Overnight Free Fire Zone #25

There is absolutely nothing going on out there that is of interest to this blog. The creationists have been very boring.

We even went to the Coppedge website to see if he said anything that might amuse us — after all, JPL somehow got to Mars without his assistance — but other than a perfunctory announcement about the landing, he was silent. Well, his post did say this:

Curiosity is not able to detect life; at most, it can find conditions for habitability. We know from experience that the L-word life will appear often in upcoming press releases. Keep your focus on the data, not on the claims. Remember that scientific discovery is very different from scientific explanation. Raw data from distant worlds has usually been discouraging for astrobiologists. We’ll see if Curiosity keeps that tradition going.

What does that mean? Let the scientists discover things, and then the creationists will explain it? Probably, but who knows?

Do you realize that the Coppedge trial ended in mid-April? That was almost five months ago, and we still have no decision. What’s holding things up?

Anyway, in the absence of our kind of news, we’re on our own again. As with all our free-fire zones, we’re open for the discussion of pretty much anything — science, politics, economics, whatever — as long as it’s tasteful and interesting. Banter, babble, bicker, bluster, blubber, blather, blab, blurt, burble, boast — say what you will. But avoid flame-wars and beware of the profanity filters.

We now throw open the comments to you, dear reader. Have at it.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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27 responses to “Overnight Free Fire Zone #25

  1. If you’re really bored you could always try the ICR’s latest offering. It’s not particularly profound or newsworthy, it’s just more stupid than normal. My favourite nugget is.

    “Because FOXP2 turned out to be involved in many traits, its evolution by natural selection is highly improbable. Supposedly, nature “sees” and “selects” an individual with a certain trait. How, then, could a single natural environment select multiple traits at once?

    http://www.icr.org/article/6934/

  2. Adam Benton says: “If you’re really bored you could always try the ICR’s latest offering.”

    I looked at it. When they misinterpret something technical, it often requires actual work to rebut them adequately, and they’re not worth it. Their really simple, goofball posts are fun, but I don’t want to actually do any work because of them. No one with a brain pays attention to them anyway.

  3. Monty Moose

    Just enjoying the contrast between reading about the Mars rover and the article in ICR’s “Acts and Facts” that claims plants are not alive because they don’t move (that pesky root system!) and they don’t have blood.

    The first shows science using knowledge for a great accomplishment. The second shows… what? I honestly don’t have a clue. I guess we have to teach the controversy: ‘oak trees and tomato plants are not alive’ is now an acceptable test answer.

  4. @Adam Benton: The problem with answering such BS is that you’re playing their game. They’re constantly on the offensive dreaming up such “weaknesses” in evolution. You’ll answer their question and they’ll run off on yet another Gish Gallop, which you’ll then spend an inordinate amount of time answering. Rinse and repeat. Forget that. Forget evolution. Instead, you need to make them play this non-game called “real science” and demand that they show their positive proof for creationism / ID. Keep the heat on them. Then watch them tuck and run.

  5. Creationists like Coppedge and those at the dishonesty institute don’t want to talk about real science and what it might find as they’re in denial. But then if something remarkable is found on Mars, it was, of course, designed to be there.

  6. Let’s talk about Mars… :-D
    Technological marvel http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/
    MRO took awesome images of the MSL descent.
    Can’t wait for the science.

  7. Now ALL the cool kids are going to want supersonic parachutes and rocket powered sky cranes!

    Monty Moose: “I guess we have to teach the controversy: ‘oak trees and tomato plants are not alive’ is now an acceptable test answer.”

    Clearly we need to roll out some educational documentary video of just how alive plants can be! I’m thinking “Little Shop of Horrors” or “Attack of the Killer Tomatos”. Posting links is too awkward from my iPad though, but perhaps Cardinal Gary can find something?

  8. retiredsciguy

    Tomato – I hear ya about the iPad. My wife & I got one mainly for its 3G connectivity (new ones are 4G, but we can wait) which is really handy while traveling, but typing is cumbersome — and I miss the arrow keys. She uses it most of the time.

    I like your idea of linking to sites that show lively plants. Besides the movies, there’s lots of great time-lapse photography of pulsating petunias, choreographed chrysanthemums, and dancing dahlias. I don’t have the time right now to search them out (even though I’m retired), but I know that Gary, being an engineer, never rests until the challenge is answered.

