|email - April 2017|
Graham gets the honor of having his email published in our April Fool newsletter.
Graham’s email was presumably a reaction to our feature article last September on cladistics. 1 In case you missed that article, here is a brief summary:
A cladogram is a diagram of a presumed evolutionary tree based on similarities. In the old days, it was drawn by hand, based on subjective, observable physical characteristics. Later, the job was given to “impartial” computer algorithms—but, of course, the impartial algorithms reflect the bias of the programmer.
For example, suppose one wants to write a computer program that compares trees to determine which are most similar. The programmer sets up some criteria for judging similarity. Does the tree have leaves or needles? Are the needles long or short? Do the needles come in bundles of 2, 3, 5, or more?
Suppose a tree has long needles that come in clusters of 5. Is it more like a tree that has long needles that come in clusters of 2, or short needles that come in clusters of 5? The computer programmer has to make an arbitrary decision, and the computer algorithm unquestionably complies with that decision.
The cladogram produced depends upon the decisions the programmer makes. How do you know if the programmer made the correct decisions? Generally the scientists select the output with “maximum parsimony.” (Maximum parsimony is a technical term meaning “least ridiculous.”)
More recently, cladograms have been produced by comparing DNA, or proteins produced by inside cells, or some such quantifiable chemical measurement that can be consistently measured across species. When they started doing that, they got some really ridiculous results, as we have reported over the years, beginning in March of 1998.
Animal relationships derived from these new molecular data sometimes are very different from those implied by older, classical evaluations of morphology. Reconciling these differences is a central challenge for evolutionary biologists at present. Growing evidence suggests that phylogenies of animal phyla constructed by the analysis of 18S rRNA sequences may not be as accurate as originally thought. 2
For many more current examples, see our Topical Index of DNA articles at http://scienceagainstevolution.info/topics-dna.htm.
Graham could have been responding to any one of these earlier articles. Throughout his emails, he uses blue font and italics for emphasis. We have retained his style. As always, we use bold purple highlighting for our emphasis.
Here is the first email he wrote to us:
Hi Do While [sic] Jones
"In the Middle English language, science means knowledge (from Old French, from Latin scientia, from scire “know”). Science proceeds by modelling realities as well as it can. Scientists incrementally refine their models through intuition, research, trial and error. A good theory is one that is potentially disprovable (after Karl Popper). So, the spectre of falsification always hovers around the corner.
There is a spectrum of precision and certainty in science - from hard mathematics and physics to economics and sociology.
Physicists know light is not truly waves or particles, but those have proved useful models.
They know Newton's laws of motion are not true through all space and time, but they are useful models in our space and time. The[y] know Einstein's cosmological physics is irreconcilable with quantum mechanics, but each is accepted as modelling what it models well enough.
By contrast, models in sociology and economics are far less certain than models in physics.
Some models are impossible to disprove, and therefore bad science.
Somewhere between physics and sociology, evolutionary biologists lack the tools to investigate the past as well they want to. But DNA analysis does help researchers to refine cladograms of evolution with a reasonable degree of certainty."
The fact that the true cladogram of evolution is a matter of debate says nothing at all about whether evolution is true or not.
All but the last three paragraphs are obviously true statements that aren’t really relevant; but we included them to help you understand his educational background. It is unclear from his email address where he lives, but the British spelling of “spectre” and “modelling,” his apparent level of education, and his closing words, suggest he isn’t a product of an American public school.
By his definition, global warming and Darwinian evolution are “bad science” because they are impossible to prove or disprove.
He used a blue font to emphasize the only really important point in his email; but it wasn’t really clear to us whether he believes in evolution or not.
So, we poked the bear by replying, “Therefore, no cladogram should be claimed to be proof of evolution, right?”
Since Hume and Popper in the mid 20th century, no evidence can be claimed to prove any scientific theory. The test of a good scientific theory is that it can be falsified.
Your challenge is to falsify evolution. The fact that cladograns [sic] are uncertain and evolving does not [do] this.
Cladograms are merely representations. I don't know which of your cladograms are based on idle speculation. And which are based on the fossil record and/or DNA analysis. The latter is what support [sic] the theory of evolution.
The difficulty with evolution is the timescale it operates over (and any experiment would have to operate over). Scientists cannot travel forward or backward in time to watch one species dividing into two.
Again, that difficulty does not falsify the theory of evolution.
And there is lots of circumstantial evidence for evolution (read Dawkins).
