May 1, 2006


In Japan, New Pains Suffered at Childbirth (Anthony Faiola, May 1, 2006, Washington Post)

Pregnant women are being asked to give birth at faraway regional hospitals and babies are unlikely to cooperate with their new deadlines. If Yamauchi or the others go into early labor, they have been warned to expect an emergency helicopter ride across 40 miles of water to the nearest functioning maternity ward. "A helicopter! Can you believe it?" Yamauchi exclaimed, clutching her belly with a nervous laugh.

The expectant mothers of Oki Island have joined thousands of other pregnant women across Japan who are now facing a major complication: a national shortage of obstetricians. In a rapidly aging nation with one of the world's lowest birthrates, the number of doctors entering child-related specialties is plummeting -- stretching those who are left so thin that they can no longer manage existing caseloads.

Analysts attribute the shortage partly to a declining interest in obstetrics among medical students, who are wary of the long hours, high malpractice risk and relatively average pay. But whatever the cause, the shortage is turning the miracle of birth into a logistical nightmare.

The decision by entire societies to seek their own extinction puts paid to the notion that survival is a natural instinct.

Japan's toys for the elderly (Duncan Bartlett, 5/01/06, BBC)

The problem for Japanese companies is that the country's falling population means that there are now less children than before to play with them.

That has led the toy companies to turn to adults as potential customers.

Take the business Tomy, which had a world wide hit with the children's robot toy Transformers.

One of its latest lines is a doll that is selling very well to adult women, especially women over the age of 60.

Appropriate to such an infantilized and self-centered society.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 1, 2006 7:42 AM

Oh, don't you get it? Genes struggle tirelessly and valiantly to survive and reproduce in the face of impossible odds, but the big lunks they compose just wanna have fun.

Posted by: Peter B at May 1, 2006 8:51 AM

I have a great idea: Blow-up dolls.

Posted by: AllenS at May 1, 2006 10:18 AM

OK, so if a deme loses the survival imperative, it goes extinct. What could be more illustrative of Darwinism, which is far more a theory of failure and extinction than success? Darwinism thanks you for your support.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at May 1, 2006 10:59 AM

If the number of doctors in child-related specialties is so low that those who are left can barely manage existing caseloads, why "relatively average pay" ?

Societal suicide by Universal Health Care bureaucracy ?

Posted by: Noam Chomsky at May 1, 2006 11:05 AM


Are you the only one not aware that what you think of as Darwinism is intelligent design?

Posted by: oj at May 1, 2006 11:59 AM

AOG, Thank you for your thoughts. One question. What would prove Darwinism false, in your eyes?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 1, 2006 12:59 PM

AOG: As Ronald Reagan used to say, "There you go again."

We are talking about culture, learned ways of acting, impacting on populations. The mechanisms of change and of survival only resemble genetics because Darwinism hijacks by analogy the principles of social evolution.

If the Japanese are going extinct, it is not because of genetic defects but because of cultural collapse following the reformation of their belief system.

It is at least possible that we ourselves are not immune to a similar fate. Were we to turn away from our "God, guns and guts" (and cars) culture, it is quite likely that we would suffer a similar loss of nerve.

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 1, 2006 1:05 PM

Mr. Judd;

Apparently yes.

Mr. Mitchell;

A new theory with better evidence and superior utility. One needs to be careful, though, as I have no good idea of what OJ really means by "Darwinism".

Mr. Gots;

OJ was the one who tied this to Darwinism, not me. May I forward your objections to him? I have failed miserably to convince him that there are different levels of evolution (e.g., genotype, phenotype, social, cultural) so I will not take up that torch again.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at May 1, 2006 4:20 PM


You're confusing evolution with Darwinism.

Posted by: oj at May 1, 2006 4:25 PM

Thank you for your time AOG. If I am reading your post correctly, Evolution can not be proven wrong, only replaced? (I'm not worried about the levels, just trying to see what the difference between Alchemy and Evolution is....)

