Archive for the ‘General Science’ Category

Genetic Entropy Disassembled and Discarded

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

This is a guest post by Dr. J.

Dr. J. is a fellow warrior dedicated to debunking the various creationist bull shit found on Twitter. My thanks go out to him for allowing me to repost his rant. (I wish all rants were this informative)

Go for it Dr. J.

Genetic entropy, a rant

This is written in response to @TamiHoshiyama who (as a creationist with an apparently deeply-rooted anti-evolutionary stance) claims genetic entropy is
A) a thing that genuinely exists
B) responsible for a steady degradation of the human genome, with presumably concomitant effects on human health

As far as I can tell, this stance is selected more or less to support the usual run of “EVOLUTION CAN’T HAPPEN” claims. Aside from the fact that evolution can happen (as we’ve observed multiple instances of random mutations followed by natural selection leading to novel behaviour, substrate utilisation, environmental tolerances and outright generation of novel species), this does pose rather a puzzle from a purely theistic perspective:
1) Humans are too complex and amazing to have evolved, they must be designed
2) Humans are mutating themselves to death because they’re poorly designed

If the argument is that both 1) and 2) are correct, it doesn’t really paint this hypothetical designer in a very good light. Rather than being omnipotent and making perfect creations (a common argument), god instead makes a whole bunch of species that barely hold together for a few thousand years before imploding under cumulative mutational load due to not apparently bothering to design sufficient repair enzymes.

A further note is that a huge number of mutations are due to nucleotide choice: thymidine, for instance, is highly prone to UV-induced crosslinking. Anywhere in the genome where two thymidines are adjacent is vulnerable to thymidine dimer formation. UV hits on thymidine, it crosslinks to the other. These then have to be chopped out and replaced.
With four bases to choose from, getting TT is a 1/16 chance, so in a genome of human size (3×10^9) that’s just over 187 million places to go wrong every second of every day. Repair systems are busy.
Note, incidentally, that uracil provides exactly the same base-pairing properties as thymidine but doesn’t crosslink (A-T pairing and A-U pairing both work): why doesn’t life use uracil in DNA? The answer is because of the OTHER major source of DNA mutations: cytosine deamination.
Cytosine contains an amine group (NH2) which has a tendency to fall off, because hey: thermodynamics. What do you get when cytosine spontaneously deaminates? You get uracil.
If DNA used uracil rather than thymidine, it would be extremely difficult for the repair mechanisms to distinguish between a legitimate uracil and one resulting from cytosine deamination. In a U-G mismatch is the U wrong, or the G?

As it is, the repair mechanism (uracil DNA glycosidase, or UDG) simply scans for any uracils and chops them out to be replaced with cytosine, because that’s a far easier mechanism to develop. It does this millions of times a day, PER CELL.
Repair systems are BUSY.

So on one hand we have a divine creator who deliberately selected a range of nucleotides specifically to be really prone to mutating and necessitating a massive array of repair systems just to stay reasonably intact but apparently not enough to prevent massive eventual mutational collapse of his/her magnificent creation….

….or we have naturally formed early life that, over a billion of so years, evolved a system using the least detrimental combination of nucleotides that can form spontaneously, because that’s all that was available. And since this system cannot prevent mutation, genomes will change. Successive rounds of mutation and selection will produce huge varieties of life, always selecting for “good enough”, because that’s all you really need.

Anyway, on to genetic entropy. (more…)

Gravity Debunked

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Gravity is not a weighty subject!

For many years we have been told by gravitationists that some thing they call gravity is preventing us from flying off the earth and keeping other planets in orbit about the sun. This is plainly, almost self evidently wrong, and I will give arguments towards proof of this presently.

Ever since Newton was struck on the head by an apple and it finally dawned on him that something was keeping him from floating away (1), science has been off on the wrong track. He noticed that the apple did not just fall, but actually accelerated as it dropped (2). This struck him as unusual so he set out to explain why it occurred. He came up with the idea that some outside force must be constantly pushing on the apple to get it to increase its speed as it fell. This outside force would act much as if an intelligence, such as a human, were to take a stationary apple and apply force to it with their hand. The longer the hand pushes the apple the faster the apple will travel (3).

They had to invent a reason for the speed increase they observed in a falling object so they gave gravity the property of strength reduction as distance increases. This means the closer you are to the source the more it pulls on you. Supposedly this force is so strong at 250,000 miles it keeps the moon from flying off into space. This shows incredible strength. Because gravity doesn’t just affect objects close to the ground but affects things hundreds of miles above the ground it will place stresses on your entire body. To avoid the problem of people’s skins being torn off them they had to come up with something that would affect every atom in an object evenly.

Rather than having faith in known properties, they (scientists) decided they needed to design invisible but all-powerful particles called gravitons to explain this phenomena. Apparently these particles rather than pull just at the part of you closest to the source affect every atom in your body (or other object) (4). Of course these obviously designed particles cannot be observed nor measured in any way. Its almost as if they don’t exist, which of course is my point, they don’t. There is absolutely no empirical evidence of either the particle or it effect.

