More McLatchie

Regarding Jonathan McLatchie’s lastest outpouring (The GULO Pseudogene and Its Implications for Common Descent) at the bizarrely named Evolution News and Views website (it’s not a blog, really, as there’s no commenting facility, but he generally cross-posts to Crossexamined*, where comments can be left), there are a few things I would observe  (though I don’t think this is worth enough to spend a huge amount of time on, particularly as I am rather busy at work just now**):

1. McLatchie is become quite skilled at making his nonsense impressive to the ignorant.  But it remains nonsense, and still only convinces only the ignorant.

2. Phylogenetic trees are assembled on the basis of similarity.  No-one would suggest that present-day sequences are in any way ancestral.  But doing these thing properly can allow one to make hypotheses and inferences about what the ancestral sequence may have been, or features it may have had.  This is a tack abused by ID creationists (see how PZ Myers addresses Gauger and Axe’s improperly conducted study of protein evolution).

3.  McLatchie makes a notably peculiar claim:

It is interesting to note that the argument for common ancestry based on common mutations affecting a segment of DNA is based on a form of reasoning that is uncannily similar to the specified-complexity criterion employed by advocates of design. Given the premise that mutations occur essentially at random, the inference to common ancestry is preferred over the chance hypothesis. Notice that the inference is justified not solely on the basis of high improbability (attaining the same specific mutations in multiple lineages is no more improbable than any other combination of mutations of the same number).

I assume from McLatchie’s postings at crossexamined that he is a devout christian, and it seems reasonable to conclude that his intelligent designer is his god of the old and new testaments (as appears to be the case for all major figures in ID creationism).  The significant difference between evolutionary biology and creationism (whether it be YEC or ID) is that evolutionary biology has a variety of tested mechanisms for evolutionary change, while the evidence for the existence of god/the ‘designer’ is conspicuous by its absence.  Not only that, the means by which the supposed ‘designer’ implemented her (or his, or its) design is equally fantastical.

McLatchie does seem to pour out a large amount of verbiage through a variety of internet fora.  I do hope this isn’t interfering with his studies on evolution, though I suspect on the basis of the ENV article, he may be leading something of a double life.

* Other than his cross-posts from ENV, Jonathan’s posts at Crossexamined are really quite revealing in terms of his religious world-view.

** Which is why I haven’t finished ploughing through Meyer’s magnum opus Signature in the Cell yet.

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