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 1, 2006 5:16 PM

One other Thing AOG, 'Superior utility'? What utility does Evolution have? Isn't it's predictive value about zero?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 1, 2006 5:20 PM

AOG: If the theory cannot be defined without a synonym of "random" or "unplanned", it's Darwinism.

Robert: Oh, boy. Be prepared for some stunning logical pretzels that basically boil down to claiming that interpolation equals prediction.

Posted by: b at May 1, 2006 7:23 PM

It's actually perfectly predictive--only that will survive which is best adapted for survival.

Posted by: oj at May 1, 2006 7:27 PM

AOG: Keep up the good fight.

Robert M.: the predictive value of evolution in biological sciences is actually pretty strong. For over a century 99.9%+ of biological knowledge has fit pretty neatly with the idea of evolution. In contrast, the predictive value of Intelligent Design is zilch, and requires one to explain all sorts of oddities like the human appendix, the fossil record, shared DNA between species, the human spine (not well designed for upright posture) and countless others. If you think God directly designed all that, you are saying in effect: 1) God is a flawed designer, or 2) God is planting false clues, trying to trick humans into believing evolution occurred. Neither of those sound like sound theology to me.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 1, 2006 7:29 PM


Quite wrong.

Their predictive values are identical, but as it happens both are obviously wrong.

On the other hand, Creationism predicts that speciation is over and, indeed, observation demonstrates the truth of that.

Posted by: oj at May 1, 2006 7:33 PM

Claiming speciation is over is as sensible as claiming stellar evolution is over because in the hundreds of years we've been studying the sun, it hasn't changed much. True, but speciation and stellar evolution both take place over millions of years.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 1, 2006 7:51 PM

Thank you for your thoughts, Papaya. Explaining the event after the fact and predicting the event before it happens are two different things. Can you show me an event that Evolution/Biology predicted before it happened(other then a 'we expect viri to change' sort of thing)?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 1, 2006 7:52 PM


Tthe notion that it takes millions of years per speciation is patently absurd, but it is all your left with.

Posted by: oj at May 1, 2006 7:55 PM


that's not really fair because nothing has speciated in human history. However, every step f evolution that we didn't observe is predicted by Darwinism because it couldn't possibly have happened any other way.

Posted by: oj at May 1, 2006 7:56 PM

Thanks, OJ. I'm just trying to follow the rules.
They(Evolutionists) keep saying that ID is not science because it has no predictive power and can't be proven false. When I ask how Evolution can be proven false and when it has predicted an event, the silence is deafening......

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 1, 2006 8:26 PM

Of course ID is identical to Darwinism in that regard, but with the added idea that an intelligence or intelligences intervene occassionally along the way. ID's weakness, ironically, is that the Darwinism it depends on is false.

Posted by: oj at May 1, 2006 8:32 PM

Yah, It wouldn't bother me so much if they would just call it(Evolution, ID, etc) natural history.
Science has rules, and I like to see the rules followed. I play games for a living.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 1, 2006 8:40 PM

You can't call it natural history since there's no reason to believe it was natural and you have no idea what the historyu was to which you're referring. It's just philosophy.

Posted by: oj at May 1, 2006 8:45 PM
just trying to see what the difference between Alchemy and Evolution is
Alchemy has been replaced by a new theory with better evidence and utility. (P.S. You might want to be a bit careful, as you see above that OJ considers "evolution" and "Darwinism" to be two distinct things)

As for a prediction, Darwinism predicted that there were distinct units of heritability, rather than traits being directly imposed by the environment (Lamarkism). This was later verified with the discovery of DNA. One problem with modern looks at Darwinism is that so much of its basic theory is now conventional wisdom that it's hard to remember how different it was from other theories at the time, DNA and its relationship to inheritance being a prime example.

I hope this doesn't deafen you with its silence :-).

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at May 1, 2006 11:04 PM

That wasn't a prediction--certainly not a prediction of the theory--it was a given. In fact, it was known already. Darwin also believed in Lamarcjianism at various times.

It's just more silence.

