Wednesday, December 18, 2013

More Fossil Failures: New Mammalian Fossils “Change Everything”

Science Versus Dogma

Earlier this year two different mammalian fossils, discovered in China, have revealed yet more problems for evolution. The problem is that, as with the existing evidence, the new findings point to “radically different,” as one evolutionist admitted, models of the origin of mammals. One of the new fossil findings, as with most of the molecular data, points to a much earlier origin of mammals, going back more than 200 million years ago. The other new finding is closer to the traditional, fossil-based, dating, closer to 150 million years ago.

In other words, the data do not fit the theory. In order to reconcile the conflict, and fit the data to the theory, evolutionists have a wide range of explanatory mechanisms they can draw on. They can say that a trait descended from a common ancestor or that it evolved at some later date, in a particular lineage arising from the common ancestor. They also can say that a trait evolved more than once in multiple lineages arising from the common ancestor—the so-called homoplasies. These explanatory mechanisms alone make the theory highly flexible and allow evolutionists to explain just about any pattern.

The gratuitous use of such explanatory mechanisms makes for a circuitous theory. That is, the theory is augmented with various degrees-of-freedom allowing it to adapt to a wide range of data. As one evolutionist explained, mammalian phylogeny is “complex”—a euphemism that evolutionists use to explain empirical contradictions requiring additional epicycles.

But even this sacrifice of parsimony can’t fix all the contradictions. And so evolutionists must defer the problem to the future. As one evolutionist explained, “With sufficient data, ranging from molecular to morphological, we will eventually reach to a working hypothesis that will have the power to explain how mammals originated.”

But as we have seen many times, this repeated claim that more data will solve evolution’s problems has not fared well in the past. Perhaps this time will be different, but at the very least, what we do know for certain is that today, evolution lacks even a working hypothesis to explain how mammals originated. Nonetheless evolutionists are certain evolution is a fact.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

22 comments:

  1. As usual, Hunter is trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill. Trying to pinpoint the date of the origin more precisely isn't throwing theory of evolution in doubt. Mammals arose somewhere between 150 and 230 million years ago. Given the difficulty in finding fossils, this is a pretty good accuracy.

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    1. “we will eventually reach to a working hypothesis that will have the power to explain how mammals originated.”

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    2. Quote mining, Cornelius? Let's see what the context of the quote is:

      Reconciling the relationships among Megaconus, Arboroharamiya, and other early mammalian species will require additional analyses, said Meng. “With sufficient data, ranging from molecular to morphological, we will eventually reach to a working hypothesis that will have the power to explain how mammals originated,” he said, though he noted that even then, “we may never know whether that explanation reflects the ‘true process’ for origins of mammals.”

      It's not like the guy has no idea about the origins of mammals. He is interested in establishing detailed relationships between the early mammalian taxa.

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    3. Actually it is like evolutionists have little idea about the origins of mammals. Existing models, aside from being unable to reconcile the timing, are extremely qualitative. There is very little detail about how mammals arose, not to mention how or why homoplasies repeatedly appear, or how or why non homologous structures would appear in otherwise related species. This article is merely another example of a complete theoretical failure.

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    4. Complete failure? You are like the Baghdad Bob, Cornelius.

      We have some idea when mammals appeared. We also have some idea about their ancestry. Do we have the complete picture? No. Are the broad outlines in doubt? No.

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    5. So now let me ask you a question, Cornelius. You insist that evolutionists "have little idea about the origins of mammals." What exactly do you mean? Do you mean to say that we don't know that mammals arose at some point between 150 and 230 million years ago? That we have no idea who their ancestors were? No mainstream biologist would agree with you on that.

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    6. 'Given the difficulty in finding fossils...' ! ! ! !

      Wonderful, knockabout stuff, Oleg! Perhaps they should look for something easier to find, whichthey might be able to build a little science around.

      'Well if I wanted to go to Whimpering Chutney, I wouldn't start out from here...'

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    7. Yes, it's not an easy thing, Paul. If Neil Shubin didn't look hard, he wouldn't have found Tiktaalik roseae. Jeering from the sidelines is so much easier.

      One of these activities is called science and the other is not.

