email - May 2016

Sam the Parrot

Sam just repeats what other people say.

Regular readers seem to enjoy reading Sam’s emails, and we print them because they are so typical of what evolutionists say. He wrote this in response to our March newsletter:

Never any "Science for Creation." Isn't that odd? Is that an admission that your flaky bible-nonsense beliefs have no basis in reality?

It isn't odd, or any such admission.  We never write about "Science for Art", either. Art isn't based on science; but art certainly is real. Our website is devoted to evolution, so we don’t write much about art or religion.

We responded, “I'm glad to know you are still reading the newsletter, and still unable to find any errors!” to provoke another response from him.

He replied,

And I am amused that you still possess the arrogant certainty of one suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect.  That I do not waste my time debunking your non-expert assertions does not mean that I do not find errors.  There are many that have been documented:
http://all-too-common-dissent.blogspot.com/2006/01/more-software-engineer-genetics-from-r.html
http://all-too-common-dissent.blogspot.com/2006/01/pogge-on-chimp-human-differences.html
Plus, so few people read your garbage that my time is better spent debunking the lies of creationists that have a wider readership. Those that read your crap are also too stupid to understand how little they understand.

Yes, there certainly are other websites with more readers. Why does he waste his time insulting us (and you) almost every month?

In all his many emails to us, he has never written an original thought. In this case, he simply says that 10 years ago a blogger, who calls himself “Doppelganger,” said we are wrong, so we must be wrong. Even his Dunning-Kruger comment came from Doppelganger’s blog.

Since Sam thinks Doppelganger’s arguments are so compelling, let’s look at them.

Chimp and Human Differences.

Please take a moment to go back and read “Chimps are Like Us1 before reading Doppelganger’s response. 2

Doppelganger correctly recognized that it is rude, demeaning, insulting, and offensive to say there is only 4% difference between Eugenie C. Scott (a prominent evolutionist) and a chimpanzee. We agree! What he failed to recognize is that we don’t say that—evolutionists say that! Evolutionists claim there is only 4% difference between her and a chimp, and that a precisely calculated, small difference is proof of evolution.

We don’t want to get into an endless cycle of ‘Tis-so-‘Tis-not-‘Tis-so-‘Tis-not arguments typical of Internet blogs, so we won’t rehash what has already been written. Let’s just summarize our two main points.

  1. It isn’t possible to exactly quantify the amount of similarity between apes and humans.
  2. 1) Similarity (no matter how great it is, no matter how accurately it can be quantified) could just as possibly be the result of common ancestry as common design, and there is no way to tell which.

Doppelganger’s response suggests three possibilities:

  1. We failed to express our position clearly.
  2. We expressed our position clearly, but Doppelganger was too stupid to get it.
  3. We expressed our position clearly, Doppelganger realized it was correct, and he tried to distort it to make it appear incorrect.

There is nothing we can do about the last two possibilities, but we should address the first one.

Rather than just assert without proof, “It isn’t possible to exactly quantify the amount of similarity between apes and humans,” we gave examples (from the professional, peer-reviewed literature) of the different ways in which the similarity between apes and humans has been measured, and the different values those methods produced. We didn’t mean to imply that any of those methods were wrong. We just pointed out that they all gave different results depending upon what was measured and how it was measured.

You have probably heard the story about the five blind men who had never seen an elephant, and went to the zoo to touch one and find out what it is like. The first man touched its trunk and said that an elephant is like a really fat, strong snake. The second man grabbed it by the tail and said it was more like a flimsy rope. The third blind man reached around one of its legs and said an elephant was more like a tree. The fourth man felt the elephant’s side and declared it to be like a wall. The fifth blind man felt the elephant’s ear and argued that an elephant is like a pancake. None of those blind men were wrong. They were simply assessing different parts of the elephant and came to different correct (but contradictory) conclusions.

Different genetic analysis methods produce different results. That’s all there is to it. You can’t just pick one and say that’s the correct difference.

Doppelganger’s rebuttal was irrelevant because it didn’t address the point we were trying to make. He simply distracted from the main point by falsely claiming that we said the different ways of measuring similarity were invalid. We agree that all those different, contradictory methods are valid ways to measure similarity. We didn’t mean to imply that they weren’t valid or properly done.

His rebuttal was a clever debating trick. He tried to make it appear that we were claiming none of the methods were valid, and argued that those methods are valid, in an attempt to distract readers from the main point, which we will state again for emphasis: Similarity can be the result of common design or common ancestry, and being able to quantify exactly how much (or how little) difference there is does not prove one or the other. If the evolutionary argument is that exactly X% difference proves common ancestry, what does it mean if another method proves there is exactly Y% difference?

To prove us wrong, Doppelganger would have to prove that the acknowledged similarity could not possibly have been the result of common design—it had to be the result of common ancestry. He did not do that.

