Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Busy. School. Research. But I just wanted to wish you all a happy Halloweenie!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Im *kinda* a movie star! Sorta!

*Kinda*! Well, *kinda* a YouTube star... not at all a star, actually... but still! Im really excited and really flattered that SecularAstronomer turned one of my posts into an awesome YouTube video! COMPLETE WITH CUBAN SPA!!! hehehehe!!

The Discovery Institute LOATHES smart college students

Can we cut the 'Creationists are jolly ol folks!' BS yet? Theyve done it again. After all their hooting and hollering about being persecuted, they 'retaliate' by attacking students.


PZ, always the gentle soul, failed to call DIs bluff to the necessary extreme. DI doesnt *like* smart undergraduates? Nononono, PZ, DI *hates* smart undergraduates, and they are doing their best to prevent more smart grad students from being generated. Their 'Gosh golly weza just care about da kids! Kids r so smart! Teach deh controversey and let da kids decide!' claims are complete bullshit, and their rank hypocrisy needs to be drug out into the street for all parents/aunts/grandfathers to see.

These supposed 'professionals' act nothing like real professionals. Though behind-the-scenes mentoring might not be intuitive to a layman, the actions exhibited by professional organizations should be. When is the last time you saw the American Physical Therapy Association release an official rebuttal of a college students opinion piece on her half-marathon training in her college newspaper1? Does Aaron Beck respond to his critics in a sexist, condescending manner on his 'Amazon blog'2? Does Sigma Xi send PR reps after students who critique the activities of a professor who happens to be a Sigma Xi member3??

The Discovery Institute, a group of grown men desperately wanting to be taken seriously as 'scientists', has engaged in all of those behaviors in the past six months. What the hell is their problem??

Their problem is that they are bad people. Stop repeating the line that theyre 'super dudes and omg so kooky and fun lets hava beer!' Professional Creationists are slugs oozing and trolling about the internet looking for students to attack, cause they sure as hell cant handle their own balls when confronted with professional scientists.

Theyre professional, pathological bullies, unable to stop themselves from attacking students, even when there is an entire auditorium of people watching them. Lets look at another Dembski Q&A:

Middle aged Creationist Man-- Im AMAZED that on a college campus, how CLOSED MINDED many of these students are! I would think that they would be more... wanting to know about what you have to say, rather than attacking you! You have one tough skin, buddy! Youve suffered a lot of injury!

My question is, Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking all believe in Intelligent Design...

(audience interjects with **BULLSHIT** coughs and general discontent)

What are Darwinists saying? Do they think theyre a bunch of pigs who dont know... whats the Darwinists reasoning for when Stephen Hawking, most recently, moved to supporting Intelligent Design?

Dembski-- Im not sure those are the people I would point to, necessarily, I would point to Issac Newton, who was CLEARLY an ID proponent.

In terms of the open mindedness of students... I dont know. In a sense I think some of them... have to play a part to please their professors.

(cant hear his final gurglings over the discontent of the crowd)


Young gentleman-- My question is less of a scientific one, and more of a tactical one. Do you think its appropriate that your movement, in general, attacks at the level of local school boards and the courts, as opposed to sticking with normal scientific channels?

Dembski-- So you think its inappropriate that citizens who think evolutionary theory is blind... and dont want their children to be taught that, should object to it.

Young gentleman-- High school...

Dembski-- The democratic process is a... is a problem?

Young gentleman-- High school students arent in a position to evaluate...

Dembski-- So theyre too stupid. Theyre too stupid to understand Intelligent Design and its challenges.

Young gentleman-- Thats a red herring.

Dembski-- No its not.

(rabble rabble)

Dembski-- The high school students I talk to are very interested.

Young gentleman-- Im personally not suited to evaluate the Big Bang theory or anything else in that particular realm. That doesnt mean Im stupid. The fact is some people have expertise in a field, and shouldnt the debate be going on there?

Dembski-- Wull... I would agree with you on this-- this program needs to proceed as a scientific enterprise. The thing is, what people are going to do with it, though. I mean Im not... doing public policy stuff... I was enlisted as an expert witness in the Dover Case... the entire Dover policy was terribly misguided.

(blithers on and on something about Communism, sick of typing)

Young gentleman-- So science should be put up to a vote.

Dembski-- Im not saaaaying that! Im saying, if people feel strongly about this, and want to influence their school board, thats their business!

Young gentleman-- You and Behe were involved in the case.

Dembski-- I do not want to see Intelligent Design mandated. (more blithering)

  1. Ignore the humor in that even the Creationist noticed that Dembski got his ass handed to him on a platter in the Q&A. I know its funny, but try to stay on topic :P
  2. Dembski, with a face that betrayed he had no recognition of the irony passing through his lips, said that undergraduate/graduate science students who were creaming him were just doing it 'to impress their professors' and in the next breath proclaimed that high school kids were in a position to evaluate claims Creationists make. You know, like these.
  3. **SQUAWK!!** "Democracy is a problem?" **SQUAWK!!** "Teach the controversy!" "Teach the controversy!" "Let the kids decide!" **SQUAWK!!** "Its what the parents want!" **SQUAWK!!** (My apologies to Shelly)
  4. One side of the mouth, high school savants. Other side of the mouth, retarded zoology grad students. Give me a break. Evaluating this behavior requires no specialty in quantum mechanics or retroviral evolution. Anyone can recognize this hypocrisy, and everyone should be offended. Bring this stuff up all the time. Kill that damn Creationist good-ol-boy fr*me.

1. Evolution News and Views hit piece on Taylor.
2. Lilos fart in my general direction.
3. PR Luskin attacking Jon.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Denyse O'Leary supports ERV??

So I check sitemeter tonight, and I noticed a hit from Post-Darwinist, the blag of an UD contributor, Denyse O'Leary. I click on over to see what she was referring to, and I cant believe Im saying this... but she supports me regarding the abuse directed towards me by Sal, whom she refers to as a 'puppet' in 'the system':

If there is no actual mind, free speech is an expensive and undesirable waste of time. Better to institute a system where all important opinions are controlled from above (but puppets can shout abuse whenever they want on any subject n which the masters of the system have not spoken). That is apparently the system we have today.
Okay, now, I know you all you AtBC people want to crack jokes at her grammar and typos, but stick with me here. Denyse has a great observation! Shes trapped in a system controlled by an elite few, ie Billy and Lilo, who are the PR face for Creationism. Theyre all smiles and giggles like a homecoming queen sitting on the back of a 1977 Camaro convertible when someone is around with a camera, but if you turn your back on 'em for 30 seconds, they have a legion of 'puppets' harassing you, leaving threatening sexually explicit comments on your blog, or laying on some good old fashioned Antisemitism. No line of attack is too low for a Creationist puppet, and anyone who dares to speak out against Creationists radical form of Christianity is a potential target.

This is a great revelation for Denyse, and I welcome her back to reality.

LOL Im kidding. Shes still a po-mo tard. **waves to DD**

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wanna be in a movie?

If youre part of my generation, I bet you, like me*, are just livid that PZ gets to be a big time movie-star instead of you.


Ben Stein wants our stories for 'EXPELLED!'! He wants to hear about those times you stood up against people with a lot more money and social and political power than you and fearlessly proclaimed "This is wrong!" Those times you, some random student, took on an entire institution by speaking for science! Those times you were the one person in the room who had the balls to call a spade a spade. I think basically every commenter on my blog has a story to tell about their interactions with Creationists, and now you all could seriously be in a movie!

Oh... Wait.

He doesnt want *our* stories. You know, those of us that have been attacked personally and professionally by Professional Creationists and their hired help. He wants video of some Trinity Spawn saying "AND I TOLD MY PROFESSOR I BELIEVED IN JESUS, NOT EVILUTION, AND SHE FLUNKED ME BUT JESUS IS LORD!!"