Posted by: oj at May 1, 2006 11:07 PM

The Objection that Evolution Fails to Meet the Basic Requirement of Scientific Theories

This objection, though more interesting than many others, is also fallacious. The theory of evolution predicts that the evidence, though incomplete, enables us (or will enable us) to construct a reasonable genealogy showing how over time some species change into new species or, conversely, how many later species have emerged from a series of changes in other earlier species.

The discovery of, say, complex vertebrate fossils in the oldest fossil-bearing rocks would be much more than a serious anomaly which the theory could account for with an adjustment or two. It would immediately raise the question, "From what earlier species did these forms arise?" The theory of evolution holds that we should be able to find or to predict an acceptable answer to this question. But it would be extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, to provide a scientifically reasonable answer in this case, because there is no plausible scientific hypothesis which could account for the sudden emergence of a complex vertebrate form either from non-living material or from very simple single-celled organisms. That being the case, one would have to conclude that, however the complex vertebrate forms appeared, it is highly improbable that they were the product of evolution. Hence, the entire theory would be discredited.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 2, 2006 12:48 AM

"The Origin of Species" came out a few years before "Versuche über Pflanzenhybriden" (Mendel) which came out a few years before "The Descent of Man" But didn't Mendel mathematically describe what must have been intuitively understood by plant and animal breeders after centuries of observation?

Posted by: ted welter at May 2, 2006 12:51 AM

Thank you for your time AOG. I was taught in school and college that Alchemy was not science, but a cult that was a precurser to Chemistry, which is science. It has been a feeling of mine that Evolution is a cult and a precurser to a science to come, and it looks like you have confirmed it. Thank you.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 2, 2006 12:54 AM

New Analyses Bolster Central Tenets of Evolution Theory (September 26, 2005)

When scientists announced last month they had determined the exact order of all 3 billion bits of genetic code that go into making a chimpanzee, it was no surprise that the sequence was more than 96 percent identical to the human genome. Charles Darwin had deduced more than a century ago that chimps were among humans' closest cousins.

But decoding chimpanzees' DNA allowed scientists to do more than just refine their estimates of how similar humans and chimps are. It let them put the very theory of evolution to some tough new tests.

If Darwin was right, for example, then scientists should be able to perform a neat trick. Using a mathematical formula that emerges from evolutionary theory, they should be able to predict the number of harmful mutations in chimpanzee DNA by knowing the number of mutations in a different species' DNA and the two animals' population sizes.

"That's a very specific prediction," said Eric Lander, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., and a leader in the chimp project.

Sure enough, when Lander and his colleagues tallied the harmful mutations in the chimp genome, the number fit perfectly into the range that evolutionary theory had predicted.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 2, 2006 12:55 AM

Speciation is not over - it's happening all around us. Looking for a speciation event is a bit misleading because speciation is a gradual occurrence, not a sharp line.

A speciation event occurred somewhere between 1961 and 1963 (if I recall the years correctly). A sub-population of fruit flys was taken from one university to another in 1959. In 1967, it was discovered that the two populations no longer interbred. Checking into it (I'm guessing by looking at other sub-populations that were moved but don't know for sure) it was discovered that the event took place between '61 & '63. Now, while the fruit flys in question were in fact used for genetic experiments, causing a speciation event was not, in fact what was being experimented with so this was a spontaneous event.

If the early 60s is too historic, another speciation event is ongoing as we speak (er - write) and has been going on for 50 - 100 years (again, if I recall correctly). Another species of fly (not fruit flys, bottle flys maybe? I don't recall) These flys originally hung around hawthorn trees and their breeding interacts with the thorn apples in some way (the larvae eat the fruit or something). But at some point in last 100 years, a sub-population of them have switched preference to apple trees. This has had effects on the flys themselves - for example, since apples and thorn apples have different growth times, the gestation times of the eggs of the apple preferring flys has changed by a number of days to more closely match apples instead of thorn apples. These two populations are the same species (by one definition anyway) however because if you pick a male from one population and a female from the other, they can and will successfully interbred if they are isolated. On the other hand, if you take subsets of the two populations, put them in a room with a hawthorn tree and an apple tree, the two populations immediately move to their preferred tree and do not mix. If left alone, these two populations which will not naturally interbred, will drift apart genetically and eventually will lose the ability to interbred. Don't know when. Could be 10 years or another 200 years but it will occur as long as the two sub-populations cease to interbreed.

