Blast from the Past: IC and Impedance Matching

Today, Nelson Alonso turned up on AtBC and turned in an amazing performance that has to be seen to be believed. Alonso is a long-time second-tier “intelligent design” creationism cheerleader; I’ve had experience in online discussions with him since the late 1990s. Some of his braggadocio touched upon having a long history of online discussion. I had a look back at the archives of the Calvin “evolution” email list, where I had some exchanges with Nelson. And I found one such discussion that had an end-point. It even has to do with “irreducible complexity”. I pointed out that the mammalian middle ear ossicular chain is an IC system providing an impedance-matching function, and that the impedance-matching goes away if you remove any of the parts. Nelson tried to deny that this qualified as IC, at least in part because the fossil record is clear that the system evolved. I’ll quote this last part of the exchange.

Nelson Alonso wrote:

[…]

NA>Wesley wrote:

I’m going to put it in one block here before moving on to
responding to Nelson’s post.

MI>People have given examples: The Krebs cycle and the human
MI>inner ear are IC systems (as defined by Behe and asserted by
MI>me) for which means of gradual evolution have been given.

It’s the impedance-matching function of the mammalian *middle*
ear that is proffered as an example. I saw someone today
saying that it is unnecessary to mammalian hearing. This
ignores the fact that every piece is absolutely necessary to
the impedance-matching function. That function goes away
(with about a 30 dB re 1 microbar decrease in sensitivity, or
about 1 / (2^10) the original sensitivity) if any of the parts
are removed. The human blood clotting system, one of Behe’s
examples of IC systems, is not *necessary* to circulation in
much the same way.

WRE>”It’s the impedance-matching function of the mammalian
WRE>*middle* ear that is proffered as an example. I saw
WRE>someone today saying that it is unnecessary to mammalian
WRE>hearing. This ignores the fact that every piece is
WRE>absolutely necessary to the impedance-matching function.

NA>This isn’t true, as I have stated above, one can remove the
NA>entire 3-bone system and I would still hear when pressure
NA>waves hit the oval window.

It is true. The impedance-matching function is lost if any of
the components is removed. As I develop below, there is a
characteristic and significant loss of sensitivity due to the
loss of the impedance-matching function.

My point was not that impedance-matching in the middle ear is
*necessary* to any amount of hearing, but rather that trying
to dismiss the impedance-matching function on the basis that
hearing itself is not completely eliminated is a digression.
One can simulate the loss of sensitivity involved in a gross
manner by donning a good pair of hearing protectors. Trying
to argue that the difference in sensitivity is not a
functional difference seems ludicrous to me.

I suggest that Nelson pick up any good basic text on
audiometry, which will explain about impedance mismatches
going from pressure changes in air to movement of the oval
window.

WRE>That [impedance-matching] function goes away (with about a
WRE>30 dB re 1 microbar decrease in sensitivity, or about
WRE>1 / (2^10) the original sensitivity) if any of the parts
WRE>are removed.

NA>Mere observation can tell us this is false, the one-bone
NA>system of reptiles make them hear quite well.

No, actual experimentation has shown this characteristic loss
of sensitivity in terrestrial mammals to be the case. The
topic of discussion is the function of impedance-matching in
the mammalian middle ear. Normal hearing in another taxon is
not responsive to the point. But Nelson’s digression to
reptilian systems does him no favors. When the middle ear of
lizards is removed, their hearing likewise decreases by 35 to
57 dB in sensitivity, showing the importance of
impedance-matching to acute hearing even outside mammalian
species. See
http ://www.glue.umd.edu/~carr/Hearing/lecture4.html.
Also, Nelson’s digression shoots him in the foot on another
point, which is that such systems help establish the utility
of simpler systems in accomplishing the same function, which
is a point in favor of evolutionary development of the IC
impedance-matching function of the terrestrial mammalian
middle ear.

I’m a co-author on research that looked at hearing sensitivity
in white whales. Part of that paper discusses the loss of
impedance-matching reported by others in terrestrial mammals
placed in hyperbaric chambers. (You don’t have to use surgery
to reduce the efficacy of the middle ear’s
impedance-matching.)

Sam Ridgway, Donald Carder, Rob Smith, Tricia Kamolnick, and
Wesley Elsberry. 1997. First audiogram for marine mammals in
the open ocean and at depth: Hearing and whistling by two
white whales down to 30 atmospheres. The Journal of the
Acoustical Society of America Volume 101, Issue 5, p. 3136.

WRE>The human blood clotting system, one of Behe’s examples of
WRE>IC systems, is not *necessary* to circulation in much the
WRE>same way.”

NA>Why can’t any one anti-IDist be specific?

What, specifically, does Nelson think is vague about the
statement above? Human circulation occurs even if there is a
problem with the human blood clotting system. Terrestrial
mammalian hearing occurs, at reduced sensitivity, if the
impedance-matching function of the middle ear is compromised.
Trying to dismiss the impedance-matching function of the
mammalian middle ear on the grounds that hearing is not
entirely lost if it is interrupted should likewise cause ID
proponents to reject the example of the human blood clotting
system, which if interrupted does not mean that all
circulation stops.

[…]

Here’s some of what I’ve written on the topic before.

[Quote]

By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed
of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to
the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the
parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.

[End Quote – MJ Behe, Darwin’s Black Box, p.39]

The mammalian middle ear has on one side the tympanum, which
demarcates between middle and outer ear, and on the other the
oval window of the cochlea. In between the two are three
small bones, the malleus, incus, and stapes. These small
bones are articulated in series. What the system of tympanum,
malleus, incus, stapes, and oval window accomplish as a
function is the conversion of high-volume, low pressure
movements of sound in air at the tympanum into low-volume,
high-pressure movements of the oval window and thus the fluid
contents of the cochlea. In tech terms, the system is an
impedance-matching mechanism.

If any component of the system is removed, the
impedance-matching properties of the system go away, and
hearing thresholds are reduced by about 30 dB. With this
system in place, though, hearing can be quite sensitive.

This system appears to make a good match for Behe’s definition
of irreducible complexity. One might wonder why Behe doesn’t
use this instead of mousetraps. Well, one reason is that
there is a fossil record showing forms intermediate between
the reptilian ancestral condition and the mammalian anatomy,
and irreducible complexity doesn’t look so spiffy a concept if
one has to say that IC excludes evolutionary explanation,
except for this case that has been documented as having an
evolutionary explanation.

Wesley

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

38 thoughts on “Blast from the Past: IC and Impedance Matching

  • 2008/11/28 at 4:01 am
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    Arguing with Nelson Alonso isn’t a pleasant experience. One expects a certain orderliness in argumentation, and that aspect is all too often missing from Nelson’s long screeds. Nelson, one does not make up for a lack of quality in argument with quantity.

    Nelson starts his response with a quote from me:

    I pointed out that the mammalian middle ear ossicular chain is an IC system providing an impedance-matching function, and that the impedance-matching goes away if you remove any of the parts. Nelson tried to deny that this qualified as IC, at least in part because the fossil record is clear that the system evolved.

    Then he responded with this:

    Not surprisingly, that is completely false.

    Not so fast, Nelson. The first sentence has one assertion, that the mammalian middle ear is an example of an IC system. The remainder of the sentence lays out verifiable facts: the middle ear does match impedance, and the match of impedance is disrupted with the removal of any part of the system. One may argue about the assertion of IC-ness; that is a commonplace. But one cannot argue that the rest of that is untrue.

    In the forum I had made it as clear as I possibly could that the theory that this transition had no possible intermediates was a purely creationist claim with not-so-much importance to the concept of irreducible complexity, due to the differences in concepts that exist for the evolution of molecular machines vs. morphological characters.

    It’s not that I agree with everything I have written on the internet (people change). However, I have no idea where Elsberry gets the notion that my argument that the middle ear bone system is not IC was due to the fossil record being clear that the system evolved.

