"It seems to me that to organize on the basis of feeding people or righting social injustice and all that is very valuable. But to rally people around the idea of modernism, modernity, or something is simply silly. I mean, I don't know what kind of a cause that is, to be up to date. I think it ultimately leads to fashion and snobbery and I'm against it."
Jack Levine: January 3, 1915 – November 8, 2010
Seeing the spectacularly impressive demonstration and blockade of Mitch McConnell's office by disabled Americans as he and his fellows in the gang of Republican thugs who declared war on them was especially moving for me and my family because our father was severely and permanently disabled in World War Two and spent his entire adulthood on government insurance through the Veterans Administration. If he had not been a veteran, he would not have been able to have as full a life as he did, marrying, having a family, working a full time job, supporting his family, putting us through college, paying taxes, participating in religious and civic organizations as a volunteer.
He told me once that when he was first in the military hospital, after having been disabled, when they told him he would never see, again, that they needed to - as it says in the official medical record -"amputate his eyes" they offered him training to support himself. The training he was offered was learning how to peddle apples or pencils to, as he put it, become a professional beggar. That was typical of how disabled people were commonly thought of in the early 1940s, either as beggars or people who were permanently institutionalized or dependent on their families to take care of them. He was lucky that among the disabled of that time, one of the most aggressive of all groups were the blind, especially blinded veterans who gave him a different way to imagine his future and to plan for that future. It was about the same time he met our mother who supported him in that. He also told me that it was the blinded veterans of World War One who had pioneered that aggressive approach and the demand that they be supported in having a full life.
My father did work in factories, as he had before the war and he was discriminated against by his employers who didn't allow him to learn different skills for jobs that paid more and had better working conditions. Not until the company changed hands in the 1970, after the Civil Rights era, was he allowed to do other things.
But the entire time he had to make frequent use of the VA hospital system for his medical care. There were several times that he had serious complications from his war injury and other problems that could have reduced him to a dependence he had avoided and, in one case, could have killed him. Without that he would have been a prisoner no matter where he was instead of someone who was able to enjoy the rights and freedoms he had fought the Nazis to preserve and extend to other people.
Now Mitch McConnell and whoever in the Republican caucus of the United States Senate who support the abomination that they unveiled yesterday are going to do that to an enormous percentage of the population who are disabled and who can, with Medicaid, live with the rights and freedoms my father and others fought to preserve and, in fact, they are voting to kill many of them. Those who can't life free lives anymore will either be institutionalized, at, no doubt, enormous cost - most of all to their own cost in far more than money - left to die in miserable conditions or left to the varied fate of their families willingness to take up the burden of their care.
Those people you are prepared to rob of their freedom and healthcare and lives have families and friends who love them and who will fight for them just as much as they will care for them if you succeed in robbing them. You can multiply the numbers represented in those brave people who blockaded McConnell's office by how many others who are ready to work against you and vote against you on that basis if not on the general moral principle which you are violating.
Susan Collins, you won't be able to sweep this betrayal and hypocrisy under the rug, this one is way over the line and unless you vigorously oppose it, you will be targeted as giving it either your explicit or, in your usual way, your tacit support. This one isn't your pose of voting against Betsy Devos, after making sure that there were enough votes with Mike Pence so that your show of opposition and principle will be, as usual, you doing the right thing but only when it doesn't matter.
This isn't a hard point to get. If your hypothesis is that, as that National Earth Science Teacher's Association rather naively put it, " the first life forms arose spontaneously through naturally occurring chemical reactions" THAT IS, WITHOUT ANY DESIGN BY GOD, the actual motive of those who invented abiogenesis, then your intended hypothesis makes the presence of design and intelligence and, by the way, intent, relevant to the analysis of what you do to try to demonstrate your hypothesis.
Every experiment that any scientist does is conducted through their design, to do certain things to certain chemicals or objects or organisms, to see what the result of what the scientist has done through their experiment will be. THE ABIOGENESIST'S OWN INTELLIGENT DESIGN IS WHAT MADE WHAT HAPPENED, HAPPEN. It is inescapable that intelligent design produced the results, therefore the people conducting the experiment have only succeeded in showing that the result they achieved was achievable through intelligent design. There is no way to remove the factor of intelligent design from its role in producing the result.
To prove that life arose on Earth arose by other means than by the intelligent design by God the scientist would have to try other means available under the methods of science, in this case the direct observation of the thing studied. And in the case of how life began on Earth, that is impossible. It is not possible for science to dismiss intelligent design in this case, that claim and desire of hard core atheism is often claimed but the claim is either blatantly dishonest or it is monumentally short sighted.
