More news from John Lott

John Lott has an article up attacking Ashley Judd. She does not favor aerial hunting of wolves and is part of an organization that is active against what they say are practice encouraged by Sarah Palin up in Alaska.

I, frankly, don’t give a damn. It’s an uninteresting issue. John Lott, on the other hand, does care. His interests are of a lesser quality, it seems.

Yet, sometimes the emotional response isn’t the most responsible one. In this case, hunting is done to keep animals from dying from starvation and to maintain higher quality populations. The problem is that in the wild, animal populations go through what are called “boom and crash” cycles – animal populations expand to consume the available food supplies and when those are exhausted, the animals starve and the populations crash. Starvation also makes the animals more susceptible to disease. Hunters stabilize populations, and keep those problems from recurring.

It’s probably safe to assume Johnny is just getting his information from the official website of Alaska, which he cites in his article. Okay, dandy. Population control is done for a good reason. That isn’t Judd’s argument, but whatever. It’s a boring issue. I’m just giving you the jist of it. Next.

As it is, since 1972, the federal government has heavily regulated aerial hunting of animals – only allowing it for predators by government employees or licensed hunters and even then, contrary to last year’s campaign ads and Judd’s latest, animals can’t be shot from the air. While the planes can be used to find and track or chase the wolves, the wolves can only be shot by hunters who are on the ground. The pictures used in the ads inaccurately depict the policies that have been in effect for the last 37 years.

This isn’t so misleading, but it is inaccurate. It is illegal and the act does state that no person is allowed to hunt by aircraft. However, after stating that it is illegal, the act also says this:

“This section shall not apply any person if such person is employed by, or is an authorized agent of or is operating under a license of permit of, any State or the United States to administer or protect or aid in the administration or protection of land, water, wildlife, livestock, domesticated animals, human life, or crops, and each such person operating under a license or permit shall report to the applicable issuing authority each calendar quarter the number and type of animals so taken.”

Clearly, the act does not only state “animals can’t be shot from the air”. Relatively minor issue, but still worth noting. Given the fact of notability, I let Johnny know this. You see, we’re dear friends on Facebook and Johnny posted the link to his article on his status. I left him a comment telling him that he should be more accurate. I also responded to this from the end of the article:

Possibly the most telling point of Judd’s ad is that the ad first mentions Sarah Palin and not the wolves. But how often are fundraising efforts directed against the losing candidates in recent national elections? Never? The ad probably says more about Democrats still viewing Palin as a credible future opponent than it does about the Defenders of the Wildlife and Judd’s inaccurate claims about hunting.

I informed John that Ashley Judd and her wildlife organization are not representative of Democrats. He left a response to my point about the act, telling me that it is clear in what it says. I told him I agree and posted the section concerning the exceptions to the law.

So what was Johnny’s response?

No, he didn’t leave three dots. And it wasn’t simply nothing. I presume he wrote something. Or maybe he deleted everything. No one likes to be embarrassed afterall. Of course, I cannot actually confirm any of this. You see, Johnny and I are no longer friends. Our promise to be BFFs has been broken. WHY, JOHNNY! WHY!

Indeed, embarrass John Lott by simply reading a file to which he originally linked and he ain’t nobody’s BFF.

BFFs no more

BFFs no more

It still isn’t random

This is apparently some confusion over my post about why natural selection is not random. It’s a fairly elementary issue at hand, but it evidently needs to be addressed. One reader mentions,

Natural selection is a product of selective pressures. Those selective pressures are random in that they do not try to produce anything specific (ie: original appendages, limbs, organs, organ systems, body plans, etc… or the DNA that codes for them).

This user is right so far, even if the language is a bit dicey. A particular environment produces conditions to which a population then responds. A research job from a biology professor of mine will do fine here: there are two species of fish in a stream, one small, one large. This stream is divided into two sections: an upper area and a lower area. The division is due to a small waterfall. Now, the small fish in the top section of the stream tend to be vibrant in color while the lower small fish are a more gray color. The hypothesis is that the large species of fish is unable to traverse the waterfall so thus unable to eat the upper small fish, hence their vibrancy. So the research team takes some large fish and introduces them into the area with the vibrant fish. Sure enough, the fish lose their vibrancy pretty quickly. Conclusion: The hypothesis was not falsified because a correlation between color vibrancy and survival was shown upon introduction of the large fish species to the upper stream.

So now here’s where the user goes awry.

Hence, natural selection is random.

He concludes that because the selective pressures happen without regard to a particular species that the reaction of the species is thus random. Do you see the inane logic? This is like saying that because what particular rocks, gas, and space junk goes into the making of a planet can be called random that the force behind the accretion process – gravity – is random.

It’s all very simple. Natural selection is the process of differential survival of organisms based upon how they respond to a given environment. That means that natural selection happens with regard to adaptability. And maybe this is the kicker for this silly creationist. That’s really all “non random” means – with regard to adaptability. That’s why any aspect of genetic drift or mutation is considered random. It happens regardless of whether an organism will do better, worse, or the same in its survival. Were natural selection random then we should expect to see a number of vibrant fish swimming around the upper stream which is in comparable proportion to the number swimming around prior to the introduction of the large fish species. Of course we do not see anything like that. What we do see is differential survival based upon the response of the organism to a particular environment – the fish which survived were less vibrant, on average, than the fish which were quickly eaten.

It still isn't random

This is apparently some confusion over my post about why natural selection is not random. It’s a fairly elementary issue at hand, but it evidently needs to be addressed. One reader mentions,

Natural selection is a product of selective pressures. Those selective pressures are random in that they do not try to produce anything specific (ie: original appendages, limbs, organs, organ systems, body plans, etc… or the DNA that codes for them).

This user is right so far, even if the language is a bit dicey. A particular environment produces conditions to which a population then responds. A research job from a biology professor of mine will do fine here: there are two species of fish in a stream, one small, one large. This stream is divided into two sections: an upper area and a lower area. The division is due to a small waterfall. Now, the small fish in the top section of the stream tend to be vibrant in color while the lower small fish are a more gray color. The hypothesis is that the large species of fish is unable to traverse the waterfall so thus unable to eat the upper small fish, hence their vibrancy. So the research team takes some large fish and introduces them into the area with the vibrant fish. Sure enough, the fish lose their vibrancy pretty quickly. Conclusion: The hypothesis was not falsified because a correlation between color vibrancy and survival was shown upon introduction of the large fish species to the upper stream.

So now here’s where the user goes awry.

Hence, natural selection is random.

He concludes that because the selective pressures happen without regard to a particular species that the reaction of the species is thus random. Do you see the inane logic? This is like saying that because what particular rocks, gas, and space junk goes into the making of a planet can be called random that the force behind the accretion process – gravity – is random.

It’s all very simple. Natural selection is the process of differential survival of organisms based upon how they respond to a given environment. That means that natural selection happens with regard to adaptability. And maybe this is the kicker for this silly creationists. That’s really all “non random” means – with regard to adaptability. That’s why any aspect of genetic drift or mutation is considered random. It happens regardless of whether an organism will do better, worse, or the same in its survival. Were natural selection random then we should expect to see a number of vibrant fish swimming around the upper stream which is in comparable proportion to the number swimming around prior to the introduction of the large fish species. Of course we do not see anything like that. What we do see is differential survival based upon the response of the organism to a particular environment – the fish which survived were less vibrant, on average, than the fish which were quickly eaten.

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