The division of the current human species into races is one piece of evidence. Along with the DNA analysis which suggests the migration path of humans from Africa. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_human_migrations
So, now we know he is an evolutionist, and that he regards Dawkins as a reliable source. Furthermore, he didn’t bother to check the footnotes to see that the cladograms we discussed came from peer-reviewed scientific journals (except for the ones for the British Royal Family and Guitars which we clearly stated were simplified examples we created to illustrate a point).
Of course, the theory of evolution isn’t (by his definition) a good scientific theory because it can’t be falsified.
According to the theory of evolution, reptiles evolved into mammals. When they did, their scales evolved into hair. But mammals aren’t just hairy reptiles. The metabolism of cold-blooded reptiles supposedly evolved, resulting in some unknown missing link that was warm-blooded and needed sweat glands to control its temperature. Then, those newly evolved sweat glands (which evolved for the purpose of controlling temperature) evolved into mammary glands that produced milk instead of sweat, and responded to the stimulus of childbirth instead of temperature. Is it really my responsibility to prove that this fantastic fable is false? Or is it the evolutionists’ responsibility to prove it is true before teaching it as fact in public schools?
Part of Graham’s response was,
No, it isn't your responsibility to falsify anything. Your challenge is to find a respectable and convincing refutation of evolution. Your responsibility is not to use misleading arguments (e.g. based on the uncertain nature of cladograms).
Just what would a “respectable and convincing refutation of evolution be?” And what is misleading about reporting that cladograms published in the scientific literature are notoriously contradictory to common sense, and to each other?
It was especially significant that he brought up racism as evidence for evolution because of the timing. His email arrived just after the violent riots at Middlebury College that have been in the news the past few weeks. For those of you who are reading this years from now, or live outside the United States,
Hundreds of students at Middlebury College in Vermont shouted down a controversial speaker on Thursday night, disrupting a program and confronting the speaker in an encounter that turned violent and left a faculty member injured. … Charles Murray, 74, whose book “The Bell Curve,” published in 1994, linked lower socio-economic status with race and intelligence. 3
Universities are in a tough spot because, on the one hand, they are teaching students that there are no racial differences, and on the other hand they are teaching students that the differences in races are evidence of evolution. They can’t have it both ways!
Graham used blue font and a quote from Wikipedia to back up his claims.
... The evidence of narrowing and widening in human genome diversity is evidence that lends to support random chemical changes as a basis of evolution.
"There is evidence from mitochondrial DNA that modern humans have passed through at least one genetic bottleneck, in which genome diversity was drastically reduced. Henry Harpending has proposed that humans spread from a geographically restricted area about 100,000 years ago, the passage through the geographic bottleneck and then with a dramatic growth amongst geographically dispersed populations about 50,000 years ago, beginning first in Africa and thence spreading elsewhere. Climatological and geological evidence suggests evidence for the bottleneck. The explosion of Lake Toba created a 1,000 year cold period, as a result of the largest volcanic eruption of the Quaternary, potentially reducing human populations to a few tropical refugia. It has been estimated that as few as 15,000 humans survived. In such circumstances genetic drift and founder effects may have been maximised. The greater diversity amongst African genomes may be in part due to the greater prevalence of African refugia during the Toba incident." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_human_migrations
This is all just speculation—but he believes it! It really seems like it is his responsibility to prove that, “The explosion of Lake Toba created a 1,000 year cold period,” and “as few as 15,000 humans survived.” (Fortunately that explosion didn’t produce a lot of greenhouse gas that caused 1,000 years of global warming, or not even 15,000 would have survived! )
When someone comes up with an incredible, unscientific theory (like the theory of evolution) it is the responsibility of the person proposing the theory to present enough credible evidence to get it accepted.
It isn’t our responsibility to prove the theory wrong. We just point out that the arguments in favor of evolution aren’t valid, and the evolutionary arguments keep changing because they are obviously wrong. Therefore, there is no good reason to believe Darwin’s theory is true.
Graham closed his email with two cladograms which absolutely, positively, unquestionably, not only prove that evolution is true, they show the exact, undeniable relationships between apes, extinct humans, and living humans. Here they are:
What more proof do you need? Forget all the other relationship diagrams you have ever seen. These are the correct ones, attested to by Graham. If you can’t believe him, who can you believe?
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Disclosure, September 2016, “Guitar Cladistics”, http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v20i12f.htm
2 Disclosure, March 1998, “The Failure of Genetics”, http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v2i6n.htm
3 New York Times, March 3, 2017, “Protesters Disrupt Speech by ‘Bell Curve’ Author at Vermont College”, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/03/us/middlebury-college-charles-murray-bell-curve-protest.html?_r=0