I would go so far as to say that even when direct observation of something that happens in nature is possible, it is impossible to remove the mind of the person making the observation from consideration of the nature of the conclusions reached. That is certainly what physicists discovered about their minute and exacting observations of objects in the early 20th century.*
I think as the phenomena studied by science are more complex and the numbers of factors entering into the problems of treating things by science multiply, as in the life sciences, the more relevant the mind of the person making the observation becomes because many if not all of those factors will include the necessity of making judgements on something other than pure measurement** of a reliably isolated phenomenon. As science more explicitly involves the creation of narratives, such as in the study of evolution, the mind of the story-teller becomes centrally important to effort and the common cultural features of those who they are telling that story to has a definite effect on whether or not the story is found credible or good.
That's not how science is generally presented as being but the idea that there is some entity called "science" that is not a human activity is one of the most absurd forms of idolatry that would-be sophisticated, modern people engage in. Scientific method (really, methods) is, ideally, a process that people invented to come up with reliable knowledge about how the physical world works, some of those methods aspired to remove human bias but at best that removal is only partial. Pretending it isn't there is ridiculous as every single thing that is done as science is done by people. Observation, measurement, analysis, experiment, they don't just happen as some disembodied entity. As I have mentioned, physicists, as they found it impossible to ignore that as their own observations became directly relevant to the things they desired to study, they had to admit that you couldn't make claims that left that out.
I think that is something that should have been admitted in the life-sciences as their claims about the lost, irretrievable past of life on Earth, depended on created narratives of events that included scanty physical evidence, in some cases, as from the beginning of scientific story-telling under natural selection, sometimes they even did so on the basis of no physical evidence. The stories told by Darwin, Huxley, Galton, Haeckel and others were the product of their minds, their predispositions, scientific and, especially, when they talked about human societies which they lived in and had direct stakes in, their social and economic advantage, became entirely relevant to what they claimed as science. In my study of eugenics, I've noted that the birth of that in the self-congratulatory claims Francis Galton believed on behalf of his, upper class in his earliest writings, especially his book Hereditary Genius, were obviously self-serving and adopted with little consideration of that by the other members of his own social class with little question. They held themselves to be men of science, above such things even as they practiced the most obvious self-serving class bias as science.
Abiogenesis starts out by not having any physical evidence of how the first organism was assembled out of physical components more than three billion years ago, they have no idea of what that, specific organism would have been like. You can't imagine up an actual and, in this case, very specific organism***, its life and its environment and have it be more than some level of fiction. Unobservable organisms and their lives are too complex to think up out of nothing. No matter how plausible people find your story.
Their many different proposed models of that often show rather shocking naivete as to how unlikely their proposals for what that earliest organism were like are, based on features of known organism from hundreds of millions if not billions of years after that event, organisms which in the earliest resolvable, though still partial ( and, I'd imagine, science being what it is, controverted) detail, examples are presumably far evolved from even that even most improbable organism of all, the first offspring of that first and unique organism, all of those are all inventions out of the minds of scientists, they are not actual organisms. They are not THE actual organism, which was just what it was and not anything but what it was.
The number of factors in even that last sentence describing the situation is an indication of how many places the mind of the scientist doing that is not honestly ignored in the conclusions made. You cannot possibly think up that organism, those organisms, the original one and - in one of the most unexplainable acts ever addressed by science, its giving birth to another organism, perhaps dividing itself and making another of its kind, instead of just living for a while and dying - without being able to observe it all, its formation, its life, its reproduction, the two resultant organisms, both viable. Both containing whatever it needed to live and reproduce. You can certainly not just pretend that whatever you come up with is not the product of the intelligent design of the scientist. If that's true about the physical results of bio-chemists, it is especially true of the product of their imagination, to start with.
Science, especially the life sciences and the science such as that which explains man made global warming that could kill us all is absolutely important, it is some of the most important stuff people do. But it is a human activity done by people and that fact becomes of the greatest importance when it is relevant to what scientists claim they are producing as reliable knowledge. You can't leave that out when what you are claiming is that you are demonstrating that God didn't make life arise on Earth, that life on Earth and we, ourselves are not a product of God's design. You don't have to believe that God did that but you can't demonstrate that it didn't happen that way through your own intelligent design. That only proves it could have happened through intelligent design. And you are never going to be able to make a direct observation of the actual thing, the actual beginning of life, ever.
* One of the best essays I've ever found on the subject is by Jacob Brownoski, the 11th part of his BBC series The Ascent of Man, Knowledge or Certainty, and how those who ignore that "open the door to tragedy." I think it's held up remarkably well in the past forty four years, though the vintage electronic music sounds rather quaint to me in a way it didn't at the time.
** Another of the discoveries of the most exactly mathematical of all sciences, physics, was that there is no such thing as absolutely pure measurement. Not even of the simplest phenomena, nevermind living organisms.
*** As I've mentioned throughout this, you can't even know if there was that one organism or many - the improbabilities of that scenario rising with every one of them. I might believe that there was one original organism but that's far from knowledge, it is based on a narrative I believe.
