Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Not Now Kato

Under the breathless headline "NRC Admits Mutation Not Sufficient Explanation for Evolution," Uncommon Descent blogger, dacook, exhibits that amazing combination of ignorance and arrogance so characteristic of a certain French police inspector and dacook's fellow intelligent design bloggers. He writes that he believes the "admission that mutation is an insufficient mechanism [for evolution] is significant."

This damning admission is especially meaningful for our would-be Clousseau, because it appears in "a mainstream publication."

The smoking gun, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, is found in a report by the Space Studies Board and the Board on Life Sciences titled, "The Limits of Organic Life in Planetary Systems." The report, dedicated to "non-human-like life forms, wherever they are" is designed to guide extraterrestrial exploration and direct the search for life forms "based on molecular structures substantially different" from those found on Earth.

Our bumbling ID inspector plucks his "admission" from a section of the report that asks, "Is Evolution an Essential Feature of Life?" Unsurprisingly, though you'll find no mention of it in our inspectors dossier, the authors conclude that:

Natural selection is the key to evolution and the main reason that Darwinian evolution persists as a characteristic of many definitions of life.

The report's authors do say, as the inimitable dacook indictment triumphantly reports, that “[n]atural selection based solely on mutation is probably not an adequate mechanism for evolving complexity.”

It says this in the context of dicussing lateral gene transfer, a well-documented process that occurs when an organism transfers genetic material to another cell that is not its offspring.

If our inspector had not already had all the evidence he needed before his investigation got under way he might have consulted some esoteric scientific source, say the Wiki entry for Horizontal or Lateral Gene Tranfer, where he would have learned that gene transfer "has played a major role in bacterial evolution and is fairly common in certain unicellular eukaryotes. However, the prevalence and importance of HGT in the evolution of multicellular eukaryotes remain unclear."

So the question we must ask of our intrepid dacook is this: Has he misrepresented the report's conclusions because:

Ignorant, stupid, or dishonest, is no way to go through life.

As the inimitable Clousseau once said, "There is a time to laugh and a time not to laugh, and this is not one of them."


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