Comments on Jeanson Accuses Duff Again

I would say that creationist claims like the claim that biological diversity exists in these discrete lineages with no shared genetic ancestry or the notion that the earth is young are claims science has certainly dismissed on the basis of the evidence. It is the appeal to divine intervention used to rescue those ideas that is untestable. It is their bare claims about nature that are refuted by the available evidence and their theological appeals that are not scientific. Both are actually true.


I’ve made considerable time for Jeanson and creationism in general, my point is no one owes him our endless amounts of time. He hasn’t earned a blank check for our attention by posting the equivalent of blog posts to a religious ministry site. At some point we have to acknowledge creationism for what it is and stop treating these people as if they were our peers. They are not.


The thought of Jeanson dismissing someone because he believes them talking outside of their expertise is about the most laughable thing I’ve ever heard in my life.

He can’t read a phylogenetic tree. He thought a divergence measure in an undergraduate textbook was all he needed to know for a “coalescent calculation”. He’s no one to talk about someone being in over their head.

Your blog DEMOLISHED his book.


And that pretty much sums up everything you need to know about Jeanson and his arrogance.


I agree entirely.

The point Jeanson keeps trying (unsuccessfully) to belabor revolves around my 2016 statement that if he was really willing to advance his created heterozygosity model as valid, he should have used it to make verifiable predictions, but he does not. Jeanson protests that he DID make predictions! Of course, the predictions he made boiled down to “we predict new data will look like current data and therefore will be explicable by our model” which is not a meaningful prediction at all. It’s like when Russell Humphreys used his water transmutation model to “predict” that the magnetic field of Uranus would be somewhere within a gigantic already-expected range (IIRC it was like 2 orders of magnitude), then trumpeted that his model was confirmed after Voyager measured it.

Could Jeanson make actual, meaningful, verifiable, testable, falsifiable predictions using his model? I don’t know. I doubt it. If he did, however, it would open his model up to falsification against the evidence, and that’s not what he’s about. It appears his “created heterozygosity” model can explain all conceivable data, which means it doesn’t actually explain anything at all.

And meanwhile it can be roundly shown to be false in other areas…even by a grad student.


I don’t think this really matters. As I’ve stated before, I don’t think science works by falsifiability.

I’d be satisfied with accurate statements of the scientific evidence and a model that was consistent with the evidence.


Part of Jeanson’s problems is that anything he might have that can remotely be considered a “prediction” is buried in a mountain of BS. Everything he does begins at a place that is completely divorced from even the most rudimentary understanding of the science that it’s impossible to dig through it all to find anything to really take seriously.


I would say science doesn’t ONLY work by falsifiability but if there is no conceivable empirical evidence that would be counter to your model then it’s difficult to see how that model may be tested as science.


It does seem that his model is inconsistent with the evidence, which would also seem to demonstrate that it is testable at least in this sense.

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It’s testable up to a point. When he says living things exist as discrete lineages that never shared a genetic ancestry or the earth is 6,000 years old those bare claims by themselves are testable and science has clearly soundly rejected both those ideas because they just do not jibe with the available evidence. But when his “model” eventually butts up against his belief that an inaccessible omnipotent supernatural agent created genetic diversity as part of some divine plan then that claim is not testable and not science. I’m fine with it however as an article of belief but it’s not science.


It goes to a deeper issue with creationism, I think.

One of the reasons I was so sold on creationism for so long was that it seemed capable of explaining everything. We always “had an answer” and that made me feel confident. It took me a long time (and a lot of exposure to real science) to understand that universal explanatory power is a bug, not a feature. A theory which can accommodate any evidence has no actual explanatory power.

If Jeanson’s proposed model is correct, then it should be useful. We could do things with it. For example, one prediction of his model might be that certain pathogens would have an inherent limit to how resistant they could become to treatment. If the speciation of Staphylococcus aureus into MRSA is just God’s “created heterozygosity” breaking down into smaller and smaller phenotypes, then eventually the S. aureus genotype would run out of available variation and lose its ability to resist new drugs and treatments. That’s just the first thing that comes to mind off the top of my head.