Notice how Trump cites his "genes" as a guarantee that he's a gold medal genius. But don't miss things like the unwillingness to call even the most blatant lies, "lies".
Update: I think I now understand this piece by Samuel Becket, Play, as directed by Kenneth Gaburo
which I'd thought was just kind of silly and meaningless. Only the Trump-Republican-fascist stuff is dangerous and meaningless. It sounds not that far from what you get on CNN and the other cabloids these days.
Update 2: Putting a whole new meaning in SAMideano. Oh, my word. Just looked at the Samantha Bee video on a bigger screen. Someone at Samantha Bee's is an esperantist. "Vortoj" on the third screen is Esperanto for "words". Saluton, Samideano! Update 3: No, the "j" in "vortoj" sounds like an English "y" so it sort of rhymes with "wart boy". Just think of my trolls if you have trouble remembering.
Neal Gabler has written a very good article about what I've been saying, that Susan Collins will almost certainly help her fellow Republicans kill health care for tens of millions of Americans and make it incredibly expensive for many more. Here is the evidence as he presents it:
The problem is that Collins all too often stands up to her fellow Republicans on the small issues, while she shakes her head and frets about the big ones, only to toe the party line in the end. Yes, she wrote an op-ed declaring that she could not vote for Trump, and then said she wrote in on her ballot the name of Paul Ryan (!), one of the few party figures worse than Trump. Yes, she voted against DeVos and Pruitt, but introduced attorney general-designate Jeff Sessions at his confirmation hearings and gave him full-throated support, despite his long record of racism. Yes, she opposes Trump more than her fellow Republicans, but she still votes with him 85 percent of the time. She has a checkered record on immigration, opposed net neutrality, and got only a 38 percent rating from the Leadership Conference on Human Rights. Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, challenging the characterization of Collins as some apostate conservative, assured his readers that she is “one of us.” But it is on health insurance where Collins could arguably make her biggest political mark and establish a legacy as a defender of the vulnerable, including the vulnerable among her own constituents, who have benefited enormously from Obamacare in a state that has the oldest population in the nation. But don’t hold your breath. Collins has been as doggedly resistant to Obamacare as any Republican. She voted against Obamacare in 2009 and then against the Senate-House reconciliation act. She voted for repeal in 2011 and 2015 and again this past January. When her fellow Republicans shut down government in 2013, insisting that they wouldn’t approve funding without an Obamacare repeal, she claimed, disingenuously, to have bucked her party. What she really did, according to Mother Jones, is vote three times to keep the government running but if and only if Democrats defunded or delayed Obamacare. “There is no denying that the Affordable Care Act has made insurance available to millions of Americans and allowed people to leave corporate jobs and start businesses,” she told The New York Times. But Collins claims that she worries about instability in the health markets, rising premiums and the dearth of facilities in Maine — all of which might be legitimate concerns if the instability of the markets wasn’t largely the result of Republican sabotage, if premiums had risen anywhere near as much as critics contend, and if access to facilities had anything to do with Obamacare. Oh, and one more thing. Collins opposed Obamacare before it was implemented, so none of these criticisms makes much sense. To shore up her moderate credentials, Collins, who opposed the House Republican bill, has introduced her own replacement bill along with Louisiana Republican Bill Cassidy. She calls it a “compromise,” but it is clever window-dressing. Its big features are Health Savings Accounts instead of direct subsidies, a Republican panacea for all ills, and waivers for states to construct their own insurance systems. Without getting into details, the first has been largely discredited as a sop to the wealthy, since everyone knows Republicans would never adequately fund these accounts, and the second is already a feature of Obamacare as well as an exit strategy for Republican governors.
And if this issue wasn't literally life and death for millions of Americans, I wouldn't have posted so many of his powerful words on the topic.
We now know where that "death panel" Sarah Palin and other Republicans talked about are, they are the Republican caucus in the Senate of the United States. Susan Collins is a member of it, as are all of her other Republican colleagues who are hell bent on killing the ACA and replacing it with a monstrosity as a fig leaf to cover them when people start dying and healthcare in the United States is destroyed except as a luxury market.
I know Susan Collins, I've been watching her low grade hypocrisy, her calculated game of being as Republican as she dares to be in a state which used to not put the likes of Paul LePage into office. Even our worst Republicans, such as the husband of her former Senate Colleague, Jock McKernan was more incompetent than depraved, though he was a bit that too. Now she is about to do one of the most depraved things a Maine politician has done in living memory and if you are holding your breath waiting for her to go out on a limb and fulsomely oppose her fellow Republicans in kicking tens of millions of Americans off of health insurance, you'll only do to yourself what they're going to do for you. Those improbabilities I've been talking about so much this week, Susan Collins taking a moral, courageous stand and giving her full opposition to the Republican Death Bill is one of them.
