Tuesday, January 06, 2009

If you're looking for TalkOrigins.org...

...it seems to be down, though there is a mirror site at toarchive.org. The Talk Origins Archive has frequently (and not surprisingly) been the target of creationist malice over the years. It's faced numerous DDOS attacks; someone hacked it and placed some code on it forwarding visitors to a pornographic site, which got TO delisted from Google for a while; you name it. No idea what's going on this time, though, but at least the site is still online in its complete form, just at a different URL. Adjust your bookmarks accordingly.


  1. Related to TalkOrigins, which I've used a lot, I don't have a ready summary of a response to the argument that "microevolution happens but speciation does not." I've got an evolution denier who insists that every example of speciation I bring up is a mere "adaptation" which somehow does not refute the idea that one species cannot evolve into another -- arguments on the level of "Show me a dog that gives birth to a cat and I'll believe in evolution." Assume that for political reasons, I cannot simply ignore or dismiss the evolution denier but must address the argument head on. Suggestions?

  2. I may be an example of someone who shouldn't make scientific arguments, but here is something to consider...

    The taxonomy system is a means of classification of species, analogous to the Dewey decimal system. There is no objective criteria for determining when one species "ends" and another "begins". Instead, what we have is a list of traits that typically distinguish between one species and another, with there being an exception to every rule. (listen to the evolution 101 link below, for some good examples of this)

    The most common definition is that different species cannot interbreed and produce fertile offspring. However, a quick search of ring species ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_species , and http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/05/2/l_052_05.html) shows examples of organisms where:

    Local variations A and B can breed
    Local variations B and C can breed.
    local variations A and C cannot interbreed.

    This blurs the line between species, as, logically speaking, A=B, and B=C, but A does not equal C.

    You may want to check out the evolution 101 podcast, regarding the problem of species, at http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Evolution101/~3/Aef-C0zjiV0/what-is-species.html for more information.

    My suggestion is to put the creationist on the defensive. To point out that he has accepted evolution, but is using his own arbitrary definition of the word "species" to provide exceptions to the rule. Ask him to state, objectively, where the line is that he is proposing cannot be crossed via "adaptation" (which is a euphamism for evolution), and to be willing to look up exceptions.

  3. Also, I don't know if I made this clear on the original post, but your opponent is beginning with the unstated premise that there are two different types of evolution and stating that the burden of proof is on you for assuming that both types are possible.

    This is not true. Your opponent is making the implicit assertion that there is a limitation on how far evolution can go. This should be the heart of your argument; demand that he define, objectively, what that limitation is, and that he provide evidence.

  4. TL, every speciation event is going to be fairly minor, so your challenge is to show him that accumulated minor changes can add up to an overall large change. Tell him he's asking you for an example of something that no one believes happens; that if it did happen, it would disprove the theory of evolution.

  5. Just tell him he is full of shit.

    No seriously. I would try to explain evolution to him once, just once in detail. If he keeps coming back with his stupid "can't work because the bible says so" arguments then screw him.
    Funny that he seems to know more about speciation than all experts in this field, since he is claiming they are wrong. So by definition he has to know where they are wrong. It should be easy to him to tell you where exactly "microevolution" suddenly stops.

    There are people who don't know evolution and would agree if only they knew enough about it and there are people who would deny ANYTHING you bring to the table.

    If he really brings up arguments like the "show me a dog give birth to xxx" i would tell him that its not worth talking to him since he has no idea at what he is talking about. And yeah i would probably add that he is an Idiot

  6. I appreciate the help, everyone. Thanks.

  7. @Transplanted Lawyer
    I appreciate the help, everyone. Thanks.

    Just to add my $0.02....

    One place to look for some back and forth (not the only place, and not all the time) is Fark.com.

    For example, click on the "Geek tab" and look for these two headlines:
    "Discovery Institute creationist lawyer claims the anti-"Intelligent Design" court ruling was because biologist Ken Miller lied in testimony. So Miller takes a tire iron to the jerk. Pwned"
    'Believing in Darwin and his 'theory' or evolution found to "deepen religious faith"'

    Click on the number to the right of the headline, and you'll get into the discussion area. There are usually a good number of trolls there (or people honestly believing in creationism) and many people to counter those arguments.

    I know there are other forums which have more consistent stories/blog posts on creationism. Ray Comfort's blog (raycomfortfood.blogspot.com) has some discussion, but it is moderated, and there's no telling how many posts get rejected because they cannot be countered. I know a couple of mine never made it, and I'm always very careful to follow Ray's rules.

    Fundies say the darndest things (http://www.fstdt.com/default.aspx) also has some excellent stuff, but if you want to follow any arguments, you have to follow the links to the original posts. Many of those sites don't allow dissenting opinions, but some do. So you can probably find some good counter arguments there. (of course, fstdt has some real gems all by itself. Very entertaining)


  8. A single sheet of paper appears two-dimensional. A ream of paper is clearly three-dimensional. Speciation is merely enough changes in one species (a single sheet of paper) to make a measurable difference (a ream of paper.)

    Asking for a dog to give birth to a cat is like asking for a top sheet of paper to levitate an inch above the bottom sheet--a physical impossibility. The cartoon biology of your denier doesn't disprove evolution anymore than the cartoon physics of Wil E. Coyote disproves Newtonian gravity.

  9. I'll bet the same guy who kept pretending to be Frank Walton is the guy who hacked TO.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.


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