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How Evolutionary Science Is Done: From Deduction to Story

first_img“Evolution is a fact!” Carl Sagan stated emphatically on TV in his 1980 Cosmos series (now in reruns on The Science Channel).  Following this lead, many evolutionists repeat this four-word phrase, often augmenting it like, Evolution is a fact, like gravity (see association).  This motto has some interesting properties in its effects on scientific research.  Anything that is a fact no longer needs to be proved.  It no longer needs evidence.  It can be taken as a given, a first principle from which other principles can be deduced, and a framework into which all empirical data can be fitted.  Has Charles Darwin become the new Aristotle?    Here are some recent examples of evolutionary reasoning in scientific journals and science news articles.  Look for instances of deducing conclusions from the premise “evolution is a fact.”  Also look for reasoning that, since evolution is a “fact,” it must be capable of accomplishing any kind of design work found among the world’s amazing living creatures.Octopus elbows:  Noticing that octopuses have an uncanny ability to bend their boneless tentacles into shapes resembling vertebrate elbows, EurekAlert says this about how the ability evolved: “The presence of similar structural features and control strategies in articulated limbs (for example, jointed vertebrate arms) and flexible octopus arms suggests that these qualities have evolved convergently in octopuses and in vertebrates, and it also suggests that an articulated limb–controlled at the level of joints–is the optimal solution to the challenge of achieving precise point-to-point movements by a limb.”  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)    The authors of the original paper in Current Biology1 went further.  “Despite the evolutionary gap and morphological differences, humans and octopuses evolved similar strategies when fetching food to the mouth,” Sumbre, Hochner et al. said.  They even postulated that this ability arose at the dawn of animals, hundreds of millions of years ago:Because the hypothetical common ancestor of cephalopods and vertebrates dates back to the beginning of Cambrian era (about 540 million years ago), fetching appears to be a genuine and rare case of evolutionary functional convergence, where two independent attributes (morphology and neural control) coevolved to achieve a common goal.  We therefore suggest that the combination of a kinematically constrained articulated limb and a movement control strategy with simpler, more stereotypical movements in intrinsic coordinates offers an optimal solution for achieving precise point-to-point movements.Commenting on this study in the same issue of Current Biology,2 Scott L. Hooper explored the idea that function can give rise to form, by evolution.  Noting that “muscles predate the evolution of hard body parts,” Hooper personified evolution into a creative programmer: “flexibly creating different ‘skeletons’ of stiffened muscles against which other muscles can act may be the mother of all motor control strategies.”    Live Science picked up on this line, also, stating that “The similarity of structural features and control strategies between jointed vertebrate arms and flexible octopus limbs suggests that these configurations evolved separately in octopuses and vertebrates, a result scientists call an example of convergent evolution.”  In none of these papers or news articles did any of the authors attempt to connect function to form by a series of plausible evolutionary steps.  Apparently, they didn’t have to – since evolution is already a fact.Bat digital computing:  With their sonar-guided aerial acrobatics, bats are true wonders of the class Mammalia.  The only mammals to fly under their own power, bats make up one fifth of all mammalian species, said Michael Balter in Science Now.  But how did they get the ability to fly?  Surprisingly, a paper in PNAS3 found a tale in the absence of evidence:The earliest fossil bats resemble their modern counterparts in possessing greatly elongated digits to support the wing membrane, which is an anatomical hallmark of powered flight.  To quantitatively confirm these similarities, we performed a morphometric analysis of wing bones from fossil and modern bats.  We found that the lengths of the third, fourth, and fifth digits (the primary supportive elements of the wing) have remained constant relative to body size over the last 50 million years.  This absence of transitional forms in the fossil record led us to look elsewhere to understand bat wing evolution. Since (of course) evolution is already a fact, no fossil evidence is necessary.  What they looked at were genes for finger development in bats and their presumed cousins, mice.  They found that a common gene for bone growth is activated differently in bats, causing the digits to grow much more rapidly, but only in the forelimbs.  “Together, our results suggest that an up-regulation of the Bmp pathway is one of the major factors in the developmental elongation of bat forelimb digits, and it is potentially a key mechanism in their evolutionary elongation as well.”    