of guided evolution (if that is not an oxymoron).  The clever inventors have been trying numerous successive variations on their design, reported PhysOrg.  The article includes two video clips showing the young engineers, Evan Ulrich, Darryll Pines, and Sean Humbert from the University of Maryland, testing their product.
        The article mentioned that their work has been published in a recent issue of Bioinspiration & Biomimetics.1  The project was inspired by watching samaras – winged seeds of maple trees and other species.  The abstract states, “Inspired by the flight modalities of the bio-inspired samaras, a robotic device has been created that mimics the autorotative capability of the samara, whilst providing the ability to hover, climb and translate.”  They envision the device being useful for surveillance, mapping, communications, or just a really cool toy.
    1.  Evan R Ulrich, Darryll J Pines and J Sean Humbert, “From falling to flying: the path to powered flight of a robotic samara nano air vehicle,” Bioinspiration & Biomimetics 5 045009; doi: 10.1088/1748-3182/5/4/045009.
    Isn’t this great?  Science can be fun – and inspiring, inspired by nature.  How different the attitude of these engineers than Sam Harris (01/24/2011).
        The evolution talk was just a joke.  “Guided evolution” is an oxymoron; this is intelligent-design science all the way through.  Are the authors of the paper evolutionists?  Does it matter?
        Turn kids onto biomimetics with their own maple-copter toy and a walk under the maple trees, and let science take off again.
    Next headline on:  PlantsBiomimeticsPhysicsIntelligent Design
    Amazing Mammals     01/25/2011    
    Jan 25, 2011 — As the Superbowl approaches, millions of spectators will enjoy the feats of our own sports heroes.  But what if animals put on games with their capabilities?  Human athletes would find it hard to compete.
    1. Swimming:  A polar bear performed a phenomenal feat of endurance swimming, reported the BBC News.  According to a zoologist who observed the animal, the bear “swam continuously for 232 hours” (almost 10 days) “and 687 km” (412 mi) “and through waters that were 2-6 degrees C” (36-43°F).
    2. Hunting:  “Dogs have such a phenomenal sense of smell,” an article on PhysOrg said, that they are increasingly being used by conservation biologists to locate information on other animals in the wild.  Even dogs rescued from shelters can be trained and given a valuable career.
    3. Shooting:  “It sounds like something a guided missile would do,” began a report on New Scientist.  Like marksmen with a high-tech scope, “Foxes seem to zero in on prey using Earth’s magnetic field.  They are the first animal thought to use the field to judge distance rather than just direction.”
    If humans had to compete with these animals, without benefit of external tools, it would be no contest.
    Those are just the most recent news articles in one group of animals, to say nothing of reptiles, amphibians, and birds.  Animals’ abilities to sense and utilize information in the environment and to cover vast distances by land, air and sea is a testament to the engineering design superiority of their Creator.  That’s why more and more scientists are keen on imitating animal engineering (12/10/2010).
    Next headline on:  MammalsHuman BodyAmazing Facts
      They used to say that vertebrates were not found in the Cambrian, but no more.  Seven years ago, 500 vertebrate fish were found in the early Cambrian (01/30/2003, “indicating that vertebrate evolution was well advanced” by that time, according to Nature.  Will the mythical Precambrian Rabbit be next?  Probably not, unless it was a deep-sea variety, because Cambrian strata contain marine fossils.  But could the fish be any less surprising to a Darwinian?

    Atheist Morality Theory Under Fire     01/24/2011    
    Jan 24, 2011 — Theists would naturally take issue with an atheist’s natural explanation for morals, but when evolutionists take issue in leading secular journals, it’s worth finding out why.  Both Science and Nature reviewed Sam Harris’s new book on the evolution of morality and had some concerns with his philosophy and logic.
        Both reviewers recognized David Hume’s contention from the 18th century that one cannot determine an ought from an is: i.e., observation of things that exist cannot specify what ought to be.  In Nature,1 Pascal Boyer [Washington University, St Louis] reviewed The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values by Sam Harris (Free Press, 2010), and began by citing Hume’s proverb, noting that Sam Harris disagrees with it.  Harris thinks a consensual morality can be derived from evolution.  “His thesis is compelling, but he underplays the extent to which our decisions are rooted in intuition, preferring to portray decision-making as a calculated maximization of our well-being,” Boyer, affirming natural selection, complained.  To him, Harris goes too far in claiming that morality is man’s attempt to rationalize instincts honed by natural selection.  Harris claims not only that you can get morality, but you can go further and infer what makes “the good life.”
        Without a deity, Harris must ground morality on particles in motion.  Boyer explains his position: “Harris’s brand of consequentialism – the ends justify the means, so what is good is what maximizes well-being – excludes transcendent sources.”  He justifies what is good on the quantifiable results.  This is pragmatism: the most good for the most people.  Well-being is the measure of morality.  Boyer worried, though, that many of our moral positions are not based on our sense of well-being: “an issue such as abortion is more difficult:”, he said: “our feelings are grounded in our intuition about whether a fetus is a person.”  While enjoying the work of a fellow atheistic evolutionist, Boyer did have problems with the book:

    A moral optimist, Harris suggests that people can be persuaded to abandon harmful behaviours, such as the stoning of adulterers.  Here, social scientists may feel that he rides roughshod over some solid findings of moral psychology.  Consequentialism is not the heuristic of most humans.  Experiments show that assessments of well-being are of less importance in moral decision-making than a gut feeling that actions are wrong or right.  For example, beyond its genetic risks, people maintain that sibling incest is wrong, even in cases where no children result.
        To be persuaded that some actions are immoral because they diminish well-being, people need to accept that welfare is the most relevant criterion of morality, which may require a special education.  This and many other difficulties stand in the way of Harris’s moral reforms, but they are all reasons to read his lucid, deep and uncompromising essay.
    It sounds like Boyer said that people would have to be educated out of their gut feelings of what is moral to accept Harris’s thesis – but what (or Who) put those gut feelings there, if not evolution?
        Michael Goldman [San Francisco State U] reviewed the book for Science.2  Goldman likes to put a rational spin on whatever subject matter is at hand, though he admits, “I know I live in a society that isn’t always sympathetic to cold, calculated, scientific reason.”  But he was almost stunned by Harris’s brutal attacks on religion.  “At once, I shrink before the impudence of his conclusions, and I admire his brutal honesty.”  The book is filled with the hostility toward religion for which Harris is famous: “A self-avowed atheist, Harris isn’t choosy when it comes to vilifying religions,” Goldman noted.  In fact, the villain getting “the brunt of Harris’s fury” was none other than theistic evolutionist and avowed Christian Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health.  Harris called Collins’ book The Language of God an exercise in intellectual suicide.
        But Harris cannot build a morality by debunking religion alone.  After describing the pragmatic consequentialism of the book, Goldman explained how Harris tried to derive a non-subjective, non-relativistic, unambiguous morality without God.  Controversies and disagreements, Harris would say, are just peaks converging on the same mountain: all evolutionary roads lead to the same basic morality.  Thus he disagrees with relativism: the contention that all moral systems in disparate societies are equally valid.  A society that stones adulterers, Harris would argue, is immoral.  Surprisingly, Harris would agree with some theists by debunking the fact-value split: “Multiculturalism, moral relativism, political correctness, tolerance even of intolerance—these are the familiar consequences of separating facts and values on the left.  My goal is to convince you that human knowledge and human values can no longer be kept apart.”
        Settling in with those strange bedfellows, Goldman still had problems with Harris’s consistency and logic:
    Although intellectually exciting, the book isn’t what one would call inspiring.  Harris tries for a more uplifting final chapter but only goes as far as saying that “Today, we are surely more likely to act for the benefit of humanity as a whole than at any point in the past.”  He contends that “The claim that science could have something important to say about values (because values relate to facts about the well-being of conscious creatures) is an argument made on first principles.”  Of course, the book’s claim is that science has everything to say about human values—a far more controversial position.
        One might conclude that although at one time the best way to define and enforce moral behavior was through revealed faith, as science and reason advance, we can chip away at the old edifice and build anew.  Stories of a young-Earth creation now look rather untenable, but in the past they might have been the only way to instill awe and teach a new and meaningful moral code.  Rather than nonoverlapping magisteria, the domains of science and religion are intermingling all the time.  The Moral Landscape may represent a new beach-head in this quest.  In practical terms, however, this is perhaps just a different version of Collins’s view that a creator set in motion a set of scientific laws, including an evolutionary process, that are still with us today.

    1.  Pascal Boyer, “Ethics: The Good Life,” Nature 469, p. 297, 20 Jan 2011, doi:10.1038/469297a.
    2.  Michael A. Goldman, “Philosophy: A Means for Ought from Is?”, Science, 21 January 2011: Vol. 331 no. 6015 p. 286, DOI: 10.1126/science.1199445.
    It is funny watching moral beings created in the image of God trying to deny that image and derive it from stuff.  Their tangled logic borrows from what they hate and depends on what they dismiss.  You can dismiss Goldman’s simplistic refudiation of young-earth creation and revealed faith (refute and repudiation; see Sarah Palin Dictionary); because without a Moses and a Ten Commandments, none of these guys could measure the well-being or goodness of anything.  What is an “uplifting final chapter” when you don’t know which way is up?  Did Harris miss the 20th century, when scientific atheistic communism came up with its well-reasoned, enlightened, evolutionary view of the good life – killing 148 million people?
        It was genuinely funny to watch Harris portrayed as a Tweedle-dumb of the Tweedledee he hates, Francis Collins.  But Collins, calling an evolutionary process a scientific law, is the partially blind leading the fully blind into the ditch.  If evolution is a law, it is the Stuff Happens Law: the refudiation of law, unlikely to lead to any mountain of morality outside Mt Sinai, or to an unambiguous measure of well-being.  Morality?  Stuff happens.  Something else might happen tomorrow.  If evolution were to produce a society stoning atheists, who would Harris, Goldman or Boyer be to complain?  Undoubtedly evolution would have acted for the well-being of the population by eliminating self-refuting dogmatists posing as wise men.  That’s natural selection for you.  Reason your way out of that one.  Oh; but you can’t use reason, dear atheist: reason is the gift of God, unless you can derive that from hydrogen.
        The correct response is, of course, to weep rather than to mock.  Despite the Harris happy mask on this anti-religion rant posing as a positive explication of moral principles, it is evident that all three of these men are really struggling with what they know in their gut is true and right.  That Imago dei cannot be excised from their souls.  It would take a lot of humility for them to backtrack now, so many miles from that phony turn-off that said “Reason and Science: Next Exit” from the straight and narrow, even when one is waddling in the dark in a morass of inconsistency.
    Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsDarwin and EvolutionBible and Theology
    Selling Evolution with Video Games and Stories     01/23/2011    
    Jan 23, 2011 — Two recent articles cast doubt on the claim that evolutionists rely on factual information to teach students their theory.  When computers are programmed to make evolution happen on a screen, does it convey to what really happens in the wild?
    1. Cloudy computingPhysOrg reported that educators at the University of Buffalo are using “cloud computing” (software that accesses free internet resources) to make evolution more visually stimulating for students.  An application alarmingly called Pop! World is the key to taking the video game culture and selling evolution with it:
      “Pop! World gives students the visual background they need to understand complex mathematical problems,” Dittmar adds.  “And it works kind of like a video game, which serves the current population of undergrads well.
          That visual appeal is also expected to go far with middle-school and high-school biology students, groups the UB team hopes to excite about evolution; by spring, they expect to have completed a modified version for them as well.
          By making evolutionary biology more visually appealing and, thus, more accessible, Poulin hopes that Pop! World will make evolution itself a more appealing subject for secondary schools to teach.
          “There’s a huge disconnect,” she says.  “The universities all accept evolution as fact.  It’s not a question.  But many high schools and middle schools don’t want to touch it.  They don’t want to deal with the politics of it.”
          Her hope is that the visual and educational appeal of Pop! World and the ease of using it will begin to change that situation.
      Pop! World uses digital lizards in a flash application to simulate red and green lizards evolving (see demo at popworld15.appspot.com).  The gamey intro heavily emphasizes the visualization of the computer world.

    2. Adami still playing games:  Christoph Adami has not quit his addiction with Avida (05/08/2003), an evo-simulator that has been roundly debunked by scientists in the intelligent design community (see example at Evolution News & Views).  New Scientist shows Adami and fellow astrobiologist Chris McKay coming up with “telltale chemistry” that might “betray ET,” and testing amino acid samples input into his software.  McKay calls the search for alien amino acids the “Lego principle” blurring the distinction between scientific empiricism and toy modeling.
    New Scientist quoted a critic finding a lot of uncertainty in the claim, but gave the tip of the hat to McKay, who made his philosophical assumption clear: “What we see on Earth is not a quirk of Earth biology but a universal principle.”  No earthling knows that by observation.

    In the Baloney Detector, visualization is one of several categories that can be good or bad depending on how it is used.  Any teacher or student knows the value of positive visualization.  A picture is worth a thousand words; the ability to simplify a concept by analogy and illustration is invaluable as a stepping stone to deeper understanding.  But a picture can also be worth a thousand blurs.  It can obfuscate, oversimplify, omit pertinent details, add half-truths, distract, and deceive as easily as can a big lie.
        That is what is being done with Pop! World.  The authors are intentionally appealing to the baser video-game instincts of students rather than their intellect, character, or understanding.  They attempt to slide a controversial world-view into their minds by making it sound fun and easy.  But what they leave out of their visualized evolution screen is far more important than what they put in: e.g., (1) no gains in genetic information can come from random, unguided processes; (2) lizard color changes are mere horizontal variations rather than upward gains in complexity; (3) mutations are more likely to kill off a population than make it more fit (whatever fitness means); and more.
        Darwin’s disciples have long survived on the junk food of visualization (see cartoon).  The 10-year anniversary series by Jonathan Wells about his book Icons of Evolution makes that abundantly clear.  Pop! World is appropriately named at least; it is an extension of the Popeye Theory of Evolution (see 03/11/2005 and 10/31/2010 commentaries).  Adami’s “Tell-tale chemistry” would more appropriately be called “Tall-tale chemistry.”
        The Darwin Propaganda Machine is a storytelling empire, with evolution its mystery religion, full of magic and mysticism, adoring its own gods and goddesses like the Bearded Buddha (12/31/2009, 02/19/2009, 06/28/2007), the Blunderful Wizard of Flaws (09/05/2008), and Tinker Bell (03/08/2005).  Just today on a TV Nature program, an announcer commented about a population of birds ready for “evolution to work its magic.”  And you thought science was a repudiation of superstition.
        If high school biology teachers must satisfy their students’ craving for video games, let them use the more realistic Mendel’s Accountant.  This simulator doesn’t accept Darwinism as a given, but takes actual properties of genetic mutations and follows them faithfully through a population.  Unfortunately for Darwin-lovers, evolution doesn’t fare so well on that screen.  Better teach them some realism before they reach the University, where the witless novitiates become thoroughly brainwashed by the priesthood (“The universities all accept evolution as fact,” as if facts have any meaning by that stage of indoctrination).
    Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionOrigin of LifeEducationDumb Ideas
    Weekend Roundup     01/22/2011    
    Jan 22, 2011 — Here’s a list of 20 strays that shouldn’t get away without a lariat on their neck.
    1. Correcting historySpace.com contributed its effort to correct misconceptions about the Galileo Affair.
    2. Rewriting history:  In a LiveScience video interview by the NSF, Bill Bottke tells how he became a planetary modeler, and how he loves spending NSF money to tell stories.
    3. Quantum birdsNew Scientist and PhysOrg described how birds’ eyes employ tricks of quantum mechanics.
    4. What are water molecules? If you thought science has water all figured out, see how Science Daily described surprise and controversy at MIT in researching water’s viscosity when temperature changes.
    5. Light power:  Japanese researchers are making artificial muscles respond to light, according to PhysOrg.
    6. Islands in the skyScience Daily reported how a Chicago scientist tries to tell whether mountaintop plant communities are genetically isolated or not (hint: it’s a story of the birds and the bees).
    7. Lightning jolt:  Did you know lightning bolts send jets of antimatter far out into space?  Neither did scientists until recently, reported National Geographic.
    8. Insect computing:  Read this article on Science Daily to see how researchers at Carnegie Mellon found that many flies make net work: “Fruit Fly Nervous System Provides New Solution to Fundamental Computer Network Problem.”
    9. Butterfly security:  An impressive way to prevent counterfeiting comes from butterfly wing technology, reported PhysOrg
    10. Insect electricityPhysOrg also said that insect eyes are inspiring better solar cells.  Cornelius Hunter on his Darwin’s God blog found this ID-friendly work inspiring.
    11. Mack the knife-fish:  Researchers at Northwestern have made a robotic version of the black ghost knifefish, reported Science Daily.  Like its namesake that lives in the Amazon rivers, the artificial device can rise vertically by controlling waves in its ribbon-like fin.
    12. DNA physics:  How can DNA suddenly stretch to almost twice its length when force is applied?  Scientists at JILA want to know, according to Science Daily.
    13. Blood software:  According to Science Daily, “Global View of Blood Cell Development Reveals New and Complex Circuitry.”  Doesn’t sound like evolution here: “A small pool of stem cells replenishes the human body with about 200 billion new blood cells daily.  But the elaborate circuitry that determines if a cell will develop into a T cell, red blood cell, or one of the nine or more other blood cell types remains largely unknown.”  Talk of switches, circuits, transcription factors, and wiring did not lend itself to evolutionary storytelling.
    14. Your inner coralPhysOrg announced that “Corals and humans have much in common.”  While it may be true that many humans are sessile in their habitat (the couch in front of the TV), sweeping food into their oral cavities, it was not clear how the body of the article about symbiosis and circadian rhythms connected with the headline.  Unlike humans, corals have no chorals, corrals, or Corollas.
    15. Your outer lizard:  Like men, some male lizards feel a need to stand out from the crowd.  PhysOrg discussed how Caribbean lizards do the evolution.  Distinguish the following quote from the Stuff Happens Law: “The study provides a rare example of how different evolutionary starting points can lead to different evolutionary outcomes.  It just goes to show that we can’t necessarily predict what evolution will come up with, even when we know what the specific selective pressures at work might be.
          At least you will learn in the video clip why lizards do push-ups.  It may be a kind of survival of the fittest, but they are all still lizards before and after the contest, except for the robot.
    16. Grape design:  Imagine a whole article about grape genetic history, but no mention of evolution.  Maybe it was because PhysOrg realized that grape breeding is intelligent design.
    17. Bureaucratic ethics:  Do you want bureaucrats making major decisions about the value of human life?  To avoid anxiety and depression, don’t read this PhysOrg article.
    18. Salting the primordial soup:  Does a microbe in the Dead Sea tell tales about the origin of life?  Only if you accept the “tinkerer” version of evolution.  According to Science Daily, “The concept of ‘evolutionary tinkering’ is already a fixed phrase in the biosciences.”  See if their definition of evolutionary tinkering at the end of the article gets past the personification judges.
    19. Raising MammothThe Telegraph UK thinks an elephant could give birth to a wooly mammoth within four years, thanks to cloning technology.
    20. Conservation is not evolution:  An article on Science Daily about the work of conservation paleobiologists was ostensibly about evolution, but can you find any macroevolution in it?
    Ending with a scientists’ inside joke, take a look at the “Wheel of Peer Review” posted by Neuroskeptic.  The author said, “Feel free to print it out and throw darts at it, or maybe make a roulette wheel kind of thing, or perhaps a ouija board,” garnering a lot of comments from sympathetic colleagues.
    Science is serious; science is awesome; science is humorous; science is dumb.  Why?  Because science is human.  Science is a category too broad but to rope in a mixed herd of pure beef and longhorn in its corral.  (Texas Longhorn Science has a point here and a point there, with a lot of bull in between.)  Be a selective bidder before making hamburger; it may come from evolutionary bull with no legs (i.e., ground beef).
    Next headline on:  Philosophy of ScienceBirdsPhysicsBiomimeticsDarwin and EvolutionIntelligent DesignTerrestrial ZoologyPlantsMarine BiologyGeneticsHuman BodyPolitics and EthicsOrigin of LifeAmazing FactsDumb Ideas
      Before getting too excited about the next entry, remember that it takes more than eyes to see (01/06/2010).

    Has Biomimetics Surpassed Biology?     01/21/2011    
    Jan 21, 2011 — An article on Science Daily announced an invention that is “Better Than the Human Eye: Tiny Camera With Adjustable Zoom Could Aid Endoscopic Imaging, Robotics, Night Vision.”  While true that human eyes do not have zoom lenses, how does the comparison hold up?
        The invention both imitates and surpasses human vision in some respects: “Researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are the first to develop a curvilinear camera, much like the human eye, with the significant feature of a zoom capability, unlike the human eye.”  They even call it an “eyeball camera.”  PhysOrg shows a picture of the device, which “has a 3.5x optical zoom, takes sharp images and is only the size of a nickel.”
        Previous research by this team, who had “drawn inspiration from animals,” had shown the optical benefits of curved photodetector arrays (08/07/2008).  This time they have upped the ante by controlling the curvature with hydraulics.  Both the simple lens and the photodetector array can have their curvature adjusted by water pressure, allowing for variable zoom.  “We were inspired by the human eye, but we wanted to go beyond the human eye,” said Yonggang Huang at Northwestern.  “Our goal was to develop something simple that can zoom and capture good images, and we’ve achieved that.”
        Does the original paper boast about this being an improvement over the eyeball?  In PNAS,1 Jung et al began by saying, “Mammalian eyes provide the biological inspiration for hemispherical cameras, where Petzval-matched curvature in the photodetector array can dramatically simplify lens design without degrading the field of view, focal area, illumination uniformity, or image quality.”  Camera makers have already gone beyond nature by inventing zoom lenses: “Interestingly, biology and evolution2 do not provide guides for achieving the sort of large-range, adjustable zoom capabilities that are widely available in man-made cameras.”
        The authors took note of two cases in biology where animals have a kind of binary zoom: (1) “in avian vision, where shallow pits in the retina lead to images with two fixed levels of zoom (50% high magnification in the center of the center of the field of view),” and (2) “imaging properties occur, but in an irreversible fashion, during metamorphosis in amphibian vision to accommodate transitions from aquatic to terrestrial environments.”  (Recall a related capability in cormorant eyes, 05/24/2004).  The “eyeball camera,” however, unlike animal eyes, would be capable of continuous zoom.
        The new invention is admittedly simple.  Its resolution is only 16 x 16 pixels, compared to the human retina’s resolution of 126 megapixels (100 million rods 07/13/2001 and 6-7 million cones).  So as interesting as their device is, there is a huge disparity between what they achieved and what we take for granted with human vision (by almost six orders of magnitude in resolution and probably a similar amount in light-gathering power).  It is, however, an important proof of concept: “Although the fill factor and total pixel count in the reported designs are moderate, there is nothing fundamental about the process that prevents significant improvements,” they concluded.  The concepts they have demonstrated in this prototype “might be useful to explore.


