Comments to a Science denier on the question Did various vertebrates evolve from a common ancestor?

Reply to Did various vertebrates evolve from a common ancestor?

[ 19/May/21 S Alrich wrote … “There is no reason based on observations to suggest vertebrates of different kinds are related” …]

This is simply ignorant nonsense, and ignores all of biochemistry.

[followed by 20/May/2021 “All we have ever observed was micro orgasms, animals and plants producing offspring of the same kind. It is thus speculation to claim common ancestry of different kind of orgasms that can’t interbreed”]

Actually that is wrong.

If you look closely at your children, they are all different.

If you look closely at populations that have been isolated from each other for periods of time, they are different. Someone whose ancestors all came from a particular valley in Papua New Guinea will look very different from someone whose ancestors have lived in a high valley in the Himalayas for generations (as one example).

What we call “same kind” is an indication of the level of observation we apply to a situation. If you actually spend the time to become familiar with micro-organisms at the level of detail of their chemistry, then they show variability just like our children do (of different kinds and degrees of course). The idea of “kind” is a simplification applied by the human brain.

Offspring can usually interbreed with others nearby, and sometimes not (very rarely).

There is one very well characterised population of gulls that in England occur as two species, but if you track them around the globe, the populations of one of them, going west to east can interbreed, but by the time you get all the way around the world and back to England, they are sufficiently different that they no longer interbreed there. They are a new species there.

That process can actually be observed, if you are interested in observing it.

Thus all the claims made are claims of ignorance.

They are simply wrong.

It is understandable that many people believe such claims, because it is hard to give up the security of the dogma of truth (any truth) and stand in uncertainty and do the hard work to make assessments to establish enough reliability to be able to say that it seems very unlikely that some of the old truths have any real correlation to reality.

As human beings, most of us have brains that are strongly genetically biased for social agreement over any sort of independent assessment of reality.

I am atypical in that respect.

I am autistic.

My brain does not have those genetic biases for social agreement.

I am capable of holding opinions based on evidence without any agreement from any other people, and have been doing so for 60 some years.

So while I understand that many people prefer the agreement of community over doing the work to check out the detail of claims, I am not one of those.

I have some 60 years of detailed observation and analysis of biological and social systems without any need for social agreement, and the modern synthesis of evolutionary biology (which is a deeply complex set of systems and strategies that have emerged from the simple beginnings of a suite of ideas that Darwin wrote about in On the origin of Species) is just so obviously real to me, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that it is hard for me to appreciate just how strong those biases for social agreement in many brains must be for someone like you to have written what you wrote, clearly ignorant of the facts, yet so certain in that ignorance; yet obviously such must in fact be the case.

[followed by]

How many thousand hours have you personally spent observing and analysing bacteria?

Given that you wrote Steph bacteria, I strongly suspect the answer is 0. (Staphylococcus aureus is the most dangerous of the common bacteria, and one I have spent quite a few hundred hours working with in laboratory conditions.)

You are arguing from ignorance and prejudice, willfully continued.

It is not me “imagining”, I write from years of experience and observation and analysis and consideration in detail of a wide range of alternative explanations against vast sets of evidence. The probabilities I use are firmly based in evidence (not in words translated multiple times that were not even written down in the original language they were spoken in, but only in a foreign language a generation later).

[Followed by 21 May 21]

What I have seen is variability at the level of the individual. Always. No two anythings are ever exactly the same if you look closely enough. They can be very similar, but that isn’t the same thing.

What I can imagine is that given some mechanism for isolation between two populations (like two islands), and sufficiently different conditions in those environments for long enough, then the two populations would, over a long enough time, become sufficiently different (as a result of different variations surviving better in the different conditions) that when they did get back together, that they would no longer interbreed in practice.

We can see that with lions and tigers right now. They are perfectly capable of interbreeding (the offspring are fertile, like most dog breeds), but in practice they do not, so we recognise them as two different species.

If you take the time to understand quantum mechanics, and chemistry, and you see how DNA and RNA actually work inside cells, then the evidence is in fact overwhelming.

I know of nobody who has actually done that work who does not accept the reality of evolution. Only the ignorant like yourself who have no interest in doing the work, and prefer the arrogance of righteous ignorance to hard work.

