July 18, 2005

INTELLIGENT DESIGN WORKS EVERY TIME (via Robert Schwartz):

Tuskless elephants evolving in China due to poaching (AFP, Jul 17, 2005)

A recent study has predicted that more male Asian elephants in China will be born without tusks because poaching of tusked elephants is reducing the gene pool, the China Daily reported Sunday.

The study, conducted in the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in southwest China's Yunnan province, where two-thirds of China's Asian elephants live, found that the tuskless phenomenon is spreading, the report said.

The tusk-free gene, which is found in between two and five percent of male Asian elephants, has increased to between five percent and 10 percent in elephants in China, according to Zhang Li, an associate professor of zoology at Beijing Normal University.

"This decrease in the number of elephants born with tusks shows the poaching pressure for ivory on the animal," said Zhang, whose research team has been studying elephants since 1999 at a reserve in Xishuangbanna.


We decide what "nature" will look like.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 18, 2005 12:38 PM
Comments

An instance of "intelligent design" says nothing whatsoever about the validity of "Intelligent Design". Why do you confuse them so easily, Orrin?

Posted by: creeper at July 18, 2005 1:36 PM

So a certain animal has a trait that makes it very attractive to a powerful predator, and all of a sudden that very trait starts to magically "disappear".

Sounds just a smidge like, um.... natural selection... mayhaps?

Posted by: Andrew X at July 18, 2005 1:42 PM

Also an example of why the current policies of outlawing ivory farming and international trade are counterproductive. If those elephants were someone's propertly, they're owners would be breeding them like cattle are, to bring out the traits that are most desireable, like huge tusks. Instead the poachers are breeding elephants that are immune to their depredations.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 18, 2005 1:43 PM

creeper:

Darwin read Adam Smith and thought maybe Nature worked like a free market economy--forgetting that a free market is a function of intelligent design and decision making. I observe intelligent design in nature and think maybe nature works via intelligent design.

Posted by: oj at July 18, 2005 1:46 PM

I suspect the regular elephants with tusks didn't have a chance to breed (they got poached) and the tuskless are enjoying the spoils...

Posted by: KRS at July 18, 2005 3:08 PM

Nobody is arguing about adaptation within a species. It happens all the time. Chihuahuas and St. Bernards, teosinthe and sweet corn. It goes back to the Bablyonian grain farmers in man's earliest recorded history.

Adaptation should not be conflated with macro-evolution. In macro-evolution entirely new species spring out of the ground sui generis without demonstration of any gradual intervening steps. Plenty of good science for the explaining the former, darn little for explaining the latter.

Posted by: Gideon at July 18, 2005 3:11 PM

Why doesn't someone breed a dog that looks like a puppy its whole life? People would love that.

Posted by: carter at July 18, 2005 3:12 PM

Dogs are puppies their whole lives. That's how they were domesticated. But you knew that.

Posted by: joe shropshire at July 18, 2005 3:21 PM

No. This is an example of unintelligent environmental selection. That the selective pressure may be coming from nominally intelligent components of the environment does not alter the matter.

The poachers do not will to eliminate heavy-tusked elephants any more than deer hunters in my state intend to eliminate bucks with good racks or bass fishermen intend to eliminate aggressively striking fish.. I find I.D. to be consistent with the data concerning evolution in general, but this is not I.D. Andrew X gets the point this time.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 18, 2005 3:22 PM

Orrin,

It seems to me you are confusing the levels at which intelligence operates in such a system. Natural selection obviously does not exclude the intelligent actions of individual living beings as they struggle to survive, but that does not mean that the system overall is subject to a controlling intelligence.

A free market in its most ideal form is free of an overall controlling intelligence and relies on the intelligent actions of its component parts at a lower level.

"I observe intelligent design in nature and think maybe nature works via intelligent design."

Did you mean to capitalize the second "intelligent design"? Otherwise this is appears to me to be a bit meaningless.

Posted by: creeper at July 18, 2005 4:01 PM

The last think that poachers want to "design" is an elephant without tusks. It is the antithesis of design. OJ, you have no idea what design means. An unintended consequence is not design.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at July 18, 2005 4:24 PM

Lou:

Intelligent doesn't mean smart.

Posted by: oj at July 18, 2005 10:53 PM

creeper:

No, I'm a Creationist--I believe in intelligent design, not Intelligent Design.

Posted by: oj at July 18, 2005 10:54 PM

Robert:

Yes, they decided to kill all the ones with big tusks--leaving ones without. Now someone will decide to save the ones with big tusks. It's entirely up to intelligent actors to decide what these elephants will look like..

Posted by: oj at July 18, 2005 10:56 PM

Orrin,

"No, I'm a Creationist--I believe in intelligent design, not Intelligent Design."

Since all there is to Intelligent Design is an attempt to poke holes into the theory of evolution, mostly on account of irreducible complexity, leading them to conclude that there must have been a designer, which parts of the notion of Intelligent Design do you find objectionable?

It seems that the argument IDers propose perfectly support a creationist stance, so on what basis do you reject them?

Posted by: creeper at July 19, 2005 3:56 AM

"It's entirely up to intelligent actors to decide what these elephants will look like."

As well as anything else, intelligent or not, that has an impact on their survival chances.

Posted by: creeper at July 19, 2005 5:18 AM

Evolution works for me. It makes sense, its testable, its past numerous tests and still comes up a winner.

Creationism... fails all tests.

Posted by: Oldkayaker at July 19, 2005 2:08 PM

creeper:

Intelligent Design is just Darwinism that substitutes an Intelligence wherever Darwinism says Nature.

Posted by: oj at July 19, 2005 2:28 PM

The Intelligence is overqualified for the job.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at July 19, 2005 2:35 PM

Orrin is as heterodox an antidarwinsist as he is a Christian.

Discovery Institute has a different view of ID from his.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at July 19, 2005 3:05 PM

Orrin,

"Intelligent Design is just Darwinism that substitutes an Intelligence wherever Darwinism says Nature."

"Darwinism says Nature" an awful lot (actually... pretty much exclusively), while Intelligent Design proponents only attempt to attack where they perceive weaknesses in the theory of evolution. In the absence of a coherent theory of their own, what else can they do?

AFAIK, IDers don't have a beef with, say, microevolution via natural selection, or even most speciation via natural means. They mostly focus on the origins of life as well as some instances of what they consider irreducible complexity (the flavella, the eye, etc.).


Be that as it may, Orrin, "Darwinism that substitutes an Intelligence wherever Darwinism says Nature" seems to me to be very much not Darwinism, and very close to creationism, albeit in a metaphorical interpretation of the biblical text. (It also strikes me as not really being ID either...)

I still don't entirely understand what problem you have with this version of ID that you describe. Do you really think there is no such thing as nature, and God preordains everything perfectly? Even microevolution is out?

Posted by: creeper at July 19, 2005 10:03 PM

creeper;

Yes, I.D. just keeps the structure of Darwinism but substitutes Intelligence for Nature. It's easily done since there's no evidence for Darwinism and you're just swapping imaginary mechanisms.

Because there's no evidence I assume both are wrong. We don't know anything about how evolution actually proceeds.

Posted by: oj at July 19, 2005 10:55 PM

You don't. I do.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at July 19, 2005 11:58 PM

Harry:

Yes, you've your faith, but no knowledge.

Posted by: oj at July 20, 2005 8:45 AM

Knowledge.

And I don't have to explain stuff away like you do.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at July 21, 2005 4:18 PM

You're explaining away this news story, as you have to all evidence--every datum of which refutes you.

Posted by: oj at July 21, 2005 4:45 PM
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