    In looking back at the Evolution list archive for September 2009, I can’t find a statement from Nelson that premises denial upon existing fossils, so I will retract the final clause of my sentence. So I’ll re-assert the first part:

    Nelson tried to deny that this qualified as IC.

    There is no question about that.

    In fact, Behe was very clear in his book that IC systems, can evolve, through circuitous routes, something that Elsberry, to this day, is quite obviously ignorant of.

    Maybe my being “ignorant of” something explains why I critiqued exactly that point back in 1998:

    Behe makes the claim that indirect routes to IC are increasingly unlikely as the complexity of the system gets higher. Behe, however, fails to establish that this assertion is true.

    Wait, though… ignorance generally means that someone couldn’t make a criticism of a concept if they didn’t have knowledge of the concept, so it seems Nelson must have a different definition of “ignorance” in mind than the one everyone else uses. In fact, the only available meaning that makes sense given the context is “knowledgeable”. (The Behe and Snoke paper from 2004 was an unsuccessful attempt to back up Behe’s earlier unsupported assertion. Yeah, I’m aware of that, too.)

    So that was never the issue. Nonetheless, I was arguing in the thread Wesley links to, against PvM, who claimed quite explicitely that hearing itself was the function of the higher middle ear system. And PvM was ( and is) quite wrong.

    And Pim had the good grace to acknowledge his error in that exchange after my post. As the long quote in the article above shows, I was directly correcting “MI” concerning both the function and the system at issue.

    But Nelson did not only seek to correct Pim, he also sought to argue against me, thus my reply taking up his responses. And I never argued that “hearing” was the function of interest.

    My argument was very simple, the middle ear bone system, with respect to hearing, does not require every component and therefore it is not irreducibly complex. I’ve said this several times within the same post.

    That would have been a fine response to Pim at the time before Pim got clued in by my post, but it was completely irrelevant to my argument, since I wasn’t arguing that “hearing” itself was the function of interest.

    Elsberry , in the same post, kept harping on impedance matching:

    And there was a reason for that.

    My point was not that impedance-matching in the middle ear is *necessary* to any amount of hearing, but rather that trying to dismiss the impedance-matching function on the basis that hearing itself is not completely eliminated is a digression.

    Nelson responds:

    However, it is not a “digression”, as the same argument is employed against the irreducible complexity of the eubacterial flagellum, and has been for years. That the flagellum can lose various parts and still function as a type III secretory system has been used by anti-ID activists for over a decade, especially at the recent ID trial. And rightly so , not a digression in this context, because it is relevant when thinking about how it might have developed. Thus, I was employing the same reasoning for the middle ear system.

    Given that the eardrum and the three middle ear bones are mechanically coupled in a serial fashion, impedance matching will be compromised if any part of the path is disrupted. However the hearing loss is not infinite due to interruption. This is because when sound reaches the oval and round windows it can still excite the cochlea leading to the perception of sound. With this direct acoustic route, the hearing sensitivity is compromised due to the impedance mismatch.

    First, it is a digression. Nelson’s denial of the IC-ness of the mammalian middle-ear system was directly tied to “hearing” not being completely eliminated. From his response at the time:

    ”It’s the impedance-matching function of the mammalian *middle* ear that is proffered as an example. I saw someone today saying that it is unnecessary to mammalian hearing. This ignores the fact that every piece is absolutely necessary to the impedance-matching function.

    This isn’t true, as I have stated above, one can remove the entire 3-bone system and I would still hear when pressure waves hit the oval window.

    That’s it. There is no evidence from that time that would indicate that any of the word salad Nelson engages in just above was in the offing.

    Second, there is no evidence that “the same argument” can be applied to deny IC-ness of the mammalian middle-ear system as is used to argue for the evolvability of the bacterial flagellum, and there is no evidence that any such approach was attempted or even contemplated in the actual words of Nelson’s earlier response to me. The argument used in the Kitzmiller case was that there existed intermediate steps of different functionality along the way to the full flagellum. For the mammalian middle-ear, what the fossil record reveals is a series of intermediate structures that provide the same functionality of impedance-matching.

    It’s tough to even think of a way in which Nelson’s argument might make sense. If he were intending to say that some function is preserved even when a part of the mammalian middle-ear is removed because hearing is not “infinitely” attenuated, that makes no sense because, first, “hearing” isn’t the function at issue, and second, there is no point in the fossil record that indicates that there ever was such a state in the transition from reptiles to mammals. The nifty thing about considering systems with data on their evolution is that one need not generate hypotheticals, and certainly not counterfactuals, as any conjecture of a state with a “missing” piece would be.

    I never stated that “hearing” was eliminated if a part of the mammalian middle ear was removed; the ‘infinite hearing loss’ thing is a complete red herring. I even provided data on how much sensitivity was lost. It is a finite and known quantity, where hearing is about a thousand times less sensitive without the impedance-matching function as it is with it.

    The rest of Nelson’s stuff appears to be more word salad without a point.

  • 2008/11/28 at 10:33 pm
    Permalink

    Elsberry writes:

    Arguing with Nelson Alonso isn’t a pleasant experience. One expects a certain orderliness in argumentation, and that aspect is all too often missing from Nelson’s long screeds. Nelson, one does not make up for a lack of quality in argument with quantity.

    I got you to retract a completely made up statement. How is that lacking quality?

    Elsberry:

    Not so fast, Nelson. The first sentence has one assertion, that the mammalian middle ear is an example of an IC system. The remainder of the sentence lays out verifiable facts: the middle ear does match impedance, and the match of impedance is disrupted with the removal of any part of the system. One may argue about the assertion of IC-ness; that is a commonplace. But one cannot argue that the rest of that is untrue.

    You didn’t understand my response, I was referring to the completely made up statement of yours that I was bringing up hearing due to the fossil record being clear that the system evolved, nothing can be further from the truth. Why did you make it up?

    Elsberry:

    Maybe my being “ignorant of” something explains why I critiqued exactly that point back in 1998:

    Then why did you claim in the same thread that:

    Also, Nelson’s digression shoots him in the foot on another point, which is that such systems help establish the utility of simpler systems in accomplishing the same function, which is a point in favor of evolutionary development of the IC impedance-matching function of the terrestrial mammalian middle ear.

    Why in the world would you say that if you knew that Behe allows for the possibility that IC systems can evolve? It makes no sense.

    That’s it. There is no evidence from that time that would indicate that any of the word salad Nelson engages in just above was in the offing.

    Simply not true, Wesley, I had written in the same thread:

    No, creationists, not IDists, use this to argue that there can be no incipient stages between the reptile and human hearing. Nothing at all to do with ID. The issue is transitional stages.

    and

    The mammalian ear had the help of a developmental program.Molecular machines
    do not, they are what evolution uses.

    Perhaps not thinking that everything written by people who disagree with you is “word salad”, your reading comprehension would improve.

    Elsberry writes:

    Second, there is no evidence that “the same argument” can be applied to deny IC-ness of the mammalian middle-ear system as is used to argue for the evolvability of the bacterial flagellum,

    There absolutely is. To merely transmit sound energy, the middle ear should only contain a single ossicle (a columella like the birds) but in order to cope with static pressure changes and other active mechanisms as the acoustic reflex, the middle ear contains several ossicles. This is non-optimal as sound transmitter, but enables protective mechanisms. This is relevant when thinking about how impedance matching would develop and you even admit this in the forum.

    Elsberry:

    The argument used in the Kitzmiller case was that there existed intermediate steps of different functionality along the way to the full flagellum.

    Really now, the flagella has some 50 proteins explain each and every function leading up to the full flagellum. I’m only aware of type III secretion and ATP synthesis.

    Elsberry:

    For the mammalian middle-ear, what the fossil record reveals is a series of intermediate structures that provide the same functionality of impedance-matching.

