Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Dogs and Wolves are Similar and Different . . . So?

Enough picking on little kennie ham and his less-than-stellar ark park (for now).  What has the Discovery Institute (DI) been up to lately.  The DI claims Dogs are not an example of evolution at all . . . but de-evolution, or as they put it:

"the “evolution” of dogs from wolves “represents no increase in [biological] information but rather a decrease or loss of function on the genetic and anatomical levels” "
This is briefly described in "No, Your Dog Is Not a Barking Exemplar of Macroevolution".  Well, aside from the obvious information argument, which they have failed to support with anything resembling evidence -- and the whole nonsense about 'macro-evolution', we've also addressed this foolish idea of decreasing or losing genetic or anatomical levels.

Here is what they are up to . . . if they can convince you that this unexplained concept of 'information' increases or decreases has any validity, then you are more likely to buy into their arguments about evolution.  But wouldn't it be prudent of them to define this concept of 'information', and frame it on how they apply it?  But they never do.  So let's briefly look at what they have said here.  In my opinion it's making an apple to orangutan comparison and trying to sell it to you.

When comparing wolves and dogs, the DI used two arguments, one they are claiming there is no increase in biological information.  The second they are claiming a decrease, or loss, of function on a genetic and anatomical level.  Here's the kicker, are they really making a point?  Let's look at this . . . are wolves and dogs different?  Yes!  I think we can all agree with that.  Now . . . if they are different, doesn't that mean there are differences in biological 'information'?  I'm not talking increases or decreases, just differences.  Next step, by what standard to we classify increases or decreases in biological 'information'?

Ah, there's the rub.  There is no 'level' of biological information.  There is no way to measure such a change without some sort of scale, and science hasn't developed one . . . the DI sure as hell hasn't either.  This idea of increases and decreases in biological 'information' is an imaginary one folks like the DI use to sound all scientific, but first they have to support it, which they never do.

As for the 'idea' that dogs have lost anything, have they?  Dogs are different from wolves, that's the best they seem to have.  They are raised in a different environment and we have been selecting certain traits for centuries.  Is it a loss or just a change?  The DI is always trying to quantify things are positive or negative, but that's nothing but unsupported opinion.

If you read the post, you know one of their 'key' pieces of evidence was this:
"One problem with this, among others, is that the virtue we value most in our dogs – the ability to form relationships with humans – appears to be no product of their evolution. At least it did not evolve from scratch. Dogs have it, but so, in their way, do wolves."
OK, DI, two things, you say 'in their way' -- which tells me while dogs and wolves share a similar ability, it is not identical.  Not identical means it's changed . . . how did this change occur?  Could it be from the selective breeding humans have been doing for generations?  Since the characteristics are not identical, there is a difference that is expressed functional and also genetically.  Again, the opinion of it being a gain or a loss is subjective to your point of view.  The evolutionary key is the change.

Second question for the DI, is didn't you simply just sidestep the real question.  After all -- where did wolves get their ability to form bonds?  You know, that ability that has been changed in modern dogs through selective breeding, or as Darwin called it 'Artificial Selection'?  So claiming there isn't any 'information' increase or decrease is immaterial because not only hasn't the DI explained their concept of 'information' and they have yet to apply it except in the most sweeping of generalizations.

So DI, there is the challenge, explain information and how you categorized the information content of wolves and applied it to dogs.  Measure it, I dare you!  Then let real scientists see not only your conclusions, but your methodology.  Yea, I know, you have never had anything that could be objectively referred to as a methodology, but if you want to be taken for anything but a religious ministry, you might get one.

You are going to have to do better than this vague 'information' argument and get down to some specifics.  What information, how was it quantified, by what process, under what conditions . . . there's a long list.  You might look up 'scientific methodology' and start studying up.

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