    1.  Jung et al, “Dynamically tunable hemispherical electronic eye camera system with adjustable zoom capability,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print January 18, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1015440108.
    2.  This was the only mention of evolution in the paper.
    More power to this team and to all inventors inspired by biology.  Even if they succeed in improving on the eye some day, they will have supported intelligent design through and through.  Reverse engineering pays a compliment to the designer of what is being imitated.  In spite of their passing reference to evolution, their work has absolutely nothing to do with Darwin – you know, the old storyteller who got cold shudders thinking of the design of the human eye – and that was without knowing about its ideal optics (05/09/2002), waveguides (05/07/2010), clean-up crews (08/28/2003), image processing (05/22/2003), and much, much more.  “Biology and evolution do not provide guides,” they said.  Of course not; evolution is unguided.  It would be the blind leading the blind, so ditch the thought.
        Human ingenuity can and does exceed biology all the time.  No animals explore space, or resolve distant quasars, or image the molecular motors in their own cells with X-ray diffraction.  God gave humans the minds and hands to expand their biological capabilities.  If scientists can invent eyeball-mimic cameras with zoom lenses, all for the good.  If they can get them to take high-def 3-D video at 126 megapixel resolution, repair themselves, reproduce themselves and run on potatoes, then we might consider them starting to come a little closer to a few of the engineering specs of the One who made “the seeing eye” (Proverbs 20:12).  Even such devices, though, would be useless without an even more complex brain to interpret them and to understand what it is they are seeing.  Let’s not be numbered among those who, having eyes, do not see (Mark 8:18).
    Next headline on:  Human BodyBiomimeticsIntelligent Design
    Who Laid a Fossil Egg?     01/20/2011    
    Jan 20, 2011 — The news media are all excited that a pterosaur fossil has been found with an egg – a very rare association.  To the media, like the BBC News, this can only mean one thing: the pterosaur was a female, and now they can differentiate female and male pterosaur fossils.  They affectionately named the fossil, a member of the genus Darwinopterus, “Mrs. T.”  See also the reports and pictures at National Geographic, PhysOrg, and Live Science, which speculated further, saying: “Now scientists have discovered a female pterosaur preserved together with one of her eggs, shedding light on what the reproductive strategies of these reptiles might have been like.  These new findings reveal that pterosaur eggs and nests may not have been birdlike after all.”
    Actually, it was Daddy Darwinopterus taking his turn sitting on the egg.  Back then, you see, pterosaurs shared parenting responsibilities.  How do we know?  We don’t, and neither do the reporters.  The scientists are probably right in their assessment, but one cannot know such things for sure without having been there.
        Far be it from the media to exercise restraint or critical thinking.  Beware the hubris of scientists, especially when they name their fossils after Darwin – the Grand Wizard of Storytelling (12/22/2003).
    Next headline on:  FossilsDinosaurs and Other Extinct ReptilesBirdsDarwin and EvolutionPhilosophy of ScienceMedia
    Molecules as Traffic Cops     01/19/2011    
    Jan 19, 2011 — One of the cutting-edge developments in cell biology and genetics is the realization that there are networks of molecules that are regulated by other molecules.  Some molecules stimulate growth while others repress it.  The dynamic interplay between signals, hormones, repressors and other processes somehow leads to “homeostasis” – a dynamic balance that is responsive to the environment and able to adapt to changing needs.
        Three papers in PNAS this week discuss these dynamic networks that are only slowly being understood. 
  • Plant growth:  High school biology students may have learned about auxins and gibberelins, plant hormones that students can observe affecting growth of roots and shoots in the lab.  Two papers in PNAS discussed gibberelins this week, teasing apart some of the complex interactions of genes and hormones that affect each other.  Zhang et al1 found that genes called DELLA act as repressors for growth-promoting gibberelins (GA), but are themselves repressed by another gene, SCL3.  “Our data further show that SCL3 and DELLA antagonize each other in controlling both downstream GA responses and upstream GA biosynthetic genes,” they said.  That means the two antagonists can not only affect the response of cells that get the gibberelins, but can turn up or down the upstream spigot – the genes that create the gibberelins.  “This work is beginning to shed light on how this complex regulatory network achieves GA homeostasis and controls GA-mediated growth and development in the plant.”
        Working with the same genes and hormones, Heo et al learned a little more about how GA, DELLA and SCL3 work in root elongation and stem elongation in Arabidopsis plants.2  They noted that because plants cannot move, proper signaling is vital: “During plant development, because no cell movement takes place, control of the timing and extent of cell division and coordination of the direction and extent of cell expansion are particularly important for growth and development,” they began.  “The plant hormone gibberellins (Gas) play key roles in the control of these developmental processes.”
  • Sense organ growth:  Signalling is important in animals, too.  Complex interplays of molecules and genes are involved in the formation of the complex structures of the inner ear.  It was only recently that molecular biologists noticed that scads of RNA pieces called micro-RNAs are involved in regulating genes.  Kuhn et al found that a micro-RNA acts like a traffic cop as the cochlea develops.3  Mutating one in particular, named miR-96, causes “widespread changes in the expression of many genes.”
        Parents who’ve held a newborn may want to reflect on the complexity of processes working in harmony to perfect a baby’s inner ears:
    We found that the physiological development of mutant sensory hair cells is arrested at around the day of birth, before their biophysical differentiation into inner and outer hair cells.  Moreover, maturation of the hair cell stereocilia bundle and remodelling of auditory nerve connections within the cochlea fail to occur in miR- 96 mutants.  We conclude that miR-96 regulates the progression of the physiological and morphological differentiation of cochlear hair cells and, as such, coordinates one of the most distinctive functional refinements of the mammalian auditory system.
    None of these papers mentioned evolution.
    1.  Zhang et al, “SCARECROW-LIKE 3 promotes gibberellin signaling by antagonizing master growth repressor DELLA in Arabidopsis,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print January 18, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1012232108.
    2.  Heo et al, “Funneling of gibberellin signaling by the GRAS transcription regulator SCARECROW-LIKE 3 in the Arabidopsis root,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print January 18, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1012215108.
    3.  Kuhn et al, “miR-96 regulates the progression of differentiation in mammalian cochlear inner and outer hair cells,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print January 18, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1016646108.
    These papers are mentioned briefly for the sake of readers who would like to delve further into the details.  If nothing makes sense except in the light of evolution, why wouldn’t the scientists saturate their papers with Darwinspeak?  Networks and signals are concepts of intelligent design, not evolution.  These are exciting times when scientists can begin to look into the black box and see elaborate interactions between molecules acting for all the world like robots or a well-organized city with security and traffic control.  The new paradigm should be, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of information technology.”
        Whittaker Chambers, the ex-communist spy who testified against high-level Russian spy Alger Hiss, explained in his book Witness one of the things that began turning his mind away from atheist materialism and toward faith.  He was watching his baby daughter eat, and took note of her “intricate, perfect ears.”  “The thought passed through my mind: ‘No, those ears were not created by any chance coming together of atoms in nature (the Communist view),” he said in the foreword to his book.  “They could have been created only by immense design.’” (see full quote at Creation Tips).  What if he had learned about miR-96, too?  That would have been overkill against any materialist ideology.
    Next headline on:  PlantsHuman BodyCell BiologyGeneticsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
      Darwin missed the pink iguanas on the Galapagos (01/06/2009).  If he had seen them, the evidence in front of him for hybridization between land and marine iguanas might have shocked his evolutionary senses.  See the meaning of this explained in the film The Voyage that Shook the World (Resource of the Week for 09/19/2009).

    Encouraging News About Iraq’s Marshes     01/18/2011    
    Jan 18, 2011 — Over seven years ago (05/01/2003), we reported on the devastation of Iraq’s ancient southern marshes by Saddam Hussein.  Azzam Alwash, an Iraqi who fled Hussein’s regime, had organized “Eden Again,” a project to try to restore the marshes after Hussein’s diversion of the rivers turned the lush ecosystem into a desert.  The extent of this “crime against humanity” (adding more ecological terror to Saddam’s earlier burning of the Kuwaiti oil fields) made such a vast restoration project appear hopeless.
        Readers who recall that report, and the subsequent encouraging updates in 02/18/2005 and 06/06/2006 will be thrilled to watch encouraging videos posted by the BBC News.  The first clip is about a search for the marbled teal, a bird not seen for 20 years, that has made a remarkable comeback.  In another BBC News video, Alwash is clearly excited about the prospects for restoring the marshes, if not to their former glory (since dams upstream in Turkey prevent the natural spring floods), at least in a form that allows them to be enjoyed for future generations.  In fact, he envisions the area as the first national park in Iraq.  The wildlife and birds would be the main draw – as well as the history of this land as the birthplace of civilization: nearby is the ancient site of Ur.
        There are still political problems in the area.  The video shows dangers the film crew faced threading the needle between warring tribes.  But if a national park is established, income from tourism could lead to a peace dividend as the native tribes gain from the world’s interest in this unique habitat.
        The end of the first video shows hunters taking out some of the teal to use for food.  Rather than being horrified, and rushing over to stop them, Alwash acknowledged man’s needs in the ecosystem.  The narrator says, “But Azzam knows that a balance has to be struck between the needs of the wildlife and the needs of the marsh Arabs.”  Alwash explained that his team was not going to go in there and prevent people from hunting and fishing.  “It’s their land, it’s their area,” he said.  “....The fact is, the marshes need to be restored, but they need to be restored for the people – not for nature per se.  Both can benefit from this.
    Update 01/19/2011: In Science magazine 01/14/2011,1 Andrew Lawler examined the evidence whether civilization sprang from the Iraq marshlands.  Jennifer Pournelle of the University of South Carolina has been accumulating evidence that people first started settling the high ground in the marshlands before the cities were founded.


    1.  Andrew Lawler, “Archaeology: Did the First Cities Grow From Marshes?”, Science, 14 January 2011: Vol. 331 no. 6014 p. 141, DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6014.141.
    What is “nature per se” from an evolutionary world view?  Either humans are part of nature, or they are not (07/27/2010).  An evolutionist has no ground on which to declare that hunters and fishermen, or even dictators like Saddam Hussein, “should not” interrupt nature, because nature includes humans.  Only the Christian world view provides the grounds for making man distinct from nature as well as part of it, because the Bible describes man created in the image of God – a spiritual, rational, moral being.  The angst of people over the destruction of nature, and the joy over its beauty, echoes that image that still resides, though corrupted by sin, in the human heart.
        The videos err in calling this the place of the Garden of Eden.  That site was lost during the Flood.  It is, however, the site of important developments after the Flood.  The Tower of Babel was in the Tigris-Euphrates region, and Ur is one of the birthplaces of cities, writing and agriculture – rationally designed phenomena that sprang up quickly in many areas along the Fertile Crescent as tribes separated by the confusion of tongues created settlements where they could.
        Ur was also the first totalitarian regime – a brutal dictatorial society that assigned people into castes, some as slaves to work the land while others enriched themselves.  Before long, Sargon of Akkad began his quest for empire: leading to millennia of the rise and fall of middle eastern empires.  Into this region God first began a lineage of people, starting with Abraham, that would receive His word, obey it (more or less), and receive the promised Messiah, who would one day come to offer his life a ransom for the sins of mankind.  Readers are encouraged to visualize that world through Jon Saboe’s historical novel The Days of Peleg (see Resource of the Week for 11/07/2009, and also the book’s website).
        This entry flows into the next about political corruption.  It is a case study in the need for political leaders who fear God, have personal integrity, love creation, and respect human rights.  Alwash could never have pulled off this restoration under Hussein.  He had to flee to America to organize the effort.  It was America that created the world’s first national park in 1872, setting a path that the world would follow.  Countries that recognize human rights “endowed by their Creator” and respect the “laws of nature and nature’s God” are the only ones in a fallen world of sinners likely to work for, and cherish, the sight of thousands of marbled teals reaching for the skies.
        Now if we can just get the environmentalists as fired up about the genocides against Christians in Iraq as they are about the birds, we’ll really see a peace dividend (see Fox News).
    Next headline on:  BirdsMarine BiologyPolitics and EthicsBible and Theology
    Earthquakes Don’t Kill: Corrupt Leaders Do     01/17/2011    
    Jan 17, 2011 — “A new assessment of global earthquake fatalities over the past three decades indicates that 83 percent of all deaths caused by the collapse of buildings during earthquakes occurred in countries considered to be unusually corrupt.”  That’s the opening statement of an entry in Science Daily.
        Of course, no one can predict where a stone will fall when an earthquake hits, but the casualty numbers could be drastically reduced if it were not for corruption, a study published in Nature found.1  “The six-digit death toll from last year’s Haiti earthquake compared with the absence of any fatalities in New Zealand’s identical magnitude (7) earthquake was a stark reminder that poor building practices are largely to blame for turning moderate earthquakes into major disasters,” Ambraseys and Bilham said.
        “Earthquake-resistant construction depends on responsible governance, but its implementation can be undermined by corruption,” or by poverty, use of substandard materials or poor siting – often consequences of bad government.  The researchers knew that poverty often tracks with corruption, but they teased apart the major factors and called corrupt leaders “geology’s accomplices” in mass death from natural disasters.  “Of all earthquake fatalities attributable to building collapse in the past three decades, 82.6% occur in societies that are anomalously corrupt,” their graph showed.  Chile and New Zealand, for example, are “less corrupt than might be expected from their per capita income, and have low earthquake fatalities.”  Japan was an outlier; its devastating Kobe earthquake could be attributed to “collapse of older structures in Kobe that predate the adoption of a code of earthquake-resistant building.”  Their ending paragraph was depressing:
    But our analyses suggest that international and national funds set aside for earthquake resistance in countries where corruption is endemic are especially prone to being siphoned off.  The structural integrity of a building is no stronger than the social integrity of the builder, and each nation has a responsibility to its citizens to ensure adequate inspection.  In particular, nations with a history of significant earthquakes and known corruption issues should stand reminded that an unregulated construction industry is a potential killer.
    On a related political note, New Scientist reported that independence for South Sudan could have a healthy spin-off: the eradication of the guinea worm parasite.  Decades of civil war inhibited opportunities to clean up water supplies where the worm eggs infest humans.  Though in ruins, the cessation of conflict might allow the new independent country a chance to bring the world a “peace dividend” – “the second human disease – after smallpox – to be eradicated.”
    1.  Ambraseys and Bilham, “Corruption kills,” Nature 469, pp 153–155, 13 January 2011, doi:10.1038/469153a.
    It would be an interesting study to examine how many deaths due to “natural disasters” are severely aggravated by human sin.  Imagine yourself outside in nature in a severe earthquake.  Sure, you might get hit by a tsunami or landslide, but chances are, you would be fine after the shaking stops – even in Haiti outside the city.  But experience the same quake in a shanty town of low-quality buildings thrown up by poverty-stricken people who cannot rise out of their poverty due to corrupt leaders, and the results can be, and were (a year ago), appallingly tragic.  Los Angeles is due for a big one.  The last two major quakes killed 57 in 1994 and 65 in 1971.  Compare that with 230,000 deaths in Haiti for a similar magnitude.
        If Haiti had liberty and justice for all, and a Protestant work ethic that encouraged entrepreneurship regulated by righteous leaders and judges, the cities would have been built on the proper sites, with safe materials and reinforcements.  The citizens would be trained in disaster preparation and response.  Undoubtedly many would still have died in last year’s quake: perhaps a few hundred, but not 230,000.  To add major insult to major injury, the cholera epidemic that broke out and killed thousands more in Haiti was likely also caused by corruption and carelessness of the UN aid workers who came to “help” the victims.  When the people protested, the UN workers fired on them!  Read the JSF-Post blog about this and weep.  A reader submitted the following anecdote:
    Regarding your entry “Earthquakes Don’t Kill: Corrupt Leaders Do”, I thought you might like another comparison for the Haiti earthquake: the 2010 Christchurch earthquake.  It measured 7.1 on the Richter scale (as big as the Haiti quake), but there were zero fatalities directly linked to the earthquake.  There were two serious injuries, and one person died of a heart attack during the quake, but nobody was directly killed by the quake or debris.  The quake’s epicentre was on 40km (24mi) west of Christchurch, and Christchurch is New Zealand’s second largest city, with about 375,000 people, so the potential for a catastrophe was huge.  But mainly due to New Zealand’s strict building codes, and that people evidently adhered to them, Christchurch escaped with was it in comparison to Haiti a few minor grazes.
        Solomon said, “An unplowed field produces food for the poor, but injustice sweeps it away” (Proverbs 13:23).  A prosperous society built on liberty and justice for all generates prosperity, funds science, punishes evil, produces civic stability that promotes commerce, and many other social benefits.  Constitutionally-protected liberty, as America’s founders established, is built on the Biblical values they espoused.  Knowing man’s tendency to evil, they constructed branches of government that provided checks and balances on power, to forestall corruption and to allow free people to pursue prosperity with their Creator-endowed rights of life and liberty.  That freedom had an unprecedented peace dividend for the world.
        How scientific institutions can continue to support leftist policies (12/05/2010, 10/14/2010) that have produced the worst corrupt dictatorships of the 20th century is senseless.  Big government breeds ambition and corruption.  Don’t they realize that the leftist trend in America has led to financial ruin that threatens their own funding?  If they understood fallen human nature as taught by the Bible, they would realize that the founding American system is the best one to promote scientific research and education, because it works human nature against its evil tendencies: ambition is turned toward service, greed toward healthy competition, and selfishness toward excellence.  The Bible promotes hard work to serve others; it rewards responsibility and charity.  It doesn’t work for a society that has no regard for these values, because bribery that is unpunished undermines the safety inspections instituted to protect the poor.
        The study authors said, “The structural integrity of a building is no stronger than the social integrity of the builder.”  Where does social integrity come from?  Evolution?  Ha!  Get real.  Integrity is a Biblical value right out of the Ten Commandments.  Corrupt governments, that violate the Biblical commands against stealing and bearing false witness, that do not love God with all their hearts and minds nor their neighbors as themselves, where power gets concentrated in a few individuals, have the worst track records on human rights and scientific achievement.  Nature News recently had to admit that Venezuela’s dictator, Hugo Chavez, a liberal darling and bosom buddy of fellow despots Ahmadinejad and Castro, is putting the squeeze on the country’s scientists.  Surprised?
        Let these articles be a lesson to scientific institutions.  Supporting a return to America’s founding ideals and values would be the best investment they could ever make.  For the poor, it’s a matter of life and death.
    Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsHealth
    Astrobiologists Can’t Figure Out What They Are Looking For     01/16/2011    
    Jan 16, 2011 — To look for life in space, it’s obvious one must first understand what life is.  Science Daily promised “New Answers to an Age-Old Question in Astrobiology” i.e., but delivered only suggestions, four contradictory opinions, and more questions.
        According to the article, most of the latest issue of the journal Astrobiology1 is devoted to trying to answer the question “What is Life?”  The articles are open-access and thus available to the public.
    1. Introducing the problem:  In his introductory article,1 David Deamer (UC Santa Cruz) asked whether a definition of life is even possible.  He listed eight requirements and asked if they could be used as a definition.  Putting the list to two real world tests, it was clear that his cumbersome list did not deliver a watertight definition that provides all the necessary and sufficient conditions to distinguish life from nonlife.
    2. Appreciating the problem:  In their historical survey, Tirard, Morange and Lazcano detailed some of the failed attempts over the centuries in the “elusive endeavor” to define life.2  They concluded, “Research in the origin and nature of life is doomed to remain, at best, as a work in progress.”  Indeed, their abstract doubted progress can be made in an evolutionary context: “The many attempts made to reduce the nature of living systems to a single living compound imply that life can be so well defined that the exact point at which it started can be established with the sudden appearance of the first replicating molecule,” they said; “On the other hand, if the emergence of life is seen as the stepwise (but not necessarily slow) evolutionary transition between the non-living and the living, then it may be meaningless to draw a strict line between them.”
          In the conclusion, they admitted, “We remain lamentably ignorant about major portions of the processes that preceded life,” but remained confident an “evolutionary continuum” could describe “emergence of self-sustaining, replicative chemical systems capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution.”  In this view life would be the “evolutionary outcome of a process and not of a single, fortuitous event.”  But this belief seems to contradict what they had said in the previous paragraph that “there is a major distinction between purely physical-chemical evolution and natural selection, which is one of the hallmarks of biology.  In other words, unless a system reached a point where it had the ability to replicate its genetic information, natural selection could not be invoked.  “In spite of many published speculations, the basic nature of life cannot be understood in the absence of genetic material and Darwinian evolution,” they had said.  How could prebiotic chemicals overcome that hurdle?  Apparently, they believe it just appeared: “it is reasonable to assume that this was one of the defining properties of the first biological systems to appear.”  Perhaps it was a miracle of chance or a “fortuitous event” after all.
    3. Aristotle vs Descartes:  If you thought Aristotle was long gone from science, Mark Bedau (Reed College, Oregon) brought him back in his paper, “An Aristotelian Account of Minimal Chemical Life.”3  Rather than try to define necessary and sufficient conditions for life, as Descartes would have, he came up with a model he called PMC (program-metabolism-container) that he said “illustrates the Aristotelian approach to life, because it explains eight of life’s hallmarks, one of life’s borderline cases (the virus), and two of life’s puzzles.”
          Bedau had a lot to say about information, using the word 13 times (even in “information processing”), and about programs, using that word 37 times, but precious little to say about how these words normally associated with intelligent design could have arisen without intelligent design.  All he had was questions: “How does life or biology arise from nonlife or pure chemistry?  How does a system undergoing merely chemical evolution, in which chemical reactions are continually changing the concentrations of chemical species, differ from one that is alive?”  One question he did not ask is whether the concept of an information processing program is even comprehensible without the assumption of intelligent causality.
    4. Another contender:  Steve Benner (U of Florida), the one whose exasperation with his own experiments led him to joke about almost wanting to become a creationist (11/05/2004), took up the question in his entry, “Defining Life.”4  In short, he embedded Darwinism in the definition, making it a case of circular reasoning: if it’s alive, it evolves (by definition); if it evolves, it’s alive (by definition).  But he reasoned that “a definition embodies a theory.”  He was just defending the definition of a NASA committee that, inspired by the late Carl Sagan, came up with the concept that life is a “self-sustaining chemical system capable of Darwinian evolution.”  From then on he called this a “definition-theory.”
          This definition led him into weird questions about aliens and robots and beings that evolve immortality, such that reproduction (and thus evolution), become obsolete.  He even asked whether humankind qualifies as life!  Strangely, he agreed that Darwinism could produce intelligent design: “Our definition-theory of life, however, excludes the possibility that computers, their viruses, or androids could have arisen without a creator that had already emerged by Darwinian process.”  So rather than robots and computers supporting intelligent design for their creators, to Benner, it supports Darwinism.  This counterintuitive assertion is a direct consequence of embedding Darwinism in to the definition of life.  Illustrating his point with nanites [molecular robots] or androids, he encompassed a kind of creationism inside of Darwinism:
      Following similar reasoning under our definition-theory, the computer in which nanites reside is not life but is evidence of a life-form that created it.  In this view, the computer is a biosignature and the nanites are an “artificial” life-form.  Any intelligence that either displays would be “artificial.”  They both are derived from a self-sustaining chemical system capable of Darwinian evolution, which must have created them.
      Are humans alive, in his definition?  The emergence of tool use in our ancestors set the stage for a non-Darwinian species, he argued.  In this connection, he agreed that Darwinian processes are cruel, wasteful and uncaring:
      For all their power to create life in the world that we know, Darwinian processes have some well-understood disadvantages.  For example, they condemn some of our children to die of genetic diseases in order to “allow” others among our children to adapt.  For every mutation that allows some children to be bigger, better, and smarter, Darwinian processes require dozens of other mutations that make some children sick.  Death from genetic maladaptation inherently goes with adaptation.
      Don’t tell a madman like Hitler this, or he might consider it his duty to help evolution along (see Richard Weikart’s new book, Hitler’s Ethic, reviewed by Evolution News, in which Weikart demonstrates that Hitler felt he was being very ethical by exterminating the unfit).  Benner quickly left the above paragraph to emphasize the benefits of intelligently-designed medicine:
      For example, technology may soon be available to identify DNA sequences that prospectively help our children survive better, marry better, and have better children.  We may soon gain the technology that allows our pediatrician to place those DNA sequences into our eggs and sperm, creating mutant children that are fitter by design.  If this happens, then our species will escape Darwinian mechanisms for improving our genes.  Our species will have become supra-Darwinian.
      Don’t tell this to eugenicists, though, who could easily try to create a super-race through genetic engineering, or decide which individuals are not worth the effort.
          Benner seems to have recognized the circle he trapped himself into with his definition: “To save our definition-theory, we might notice that even as we are happily becoming cerebral beings by prospectively altering our personal DNA by design, we still are capable of Darwinian evolution,” he reassured his readers.  “Last, we might argue that, like an intelligent android, we could not have come into being had our ancestors not first had access to Darwinian evolution.”  Another theory-rescue device he employed was to argue that the emergence of supra-Darwinian entities appears to be rare.
          Benner seemed content to stay happily inside the circle of his own making, worrying only briefly that, “We are crossing into uncharted philosophical territory here.”  Due to limitations of space, we shall leave his subsequent philosophical excursions as entertainment for curious readers.  Most of the rest of the paper was concerned with utilitarian implications of his Darwinian definition-theory, except for this gem in the conclusion: “We do what we generally do when a reality is too complex to meet our constructive needs: we ignore it and continue with a simpler, if arguably false, view” (see Thumb’s Second Postulate).
    5. The last stand:  The final paper by Sergey Tsokolov was published posthumously from a book he was working on.5  This was another approach heavily dosed with information and programming concepts.  “The main point is that the metabolism of contemporary life evolved from primitive homeostatic networks regulated by negative feedback.  Because life could not exist in their absence, feedback loops should be included in definitions of life.”
          Tsokolov believes that such negative feedback loops could emerge spontaneously from chemical processes.  While he later recognized the need for genetic control of these loops, and maintenance of the coded library, he believes the metabolism came first.  He argues that this wriggles astrobiologists out of the inevitable chicken-and-egg problem:
      It should be stressed that neither chemical nor prebiotic evolution, at least in its early stages, requires any “informational molecules,” matrix synthesis, or molecular replicationNo matter how important those properties become for further life, they are still later inventions.  Matrix synthesis is so deeply rooted in all extant forms of life, underlying the mechanism of (Darwinian) evolution, that it makes some investigators state a question: “Which was first to appear on Earth—replicating molecules or metabolic processes?” (Shapiro, 2007, p 142).... It is true that complex replicating processes require a whole network of enzymatic activity.  However, enzymatic activity does not require a replicating process.  The origin of matrix synthesis is a separate problem, and there is no direct connection to circular NFB [negative feedback] processes or their role in the origin of life.  Otherwise we face the familiar epistemological problem of deciding the precise boundary between life and pre-life.
      But what about the origin of that genetic control, that “matrix synthesis” with all its codes, information, replication, error-correction and complexity?  Apparently Tsokolov thinks that is someone else’s problem.
          The comments of Nick Woolf, a reviewer, at the end of the paper, are instructive.  Woolf had problems with many of the claims he made.  He found holes in Tsokolov’s definition that let non-living things in and keep living things out.  One thing he did like: “I am in agreement with the author that a precise definition of life is problematic.”
    It is doubtful that these papers made headway above previous inadequate attempts to define life.  When they go looking for life in space, will the astrobiologists know what constitutes success?
    1.  David Deamer, “Introduction,” Astrobiology, December 2010, 10(10): 1001-1002. doi:10.1089/ast.2010.0569.
    2.  Tirard, Morange and Lazcano, “The Definition of Life: A Brief History of an Elusive Scientific Endeavor,” Astrobiology, December 2010, 10(10): 1003-1009. doi:10.1089/ast.2010.0535.
    3.  Mark A. Bedau, “An Aristotelian Account of Minimal Chemical Life,” Astrobiology, December 2010, 10(10): 1011-1020. doi:10.1089/ast.2010.0522.
    4.  Steven A. Benner, “Defining Life,” Astrobiology, December 2010, 10(10): 1021-1030. doi:10.1089/ast.2010.0524.
    5.  Sergey Tsokolov, “A Theory of Circular Organization and Negative Feedback: Defining Life in a Cybernetic Context,” Astrobiology, December 2010, 10(10): 1031-1042. doi:10.1089/ast.2010.0532.
    Imagine taking a paragraph of nonsense and dressing it up in jargon.  Find a proposition that is self-refuting, circular, or guilty of any other transgressions in the Baloney Detector, and expand it into a scholarly paper filled with recondite concepts and glittering verbiage – an extended snow job.  It might be a fun exercise in the art of sophistry.  You could hardly pull off a more convincing performance than Steve Benner did in his entry.  Read it for entertainment if not for enlightenment.  Teachers may want to assign it as an exercise in critical thinking after first explaining why his premises are impossible, fact-free and question begging at every turn.
        Guess what, Steve!  A lot of people do not buy your premise that Darwinism is the be-all and end-all of existence.  Less than 20% in this country accept the line that mankind emerged from a natural process without intelligent design (see 12/19/2010).  If you want to talk nonsense in a circular echo chamber with your friends, go right ahead, but don’t call it science, and don’t think your ramblings are going to convince anyone outside.
        Oh, but we already know why you don’t care.  You’re on the take on this Astrobiology racket (the science without a subject matter – Benner’s own words, 05/01/2008) the charitable taxpayers fund for the philosophically disabled (01/07/2005, 01/08/2003).  You get to tell tall tales on the public dole (01/31/2005, 01/25/2010; remember the good one about twenty-mule-team borax? 01/09/2004), and it appears you are having a jolly good time at it.  Taxpayers who find this out might have some good spending cuts to propose to the new conservative Congress.
        The only valuable thing in your paper was to affirm what creationists complain about Darwinism: that it has nasty social consequences.  Since you have already helped yourself to Judeo-Christian values about what is good, true and beautiful, maybe you really should become a creationist after all (11/05/2004).  We also appreciate your satirical expertise in falsifying your colleagues’ unworkable ideas (05/01/2008, 12/09/2010, 01/09/2003).
        So what is life, if evolution is not the answer?  The problem with all these papers is the assumption of naturalism (materialism).  You can’t arrive at a definition of life from the bottom up.  Nothing comes from nothing; these contradictory papers illustrate that.  One guy puts the dividing line at metabolism, another at program-metabolism-container, another at natural selection, etc. etc.  No definition keeps the nonliving out and the living in.  No definition ever satisfies.  We’ve already seen two of the best origin-of-life theorists refute one another’s ideas: Shapiro with his metabolism first idea (02/15/2007) and Orgel with his genetics first idea (01/26/2008).  Astrobiologists don’t just argue in circles, they form circular firing squads.
        Life can only be understood from the top down.  Pasteur demonstrated this in the 19th century with his Law of Biogenesis: life comes from life.  Our life proceeds from the self-existent, self-eternal “I AM” who granted life to His creatures.  It is only on this foundation that life makes sense.  It is only with that world view that today’s scientists can make progress on the interesting questions at the limits of biology without shooting themselves in the foot.
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyOrigin of LifeDarwin and EvolutionPhilosophy of ScienceDumb Ideas
      St. Augustine was mentioned in the 01/13/2008 entry involving a contrast between the evolutionist and creationist views of history.

