Why Yes! Yes It Is!

God did it. Science class is over.

(From Hail Dubyus.)

A woman named Marcia Segelstein has a guest column in OneNeuronNow today.

ID for dummies.
(From EvolveFish)

According to her mini-bio at the bottom of that page, she was a producer at CBS News for ten years. Her appearance here pretty much puts to bed the myth of CBS News being a bastion of liberal bias.

Her column is titled “Intelligent Design for Dummies”. How great is that? I don’t have to do a thing. They’re doing their own fisking!

She writes:

Science was never my forte…

As she will demonstrate shortly.

…and heated debates over Darwinism, evolution, creationism and Intelligent Design never piqued my interest.

It’s nice to know that a news producer has a total lack of curiosity.

As far as I was concerned, all that mattered was my belief that God created the universe and everything in it. How He did it, when He did it, and what complex processes were involved were beyond my extremely limited understanding. They still are. And what continues to matter most to me is that God get the credit for creation.

That blind faith and total acceptance of what other people tell her is what keeps a person ignorant. I really don’t care whether she believes in God, but why is it so important to her that God gets the credit? How does she know he deserves it? She doesn’t, and she’s determined never to find out.

Foghorn and Junior.

It reminds me of one of my favorite Foghorn Leghorns. Foghorn was babysitting that genius kid. They play hide and seek. Foghorn hides in a shed. The kid does a major mathematical calculation, goes to a specific spot of ground and starts digging. Then, voila! He pulls Foghorn out of the ground! Foghorn is dumbfounded. He runs over to the shed where he hid, he’s about to open it, then he says “I’d better not look. I might be in there!”

What’s wrong, Marcia? Are you afraid to look?

But reading an interview in SALVO magazine with a man named Brian Westad made me understand how the predominance of Darwinism can be a stumbling block to faith, even for believing Christians.

Any time you see the word “Darwinism”, you know you’re listening to somebody who has drunk Discovery Institute Kool-Aid. At least we now know exactly where she is coming from.

Westad started out as a science major at a Christian college.

Then he wasn’t a science major.

In one of his courses he was taught what he calls the “supposed evidence of evolution and how life could come about by purely natural means.” Because of his Christian background and his unwillingness to take God out of the picture, he became what he calls a “theistic evolutionist.” God somehow sparked life, and unguided evolution then took over.

This is actually a very reasonable philosophy for those who want to keep God in the picture. Something tells me that this happy story is about to take an ugly turn, though.

But after transferring to a secular school, he took what he refers to as a “pro-atheism” philosophy course. That, along with his continuing study of biology and chemistry, made it more and more difficult to defend his belief in God.

So a rational person would accept the evidence and change his belief in God. An irrational person would cling to fantasy and delusion in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I’m going to make a prediction: Brian Westad is an irrational person.

Eventually, as he told SALVO, “I decided to simply keep my mouth shut and go along with the Darwinist doctrine that appeared inescapable.”

Score!!

He started work on a project with a graduate student in science who, much to Westad’s surprise, was a Christian.

Call the jack-booted Darwinist storm troopers! One got through!

It was this fellow student who introduced him to the theory of Intelligent Design.

Wow! What are the odds that an article that uses the term “Darwinism” also mentions Intelligent Design creationism? It must be a quadrillion to one! It’s as likely as a tornado ripping through a dictionary and writing an article!

Oh, and BTW, Intelligent Design creationism isn’t a theory.

Theories make predictions. ID never does.

Theories are falsifiable. ID isn’t.

Theories are supported by peer-reviewed research. ID has none.

He watched a DVD called Unlocking the Mysteries of Life … and read a book by Michael Behe called Darwin’s Black Box. Those two resources gave him scientific arguments to counter Darwinism…

No it didn’t. I’ve read Darwin’s Black Box. It has very little science in it.

…and, as he puts it, changed his worldview.

From distorted to royally distorted!

Darwin argued that all life was the product of purely undirected natural forces….

But starting in the 1950s, knowledge of the complexity of cells began to explode. Thanks to high-powered microscopes Darwin could never have dreamed of, whole new worlds were being discovered within single cells. One cell in particular caught the attention of Dr. Michael Behe: the bacterial flagellum.

Oh noes!!! Not the Darwinists’ nightmare! (Oh, wait, that’s the banana. OK, the bacterial flagellum can be the Darwinists’ night terror. It also happens to be Michael Behe’s nocturnal emission.)

(BTW, Marcia wasn’t kidding when she told us she’s a scientific ignoramus. The bacterial flagellum isn’t a whole cell all by itself.)

This single cell…

Piece of a cell! Don’t try to use science on us, if you don’t know what you’re talking about.

…is a complex machine, much like a motor. What fascinated Dr. Behe was the fact that the bacterial flagellum could only function when all its components were present simultaneously. Thus was born the theory of irreducible complexity. [Emphasis in original. Idiocy also in original.]

Unfortunately for Michael Behe, he has no imagination. As soon as he sees something that’s too complex for his brain to handle, he invokes God. Better scientists than he are already beginning to unravel the the mysteries of the flagellum’s evolution, and so far, they haven’t seen God.

Another problem for Darwinism was the discovery of DNA, and the intricately encoded messages it contains. As one scientist puts it in Unlocking the Mysteries of Life, “The specific genetic instructions required to build the proteins in even the simplest one-celled organism would fill hundreds of pages of printed text.”

Michael Behe's comprehension skills are not complex.
(From Synapostasy.)


