Difference between revisions of "Conservapedia talk:Lenski dialog"

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:::: If Aschlafly is talking about the "data not shown" parts of the paper as being "concealed", then he is being ignorant about normal scientific paper submission. Due to length constraints and other factors, most (read: all) researchers will leave out unimportant pieces of data that aren't necessarily the key points of the paper. For example, a paper could catalog the radiation levels of all the workers at a given nuclear power plant, and have a main point that workers who are in a certain part of the plant are getting higher exposure rates. Because it had to catalog all workers of the plant, it might also have to take dosage readings of people who work off-site. Obviously, people who aren't working at the plant will not have high radiation doses, and thus in the paper that result might look like "Predictably, those workers who perform their duties off-site had no detectable radiation doses that were above background (data not shown)".  It would be pointless to show that "hey look, people who don't work around the radiation don't have readings above background! Here's a chart proving it!". That is why almost all papers have at least one data set that isn't shown. -- [[User:Aaronp|Aaronp]]
:::: If Aschlafly is talking about the "data not shown" parts of the paper as being "concealed", then he is being ignorant about normal scientific paper submission. Due to length constraints and other factors, most (read: all) researchers will leave out unimportant pieces of data that aren't necessarily the key points of the paper. For example, a paper could catalog the radiation levels of all the workers at a given nuclear power plant, and have a main point that workers who are in a certain part of the plant are getting higher exposure rates. Because it had to catalog all workers of the plant, it might also have to take dosage readings of people who work off-site. Obviously, people who aren't working at the plant will not have high radiation doses, and thus in the paper that result might look like "Predictably, those workers who perform their duties off-site had no detectable radiation doses that were above background (data not shown)".  It would be pointless to show that "hey look, people who don't work around the radiation don't have readings above background! Here's a chart proving it!". That is why almost all papers have at least one data set that isn't shown. -- [[User:Aaronp|Aaronp]]
I have to run an errand but want to you everyone know, as I've said before, that it's only productive to discuss something with somebody who has an open mind.  If you agree with my statement that "It's unscientific for others to repeat as true an unverified claim based on concealed data," then let's talk.  If not, then please rant somewhere else.  Thanks.--[[User:Aschlafly|Aschlafly]] 13:34, 20 June 2008 (EDT)
==Note re. article==
==Note re. article==
As an aside, I' wonder if someone couldn't place some information at the head of the article here?  At present, the article simply starts into a "first letter" to "a Prof. Lenski".  The article should have a little setup to introduce readers to what on Earth it's all about.  There is no reference in the article to the rest of the debate, basically.  Just an FYI.  [[User:StatsFan|StatsFan]] 13:17, 20 June 2008 (EDT)
As an aside, I' wonder if someone couldn't place some information at the head of the article here?  At present, the article simply starts into a "first letter" to "a Prof. Lenski".  The article should have a little setup to introduce readers to what on Earth it's all about.  There is no reference in the article to the rest of the debate, basically.  Just an FYI.  [[User:StatsFan|StatsFan]] 13:17, 20 June 2008 (EDT)

Revision as of 13:34, 20 June 2008

Final Copy of Letter Sent Wednesday afternoon

Dear Prof. Lenski,

This is my second request for your data underlying your recent paper, "Historical contingency and the evolution of a key innovation in an experimental population of Escherichia coli," published in PNAS (June 10, 2008) and reported in New Scientist ("Bacteria make major evolutionary shift in lab," June 9, 2008).

Your work was taxpayer-funded, and PNAS represents that its authors will make underlying data available. I'd like to review the data myself and ensure availability for others, including experts and my students. Others have expressed interest in access to the data in addition to myself, and your website seems well-suited for public release of these data.

If the data are voluminous, then I particularly request access to the data that was made available to the peer reviewers of your paper, and to the data relating to the period during which the bacterial colony supposedly developed Cit+. As before, I'm requesting the organized data themselves, not the graphs and summaries set forth in the paper and referenced in your first reply to me. Note that several times your paper expressly states, "data not shown."

Given that this is my second request for the data, a clear answer is requested as to whether you will make the key underlying data available for independent review. Your response, or lack thereof, will be posted due to the public interest in this issue. Thank you.

Andy Schlafly, B.S.E., J.D.
cc: PNAS, New Scientist publications

That was disappointing. Aziraphale 16:42, 18 June 2008 (EDT)
I don't blame him if he doesn't respond. What is this about Aschafly wanting to review the information himself. I thought he said that he wouldn't understand it, or something to that effect.SugarCup 17:21, 18 June 2008 (EDT)
Well, I guess he didn't really need people to sign on with him, after all. Added to the project page.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 17:29, 18 June 2008 (EDT)

Draft letter

Dear Prof. Lenski,

This is my second request for the data underlying your recent paper, "Historical contingency and the evolution of a key innovation in an experimental population of Escherichia coli," published in PNAS (June 10, 2008) and reported in New Scientist ("Bacteria make major evolutionary shift in lab," June 9, 2008).

This work was taxpayer-funded, and PNAS represents that its authors will make underlying data available. I'd like to review the data myself and ensure availability for others, including experts and my students. Others have expressed interested in access to the data in addition to myself, and your website seems well-suited for public release of these data.

If the data are voluminous, then I particularly request that access to the data made available to the peer reviewers of your paper, and data relating to the period during which the bacterial colony supposedly developed Cit+. As before, I'm requesting the organized data themselves, not the graphs and summaries set forth in the paper. Note that several times your paper expressly states, "data not shown."

Given that this is my second request for the data, a clear answer is requested as to whether you will make the key data available for independent review. Thank you.

Andy Schlafly, B.S.E., J.D.

cc: PNAS, New Scientist publications

Given that he was very gracious in his last reply, you think maybe it would be a good idea to at least TRY not to sound like he's being accused of malfeasance? I'd suggest new wording but something much better is already available below. -Drek

List of people willing to join an email requesting the public release of Lenski's data

Schedule permitting, a better version of the draft letter below (which someone diluted) will be sent tomorrow to Lenski, noting support by others (unspecified whom) at Conservapedia. Obviously Conservapedia rejects the limits on access to data proposed by several below. Public access to data means access by all, not merely by people having certain preferred credentials or education.

This will be the second request for the data from Lenski. Given that the research was publicly funded and published in a Journal that has a policy of access to data, the expectation is that Lenski will release the data. But will he?--Aschlafly 23:40, 17 June 2008 (EDT)

I'm not sure that you've ever spelt out exactly what data you are expecting. Somebody mentioned on this page that we might be talking about terabytes of data. Is that what you are asking for? Or what?
Also, I don't recall anybody actually said that the access to the data should be limited (and if you are talking about my comments and those of others that we should leave it to those who are qualified to see it, then I reject that we are proposing limits as such).
Neither have you responded to my comments about how it will make creationists look.
Philip J. Rayment 06:58, 18 June 2008 (EDT)
I "diluted it. I thought it needed to be more specific and polite. Since it is neither again, I am hesitant to put my name to it. There's no need to be brusque, and every reason to be as polite as possible.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 12:35, 18 June 2008 (EDT)

Current total of supporters: 7

Wait a second... if I put my name on this list, is it going to get attached to some combative email? I don't want to just agree, when you seem to be ignoring my attempts to help draft this email. What were you proposing to send, Andy? If you wouldn't mind, could you post the text here before I have to decide if I want to attach my good name to it?--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 14:04, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
QFT. I likewise said earlier that I'd be happy to sign on, pending a review of the actual text to be sent. So long as the tone remains professional and polite I'm in. Aziraphale 17:52, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
It will be polite and professional, of course. In fact, someone else can draft the text if he likes, as long as it simply requests public release of the data for public scrutiny and is free of any obfuscation like that displayed by some detractors on this page.--Aschlafly 17:54, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
There's a draft that some folks are working on, below. Aziraphale 18:24, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
Provisionally willing, pending review of the finished draft. I make it a policy never to sign my name to anything I haven't read. --Benp 18:49, 16 June 2008 (EDT)

Let's work up a draft. Here's a start, and improvements are welcome:

Dear Prof. Lenski,

Your recent paper in PNAS, "Historical contingency and the evolution of a key innovation in an experimental population of Escherichia coli,"[1] has interested us greatly. Knowing PNAS policy of making data available, we were hoping you would accordingly oblige us with your recorded observations for a few key points.

We respectfully request the data relating to the period during which the bacterial colony developed cit+; while we see excerpts in the paper, we were hoping to examine them in context. Your website[2] already discloses some older data, and seems well-suited for public release of the data underlying your recent paper.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this. --Aschlafly 20:15, 16 June 2008 (EDT)

I think we should probably be more specific, Andy. We're obviously not asking for twenty years' worth of notes, right? Or at least, I don't think we should ask for that.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 21:04, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
I think it's reasonably obvious what the key claims are in the paper, and what the key data are underlying those claims. But, if you like, perhaps you can revise the above letter. The paper itself is not long and feel free to cite to it, if you think that is necessary.--Aschlafly 21:10, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
I just think it helps to be as specific as possible. But I have edited a bit with slightly more polite wording and more specificity. I hope it is acceptable?--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 21:16, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
If we send that version, put my name on the list :) --Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 13:26, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
I'll add my name to that version as well. It's encouraging to see what teamwork can achieve when we're all focused on the same goal. --DinsdaleP 13:39, 17 June 2008 (EDT)

Is it acceptable for the people co-signing this letter to use their Conservapedia user names? I noticed earlier that Arizaphale did not want to use his real name. Philip J. Rayment 22:54, 16 June 2008 (EDT)

Thanks, Philip. I'm also willing to sign with a generic "John Doe" or even an old-fashioned "X". Or, the letter could simply be signed "Members of the Conservapedia Community," since I'm feeling confident that two or more others aren't sporting their actual names on that list. Aziraphale 11:41, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
Right, that's no problem. We're polite and professional around here, and signing as "Members of the Conservapedia Community" is a good suggestion, with a number added.--Aschlafly 11:51, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
I'd be more comfortable with that, as well. You can't be too careful with putting personal information online nowadays. --Benp 17:20, 17 June 2008 (EDT)


Carafe, TomMoore, and SMaines all defend the withholding from public scrutiny of data underlying a scientific claim. Moreover, note how insulting some of them have become in response below to a request for public scrutiny of the data. No more insults will be allowed here, and their talk pollution may be removed.