  9. Tomato Addict said: “Now ALL the cool kids are going to want supersonic parachutes and rocket powered sky cranes!”

    teenager: Dad, can i borrow the sky crane tonight? my friends invited me to a party.
    Dad: Remember the last time you borrowed it? You didnt bother to refuel it and your mother was late to her appointment.So, no.
    Mom: Besides, your Dad needs it for work tomorrow.
    teenager: I wish I didnt live on Mars anymore!

  10. Curmudgeon: “…after all, JPL somehow got to Mars without his assistance.

    How do you know? Were you there? ;-)

  11. DavidK: “But then if something remarkable is found on Mars, it was, of course, designed to be there.”

    AiG and ICR may have to trot out a “plan B,” but the Discoveroids have it covered with their “heads I win, tails you lose” game. Our job is not so much to show how these factions are wrong (or “not even wrong” in the case of Discoveroids), but to show that they are playing games. Mutually contradictory ones at that.

  12. @TA: “perhaps Cardinal Gary can find something?”
    and
    @RSG: ” I know that Gary, being an engineer, never rests until the challenge is answered.”
    Wait, what? OH!
    Why, yes, m’luds, I’ve definitely and definitively found evidence of plants that are alive and kicking. Why, it’s enough to make the creationists panic! I believe I even saw our old friend Don McLeroy played in one of these documentaries! Frankly, I can’t see how anyone can argue with such evidence. They’ll try. Oh, I know they’ll try. And we will then have to remark about how trying they are.

  13. Holding the Line in Florida

    If passed, Missouri kids can choose what they want to learn in science classes and what they don’t. I am sure that with their highly developed critical thinking skills, they will choose exactly what my 7th grade students would say when it comes to test time, “It is all against my religion! Therefore I get an “A”! Hoooaaah!! http://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/2012ballot/fulltext_1.pdf

  14. Holding the Line in Florida

    Once again the Republicans in Florida show their brilliance. Notice that “Doc” doesn’t believe in evolution…

    http://staugustine.com/news/local-news/2012-07-12/house-district-17-candidates-present-agendas#.UB2xsfaPUQo

    For further mirth and amusement, check out the comments of Kendall on school funding.

    http://staugustine.com/news/local-news/2012-08-03/renuart-facing-two-challengers-davis-and-kendall-re-election-bid

    These are the people who will represent us!
    Holding the line in FL Fighting ignorance in FL since 2003!

  15. Yes, the proposed Missouri legislation regarding student’s rights to choose not to study science items that “violate” their religious views is a real loser. Of course, the corollary is that fields like evolution actaully make no religious claims and have nothing to do with religion. The Missouri legislation was denigrated in a NY Times opinion article by the editors today as unnecessary and harmful to freedom of religion.

  16. Holding the Line in Florida

    For much mirth and amusement check out this.

    http://vote4kemple.com/

    The Onion couldn’t do any better…

  17. If you want to see another active kerfuffle between evolutionists and ID creationists, there is an ongoing battle over Junk DNA at Larry Moran’s “Sandwalk” blog [http://www.sandwalk.blogspot.com/2012/08/note-to-david-klinghoffer-when-you-find.html].

    For years now, ID creationists like Jonathan Wells accused molecular biologists of having equated non-coding DNA with “junk” (non-functional) DNA. This was an absurd smear, because every molecular biologist knows, and must know, about functional parts of non-coding DNA, obviously regulatory regions of DNA, not to mention RNA genes which are non-coding DNA, and telomeres, and other things in the genome. Some scientists got Nobel prizes for finding new functions in non-coding DNA.

    Any molecular biology grad student who equated non-coding DNA with “junk” would have been expelled by his second year. He could never survive an oral exam, or in the lab, he could never clone in and express a gene. Wells’ lie was scurrilous.

    So Well’s and Casey Luskin’s lies were really insulting to scientists, but for years they pounded away at it, and of course Wells wrote “The Myth of Junk DNA.”

    But now we started calling them out on it, and proving they were liars, so now ENV is re-writing the history of ID. Creationist Jonathan Maclatchie at ENV now claims that Jonathan Wells, Luskin et al. never accused molecular biologists of equating non-coding DNA = Junk.

    This re-write of ID history is ridiculous, because we have them dead to rights: not only their own words in books and on the Internet, but we have Jonathan Wells on video saying that molecular biologists equated non-coding DNA = junk DNA.

    A couple weeks ago I was accusing Luskin of lying about this over at ENV when they briefly opened comments. Luskin explicitly accused scientists of equating non-coding DNA = junk DNA. Now at ENV they’re trying to walk that back.