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    8. So now let me ask you a question, Cornelius. You insist that evolutionists "have little idea about the origins of mammals." What exactly do you mean? Do you mean to say that we don't know that mammals arose at some point between 150 and 230 million years ago? That we have no idea who their ancestors were?

      Not sure you could get the bar any lower than that. The evidence we have contradicts the theory of mammalian evolution (all of evolution for that matter, but the topic here is mammalian evolution). Evolutionists do not reckon with this. Knowing which mammalian fossils appear when and where in the strata doesn’t help. So no, I am not saying the problem is we don't know that mammals arose at some point between 150 and 230 million years ago, or that we have no idea who their ancestors were. That would be like doubting a geocentrism critic, and asking him if he thinks we don’t know what time the sun rose.

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    9. I suppose that's progress. Of course, the time of the mammals' arrival isn't the only thing we know about their evolution. There are plenty of transitional forms leading from reptiles to mammaliaformes and eventually mammals (therapsids). Would you care to deny that?

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  2. What if any are the gradual intermediates leading to a functional placenta?

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    1. There was an article out the other day saying that over time lizards have gone back and forth from giving 'live birth' to laying eggs. Isn't that interesting?

      Sure sounds like pathways exist within the genome and remain there, ready to be activated when the need arises. That sure doesn't sound like 'evolution.'

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  3. That's the problem with the 'theory' of evolution: it's UNfalsifiable. All the data is interpreted through the presumption that evolution is true and no matter how contradictory the evidence is to the 'theory', it's still considered evidence for it because they don't allow any other theories. It would be laughable if not for the fact students/parents are paying to be enlightened, not to be told the darwinian fairytale.

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  4. It's Christmas time so I would like to keep little tradition here and wish all our atheist friends Happy Festivus

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  5. Thank you for re-enabling comments.
    Oleg, et al, don't realize they are doing ID more good than harm with their ridiculous rant-speak.
    I rarely see Oleg and friends actually address the issues you raise; rather, they just attack you personally: "As usual, Hunter is trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill."
    But as usual, Oleg completely misses the most plainly made points and then really has little to say except that no one knows what they are talking about except Oleg.
    That you allow him to post shows that you open-minded, fair-minded and willing to engage.
    But Oleg and friends perform a VERY useful service; their posts have so little depth that fair-minded readers cannot but conclude that the proofs and arguments of Evolution are extremely weak.
    So, Thank You, Dr. Hunter for your hard work and diligence.

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  6. Oleg,

    Given the amount of erosion that occurs between "150 and 230 million years ago," it is highly speculative to claim that you can lock down the time of the origin of mammals.

    Moreover, on the one hand, we wouldn't expect to find mammal fossils in marine deposits. On the other hand, we have stratigraphic range increases that are astounding if they are as large as claimed, indicating that actual (never mind known) stratigraphic ranges may be due to mega-bias, for all we know.

    The belief that known stratigraphic ranges correlate well with actual stratigraphic ranges and that actual stratigraphic ranges correlate well with existential ranges is nothing more than an over-simplistic assumption that explains nothing about about the macroevolution biologists merely ASSUME occurred in the posited time-frames. As Benton admitted (http://www.academia.edu/450680/Assessing_the_quality_of_the_fossil_record_Insights_from_vertebrates):

    "Abstract

    Assessing the quality of the fossil record is notoriously hard, and many recent attempts have used sampling proxies that can be questioned. For example, counts of geological formations and estimated outcrop areas might not be defensible as reliable sampling proxies: geological formations are units of enormously variable dimensions that depend on rock heterogeneity and fossil content (and so are not independent of the fossil record), and outcrop areas are not always proportional to rock exposure, probably a closer indicator of rock availability. It is shown that in many cases formation counts will always correlate with fossil counts, whatever the degree of sampling. It is not clear, in any case, that these proxies provide a good estimate of what is missing in the gap between the known fossil record and reality; rather they largely explore the gap between known and potential fossil records. Further, using simple, single numerical metrics to correct global-scale raw data, or to model sampling-driven patterns may be premature. There are perhaps four approaches to exploring the incompleteness of the fossil record, (1) regional-scale studies of geological completeness; (2) regional- or clade-scale studies of sampling completeness using comprehensive measures of sampling, such as numbers of localities or specimens or fossil quality; (3) phylogenetic and gap-counting methods; and (4) model-based approaches that compare sampling as one of several explanatory variables with measures of environmental change, singly and in combination. We suggest that palaeontologists, like other scientists, should accept that their data are patchy and incomplete, and use appropriate methods to deal with this issue in each analysis. All that matters is whether the data are adequate for a designated study or not. A single answer to the question of whether the fossil record is driven by macroevolution or megabias is unlikely ever to emerge because of temporal, geographical, and taxonomic variance in the data."

