The Difficulty with Detecting Design

That’s not what I asked.

That is also an incredibly ridiculous response. Phylogenetics does not mean just writing down some random words and connecting them with lines. Seriously.

I admit, I wasn’t sure whether to believe you about that. I should not have doubted you, knowing creationists as well as I do.


Honestly, I chuckle every time I see that drawing.


“connecting them with lies.” That was a rather appropriate typo on my part.

No need for that. Just do it with the four categories (clades) you have been given:


Now, arrange them so that each category is fully nested within another.


how exactly? do you have a list of all traits of these cars?

can you tell why this isnt a correct tree? for instance: do you think that bicycle is more similar in genenral to a car than to other bicycle?

Looks like you are admitting you can’t make a fully nested hierarchy from the data like you claimed you could. Oops!


That information is not necessary.

It seems I have not explained the task clearly enough. Allow me to explain further.

Group all the Hondas together into a single category,

Group all the Fords together into a single category.

Group all the sedans together into a single category.

Group all the coupes together into a single category.

Show that it is possible to do so in such a way that every single member of each category is fully contained within one of the other categories.

e.g. You don’t have a situation in which some members of the “coupe” category are in the “Honda” category, while others are in the “Ford” category. Instead, you have a situation where all sedans are also Fords. Or all Fords are also coupes. Etc. Any such arrangement is acceptable, but you cannot have members of a category at one level being divided into different categories at a higher level.

This is what is meant by a nested hierarchy. (The diagram you drew does not demonstrate this. You just made up three separate, non-overlapping categories, with no nesting.)

You may find the task difficult, or even impossible.

If you do, then try find the reason for this.



This is not how phylogenetics is done.
The categorisation is based on Specific traits. For example, animals which give birth to their young and feed them through milk secreted in mammary glands are classified as mammals.

You could do the same with automobiles.
For example, all automobiles which run on internal combustion engines would fall inder the ICE family.
This family could be further differentiated based on fuels used such as petrol, diesel etc. We would find some specific traits which are always present in Diesel run vehicles which do not appear in petrol driven vehicles and tehse would become the basis for classification.
Vehicles run on electricity would be a different class.
Then we would have hybrids which can run on both.
Manual/animal driven vehicles would be another major family.

It would be relatively simple to draw a family tree based on the above classification. It would even be possible to find out which type of vehicle was prevalent first based on the way the accessories such as music systems developed.
Vehicles with more primitive music systems would be earlier and so on.
Animal driven/manual vehicles such as cycles and buloock carts would be more primitive than cars.

My example already presumes that.

Hondas are more similar to each other than they are to Fords.

Fords are more similar to each other than they are to Hondas.

Coupes are more similar to each other than they are to sedans.

Sedans are more similar to each other than they are to coupes.

The equivalent with biological phylogenetics:

Mammals are more similar to each other than they are to fish.

Fish are more similar to each other than they are to mammals.

Dogs are more similar to each other than they are to cats,salmon or trout.

Salmon are more similar to each other than they are to dogs, cats or trout.

And so on. I hope you get the idea.

I can arrange dogs, cats, salmon and trout into a nested hierarchy in which dogs and cats fall into the category mammal, and trout and salmon fall into the category fish.

Now, see if you can do the same with the four cars I gave you. It should be easier than my example, because I had to arrange six categories, while you only have four.

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yes, your category presumes something wrong.

All hondas don’t use the same technology, and neither do all fords. Some fords are closer to Hondas because they share the same technology… so a diesel car made by Ford will be in the same sub group as one made by Honda an the ywill be in a different sub group from all petrol driven cars.

Its easy to make trees based on the kind of drives used in different cars.
It has nothing much to do with who manufactured each car. That info is not even needed.


So are you saying it is not possible to categorize cars as Fords or Hondas? That when I go to a Ford dealer I am as likely to find Hondas for sale there as I am to find Ford’s, because we cannot tell them apart?

That is not how I understand the world to operate.

There is a difference between classification and buying something…
products that use the same technology can be and are manufactured by different companies. If you want a electric vehicle, then EVs across companies are more similar than cars running on ICEs.
An example in biology is that a whale and cow are both mammals… even though one is in the ocean and the other is on land. The main part is the mode of reproduction and how they feed their young.

Exactly. All whales are mammals. It is not that some are mammals and some are fish.

But, as you admit, some electric vehicles are Hondas and others are Fords.

