Monday, March 27, 2017

Creationists attack evolution, hilarity ensues.

On a site that I occasionally peruse there was a post today about evolution. Since the owner of the site is a creationist and so are most of the commenters on that site, I decided to pick some short comments for analysis.

Usually creationists give themselves away by using "evolutionist" instead of "person who understands basic biology"; they also focus all their attention on politics and personalities instead of ideas and evidence, for example using "Darwinism" and "Darwinian evolution" instead of simply saying evolution.

Comments from that site in italic blue, my analysis follows them.

So now the neo-Darwinists are just like Darwin himself, once again they're holding to their theory out of dogmatic bloodymindedness in spite of the overwhelming evidence against it.

As they say on Wikipedia "citation needed." In fact, evolution by random mutation and non-random selection has been validated as a mechanism for speciation, for example with the flu virus; details of the process get increasingly better understood as we learn more from molecular biology, and as with everything in science, the evidence is what matters.

The alleged "overwhelming evidence against it" always ends up being something that has been thoroughly debunked ("how could an eye evolve?"), arguments from ignorance of the basics, cherry-picked or outright made-up data, personal attacks, or a combination of these.

No one understands the first thing about evolution because all of the predictions it makes come out false.

Ditto with "citation needed," and the response to previous quote.

[Responding to] "Surely, if it was intelligently designed by a supernatural entity or an alien, they would not have made such a very sloppy work."

Only someone who has never been in an engineering lab could possibly make such an ignorant statement.

Engineering labs make technology demonstrators and prototypes. Finished products are held to a different standard. (That was my beef with Thunderf00t's criticisms of the Hyperloop.)

If there had been a designer, then that designer would fail all design and product creation courses in existence, what with putting a waste disposal outlet and amusement area in such close proximity. No need to ask about the infinite regression of designers, which is what design arguments for life always end up tangled in.

Simple observation of the complexity of plant and animal life reveals the theory of evolution as one of the most retarded pieces of BS ever believed by human beings.

The ignorance in this comment might have been tolerated up to the 1960s, as explanations of the actual work of replicator dynamics and evolutionary stable strategies (not by that name, which is modern) were too technical for most people to understand. But since the 1970s there have been a slew of simple, easy-to-understand explanations of how the process works, so there's no longer any excuse for even a lightly-educated person to say such nonsense.

Darwinism violates the central limit theorem, one of the most fundamental laws of probability in the universe.

Now here we have a great example of a species called the Pomposus Ignoramus Maximus: someone who picks a concept at random, places that concept in a already-faulty argument, and states the resulting mess as fact.

The central limit theorem (more precisely, each central limit theorem, since there are many, each a generalization of an earlier one) says that under certain regularity conditions, the distribution of the sample mean converges to a Normal distribution with mean equal to the population mean and variance equal to the population variance divided by the sample size.

Note that this is a theorem about generalizing the results of sampling and has nothing to do with biology or evolution. That's the "picks a concept at random" part. Anyone familiar with a central limit theorem would understand that it has nothing to do with evolution, but obviously the commenter doesn't know that.

The "already-faulty argument part" usually goes as follows: because evolution creates what appears to be order, it violates the second law of thermodynamics. This argument is faulty on a number of different levels, the obvious one being that the second law of thermodynamics doesn't apply to open systems that receive energy from outside, and evolution, which depends on reproduction, does receive energy from the environment.

Of course, the first word, "Darwinism," gives the commenter away as an ignoramus, as no one who understands biology refers to evolution this way. "Darwinism" is used to make it appear as if evolution is just a political movement or a personality cult.

There was also a lot of nonsense about the Universe being a computer simulation. I'll let Lubos Motl deal with that.