In this “suggestion,” no attempt was made to integrate this into a comprehensive picture of how the membranes developed, how flight muscles developed, where the avionics software came from, and all the other parts that would have had to have emerged simultaneously for long fingers to become tools rather than impediments.  Since evolution is a fact, this is not a problem; each attribute becomes a piece of the grand evolutionary picture, something that “suggests” or “sheds light” on a detail of what is already known to be true.    Michael Balter shamelessly gave his write-up on this paper a Kipling-esque just-so-story title in Science Now: “How Bats Got Off the Ground.”  Calling bats great examples of “Darwinian success,” Balter quoted other scientists who called this a “an excellent paper” that “helps us to understand how evolutionary transformations are achieved by tinkering with the development of individual structures–in this case, the digits.”The purpose-driven bird:  Darwinists have often claimed that humans have evolved to the point where they can now take charge of their own evolution.  But can birds do this?  That’s a new line promoted by Katherine Unger on Science Now, a news service of the AAAS.  “Species need not sit around waiting for natural selection to shape them,”  she said.  “According to a new study, a creature’s personality can also be an important evolutionary driving force–one that may give the species some control over its own destiny.”  The study, described in PNAS, showed how some bluebirds can alter their habitats and foraging behaviors based on how aggressive some members get (see also EurekAlert summary).  The odd thing is that no evolution occurred before or after the study; the bluebirds were still bluebirds.  The key finding was merely a suggestion: “By selecting the environment in which they live, animals can actively affect the natural selection they experience.”  Evolution by natural selection is, of course, the fact that (by implication) produced the bluebirds in the first place.Apparently, suggestions are good enough for science these days.  It all follows naturally by deduction from first principles: evolution is a fact.    Cornelius Hunter, writing for ID the Future, has found this reaction to be common in his experience debating evolutionists.  “Evolution is a fact” is their knee-jerk reply, with the inevitable comparison to gravity (an association Hunter calls absurd).  “As the old saying goes, it is not what a man doesn’t know that worries me,” he quipped, “but what he knows for sure.”  He continued,“The ‘evolution is a fact’ claim is awkward for evolutionists.  It makes the man behind the curtain all the more obvious and is empirically unsupportable.  How should evolutionists respond when a savvy buyer starts kicking the tires and asks “Why is this a fact again?”….The dual mandates that (i) science must adhere to methodological naturalism and (ii) evolution is a fact, serve to diminish the importance of the empirical data.  Monumental evidential problems become mere curiosities when the theory is beyond question.Hunter calls this an “unfortunate trend in science.  Let’s reverse it and seriously engage the issues at hand.”1Sumbre, Hochner et al., “Octopuses Use a Human-like Strategy to Control Precise Point-to-Point Arm Movements,” Current Biology, Vol 16, 767-772, 18 April 2006.2Scott L. Hooper, “Dispatch: Motor Control: The Importance of Stiffness,” Current Biology, Vol 16, R283-R285, 18 April 2006.3Sears et al., “Development of bat flight: Morphologic and molecular evolution of bat wing digits,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0509716103, published online before print April 17, 2006.We’re going to keep holding up this garbage to public view as we have for over five years now, to expose Darwinian research for what it is: institutionalized question begging, assuming what needs to be proved, making up tall tales in the absence of evidence, ascribing exquisite design to dumb processes of randomness, and murdering Baconian scientific rigor.  Once the Darwin Party came to power, they dumbed down the high standards of research, substituted bravado for caution, and brought in the dark ages of speculative biology where facts and data don’t matter any more.  The highest value now is keeping the story line begun by Pope Charlie going ad infinitum.  The usurping Darwin Party elitists not only lounge around, engaging one another in “tantalizing speculations” (12/22/2003) in the institutions once devoted to induction and proof, but then have the gall to condemn anyone who calls them on the carpet for their shenanigans.    Let this awareness promote a new day in science, where conclusions are rare, where “suggestions” are criticized, where evidence is king, and no principle based on human authority becomes a premise for deduction – i.e., like it used to be when men and women who loved nature and loved the truth (predominantly Christians and creationists – see online book) explored nature as seeking out the wisdom of God.  Disallowing deduction and reinstating rigor might not cure the hard-core Darwinian materialists, but it would go a long way in clearing the fog away from the debate.(Visited 38 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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When Will Twitter Really Go Real Time? And What Will Change When it Does?

