Monday, 30 April 2012

worth reblogging: phineas gage exaggerations

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

facebook discussion on an urban legend

I saw a post in which an apparent professor and apparently Einstein himself debate faith, and Einstein stands up for faith by arguing that science takes things on faith. I have not seen any credible reference for this story, so I am fairly certain it is a mere urban legend. Here's my response to it:


John Ostrowick The first response that comes to mind is that I doubt this is really Einstein. It's fairly clear if you read his later works that he's an atheist. His conception of God is a universalist kind of admiration of the laws of science. As for the "faith" in cold and so on, no. These are english terms which denote a subjective experiencing, as with vacuum and darkness. Science does not in all seriousness recognise: suck/vacuum, darkness, or cold. It describes absolutes as follows: matter density - where the latter is approximately zero, we call it vacuum; cold: when temperature reaches -273C and there is no more molecular movement, dark, when there is no presence of EM fields. It's straightforward; do not confuse our english popular psychology terms with scientific facts. This professor was too easily stumped. As for the question of the verifiabiltiy of the professor's brain - well, that can be verified by the scientific method under surgery. What can't be verify is that the professor has a mind or thoughts; we infer these from his behaviours. The project of artificial intelligence, put forward by Alan Turing, is to try and dispense with this problem behaviouristically; if a computer behaves exactly, indistinguishably, from an intelligent person, it has a mind. Of course, there is a massive literature in the academe around this. Descartes first raised the problem by stating that we can't be sure anything exists -the problem shown in the film "The Matrix". It's a long standing problem known as solipsism, and it has a further problem of the problem of other minds. We only infer people around us exist and have minds, we don't know, per se. But science doesn't claim to know; it offers hypotheses and verification methods, which give probabilities to various hypotheses, otherwise known as theories. As for the theory of evolution, it has been observed in bacteria, and there are plenty of transitional species which demonstrate intermediary stages. Lastly, no self-respecting scientist will claim we descend from apes; we share a common ancestor with them. This series of posts is so drastically ignorant I cannot believe it was Einstein or an actual professor.
2 hours ago · Like · 1
David Bowman Just what i was looking for !
2 hours ago · Like
Simon Troost van Heinenoord III The fact is that 'evolution' does not only not exist in bacteria, it doesn't exist at all. As for 'transitional species', all your statements John are made-up beliefs, unless you come up with facts.
2 hours ago · Like
Simon Troost van Heinenoord III Another funny fact is that almost everyone knows about Einstein and nobody knows about this particular 'professor' with his senseless manupalitive questions in which he proves to be fully ignorant about Einsteins Jewish background. All in all it is a perfect demonstration of anti-semitic tendencies in the Western world of which Descartes indeed was a dominant part of.
2 hours ago · Like
John Ostrowick note how there's no reference in the article to the source of the reportage. note how the professor in the dialogue is not identified by name. this is why it is very obviously an urban legend written by a christian.
43 minutes ago · Like
John Ostrowick come now -
33 minutes ago · Like
John Ostrowick and. ...

evolution in bacteria - Google Search

32 minutes ago · Like ·
John Ostrowick do you not know how to use google, or do you only read sites that support your view?
32 minutes ago · Like
John Ostrowick simple example of evolution in bacteria: google XDR-TB. It's a version of tuberculosis that has become drug resistant. how? By God's design or by genetic mutation aka evolution?
30 minutes ago · Like
John Ostrowick as for "antisemitic" I don't see that in the argument at all, or in Descartes at all. Don't forget the "God" of the christians is the Jewish Jahweh.
28 minutes ago · Like
Phoenix Steel i wrestled a bear once
26 minutes ago · Unlike · 1
John Ostrowick I honestly don't know why people are so worried about evolution, what it means, etc. It's simply the theory (scientific theory, ie not a guess) - that if an organism possesses life-promoting features achieved by genetic inheritance or mutation, that organism will most likely reproduce as a result of surviving to reproductive age. It's really got nothing magical in it at all; it's just obviously true that if you possess life-promoting features and no major mishaps befall you, that you'll likely reach reproductive age as a result of those features (eg being able to walk, eat, etc).
25 minutes ago · Like
John Ostrowick simple example of evolution in action: white lions and tan lions. tan lions are much more common because they're harder for their prey to see in the tan grasslands of the savannah. white lions are easier to see, ergo they don't proliferate because they find hunting etc harder. that is the kind of logic evolution involves. not hard at all
24 minutes ago · Like
John Ostrowick other examples: vestigial limbs in whales and snakes, pacific leaping blenny, mudskipper, hoatzin - bird with infant stage claws on its wings. Etc. Plenty of transitional species.
22 minutes ago · Like
John Ostrowick embryology: notochords and gills in human and other vertebrate enbryos.. what? by design? or atavistic vestiges?
18 minutes ago · Like
John Ostrowick DNA: human/chimp DNA is approx 99% identical. Coincidence?
3 hours ago · Like

