• Putting Evolution to Use in the Everyday World.

    A very interesting article on how Evolutionary Theory is used has been posted over at Scientific American. Here’s my favorite part:

    Evolutionary analyses and criminal investigations hold the same goal of revealing historical events. Their fruitful combination awaited only the maturing of DNA-sequencing technology to provide large data sets, robust quantitative methods, and enlightened integration of science and the legal system.

    As with many applications of evolution, the concept of molecular clocks plays a vital role. Changes in many DNA sequences occur at roughly predictable rates over time, forming the basis for molecular clocks. The clocks for two regions of DNA, however, can run at markedly different rates. In the early 1980s geneticists discovered regions of human DNA that evolve very rapidly, and scientists soon pressed these fast-evolving regions into service as genetic markers—unique identifiers of individuals, like fingerprints but with greater detail—in criminal cases and in paternity testing.

    Forensic investigators assess specific genetic markers as indicators of links between suspects and crime scene evidence such as a single human hair, lip cells left on a beer can, saliva on envelope flaps and cigarette butts, as well as semen, blood, urine and feces. The most straightforward use is to demonstrate a suspect’s innocence by the nonmatching of his or her markers compared with those of crime scene evidence. Indeed, the Innocence Project, a public policy organization promoting and tracking the use of genetic markers to overturn wrongful convictions, reports that since 1989, nonmatching of genetic markers has exonerated more than 220 people, many of them convicted for rape crimes and some of them on death row.

    Category: Uncategorized

    Article by: Nicholas Covington

    I am an armchair philosopher with interests in Ethics, Epistemology (that's philosophy of knowledge), Philosophy of Religion, Politics and what I call "Optimal Lifestyle Habits."

    32 comments

        1. I saw an article a few years ago about someone trying to distinguish between two twins based on microsatellite DNA sequences. I couldn’t google up anything, so I don’t know if they failed or what. It was in Minnesota, and they had it down to one of a pair of twins had committed a crime, but couldn’t make an arrest unless they figured out which one.

    1. Evolution appears in many tasks that would surprise a lot of people. Everything from diesel engine operating parameters to factory scheduling. Evolution plays an pretty important role.

      And that’s the thing that drives IDers crazy. They can’t get over how evolution is better than design for almost everything. Every problem that has had evolutionary principles applied to it has resulted in a better solution than has ever been developed by humans.

      1. Intelligent Design Evolution, Kevin, not blind watchmaker evolution, is what is used to design. Your continued equivocation is duly noted.

      1. It’s a good thing no one uses ‘blind watchmaker evolution’. Whatever that is. Joe, you’ve been promoting this for 3 years and you are still wrong about it. This is not up for discussion. Evolution works. Intelligent Design (as used for explaining the origin of life, the universe, or anything) doesn’t. There is no evidence (at least you haven’t presented any in the 3 years that I’ve known of you) for an intelligence capable of designing anything.

        1. Kevin,
          I have supported everything I have said so I am NOT wrong about it-YOU are. Now I am reading “Evolution- a view from the 21st century” and RS also supports my claims. Go figure.

          Blind watchmaker evolution was put forth by none other than RICHARD DAWKINS- premier spokesperson for evolutionism. OTOH, YOU are a total nobody wrt evolution and science.

          What we use in every day life is Intelligent Design Evolution- when someone DESIGNS a program to DESIGN a particular product and gives the program all the resources and code required to do so, then even if the solution is not pre-defined (just the goal), the program produces the product BY DESIGN.

          All that said I and others have provided plenty of evidence for Intelligent Design. OTOH YOU live in denial as to what is being debated- meaning you don’t have any idea what Intelligent Design is even though I have been trying to tell you for years. You have your own strawman/ cartoon version of ID and you are stickin’ to it no matter what.

          That’s just pathetic, Kevin. Grow up.

          1. All that said I and others have provided plenty of evidence for Intelligent Design.

            Cite a single piece of DATA that supports ID. Not notions, not guesses, not philosophy. A single piece of unambiguous data that supports ID.

            Yes, I’m a nobody with regards to evolution. But you can’t even beat me in an online debate. So…

            1. LoL! I have beaten you in an on-line debate- ID STILL is NOT anti-evolution and nothing you can say will ever change that fact. You confused “evolution” the thing, with the theory of evolution. That was some funny stuff. and you never did address the topic.