Im might try to submit a video anyway.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Evolution in Action: CORN!!

A funny example of real-world foreshadowing is that all of my undergraduate research experience involved transposable elements. But instead of transposable elements in humans, I was studying transposable elements in corn! Living in Missouri, then Nebraska, and now Oklahoma, corn is kinda a hard thing to escape, and I didnt enjoy using it for research as much as I should have. But despite my corn saturation, one thing I came to love about corn, is that its a plant.



"WHAT???" you dear readers might exclaim. "What the hell does that mean?? Of course corn is a plant! I think you need to take a break from listening to Dembski..."

Nonononono, see, the cool thing about plants is that they never fail to stun Creationists when brought up in a debate/conversation! They want to talk about rocks and hamsters evolving into elephants, not the evolution of daffodils! Maybe its because Creationists dont think plants are alive, thus are incapable of evolving, but plant evolution is a nice ace to have up your sleeve if you need a Creationist to shut up for 15 seconds.

So check out Stephen Mathesons sweet post on some of the basics of corn evolution! Maybe its my corn-filled background, but I think its written in great layman terms, and can set you on the right path for learning more about corn evolution (some things to hunt for-- the impact of transposable elements, the development of 'irreducibly complex' systems from gene duplications).

Seriously, folks, corn is a nice weapon to have in your arsenal. You never know when a Creationist is going to have you cornered in a dark alley with a jar of peanut butter and a banana.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dembski and the Special Creation of Humans

Okay, I lied. I said I would post up Dembskis plea to 'quantum mechanics', but Im going to have to hunt through the tapes to find it.

So Im afraid youll have to make do with a 20 year old (are you 21 yet Logan??) getting Dembski to admit that humans were specially created. I think Logan got him to answer 'Yes or No?', but for some reason the recording stopped (it was at 2 hours at this point).

Logan-- My question is, recognizing that you said 'Evolution does explain some of it, it just has limits', do you yourself believe that we evolved... from apes, and fish, and amphibians, and so on?

Dembski-- My own view, is that I take a very pretty limited view of evolutionary change... The Design Metaphor, I take it seriously... it seems to me that reDesign... eh...


... Is a very difficult problem. It doesnt work very well. Particularly with something like a house for instance... instead of redesigning something else, its better to start from scratch...

Now how much of Design was there?


... Im...


... there... how much evolution has taken place... Weve got people who believe in Special Creation, youve got Michael Behe who says we have a universal common ancestor. Im somewhere in the middle. And I... uhhh... for theological reasons I would say humans are special created... but its uh... its...


... uhhh...

Its not where... in terms of... (rambles on, cant understand him over coughing in crowd, something about how 'creation' isnt where all the *action* is in ID-- its all in calculating probabilities????)
  1. Logan isnt a bio major, give him a break on the 'evolved from amphibians' ;)
  2. That part is slightly muffled, but I swear to god, Dembski says it is easier to design a house from scratch than to take old plans and redesign them. Not only does The Omnipotent Dembski know more about biology than biologists, and cosmology than cosmologists, and computer science than computer scientists, he knows more about architecture than architects. The Issac Newton of Architecture Theory, if you will. I have to admit, hes right. I mean, you never see anyone take an old house and remodel it. Or add rooms to a house. Or turn porches into sunrooms. And no two houses look the same. Its hard to tell houses are even houses, theyre all so different. Sorry guys, Point 1 to Dembski.
  3. Those pauses were real, and long. That exchange took just over 2 minutes. Read it out loud to yourself. If we're generous, half of that exchange was dead silence. Sit in silence for one minute. Thats how hard Dembski had to think to answer a straight forward, elementary school science question.
  4. Behe is Discovery Institutes 'black friend.' The DI 'Fellows' believe in Special Creation like True Christians. Sure they travel about the countryside, giving presentations to churches on how Darwin caused the Holocaust and abortion blah blah blah cause humans are 'just another animal'... but theyve got nothing against common descent!!! Look, theyve even got a LUCA friend!! Michael Behe, the token friend.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

'Flock of Dodos' in OK, Update #1

Vic of Oklahomans for Excellence Science Education wanted to leave this as a comment yesterday, but of course, Blogger hates everyone, so he couldnt. Its okay! I think it deserves its own post!

Randy read about the adventures of Dembski at OU, and he wants to come to Oklahoma to present 'Flock'! Its not going to be for the showing this Sunday, and the dates not set yet, but I just might get to give Randy that tour of Explore Evolution!

And, some people were expressing concern that the Dembski Q&A posts were over. I want to assure you all that there is still much more to come! Does Dembski believe in common descent? Why is Dembski talking about 'Quantum Mechanics'? What does Dembski really think about undergraduates? And what the hell did the Art major ask? All this, and more... when I friggen finish my homework and lab presentation and study some more... *sigh* Ill get them out for you all to quote ;)

Monday, October 22, 2007

'Flock of Dodos' in OK

On October 28, the 'Margaret Mead Traveling Film and Video Festival' will bring 'Flock of Dodos' to the Sam Noble Natural History Museum.

Of course, I have a test on the 29th, so Im not sure if I will be able to go-- But I did recently get to see 'Flock of Dodos', thanks to Netflix. I think it is awesome that Randy Olson is following his dreams, and I think he could team up with XVIVO and other heavily pro-science entertainment companies to do some really cool stuff for science education.

Believe it or not, despite my track record in dealing with Creationists and the fact I grew up in Missouri (we get the KC Star, Mom sends me funny Creationist letters-to-the editor from the Metro section too hehehe!), I learned a lot from 'Flock.' As Ive said a million times on this blog, I had a very sheltered upbringing. I didnt understand 'Creationism Wars I' when it was happening, so it was really cool to see all of the characters involved in that fiasco.

But I didnt like how Randy fr*med the characters in 'Flock.'

It was cliche.

And false.

  1. I do not want to have a beer with Bill Dembski. I dont want to have a beer with Michael 'LiLo' Behe. They are not 'nice people'. They are not 'charismatic speakers.' Theyre professional con-artists and pathological jerks. Whats so nice about attacking students? Whats so nice about Behes non-science reply? Theyre jerks. Call them on it. Quit playing their 'Oh Im just a good-ol-boy' game.
  2. Get a bunch of drunk scientists together and have them talk about Creationists. Thats a great idea *rolleyes* Get a bunch of drunk scientists together and get them to talk about some topic in HIV research-- youll get the same response. Belligerent, yelling over one another, good times. But get a bunch of sober scientists together to have a forum with college students about Creationism, and youll get a completely different response. Certainly there are 'personalities' in science, but scientists in general are nice, and want nothing more than to share their research with anyone who asks. We're talking over your head? Say something! We will try to fix it! Still over your head, we will try again! And dont give me that Ivory Tower crap either. Been there, done that.
So liked the movie, hated the cliche 'fr*mes', and would love to leave the confines of my Ivory Tower give Randy Olson a tour of the Sam Noble exhibit on evolution, if hes ever in town (I worked/work with everyone who put together the HIV section).

Cutest free t-shirt EVAH!

So a little over two months ago, I ordered some primers and probes to do real time PCR. Sure I can count red cells vs green cells using flow cytometry, but I need to double-check my data with a classic technique, RT-PCR, to establish that my data is really real, and not an artifact of my new system. What if Im missing 10% of the red cells because it takes dsRED2 longer to mature? Gotta check with PCR.

Now, normally it takes a week or two to get your primers and probes. But I kept getting emails from the company I used: "Sorry! We cant synthesize your probe right! We will try again!". Like, every 3-4 days. For two months. So eventually I just called and raised a huge stink--Two months for a probe is insane!

