Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Patton is Awesome!

Or so says one student - Biology major Steven Miller (yes, he's a Steve who may not be on the list yet) who attended Monday night's lecture by Don Patton on campus. Miller wants to share his thoughts on the talk, so read on below:

I had a chance to go to this wonderful event and there were numerous problems with this man's presentation. One of the main topics of the lecture was to promote creation science teaching in schools as an alternative scientific approach to evolution, as opposed to a religious pursuit. The supposed basis for this field is that it is based on the observation of things in the universe that are apparently designed and must have a creator. I find his examples to be preposterous and I believe I can list quite a number of ordered things that occur in nature, and that are not created by people in our world or by any intelligence that is known. He amusingly used the bacterial flagellum as a proof for his point. This is something that appears to have been created and is de facto, created by intelligence. Not by random chance, and although he didn't use the really cool phrase 'irreducible complexity,' (and for the anonymous person who claims text cannot express implied tone - I am being sarcastic) he alluded to the flagella working with its complex 30 working parts and would not be able to do so without them but he is most likely referring to the eubacterial flagella that was mentioned by William Dembski and Michael Behe. There are numerous examples in eubacteria and archebacteria that function in motility and work by very different mechanisms, without the 30 parts, that he would claim are required for the proper function of that complex machine (the flagella is NOT a machine, his definition of a machine is from a human perspective and does not entirely apply to the flagella, which by the way does not only function in motility!). Also, numerous studies have actually produced bacteria with flagella that have been significantly pruned but still function properly in motility, along with the other numerous functions that were not mentioned.

But... I digress, I was a little distracted by the 'evidence.' Why is it not okay to allow this guy into our colleges, into our high schools? Is this truly a scientific alternative to the teaching of evolution that does not have to do with evolution? No! It is not!

The very idea of creation - is a religious idea. He did not say outright if he thought the world was 10,000 years old or not but he did put it on a slide, so I can guess he disagrees with the age of the world/universe according to natural science. That specific age of the world/universe is a Christian concept. But, since he very carefully did not say what his belief was (at any point in the lecture), I cannot rightfully say that I KNOW that he believes this, even though, I think it is likely. What I can say however, is that the theory there is a creator, is a religious perspective. He even mentioned 'Adam' being the first man (a Christian idea!).

There were numerous problems with his proposing this 'creation science' be taught in schools. Ignoring that for a little bit, let's proceed onto other topics that were discussed.

There were quite a few scientists that were quoted out of context. Including, one of my favorites - Richard Dawkins - on many occasions. He quoted the first page of Richard Dawkin's book, The Blind Watchmaker, that says:

Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance for having been designed for a purpose.

Not only does he fail to mention the subtitle of this book, "Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design" he provides this quote as if biologists might have some doubt that evolutionists like Dawkins' may even have doubt themselves that evolution can explain the whole picture. Nor does he finish explaining what was on the rest of the page in Dawkins’ book! He also quotes Richard Dawkins' during an interview with Bill O’Reilly, here Dawkin’s says that evolutionary biologists can observe evolution, and in order to secure a point, Dawkins’ says that large changes in evolution are like coming upon a murder scene with blood, fingerprints, etc. Bill O’Reilly believed he proved Dawkins’ and evolutionary biologists alike – are morons when he says, “But did you see the murder?” Did Dawkins, Mayr, Darwin, or anyone else see the transitional species like Tiktaalik Roseae, Dinosaurs, Neanderthals, etc? NO! No biologist said that he has seen these organisms alive, or that we have seen the life history of the planet in its entirety. Although, I could deal with this terrible logic more, it is irrelevant because I must mention, why was he talking about this?

Don Patton, PhD (Education), was saying that using the strict definition of the scientific method, we cannot study evolution, we cannot study creation science. But according to him if we use ‘science,’ we can! Whaaaat? To do science we use the scientific method! We have conducted experiments on evolution (change in allele frequencies in a population) and we’ve witnessed the results. He claims to refute this point by discussing his term horizontal variation, that quantitative trait differences, like beak depth (which he mentioned) always exist in a spectrum with averages and shift around, but they’ll always exist, and if for some reason some variable trait is no longer present, populations can revert back to these traits. No traits appear or disappear. He also mentions that evolution is the building up of information, and thinks that evolution says that new traits simply appear.