              In what way, in YOUR mind, is ID anti-evolution?

              Does it say that allele frequencies never change? No

              Does it say that descent with modification is impossible? No, ID is OK with DWM.

              Does it say speciation is impossible? No, even YECs accept speciation

              Does it say that natural selection doesn’t exist? NO, ID is OK with the existence of natural selection and genetic drift.

              So again, in what way is ID anti-evolution- you have never said.

              THAT said I have provided positive evidence for ID and you choked on it. that is because you don’t know what evidence is. You sure as hell cannot cite a single piece of data nor evidence that supports blind watchmaker evolution. You can’t even provide a testable hypothesis for it- you deny its very existence.

              So until YOU ante up evidence for blind watchmaker/ unguided evolution- that way you cannot backpeddle when I present mine- then we cannot move forward as all you will do is deny every piece of evidence I provide. It’s the cowardly way you do things.

            2. All that and I only asked one question… cite the evidence. Your complete failure to do so (and continuing failure to do so for the last 3 years) is noted. There’s a whole thread that’s 180 pages (not posts) long of you not providing the evidence after claiming you have it.

              That’s all that needs to be said. You have no evidence to support any form of ID. That’s all there is to it.

              Oh, and, as I have shown, ID is anti-evolution because the leaders of the ID movement all say that it is. I know you’re incapable of understanding this, but everyone else (including the leaders of ID) knows it.

            3. LoL! I have cited evidence for ID and all you did ws choke on ot like the coward that you are. IOW your continued cowardice is duly noted.

              And no, the leaders of ID say that ID is NOT anti-evolution. Again you are confusing the theory with the thing- you are unstable and it shows.

              BTW in that 180 page long thread, no one produced any evidence to support blind watchmaker evolution- go figure.

              What the ID leadership has to say:

              Scott refers to me as an intelligent design “creationist,” even though I clearly write in my book Darwin’s Black Box (which Scott cites) that I am not a creationist and have no reason to doubt common descent. In fact, my own views fit quite comfortably with the 40% of scientists that Scott acknowledges think “evolution occurred, but was guided by God.”- Dr Michael Behe

              Dr Behe has repeatedly confirmed he is OK with common ancestry. And he has repeatedly made it clear that ID is an argument against materialistic evolution (see below), ie necessity and chance.

              Then we have:

              What is Intelligent Design and What is it Challenging?– a short video featuring Stephen C. Meyer on Intelligent Design. He also makes it clear that ID is not anti-evolution.

              Next Dembski and Wells weigh in:

              The theory of intelligent design (ID) neither requires nor excludes speciation- even speciation by Darwinian mechanisms. ID is sometimes confused with a static view of species, as though species were designed to be immutable. This is a conceptual possibility within ID, but it is not the only possibility. ID precludes neither significant variation within species nor the evolution of new species from earlier forms. Rather, it maintains that there are strict limits to the amount and quality of variations that material mechanisms such as natural selection and random genetic change can alone produce. At the same time, it holds that intelligence is fully capable of supplementing such mechanisms, interacting and influencing the material world, and thereby guiding it into certain physical states to the exclusion of others. To effect such guidance, intelligence must bring novel information to expression inside living forms. Exactly how this happens remains for now an open question, to be answered on the basis of scientific evidence. The point to note, however, is that intelligence can itself be a source of biological novelties that lead to macroevolutionary changes. In this way intelligent design is compatible with speciation. page 109 of “The Design of Life”

              and

              And that brings us to a true either-or. If the choice between common design and common ancestry is a false either-or, the choice between intelligent design and materialistic evolution is a true either-or. Materialistic evolution does not only embrace common ancestry; it also rejects any real design in the evolutionary process. Intelligent design, by contrast, contends that biological design is real and empirically detectable regardless of whether it occurs within an evolutionary process or in discrete independent stages. The verdict is not yet in, and proponents of intelligent design themselves hold differing views on the extent of the evolutionary interconnectedness of organisms, with some even accepting universal common ancestry (ie Darwin’s great tree of life).
              Common ancestry in combination with common design can explain the similar features that arise in biology. The real question is whether common ancestry apart from common design- in other words, materialistic evolution- can do so. The evidence of biology increasingly demonstrates that it cannot.- Ibid page 142

