You're making completely false claims that intelligent design people are intellectually dishonest and the standard dogmatic people are intellectually honest. In reality, intelligent design people have valid mathematical concerns that they are bringing up about the prevailing dogma about how the universe works.

"Not wanting to give ammo to creationists seems to be what's going on."

It is what is going on. That's how human nature works when faced with any theory that's contradictory to your own theory, no matter how wrong. Even if the randomness dogmatists are correct, that doesn't change how the human mind works when arguing something they're emotionally invested in.

"there's nothing "baffling" about the origin of life, there's just a lack of data"Yes there is. It takes a lot of organization of proteins, and the randomness of organization is in a way that cannot be improved upon through natural selection because there is no replication (though natural selection through random mutations is comparatively a weak process that loses out to the mutations destroying order faster).

"expectation that everything in the world has a law-like explanation is the only rational expectation"No it isn't. It's what's the *intuitive* explanation because most things that we directly observe work law-like, but it is not necessarily what's rational when describing the entire universe/other esoteric topics. Your relabeling of it as rational shows you as intellectually dishonest, which clearly marks you as a hypocrite.

"certainly does resolve any apparent coincidences ... which aren't all that many"Another intellectually dishonest quote. There are a lot of apparent coincidences, such as the diproton instability, assemblance of proteins to create life, the fact that we are the only civilized species and the first one on Earth (when in fact it probably could've easily occurred in one of the earlier glacials), the relative isolation of the boiling point of water compared to other materials, etc. etc. At some point we have to wonder if you are the intellectually dishonest one.

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Nice ad hominem. I'm certainly a better sort of person than a dishonest one like you ... blocked for being a fundamentally bad person.

P.S. Funny how Hanson says that, to be honest, one has to consider both the possibility that someone is sincere and that they aren't ... but apparently applying that to Hanson himself is verboten.

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Dinosaur era seemed like a stable ecosystem which lasted for a long time, but which was subsequently escaped from. Cultural evolution offers many more examples. Theory strongly suggests that local maxima can be escaped by simple stochastic processes when the peaks involved are not too tall.

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You seem like a sweet guy Jim.

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"Of course, no one has any good explanation for how these core conserved complex modular processes arose in the first place."

There are explanations that are good enough, given the near complete lack of a record of those events.

P.S. I haven't read the book, but one of the reviews quotes the authors: "The selection for a small number of conserved core processes versatile enough to be used in many different contexts to support the complexity of large multicellular organisms is a product of selection for physiological adaptability" -- that directly addresses why certain core processes have persisted. As for how they arose ... the're just dumb molecular biological processes that arose through molecular recombinations, just like every other biological process; there's nothing magical about them. The whole book seems to be about this: "facilitated variation".


Given your absurd reference to cdesign proponentsist ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wi... ) Michael Behe, I offer this paragraph from a review by Stephen A. Haines:

"In conclusion, the authors, as so many writers from the US feel compelled to do, address the fallacies of "intelligent design", a concept rendered meaningless at Dover, Pennsylvania. Kirschner and Gerhart note how Darwin's opponents in their country have made much of "holes" in the theory of evolution. Those "gaps" have been used to weaken or destroy the entire Darwinian edifice. The authors of this book credit "facilitated variation" with plugging the gaps and reinforcing the entire structure on a firm foundation. Given that there exist shelves of books refuting all forms of Christian "creationism", it's inexplicable why this pair deems it necessary to devote any time to the issue. Except for claiming their concept of how variety drives selection is the final nail in creationism's false notions, there is nothing here that hasn't been written. Since their book is obviously intended for a lay, and not a scientific audience, perhaps they feel their explanation will gain a wider audience."

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What gives is that people are rational and informed. Behe's a religious apologist and "Intelligent Design" is repackaged Creationism, as proven in court. His book is dishonest trash and has been repeatedly refuted by evolutionary biologists (Behe isn't one; he's a biochemist). It's so typical of the intellectual dishonesty of ID proponents that they talk about "stark" problems with evolution (that don't actually exist) while ignoring the overwhelming problems with the false alternative they offer.

As for your points:

1) Lots of people find the multiverse to strain credulity, yet Everett's model is consistent with all the known facts and is far less ad hoc than the Copenhagen interpretation.

2) The multiverse view, together with the weak anthropic principle, certainly does resolve any apparent coincidences ... which aren't all that many (see Victor Stenger's "The God Hypothesis").

3) there's nothing "baffling" about the origin of life, there's just a lack of data. Nonetheless, quite a few plausible abiogenesis hypotheses have been put forth. As for "origin of complex adaptations to life", this is a nonsense phrase and has no apparent relationship to the origin of life. The origin of complex adaptations to *the environment* is well known, and well explained by the Theory of Evolution.