What they sent me after I chewed them out:

  1. My damn probe
  2. Horse stress ball
  3. Pig stress ball
  4. Sweet stainless-steel travel coffee mug
  5. $25 off my next order
  6. Cool T-shirt

LOVE IT! Plus I dont have to do laundry for another couple of days cause I got TWO free T-shirts! Totally makes up for holding up my research! hehehehe!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Carl Zimmer interviews Craig Venter

I keep getting this feeling that theres supposed to be some reason why Im not supposed to like Craig Venter, but I cant help it. I like him. Hes a mad scientist, and I dont think I will be truly happy until I work for a mad scientist, and ultimately succeed him/her as lead lunatic.

Carl Zimmer interviewed him last week, and theyve got the interview up at BloggingheadsTV.

I kinda think hes awesome-- talking about health care, the sad state of government funding for science, comparing humans to sharks, 'junk DNA', epigenetics, creating organisms from scratch... But I cant shake the feeling that theres supposed to be *some* reason why Im not supposed to like him?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

He isn't pubjacking! He's commandeering a publication!

No, this is not my official 'response' to Behe. But I thought this was significant enough for its own post. The second prophesy has been fulfilled!

*sigh* So lets hear it, Behe, what's your excuse for missing this? Go ahead—run off to PubMed and find a paper to pubjack. I'm not going anywhere.
I sincerely hoped Mr. Behe wouldnt stoop to the level of a low-life-YEC or a two-bit-online-hack... but alas... the Creationist within him is stronger than the 'biochemist.'

So whos the author of the pubjacked lucky paper? Cristian Apetrei of Tulane, and his article "HIV Genetic Diversity: Biological and Public Health Consequences" :

Butler at al (HIV Genetic Diversity: Biological and Public Health Consequences, Current HIV Research, 2007, 23-45) remark under the subheading “Biological Consquences of HIV Diversity”:

With such breadth of genetic diversity among HIVs, one might expect significant biological differences between the clades. Although interesting variations can be seen, much of the data concerning biological implications of HIV diversity is contradictory.

Plenty of differences do exist, and some are “interesting”, but not all that great.

Hmmm. Now that statement looks funny. I mean it lacks the tell-tale "..." that usually mark Creationist quote-mines, but something just looks fishy about Behes choice of quote. Hmmm. Wonder what comes right after the portion Behe chose to quote?
The long terminal repeat region (LTR) of the HIV genome regulates transcription and viral replication, acting as a promoter responsive to the viral Tat protein. Although all subtypes share the same LTR function, they differ with respect to LTR sequence structure, basal activity and response to cytokines and transcription factors [95]. The majority of HIV-1 group M subtypes contain two nuclear factor binding sites (NF-kB). A minority of subtype C contain an extra NF-kB that may promote replication in the presence of TNF-and chronic immune activation [135]. CRF01_AE, in contrast, has one NF-kB site, but contains a different transcription factor binding site that may allow it to replicate in a wide variety of cells. Indeed, when compared with other subtypes, CRF01_AE encodes a highly potent LTR region [2, 135, 257]. Although there are clear differences in LTR sequences and basal replication capacity among subtypes, the influence of these molecular level changes on specific subtype epidemics and the global spread of the virus remain uncertain.
You know, that kinda looks like my essay, except looking at LTRs instead of Vpu. And they dont stop with one example! They go on to describe several more genetic differences between HIV-1 subtypes and what researchers think those differences mean biochemically... but like a true Creationist, Behe ignores all of that information and attaches his suckers to the fact that the authors admit "We dont know everything." They lament the fact that our understanding of how these biochemical differences translate into the real world is lacking. Sometimes we think a difference means one thing, sometimes we think it means something else. And Behe uses that honesty to imply the authors agree with him-- HIV hasnt evolved.

But the authors of this paper in no way support Behes bizarre claims about HIV-1 evolution (or lack thereof).

And wouldnt you know it, but what this paper is talking about is exactly what I research every day. I see changes in a very small region of env between subtypes, and over the course of time in the same patients. Im already know the biochemical effects of these changes-- Im trying to figure out the physiological and epidemiological impact of the changes. Im hoping that I can figure out a genetic determinate of transmission, narrowing down the epitopes a potential vaccine would need to contain. Everybody is trying to figure this kind of thing out now in the HIV research world.

If Michael 'LiLo' Behe is right, we are all wasting our time. Micheal Behe, the world-wide expert on HIV evolution, who 'refutes' a short essay containing a dozen primary research articles from a first year grad student, with a quote mine from a review*.

Im going to have to take a play from the Masked Mans book, Mr. Behe, and suggest that if you are going to write chapters on what HIV-1 can and cannot do, you get a little more familiar with the literature. Until then, Mr. Behe, I think you need to focus on reading and comprehending review articles. Then, you can graduate to reading big-boy articles-- primary literature with 'immunoprecipitations' and 'Western blots.' Once youve mastered those, come to the grown-ups table, and we can talk about HIV.

* Certainly Dr. Apetreis review is excellent, but clearly not sharp enough to get through the thick skull of a Creationist.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bestest compliment EVAH!

While you all are having fun with the Dada poets on Amazon and here, you might have missed one from a commenter on Telic Thoughts:

I went to Amazon and to ERV, and my impression is that not only is Abbie a bitch (which in her line of work will no doubt come in handy), she's also arrogant enough to go far up the ladder in Dawkins' Big-A Army.
**thumbs up!** Its funny cause its true HAHAHAHAHA!

Unfortunately the commenter ruins it all by proclaiming that I cant call her sexist because she is a female. Well, no, I can. First, 'she' is a anonymous poster on the internet. I consider everyone on the internet genderless, unless theyre out. Secondly, women can be sexist against other women.

Ah well, the first part was good!

Donde esta ERV?

Sorry for the unexplained blog-silence.

You all probably thought I was working on my Behe reply.

Uh uh.

Meat-world has been conspiring against me, and lots of stupid things that have happened in the past week (week and a half) lead to a small freak out. Perpetual migraines, random anxiety attacks, good times! Considering my normal state of mind is obnoxiously happy and mellow, this has been a bad week.

The two things that drove me over the edge were:

  1. The Vogons are going after my apartment building. Why? Because theyre old and bored. Gee, I hate living in a huge beautiful apartment 5 minutes from school, with all utilities paid, and landlords that dont mind Arnie. PLEASE make me commute to work and fight for parking and take Arnie to live with my parents, Vogons. *blink*
  2. I got a 50% on a test. A 50%. And not a "Yeah, I knew I was gonna get a 50%", a "OHMYGODITHOUGHTIGOTANA!" 50%. Okay, one bad grade, no big whoop, right? Wrong. Cs are Fs in grad school. We had several other tests out at the time, so I convinced myself that even though I THOUGHT I got As on those, I would fail them too. I convinced myself that I was going to flunk out of grad school, and I freaked out for an entire week.

Still no solution to #1, but there is hope-- Theyre old. They might forget this tangent and watch 'The Price is Right.'
Solution to #2-- We got a few more tests back today. 89%, 90%, 90%, 100%. Im fine. I wish we got them back before our tests this Monday, though, cause I totally psyched myself out on those.

Anyway, just wanted to explain the absence, Im back now, and Ive been reading things... *smile*

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I bring out the best in Creationists: Behe Speaks

Exactly two and one half months after I critiqued Behes unprofessional (some would say mind bafflingly idiotic) statements about HIV, he has finally 'responded'.