[Followed by 21 May 21 “And I just asked you to stop confusing adaptation within the Kind as meaning one Kind can become another Kind.”]

Is a lion a different kind from a tiger?

[Followed by 21 May 21 …”Can horses produce offspring with zebras… yes they are the same kind. (But not with elephants)”…]

So if this is your definition of kind, why do lions and tigers look so different, yet you say they are the same kind?

What mechanism accounts for that difference within the kind?

[Followed by 21 May 21 “There are several possible “mechanisms”
The point is: “micro evolution” (variations within the same kind) is science the rest is speculation”]

So now you accept that evolution can change a coyote to a wolf and a wolf to a dog. It can change a cat into a lynx or a lion or a tiger, it can change a donkey to a horse or a zebra; but those are all allowed because they are the same kinds, and those changes happened relatively recently (the last few million years). But the changes that clearly happened further back in time, that produced all the difference in what you now call “kinds”, those changes couldn’t possibly have happened because that was too long ago.

Is that now your argument?

And, by the way, there are vast volumes of genetic evidence for those changes having happened in the deep past, and for the probable sequences in which they happened; and it is complex, with many different sorts of changes, Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, insertions, deletions, transpositions, etc; so one has to use probabilities over large samples to build reliable pictures.

Your argument is without basis in reality.

Evolution is real.

The evidence for it is beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt for anyone actually prepared to look.

Accept it.

If you want to say something about it, then actually examine the evidence, don’t just speak from ignorance.

[Followed by 21 May 21 “Cats are not related to dogs, that is common sense.
Evolution is a lie”]

Cats are related to dogs in exactly the same way as wolves are related to dogs, just further back in time.

Evolution is a fact.

Open your eyes and your mind.

There are many valuable lessons in the bible, but the creation myths are not among them.

[Followed by 22/May/21]

Breeding is a form of evolution where humans are the dominant selection pressure, not the vagaries of the natural environment.

Yes there are 3 building blocks in a sense, protons, neutrons and electrons, and in the initial life of the universe it seems that there was 3/4 hydrogen, 1/4 helium, and tiny traces of lithium and deuterium. The heavier elements we see on earth (that we are all life depend upon) were made in the explosions of the earlier generations of stars. It seems very likely that the matter that our solar system condensed from was made from the explosions of at least two different classes of stars. So there was a kind of evolution of matter, from simple to more complex atoms, long before life could begin or the Earth could form.

As to limits on the combinations of things, well, kind of, but not really. Any molecule that can form chains with variance can be thought of as a numeric system. Modern computers encode all numbers as binary, we use decimal. Ten in binary is 1010, (18 + 04 + 12 + 01) in decimal 10 (110 + 01).

Molecules like RNA and DNA have 4 different possible constituents, so as they get longer, the possible variations on sequence increase by a factor of 4 with each step. We have over a billion nucleotides in our genome (closer to 3 billion) which is like a number with over a billion zeros. So while technically, yes, it is limited in its potential to encode variability, it is a number so vast that is exceeds the number of quantum states that have existed in the 14 billion years that the universe has existed by a factor of a 1 with a billion zeros after it. It is a number beyond the power of any computational entity to form a useful model of – it is just too vast.

In describing the breeding of the Chinook from Mastiff cross with Husky you are describing one of the many mechanisms that can produce variation in evolution.

Evolution happens, is happening, every day, all around us. For the most part it is a slow process, and it only becomes obvious when you take snapshots millions of years apart (not a hundred years).

Mutations happen every day, between every parent and every child. They are a tiny part of the total sources of variation, and they are there; as a tiny part of what makes us each different.

[23 May 21 – Steven White linked to

That is a magazine article, not a scientific paper, and there are many ways in which such a report is likely to contain errors.

Evidence from EGS-zs8-1 indicates galactic collision 30 million years older than A1689-zD1 – so while unusual, that report 6 years ago is not actually beyond the existing models of understanding, and in no way supports your assertion that all elements existed from the start.

You are an ignorant science denier who has the arrogance to prefer belief in an ancient story over modern evidence.

You need to work on your humility.

[Different thread Followed by 22/May/21]

100 years is not long term in terms of evolution.

In terms of evolution a million years is short term, with 50 million years being medium term. Long term is over 100 million years.