Public scrutiny has obvious benefits, and none of them have given any reason for denying that scrutiny. Journals and even government policy encourage or require it. Ah, but evolutionists feel they can play by their own rules, and make public claims without making the data public. Rest assured that no one here is fooled by this "make the claim but hide the data from the public" approach.--Aschlafly 11:23, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

Just for the record, the above as it refers to my own statements is untrue. I think public scrutiny is excellent. I believe, in fact, that given that Lenski so promptly answered your questions, he would probably comply with any specific requests you might make. It does not seem reasonable to demand he send you what must be gigabytes of data off the cuff. If you were a professional in a field even tangentially related, I imagine he might be happy to do so immediately, but as it is, I suspect you are not at the top of the list for someone as busy as he undoubtedly must be.
Perhaps if you sent him an email asking him a specific question: ("I wonder if you would send me the relevant records from the time at which you believe the bacteria became Cit+" might be one, but I am not a biologist) he would answer it with the records or say why he wouldn't. Or if you wait, they might have time to organize the data into a coherent manner for presentation and make it available on the internet or by request. Cordiality is key, we agree on that much.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 15:05, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
While I appreciate having my name removed from the top list because my position was acknowledged, it's pointless while Carafe, TomMoore, and SMaines are still being represented in the way they are. I'm in agreement with them, and now Philip Rayment too, that simply asking "for all your data" is not only unscientific, but wasteful and disrespectful if there's no meaningful plan in place to use the data productively. None of these people are against disclosure or proper scientific review, so as long as that statement above remains you're continuing to make false statements about CP editors. --DinsdaleP 10:21, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
If you supported public scrutiny of the data, then you would send Lenski an email requesting it. That you have not, and will not, speaks volumes about your view.--Aschlafly 16:40, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
...to me, it says that I'm not a biologist, and doubt I could fairly evaluate it if I received it. I know the degree of training it has required for me to achieve my present position, and I lack the hubris to think I could exercise equivalent powers of discrimination in a field so unrelated to my own. I'm not faulting you - maybe you have a degree in biochemistry, for all I know! But I know that I am not capable of fairly evaluating in context the raw data of biological experiments. My view is not a multi-book set: there's only one volume to it, and it's humility and appreciation of the credentials of the qualified.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 17:19, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
As I said, TomMoore, you apparently don't support "public scrutiny" of the data. Your own expertise is obviously irrelevant.--Aschlafly 19:17, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
I assure you, Andy, I do support it. I see no reason to think it isn't forthcoming, even though he didn't send all of the data to Some Internet Guy who demanded it offhand.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 22:37, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
Andy, I will not join in your support in the wasting of the tax dollars of mine and others to provide irrelevant information which you will then proceed to not use. Your version of "scrutiny", unlike scientific scrutiny, accomplishes nothing but to waste our tax dollars.
You can either participate with other scientists in public scrutiny by identifying rational weaknesses in Lenski's work and doing verification experiments, or you can continue to ignore public scrutiny and demand that your version of "scrutiny" be done. What will it be?
-- Carafe 20:09, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
Although I support the public release of data, there is no way that I would ask for it or put my name to a request for it unless I first knew that someone was available to analyse it. I mentioned earlier (when this discussion was on Aschlafly's talk page) that creationists might not review Lenski's work because of lack of funding and numbers of creationary scientists available to do the work. Nevertheless, two creationary scientists have or are in the process of critiquing it (and I think an ID proponent has also). But the first (Don Batten) has apparently not seen the need to ask for all the data, and if either of the other two feel the need, they can ask for themselves. But given the aforementioned lack of funding and availability, it would be pointless asking for the data if there was nobody available to analyse it. Of course, if Conservapedia, or someone known to Conservapedia, is offering to fund the analysis, that might change things.
Furthermore, most problems with evolutionary conclusions are not because of misrepresenting the data, but with the conclusions being based on the materialistic worldview. It is usually not necessary to analyse the (in this case) 20 years' worth of data in order to find this fault.
I'm also concerned about the impression this will give of creationists. We cop enough criticism as it is simply by holding creationist views without giving our critics real reasons such as unreasonable demands for data that we will probably never use.
Philip J. Rayment 09:34, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
Finally. Someone who makes sense. I'll gladly join in an email requesting any relevant data from Lenski, as needed by an identified/funded creationist scientist for Conservapedia.
Until that time, Andy's "public scrutiny" just wastes tax dollars.
-- Carafe 12:08, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
Unfortunately, Philip, you've proven to be right on this. If you google "schlafly lenski" there's plenty of criticism over the way this has been handled by CP, and the credibility of the latter. --DinsdaleP 10:25, 19 June 2008 (EDT)

Request of Examination of raw data is reasonable given the history of evolutionist fraud

I do think a request of examination of the alleged raw data is reasonable given the history of evolutionists fraud. In addition, we know know that Charles Darwin was deceitful regarding his public pronouncements regarding his worldview and he was actually an atheist. So given the history of deceit in connection with the evolutionary position and its promotion, I do think Andy is quite justified in requesting to see the raw data of Lenski's alleged work. Conservative 00:14, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

As I wrote above, I'm pretty sure the relevant data would be happily provided as soon as a request a bit more specific than "give me all the data" is given. Some particular weakness that Andy identified in Lenski's reasoning, perhaps? Or some experimental procedure that you deemed especially prone to mistake, or even forgery? What is this "skepticism" that has been "expressed" based on? Or is it some sort of... dogmatic skepticism?
-- Carafe 00:44, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
I had asked a question above that was never answered, so I'll repeat it here: Who does Conservapedia plan on retaining to review the data from on scientific basis? It would be a lot more professional to select a qualified scientist or panel of scientists to do the job, and let them have a professional dialog with Prof. Lenski to review the raw data and conclusions. This is just grandstanding - "You haven't delivered gigs and gigs of raw data as requested, so you're withholding data". What it comes down to is that the CP leadership wants anything BUT a professional, qualified review of professor Lenski's work, because the outcome of that is not likely to be what they want. This reminds me of Kent Hovind's "Evolution Challenge" - set up ridiculous demands, and then claim victory because reasonable people don't meet them. --DinsdaleP 11:07, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
Public scrutiny has obvious benefits. See "recap" above.--Aschlafly 11:31, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
I'll repeat my specific point. There's nothing improper about requesting that Professor Lenski share his raw data, but it's disrespectful of his time if there's no intention of using that data purposefully. I had asked what the plan was for having the data reviewed once it's received. Are there any qualified professionals lined up to review it and respond? He showed courtesy and professionalism in responding intra-day to the original request, so it's disrespectful to accuse him of withholding information after a single exchange of emails. --DinsdaleP 14:44, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
It's also disrespectful to claim that Carafe, TomMoore, SMaines and I are all defending "the withholding from public scrutiny of data underlying a scientific claim." None of us have made that statement, so please remove it since it's untrue. --DinsdaleP 14:46, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
DinsdaleP, clearly state that you support the public release of the data, and retract any comments to the contrary, and I'll remove your name.
Your comment above suggests that you only support requests for data that have a proper purpose (whatever that is), a proper plan for review (whatever that is), and "qualified professionals lined up to review it." If you cling to that very limited approach, then you do oppose "public scrutiny" of data underlying a scientific claim.--Aschlafly 16:38, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
I thought my comments were self-explanatory, but I'll try to simplify it. Yes, I support the public release of the data, and never claimed otherwise. I hope that's clear enough. The point we disagree on is that after a single exchange of emails, it's wrong to accuse Prof. Lenski of withholding data when he made a reasonable attempt to answer your questions and point you to the supporting data in his papers. If you ask him in a courteous manner how the underlying raw data can be made available, I'm sure you'll get a prompt and professional reply. So go ahead, make the request, and get the data. Frankly, I don't care what you do with it, but at least it will stop the insulting accusations of data being withheld. --DinsdaleP 18:03, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
A last clarification - my point about having a "proper purpose" in requesting the data simply meant that if you were asking Prof. Lenski to take the time and effort to collect the raw data and send it to you, I'd hope the effort wasn't going to be a waste of time because it never got into the hands of people qualified to evaluate it properly. Time will tell. --DinsdaleP 18:07, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
Perhaps you're saying you don't oppose public release of the data. You haven't demonstrated you would "support" it, as in joining an email requesting it. Or would you?--Aschlafly 19:19, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
"Perhaps"? I thought my statement above was plain enough, but instead of retracting your false accusation, you're just adding new conditions - now I have to add my signature to an email I haven't seen to show my support for disclosure? That's a sad way to avoid accountability for making false statements. Show me the email and a plan for using the data that doesn't make this a waste of time and taxpayer money, and I'll consider signing the request. In the meantime, please remove the false statements at the top of this page. --DinsdaleP 22:17, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
I'm sure all of us here will gladly join in an email requesting public release of the data in a scientific scrutiny process. I will not however join in your version of "scrutiny", which has nothing to do with scientific scrutiny at all. -- Carafe 20:11, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

responses of creation scientists to Lenski matter

Here are the responses of creation scientists to the Lenski matter:



Conservative 23:48, 14 June 2008 (EDT)

Another email?

Is there going to be one? It's entirely possible that, having received a request from a lawyer for data, a scientist might very well think that the data provided in the report would be sufficient. Before deciding that he's hiding something, why not give him enough rope to conclusively hang himself?

"Dear Dr. Lenski,

I'm sorry I didn't make myself clear enough in the first place. We were hoping to see the entirety of the raw data in order to assess it ourselves."

Or some such.

Aziraphale 12:26, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

If you are running a study on the genetics of a rapidly multiplying bacterial species over many years, the data accumulated will run into many many gigabytes. I don't believe it is practical to hand it out to any Tom, Dick and Harry requesting it. If there are concerns about any particular area of the study which raised suspicion of fraud or misinterpretation of data, then Mr. Schlafly should be asking the raw data pertaining to that particular area.
I have published in many medical journals and actively peer review for 2 of them. This is how it works in the field of science. Being a lawyer, Mr. Schlafly may not be familiar with the practice. So I do not think the email Aziraphale prepared is appropriate. This is my opinion and most of the users seem to agree with this as well. --SMaines 13:35, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

In response to Aziraphale, my email was clear and there is no reason for me to say the same thing again. You're welcome to make your request of Lenski if you really don't think he understood my email.

In response to SMaines, I'll add your name to the list above of people who oppose the public release of data underlying public claims about the data. (The amount of the data is no obstacle to its release.) SMaines' approach prevents mistakes and fraud from being identified by independent public review. Apparently SMaines does not even request availability of the data when he does peer review. Perhaps he could tell us which journals he does peer review for so that others can have a healthy skepticism about claims made in them. Of course, SMaines is unlikely to disclose the names of those journals.--Aschlafly 14:21, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

It is true that I do not ask for raw data from all the authors that I have peer reviewed articles for. You do not seem to understand how the peer review process works. The role of the peer reviewer is not to repeat all the work the authors have already done.

First I check whether the authors are asking a relevant question regarding the hypothesis, whether the hypotheses are falsifiable, whether the methodology is sound without any obvious flaws, were the data collected ethically and whether they obtain informed consent of all involved. I also aim to determine the experiments performed adhering to protocol and statistical methods used were sound. Then I determine whether their results actually conclude what they have listed as their conclusions. I check whether the bibliography is complete and up-to-date. Finally I recommend to the editor whether the paper is significant and relevant to the journal. I may have omitted a few steps, but that is in nutshell how a peer review process works.

I have worked in academic circles for years and I am yet to come across any referee who will ask for the whole set of raw data for all the papers reviewed. Raw data is only asked for if we have any concerns regarding the validity of methodology or conclusions. I have in the past asked for set of raw data to run some specific calculations myself. I have never known any one who will ring an author and ask to send the whole set of data covering years of data collection.

It works like Carafe described “A, I tried duplicating your experiment, but parameters x, y, and z that I need were not in your article. I need you to disclose to me x, y, and z that you used at the time. What are they?”

