Crickson's electric eye

by crickson

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I am married to Spiderbaby and live in Banbury, Oxfordshire after eight years living in the USA and Sweden. I am working and training as a clinical scientist for the NHS in Oxford.

There are now over ten years of photographs on my blog! It all started with a photograph I took on the 1st of May 2004... It's been a wonderful journey, thank you all who have shared it with me, and made this blogging community one I keep coming back to!

Interesting things I read recently:

"Only one in five people born [in the UK] since 1975 believes in God".
Source: Prof David Voas, University of Essex

"For every dollar invested in the Human Genome project, $141 was returned to the US economy". Francis Collins, NIH
Source: New Scientist 27 July 2013.

I am Pavlovs_dog on PSN and would be happy to link up with Playstation-owning mobloggers : )

Too Much Information: The first album I ever bought was the Fraggle Rock soundtrack. Pretty cool, eh? I was only 16 : )

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Darwin, the most evil cat on Earth

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This cat belongs to a friend. She puts thumb tacks in people's shoes...and the dog's drinking bowl once. Pure evil.
13th Dec 2008, 02:35   | tags:,,,,

Twiglet says:

I love evil pets...

Oh no! She's looking at me....

13th Dec 2008, 07:47

Dhamaka says:

what a wonderful character - and a portrait to match

13th Dec 2008, 09:14

OJ says:

"Who me?"

Very stylish kitty shot. They are all criminal masterminds at heart.

13th Dec 2008, 20:07

MaggieD says:

*runs and hides ...

13th Dec 2008, 20:20

Wendle says:

Very ominous looking photo. I love it.
I don't want to know what that cat is thinking...

13th Dec 2008, 20:44

hildegard says:

She's quite the looker, regardless of her plans for world domination & random torture...

Once knew a cat much given to violence whose owners had called him Tomtom. I thought it a dull name for a boy cat until I learned his full name - Tomtom Macoute. There are some very sick puppies out there.

"thumb tacks"? Tha's been away too long, lad.

13th Dec 2008, 21:03

crickson says:

Thanks guys!

As for the 'thumb tacks', what can I say? Crickson's Electric Eye has gone international.

(Crickson's Electric Eye and CEE are registered trademarks.)

13th Dec 2008, 22:07

OJ says:

Oh you mean "drawing pins"?

What Hildegard said.

14th Dec 2008, 00:44

Stephen A. Batzer(batzer-at-enginst-dot-org) says:

Sorry about the British accent answer, it was not meant to offend. I was quoting a Monty Python skit (pet shop), and thought you would get it, but that off-the-cuff response was ill-considered. You're a bit young for it, though from the right corner of the globe. Too bad we couldn't chat afterwards.

I see you've been to MTU, my alma matter; you're lucky. It's an awesome place.

I'm sorry you had to endure the lecture, it was invitational, I thought. Contrary evidence to deeply held beliefs is often very irritating. The clear message at the opener was that we didn't have time to cover the topic comprehensively. What was deliberately presented was the counter-information which needs to be considered prior to accepting a theory. That's science according to Karl Popper who is the accepted authority by many. Any theory can be confirmed. It has to withstand falsification. Darwinism is frequently presented as a "take it or leave" it whole. This violates the tentativeness of true science. Popper also indicated that true science does not present a "craving to be right."

I never identified myself as a creationist, which most folks take as a Genesis literalist. Which I am not. Since I accept the Big Bang as the moment of creation, does that make me a creationist? By that definition, most folks are creationists. You'll note that we have no decent answer to the origin of everything.

The universe consists of matter, dimensions, energy, time, and information. Darwinism skeptics (particularly design engineers such as myself) recognize that experience shows that signicant useful information WITHOUT EXCEPTION comes from an intelligent source, which Darwinists vehemently reject. The question skeptics pose isn't "Is common descent true?" But rather, "Where did that genetic information come from?" Dumb luck gene shuffling is a pretty unsatisfying, dare-I-say-it, dogmatic position (See Nature Reviews, Genetics, Volume 4, November, 2003, p. 865+). While we have glimmers at the edges, nobody knows the answers the origin of the universe, life, or speciation.

