Discoveroids’ Top Ten for 2016 — #8 & #7

As you know, each year at this time the Discovery Institute posts about their greatest triumphs for the past twelve months. As is usual in such a series, they’re working their way up from the bottom, and they’ll probably reach their Number One creationist news story on New Year’s day.

We’ve already discussed this year’s #10 and #9 here: Curmudgeonly Christmas 2016. Today we get to see two more more examples of what has thrilled the Discoveroids and their generous patrons this year. Are you ready? Okay, let’s get started.

In #8 of Our Top Stories of 2016: Merry Christmas! These Bacteria Are No Evolutionary Nightmare, they talk about something they wrote back in September, titled Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria May Be a Health Nightmare, but Not an Evolutionary One. It’s about the observed evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The Discoveroids dismissed the whole thing because, in their words: “no newly evolved complex information has been demonstrated.”

We didn’t blog about it at the time because we considered their reaction far too silly to bother with. That’s still our opinion, although it’s amazing that an actual demonstration of evolution made their Top Ten list.

That was #8. Now we move on to the Discoveroids’ #7 of Our Top Stories of 2016: An Engineered “Minimal” Microbe Is Evidence of Intelligent Design. It was written by Ann Gauger (a/k/a “Annie Green Screen”), Casey’s replacement in the blogging department. Annie was previously toiling in obscurity at the Discoveroids’ clandestine creationist research facility, Biologic Institute, but her revolutionary output was apparently deemed less important than pumping out propaganda.

This important creationist news is something she mentioned back in March, and when we saw it then we wrote Removing Junk DNA “Proves” Intelligent Design. The topic was discussed first at PhysOrg. We quoted them:

Scientists have deleted nearly half the genes of a microbe, creating a stripped-down version that still functions, an achievement that might reveal secrets of how life works. It may also help researchers create new bacteria tailored for making medicines and other valuable substances.

The newly created bacterium has a smaller genetic code than does any natural free-living counterpart, with 531,000 DNA building blocks containing 473 genes. (Humans have more than 3 billion building blocks and more than 20,000 genes). … The scientists identified 428 nonessential genes, built their new genome without them, and showed that it was complete enough to let a bacterium survive.

And we said:

That’s impressive work indeed. The reason we didn’t think it had any potential for creationists is because it shows that the original microbe had a load of unnecessary junk in its genome, strongly suggesting — at best — incredibly clumsy design.

Then we discussed Annie’s reaction in which — get this! — she claimed the lab work was evidence of intelligent design. It was stunningly absurd then, and it’s even more so now, because the thing has found its way onto the Discoveroids’ Top Ten list.

So far, we’ve only learned about the bottom four of the Discoveroids’ top news items for the year. There are six more to go. What further wonders await us? Stay tuned to this blog!

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “Discoveroids’ Top Ten for 2016 — #8 & #7

  1. Does anyone know whether the DIers obsession with “complex information” is because any information you don’t understand is complex, and they clearly don’t understand evolution.

  2. Charles Deetz ;)

    Great to see them referencing science, at least. Bet their saving their own greatest scientific discoveries for the top 5!

  3. The Tooters talk a big story about “information” but it’s all talk and no action. They’ve written books around the subject but not a single word “on” the subject.

    Is it Shannon information that has an actual definition? Nope. They say no.

    Is it Kolmogorov complexity (information)? Nope. They say no.

    So, what exactly is Tooter information? They don’t say, other than they know it when they see it, it turns old teeth into money and provides coal for their furnace on Christmas day.

  4. No, there is nothing in the way of a definition of “information”.

    But a unique feature of their theorizing about “information” is the basis – or rather the lack of a basis – for a law of conservation of “information”. Rather than supplying examples of conservation, which might suggest a law of conservation, the only examples that they provides are examples of non-conservation:
    1) “Information” can spontaneously decrease, with no need to account for the decrease.
    2) It can spontaneously increase in small amounts.
    3) It can increase in the ordinary working of life processes, such as reproduction, growth, and evolution (micro or macro).
    4) It can increase in the presence of human intervention. Unlike other conservation laws for which human intervention does not

  5. TomS notes that the DI offers

    nothing in the way of a definition of “information”

    Even more striking than that deficiency is the Discoveroids’ inability to recognise that deficiency—but I have a provisional notion of why that is so:

    By ‘information’ they mean ‘knowledge of the end goal’ of a process, which they intuit must exist based on their teleological assumptions.

    The Creationists’ axiomatic dogma (based on intuition) is that we must exist, and in the form that we do exist; Biblical literalist Creationists insist on a single act of creation 6,000 years ago and cling to that despite all evidence to the contrary. Intelligent Design Creationists like the Discoveroids (allowing, for the moment, some distinction in the varieties of Creationism) acknowledge deep time and thereby a long history of change over the lifetime of our planet, but are every bit as constrained as all other Creationists by the assumption that the world as we find it is the world as it can only be, ergo there must be, within the processes of change operating in the past, some inherent foreknowledge (“information”) of the necessary goal (the world in which we exist) to drive the necessary changes to bring that world about.

    All deeply fallacious and hopeless circular in its illogic—but that is where (it seems to me) you end up following your intuition grounded on teleology. And that is also why the labels ‘Creationism’ or ‘Intelligent Design’ make a distinction without any significant difference.

  6. The opposition to evolution has been marked from the earliest days as not providing an alternative.
    There is no explanation for the tree of life which does not involve common descent with modification.
    Young Earth Creationism only became popular only in the 1960s. For a full 100 years the religious opposition to evolution was predominantly Old Earth Creationism. It is difficult to back the claim that not taking a stand on the age of life is enough to distinguish Intelligent Design from a religion.

  7. There is indeed an explanation for the tree of life which doesn’t involve common descent with modification: a common Creator (or Designer) using basic elements of the same design to create all existing species, either 6,000 years ago or (in a few cases) more recently (though always staying within existing “kinds”).

    This has the virtue of being irrefutable, because it’s untestable. Of course, because it’s untestable, it isn’t science.

  8. I don’t see how using the same basic elements of the same design results in the pattern of the tree. For example, the pattern of chemical molecules is not a tree, nor the pattern of nuclei, while the pattern of living DNA is a tree. Living DNA is a certain subset, a nested hierarchy, of the chemically possible sequences of the four bases. While the pattern of the periodic table of elements is not a nested hierarchy. The various systems of cateloging books are totally different from a nested hierarchy, even though books are (mostly) intelligently designed.

    We do see examples of the nested hierarchy, or tree, generated by descent with modification with families of natural languages (Indo-European or others) and with manuscript traditions (where mistakes in copies are passed on). The same computer programs which were developed for genetics have been used in analyzing languages and manuscripts.