And this is a problem how?

The trouble with creationists is that every time they see one of the wonders of nature, they immediately ascribe it to God.

Three and a half billion years of evolution can accomplish quite a bit.

Intelligent Design began to make more and more sense to more and more scientists.

From one … to two … to three!

They realized science simply could not rule out intelligence as being responsible for the complex molecular systems now known to exist.

Darwinists beware!

Absolutely true. Nor can they rule out the possibility of a teapot orbiting Jupiter. However, good scientists focus their efforts on following trails of evidence. There is no evidence for a teapot orbiting Jupiter, nor is there evidence for a creator. Either of those would be a career maker, so as soon as evidence for either appears, you can be guaranteed there will be a scramble to publish first.

If you doubt this, research the history of cold fusion. It contradicted everything we understood about what was required to make fusion work. Yet as soon as it was announced (outside of a peer-reviewed journal, which should have been a tip-off), scientists were falling all over themselves to get a piece of it.

Considering that scientists have now determined that a full complement of human DNA contains over three-billion individual characters, and that the information storage capacity of a single DNA molecule is larger than that of the world’s largest super computer….

Bad baby! No buscuit!

This isn’t a Private, or a Sergeant, or even a Corporal. This is a Major Fail!

Three billion characters is not even three gigabytes. The hard drive on your computer is almost certainly larger than that.

Secondly, I used to work for the private company that sequenced the human genome. At the time, they had the world’s largest private super-computer (built by Compaq, BTW. I remember seeing their ads. Whatever happened to Compaq, anyway? Oh, that’s right. Carly Fiorina happened. First she ruined HP. Now she’s a major player in the Republican party. I guess they want to be ruined, too.)

Anyway, they needed the world’s largest private super-computer in order to process all of the data being generated by the human genome project. I guess they were unsuccessful, because, according to Marcia, three gigabytes is too much for a super-computer to handle.

Thirdly, I almost got a job at a company that is now routinely sequencing hundreds of genomes per year (I still can’t figure out how I botched that interview!). For a mere $5000, you can get your genome sequenced. Want to find out if you carry the Parkinson’s gene? What about Type II diabetes? What about the fundie gene? Just plunk down five grand, and you’ll know (except for the fundie gene. We’re still looking for that, even though there are many fundies named Gene.). A few years from now, the price will drop to $1000. That’s my magic price point. That’s when I’m having mine done.

The point of this is that in order to process hundreds of genomes per year, this new company requires an even bigger computer than the one first used to sequence the genome. But according to Marcia, this is impossible.

Fourthly, she said: “the information storage capacity of a single DNA molecule is larger than that of the world’s largest super computer”. There is no single DNA molecule that contains all three billion base pairs. I’m sure you’ve heard of chromosomes. That’s where the bulk of your DNA hangs out. Each chromosome holds much less than three billion base pairs. An old Palm Pilot circa 2002 could probably hold that data.

I.D. scientists believe that natural selection takes place. But they don’t believe, as Darwin did, that it is the explanation for life. Another scientist puts it this way: “Natural selection can explain the survival of the fittest, but it cannot explain the arrival of the fittest.”

“If it does not fit, you must acquit!” That’s right! Get yourself a catchy rhyme, and you can sell any fantasy you want.

Technically, their statement is correct, but it is misdirection. Evolution and abiogenesis are separate issues. Even if one isn’t solved yet, it has no bearing on the validity of the other.

Intelligent Design is science, not religion. Its proponents maintain that life was designed. They do not attempt to explain how or by whom.

If that were the whole story, it would be true. After all, aliens could have designed life and seeded our planet. Of course, that raises the Turtle Problem. If ID proponents truly considered aliens as a viable explanation, then ID might be science, but it begs the problem of who designed the aliens. That path, therefore, is a dead end, and the IDiots know it. I don’t know anyone in the ID camp who believes the alien option anyway.

Every ID creationist that I’m aware of believes that we were designed by an extremely powerful supernatural entity who has all of the characteristics of God. The fact that they don’t call it God is irrelevant. It is God by definition, and therefore religion.

Furthermore, many IDers will tell you outright that the designer is God. Kind of blows the not-a-religion story, doesn’t it?

According to Phillip Johnson, a leading I.D. scientist…

Wrong. Phillip Johnson is a lawyer. Don’t try to use facts on us, if you don’t know what you’re talking about.

…Intelligent Design is important because it poses a strictly scientific challenge to “the materialist philosophy that took control of biology in the 20th century.”

Again, it’s not scientific, but the important point here is the “materialist philosophy”. Fundies hate that. Materialism deals exclusively with the material world. God doesn’t fit into that. God, if he exists, lives happily outside our material universe. Somehow that bothers fundies, so they have to figure out how to shoehorn him into the real world.

Brian Westad now works for an organization called IDEA, Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center. Intelligent Design is gaining ground, but is not widely accepted by the scientific community. In fact, Westad says that many Darwinists harbor what he terms “extreme vitriol” towards I.D. “The level of anger, and in some cases – dare I say it – hate, that I’ve observed in the Darwinists since I started working at the IDEA Center is astonishing.”

Darwin, enemy of Christian science.
(From Neon Bubble.)