Just in case there is anyone out there that still thinks that the disgusting online/in person behavior of Creationists is restricted to anonymous commenters, Id like to note how Behe chooses to open up his oh-so-scientific rebuttal:

Although she calls herself a “pre-grad student,” the tone of the post is decidedly junior high, the tone of someone who is trying hard to compete with all the other Mean Girls on that unpleasant website. I’ll pass over all that and try to stick to the substance.
Michael Behe-- I have never encountered scientific sexism until right now. The first 6 years of my life I smashed Barbie dolls onto the ground and demanded construction sets and microscopes for birthday gifts, and no one said boo. I got on a bus to ride 600 miles to space camp when I was 10 years old, and no one said boo. I was one of 10 females at a nerd camp when I was 12 (100 students total), and no one said boo. I was one of the two students chosen from my state to attend the Air Force Academy science camp when I was 15, and no one said boo. My entire college career, nothing sexist from my professors or research mentors. My current PhD mentor has instructed me to tell him immediately if any of my professors sexually harass me, but it hasnt been a problem.

But today, reading Michael Behes wonderfully scientific and professional refutation of my essay, I get compared to a teenage girl in the movie 'Mean Girls.'

This is what you people have been reduced to?

The professionals, the pillars of the Intelligent Design movement, have to throw sexism at grad students, because you are so right?

Ill deal with the rest of your post later, Behe. Oh, and I think its funny that Bill didnt warn you that it might be *unwise* to engage in discussions with me right now. Two and a half months, it took you to say something, and you couldnt have picked a worse time. You might want to call Bill up for a chat.

Just a suggestion.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dembski vs Masked Man

This is it. This made the evening worth while. Pandas Thumb shall love this Q&A, which is good because Im going to need their help to link to posts on the evolution of the bacterial flagellum :) Alas, it was hard to hear the questioners anyway, as their mics werent very loud, and there was much hooting/applause/heckling in this Q&A, so I missed some words in Dr. Klebbas great comments. Sorry for the (??), and maybe some of you can fill the gaps for us :) But dont worry-- Dembskis mic was turned all the way up!


Masked Man-- First Id like to say I appreciate this discussion, and Im glad you came and spoke to us...

Dembski-- DID YOU SIGN THIS?? Were you one of the 180 that signed here??? *holds up paper, maybe a campus petition against ID, maybe a Chinese take-out menu*

MM-- *totally confused as to why Dembski is waving paper at him* No... I did not...

Dembski-- *silent* Okay.

MM-- I enjoyed this discussion. Now my question to you-- "If I explain to you the evolution of the bacterial flagellum, will you repudiate this theory of Intelligent Design?"

(audience laughs)

Dembski, in a voice like a little asshole-- Why dont you go... write it up.. (blithers for a minute or two) Im not going to go through the time here...

MM-- It will only take a minute.

(audience: "LET HIM DO IT!!! DO IT!! DO IT!! RIGHT NOW!")

(Ian "Whats this guys name?" Me "Im sure Logan asked." Logan didnt ask. But he made up for it with his Q later :P )

Dembski-- *flips through his slides to a pic of the flagellum* THIS'L WORK FOR YOU?

MM-- The problem is, that human intelligence has a limited ability to understand complexity, and it must go through the steps. The evolution of this system, bacterial flagellum, came in four different steps. (explains three steps, including one not visible on Dembskis slide, but I can barely make him out-- Ill post some links to the evolution of the bacterial flagellum here)

Dembski-- And you have a way of taking ATP synthase and turning it into the bacterial flagellum motor?

MM-- Yes...

Dembski-- And you have every change that would be required to do that.

MM-- There is one fourth stage, which is the evolution of (?????). This is research that has just come to our understanding in the past year or two. Another rotatory motor that (???). You see these four components together, and the step-wise progression of an organelle which can recruit from the cell, and rotate through proton motor force. And thats exactly what happened with the bacterial flagellum.

Dembski-- Well Im sorry, but that is exact? You KNOW this? I mean this is is is is your your your your absolutely your your...

MM-- The steps are clear.

Dembski-- The steps ARE clear. Can you show me what genetic changes would have had to happen, how probable they were... If you have broken it down into four steps, why not two more?

(audience murmurs with disapproval)

Dembski literally breaks down into nonsense at this point-- I mean this is this is this has to happen at a genetic yur neodarwinism level yur yur systems that are out homologues protein folding... (for a while. it was strange.)

Young gentleman at the other mic interrupts his meltdown, so calmly it was hysterical-- How many steps would be sufficient to prove that?

Dembski, back on planet Earth-- Im sorry?

Young gentleman-- How many steps... (cant hear the rest, audience clapping and hooting too loudly)

Dembski-- I mean I want it detailed...

(audience breaks into chaos and laughter because Dembski wont answer)

MM brings calm to the audience like only an experienced teacher can-- ... What is the function of each of the individual adaptations. The first one is the adherence to surfaces. The second one is the ability to secrete (proteins?/protons?). The third one is the ability to rotate. The fourth is essentially the combination of all of those into a motility device. So these are...

Dembski-- Its its a great just so story!

(audience goes into chaos again)

Dembski-- YOU GOT THE PILLI! Now show me show me how you get from that to the next step! Youve got another one there-- another system along the way! Step by step, do the genetic changes, and make it work! You dont haaaaaaaaaaaaaaave that!

MM-- Yes we do. One thing you dont show here is...

Dembski-- BASICALLY what youve done is youve taken, youve added two more steps! And by the way, those steps, you arent getting them, they arent embedded in the flagellum at this point!

MM-- Oh yes they are...

(audience totally tweaks out)

MM-- The proteins that make the bacteria flagellum are so closely related genetically, to those that make up the secretory complex and bacterial pilli-- the genetic sequences are virtually identical. So they are just components of different systems that have been adapted for an alternate function.

Dembski-- *silent*

Dembski-- *dead silent*

Dembski-- Yeah.

MM-- Youre obviously a very intelligent man. You have multiple degrees from many different fields. But if youre gonna lecture on this particular subject, then I suggest you take an advanced degree in biochemistry.

(audience goes wild again)

Dembski, oozing condescension-- (something about soooooooo intelligent) biologists can confidently say Im not a biologist. Im not a biologist. Write this up. Ill run it by my people...

(audience laughs sommore)

Dembski-- But it sounds like to me a just so story. You put in two more points. You havent told me what happens genetically. This system of the pilli, okay, how close it it? How many changes are required to turn it into this? I DONT KNOW! He hasnt quantified anything!

MM-- This is a just so story just as all biological systems are. They are perfectly adapted to the functions they perform. Thats why theyre just so stories.

Dembski-- Theres a history there. If it happened the way you say it happened, there is a series of genetic changes thats quantifiable, you havent given me ANYTHING! And I dont think its unreasonable! (goes ON AND ON-- intermediates, quantifiable, steps, intermediates, show, steps, happened, functions, genetic, intermediates) When you go from this to this, how many changes? How many functional changes? How many structural changes? I think we need to stop this. I mean write this up. You could be a POSTER CHILD for RICHARD DAWKINS for bringing down ID!

MM-- I have no desire to do that. In fact, Ive answered my own questions, so Id just like to thank you for coming. I enjoyed hearing your talk. Ive had my question answered.

Dembski-- *tries to get the last word, audience is clapping too loud for it to matter*
  1. Ian coined the term 'Who was that Masked Man!', and I insisted on keeping it, as there is a retarded heading in 'Edge of Evolution' that is 'WHO WAS THAT MASKED MAN?' so I thought it would be funny. But no one read 'Edge of Evolution' to get the joke. Oh well :P
  2. I hope the Pandas Thumb crew stops by to give us some good links to learn about the evolution of the bacterial flagellum, hint hint :)
  3. What was the deal with "DID YOU SIGN THIS???" Was Dembski going to use that as an excuse not to answer Dr. Klebbas Q?
  4. Dembskis meltdowns into gibberish were disturbing in person, and disturbing again when I re-listened to it. I wonder if he always does that? Was he just shocked? Was he on acid? It went in phases-- freak out-->recoup to be an asshole-->freak out--> asshole....... Weird.
  5. Dembski totally ran for cover in safe, warm, YEC territory-- "You made two more steps!
  7. Dont be stupid, Dembski. You know who the poster child is going to be for bringing down ID, and its not Dr. Klebba.
  8. Everyone get this straight-- IDCs dont have to attain our 'pathetic level of detail':
Dembski-- As for your example, I’m not going to take the bait. You’re asking me to play a game: “Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.” ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots. True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is what ID is discovering.”
but we have to provide mutation by mutation, protein fold by protein fold, accounts to 'disprove' them. But they havent done anything. Lazy little bastards.