    I thought you said that every part of the middle ear is required for impedance matching. Not all species have every part of the mammalian middle ear, and it’s utility in hearing probably played a role in developing this functionality. If there is a discontinuity with a definite gap in the ossicular chain, then there is usually a 50-60dB loss in sensitivity. If there is a tympanic
    membrane perforation, hearing loss can range from 5 to 30dB depending on size. The 3 ossicles can be replaced with a single ossicle or equivalent with, in the best case scenario, only about a 10dB loss in transmission re the intact chain.

    Elsberry:

    The rest of Nelson’s stuff appears to be more word salad without a point.

    Evolution is an interesting subject, you should look into it.

  • 2008/11/28 at 10:50 pm
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    You know what is funny, each and every comment of mine is moderated. I happen to remember you and steve ridiculing Telic Thoughts for many comments stuck in the moderation queue, accusing us of purposely looking closely at every comment and how tedious this is. How is this not hypocrisy?

  • 2008/11/29 at 11:25 am
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    This is my personal weblog, and I am up-front about how moderation occurs here.

    Nor is Nelson’s memory about the incident in question accurate. I did not “ridicule Telic Thoughts”, as one can see from my comment. Nelson claimed that Steve Story was engaging in “deception” to say that TT had his comment in a moderation queue; Nelson’s evidence for deception being that Steve’s comment eventually was approved. I pointed out that having one’s comments go into a moderation queue is not inconsistent with them eventually being published, therefore the “deception” claim was unfounded.

    When one goes to that link here on AtBC, one finds Steve saying that his comment was in a moderation queue, meaning it did not simply appear on the site as and when submitted. It does not claim that the comment was never published, so showing the comment was published is precisely irrelevant to Steve’s comment.

  • 2008/11/29 at 11:35 am
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    Nelson Alonso:

    You didn’t understand my response, I was referring to the completely made up statement of yours that I was bringing up hearing due to the fossil record being clear that the system evolved, nothing can be further from the truth. Why did you make it up?

    Saying “that is completely false” doesn’t specify the one clause out of the complete quote that Nelson’s claim follows. Speaking of hypocrisy, Nelson had an offhand comment years ago saying that I wasn’t “specific”. That cuts both ways. As for making things up, I was relying on an eight-year-old memory of the gestalt of the discussion, so I likely was conflating Nelson’s particular stance and some other correspondent. In any case, the primary assertion is still true, even if my recollection of a contributing motivation to denial can’t be substantiated easily.

  • 2008/11/29 at 11:51 am
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    Me:

    Also, Nelson’s digression shoots him in the foot on another point, which is that such systems help establish the utility of simpler systems in accomplishing the same function, which is a point in favor of evolutionary development of the IC impedance-matching function of the terrestrial mammalian middle ear.

    Nelson Alonso:

    Why in the world would you say that if you knew that Behe allows for the possibility that IC systems can evolve? It makes no sense.

    First, I was arguing with Nelson Alonso, not Mike Behe. Second, the point also goes to Behe’s unsupported claim that indirect paths are necessarily more improbable. The more instances of evolved IC systems that are enumerated, the less tenable that claim is. Third, while Behe concedes that IC systems in theory might evolve, one will not find Behe doing much in the way of admitting that any particular IC system has evolved. Quite the contrary. Pointing out examples is all to the good in this respect.

  • 2008/11/29 at 12:04 pm
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    It’s always a hoot when an antievolutionist quote-mines.

    Nelson quoting me, then responding:

    Second, there is no evidence that “the same argument” can be applied to deny IC-ness of the mammalian middle-ear system as is used to argue for the evolvability of the bacterial flagellum,

    There absolutely is. To merely transmit sound energy, the middle ear should only contain a single ossicle (a columella like the birds) but in order to cope with static pressure changes and other active mechanisms as the acoustic reflex, the middle ear contains several ossicles. This is non-optimal as sound transmitter, but enables protective mechanisms. This is relevant when thinking about how impedance matching would develop and you even admit this in the forum.

    Not that any of that has a thing to do with whether a system is considered irreducibly complex or not, thus it is, as I said, a digression. Nelson is long on verbosity, but very short on trying to argue that consideration of an evolutionary pathway has anything to do with denying IC status to a system. And given his harping here on the theoretical ability of evolving IC systems, he can’t, lest he prove himself a hypocrite.

    But the cherry on top is Nelson’s choice of what to leave off the quote from me:

    Second, there is no evidence that “the same argument” can be applied to deny IC-ness of the mammalian middle-ear system as is used to argue for the evolvability of the bacterial flagellum, and there is no evidence that any such approach was attempted or even contemplated in the actual words of Nelson’s earlier response to me.

    So how about that, Nelson? The record of what you said eight years ago is fixed, and it doesn’t have a bit of this stuff that you are saying now. Not that this newer stuff has any relevance to IC-ness, you know.

  • 2008/12/01 at 12:28 am
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    Elsberry wrote:

    Nor is Nelson’s memory about the incident in question accurate. I did not “ridicule Telic Thoughts”, as one can see from my comment. Nelson claimed that Steve Story was engaging in “deception” to say that TT had his comment in a moderation queue

    No, that has nothing to do with the issue I just brought up here. The comment from Steve I’m referring to is:

    It appears I’ve been put in the moderation queue at TT. I’m so glad I don’t moderate a creationist site. Who’s got the time and energy to specifically pore over every possible critical comment and judge it? Anyway that just reeks of insecurity.

    So how about it Wesley, are you insecure? To use your words there is no evidence that there was any attempt by you in justifying such an approach to moderation to Steve.

    Elsberry:

    Saying “that is completely false” doesn’t specify the one clause out of the complete quote that Nelson’s claim follows. Speaking of hypocrisy, Nelson had an offhand comment years ago saying that I wasn’t “specific”.

    That doesn’t make any sense. First , I was quite specific as to which part of the quote was (and is) completely false, namely, that I was disagreeing with you because I didn’t think the middle ear bone system evolved. Second, I was also quite specific that I agreed every part of the system is required for impedance matching.

    Elsberry:

    First, I was arguing with Nelson Alonso.

    And I said quite clearly in the thread that it was not an issue and that it had the help of a developmental program, not that it didn’t evolve.

    Elsberry:

    Not that any of that has a thing to do with whether a system is considered irreducibly complex or not, thus it is, as I said, a digression. Nelson is long on verbosity, but very short on trying to argue that consideration of an evolutionary pathway has anything to do with denying IC status to a system. And given his harping here on the theoretical ability of evolving IC systems, he can’t, lest he prove himself a hypocrite.

    I do so in all of my responses, if a system can ride a function that is not irreducibly complex then it can evolve through it. Even Behe has said so.

    Regarding this quote:

    and there is no evidence that any such approach was attempted or even contemplated in the actual words of Nelson’s earlier response to me.

    I left it out because I had already discussed how it certainly was contemplated, I said that the idea that the middel ear bone system did not evolve was a purely creationist claim, not a ID, and that such systems evolve with the help of a developmental program.

  • 2008/12/01 at 2:54 am
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    No, that has nothing to do with the issue I just brought up here. The comment from Steve I’m referring to is:

    It appears I’ve been put in the moderation queue at TT. I’m so glad I don’t moderate a creationist site. Who’s got the time and energy to specifically pore over every possible critical comment and judge it? Anyway that just reeks of insecurity.

    So how about it Wesley, are you insecure? To use your words there is no evidence that there was any attempt by you in justifying such an approach to moderation to Steve.

    Huh? The comment of mine I linked to and quoted referred to the very same comment from Steve Story, thus “that has nothing to do with the issue” is contradicted outright. Again, Nelson can’t substantiate the claim that I ridiculed Telic Thought’s moderation policy for the simple reason that I haven’t done so. I did point out that Nelson was wrong in his charge of deception against Steve Story; that doesn’t require that I agree with all of Steve’s opinions. Nor do I feel the need to “justify” my moderation policy on my personal weblog to either Steve Story or Nelson Alonso. The reader can come to a conclusion of whether I’m “insecure” or not. Nelson is wrong yet again. It seems to be his usual state.

