No proof for evolution?

August 26, 2008

Often on the blogs we see a religious person claiming there is no proof for evolution. While such a statements is in effect a clear indication that said person has not been doing their homework it is still fairly easy to give them a very simple example. I have a sort of standard copy/paste reply to such statements of ignorance. It is one argument that made a big impact on my road from fundie to sceptic. It goes like this:

Imagine you write a book. It is a book about sound and how it behaves. You publish the book and have copyright on it. A couple of months later, you pick up another book about sound. You are furious when you notice that someone else has copied your work, and you promptly take them to court.

Now, how will you prove that the other person copied your book, since all the facts about sound, and how it behaves, are stated in the same way in both books? The other person could of course get the facts right too! In fact, the 2 books appear about 95 percent the same (factually)! You cannot tell the judge: “Well, your honour, I wrote the speed of sound is 330 m/s, and the other person wrote the same!”. The judge will laugh at you, since you claim that because the other person got his facts right, that he must have got it from you.

But, if there are errors in your book, errors about known facts, and they appear in the other book too, then you have a strong case for copyright infringement. If you made a mistake in your book, and wrote that the speed of sound is 632 m/s, and the other person repeats the EXACT SAME mistake, then you can prove that he copied from your book. Your case would be even better if you could come up with 37+ errors that you made that were repeated in the impostor’s book!

Humans must eat Vitamin C. They cannot fabricate their own Vitamin C. Why is that? It is because our gene for Vitamin C (GULO) fabrication is broken. It was a mutation that destroyed the function of the Vitamin C gene, therefore we have to eat stuff with Vitamin C in it, or else we would die (Skeerbuik/Scurvy). You know who sits with the same problem? Chimps! They also have the broken Vitamin C gene, and it is broken in the SAME sort of way that ours is. Why is that?

We know our DNA and Chimp DNA are VERY close to each other, about 95% and possibly even more. But apart from the entire DNA that works, that are the same, in both our species, we ALSO share ERRORS, like the Vitamin C gene (and many others, called pseudo-genes), with Chimps. To me, this is good proof that we and Chips evolved from the same type of ape thing. We share common ancestry (Thus, we did not evolve FROM Chimps; we simply share a common ancestor). We BOTH inherited the DNA that works, AND the various ERRORS from the common ancestor.

Relate this back to my copyright story at the start of this post and you will understand. But take it further. The 2 books are WORD FOR WORD, FACT AND ERROR, the same and even ordered the same, except for about 5% max, that differs. It is copies (imperfect) from the same source, the common ancestor.

Furthermore, this kicks Intelligent Design Creationism in the nuts. Did the designer make the same mistake in humans and in chimps? Well, not so perfect then, is he? Jokes aside, the above example is just one of many things that are explained by evolution in a clear and simple way. People who claim there is no evidence for evolution obviously have not made any effort to research and challenge their own views a bit. It is always better to form your world-view based on evidence than your “evidence” based on your world-view.

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I know this is an old issue, but I feel like rambling about it a little.

I received a rather unconvincing post a while ago about cellphone fraud.  The thing that bugged me was that it was being spread at my work place.  Firstly, by people who have no idea about cellphones and how they function.  Secondly, by people who don’t really understand that they are being the spammers here.  And finally, by people who don’t realise that their standard naive outlook on these things can be rather costly for them.

I reproduce here in full the email as I received it:

Subject:  FW: Urgent Warning from Cell C & Vodacom

Dear All,

If you receive a phone call on your mobile from any person, saying
that, he or she is a company engineer, or saying that they’re checking
your mobile line, and you have to press # 90 or #09 or any other number.
End this call immediately without pressing any numbers.

There is a fraud company using a device that once you press #90 or #09
they can access your ‘SIM’ card and make calls at your expense. Forward
this message to as many friends as you can, to stop it. All mobile user
s pay attention if you receive a phone call and your mobile phone
displays (XALAN) on the screen don’t answer the call, END THE CALL
IMMEDIATELY, if you answer the call, your phone will be infected by a
virus..

This virus will erase all IMEI and IMSI information from both your
phone and your SIM card, which will make your phone unable to connect
with the telephone network. You will have to buy a new phone. This
information has been confirmed by both Motorola and Nokia.

PLEASE FORWARD THIS PIECE OF INFORMATION TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS HAVING A
MOBILE.”

My first observation about this email was that apparently only two of the four cellphones providers in my country is effected by this phenomenon.  This immediately made my bullshit alarm start tingling.  Why on earth would ONLY those two companies be effected and not the others?  In an attempt to start figuring out an answer to this question I decided to start searching for some answers.

I did a cursory search for cellphone fraud and almost immediately came up with these hits:

http://www.snopes.com/fraud/telephone/jailcall.asp

We can see that there is a partial truth to the claim if it were for telephone fraud.  Sadly, the claim in the original email is for cellphones.

http://www.issafrica.org/PUBS/CRIMEINDEX/99VOL3NO5/Cellular.html

This is the results of a poll on cellphone fraud.  We can clearly gather that the original mail is rather untruthful about it’s claims.  I personally can’t help but be suspicious with the poor appeal to authority by adding a picture of a “Special Investigating Unit”.  Also, at the end of the email the appeal to “a better nature” by asking the email to be spread around is a dead giveaway.

I firmly believe that not being skeptical about claims like these is to a person’s detriment in the long run.

/end ramble