I believe I can answer your question which was a good one. We do know why dogs can't be bred into whales (other than that nobody has done it before). Its because they don't have the genes to do it. The mathematics also work pretty strongly against genetic drift to accomplish this within the lifespan of the universe. So, why do we have whales? We don't know, and I'm satisfied with that answer over an answer which is wrong. Anybody who claims that we can breed dogs into whales has a profound evidentiary hurdle. We only accept as true those things that we observe. Further, you'd be better off starting with an otter than a whale, but even then, you'll notice that otters haven't lost their legs and developed a blow hole on the top of the head. Why? Well, que sera, sera.

There is an ancient lizard in the Galapagos (Darwin Ping) Amblyrhynchus cristatus. Gets its food, etc., from the sea. It hasn't become whale or plesiosaur like, yet, of course, if it had, it would be cited as an example of Darwinistic evolution. If it doesn't have the genes to change over time that way, then it can't do that (within the time boundaries of the universe - a pretty severe condition). If it DOES have the genes to do that, "natural selection" should have induced those genes to express themselves already.

Best wishes to you, and I hope you ate your fill of pasties in da Yoop. I hope you saw Palms Book and Fayette. If not, perhaps you could go back as they're first rate.

MTU '98

3rd Dec 2009, 18:12

crickson says:

It's good of you to respond, even in this slightly strange way. I'll have time to write a more complete comment to your post later on.

I will open by saying that I do not draw a distinction between Intelligent Design and Creationism, as the former is just the warmed over carcass of the latter. The Dover trial clearly established ID to be untestable and unscientific in it's principles.

I am not a 'darwinist' in the sense that it is a personal belief or philosophy that I hold. I am a 'darwinist' because it is the only testable hypothesis that can explain the diversity of life and is supported by endless studies and observations. ID does not fit these criteria. I did not find your lecture a grind because it challenged my beliefs, quite the opposite in fact.

As I say, I will comment further when I finish work. I hope other mobloggers will feel free to do so as well. EDIT- I will moderate comments if I have to, please lets play nice.

3rd Dec 2009, 20:44

BelovedSpaceman says:

As a design engineer you approach this subject with a fairly obvious prejudice against complex structures being assembled without an intelligent entities intervention. You open yourself to an infinite regress for starters, but lets not go there yet.

Your most serious problem is the assertion that information is a property of the universe. As far as I am concerned information is merely the product of humans observations of the universe. Information is a question of epistemology, not the physical sciences.

The real question here though is why was this lecture invitational. Was that so that you did not encounter views that were contradictory to your deeply held beliefs?

@Crickson, what was your question?

3rd Dec 2009, 21:10

crickson says:

My question (which remains unanswered) was this:

Could Dr Batzer please detail the aspects of whale physiology that cannot be derived from land-based mammals. I would go further to ask that the answer also include an explanation of the vestiges of land mammal physiology displayed by modern whales, such as vestigial limbs, in the context of ID.

3rd Dec 2009, 21:39

Anonymous says:


As the ultimate designer, whoever made the whale just understood they look cool. You see the whale is like an adidas trainer, with the vestigial bones being the stripes. All really great designs have completely useless bits to them so they are difficult to copy.

Still good question, I would love to hear an answer instead of an irrelevant diversion about dogs.

3rd Dec 2009, 21:55

hildegard says:

No, no, no, don't feed the prolix troll! His grasp of Popper is risible, his teleological assumptions unforgiveable, & his relentless appeal to some putative assembly of "most folks" so anti-intellectual as to disbar him from grown-up conversation.

The fact that he has chosen to make his point via a post almost exactly 12 months old speaks volumes to his ability either to make or to process detailed observations.

Delete everything he posts even unto the seventh generation.

3rd Dec 2009, 22:56

crickson says:

I'm guessing he was googling his name + darwin...

I'm really interested in what he has to say. I'm baffled by the idea held by most of my colleagues that if you ignore creationists they go away. They don't go away, and they don't rely on engaging with us for the oxygen of publicity.

I was surprised to read this though: "I never identified myself as a creationist, which most folks take as a Genesis literalist. Which I am not." Dr Batzer has published material on a website (reasons dot org) in promotion of his views. The website is run by an organisation called 'Reasons to Believe' that does describe itself as biblically literalist.

