Posted: Dec 28, 2017 2:31 pm
by Calilasseia
Ok, I'm a bit slow in dealing with this, courtesy of distractions involving JavaScript programming and large dinners, but better late than never ... :)

Wortfish wrote:
Calilasseia wrote:
Except that this manifestly duplicitous apologetic pseudo-response, fails to take into account that the reason experiments are "designed", is to ensure that only a well-defined set of variables has an effect upon the outcome. This does not in any way presuppose that those designing the experiment, know in advance what oucome those variables will produce, the determination of which is the whole point of the experiment. Then, having determined that one, restricted and manageable set of variables delivers an observed outcome, the researchers then move on to other experiments, that include other variables excluded from the first experiment, to see how that modifies the outcome.

But of course, those of us who paid attention in science class already know that the purpose of experimental design, is to determine which extant variables affect an outcome, and then to let those variables act as they will. In case you don't understand this elementary concept, selecting a variable to observe doesn't equal directing that variable's behaviour. Though I'm familiar with the manner in which creationist apologetics are deliberately constructed to mislead the audience with respect to this concept.

I never suggested that all designed experiments were rigged experiments with an intended outcome.

You didn't have to - it's a standard and well-documented part of the aetiology of creationist apologetics, which works via implication and innuendo. Because one of the goals of creationist apologetics, is to peddle the assertion that nothing happens without being directed by sentient intent, followed by inserting the requisite mythological entity, via another assertion, to provide that intent.

But of course, deliberately conflating two different classes of experiment, and obfuscating that difference, is one of the duplicitous techniques frequently deployed. The classes of experiment being, of course, experiments aimed at determining the undirected behaviour of a system, and experiments aimed at determining whether the outcome can be altered by suitable manipulation.

Since creationist apologetics peddles the "design" assertion, in terms of every observed interaction falling into the second class above, the shell game is duly noted.

Wortfish wrote:I did suggest that any controlled and designed experiment suffers from the fact that, in order to determine the variables influencing the eventual outcome, the experiment will suffer from a lack of possible interactions and random events as would happen in the wild.

Already dealt with that, courtesy of the part I mentioned involving expanding the number of variables.

Wortfish wrote:At most, it can demonstrate a "proof of principle".

Except that, of course, when it's demonstrated that a given collection of reagents will react in a given manner reliably and repeatably, then one can expect those reagents to behave in that manner, the moment they find themselves in each others' presence.

Wortfish wrote:But there is a huge gap between how things ideally may turn out and what actually happens.

So the fact that millions of lab experiment results have also been replicated in the wider world, is something you're going to pretend never happened? Which is, of course, the reason we perform lab experiments - precisely to inform us of what will happen in the wider world.

Wortfish wrote:That's why the Sutherland group's work has everything to do with chemistry in a lab but nothing to do with abiogenesis.

The short answer - bollocks.

The more detailed answer now follows.

Quite simply, living organisms are observed to contain a range of molecules, and to be replete with reactions between many of those molecules. So it makes eminent sense to base investigations into the origins thereof, on the chemistry of those molecules. Once those molecules are determined to behave appropriately, the rest falls into place. Of course, if you disagree, you can put your money where your mouth is, and ditch modern medicine for, say, your local witch doctor.

Wortfish wrote:
Exactly. Which at a stroke destroys creationist attempts to portray the requisite experimental work as having anything to do with "design", of the sort creationists routinely pontificate about, as I've already dealt with earlier.

On the contrary, the experimenters have to have an idea as to what might happen.

No, this is bullshit plain and simple. As any particle physicist will tell you. It took 48 years for evidence to materialise pointing to the Higgs Boson being something other than a mathematical convenience, and during that time, particle physicists were lining up something like four alternative theories, just in case said evidence continued to elude them. The point being, that they didn't know in advance if this particle would be found. Along the way, those same particle physicists found a number of other interesting entities turning up in their accelerators. Indeed, the Higgs Boson was postulated to exist, precisely because of an unexpected experimental result. Namely, that the W and Z bosons, when they turned up in particle accelerators, possessed substantial masses, while the first version of the electroweak theory predicting their existence predicted that they should be massless. There were two possible resolutions to the problem, either abandon gauge invariance (which physicists were unwilling to do, because gauge invariance had proven to be a powerful generator of predictively useful ideas beforehand), or postulate a new mechanism for the emergence of massive W and Z bosons. Fortuitously, a mechanism emerged from independent research on symmetry breaking, arising from the work of three sets of authors. The resulting modification to the nascent electroweak theory arising therefrom, ended up being extremely useful, because this led in turn to a revised view of the strong nuclear force, and the prediction via that new theory of the existence of gluons, charmed quarks and top quarks, subsequently validated by more experiments.

