On the Road to Weapons of Mass Destruction

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AuthorTopic: On the Road to Weapons of Mass Destruction
Off With Their Heads
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SoT: Whoops. I knew that. I think I forgot that I had said "special relativity" right after I said it. :P

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
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Incidentally, I know that several labs have performed experiments in which fruit flies were effectively divided into two separate species in only around a dozen generations. I don't know if there were genetic differences to back it up or only reproductive isolation.

I've also heard about someone who managed to get his E. coli to evolve into something demonstrably no longer the same as E. coli, but I don't know anything about that or where to find details. Does anyone have a link, or abstract, or something on the subject?

—Alorael, who would like to believe that education correlates negatively with rejection of evolution. Education definitely correlates with lower numbers of offspring. It is therefore quite possible that the theory of evolution is evolutionarily unfavorable, and the causal links are absolutely ironclad.
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[ Sunday, March 25, 2007 12:05: Message edited by: Excalibur ]

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WWJD?
Posts: 1384 | Registered: Tuesday, February 6 2007 08:00
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Warning in advance: Long

1. INFINITE. IF an infinitesimal chance is spread over an infinite number of outcomes, there are still outcomes wherein the infinitesimal chance occurs! Please use logic.

2. How inaccurate can it be? And can you give me links to these studies? And the inaccuracy can shift either way, so you can't rely on that.

3. Yes, they have. Amphibians descended from fish (or fish-like creatures, at least) who at first could withstand being on land for periods from time, and it went from there.

4. You haven't argued against evolution. If anything, you argued for it there.

5. We aren't stupid. We can extrapolate from incomplete data. Just because the fossil tree isn't "complete", doesn't mean we can't disprove it. So we don't have every single species on it yet, but we can still draw lines of ancestry.

6. And we've had a billion years, and perhaps infinite chances across all of existence. You're right in that the chance is small, but it's not impossible.

8. So? We're complex, but we clearly exist! If this was pretty much random, as parts of evolution are, we could end up complex. If we were intelligently designed, why were me made to be so complex?

9. If you make enough prophesies, random chance will eventually ensure that one (or more, or less) will come true. This does not make you psychic, or divinely inspired.

10. Nicked from Kelandon's post:

quote:
However, this statement is one that is worth talking about, because it's based on a common mis-conception. When scientists talk about a "theory," they don't mean a theory as the term is casually used (as essentially synonymous with the word "idea": "I've got a theory that the reason that socks disappear in the dryer is that there are little gnomes that steal them"). A "theory" in science is not a fact; it's far more than a fact, and it should be respected as such.

A fact is a single data point: when I did this, that happened. A fact can be dismissed as a fluke. A theory says, "Whenever I do this, that happens." A theory is based on a wealth of experimental evidence, not just a single fact, and the use of the term "theory" does not imply that the idea is purely hypothetical and not demonstrated; it implies that it is so incredibly well-demonstrated that it has moved beyond disbelief.

For example, Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity is "just a theory," but it has been confirmed by experiment over and over again. There are still arguments in the details — how it interacts with quantum mechanics can sometimes be problematic — but the overall picture is undoubtedly correct. To rewrite relativity would require ignoring virtually all of twentieth-century physics.

The Theory of Evolution is on comparable standing. It has been corroborated by data from all sorts of areas, and it is so well confirmed that to try to undo it would require deleting virtually all the evidence in twentieth-century biology. There are still some arguments in the details, but the overall picture must be true. Evolution is not a fact at all; it is a theory, so it cannot be easily dismissed.
Extra: So what if a real scientist said it? You shouldn't trust them just because they're scientists. You should analyze their evidence and the content of what they say.

[ Thursday, March 01, 2007 16:26: Message edited by: Zephyr Tempest ]

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-Zephyr Tempest, your personal entertainer
Posts: 1779 | Registered: Monday, December 9 2002 08:00
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[ Sunday, March 25, 2007 12:06: Message edited by: Excalibur ]

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WWJD?
Posts: 1384 | Registered: Tuesday, February 6 2007 08:00
? Man, ? Amazing
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quote:
Originally written by Excalibur:

You amuse me Zephyr.
This is precisely the issue at hand. Your amusement shows a lack of critical thinking. Luckily for you, a non-believer, this shortfall in your genetic makeup won't end up putting you at an evolutionary disadvantage.

