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Friday, April 03, 2009

The "little lady of Flores" files: Something I want to write down before I forget:

The other day I was at my local grocery store and I noticed what appeared to be a girl child shopping.

But I quickly realized - watching from behind - that it could not be a child.

Movements too precise, too disciplined. Honed by decades of experience, not mere years.

Well, she turned around and - it was a woman only slightly younger than me.

An almost proportionate dwarf. She came up only to the bottom of my rib cage - and I am only 5 ft tall.

Thus she was less than a metre tall, for sure.

Of course I immediately ceased to look at her - continuing to look would have been rude.

Her head struck me as slightly too large for an adult, in proportion to her body, which is why I describe her as a "nearly proportionate" dwarf.

Then, a few days later, I saw another nearly proportionate dwarf - a different woman - in another part of town - about the same size.

So I am even more skeptical than I used to be of claims that Flores man represents a "different species" of human.

I always was skeptical of the claims that the little lady of Flores was a different human species from us, but am especially so when I run into normal humans who just happen to be very small. It's not a crime here in Canada.

I think it more likely that - just as the elephants on Flores were unusually small, so were the people. While it would be interesting to know the reason for that, we need not assume that the people were a different species.


New intelligent design book

Don Johnson writes to say

I enjoy reading your material. and thought you might enjoy reading my new book. You probably are already aware of my book "Probability's Nature and Nature's Probability: A Call to Scientific Integrity" that has been available a few days now. The Amazon link is here:
The blog Granville Sewell (he was a pre-publication reviewer) set up:
My website:

Remembering The Privileged Planet

My "wintery knight" blogger friend has blogged on The Privileged Planet (the book) - and the film whose showing at the Smithsonian launched my career as a blogger.

The universe shows evidence of design. Like it, hate it, learn it, ignore it. That's all up to you. Don't try telling me it isn't true. It's the big scandal of materialist science today.

Get Planet, watch it, and buy one for your local library.

What do you have to lose?

How about losing a bunch of drug addicts, some of whom commit crimes to buy their dope. (= "I have a right to be an addict because everything is meaningless." Oh yeah?

Friend, you need some courses in basic science ... let us help ... )

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

(Remember, I want you to buy my book so my publisher can be persuaded in these awful times to let me update it a bit. It's a fine book; you'll be glad you read the first edition when I come out with the second, for the same reasons as you want to see the first seg of any long film series. )

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Faith in mindless matter and energy ...

A friend, responding to some bumph fronted by a Darwinist in a (doubtless) tax-supported journal, writes to say:

... it's not that the evidence is so strong, it's that there's no other explanation within the materialist worldview. Of course, Dr. Padian describes it as "rationalist," but that is a time-honored bit of sophistry inherited from the time of the philosophes. It is not belief in observations and testings that supports evolutionism, but faith that everything in the universe can be explained in terms of mindless matter and energy. Given that as the only framework for "scientific" explanations, evolution is the only "scientific" possibility. Dr. Padian also touched on this when he described how scientists must all think alike, or keep their opinions to themselves.

So, to believe in creation rather than evolution does not require ignorance of the facts and/or of the methodology of science, or stubborn clinging to religious faith in spite of the evidence. No, it only takes being open to the possibility that there's something more to reality, that there might actually be a God who might have done something more than light the fuse for the Big Bang (speaking colloquially, of course). Then you can truly look at the theory of evolution critically and put the claims to real tests, not trials designed to find in what way they are true. Suddenly the evidence is seen to have an entirely different pattern than the doctrines taught to students claim.

Not having a financial interest in either book, perhaps I can recommend Persuaded by the Evidence and Slaughter of the Dissidents , both of which can be found on Amazon. If you are not familiar with cases such as are presented in these books, you do not fully understand the basis of the creation-evolution controversies.

(Note: I don't know why my profile has disappeared from this blog. It wasn't intentional. I made the mistake of attempting a minor edit in the template. You can still see it here if you care.)

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

(Note: I do have a financial interest in this book. I wrote it and I want you to buy it, in order to persuade my publisher to let me write an update.)

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Podcasts in the intelligent design controversy

Brought to you by the evil Discos (who, incidentally, pay their own bills). = Unlike their Darwinist opposition, they are not supported on your tax dime to invent fanciful theories about the deep past.

I'm sure glad it's your dime, not mine.

1. Systems Biology and Intelligent Design- Conversation with Biologist Luman Wing, Part 2

Click here to listen.