Why the difference?

Because cars are not related to each other and all other manufactured object thru descent from a common ancestor.

If the nested hierarchy of life was just something that we make up, rather than a reflection of an underlying physical reality, you’d be able to classify the four cars I gave @scd into a nested hierarchy.

But you can’t, can you?


The difference in brands selling the car… it works the same if different companies breed dogs and sell them based on the brand of the breeder.
A Pomeranian is a Pomeranian, how it could be sold by different breeders with different brand values an marginal differences in the breed.

Right. So animals cannot be categorized into a nested hierarchy according to their breeder, because Pomeranians are not created by their breeders out of dust.

What do you think that that demonstrates?

The nested hierarchy in biology is based on the existence of common descent. This means the classification is not just an arbitrary human convention. Rather, there is an objectively correct way in which all species can be categorized, based on their patterns of relation by descent to each other.

If we categorize fish and whales together as “sea creatures” that does not work when we take all the evidence into account as a whole. However, when we classify whales as mammals, that is consistent with all the lines of evidence, from gross physical anatomy, molecular genetics, the fossil record, etc.

What is the objectively correct classification of all goods manufactured by humans, that forms a nested hierarchy? Please show where I can find this.


first: why i cant just make a general hierarchy (cars, trucks etc) on the same base as reptiles, mammals etc?. if we can make groups out of creatures then we can do that with designed objects too.

not all fishes. the lungfish for instance is actualy more similar to mammals than to other fishes. common descent is false because of that? i dont think so.

Then go ahead. The site linked below shows what the nested hierarchy actually looks like (in simplified form). It’s not just writing three names and joining them with lines. You need to have categories within categories within categories, etc. And you need to demonstrate these categories are valid thru rigorous definitions and criteria.

WTAF is this nonsense?

Oh boy, here we go!

Yes because you don’t have a method of producing it. You hunch it. Wing it. Sorta kinda put things closer together because you superficially think they’re more similar to each other. I can’t be too hard on you here because it’s a misconception I’ve had myself. But nested hierarchies aren’t actually constructed on the basis of mere similarity.
They’re actually based on phylogenetic trees, which in turn make implicit assumptions about the mode of character evolution. Some algorithms produce trees by working towards the shortest possible combination of branches (a sort of “minimum evolution” type of algorithm), others use probabilities using a specified model of character evolution to infer which tree is most likely to have produced the data used (DNA/protein sequences, morphological characters). There are still others I don’t know how work, and some I don’t remember all that well.

Regardless, the evidence for evolution is in the fact that different sets of independent characters yield highly similar trees (or nesting clades if you will) when subjected to the same algorithm (meaning if you construct your tree based on engine and gearbox characteristics, you can compare it to a tree based on wheel and windshield characteristics for example). And the fact that the data has high levels of tree-like structure in it.

Your job is to show that using the same methods, designed objects like vehicles do the same. Meaning you pick a subset of characters of vehicles, and then derive a tree using a phylogenetic algorithm. Then you show that there is similarly high levels of tree-like structure in the data set as there is in biological data. And then further that using a different set of characters, a highly similar tree is produced. If you could do that, you would have shown something surprising, and then we might be able to begin to discuss whether nesting clades really are evidence for evolution and common descent.

But that requires you to actually do the hard work and compile lists of characters from lots and lots of real-world vehicle models, and then use phylogenetic algorithms on this data. Something which you have yet to even begin to do.

for instance: do you think that bicycle is more similar in genenral to a car than to other bicycle?

Which one in particular? Which car? Which other bicycle? And similarity is actually not the criterion of interest.

Organisms are grouped phylogenetically by trees inferred from their characters, which can be physiological, morphological, behavioral, or molecular, or all of them combined. And when I say phylogenetically I mean a tree is drawn based on some model of evolution or philosophical assumption, such as maximum parsimony, or maximum likelihood, and lots of other methods. None of which are “which ones are most similar?”.

The kind of tree spit out by the algorithm on the other end might end up with a result that looks like it grouped by putting more similar things together, but it actually didn’t. And some times superficial similarity can be misleading. You might think a Giraffe is more similar to a horse than it is to a Hippo, and in a superficial sense that could seem reasonable. But if you actually look at their character traits in more detail, you discover that in fact the Giraffe has more commonalities with the Hippo than with the horse, both physiologically and genetically.