    Saying “that is completely false” doesn’t specify the one clause out of the complete quote that Nelson’s claim follows. Speaking of hypocrisy, Nelson had an offhand comment years ago saying that I wasn’t “specific”.

    That doesn’t make any sense. First , I was quite specific as to which part of the quote was (and is) completely false, namely, that I was disagreeing with you because I didn’t think the middle ear bone system evolved. Second, I was also quite specific that I agreed every part of the system is required for impedance matching.

    It makes all kind of sense. The follow-up sought not only to assert falsity of the final clause, but also took issue with the rest of the quoted statement.

    First, I was arguing with Nelson Alonso.

    And I said quite clearly in the thread that it was not an issue and that it had the help of a developmental program, not that it didn’t evolve.

    I said that Nelson had denied the mammalian middle ear system was irreducibly complex. I didn’t say that Nelson denied that it evolved. Bait and switch tactic on Nelson’s part noted.

    Not that any of that has a thing to do with whether a system is considered irreducibly complex or not, thus it is, as I said, a digression. Nelson is long on verbosity, but very short on trying to argue that consideration of an evolutionary pathway has anything to do with denying IC status to a system. And given his harping here on the theoretical ability of evolving IC systems, he can’t, lest he prove himself a hypocrite.

    I do so in all of my responses, if a system can ride a function that is not irreducibly complex then it can evolve through it. Even Behe has said so.

    What, exactly, is Nelson’s point? Those three sentences clarify nothing, but seem to imply that a response has been made. Is IC a property of a system with respect to a particular function, as Behe’s original definition of IC asserted? Or is IC a property of the ontogeny of a system, as Behe’s later “evolutionary” definition asserted? My discussion in 2000 was premised on IC being a property of a system with respect to a specified function.

    The same month, Nelson had a comment that indicated that he, too, was working with a definition of IC that only relied on a particular function and the operation of the system with respect to that function.

    Any discussion of other functions, “developmental pathways”, and other bafflegab had nothing to do with assessing whether the property of IC applies. The theoretical ability of evolution of IC conceded by IDC advocates is undercut by attempts to make IC an ontogenetic consideration. ‘Sure, evolution can evolve IC, but not if it happens like this or that,’ is the upshot of such sloppiness, and that is exactly what we’ve seen in Nelson’s further eight-years-after-the-fact responses. Which leads to this:

    Regarding this quote:

    and there is no evidence that any such approach was attempted or even contemplated in the actual words of Nelson’s earlier response to me.

    I left it out because I had already discussed how it certainly was contemplated, I said that the idea that the middel ear bone system did not evolve was a purely creationist claim, not a ID, and that such systems evolve with the help of a developmental program.

    Nelson is an expert in exploiting ambiguity of reference, and this response shows him in top form at that.

    Here is the complete set of what Nelson said in response to me in 2000 on this topic:

    This isn’t true, as I have stated above, one can remove the entire 3-bone
    system and I would still hear when pressure waves hit the oval window.

    Mere observation can tell us this is false, the one-bone system of reptiles
    make them hear quite well.

    Why can’t any one anti-IDist be specific?

    It’s entirely composed of simple nay-saying and unsupported sneering. There’s no stuff about ontogenetic challenges to assigning an IC property to a system accomplishing a particular function.

    Let’s cut to the chase… after eight years, is Nelson prepared to admit that the mammalian middle ear is irreducibly complex with respect to the function of impedance-matching under a non-ontogenetic definition of IC?

  • 2008/12/01 at 4:30 pm
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    I have it on good authority that Nelson Alonso’s shameful display at AtBC was one of the main reason Mike Gene left TT. Y’see the big cheese recently got a big promotion at his workplace, and to be associated with a__holes like Guts would ruin it for aspiring telic scientists. ;-) One can just imagine a review committee poring over ID websites to find the kernels of ID research… oh wait, that’s Guts wet dream.

  • 2008/12/02 at 11:13 pm
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    was wrote:

    I have it on good authority that Nelson Alonso’s shameful display at AtBC was one of the main reason Mike Gene left TT.

    I’m pretty sure that you’re lying though. Fabrication seems to be a huge problem in anti-ID activist circles.

  • 2008/12/02 at 11:28 pm
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    Elsberry wrote:

    Huh? The comment of mine I linked to and quoted referred to the very same comment from Steve Story, thus “that has nothing to do with the issue” is contradicted outright.

    What do you mean “huh?”, you wrote this:

    Nor is Nelson’s memory about the incident in question accurate. I did not “ridicule Telic Thoughts”, as one can see from my comment. Nelson claimed that Steve Story was engaging in “deception” to say that TT had his comment in a moderation queue. I pointed out that having one’s comments go into a moderation queue is not inconsistent with them eventually being published, therefore the “deception” claim was unfounded.

    The issue that I brought up had nothing to do with whether comments would eventually be published. My issue was that you are showing hypocrisy by allowing Steve’s assertion that if any comment is caught in a moderation queue it smells of insecurity, and yet here you are in all your insecurity, moderation each and every comment. You never mentioned once any justification for such an act.

    Elsberry:

    It makes all kind of sense. The follow-up sought not only to assert falsity of the final clause, but also took issue with the rest of the quoted statement.

    Of course, that is simply not true. I had made it quite clear that impedance matching is required by every part of the system and is Irreducibly complex, even in the comment section. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Elsberry:

    I said that Nelson had denied the mammalian middle ear system was irreducibly complex. I didn’t say that Nelson denied that it evolved. Bait and switch tactic on Nelson’s part noted.

    Elsberry, you see that crossed out section up in your post there?

    at least in part because the fossil record is clear that the system evolved.

    Not surprisingly, nothing can be further from the truth.

    Elsberry wrote:

    Is IC a property of a system with respect to a particular function, as Behe’s original definition of IC asserted? Or is IC a property of the ontogeny of a system, as Behe’s later “evolutionary” definition asserted? My discussion in 2000 was premised on IC being a property of a system with respect to a specified function.

    Your bizarre response is only dwarfed by your penchant to talk to me in the third person. I have no idea what this has to do with what I wrote. That circuitous routes can lead to the evolution of a system , because such circuitous routes are not IC or at least, are not IC such that each and every alternative function requires every single part, then it can evolve. I have no idea why this is such a difficult subject for you.

    Elsberry:

    The same month, Nelson had a comment that indicated that he, too, was working with a definition of IC that only relied on a particular function and the operation of the system with respect to that function.

    Huh? IC is defined with respect to a particular funtion.

    Elsberry:

    Any discussion of other functions, “developmental pathways”, and other bafflegab had nothing to do with assessing whether the property of IC applies.

    My argument isn’t whether impedance matching is IC, it is. My argument is that it is not IC with respect to hearing. I made this clear in my response and in the comment section days before you responded.

    Elsberry:

    The theoretical ability of evolution of IC conceded by IDC advocates is undercut by attempts to make IC an ontogenetic consideration.

    “Conceded” is a ridiculous term to use, Behe “conceded” this a page after he defined IC. 8 years after the fact lol.

    Elsberry:

    What, exactly, is Nelson’s point?

    lol

    Elberry:

    Let’s cut to the chase… after eight years, is Nelson prepared to admit that the mammalian middle ear is irreducibly complex with respect to the function of impedance-matching under a non-ontogenetic definition of IC?

    I said so days before you wrote this, none of your responses make any logical sense whatsoever nor do you show evidence of even a spec of reading comprehension.

  • 2008/12/03 at 1:56 am
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    I remember arguing about this with Nelson around 2000 on the ARN forums; however I think all those posts were lost in the various Great Server Crashes.