Also, have you come across the different peer review tools? Please familiarize yourself with the process before

For record, I am not against public scrutiny at all, but you have not even pointed out what your concerns or skepticisms are. What you have effectively said is you paper does not fit my belief patterns, so I do not believe you. Hand over all the raw data. This is childish and silly. --SMaines 15:06, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

Dear Aschlafly,
You've mistaken me for someone who thinks he could diagnose Lenski's work in a meaningful way. You are one who can do so, so I was offering advice. It was free, and worth every penny. Aziraphale 16:16, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
Aziraphale, you still don't get it. I support the public release of the data, so that the public can analyze it. Got it now?--Aschlafly 16:33, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
One of us is certainly not getting something - my suggestion was meant to encourage the release of the data, rather than allowing the conversation to die with a possibility existing that there was a miscommunication rather than a denial of the request. What's more important here: that a political point is scored, or that the data be released? You are 100% mistaken if you think I'm opposed to the release of the data. Aziraphale 17:50, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
Would you join an email requesting public release of the data?--Aschlafly 19:20, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
Absolutely, but I won't divulge my identity to you. If using a pseudonym is alright with you I'll gladly attach my support. If my particular handle is too silly, I could be appended as a John Doe instead. That said, you and I have different ideas of what language is appropriate, so I'd expect to see the exact text in advance. For example, until proven a liar or charlatan he deserves not to be accused of anything. Rather, just as when a motion for discovery is not compeletely fulfilled to your satisfaction, a firm but courteous clarification of your expectations would be appropriate.
Would you care for me to draft something instead, and you can sign off, or not, as you see fit? Aziraphale 21:23, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

Rants Against Public Release of Data

While you're at it, you might do well to explain to Lenski what exactly a "Conservapedia" is. Unless he really likes Lewis Black's "The conservatives think that YOU, THE PUBLIC, HAVE A LIBERAL BIAS." quote, he's unlikely to know. After all, this site gets most of its views from a small group of devout sysops and the snarkers over at RW. Godspeed. DannyRedful 13:49, 13 June 2008 (EDT)

Paper 180. All kinds of data. If you want, I can also link to the protocols and such. Prof. Lenski is way more obliging than we would have any right to expect... I sent him a letter of congratulations, and he even took the time to reply thanking me!--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 15:27, 13 June 2008 (EDT)

So, Andy, when can we expect your in-depth analysis of paper #180? -Drek
With a professional and comprehensive reply having been sent promptly by Professor Lenski, what would be the intended follow-up from Conservapedia? It seems like he answered the letter's first two questions and pointed out that the third was based on a misunderstanding of his paper. Since his study's data and methodology are freely available for review, I'm wondering who CP is looking to engage to independently review and assess his work, which has already passed peer review in order to be published. --DinsdaleP 16:03, 13 June 2008 (EDT)
He answered, everybody scramble! I need that Lack of Evidence in the air NOW! You call artillery and tell them to deploy the Inconclusive Data immediately! Move, move, move! We've got a battle against science to fight, people!--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 17:29, 13 June 2008 (EDT)

Lenski's reply did not provide the data as requested. It did clarify that his claims are not as strong as some evolutionists have insisted.--Aschlafly 09:07, 14 June 2008 (EDT)

"You will find all the relevant methods and data supporting this claim in our paper." If this statement is true then I hardly think he's going to go to the trouble of sending us all his data when it is readily available. StatsMsn 09:29, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
StatsMsn, have you ever read a scientific paper? Papers don't set forth the data themselves. At most, they set forth summaries of data, which can be flawed or self-serving.--Aschlafly 09:31, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
Supposing he gave you access to the gigs of raw data, would you:
  1. Be able to understand any of it?
  2. Be prepared to accept that the data accurately reflects the physical facts of the matter in the lab, were you to find it consistent with his conclusions?
Given your educational background, I have serious doubts about 1), and given your behaviour on this site, I find myself incapable of believing 2). Please feel free to offer me some reassurance. --Leda 10:26, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
I find this ironic that you suddenly want data to support someone else's claim, given your "Mystery: Young hollywood stars and breast cancer" ballpark figure. The paper provides more than ballpark figures you have previously used to support your hypothses in the past. DanielB 19:28, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
In response to Leda, if for some unexplained reason I can't understand the data, then I'll find someone who can. I don't know how to fly an airplane but obviously that does not stop me from traveling by air. I am not reassured by the withholding of data.
In response to DanielB, I presented my data and described it as a mystery. What we have here is the unacceptable opposite: a scientific claim without production of the data.--Aschlafly 21:12, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
"I don't know how to fly an airplane but obviously that does not stop me from traveling by air." Oh, nobody's objecting to you flying when clueless. But a modicum of flight knowledge might expected of you if you, say, suddenly rush into the cockpit and demand that the pilot repeat to you every single flight procedure done for the last 12 hours, lest you declare him fraudulent and/or incompetent. I mean, isn't that what you're implying?
I mean, what are you expecting when you demand "data" of the Cit+ mutation occurance other than a log entry of "Jan 24th, 2008, 2:03pm. Generation 2026 confirmed to express Cit+ mutation"? Then what you do oh-so-politely request? That all of his collaborator's minds be read so you can make sure there is no mistakes?
-- Carafe 23:08, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
Your attempt to defend the withholding of data underlying a scientific claim is amusing. While you're at it, perhaps you should also protest the Submission guidelines for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science: "(viii) Materials and Data Availability. To allow others to replicate and build on work published in PNAS, authors must make materials, data, and associated protocols available to readers. Authors must disclose upon submission of the manuscript any restrictions on the availability of materials or information." You might also protest policies that recommend or require taxpayer-funded data to be made available.--Aschlafly 23:21, 14 June 2008 (EDT)
You thought my poking fun at your inability to form a coherent analogy was supposed to be a defense? The amusement is all on this side of the table, trust me. You see, there is no defending going on here, because there is no withholding going on here.
"(viii) Materials and Data Availability..." Yes, you can stop repeating yourself now. This was in your letter, which I did in fact read (something that might not be said of you and the myriad articles Richard provided). I did wonder why that was in your letter. I mean, did you think that normal scientific discourse doesn't occur unless by your legal coercion? I'm pretty sure if you had, say, a request just a tad more specific than "give me all your data", Richard would have been more than happy to reply. "Give me all your data" is as an absurd of a data request as demanding that Richard must "right now tell me all you know about E. coli", which, come to think about it, would be pretty much the same thing.
"To allow others to replicate and build on work published in PNAS, authors must..." Out of curiosity, which part of his experiment are you trying to replicate that need additional information not available in the paper? Maybe you should tell him, he could easily help you with that. If you are not replicating the experiment, then did you have a real question or concern, or a weakness that you identified, like "I had a concern about this-and-that procedure of the strain selection, it seems particularly vulnerable to contamination" he would be quite happy to help you too. But hey, that requires that you have a clue about the subject matter.
-- Carafe 00:32, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

You really go out of your way to defend a guy who's clearly a fraudulent hack. Even if he released his so called "raw data" it would just be a huge load of numbers no one is going to take the time to analyze. If it took him years and years to do this experiment he can be pretty sure no one is going to waste that much time trying to replicate it, so everyone can assume he's right and the atheist Darwinists can pretend they've proved evolution, even when we know it's impossible. Do you believe everything you read? If someone claimed they had a mountain of evidence that Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster had a baby, I suppose you'd believe that too if it were published somewhere? TonyT 14:36, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

So let me see if I understand you correctly, Tony. If Lenski doesn't release all of the raw data accumulated over twenty years as Mr. Schlafly requests, it's proof that he's a fraud. If Lenski releases all of the raw data accumulated over twenty years as Mr. Schlafly requests, the sheer volume is proof that he's trying to pull a fast one, and he's a fraud.
Is that correct?
Given this and other comments you have made, I suspect that you're a satirist attempting to make conservatives look unreasonable. If so, please stop. --Benp 17:06, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
I resent being called a satirist. You assume that anyone who doesn't hold your liberal views must be joking! Well, the majority of the people in this country are "satirists" if that is the case. It doesn't much matter if Lenski releases his data or not. Us right thinking people know he's a fraud because he claims to have witnessed evolution, and we know that is impossible. That is a fact! I'd like to see his data. I bet it's so seriously flawed even someone with little background in biology will be able to tell. TonyT 21:54, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
Do not call Lenski or anyone else a fraud without good evidence. Evolution is impossible, but for Lenski to be a fraud he would have to be claiming something that he knows to be wrong, and you've provided no evidence of that, and I doubt that it exists. Philip J. Rayment 09:46, 16 June 2008 (EDT) (Administrator)
Not at all, Tony. I assume that anyone who is genuinely conservative is going to present a reasonable and rational demeanor, refrain from a priori reasoning, and generally engage in mature conduct. I assume that those who wish to promulgate a stereotype of conservatism with an eye to demonization is going to engage in name-calling, refuse to engage in rational discussion, and declare himself right without adequate support for the position. Such actions are entirely consistent with liberals masquerading as conservatives. If you resent being called a satirist, I would suggest attempting to conduct yourself in a manner becoming a conservative. --Benp 21:22, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
Where did the 20 years come from? Lenski was asked for the data supporting his claim. He has produced some information on a website, but not that data. Yes, making a claim while withholding the data, even after a request, can reasonably lead one to doubt the claim. Wouldn't you agree with that?--Aschlafly 19:23, 15 June 2008 (EDT)


Certainly, Mr. Schlafly. What I'm taking issue with is Tony's claim that even if Lenski releases his data, it's not worth taking the time to analyze or "waste the time" trying to replicate. It seems very much to me as if he's trying to portray conservatives as closed-minded and unwilling to look at the evidence. Perhaps I'm mistaken on that point, but I certainly think you'd agree that such individuals have turned up here before, wouldn't you?

With respect to the 'twenty years' portion: I was under the impression that you wanted the full and complete data to be made available. Given that the experiment took twenty years, I assumed that you would want the full twenty years of data included for evaluation. I apologize if I was mistaken.--Benp 19:28, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

I was wondering how anyone possibly could conclude from this exchange that Lenski was hiding something. I came to the conclusion that some people must not understand how scientific scrutiny works. I wrote a guide.

Scientific scrutiny works like this:

Scientist A publishes results.

Scientist B: A, I tried duplicating your experiment, but parameters x, y, and z that I need were not in your article. I need you to disclose to me x, y, and z that you used at the time. What are they?
A: x, y, and z are such and such.
B: Using x, y, and z, my result doesn't agree with yours at all. Are you sure you did the procedures that you claimed?
A: ...
B: You fraud!

Scientific scrutiny does not work like this:
A publishes results.
B: I have Generic Skepticism toward your article. Under code viii of the Publication Criteria, I demand that you give me all of your data!
A: ... ok...? It seems that everything you would need is already in the article. Did you have something specific in mind?
B: A has refused to attach all data he has ever used for the experiment. He is withholding information and thus hiding something.

-- Carafe 01:42, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

This is it. This one is my favorite post. Carafe has won Conservapedia, roll the credits.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 01:49, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
Beautiful! What else can I say?--SMaines 13:37, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
Not much, apparently. I think you've exhausted your meaningful comments.--Aschlafly 14:24, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

Aschlafly, have you read the paper?

I have. It pretty fairly lays out all the important data. Unless you want to run the experiments yourself - which I don't know if you could do, given the equipment he used - I think it's probably the best you'll ever get. I think a fair reply to Lenski would be point out elements of his analysis that you don't like, and put that in a reply e-mail. Otherwise, your lack of reply makes it look like you've given up, and your defensive parries here ("he didn't give all his data!") look like a losing rearguard action.-AShephard 17:10, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

Would you join an email requesting public release of the data, or not?--Aschlafly 19:24, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
May I sign-with-qualifier? As in, signed, "A. Shephard - please do show as much as reasonably possible; the truth will out and convince those who doubt you, and this will hasten it along."?-AShephard 22:24, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

Something to note

From the AiG article:

"AiG’s Dr. Georgia Purdom is studying the research for an upcoming semi-technical article in the journal Answers In Depth."

Apparently, Lenski has released his data to Purdom. Presumably, Dr. Purdom wouldn't settle for fragmentary data that wouldn't allow her to fully evaluate the claims. Had Lenski refused to disclose, it seems certain that AiG would have made note of it.