Scientists again missed the obvious, something that was right in front of them all this time and was known and used at the time – electromagnetism.

Let me explain how this works.

Deep in the earth is a large ball of nickel and iron rotating in a sea of molten metal. Why this ball is not melted is a question we will not explore here because it has no bearing on our discussion. The heat to melt the metal comes from radioactivity deep within the earth. This rotating metal causes earth to have a huge magnetic field surrounding it large enough to extend to the Van Allen belt (5). I would explain how this occurs but I feel the math would be too difficult for the common reader to understand; suffice it to say that it occurs exactly as I’ve stated.

If you take a metal object, say a nail, and move it through a magnetic field, electricity will form within the object. Conversely if you send electricity through or around an object it will create a magnetic field. You can even use this property to create electricity in a non-moving object through a property called inductance. Take two wires, lay the side by side and send electricity through one of them. You can then measure the electricity produced in the other wire. (6)

We know that a magnet has two poles, a positive pole and a negative pole. There is a very strong attractive force between opposite poles of a magnet. Hold the opposite poles of two magnets together and you will observe this force in action. We also know that electricity creates charged ions that are positive if an electron is gained or negative if an electron is lost. These opposites also have an attraction for each other. To test this take a balloon and rub it on your hair, then place it on the ceiling of your home (7). The reason it sticks there is that you exchanged electrons with the balloon and the balloon became charged. The positive electrons in the balloon ‘stick’ to the negative electrons in the ceiling material.

By now you can see where I am going with this and have come to the same intuitive conclusion that I have, the two properties of electromagnetism, electricity and magnetism, are what is holding us to this earth. As we walk or move in any way, we build up either an electrical charge or a magnetic field in our bodies. These fields are then pulled toward the earth by its massive magnetic field and electrical charge. Since our feet move faster than the rest of us they build up the majority of the field so that we don’t need to have every portion of our body affected by the field. Just our feet stick. For those objects unable to move, the wind moves fast enough to cause inductance in those objects so they too are pulled to earth. Unlike gravitons this explanation is easily observed and measured, we know they exist. Gravitons are just suppositions and inventions of a group of hardheaded gravitationists (8).

You see there is no reason to invent scientific particles called gravitons to explain why we don’t just float away, we just need to have faith in our god given reasoning power and trust in the obvious explanation. Although the majority of people will find this explanation more satisfying than the scientist’s explanation and will agree with me, there will be some hard-core gravitationists who will try to deceptively prove me wrong. They will use underhanded tactics like facts, reason, and evidence. Stay strong in your faith that the obvious is the correct answer and don’t be swayed by evidence to the contrary. As in all things, the majority determines truth and since we are the majority we will win.

As always any donations to the cause can be made through my website. We must continue the fight.

(1) I guess some scientists need to be smacked on the head before they will see the obvious.
(2) He must have been able to tell by weighing the apple and measuring the size of the bump on his head
(3) This becomes clearer if we use an object much harder to push, such as a car. Assuming we are strong enough to push the car, as we push, the car will start out slowly and pick up speed until the speed matches the force of our push less the drag of the car (determined by the friction of wheels and bearings).
(4) This is of course why they had to be designed too small to be observed, if not everything would have tiny little holes in it, including us.
(5) A belt of radiation (high energy protons) the earth wears above the equator at about 4000 miles from sea level.
(6) You’ll notice electricity and magnetism can be measured, unlike gravitons.
(7) This is more dramatically demonstrated if you rub the balloon on a cat and then stick the cat on the ceiling. Don’t worry about it falling it will always land on its feet.
(8) Gravitationists are a small but vocal group of scientists that have made a religion out of gravity called gravitism. Because of their intense beliefs it is impossible to change their minds. Don’t even attempt it, in fact stay completely away from them lest they try to brain wash you into disbelieving our science.

How Evolution Supports Non-reproductive Members in Homo sapiens

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

It’s all about numbers.

Specific genes, and the traits that come with those genes spread through a population through an increased number of surviving offspring. Those genes which give an advantage to a specific individual, or group of related individuals, will eventually become distributed through the population becoming the rule rather than the exception.

Let’s create a little example. Because the selection processes have changed somewhat for Homo sapiens, becoming less obvious through our use of technology, we’ll use a pre-technological community.

Start with a population of 10 people, 5 males, 5 females who pair off into 5 sets of parents.

Let’s say the average survivability of offspring, that is the likelihood a child will grow into an adult capable of reproducing, is 50%, mostly due to circumstance and chance.

However, we have one pair who because both members have a specific gene, the survivability of their offspring is 80%. In the community, 40% of the members have the gene. It doesn’t matter for our little exercise what the gene does, it could make them immune to a common disease, it could give them better eyesight, or increased stamina, or something else. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s a recessive gene that increases the chances offspring will survive long enough to have offspring of their own.

In this community, the average number of offspring born is 5. Obviously some families will have more and some will have fewer but it simplifies the example if all families have the same number of children born.