    The Brain as the Computer Robots Need     01/15/2011    
    Jan 15, 2010 — A mind is a terrible thing to waste, especially once you realize how incredibly powerful it is.  In some ways it’s like a computer that needs maintenance; in other ways, it is too powerful to describe in machine language.  Here are a few mind matters to mind because it matters:

    1. Reboot to clear the ringing:  Many people suffer from various degrees of ringing in their ears, called tinnitus.  For the first time, there is hope for clearing this condition (which ranges from annoying to debilitating), by “rebooting” a part of the brain responsible for it.  PhysOrg reported on studies with rats that showed tinnitus could be drastically reduced or eliminated by playing certain pitches while stimulating the vagus nerve.  Instead of just masking the ringing, it actually eliminates it: “Similar to pressing a reset button in the brain, this new therapy was found to help retrain the part of the brain that interprets sound so that errant neurons reverted back to their original state and the ringing disappeared.”  New Scientist called it “brain training” that reverses ringing in ears.  Incidentally, vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) has also been effective in treating epilepsy and depression.
          Another article on PhysOrg explained that tinnitus is much more than a hearing problem.  A neuroscientist said a part of the brain involved, the corticostriatal circuit, “is part of a general 'appraisal network' determining which sensations are important, and ultimately affecting how or whether those sensations are experienced.”  Science Daily called tinnitus “the Result of the Brain Trying, but Failing, to Repair Itself,” indicating that mechanisms are in place to keep the brain in good working order.  But when they fail, maybe a reboot is the last resort.
    2. Why music is beautiful:  When sound is organized by intelligent design in music, instead of being an accidental malfunction like tinnitus, it makes us feel wonderful and satisfied.  Why is that?  Science Daily explored why music gives us chills.  “Scientists have found that the pleasurable experience of listening to music releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain important for more tangible pleasures associated with rewards such as food, drugs and sex.”  Even the anticipation of favorite music can start the chills, the researchers at Montreal Neurological Institute and McGill University found.
          According to the article, “the results suggest why music, which has no obvious survival value, is so significant across human society.”  But did it evolve?  While it may be uncontroversial that dopamine is “a neurotransmitter vital for reinforcing behavior that is necessary for survival,” suggesting that music evolved to help humans survive and pass on their genes leaves many questions hanging.  How did music get associated with dopamine release?  If it merely a physiological response of sound impinging on eardrums and nerves, why don’t all animals respond in the same way?  How do non-musical people and the deaf survive?  How can different people have different reactions to the same sounds?  Can the sensation of pleasure and chills be understood apart from a mind?
    3. Robot see, robot do:  A new “mimic-bot” was reported by New Scientist that can watch a human and learn to imitate what it sees.  “Developed by Ji-Hyeong Han and Jong-Hwan Kim at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon, the system is designed to respond to the actions of the person confronting it in the same way that our own brains do,” reporter Helen Knight explained.  “The human brain contains specialised cells, called mirror neurons, that appear to fire in the same way when we watch an action being performed by others as they do when we perform the action ourselves.  It is thought that this helps us to recognise or predict their intentions.”  We can only hope these designers do better than Mickey Mouse did in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” in Fantasia, by ensuring the robots know the meaning of “Stop!”
    New Scientist intimated that robots work better by evolving.  Describing tests at the University of Vermont, where a robot learned to walk after first experimenting with crawling, reporter Paul Marks said, “Virtual robots learning to walk are steadiest on their feet when they start out with no legs and are allowed to evolve limbs over time.  As well as helping to design more stable robots, the implication is that creatures whose body plans morph as they grow may have an evolutionary advantage.”  But doesn’t that describe the stages every baby goes through? 
    Evolution has nothing to do with these stories.  Marks made the mistake repeatedly of using evolve as an active verb or infinitive, “to evolve,” as if the robot was making a purposeful choice:
    • Virtual robots learning to walk are steadiest on their feet when they start out with no legs and are allowed to evolve limbs over time
    • to seek out a virtual light source and evolve a walking gait to reach it.
    • A third type of virtual bot had four upright legs to start with and lacked the ability to evolve its body plan.
    • Each bot used a software routine called a genetic algorithm Movie Camera to evolve a slithering or walking gait that would best get it to the light source given its current body plan.
    Evolution is not an active verb.  It is the passive effect of random variations doing whatever they do, if not killing an organism.  You cannot choose to evolve any more than you can choose to grow a new sense organ by hoping that the right cosmic rays cause fortuitous mutations that produce some new sensation you cannot now fathom.  Algorithm and evolve do not belong in the same sentence, unless “evolve” is defined in the mathematical sense of “unfolding.”  Evolutionary algorithm is an oxymoron, like dishonest truth or aimless plan.
        Then Marks stumbled further by confusing evolution with child development:
    In terms of biology, evolving behaviours like locomotion may be easier if the animal progresses through body plans that allow for gradual learning over time, says [Josh] Bongard [U of Vermont].  “This is what human infants do: they progress from crawling to walking gradually, even as the bones in the legs and feet change to accommodate the change in behaviour.”
    Child development is not evolution, for crying out loud.  It’s the outworking of an intelligently designed program.  This kind of equivocation over the meaning of evolution should long ago have been exploded out of the territory behind Darwinian rhetoric.  Then Marks followed that groaner with this: “The results are useful for engineers....”  Please don’t advise engineers to use evolution (in the Darwinian, biological sense) for their programs.  A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
    Next headline on:  Mind and PsychologyHuman BodyHealthBiomimeticsIntelligent DesignDarwin and Evolution
    Cute Dinosaur Forced to Support Evolution     01/14/2011    
    Jan 14, 2010 — Knee-high to a human, little Eodromaeus looks like a pet, but its discoverers are making the claim that it represents an early stage in dinosaur evolution.  Do the facts support this claim?
        National Geographic announced a “nasty little predator from dinosaur dawn found.”  The BBC News said that Eodromaeus, whose name means “dawn runner” (indicating that the discoverers [Paul Sereno and team, U of Chicago] embedded their interpretation of its evolutionary context into the creature’s name), “casts light on birth of the dinosaurs.”  The news articles went on to discuss how this little fossil fellow, dated at 230 million years old, was the forerunner of T. rex and all the monsters that would emerge in the millions of years to come.
        The dinosaur certainly looks well-equipped for running and taking care of itself, but the BBC article claimed, “Even though their descendents may have gone on to great things, neither of the creatures were dominant in their time, and the researchers believe their eventual rise may be down to blind chance, and perhaps some unknown environmental catastrophe.”  Stuff happens.
        When interpretation outruns the bones, it’s helpful to go to the original source material.  The discovery paper in Science1 contains some assumptions that should be kept in mind when evaluating the claims that Eodromaeus is the ancestor of the great dinosaurs.  For one thing, the dates: Sereno’s team used radiometric dating of the Ischigualasto formation in Argentina to insert the particular level of the rock into the geological time scale.  The caption of their chart contains on the right side “A current geologic time scale, which assumes an average rate of sedimentation between radioisotopically dated horizons.”  What if that assumption is not valid?  The resulting evolutionary picture could change drastically.
        Another glaring observation from their chart is decreasing diversity with time.  If we take their long-age interpretation of the formation, the evidence contradicts evolutionary predictions – and their paper basically admits it [bracketed portions added]:
    One explanation for the rise of dinosaurs has been that a few key features led gradually to the competitive dominance of dinosaurs [i.e., traditional Darwinism].  This view has been overtaken by a hypothesis of noncompetitive replacement [stuff happens], in which their rise is split into two successive episodes of extinction and noncompetitive infilling of vacant ecospace [opportunity-knocks Darwinism].  In the replacement hypothesis, the earliest dinosaurs are regarded as particularly rare (1 to 3% of terrestrial vertebrates), their abundance and diversity increasing successively at the Carnian-Norian and Triassic-Jurassic boundaries coincident with mass extinction of rhynchosaurs, traversodontid cynodonts, and dicynodonts and later of (noncrocodyliform) crurotarsal archosaurs.
        In contrast, the fossil record from Ischigualasto indicates that early dinosaurs in the latter half of the Carnian (231 to 228 Ma) were more common and diverse than previously thought, equaling the percentage of dinosaurian genera in the late Norian fauna from the overlying Los Colorados Formation (Fig. 4).  Thus, in terms of taxonomic diversity, dinosaurs did not increase their percentage among terrestrial vertebrates toward the end of the Triassic in southwestern Pangaea.
    They went on to note that the disappearance of the other creatures (assuming their timeline) had nothing to do with the rise of dinosaurs: “The disappearance of rhynchosaurs at the Carnian-Norian boundary was not linked to an increase in dinosaur diversity but rather coincided with the local extinction of dinosaurs.”  It’s not like the dinosaurs were taking advantage of space vacated by the unlucky ones that had gone extinct, in other words (vacated perhaps due to their lack of Darwinian fitness).
        The authors furthermore hinted that apparent increase of body size of later dinosaurs might be an artifact of preservation.  “Increased body size probably enhanced the preservation potential of late Norian dinosaurs, which are also recorded from many more sites than late Carnian dinosaurs,” they said.  Is there evidence for the conventional story that dinosaurs started small, like Eodromaeus, and gradually became the monsters we associate with dinosaurs?  “We cannot evaluate whether the increase in body size was gradual or rapid,” they said, “as there are no dinosaurs in the section between late Carnian [230-228 mya] and late Norian [226-225 mya] faunas” (brackets added).
        They noted with some puzzlement the apparent haphazard distribution of herbivores and carnivores from location to location, part of which they attribute to “taphonomic bias” (luck of the draw with what gets preserved as fossils).  It’s not clear, therefore, that the dots can be connected in just one way.
        Moreover, Eodromaeus was a well-developed, complex creature with fast legs and grasping claws, in no way inferior to later dinosaurs in terms of complexity and fitness.  What was there for evolution to do?  Notice what they said about this critter:
    The discovery of Eodromaeus, the reinterpretation of Eoraptor as a sauropodomorph, and the faunal record of the Ischigualasto Formation provide additional evidence that, by mid Carnian time (~232 Ma), the earliest dinosaurs had already evolved the most functionally important trophic and locomotor features characterizing ornithischians, sauropodomorphs, and theropods.  These attributes are thus unlikely to have functioned as the competitive advantage to account for the dominance of dinosaurs in abundance and diversity in terrestrial habitats some 30 million years later in the earliest Jurassic (~202 Ma).  Eodromaeus increases the range of salient theropod features present in the earliest dinosaurs, and Eoraptor shows that the enlarged naris, basally constricted crowns, and a twisted pollex were present in the earliest sauropodomorphs.
    The bulk of evolutionary advances thus must have appeared all at once in the earliest dinosaurs, according to their own timeline, with later evolution just variations on the theme.  Is this what Charles Darwin envisaged?
        In addition, other paleontologists didn’t react as jubilantly as the press.  They sound downright worried.  Michael Balter in the same issue of Science said this fossil “rattles the dinosaur family tree.2  He quoted Sereno “No one, even ourselves, predicted this repositioning.”  It means that the sauropods and theropods both appeared together.  Another paleontologist worried, “‘Only further research by independent teams can evaluate’ this radical shakeup of the early dinosaur tree.”
    1.  Martinez, Sereno, Alcober et al, “A Basal Dinosaur from the Dawn of the Dinosaur Era in Southwestern Pangaea,” Science, 14 January 2011: Vol. 331 no. 6014 pp. 206-210, DOI: 10.1126/science.1198467.
    2.  Michael Balter, “Pint-Sized Predator Rattles The Dinosaur Family Tree,” Science, 14 January 2011: Vol. 331 no. 6014 p. 134, DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6014.134.
    The main take-home message from this comedy of puzzles is that the Darwinian story comes first, and the data are props for it.  The data clearly do not indicate long ages of gradual increases in complexity and diversity, as Darwin would have imagined.  For all the facts show, these extinct creatures could have all appeared suddenly fully-formed, varied a little over the years with no new genetic innovation, and then perished together.  But no: in today’s paleontology, bones must be rounded up and commanded, like reluctant slaves, to build temples for Charlie.
        When the evolutionists have to admit that, according to their own timeline, they cannot see any progress, or any indication whether “stuff happened” gradually or rapidly, they have left science behind and are dealing in tall tales.  Don’t be confused by jargon like “infilling of vacant ecospace.”  What?  Is some hidden real estate agent pushing animals to evolve so they qualify for vacant government housing or something?  This is ridiculous.  It’s obfuscation by linguistic verbosity negating semantic lucidity.  They’re talking about miracles – miracles of chance, “the rise of dinosaurs” for no apparent reason other than sheer dumb luck, with all the major features of dinosaurs present from the beginning, and calling it evolution.
        Unfortunately, the science news reporters take this all as gospel truth and dish it out to the public with no critical analysis whatsoever.  That’s why we’re here, to expose how Darwin Brand Sausage is made.  You never sausage a confused mess.
    Next headline on:  FossilsDinosaursDating MethodsDarwin and Evolution
    Long Life in Death Valley Claimed     01/13/2011    
    Jan 13, 2010 — “34,000-Year-Old Organisms Found Buried Alive!” blares a headline at Live Science.  Reporter Andrea Mustain admitted “It’s a tale that has all the trappings of a cult 1960s sci-if movie,” but assures us this one is scientific.
        Brian Schubert (U of Hawaii) dug up salt crystals in the floor of Death Valley and found bacteria at the edge of survival, doing nothing but maintaining themselves.  In five of the 900 crystals he studied, he was able to coax the microbes back to enough activity to grow and reproduce, after about two and a half months of coaxing them to wake up.  Schubert believes the presence of “fellow captives” of algae in the bubbles provided a food source for the bacteria, but the article did not explain how the algae survived that long.
        Schubert and his advisor Tim Lowenstein (Binghamton University) were surprised by the age of the microbes.  “They need to be able to repair DNA, because DNA degrades with time,” Lowenstein acknowledged.  Mustain considered these some of the oldest living organisms on the planet.  Schubert exclaimed, “It’s 34,000 years old and it has a kid.”  Mustain added, “And ironically, once that happens, the new bacteria are, of course, entirely modern.”
        Live Science’s coverage is based on this month’s cover story in GSA Today,1 a journal of the Geological Society of America.  In the abstract, the authors consider the possibility of discovering even older organisms in space, in “materials that potentially harbor microorganisms are millions and even billions of years old.”  In the conclusions, they said, “Although we are beginning to understand the community of microorganisms inside modern and ancient fluid inclusions, much more needs to be learned about how they survive.”
    1.  Lowenstein, Schubert and Timofeeff, “Microbial communities in fluid inclusions and long-term survival in halite,” GSA Today Jan 2011, DOI: 10.1130/GSATG81A.1.
    No one ever questions the age, even though it leads to an astonishing “tale that has all the trappings of a cult 1960s sci-if movie.”  If it has all the trappings, maybe that is exactly what it is.  The scientists had to trust dating methods that are based on many assumptions, including evolutionary time.  Evolutionary time is like deep pockets to evolutionary biologists and geologists.  They never have to provide collateral (12/22/2010) or pay up, but just indulge at will without any responsibility, and just like in the movies, nobody really gets hurt.*  So along with the sci-if, we have gamblers, con artists and dupes in the cast.  You might buy a ticket for this movie if it were advertised as fiction, but for those who buy when it is advertised as a serious scientific documentary, who is the dupe?
    *except for the suckers who buy the fiction as truth.
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeologyDating Methods
      Dating a star is glamorous only in theory (01/30/2007).