    So in summary--
    "If I explain to you the evolution of the bacterial flagellum, will you repudiate this theory of Intelligent Design?" Answer? "No." And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Creationists are not scientists, and why Creationism will never be science.

    Tuesday, October 09, 2007



    While Im waste deep in Dembski-Doo, check out Mobile DNA to actually read about... ERVs... and other bits of mobile DNA!


    Must keep wading through poo... too funny to stop...

    Guess Dembskis response!

    Its going to take me an evening or two to write up the 'Dembski vs Masked Man' post, so to keep you all occupied, and to mix it up a bit-- here are two Qs without the As! Lets see if anyone can guess the general theme of Dembskis responses!

    CLUES: Both responses are word-salads that contain the phrase "Well... I mean", rampant passive aggression, numerous inapplicable analogies, and never actually answer the Qs.

    Question 1--

    Young gentleman-- Since your not actually positing who the intelligent designer is or how he is allegedly doing the designing, how can it be considered a theory? Basically youre setting up a critique or negation of evolution. How are you actually positing anything or proving your theory, outside of just saying theyre wrong, therefore Im right?

    Question 2 (got LOTS of laughs and applause from the audience)--
    Gentleman-- First, Id like to thank you for acknowledging that science and religion can coexist. Its an underappreciated idea these days. So my question is, seems like what we're hearing a lot of, is evolutions 'shortcomings', and very little evidence for design. Your explanatory filter simply shows that complex structures are unlikely to have arisen under (couldnt hear word) properties. Where is the evidence for ID? (Dembski responds) Motercycles and Mt. Rushmore are very different from biological systems. (Dembski responds) Ive read a lot about the flagellum, and a motorcycle is obviously the product of a designer. But a motorcycle wasnt just designed de novo and ran out on the street. It required a lot of trial and error and tinkering, and selection of the parts... know?

    More reasons for me to do a "LEAVE DEMBSKI ALONE" YouTube: Someone went and made a cartoon making fun of his... eloquence.

    Poor Creationists. Cant get no respect, I tell ya!

    Monday, October 08, 2007

    Dembski talks Junk DNA

    I think the folks at Pandas Thumb, Sandwalk, and Genomicron will be interested in this Q&A:

    Young gentleman-- What predictions, if any, does your so called 'Theory of Intelligent Design' make?

    Dembski-- I think it, aaaaah, one thing it does, it predicts there is going to be a lot of unevolveability of these systems. You can start looking at how improbable they are. I mean evolution is a theory that says you can get from Point A to Point B via various resources. Variation, gene transfer, Darwinian mechanisms, you have these resources-- Can you get there from Point A to Point B with these resources... Youre at the base of Mt. Everest and whats going to get you to the top? A Chevy Nova isnt going to get you there. You need the right resources. (keeps going on about resources and Point A and Point B) We say that various systems like the bacterial flagellum, various enzymes, are not going to be evolvable. So that would be one prediction. I can give you more! Information packaged in DNA! Is this cobbled together through blind forces, we should not be able to find this tight information package. So that would be another prediction. FOR THE LAST TEN YEARS Ive been saying all this talk about 'Junk DNA' is probably misguided! There is a lot of good evidence that repetitive DNA, which is classic 'junk DNA', is not junk! Theres a recent paper by James Shapiro...

    (Me and Ian talking too loud for me to hear the ending to that sentence cause we were all pissed off about 'junk DNA')

    1. Wow. Those are some hard-core predictions-- God of Gaps, and stuff scientists figured out half a century ago. Behold the mighty power of ID!!
    2. Creationism has gone from Ford Pintos to Chevy Novas.
    3. The bacterial flagellum is UNEVOLVABLE! That is a prediction. Remember that.
    4. Bloggers take note: Dembski is saying, clearly, that there should be NO JUNK in our genomes if they are right. Quote this at will.

    I love Lucy!

    Since I was going down to Houston anyway, I wanted to make sure I made a stop at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences to see Lucy.

    Before you got to see Lucy, there was a walk-through commercial for Ethiopia. Not that I blame them, but it was example #91754692354629365234 on how Christianity et al ruin everything. Uuuuuuuuuugh! The exhibit goes from ancient indigenous art, culture, and history to the same Christian crap you get all over the planet. "OOOOH! LOOK! Jesus on a cross! Havent seen one of those in about 5 seconds! OOOOH! Another cross, sans Jesus! Fantastic." A large portion of the exhibit seemed like it was trying to pacify theists that came to see Lucy... "Suchandsuch is the fourth most sacred city in Islam!" "Look at all these Christian themed paintings!" "We even have Jews! Well, we used to, but then they all went to Israel..."

    There was a big toot made about a church where 'The Ark of the Covenant' was held, and about how everyone went to the church because of 'The Ark' and how faithful the church-goers are blah blah.

    Dad: "Lets say 'The Ark' is in our basement to stir up tourism."
    Me: "We can say Joseph Smith brought it over." (we live in Missouri)
    Mom: "Do you two even know what The Ark is??"
    Me: "... Its been a while since I saw 'Indiana Jones.'"
    Family: "LOL!"
    After trudging through several rooms of Biblobile, we were cleansed by the notes of 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds', and were safe to see Lucys bones. They (of course) didnt let us take pics, and (surprisingly) there were no postcards available in the gift shop to buy-->scan, so youll have to make do with me wearing the cute T-shirt I bought. Its in mirror image because thats how Macs roll: Nick fixed it! Thank you!

    You could go right up to the case her bones were in. However if you touched the case, all hell would break loose. So all of the moms/dads super glued their little ones to their sides thinking "MY kid isnt going to be the one setting off that damn alarm!" And considering the sheer number of little ones and teenage hooligans there, I gotta say, they were all doing a great job! And so were the parents:
    Mom with a 3, maybe 4 year old, girl on her hip: *points at an artists rendition of Lucy* "Thats your great great great great great grandma!"
    Little girl: *concentrates on the figure for a moment, then whispers, knowing what she was going to say might be rude* "... Why is she so hairy?"
    Mom: "Well youre great great great great granddaughters might think you look a little weird too!"
    The mom then went on to explain evilution to the little one! WHOOOOOO!!!!

    Alas, not everyone was as clever as this mom. A few jerks had written some thoughtful comments in the guest book. "I BELIEVE IN GOD NOT EVILUTION!" scrawled a (proclaimed) college student. Yeah, you must not believe in math or economics either, dumbass, cause you traveled from San Antonio just gave the museum $20 for you to not learn anything. Great job!!

    It was awesome. I hate the fact they moved her, but Im glad I got to see her since they already moved her across the ocean. Just awesome.

    Sunday, October 07, 2007

    ERVs Fear of Flying

    No, Im not afraid of flying in the usual sense. I know flying is safer than driving. I dont care if I die in a plane crash, because I know I will be dead-- aint gonna live to suffer after that accident. I hate going through security, but Id rather take a 1 hour flight (plus 2 hours BS) to Houston rather than drive for 8 hours in football game traffic.

    But Im scared shitless of flying.

    Ever since I flew for the first time when I was about 10 years old, Ive had severe ear pain on planes. Every goddamn time. And Im not talking 'Eh my ears are popping. Annoying.' I mean I am doubled over in pain and close to tears. Im close to tears typing this, just thinking about it. And while my plane landed five hours ago-- my ears are still bothering me.