    The basic issue was as follows:

    1. ID advocates like Nelson (and Mike Gene, back then) wanted to be able to say that IC, meaning multiple required parts, indicated gradual natural evolution of a system was impossible/wildly improbable

    2. So the example of the middle-ear bones was brought up; removing them (as in certain diseases) causes deafness, or at the very least loss of impedance-matching. Thus the system is IC.

    3. But there is a fossil record showing the gradual evolution of the middle-ear bone system

    4. Which would mean IC is not a barrier to evolution, and thus Behe & ID’s best argument were nuked

    5. So Nelson would try various word games to avoid the conclusion that the middle-ear system was IC

    Ditto for several other IC systems.

    PS: Nelson, on the flagellum, there are many more homologs of flagellum proteins with other functions. Look up MotA, MotB, FlgA, CheC, chemotaxis proteins in general, etc. Not to mention the flagellum proteins that are duplicates of each other (the axial proteins) or not required in various flagella (there are only about 20 proteins universally required now, and almost all of them have known homologs with other functions).

    Cheers!

  • 2008/12/03 at 3:44 am
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    Wesley

    In answer to your question in comment 10 Nelson says (at Telic Thoughts

    # Alan Fox Says:
    December 3rd, 2008 at 4:30 am

    So, your answer to Wesley’s question is an unequivocal “Yes”?

    Comment by Alan Fox — December 3, 2008 @ 4:30 am
    # Guts Says:
    December 3rd, 2008 at 4:33 am

    Yes, I even mentioned that many times before he wrote it. The important issue is the origin of IC systems, not whether one or another actually is. In fact, I’d say most biological systems are irreducibly complex.

    Comment by Guts — December 3, 2008 @ 4:33 am

  • 2008/12/03 at 4:17 am
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    Me:

    Huh? The comment of mine I linked to and quoted referred to the very same comment from Steve Story, thus “that has nothing to do with the issue” is contradicted outright.

    Nelson:

    What do you mean “huh?”, you wrote this:

    Nor is Nelson’s memory about the incident in question accurate. I did not “ridicule Telic Thoughts”, as one can see from my comment. Nelson claimed that Steve Story was engaging in “deception” to say that TT had his comment in a moderation queue. I pointed out that having one’s comments go into a moderation queue is not inconsistent with them eventually being published, therefore the “deception” claim was unfounded.

    The issue that I brought up had nothing to do with whether comments would eventually be published.

    That was the issue. Here’s my original comment on AtBC quoting you pursuing exactly that issue:

    Quote (Guts @ July 06 2008,02:23)
    I’ll post another example of deception, this time from steve:

    http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin….y110698

    He claims that we moderated his comment, and yet here it is on the live site:

    http://telicthoughts.com/aiguys-computer/#comment-193776

    When one goes to that link here on AtBC, one finds Steve saying that his comment was in a moderation queue, meaning it did not simply appear on the site as and when submitted. It does not claim that the comment was never published, so showing the comment was published is precisely irrelevant to Steve’s comment.

    Nelson accused Steve Story of engaging in deception because Steve said it appeared that his comment was in a moderation queue at TT, when Steve’s comment eventually got approved and published. I pointed out that eventual publication doesn’t speak to the issue of whether a moderation queue was employed or not. Unable to get any traction there, Nelson continues to pursue a non-starter of an argument, that somehow I’m insecure because I put all comments on my personal weblog in a moderation queue. The fact that this exchange continues is sufficient refutation of that particular canard.

    Nelson:

    My issue was that you are showing hypocrisy by allowing Steve’s assertion that if any comment is caught in a moderation queue it smells of insecurity, and yet here you are in all your insecurity, moderation each and every comment.

    No, as I just documented, Nelson’s issue was that Nelson claimed deception on Steve’s part because of Nelson’s perpetual perceptual cognition problems, and didn’t like it that I pointed that out. Having struck out at trying to cast that as “ridicule” of moderation policies at Telic Thoughts on my part, Nelson is now flailing desperately to hit upon some strategem by which he can claim to have been right all along, even though his error count on this line of exchange is now at four: the original false claim of deception on the part of Steve Story, the more recent false claim that I ridiculed the moderation policy at Telic Thoughts when I pointed out the falseness of the first claim, the false claim that I’m somehow insecure, and the false claim that I’m showing hypocrisy because I don’t censor what Steve Story says.

    Nelson:

    You never mentioned once any justification for such an act.

    Who does Nelson think he is that I should justify how I choose to moderate my personal weblog to him? My choice, Nelson. Should I be consulting Nelson Alonso for tips on moderation? I don’t think so.

    Me:

    It makes all kind of sense. The follow-up sought not only to assert falsity of the final clause, but also took issue with the rest of the quoted statement.

    Nelson:

    Of course, that is simply not true. I had made it quite clear that impedance matching is required by every part of the system and is Irreducibly complex, even in the comment section. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

    I’ve reviewed the original reply from Nelson back in 2000, and then he was claiming that I was wrong to say that the mammalian middle ear was irreducibly complex with respect to impedance matching. In the Telic Thoughts post of Nelson’s, he does say all the parts are required, but I’m not seeing any direct statement that the mammalian middle ear is irreducibly complex with respect to impedance matching. I hadn’t looked at comments there, but even taking those into account, there is still no direct statement from Nelson saying that the mammalian middle ear is irreducibly complex. If I’m wrong, it would be simple enough for Nelson to substantiate that. I’m not holding my breath. I have, though, saved a copy of the thread so that I can compare that in case he edits stuff on Telic Thoughts to invent a false history.

    Me:

    I said that Nelson had denied the mammalian middle ear system was irreducibly complex. I didn’t say that Nelson denied that it evolved. Bait and switch tactic on Nelson’s part noted.

    Nelson:

    Elsberry, you see that crossed out section up in your post there?

    at least in part because the fossil record is clear that the system evolved.

    Not surprisingly, nothing can be further from the truth.

    Not being able to substantiate Nelson’s motivation is not the issue at this point. I at least can discuss the content of Nelson’s errors with respect to the mammalian middle ear and impedance matching.

    But maybe the above indicates another error on Nelson’s part… he might be erroneously thinking that the quoted clause is a statement that I thought he was denying the evolution of the mammalian middle ear. Irony meters everywhere are endangered by Nelson going on to claim that my reading comprehension is lacking. It is a commonality among IDC cheerleaders to respond to examples of evolved systems being said to have the IC property with the rejoinder that since it evolved it can’t be IC. They aren’t then denying the system as having evolved, but rather attempting to rescue the IC concept by denying that the evolved system represents an instance of IC without a necessary designer.

    Me:

    What, exactly, is Nelson’s point? Those three sentences clarify nothing, but seem to imply that a response has been made. Is IC a property of a system with respect to a particular function, as Behe’s original definition of IC asserted? Or is IC a property of the ontogeny of a system, as Behe’s later “evolutionary” definition asserted? My discussion in 2000 was premised on IC being a property of a system with respect to a specified function.

    Nelson:

    Your bizarre response

    Translation: I didn’t understand it and can’t find my dictionary.

    Nelson:

    is only dwarfed by your penchant to talk to me in the third person.

    With a sequence of quotes here and quotes there, sentences with pronouns could get separated from referents. It keeps things clear to specify who a particular sentence is about. Too bad if Nelson gets upset over keeping things clear; clarity is apparently something to be avoided in Nelson’s world.

    Nelson:

    I have no idea what this has to do with what I wrote. That circuitous routes can lead to the evolution of a system , because such circuitous routes are not IC or at least, are not IC such that each and every alternative function requires every single part, then it can evolve. I have no idea why this is such a difficult subject for you.

    From the record, I’d say it isn’t me that is having the problems. First, Nelson denied the plain facts I stated back in 2000. Now, Nelson is being hammered time after time on his digressions, his obsessions, and his attempts to weasel out of the bind he put himself in. Tough luck, Nelson.