If only we could all be so lucky.

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quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

Well, I'm at least pretty sure that Salmon is losing.


Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
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Tully: Darn you to heck for getting a reference in before me. :P

Kelandon: Thank you for being the voice of reason.

Stew Boy: You are simultaneously begging the question and arguing from ignorance. If you wish to show superiority in your theories, do so with facts.

Excalibur: You have inspired me to create the Official Lenarian Facepalm Graphic. Congrats.

“A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.” -Fred Hoyle

As much as I'd like to debate how you're all wrong and yet somehow mostly right, I have a research paper due in the morning.
I will be monitoring this one, as I do want to be involved. You have been warned.

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The Silent Assassin just shook his head and walked away.
I don't get it. All that I said was that I wanted a sandwich for dinner.

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-Lenar Labs
What's Your Destiny?

Ushmushmeifa: Lenar's power is almighty and ineffable.

All hail lord Noric, god of... well, something important, I'm sure.
Posts: 735 | Registered: Monday, January 16 2006 08:00
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Fred Hoyle has been famously wrong in the past, you know. :P

The way I see it, there are really two kinds of people: those who find the anthropic principle satisfactory as an explanation for why the world is as we observe it to be, and those who don't. I don't think either group really has anything much to say to the other.

[ Thursday, March 01, 2007 17:26: Message edited by: Cryptozoology ]

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
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quote:
Originally written by Cryptozoology:

Fred Hoyle has been famously wrong in the past, you know. :P

The way I see it, there are really two kinds of people: those who find the anthropic principle satisfactory as an explanation for why the world is as we observe it to be, and those who don't. I don't think either group really has anything much to say to the other.

You forgot to mention the third group. Those that can see both sides of the coin and prefer to watch in open amusement whenever the two sides do try to discuss it.

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quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

Well, I'm at least pretty sure that Salmon is losing.


Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
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Yeah, Thuryl, I know.
But I like where he got his ideas from.
i.e. scientific observation, as opposed to the traditions and opinions of the scientific community.
Granted, most of his conclusions have been since either debunked or dismissed by general consensus; however, I do firmly believe that we need more people questioning the scientific status quo. Worst case scenario, they're wrong, right?

Salmon: :D

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The Silent Assassin believes in questioning the status quo.
It's next in line, after he interrogates the cat.

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-Lenar Labs
What's Your Destiny?

Ushmushmeifa: Lenar's power is almighty and ineffable.

All hail lord Noric, god of... well, something important, I'm sure.
Posts: 735 | Registered: Monday, January 16 2006 08:00
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And how about the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? who can prove He did not create us? that is what the Ph.D. who, following Intelligent design, ponders.
More info in their official website:

www.venganza.org

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"Inspiration comes from hard work" -Charles Baudelaire.
Posts: 292 | Registered: Sunday, November 23 2003 08:00
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quote:
Originally written by Marcelo:

And how about the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? who can prove He did not create us? that is what the Ph.D. who, following Intelligent design, ponders.
More info in their official website:

www.venganza.org

Folks! Come one, come all!

Your only chance to watch the last of the liquid sanity drain away, look at it, swirling into that grate. I hope no one is trying to hold onto a cup or two, it never helps.

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quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

Well, I'm at least pretty sure that Salmon is losing.


Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
Off With Their Heads
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There's another term that people are butchering in this discussion, and I think it's worth discussing for a moment, because my Thermo class put it into serious perspective. It's the concept of "infinity."

There's a huge conceptual difference between "extremely large but finite" (as in the size of the universe, the number of stars in the universe, the probable number of planets in the universe, the age of the universe, etc.) and "actually infinite." Given a number that is extremely large but finite, there is some limit to the craziness that can ensue. Given infinity, total chaos can break out.

For example, it is commonly suggested that monkey typing randomly on typewriters would eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare. There is a definite probability of hitting the proper keystrokes in the proper order. Neglecting capital letters and punctuation, but including spaces, we can say that there are twenty-seven possible options for each keystroke, and the complete text of Hamlet has well over 100,000 such keystrokes. The probability of getting 100,000 right keystrokes in a row is 1 in 26^100000, which is approximately 1 in 10^141,000.