But, during that 48 year gap between the Higgs Boson being postulated, and a particle fitting the bill being found in an accelerator, there were a good many physicists who were looking for alternative resolutions to the problem, just in case the Higgs Boson turned out to be a wrong guess. Though the reason the search persisted, of course, was because of the many other predictions of the Standard Model that turned out to be correct. Which is why, as any competent physicist will tell you, finding out that the Higgs Boson wasn't a real particle at all, would have led to physics living in interesting times, to borrow the apocryphal Chinese curse. Indeed, one or two physicists were secretly welcoming that possibility, because it meant that they would have lots of fun devising new theories to explain the resulting landscape.

Indeed, on the subject of surprises, I have a relevant video clip to bring here, which I'll link to and display below. This video features a reaction that is well documented, and which has been repeated reliably countless thousands of times in teaching laboratories around the world, namely, the reaction between hydrogen peroxide and potassium permanganate in acidic solution. Basically, one prepares a dilute solution of sulphuric acid, to which is added potassium permanganate, which as those familiar with the chemistry know, is a nice intense purple colour. Hydrogen peroxide is then added to that solution, resulting in the purple colour disappearing, and the evolution of oxygen gas. What makes this reaction of interest in the tutorial chemistry laboratory, is that it's a reaction in which hydrogen peroxide, usually best known for being a very powerful oxidising agent, acts in this case as a reducing agent instead, reducing the Mn7+ ions present in potassium permanganate, to Mn2+ ions instead, which results in the colour change (Mn2+ ions in solution are colourless). Here's the video clip:

Now, when you watch that video clip, the reaction fails initially. At first, Professor Poliakoff (a well known YouTube character these days!) suspects that the hydrogen peroxide being used has decomposed (as it usually does if left sitting on the shelf long enough). So he fetches a second bottle of hydrogen peroxide, thinking that his own supply can't have decomposed as it was of relatively recent vintage. But, for some reason (still to be determined, incidentally), the reaction fails a second time.

So, the beaker contents are disposed of, the beaker is washed, and a fresh starting solution of sulphuric acid is prepared in the beaker. Then, Professor Poliakoff adds the permanganate, and - bingo, the colour disappears! The beaker wasn't washed thoroughly, and enough hydrogen peroxide was still present in the beaker to react with the permanganate and decolourise it, producing a rather neat effect that made the reaction demonstration even more interesting to look at than usual.

My own suspicion is that the sulphuric acid solution chosen was at fault, because the reaction needs an excess of hydrogen ions to be present in order to take place, and generally won't work with neutral water. Furthermore, a different reaction, involving the production of Mn4+ ions (which then fall out of solution as a black precipitate of MnO2), occurs in alkaline solutions (replace the sulphuric acid with potassium hydroxide).

So, even well documented systems can surprise people, including scientists with decades of experience. All of which tosses your apologetics into the bin where they belong.

Wortfish wrote:In experiments involving chemistry, they ought to be able to know what reagents will likey do when they come in contact with each other based on the laws of chemistry and any computer simulations:
If they had no idea, then there would be no point in conducting the experiment.

Correction. If the aim is to produce a known end product reliably, then knowing what one is working with certainly helps. But when the aim of the experiment is to see whether or not given reagents will produce a postulated product, then knowing what other reactions those reagents will take part in, may not always be a reliable guide to the outcome. Which is precisely why Sutherland investigated a lot of possibilities, after one postulated reaction pathway failed. The fun part being of course that the working pathway eventually discovered, differs substantively from the postulated pathway, and didn't involve the prior production of ribose, as was previously thought to be necessary, but instead took a completely different (and previously unsuspected route) via 2-aminooxazole.

Wortfish wrote:
Note the part I've highlighted in blue above - namely:

We have considered a large number of alternative ribonucleotide assembly modes, including those that extend back to the same small-molecule precursors as the traditionally assumed route described above19. By systematic experimental investigation of these options

In other words, what they did was "let's try lots of different options, and see if any of them work". Which they did because the assumed mechanism was found NOT to work.