    The existing sediment pile was formed in an utterly trivial portion of the putative historical time-frame. And most of it was deposited in relatively high energy conditions. It is not at all analogous to "normal" observable conditions of sedimentation, etc. Indeed, geologists admit that most of the pile consists of deposits for which, for the most part, there are no modern analogues.

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  7. ... consider, Oleg, the long-lasting problem of ultra-pure sandstones that Dott Batten has worked on :

    "What is the quartz arenite problem? Foremost is the extreme compositional maturity of sandstones composed of more than 95% quartz. Furthermore, the quartz consists almost exclusively of grains of unstrained, single-crystal units. Very rare lithic [rock] fragments consist only of durable polycrystalline quartz types such as chert or vein quartz. In addition, the extremely rare accessory mineral suite (generally <0.05% by weight) is dominated by durable zircon, tourmaline, ilmenite, and leucoxene. Where present, associated conglomerates also consist only of durable clasts of vein quartz, quartzite, or chert. How can we explain the complete disposal of at least 75% of any ultimate parent igneous or metamorphic rock to yield a residue that is at least 95% quartz sand?

    Extreme textural maturity is also characteristic of many, but not all, examples. A high degree of sorting has always been emphasized, with high rounding being common but not universal. Both properties imply much abrasion by one or more of nature’s most physically vigorous processes, such as surf and strong eolian [wind] or aqueous currents. "

    Some of these deposits “extend laterally over vast areas encompassing one or several states."

    It is ludicrous to say we can make inductively plausible inferences about the correlation of known stratigraphic ranges to existential ranges when we are still this ignorant of what we can extrapolate from modern deposits with significant inductive warrant to deposits that have no known modern analogues. For this indicates that we are equally ignorant of the ecological conditions and population densities that existed prior to and during those depositional time-frames. We have no idea how many population bottle-necks, etc, that occurred due to whatever caused such conditions.

    There's nothing wrong with making over-simplistic assumptions for the purpose of testing them IF they are falsifiable. But apart from such corroborated tests, they have no inductive plausibility. When the latter is the case, the whole purpose for positing them is to hold to a naturalistic metaphysics so as to arbitrarily limit academic freedom of expression in class room settings.

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  8. Not sure what you're trying to say, Jeff. Your posts are long but not very informative. Are you doubting the dating methods? They aren't just based on the location of the layers but also on radiometric methods.

    Let me know exactly what you problem is with this.

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  9. The problem of knowing the accuracy of correlating observed stratigraphic ranges to actual stratigraphic ranges and actual stratigraphic ranges to existential ranges exists independent of dating methods. Note that the abstract of Benton's paper that I quoted above doesn't even mention dating methods.

    But it is true that putative time-frames deduced from dating methodology create problems accounting for the sediment distribution. To reconcile the sediment distribution with the putative ages just renders the probability of radical ecological changes, population bottle-necks, etc even more likely. And this in turn renders those large increases of observed stratigraphic ranges unsurprising. For it renders it more likely that bias in preservation (let alone bias caused by erosion, etc) is greater than what would occur from a more uniformitarian (with respect to the hydrological cycle and its averaged effects) past. There may be recent findings to the contrary. But I'm not aware of it if so.

    It is clear that the earth is quite old. What is not clear is that our current view of dating methods is the whole story. We don't even yet know what causes radioactive decay. And we do have good evidence that they are variable depending on conditions (which, after all, is just another way of saying they're caused).

    But again, Benton is on point regardless of the accuracy of dating methods accepted by the consensi.

