Andre: “PCD stops unguided evolution in its tracks”

UD commenter Andre has a bad case of PCD OCD.

PCD stands for “programmed cell death”. Andre is convinced that it is the death knell not only of cells, but of modern evolutionary theory. He has been spamming the “bomb” thread at UD in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade us of this. (112 mentions of PCD in that thread, but no intelligible argument from Andre.)

Rich suggested that we set up a thread for him here, which I think is a great idea.

Here you go, Andre.  Tell us why PCD is an unguided evolution killer, and be prepared to learn why it is not.

343 thoughts on “Andre: “PCD stops unguided evolution in its tracks”

  1. Steve Schaffner: I assume you’re asking about the fitness of the sickle cell mutation, not the disease. That variant is clearly less fit in much of the world, where P. falciparum is uncommon. How much less fit depends on the frequency of the allele in that population. 100 years ago in West Africa, say, it was clearly more fit, as long as the frequency didn’t get too high. Today, it would take careful study to figure out the answer.

    No, Steve, you are crediting phoodoo with a level of understanding that he apparently lacks. I made the same mistake. Phoodoo’s level of understanding seems to be the following:

    People with sickle cell anemia are sick, they are obviously less fit. But someone once said something about evolution being able to explain the prevalence of sickle cell disease. Due to my lack of understanding, I think that this is an unanswerable paradox, so I taunt people with my “is someone with sickle cell anemia more fit?” question.

    So phoodoo, when I wrote “someone heterozygous for the S allele is more fit, to a degree depending on location”, I was assuming that you knew that heterozygotes have increased resistance to malaria, and therefore, depending on the prevalence of malaria and the effectiveness of malaria treatments, they will be more fit.
    You do know that the heterozygotes don’t have sickle cells, right?
    If so, then you are ready for the end-of-chapter quiz:
    So, is the S allele dominant or recessive?

  2. phoodoo, there are a ton of confusions in your last post. One of them, as I’ve explained several times, and don’t want to bother with again (what’s the point? you either can’t or don’t want to get it–or both) is a confusion between how we learn something and what it is we learn when we’ve learned it. But there are three or four other significant ones there as well. E.g., there are several non sequitors about whether Mantle will pass along his batting talents and how long we could reasonably predict he would continue to bat well. In fact, it’s a veritable fusillade of irrelevant musings about hitting, most of which have nothing whatever to do either with your tautology claim or keiths’ response to it.

    Anyhow, Instead of barking so much in a kind of desperate attempt to deny the existence of some theory (which you also think is a bad theory, apparently), my suggestion is that you should think about it all a bit more. I know you feel like it’s coming for a religion that gives you a ton of comfort, but, for good or ill, that’s neither here nor there either.

  3. phoodoo

    Keith somehow (in his infinite lack of wisdom) managed to chose the worst analogy that could be found. A good hitter is someone who has become a good hitter.

    So your answer to Keith’s actual question ” We’re really, really looking forward to your explanation of how fitness is useless and tautological if batting averages are not.”

    Is that batting averages are useless?

  4. velikovskys,

    Isn’t that funny? Phoodoo can’t grasp something that’s obvious to even the dimmest sports fan.

  5. The “fittest” genes are not *defined* as those that reproduce. They are *identified* by their success. The properties that enhance their success are objective and inheritable.

  6. I must be the only one to have actually clicked on the link provided by keiths in his OP.

  7. Mung,

    I must be the only one to have actually clicked on the link provided by keiths in his OP.

    Or perhaps the others were intelligent enough to remove the trailing double-quote from the link.

  8. petrushka,

    “The “fittest” genes are not *defined* as those that reproduce. They are *identified* by their success. ”

    Do you mean like if they win a blue ribbon? What do you mean by success?

  9. walto,

    Why Walto, do you mean to suggest that knowing ONE persons batting average tells you absolutely nothing about the batting averages of anyone else, or the “predicted” batting average of someone else? Its almost as if someones success is defined by their success. Gee Walto, we have this odd coming together in agreement.

    Sssssshh…Don’t tell Keith (or DNA Jock), he loves his analogy and will be so heartbroken when you tell him how wrong it is.

  10. phoodoo,

    What are you doing posting here? You should be jetting off to all the MLB franchises to let them know that they’re wasting their money on players with high batting averages. After all, batting averages are just defined in terms of success at batting.