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Benp (talk)


Let's say that a second email is enough for Lenski to release his data. What are you going to do with it all? Previous discussions show you don't what you are doing with small, simple to analyse data sets. You would need a degree in biochemistry and biostats to even begin to know what you are going to do with it. The people who have peer reviewed the paper a by far better qualified and if they had concerns they would have asked specifically for what they wanted without sounding like .... Well I want say what you sound like writting emails singed with a law degree demanding data. DanielB 19:16, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

Would you join an email requesting public release of the data, or not?--Aschlafly 19:25, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
Sure, but like the human genome it will probably be released in time anyway in a way that is useful. You standing there making demands, signing letters JD, makes you look like some lawyer with an axe to grind rather than someone interested in research. DanielB 20:33, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

Proposed Follow-up Email

Since Andy wants to send a second email for some of the rest of us to sign as well, here is a space to work out the wording. I wonder if MainS and Carafe would help us write something that seems reasonable and polite, since you guys seem to have sufficient knowledge in the field to describe what we are looking to find out?

I would suggest something along these lines:

Dear Professor Lenski We are writing in regards to your recent experiment with cit+ development in observed E. coli populations. We were wondering if you would oblige us by sending the relevant raw data from your observations during the period in which the bacteria population developed the ability to utilize citrase. We are intensely curious about that information. If it will be made available through some other venue and you wish to direct us to that instead, then we would very much like to be made aware of that. Thank you, Andy Schlafly, Thomas Moore, etc.

Is that a reasonable request? I am afraid biology protocol is quite beyond me, so some help would be appreciated.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 22:47, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

Looks like a good start, Tom, but from the comments so far it seems like nothing short of the full set of observations is going to be satisfactory for some of the skeptics here. I'd suggest the following revision to the second and third sentences:
We were wondering if you would oblige us by sending the relevant raw data for the full set of your observations for this population. We are intensely curious about the period in which the bacteria population developed the ability to utilize citrase, but would like the complete set of observations instead of a subset to facilitate an independent analysis of the research. --DinsdaleP 00:07, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
It doesn't seem reasonable to demand twenty years' worth of observations, which would be the full set. Or at least, it doesn't seem reasonable to me.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 00:09, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
It doesn't seem reasonable to me, either, which is why Professor Lenski's response pointed readers to the relevant subsets of data, and that would be sufficient for most reasonable people. I was just pointing out that unreasonable people here will consider anything less than all 20 years to be withholding data, so what's needed to satisfy the skeptics is a way for that full body of observations to be accessible. If the response is that it would take too much time and/or money to satisfy the request, then the burden of proof falls on the skeptics to justify why they can't start with the data already made available and only request additional data when they have specific questions that require it for an answer. --DinsdaleP 00:32, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
Well, maybe they will feel differently. I think this is the polite and reasonable approach, rather than asking for all twenty years. Other comments? Andy?--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 18:51, 16 June 2008 (EDT)

What is the plan for a Conservapedia review of Lenski's work?

One thing that keeps getting lost in the rhetoric - who is looking at the Lenski work on behalf of Conservapedia? More than a few people here, including a CP sysop, have pointed out that a proper scientific review can begin using the data already made available by Professor Lenski. If this review surfaces any questions or criticisms, then that would prompt an exchange with Lenski on the specifcs, and I'm sure the related data would be made available. While I see that there are reviews of the work being done by some creationist groups (who apparently see no need to have all the raw data first), the Conservapedia approach is more like a set of lawyers looking for discovery than a set of scientists looking for truth. Why can't CP review Lenski's work in a scientific manner like AiG instead? --DinsdaleP 10:31, 16 June 2008 (EDT)

The issue is public release and scrutiny of the data.--Aschlafly 10:43, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
No one investigating Lenski's work in a scientific manner is accusing him of withholding any data from them, or from the public. You're setting a new, and unprofessional, precedent in expecting a scientist to take the time to collect and send you decades of raw data on his research simply because you're asking him to, when you haven't even shown the courtesy of demonstrating why this effort is necessary. I repeat the question you keep avoiding - is this exercise going to be a waste of Lenski's time so you can make a point, or do you have a plan to use that raw data and a timetable for publishing your findings? --DinsdaleP 10:52, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
DinsdaleP, it sounds like your name should be added back to the list of those who oppose public release and scrutiny of the data above. The questions you keep harping on are irrelevant to the issue of public release and scrutiny of the data.--Aschlafly 11:02, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
Feel free to add me back to your ridiculous list, then. Anyone who can read knows where I stand, just as they can see your continued avoidance of my question. There is no plan, is there? I'll be glad to stand corrected if I'm wrong. --DinsdaleP 11:17, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
How is asking about "scrutiny of the data" irrelevant to the issue of "public release and scrutiny of the data"? Color me confused!--Jareddr 11:03, 16 June 2008 (EDT)

You don't seem to understand the scientific method at all. There is a reason peer review is so called. It is a review of work by your peers, that is fellows engaged in similar fields of research. You are not a peer of Dr. Lenski. You don't even hold an undergraduate degree in a related field. You aren't even qualified to be a research assistant in his lab. You're a lawyer, and I'm sure you're good at your job and all, but don't try to pretend to qualifications you simply do not have to serve a political purpose.

Lets face it, the good doctor has been extremely kind to you thus far. I would not recommend pushing your luck. Had it been me, your email would have hit the bit bucket faster than you can say "plunk". As far as I can tell, you haven't even had the good grace to read the poor guy's paper as he suggested. I did, and I found it extremely accessible compared to the cryptography papers I'm used to reviewing. I believed I followed the bulk of it, and I'm sure you could too if you were so minded.

But of course, you aren't minded to. You're not at all interested in his findings, because you assume they're false before you even know the details. If he were correct, it would yet further discredit your young earth creationist beliefs. Here is research that gives the lie to the old "mutations never produce new information" talking point, while at the same time demonstrating how a feature that seems incredibly unlikely were it to happen in one big bang, can in fact become trivial via building up a "potentiated genome" as alluded to by Lenski in his email (see the section headed "Historical Contingency in the Evolution of Cit+" for details of the experiments they performed to confirm this.)

This experiment yet again confirms the predictions of the theory of evolution, while contradicting your own creation hypothesis (The capacity for citrate utilisation starts out weak and gets stronger over time, via additional mutations that out compete the peers they fissioned from.) This result scares you. You aren't interested at all in Dr. Lenski's data are you? All you want is to make an unreasonable request, and then when it is sensibly refused or ignored to trumpet that clearly the scientists working on LEE are attempting to hide something. Nobody is impressed by your transparent posturing. --Taciturn 15:08, 16 June 2008 (EDT)

Although some of your comments, such as those about peer review, are reasonable, the last half particularly is begging the question. His research is claimed to give the lie to the "mutations never produce new information" claim, but whether they actually do is one of the points that are in contention. Trying to make your point by assuming your point and simply restating it is not a valid form of argument. Further, although misunderstanding this is understandable, creationists have acknowledged that mutations might extremely rarely produce new genetic information by chance. Their argument is more that you can't use mutations as a source of new information, not because it never ever happens, but because it very rarely happens and would be swamped by all the information-losing mutations. So Lenski's claim, even if it turned out to be true (which seems unlikely: see creationist responses linked above), does not disprove creationism anyway, as one example of an information-gaining mutation is consistent with creationism and inconsistent with evolution, which requires many such mutations. Philip J. Rayment 23:05, 16 June 2008 (EDT)
Ugh. Don't get me started on those "creationist responses." They're clearly written for a scientifically illiterate and unthinking audience. People who won't notice that the author's idea of a literature survey is to read and fail to understand an abstract, and then cite the paper in support of whatever gibberish they want to commit to paper. The AiG response is just talking points recycled for the occasion, which no meaningful content, while creation on the web is so intellectually dishonest it beggars belief. Take this wonderful paragraph:

Furthermore, E. coli is normally capable of utilizing citrate as an energy source under anaerobic conditions, with a whole suite of genes involved in its fermentation. This includes a citrate transporter gene that codes for a transporter protein embedded in the cell wall that takes citrate into the cell.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. E. Coli is not, and has never been observed to be capable of utilising citrate natively. Any E. Coli that have this ability have it because it is coded for be invasive plasmids. That's the point of the paper the author cites. Lenski takes great pains to point out that the Cit+ and Cit- strains DO NOT possess these plasmids, since the issue of external contamination would be foremost in any reviewer's mind.
The whole creation on the web article is like this throughout. It takes parts of the paper out of context and uses them as an attack on the work. Whole sentences and paragraphs are copied wholesale without attribution. The author makes totally unfounded claims about the what the LTEE team are doing, accusing them of "giving up on observing evolution." It's the most astonishingly asinine thing I've read this month, and only "died-in-the-wool" (sic) creationist would take it seriously.
So, here's the thing. Lets assume that Lenski's claims are false or exaggerated (and I don't think for a moment that is the case.) How exactly is Schlafly, a lawyer, going to show this regardless of how much raw data he has? He doesn't even know what to ask for, let alone what he's going to do with it once he has it. I don't believe it would be overly cynical to ascribe an ulterior motive to this request. At very best, he wants to pester a person doing productive research and force him to do extra work, unpaid, on his behalf. That would be fine if Schlafly was a peer of Lenski's seeking verification of the result. Defending one's work is part of the scientific process, but there have to be limits. If you really want to analyse the result, first find a working biologist with time and equipment to do the analysis, then and only then will I support the request for further data.
To all others supporting the request currently, I'd ask they withdraw their support until such time as this condition is fulfilled. I cannot believe that Schlafly seriously wants the data, simply that he wishes the request to be refused such that he can make outlandish claims about scientific transparency. --Taciturn 08:10, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
Taciturn, I'm not requesting merely my personal review of the data (although certainly I will review it if Lenski produces it), but rather the public scrutiny of the data. Unless you think that Lenski's team is perfect or has a monopoly on knowledge, you should agree that additional review of the data by others can yield additional insights, and possibly identify flaws.
Andrew Wiles is undeniably a bright mathematician, as are his friends who reviewed his claim to have proven Fermat's Last Theorem. But when he made his initial proof available more widely, others saw flaws in it that took a long time to repair. Obviously the same may be true about anyone's work ... including Lenski's.--Aschlafly 08:37, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
[Edit conflict] Mr. Schlafly, given that Lenski is required to release the data to any scientist who asks, who exactly is preventing public scrutiny? A lawyer such as yourself quite simply does not have the training to understand the data, and you're quite unlikely to find a scientist sympathetic to your cause. Even if he releases twenty years worth of research to you, nothing changes. DannyRedful 10:19, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
Are you saying that only a "scientist" may see the data? I hold an engineering degree and worked at Bell Labs, but perhaps you have some special definition to limit access to the data as much as possible. If someone drops out of college, does that disqualify him from being able to look at the data? I certainly hope that isn't your view.--Aschlafly 11:07, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
Andy, only someone with proper training in biology could hope to understand the raw data. You can look at it, yes, fine, but you won't understand it, and you'll quickly demand that Lenski release it in a "clear and comprehensive format", at which point you'll promptly be pointed right back to Paper 180. Your engineering degree doesn't help you here. DannyRedful 11:10, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
Taciturn, one more bigoted derogatory comment like those in your first paragraph and the end of your third paragraph and you will earn yourself a block.
Now, to your specific claims regarding AiG and CMI:
* The articles are written for a lay audience, but that doesn't mean that they are written for a "scientifically illiterate and unthinking audience". On the contrary, they aim to make them scientifically accurate.
* The AiG article was clearly a preliminary response, so your derogatory comment about no meaningful content is unwarranted.
* "Whole sentences and paragraphs are copied wholesale without attribution.": Please back that claim with evidence or retract it.
* "The author makes totally unfounded claims about the what the LTEE team are doing, accusing them of "giving up on observing evolution."": On the contrary, it appears that you did not read the article properly (with an open mind?). It actually says that "...Lenski seemed [note both the lack of definiteness/lack of accusation and the past tense] to have given up on ‘evolution in the lab’ ..."
Philip J. Rayment 09:07, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
Taciturn discredited himself, and probably won't even defend his behavior.
But Philip, I have a question for you: do you support public release of the data to enable others (including creationists) to review it? It's hard for me to see how outside reviewers (including creationists) can do a thorough job without access to the data. Undeniably outside reviewers could do a better job if the data were public.
I'm starting to think that even the peer reviewers for the paper never checked the data, if the data continue to be withheld.--Aschlafly 10:16, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
I've already given my answer to whether or not I support release of the data. Do a search of this page for a post with a timestamp of 09:34. Philip J. Rayment 11:15, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
Well, OK, I found your prior posting and reread it, but didn't find any answer to the basic question I just asked: wouldn't outside reviewers (including creationists) be better off with an availability of the data? And to your point about funding, wouldn't funding be easier to obtain (to the extent necessary) if it were known that the data are available? Seems obvious to me, and probably to the co-signers (11 and growing), that the answer is "yes" to both.--Aschlafly 11:20, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
Actually, that was not a question that you had just asked. And yes, outside reviewers, including creationists, would be better off with the data being available, if they plan on reviewing all that data. But that's a big "if", because, as I did say above, there is a shortage of available creationary scientists and funding for them. As for obtaining funding, no, I don't think it would make a difference. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Lenski has not refused to release the data; it's just that you plan on asking him to do so now rather than wait for someone who is actually going to review the data to ask. That is, I assume that the data would be made available in due course to a serious researcher who requested it.
I also pointed out that creationary scientists may not be interested in reviewing all the data. They probably have better things to do with their time and funds than to analyse 20 years worth of data, when all they likely need to do is find out a bit more about his actual results. Further, as I said elsewhere on this page, it's even possible that Lenski has actually found a mutation that has added genetic information. Creationists don't rule out that there may be very rare examples of this, and perhaps this is the first known case of such. But that doesn't disprove creation nor prove evolution because, as I said, creationism can handle the odd exception to the rule, whereas the evolution requires millions of such information-gaining mutations, and one example is not that evidence. So why would a creationary scientist waste his time (unless someone was employing him to do it)?
Philip J. Rayment 23:04, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
Which would mean that it would not even be published in the journal, Andy. Your final claim is unfounded and, quite frankly, slanderous. DannyRedful 10:19, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
If the peer reviewers saw the data, then it is no problem to make that data publicly available. So where is it?--Aschlafly 11:07, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
In the paper, Andy. Everything that you could need to know about the experiment and much more is in the paper. If you don't believe me, you can ask Lenski for something extra, however general questions like the ones you've sent him so far will only get you pointed back to the paper. If you've got a specific part of the work you want, ask and I'm sure he'll happily throw the raw, incomprehensible data at you. DannyRedful 11:10, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
This would seem to come down to a fundamental misunderstanding. Few biologists are going to want to see Lenski's raw data like this, because the observations will be relatively simple to make - or at least simple for a biologist. Instead, they will want to examine his methodology (which is already freely available) to see if they can find any flaws. For example, if he had stored them in a non-sterile environment or something, the colonies could have been contaminated, and it would invalidate his conclusions. They will also want to see the conclusions he draws from his observations, which might be unwarranted or otherwise explainable. For example, if they know as biologists that e. coli can use citrase under certain conditions (not the case, actually, but it's an example), they would call his conclusions into question. And of course some scientists are going to want to imitate his whole set-up to reproduce his result... although it will take a while. But because Prof. Lenski is a highly skilled and reputable scientist, few are going to demand to see his raw data, because there is little reason not to trust his integrity. That is generally just not how this science is done, to the best of my knowledge.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 13:26, 17 June 2008 (EDT)

