Klinghoffer Criticizes Olivia Judson

Dr. Olivia Judson

Dr. Olivia Judson

Things are getting out of hand at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog. Look at this new thing they posted: A “Nachos and Ice Cream” Theory of Evolution. It was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. We’ll give you a few excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis.

If the old theory of evolution was so great, why do they keep rolling out new ones? You notice, however, that the “new,” “extended,” “fundamentally revised” theories – with the exception of the theory of intelligent design – always turn out to be more or less repackaged versions of the same old, same old. Without recourse to mind, they fail again and again to solve the main problem.

Sleazy introduction. Then he says:

Case in point: Sarah Zhang in The Atlantic heralds, “A Grand New Theory of Life’s Evolution on Earth.” At long last, is this the “theory of the generative” we’ve been waiting for?

That article is about a paper in Nature by Olivia Judson, whose image adorns this post. Here’s a link to it: The energy expansions of evolution. You can read it online without a subscription, but let’s stay with Klinghoffer for a while. He tells us:

The “new theory” from Olivia Judson of Imperial College London is a neat way of classifying sweeping time frames, “energetic epochs,” where life had energy sources made freshly available, thus making increasingly complex life possible.

That is stunning audacity. A Discoveroid, whose life is spent promoting creationism, dares to put scare-quotes around anything from Olivia Judson. Then he gives us an except from The Atlantic:

Judson divides the history of the life on Earth into five energetic epochs, a novel schema that you will not find in geology or biology textbooks. In order, the energetic epochs are: geochemical energy, sunlight, oxygen, flesh, and fire. Each epoch represents the unlocking of a new source of energy, coinciding with new organisms able to exploit that source and alter their planet. The previous sources of energy stay around, so environments and life on Earth become ever more diverse. Judson calls it a “step-wise construction of a life-planet system.”

Neat idea! Why would Klinghoffer be so dismissive? He explains:

The key word in that passage may be “coincide.” Energy … is necessary but not sufficient in explaining how complex life arises. Merely “coinciding” with great leaps forward in biological complexity doesn’t cut it. The really grand mystery remains the origin of biological information. … Positing “energetic epochs” does nothing to resolve that enigma.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We recently posted about the creationists’ “information” fantasy — see Information and the Micro-Macro Mambo. Klinghoffer continues:

She mentions oxygen. In the context of explaining the Cambrian explosion, a classic fallacy is the “oxygen theory,” holding that new body plans arose thanks newly available oxygen. As we’ve noted many times before, oxygen has no ability to compose coded information, generating the software on which life runs.

Oxygen can’t compose “information”? Hey — if that’s the best the Discoveroids can do, it’s fine with us. But now, dear reader, your Curmudgeon has a decision to make. Shall we spend additional time diddling with Klinghoffer’s post, or should we stop here and put that time to better use by reading the Judson article? Decisions, decisions …

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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15 responses to “Klinghoffer Criticizes Olivia Judson

  1. ADDITIONAL information isn’t needed to “evolve,” just a CHANGE (a mutation) in that that’s already there. The mutations ACCUMULATE over time and generations, beneficial ones selected “for,” detrimental ones “against.” Given enough mutations and time, often with help from gene pool isolation, speciation can occur. What is so bloody difficult that the IDiots can’t get that?

  2. Design is not sufficient to account for something in the natural world. There is needed some action.
    The supernatural is not sufficient to account for something in the natural world. There is needed some way for the supernatural to interact with the natural.

  3. Michael Fugate

    Creationists focus on minds because they are envious of those who possess one.

  4. Klinghoffer dares to dis the divine Olivia?!

    This is an OUTRAGE!!!

  5. Michael Fugate

    But Klinghoffer doesn’t believe there is any mystery associated with the origin of biological information – he knows it was created by a very specific, but very mysterious god. He is just replacing one mystery for another one – which cannot be tackled.

    Biological information on the other hand is no more mysterious than chemical information. There is nothing more mystical about life than there is about rocks.

  6. Nice circularity. Information is (from) supernatural (origin), hence oxygen cannot account for it hence information is (from) supernatural (origin). At the same time Klinkleclapper also pulls a brand new logical fallacy from the bottom end of his digestive system: “the oxygen fallacy” – and calls it a classic.

  7. Ceteris Paribus

    Near the end of her own paper, (at the “Implications” section) Olivia Judson deftly hands off the evolutionary baton with this important acknowledgement:

    “Earth has now arrived at a new inflection point. Considering life–Earth history through the lens of energy expansions supports the view that the Anthropocene [bold added] is a genuinely novel phase of the planet’s geological and biological development—a conclusion independently reached by Lenton and colleagues.”