    I fly infrequently enough that I forget how bad it is until Im on the plane and its happening again. After I got to Houston I was like "*deep breath* Okay, I made it, not that bad" and I looked down... I was drenched in sweat from stuffing down the pain.

    But then I had to fly again today, and its the only way home. And I get to hear the usual comments from co-passengers trying to help "Try yawning! Try gum! Have a piece of candy!" which just makes me angry because it doesnt help. Its a trivial thing for everyone else, but its hell for me, and no one else 'gets it'.

    I cant do this anymore. I have never flown on a plane and not still been in pain 24 hours after the plane lands. Something is wrong with my ears (intelligently designed my ass).

    Any strange tips, blog hive-mind?

    Dembski vs ERV

    The Prophesy has been fulfilled!

    This Q was funny. I wasnt going to ask the Q I asked. I was going to emphasize the practical importance of evolution. I use evolution every day to work towards curing HIV infections and cancer... and my experiments work. Dembski, on the other hand, poops out a crappy book every 10 years, and... aaaaand... hmm. Well, he doesnt so much *do* anything. But if he is right, my cancer research shouldnt be working. If Behe is right, my virology research shouldnt be working. So why doesnt Creationism intersect with reality?

    But then Dembski just pissed me off.

    Dembski-- Its not your turn yet! Its not your turn! Its not your turn! Wait your turn!

    Me-- *click* Actually, my question follows that...

    Dembski-- Please.

    Me-- I do HIV research. I have for the past few years. Im a graduate student, and I wrote a critique of Behes, eh, latest book, I guess its 'Edge of Evolution'-- Where he states quite clearly that HIV has not evolved in the past 30 years (Dembski 'Yup.') outside of simple mutation there has been no genetic evolution, there has been no protein evolution... and actually there has. Um, I was then invited to your blog to discuss this. I got in about *three* posts, before I was banned. (audience snickers, a few people clap loudly). I was subsequently harassed on my blog, I was slandered on your blog, and youre speaking so much about how "Intelligent Design Creationists are persecuted!" and everyone is out to get them-- So why do you feel its necessary to go after a graduate student that way?

    Dembski-- *silence*

    (audience hoots and applauds)

    Dembski-- I think your career is pretty secure for the future...

    Me-- I would be the happiest unemployed person on the planet.

    Dembski--- Frankly I didnt follow the exchange. I dont moderate it...

    Me-- You were... at the time you were busy composing a fake letter from the president of Baylor.

    (Ian laughs REALLY loud :P)

    Dembski-- *silence*

    (Ian sounds like hes going to throw up hes laughing so hard)

    Dembski, suddenly rather quiet-- Thats a different matter we can talk about if you...

    Me-- Well Im just *assuming* thats what you were doing.

    Dembski-- I I I was not following the exchange, I frankly... It was not at the top of my priority list at that point, other people do moderate... (composes himself) YOU present your views, CLEARLY youre trying to embarrass me... Why dont you just... GO to your blog... you know... put all the links for the people there...

    Me: Its there! Its!

    Dembski--... Right... ERV is what you went by...

    Me-- ERV! I also study endogenous retroviruses and how they relate to cancer! *flash a grin to the audience*

    Dembski-- ... Okay... alright... Uh huh... So you can see just how bad we are and just how bad she is... (I grin at the audience again-- really dumb move on Dembskis part-- another game he cant win) and decide for yourself.

    (audience roars with applause)

    I go back to my seat.
    Creationist pissed off in the audience-- What was the QUESTION???

    Me, in my seat, but happy to point out Creationists are hypocrites over and over and over-- Why do you feel its necessary to attack a graduate student if your science is so *sound*?

    Dembski, getting frantic-- I dont think it is! I mean mean if thats what happened Im sorry about it but you know the thing is I was going to shut the blog down about a year and a half ago because I didnt have time for it other people agreed to moderate for me and they usually take a hard line and thats okay with me...

    Me-- Sexually harassing me was *hard line*?

    Dembski-- You go to Pandas Thumb and do your thing there... you know?

    Me-- So much for both sides.
    1. 'Your career is pretty secure'-- What the hell what that phrase supposed to mean? It was completely off topic. Did he just say it to stall for a minute? Was it a sneaky comment implying HIV is a conspiracy, thus will never be cured? Or is he just admitting that with his (and Behes) world-view, curing HIV (or malaria) is pointless, as their All-Hating God will just make some impossible mutations to save the virus from our feeble mortal materialistic attempts to eliminate it? Once again, ID is a science-stopper. Why cure anything? Why develop drugs and vaccinations? Theres always a bored, hateful god ready and willing to help the 'bad guys' as He pleases. 'Science' is pointless if Creationism is true.
    2. Didnt follow the exchange? Havent you learned anything from reading my blog, Dembski? Do not get into a passive-aggression war with a Jewish female. Its a game you cannot win. Ever. Especially if you have to lie to do so.
      • Dembski told Cottage Cheese the real name of someone defending me on my blog.
      • Dembski knew my handle was ERV.
    3. Dawkins 'pause', Id like you to meet Dembskis 'pauses'!
    4. Message to everyone reading: Take screenshots of everything that happens to you at UD. They delete comments (ask The Factician, he tried to join me at UD). They delete their own comments and posts. If they threaten you, take a screen shot.
    5. Message to Billy: Dude, Im 24 years old, 5'8"/5'9"-ish, 130 lbs, not *hot* but kinda cute, adorable smile, obnoxiously cheerful, acceptably intelligent (though not as quick witted as some), and I do HIV and cancer research. You arent going to make me look *bad* by using your old strategy. Get a new one, Dembski, I want a challenge. Save your cottage cheese for your salads.
    You know its funny, if Behe hadnt made the decision to flaunt his ignorance about HIV in an interview, I probably would have never read his book. And if I didnt read his book, I wouldnt have written my critique. And if I didnt write the critique, I wouldnt have had to deal with Cottage Cheese and DaveScot. If I hadnt had to deal with them, I wouldnt have gone to see Dembski (I had a big test that day, I had better things to do). And if I hadnt seen Dembskis presentation, I wouldnt have been there to make some 'observations'... strange series of events... hmm...

    Friday, October 05, 2007


    Alas, Im in Houston this weekend-- the bro is getting married.

    So ur just gonna have to wait for the next segment of the Dembski Affair.



    Thursday, October 04, 2007

    Dembski digs his own grave

    So the Q from Part One keeps going-- Once again, the young lady did a great job of digging her heels in and making Dembski answer her question. Get your barf bags ready*.

    Dont say I didnt warn you.

    *audience members mumble that Dembskis 'answer' isnt an answer*

    *future main character instructs people to come up to the mic if they have comments*

    Dembski-- You dont, you dont think I answered the question. What about you? Whe whe whe...

    Young lady-- Well I would like something a little more specific. I thought it was a great example when you said Darwin said 'If you can find X I will be...

    Dembski-- What he proposes is impossible to test. You know? You have to modify it, as I suggested. But ah Im not sure where you see this as an evasion. Dont just give me a type III secretory system, give me a fully articulated pathway. Im not sure why thats an unreasonable requirement ey ya would not constitute eeeeh I certainly, if I saw that, I would seriously rethink what I was doing with Intelligent Design.

    Young lady-- So perhaps... way in the future they elucidate this 'designed' pathway. How to get from LA to Japan to Hawaii, whatever (reference to Dembskis presentation), would that be... sufficient...?

    Whe whe I think that would go a long way. I mean right now you dont have anything like that eh ah uh would convince me. Especially considering all the havens (I seriously cant understand a word he says for a second because hes bumbling so badly)

    Young lady-- Doesnt that just mean "Give us enough time and we'll find it?"