I can't believe I'm getting into this particular mess but, here goes: hypothetically, let's say that Andy contacts Lenski and Lenski graciously releases all of the raw data anyone could want. Let's further say that Andy manages to secure the services of a qualified analyst who has the time and training to properly analyze said data and that, further, that analyst confirms that Lenski's interpretations are correct. In other words, the analyst says that Lenski is- as far as anyone can tell- correct. What happens then? Will Andy or anyone else publicly acknowledge this to be the case, or will the story suddenly become that Lenski "falsified" his raw data? Because, really and truly folks, the "raw data" we keep talking about is not the same thing as actually having access to Lenski's samples. Moreover, Lenski is not about to release any part of his samples to folks who haven't the slightest idea how to store them, much less how to analyze. And I don't have imagination enough to think that Conservapedia is going to set up an adequately equipped and staffed research lab capable of taking possession of such samples, much less fund it long enough to replicate Lenski's research. As far as I can tell, this entire thing is a lot of sound and fury that will ultimately come to nothing (apologies Will). So what's with all the grandstanding, Andy? Okay, I've said my bit. I'll go back to editing statistics articles now. -Drek

I don't believe it will be hard to gain interest from creation scientist organizations/individuals and ID theorists in regards to reviewing the raw data.Conservative 19:23, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
I've just posted above in a reply to Andy why I think a creationary scientist would not be interested. I'll add here that, according to Don Batten of CMI (link elsewhere on this page), it fits with what Behe has written about in his latest book, so there's no reason to think that this case would bother ID proponents either. Philip J. Rayment 23:12, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
"I don't believe it will be hard to gain interest from creation scientist organizations/individuals and ID theorists in regards to reviewing the raw data." Yeah, but I was specifically referring to qualified analysts, so the ID/C.S. folks won't help. Snark aside, however, neither you nor anyone else has addressed the underlying issue: what happens if Lenski DOES provide the full database? It isn't like someone couldn't claim he faked that and the only way to confirm it would be to evaluate his samples. Look, I DO in fact support public availability of data derived from publicly funded research. That said, however, if we don't even have a plausible case for how we ourselves could verify output, much less carry out a replication, we're just being nuisances. Lenski's job is to do research, not bow to every request made of him by random unqualified amateurs. And even if he has tenure and that somehow made him utterly invulnerable to firing (oddly, failing to produce is one of those things that can kill tenure) he still has a responsibility to his Post-Docs and grad students. -Drek
I've warned two others on this page about derogatory comments, and you've gone and added your own. For that you've earned yourself a block for the "snark". Philip J. Rayment 02:57, 19 June 2008 (EDT)


I am going to make it clear that I am not willing to put my name on this. I whole-heartedly support the release of Professor Lenski's data, but not to a faceless group of individuals with no clear purpose for demanding the data. My question is, as Mr. Schlafly seems to be avoiding it, have you Mr. Schlafly read the paper that Professor Lenski directed you to? I hope that this request is more than an attempt to add Professor Lenski to the professor values list. SugarCup 15:18, 17 June 2008 (EDT)

Your argument is irrelevant to the public release of the data. I hadn't read Andrew Wiles' attempt to prove Fermat's Last Theorem, but I sure am glad that he publicized it so that people could identify serious flaws after Wiles' expert friends declared it to be complete.--Aschlafly 15:26, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
You already emailed Professor Lenski, and he kindly took the time to respond. But you didn't even bother to read the answers he gave you. Sending him another email demanding even more information, without even reading the information he already gave you seems rude. SugarCup 15:49, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
Now you're making up things about me. Perhaps you think you can distract attention from the simple issue of public release of the data. You failed if that was your goal.--Aschlafly 16:16, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
That never was my intention. I was simply trying to understand your reasoning behind this email. I am interested in something else at the moment actually. You seem to enjoy mentioning Andrew Wiles and Fermat's Last Theorem. Who proved that Andrew Wiles was wrong. Was it a layperson, or a mathematician? SugarCup 17:58, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
If you're trying to exclude people from looking at the data based on their education or credentials, then just say so. There are many bright people who never graduated from college, and I oppose making education or credentials a test for who can review the data. In Wiles' case, I don't know what the credentials were of the multiple people who found serious flaws.--Aschlafly 18:20, 17 June 2008 (EDT)

Two Questions for Aschlafly

I have two questions for Aschlafly. Please answer them plainly and in brief as I've no use for obfuscation typical of what I've seen above. As you know, failing to answer is an answer of sorts. Here are my questions:

  1. Have you read Lenski's paper as he suggested?
  2. What do you plan to do with his "raw" data should you receive it?

The answers to these two questions will tell much about your intent and your character. AndyMann 18:34, 17 June 2008 (EDT)

So your answers are
  1. you "skimmed" it
  2. you won't do anythnig with the "raw data" should he send it to you

Thank you for your honesty. I hope your readership takes these answers in their full measure. AndyMann 19:30, 17 June 2008 (EDT)

I hope you recognize and admit to the benefits of public access. You haven't yet.--Aschlafly 23:34, 17 June 2008 (EDT)

Two Questions for Aschlafly: comments from others

  • I don't believe it will be hard to gain interest from creation scientist organizations/individuals and ID theorists in regards to reviewing the raw data.Conservative 19:21, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
I know your question was not directed at me, but isn't the point of public release that it would be open to everyone to examine; ie - that this isn't solely about Aschlafly? I doubt if there is anyone on this site who would be capable of understanding Lenski's raw data, if it were to be made available, but that is not a reason to oppose the public release of the data per se, is it? If released publicly, anyone capable of understanding it can see it for themselves, and those who cannot understand it will be unaffected. What's wrong with that?Eoinc 18:44, 17 June 2008 (EDT)

I would encourage people to watch the movie of what the physical form of the raw data looks like. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNaXlK_3Fik They tested 4 trillion cells.[3] Assuming even a simple 'y/n' for the 'can metabolize citrate' that is about 4 terabytes of data. This doesn't go into the other genes that they have studied. Are you going to send him some hard drives to copy the data onto? Do you have the bandwidth to host that data for public scrutiny (at a full T1 speed with 100% utilization, if I did my math correctly, it would take about 2 years to download all of the data)? Granted, that is one extreme of the data but this could potentially be more than you can handle or host. And if he says its a terrabyte of data or so, will you host it? --Rutm 18:53, 17 June 2008 (EDT)

No, I wouldn't host it. If the data were made publicly available, I would have no interest in downloading it or reading it because I am not a biologist and wouldn't be able to understand it. But I am not opposed to the data - whatever size the files are - being made available for people who can understand it (and have sufficiently spacious hard drives). Eoinc 19:01, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
to clarify, I am not opposed to it in principle. Eoinc 19:03, 17 June 2008 (EDT)

I did skim Lenski's paper, and saw that on multiple occasions he says the data are not shown. In addition, his figures and tables are oddly uninformative. I recall that one figure is complete speculation. After skimming his paper the need for public disclosure of the data became even more apparent.

What would I do with the raw data? I don't propose that access to it be limited based on education or credentials. I would expect many people, including folks just as bright as Lenski, to examine it and possibly identify flaws or make suggestions.