    Scientists Debunk Scientists     01/12/2011    
    Jan 12, 2011 — What do you know?  We look to science to tell us about reality, but how confident can we be when they keep changing the tune?

    1. Undermining cosmologyScience Daily tells us today that “Cosmology Standard Candle Not So Standard After All.”  Results from the Spitzer Space Telescope show that Cepheid variables shrink as they age, “making them not quite as standard as once thought.”  One co-author of the paper in Astrophysical Journal warned, “Everything crumbles in cosmology studies if you don’t start up with the most precise measurements of Cepheids possible.”  He is confident that “This discovery will allow us to better understand these stars, and use them as ever more precise distance indicators.”  But isn’t that what they told us last time?
    2. Through a glass distortedly:  Another thing undermining cosmology is the distorting effect of gravitational lenses.  PhysOrg reported that lensing can bias counts of distant objects 10 to 30 times.  “Future surveys will need to be designed to account for a significant gravitational lensing bias in high-redshift galaxy samples.”  Unfortunately, the Hubble Telescope can’t do the job, “because at Hubble’s resolution one literally can no longer see the forest for the trees at these extreme distances.”  We’ll have to wait for the James Webb Space Telescope, “if it gets finished as designed,” to tackle this problem that is of “crucial importance to the optimal design of surveys for the first galaxies.”  See also Space.com, “Cosmic Lenses May Spoil Count of Ancient Galaxies.”
    3. Through the looking glass:  Meanwhile, be sure to calibrate your telescope carefully.  Science Daily reported, “Telescope Calibration May Help Explain Mystery of Universe’s Expansion,” suggesting it hasn’t been done yet.  When dealing with one-of-a-kind ultimate things, though, what does one calibrate it to?  John Woodward, who is working on calibrating the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii, doesn’t seem so sure: “because this is one of the first-ever such calibrations of a telescope, it is unclear just how much effect the team’s work will have, and part of their future work will be determining how much they have reduced the uncertainties in Pan-STARRS’s performance.”  Before he can measure the distortion of known uncertainties like gravitational lensing, maybe he needs to worry about the unknown uncertainties.
    4. Define asteroid:  We all know what asteroids are, right?  But did they exist before William Herschel invented the word?  While pondering that, Space.com argues that it was Herschel’s colleague Stephen Weston who invented the term.  OK, then, once humans agree on the term, all is settled, right?  Space.com told about a space rock undergoing an identity crisis.  Astronomers can’t decide if it is a comet or an asteroid.  It’s in the main asteroid belt, but has a tail (see picture on National Geographic).  Now they’re suggesting a new class of solar system objects: “main belt comets” – unless, that is, it turns out they’re seeing debris from a collision of two asteroids.
          NG indicated that some scientists are excited to find main belt comets because it brings special delivery trucks closer to earth for their implausible saga: “If you try to hit the Earth from the Kuiper belt, that’s a hell of a long shot,” David Jewitt [UCLA] said.  “But if you try to hit Earth from the asteroid belt, which is ten times closer, it’s much easier, because Earth is a bigger and closer target.”  Do any of you remember being told on the Discovery Channel that delivery of earth’s water via comets was a hell of a long shot?
    5. Genes aren’t everything:  Size up this statement from PhysOrg: “We’ve been taught that DNA is everything, but you could equally well say packaging is everything.”  Results of a massive survey called ENCODE (ENCyclopedia of DNA Elements), “to develop an encyclopedia of the epigenome, that is, of all of the many factors that can change the expression of the genes without changing the genes,” emphasizes the roles chromatin and chromosome packaging have on the resulting organism.  Codes are everywhere, including the code of silence: “Zen-like, she [Sarah C. R. Elgin, Washington University] concludes that silence may be as important as expression.  ‘It’s like sculpture – what you see depends not on what you add, but on what you take away.”
    6. Good cholesterol not so good:  We’ve been told that HDL is the “good cholesterol” that promotes heart health.  Not so fast, reported Live Science: “ Not All ‘Good’ Cholesterol is Good at Unclogging Arteries.”  According to new research at the U of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, “heart disease risk may be better assessed by measuring HDL’s ability to remove artery-clogging plaque, rather than the HDL levels themselves.”  In fact, there may be another substance that determines HDL’s ability to remove plaque.  Unfortunately for us all, “The test is too labor-intensive as it is to be used clinically, [Dr. Daniel J.] Rader said.”
    7. Human-caused climate error:  Scientists have tracked penguins as indicators of climate change.  Now they are finding out that the act of banding penguins both harms the birds and invalidates the measurements.  Banded penguins have 44% fewer chicks, not so much because of climate change, but due to the damage to their lifestyle.  “Banding may have skewed the data,” PhysOrg said, “but climate change is still harming and will harm penguins,” hedging its bets about validity of global warming.
          Live Science, though, said, “Because the approach diminishes survival and reproduction, Le Maho warned that climate change studies relying on banded birds are biased and produce questionable results.”  OK, so let’s just band something else.  Whoops: “[Rory] Wilson [Swansea University] said that the repercussions of banding would ‘absolutely’ carry over to other penguin species, and possibly even seals and sea turtles.”  Did we ever know what climate tune the band was playing?  If not, what should be the response to scientists like William Nordhaus telling politicians that “carbon taxes are the best approach to achieve significant emissions reductions”? (PhysOrg).
    Steven Shapin is at it again, upsetting our notions of scientific truth (see 11/02/2010).  We want to believe scientists are impartial, unbiased seekers of truth, but in Science last week,1 Shapin [Harvard] reviewed a book exploring commercial influences on science, asking, “Commerce at the Helm?”  He pointed to scholars who believe that due to commercial interference, and the desire to please funding sources, “scientific integrity is being disastrously undermined.”  Here are his concluding remarks:
    Despite pervasive myths of an ivory tower past, universities have always served their social masters and have always molded their internal cultures to those of the powers surrounding and sustaining them.  They have never done so completely, but neither have they ever been as contemplatively disengaged as legend implies.  Our whole society has become shot through with econometric sensibilities and corporate patterns of organization.  Why ever should we expect universities to be much different?  It’s a good question, meriting a considered and informed answer.  We’ve heard from the humanists and the social scientists; it’s time to hear a lot more from the natural scientists and engineers.  If the inhabitants of the modern research university cannot collectively agree that they want to push back, then the further alignment of research and teaching with econometric sensibilities is likely to be the future.

    1.  Steven Shapin, “History of Science: Commerce at the Helm?”, Science, 7 January 2011: Vol. 331 no. 6013 p. 33, DOI: 10.1126/science.1198434.
    If scientists keep changing their stories about things easily accessible to the senses in real time, how much can we expect confidence in their pronouncements about the unobservable past?
    Next headline on:  Stars and AstronomyCosmologySolar SystemGeneticsPolitics and EthicsPhilosophy of Science
    SETI’s Monsters Under the Head     01/11/2011    
    Jan 11, 2010 — No one has ever proven the existence of life beyond the earth, but some people have the earth’s international response all worked out.  They know how we should react whether the aliens are friendly or hostile.  Mike Wall at Space.com published the idea that if we are not alone, we should fear the aliens.  But are the aliens monsters in reality, or just under the head?
        His opening line omitted the power of positive thinking: “When considering the prospect of alien life, humankind should prepare for the worst, according to a new study: Either we’re alone, or any aliens out there are acquisitive and resource-hungry, just like us.”  This pessimistic view is the thinking of Simon Conway Morris, who belongs to a camp of evolutionists who think evolution is directional and predetermined.  Since humans are avaricious, he reasons, the aliens will probably be, too: “If intelligent aliens exist, they will look just like us, and given our far-from-glorious history, this should give us pause for thought,” he wrote in a journal of the Royal Society.
        The opposite attitude was expressed in the same issue by psychologist Albert Harrison, who believes the discovery of aliens would inspire delight, not fear.  He thinks the two parties would find a way to work out a peaceful coexistence.  Besides, “there will be coalitions of other civilizations that will keep them in check.”
        Mike Wall isn’t sure whether the “86 percent of Americans [who] believe that aliens are more likely to be friendly than hostile” are aliens or suckers.  Live Science also posted this story.
    Well, this entry surely must have stimulated your intellect.  Let’s try this logic on monsters under the bed: Either monsters exist under the bed, or they don’t.  If they don’t exist, we wonder why not.  If they do exist, either they are friendly or hostile.  If they were friendly, they would have come in peace by now, so they must be hostile.  We also know they must be hostile because they probably evolved like us, and we are hostile.  Was this conversation really carried on by adults with white lab coats, or by Calvin? (the cartoon character, not the theologian).  Wasn’t Freud the one who called belief in God a projection of the human psyche?
        Simon Conway Morris is an expert on Cambrian fossils but has weird ideas about evolution.  Very few evolutionists think evolution is predictable and predetermined to produce creatures like those on earth, but he gets away with his weird views because he is NOT a believer in creation or intelligent design.  He really should study Darwin’s Dilemma, in which he made a prominent appearance.  He believes in SETI, yet he bet he ready dread ETI, because human history isn’t pretty.  And if that isn’t enough groaners to rhyme with SETI, remember it also rhymes with the mythical monster Yeti, which stands for Yarns about Extra-Terrace-trial iPhones (see 12/09/2010 commentary).
    Next headline on:  SETIDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
    Left-Handed Amino Acids Explained Naturally?     01/10/2011    
    Jan 10, 2010 — The problem of left-handed amino acids in life’s proteins has remained an evolutionary conundrum for decades (see online book and earlier entries).  Another team has tried to tackle it, and boasted great things for their small returns.  Science Daily said,
    What is the origin of such asymmetry in biological material?  There are two competing hypotheses.  One postulates that life originated from a mixture containing 50% of one enantiomer and 50% of the other (known as a racemic mixture), and that homochirality progressively emerged during the course of evolution.  The other hypothesis suggests that asymmetry leading to homochirality preceded the appearance of life and was of cosmic origin.  This is supported by the detection of L excesses in certain amino acids extracted from primitive meteorites.  According to this scenario, these amino acids were synthesized non-racemically in interstellar space and delivered to Earth by cometary grains and meteorites.
    A team in France was able to reproduce the reported excess by warming up some comet-like ice.  The excess the article reported, though, is just 1.3%.  Life needs 100% of one hand or the other.  Their celebration outran their delivery: “This is the first time that a scenario that explains the origin of this asymmetry has been demonstrated using an experiment that reproduces an entirely natural synthesis,” they said.  They believe that circularly polarized light in stellar nebulae produced the slight excess.  “These findings imply that the selection of a single enantiomer for the molecules of life observed on Earth is not the result of chance but rather of a deterministic physical mechanism.”
    Sorry.  1.3% doesn’t cut it.  It’s like getting 1.3% of the way to Hawaii; you’re still going to drown.  The chance hypothesis is definitely out the window (online book), so astrobiologists are desperately looking for some deterministic mechanism that can deliver 100% pure single-handed amino acids.  How many more years since Pasteur showed this to be a fundamental separator of life from non-life do we give the Darwin Party overtime to figure it out?  Game over!  Charlie lost!
        “Two competing hypotheses,” they said.  There’s the either-or fallacy in action.  The reasonable hypothesis they left out is intelligent design: single-handed proteins were purposefully chosen, because life cannot exist without it.  Their false dichotomy is like a choice between fish sticks and fish balls, when what you crave is beef.  Where’s the beef in this evolutionary myth?  It’s all racemic buns, and they deserve a swift paddling.
    Next headline on:  Origin of LifePhysicsStars and Astronomy
      Why your brain has gray matter, and why you should use it (01/13/2006).

    Insect Wings Are Rainbows of Color     01/09/2011    
    Jan 9, 2010 — Scientists in Sweden have found that a feature of transparent insect wings – their shimmering colors – may have a purpose.  They are not just accidental patterns like the rainbow colors of oil on water, but are stable structures genetically determined for insect recognition and mating.  They call them “wing interference patterns” (WIP) but their evolutionary explanation for them appears to be a work in progress (WIP).
        Publishing in PNAS,1 the team said that these color patterns “have been largely overlooked by biologists” even though they have been known since before Darwin.  Like the oil-on-water effect, “These extremely thin wings reflect vivid color patterns caused by thin film interference,” but the effect in insects is not accidental.  “The specific color sequence displayed lacks pure red and matches the color vision of most insects, strongly suggesting that the biological significance of WIPs lies in visual signaling.”
        The patterns, they found are not just genetically stable, but are reinforced by additional structures, such as “membrane thickness, pigmentation, venation, and hair placement.”  They continued, “The optically refracted pattern is also stabilized by microstructures of the wing such as membrane corrugations and spherical cell structures that reinforce the pattern and make it essentially noniridescent over a large range of light incidences.”  Their paper is loaded with dazzling color images of various insect wings.  They feel this largely-overlooked feature of Hymenoptera (bees, wasps) and Diptera (flies) can serve as a species identifier and a potent source of experimentation on genetic control of wings.
        The authors had a lot to say about evolution.  They ascribed these coloration patterns to sexual selection, but it was clear their thinking was largely unformed and tentative: “The WIP is potentially a major contribution to the toolbox for evolution of small insects with transparent wings and thus an important piece of the evolutionary puzzle, they said at the end of the paper.  Apparently no other biologist has examined these features of insects before in evolutionary terms.
    Update 01/13/2010: Live Science posted an article and photo album about this phenomenon that they said was “hidden in plain sight” from scientists.  One researcher at the University of Lund said, “one day you handle a specimen, which you may very well [have] seen before, and suddenly you notice the wing pattern, which is beautiful and perfect, like an art painting.”  A colleague responded when shown these patterns, “It was like the world I knew suddenly was turned upside down and a totally new character system was sparkling from every wing of the flies I had been working with for years without really noticing.”  But then he said, “We find it hard to believe that insects walk and fly around with wings that can be turned on to large (to them) flashing billboards without evolution picking up on it.”  The article later acknowledged that evolution of these art paintings is not straightforward from the evidence: “They also hope to learn whether evolution drives changes in the color patterns,” putting any scientific understanding into future tense.  For now, “The study is an example of old-fashioned science yielding new information,” he said.


    1.  Shevtsova, Hansson, Janzen and Kjærandsend, “Stable structural color patterns displayed on transparent insect wings,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, print January 3, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1017393108 (open access).
    One thing is clear: insects did not decide to “evolve” this capability, nor did “evolution” as if it was some purpose-driven goddess.  Yet again and again, the authors spoke of evolution as a purposeful agent with a toolkit for getting things done.  We need to kick some butt about misuse of terms in evolutionary theory.
        The patterns truly are beautiful; you should look at the images in this open-access paper.  In creation, things are often functional as well as beautiful.  You yourself should be useful as well as ornamental.  For a new year resolution, work on whichever part is not optimum.
    Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyPhysicsIntelligent DesignDarwin and Evolution
    Lice and Licentiousness in Paleoanthropology     01/08/2011    
    Jan 8, 2010 — A paleoanthropologist believes our ancestors ran nudist colonies for 830,000 years before inventing clothes, and can prove it from lice genes.  The story is on Science Daily.
        By comparing head lice and clothes lice genomes, David Reed at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida came up with a date for the invention of clothing: 170,000 years ago.  With taxpayer funding via the National Science Foundation, Reed pieced together clues from genes, ice cores and evolutionary theory to weave his story, which includes a long period of social nudity.
        According to Reed, humans lost their body hair one million years ago, but started wearing clothes 170,000 years ago.  That leaves 830,000 years for our imaginary ancestors to cavort around in birthday suits.  “It’s interesting to think humans were able to survive in Africa for hundreds of thousands of years without clothing and without body hair, and that it wasn’t until they had clothing that modern humans were then moving out of Africa into other parts of the world,” he said.
        Parts of this story don’t hang well together, though.  Africa is pretty warm, but he said they invented clothes to survive one of the Ice Ages, presumably in Europe.  Ian Gilligan, another colleague on Gilligan’s island of Australia, said, “It means modern humans probably started wearing clothes on a regular basis to keep warm when they were first exposed to Ice Age conditions,” even though there were warm areas they could have remained in, like Africa.  But if they needed warmth, why did humans lose their hair in the first place, and why didn’t other mammals invent clothes?  The alleged human ancestors could have dug burrows, or stayed by the fire they were inventing while evolving technology.
        Of course, there’s no way to know what early evolving people were wearing, if anything, because textiles do not preserve well in the fossil record.  And estimating the evolution of clothing by lice genes assumes that humans and lice evolved, a circular argument.  It doesn’t matter to Reed, though.  It would be impossible to go back in time and check his theory out.  Maybe next he will investigate the evolution of shame, and the evolution of evolutionary storytelling.
    One can’t make a case on such threadbare evidence.  This contrived tale is merely a fig leaf, made up of NSF dollars, covering up shameful science.  Don’t tell the Discovery Channel, Science Channel and History Channel.  Now that the FCC has apparently opened the door to more nudity on television (Fox News), those apeman documentaries could really start to get risque.  The lice, though, may love all the new real estate.
    Next headline on:  Early ManDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
    Astrobiologists Explain Cambrian Explosion Using Invisible Data     01/07/2011    
    Jan 7, 2010 — According to PhysOrg and Astrobio.net, the skeletons to the Cambrian Explosion1 are hidden in the Precambrian closet, out of sight, even though the closet is open for inspection.  We mustn’t be fooled into thinking there was a Creation event, because evolution was doing its work in secret, like magic:
    The first instance of biomineralization – i.e. the biologic use of minerals – was around 2 billion years ago when certain bacteria precipitated grains of magnetite to apparently help orient themselves in the Earth’s magnetic field.  However, the first animal skeletons didn’t appear until right before the Cambrian explosion, at the end of the Ediacaran Period.
        These early shell-bearing creatures help to resolve Charles Darwin’s concern over the sudden appearance of so many new animal species during the Cambrian explosion.  The fossil record gives the impression of a "Creation" event, but in reality, animals had evolved prior to the explosion.  They just didn’t leave much for paleontologists to find until they developed the skeleton-making trait.
    Well, shame on those animals for not leaving evidence for paleontologists.  It’s not like them to hide their traits for hundreds of millions of years only to tantalize them with a few clues 10 million years before the explosion.  But rest assured, “once a few animals started building with minerals, a ‘housing boom’ erupted across the animal kingdom,” the article continued.  And thanks to funding from the NASA Astrobiology: Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology program, Shuhai Xiao from Virginia Tech and Suzanne Porter from UC Santa Barbara came just in time, equipped with stories to explain why the lack of evolutionary evidence does not imply a Creation event.
        Porter doesn’t know what the animals looked like that made the first shells.  Furthermore, “she doesn’t believe they passed on their skeleton-making skills to any descendants, which implies biomineralization was ‘re-invented’ a few million years later.”  While the reader ponders that miraculous double whammy, she drops this cluster bomb: “Skeletons evolved more than three dozen times within animals – and about half of these did so in the early Cambrian.”  The idea of multiple, independent, sudden major leaps would seem to undercut any idea of evolutionary progress, and make the evolutionary explanation for the Cambrian Explosion amount to 36 cases of “stuff happens.”  Xiao didn’t mind.  He was “Amen Charlie” for the idea, adding, “Once something is evolved, it can be recruited for other purposes.”
    What’s striking about this is how rampant biomineralization became in a relatively short period of time.  Skeletons turned into the “must-have” accessory, with different species utilizing entirely different minerals (mainly calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate and silica).  The questions is: what drove so many organisms to develop the skeleton-forming trait?
    Striking, indeed.  Maybe the organisms were trying to get rid of the minerals which they considered toxic waste.  So they took their toxic waste dumps and made beautiful artistic sculptures out of them, as illustrated in the article by a page from Ernst Haeckel’s 1904 drawings.  On the other hand, maybe some animals invented predation, and drove the others into an evolutionary arms race.  “As animals began feeding on other animals, protective body armor became a distinct advantage,” the article opined.  “This can explain why skeletons appear to have evolved independently across the biological spectrum during the Cambrian explosion.”  Necessity is the mother of evolution.
        If that was the case, though, the predators appear to have quickly found ways to bore holes into the new armor.  Sounds like a stand-off, not an arms race.  Xiao and Porter were admittedly unsure exactly what drove the animals to suddenly develop new body plans – orders of magnitude more complex than biomineral shells.  “Whatever the exact reason, the appearance of skeletons in the Pre-Cambrian was just the beginning.”  In the beginning, Darwin lit the pike: “It ignited the fuse for the Cambrian explosion, in which many skeletal animals diversified,” in this genesis story according to Xiao.
        But, a child might ask, why didn’t animals latch onto this invention earlier?  For some reason, the life-forms that had been smart enough to use magnetite to orient themselves by the Earth’s magnetic field took two billion years to figure out how to grab readily-available minerals for armor.  “Body morphology was limited prior to biomineralization because animals couldn’t grow very big without a skeleton, Xiao says.  Pre-Cambrian biomineralization would have opened up a world of possibilities for evolution to explore.”  And so, once evolution went exploring, the world would never be the same; and the animals evolved happily ever after.
    1.  For information on the Cambrian Explosion, see the documentary film Darwin’s Dilemma and our entries from 10/31/2010 and 04/23/2006.
    If you are not shaking your head in disbelief at the credulity of modern scientists with PhDs who could dream up such evidence-challenged tales, you should be.  This is so silly, it ranks with the stupidity of university professors who still think communism was a good thing.  Someday, if any logic remains in the world, students will study articles like this like we study the myths of the ancient Babylonians, wondering how the same people who could send rockets to other planets could worship Evolution like some kind of goddess, and believe that the “appearance” or “emergence” of biomineralization “opened up a world of possibilities for evolution to explore.”
        PhysOrg and Astrobio.net actually expected you, a perceptive and intelligent reader, to fall for the idea that skeleton-making evolved independently not just once, not twice, but three dozen times.  To top it off, they acknowledged that the evidence looks like a Creation event, but claimed that “in reality” it was a mystical process of evolution that left no trace but must have been secretly at work.  Who do they think we are?  It’s not like we’re mind-numbed public school indoctrinees or something.
        Thank NASA for paying these credulous dreamers – your tax dollars at work, proving that the love of money is the root of evillusion (that’s evil illusion, the way the Brits say it).  Our layman’s work is not done till the priests and priestesses of the Religion of Astrobiology become too ashamed to say things like this in public, because they know they will be faced with an armada of logic, history, philosophy and reason, and so they become forced to raise funds not from politicians, who will also be too ashamed to support them, but from sources more in line with their mythology: the one-armed bandits of Nevada. 
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyFossilsOrigin of LifeDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
      Want to understand what drives astrobiologists?  Follow the money (01/07/2005)
        See also 01/28/2005 on the progress they make.