I freely admit it was Mark Twain who first converted me to skepticism, who convinced me that that illiterate broker, hard dealer and crook from Stratford didn't write the plays and poems. It was when I was going trough the exercise of reading all of his works that I found in the local library, that early set of Mark Twain's complete works. I was into that kind of thing back then, reading all of the Greek plays in that set that Eugene O'Neill was associated with, all of a number of authors.
Anyway, I'm certainly not ashamed to be on the same side of that issue as Mark Twain instead of a guy who worked as a third tier rock critic. If I hadn't used Frank Zappa's dismissal of that.... "profession" so recently I'd use it right now. Mark and I share that POV with a long list of people I'd rather agree on something with than Simps and the rest of the guys at B.B. who probably haven't read one of the plays since they went through the Scottish Play in 12th grade (Simps would have read the Cliffs Notes, if that). Since then it's probably been limited to whatever movie they sat through. Kevin Branagh... the ones who thought Shakespeare in Love was a bio flick.
Not that I've got much to brag about, having not read one since last winter when I went through Timon of Athens again, before that it was Richard II. .
Maybe I should go through Coriolanus again. As some scholars have pointed out these lines from that play,
I send it through the rivers of your blood,
Even to the court, the heart, to th’seat o’ th’ brain;
And, through the cranks and offices of man,
The strongest nerves and small inferior veins
From me receive that natural competency
Whereby they live
Refer to the circulation of blood, a theory not published by William Harvey until after the Stratford man's death. There is absolutely no evidence that the broker knew Harvey, he was a friend and scientific colleague of Francis Bacon who lived a number of years after the theory was published.
That play, like Timon, wasn't known till the First Folio, published seven years after the death of the broker of Stratford, it is not known to have been performed until the Restoration era. The events of Timon of Athens are more than slightly suggestive of Bacon's downfall from being Lord Chancellor in 1621. But I think I've taxed the Duncanian dullard's attention enough for one night.
The Minnesota Orchestra
Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, conductor
Unfortunately, the banding on the disc apparently didn't lead to a clean termination of the Prelude but this is a demonstration.
Upon escaping Poland, Skrowaczewski took the director's post with the Minnesota Orchestra, a number of magnificent recordings of the music of Bartok, Stravinsky and other 20th century recordings by them were issued by the super-bargain Vox Box label. They show that, instead of cultivating one all-purpose sound, Skrowaczewski let the music determine the approach. He was a composer, himself, I generally find that a composer is often much more likely to do that when they conduct the music of other people.
Here, from the recording they made from the Rite of Spring, The Auguries of Spring and the Dances of the Maidens and Youths.
Unfortunately, these automatically posted Youtubes tend to cut off in odd places. If you can get the CDs of these, they are a real bargain.
Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, died earlier this year. I should have noted it at the time but was still depressed over Trump-McConnell-Ryan. He was 93 and he had a great life in music. May he have a great afterlife.
About the last thing in the world I want to do today is get into a brawl over which orchestra, player, etc. is "the best in the world" at the present time or at another time in history. Especially when past knowledge of those making such declarations has revealed them to be idiots.
There is no such thing as "the best" in music. No best composer, no best singer, no best player, no best ensemble. Not even temporarily.
I will say that, though there are things you can judge by recordings, the LP format with its inherent sound compression and other artificial aspects will distort your experience of what the original sound that was recorded was like. Any claim that the Philadelphia Philharmonic was "the best in the world" is absurd. That would be a claim about, I'd imagine, the Eugene Ormandy era, featuring the famous "Ormandy sound". Ormandy was a competent conductor but like almost all conductors, especially those who cultivate a particular "sound" or style that is bound to work better for some pieces and composers than others.
To illustrate that here's something I'd refused to post in the past, an example of the abomination presented as "Bach's Magnificat" with the full, modern orchestra, featuring said, "Ormandy sound" and the gargantuan Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing in an abysmally unsingable English translation of the Canticle of Mary from the Latin Vulgate.
If you think that's a great recording of one of the greatest works of the Western musical repertoire, well, I can't agree.
Other violence done by the great Ormandy to Bach includes Ormandy's orchestral arrangement of the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, which I can't bring myself to post. It is about the polar opposite of the approach Anton Webern took in his famous analytical arrangement of the Ricercar a 6 from the Musical Offering. I'll post that.
noting that the conductor, Pierre Boulez, another fine conductor, also had his limitations. Music like that is greater than any single interpretation can capture.
I think I might have said that during part of the same period that Ormandy was conducting the Philadelphia, there were many nights I think I'd rather have been listening to the Minnesota Orchestra directed by Stanislaw Skrowaczewski.