Perhaps not all predictions would be this dramatic, but surely he should be able to come up with something. He doesn’t, because he will not acknowledge anything that might actually falsify his viewpoint, due to his a priori commitment to YEC.

His model can be broadly disproven by comparison with evidence, yes. But none of the predictions he claims are proof of his model’s robustness are actually falsifiable.


Jeanson’s “model” is absolutely at odds with the evidence. Let’s remember what he does in his book. He at the outset says he’s not going to deal with paleontology, with geology, with any of the geophysical/geochemical evidence for an old earth but only focus on genetics (he gives a little lip service to biogeography but mostly ignores that as well). An old earth is not an idea that exists as any single isolated appeal to any single line of evidence but is a convergence of evidence from independent sources. Jeanson does one of the classic science denialist slight of hand tricks on asking you to pay attention to one hand while ignoring everything he throws away with the other. His claims are no more consistent with the available scientific evidence than the claims of anti-vaxxers or flat earthers and it’s time we start lumping him in with the likes of these other science denialists.


The old straw man suggests that if God is the source of created heterozygosity, then the model would not be scientifically testable.

It is not necessary to get God into the test tube, it is a question of how well the model of created heterozygosity explains the evidence. Jeanson has made many scientifically testable predictions and he put them in his book. When do you scientifically show that these predictions do not match the evidence?

No, he has not.

Can you provide any example of a prediction he made, which predicts evidence NOT expected under the mainstream model, which could be confirmed or falsified by actual experiment?


He makes predictions of the mutation rates that are different than the mainstream account. That is a key part of his proposal.


I have already pointed out

I would say he takes perfectly legitimate de novo mutation rates derived from pedigrees and then proceeds to misuse those metrics by using them as a stand in for the neutral substitution rates that the approaches he adopts rely on. It’s one of many acts of slight of hand that Jeanson’s uninitiated audience won’t recognize.


Except that there is no reason to suppose that an omnipotent agent could not have created biological diversity in such away that it would appear to be the result of common ancestry and evolution. That’s the problem with presenting appeals to beliefs in the actions of omnipotent divine agents. I could say that God created the universe 5 minutes ago with the appearance of having age and there would be no way to empirically distinguish that idea from any other. Jeanson is doing the equivalent by saying that a divine agent pre-loaded life with diversity that science would say suggests a history. There just is no place in science for appeals to divine omnipotent agency. That’s not to say there is no God however, just that appeals to God(s) are not useful as scientific hypotheses.


I am treading on @evograd’s territory here, but his mutation-rate claims are filtered through a mathematically faulty lens to convert mainstream data into something that looks like it fits YEC.

But that is a good point. If he wanted to show that his model was robust and useful, he could make predictions of mutagenic drift, base pair difference counts, and so forth in yet-unstudied species. These predictions would need to be different than the predictions of the mainstream model. They would need to be definite. They might take the form “My model predicst that once the genomes of (insert two species here) sequenced, we will find it has mtDNA BP differences on the order of 800, as opposed to the ~50 BP differences predicted by (insert actual mainstream research here).”

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I haven’t read Jeanson’s work. With that said, my first reaction wouldn’t be focused necessarily on how the evidence falsifies his claims but more on the swaths of observations in the field of genetics that his model would need to explain. I really don’t see how it could be done without resorting to a level of ad hockery that would make everyones’ heads spin. For example, how would his model explain the patterns of sequence conservation between kinds? Why do we see more differences in introns than in exons when we compare genes between kinds? Why do separately created kinds fall into a nested hierarchy? How do you explain genetic equidistance in phylogenies? How do you explain the patterns of transversion, transitions, and CpG substitutions in comparisons of species from different kinds?

All of this evidence is easily explained from first principles within the evolutionary model, but I just don’t see how YEC can explain it without resorting to “Well, God just decided to do it that way for . . . reasons”. The ability to falsify YEC is just the tip of the iceberg.