    “Primitive” Humans Were Sailors     01/06/2011    
    Jan 6, 2010 — Greek archaeologists have found stone tools on Crete thought to be between 130,000 and 700,000 years old, reported PhysOrg.  If so, the makers had to sail to get there.  “Crete has been separated from the mainland for about five million years, so whoever made the tools must have traveled there by sea (a distance of at least 40 miles).”  Before this announcement, the earliest date claimed for ancestors of humans was about 60,000 years, the article said, “although considerably earlier dates have been proposed”.  Back in February, claims of the younger date (130,000 years) “flabbergasted” the discoverers (see 02/18/2010).  Even then, an archaeologist compared it to finding an iPod in King Tut’s tomb.

    Tut, tut.  Observers of the collapse of human paleoanthropology are not surprised by more and more anomalies.  The surprises are the new norm.  This indicates that the non-surprising interpretation is outside the evolutionary box.
    Next headline on:  Early ManFossilsDating MethodsIntelligent Design
    Tip Link
    World’s largest cave has been found in Vietnam.  National Geographic has an article, exploration log and photo gallery showing its huge entry passageway (“A skyscraper could fit”) and amazing formations.  The photography is stunning and the features of this huge cave are phenomenal, and there may be others even larger still undiscovered in the jungle.

    Never Say Die: Researchers Spend 37 Years Looking for Evolution in Darwin’s Finches     01/05/2011    
    Jan 5, 2010 — The Grants are still at it.  Peter and Rosemary Grant have been studying Darwin’s finches since the 1970s, looking for evidence to support Darwin’s theory of natural selection.  Their latest paper in PNAS produced results that were tentative at best.1
        Up front, they had to admit that you can’t see the birds evolving.  Evolution is measured in terms of an elusive property called fitness, but the Grants, for all their experience and work, fell into the trap of defining fitness in terms of reproduction: “The fitness of an individual refers to its ability to survive and reproduce, generally measured as the number of offspring that the individual contributes to the next generation.”  The problem with this definition is that fitness can represent opposite things – speed or sloth, large size or miniaturization – as long as more offspring are produced.  It can even mean production of large numbers of offspring (as in insects) or very few (as in giant pandas), and still qualify as “fitness.”  Whatever survives is fit; whatever is fit survives.  Defined this way, fitness is a tautology (see “Fitness for Dummies,” 10/29/2002).  They added, “The translation of an individual’s potential fitness into realized fitness is governed by the environment,”  but they never again explained what differentiates those two terms.  Either an individual survives and reproduces or does not; if it only has the potential to do that, how can anyone measure its fitness until it dies and its offspring are counted?
        After that unsteady footing, they described how fitness might be determined by scientists.  “Although the survival component of fitness is occasionally and strongly influenced by morphology, there is no single morphological determinant of fitness over the long-term because selection oscillates in direction according to the particular nature of the food supply at the beginning of droughts.”  Don’t look for muscle-bound finches, in other words.  Darwin’s finches have a nasty habit of getting scrawny with droughts and fat in times of plenty (see 08/24/2005).  These outward appearances oscillate with the seasons and food supply.  A scientist will have to look elsewhere to measure fitness, whatever it is.
        In the paper, the Grants tried to measure “lifetime fitness” or “recruitment,” which basically measures relative offspring count at the end of an individual’s life: “Lifetime fitness (recruitment) may be determined solely by producing many offspring, modified by stochastic effects on their subsequent survival up to the point of breeding, or by an additional contribution made by the high quality of the offspring owing to nonrandom mate choice.”  The bottom line is how many chicks survive and grow up to pass on the parents’ genes to the next generation.  It’s no score, obviously, to produce dozens of chicks that never survive to adulthood or remain celibate – otherwise that could represent an oscillation around the mean, too, over generations.
        Their main finding seems little more than common sense: “Regression analysis showed that the lifetime production of fledglings was predicted by lifetime number of clutches and that recruitment was predicted by lifetime number of fledglings and longevity.”  That only seems to state the obvious, if not restating the premise: the more sex, the more kids.  A breeding pair will score higher the more clutches it has, and the more fledglings they produce over their lifetimes.  But even then, can they apply generally what they found on the unique Galapagos environment?  “Darwin’s finches deviate from the standard tropical pattern of a slow pace of life by combining tropical (long lifespan) and temperate (large clutch size) characteristics.”  Does that mean that what happens in Galapagos stays in Galapagos?  If that is so, what are they learning about Darwinian evolution by looking at a special case?
        The Grants were able to discount mate choice as a factor in fitness, whatever that is, and “The offspring sired by extrapair mates were no more fit in terms of recruitment than were half-sibs sired by social mates.”  Maybe, then, this paper is more noteworthy for what it didn’t find than what it found.  Somehow, the Grants kept their positive thinking through it all: “These findings provide insight into the evolution of life history strategies of tropical birds.”  Even though Darwin’s finches are atypical, “Our study of fitness shows why this is so in terms of selective pressures (fledgling production and adult longevity) and ecological opportunities (pulsed food supply and relatively low predation).”  But selective pressures and ecological opportunities cannot generate the genetic information required to make a bird evolve into something better.  The birds were already finches when they moved to the islands, and have not changed all that much in factors that really count (organs, senses, flight, brain, etc).  They must have been pretty “fit” (whatever that means) when they first got to the islands.
        The chart in the paper shows four cohorts of birds monitored between 1978 and 1987.  Now it is 2011.  When all was said and done, the Grants admitted that much more research is needed to untangle the factors that might influence the observations:

    Thus, there are two components of biological success, in addition to chance, that have a bearing on the combination of life history traits.  The first component is an ability to find food (seeds) in dry years when food is scarce and there is no breeding.  The second is an ability to find food (insects and spiders) and avoid interference at the nest from intruders during breeding.  Identifying the components, which are two different suites of behavioral and physiological traits, shows where further research is needed to gain a more detailed understanding of how fitness is maximized.  Such research may yield insight into the question of how lifespan/reproduction trade-offs evolve differently in different tropical habitats that vary in seasonality, elevation, structure, and climate and also between tropical and temperate zones due to differences in ecology and seasonality, as well as other correlates of latitude.
    So for 37 years of studying these birds,2 the Grants cannot say that any factor provides prediction of upward and onward gains in fitness, whatever that is.  For all they know, each one of these factors has oscillated for thousands of years, or else all the birds would have arrived at fitness nirvana by now.
        The end of 2010 marked the 10th anniversary of Jonathan Wells’s book Icons of Evolution, which critically examined the top 10 alleged proofs of Darwinian evolution (peppered moths, the horse series, four-winged fruit flies, Haeckel’s embryos, and others – including Darwin’s finches).  Evolution News & Views has been celebrating the book’s anniversary with interviews.  It began Nov 30 with an overview video and review by David Klinghoffer.  Paul Nelson reviewed the Miller Experiment.  Jonathan Wells reflected on his research about Archaeopteryx, Darwin’s Tree of Life, and on homology in vertebrate limbs.  In addition, Michael Behe and Casey Luskin each commented on the influence of the book, and today, John West paid a general tribute.
        If a segment on Darwin’s finches is forthcoming, the newest paper by the Grants will provide more fodder for Jonathan Wells’ gentle reproof in Chapter 8 of his book, where he praised the Grants’s “excellent field work” (p. 173) but criticized the exaggeration of the actual evidence as support for Darwin’s theory: “evidence for oscillating natural selection in finch beaks is claimed as evidence for the origin of finches in the first place,” he said.  “Apparently, some Darwinists are prone to make inflated claims for rather meager evidence” (p. 174).  Wells noted that the National Academy of Science referred to this work by the Grants as a “particularly compelling example” of the origin of species, pointing out that, like a stock promoter, they misled the public by touting the increases during good years but not the decreases during years of drought.  Quoting Phillip Johnson, he ended, “When our leading scientists have to resort to the sort of distortion that would land a stock promoter in jail, you know they are in trouble.”
    1.  Peter and Rosemary Grant, “Causes of lifetime fitness of Darwin’s finches in a fluctuating environment,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print January 3, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1018080108 PNAS January 3, 2011.
    2.  For previous entries about the research of Peter and Rosemary Grant on Darwin’s finches, see 04/26/2002, 09/03/2004, 10/24/2004, 08/24/2005, 07/24/2006, 03/28/2007, 03/04/2008, and 11/13/2008.
    Bless their hearts, we hope Peter and Rosemary can find something to console their souls after wasting their lifetimes on a fruitless quest.  Take heart.  Remember that no experiment is ever a complete failure; it can always serve as a bad example.
    Next headline on:  BirdsDarwin and Evolution
    Beavers: Natural Engineers Do It Better     01/04/2011    
    Jan 4, 2010 — A curious case of biomimetics was reported by Science Daily: engineers imitating beavers.  River restoration is a big project in many states that would like to return their rivers to the way the colonists first found them.  “When engineers restore rivers,” the article began, “one Kansas State University professor hopes they’ll keep a smaller engineer in mind: the North American beaver.”
        Human engineers have been thinking too logically.  They tended to believe that river restoration meant making a continuous flowing stream.  They tore down milldams and felt satisfied when the river ran without breaks, but now realize they were missing something that beavers knew all along: river health requires ponds and multiple channels to increase diversity and productivity.
    Rather than tear down the whole milldam and radically change the surrounding ecosystem, the researchers recommend river restorers only remove part of it.  This allows some ponded water to remain and mimics the role of beavers.  Daniels said that in many cases if an old dam breaks and forms a gap, beavers may build their own dam to patch the gap and recreate the ecosystem that previously existed.
    This is not only a more natural approach to ecological engineering; it is a thrifty one.  Melinda Daniels, co-author of a study published by Kansas State, said, “We can restore rivers in a way that mimics the naturally diverse beaver streams, and we can save a lot of money in the process.
    Why not just leave it to beaver?  (Sorry, but you knew it was coming.)
    For previous articles on beavers’ engineering benefits for the environment, see 10/11/2008, 02/25/2008, 06/08/2006, and 07/16/2005.
    Next headline on:  MammalsBiomimetics
      Take a look at the power of enzymes – and the power of faith to believe they emerged by chance in the 01/12/2004 entry.

    Evolution by Gene Duplication Falsified     01/03/2011    
    Jan 3, 2010 — A common hypothesis in evolutionary circles is evolution by gene duplication.  It posits that duplicated genes are free to evolve new functions without affecting the primary gene.  This idea has been dealt a serious blow by a paper published in Complexity on Dec. 22.1
        Joseph Esfandiar Hannon Bozorgmehr first dealt a falsifying blow to natural selection as a creative force for genetic information:

    Research into the evolution of genes has shown that the peptides they code for are of a finicky and precarious nature, both marginally stable and prone to aggregation.  Protein folding happens to be a highly complex and synergistic process, involving a number of epistatic relationships among many residues.  This phenomenon, compounded with the issue of interactions between protein molecules, can significantly complicate adaptive evolution such that in the majority of cases the overall effects on reproductive fitness are very slight.  Many arguably “beneficial” mutations have been observed to incur some sort of cost and so can be classified as a form of antagonistic pleiotropy.2
        Indeed, the place and extent of natural selection as a force for change in molecular biology have been questioned in recent years.  Detecting the incidence of any beneficial substitutions in genes has so far relied on statistical inferences as empirical evidence is less readily available.  In many instances, nonsynonymous changes and shifts in allelic diversity may be induced by factors that can serve to imitate selective effects—biased gene conversion, mutational and recombinational hotspots, hitchhiking, or even neutral drift being among them.  Moreover, several well-known factors such as the linkage and the multilocus nature of important phenotypes tend to restrain the power of Darwinian evolution, and so represent natural limits to biological change.  Selection, being an essentially negative filter, tends to act against variation including mutations previously believed to be innocuous.
    That’s right out of the starting gate in this paper.  What about gene duplication?  Isn’t evolution free to “tinker” with the copy (paralog) without affecting the function of the original?  The idea that natural selection is more permissive with duplicated genes was analyzed by Bozorgmehr.  Then he examined the best examples presented by evolutionary biologists.  For a duplicate to be preserved at all, rather than eliminated by negative selection (also called purifying selection), it must provide some benefit:
    Were selection to be completely relaxed and any manner of changes permitted, this would only serve to guarantee complete degeneration.  It would invariably lead to the introduction of null and nonsense mutations, scrambling the open reading frame (ORF), and degrading the cisregulatory elements involved in transcription—leading to the gene’s pseudogenization.  Thus, a measure of purifying/stabilizing selection seems necessary for duplicate preservation, and any evolutionary divergence would proceed under a relaxed regime rather than none at all.
    His primary purpose was to see if novel genetic information can arise by gene duplication.  He first defined information in functional terms (contra Shannon information): genetic information is “The qualitative increase in operational capability and functional specificity with no resultant uncertainty of outcome.”  The paper then described how to test for novel genetic information, described the way evolutionists believe it arises in duplicated genes, and looked at the best examples cited in the literature.
        When citing one case, he stated a principle Darwinians need to keep in mind: “A key problem associated with the Darwinian mechanism of evolution is that many of the putative incipient and intermediate stages in the development of a biological trait may not be useful themselves and may even be harmful.”  Finally, the author spent a paragraph on “de novo recruitment without duplication”; i.e., the emergence of new genetic information out of the blue.  “This represents a return to the idea of the hopeful monster at the molecular level,” he said of recent attempts to revive Goldschmidt’s long-discredited hypothesis (cf. 02/24/2010).  After looking at the examples, he said, “de novo recruitment of noncoding DNA would seem extremely improbable and implausible.
        In conclusion, he noted that accidental gene duplication clearly adds to the size of some genomes.  “However, in all of the examples given above, known evolutionary mechanisms were markedly constrained in their ability to innovate and to create any novel information, he said.  “This natural limit to biological change can be attributed mostly to the power of purifying selection, which, despite being relaxed in duplicates, is nonetheless ever-present.”  He allowed that subfunctionalization (division of function between copies) might act in some cases, but that, too, provides no new functional information (cf. 10/24/2003, 07/26/2006, 10/17/2007).  Then he examined cases of co-option cited by Darwinists, but found, again, that “a proclivity toward functional stability and the conservation of information, as opposed to any adventurous innovation, predominates.
        In short, neo-Darwinism fails by both natural selection and tinkering with duplicate genes.
    The various postduplication mechanisms entailing random mutations and recombinations considered were observed to tweak, tinker, copy, cut, divide, and shuffle existing genetic information around,but fell short of generating genuinely distinct and entirely novel functionality.  Contrary to Darwin’s view of the plasticity of biological features, successive modification and selection in genes does indeed appear to have real and inherent limits: it can serve to alter the sequence, size, and function of a gene to an extent, but this almost always amounts to a variation on the same theme—as with RNASE1B in colobine monkeys.  The conservation of all-important motifs within gene families, such as the homeobox or the MADS-box motif, attests to the fact that gene duplication results in the copying and preservation of biological information, and not its transformation as something original.
    His ending paragraph is like a good-news-bad-news joke on neo-Darwinism.  Good news: “Gradual natural selection is no doubt important in biological adaptation and for ensuring the robustness of the genome in the face of constantly changing environmental pressures.”  Bad news: “However, its potential for innovation is greatly inadequate as far as explaining the origination of the distinct exonic sequences that contribute to the complexity of the organism and diversity of life.”
        So what comes next after neo-Darwinism’s demise?  He didn’t offer a replacement evolutionary theory, but warned that any new contender must think holistically about the cell (cf. 04/02/2008).  “Any alternative/revision to Neo-Darwinism has to consider the holistic nature and organization of information encoded in genes, which specify the interdependent and complex biochemical motifs that allow protein molecules to fold properly and function effectively.”  None of the 95 references in the paper referred to intelligent design or creationist sources.
    1.  Bozorgmehr, “Is Gene Duplication a Viable Explanation for the Origination of Biological Information and Complexity?,” Complexity 22 Dec 2010, DOI: 10.1002/cplx.20365.
    2.  Regarding pleiotropy, see 01/17/2005, 10/17/2007 bullet 3, 11/03/2008, 04/02/2008, and 04/12/2006.  Regarding antagonistic pleiotropy, see 09/30/2010 and 06/30/2009, 03/17/2003.  Regarding epistasis, see 10/17/2007 bullets 3-4, 12/14/2006 and 10/19/2004.
    Whew.  Now that that’s over, it’s time to clean up the mess left by the Darwin Party parade.  Don’t let any new usurpers in the lab who don’t understand biological information and the holistic nature and organization of information encoded in genes.  Scientists need to learn from their mistakes.  They haven’t learned yet.  Evolution has been falsified many times before (e.g., 10/19/2004), and yet the myth goes on.
        Bozorgmehr did not refer to intelligent design, and did not cite any ID sources, but arrived at the same conclusions about the natural limits to biological change that creationists and ID advocates have been preaching for decades.  This indicates that common sense and honest evaluation of the facts falsifies Darwinism without reliance on religious or creationist sources.  (Where ever did anyone get the idea that informational codes could arise, or have any meaning, apart from intelligent design?)
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsDarwin and EvolutionIntelligent Design
    Embryonic Stem Cell Advocates Push Against Evidence and Ethics     01/02/2011    
    Jan 2, 2010 — An old preacher said, “It’s never right to do wrong to get a chance to do right.”  That sums up in simple terms the ethical problems of using embryonic stem cells to cure human diseases, apparent in this quote from PhysOrg:
    The potent but hotly debated cells can transform into nearly any cell in the human body, opening a path toward eliminating such ills as Parkinson’s disease, paralysis, diabetes, heart disease, and maybe even the ravages of aging.
        And more human experiments are on the way as scientists refine new methods to get around the controversy that surrounds embryonic stem cell research, which has generated controversy because it involves the destruction of early human life.
    But did that ethical quandary, and the lack of any cures (“opening a path toward...”) cause the reporter to call for a stop to the research?  Not in the slightest.  The article was upbeat and positive about companies charging ahead into the ethical minefield.  It quoted Bob Lanza, chief scientist at Advanced Cell Technology, in a positive light: “After a decade of intense controversy, the field is finally ready to start proving itself and to actually start helping patients suffering from a range of horrific diseases.”  ACT is getting ready to start a treatment for blindness, while Geron Corporation is going to try ES cells on spinal cord injuries.
        “The major concern with stem cell therapies is that the transforming cells could form tumors.”  That relegates the issue of killing human embryos to a minor concern.  Surprisingly, the article continued by reporting on remarkable new advances with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) that have no ethical issues.  Apparently, however, the ES trials will go marching on anyway.  Science Daily, meanwhile, reported on both ES and iPS cells, not even mentioning the controversies with the former.
        On Christmas Eve in Science,1 Greg Miller published a disturbing article about California’s Proposition 71 (2004) that authorized $3 billion in taxpayer funds to promote research on embryonic stem cells.  In “CIRM, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” Miller described how the proposition was the brainchild of Robert Klein, who spearheaded the initiative and then became director of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) that resulted.  Earlier in the month, Nature News profiled Klein as a string-pulling millionaire lawyer who pretty much bilked California voters, against the outcries of political and religious leaders, to fund ES cells because he was concerned about his son’s diabetes and thought they might provide a cure.  Six years later, the voters have little return on investment with another 2/3 of the approved funds still to be spent by a bankrupt state government.
    Klein’s critics say his promotion of stem cells’ therapeutic promise was zealous and oversimplified.  He “left voters with the impression that people will be jumping out of their wheelchairs and not being diabetic within a year”, says John Simpson, a long-time observer and critic of the agency’s governance, who is at the consumer-advocacy group Consumer Watchdog based in Santa Monica, California.  “There’s been this constant compulsion for [Klein] to say, ‘See, we’re delivering, we’re delivering’, and that's something that’s haunted him throughout the whole thing.”
    Describing Klein’s tactics to sell the initiative, reporter Elie Dolgin wrote, “Klein teamed up with several other affluent and politically savvy parents of diabetic children – including movie director Jerry Zucker and his wife Janet, and home developer Tom Coleman and his wife Polly – and the ‘three families’, as they called themselves, together with political consultants and lawyers, devised a ballot initiative that would ask California taxpayers to support stem-cell science to the tune of around $300 million per year for ten years.”  Dolgin continued, describing the “star-studded campaign endorsed by the likes of Brad Pitt, Christopher Reeve, Michael J. Fox and state governor Arnold Schwarzenegger” that pulled on public heartstrings to get the vote.  Klein, a rich lawyer with experience as a financier, wrote the job description for the director of the institute to match his own qualifications (“Scientific expertise is not a requirement,” Dolgin noted), raising concerns when he took the lead.  He is still serving after his six-year term expired.
        “Controversy is nothing new for CIRM,” Miller said in his Science article as he described conflicts of interest, infighting, and “fundamentally flawed” selection of leaders that led one former insider to call it the “CIRM circus”.  Miller wrote, “Watchdog groups have blasted the institute about what they see as exorbitant staff salaries and conflicts of interest on the board.  And patient advocates are tired of waiting for the stem cell cures they feel they were promised during the campaign.
        In an article devoid of any news about actual cures or progress, Miller quoted a stem cell researcher in Michigan saying,
    “The ‘yes’ vote on Prop. 71 changed the world.  Prior to that, the conversation in most states was, ‘Should we allow embryonic stem cell research?’” Morrison says.  “But once California put that stake in the ground, the conversation shifted to, ‘How do we keep up with California?’
    Meanwhile, researchers are giddy over the taxpayer-funded windfall: “I just moved into a spectacular new building,” one researcher gloated, apparently unconcerned about the embryos whose brief lives will be snuffed out inside.
    1.  Greg Miller, “Regenerative Medicine: CIRM: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” Science, 24 December 2010: Vol. 330 no. 6012 pp. 1742-1743, DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6012.1742.
    Scientists are sinners, too.  We all need repentance and redemption.  That’s what regenerative medicine should be about.
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyHealthPolitics and Ethics
    Cell Division Involves “Vast Array of Molecules and Processes”     01/01/2011    
    Jan 1, 2010 — Scientists continue to probe the roles of individual proteins in the symphony of molecules involved in cell division.  An article on Science Daily discussed work at Rockefeller University to understand one such protein named PRC1 that acts as a kind of molecular foreman for spindle orientation.  The opening paragraph is the notable part:
    Just before a cell divides into two – the basic act of reproducing life – the cellular environment must be exquisitely prepared.  The exact timing and localization of the vast array of molecules and processes involved in duplicating chromosomes and separating the offspring from the parent is one of the basic wonders of biology and is at the core of both healthy living and diseases such as cancer, which arise when the process goes awry.
    The article made no mention of evolution, except to hint that it hasn’t occurred with PRC1: “Scientists have known that PRC1, for ‘Protein Regular [sic; Regulator] of Cytokines 1,’ is required in yeast, plants and humans for linking together the polymers that make up spindles, called microtubules, in a specific orientation.”
    Looks like it will be a great year for intelligent design science, now that the fogma has been clearing from the Darwin Bicentennial for a year now.
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
      Evolutionists try to rid their theory of chance, but it cannot be done (01/20/2003).