In this ID the Future podcast, Casey Luskin interviews Dr. Luman Wing, a signer of the Dissent From Darwinism list. Dr. Wing discusses his support for systems biology and the reasons he thinks this approach to biology lends support to the theory of intelligent design.

2. Dr. Charles Garner on Chirality and Origin of Life Research

Click here to listen.

On this episode of ID the Future Casey Luskin interviews Baylor University chemistry professor Dr. Charles Garner in Austin, TX, where they both were for the Board of Education hearings last week. Listen in as Dr. Garner explains his research in chemistry, particularly the chirality of molecules and the importance of homochirality to origin of life research.

Homochirality basically means that all the protein molecules point the same way* - left. Pretty amazing, when you consider that they could all point either right or left.

*except glycine, which is achiral (= it doesn't count.)

Also, I wish I had put up this item from the Biologic Institute uon April 1.

If you read it, and are having a cow - stop having the cow, okay?

Remember, I said I wished I had put it up on April 1. Look up April 1 on the Internet, and get the picture, okay? There may be religions or societies where there are no jokes, but those people don't run things in North America. M'kay?


Mailbox: A reader writes from an island in Mediterranean to ask,

Don't you think Evolution excludes God from being the Creator? How can you support it them being a Catholic?
After I got over raging at that guy for living in a place that is actually warm and sunny (how dare he?), I replied:
Friend, thank you for writing, and apologies for any delay in getting back to you.

Essentially, I think God can create however he wants.

He can use direct creation and various types of evolution, including Darwin’s natural selection. Or other methods beyond my ability to imagine.

He’s God. and I’m not. So I don’t worry about whether God can do something, but rather whether evidence suggests that he has.

Indeed, for certain purposes – weeding out losers, for example – natural selection is doubtless an important mechanism.

I use it myself sometimes when I garden. I often just scatter flower seed broadcast - knowing that the losers will die, and the survivors will not need interventions that I can’t afford and don’t have time for.

Where I differ with the exponents of “Evolution” is:

1. I am not an atheist or a “liberal” Christian.

2. Therefore I do not need to prove that there is no design in the universe or life forms.

3. Therefore, I can acknowledge that design is evident in the universe and in life forms.

4. Therefore, I do not need to pretend that my method for weeding out loser plants in my garden actually creates any new information. All it does is distinguish between good and bad examples of the information that already existed.

5. I think that once we get things like that straight, we will be on the verge of another science revolution. But as along as we are stuck with no-design nonsense, we will be stuck with stupid projects about stuff we know that ain’t so.

I do hope this is a help.
Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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A friend's note about Niko Tinbergen and the herring gull chicks - who was gulled, exactly?

Recently, in the "stuff we know that just ain't so" files, I referenced Niko Tinbergen's Nobel Prize for supposed discoveries about herring gull chicks - a discovery that turned to ashes. A friend writes to say:
I remember going to Niko Tinbergen's Nobel Prize party in the Oxford University Zoology Department many years ago. I believe he shared the prize with a couple of other guys - and it was the Nobel for Medicine, of all things.

Of course Tinbergen and the his co-laureates were all animal behaviorists, and there was an undercurrent at the party that found the committee's decision rather strange to say the least. Also, I seem to remember being told at the party that his brother had got the Nobel for economics. However, I could never really understand what Niko Tinbergen had done to get the prize.

One thing that was significant was that he was very handy with a movie camera, and I think that had a lot to do with his success. There was not much scientific content that consisted of moving pictures in those days, and he was able to vigorously market himself as a result. If my addled brain serves me right, I also think that Tinbergen did the movies of the Peppered Moths for Bernard Kettlewell.

Unfortunately, I still can't make out what this red dot stuff means. The only conclusion I can draw is that Herring Gull chicks never ate until they had something red to peck at.
The Peppered Moth? Oh, you mean The Peppered Myth.

Basically, gentle readers, if you took Biology 101, with 600 other people and sat in a lecture room listening to someone drone about either the peppered myth or the herring gull chick, I suggest you take the following approach to what you learned:

The story is not important for its truth status. It is important for the moral lesson it is supposed to teach. In other words, it has the same basic value as Cinderella and Snow White. The basic message of Cinderella is "Being nice pays off." The basic message of Snow White is "Most people mean well, but some people really are out to get you" - both are useful lessons for the workplace, I would say.

Now, what is the basic lesson of some of these evolution tales? That change in life forms over time happens without design? And what if - unlike the basic lessons of the fairy tales - that is simply incorrect?

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


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