              And from one more pro-ID book:

              Many assume that if common ancestry is true, then the only viable scientific position is Darwinian evolution- in which all organisms are descended from a common ancestor via random mutation and blind selection. Such an assumption is incorrect- Intelligent Design is not necessarily incompatible with common ancestry.– page 217 of “Intelligent Design 101”

              That is just a sample of what the Intelligent Design leadership say about biological evolution- they are OK with it. And the following is from “Uncommon Descent”:

              9] “Evolution” Proves that Intelligent Design is Wrong
              The word “evolution” can mean different things. The simplest meaning is one of natural history of the appearance of different living forms. A stronger meaning implies common descent, in its universal form (all organisms have descended from a single common ancestor) or in partial form (particular groups of organisms have descended from a common ancestor). “Evolution” is often defined as descent with modifications, or simply as changes in the frequencies of alleles in the gene pool of a population.

              None of those definitions can prove ID wrong, because none are in any way incompatible with it.

              ID is a theory about the cause of genetic information, not about the modalities or the natural history of its appearance, and is in no way incompatible with many well known patterns of limited modification of that information usually defined as “microevolution.” ID affirms that design is the cause, or at least a main cause, of complex biological information. A theory which would indeed be alternative to ID, and therefore could prove it wrong, is any empirically well-supported “causal theory” which excludes design; in other words any theory that fits well with the evidence and could explain the presence or emergence of complex biological information through chance, necessity, any mix of the two, or any other scenario which does not include design. However, once we rule out “just-so stories” and the like, we will see that there is not today, nor has there ever been, such a theory. Furthermore, the only empirically well-supported source of functionally specific, complex information is: intelligence.
              To sum it up: no definition of evolution is really incompatible with an ID scenario. Any causal theory of evolution which does not include design is obviously alternative to, and incompatible with, ID.

              However, while many such theories have indeed been proposed, they are consistently wanting in the necessary degree of empirical support. By contrast, design is an empirically known source of the class of information – complex, specified information (CSI) — exhibited by complex biological systems.

              Kevin will choke on all of that too.

            4. http://ogremk5.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/intelligent-design-is-anti-evolution-support-opening/

              All of which just shows that ID leaders (like Mitt Romney) will say whatever they think the audience wants to hear. You are cherry-picking quotes that support your argument and refuse to consider the other things that they have said.

              Gee… I think I’ve said that before. Oh yeah. I have said it before… about ten times. Talking to you Joe is like talking to a broken record.

              BTW: You STILL haven’t cited a single piece of unambiguous DATA that supports ID. The scientific world is STILL waiting. And it still isn’t there.

              Even if ID is completely compatible with evolution, then why do we even need ID? Don’t answer that. No one cares.

            5. Kevin,
              Either you are very stupid, ignorant or dishonest. Do you understand that there is a DIFFERENCE between evolution the thing and the theory of evolution which attempts to explain that thing?

              Geez I have only been telling you and telling you all that but you are as dense as a singularity

              And yes I HAVE cited plenty of evidence that supports Intelligent Design. If you would like to discuss it then come to my blog as it is all there.

              As I said you do not even understand what ID is and obvioulsy you don’t have any idea what the theory of evolution says either.

            6. Joe, We’re done.

              You have been saying the exact same thing for several years. You still don’t have any evidence to support Intelligent Design. That’s all that it is.

              BTW: I’ve been to your blog. Every other post is telling how someone it a liar, jerk, and wrong. But you never cite evidence. Sorry.

              Like I said, we’re done here.

              I just wanted everyone to know that you have refused 3 requests to provide links or citations when evidence was requested.

              THanks

            7. Kevin,

              You have been done for quite some time. You are quite the coward and liar-. Not only that you don’t know what evidence is and couldn’t assess it if it was sitting on you. You are NOT an investigator, you just don’t have the knowledge nor the skills required.

              Positive evidence for Intelligent Design, starting with the letter “A”:

              More Evidence for Intelligent Design in Biology Textbooks- the (proton
              translocating) ATP Synthase
              (notice the word “More” which means other evidence came before it)

              ATP Synthase- All Experiments Point to Design

              Why ATP synthase is (positive) evidence for Intelligent Design

              Now I know Kevin will say “That ain’t no evidence (for ID)!!111!!1!” But he is just a spaz…

            8. Dr Behe has repeatedly confirmed he is OK with common ancestry

              Except when he isn’t. If he is OK with common ancestry, why did he make such a big deal about the lack of whale ancestor fossils? It’s not good enough to point out something Behe said once, you have to look at his whole body of work and see if he has been consistent. Cherry-picking Behe is as worthless as cherry-picking from the Bible.