John Ostrowick Thanks Frank.
3 hours ago · Like

John Ostrowick Sigh... sorry for going on and on people. Re evolution in microorganisms. Why is it that despite getting immunised with a flu injection every year, we still get flu the next year? Is it because immunisation doesn't work? If so, why did it work for smallpox? The reason is that flu mutates often. IE it evolves.
3 hours ago · Like · 2

John Ostrowick ‎..... annnnndd... just to finish it off.... while I'm in rant mode...

Random Ramblings: how to do proper online research
On this page I list common errors people make in doing online research, that is,...See More
3 hours ago · Like · 1 ·

Ivy Bedworth The laryngeal nerve in giraffes is another example of evolution, i.e. evidence that the giraffe's ancestor had a short neck. Why would a designer send that nerve all the way there and back again? And the flu virus is an excellent example of evolution.
3 hours ago · Like

John Ostrowick another example - giraffes, quetzalcoatluses, and humans, all have seven neck vertebrae - regardless of neck length. Coincidence? nope. Evolution. If it were "designed", surely the long-necked things would have more vertebrae?
about an hour ago · Like

John Ostrowick Coccyx in humans = vestigial tail, yada yada.
about an hour ago · Like

Simon Troost van Heinenoord III
It seems you do not understand the meaning of evolution as development from less complex into more complex species driven by mutations and natural selection only. All examples mentioned above don't fit the definition and are therefore mere ...See More
about an hour ago · Like

David Bowman adaptations = mutation = evolutionary process. But I understand what you are trying to get at Simon but evolutionary theory does not rely on faith, it is based in evidence as pre-mentioned.
about an hour ago · Unlike · 1

John Ostrowick simon I have no idea where you got the idea from that I don't understand. My examples fit your description perfect.y
33 minutes ago · Like

John Ostrowick As for what christians believe - I suggest you ask them.
33 minutes ago · Like · 1

John Ostrowick Simon, let me just quickly point out that my undergraduate degree was in sciences, particularly biochemistry, biology, zoology, organic chemistry, physics and math. My PhD is in philosophy of science. So I believe I do understand what 'evolution' means. I don't know what your background is, but it seems to me that you're looking for something that you cannot ever hope to see. It seems to me that what you're asking for is to see something evolve before your eyes from one species to another. That's not how it works. A single genetic mutation is not really going to be enough to cause speciation. This is why it will take several mutations. Think of the case of heredity - where you inherit some of your mother's traits and some of your father's. Those involve hundreds or thousands of mutations - yet you remain human. So it must take a much larger series of changes to change species (ie into a creature which cannot breed with its original parent species any more).
3 minutes ago · Like

John Ostrowick The point of my examples is that only the theory of evolution can explain the observed features of the living world; whales with embedded back legs, for example. The alternative "explanation" - that of divine design, does not make sense, and would not predict such atavisms. Divine design would predict perfect beings without atavisms, and without any obvious familial relationships - such as the similarities between Archaeopteryx and Hoatzin, or humans and apes. We'd not expect massive genetic similarity, or gills in foetuses, under the 'divine design' hypothesis, but we do expect them under the theory of evolution. This is a predictive/conjecture and evidence kind of confirmation model. So, we make a theory (creationism or evolution), and we use it to predict what kind of evidence we will see in the world. The evidence we see ties up better with what evolution predicts (atavisms, mutations, familial relationships), rather than what creationism would predict (unique unrelated creatures). The only sensible move for a creationist is to support Deism or guided evolution.


Ankur Ravinarayana Chakravarthy Oh dear, not this tripe again.

[1] Einstein was Jewish and not a Christian, and held deistic and not theistic views, and ergo the whole anecdote is codswallop (aka lying for jebus).


The whole "heat is the absence of cold" line of argument is also piffle. They are secondary qualities that describe a single thing, heat, just like good and evil are descriptions of a single thing: actions.

Analogy fail there.

[3] In the case of the professor, even if we assumed there was no evidence for his having a brain, it would still be a testable question. The existence of deities of whatever flavour is not. Also, empiricism doesn't make claims of absolute truth, theology often does.