I will not engage in a debate on 'where the information comes from' because it is irrelevant to evolutionary theory and because BelovedSpaceman gave a fine objection. It is a nonsense as a concept.

Dr Batzer says that dogs cannot evolve into whales because they do not have the genes for it. This, I suspect, is the old argument that evolution only acts to reduce genomic content. This is simply not the case. New genes appear in genomes quite often. The mechanisms of gene duplication and diversification are quite well understood. It is quite possible for genomes to increase and decrease in size. I would also say that there is no good relationship between organismal complexity and genome size.

3rd Dec 2009, 23:21

billion says:


"prolix troll" hehe...

as apt as that label is, calling a prolix troll a prolix troll may just give him more fuel to write like a prolix troll.

if this exchange does flare up into a heated debate however, I'm happy to offer my services as a linesman. maybe someone else could be the ref. I'll blow hard on the whistle if anyone offers up any daft analogies; anything to do with mousetraps, photocopiers, shoeboxes or adidas trainers and they get the red card.

crickson - I imagine he googled "darwin", "evil", then as an afterthought added his own name.

3rd Dec 2009, 23:34

BelovedSpaceman says:

@ Billion

I thought adidas trainers would be OK. Surely you can't ban those and let self assembling planes through!

4th Dec 2009, 06:55

hildegard says:

"Photocopiers"? Is that a sperm thing?

4th Dec 2009, 12:28

taniwha says:

Cat turns and presses microphone button: "Kill them".

4th Dec 2009, 12:33

Twiglet says:

: ) @ taniwha..

4th Dec 2009, 12:36

taniwha says:

... my comment not aimed at the learned debaters though ... just a response to the cool cat picture.

4th Dec 2009, 12:38

billion says:


it was a reference to jonathan wells' statement "duplicating a gene doesn’t increase information content any more than photocopying a paper increases its information content."

if there's one thing I want to rid the world of, it's bad analogies.

4th Dec 2009, 12:40

Twiglet says:

Oh definitely!

4th Dec 2009, 12:40

taniwha says:

Bad analogies are like donkies wearing hats, they are ... oh never mind.

4th Dec 2009, 13:29

billion says:

hahahahahaha :D

4th Dec 2009, 13:33

Stephen A. Batzer says:

Erickson wrote:
My question (which remains unanswered) was this:

Could Dr Batzer please detail the aspects of whale physiology that cannot be derived from land-based mammals. I would go further to ask that the answer also include an explanation of the vestiges of land mammal physiology displayed by modern whales, such as vestigial limbs, in the context of ID.
That's pretty close to what you asked at URI. I did try to give you a decent answer within my singular post above. I'd email you back, but I don't have your contact information.

GIve me a call if you like, and we can talk for as short or as long as you like. I have some questions for you, as well. This is a fascinating topic, in that it appears that educated folks of good will disagree after seeing the evidence. The central issue to me (and surely not others who blow right past it, unconcerned) is abiogenesis - taken as inevitable by Darwinists, and absolutely impossible without some sort of invervention by skeptics (I prefer the neutral term Agency as the intervening method). It seems to me that the skeptics have the facts on their side with this one since we cannot, under realistic conditions, make either life or information. Information, contrary to a previous post, is a real thing, even though it is intangible, like memory. We do, in fact, have a patent office. Further, if you were to order a CD from of the Dave Matthews Band and got Weird Al Jankovic instead, you may send it back and ask for some different information.

In any event, I have found that the give-and-take of on line discourse is counter productive and people quickly degenerate into one-upmanship and argument by sound bite. No thanks, this is my last post. I made the previous post to let you know that I wish I had paused a moment and answered you differently than I had at URI, and to congratulate you on your UP journey.

Best wishes; I'd be glad to communicate under a different forum.

4th Dec 2009, 13:56

mat says:

"draw a distinction between Intelligent Design and Creationism"

You know the hilarious thing?

Creationism wasn't "fit" enough to survive under the pressures of a rational, evidence-based, environment. So it "evolved", into ID.

Environmental pressures driving change, increasingly complexity, step-by-step. Brilliant.

I can't wait to see what the next iteration from the Magic Book brigade will bring.