    One doesn’t need to bring up “routes”, circuitous or otherwise, to determine whether a system is IC with respect to a particular function. One only needs do so if one is trying instead to utilize an ontogenetic IC definition, one where “IC” status is only conferred on systems whose origin happened in particular ways. I have no idea why this is so difficult for Nelson to grasp.

    Me:

    The same month, Nelson had a comment that indicated that he, too, was working with a definition of IC that only relied on a particular function and the operation of the system with respect to that function.

    Nelson:

    Huh? IC is defined with respect to a particular funtion.

    Nelson had to have been confused back in 2000, then, because at that time when I specified the system (the mammalian middle ear) and the function (impedance matching):

    It’s the impedance-matching function of the mammalian *middle* ear that is proffered as an example. I saw someone today saying that it is unnecessary to mammalian hearing. This ignores the fact that every piece is absolutely necessary to the impedance-matching function. That function goes away (with about a 30 dB re 1 microbar decrease in sensitivity, or about 1 / (2^10) the original sensitivity) if any of the parts are removed. The human blood clotting system, one of Behe’s examples of IC systems, is not *necessary* to circulation in much the same way.

    Nelson’s response was:

    This isn’t true, as I have stated above, one can remove the entire 3-bone system and I would still hear when pressure waves hit the oval window.

    Apparently, Nelson couldn’t keep straight that IC is evaluated with respect to a specified function, and I had clearly specified the function of interest as impedance matching. More recently, Nelson was apparently annoyed that I “kept harping on” impedance matching. Well, it seemed to be necessary to get the point across.

    Me:

    Any discussion of other functions, “developmental pathways”, and other bafflegab had nothing to do with assessing whether the property of IC applies. ‘Sure, evolution can evolve IC, but not if it happens like this or that,’ is the upshot of such sloppiness, and that is exactly what we’ve seen in Nelson’s further eight-years-after-the-fact responses.

    Nelson:

    My argument isn’t whether impedance matching is IC, it is. My argument is that it is not IC with respect to hearing. I made this clear in my response and in the comment section days before you responded.

    What is the referent for the bolded “it” in Nelson’s stuff above? If “it” is “the mammalian middle ear”, then that’s a complete irrelevancy, since I’ve never argued that the mammalian middle ear was IC with respect to “hearing”. If “it” is “impedance matching”, then Nelson is simply confused, because functions aren’t up for being considered irreducibly complex, only the structures or mechanisms that implement functions. Either way, chalk up another failure for Nelson.

    Me:

    The theoretical ability of evolution of IC conceded by IDC advocates is undercut by attempts to make IC an ontogenetic consideration.

    Nelson:

    “Conceded” is a ridiculous term to use, Behe “conceded” this a page after he defined IC. 8 years after the fact lol.

    “Conceded” is an excellent term to use. Assigning the IC property to actual evolved systems seems not to happen much, if at all, and whenever the possibility is broached, as in Behe’s discussion in DBB, it is couched in terms that clearly indicate that one shouldn’t expect to see that outcome much, if at all.

    Me:

    What, exactly, is Nelson’s point?

    Nelson:

    lol

    Let’s restore the context:

    Nelson:

    Not that any of that has a thing to do with whether a system is considered irreducibly complex or not, thus it is, as I said, a digression. Nelson is long on verbosity, but very short on trying to argue that consideration of an evolutionary pathway has anything to do with denying IC status to a system. And given his harping here on the theoretical ability of evolving IC systems, he can’t, lest he prove himself a hypocrite.

    I do so in all of my responses, if a system can ride a function that is not irreducibly complex then it can evolve through it. Even Behe has said so.

    Me:

    What, exactly, is Nelson’s point? Those three sentences clarify nothing, but seem to imply that a response has been made. Is IC a property of a system with respect to a particular function, as Behe’s original definition of IC asserted? Or is IC a property of the ontogeny of a system, as Behe’s later “evolutionary” definition asserted? My discussion in 2000 was premised on IC being a property of a system with respect to a specified function.

    So, Nelson “lol”s his opaque verbiage. “lol” seems to be Nelson’s way of saying “Being completely obfuscatory means never having to say ‘I was wrong’.”

    Me:

    Let’s cut to the chase… after eight years, is Nelson prepared to admit that the mammalian middle ear is irreducibly complex with respect to the function of impedance-matching under a non-ontogenetic definition of IC?

    Nelson:

    I said so days before you wrote this, none of your responses make any logical sense whatsoever nor do you show evidence of even a spec of reading comprehension.

    Nelson projects pretty fiercely, as I’ve shown above. I’m glad Nelson says here that the mammalian middle ear is irreducibly complex with respect to the impedance matching function; it would have been better if Nelson’s reading comprehension had been up to the task eight years ago. Nelson could have spared himself the humiliation that he seems, by his coming back for round after round, to desperately desire.

    Oh, yeah, now that Nelson pointed out the comments over at TT, I guess I’d be remiss not to note another plain error on his part.

    Nelson on impedance:

    Actually thats not correct. There is no “transition” from poor impedance matching to better impedance matching. As I mentioned, “impedance matching” refers to an “equality” of two impedances. So the concept “poor impedance matching” is kind of an oxymoron.

    Acoustic impedance can vary, as Ross reported back in 1968 (JASA 43(3):491-505). Impedance is a complex value, and its variation is quantitative, not qualitative. Impedance matching can be graded, so “oxymoron” cannot be invoked as describing the phrase “poor impedance matching”. Tonndorf and Khanna reported on experimental results in 1966 that changing the gas to the outside of the tympanum in cats to xenon resulted in up to a 15 dB improvement of transmission in some frequencies in the range of 500 to 1600 Hz. If transmission of acoustic energy only occurred with a precise match of impedances, as Nelson claims above, changing the conditions for the impedance matching should abolish the contribution of the middle ear system, and we should see the same characteristic drop in sensitivity that is observed when the middle ear structure is disrupted. That’s not the case. Killion and Dallos showed in 1979 that the impedance mismatch varies with frequency, and that the middle ear apparatus has its best performance when the input sound is at the resonant frequency of the outer ear, and has reduced, but not absent, function for other frequencies. In other words, “poor impedance matching” was quantified in their research, a result that hardly fits as an “oxymoron”. The “equality” phrasing Nelson uses as a rhetorical club to bully Zachriel indicts Nelson as talking out of his hat; the research is clear that acoustic impedance in audition is not a fixed, unitary quantity, but rather is dependent on several factors.

    OK, let’s have another exposure of Nelson’s inadequacies in acoustics:

    One of the problems the middle ear has to overcome is the mismatch in impedance between air and the cochlea, but impedance matching by the middle ear results in only a 30 dB increase in sound energy transmitted to the inner ear. But the ear is sensitive to a range of 100 dB.

    Is Nelson forgetting, or perhaps never learned, that the decibel system is based on the logarithm of a ratio? Thus, a 30 dB difference in sensitivity corresponds to hearing that is about 1000 times more sensitive than without it. I gave that information to Nelson eight years ago. That’s a long time to not get a clue. If Nelson was trying to diminish the functional importance of impedance matching, he was being a nincompoop.

    Nelson is a poser when it comes to talking about technical aspects of acoustics.

  • 2008/12/03 at 7:52 am
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    Austringer: Killion and Dallos showed in 1979 that the impedance mismatch varies with frequency, and that the middle ear apparatus has its best performance when the input sound is at the resonant frequency of the outer ear, and has reduced, but not absent, function for other frequencies.

    We could say that impedance is matched for some frequency. Without a middle ear, the body acts as the sound receptor, and is ‘optimized’ for very low, undifferentiated frequencies, e.g. the thudding of large creatures. However, there is a decided advantage to a smaller tympanic membrane (and associated middle ear to couple the sound) to optimize for the sound of the slight crinkling of a leaf as a predator tries to sneak up on its prey.