Once again, what is his example for the appearance of traits that supposedly confirm evolution according to biologists? Antibiotic resistance!! And I’m so glad he discussed this. He goes on to say, genes for antibiotic resistance didn’t simply appear in populations and that they are always present at some percentage in a population (he shows a picture that has 20% of individuals in the image are resistant to antibiotics). Once antibiotics are applied to this population, now 80% of the individuals die, and the remaining members (now 100%) of the population are resistant to antibiotics. He thinks this is a proof because this was a trait that was present all along, and that all of us biologists are morons for stating antibiotic resistance appeared, which he uses synonymously with evolved. Which is an incorrect usage of the word, AND no biologist would say that.

Why is this actually a proof FOR evolution? As we should know from our class, evolution is a change in allele frequency over time. Over the time where antibiotics are applied to this population, the bacteria who are resistant, survive and the gene for antibiotic resistance goes from an allele frequency of perhaps 0.2 to 1. This IS evolution!!! He said that this is an example of ‘horizontal variation’ but his definition for horizontal variation says that there is a trait in a population that varies (i.e. antibiotic resistance, antibiotic susceptibility). How can antibiotic resistance vary in this population when 100% of the individuals possess the gene for antibiotic resistance?! I actually asked this question to Don Patton and his reply to me was:

Well… ha ha.. when you use strict definitions like that, then yes that makes sense to the mind of a biologist.

What?! I used his definition of horizontal variation!!!!! Also, that is an example of a loss of information!!! Evolution does not suggest there will be a gain of information in population over time. If he did possess any information or knowledge regarding the genetic aspect of the Modern Synthesis, he might’ve had more interesting arguments, he might have been able to discuss that perhaps the bacteria in his example were heterozygous for this gene of resistance, and some of the population will horizontally vary back to susceptible, but he did no such thing, and it would be easy to eviscerate that line or thinking (since that would be a change in allele frequency!!!). Oh I forgot to mention, he thinks a lot of evolution education is a conspiracy amongst scientists and the media. An example of what he believes – regarding this statement – is that Darwin plagiarized most of his work.

Although, I was rightfully upset by the time I left that room, I was comfortable knowing this logic was rather pathetic and fails to carry any weight. I can only think of what Dr. Muller said the next morning after the lecture (which I hope she does not mind me quoting) If this is the best that they can bring on, I am not too worried. I could not agree more.


Evan Jones April 23, 2008 at 10:28 PM  

I attended Mr. Patton's lecture and was greatly disappointed. I have long sided with evolutionary biology and had hoped to actually hear the other side of the argument. Patton instead spent his time sniping at the academic world, using quotes entirely out of context, while doing little to promote an intellectual argument in his favor. I found him to be an abysmal public speaker. He rambled, making leaps and bounds from topic to topic, not while not constructing a flowing narrative, nor offering relationships between different points.

My brother studied under Stephen Gould, toward the end of Professor Gould's lifetime. The Stephen Gould portrayed my Mr. Patton is not the person my brother knew nor the same person represented in Gould's masterful arguments found in "The Panda's Thumb," "Ever Since Darwin," and "The Mismeasure of Man." Patton took cheap shots at others and did little more. In brief, I feel sorry for the people who ate out of his hand and I feel especially sorry for the gentlemen who asked Patton for guidance on Monday evening, by inquiring how he should instruct his children to argue against biology as early as grade school. Patton and his followers are anti-intellectuals promoting junk science.

-Evan Jones

Steven Miller April 23, 2008 at 11:42 PM  

That man who attempted to ask for guidance on instructing his children could not even formulate a question. I think Patton said there was 'distortion' in the speakers because his follower could not even repeat his assigned question correctly.

Adrian April 24, 2008 at 2:01 PM  

There was a debate a few days ago in Fresno about the existence of God... this debate led to a lot of blog posts and I've written about the whole thing on my site, where you'll be able to post more info in the forum about it...

Feel free! I hope my site can be a common ground where people can debate all issues. Thanks. BTW, this blog has been BLOGGED! on my site too.

Amit Patel April 27, 2008 at 9:45 PM  

I don't know about this guy. He seems to take a lot of the science laws and twists them (and some scientists' quotes) and twists them around to fit what he believes. Also, I don't trust his sources, I mean, he used Wikipedia! Even highschool students aren't allowed to do that! And he's a Ph'd? If he was, he should know better than that. Also, I find it really hard to believe that all those scientists he was quoting would say "we don't know" or "we hate to admit, but creationism is the way". It's like he was mocking all the sciences put together. I hope nobody (or very very few people) were convinced by his lecture.