I repeat: does anyone here really think Lenski's team is perfect or has a monopoly on knowledge???--Aschlafly 19:12, 17 June 2008 (EDT)


I don't think they have a monopoly on knowledge, and nobody's perfect. On the other hand, I do think the volume of data might prove to be a problem. If a response indicates that the complete data is simply too massive to be mailed/posted to a website, what's the next reasonable step? --Benp 19:50, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
It is becoming clear that this campaign to release the data has more to do with your hope that Lenski won't and you can dismiss his claims on those grounds. I am sure the data is available to the people who need to see it and depending on the copyright restrictions that research unfortunatly comes with these day (usually through funding by non-government entities) it will be made available as publically as it can.
Someone earlier mentioned ID theorist, they tend to have about as much qualifications on this as Andrew Schalfly, BSE. JD. so I won't hold much hope in them being able to understand it. DanielB 22:22, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
As I've warned someone else already on this page, one more derogatory comment like that in your second paragraph and you will earn yourself a block. Despite anti-creationist and anti-ID urban myth, the credentials of ID proponents and creationary scientists are every bit as good as those of other scientists. Philip J. Rayment 23:15, 17 June 2008 (EDT)
Really, ID theorist are scientist? Look at the Discovery Institute's board members and fellows. Cihak is a MD, every other person on that list either has a degree in history, political science or law. Behe use to be a fellow so that is one biochemist, Dempski(?) was a mathematician who use to be there once. Only one relevently qualified and two semi-qualified experts that is it. DanielB 20:02, 18 June 2008 (EDT)
The Discovery Institute is not the only source of ID proponents. Just as with evolutionists, there are those that are qualified and those that are not, but still believe it, promote it, and etc. Your comment that I warned you about was ID theorists in general, not DI board members and fellows specifically. Philip J. Rayment 03:01, 19 June 2008 (EDT)
But go to an equivalent one evolution supporting organisation and it will be full of PhD's in biology. Can you name any of these ID theorists in general, Behe is the only one that comes to my mind. DanielB 00:27, 20 June 2008 (EDT)
Really? I looked at the NCSE's staff list, and here's what I found.
  • Glenn Branch: no PhD. MA in philosophy from (UCLA).
  • Barbara Forrest: PhD in philosophy (Tulane University).
  • Peter Hess: PhD in a theological field, Science and Religion, (Graduate Theological Union).
  • Louise Mead: PhD in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (UMass).
  • Eric Meikle: PhD in anthropology (Berkeley).
  • Kevin Padian: PhD in vertebrate evolution (Yale).
  • Andrew Petto: PhD in bioanthropology (UMass).
  • Joshua Rosenau: PhD candidate, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (University of Kansas).
  • Eugenie Scott: PhD in physical anthropology (University of Missouri).
  • Susan Spath: PhD in history of science, MA in molecular and cell biology (Berkeley).
  • Philip Spieth: PhD in genetics (University of Oregon).
Biologists, yes. "full of PhD's in biology"? No.
As for ID theorists, off the top of my head there's Michael Denton and Dean Kenyon. Not to mention the creationary scientists, such as Don Batten, David Catchpoole, Gary Parker, Jeff Downes, and many others.
Philip J. Rayment 10:26, 20 June 2008 (EDT)
I made some edits showing the location of where their graduate degrees were awarded (this is important for those who receive degrees from non-accredited schools). I would not cite NCSE anyway for they are only a PR group. I will point out that 9 out of the 11 are PhDs, that is pretty high (over 80%)(while one of the two non-PhDs is a PhD candidate). The question I might ask is how often do those of a non-related field write or evaluate a topic or paper? This should also be asked about CMI and such.--Able806 10:58, 20 June 2008 (EDT)
So which is the DI nearest to? A scientific research lab or a PR group?
Okay Able806, you implicitly questioned the legitimacy of the qualifications of creationists. So you now have a job: List, like I did and you expanded, the qualifications of the CMI staff (here's your starting point). And when you've done that, tell us how many of those are from non-accredited schools. Else you just might earn yourself a block for implicit accusations of dishonesty (that they are claiming to be something that they are not). Philip J. Rayment 11:15, 20 June 2008 (EDT)
No need to threaten a block Philip, for to block me due to said accusation would require a block from those who are stating that Lenski is with holding his work from review. Here is a list I compiled from the website you gave me. Please correct me if I am wrong or missing names. I will add the information just as I did above as I discover it. Oh, does AU have a system to list accreditation? I will need to know that as well for those who received their Ph.Ds in AU.
Carl Wieland
Don Batten
Gary Bates
Jonathan Sarfati
Tas Walker
David Catchpoole
Pierre Jerlström
Peter Sparrow
Russell Grigg
Mark Harwood
John Hartnett
Rod Walsh
Barry Tapp
Stephen Grocott
Richard Fangrad
Emil Silvestru
Calvin Smith
Jeff Chiasson
Adrian Bates
Johan Kruger
Philip Bell
Rob Carter
Skip Tilton
The above list is a working list.--Able806 12:27, 20 June 2008 (EDT)

I read Lenski's paper, and as a trained microbiologist, I thought that it was both thorough and well done. His claims are backed by good data, namely that which was presented in the figures. I went through each of the figures after Aschlafly said that they were uninformative. Actually, they are basic figures that show the population explosion of the bacterial cultures after the Cit+ mutation occurred. These figures show that the cultures increased in size and mass at a given timepoint, being able to do so because they had evolved a mechanism to utilize a new nutrient, without the assistance of helper plasmids.

I know that my post is getting long, but I just wanted to say that in addition to this that of course there is going to be a figure with some speculation when it is covering an alternate hypothesis. That is what a lot of science is really about; the scientist creates a battery of hypotheses, and through experimentation narrows down the field. Lenksi's paper, while not the most definite I've seen, is still a very well-researched paper that supports its claims nicely. --Aaronp

Detractor Lineup

Ok, there seems to be some confusion about whether we are opposing the public release of information based on principle or practicality. So, let's make a list to make our position clear (please add a brief explanation and feel free to discuss in the comments section). StatsMsn 07:54, 18 June 2008 (EDT)

Oppose Public Release based on PRINCIPLE

Oppose Public Release based on PRACTICALITY

  • Because it is time consuming, costly (both in terms of money and resources) and the data is too big to be readily transfered. If we had a genuine reason to want the data and we were actually going to do something with it then it would be worth the effort (for example if we disputed a particular conclusion, in which case we could probably narrow down the data we wanted) however demanding a release based solely on principle is simply impractical and not going to happen. StatsMsn 07:54, 18 June 2008 (EDT)
To illustrate that "big" means, a little ilustration from my own work. I work for the LOFAR project's future data proccesing center, we plan on recieving several dozen gigabits per second, or about a 60 meter stack of paper a second.. Now, I know biology research doesn't produce as much data as radiotelescopes do, but they've been working for 20 years.
By demanding all the original data, you are asking for several shipping containers full of dvd's. It's just not acceptable to spend so much time and money on everyone who asks for it, especially when you have no real desire to reproduce anything. I do think you should be able to see the data, but you obviously have to be more specific in your questions for information.
Again, I am not a biologist, but in astronomy when you want raw data, you request information about a specific part of measurements. You call someone and ask for data for 10 seconds from this-and-that time and of such-and-so area of sky. You do not send an open letter and demand "All research data". I think Richard Lenski was increadibly kind not to laugh in your face for such a demand, because it shows the asker has no idea how the scientific community functions.

Alcari 14:42, 18 June 2008 (EDT)


StatsMsn, your objection is purely speculative and, frankly, implausible. Lenski has not asserted your claim and I doubt he will.

But if you're right about the key data, then that suggests the peer reviewers did not have access to it, and the conclusion is this: claims based on that data should not be published in a Journal that says the data will be made available. Instead, one could publish such claims in a Journal saying the data will not be made available, and we can all take the claims with a grain of salt.--Aschlafly 08:03, 18 June 2008 (EDT)

I think it's more likely that Lanski hasn't released the information to you based on practicalities than a conspiracy to publish false results. Note that I did not say the peer reviewers did not have access to the raw data, only that you did not. If there was a genuine reason to provide the data to someone (that is, someone who had a genuine reason to have it, such as to confirm or dispute a conclusion) then I have no doubt that any ethical research team would work out a way to transmit it. StatsMsn 08:24, 18 June 2008 (EDT)
StatsMsn, I stopped reading at your word "conspiracy". No is alleging a "conspiracy". Post in a rational manner and don't pollute this page. Apologize and clean up your edit or please leave. Thank you.--Aschlafly 08:29, 18 June 2008 (EDT)
I'm sorry Mr. Schlafly, but you seem to be trying to say that Lenski fudged 20 years of work, and that is being hidden by the people reviewing his work. That sounds like a conspiracy. Perhaps you should apologize, or clarify your edits. SugarCup 17:13, 18 June 2008 (EDT)
Has anyone considered the possiblility that some data was removed in the reviewing process? From my experience with journal publications (moderate at best) page numbers is important. Pages and pages of data and graphs are expensive to print. The reviewer would have seen it, the editor would look at it and thought it is too much and edit the paper so as to say the data is not presented. Ask for a preprint of the paper that will contain more data. DanielB 20:15, 18 June 2008 (EDT)

False Claim of a Bad motive

Let's face the truth, there is no real desire here for Andrew Schlafly or anyone on Conservapedia to get the raw data. The reason that this is even an issue is because placing this demand and getting no response somehow makes Lenski look bad and therefore automatically discredits him and his research and therefor the theory of evolution. The position of Mr. Schlafly is that the Bible is inerrant and the Genesis creation story is true. No amount of scientific data is going to change that. So why argue with him? MAnderson 10:05, 18 June 2008 (EDT)

You're clueless about my motivation and your account has been blocked for violating our 90/10 rule.--Aschlafly 10:13, 18 June 2008 (EDT)

Wow. I'm actually afraid to post my opinion now...Well, at the risk of being banned...Aschlafly: Was it really necessary to block MAnderson? I get the feeling (And this is simply an opinion based on personal observation) that the action taken against MAnderson was due more to the nature of his accusation of bias against you and not due to any violation of code, since bias is indeed a word that gets used around here often without reprimand. That being said I feel that the intended letter in question would severely discredit this website. Unless members of this site have the facilities necessary to conduct research into the validity of the Doctor's claims then we have no reason to request such massive documentation. Furthermore, the purpose of such counter-research should always be with the intent to ultimately strengthen a proposed line of research, even if it is by bringing to light flaws in the original findings. The purpose of peer review is not to discredit, but to strengthen through careful examination and criticism. If the originals researchers conclusions are eventually found to be flawed beyond renovation then the entire thing is thrown out, strengthening our scientific pool of knowledge as a whole by protecting it against faulty findings. It is my belief that a peer-reviewer should always have a most critical eye, but should also ultimately have the best at heart for the purported research. I do not believe such a mindset exists in this case. The letter itself seems to indicate a specific desire and hope of discrediting the E-coli findings, which should never be the purpose of peer review. To seek discredit simply for the sake of discredit is the very anti-thesis of why the peer-review system exists IMO. And it is my opinion that the intended letter gives the impression that discredit is the goal. In my opinion. --RobinGoodfellow 13:15, 18 June 2008 (EDT)

There's a difference between expressing your thoughts on a matter and saying of someone else "here is why you did it" and then make statements that are derogatory and degrading. The one at least expresses opinion. The other just makes things up with the followup assumption being now you must defend yourself against what I just made up. That's inappropriate and was handled as being inappropriate.
That being said, what you wrote is a different matter. I see no difficulty in the form of your speech, or the expression of your ideas. Do not equate your writings to what was put above by MAnderson; they are not the same. Learn together 17:27, 18 June 2008 (EDT)