4) Yet? The expectation that everything in the world has a law-like explanation is the only rational expectation, and none of your first 3 points challenge it in any way. "We don't know what happened" is no reason to jettison the only sound metaphysical ontology and embrace "goddidit" nonsense. "law-like" explanations of physical phenomena are the only sort of explanation that can have a rational basis -- any other sort of "explanation" is just a baseless assertion. Because the expectation of law-like processes is the basis not just of science but all human empirical exploration.

"Why so much resistance to idea that the key events in the history of biology may not succumb to description via law-like processes?"

Because there's absolutely no reason to expect anything different, and every reason to expect that it is so. The leap to "goddidit" is completely unwarranted and irrational.

"Not wanting to give ammo to creationists seems to be what's going on."

It doesn't seem that way to anyone who is remotely intellectually honest.

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Note that Hanson's response is about computer simulations, not about evolution, and ignores the point about environmental changes (which make local maxima irrelevant) ... so typical of him.

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Yet books with errors survive, often for a long time, while quotes with them rarely do.

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Kirschner: "The evolutionary modifications of hemoglobin are reminiscent of sex determination in showing how easily genetic control and physiological control can substitute for each other. In the two-state system of hemoglobin, a single mutational change can replace external regulation, as in the case of the high-flying goose, where a single amino acid change creates a new physiology. The hemoglobin molecule is a poised system; either environmental inputs or mutation can trigger a change of oxygen loading or unloading. Evolution of new physiologies, such as acclimation to high altitudes and fetal hemoglobin, is only a step or two away."

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Yet more complex systems are often harder to vary.

Try improving that sentence via random variation. Now try it w/ a whole book, while maintaining coherence across sentence/chapter/storyline constraints.

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1) Lots of people think some form of the multiverse hypothesis is true.2) Lots of people think that explains all the cosmological coincidences.3) Lots of people realize origin of life is baffling; fewer but still many people realize how little is known about origin of complex adaptations to life.4) Yet 99%> of these people expect that there are law-like explanations for the origin of life and complex adaptations.

What gives? Why so much resistance to idea that the key events in the history of biology may not succumb to description via law-like processes? Not wanting to give ammo to creationists seems to be what's going on.

People really ought to read Behe's The Edge of Evolution so they understand just how stark the problem is.

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(Short version: phenotypic plasticity is selected for directly and enables evolvability. But unsure if this applies often at the level of metabolic enzymes. More obvious at system level.)

Marc Kirschner (The Plausibility of Life, facilitated variation) adds this:1) Physiological adaptability - processes that can operate in a range of conditions - is selected for directly by environmental variation.2) That adaptability allows mutations to build up w/out any phenotypic consequences.3) More importantly, the particular mechanisms underlying physiological adaptability can be transmutated into genetic adaptations in the long run.4) Hemoglobin doesn't just carry oxygen but also easily flips physiologically into different-affinity states. That property - ease of flipping into new states - can be exploited genetically too.

Kirschner's theory of facilitated variation in a nutshell:1) Exploratory processes (random growth then selecting pruning of blood vessels, nerves, cytoskeletons) deconstrains other process changes.2) Weak linkages, i.e. hemoglobin is big w/ many opportunities for new regulatory bindings to be created/broken away from oxygen binding site.3) Direct selection for physiological adaptation selects indirectly for genetically changable processes, and allows accumulate of neutral variation.

In short, forms of modularity move hills closer together, and allow for drift to/fro w/out phenotypic consequences.

Of course, no one has any good explanation for how these core conserved complex modular processes arose in the first place.

I liked his book a lot though.

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There's so much ignorant nonsense here. It's obviously not true that " it only takes a few non-neutral moves between neighbors to get to most other phenotypes", else it wouldn't take vast amounts of time for a sequence of very limited changes in morphology to occur. The vast majority of discernable evolution occurs as a consequence of environmental changes (so, over enough time, all local maxima break down), but every step has to maintain viability. Big jumps can occur not because "it only takes a few non-neutral moves between neighbors", but because of mechanisms like genome duplication that allows mutations to operate on redundant material while the original still performs its vital functions (see, e.g., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.go...

"Wagner defines a genotype as the set of chemical reactions which the enzymes of an organism can catalyze"

Which, per the above, is obviously a poor definition. But then, that's not Wagner's model at all (https://en.wikipedia.org/wi....

"I still find it hard to believe that for realistic organisms, the set of possible phenotypes is much less than the set of genotypes"

Who the fuck cares?

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The higher the dimensionality, the shallower the valleys to cross. Adapting to more variables favors more complexity.

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Yes, the book cites many computer simulations showing that this method works better to avoid local maxima.

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Is there any evidence that evolution *ever* escapes local maxima? It seems to me that changes in the fitness landscape are a sufficient explanation. Consider, for example, how often invasive species are successful, which is a dramatic form of local maximum escape but it results from external causes that are not a normal part of the environment.

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