Conservapedia talk:Lenski dialog

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

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)

OK, we have 12 so far. 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)

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)


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) 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)

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)
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)