    Dembski-- Well, eeeeek, I mean, get you time, get you NSF research funding, get to it! But I mean why should I buy it at this point? Why why why whyyyyyy should I bet on this? Why should the biological community bet on it? Well I think they have a lot invested in it. But you know, eh... eeeeeeeeeeehhhhhh you see this is how things happen with different changes in science people work towards (???) and other people jump ship. And those who want to work for the old paradigm, fine. But in my view your your your banging your head against a wall. And I think there are some good theoretical reasons for thinking that way. I mean...ehk... biological evolution and computational evolution are not the only kinds of evolution. Theres also technological evolution. And the Russians actually studied this very well. (blithers about Soviet Russia looking at patents and studying technological change). All natural selection is is a trial and error, bit it, it actually has very limited use in terms of creative innovations that really push technology forward. So I think just from the field of technological evolution it seems that one should not give that much play to trial and error tinkering and that IS what natural selection and random variation is!
    So either FIND some new mechanisms... but nothing has been done! The biological community has come up with nothing, natural selection is it. Thats the designing substance...

    MASKED MAAAAAAAAN!!!!!!!!!! -- Can I explain it to you? Would you put up your slide of the bacterial flagella? And I would be happy to explain this system to you.

    **audience ROARS with laughter-- seriously I about busted my eardrums on the audio**

    Demsbki-- I have colleagues who know this system as well as you do. Ive talked to them. I DONT NEED TO GET AN EDUCATION FROM YOU!

    *audience yells "YOU DOOO!" in unison*

    Dembski-- SORRY! This is going to be a question and answer time! ITS NOT YOUR TURN! ITS NOT YOUR TUUUURN! WAIT YOUR TUUUUUUUUUUUUURN!

    Luckily for him, it was ERVs turn.


    1. Dembski made a HUGE deal out of what Darwin 'said' and how he had disproven it! Now Darwins statement is 'impossible to test??'
    2. The young lady caught him-- "So doesnt that just mean "Give us enough time and we'll find it?"" Exactly. If ID was a positive argument, Dembski COULD have said "Nononono, here is our evidence supporting our claims." But ID is a negative argument, its a 'god of gaps', and science fills gaps. Give us enough time, and science will fill every gap ID Creationists find.
    3. PARADIGM!
    4. In Soviet Russia, technology evolves you!
    5. Dembskis proclamations that 'the biological community' has come up with 'nothing' almost made me vomit in front of everyone. I spent four years playing with cadaver guts as a pre-med, and a Creationist curls my stomach. Its no surprise that the Masked Man chose that moment to say something. I couldnt have taken one more sentence of it myself. But he made his statement in a calm and patient voice that I will never be blessed with.**
    6. There were two mics. The young lady asking the Q was at one, I was at the other. Logan was behind me, and Masked Man was behind him. So when MM started talking, I offered him my spot at the mic. Dembski would have none of it, and started whining frantically "ITS NOT YOUR TURN!!!!!!" It was horrifying. And it was at that moment my question changed.

    * I figured out how to deal with Dembskis rambling. Chocolate. Vodka. God this is taking forever... AND ITS IMPOSSIBLE TO SPELL CHECK!

    ** Mom: "Abbie, hon, you know you arent exactly patient with that kind of person." Me: "... What kind of person?" Mom: "You know. Stupid people." Mom and Me: "LOL!"

    Wednesday, October 03, 2007

    Zuska would be proud!

    Zuska would have loved the Dembski Q&A. For this Q, another young lady stepped up to the mic to grill Dembski, and she dun good :) **

    Young lady-- Its generally agreed in the scientific community that in order to be considered a scientific theory, as you stated earlier in your lecture, you have to be able to disprove it. You said Darwin said "My theory is wrong if you can find something irreducibly complex." Well, potentially there has to be a way for you to disprove it. How can one potentially disprove ID?

    Dembski-- Well I, you know I, I think ehhh, if you look at some of these systems that again I, I, I, ID people have identified, theyre just a backbone. Eh. Eeeeeh. When Richard Dawkins says biologists study these complicated things that give the appearance of being designed with a purpose, he means to deny that there is any actual design there. At best what youre seeing is an APPEARANCE of design. Theres no actual design that exists. So the burden of the Intelligent Design person is not to show that EVERYTHING is designed in biology. Its enough to show that SOME things are designed in biology. So if Michael Behe can show that some structure in one of your cells is designed, then that cell is designed and you are designed! As it applies up.
    *rabble rabble*
    So, so, so you, this is one of the STRENGTHS of Intelligent Design Theory, is that you can tease apart the effects of design in principle. No Intelligent Design person is denying that Darwins theory has no scope of applicability. What we are denying is that it is a total account of all biological diversity. So what we're doing is finding individual systems which were designed, and argue for them.
    What would it take to knock down the biggest icon of Intelligent Design? A detailed, testable, fully articulated, step-by-step pathway to the flagellum. And not just by pointing to a type 2 secretion pathway, show HOW... you dont actually, you dont actually have to reproduce the history... but show how it might have happened. But its gotta be DETAILED. And TESTABLE. I mean that, if you could show a Darwinian path to get there, I think that would be devastating for Intelligent Design.
    I mean to say Intelligent Design is not testable, it doesnt ring up at all...



    to be continued...

    This Q&A--
    1. Dembski is full of shit. People have disproved Behes crap over and over and OVER and EVERY time they add a new 'pathetic' level of detail that must be attained before theyll accept evolution. Its a facade for the Creationists-naive-- "Hey, ID is falsifiable, but I guess scientists havent falsified their claims yet..."
    2. But just wait, Dembski screws up fantastically later in the Q&A-- This was just an appetizer turd. There is still a big meal and dessert Q&As where this theme pops up again :)
    3. So if a 'molecular motor' is 'designed', but everything else in the cell looks like it evolved, the cell is designed. Humans carved Mt. Rushmore, therefore, humans made South Dakota. Fantastic. What a lovely bit of slither-logic for Creationists! All they have to do is show that one teensy-tiny something is designed, and all of evolution is falsified! HURRAY! This would work out great for them if they could establish something was designed...

    ** SERIOUSLY you guys, I didnt notice it being this bad while I was there, but trying to transcribe every stutter and bumble and eeeeeeeeermehehmehem of Dembski is frustrating! He does it for like 30 seconds straight sometimes!! What the hell is his deal????

    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    The Crappiest Q&A of the Night

    Okay, Im sick of typing out all of Dembskis stutters and erm and eeeeeh eeeeeeh eeeeeeehs and "I mean, you knows?" So this is an abbreviated Q&A. This was a softball question, and he still did it. Seriously the next time I hear someone insisting Creationists have a GREAT fr*me because they are dynamic speakers Im going to throw a CD of this garbage at them. But I vote this Q&A as the crappiest of the night. Its five minutes of two people talking and not saying anything. Awful.

    Young gentleman-- I was wondering about the use of, probably DNA in terms of an information theory argument. Seems like a perfectly reasonable language, I don’t know if the complexities are too large, but are there people looking at DNA as an alphabet information carried in strings of DNA sort of in words and is there anything in that realm that is possible?

    Dembski--Well sure! This is the idea of DNA being a code is well worn territory. I refer you to Hubert Yockey, who has written on this topic and is also critical of conventional evolutionary theory. He says the information in DNA is not something you can get from natural processes. So I mean, this merging of information theory and biology in the genetic code is something that is very much done. And in bioinformatics you look at sequences of DNA from different organisms and you do a lot of comparisons and data mining. This idea of DNA being a code is very much used.