Really? Anger? You don’t suppose it’s because we’ve been fighting this battle since before the Scopes Monkey Trial, and we seem to be getting nowhere, do you? You don’t suppose it’s because every time we squelch one fake version of science the fundies are back with another, do you? Don’t you suppose that maybe we’re really sick and tired of playing Whack-a-Mole and now we really wish we could just bring in Orkin and be done with this problem once and for all? (So I’m not misquoted, I’m wishing for the extermination of creationist fake science, not the extermination of creationists!)

Westad’s job is to assist students form IDEA clubs, which promote discussion of Intelligent Design at high schools and on college campuses.

And promote the violation of the Establishment Clause.

His goal is to help students who “want to find the resources to challenge the Darwinist paradigm…”

Great! You have 20 cents. Buy yourself a gumball.

“…that is forced upon them every day.” After all, he’s been there.

The gravity paradigm is forced upon them every day as well. Living in the real world sure is a bitch!

62 Responses to “Why Yes! Yes It Is!”

  1. Bacopa Says:

    I work near the old Compaq office campus. Plenty of people still work there and I drive by their little anaerobic digester sewage/cogeneration plant. They flare the gas most months, but during the cooler months it provides heat and a little power.

    The Compaq.HP merger was huge news in Houston since so many Compaq shareholders lived here. Fiorina mounted a huge PR campaign that drove Compaq stock prices up and made selling seem like a good deal. Those who sold for cash made some money, Those who swapped for stock in the new merged company lost money big time. Still, not that many people lost their jobs and the HP center in NW Houston is still a major hub of activity.

  2. Dana Hunter Says:

    Ron. Have I told you lately that I love you? This was brilliant!

  3. Lourie Höll Says:

    Brilliant! I thought of adding my own two pence but I’ve just started arguing with my colleague next to me – who happens to be all for ID and the prescribed abundance of BS that goes with it. Got no time to waste then!

  4. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Three billion characters is not even three gigabytes. The hard drive on your computer is almost certainly larger than that.

    It’s even worse than that. Human DNA only uses four nucleotides (“characters” as she calls them). So, that means two bits (not even a byte) can store a single “character” of DNA. Using that encoding method, you can fit a string of four nucleotides into a single byte. Suddenly the three gigabyte figure has been ircomplexibly reduced™ to approximately 750MB.

    Note that she said a “single DNA molecule” holds more than the largest supercomputer — not the entire genome! She’s way past Major Fail and well on her way to Five Star General Fail. We just found that by her definition the entire genome of a single human can be contained on a thumb drive with room to spare.

    But if she really wanted to hyperbolically impress IT folks (ahem) she wouldn’t have trotted out super computers. Super computers have massive computing capability (usually excelling quite well in floating point operations — FLOPS is the measurement). They are not necessarily known for their storage capability, even though some might have relatively large amounts of storage. If she wanted to impress, she would have said something like, “the entire storage capacity of the largest SAN.” Of course, that would be an even worse lie than the super computer lie. Unless she was talking about the grandest supercomputer circa 1953. Then she might be right.

    So, just like with science, she knows jack about IT and it shows.

  5. Parrotlover77 Says:

    P.S., I started writing my response before I read that you tackled the “single DNA molecule” part of her argument and forgot to delete it after reading the rest of your article. :-D

    P.P.S. Applying a simple compression algorithm (let’s say, LZW [aka .ZIP]) ontop of the 750MB figure would probably ircomplexibly reduce it even further. DNA, as far as I understand it, can have a lot of repeated parts, which LZW likes. I have no idea what the final size would be (I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least 30-40% reduction), but my point is that the requirements for storing 3,000,000,000 “characters” of DNA is ridiculously extraodinarly small by today’s computer storage standards.

  6. Ron Britton Says:

    ParrotLover:

    You mentioned that super-computers themselves often have limited storage. I didn’t want to confuse the issue. In any event, the DNA sequencing computer I mentioned did have a lot of storage, because it was working on the very problem she thought it couldn’t contain.

    (BTW, that computer had to have many times the capacity of one genome, because the technique used was shotgun sequencing. It required a lot of overlapping data, so the amount of data was many times larger. They probably only worked on one chromosome at a time. This would have reduced the amount of online storage greatly, but you still have the problem of needing some multiple because of the large amount of overlapping sequences needed for this method. Shotgun sequencing is a huge computer science problem (which they solved), but it’s beyond my grasp exactly how they pulled it off.)

  7. Sarah Says:

    Evolution and abiogenesis are separate issues. Even if one isn’t solved yet, it has no bearing on the validity of the other.

    THANK YOU! I’m so sick of CONSTANTLY having this argument with fundies. It’s like people who claim those obviously fake alien abduction stories are real huffing “Well do you REALLY think we’re the only intelligent life in the universe?!” Of course I don’t, I just don’t think they come HERE to kidnap and anally probe toothless inbred hillbillies!

  8. LightningRose Says:

    She is Fractally Wrong!

    http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/images/jmiles/2008/05/18/fractal_wrongness.jpg

  9. J. A. Baker Says:

    (So I’m not misquoted, I’m wishing for the extermination of creationist fake science, not the extermination of creationists!)

    They’ll misquote you anyway, because that’s how fundies roll. Lying for Jesus has applications beyond undermining science, after all.

  10. Jed Rothwell Says:

    You wrote:

    Yet as soon as it was announced (outside of a peer-reviewed journal, which should have been a tip-off), scientists were falling all over themselves to get a piece of it.

    That is incorrect in two ways:

    1. Cold fusion was announced in a peer-reviewed journal. The paper was published on the day of the announcement. Subsequently, 1,200 other peer-reviewed papers about cold fusion. (I copied them from the libraries of Los Alamos and Georgia Tech, so if you have any doubt about this, go to the library and check.)