And one final example. Several species (or sister species) of birds that exist in the northern hemisphere just below the arctic circle. The first group (called group A) hang out in Siberia. The next next group (B) are to the west. A & B interbreed where their two territories meet. C is to the west of B and they also interbreed where their territories meet. Same with others, each group further to the west of the previous. D interbreeds with C, E with D, F with E. Six populations, species, or sister species. Here's the rub. Parts of the territories of group A and group F overlap. They never interbreed (as far as anyone can tell). Birds from group A seem to consider birds from group F to be another species and refuse to interbreed and the converse is true. If the populations B thru E did not exist, they would be considered completely different species. I have not heard if anyone has tried to force a breeding between individuals to see if a viable offspring could be bred.

Speciation occurs when two populations cease to interbreed and genetic drift eventially separates them enough that they stop being able to sucessfully interbreed. But usually long before that happens, the individual members of the population stop recognizing the members of the other group as belonging to the same species in which case they effectively stop being the same species.

BTW, AOG is not alone in his opinions. I'd attempt to argue with oj but his definitions of anything having to do with evolution change faster than a pixel on my tv. I assume that he does just to get a rise out of people.

Posted by: bbb at May 2, 2006 1:44 AM


So your one example is of intelligent design, involves fruit flies becoming fruit flies and no longer obtains because the populations can interbreed?

No wonder you guys are losing.

Posted by: oj at May 2, 2006 7:26 AM


"neat trick" You can always make the math work, ask Ptolemy.

Posted by: oj at May 2, 2006 7:28 AM


In fact that's all Darwin did too. Observing that farmers could breeed changes into sheep and pigs he made the brilliant observation that Nature mighht be able to do the same. He then made the intuitive leap--which proved quite wrong and was obviously contrary to his own observation of breeders--that such might eventually produce speciation, significant morphological change and thus all of evolution. It's a beautiful theory that just happens to be bunk.

Posted by: oj at May 2, 2006 7:31 AM


Note that they meet the objection by restating the objection: "construct a reasonable genealogy." Evolution (the existence of a genealogy) is a truism--it's science's inability to explain what caused the genealogy that makes Darwinism unscientific.

Posted by: oj at May 2, 2006 7:33 AM

I knew I could count on oj to get it wrong.

I was merely pointing out recent examples of speciation in response to your comment:


Quite wrong.

Their predictive values are identical, but as it happens both are obviously wrong.

On the other hand, Creationism predicts that speciation is over and, indeed, observation demonstrates the truth of that.

If creationism indeed predicts that speciation is over and a speciation event occurs, creationism must be wrong. For more speciation events, look at:

This has a long list of speciation events. Yes, most are induced by humans in labs. I can grow an oak from an acorn in a lab but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen outside of a lab as well. Since the point of studying genetics and speciation is to actually generate some data to study, waiting for it to occur naturally would make for very slow research. You may as well argue that laboratory chemistry is different than natural chemistry because the chemistry that occurs in a lab has intelligence behind it.

I am sure that oj will argue the three following things so that creationisms prediction is never proven wrong:
1) any speciation event that occurs in a lab is a man made event and therefore doesn't count.
2) any historical speciation event (such as the birds in my third example) has already occurred and was part of creation and so doesn't count.
3) any ongoing speciation event (such as the fly in my second example) hasn't yet occurred and so doesn't count.

Since speciation events occur very slowly over many generations (which translates into hundreds or thousands of years, oj is safe from ever having to admit a natural speciation event has occurred thereby avoiding ever disproving creationism. It is equivilent to closing one's ears and yelling "I'm not listening".

Great blog site oj. Your political insight and commentary is wonderful but your pathetic rants against darwinism, evolution, or whatever it you are defining it today are boring. Ever consider splitting the blog into political and other interesting items at one site and evolution into a second?

Posted by: bbb at May 2, 2006 4:52 PM