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    “First, thank you for your site.  It is truly wonderful.  I spend a lot of time debating evos on web sites ...  and your site is indispensable reading for me.  I've been reading it for several years now and I would like to become a regular donor.... It won’t be much, but I’d like to do what I can.  I feel this issue is the primary issue standing between humanism and revival in America and the world.”
    (a reader in Florida)

    “I have just recently started studying this science of God stuff with some degree of diligence and I am astonished at what I did not know and did not understand, despite my 58 years, and 4 Master’s Degrees, to include from an Ivy League school.  Thank you for your efforts to get the true word out.”
    (a reader in Alabama)

    “Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy creation headlines.  I check them every few days and constantly gain perspective.  Without you, ‘even I’ would possibly believe at least some of the baloney.  Your baloney detector is more sensitive and I appreciate it!!”
    (a pastor in Ontario, Canada)

    “Crev.info is by far my favorite website.  The information is helpful in understanding and dismantling Darwinian foundations.  Some of my favorite articles are the biomimetics articles revealing the fantastic design that is obvious to anyone not blinded by the evolutionary goggles.  The commentaries are priceless, and love the embedded humor and clever innuendoes... Keep up the tremendous work!”
    (a database administrator in Texas)

    “Creation Evolution Headlines is my favorite website on intelligent design and Darwinism.  This is both due to your being always on the cutting edge of all the latest research relevant to the debate over evolution, as well as due to your soberness coupled with your uncomprimising [sic] stand against Darwinism.  Your work is invaluable.  Please keep it up all costs.”
    (founder of the Danish Society for Intelligent Design, who is beginning to translate some of our articles into Danish at www.intelligentdesign.dk)

    “Thank you for your work.  You show how the theory of macroevolution makes absolutely no contribution to scientific progress and in fact impedes scientific progress.  Conversely you show how the design assumption points the way toward true progress in science.”
    (an aerospace engineer in California)

    “Your website is by far the best for getting the most up to date news on what is going on in the science realm, and then separating the ‘useful’ information from the ‘baloney’.  You have a knack for ripping the mask off of Darwin.  Keep up the great work!”
    (an electrical engineer in North Carolina)

    “I love your work.  I check in nearly every day.”
    (an associate pastor in California who works with college grad students)

    “I’ve been a fan of your site for some time, since a friend in an intelligent design group I joined (quite clandestine for the sake of job security of those involved) clued me in to it.  I check what you have to say every day.  I can’t say enough about your highly credible scientific arguments, your incisive dissection of the issues, and your practical format.  Your references are always on target.
    (a physician, surgeon and writer in Georgia)

    “Nice site.  I enjoy reading the comments, and find it quite informative.... I am a frequent visitor to your headlines page.  I am a former agnostic, and Creation Safaris was one of the first pieces of open evolution questioning read (The Baloney Detector).  Great stuff.”
    (a historian in Australia)

    “You do a terrific job on snatching content from the headlines and filtering it for stupidity and lockstep paradigm thinking!  Not only are you on top of things but you do garnish the dish well!”
    (an IT security consultant in the midwest)

    “I always thought that science and the Bible should not be at odds with each other and prayed that God would reveal the truth about evolution/creation through science to us.  I wondered if there existed scientists who were believers and how they reconciled Genesis with science.  Where were they when I was teaching?  Now I understand that these Godly men and women had been silenced.... I am so thankful for your website containing your insightful and educational articles that reveal your understanding of science and God’s word.  Bless you.”
    (a retired biology teacher in Ohio)

    “It keeps getting better and better.  Wonderful resources there.”
    (a mechanical engineer and educational consultant in Texas)

    “Just stopped by to say Hi; Thanks again for your posting--still the best web site on the net!!”
    (a regular reader in Illinois)

    “I accidentally came across your BRILLIANT website today.... your website is mesmerising and i sincerely thank you for it.  Wishing you every success.”
    (an author in Ireland)

    “I appreciate your reviews more than I can tell.  Being able to find the references enables me to share them with my colleagues and students.”
    (a teacher in Virginia)

    “Thank you for your site.  I have thoroughly enjoyed it for a few years now and find it an awesome resource.”
    (a pastor in the arctic circle)

    “This is a lovely site, and I personally visit this often....  An interesting thing is also the creation scientist of the month .... just this information alone is enough to write a book from.”
    (a reader in South Africa)

    “What God has done through you and crev.info in the past 9 years is nothing less than miraculous.”
    (an author, PhD in science, and head of a Christian apologetics organization)

    “I thank God for you and your contribution to His Kingdom.  Yours is my favorite site.  May the Lord bless you this season as you get some rest.  We really appreciate your work.”
    (a consultant in Virginia responding to our Thanksgiving-week hiatus)

    “Instead of criticising every piece of evidence for evolution how about presenting some evidence for creationism?  Obviously there are holes in evolutionary theory – we can’t even define a species!  But its a theory with a whole load of evidence and if taken at its definition is a mathmatical [sic] certainty.”
    (a student in Leeds, UK, who must have reacted to one or a few articles, and appears to be philosophically and mathematically challenged)

    “In the creation vs. evolution world, which oftentimes is filled with a strong negative vibe, your website is a breath of fresh air!  Keep it up.”
    (a business manager in Texas)

    “The maple-seed helicopter (10/21/2009) is fascinating.  I’ll be spending some time surfing your encyclopedic collection of articles.”
    (dean of the aerospace engineering department at a major university)

    “I stumbled upon this web site more than once by following links from my usual creationist web sites but now I visit here quite often.  I am glad to see that there are more and more creationist web sites but disappointed to find out that this one has been running for nearly 10 years and I never knew about it.”
    (an electronics engineer in Sweden)

    “I am a teacher ... For three years i’ve been learning from you at crev.info/... My wife, a teacher also, passes your website on to all interested.  We are blessed by your gifts to the body of Christ through this site!  Thank-you for ALL your efforts over the decade.”
    (a teacher in California)

    “I just want to thank you for these resources that go back 9 years.  It has helped be tremendously when debating evolutionists. Just like in the Parable of the Talents, God will say to you, Well done, good and faithful servant!”
    (an engineer in Maryland)

    “There is no other place I can find the breadth of subjects covered, yet with the detailed insight you give.  People actually think I am smarter than I really am after I read your summaries.”
    (a business owner in Utah)

    “I believe there is a middle ground between ID and Evolution that defines what goes on in the real world.  It hasn’t been labeled by humanity yet, and it’s probably better that it hasn’t, for now.  The problem is there is still so much that humanity doesn’t know about the universe we live in and our learning progress is so uneven throughout our population.  If there is an Intelligent Designer, and I believe there is, these problems too will be taken care of eventually.  In the meantime, you do the best you can, the best that's humanly possible, to be objective and logical, while maintaining your faith.”
    (a retired letter carrier in Pennsylvania)

    “The information you have provided has been instrumental in completely resolving any lingering doubts I had when I became a Christian and being faced with the monolithic theory of evolution.  Your website is unique in that it allows the evolutionists themselves to shoot them in the feet by quoting them in context.  Bravo!”
    (a retired surveyor in Australia)

    “I really enjoy reading your posts and often send out links to various friends and family members to direct them to your site.  You have an incredible gift and I truly appreciate how you use it.... I have been a satisfied reader of your headlines for the last 5 years at least... can’t remember when I first stumbled on your site but it is now a daily must-stop for me.”
    (a senior software engineer in Ohio)

    “Thank you so much for your news.  I’ve fully enjoyed your articles and commentary for a while now and look forward to the future.”
    (a doctor in North Carolina)

    “I like your stuff.”
    (a doctor in New York)

    “Thank you and may God bless you all at CEH, for the wonderful work you do.”
    (a retired surveyor in Australia)

    “The information you put out there is absolutely superb.”
    (a lawyer in Kansas)

    “Your website is the best website on the web for keeping me current of fast developing crev material.”
    (a medical doctor in California)

    “I am a Christian & really appreciate the creation websites, I check your site every night.”
    (a logger in New Zealand)

    “I just found your website a day or so ago and am totally addicted.  You don’t know what that says, considering I’m only now – within the last few days, as a matter of fact – a ‘recovering’ old-earther ... Talk about going down internet ‘rabbit trails.’  I could go deeper and deeper into each ‘headline’ you post and never get anything else done...
    (a home school educator, graphic designer, painter, former geologist in Texas)

    “I very much enjoy your web site.  I have used it as a resource for debating evolutionist for about a year.  I am impressed at the breadth of journals and quantity of articles you report on.  I have recommended your site to several of my on line friends.  I don’t care if you publish this post but I wanted you to know how thankful I am for all the hard work you do.”
    (an engineering recruiter in California)

    “I pray that our Lord continue to give you strength to continue writing your articles on Creation-headlines.  I have been really blessed to read it daily....Unlike all other creation sites I am familiar with, yours has such a high scientific quality and your discussions are great.”
    (a scientist and university professor in Iceland, where 95% of the people believe in evolution)

    “Thank you for the work you do ... I scratch my head sometimes, wondering how you have the time for it all.”
    (a former atheist/evolutionist in aerospace engineering, now Biblical creationist)

    “I’m a regular (daily :) reader of your site.  It is amazing the amount of work that you impart in such a project.  Thank you very much.”
    (an IT professional with a degree in mechanical engineering from Portugal)

    “I find your site so helpful and you are so fast in putting up responses to current news.  I have your site RSS feed on my toolbar and can easily see when you have new articles posted.”
    (a geologist in Australia)

    “I have been reading your website for several years now.  Working in an environment where most people believe that there are only two absolutes, evolution and relativism, it has been wonderful to be able to get the facts and the explanations of the bluffs and false logic that blows around.  I have posted your website in many places on my website, because you seem to have the ability to cut through the baloney and get to the truth--a rare quality in this century.  Thank you for all that you do.”
    (a business analyst in Wisconsin)

    “...this is one of the websites (I have like 4 or 5 on my favorites), and this is there.  It’s a remarkable clearinghouse of information; it’s very well written, it’s to the point... a broad range of topics.  I have been alerted to more interesting pieces of information on [this] website than any other website I can think of.”
    (a senior research scientist)

    “I would assume that you, or anyone affiliated with your website is simply not qualified to answer any questions regarding that subject [evolution], because I can almost single-handedly refute all of your arguments with solid scientific arguments.... Also, just so you know, the modern theory of evolution does not refute the existence of a god, and it in no way says that humans are not special.  Think about that before you go trying to discredit one of the most important and revolutionary scientific ideas of human history.  It is very disrespectful to the people who have spent their entire lives trying to reveal some kind of truth in this otherwise crazy world.”
    (a university senior studying geology and paleontology in Michigan)

    “Hi guys, thanks for all that you do, your website is a great source of information: very comprehensive.”
    (a medical student in California)

    “You are really doing a good job commenting on the weaknesses of science, pointing out various faults.  Please continue.”
    (a priest in the Netherlands)

    “I much enjoy the info AND the sarcasm.  Isaiah was pretty sarcastic at times, too.  I check in at your site nearly every day.  Thanks for all your work.”
    (a carpet layer in California)

    “I just wanted to write in to express my personal view that everyone at Creation Evolution Headlines is doing an excellent job!  I have confidences that in the future, Creation Evolution Headline will continue in doing such a great job!
        Anyone who has interest at where science, as a whole, is at in our current times, does not have to look very hard to see that science is on the verge of a new awakening....
        It’s not uncommon to find articles that are supplemented with assumptions and vagueness.  A view point the would rather keep knowledge in the dark ages.  But when I read over the postings on CEH, I find a view point that looks past the grayness.  The whole team at CEH helps cut through the assumptions of weary influences.
        CEH helps illuminate the true picture that is shining in today’s science.  A bright clear picture, full of intriguing details, independence and fascinating complexities.
        I know that Creation Evolution Headlines has a growing and informative future before them.  I’m so glad to be along for the ride!!”
    (a title insurance employee in Illinois, who called CEH “The Best Web Site EVER !!”)

    “Thank you very much for your well presented and highly instructive blog” [news service].
    (a French IT migration analyst working in London)

    “Please keep up the great work -- your website is simply amazing!  Don’t know how you do it.  But it just eviscerates every evolutionary argument they weakly lob up there -- kind of like serving up a juicy fastball to Hank Aaron in his prime!”
    (a creation group leader in California)

    “I just want to thank you for your outstanding job.  I am a regular reader of yours and even though language barrier and lack of deeper scientific insight play its role I still draw much from your articles and always look forward to them.”
    (a financial manager and apologetics student in Prague, Czech Republic)

    “You guys are doing a great job! ... I really appreciate the breadth of coverage and depth of analysis that you provide on this site.”
    (a pathologist in Missouri)

    “I have read many of your creation articles and have enjoyed and appreciated your website.  I feel you are an outstanding witness for the Lord.... you are making a big difference, and you have a wonderful grasp of the issues.”
    (a PhD geneticist, author and inventor)

    “Thank you for your great creation section on your website.  I come visit it every day, and I enjoy reading those news bits with your funny (but oh so true) commentaries.”
    (a computer worker in France)

    “I have been reading Creation Evolution Headlines for many years now with ever increasing astonishment.... I pray that God will bless your work for it has been a tremendous blessing for me and I thank you.”
    (a retired surveyor in N.S.W. Australia)

    “I totally enjoy the polemic and passionate style of CEH... simply refreshes the heart which its wonderful venting of righteous anger against all the BS we’re flooded with on a daily basis.  The baloney detector is just unbelievably great.  Thank you so much for your continued effort, keep up the good work.”
    (an “embedded Linux hacker” in Switzerland)

    “I love to read about science and intelligent design, I love your articles.... I will be reading your articles for the rest of my life.”
    (an IT engineer and 3D animator in South Africa)

    “I discovered your site about a year ago and found it to be very informative, but about two months back I decided to go back to the 2001 entries and read through the headlines of each month.... What a treasure house of information!  ....you have been very balanced and thoughtful in your analysis, with no embarrassing predictions, or pronouncements or unwarranted statements, but a very straightforward and sometimes humorous analysis of the news relating to origins.”
    (a database engineer in New York)

    “I discovered your site several months ago.... I found your articles very informative and well written, so I subscribed to the RSS feed.  I just want to thank you for making these articles available and to encourage you to keep up the good work!”
    (a software engineer in Texas)

    “Your piece on ‘Turing Test Stands’ (09/14/2008) was so enlightening.  Thanks so much.  And your piece on ‘Cosmology at the Outer Limits” (06/30/2008) was another marvel of revelation.  But most of all your ‘footnotes’ at the end are the most awe-inspiring.  I refer to ‘Come to the light’ and Psalm 139 and many others.  Thanks so much for keeping us grounded in the TRUTH amidst the sea of scientific discoveries and controversy.  It’s so heartwarming and soul saving to read the accounts of the inspired writers testifying to the Master of the Universe.  Thanks again.”
    (a retired electrical engineer in Mississippi)

    “I teach a college level course on the issue of evolution and creation.  I am very grateful for your well-reasoned reports and analyses of the issues that confront us each day.  In light of all the animosity that evolutionists express toward Intelligent Design or Creationism, it is good to see that we on the other side can maintain our civility even while correcting and informing a hostile audience.  Keep up the good work and do not compromise your high standards.  I rely on you for alerting me to whatever happens to be the news of the day.”
    (a faculty member at a Bible college in Missouri)

    “Congratulations on reaching 8 years of absolute success with crev.info.... Your knowledge and grasp of the issues are indeed matched by your character and desire for truth, and it shows on every web page you write.... I hope your work extends to the ends of the world, and is appreciated by all who read it.”
    (a computer programmer from Southern California)

    “Your website is one of the best, especially for news.... Keep up the great work.”
    (a science writer in Texas)

    “I appreciate the work you’ve been doing with the Creation-Evolution Headlines website.”
    (an aerospace engineer for NASA)

    “I appreciate your site tremendously.... I refer many people to your content frequently, both personally and via my little blog.... Thanks again for one of the most valuable websites anywhere.”
    (a retired biology teacher in New Jersey, whose blog features beautiful plant and insect photographs)

    “I don’t remember exactly when I started reading your site but it was probably in the last year.  It’s now a staple for me.  I appreciate the depth of background you bring to a wide variety of subject areas.”
    (a software development team leader in Texas)

    “I want to express my appreciation for what you are doing.  I came across your website almost a year ago.... your blog [sic; news service] is one that I regularly read.  When it comes to beneficial anti-evolutionist material, your blog has been the most helpful for me.”
    (a Bible scholar and professor in Michigan)

    “I enjoyed reading your site.  I completely disagree with you on just about every point, but you do an excellent job of organizing information.”
    (a software engineer in Virginia.  His criticisms led to an engaging dialogue.  He left off at one point, saying, “You have given me much to think about.”)

    “I have learned so much since discovering your site about 3 years ago.  I am a homeschooling mother of five and my children and I are just in wonder over some the discoveries in science that have been explored on creation-evolution headlines.  The baloney detector will become a part of my curriculum during the next school year.  EVERYONE I know needs to be well versed on the types of deceptive practices used by those opposed to truth, whether it be in science, politics, or whatever the subject.”
    (a homeschooling mom in Mississippi)

    “Just wanted to say how much I love your website.  You present the truth in a very direct, comprehensive manner, while peeling away the layers of propaganda disguised as 'evidence' for the theory of evolution.”
    (a health care worker in Canada)

    “I’ve been reading you daily for about a year now.  I’m extremely impressed with how many sources you keep tabs on and I rely on you to keep my finger on the pulse of the controversy now.”
    (a web application programmer in Maryland)

    “I would like to express my appreciation for your work exposing the Darwinist assumptions and speculation masquerading as science.... When I discovered your site through a link... I knew that I had struck gold! ....Your site has helped me to understand how the Darwinists use propaganda techniques to confuse the public.  I never would have had so much insight otherwise... I check your site almost daily to keep informed of new developments.”
    (a lumber mill employee in Florida)

    “I have been reading your website for about the past year or so.  You are [an] excellent resource.  Your information and analysis is spot on, up to date and accurate.  Keep up the good work.”
    (an accountant in Illinois)

    “This website redefines debunking.  Thanks for wading through the obfuscation that passes for evolution science to expose the sartorial deficiencies of Emperor Charles and his minions.  Simply the best site of its kind, an amazing resource.  Keep up the great work!”
    (an engineer in Michigan)

    “I have been a fan of your daily news items for about two years, when a friend pointed me to it.  I now visit every day (or almost every day)... A quick kudo: You are amazing, incredible, thorough, indispensable, and I could list another ten superlatives.  Again, I just don’t know how you manage to comb so widely, in so many technical journals, to come up with all this great ‘news from science’ info.”
    (a PhD professor of scientific rhetoric in Florida and author of two books, who added that he was “awe-struck” by this site)

    “Although we are often in disagreement, I have the greatest respect and admiration for your writing.”
    (an octogenarian agnostic in Palm Springs)

    “your website is absolutely superb and unique.  No other site out there provides an informed & insightful ‘running critique’ of the current goings-on in the scientific establishment.  Thanks for keeping us informed.”
    (a mechanical designer in Indiana)

    “I have been a fan of your site for some time now.  I enjoy reading the ‘No Spin’ of what is being discussed.... keep up the good work, the world needs to be shown just how little the ‘scientist’ [sic] do know in regards to origins.”
    (a network engineer in South Carolina)

    “I am a young man and it is encouraging to find a scientific ‘journal’ on the side of creationism and intelligent design.... Thank you for your very encouraging website.”
    (a web designer and author in Maryland)

    “GREAT site.  Your ability to expose the clothesless emperor in clear language is indispensable to us non-science types who have a hard time seeing through the jargon and the hype.  Your tireless efforts result in encouragement and are a great service to the faith community.  Please keep it up!”
    (a medical writer in Connecticut)

    “I really love your site and check it everyday.  I also recommend it to everyone I can, because there is no better website for current information about ID.”
    (a product designer in Utah)

    “Your site is a fantastic resource.  By far, it is the most current, relevant and most frequently updated site keeping track of science news from a creationist perspective.  One by one, articles challenging currently-held aspects of evolution do not amount to much.  But when browsing the archives, it’s apparent you’ve caught bucketfulls of science articles and news items that devastate evolution.  The links and references are wonderful tools for storming the gates of evolutionary paradise and ripping down their strongholds.  The commentary is the icing on the cake.  Thanks for all your hard work, and by all means, keep it up!”
    (a business student in Kentucky)

    “Thanks for your awesome work; it stimulates my mind and encourages my faith.”
    (a family physician in Texas)

    “I wanted to personally thank you for your outstanding website.  I am intensely interested in any science news having to do with creation, especially regarding astronomy.  Thanks again for your GREAT website!”
    (an amateur astronomer in San Diego)

    “What an absolutely brilliant website you have.  It’s hard to express how uplifting it is for me to stumble across something of such high quality.”
    (a pharmacologist in Michigan)