I think there's a great deal of misunderstanding here from the critics of Mr. Schlafly and obfuscation on the part of Prof. Lenski and his supporters. The real data that we need are not in the paper. Rather they are in the bacteria used in the experiments themselves. Prof. Lenski claims that these bacteria "evolved" novel traits and that these were preceded by the evolution of "potentiated genotypes", from which the traits could be "reëvolved" using preserved colonies from those generations. But how are we to know if these traits weren't "potentiated" by the Creator when He designed the bacteria thousands of years ago, such that they would eventually reveal themselves when the time was right? The only way this can be settled is if we have access to the genetic sequences of the bacteria colonies so that we can apply CSI techniques and determine if these "potentiated genotypes" originated through blind chance or intelligence. But with the physical specimens in the hands of Darwinists, who claim they will get around to the sequencing at some unspecifed future time, how can we trust that this data will be forthcoming and forthright? Thus, Prof. Lenski et al. should supply Conservapedia, as stewards, with samples of the preserved E. coli colonies so that the data can be accessible to unbiased researchers outside of the hegemony of the Darwinian academia, even if it won't be put to immediate examination by Mr. Schlafly. This is simply about keeping tax-payer-funded scientists honest. Dr. Richard Paley 20:03, 18 June 2008 (EDT)

'Dr. Paley', that's about the most ridiculous suggestion I've heard yet. I'm not going to even dignify that kind of nonsense with a response. But I will suggest, generally, that if you are that convinced there is a worldwide scientific conspiracy to perpretate fraud by hiding 'the potentiating hand of the creator', then there's nothing I could say to you anyway.
But I have this question for Andy and the rest of the supporters of the 'public access to data' line: if it is the principle of public access to data that you are fighting for--and this is not some kind of publicity stunt, as many have suggested--then why are you picking on this one experiment, and not the tens of thousands of scientific papers that have been published just, say, in the last decade? After all, Lenski's paper is no different than any scientific paper, in that is summarizes, but does not publish, the raw data on which it was based. So shouldn't you be asking every scientist who has published a paper in which raw data has not been published to present that data? Why just Lenski? Aren't there potentially thousands of 'new insights' that could be produced from public scrutiny of this data?
I think your motivations speak pretty clearly for themselves. User:porkchop
(Note porkchop's use of Liberal tools #11 and #13.) Anyway, if Prof. Lenski has no fraud to hide, then he won't mind allowing other researchers access to the physical data. Again, it is simply a matter of keeping tax-funded activities honest. Dr. Richard Paley 21:44, 18 June 2008 (EDT)
Sorry, Richard. I guess you need your stupidity spelled out for you: no laboratory in the world is going to send the actual biological samples they worked on to a bunch of faceless internet nuts or anyone else. Even if such a request were possible (i.e. transport could be arranged safely and at no expense to Lenski, he could spare the material, etc.) what on earth would the 'scientists' at Conservapedia do with it? Keep it in Andy's refrigerator and look at it under his Kid Scientist microscope?
And I'm waiting to hear whether anyone has a response to my question about the selective targeting of Lenski. User:porkchop
Taxpayers paid for Lenski's work, he published it in a journal that claims its authors will make underlying data available, his research claims were publicized in New Scientist, yet he hasn't complied with a request for his data. If that's true of others also as you suggest, then please give examples.--Aschlafly 07:48, 19 June 2008 (EDT)
What is your response to the view that Lenski has not released the data because it is too big to simply send to someone? StatsMsn 07:50, 19 June 2008 (EDT)
That "view" is without any basis and, by the way, the suggestion is that Lenski post it rather than send it. Are you suggesting that Lenski did not make his key data available to the peer reviewers on his paper?--Aschlafly 07:59, 19 June 2008 (EDT)
Someone said above that considering just one variable would result 4 terabytes worth of data, this is a ridiculous and costly amount of data to host (to put it in perspective, it's about 200 full DVD's). And yes it pretty much is all key (to ensure the mutations were not due to an environmental factor, to ensure that they were inherited, to ensure that they were not simply repressed genes which had previously appearing in the colonies etc). I am not suggesting that Lenski did not make his key data avaliable to peer reviewers, I'm fairly sure that had they wished to view it they could have done so (possibly by physically visiting his labs to access it, or by using a dedicated stream). Perhaps it's something you could ask in the email you send him, and while you're at it perhaps you could ask if researchers such as yourself or others would be able to access the data on request (this is essentially public access so long as nobody is turned away for ideological reasons). StatsMsn 08:24, 19 June 2008 (EDT)
So you're suggesting that the peer reviewers could only access the data by physically visiting Lenski's labs or by using "a dedicated stream"? That's tantamount to suggesting that the peer reviewers did not practically have access to the data, which creates an even bigger cloud of doubt about the claimed results. If that's the case, then obviously that should have been disclosed to the public.--Aschlafly 08:36, 19 June 2008 (EDT)

<- No, I was offering a couple of options. It's is equally (or even more likely) that Lenski's team spent a bit of money and transferred the data onto physical media and sent it to them. That is a question that you can ask in your email, lest we be accused of jumping to conclusions. Peer reviewers aside, the point remains that the reason Lenski has not published the data is due to its size and the cost of posting it, not their opposition to the public release of data. Again this will only be answered through a reply to your email, perhaps you could ask if it would be possible for you (and other researchers) to access the data, rather than demanding he post it on the internet or send it to you. This would overcome any refusal based on practicality, but still allow the public access to data. StatsMsn 08:42, 19 June 2008 (EDT)

StatsMsn, note that:
  • Lenski replied once and did not himself raise the objection you suggest
  • the objection you suggest has no factual basis
  • the objection you suggest would make it impossible to peer review the paper, or most types of collaborative work
At some point, StatsMsn, an open mind requires admitting the possibility that the data have not been made available because there is concern about what an independent reviewer may conclude from it. Are you open-minded enough to admit that possibility? It's a waste of time arguing with a closed mind, and if you won't admit at least that possibility then this discussion is unproductive.--Aschlafly 09:00, 19 June 2008 (EDT)
I'm more than happy to admit that Lenski is preventing public access to his data, if there was some solid evidence for it. At the moment he has not refused to allow public access to it.
  • Correct
  • How so? People have already stated how large the raw data you are requesting is and how impractical it would be to host it. Where do you believe the factual error is, on the estimates of the size or the ability to make it readily avaliable to the general public?
  • No, as measures could be taken to allow the peer reviewers access to the data if they required it.
The reason I keep arguing is because I know how difficult it is to transmit data to the general public. The university where I study originally provided a number of high resolution pictures to the general public via a ftp stream, however as each individual picture grew in size and the number of pictures grew the university had to cut off access, first to the general public and then to students, despite our internet connection greatly increasing in speed at the same time. At present the only way to access the images is either to physically enter the premises or request images via DVD (with a small cost for material and administration charges). Everyone including the general public is still able to access the images, however they cannot be made readily avaliable for reasons of practicality.
If the statistics above are correct then the size of the raw data you are requesting is much larger than the combined size of all our image files, it is highly impractical to simply request someone send it to you or post it on the internet. And yes I am willing to admit that this discussion is unproductive, that's why I'm going to send Lenski an email myself and request information on how the raw data can be accessed. StatsMsn 09:10, 19 June 2008 (EDT)
You haven't yet admitted the possibility I describe, which suggests you may not yet have an open mind about this. If so, this discussion is unproductive, but please do feel free to contact Lenski directly with your theory about the data. I bet you do not receive a clear answer.
I'm confident that Lenski has the data in a manageable form that enables him and his fellow researchers to access and examine it. If not, then frankly that raises even bigger questions about the reliability and verifiability of the claimed results.--Aschlafly 09:17, 19 June 2008 (EDT)

<- I'm more than willing to admit the possibility that the peer reviewers have not had access to the raw data, it is entierly possible and we still see it happening when commercial interests become entangled with science (for instance, many pharamacological companies will not release negative studies concerning their products). In this case there is a need for further review in order to confirm the results, and if it is shown that Lenski skewed his results then appropriate action must be taken.

Now, are you willing to admit the possibility that I describe?

And I too am confident that Lenski has his data in a manageable form, what we disagree on is whether this data can be readily made avaliable to the public (like by hosting 4 terabytes on the internet) or to people who request it out of the blue. I am fairly confident that if you or another researcher requested access to the data and had a genuine reason for doing so then you would be provided with access to the data, either by physically accessing it on site or by arranging an appropriate means of transfer (with costs considered). StatsMsn 09:26, 19 June 2008 (EDT)

I admit the possibility that all the data is too voluminous to transfer easily, which is why my letter addressed that and requested the data made available to peer reviewers. By definition, that data cannot be too voluminous to transfer.
You said you would ask Lenski. Have you?--Aschlafly 10:44, 19 June 2008 (EDT)
Read below, and I have emailed him. StatsMsn 10:48, 19 June 2008 (EDT)

[Edit Conflict] I just read the paper for a second time, paying particular attention to the results section. There is an adequate summary of the data provided for peer reviewers. I admit that I was wrong with my terminology above (I'm having a late night and my brain's shutting down), the peer reviewers of the paper are not sent the raw data, they rely on the facts presented. Any subsequent reviews could have access to the raw data if necessary.

Right now we have 4 possible scenarios that could be proposed:

  • The summary of the data Lenski presented is correct and the conclusion drawn is correct
  • The summary of the data Lenski presented is correct but the conclusion drawn is incorrect
  • The summary of the data is wrong due to unintentional mistakes
  • The summary of the data is wrong due to a deliberate attempt to skew results

If the first is correct we have nothing to argue about. If the second is correct then you do not need access to the raw data in order to prove your results. If the third is correct then access to the raw data would be essential, however it would call into question the integrity of Lenski's laboratory and quite frankly I do not believe you have the resources to do better (let alone detect any irregularities). If the fourth is correct then you are accusing Lenski of academic dishonesty, a libelous claim that you would need solid evidence to support.

Andy, could you please outline why you want to have access to the raw data when the summary provided in the paper is more than adequate to draw a conclusion. Do you believe that there has been a mistake made in the organisation of the data, or is this just to prove that you can (or cannot) gain access to the data, even though this is not at all required. StatsMsn 10:48, 19 June 2008 (EDT)

Failure to supply data?

Aschlafly, you say above that Lenski "hasn't complied with a request for his data." Where did he do that? In his reply to your original letter he bends over backwards to accommodate your requests and answer your questions, and he's hardly had time to reply to the second letter! Humblpi 08:55, 19 June 2008 (EDT)

Piltdown All Over Again

The Piltdown hoax was possible precisely because the physical data was kept under lock-and-key and away from the eyes of unbiased non-Darwinians, who, if given the chance, would have spotted that the bones were unrelated right away. Even if Prof. Lenski were to provide the public with digital versions of the data, what assurances would we have that the data wasn't doctored? If we assume his Darwinian principles were no check on his willingness to publish a falsified paper, then why would we then assume they would prevent him from falsifying data? On the other hand, it would be impossible for Prof. Lenski to falsify the physical data residing in the actual bacteria, as that would require a massive program of genetic engineering. Only by allowing unbiased conservative scientists access to samples of the bacteria colonies can we assure that we aren't witnessing another Piltdown hoax, as the Darwinian community has a reputation for perpetrating them.