  • 2008/12/03 at 8:16 am
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    In any case, it’s silly to try to argue that the mammalian middle ear works to any reasonable degree to any reasonable function if you remove one of the ossicles. It is certainly irreducible.

    And it is also complex. It may be only three bones and a membrane, but each ossicle is a complex structure, or in Dembski’s phrase, each ossicle is a “well-matched, mutually interacting, nonarbitrarily individuated part”.

  • 2008/12/03 at 8:19 am
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    Alan,

    When Nelson says, “Yes, I even mentioned that many times before he wrote it,” I say that’s BS. Back in 2000, Nelson was doing straight-up denial, as evidenced by his response to me that was all “you’re wrong” and no “of course it is”. Flash forward eight years, and his response in the opening post doesn’t do the “of course it is” thing, either. What he has there is:

    My argument was very simple, the middle ear bone system, with respect to hearing, does not require every component and therefore it is not irreducibly complex. I’ve said this several times within the same post.

    Elsberry , in the same post, kept harping on impedance matching:

    Nelson’s MO is as it also has been, to obfuscate without regard for the truth, and to incessantly proclaim what is false over and over until everyone but him gets tired of the whole thing. Nelson seems to erroneously think that that sort of argument-by-exhaustion-of-correspondents actually accomplishes something other than showing a particularly unseemly personality trait on his part.

    It’s nice that Nelson finally has admitted that “of course it is” is what he should have said eight years ago and in his opening post at TT, but no one should be fooled into believing that is what he said all along. As I noted, if I were wrong about this, it should be easy to show that I was wrong. That, you will note, is not happening. Instead, you can see for yourself the digressions and general abuse Nelson dishes out in lieu of making the one kind of demonstration that would make a difference, a clear statement from eight years back or more that clearly has “yes, the mammalian middle ear is irreducibly complex with respect to the impedance matching function.”

  • 2008/12/03 at 9:00 am
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    As for Nelson’s “creationism meme” thing, he trots out:

    However, I don’t think that’s true, as in the comment section he still insists that I am “anti-evolution” (see here ), despite discussing some rather pro-evolutionary ideas and important aspects of evo-devo.

    Antievolutionists proclaiming themselves not to be antievolution is old school creationism, as evidenced by the various “creation science” books and affidavits that have those folks saying much the same sort of thing. I knew Nelson didn’t like me much, but I hadn’t realized that he thought I was stupid enough to fall for that one.

  • 2008/12/03 at 12:12 pm
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    Nick Matzke’s comment suggests a motive for what has transpired. I cross-posted it at TT, and I am sure Nelson will wish to clarify matters.

  • 2008/12/04 at 12:08 am
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    Elsberry:

    say that’s BS. Back in 2000, Nelson was doing straight-up denial, as evidenced by his response to me that was all “you’re wrong” and no “of course it is”.

    But of course, I was referring to my recent responses. You really don’t seem to have read past the first sentenced, or at least that is as much as you comprehended.

  • 2008/12/04 at 1:08 am
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    Elsberry:

    Antievolutionists proclaiming themselves not to be antievolution is old school creationism, as evidenced by the various “creation science” books and affidavits that have those folks saying much the same sort of thing. I knew Nelson didn’t like me much, but I hadn’t realized that he thought I was stupid enough to fall for that one.

    And yet you can’t substantiate a completely made up remark which includes an accusation of anti-evolution.

  • 2008/12/04 at 1:49 am
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    Elsberry writes:

    In other words, “poor impedance matching” was quantified in their research, a result that hardly fits as an “oxymoron”. The “equality” phrasing Nelson uses as a rhetorical club to bully Zachriel indicts Nelson as talking out of his hat; the research is clear that acoustic impedance in audition is not a fixed, unitary quantity, but rather is dependent on several factors.

    I’ll have a look at the papers you reference, but my point was respect to loss of ossicles, not with respect to varying frequency. That if the eardrum is no longer physically connected to the inner ear,the impedance matching effectively reduces to zero. There is no “partial impedance matching” if a single ossicle is lost, that would make it not IC. At lower frequencies, the TM itself is acting as a spring where the stiffness impedes sound transmission and at higher frequencies the TM breaks up in portion making the effective area smaller and the impedance mating less optimal.

    Elsberry:

    It’s nice that Nelson finally has admitted that “of course it is” is what he should have said eight years ago and in his opening post at TT, but no one should be fooled into believing that is what he said all along.

    Elsberry, it seems that when you argue your reading comprehension effectively reduces to zero. I had said this in the very response I reposted here:

    Given that the eardrum and the three middle ear bones are mechanically coupled in a serial fashion, impedance matching will be compromised if any part of the path is disrupted.

    That is the very definition of irreducible complexity, here again in the comment section:

    responding to the question of “Does that mean you agree that the flagellum is not IC?”

    The flagellum is IC as a motility organelle, if you remove one part, the machine doesn’t work. But as a type III secretion system, it does work without various parts.

    Then I bring the point home by making the comparison:

    If the eardrum is no longer physically connected to the inner ear, i.e. loss of a single ossicle, the impedance matching effectively reduces to zero (in fact “poor impedance matching” is just an oxymoron), but hearing does not require all parts of the system. In my opinion, this is apples and oranges though.

    Moving back up the post:

    Elsberry:

    “Conceded” is an excellent term to use. Assigning the IC property to actual evolved systems seems not to happen much, if at all, and whenever the possibility is broached, as in Behe’s discussion in DBB, it is couched in terms that clearly indicate that one shouldn’t expect to see that outcome much, if at all.

    Conceded is a completely dumb word to use, the guy defined it a page after he defined IC in DBB. How exactly does one concede something he has claimed from the very beginning? The lack of “Assigning the IC property to actual evolved systems seems not to happen much” is just irrelevant nonsense, Behe’s focus is large, complex irreducible systems. The possibility that irreducibly complex systems can evolve through circuitous routes is a simple derivation from the actual logic of the definition.

    Elsberry:

    What is the referent for the bolded “it” in Nelson’s stuff above? If “it” is “the mammalian middle ear”, then that’s a complete irrelevancy, since I’ve never argued that the mammalian middle ear was IC with respect to “hearing”.

    Um, so what? I didn’t say said you did.

    Elsberry:

    If “it” is “impedance matching”, then Nelson is simply confused, because functions aren’t up for being considered irreducibly complex, only the structures or mechanisms that implement functions. Either way, chalk up another failure for Nelson.

    What the heck are you talking about? Function is all tied up in the structure of a system. If a system’s parts contribute to a basic function F, where you can plug in parts ABCD which contribute to a function F which you can also plug in, you can determine whether the system is irreducibly complex. You say this yourself here:

    Apparently, Nelson couldn’t keep straight that IC is evaluated with respect to a specified function

    Elsberry:

    One doesn’t need to bring up “routes”, circuitous or otherwise, to determine whether a system is IC with respect to a particular function.

    You don’t need to, but I never said that you did. Where did you get that from? The very need to bring up circuitous routes , however, is one indication that at least that there is a property of irreducible complexity, (as opposed to just specifying a direct route).

    Elsberry:

    he might be erroneously thinking that the quoted clause is a statement that I thought he was denying the evolution of the mammalian middle ear. Irony meters everywhere are endangered by Nelson going on to claim that my reading comprehension is lacking. It is a commonality among IDC cheerleaders to respond to examples of evolved systems being said to have the IC property with the rejoinder that since it evolved it can’t be IC.

    This is just another attempt to offer an excuse for your made up accusation. There would no reason whatsoever to deny that the middle ear bone system is IC because there is evidence that it evolved, if I believe it evolved anyway.

    Elsberry:

    Who does Nelson think he is that I should justify how I choose to moderate my personal weblog to him? My choice, Nelson. Should I be consulting Nelson Alonso for tips on moderation? I don’t think so.