Now, if we take a billion monkeys at a billion typewriters, each typing at a hundred words per minute (which we can estimate as 600 keystrokes per minute or 10 per second), the number of keystrokes these monkeys would have typed in the age of the universe (approximately 14 billion years) is 4.4 * 10^27. Sadly, 10^27 pales in comparison to 10^141,000. The odds of these monkeys producing even a sizable fraction of Hamlet is unfathomably small.

Let's try this again with just one monkey at just one typewriter and have him hunt and peck at a more feasible one word per minute (or one keystroke every ten seconds), but let's give the little monkey an infinite amount of time to work. The monkey will produce the complete works of Shakespeare, no question. It definitely will happen. We go from a probability of unimagineably small to a probably of 100% just like that. That's the power of infinity.

So don't talk about things as infinite unless they actually are.

EDIT: There is, also, a similar problem in really huge numbers. It's hard to remember, when we get up in the high orders of magnitude, that a billion is so much bigger than a million that it makes a million look like nothing. It's really hard to conceptualize "a million years." Common sense may revolt at the idea that evolution really can create such enormous complexity, but then common sense also can't really handle a million years, much less a billion.

But again, this discussion isn't really a question of evidence.

[ Thursday, March 01, 2007 19:07: Message edited by: Kelandon ]

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
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There is a second part to the arguement on something happening that has a small probability of occuring. When you are looking for it among a large number of occurances, it is unlikely. But with evolution, the unlike occurance has to have occured in or for you to debate it.

Now the chance of finding another world where it happened and occured in a time frame where we can see the result is probably low. There are only a finite number of planets that could have evolution occur on it and we currently can't detect those types of world yet.
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00
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quote:
Originally written by Excalibur:

Scientific studies have shown that carbon 14 dating is inaccurate, so how can you justify saying that the Earth is billions of years old?
Cite, please? I'm unaware of any major problems with radiocarbon dating pointed out with any reliable scientific basis. In any case, carbon-14 will only take you back about 50,000 years. Other isotopes are used to measure billions of years.

quote:
The theory of evolution is much more complicated then that. For example, they can't make up their mind how amphibians came to be.
Again, news to me. There have been changes in the order of all the adaptations required to live on land (the consensus now seems to be that legs came before lungs), but the overall picture of how isn't a matter of much dispute.

quote:
What I meant by soup is that evolutionists say that the first organisms formed in a body of water with many life-essential elements. From that "soup," evolutionists say that after many years, a simple organism formed. Scientists make compounds (in this case, amino acids) by gettiing different elements to bond with eachother. In nature, compounds are also formed by elements bonding together.
The origin of life is a much more contested problem than evolution from very simple prokaryotes to everything alive today. I still don't see what's fundamentally wrong with primordial soup idea, though. It involves unlikely coincidences but not impossible ones.

—Alorael, who thinks he'll pick on factually questionable objections to evolution. It won't convince anyone, but it might at least make someone question the worst of the anti-evolution non-science.
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We had the question of carbon-14 dating with the Shroud of Turin debate last summer (?). Depending how it is done there can be a wide uncertainty in date calcultations. However in studies where a second dating system can be used in comparison like tree ring counting or comparison to artifacts at the site with known dates, it is fairly accurate.
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00
Off With Their Heads
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I'm not a nuclear engineer or anything (*cough*), but I'm informed that C-14 dating has problems when samples are contaminated with organic material somehow. That is, you don't want to rub your hands all over a very thin rock if you want to use C-14 dating on it afterwards to determine the rock's age. Nor do you want to inject some bacteria all throughout the rock's interior.

However, as Alo said, that's usually not a problem here with the standard date of the Earth, because the rocks usually aren't contaminated, and people don't use C-14 dating to go back that far anyway.

Gah, when I do some planetary astrophysics later on, I'll be able to talk more about how we know that the Earth is as old as it is. I can say a little (a very little) about how we know the age of the universe, but not as much about the Earth.