I have thought it was a big mistake to place too much hope in any specific special election in a congressional district as an indication that the Republicans were going to pay a price for their fascistic policies stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. The American congressional district as the American legislative district is a thoroughly corrupt entity, drawn from the beginning in an effort to game the elections process to favor whichever party got to do that drawing, it is no shock that a congressional seat in Georgia or South Carolina would go to a Republican because it is Republicans who have rigged the drawing of those districts to favor the results they wanted. In some other places, Democrats have done the same, though I will say never as corruptly, never as deliberately as Republicans have done since the disastrous race in 2010. I think that legacy of Barack Obama and his arrogant team of insiders who thought such considerations beneath them as getting Democrats elected down ticket will be with us a long time.
The neo-Jim Crow policies of disenfranchising Black voters and others who might be more likely to vote for Democrats certainly make it less likely that elections in those places where that has been done also makes it foolish to put much credence in the idea of the predictable power of congressional or local elections.
But there is one thing different about this result in Georgia and elsewhere, it can be asked by reasonable people if the reported results couldn't have been the work of Russians hacking our elections and our politics. I think we are in the period where what we know and what we now know is a rational suspicion, that they have hacked our elections is a common thing. Which can't make democracy any stronger or the participation in people made cynical by such possibilities continuing more likely.
The means of preventing direct hacking of the vote by Putin and his crime syndicate are fairly simple. All ballots cast should be a permanent record, on paper, in a fixed form which in which the voter can clearly indicate who they want to vote for. The ballots so cast could be counted, at first, by a machine reader but should always be preserved in case of a recount and such uses of technology should be periodically checked against an careful and open check of ballots to insure that there has been no tampering with that technology.
Removing all contact between the internet and our elections is an absolute requirement if confidence in our elections system is to be maintained. Any software used in electronic ballot readers should be physically delivered under a secure system and developed through an open process insulated from the internet and the possibility of Russian or other hacking.
But the paper ballot, in a fixed form which is taught to everyone by the time they are 10, through schools, through public information campaigns, for election to the federal offices is an absolute minimum requirement. No election which is not conducted through such secure methods should ever be certified, no person who is elected through any election open to manipulation through the internet or other avenues of known corruption should ever be seated in office. There is a national interest that the people who hold office, good, bad, competent, incompetent, is a result of a legitimate election showing the majority will of who is to represent us. As the disaster of Trump, McConnell, Ryan, throwing our government back to the height of corruption in the 19th century proves, if we're going to have such crooks, psychopaths and scoundrels in office, it should be our fault, not the fault of Putin or their equivalent in international and domestic billionaire oligarchs.
The Trump-McConnell-Ryan government is a product of our elections being corrupted as much as our media being corrupt. Without preventing that corruption, American democracy is dead.
As a fun fact, a "bellweather" is a castrated ram with a bell around its neck who is controlled to steer a flock of sheep in the direction the herder desires. It should not be forgotten that the herder has desires that aren't necessarily in the best interest of the sheep, no matter what dangers he might protect them from in the mean time. Gandhi noted that sheep are regularly fleeced and eaten by their herders.
There have been some objections made to some of the things I said in the several posts concerning the improbabilities of a life permitting universe, the improbability of the origin of life on Earth being a matter of random chance events and related questions such as the improbability of the favorite explanation for so much which atheists assert "natural selection" in all its varied and flexible definitions, some invented to dupe people into thinking an explanation has been made when all they've done is twist the meaning of "natural selection". It is a theory of limitless fecundity in the hands of ideological atheists.
To start with, I have never seen anyone come up with a declaration about the probability of life taking that route as opposed to other proposed explanations for how species came about, how variation in nature came about.
Certainly there could be other streams for life to have taken, as a matter of random chance events. If there aren't then the implications of that, alone, are striking.
I am, though, pretty unconvinced that there is any such thing as natural selection, I think the most probable explanation of it lies in habits of thought which Darwin and Wallace were enculturated into by their having grown up in the wretchedly class saturated, poor-hating hierarchy advancing Great Britain. I think it's worth noting that the proposed earlier inventors of natural selection such as James Hutton, William Charles Wells, and Edward Blyth were, as well, British. I think it is a habit of thought born of people who were advantaged by the very artificial British class system and easily adopted as such by the men and, to a lesser extent, women of that class with their attitudes towards the underclass - the very upper class who ran science and academia and publishing and pretty much everything necessary to promote the British class system as a law of nature.
I would love to see some serious consideration given to a question that has come to interest me more as I've thought about it, how natural selection as an explanation of how things developed as they are now as compared to random chance, itself. Stephen Jay Gould liked to talk about something similar as contingency but he and some others didn't subject natural selection to a test of improbabilities that I've ever found. Even if I believed that natural selection were a real thing instead of a conventionally adopted framing, imposed and maintained largely by convention, ideology and coercion, I would doubt that it as an explanation of why individuals left no or fewer or more offspring (especially based on many of the things artificially isolated so as to be called "traits" for it to work on) would achieve anything like 100% probability in explanatory power. I doubt it would achieve a 1% probability in most cases, if such an estimate could be made. I suspect its probability would be far, far lower than that. In which case, other factors must have been at work in the result that happened, immediately and through time.