    2. Some scientist fell over themselves to get a piece of cold fusion. Many others attacked it, saying, for example, “I have had 50 years of experience in nuclear physics and I know what’s possible and what’s not. . . . I don’t want to see any more evidence! I think it’s a bunch of junk and I don’t want to have anything further to do with it.” (Feshbach, MIT). Several thousand others quietly replicated it over the next few years.

    I recommend you first read the scientific literature on this subject before commenting on it. You will find a bibliography of 3,000 papers and 500 full text papers here:

    http://lenr-canr.org/

  11. OtherRob Says:
    Westad started out as a science major at a Christian college.

    Then he wasn’t a science major.

    I don’t think that’s entirely fair, Ron. Just because a college is a Christian college doesn’t mean they don’t teach actual science. I have no idea about what college Mr. Westad attended, but I’m willing to bet that the science curriculum at, say, Notre Dame is fairly rigorous.

    For a mere $5000, you can get your genome sequenced.

    Okay, that’s just cool. :) And rather awesome that we naked apes managed to figure all this out. I don’t know if there is a God or not, but if there is, I suspect he’s far prouder of the folks who figured this out than he is of the ones trying to hold us back.

    Other than the quibble above, I thought you did a nice job with this article.

    Oh, and Lightning Rose, I really like Fractally Wrong! :)

  12. S. Says:

    I saw a site the other day that offered partial genome sequencing for less than $500.

    1.8 billion base pairs sequenced,I believe.(maybe less,don’t quote me).Enough to determine if several major diseases or dysfunctions were present.

    And I want that plate of Clinton! lol.He will always be one of my fav. former Presidents.

  13. Chuck Says:

    You know, simply because I grew up with these people and realize how large of a portion of the population they make up, I’m still kind of on the fence as to whether I want to go into the field I love (computational linguistcs) and do research, or if I want to go to law school and join the defense of the American educational system.
    Isn’t it sad that it’s gotten so out of hand that someone should even have to CONSIDER sacrificing a career in academia, to gain new knowledge for our society, just to defend the knowledge that’s already been gained?
    Sort of makes you…angry? *gasp* Mystery solved!

  14. Ron Britton Says:

    Jed:

    Cold fusion was announced in a peer-reviewed journal. The paper was published on the day of the announcement.

    I was quoting that from memory. I know it was ultimately published in a peer-reviewed journal. I guess I had the exact timing wrong. I do know that the announcement preceded publication by at least a small bit, because there was a lot of wild speculation in the media. Maybe much of that occurred in the lag between the announcement and when all of the eager scientists had a chance to replicate it and find out that it was bullshit.

    Some scientist fell over themselves to get a piece of cold fusion.

    Yes. That’s what I said.

    Many others attacked it

    It turns out they were quite prescient.

    Several thousand others quietly replicated it over the next few years.

    I don’t know what they could have replicated other than experimental error. If there were anything to it, especially at the scale that Fleischmann and Pons claimed, we’d be running the world on that stuff by now.

    I’m not a physicist, so I have to rely on those who are. The vast majority of scientists reject the cold fusion claims of Fleischmann and Pons.

    If you’re claiming that cold fusion occurs under very different conditions, then you’re moving the goalposts, which is exactly what creationists do all the time.

  15. Ron Britton Says:

    OtherRob:

    I don’t think that’s entirely fair, Ron. Just because a college is a Christian college doesn’t mean they don’t teach actual science.

    True. I knew that somebody would get upset by that statement.

    I have no idea about what college Mr. Westad attended, but I’m willing to bet that the science curriculum at, say, Notre Dame is fairly rigorous.

    And that’s the key. I went with that joke because I don’t think of respectable places like Notre Dame as being religious. You’re right. Some of them are. They are run by moderate religions, and they’ve done such a good job of maintaining academic excellence that it slipped my mind that they weren’t secular.

  16. Ron Britton Says:

    Chuck:

    Do what you love, not what you feel needs doing. You won’t be happy otherwise.

  17. Jed Rothwell Says:

    You wrote:

    “I don’t know what they could have replicated other than experimental error. If there were anything to it, especially at the scale that Fleischmann and Pons claimed, we’d be running the world on that stuff by now.”

    That would only be true if the research was easy, and well funded. Plasma fusion is real beyond question. It has been funded at about ~1 billion per year for 60 years. But we are not running the world on it yet because the technical problems are very difficult to solve. Cold fusion has made more progress than plasma fusion, but not enough to make it practical yet. That is also true of high temperature superconducting, which was discovered a few years before cold fusion.

    “I’m not a physicist, so I have to rely on those who are.”

    Yes. Specifically, you should depend on peer-reviewed journals in places like Los Alamos. These are the gold standard of scientific truth. The large majority of the 1,200 papers on cold fusion are positive proof that the effect it real. You should not believe rumors or mass media reports to the contrary.

    “The vast majority of scientists reject the cold fusion claims of Fleischmann and Pons.”

    That is incorrect. The vast majority who attempted to replicate and who published papers succeeded. Scientists who did not replicate have little say in the matter — experimental science is something you do in the laboratory, not something you talk about.
    Most of the scientists who reject the claims now know nothing about them. They have not read the literature. Many of them claim (as you did) that the result was not even replicated. It was replicated; papers were published, and that is a matter of fact that you or anyone else can confirm in any university library.