Artistic Similarities

If you go to an art museum and look at several Monet paintings, you can’t help noticing a distinctive similarity in style. His paintings are similar because they are the “children” of a common “ancestor”, Claude Monet. But just because two paintings exhibit characteristics of the French Impressionist style, it isn’t proof that both were painted by Monet. Some other painters intentionally copy Monet’s style because they appreciate it and want to emulate it. Some unscrupulous painters copy his style because they want to sell forgeries. It is also possible that there might be an artist who has never seen a painting by Monet who just happened to develop a style very similar to his. Paintings that look like they were painted by Monet weren’t necessarily painted by Monet.

Occasionally there are copyright infringement suits when a song is very much like a previous song by another artist. Did the second songwriter intentionally copy the first songwriter’s song? Did he copy it subconsciously? Did it just turn out to be similar by accident? You can’t tell by similarity alone. You have to prove that the second songwriter had heard the first song and copied it in order to get a conviction.

The point that we are trying to make, and perhaps have been too redundant in making, is that similarity doesn’t prove common ancestry or common design. The creationists’ claim that all living things must have a common designer because they are so similar is no more (and no less) valid than the evolutionists’ claim that all living things must have had a common ancestor because they are so similar. You need some additional evidence to prove the reason for the similarity, and we don’t know of any.

The Origin of Information

The second blog Sam cited was Doppelganger’s response 3 to one of our articles on the origin of information. 4

We have repeatedly said that arguments should be evaluated on their own merit—not the reputation of the person making the argument. Doppelganger says he should be believed because he is a biologist and I am not. Therefore, what he says has more credibility simply because he is the one saying it. So, let’s examine his argument, specifically the claim that the background and experience of the presenter is more important than the data presented.

It’s true, I’m not a biologist.

The preceding facts have been presented simply to establish the fact that I spent decades extracting information from the surroundings, encoding information, transmitting information, and decoding information. I didn’t just think about how that might be done. I actually built things which worked, proving that I understand the fundamental principles about information.

Doppelganger’s argument is that because he is a biologist, he knows more than I possibly could about how information arose spontaneously, was encoded in the DNA molecule to be transmitted to offspring, and later decoded by cells to produce the creature specified by the information in the DNA. He’s thought so much about it, he has never had to actually do experiments to prove he is right.

We disagree with Doppelganger for two reasons:

  1. We don’t believe that the background of the person presenting the evidence is more important than the evidence itself.
  2. Our background in information processing is better than Doppelganger’s, anyway.

Our approach is to present what we believe and why we believe it. Then we encourage you to evaluate the evidence and come to your own conclusion.

Doppelganger’s approach is to try to convince you to believe something because he says it is true. He makes personal attacks in an attempt to destroy the credibility of his opponent. Because his argument is based on his credibility, you should read the other articles posted on his blog (http://all-too-common-dissent.blogspot.com/) and decide if you think he is credible or not.

It’s Your Decision

Read what we have written about the similarity between apes and humans, and then read what he says we wrote about that similarity. Did he seem to understand what we wrote and honestly address the factual points we made? Did he seem to twist what we wrote into something we didn’t say just to try to refute it?

Did Doppelganger present a compelling argument that information can arise spontaneously through duplication of existing information and random changes?

On the other hand, are we mischaracterizing Doppelganger’s rebuttals? Are we falsely accusing him of basing his arguments on distortions and personal attacks? Please read what we have both written and come to your own conclusion.

It doesn’t matter WHO is right. It matters WHAT is right, regardless of who says it. You may conclude we are right about some things, and he is right about other things. That’s fair enough. We just want you to become informed about the evidence for and against the theory of evolution and judge the evidence honestly for you yourself.

Don’t Be a Parrot

We didn’t call Sam a parrot to insult him. We wanted to come up with a memorable way to make this point: Sam is just repeating what he heard without knowing what it means, just like a parrot. If Sam had understood our articles, and understood Doppelganger’s rebuttal, he would have been able to explain, in his own words, why he thinks we are wrong and Doppelganger is right.

There are lots of creationist parrots, too. We have heard far too many creationists repeating things they have heard from Answers in Genesis or the Institute for Creation Research who don’t have a clue what they are talking about.

We don’t want you to be a parrot. We want you to be a rational human being. Study the facts for yourself. Then you can explain why you believe in creation or evolution in your own words.

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Footnotes:

1 Disclosure, October 2006, “Chimps are Like Us”, http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v10i1f.htm
2 Doppelganger, January 11, 2006, “Pogge on Chimp-Human Differences”, http://all-too-common-dissent.blogspot.com/2006/01/pogge-on-chimp-human-differences.html
3 Doppelganger, January 31, 2006, “More software engineer genetics from R. David Pogge”,http://all-too-common-dissent.blogspot.com/2006/01/more-software-engineer-genetics-from-r.html
4 Disclosure, October 2005, “Gene Duplicatioioion”, http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v10i1e.htm