One of the Founding Idiocies of Abiogenisis
Specifically, I got a violent objection to this statement:
There is no way for a scientist to demonstrate that those could have formed in that way because every experiment that could be done to prop up a materialist fabulistic narrative of that would be the result of intelligent design. You can't disprove intelligent design through conducting intelligently designed experiments.
It is incredible to me that anyone could object to that. If the answer you are seeking is that something could have happened without the intervention by the design of an intelligent Creator, you cannot ignore that any experiment you design comes to whatever conclusion it comes to through your own intelligence and your own design. You can't leave that fact out of the relevant consideration of the experiment you conduct because your intent made it of the most complete relevance to your effort. You can choose to not mention it or choose to pretend it isn't relevant to your purpose, but it is entirely relevant.
Conducting an experiment to prove that something happened by random-chance instead of by intelligent design can only succeed in proving that you can do something by intelligent design. All experiments are a product of intelligent design, you can't use them to prove something happened by random chance.
It is amazing to me that people who are so conceited about their intelligence could be so stupid as to pretend that isn't part of whatever experiment they design and carry out.
That atheists are still making so much of that experiment that Stanley Miller and Harold Urey carried out about sixty years ago could be proof of the atheist-abiogenisists' desideratum, getting intelligent design out of the problem, does show the limits of intelligence when operated under a strong ideological inclination and emotion. I think that's not unrelated to the first part of this post about why natural selection was adopted and endures.
Their experiments, along with considerable geological, biological, and chemical evidence, lends support to the theory that the first life forms arose spontaneously through naturally occuring chemical reactions.
I was taught that was what Miller and Ury did, it is still, apparently being taught but it is totally nonsensical and obviously untrue as revealed by the minimum of testing of the claim.
It is remarkable to me that science teachers presumably trained in rigorous analysis wouldn't see, immediately that
a. the condition Miller and Urey created in a lab existed nowhere on the Early Earth, they certainly didn't 1. reproduce the conditions under which life arose and 2. THEY DIDN'T CAUSE LIFE TO HAPPEN OUT OF THEIR CHEMICALS.
b. There was nothing natural and everything artificial about their experimental design. The concentrations of the chosen chemicals they started with in their closed vessel, the temperatures, electrical currents, the timing of those, and myriad other factors which are often proposed to reproduce condition on the early Earth do nothing of the sort,
c. even if they could run an experiment that absolutely reproduced the conditions of the early Earth (just which conditions under which life first arose is unknowable and will certainly remain unknown for the rest of human history) any experiment they did would have created the results it did BY INTELLIGENT DESIGN.
What is unintelligent is any continuing claim that an experiment conducted by a scientist, with a specific result as a goal being claimed to have arrived at a conclusion that intelligence was uninvolved in achieving that result.
Oh, I like having it out. When someone objects to something I say I like to go through the reasons I said it. I'd really rather be responding to the Republican-fascists attempts to kick tens of millions of people off of health insurance so they can give billionaires more money, but they haven't revealed their means of committing that atrocity. Stinking Susan Collins is making noises about liking the idea of rolling back on Medicaid knowing full well that the goddamned Republicans in Maine prevented that expansion from going through here, keeping people off of health insurance who even states with Republicans governors, elsewhere helped. That skank is planning on finishing her political career a governor of Maine and the stinking Maine media treating her like a damned Brit Queen gets treated and the idiocy of our multi-party alleged left might just put the piece of crap in the office. Her calculation is how depraved and cruel she can be in Washington so as to please the sociopaths in her party without turning off the "moderate" Republicans and the duped Democrats who might put her into office. She is an amoral careerist, I hope to live long enough to help write the real biography of Susan Collins as a fraud and a scoundrel.
I see no evidence in what you refer me to that Derbes read any of what I wrote on the topic of the origin of life. If he did and he wants to discuss it, I think I can give him a better argument than the light-weight rump at Baby Blue. Perhaps that's why he doesn't want to engage in a real discussion instead of a circle of mutual assent and mutual admiration.
If he wants to assert that his materialism is capacious enough to include some undefined, unevidenced, undescribed bias favoring the formation of life as a purely physical thing, he's doing a very unsciency thing which is unwise if you want to argue for an atheist-materialist origin of the universe and life out of purely random chance events.
First, there is no evidence that there is such a property of the physical universe. None. He is doing what atheists who work in science are at least as ready to do as the religious folk they slam, just making stuff up because it suits their preferred framing. If there is such a physical property it would have to be susceptible to discovery and study by the methods of science in order for it to be reasonably included in the index of respectable ideas among the atheist and sciency, However the list of those things so included without scientific evidence is already a very large one, indeed, running to the quadrillions if not an infinity of universes and entirely unexplained powers of universe creation through the most banal of events. My conclusion from that exercise is that though you can write science fiction with equations as well as with bad prose, fiction is still fictitious.