So, the experimental procedure here consisted of:

[1] We know what we need to start with, and what we need to end up with;

[2] We also know that the original planned means of getting from A to B does not work, and we have found reasons for this;

[3] Do other routes from A to B exist, and if so, can we find them?

[4] Let's try out lots of options for getting from A to B, and see which ones work or don't work.

Again, your apologetics are completely destroyed.

So you admit that they had an "objective", a goal in mind when they conducted the experiment. That's what design is all about.

Dishonest apologetic bollocks. Which is dishonest, for reasons I've already stated. Namely, that creationist apologetics presents "design" as involving perfect foreknowledge of the outcome, which was completely absent here. Said "perfect foreknowledge" being, of course, a necessary requirement for creationist apologetics, so that creationists can then try and assert that a magic mythological entity is required to complete the task in question. Without that "perfect foreknowledge" requirement, mythological magic entities become superfluous to requirements and irrelevant. In short, what part of "they didn't know if this would work when they set out, and didn't even know this pathway existed when they started" did you fail to recognise as applicable here?

But I've also covered at length, how human design differs substantively from supernatural magic "design", making attempts to conflate the two doubly dishonest.

Wortfish wrote:Whether they explored different routes is beside the point.

No it isn't, because, wait for it, they didn't know in advance that the eventual working pathway even existed before they launched their investigations. What part of "suck it and see" do you not understand as applicable here?

Wortfish wrote:They set out with a telos

Bollocks. They set out with "is this possible?". Huge fucking difference.

Wortfish wrote:and changed the parameters until they found a successful route.

No, they tried lots of options until [1] they found one that worked, or [2] exhausted the possibilities. Peddling this as "design" is dishonest, for reasons I've given repeatedly here.

Wortfish wrote:
Illiterate drivel. Because, wait for it, the researchers have to introduce the reagents in question to each other, to see if they will react!

As I stated, they ought to know roughly how the reagents will react before they introduce them to each other.

But as I've already pointed out, what a given set of reagents have produced in some reactions in the past, need not be a reliable guide to how those reagents will produce new reactions in a different setup. Including setups that were not previously thought to exist. Once again, what part of "they didn't know what would happen until they tried it out" do you not understand?

Wortfish wrote:
But. once again, the whole fucking point of choosing reagents of known purity to start with, is so that the researchers know that the molecules they've chosen have been the sole participants in the reaction, and not something else they didn't know about. Only a fucking idiot would launch into an investigation of any chemical reaction, without knowing in advance what molecules he was dealing with.

And there you admit the flaw in all this.

No it isn't a "flaw", for reasons I've just given. Namely, that the reaction pathway they alighted upon, was one that they did not previously know about. But you still need to know what you started with, even when following a new and hitherto unsuspected path. But I don't suppose this will sway you from posting yet more duplicitous apologetics.

Wortfish wrote:The experiment was set up with the careful and discriminate selection of chemicals in order to try and engineer a desired outcome.

Bollocks. Once again, what part of "they didn't even know this pathway existed until they tried out lots of combinations" do you not understand. You can't "engineer" something you don't know exists when you start out.

Wortfish wrote:Another thing you seem to missing is that the Sutherland lab experiment, in order to qualify as science, needs to be reproducible at another location. If the results are not, they cannot be taken seriously.

I'm pretty sure any failure to reproduce those results would have been reported quickly in the literature. Except that oops, this hasn't happened. This despite being cited by 784 subsequent papers, as a quick Google Scholar search informed me. Indeed, that work has since been expanded upon to produce amino acids and lipid precursors, via a common chemical starting pathway shared with the nucleotides (I'll have fun digesting that paper later).

Wortfish wrote:
Model protocells are being thus synthesised, with the aim of finding out what could have happened with real, past protocells, precisely because we don't know the latter yet. Once again, what part of "let's work with as simple a precursor as we can, and move on incrementally to the desired objective" do you not understand?

Because the process is entirely supervised by intelligent agents....hence design by default.

Dishonest bollocks. What part of "those so-called 'intelligent agents' don't know what's going to happen when they set out" do you not understand?

Wortfish wrote:
Once again, those model protocells were synthesised, because the researchers didn't know in advance what they would do. Years of observing other chemical reactions gave them some basic ideas to work with, but, as was the case with the Sutherland paper above, they're open to surprises.

Still an exercise in engineering, not in observing a natural process.