Sanjiva Gunasekara April 30, 2008 at 3:52 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sanjiva Gunasekara April 30, 2008 at 3:59 PM  

Patton made a ton of fallacious arguments that proved he has a very vague idea of what evolution is. The most flawed argument Patton presented was an example that likened evolutionists to detectives appearing on a crime scene: that they see evidence of a murder, but failed to see the murder take place. He might as well have said, “If I can’t see the sun in the sky, it doesn’t exist at night”. I want my two hours back.

Adam May 2, 2008 at 4:24 PM  

Creationist Speech 4/22/08
I went to go see the creationist guy do his speech on Tuesday the 22nd. He didn't seem to have many strong arguments if you understood what he was saying. He mostly talked about the Second Law of Themodynamics and how it contradicts evolution and therefore disproves it. The Law states that enthropy(disorder) increases in the universe with time and the argument used in the presentation stated that because of this scientific law, evolution can not be possible. His definition of evolution was that organisms go from simple to complex as time passes or in other words from disordered to ordered. This he said contradicts the Second Law of Thermodynamics and so evolution is false. However, the thing is that the Second Law of Thermodynamics only applies to a closed system, which is one without any outside sources of energy. It is a known fact that the earth is an open system as it recieves energy from the sun in form of light waves. To refute this the Creationist guy used a couple of quotes from some unknown scientists that said that the earth is pretty much a closed system because the energy from the sun is not enough to make a big difference. One quote from one of his sources even said that the Second Law of Thermodynamics works for open systems as well as closed ones. This is obviously not true and a refrigerator is a perfect example in that it is an open system, but actually lowers entropy because it lowers temperature(kinetic energy). This guy did not really have a clue about what he was talking about and he seemed to just be grabbing for anything or anyone that supported what he had to say. I didn't take him too seriously especially when he started to show 20 foot gophers and 15 foot ponys to say animals were bigger before and are getting smaller. Also, his use of wikipedia as a source did not help him too much either. Plus, it seemed that he didn't have all the answers after all and when people asked him questions on good sources proving evolution, he seemed to talk around the questions and go off on many tangents. I guess I can say that I was impressed by the amount of people he had to support him. It's hard to believe so many fall for what he says. Oh well, I figure people should be able to believe what they like, but its a shame when someone spreads those beliefs in a fraudulent manner.

Crystal Faulconer May 7, 2008 at 7:17 PM  

The problem with Patton...oh where oh where do I begin. Other than the flaws in his ideas and his unwillingness to listen to his audience when they question his ideas his overall evidence is flawed. Its flawed because he has none. Even if I didn't believe in evolution, he gives no support for creationism. To simply say that this or that evidence does not support evolution...therefore it must be creationism is inherently flawed. Dear Dr. Patton...if something is not an orange, does that mean it must be an apple?? In order to bolster your opinion, I suggest you have some evidence for it, instead of stating if its not evolution then it must be creationism. I think that's something you learn in a basic elementary logic class and does not take a Ph.D.

-Crystal Faulconer

Devinda Gunasekara May 8, 2008 at 4:52 PM  

I also went to his monday night lecture and he claimed that Darwin stole the idea of evolution from the ancient spartans. many of his quotations were also from dead people and the quotes were 10 or more years old. they also seem to have been taken out of context.

Steven Chabolla May 10, 2008 at 10:36 AM  

I went to Dr. Patton’s presentation on the Scientific Age of the Earth. When he was asked questions, he seemed to evade most of them. Most of the first question period was spent debating whether or not creationism could be taught in schools, which was not at all what the lecture was supposed to be about. Throughout the presentation, I felt like Dr. Patton was talking down to us and skipping over the science, if there was any, by saying things like the science concepts are too complicated. He spent a lot of time talking about radioactive dating and how inaccurate it and the fossil record are. When questioned about how fossils are formed, he talked around it and never answered. He focused on how ridiculous it sounds without really explaining it. He was talking about science proving his theory by saying that there was so much doubt in radioactive dating and the proof that supports an old earth. I don't think he presented enough proof himself. I remember learning a long time ago that science can't prove anything, only disprove or support. It cannot prove evolution and it cannot prove an old earth. It also cannot prove a new earth. Science techniques are still being improved, as is our understanding of this world we live in. Radioactive dating is still being understood more and more as time progresses. I didn't feel like Dr. Patton was very effective in doing anything but mocking the science.


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