What Derbes did is just writing himself another promissory note of materialism based on nothing except the emotional necessity arising from not liking that, in the face of the gargantuan improbability of life forming in a life permitting universe, it is a reasonable and logical conclusion that it happened the way it did by the design of God who favors the formation of life and conscious, aware creatures. I suspect it has more to do with anxiety about maintaining the social and career advantages of being an atheist in some circles than anything else.
By the way, among the things that could be added to the improbability hurdles that the preferred atheist creator-god model has to jump over, I haven't even gotten into the probabilities of that happening yet. The probabilities of consciousness evolving or even the evolutionary mechanism of natural selection which atheists claim is the reason consciousness or, since they tend to hate the problems caused by consciousness for materialism, "intelligence" evolved. All of that just adds more of a burden for the atheist-probability-creator-god hypothesis to overcome in explaining the world in which we are individuals having this discussion. It makes perfect sense if you assume that God wanted there to be intelligent creatures having such discussions, it is absurdly improbable that such things as natural selection and consciousness could have, through entirely unexplainable physical events, just happened and, by the way, been sustained. That's my conclusion after dealing with the claims of atheism over the past fifty years.
I notice that as part of his argument he professes a belief that the little squiggly shapes found in Mars meteorites are evidence of life - it would be interesting to know what the percentage of those who find such credible evidence of Mars life in the physical sciences (he's a physics teacher) and those in the far more relevant biological sciences is. That there is not consensus on that point. I do think that people in physics have a habit of reductionistic minimization of the problems involved their assumptions about life which is, or at least should be foreign to those in biology. One of the working research biologists in my family likes to say, "It's not rocket science, it's a hell of a lot harder than rocket science."
If you want to claim that life on Earth arose from invasion by such squigglies that came here on such rocks, as some atheist-abiogenesists have resorted to, a. you have merely changed the location where all of the problems of how life arose by random chance had to have happened, not removed the mounting improbability of it happening here, b. you have added problems of probability based in 1. the likelihood of such life evolving on another, alien environment surviving on the early Earth where it happened to fall*, 2. surviving the trip and entry into the early Earth atmosphere.
I could go on and on pointing out how in the game of creating the probabilistic-creator-god whenever they seem to figure that whenever their model runs into problems all they have to do is invent scenarios and even jillions of universes and other unevidenced entities to get past their problems. But all of those things also create questions of the probability of those occurring as claimed. My favorite is how finely tuned a multi-universe-generating mechanism would have to be, though there is no way to calculate that. I suspect the fine tuning of such a mechanism to produce the claimed multiverse ensemble would have to be proportionally fine tuned to produce the result claimed for it, though, since there is nothing to observe and measure, who knows? One of my first questions about the multiverse stuff was why couldn't there be universes where the math used here to come up with that stuff is radically different or didn't exist. A universe in those jillions or infinities in which probability was not valid? If you're going to come up with whatever universes serve your imaginative purpose, why not? In such a reality, probability, itself, is impeached. Why isn't probability just another feature of reality that has to be accounted for in such speculations? Why not wonder if the probability which seems to be so very potent in our universe might not be a mere product of possibility, not necessity and merely valid in our kind of universe? If we're not allowed to ask such questions of the universe creators, then me calling it the current, favored atheist-creator-god, is a valid analysis.
They are piling up such a huge burden of improbability that any rational person is within their rights to believe what they are claiming is not credible. I think the one and only thing that holds it all together - other than sloppy, corner-cutting thinking - is the insistence that it must be that way because otherwise people will believe in God. Or, rather, that materialist-atheism is unsustainable unless it is that way. I think that has reached a point where their game of piling up improbabilities has become ridiculous and stopped having any legitimate identity as science back in the 19th century. I think it is a game that can be believed only through voluntary intellectual decadence and, yes, the assertion it must be that way out of an atheistic fundamentalism that more than matches the Biblical Fundamentalism that produced Young Earth Creationism. And not all such fundamentalists are Young Earth Creationists. William Jennings Bryan wasn't one, no matter what that movie said.
In my title, I called this piling up an incredible infinity of improbabilities, I meant "incredible" as meaning not believable. I think the game of piling on improbabilities is nonsense based on a faith in the creative power of mathematics or as an ultimate and irrational belief that whatever can be put into the form of an equation must be real or even true. I think it is merely an artifact of the social, professional, financial and economic repute that math and science have, it's a weird kind of cargo cult which the alleged best and brightest and those who aspire to be mistaken as such are particularly susceptible to falling for.
Oh, I can keep piling on problems for the probability of life successfully arising by random, chance events. There's the probability of the first organism just happening to be viable in whatever ambient conditions it arose under instead of being soon or immediately wiped out by what could well have been fatal to a slightly different organism. It just happened to be just right because, if the speculation about a single first organism which I share with just about every atheist-materialist is correct, its line has continued down more than three billion years of evolution.