    Thats very cute, but that doesn’t answer why you stood silent when Steve’s accusation was leveled at telic thoughts, despite the fact that you are engaging in that very practice. I still don’t see an answer to my question, are you insecure or do you think Steve is out to lunch?

  • 2008/12/04 at 9:13 am
    Permalink

    Not sure how I missed this:

    Elberry wrote:

    Is Nelson forgetting, or perhaps never learned, that the decibel system is based on the logarithm of a ratio? Thus, a 30 dB difference in sensitivity corresponds to hearing that is about 1000 times more sensitive than without it. I gave that information to Nelson eight years ago. That’s a long time to not get a clue. If Nelson was trying to diminish the functional importance of impedance matching, he was being a nincompoop.

    :P

    30 dB is a difference of 1000 in sound intensity but only a factor of 32 or so (the square root of 1000) in sound pressure.

    But no, I wasn’t saying that this was insignifant.

  • 2008/12/04 at 12:29 pm
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    Nelson wants us to believe that he should not be described with the adjective “antievolution”. And yet one can find him officially signing on to antievolution efforts. We know how the Ohio thing turned out, where all the “compromise” talk was just a smoke screen for bringing in the same old religious antievolution arguments.

    One of the items that “Nelson Alonso” signed his name to:

    Current draft indicator. Grade 10, Life Sciences #22, page 66.

    Know historical scientific developments occurred in evolutionary thought (e.g., Darwin, Mendel, Lamarck).

    Modified indicator.

    Know historical scientific developments that occurred in evolutionary thought, including alternative theories that have been considered (e.g., Paley, Darwin, Lamarck, Mendel, Behe).

    Explanation.

    A discussion of historical developments in origins science should include a discussion of theories that have competed with Darwinian evolution (such as special creation, panspermia, and intelligent design). Numerous advocates for intelligent design could be considered for inclusion in the indicator, but William Paley and Michael Behe are perhaps the most logical. Paley’s book Natural Theology (1802) gave a classic presentation of the argument for design. His writings were later overshadowed by Darwin and his followers, but Paley’s arguments (and those of his successors) are still worthy of consideration. Michael Behe is a founder of the modern design movement. His book Darwin’s Black Box (1996) put forth the argument that numerous biological systems are “irreducibly complex,” indicating they have been designed by some form of intelligence.

    Pull the other leg, Nelson.

  • 2008/12/04 at 12:49 pm
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    lol, first I have no idea why you think agreeing that Michael Behe, an evolutionist, should be mentioned in science classes is “anti-evolution”. He is already mentioned in science classes, his name is discussed in most Biology textbooks I have opened.

    However, and more importantly, I did not write my name on that Poll, either someone did or that is a different “Nelson Alonso”.

  • 2008/12/04 at 1:41 pm
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    For someone who brings up reading comprehension over and over, Nelson is oblivious to the fact that Behe is not the only out-of-place name advocated for inclusion. There’s also the Rev. William Paley, someone who argued theology based on design. It’s just business as usual in the get-religious-arguments-into-the-classroom-by-hook-or-by-crook movement, and the usual digressive technique being employed by Nelson.

    So, how many “Nelson Alonso” IDC cheerleaders are there? Wouldn’t it have made more sense for Nelson to have claimed that the author of the Calvin Evolution email list post eight years ago was a different “Nelson Alonso” or that it must have been written by somebody else? Is there any record back in 2002 of Nelson Alonso saying that the proposed changes in Ohio were not a good idea?

  • 2008/12/04 at 1:49 pm
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    Elsberry wrote:

    There’s also the Rev. William Paley, someone who argued theology based on design. It’s just business as usual in the get-religious-arguments-into-the-classroom-by-hook-or-by-crook movement, and the usual digressive technique being employed by Nelson.

    Um so what? Not all theologians who argue design are antievolution.

    Elsberry:

    So, how many “Nelson Alonso” IDC cheerleaders are there? Wouldn’t it have made more sense for Nelson to have claimed that the author of the Calvin Evolution email list post eight years ago was a different “Nelson Alonso” or that it must have been written by somebody else? Is there any record back in 2002 of Nelson Alonso saying that the proposed changes in Ohio were not a good idea?

    Well it’s not surprising that honesty is a foreign concept for you, but regardless, there is no real reason for me to repudiate any statements I made there, not that I still agree with everything I have ever written in the Calvin e-mail list. Still, I wouldn’t sign an official poll with the name “nelson alonso”, it’s not even my real name, I was “borrowing” a close friend of mine’s.

  • 2008/12/04 at 2:42 pm
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    “Nelson Alonso”:

    Um so what?

    The establishment clause of the First Amendment.

    “Nelson Alonso”:

    Well it’s not surprising that honesty is a foreign concept for you, but regardless, there is no real reason for me to repudiate any statements I made there, not that I still agree with everything I have ever written in the Calvin e-mail list. Still, I wouldn’t sign an official poll with the name “nelson alonso”, it’s not even my real name, I was “borrowing” a close friend of mine’s.

    I can recognize when a correspondent has no concept of honesty and not falsely attribute honesty as a constraint on such an individual’s behavior. The “Nelson Alonso” pseudonymic author of comments here has engaged in a steady stream of false claims and misrepresentations, so there’s no reason to suspect that another false claim that would be ever-so-convenient would be out of line.

    I wonder who it was who introduced himself to me by the name of “Nelson Alonso” in 2002 at the AMNH…

  • 2008/12/04 at 2:43 pm
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    lol

    Are you in the habit of “borrowing” identities of “friends”, “Guts”? Did you know that your actions are criminal offenses, severely punishable?

    I suggest we report this, W.E.

  • 2008/12/04 at 2:47 pm
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    The cherry on top about the identity theft was the thief impugning other people’s honesty.

  • 2008/12/04 at 2:52 pm
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    Elsberry:

    I wonder who it was who introduced himself to me by the name of “Nelson Alonso” in 2002 at the AMNH…

    You really think I would really want to meet the King of all Witchhunters in person.

    Are you in the habit of “borrowing” identities of “friends”, “Guts”? Did you know that your actions are criminal offenses, severely punishable?

    It wasn’t stolen.

  • 2008/12/04 at 4:00 pm
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    I’m pretty sure that you’re lying though. Fabrication seems to be a huge problem for identity “borrowers”.

  • 2008/12/10 at 7:02 pm
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    The borrowed identity thing is funny.

    I ran into a mechanical engineer creationist named Kevin Clark on the now more or less defunct ‘Evolutionisdead’ forum a year or so ago. As so many such folk do, he boasted of his supeior intllect and scientific prowess, asserting that he was NOT a creationist, no sir, that he was an Intelligent Design advocate, and was so because his intelligence and the fact that he was an engineer gave him special insights into all things related to biology (and my portrayal of his position is not, amazingly, an exaggeration). This special insight allowed him to see that evolution was untenable (why, he even came up with his own ‘ID theory’ that he wrote about on ISCID).

    So, out of curiosity, I googled his screen name to see where else he had been posting. Lo and behold, I found that he had been posting on a Sunday School website, espousing the usual YEC dogma.

    I challenged him on this on EiD, and he claimed that he had allowed members of his Sunday school class to log in to that forum using his screen name.

    Because I guess today’s Sunday school students cannot register on a Christian-run discussion forum themselves…

    The lengths these people will go to.

    I should also note that Kevin Clark, engineer and super intellect expert on biology, made such claims as: all cells are spheres, that it is impossible for the same sets of genes to encode the same limbs in different creatures because he cannot do this in his computer, etc…

  • 2008/12/10 at 7:05 pm
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    Ah – found the quote:

    Kevin Clark (kbc1963):

    “There are many specific items in this wide world that none of us know off hand however, being intelligent and a mechanical engineer allows me to solve such problems. An intelligent mechanical engineer can research the required specifics and understand how to use it. Thus biology and its concepts are only a bit of research for an engineer.”

    Seems on par with Nelson in terms of arrogance.

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