    Let me repeat that scientists and others who have not read the literature carefully have no right to hold any opinion, positive or negative. You cannot do science by ESP. You cannot know about something you have not read about. And you specifically, unless you know a good deal about calorimetry, mass spectroscopy, x-ray detection and so on, you have no basis to criticize or dismiss thousands of papers written by experts in places like Mitsubishi, China Lake and the NRL.

    “If you’re claiming that cold fusion occurs under very different conditions, then you’re moving the goalposts, which is exactly what creationists do all the time.”

    You are doing what creationists do: you are pontificating about research that you have read nothing about, and that you know nothing about. You are ignoring the peer-reviewed literature in favor of rumors and confused accounts written by reporters who couldn’t tell a mass spectrometer from a bubble-gum machine.

  18. Ron Britton Says:

    Jed:

    I was with you until the last paragraph. I am certainly willing to be shown that what I think I know is wrong. However, your last paragraph is wrong. Answer me this:

    Under what conditions is all of this cold fusion happening? Is it just like Fleischmann and Pons or is it very different? If it is significantly different, then you are moving the goalposts, and I stand by my earlier statement that F&P did not accomplish what they claimed.

    Do not accuse me of being like a creationist. I told you I am willing to be shown evidence and change my opinion. Also, unlike a creationist, I defer to the majority opinion of science when I lack the qualifications to determine for myself.

  19. Jeff Eyges Says:

    The problem with an article like Segelstein’s is that she throws out a lot of misinformation that sounds to fundies as though it could be true, and, of course, it reinforces what they want to believe, so they won’t check out her claims – which most of them wouldn’t have the brains to do, anyway. “She’s telling me what I want to hear – so it must be true!”

    Something struck me about that picture from (what I assume is) the Chick tract – ever notice that in these monstrosities, Chick always has God dispatching an angel to cast the sinner into hell? It’s as though he doesn’t want to get his almighty hands dirty.

    For the record, I’m still holding out for a “fundie gene”.

  20. Ron Britton Says:

    ever notice that in these monstrosities, Chick always has God dispatching an angel to cast the sinner into hell? It’s as though he doesn’t want to get his almighty hands dirty.

    It’s called plausible deniability.

    Actually, in much of the Bible, God uses proxies to do his dirty work. Considering how nasty God’s enforcers (angels) are, it’s amazing that so many Christians want to have them in their lives.

  21. Parrotlover77 Says:

    On the subject of fun things to do with your genome — okay, I know this isn’t genome sequencing, but for $150, you can have a framed DNA portrait. DNA art — how cool!

  22. Parrotlover77 Says:

    You know, simply because I grew up with these people and realize how large of a portion of the population they make up, I’m still kind of on the fence as to whether I want to go into the field I love (computational linguistcs) and do research, or if I want to go to law school and join the defense of the American educational system.
    Isn’t it sad that it’s gotten so out of hand that someone should even have to CONSIDER sacrificing a career in academia, to gain new knowledge for our society, just to defend the knowledge that’s already been gained?
    Sort of makes you…angry? *gasp* Mystery solved!

    Don’t get me wrong, as I think your wanting to join the legal field and defend us against fundies is an excellent nobel career path, but I just wanted to give you a heads up, as I used to work for a law firm… There are far more lawyers than law-related jobs. It’s a very competitive field — especially in this economy! :-) Good luck with everything!

  23. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Re: cold fusion…

    First, IANANP!

    Although, I’m with Ron on Fleischmann-Pons, I am also willing to re-examine my beliefs on a subject when new evidence is presented. No, I have not read the peer-reviewed journals on nuclear physics. I wouldn’t understand any of it anyway. I read news reports on various science blogs and magazines to follow these things, because the writers can summarize all the latest science geeky stuff in lay terms I understand. As such, I will never have the understanding of a nuclear physicist, but I will at least have a feel for what is and what is not “really happening.”

    All that said…

    I’m a bit suspicious of Jed Rothwell. His website is all about cold fusion, so he has an agenda. There’s nothing wrong with having an agenda (BoF has an agenda, for example, but it’s full of good information). Jed could just be a premier expert and evangelist in the field. However, his site basically contradicts pretty much everything I’ve read elsewhere, so that makes me a bit suspicious of any sort of cold fusion suppression.

    Now, onto Cold Fusion ’09. I read this the other day. There is a possibility of Cold Fusion again being real, but, it’s all very preliminary. WP has a summary:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_fusion#2009_reports

    Whether or not it turns out to be real, only time will tell. One thing I am fairly confident in is that cold fusion research from the late 80s until now has largely consisted of failed experiments to (at best) inconsistent results, contrary to Jed’s assertion that it is working quite well and consistent. But, again, that’s okay. Failed experiments is not an insult — it’s a part of science! It’s the road to true discovery.

    I hope they succeed!

  24. Ron Britton Says:

    you can have a framed DNA portrait. DNA art — how cool!

    You see art. I see work! I hated making those things. You have to fill each well very carefully, being sure not to squirt it in too fast, or it will flow out and you’ll end up with a smear in that lane instead of individual marks. Plus, you have to fill the whole gel quickly. If you take too long, the samples you loaded first will disperse out of the well, and again you’ll have a smear. I also hated making the gels. It was a simple process, but it was too much like cooking. I don’t really like cooking.