    “I want to make a brief commendation in passing of the outstanding job you did in rebutting the ‘thinking’ on the article: “Evolution of Electrical Engineering” ...  What a rebuttal to end all rebuttals, unanswerable, inspiring, and so noteworthy that was.  Thanks for the effort and research you put into it.  I wish this answer could be posted in every church, synagogue, secondary school, and college/university..., and needless to say scientific laboratories.”
    (a reader in Florida)

    “You provide a great service with your thorough coverage of news stories relating to the creation-evolution controversy.”
    (an elder of a Christian church in Salt Lake City)

    “I really enjoy your website and have made it my home page so I can check on your latest articles.  I am amazed at the diversity of topics you address.  I tell everyone I can about your site and encourage them to check it frequently.”
    (a business owner in Salt Lake City)

    “I’ve been a regular reader of CEH for about nine month now, and I look forward to each new posting.... I enjoy the information CEH gleans from current events in science and hope you keep the service going.”
    (a mechanical engineer in Utah)

    “It took six years of constant study of evolution to overcome the indoctrination found in public schools of my youth.  I now rely on your site; it helps me to see the work of God where I could not see it before and to find miracles where there was only mystery.  Your site is a daily devotional that I go to once a day and recommend to everyone.  I am still susceptible to the wiles of fake science and I need the fellowship of your site; such information is rarely found in a church.
        Now my eyes see the stars God made and the life He designed and I feel the rumblings of joy as promised.  When I feel down or worried my solution is to praise God the Creator Of All That Is, and my concerns drain away while peace and joy fill the void.  This is something I could not do when I did not know (know: a clear and accurate perception of truth) God as Creator.  I could go on and on about the difference knowing our Creator has made, but I believe you understand.
        I tell everyone that gives me an opening about your site.  God is working through you.  Please don’t stop telling us how to see the lies or leading us in celebrating the truth.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.”
    (a renowned artist in Wyoming)

    “I discovered your site a few months ago and it has become essential reading – via RSS to Bloglines.”
    (a cartographer and GIS analyst in New Zealand)

    “I love your site, and frequently visit to read both explanations of news reports, and your humor about Bonny Saint Charlie.”
    (a nuclear safety engineer in Washington)

    “Your site is wonderful.”
    (a senior staff scientist, retired, from Arizona)

    “I’ve told many people about your site.  It’s a tremendous service to science news junkies – not to mention students of both Christianity and Science.  Kudos!”
    (a meteorology research scientist in Alabama)

    “...let me thank you for your Creation-Evolution Headlines.  I’ve been an avid reader of it since I first ‘discovered’ your website about five years ago.  May I also express my admiration for the speed with which your articles appear—often within 24 hours of a particular news announcement or journal article being published.”
    (a plant physiologist and prominent creation writer in Australia)

    “How do you guys do it--reviewing so much relevant material every day and writing incisive, thoughtful analyses?!”
    (a retired high school biology teacher in New Jersey)

    “Your site is one of the best out there!  I really love reading your articles on creation evolution headlines and visit this section almost daily.”
    (a webmaster in the Netherlands)

    “Keep it up!  I’ve been hitting your site daily (or more...).  I sure hope you get a mountain of encouraging email, you deserve it.”
    (a small business owner in Oregon)

    “Great work!  May your tribe increase!!!”
    (a former Marxist, now ID speaker in Brazil)

    “You are the best.  Thank you.... The work you do is very important.  Please don’t ever give up.  God bless the whole team.”
    (an engineer and computer consultant in Virginia)

    “I really appreciate your work in this topic, so you should never stop doing what you do, ’cause you have a lot of readers out there, even in small countries in Europe, like Slovenia is... I use crev.info for all my signatures on Internet forums etc., it really is fantastic site, the best site!  You see, we(your pleased readers) exist all over the world, so you must be doing great work!  Well i hope you have understand my bad english.”
    (a biology student in Slovenia)

    “Thanks for your time, effort, expertise, and humor.  As a public school biology teacher I peruse your site constantly for new information that will challenge evolutionary belief and share much of what I learn with my students.  Your site is pounding a huge dent in evolution’s supposed solid exterior.  Keep it up.”
    (a biology teacher in the eastern USA)

    “Several years ago, I became aware of your Creation-Evolution Headlines web site.  For several years now, it has been one of my favorite internet sites.  I many times check your website first, before going on to check the secular news and other creation web sites.
        I continue to be impressed with your writing and research skills, your humor, and your technical and scientific knowledge and understanding.  Your ability to cut through the inconsequentials and zero in on the principle issues is one of the characteristics that is a valuable asset....
        I commend you for the completeness and thoroughness with which you provide coverage of the issues.  You obviously spend a great deal of time on this work.  It is apparent in ever so many ways.
        Also, your background topics of logic and propaganda techniques have been useful as classroom aides, helping others to learn to use their baloney detectors.
        Through the years, I have directed many to your site.  For their sake and mine, I hope you will be able to continue providing this very important, very much needed, educational, humorous, thought provoking work.”
    (an engineer in Missouri)

    “I am so glad I found your site.  I love reading short blurbs about recent discoveries, etc, and your commentary often highlights that the discovery can be ‘interpreted’ in two differing ways, and usually with the pro-God/Design viewpoint making more sense.  It’s such a refreshing difference from the usual media spin.  Often you’ll have a story up along with comment before the masses even know about the story yet.”
    (a system administrator in Texas, who calls CEH the “UnSpin Zone”)

    “You are indeed the ‘Rush Limbaugh’ Truth Detector of science falsely so-called.  Keep up the excellent work.”
    (a safety director in Michigan)

    “I know of no better way to stay informed with current scientific research than to read your site everyday, which in turn has helped me understand many of the concepts not in my area (particle physics) and which I hear about in school or in the media.  Also, I just love the commentaries and the baloney detecting!!”
    (a grad student in particle physics)

    “I thank you for your ministry.  May God bless you!  You are doing great job effectively exposing pagan lie of evolution.  Among all known to me creation ministries [well-known organizations listed] Creationsafaris stands unique thanks to qualitative survey and analysis of scientific publications and news.  I became permanent reader ever since discovered your site half a year ago.  Moreover your ministry is effective tool for intensive and deep education for cristians.”
    (a webmaster in Ukraine, seeking permission to translate CEH articles into Russian to reach countries across the former Soviet Union)

    “The scholarship of the editors is unquestionable.  The objectivity of the editors is admirable in face of all the unfounded claims of evolutionists and Darwinists.  The amount of new data available each day on the site is phenomenal (I can’t wait to see the next new article each time I log on).  Most importantly, the TRUTH is always and forever the primary goal of the people who run this website.  Thank you so very much for 6 years of consistent dedication to the TRUTH.”
    (11 months earlier): “I just completed reading each entry from each month.  I found your site about 6 months ago and as soon as I understood the format, I just started at the very first entry and started reading.... Your work has blessed my education and determination to bold in showing the ‘unscientific’ nature of evolution in general and Darwinism in particular.”
    (a medical doctor in Oklahoma)

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    (a manufacturing engineer in Australia)

    “I do not know and cannot imagine how much time you must spend to read, research and compile your analysis of current findings in almost every area of science.  But I do know I thank you for it.”
    (a practice administrator in Maryland)

    “Since finding your insightful comments some 18 or more months ago, I’ve visited your site daily.... You so very adeptly and adroitly undress the emperor daily; so much so one wonders if he might not soon catch cold and fall ill off his throne! .... To you I wish much continued success and many more years of fun and frolicking undoing the damage taxpayers are forced to fund through unending story spinning by ideologically biased scientists.”
    (an investment advisor in Missouri)

    “I really like your articles.  You do a fabulous job of cutting through the double-talk and exposing the real issues.  Thank you for your hard work and diligence.”
    (an engineer in Texas)

    “I love your site.  Found it about maybe two years ago and I read it every day.  I love the closing comments in green.  You have a real knack for exposing the toothless claims of the evolutionists.  Your comments are very helpful for many us who don’t know enough to respond to their claims.  Thanks for your good work and keep it up.”
    (a missionary in Japan)

    “I just thought I’d write and tell you how much I appreciate your headline list and commentary.  It’s inspired a lot of thought and consideration.  I check your listings every day!”
    (a computer programmer in Tulsa)

    “Just wanted to thank you for your creation/evolution news ... an outstanding educational resource.“
    (director of a consulting company in Australia)

    “Your insights ... been some of the most helpful – not surprising considering the caliber of your most-excellent website!  I’m serious, ..., your website has to be the best creation website out there....”
    (a biologist and science writer in southern California)

    “I first learned of your web site on March 29.... Your site has far exceeded my expectations and is consulted daily for the latest.  I join with other readers in praising your time and energy spent to educate, illuminate, expose errors.... The links are a great help in understanding the news items.  The archival structure is marvelous....  Your site brings back dignity to Science conducted as it should be.  Best regards for your continuing work and influence.  Lives are being changed and sustained every day.”
    (a manufacturing quality engineer in Mississippi)

    “I wrote you over three years ago letting you know how much I enjoyed your Creation-Evolution headlines, as well as your Creation Safaris site.  I stated then that I read your headlines and commentary every day, and that is still true!  My interest in many sites has come and gone over the years, but your site is still at the top of my list!  I am so thankful that you take the time to read and analyze some of the scientific journals out there; which I don’t have the time to read myself.  Your commentary is very, very much appreciated.”
    (a hike leader and nature-lover in Ontario, Canada)

    “...just wanted to say how much I admire your site and your writing.  You’re very insightful and have quite a broad range of knowledge.  Anyway, just wanted to say that I am a big fan!”
    (a PhD biochemist at a major university)

    “I love your site and syndicate your content on my church website.... The stories you highlight show the irrelevancy of evolutionary theory and that evolutionists have perpetual ‘foot and mouth’ disease; doing a great job of discrediting themselves.  Keep up the good work.”
    (a database administrator and CEH “junkie” in California)

    “I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your article reviews on your website—it’s a HUGE asset!”
    (a lawyer in Washington)

    “Really, really, really a fantastic site.  Your wit makes a razor appear dull!... A million thanks for your site.”
    (a small business owner in Oregon “and father of children who love your site too.”)

    “Thank God for ... Creation Evolution Headlines.  This site is right at the cutting edge in the debate over bio-origins and is crucial in working to undermine the deceived mindset of naturalism.  The arguments presented are unassailable (all articles having first been thoroughly ‘baloney detected’) and the narrative always lands just on the right side of the layman’s comprehension limits... Very highly recommended to all, especially, of course, to those who have never thought to question the ‘fact’ of evolution.”
    (a business owner in Somerset, UK)

    “I continue to note the difference between the dismal derogations of the darwinite devotees, opposed to the openness and humor of rigorous, follow-the-evidence scientists on the Truth side.  Keep up the great work.”
    (a math/science teacher with M.A. in anthropology)

    “Your material is clearly among the best I have ever read on evolution problems!  I hope a book is in the works!”
    (a biology prof in Ohio)

    “I have enjoyed reading the sardonic apologetics on the Creation/Evolution Headlines section of your web site.  Keep up the good work!”
    (an IT business owner in California)

    “Your commentaries ... are always delightful.”
    (president of a Canadian creation group)

    “I’m pleased to see... your amazing work on the ‘Headlines’.”
    (secretary of a creation society in the UK)

    “We appreciate all you do at crev.info.”
    (a publisher of creation and ID materials)

    “I was grateful for creationsafaris.com for help with baloney detecting.  I had read about the fish-o-pod and wanted to see what you thought.  Your comments were helpful and encouraged me that my own ‘baloney detecting’ skill are improving.  I also enjoyed reading your reaction to the article on evolution teachers doing battle with students.... I will ask my girls to read your comments on the proper way to question their teachers.”
    (a home-schooling mom)

    “I just want to express how dissapointed [sic] I am in your website.  Instead of being objective, the website is entirely one sided, favoring creationism over evolution, as if the two are contradictory.... Did man and simien [sic] evovlve [sic] at random from a common ancestor?  Or did God guide this evolution?  I don’t know.  But all things, including the laws of nature, originate from God.... To deny evolution is to deny God’s creation.  To embrace evolution is to not only embrace his creation, but to better appreciate it.”
    (a student in Saginaw, Michigan)

    “I immensely enjoy reading the Creation-Evolution Headlines.  The way you use words exposes the bankruptcy of the evolutionary worldview.”
    (a student at Northern Michigan U)

    “...standing O for crev.info.”
    (a database programmer in California)

    “Just wanted to say that I am thrilled to have found your website!  Although I regularly visit numerous creation/evolution sites, I’ve found that many of them do not stay current with relative information.  I love the almost daily updates to your ‘headlines’ section.  I’ve since made it my browser home page, and have recommended it to several of my friends.  Absolutely great site!”
    (a network engineer in Florida)

    “After I heard about Creation-Evolution Headlines, it soon became my favorite Evolution resource site on the web.  I visit several times a day cause I can’t wait for the next update.  That’s pathetic, I know ... but not nearly as pathetic as Evolution, something you make completely obvious with your snappy, intelligent commentary on scientific current events.  It should be a textbook for science classrooms around the country.  You rock!”
    (an editor in Tennessee)

    “One of the highlights of my day is checking your latest CreationSafaris creation-evolution news listing!  Thanks so much for your great work -- and your wonderful humor.”
    (a pastor in Virginia)

    “Thanks!!!  Your material is absolutely awesome.  I’ll be using it in our Adult Sunday School class.”
    (a pastor in Wisconsin)

    “Love your site & read it daily.”
    (a family physician in Texas)

    “I set it [crev.info] up as my homepage.  That way I am less likely to miss some really interesting events.... I really appreciate what you are doing with Creation-Evolution Headlines.  I tell everybody I think might be interested, to check it out.”
    (a systems analyst in Tennessee)

    “I would like to thank you for your service from which I stand to benefit a lot.”
    (a Swiss astrophysicist)

    “I enjoy very much reading your materials.”
    (a law professor in Portugal)

    “Thanks for your time and thanks for all the work on the site.  It has been a valuable resource for me.”
    (a medical student in Kansas)

    “Creation-Evolution Headlines is a terrific resource.  The articles are always current and the commentary is right on the mark.”
    (a molecular biologist in Illinois)

    Creation-Evolution Headlines is my favorite ‘anti-evolution’ website.  With almost giddy anticipation, I check it several times a week for the latest postings.  May God bless you and empower you to keep up this FANTASTIC work!”
    (a financial analyst in New York)

    “I read your pages on a daily basis and I would like to let you know that your hard work has been a great help in increasing my knowledge and growing in my faith.  Besides the huge variety of scientific disciplines covered, I also enormously enjoy your great sense of humor and your creativity in wording your thoughts, which make reading your website even more enjoyable.”
    (a software developer in Illinois)

    “THANK YOU for all the work you do to make this wonderful resource!  After being regular readers for a long time, this year we’ve incorporated your site into our home education for our four teenagers.  The Baloney Detector is part of their Logic and Reasoning Skills course, and the Daily Headlines and Scientists of the Month features are a big part of our curriculum for an elective called ‘Science Discovery Past and Present’.  What a wonderful goldmine for equipping future leaders and researchers with the tools of clear thinking!
    (a home school teacher in California)

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    (a biology major, former evolutionist, now father of college students)

    “I came across your site while browsing through creation & science links.  I love the work you do!”
    (an attorney in Florida)

    “Love your commentary and up to date reporting.  Best site for evolution/design info.”
    (a graphic designer in Oregon)

    “I am an ardent reader of your site.  I applaud your efforts and pass on your website to all I talk to.  I have recently given your web site info to all my grandchildren to have them present it to their science teachers.... Your Supporter and fan..God bless you all...”
    (a health services manager in Florida)

    “Why your readership keeps doubling: I came across your website at a time when I was just getting to know what creation science is all about.  A friend of mine was telling me about what he had been finding out. I was highly skeptical and sought to read as many pro/con articles as I could find and vowed to be open-minded toward his seemingly crazy claims. At first I had no idea of the magnitude of research and information that’s been going on. Now, I’m simply overwhelmed by the sophistication and availability of scientific research and information on what I now know to be the truth about creation.
        Your website was one of dozens that I found in my search.  Now, there are only a handful of sites I check every day.  Yours is at the top of my list... I find your news page to be the most insightful and well-written of the creation news blogs out there.  The quick wit, baloney detector, in-depth scientific knowledge you bring to the table and the superb writing style on your site has kept me interested in the day-to-day happenings of what is clearly a growing movement.  Your site ... has given me a place to point them toward to find out more and realize that they’ve been missing a huge volume of information when it comes to the creation-evolution issue.
        Another thing I really like about this site is the links to articles in science journals and news references.  That helps me get a better picture of what you’re talking about.... Keep it up and I promise to send as many people as will listen to this website and others.”
    (an Air Force Academy graduate stationed in New Mexico)

    “Like your site especially the ‘style’ of your comments.... Keep up the good work.”
    (a retired engineer and amateur astronomer in Maryland)

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    Scientist of the Month
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    Guide to Evolution
     
    Featured Creation Scientist for January

    Ernst Boris Chain
    1906 - 1979

    This month we defer to Dr. Jerry Bergman, who has written an excellent short biography of Ernst Boris Chain at ICR.  Dr. Chain was a pioneer in the study of antibiotics, and was an ardent creationist and critic of Darwinism.  He called it “a typical product of the naive 19th century euphoric attitude to the potentialities of science which spread the belief that there were no secrets of nature which could not be solved by the scientific approach given only sufficient time.”  As concerning creation, he said, “Apes, after all, unlike man, have not produced great prophets, philosophers, mathematicians, writers, poets, composers, painters and scientists.  They are not inspired by the divine spark which manifests itself so evidently in the spiritual creation of man and which differentiates man from animals.”  Be sure to read the entire article on Ernst Boris Chain at the ICR website.


    If you are enjoying this series, you can learn more about great Christians in science by reading our online book-in-progress:
    The World’s Greatest Creation Scientists from Y1K to Y2K.
    Copies are also available from our online store.

    A Concise Guide
    to Understanding
    Evolutionary Theory

    You can observe a lot by just watching.
    – Yogi Berra

    First Law of Scientific Progress
    The advance of science can be measured by the rate at which exceptions to previously held laws accumulate.
    Corollaries:
    1. Exceptions always outnumber rules.
    2. There are always exceptions to established exceptions.
    3. By the time one masters the exceptions, no one recalls the rules to which they apply.

    Darwin’s Law
    Nature will tell you a direct lie if she can.
    Bloch’s Extension
    So will Darwinists.

    Finagle’s Creed
    Science is true.  Don’t be misled by facts.

    Finagle’s 2nd Law
    No matter what the anticipated result, there will always be someone eager to (a) misinterpret it, (b) fake it, or (c) believe it happened according to his own pet theory.

    Finagle’s Rules
    3. Draw your curves, then plot your data.
    4. In case of doubt, make it sound convincing.
    6. Do not believe in miracles – rely on them.

    Murphy’s Law of Research
    Enough research will tend to support your theory.

    Maier’s Law
    If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.
    Corollaries:
    1. The bigger the theory, the better.
    2. The experiments may be considered a success if no more than 50% of the observed measurements must be discarded to obtain a correspondence with the theory.

    Eddington’s Theory
    The number of different hypotheses erected to explain a given biological phenomenon is inversely proportional to the available knowledge.

    Young’s Law
    All great discoveries are made by mistake.
    Corollary
    The greater the funding, the longer it takes to make the mistake.

    Peer’s Law
    The solution to a problem changes the nature of the problem.

    Peter’s Law of Evolution
    Competence always contains the seed of incompetence.

    Weinberg’s Corollary
    An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on to the grand fallacy.

    Souder’s Law
    Repetition does not establish validity.

    Cohen’s Law
    What really matters is the name you succeed in imposing on the facts – not the facts themselves.

    Harrison’s Postulate
    For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.

    Thumb’s Second Postulate
    An easily-understood, workable falsehood is more useful than a complex, incomprehensible truth.

    Ruckert’s Law
    There is nothing so small that it can’t be blown out of proportion

    Hawkins’ Theory of Progress
    Progress does not consist in replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is right.  It consists in replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is more subtly wrong.

    Macbeth’s Law
    The best theory is not ipso facto a good theory.

    Disraeli’s Dictum
    Error is often more earnest than truth.

    Advice from Paul

    Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.

    I Timothy 6:20-21

    Song of the True Scientist

    O Lord, how manifold are Your works!  In wisdom You have made them all.  The earth is full of Your possessions . . . . May the glory of the Lord endure forever.  May the Lord rejoice in His works . . . . I will sing to the Lord s long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.  May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the Lord.  May sinners be consumed from the earth, and the wicked be no more.  Bless the Lord, O my soul!  Praise the Lord! 

    from Psalm 104

    Maxwell’s Motivation

    Through the creatures Thou hast made
    Show the brightness of Thy glory.
    Be eternal truth displayed
    In their substance transitory.
    Till green earth and ocean hoary,
    Massy rock and tender blade,
    Tell the same unending story:
    We are truth in form arrayed.

    Teach me thus Thy works to read,
    That my faith,– new strength accruing–
    May from world to world proceed,
    Wisdom’s fruitful search pursuing
    Till, thy truth my mind imbuing,
    I proclaim the eternal Creed –
    Oft the glorious theme renewing,
    God our Lord is God indeed.

    James Clerk Maxwell
    One of the greatest physicists
    of all time (a creationist).

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    “I really enjoy your website, the first I visit every day.  I have a quote by Mark Twain which seems to me to describe the Darwinian philosophy of science perfectly.  ‘There is something fascinating about science.  One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.’  Working as I do in the Environmental field (I am a geologist doing groundwater contamination project management for a state agency) I see that kind of science a lot.  Keep up the good work!!”
    (a hydrogeologist in Alabama)

    “I visit your website regularly and I commend you on your work.  I applaud your effort to pull actual science from the mass of propaganda for Evolution you report on (at least on those rare occasions when there actually is any science in the propaganda).  I also must say that I'm amazed at your capacity to continually plow through the propaganda day after day and provide cutting and amusing commentary....  I can only hope that youthful surfers will stop by your website for a fair and interesting critique of the dogma they have to imbibe in school.”
    (a technical writer living in Jerusalem)

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    “Love your site and your enormous amount of intellectualism and candor regarding the evolution debate.  Yours is one site I look forward to on a daily basis.  Thank you for being a voice for the rest of us.”
    (a graphic designer in Wisconsin)

    “For sound, thoughtful commentary on creation-evolution hot topics go to Creation-Evolution Headlines.
    (Access Research Network 12/28/2007).