first_imgfrederic lardinois A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Related Posts Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Tags:#Trends#twitter#web center_img Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… In its current state, Twitter is a strange mix of real-time features like search and the slow polling mechanism that desktop clients use to grab new messages. As Twitter puts a limit on how many times per hour a client can check for updates, most of the conversations on Twitter are slow and arduous. When Seesmic released its new desktop and web applications last week, however, the company also mentioned that its applications would soon be able to update Twitter streams in real time, including @replies and direct messages. While the Seesmic team was tight-lipped about how exactly they are going to do this (maybe by tapping into Twitter’s Streaming API?), we can’t help but wonder how this will change the dynamics on the service.Twitter as a Chat RoomCurrently, conversations on Twitter are asynchronous and sluggish. If they happened in real-time, however, Twitter would start to look and feel more like an IM client. Even on FriendFeed, which was once seen as a possible Twitter challenger but which never quite got any mainstream traction, conversations now happen in real time. While Twitter is often mentioned as a vehicle for real-time conversations, in reality, conversations on Twitter aren’t happening in real time at all.Once Twitter turns into more of a chatroom, both Twitter’s website and third-party clients will also have to improve the way they display these conversations. Seesmic’s ‘message’ view looks like a step in the right direction. The Seesmic web app features a TweetDeck-like column-based view of your Twitter streams and searches, but it also separates ‘real’ conversations that you participate in from the rest of the application. Other desktop apps like Nambu for the Mac feature rudimentary support for displaying conversation threads, but most clients currently don’t do a very good job at highlighting conversations and mostly look at Twitter as a broadcast medium.Once our streams really start moving on Twitter, we will also need better ways to filter and manage our subscriptions (including better spam filters). Right now, scanning a list of updates is easy, and most clients support search and the ability to create groups, but maybe automatic filtering based on the kind of messages we pay attention to will also help us to manage the information stream. What Do You Think?We will have to see how all of this will play out in the next few months once Seesmic (and others, we assume) will release their updated clients, but we think that this could potentially take Twitter into a completely new direction. The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videoslast_img read more

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Android inventor Andy Rubin unveils smart home Amazon “killer”

first_imgFollow the Puck Internet of Things Makes it Easier to Steal You… David Curry Related Posts Andy Rubin, the founder of Android, has unveiled a smart home hub called Essential Home, one of two devices unveiled this week as part of his new technology brand.Essential Home shares a lot of similarities with Amazon Echo and Google Home, including voice commands, responses, and support for third-party devices.See Also: Hive goes the subscription route with “smart home as a service”Instead of limiting interaction to voice, Home comes with a round display that shows information and lets users tap to talk. Users can also glance at Home to activate it.Essential wants to get the ball rolling quicker than other smart hubs, it will quickly start scanning calendars, notes, and other apps and offering suggestions. If traffic is particularly bad on one morning, it will tell you to set off a few minutes early.Rubin’s company is also launching a new operating system, called Ambient OS, which can supposedly introduce itself to new and existing smart home devices without any manual pairing.The automatic integration is good for developers, according to Essential, as it allows them to write applications that “provide a unified experience across multiple devices.”Home will talk to devices over the home network, instead of going back and forth in the cloud. Essential also plans to limit the amount of information sent to the cloud, taking a page straight out of Apple’s privacy book.No known when it will launchNo price has been announced for the Home and we don’t know when it will launch in the U.S.Rubin launched the Essential Phone this week as well, a high-end Android device that has a near bezel-less display and all the latest specs. Instead of aluminium, Essential uses titanium, which it says is very unlikely to smash.After Android, Rubin spent a few years in the robotics division at Google, before leaving to launch tech incubator Playground Global. He started Essential Products, the brand behind the Home and Phone, late last year, and these are the two first products.center_img Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Tags:#Android#Andy Rubin#Connected Devices#Essential#featured#home#Hub#Internet of Things#IoT#smart home#top Small Business Cybersecurity Threats and How to…last_img read more