Once again, you can't "engineer" something you don't know will work when you set out, by fucking definition.

Wortfish wrote:
Actually, that's the ultimate aim - to see if a working replicating protocell can arise from prebiotic reactants. But to get to that stage, the researchers have to solve a lot of lower level jigsaw puzzles before solving the big one. Once again, what part of "incremental steps" do you not understand?

But can you get to a protocell with just chemical reactions? Why bother synthesising them if that is the case?


What part of "synthesising them involves chemical reactions" did you fail to understand here?

Wortfish wrote:
But since these molecules are manifestly a part of living organisms, it's a good place to start. As opposed to assuming that mythology magically has the answers, which it doesn't.

You can have an ocean full of amino acids, nucleotides and lipids....but there could be no life. Building blocks don't self-assemble into buildings.

Dishonest apologetic elision. Bricks are not reactive entities.

Wortfish wrote:
Bollocks. I merely introduced a conditional. Namely, "if x, then y". I issued no statement on whether or not x was true. Because, like everyone else here on Earth at the moment, I don't know. Which is one of the reasons NASA is planning to send spacecraft to the requisite venues, - to find out.

Still an act of faith, or at least hope.

Bollocks. It's an act of "let's find out", which is the very antithesis of fucking "faith".

Wortfish wrote:
You know this for sure, do you?

Only it's entirely possible that more than one instance of the requisite reactions took place in the past, but only the final instance was successful at leaving present day descendants.

No piece of RNA or DNA has been discovered that does not belong to a cellular or viral organism.

Irrelevant in a world full of descendants thereof.

Wortfish wrote:
Particular instances, however, only ever occur once. The goal of science is to find the classes of interaction that generate the instances. Or did you miss this elementary concept in school?

You're trying to diss the uniqueness of abiogenesis by claiming it is just a particular instance involving a set of conditions that haven't been repeated.

Bollocks. Your attempt to try and misrepresent my position manifestly fails. First of all, I issued no statement on whether or not the conditions involved have only ever existed once, this is your fabrication. Second, particular instances happen once by fucking definition. Third, the conditions in question are regarded as having persisted for a considerable period of time, if you bother checking the literature - the typical figure cited is of the order of 100 million years.

Wortfish wrote:If so, however, your argument breaks down as whatever conditions you use to try and recreate the process could not have been the ones involved in the first and only instance.

Bollocks. This is so manifestly lame as to be beneath deserving of a point of view, indeed, this assertion constitutes such a drooling level of idiocy, that it's difficult to know where to start addressing this. If a process takes place under a certain set of conditions, then replicating those conditions is by definition a pre-requisite for investigating the process!

Did you take yourself seriously when posting this drivel?

Wortfish wrote:So you can't explain a past event by presently-occurring phenomena.

Bollocks. This assertion is possibly the lamest declaration of ignorance I've seen for some time, and in the world of creationist apologetics, that counts as a perverse achievement. This is, in effect, saying that we can't know what happened yesterday, by making the same things happen today. Did you ever take any basic science classes?

Wortfish wrote:
Wrong. It's entirely possible, if miracles exist, for them to do so, if the generating process for them occurs more than once.

If they happened with regularity, they would be natural even if they weren't explicable.

Er, no. If magic actually exists, there's no reason why magic can't be reliably repeatable, whilst still remaining beyond the remit of science. Indeed, in order for any entity pressing magic into service to be able to do so, whatever processes underpin that magic themselves have to be reliably repeatable, or magic itself wouldn't work. The underlying processes that transform a magician's wishes into desired action, have to exhibit a minimum level of consistency of behaviour. If they don't, then resorting to magic won't work.

Wortfish wrote:Just because we don't understand lightning doesn't mean it is miraculous because it happens regularly.

Except that I think you'll find we do understand rather more about lightning than you're asserting here. Benjamin Franklin's kite flying, anyone?

Wortfish wrote:
Poppycock. What we see with the origin of life, is one successful instance, with as yet, no data telling us about any previous failed instances.

The one and only instance

Correction, the one instance we know of, because it left descendants. Which doesn't tell us anything about past failed instances that may or may not have occurred. Indeed, it's possible that one set of processes that occurred, but initially failed, provided subsequent processes with material required for them to be successful.

Wortfish wrote:...which just so happened immediately after the Earth had cooled.

If you think 100 million years constitutes "immediately", then what are you doing bothering with creationist apologetics to start with?