    Those guys have been wasting their money on a tautology.

    You’re gonna be famous, man.

  11. It’s going to have to be an actor who’s bad at dancing — or as bad at dancing around the issue as phoodoo is, anyway.

  12. No Keith, you have it completely backwards. YOU should sell your services to some baseball teams-you can help them how to find guys with good batting averages BEFORE they get their good batting averages.

  13. phoodoo:
    Why Walto, do you mean to suggest that knowing ONE persons batting average tells you absolutely nothing about the batting averages of anyone else

    Perhaps you need to break down the skills, if I see five players one at a time who have certain batt speed and hand eye coordination, and each of them has a certain ba, I might know something about someone else with those skills

    or the “predicted” batting average of someone else?

    That is what baseball combines do, test skills to predict future sucess. But since we are not omniscient we can only deal in probability.

  14. phoodoo:
    No Keith, you have it completely backwards.YOU should sell your services to some baseball teams-you can help them how to find guys with good batting averages BEFORE they get their good batting averages.

    You think Sabermetrics isn’t already doing this?

  15. Maybe you can help me Keith. My son was thinking about taking up baseball, but he doesn’t know if he would have a good enough batting average to be able to play. Can you please tell him what his batting average will likely be, so he can know if he is wasting his time or not? Would you mind?

  16. Richardthughes,

    You have it correct, in a sense. That is precisely NOT what sabermetrics does! What it does is use the metrics of what the player HAS already done to determine their value, NOT what they believe are the potential of that player before they have performed.

    So congratulations, you are getting close to reaching the levels of incorrect analogies of Keiths. That is by no means easy to do!

  17. Phoodoo, I was at a talk with Billy Beane about 3 months ago. I suspect he has better insight into what they’re up to than you 😉

  18. To elaborate – they model the full life cycle of the player. They do it for many sports now, and help my favourite team, Liverpool FC. Why do you think Liverpool are reticent to buy a player older than 27?

  19. Yeah, I didn’t think he’d read the paper either. Their are many differences between our two anecdotes, Phoodoo, not the least of which is mine is true.

  20. Richardthughes,

    I would respond to you and show you where you are wrong (in fact I already did!) but Alan is up to his old tricks again.

    I guess you have to reply on UD if you want to avoid the biased censorship here.

    Maybe Alan is one of those Wikipedia editors who also like censoring truth.

  21. phoodoo:
    Richardthughes,

    I would respond to you and show you where you are wrong (in fact I already did!)but Alan is up to his old tricks again.

    I guess you have to reply on UD if you want to avoid the biased censorship here.

    Maybe Alan is one of those Wikipedia editors who also like censoring truth.

    Hereis your comment, phoodoo. You’re welcome to repost any substantive part of your comment.

  22. Alan Fox,

    …. he was PREDICTED to be a baseball star as a first round pick, and flopped. Whoops Keith!

    Fitness is a measurement made after the fact. Just like batting averages.

  23. Fitness is a measurement made after the fact. Just like batting averages.

    It doesn’t follow from that that an ascription of either is tautologous.

  24. Do you think all predictions represent fitness, Phoodoo?

    Do you think Fitness is still subject to stochastic forces?

  25. phoodoo: There are so many thngs wrong with this its almost hard to know where to start. First, how much chloroquine are you gong to expose them to? Maybe it wont be enough to harm the non-chloroquine resistant parasites.

    Don’t you think this is already known? Have you ever heard of things as LD50? This is argument from ignorance: since you don’t know it, you think nobody does.

    phoodoo: So you have already decided the condition before you even decide the fitness.

    If this condition does not affect fitness, there should be no difference in the results: mortality should be the same in both populations. If there is a different survival rate in each population, chloroquine resitance affects fitness and the mutation in one of the population affects fitness AND THAT’S WHAT WE ARE SAYING!!

    It’s not that hard to get..

    phoodoo: So you have already decided the condition before you even decide the fitness. Its like saying, who are more fit, people under 6 feet or over 6 feet? But I have to tell you first, I am going to put all these people in a pool of water for a week, which is filled with 5 feet, eight inches of water. So everyone under 6 feet is going to drown in an hour.