    They do color them nicely. I would dispute their claim that it is “as personal as your fingerprint.” That’s such a short segment it can’t be unique. I’m also curious which piece of DNA they’re targeting in their analysis. It’s probably a conserved piece, meaning there is relatively little variation among people.

  25. Ron Britton Says:

    There are far more lawyers than law-related jobs.

    I also read somewhere that lawyers have one of the highest job dissatisfaction rates of any profession.

    I’m not trying to bash lawyers. I’m just pointing out that you have to match the person to job in all sorts of ways. If it’s not a good fit, you might not like the job you end up with.

  26. TheDeviantE Says:

    As to the aliens that you mentioned. One of the guys who comes into the computer lab I run recently started talking to me about aliens.

    His irrefutable logic is as follows:
    People who walk into crop circles get healed.
    Crop circles are made by aliens
    Jesus healed people.
    Joseph isn’t Jesus’ father.
    Thus, Jesus is an alien/human hybrid.

    In another conversation he told me that he was a born again Christian. And yesterday tried to get me into a philosophical discussion of whether or not we’re all just some alien’s experiment.

    Admittedly I haven’t asked him about his explicit feelings on ID, but….

  27. Reginald Selkirk Says:

    I don’t know anyone in the ID camp who believes the alien option anyway.

    So you don’t know any Raelians?

  28. Jed Rothwell Says:

    Ron Britton wrote:

    “Under what conditions is all of this cold fusion happening? Is it just like Fleischmann and Pons or is it very different?”

    Very similar. Most of the original claims were verified. I would say the following differences have been found: Most experts now believe it is a surface effect rather than a bulk effect as originally claimed; and neutrons are seldom observed, and in varying ratios.

    Many additions have been made to the original claims. For example, several control factors have been identified, such as current density and flux, and it has been confirmed that helium is produced in the same ratio to the heat as plasma fusion produces. Tritium has been widely observed. The effect has been produced with various techniques other than electrolysis, such as gas loading and ion beam loading.

    “If it is significantly different, then you are moving the goalposts, and I stand by my earlier statement that F&P did not accomplish what they claimed.”

    I think they did, but at the time it was not clear that they had produced fusion. They themselves said that fusion seemed like the most plausible hypothesis but they did go out on limb and say it must certainly be fusion. I hesitate to do that even now. Melich and I recently wrote:

    “We do not assert that cold fusion is unquestionably a nuclear effect and only a nuclear effect. . . . [W]e assert that a chemical effect or experimental error is ruled out, and that the heat beyond the limits of chemistry, helium commensurate with a plasma fusion reaction, tritium and heavy metal transmutations all point to an unknown nuclear reaction. In short, the nuclear hypothesis best fits the facts, but until a detailed nuclear theory is worked out and broadly accepted, this will remain only a working hypothesis.

    . . . Reviewers who deny that cold fusion is nuclear but stop there, without offering a credible alternative hypothesis, have not done their jobs as scientists.”

    “Do not accuse me of being like a creationist. I told you I am willing to be shown evidence and change my opinion.”

    In that case, I suggest you read the evidence.

    “Also, unlike a creationist, I defer to the majority opinion of science when I lack the qualifications to determine for myself.”

    The majority opinion of scientists is not a valid metric. Science is not a popularity contest. All scientific discoveries begin with only one scientist believing them and gradually increase to a majority. You need to look at the experimental evidence rather than people’s opinions. Before you take anyone’s opinion seriously, you should ask the person to list a dozen major cold fusion papers they have read. If they have not read that many, they know nothing, so you should ignore them. If you are going to tally anything, I suggest you tally the number of experiments that have revealed high sigma experimental evidence versus the number of papers that call into question this evidence and point out plausible errors in the experimental technique.

    You can read the literature to estimate these two numbers, but I will save you the trouble. The experiment has been replicated in more than 200 labs, several thousand times. The number of peer reviewed papers that claim to find errors in the experiment is five (as far as I know – and certainly no more than 10) and none of these papers has any merit in my opinion. See for yourself. Read Morrison or Jones, for example.

  29. Andrew Says:

    Jed. You are quibbling. Cold Fusion (aka room temperature fusion) is not currently easily replicated – a sure sign that there are problems with the label. There are some papers published which detail *some* of the expected indicators of fusion having taken place, but none of them contain all of the key clues as indicated by Particle Physics as it stands today.

    As such, either our understanding of particle physics is largely erroneous, or something else is happening. The papers published are mute on this issue. We have a duty to be skeptical.

    The above notwithstanding, if cold-fusion is a fact and easily produced, then where are our portable fusion generators? Or if the resources and infrastructure required to produce usable energy are rare/expensive then where are there efforts to build research “reactors”? At best cold-fusion is still a fringe area and not a viable technology as you seem to imply.

    Furthermore, when we in the public talk about cold-fusion (or fusion in general) we mean cheap, clean, inexhaustible energy. I doubt even you would make the claim that we are anywhere near that point.

  30. Andrew Says:

    Further Jed:

    The experiment has been replicated in more than 200 labs, several thousand times. The number of peer reviewed papers that claim to find errors in the experiment is five (as far as I know – and certainly no more than 10)

    So if 5 to 10 people/labs are unable to to reproduce an effect we just ignore them? Remember that those researchers would have approached the study hoping it would succeed (Fame! Honour!). Yet they were unable to verify others’ conclusions. Do you think there are justifiable grounds for skepticism?

    …and none of these papers has any merit in my opinion. See for yourself. Read Morrison or Jones, for example.