    But currently-observed stratigraphic ranges, even if they correlate exactly with existential ranges, doesn't imply or give insight to evolution, if evolution is caused. The relative temporal ordering of observed critter fossils is not the same thing as the cause of the origin of the critters.

    And here's the more important point. My post wasn't meant to inform in the sense of increasing our positive knowledge of the geological and biological past and their causes. My post was to explain how little we know currently and what that implies about the speculativeness of inferences about biological/geological causes in the deep past.

    We don't yet know anything from observations of the extant biological world that can be extrapolated to the past in a way that is explanatory of biological history such that we can say UCA is more plausible than SA, or such that we can say UCA is false but there are no more than x SA's, or so on.

    Hence, there is no plausible explanation for the suppression of dissent from particular speculative hypotheses about these things in class room settings other than just bully-boy intolerance. If that's what science has become, then science is just what the suppressors say religion is. And it's no wonder, then, that most philosophers of science have given up on discerning a demarcation criteria for science.

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  10. Jeff: It is clear that the earth is quite old. What is not clear is that our current view of dating methods is the whole story. We don't even yet know what causes radioactive decay. And we do have good evidence that they are variable depending on conditions (which, after all, is just another way of saying they're caused).

    This is nonsense. We do know what causes nuclear decays: tunneling of subatomic particles out of the nucleus. There is a well-developed theory of nuclear decay that agrees with experiments.

    What you mean perhaps is that we can't predict when any particular nucleus will undergo decay. Tunneling is a probabilistic process. But that hardly matters: the law of large numbers ensures that large collections of nuclei will lose a well-known fraction of its nuclei to decay.

    Lastly, nuclear decay rates are determined by the height and width of a potential barrier a particle has to overcome as it leaves the nucleus. This is determined by processes with rather high energies and is therefore completely oblivious to the variations of external conditions existing on earth. You would have to raise the temperature to millions of degrees to affect nuclear decays.

    Jeff: And here's the more important point. My post wasn't meant to inform in the sense of increasing our positive knowledge of the geological and biological past and their causes. My post was to explain how little we know currently and what that implies about the speculativeness of inferences about biological/geological causes in the deep past.

    Perhaps you know very little about biology and geology (physics for sure). That doesn't mean scientists are as ignorant.

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  11. O: What you mean perhaps is that we can't predict when any particular nucleus will undergo decay.

    J: Exactly.

    O: Tunneling is a probabilistic process. But that hardly matters:

    J: We don't know that doesn't matter. We just don't know that it does either. It very well might matter what the real cause is.

    O: You would have to raise the temperature to millions of degrees to affect nuclear decays.

    J: We have evidence to the contrary. It may be experimental error. But that has not been demonstrated to my knowledge.

    O: Perhaps you know very little about biology and geology (physics for sure). That doesn't mean scientists are as ignorant.

    O: "Knowing" physics is not "knowing" truth. There are theories that contradict one another (QT and ER). There are theories that have anomalies (most of them). There are theories that only model statistical results that don't explain anything in terms of physical entities (QT). Theories help us to correlate expectations with events. This is valuable. It doesn't mean we know what's causing the events in any detailed way. And therefore, it doesn't tell us what can be extrapolated into the whole past and future for all conceivable environments. We are always making simplistic assumptions in that sense until we can test things.

    But the averaged of effects of erosion, etc are also physical effects. When one dating method radically disagrees with the expectations of another, sane people have to sit up and take notice of what was different in the past to reconcile the two as plausibly as possible and then take the non-uniformitarian past conditions of THAT reconciliation into account when attempting to plausibly explain other events that depend on those very non-uniformitarian conditions.

    To do otherwise is to disregard the criteria of induction and/or the law of contradiction. And to do either is to abandon any conceivable non-arbitrary demarcation of science. To say that science is MERELY a set of theories that the consensi choose to research is to say that science has nothing to do with the pursuit of truth. For the former doesn't imply the latter.

    Once you demarcate science in a way that is consistent with science being a pursuit of the truth, you have to be a bona-fide nut job to oppose the kind of academic freedom I'm talking about. For to do so is to oppose humans thinking for themselves. It is to prefer that all current non-scientists become brain-dead sheep that follow a dying class of propogandists.

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