    Where does this happen? The idea is to study REAL SITUATIONS. Steve’s experiment is a model of a situation where parasites are controled with chloroquine. Where do people live UNDER 5 feet of water and die if they are taller? How do you expect to understand fitness if you are applying it to fictious situations?

    phoodoo: So you have now proven that there are NO universal characteristics of fitness

    Nobody ever claimed that: Straw man.

    phoodoo: You claim that sometimes fit organisms don’t reproduce, and sometimes unfit ones do. Can you prove this?

    Yes, observing nature.

    phoodoo: Can you predict which humans are going to pass on their genes best-handsome ones, ugly ones, strong ones, weak ones, smart ones, dumb ones, tall ones, short ones….?

    Can you? Is that a sign of a theory on biological diversity being right? Then I guess ID would predict it, or creationism or whatever. Another phallacy: demanding evolution to explain what ID can’t explain anyway.

    phoodoo: There is no given condition that we can call the “condition” of life. If there was, then of course you could decide what is fitter and what wasn’t.

    False: There is no given condition that we can call the “condition” of life beacuse there is no life that we can call the “life”. There are LOTS of life forms living in LOTS of envoironments so there are LOTS of conditions of life and EACH CONDITION must be analyzed in the proper context.

    With your reasoning, abandon MEDICINE because there is no REMEDY that we can call “The Remedy”. I mention a treatment and you can’s say if it heals anything without considering the patient and the illness treated. So what? That’s exactly how it works. Medicine works BECAUSE we study in considering patients and diseases. Ecology works BECAUSE we analyze organisms considering their environments.

    phoodoo: If the condition for life was everything had to have a fist fight, and who ever survived the fist fight, could then reproduce. So those who were good at punching would be more fit than those who weren’t good at punching.

    That’s exactly what we are saying!!! That’s exactly what research shows!!!!

    phoodoo: See where punching better, and surviving have TWO very different meanings, so the problem is not tautologous?

    Don’t “chloroquine resistance” and “surviving better” have also TWO different meanings?

  26. phoodoo: So when you said “survival of those with chloroquine resistance” you would no longer be using a tautology!

    But that is NOT what natural selection says. Get it yet Alan?

    Yes, it is:

    In other words, natural selection does not simply state that “survivors survive” or “reproducers reproduce”; rather, it states that “survivors survive, reproduce and therefore propagate any heritable characters which have affected their survival and reproductive success”. This statement is not tautological: it hinges on the testable hypothesis that such fitness-impacting heritable variations actually exist (a hypothesis that has been amply confirmed.)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survival_of_the_fittest#Is_.22survival_of_the_fittest.22_a_tautology.3F

    There’s even an article on Wikipedia explaining your mistake. “Survival of the fittest” is a catchy phrase to name the concept. It is not the concept itself and it is not a full description of the concept.

  27. phoodoo:
    petrushka,

    “The “fittest” genes are not *defined* as those that reproduce. They are *identified* by their success. ”

    Do you mean like if they win a blue ribbon?What do you mean by success?

    Let’s make it simple. Explain this:

    http://www.nature.com/news/evolution-sparks-silence-of-the-crickets-1.15323

    Evolutive explanation is silent male are fitter. So they are more successful reproducing and the characteristic that makes them more successful (being silent) spreads in the population.

    Explain how “a mutation that makes male crickets silent will increase their fitness and will gradually spread to the whole cricket population” is a tautology.

  28. Guillermoe,

    Ha, Guillermoe, evolutionist propaganda really has gotten you suckered hook line and sinker.

    The tautology is that WHATEVER the trait is, THAT is the fittest. Why can’t you finally see that, its right in front of your eyes. If the crickets make noise, after the fact we will say that makes them fit and pass on their traits. If the crickets make a loud sound, that is fit, if they make a quiet sound that is fit, if they make a sound like a locomotive tarin, that is fit, if they make a sound that says, hey, I am over here, come find me, THAT TOO is what will be described as fit. So evolution can explain ANYTHING! Fat, skinny, slow, dumb, smart, ugly, blue, green , brown, one leg, two legs, twenty legs, no legs, ANY trait you can think of that animals posses, becomes the trait of fitness, if that organism can pass on its genes. Any story can be made to support the fact that a trait exists in a population. Altruism? Sure. Bloodthirsty evil? Of course? Selfishness, humor, anger, long teeth, short teeth, no teeth, hard bones, soft bones, skinny bones fat bones…They exist, so therefore THEY MUST, by definition have a fitness component. Why do girls like pink? Well, it must have been an advantage, or at least not a disadvantage. Why do we sing? Those that sung survived better. Why do we have ten toes? Because ten toes are better than twelve, unless we find organisms with 12 of course.