    Oh – and they have no merit because of…? They don’t fit your ideals? Don’t like the researchers? Don’t agree with your books?
    http://www.google.com.au/search?q=Jed+Rothwell

    Careful – you may be in danger of becoming an internet kook…

  31. Ron Britton Says:

    Jed:

    TLDR
    (barely skimmed is more accurate)

    This thread is now closed to cold fusion. It’s off topic. I do find it amusing that you so rabidly defend your pet theory against all insults.

    Science is a popularity contest, eventually. Few new ideas begin with widespread support, but they all end with it. Cold fusion may have it one day. It doesn’t now. The burden of proof is on the fusionauts. You need to convince physicists before trying to win over the general public.

  32. Andrew Says:

    Sorry Ron – I would just like to add one further point using cold-fusion as an example, but also about science in general…

    Using Jed’s numbers, apparently 100′s of labs have published papers detailing successful replication of cold-fusion. Yet only a handful of dissenting papers have been published. What is not said of course is how many labs *tried* to reproduce the effects and having failed did not bother to publish as it would not add to the total of knowledge.

    If a number of researchers in any field say that X+Y=Z and other researchers enthused by that find X+Y=null and bother to publish (in the early days of a claim) then what is to say that a million labs didn’t also find that X+Y=null and because the claimed results of X+Y=Z were debunked years ago they did not bother to publish?

    So using the number of published papers pro or con is fraught with assumptions. What counts at the end of the day is explanatory power or applications. The example used (of cold-fusion) has neither at this point. This does not mean that inquiry in a field is unnecessary. What it does mean that banging your head against a wall at the end of a path of a particular trail of exploration will result in brain damage.

  33. Jeff Eyges Says:

    Perhaps we all know in our hearts that cold fusion exists, but we refuse to acknowledge it because we want to indulge our lust for fossil fuels and not be held accountable…

  34. Parrotlover77 Says:

    You see art. I see work! …

    Leave it to an expert in the field to take all the “magic” out of something. I, too, am quite guilty of that. Never go with me to a movie where the characters are “hacking.”

  35. Ron Britton Says:

    Perhaps we all know in our hearts that cold fusion exists, but we refuse to acknowledge it because we want to indulge our lust for fossil fuels and not be held accountable…

    No. We’re just angry at cold fusion.

  36. Jeff Eyges Says:

    No. We’re just angry at cold fusion.

    Heh! Very good!

  37. Parrotlover77 Says:

    I, for one, welcome our cold fusion overlords. But, much like mythological dieties, they only seem to exist on paper right now. I hope the CF overlords will make their second coming before the jebus does, though.

  38. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Thanks to Andrew I know see that Jed is a CF troll on many other websites. Ron, you really do attract weird trolls sometimes. Like the guy whose personal mission is to shut down your old web host? That was just strange. I almost prefer the Duggar trolls of the old days.

  39. OtherRob Says:

    I almost prefer the Duggar trolls of the old days.

    I think they still sell those at some Wal-Marts. :)

  40. bubuka Says:

    Hell, how do you find those pictures for illustration?! Hilarious! :D
    Keep it up, this is one of the funniest atheist blogs I have ever met!
    RAmen

  41. Ron Britton Says:

    bubuka:

    All I do is a Google image search on whatever topic I’m writing on. Sometimes I have to try alternative keywords. Most articles are easy to illustrate, and I can find something within five minutes. A few have taken over an hour.

  42. dvsrat Says:

    I think it’s been over a year since I’ve done any internet artwork. I have many ideas floating. Bit blocked at the time. I know that I will Produce some more. Y’all can see some of my old ones at:
    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=Godlesspanther&view=videos&start=20

  43. dvsrat Says:

    I think the best one that I’ve ever done is this one in the following link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1rLQYnlI6Y

  44. Jay White Says:

    [Deleted by admin for violation of comment policy.]

  45. Jeff Eyges Says:

    Ron, I’m in favor of banning this joker merely for changing his name each time he posts a comment.

    Hey, Joe Bob – you’re neither witty nor clever.

  46. Barbara Says:

    Ron, I’m in favor of banning this joker merely for changing his name each time he posts a comment.

    I second that. Joe Bob Billy George Jay you can call me Al White needs to stop or be stopped.

  47. Parrotlover77 Says:

    of course this code ALSO just put itself together by chance, so it’s really nothing.

    Only if god did it.

    Nature is more selective.

  48. Ron Britton Says:

    Actually, Mr. White did get himself banned, as of now, for violating the comment policy twice.

    His first offense was his inability to comprehend written English. He began repeating himself on the “Don’t Be Kind” thread, even though I refuted all of his arguments. You aren’t contributing to the conversation if you keep repeating the same discredited claims.

    His more egregious offense was pasting in most of a NY Times article and adding almost nothing original to it. Quote mining is verboten.

  49. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Ron – I agree that quote mining is far more egregious than simply repeating yourself. Although repetition may be frustrating (and it’s your site afterall), I don’t think it’s necessarily all that bad, unless they repeating the same thing like, say, five times or more.

  50. Ron Britton Says:

    I just don’t have a lot of patience. That’s the whole reason I started this blog. It’s gotten worse, because before the blog, I could try to avoid their drivel. Now I actively seek it out in order to find stuff to write about.

    If you’re engaged in a constructive dialog, fine. Don’t go down the path of denying reality and then repeating your fantasies. He had just started to do that. I would have let him live a little longer, but then he started quoting articles without adding much to it. Also, constantly changing his name did not add to his credibility.