A merely life permitting universe is of incredibly unlikely probability but an organism, the first organism, just happening to have assembled by random chance events and being viable in just the conditions it came together in is certainly a very lucky shuffle of a very large deck of cards. After a while, with such luck, you have to start wondering if it's not due to luck.
I don't think I've more than started piling on possible factors in trying to figure out the actual improbability of it happening but have just dealt with a few of the more obvious ones. This, like the pseudo-science of abiogenesis is a matter of imagining things instead of observing the one and only thing, that first organism, which is not and certainly never will be available to study in any resolvability answering instead of generating questions about its unique genesis. Trying to do that through generations beginning hundreds of millions of years after that event, who knows how many millions if not hundreds of millions of generations of perhaps evolving life under changing environmental conditions is certainly prone to almost as much speculation.
Interpreting it, was child's play compared to trying to figure out these questions I've been dealing with, there is the statue there to be seen, after all. But what was said about it could have been anything from accurate to totally wrong, in that case telling us more about the academic hacks making the asertions than the people who made the statue. I started by wondering why they all seemed to think a man made it as a thing to get him horny when it could have had many other interpretations, who knows if any of them were what the artist(s) had in mind. Here's my piece on it from Echidne of the Snakes.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Is Anyone Wondering If The 35000 Year Old Statue Is a Self-Portrait? by Anthony McCarthy
A nod to Echidne.
I was going to research this but didn’t need to get farther than the first Google search page that came up.
35000-year-old figure of 'sexually charged' woman unveiled
Obsession with Naked Women Dates Back 35000 Years | LiveScience
Sexy "Venus" may be oldest figurine yet discovered - Yahoo! News
Sexy Figure Sculpture May Be 35000 Yrs Old - ABC News
I haven’t been following this very closely, but has anyone speculated that the sculptor might have been a woman? Or that she might have been making a self portrait? Or that the sculptor might have been making a portrait of her mother? Everything I’ve read or heard seems to take it for granted that it was made by a man, most seem to assume, for erotic reasons.
Other than the location, approximate age and material its made of everything that has been said about this ancient art is mere speculation. We don’t know who made it, why it was made, even if it is part of a cultural tradition. We have no way to know if it was even what they, themselves, would consider their best work. We don’t know if the artist liked their work or if they were considered to be a good artist by their contemporaries. This could be the equivalent of prehistoric kitsch, for all we know. Any remarks about the pattern of cuts along it is likely to be a misinterpretation. Tattoos? Body painting? Cultural cutting? A striped body stocking? Disfigurement by a later hand, perhaps even the woman depicted who just hated it? The earliest known graffiti made fifty years after the artist died?
Like all attempts to recover a lost cultural past, everything being said about its meaning and what it tells us about the person who made it and their presumed culture, tells us only about ourselves. No amount of other “cultural material” from that area and time can tell us much other than if this was a common theme in their culture. Even with a large number of objects, most of what we might want to know is irretrievably lost to us and always will be. We can’t ask them to answer those questions. We shouldn’t pretend we can know what they were thinking. We can’t even recreate their aesthetic sensibility with reference to our own. We can't even know if the artist had a single "message" or "meaning". Maybe if asked they would say that was the viewer's job.
Almost everything I’ve read talks obsessively about the size of the breasts and thighs but no one seems to be very concerned that the head is way too small, or, perhaps, missing. The conclusion someone could draw about the gender of the people making the comments from that is of more certain reliability than any speculations about what the statue meant to whoever made it. The comments made since its discovery are the only record of its meaning we have.
The desire to fill in for information we can’t get seems to be irresistible, especially among scholars who are eager to get into print or interviewed. And if they don't make one up, the "journalist", steeped in the social science assumptions learned in college can be counted on to fill it in. But that’s just story telling, it's not fact. We should stop pretending it means anything.
Update: OK, Let me show you what I mean. Sciency explanations for why the 35,000 year old woman’s head is so small.
#1. The sculptor wasn’t very skilled and didn’t leave enough room for a head that was proportional to the body. You see this all the time when you watch kids drawing. Alternatively, the sculptor had problems depicting proportions.
#2. The sculptor intended that a separate head would fit over what is there, the head was either never attached or got lost
#3. The part of the ivory that was going to be the head broke off when it was dropped and this was the best that could be done with what was left.
#4. The figure was carved by a male breast fetishist who didn’t have much respect for a woman’s intelligence or who just wasn’t a face guy.
#5. The figure is actually a malicious caricature made by a woman of a rival, she was calling her a “pea brain”. Only in her culture that would have been “you have the intelligence of a sloe fruit”.
#6. You can go on making up stories all day if you want to. Just don’t be surprised when someone points out you’re just talking about yourself and not the sculptor when you do.