Genetic load and junk.

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Mung, to petrushka, elsewhere:

Everyone does not understand “genetic load” and those that do claim to understand are probably wrong. Why don’t you start an OP on genetic load and the genetic load argument? That would be interesting. Betting you won’t.

This is such an OP. I believe the genetic load argument*** was initially proposed by Susumu Ohno in 1972, whose paper also introduced the then-scare-quoted term “junk”. It’s brief, accessible, and worth a read for anyone who wishes to offer an opinion/understand (not necessarily in that order).

The short version: sequence-related function must be subject to deleterious mutations. Long genomes (such as those of most eukaryotes) contain too many bases for the entire genome to be considered functional in that way, given known mutation rates. The bulk of such genomes must either have functions that are not related to sequence, or no function at all.

Interestingly, the paper is hosted on the site of an anti-junk-er, Andras Pellionisz, a self-promoting double-PhD’d … er … maverick. Also of interest is that, contrary to some ID narratives, the idea was initially resisted by ‘Darwinists’, if that term is understood not as people who simply accept evolution, but as people who place most emphasis on Natural Selection. Perfectionism is not the sole preserve of Creationists.

More recent work has characterised the nonfunctional fraction, and this lends considerable empirical support to Ohno’s contentions.

[eta: link to comment]
***[eta: in relation to genome size, not the first time anyone, ever, discussed genetic load!]

How Much For The Baptists?

Matt Wilbourn, one of the founders of the Muskogee Atheist Community donated $100 to the Murrow Indian Children’s Home. His donation was returned because the MICH gets most of its funding from the American Baptist Churches Association and “accepting a donation from atheists would go against everything they believe in.”

Matt upped the ante to $250. Still refused. He and his wife then started a GoFundMe page to see if they could raise $1000 for the charity. At the time of this post the total amount pledged is $12,670 and climbing.

I encourage everyone to donate until we find out how much money it takes to convince a Baptist to do the right thing.

Cartesian skepticism and the Sentinel Islander thought experiment

Cartesian skepticism has been a hot topic lately at TSZ. I’ve been defending a version of it that I’ve summarized as follows:

Any knowledge claim based on the veridicality of our senses is illegitimate, because we can’t know that our senses are veridical.

This means that even things that seem obvious — that there is a computer monitor in front of me as I write this, for instance — aren’t certain. Besides not being certain, we can’t even claim to know them, and that remains true even when we use a standard of knowledge that allows for some uncertainty. (There’s more — a lot more — on this in earlier threads.)

In explaining to Kantian Naturalist why I am a Cartesian skeptic, I introduced the analogy of the Sentinel Islander:

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Another take on the Conspira-Sea Cruise

Remember the Conspire-Sea Cruise, attended and reported on by TSZ commenter ‘Colin’, aka ‘Learned Hand’?

Popular Mechanics sent a reporter, Bronwen Dickey, on the same cruise, and here is her dispatch:

Conspira-Sea

I Went on a Weeklong Cruise For Conspiracy Theorists. It Ended Poorly.

What do you get when you stick some of the conspiracy world’s biggest celebrities and their die-hard fans on a cruise ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for a week? Some fascinating insight into our strange times. And one near fistfight.

Mung, a theistic evolutionist who disagrees with some of his kind

Mung: What I Believe

I am neither YEC nor OEC, so don’t really know of a label I can give you.

I accept that the universe is old, that the earth is old. No problem with dating as provided by the latest science.

I am a theist and a Christian. I am not a deist. I am not a naturalist. I reject the idea of “nature acting alone.”

I believe the universe is created and sustained by God I believe the same of all living beings. I accept common descent or descent with modification as the best explanation for the history of life on earth, but reject the idea that this happens without God (by a random undirected process).

I’ve not identified myself as a theistic evolutionist because I find myself in disagreement with theistic evolutionist authors.

So the best description I can offer is “intelligent design” proponent.
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The Great Filter

Hoping this will be more fun / less confrontational, but certainly ID and non-ID perspectives will differ. In a nutshell ‘The Great Filter’ is an event that stops life inevitably filling the universe. Others have written much better accounts, so here is your background reading:

The Drake Equation

The Fermi Paradox

The Great Filter

One-stop synopsis if you don’t want the top 3

What do the folks here think? Is there a great filter(s) are we past it / them? My vote is there is at least one ahead of us and we probably won’t make it. Candidates include:

Environmental catastrophe, war using highly potent (N/B/C) weapons, religious zealotry taking us backwards..

I also think other possibilities are flawed assumptions in the Fermi Paradox (maybe marginal / diminishing utility in expansion beyond a certain point, or perhaps transcendence out of this physical realm for sufficiently advanced species. Certainly a million SciFi tropes (Let’s see if we can make a list? Childhood’s End, Mass Effect…) have come from this. What do you folks think?

Consilience and the Cartesian Skeptic

It is not all that infrequent here at TSZ that some opponent of theism or ID makes a statement that makes me scratch my head and wonder how it is possible that they could make such a statement. This OP explores a recent example.

Cartesian scepticism, more impressed with Descartes’ argument for scepticism than his own reply, holds that we do not have any knowledge of any empirical proposition about anything beyond the contents of our own minds. The reason, roughly put, is that there is a legitimate doubt about all such propositions because there is no way to justifiably deny that our senses are being stimulated by some cause (an evil spirit, for example) which is radically different from the objects which we normally think affect our senses.

– A Companion to Epistemology, p. 457

Imagine my surprise when I found keiths (a self-identified “Cartesian Skeptic”) appealing to the senses.

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