  51. Gene Says:

    This is all much ado about nothing, except it demonstrates the intolerance of the sloppy human mind.

    Who cares, really, about what people think is right or wrong? What they think is clever or will agree to? In the end, it is all noise. Even my observation, but, at least, I am at ease.

    Evolution is a theory, as is posited, so it is not truth. If it is not truth, it cannot be used as a standard. QED

    Intelligent design is a notion that the theory doesn’t conflict with that of a prime mover. So?

    People would like to follow evolution but do not want to abandon the notion that there was a first mover of some sort. That’s nice.

    Has nothing to do with being a Darwinist, a very religious man, by the way. They feel that way because there really is intelligence in our design. How it got there is another story.

    To devolve into an arrogant rage over someone’s love for a deity is hardly scientific, nor is that love an assault on science, which, after all, really presents us with any real “facts.” This is Einstein talking, now me.

    Perhaps, Descartes’ “cogito ergo sum” is correct; if not, we “know” nothing and we all operate in a metaphysical sphere. One from which we judge others as stupid or mad.

    The current religion of evolution is hysterical about the notion of an intelligent design because their religion is that of man’s thoughts, which can truck no other god before them. It is similar to the absence of logic when considering the precept of global warming, or is it climate change, or today’s weather.

    Throw out some numbers and quote a few experts and, presto, the new religion is set, even if the you have no idea what the experts say. Once that is done, those who are not so sure about your religion are stupid because, well, everyone knows….

    History goes round and round and those in the game believe what they believe. If you can’t doubt your own perspective, then you cannot cannot honestly hide behind science.

    Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

  52. J.R. "Bob" Dobbs Says:

    Hahahahaha, you don’t really know what Ron was writing about. These are not attacks but rather reponses to dumbass logic and justifications all held together with the woman’s ignorance on what actually is happening.

  53. Jeff Eyges Says:

    Utterly clueless. Did it really make sense to you as you were typing it?

  54. Sarah Trachtenberg Says:

    LOL “Michael Behe’s nocturnal emission.”
    Cults give away the best Kool-Aid!
    Very interesting article and quite funny– intentionally on your part, not on Segelstein’s. As a Jewish woman, it’s especially painful to me when I see a Jew (judging by her name, at least) standing up *against* science. It’s somehow worse when it’s one of us, and I rarely hear of it happening. In fact, Ben Stein was the first I’d heard of!
    I’d love a Charles Darwin Commemorative Plate. If you check my blog, a few months back I hosted a Christian Kitsch contest, so that would be a perfect comeback.
    Oh, and ID is pathetic. Talk about grasping at straws! Evolve, ID’ers!

  55. Jeff Eyges Says:

    As a Jewish woman, it’s especially painful to me when I see a Jew (judging by her name, at least) standing up *against* science. It’s somehow worse when it’s one of us, and I rarely hear of it happening. In fact, Ben Stein was the first I’d heard of!

    Sarah, it bothers me as well. It bothers me enough when Jews accept money and political favors from evangelicals on behalf of Israel, but when they get into bed with creationists, it makes me crazy. There exists a handful of Jews – Stein, Klinghoffer, Berlinksi, Rabbi Daniel Lapin and his lap dog, Michal Medved, a few others – who’ve become vocal advocates for creationism. I can’t understand why they do it; I have to assume that (in addition to neuron death) it’s an ego issue, being a big fish in a little pond. It may have to do with money as well; supposedly, Berlinksi has said that as long as the Discovery Institute keeps writing him checks, he’ll keep cashing them. In any case, I agree with you – it’s inexcusable.

  56. Sarah Trachtenberg Says:

    When you think of how Jews are so educated, are over-represented in the sciences, and are supposed to be less like Christian fundies…well…I’m glad you can understand where I’m coming from. It is a disgrace to me as a Jew (in the ethnic sense) that this happens.

  57. BizzareBlue Says:

    I don’t know anyone in the ID camp who believes the alien option anyway.

    David Icke? I don’t know much about his theories but they seemed to involve all life on earth being created by alien dragons from another universe. Makes as much sense to me as any other ID theory.

  58. Ron Britton Says:

    There are always going to be a couple of people on the fringe. The alien option is merely there to give the creationists nominal cover.

    In fact, when they pinned Richard Dawkins against the wall in Expelled and asked him to explain how the alien explanation would even be possible, he came up with a plausible mechanism. They then took that out of context and screamed “Richard Dawkins thinks aliens intelligently designed humans!”

  59. OtherRob Says:

    Hey, now. Being created by alien dragons from another universe would just be cool. ;)

  60. Charles Peirce Says:

    Hey there, Charles Peirce, coming back from the dead, just wanted to poke my head in here and tell you than an infinite number of relationships can be formed from a finite amount of information. So if you take DNA, even if it is two bits of information per nucleotide, those nucleotides can be combined in an infinite number of ways. Kind of like how you’re computer is not limited to displaying certain information. It can store any type of information, because those two bits can be strung together in any combination or pairing.
    Off to my grave, have a good day Creationists.

    Sincerely,
    Charles Peirce.

  61. jono Says:

    Foghorn leghorn vid:

  62. Simon Says:

    LOL! Not only does my computer have enough space for most genomes that have been sequenced, but I could fit human, rat, mouse, jellyfish, fruit fly AND chimp in RAM alone!!!!!!!!!! And this is a laptop…