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Federer in Australian Open semi-finals

first_imgTwo points into the final game of his Australian Open quarterfinal against Roger Federer on Tuesday, Stanislas Wawrinka steadied himself to try and return a forehand smash.Roger Federer returns to Stanislas Wawrinka during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Tuesday. APWawrinka playfully threw his racket up over his head in a mock attempt to return it. Forget it, the ball sailed past him and Federer won the point.It was that kind of match for Wawrinka. Federer faced just one break point, winning all 13 of his service games, got 77 per cent of his first serves in and polished off his Beijing Olympics doubles gold medalist teammate 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 in 1 hour, 47 minutes.”When it’s clicking it’s really a good feeling, and I don’t ask too many questions,” Federer said of his outstanding serve.All facets of Federer’s game were working Tuesday as he advanced to the semifinals, where he’ll meet either Novak Djokovic or Tomas Berdych.Still in the realm of probability for the defending champion is a final against Rafael Nadal and a chance to prevent the Spanish lefthander from winning his fourth consecutive Grand Slam. No man has held all four major titles since Rod Laver in 1969.Nadal plays fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in one quarterfinal Wednesday, while Andy Murray takes on Alexandr Dolgopolov in the other.Federer is not looking ahead to Nadal just yet.””It’s normal to follow Rafa in a big way because he’s going for something particularly very special,” Federer said. “My focus is not playing him in the finals quite yet. He still has to win a few matches against really tough players ahead of him. I got my hands full … I’m not quite there.”advertisementTop-seeded Caroline Woznacki is nearly there, advancing to a semi-final against China’s Li Na. The 20-year-old Danish player was under intense pressure early against French Open champion Francesca Schiavione before beating the Italian veteran 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.Li advanced to the semi-finals for the second year in a row at Melbourne Park after beating Andrea Petkovic of Germany 6-2, 6-4.The other women’s semi-finalists will be decided Wednesday when second-seeded Vera Zvonareva plays Petra Kvitova and U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters takes on Agnieszka Radwanska.Wozniacki rallied from a set and a break down to beat Schiavone and ensure she’d maintain the No. 1 ranking after this tournament.Schiavone dominated the opening set and a half before the effects of her previous match kicked in. She beat Svetlana Kuznetsova in a three-set match lasting 4 hours, 44 minutes, a record for a women’s Grand Slam singles match.”Maybe in the third set I felt a little bit something physically, but it’s not an excuse,” Schiavone said. “I think I gave the best that I could do.”Wozniacki described Schiavone as a “fighter.””She started off really, really well and I didn’t feel like I had the right timing,” Wozniacki said. “So it was difficult for me in the beginning, but I fought back and I’m so happy that I’m standing here as the winner.”The match point was contentious – first called out by a line judge. An overruled by chair umpire Eva Aseraki forced Wozniacki to ask for a video ruling, which confirmed the initial call ended the match.Schiavone knew the match was over even before the replay – “I saw the ball was out, was no chance,” she said.Li, who lost the 2010 semi-final in two tiebreak sets to eventual champion Serena Williams, came to Melbourne after winning the title at a tune-up event in Sydney and is on a 10-match winning streak.”I’s good for me. I mean, the second time in the Grand Slam semi-final, always in the Australia Open, and also before I played well in Sydney,” she said. “Hopefully I can do better in this year, and everyone will see me again.”Li was the first Chinese woman to win a WTA tour event, and the first to enter the top 10. Her run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2006 was the best for a Chinese player in a major at the time. Now her return to the semis is a first.No Chinese woman has won a major, but Petkovic thinks that can change here.”I think she played really well. I think she’s going to win the tournament,” Petkovic said. “She moves very well, she has a great footwork. She takes the ball very early. She plays flat and deep. She has this sneaky aggressive play, I would call it.”advertisementlast_img read more

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