We start with 40% of the initial 10 members of the population with the gene.

Family A (1 has gene) has 5 children, 3 live to reproductive age, 2 inherit the gene.

Family B has 5 children, 2 live to reproductive age, 0 inherit the gene.

Family C has 5 children, 3 live to reproductive age, 0 inherit the gene.

Family D (1 has gene)  has 5 children, 2 live to reproductive age, 1 inherits the gene.

Family F has 5 (2 have gene) children, 4 live to reproductive age, 3 inherit the gene.

We now have 14 reproductive age adults. Six of them have inherited the gene so we’re up to 43% of members with the gene.

From that we get seven families, two with both parents having the gene.

Family A (1 has gene) has 5 children, 3 live to reproductive age, 1 has the gene.

Family B has 5 children, 2 live to reproductive age, 0 have the gene.

Family C (1 has gene) has 5 children, 3 live to reproductive age, 2 have the gene.

Family D has 5 children, 2 live to reproductive age, 0 has the gene.

Family E has 5 children, 2 live to reproductive age, 0 has the gene.

Family F (2 have gene) has 5 children, 4 live to reproductive age, 3 have the gene.

Family G (2 have gene) has 5 children, 4 live to reproductive age, 3 have the gene.

We have 20 adults, 9 have the gene. We’re up to 45%.

It becomes pretty obvious that increasing the number of offspring with the gene reaching reproductive age will also give the gene itself a higher survivability.

If we change the benefit from the offspring themselves to the offspring’s support system – parents, grandparents, great grandparents – that increased survivability doesn’t change for either the offspring or the gene itself.

If the gene increases the productive years of parents so that they become grandparents, even though they themselves are past the age of reproduction, it will enable them to spend more time caring for the offspring, increasing the likelihood those offspring will reach reproductive age.

The very act of increasing the number of active care-givers will result in the gene remaining and increasing in the population.

Having a small percentage of non-reproducing adults who can contribute to offspring survivability may stabilize the percentage of a gene within a population assuming the non-reproductivity is related to the gene (or the developmental environment) and the benefit of the extra care outweighs the costs of having fewer members participating in reproduction.

This can also be applied to non-reproductive homosexual members. Homosexual members can still provide protection, food and support to their nephews and nieces carrying the gene, giving them a better chance of reaching adulthood.

The idea that homosexuality will result in a population dying out, or will result in the gene for homosexual preferences dying out is not based on how genetics works or on a larger scale how selection works.

That said, in the pre-technological population we’re using for the example, the percent of homosexuals in the community is self regulating because eventually the costs of having non-reproductive members will exceed the benefit of having extra care givers.

 

 

The Magic of Homeopathy

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

Homeopathy, roughly stated, is an alternative to evidence based health care based on a couple of radical assumptions. The first being the idea that like cures like. This is the idea that treating a health condition identified by specific symptoms with a solution of water and a compound that produces similar symptoms will cure the original condition.

This not only views the symptoms as more important than the cause, it erroneously assumes that the compound will somehow cause the body to react to the original condition simply because the symptoms are similar.

The second assumption is that the potency of the solution is made more effective by using a specific series of preparatory steps. One of those steps is diluting the solution so that very little if any of the compound can be found in a typical dose. Hardly a reasonable assumption to make.

The process goes something like this – the solution is prepared as a specific ratio of water and compound. The preparation is then succussed, a process of shaking the solution by striking it up against another object. After this magical incantation like treatment is done, the solution is diluted one hundred times.  The entire process of succussion and dilution is repeated up to thirty times leaving a molecule or two, or none, of the original compound in each dose.

There is no physics that will explain how pure water containing one or two molecules of a compound is more potent than the compound at full strength. It’s ridiculous.

If what proponents for homeopathy say was true, manufacturers of spirits, liqueurs,  wines and beers would simply have to make a single batch, succuss it, then dilute it and we could all get drunk just by licking a bottle cap.

 

 

The Use of Observation in Science.

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

We’ve all heard it, the claim that evolution isn’t science because it isn’t observable. Of course this is just an extremely narrow and convenient definition of science used by members of the creationist community to assure them their belief system isn’t threatened. It’s pretty obvious from the context that this claim is saying that if the evolution of one kind (not species) into another isn’t directly observable it isn’t a scientific theory. The idea that phenomena have to be directly observable to be a part of science seems to be limited to only those sciences that are a threat to theistic worldviews.

Contrary to what creationists want us to believe, there are several different forms of observation available to us. I like to break scientific observation into three categories. Sensory observation where an event, state or object is directly observable by human senses. Measurable observation where the phenomenon is indirectly observable through the use of tools. Trace observation is the observation of changes in an distinct and separate event, state or object caused by the phenomenon we are investigating.

Creationists will frequently mention gravity as an event that is directly observable so it fits into their narrow definition of science. To them the observation proves the science of gravity. However what they are doing is conflating the observable event and the explanation for the event we get from science.

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