            9. When did Behe say he was against common ancestry? Please provide a reference.
              And I can provide many quotes from him that say he is OK with common ancestry- from his entire body of work.

            10. Hey joey, since dembski, wells, behe, and you have said that ID is OK with common descent, why do you believe in and push baraminology (the religious belief that all “kinds” were created separately and have not descended from a common ancestor)?

            1. The theory of evolution (vs any form of ID) suggests there will be some serious kludges in nature where something has been slowly modified in a useful but hideously inefficient way that no designer worthy of the name would ever have done.

              Like the airway being shared with the consuming pathway which is unnecessary and leads to choking.

              Like women being so maladjusted to giving birth that humans have to give birth prematurely so that the mother and child have a chance to survive. And even then up until recently it was phenomenally dangerous for women to give birth.

              Like the laryngeal nerve which is stupid enough in humans, but becomes a downright deal breaker for the intelligent part of intelligent design when seen on a giraffe.

            2. LoL! Just because Darwinian processes can mess with a design does not mean ID is falsified. As for the laryngeal nerve, well if you had any knowledge of biology you would know that the length and girth of a nerve serves as timing adjusters and also serves to service OTHER body parts.

              And please design metazoans that don’t share an airway and consuming pathway- and have it work. The point being is that blind watchmaker processes cannot even account for metazoans, nerves, breathing and eating.
              IOW keddaw, you are trying to use a THEOLOGICAL, not scientific, argument to refute ID.
              Nice job

            3. Ah, so you admit that “Darwinian processes” do occur. Do they occur right alongside designed biological/evolutionary processes or in some other way? How can you tell the difference between “Darwinian processes” and designed biological/evolutionary processes? Do the “Darwinian processes” do all the bad stuff while the designed biological/evolutionary processes do all the good stuff? If so, exactly how can that be tested and verified?

              “And please design metazoans that don’t share an airway and consuming pathway- and have it work.”

              What would your hero gordo (kairosfocus) and all the other IDiot-creationists think of you putting limits on the allegedly omniscient, omnipotent yhwh? Oh wait, allah is your chosen designer ‘god’, eh joey? Don’t you know that putting limits on allah (or yhwh) is blasphemy?

    2. Ok for the record-

      The ID leadership says that ID is against the THEORY of evolution which posits blind watchmaker/ unguided evolution (or darwinian and neodarwinian evolution). Kevin conflates the theory of evolution with evolution, the thing.

      With that in mind:

      What we use in every day life is Intelligent Design Evolution- when someone DESIGNS a program to DESIGN a particular product and gives the program all the resources and code required to do so, then even if the solution is not pre-defined (just the goal), the program produces the product BY DESIGN.

      1. What exactly is your point? That all computer programs are designed? So what? A program which models the weather is designed. So what? Does that mean that weather does not follow certain patterns, or contain certain elements of randomness? No, it doesn’t. Your objection is quite empty to one who will think rather than shout.

        1. No Reginald, my point is the computer programs do NOT model blind watchmaker evolution.

          IOW your “objection” is pathetic to anyone who can think

          1. Sorry, you’re still not making sense. Yes, users of genetic algorithms are hoping for a positive outcome, but the tool they are wielding uses random mutation + natural selection, thus putting the power of that combination on display.

            1. Nope, natural selection is not involved. They are using design- goal oriented design- a targeted search- and an example of Intelligent Design Evolution, which is indeed very powerful. Natural selection doesn’t have any goals, no foesight, no planning. These programs incorporate all of that.

    3. Your mention of the Innocence Project is much appreciated.

      They currently claim 302 exonerations, who, on average, served more than 13 years in prison. Almost 4000 years of innocent imprisonment. Incredible!

    4. OK so no one can support Scientific Ameracan’s claim that evolutionary theory was used to in those programs. Evolutionary theory does NOT posit a goal and all those programs have a goal. That means evolutionary theory was not the impetus.

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