All you are demonstrating is your unwillingness to actually do the work to begin to appreciate what is known about biology and evolution.

It is clear that you would much rather be “right” about a particular story from the past, than take the time required to build sufficient knowledge of mathematics, physics, cosmology, chemistry and biology to begin to build a useful understanding of what biological evolution actually is.

That is understandable in a couple of senses.

In a practical sense most people simply have neither the time nor interest in doing the work to build such an understanding. It is hard work, and takes a lot of time.

The evolutionary pressure to produce brains that are strongly biased to prefer simple certainty rather than to dwell eternally in complex uncertainty are well documented.

So the fact that you are so certain, while also being almost entirely ignorant of the things to which I refer, is not unexpected.

There is a very real sense in which it works for you.

Just as my wife has no real idea of how a car works, yet she can drive one quite well. But if anything breaks, then I need to go out, do the investigation, see what has failed, and determine if it is within my skill set to fix, or I need to hand it over to a specialist.

You seem to be somewhat similar, in that you are perfectly capable of living your life, and doing whatever it is you do, but have no real idea of what is actually going on “under the hood”.

The difference is, that my wife is happy to admit her ignorance, and you are not.

[Followed by reply to Steven White 23 May 2021]

Again, you demonstrate a failure to be able to deal with large numbers, particularly large numbers in relation to time, and a tendency to over simplify complexity.

You make the false claim “every single fossil of every single creature found remains the same for every fossil found of that creature”, and yet I suspect you have never actually looked in detail at any set of fossils. Had you done so you would have observed that every fossil is different, and most have sets of similarities.

There are strong evolutionary reasons why most brains are heavily biased to see simplicity and regularity; to over simplify reality. Most of the time it works in practice in most common contexts.

Variation in kind, in different contexts, over long enough times (and it takes millions of years, not hundreds) does in fact lead to differences in kinds. That was Darwin’s great insight. The details of the process are far more complex that Darwin imagined, he had no knowledge of quantum chemistry or DNA or the large classes of chemistries and systems that make modern life possible. You don’t either. So you have an arrogance and a certainty based in ignorance. You have no interest in doing the work to look in detail, so you assume your simple models are useful at the level of someone who has done the detailed work.

You are wrong in making that assumption.

In a sense, I can see how your belief structure serves you; it is useful in a set of contexts; but understanding the complexity of life is not one of those contexts.

If you are interested in understanding the complexity of life then you need to do the work to understand most of what I have referred to.

If you are not, then you need to stop making statements about which you know little or nothing, and take a more humble and reasonable approach.
Your statement “All emperical data and experiments merely prove this…” demonstrate that you have not done many experiments nor examined many datasets in detail.

[Followed by 23/May/21]

Another set of ignorant false ravings.

You obviously have no idea about relativity. I doubt you have read a single paper of Einstein’s (I have – most of them).

Again, you attempt to use pseudoscience to invalidate real science.

I have plenty of fossils at my house, one a small part of a plesiosaur (that certainly has changed – been none of them around for 65 million years).

But clearly you are not interested in evidence – just in dogma.

[24 May 21 – end of this thread]

I give up.

You appear either to be so capable of lying to yourself subconsciously that you can’t consciously see it, or capable of outright conscious lies for effect.

No point in further conversation in the face of such dishonesty.

You repeat outrageous and false claims in respect of the fossil record, and have now started in respect of the GPS system (the best man at my first wedding is responsible for much of the coding of some GPS systems – so I am not entirely ignorant of what actually happens there – and it is seriously complex).

[26 May 2021 – final comment to another rant]

If you understood anything about relativity, you would know that time dilation effects only happen in reference frames that are moving with respect to each other. Us and the radio isotopes are in the same reference frame. Thus there can be no time dilation effects due to relativistic factors.

You are clearly ignorant of science, clearly willfully so, but happy to claim otherwise. You are clearly trying to grasp at any straws whatever to support dogma that is without foundation in evidence.

You clearly, willfully, ignore any evidence that is in conflict with your dogma, or lie about it.

No point in responding to any further rants on your part.

I doubt very much if you have ever examined any fossils.

As I sit writing this I can see a significant collection of them that my wife and I have collected over the years (most of which are nothing like anything alive today). But things like that have no influence on you writing the untruths that you do.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see
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