Nathan Lents on the imperfection of the human body (it’s evolution, of course)

1 Like

Nice article from Coyne.


the argument is problematic to begin with. its basically saying that “i dont know why its designed that way” thus its not a good design. on the same logic a spare tier is bad design too:

(o,age from wiki)

Spare tyres have an obvious function. Many of the quirks of biology do not. Why should the null hypothesis be function rather than non-function?


New drinking game. Every time @scd mentions anything car related while talking about biology you have to take a shot. I fear for all of our lives.


That’s not remotely what the argument is. Since you like car analogies, here’s one for you. Build a car with working headlights, then cover the headlights with steel plates so the headlights are useless. It’s that a good design?

Here’s another analogy. Build an aircraft. Now remove the wings, but leave the parts of the fuselage to which they should attach. Is that a good design?

of course since you are human and you know it already. but if you never seen a car or you never knew what a spare tier do you can conclude bad design base on the criteria above.

on the same basic of a spare tier.

not a good analogy since in this case we know that its useless. not so with a biological system.

Are you unaware that there are flightless birds which have wing stumps? Why is it that we can tell the plane is not a good design, but not the bird?

i guess that you refer to the kiwi case. but in this case it might be a wing loss rather than “bad design”. there is also the possibility that kiwi ancestor never had wings in the first place:

"However for a long time scientists believed that kiwi never lost their wings but evolved from a flightless ancestor that walked onto ancient New Zealand "

Is that the only one you’re aware of?

Of course it’s not “bad design”, it’s evolution! That’s my point. I note that you are totally unable to explain why a supernatural designer would design a bird with wing stumps but no wings. This destroys your argument that we can’t tell if a feature is good design or not. You were so easily able to tell that it would be a stupid idea to put non-functional wing stumps on a flightless bird, that you recoiled from the idea of attributing this to a supernatural designer, and took refuge in evolution.

its not what prof coyne says: “imperfection gives evidence for evolution and against intelligent design”. incorrect.

irrelevant. a trait loss is just a trait loss and have nothing to do with “bad design”. on the same base that a mirror loss in a ferarri doesnt prove bad design.

You don’t seem to understand what you are reading. Coyne is saying exactly what I am saying. When I say “It’s not bad design”, I am not saying “It’s the work of a designer but it isn’t a bad design”, I am saying “it is not the work of a designer at all”. It is not the product of design, so it isn’t “good design” or “bad design”, it’s the product of evolution. If it was the product of design, it would be bad design.

Again, you have no understanding of what you are reading. I did not say that trait loss is bad design.

but a trait loss also can be the result of natural process in designed object (the mirror in the ferarri is one instance). thus the claim that it show no design isnt true.

You are not reading what I write. I did not say “it show no design”.


so or so coyne do talking about bad design.

Why not quote the very next sentence? It describes the main subject of the article, namely that the aforementioned idea has been refuted?

However for a long time scientists believed that kiwi never lost their wings but evolved from a flightless ancestor that walked onto ancient New Zealand prior it drifting away from Gondwanaland (an ancient mega continent) about 80 million years ago.
This idea has been turned on its head recently when scientists used DNA to discover that kiwi are most closely related to the extinct elephant birds of Madagascar. Given the remote island of Madagascar is on the other side of the world from the remote islands of New Zealand, it appears the ancestor of both elephant birds and kiwi could fly long distances and disperse to new areas.


No. I am saying that it was not designed, but I am not saying that trait loss is bad design. I did not say that trait loss “show no design”.

This is not a coherent sentence. It is not even English. I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

You are misunderstanding that statement. What it means (which isn’t true, but of course they say that too) is that the ancestors of kiwis would have lost their wings before walking to New Zealand, not that kiwi ancestors never flew. Unintentional quote mine.

1 Like

because its still a possible option.

in coyne post he is clearly talking about poor design so he is clearly wrong about that claim

ok but we cant be sure in anything.

You can’t be sure. There are a few things I know (or as close to “know” as science allows, to a very high degree of confidence). One of them is that kiwis had flying ancestors some time in their past.

1 Like