    You can read about the details here at Larry Moran’s blog: http://www.sandwalk.blogspot.com/2012/08/note-to-david-klinghoffer-when-you-find.html,

    This is going to heat up very soon. The creationists may try to walk back what they just walked back. Jump in now.

  18. The judge does not seem to be in any hurry to award Coppedge all that money the Dishonesty Institute thinks he is entitled to.

  19. Diogenes says: “If you want to see another active kerfuffle between evolutionists and ID creationists, there is an ongoing battle over Junk DNA …”

    I’m aware of it, but I’ve left it to them. Casey’s claim is that none of the genome is junk, because the blessed designer wouldn’t do things like that. Every time some function is found for what had been regarded as junk — and it’s always found and published by real scientists — Casey claims it’s a victory for his side. But for Casey to win, every atom of the genome must be shown to be useful, and that’s never going to happen. The day-to-day stuff doesn’t interest me enough to post about it, but feel free to describe the latest skirmish.

  20. @The Curmudgeon & Gary

    Whilst normally I’d agree with you, I think that particular piece was so laughable that it simply isn’t necessary to do anything remotely nearing a debunk. Just highlighting the particularly moronic passages for laughs.

  21. @Curm:
    But for Casey to win, every atom of the genome must be shown to be useful, and that’s never going to happen.

    No, you miss the point. The whole genome doesn’t need to be functional. ID creationists really think they’ve “won” already– because the ID creationists say that they predicted that “much” of the genome would be functional– without defining what “much” is. Then they claim that it’s been proven that “much” of the genome is functional. Real specific there– “much.”

    That’s what I call vaguediction. Creationists mimic the operation of science by pretending to make testable predictions, but statements like “much DNA” are so vague they’re non-falsifiable.

    What’s worse is that they accuse molecular biologists of teaching that non-coding DNA = junk. Now that’s really insulting. That’s accusing scientists of gross stupidity.

    So every time a new regulatory element is discovered (by evolutionists), they claim that’s support for ID creationism and disproof of evolution. Even though Jacques Monod won the Nobel Prize back in 1965 for his description of how regulatory elements work.

    Then they use that to claim that science should be controlled by ID creationists, all the science labs and universities should be controlled by IDologues, not by scienitsts. It’s infuriating.

  22. Diogenes says:

    ID creationists really think they’ve “won” already– because the ID creationists say that they predicted that “much” of the genome would be functional– without defining what “much” is.

    That may be their prediction now, but you need a long memory in this business. Over four years ago I wrote about a prediction of Casey’s that DNA would all have a function, because “intelligent agents design objects for a purpose.” See Discovery Institute: Astounding Stupidity.

  23. Back on the Mars exploration for a moment. This is an amazing triumph of science, with literally no input from creationism. Nevertheless, no matter what is discovered, specifically whether life is found or proved never to have existed on Mars, one can be sure that the creationists will say it supports their delusions.

  24. @Cardinal Gary: I must have still been writing “where is Cardinal Gary” when you posted (it was a busy morning). Thank you for the infotainments!

    @Mark Joseph: Have no fear, Creationists like to claim that science itself would not be possible without the logic given by God. They can take credit for it that way.

  25. @Tomato Addict and Mark Joseph
    To make it harder for anti-evolution activists to play their word games that fool even many who have no problem with evolution, I never use the word “creationist(s)” or (ditto “creationism”) unless I make it perfectly clear what “kind” (activist, rank and file, ID peddler, geocentrist, etc.) I mean. But since everyone loves those words, I have started using the word “paleocreationists” to refer to those who did not misrepresent the science of their day, and may have actually contributed to it. Today they would be considered “thestic evolutionists,” and thus among the most vocal critics of anti-evolution activists.

    “Mesocreationists” would be the ones who turned creationism from honest belief to full-blown pseudoscience, but still relied on the Bible (e.g. ICR, AiG). “Neocreationists” would be the ID peddlers, and their immediate predecessors who realized the tactical necessity of “don’t ask, don’t tell what happened when.”

  26. @FrankJ: Thanks for that. I have been making an effort to adopt some of your methods, and I think you have it right here too.
    It also seems fair that if they get to make up new words (Darwinist, Evolutionist) then we should too. I think I’ll spring “mesocreastionist” on Mr. Droner (he responded to me again at nature.com). :-)