    You mathy folks will probably have more fun with this, but here is what I got out of this crappy Q&A:

    1. Dembski, given a softball opportunity to talk about his Blessed Information, could just gibber gobbledy-gook.
    2. Bioinformatics is impossible if Dembski is right. Bioinformatics means nothing without evolution. Even in the games we would play in undergrad in order to learn how to use all the online tools for bioinformatics, we had to use evolution. No idea why Dembski brought this field up. I mean honestly, Id really like to see him figure out what an unknown gene does in humans without using evolution. Knock-out babies, Dembski? Thats just about your only option.
    3. Who is Hubert Yockey? I Googled him and got a ton of Creationist pages. Im going to do more hunting...

    Fundie-mental problem with religion: An external locus of control

    More specifically, an external locus of control that can fester into a permanently external locus of control.

    See, when something *happens*, lets say, you get a B in a class you really wanted to get an A in, you have two options.

    1-- I really didnt study as hard as I could have.
    Hey! That class was pretty hard! An A would have been nice, but I worked hard for that B!
    Okay, next semester I am NOT going out drinking every Wednesday-- its effecting my Thursday classes, even the easy ones.

    2-- That professor didnt like me because Im a pre-med. She never gives As to pre-meds.
    I would have gotten an A if I had a good teacher.
    That group project totally screwed me over. That dudes idea was so dumb.
    See the difference? The first options were from an 'internal' locus of control, and the second options were from an 'external' locus of control. From birth, theists have an external locus of control not available to atheists: Gods. And from a very young age they are encouraged to take advantage of this fact-- Pray to God for this, pray to God for that, ask and ye shall receive.

    I think most normal healthy people, atheist or theist, have a reasonable balance of the two. We might say something from category 2 while venting with our friends, while in our head we know the answer is really something from category 1... But the fact remains that there is a big, honking deity hanging out in category 2 for theists, and if not kept in check, clearly has an adverse effect on the theists ability to interact with the rest of society. One can become so reliant on an external locus of control that they simply lack the ability to come to a conclusion from category 1, even when its appropriate.

    Example A-- Creationists.
    During the Great Cottage Cheese Debate, Sally made some unwise decisions. Under no uncertain terms, he proclaimed that I purposefully misled people in my critique of Behe and danced around UD singing 'literature bluffing!' Now, ignore the humorous irony for a moment, and the fact that no one from the IDC Camp has addressed my essay 'scientifically', and take a look at his 'apology' to me on UD:
    My third loose end which I would like to tie up is that I would like to apologize to Ms. Smith if I have said anything that may be construed as an accusation of dishonesty on her part.
    Perhaps I made some ill-tempered remarks, but it was not my intent to accuse her of lying or dishonesty.
    Ms. Smith even conceded the following here about the NON-novelty of Vpu in HIV here:
    Nononono! Vpu isnt a new gene created in the past 100 years! The original Vpu probably originated a long time ago
    Her admission relates to something I hammered on here.
    But I would admonish Ms. Smith that she perhaps under-appreciates the level of expertise in the ID community in the field of information dynamics within biology. And judging from her writings and those of most in evolutionary biology, I think her knowledge of the information science and technology leaves much to be desired. The typical ID theorist is light years ahead of the typical evolutionary biologist in these matters. They may not like it, but that is the state of affairs. I encourage her to set her ego aside and revisit her critique of Behe. There is a chance she is not rendering a charitable understanding of the writings of this biochemist for a lay audience.
    He didnt make any accusations-- other people 'misconstrued' them to look like accusations.
    He just made some ill tempered remarks, thats all!
    Look, she even conceded his point!**
    Ms. Smith doesnt know anything about HIV.

    Yes, what a wonderful apology! The only thing that even comes close to an internal locus of control is "I perhaps said some ill tempered remarks..." not really taking any responsibility for his actions at all.

    Well, just in case any of you might think that was an isolated incident, Dear Bill Dembski has gone and done the same damn thing today (from PZ-- I dont click on UD links, nor should you):
    I mean in no way to mitigate the gravity of Baylor's wrong in censoring the research of Robert Marks and his Evolutionary Informatics Lab.
    I hurt my family and lost about three weeks of productive work by being consumed with anger about the injustice against Robert Marks.
    ...leave justice in the hands of a God.
    Translation: BAYLOR STARTED IT!!!!

    Another fine apology!

    Another fine example of special treatment for Creationists. Why dont Creationists have to take responsibility for their actions like the rest of us? You screw up, you apologize-- why cant Creationists do that? Or are they psychologically broken, unable to interact with society on a normal level?

    Why cant Creationists take responsibility for their choices?

    ** That 'quote' is a quote-mine from a month before CCC found my essay, and I gave that link to him to answer his question, and he ignored it in favor of harassing me. See full quote here.

    Monday, October 01, 2007

    I need to adjust the settings on my tin-foil hat...

    I had my suspicions after reading 'The God Delusion', but now I am officially creeped out. Somehow, Richard Dawkins is listening to my thoughts.


    We who doubt that "theology" is a subject at all, or who compare it with the study of leprechauns, are eagerly hoping to be proved wrong... ...But as for theology itself, defined as "the organised body of knowledge dealing with the nature, attributes, and governance of God", a positive case now needs to be made that it has any real content at all, and that it has any place in today's universities.
    Oh now common! Common! Ive been saying this for years!!! Biblotarians brag about the opinion of someone with a theology degree, or brag about going to 'divinity school' and Ive always been like "Hmm. You cant even establish there is a theos in the first place... Dont you think its a bit pretentious to make an -ology out of it?" "Oooh! And Ive got a degree in Unicornology! Theology, pffffff!" "Divinity-- a degree in nothing! How impressive!!"

    Eh I can make people mad, though, by taking it a step further! I think philosophy is *almost* just as absurd. Thinking about things people have thought about since people could think, for a profession. Thinking about the same questions people have always thought about, but attempting to think about them differently than everyone else, or when all else fails, at least wording the same thoughts differently. For a profession.

    I mean, look, I love talking philosophy! Its fun drunk talk! But to me being a professional philosopher is like being a professional eater. Huh? Maybe there is more to philosophy than I am aware of-- Ill certainly agree there is more to philosophy than there is to theology-- so Im open to being convinced! Anyone want to make a case for philosophy?


    (hat tip to PZ)

    More of ERVs Woo

    Yes, Im afraid I have even more woo to admit to (well, at least to you newcomers).

    See, I own an American Staffordshire. This automatically makes me a pit bull denier, thus any opinion I express on pit bulls is an irrational position (joining the ranks of notoriously irrational people like Jon Stewart, and Rachael Ray).

    So try to act surprised as I tell you this no doubt made up story that somehow really proves that pits are mindless killers:
    Tonight on our walk, Arnie was attacked for the third time by the same dog. A toy poodle.

    "AHAHAHAHA! A toy poodle attacking a pit bull isnt that funny AHAHAHAHAHAHA!"


    This damn dog is owned by a ~200 lb, football stature male who runs in the evenings when I run Arnie. His dog is never on a leash. Arnie is. His dog sees Arnie, makes a beeline for him, teeth baring, while Arnie and I are trying to cross a street. So 130 lb ERV has to throw 75 lb Arnie over her shoulder in the middle of traffic to keep this 12 lb dog from hurting Arnie, or heaven forbid Arnie defend himself, a crime that would no doubt mean Arnie would be put to sleep. Meanwhile, 12 lb dog is clawing at my legs trying to get Arnie. In the middle of traffic.

    This happened a second time a few weeks ago (luckily not in traffic), but 200 lb football player was nowhere to be seen. I had to kick the poodle and scream at him to get him to go away.

    For the third time tonight, 200 lb football player was running with his 12 lb dog not on a leash, and poodle tries to attack Arnie.

    I had a *talk* with 200 lb football player. I will be having a talk with the campus police tomorrow morning to file a complaint. This asinine dog ownership would not be tolerated for 5 seconds if I owned the poodle and football player owned the pit.

    But dont forget everyone, Im just a Pit Bull Denier.