[ Thursday, March 01, 2007 19:58: Message edited by: Kelandon ]

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
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quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

I'm not a nuclear engineer or anything (*cough*), but I'm informed that C-14 dating has problems when samples are contaminated with organic material somehow. That is, you don't want to rub your hands all over a very thin rock if you want to use C-14 dating on it afterwards to determine the rock's age.
Well, you can't really carbon-date a rock in the first place. You'd use another kind of radioactive dating for that, like potassium-argon dating. So the reliability of carbon dating isn't really relevant when it comes to estimating things like the age of the Earth. But yes, "don't contaminate your samples" is a pretty good rule of thumb no matter what kind of test you're doing.

[ Thursday, March 01, 2007 20:33: Message edited by: Cryptozoology ]

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Off With Their Heads
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Piece of wood (or former living material), I meant. Dammit, I'm off today.

In any case, I had a pretty good rant about the so-called lack of evidence for evolution here. Gaps in the fossil record are not evidence of anything. The very presence of order in the fossil record is almost indisputable proof that evolution is very, very real.

[ Thursday, March 01, 2007 20:47: Message edited by: Kelandon ]

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
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Good rule of thumb and problem with the test are entirely different. Unless it's nearly impossible to get an uncontaminated sample to date, I think it would be like claiming blood tests are useless because you could always get the wrong blood by accident.

—Alorael, who has decided to take a physics approach and approximate the age of the Earth as infinite. It's close enough.
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quote:
Originally written by Excalibur:

When looking at satellite images of Mt. [Ararat] ... they found a large rectangular object near its summit.
When this gets discredited, as it surely will, I hope you will not lose your faith. Christianity by no means stands, or falls, on the historical accuracy of the Noah story. Biblical infallibility, of course, does stand or fall on every Biblical story. But Biblical infallibility, in the literalistic sense of modern Christian fundamentalists, is a recent aberration with little relation to mainstream Christian tradition.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
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"It was the best of times, it was the blorst of times?!"
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Literalism is indeed an extremely recent phenomenon. It might embarass you to learn that biblical scholars in the Middle Ages had it more correct than you: they not only regarded the Bible, being a human instrument for cataloguing the ineffable word of God, as fallible, but so fallible they inserted their own bits into it!

'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone' was written into a margin by a monk sometime before the end of the 12th century. Other marginalia are all over the book: someone writes down a clarification or a more concise quote in the margin, someone else likes it enough to put it in the text (putting it right in there yourself would be intolerable hubris, obviously), and bam, it's part of the Bible.

The belief in Biblical inerrancy is a hilariously ignorant invention of the 19th century Protestant tradition. The very belief in inerrancy as a concept, I'd argue, is no more recent than the invention of the dageurrotype. Without photography, there's no grounds on which to construct the illusion of absolute precision (in this case, in sight), so people generally understand (if not in a scientific way) how rough and messy the world is deep down.

...

One thing I'd like to add on the evolution discussion: part of what makes the understanding of abiogenesis so neat is that it allows us to put reasonable boundaries on the evolution of life. One of the bigger conditions is the presence and activity of iron meteorites in the general vincinity of a planet with liquid water - iron meteorites bear unusual quantities of phosphorous-based biomolecules, which explains one of the more inexplicable factors in abiogenesis and transforms life from a billion-to-one shot relying on a bolt of lightning to something more or less bound to happen under the right conditions.

Basically, a planet like Earth needs a planet like Jupiter around, and it'll have life. That's not true of most solar systems, so we can rule out a lot of places while scouring the universe for other instances of life.

This is part of what makes evolution so interesting: as a science, it produces useful predictions. Thanks to advancements in the decidedly anti-Genesis field of abiogenesis, we can say with better than 50% confidence that we know where life could evolve from scratch. Woo!
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quote:
I guess you don't realize how complex the human body really is. Even something simple like synapses between nerve cells couldn't of evolved in that amount of, knowing how many synapses exist in the human body. All these hundreds of things couldn't have evolved in even quadrillions of years.
This really bugged me. Do you realize how long billions of years is? That is a massive amount of time. A lot can happen in that amount of time.
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In physics terms, the body is actually remarkably simple. The vast majority of the human body, like the vast majority of the universe, comprises a few light elements: carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen.

The only element found in abundance in life and not in the universe is phosphorous, which Schroedinger (from this board, not the physicist) did research providing for the genesis of.
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00

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