    ”Your website is simply the best (and I’d dare say one of the most important) web sites on the entire WWW.”
    (an IT specialist at an Alabama university)

    “I’ve been reading the articles on this website for over a year, and I’m guilty of not showing any appreciation.  You provide a great service.  It’s one of the most informative and up-to-date resources on creation available anywhere.  Thank you so much.  Please keep up the great work.”
    (a senior research scientist in Georgia)

    “Just a note to thank you for your site.  I am a regular visitor and I use your site to rebut evolutionary "just so" stories often seen in our local media.  I know what you do is a lot of work but you make a difference and are appreciated.”
    (a veterinarian in Minnesota)

    “This is one of the best sites I have ever visited.  Thanks.  I have passed it on to several others... I am a retired grandmother. I have been studying the creation/evolution question for about 50 yrs.... Thanks for the info and enjoyable site.”
    (a retiree in Florida)

    “It is refreshing to know that there are valuable resources such as Creation-Evolution Headlines that can keep us updated on the latest scientific news that affect our view of the world, and more importantly to help us decipher through the rhetoric so carelessly disseminated by evolutionary scientists.  I find it ‘Intellectually Satisfying’ to know that I don’t have to park my brain at the door to be a ‘believer’ or at the very least, to not believe in Macroevolution.”
    (a loan specialist in California)

    “I have greatly benefitted from your efforts.  I very much look forward to your latest posts.”
    (an attorney in California)

    “I must say your website provides an invaluable arsenal in this war for souls that is being fought.  Your commentaries move me to laughter or sadness.  I have been viewing your information for about 6 months and find it one of the best on the web.  It is certainly effective against the nonsense published on Talkorigins.org.  It great to see work that glorifies God and His creation.”
    (a commercial manager in Australia)

    “Visiting daily your site and really do love it.”
    (a retiree from Finland who studied math and computer science)

    “I am agnostic but I can never deny that organic life (except human) is doing a wonderful job at functioning at optimum capacity.  Thank you for this ... site!”
    (an evolutionary theorist from Australia)

    “During the year I have looked at your site, I have gone through your archives and found them to be very helpful and informative.  I am so impressed that I forward link to members of my congregation who I believe are interested in a higher level discussion of creationist issues than they will find at [a leading origins website].”
    (a minister in Virginia)

    “I attended a public school in KS where evolution was taught.  I have rejected evolution but have not always known the answers to some of the questions.... A friend told me about your site and I like it, I have it on my favorites, and I check it every day.”
    (an auto technician in Missouri)

    “Thanks for a great site!  It has brilliant insights into the world of science and of the evolutionary dogma.  One of the best sites I know of on the internet!”
    (a programmer in Iceland)

    “The site you run – creation-evolution headlines is extremely useful to me.  I get so tired of what passes for science – Darwinism in particular – and I find your site a refreshing antidote to the usual junk.... it is clear that your thinking and logic and willingness to look at the evidence for what the evidence says is much greater than what I read in what are now called science journals.  Please keep up the good work.  I appreciate what you are doing more than I can communicate in this e-mail.”
    (a teacher in California)

    “I’m a small town newspaper editor in southwest Wyoming.  We’re pretty isolated, and finding your site was a great as finding a gold mine.  I read it daily, and if there’s nothing new, I re-read everything.  I follow links.  I read the Scientist of the Month.  It’s the best site I’ve run across.  Our local school board is all Darwinist and determined to remain that way.”
    (a newspaper editor in Wyoming)

    “ have been reading your page for about 2 years or so.... I read it every day.  I ...am well educated, with a BA in Applied Physics from Harvard and an MBA in Finance from Wharton.”
    (a reader in Delaware)

    “ I came across your website by accident about 4 months ago and look at it every day.... About 8 months ago I was reading a letter to the editor of the Seattle Times that was written by a staunch ‘anti-Creationist’ and it sparked my interest enough to research the topic and within a week I was yelling, ‘my whole life’s education has been a lie!!!’  I’ve put more study into Biblical Creation in the last 8 months than any other topic in my life.  Past that, through resources like your website...I’ve been able to convince my father (professional mathematician and amateur geologist), my best friend (mechanical engineer and fellow USAF Academy Grad/Creation Science nutcase), my pastor (he was the hardest to crack), and many others to realize the Truth of Creation.... Resources like your website help the rest of us at the ‘grassroots level’ drum up interest in the subject.  And regardless of what the major media says: Creationism is spreading like wildfire, so please keep your website going to help fan the flames.”
    (an Air Force Academy graduate and officer)

    “I love your site!  I **really** enjoy reading it for several specific reasons: 1.It uses the latest (as in this month!) research as a launch pad for opinion; for years I have searched for this from a creation science viewpoint, and now, I’ve found it.  2. You have balanced fun with this topic.  This is hugely valuable!  Smug Christianity is ugly, and I don’t perceive that attitude in your comments.  3. I enjoy the expansive breadth of scientific news that you cover.  4. I am not a trained scientist but I know evolutionary bologna/(boloney) when I see it; you help me to see it.  I really appreciate this.
    (a computer technology salesman in Virginia)

    “I love your site.  That’s why I was more than happy to mention it in the local paper.... I mentioned your site as the place where..... ‘Every Darwin-cheering news article is reviewed on that site from an ID perspective.  Then the huge holes of the evolution theory are exposed, and the bad science is shredded to bits, using real science.’”
    (a project manager in New Jersey)

    “I’ve been reading your site almost daily for about three years.  I have never been more convinced of the truthfulness of Scripture and the faithfulness of God.”
    (a system administrator and homeschooling father in Colorado)

    “I use the internet a lot to catch up on news back home and also to read up on the creation-evolution controversy, one of my favourite topics.  Your site is always my first port of call for the latest news and views and I really appreciate the work you put into keeping it up to date and all the helpful links you provide.  You are a beacon of light for anyone who wants to hear frank, honest conclusions instead of the usual diluted garbage we are spoon-fed by the media.... Keep up the good work and know that you’re changing lives.
    (a teacher in Spain)

    “I am grateful to you for your site and look forward to reading new stories.... I particularly value it for being up to date with what is going on.”
    (from the Isle of Wight, UK)

    “[Creation-Evolution Headlines] is the place to go for late-breaking news [on origins]; it has the most information and the quickest turnaround.  It’s incredible – I don’t know how you do it.  I can’t believe all the articles you find.  God bless you!”
    (a radio producer in Riverside, CA)

    “Just thought I let you know how much I enjoy reading your ‘Headlines’ section.  I really appreciate how you are keeping your ear to the ground in so many different areas.  It seems that there is almost no scientific discipline that has been unaffected by Darwin’s Folly.”
    (a programmer in aerospace from Gardena, CA)

    “I enjoy reading the comments on news articles on your site very much.  It is incredible how much refuse is being published in several scientific fields regarding evolution.  It is good to notice that the efforts of true scientists have an increasing influence at schools, but also in the media.... May God bless your efforts and open the eyes of the blinded evolutionists and the general public that are being deceived by pseudo-scientists.... I enjoy the site very much and I highly respect the work you and the team are doing to spread the truth.”
    (an ebusiness manager in the Netherlands)

    “I discovered your site through a link at certain website... It has greatly helped me being updated with the latest development in science and with critical comments from you.  I also love your baloney detector and in fact have translated some part of the baloney detector into our language (Indonesian).  I plan to translate them all for my friends so as to empower them.”
    (a staff member of a bilateral agency in West Timor, Indonesia)

    “...absolutely brilliant and inspiring.”
    (a documentary film producer, remarking on the 07/10/2005 commentary)

    “I found your site several months ago and within weeks had gone through your entire archives....  I check in several times a day for further information and am always excited to read the new articles.  Your insight into the difference between what is actually known versus what is reported has given me the confidence to stand up for what I believe.  I always felt there was more to the story, and your articles have given me the tools to read through the hype....  You are an invaluable help and I commend your efforts.  Keep up the great work.”
    (a sound technician in Alberta)

    “I discovered your site (through a link from a blog) a few weeks ago and I can’t stop reading it....  I also enjoy your insightful and humorous commentary at the end of each story.  If the evolutionists’ blindness wasn’t so sad, I would laugh harder.
      I have a masters degree in mechanical engineering from a leading University.  When I read the descriptions, see the pictures, and watch the movies of the inner workings of the cell, I’m absolutely amazed....  Thanks for bringing these amazing stories daily.  Keep up the good work.
    (an engineer in Virginia)

    “I stumbled across your site several months ago and have been reading it practically daily.  I enjoy the inter-links to previous material as well as the links to the quoted research.  I’ve been in head-to-head debate with a materialist for over a year now.  Evolution is just one of those debates.  Your site is among others that have been a real help in expanding my understanding.”
    (a software engineer in Pennsylvania)

    “I was in the April 28, 2005 issue of Nature [see 04/27/2005 story] regarding the rise of intelligent design in the universities.  It was through your website that I began my journey out of the crisis of faith which was mentioned in that article.  It was an honor to see you all highlighting the article in Nature.  Thank you for all you have done!
    (Salvador Cordova, George Mason University)

    “I shudder to think of the many ways in which you mislead readers, encouraging them to build a faith based on misunderstanding and ignorance.  Why don’t you allow people to have a faith that is grounded in a fuller understanding of the world?... Your website is a sham.”
    (a co-author of the paper reviewed in the 12/03/2003 entry who did not appreciate the unflattering commentary.  This led to a cordial interchange, but he could not divorce his reasoning from the science vs. faith dichotomy, and resulted in an impasse over definitions – but, at least, a more mutually respectful dialogue.  He never did explain how his paper supported Darwinian macroevolution.  He just claimed evolution is a fact.)

    “I absolutely love creation-evolution news.  As a Finnish university student very interested in science, I frequent your site to find out about all the new science stuff that’s been happening — you have such a knack for finding all this information!  I have been able to stump evolutionists with knowledge gleaned from your site many times.”
    (a student in Finland)

    “I love your site and read it almost every day.  I use it for my science class and 5th grade Sunday School class.  I also challenge Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers to get on the site to check out articles against the baloney they are taught in school.”
    (a teacher in Los Gatos, CA)

    “I have spent quite a few hours at Creation Evolution Headlines in the past week or so going over every article in the archives.  I thank you for such an informative and enjoyable site.  I will be visiting often and will share this link with others.”
    [Later] “ I am back to May 2004 in the archives.  I figured I should be farther back, but there is a ton of information to digest.”
    (a computer game designer in Colorado)

    “The IDEA Center also highly recommends visiting Creation-Evolution Headlines... the most expansive and clearly written origins news website on the internet!”
    (endorsement on Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center)

    “Hey Friends, Check out this site: Creation-Evolution Headlines.  This is a fantastic resource for the whole family.... a fantastic reference library with summaries, commentaries and great links that are added to daily—archives go back five years.”
    (a reader who found us in Georgia)

    “I just wanted to drop you a note telling you that at www.BornAgainRadio.com, I’ve added a link to your excellent Creation-Evolution news site.”
    (a radio announcer)

    “I cannot understand why anyone would invest so much time and effort to a website of sophistry and casuistry.  Why twist Christian apology into an illogic pretzel to placate your intellect?  Isn’t it easier to admit that your faith has no basis -- hence, ‘faith’.  It would be extricate [sic] yourself from intellectual dishonesty -- and from bearing false witness.”
    Sincerely, Rev. [name withheld] (an ex-Catholic, “apostate Christian” Natural/Scientific pantheist)

    “Just wanted to let you folks know that we are consistent readers and truly appreciate the job you are doing.  God bless you all this coming New Year.”
    (from two prominent creation researchers/writers in Oregon)

    “Thanks so much for your site!  It is brain candy!”
    (a reader in North Carolina)

    “I Love your site – probably a little too much.  I enjoy the commentary and the links to the original articles.”
    (a civil engineer in New York)

    “I’ve had your Creation/Evolution Headlines site on my favourites list for 18 months now, and I can truthfully say that it’s one of the best on the Internet, and I check in several times a week.  The constant stream of new information on such a variety of science issues should impress anyone, but the rigorous and humourous way that every thought is taken captive is inspiring.  I’m pleased that some Christians, and indeed, some webmasters, are devoting themselves to producing real content that leaves the reader in a better state than when they found him.”
    (a community safety manager in England)

    “I really appreciate the effort that you are making to provide the public with information about the problems with the General Theory of Evolution.  It gives me ammunition when I discuss evolution in my classroom.  I am tired of the evolutionary dogma.  I wish that more people would stand up against such ridiculous beliefs.”
    (a science teacher in Alabama)

    “If you choose to hold an opinion that flies in the face of every piece of evidence collected so far, you cannot be suprised [sic] when people dismiss your views.”
    (a “former Christian” software distributor, location not disclosed)

    “...the Creation Headlines is the best.  Visiting your site... is a standard part of my startup procedures every morning.”
    (a retired Air Force Chaplain)

    “I LOVE your site and respect the time and work you put into it.  I read the latest just about EVERY night before bed and send selection[s] out to others and tell others about it.  I thank you very much and keep up the good work (and humor).”
    (a USF grad in biology)

    “Answering your invitation for thoughts on your site is not difficult because of the excellent commentary I find.  Because of the breadth and depth of erudition apparent in the commentaries, I hope I’m not being presumptuous in suspecting the existence of contributions from a ‘Truth Underground’ comprised of dissident college faculty, teachers, scientists, and engineers.  If that’s not the case, then it is surely a potential only waiting to be realized.  Regardless, I remain in awe of the care taken in decomposing the evolutionary cant that bombards us from the specialist as well as popular press.”
    (a mathematician/physicist in Arizona)

    “I’m from Quebec, Canada.  I have studied in ‘pure sciences’ and after in actuarial mathematics.  I’m visiting this site 3-4 times in a week.  I’m learning a lot and this site gives me the opportunity to realize that this is a good time to be a creationist!”
    (a French Canadian reader)

    “I LOVE your Creation Safari site, and the Baloney Detector material.  OUTSTANDING JOB!!!!”
    (a reader in the Air Force)

    “You have a unique position in the Origins community.  Congratulations on the best current affairs news source on the origins net.  You may be able to write fast but your logic is fun to work through.”
    (a pediatrician in California)

    “Visit your site almost daily and find it very informative, educational and inspiring.”
    (a reader in western Canada)

    “I wish to thank you for the information you extend every day on your site.  It is truly a blessing!”
    (a reader in North Carolina)

    “I really appreciate your efforts in posting to this website.  I find it an incredibly useful way to keep up with recent research (I also check science news daily) and also to research particular topics.”
    (an IT consultant from Brisbane, Australia)

    “I would just like to say very good job with the work done here, very comprehensive.  I check your site every day.  It’s great to see real science directly on the front lines, toe to toe with the pseudoscience that's mindlessly spewed from the ‘prestigious’ science journals.”
    (a biology student in Illinois)

    “I’ve been checking in for a long time but thought I’d leave you a note, this time.  Your writing on these complex topics is insightful, informative with just the right amount of humor.  I appreciate the hard work that goes into monitoring the research from so many sources and then writing intelligently about them.”
    (an investment banker in California)

    “Keep up the great work.  You are giving a whole army of Christians plenty of ammunition to come out of the closet (everyone else has).  Most of us are not scientists, but most of the people we talk to are not scientists either, just ordinary people who have been fed baloney for years and years.”
    (a reader in Arizona)

    “Keep up the outstanding work!  You guys really ARE making a difference!”
    (a reader in Texas)

    “I wholeheartedly agree with you when you say that ‘science’ is not hostile towards ‘religion’.  It is the dogmatically religious that are unwaveringly hostile towards any kind of science which threatens their dearly-held precepts.  ‘Science’ (real, open-minded science) is not interested in theological navel-gazing.”
    (anonymous)
    Note: Please supply your name and location when writing in.  Anonymous attacks only make one look foolish and cowardly, and will not normally be printed.  This one was shown to display a bad example.

    “I appreciate reading your site every day.  It is a great way to keep up on not just the new research being done, but to also keep abreast of the evolving debate about evolution (Pun intended).... I find it an incredibly useful way to keep up with recent research (I also check science news daily) and also to research particular topics.”
    (an IT consultant in Brisbane, Australia)

    “I love your website.”
    (a student at a state university who used CEH when writing for the campus newsletter)

    “....when you claim great uncertainty for issues that are fairly well resolved you damage your already questionable credibility.  I’m sure your audience loves your ranting, but if you know as much about biochemistry, geology, astronomy, and the other fields you skewer, as you do about ornithology, you are spreading heat, not light.”
    (a professor of ornithology at a state university, responding to the 09/10/2002 headline)

    “I wanted to let you know I appreciate your headline news style of exposing the follies of evolutionism.... Your style gives us constant, up-to-date reminders that over and over again, the Bible creation account is vindicated and the evolutionary fables are refuted.”
    (a reader, location unknown)

    “You have a knack of extracting the gist of a technical paper, and digesting it into understandable terms.”
    (a nuclear physicist from Lawrence Livermore Labs who worked on the Manhattan Project)

    “After spending MORE time than I really had available going thru your MANY references I want to let you know how much I appreciate the effort you have put forth.
    The information is properly documented, and coming from recognized scientific sources is doubly valuable.  Your explanatory comments and sidebar quotations also add GREATLY to your overall effectiveness as they 1) provide an immediate interpretive starting point and 2) maintaining the reader’s interest.”
    (a reader in Michigan)

    “I am a huge fan of the site, and check daily for updates.”
    (reader location and occupation unknown)

    “I just wanted to take a minute to personally thank-you and let you know that you guys are providing an invaluable service!  We check your Web site weekly (if not daily) to make sure we have the latest information in the creation/evolution controversy.  Please know that your diligence and perseverance to teach the Truth have not gone unnoticed.  Keep up the great work!”
    (a PhD scientist involved in origins research)

    “You've got a very useful and informative Web site going.  The many readers who visit your site regularly realize that it requires considerable effort to maintain the quality level and to keep the reviews current....  I hope you can continue your excellent Web pages.  I have recommended them highly to others.”
    (a reader, location and occupation unknown)

    “As an apprentice apologist, I can always find an article that will spark a ‘spirited’ debate.  Keep ’em coming!  The Truth will prevail.”
    (a reader, location and occupation unknown)

    “Thanks for your web page and work.  I try to drop by at least once a week and read what you have.  I’m a Christian that is interested in science (I’m a mechanical engineer) and I find you topics interesting and helpful.  I enjoy your lessons and insights on Baloney Detection.”
    (a year later):
    “I read your site 2 to 3 times a week; which I’ve probably done for a couple of years.  I enjoy it for the interesting content, the logical arguments, what I can learn about biology/science, and your pointed commentary.”
    (a production designer in Kentucky)

    “I look up CREV headlines every day.  It is a wonderful source of information and encouragement to me.... Your gift of discerning the fallacies in evolutionists interpretation of scientific evidence is very helpful and educational for me.  Please keep it up.  Your website is the best I know of.”
    (a Presbyterian minister in New South Wales, Australia)

    “I’ve written to you before, but just wanted to say again how much I appreciate your site and all the work you put into it.  I check it almost every day and often share the contents (and web address) with lists on which I participate.  I don’t know how you do all that you do, but I am grateful for your energy and knowledge.”
    (a prominent creationist author)

    “I am new to your site, but I love it!  Thanks for updating it with such cool information.”
    (a home schooler)

    “I love your site.... Visit every day hoping for another of your brilliant demolitions of the foolish just-so stories of those who think themselves wise.”
    (a reader from Southern California)

    “I visit your site daily for the latest news from science journals and other media, and enjoy your commentary immensely.  I consider your web site to be the most valuable, timely and relevant creation-oriented site on the internet.”
    (a reader from Ontario, Canada)

    “Keep up the good work!  I thoroughly enjoy your site.”
    (a reader in Texas)

    “Thanks for keeping this fantastic web site going.  It is very informative and up-to-date with current news including incisive insight.”
    (a reader in North Carolina)

    “Great site!  For all the Baloney Detector is impressive and a great tool in debunking wishful thinking theories.”
    (a reader in the Netherlands)

    “Just wanted to let you know, your work is having quite an impact.  For example, major postings on your site are being circulated among the Intelligent Design members....”
    (a PhD organic chemist)

    “It’s like ‘opening a can of worms’ ... I love to click all the related links and read your comments and the links to other websites, but this usually makes me late for something else.  But it’s ALWAYS well worth it!!”
    (a leader of a creation group)

    “I am a regular visitor to your website ... I am impressed by the range of scientific disciplines your articles address.  I appreciate your insightful dissection of the often unwarranted conclusions evolutionists infer from the data... Being a medical doctor, I particularly relish the technical detail you frequently include in the discussion living systems and processes.  Your website continually reinforces my conviction that if an unbiased observer seeks a reason for the existence of life then Intelligent Design will be the unavoidable conclusion.”
    (a medical doctor)

    “A church member asked me what I thought was the best creation web site.  I told him CreationSafaris.com.”
    (a PhD geologist)

    “I love your site... I check it every day for interesting information.  It was hard at first to believe in Genesis fully, but now I feel more confident about the mistakes of humankind and that all their reasoning amounts to nothing in light of a living God.”
    (a college grad)

    “Thank you so much for the interesting science links and comments on your creation evolution headlines page ... it is very informative.”
    (a reader from Scottsdale, AZ)

    “I still visit your site almost every day, and really enjoy it.  Great job!!!  (I also recommend it to many, many students.)
    (an educational consultant)

    “I like what I see–very much.  I really appreciate a decent, calm and scholarly approach to the whole issue... Thanks ... for this fabulous endeavor–it’s superb!”

    “It is refreshing to read your comments.  You have a knack to get to the heart of the matter.”
    (a reader in the Air Force).

    “Love your website.  It has well thought out structure and will help many through these complex issues.  I especially love the Baloney Detector.”
    (a scientist).

    “I believe this is one of the best sites on the Internet.  I really like your side-bar of ‘truisms.’  Yogi [Berra] is absolutely correct.  If I were a man of wealth, I would support you financially.”
    (a registered nurse in Alabama, who found us on TruthCast.com.)

    “WOW.  Unbelievable.... My question is, do you sleep? ... I’m utterly impressed by your page which represents untold amounts of time and energy as well as your faith.”
    (a mountain man in Alaska).

    “Just wanted to say that I recently ran across your web site featuring science headlines and your commentary and find it to be A++++, superb, a 10, a homerun – I run out of superlatives to describe it! ... You can be sure I will visit your site often – daily when possible – to gain the latest information to use in my speaking engagements.  I’ll also do my part to help publicize your site among college students.  Keep up the good work.  Your material is appreciated and used.”
    (a college campus minister)

    Disclaimer: Creation-Evolution Headlines includes links to many external sites, but takes no responsibility for the accuracy or legitimacy of their content.  Inclusion of an external link is strictly for the reader’s convenience, and does not necessarily constitute endorsement of the material or its authors, owners, or sponsors.