As to the practicality of this, only scrapings of the cultures would be needed for reculturing, not the entire original petri dish as "porkchop" implies above. These can be stored in standard cryogenic ampules that take up very little space. The Discovery Institute surely has cryogenic facilities in their labs and would be willing to host the collection under the auspices of Conservapedia. Dr. Richard Paley 10:50, 19 June 2008 (EDT)

Excellent idea! Go for it. Send off a third letter at once! Humblpi 12:09, 19 June 2008 (EDT)
Until Lenksi himself states that "no I will not give you the data, you crazy conservatives", in no way can you compare this to Piltdown. To do so is to further your own agenda of discrediting a scientific experiment that makes the minor point that traits can evolve. I believe that Lenski has provided enough data for all of you to examine and make claims about his research; honestly, what would you possibly do with scrapings of cultures? "Ok, Culture #95324 is Cit-, had me #95325"? I doubt that you people would even do that. Chances are, you would glance at the mountain of raw data Lenski would send, and then summarily dismiss it based on your own desire to see it fail. This is disgusting. --Aaronp
This is disgusting What is disgusting is that you are doing to Andy precisely what you suppose he will do to the data if and when it comes - that is, use it to back up a preconceived idea. You do not know how he or other Conservapedians will treat the data. Do not criticise him for something he hasn't done but which you assume he will do. To do so is arrant hypocricy. Bugler 14:57, 19 June 2008 (EDT)
That is a fair point, Bugler. I'm just frustrated by the serious bias already lined up against Lenski's research, even before raw data has been seen. --Aaronp
Well put, Bugler. Philip J. Rayment 22:36, 19 June 2008 (EDT)
Aaronp, either you're naive or you're engaging in bullying if you maintain that Lenski plans to release his raw data soon for independent, public review. I asked him last Friday to release it, and his reply declined to do so. I asked him again yesterday, and he predictably has not replied. It now seems to me to be likely that the peer reviewers for his paper did not even see the raw data. I think it's likely that only Lenski and his grad student have seen the raw data underlying that paper (note its footnote). Don't pretend that Lenski welcomes independent review of the data.--Aschlafly 15:15, 19 June 2008 (EDT)
My understanding is that peer reviewers do not normally see raw data. Absent reason to believe otherwise, they assume data is correctly reported in the submitted paper. But I could be wrong about this. Why do you think reviewers would normally be shown raw data? Also, I do not have a good idea what the data would look like? Do you have an opinion of what it looks like and what form it is in? -divaricatum 13:04, 19 June 2008 (PDT)
Data should be made available to peer reviewers. If I'm reading the dates on the front of this particular paper correctly, I think peer review was a mere 15 days or so. Looks to me like a rubber-stamp process for this subject matter despite making claims that were reported as being newsworthy.
The raw data have to already be in a form that allows collaborative work, so I don't see that as much of an obstacle.--Aschlafly 16:47, 19 June 2008 (EDT)

[unidenting] You did not really respond to my points. I asked whether, according to your understanding, peer reviewers are normally shown raw data. I said my understanding was they were not. You say "data should be made available..." Is that your opinion, or are you describing actual practice? Second, the usable data is in the paper, as far as I can tell. The graphs do not permit knowing exact value, but you do not seem to be asking for the exact figures used to generate the graph. Look at, for example, figure 1: X axis is generation, Y axis is Optical Density. The caption says:

Population expansion during evolution of the Cit+ phenotype. Samples frozen at various times in the history of population Ara-3 were revived, and three DM25 cultures were established for each generation. Optical density (OD) at 420 nm was measured for each culture at 24 h. Error bars show the range of three values measured for each generation.

The graph shows a dramatic rise around generation 33000, from less than 0.05 to about .25. What additional data would you like? There are presumably lab books with 33000+ OD measurements (or some multiple of that) but in what sense is the data not available? What exactly regarding this graph would you like to see?

Finally, in the second letter you talk about instances where it is noted that data is not shown. I found 3 such instances:

page 3 Also, growth on citrate is inhibited by the citrate analog 5-fluorocitrate (data not shown), as was observed for the one previously reported Cit� mutant of E. coli (42, 43).
page 3 After depleting the glucose in DM25, the earliest Cit+ clones grow almost imperceptibly, if at all, for many hours before they begin efficiently using the citrate (data not shown), whereas later Cit+ cones switch to growth on citrate almost immediately (Fig. 2).
page 6 These differences were also evident when we monitored the intraday dynamics of mixtures of Cit+ and Cit- cells (data not shown).

In no case do the data seem relevant to the main point of the paper (in the first case, there may be data in the references; in the second case, he is simply noting that early clones grow slowly, but the point is later clones grow fast, for which data are shown; and the third case -- discussing utilization of glucose -- is again tangential to the main conclusion). Why are you interested in these data? -divaricatum 14:21 June 19, 2008 (PDT)

Lenski has "predictably" not replied? That's exactly what I'm talking about. You're so biased against him purely because you don't agree with the subject of his work. I would be frustrated in the same way if you were doing this with any research paper, not just Lenski's. "Predictably" he hasn't replied... maybe that is because he is a busy man who was kind enough to respond to your first email, but now simply does not want to (or have to) cater to the whims of some random hyper-conservative blogger who is asking him to release 20 years of raw data that the blogger does not have the knowledge set to critique! God forbid the man takes a week to respond to your email; if after two are three days of no answer are you going to condemn him by saying "he's obviously not talking to me because he's hiding something"? --Aaronp

"If we assume his Darwinian principles were no check on his willingness to publish a falsified paper, then why would we then assume they would prevent him from falsifying data?": Whilst it is true that Darwinism and atheism provide no basis for morals, hence honesty, it does not follow that individual Darwinists and atheists have no morals. In most cases, they have adopted a form of the morality held to by their society, which (in the case of western countries) has its basis in Christianity. So there is no reason to assume that Lenski would be dishonest with the data itself. The comparison with Piltdown has no basis.

Peer review, as I understand it, is not meant as a check on all the research of a scientist, but merely as a basic check that the scientist has used suitable methodology, that his conclusions can be justified from his data, that he has explained the research clearly enough for the readers to understand, and so forth. Therefore all the detailed data would not normally be provided to the reviewers, although they may (I'm not certain) be able to request it if they are not satisfied by the data provided. Certainly they could reject the paper if they weren't satisfied, or request that more data be included in the paper if they felt that not enough was.

Philip J. Rayment 22:36, 19 June 2008 (EDT)

General Reply

Lenski has essentially refused my request that he make his underlying data available for public scrutiny, despite his use of public funding. Given the remarkably short time between submission of his PNAS manuscript and its acceptance (only 14 days), I doubt his paper even had meaningful peer review.

It's unscientific for others to repeat as true an unverified claim based on concealed data. I wonder if PNAS violated its own stated policies by publishing Lenski's paper, and I'm going to email its Editor-in-Chief to request an explanation.--Aschlafly 11:19, 20 June 2008 (EDT)

How long does peer review normally take? And what PNAS policies do you think may have been violated? Philip J. Rayment 11:32, 20 June 2008 (EDT)

Other articles in the same issue of PNAS:

Effective tumor treatment targeting a melanoma/melanocyte-associated antigen triggers severe ocular autoimmunity approved April 14, 2008 (received for review November 18, 2007)

Localized and extended deformations of elastic shells approved March 11, 2008 (received for review August 7, 2007)

Characterization of the structure–function relationship at the ligament-to-bone interface approved April 11, 2008 (received for review December 28, 2007)

Mutations in the telomerase component NHP2 cause the premature ageing syndrome dyskeratosis congenita approved April 14, 2008 (received for review January 3, 2008)

Experimental evidence for negative selection in the evolution of a Yersinia pestis pseudogene approved April 15, 2008 (received for review February 13, 2008) --Aschlafly 11:36, 20 June 2008 (EDT)

The average length of peer review for PNAS, based on a sample, is over 120 days. Lenski's paper was accepted within only 14 days of submission.--Aschlafly 11:53, 20 June 2008 (EDT)

Andy, I'm not sure there's sufficient reason to claim that it probably didn't get a meaningful peer review. 2 weeks is certainly enough time for reviewers to read and critique the article. You may have noticed that Blount et al.'s article is identified as part of a special series, which could explain why it was reviewed more quickly than usual. I hope you will post the editor's reply here. Incidentally, in light of your view on this page of the importance of allowing research to be scrutinized by others, I would like to re-open my request for you to share your methodology on the hollywood breast cancer mystery page. Thanks. Murray 12:18, 20 June 2008 (EDT)
I intended peer review in general, not just at the PNAS, but that's a fair comparison. Like Murray, I would have thought that a fortnight is sufficient, but you do appear to be correct that the Lenski paper was much quicker than normal at the PNAS. So that just leaves the question of broken policies... Philip J. Rayment 12:24, 20 June 2008 (EDT)
If you take Lenski's paper for what it is, peer review of the paper would not take long after all. The majority of his data could be kick out for his paper is just the documentation of the bacteria using the citrate. Murry, what is this about breast cancer?--Able806 12:30, 20 June 2008 (EDT)
Murray is referring to this poorly researched thesis proposed by ASchlafly, Able806. No data to support the thesis was ever provided by ASchlafly. I'd invite you to take a look. StatsFan 12:40, 20 June 2008 (EDT)
Looking at the paper, it seems to me almost all the experimental data is shown in figure 1: the ability of the bacteria to utilize citrate as revealed by optical density measurements. Something clearly happened around generation 33000, and the OD measurements jumped fivefold (from 0.05 to 0.25) with the range of measurements over three samples being way, way less that 0.2 (the size of the jump). That seems to be it experimentally. The rest of the paper describes the methodology and discusses what could have caused the change.
People keep talking about raw data. Would someone who says that explain what they mean? To me, raw data is relevant when what is reported is derived data. For example, suppose you have a study of health effects of working at a facility that handles nuclear material. You report the radiation exposure over background of workers. That is derived data. The raw data are the workers' dosimeter readings and the background radiation measurements. That is what you would ask for when you wanted the raw data which supported the derived data.
But in the Lenski paper, as far as I can tell, the data reported is the actual measured data: they measured the optical density of the samples and reported those numbers in figure 1. Of course, I could be wrong, I am not an expert in this field, but if someone disagrees with me, please tell me what the raw data would be and how the data in figure 1 was derived from it. (Lenski said that all the data being asked for is in paper. That statement is consistent with what I am saying.)
As to 14 days, I do not see any problem. This is a very exciting result to people in the field and the reviewers would very likely put it on top of their to do lists. As I say, the experimental data is simple and unambiguous (something significant happened at generation 33000), the description of the methodology is clear and straightforward, and the discussion of the causes is at least consistent and believable. What is there to object to?
Aschlafly talks of 'concealed data'. Could you please tell me what data you believe is being concealed? Specifically, what measurements are not revealed? (I know you can say 'how could I know if they do not tell me', but can someone at least suggest what kind of information is not being revealed?) -divaricatum 10:03 June 20 2008 (PDT)
If Aschlafly is talking about the "data not shown" parts of the paper as being "concealed", then he is being ignorant about normal scientific paper submission. Due to length constraints and other factors, most (read: all) researchers will leave out unimportant pieces of data that aren't necessarily the key points of the paper. For example, a paper could catalog the radiation levels of all the workers at a given nuclear power plant, and have a main point that workers who are in a certain part of the plant are getting higher exposure rates. Because it had to catalog all workers of the plant, it might also have to take dosage readings of people who work off-site. Obviously, people who aren't working at the plant will not have high radiation doses, and thus in the paper that result might look like "Predictably, those workers who perform their duties off-site had no detectable radiation doses that were above background (data not shown)". It would be pointless to show that "hey look, people who don't work around the radiation don't have readings above background! Here's a chart proving it!". That is why almost all papers have at least one data set that isn't shown. -- Aaronp

I have to run an errand but want to you everyone know, as I've said before, that it's only productive to discuss something with somebody who has an open mind. If you agree with my statement that "It's unscientific for others to repeat as true an unverified claim based on concealed data," then let's talk. If not, then please rant somewhere else. Thanks.--Aschlafly 13:34, 20 June 2008 (EDT)

Note re. article

As an aside, I' wonder if someone couldn't place some information at the head of the article here? At present, the article simply starts into a "first letter" to "a Prof. Lenski". The article should have a little setup to introduce readers to what on Earth it's all about. There is no reference in the article to the rest of the debate, basically. Just an FYI. StatsFan 13:17, 20 June 2008 (EDT)