    It is so bloody obvious where the tautology is, that it seems almost incomprehensible that you can’t see it. No one can make you think, if you so stubbornly refuse to.

  29. phoodoo: So evolution can explain ANYTHING!

    Actually, it cannot. I believe you are thinking of ID where the “explanation” is as follows: “The designer did it”.

    That can be applied to everything you can think of, literally.

    I can think of many things that evolution could not explain but I can’t think of a single thing that ID cannot “explain”!

  30. phoodoo,
    If it’s a problem that evolution can explain “everything” then presumably that is not also a problem for ID, given that it is a superior explanation.

    To that end, could you name a single thing that ID cannot explain?

  31. phoodoo,

    The niche environment changed. Parasitic flies got to the island and use the cricket chirping to locate them. Crickets that can’t chirp due to a random heritable mutation now have a breeding advantage as chirping rivals who would have drawn females to them are predated. Should the fly disappear, maybe due to disease or predation, there’s every chance, if there are some chirping crickets left, that chirping males would soon become predominant again. Niche! Remember the niche!

  32. phoodoo: The tautology is that WHATEVER the trait is, THAT is the fittest.

    False. That’s the point. It’s not “whatever the trait”. Some traits increase fitness, some don’t. You even gave an example yourself:

    ” If the condition for life was everything had to have a fist fight, and who ever survived the fist fight, could then reproduce. So those who were good at punching would be more fit than those who weren’t good at punching.”

    How can you explain it and yet not get it?

    phoodoo: If the crickets make noise, after the fact we will say that makes them fit and pass on their traits. If the crickets make a loud sound, that is fit, if they make a quiet sound that is fit

    No!!! Nobody is saying that in this case crickets that sing are fit. Silent male crickets are fitter.

    phoodoo: ANY trait you can think of that animals posses, becomes the trait of fitness

    False. In the exampel I gave, silent crickets are fitter. In the example Steve gave, chloroquine-resistant parasites are fitter. We gave two examples of ONE SPECIFIC condition affecting fitness.

    Now, you give an example of “ANY trait you can think of that animals posses, becomes the trait of fitness”.

  33. phoodoo understands it perfectly already. But I think they think that if they can “keep us busy” then somehow that accelerates the rise of ID.

    I guess if a straw is all you have, you’ll grasp at it.

  34. Oh my goodness. Yes, Alan, I am well aware that you can make up a story after the fact to explain why traits exist. The peacock has a tail that doesn’t allow it to fly, because that is the trait that makes females believe they are healthy, because what animal could be unhealthy dragging around a ridiculous tail all day.

    So what traits does evolution NOT explain?

  35. phoodoo:

    So what traits does evolution NOT explain?

    Short tails in male peacocks?

    Singing male Teleogryllus oceanicus in Oahu?

    Plus, do not invert the direction of this debate. YOU claim that “survival of the fittest” could explain ANY TRAIT. Show us a concrete situation where, for example, two traits are present for a characteristic and “survival of the fittest” explains both traits.

    For example, explain how silent male field crickets in Oahu are fitter AND singing male field crickets are fitter.

  36. phoodoo,

    By the way, what we should argue is that “survival of the fittest” explains this:

    ” On the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, more than 90% of male field crickets (Teleogryllus oceanicus) shifted in less than 20 generations from a normal-wing morphology to a mutated wing that renders males unable to call (flatwing).”

    http://www.scopus.com/record/display.url?eid=2-s2.0-33845585712&origin=inward&txGid=9E8BC23269B74CE391C0FECB6555E5E2.iqs8TDG0Wy6BURhzD3nFA%3a1

    If you have any better explanation, I am listening..

  37. phoodoo:
    Oh my goodness.Yes, Alan, I am well aware that you can make up a story after the fact to explain whytraits exist.The peacock has a tail that doesn’t allow it to fly, because that is the trait that makes females believe they are healthy, because what animal could be unhealthy dragging around a ridiculous tail all day.
    So what traits does evolution NOT explain?

    The sexual selection of male plumage is not just made up. Anyone can observe the mating rituals of birds.

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