4th Dec 2009, 14:38

billion says:

using mat's logic it follows that the old breed of creationist should die out quickly, with only precious few leaving behind their fossilised remains. that era can't come soon enough.

the weird thing is, "intelligent design theorists" do raise some interesting questions about whether the darwinian evolution that is currently taught is sufficient enough to explain all origins of species. if these questions were purely about specific parts of the theory that need to be revised or expanded upon then they might gain more widespread acceptance. unfortunately they've set themselves up in direct opposition to darwinian evolution and invoke an intelligent cause as the origin of life, which has rightfully divorced them from the scientific community and left them with the huge problem of explaining "infinite regress".

I think the only good thing that can come out of this is the publicity that it creates - getting more people to learn about evolution and to think about it.

5th Dec 2009, 21:53

hildegard says:

I fail to see the "interesting questions" raised by ID. ID is not a scientific hypothesis, it's a deliberate attempt to undermine the scientific process & the sociological impact of scientific discovery. Check out a particularly nasty little methodology called the "Wedge Strategy". It's what it sounds like.

ID comes, not from scientific observation, not even from poor dear, dotty Paley & his divine watchmaker - it comes from a Xian fundie lawyer with the specific objective of putting a theologically wantwitted notion of Genesis onto an equal footing with scientific observation. Come to think of it, not even an equal footing but a superior one, because ain't nobody arguing for the teaching of evolutionary biology in religious education classes.

6th Dec 2009, 00:31

billion says:

I'm with you hildegard. id is neither a science, a religion or a philosophy. if anything it's a branch of american politics, the wedge document only confirming its ideological underpinnings. unlike the old breed of creationist, id'ers seem to have passed basic biology in school and have made careers out of exploiting grey areas of understanding within the current model of evolutionary biology.

my point was that the questions they ask are often about genuine scientific problems, but they lose all credibility when they put forward quasi-religious, pseudoscientific answers. these would be scientific controversies worth discussing if only id'ers weren't opposed to the whole notion of evolution and attempted to answer their own questions in a scientific way.

6th Dec 2009, 15:53

crickson says:

Dr Batzer> I feel there is little point to our continuing this discussion privately. I am sorry you find the give-and-take of on-line discourse counterproductive. I'm afraid that open discussion is a mainstay of academic debate. It was your unwillingness to devote time to take questions at the end of your lecture that motivated me to submit a personal letter of complaint about your invitation to URI by the organiser of the lecture series. I would also point out that I have tightly moderated this discussion and edited anything that might be remotely construed as an insult or attack on your person.

I do not think that an impartial observer would say that you have offered a satisfactory answer to the question I posed. Instead you have dodged the meat of the issue and gone off on tangents that fall more in the realms of philosophy than the very real science of understanding the diversity of life on Earth.

I do not know how life started. No-one really does. I feel the answer is most likely to be found through the scientific method and not by appealing to supernatural Agencies. It is actually quite a vigorous field of research. You wouldn't like it though, at the moment there are a lot of scientists engaging in give-and-take on the issue.

7th Dec 2009, 15:07

Spiderbaby says:

billion, there is much discussion in science about evolution, but it rarely gets any media coverage unless there is some sort of "controversy" kicking off with the ID brigade. That's a real shame and it is rarely covered well, the interviews are frequently conducted by presenters obviously lacking any science awareness who let the most outrageous nonsense go unchallenged. You know how it goes. In the meantime, back in the labs, observations are made, hypotheses generated, experiments carried out.

If anyone is interested (and has the time) it might be worth looking at the areas of epigenetics, micro-RNA's and transcription factors. These add levels of control to the way the genetic code is read (the how, where and when of it all), providing far more than just genes as units to be selected for or against in any given environment, and allowing for the possibility of speedy and flexible change.

There's lots going on :)

10th Dec 2009, 04:12

billion says:

it must be incredibly frustrating for you scientist folk that while significant advances are being made in your field, the very basis of your work is being attacked. it doesn't help when media give credence to a false controversy. I have a great deal of sympathy - but also I hope scientists find new, effective ways of communicating with the public. your lab blog is a good resource for bridging that divide.

10th Dec 2009, 13:43