    The Anthropocene is the proposed current epoch in which humans will determine the future of life on Earth. Not Klinghoffer’s God; not Judson’s energy expansions of evolution; and most certainly not the head-in-the-sand rants “proving” the impossibility of human directed global climate change.

    It has been only in this last century that we have been able to leverage nuclear war and uninhibited population growth into a human power that Klinghoffer’s God could not even imagine. No matter how many prayers he and is audience are willing to proclaim.

  8. docbill1351

    Imperial College! Nestled between Exhibition Road and Queen’s Gate, just south of Hyde Park. Summer concerts in the park, cheap seats during the Proms and there was young Olivia playing croquet on the Queen’s Lawn ‘neath the Tower.

    Klankerwanker isn’t fit to be on the same planet as dear Olivia, much less the same page. If a plague sore were to have a pox it would be named Klankerwanker. He is less than a dry-humped slag-whipple, a shriveled grint, a festering grog-fizzled fistula, a flatulent-filled beetle-sac (apologies to beetles) and a septic load of cod’s wallow.

    Hie thee, Klinkerstinker, to under the slimy rock from whence ye crawled, and darken the good name of dear Olivia no more!

  9. Holding The Line In Florida

    An IDiot has the affrontry to comment upon things of which he has surpassed his ability to understand or conceive. It’s like a 2 year old child trying to comprehend the implications of the Theory of Relativity. Such things cannot be borne! I have used The Devine One’s essays in my classes for years. I especially like “Reflections on an Oyster” about the fossilation process. Far better than our text books feeble attempt to explain things. My contempt has increased beyond the bounds I have thought possible!

  10. Eric Lipps

    The tired old argument that new information cannot be added to living systems ought to be put to bed, if not to sleep. Of course it can. Duplicate a gene, as happens all the time, and by definition you have more information, though at first it’s simply two of the same pieces of information. Independent mutation eventually takes care of that, causing the two genes to diverge.

    Of course, creationists would say that no matter what, information is lost with every mutation. They can’t prove that, because it’s demonstrably untrue, but that doesn’t stop them.

    At a more fundamental level, their argument seems to suggest a general law of entropy of information, according to which it can only be conserved or lost. If that were true, progress of any kind would be impossible. So, for that matter, would life as we know it: only an idiot would argue, for instance, that a baby isn’t more complex than a fertilized egg.

  11. @Eric Lipps:
    If the creationists had a definition of “information”, then one might argue as you have done.
    (And I want to make it clear that I am talking only about information in the usage of the deniers of evolution, creationists and intelligent designers. Not the definition of Shannon, for example.)
    As things stand, though, they don’t have a definition, but only have some axioms, such as “mutations result in loss of information”, “the only way for there to be an increase in information is by the action of intelligent designers” or “there is no transfer of information from the environment to living things”. They have no experiments or observations to back up the axioms. Indeed, they rely on there being increase in information in the world of life to argue for there being intelligent designers.
    If there were a definition of information answering to the needs of the axioms, then it would result in a difficulty for the deniers: any intelligent deniers would be able to act contrary to a mathematical/logical truth. (God would be able to make 2+2=5.)

  12. @CP: “not Judson’s energy expansions of evolution”
    I beg to disagree. What is the Anthropocene if not an energy expansion that causes global warming? It already has a big impact on evolution. What we see happen is comparable with the five previous mass extinctions:

    http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/05/140529-conservation-science-animals-species-endangered-extinction/

    Of course when someone like Klinkerstinker tries to darken the name of someone as respectable as Olivia that can be nothing but a compliment – in this case two negatives (and Klonkleclumper’s mere existence is a firm negative) totally make a positive. I only would start to worry if Klankerwanker wrote something nice about her.

    @TomS: spot on, you beat me to it. Creacrap – I say it again – is only possible on ambiguous terminology. And who needs frigging experiments and observations if they have divinely inspired Logos?

  13. Megalonyx, Olivia wants me to bring this headline to your attention: Sea lion drags girl into water. She says you’ll understand.

  14. @ SC: Indeed–that item was reported on the BBC as well.

    Remarkable creatures, Sea Lions…

  15. …and Sea Lions–though admired for their virility–need to be taken very seriously: Sea lion girl treated for risk of ‘seal finger’ infection