- Get a lot of citations, and quick. He can't delete an article with 15 citations. --Hojimachongtalk 14:26, 10 May 2007 (EDT)
- Really? He blocked me for two weeks because (I think) I cited papers by Maxwell and Einstein to support my claim that light in a vacuum has a constant speed. He didn't actually say why at the time though. - Suricou
- Lol:) This should be under developmental Biology and Evolution Categories. Go to pubmed and you can find plenty of articles that deal with this topic, hard evidence.--TimS 14:40, 10 May 2007 (EDT)
I just made the article sound a little more encyclopedic and added a reference. GodWarrior 16:23, 23 May 2007 (EDT)
Overall the changes are good, but the removal of the point on natural selection is puzzling. Learn together 18:14, 23 May 2007 (EDT)
Sorry, I just felt it wasn't very encyclopedic the way it was worded especially the part in the form of the question. Also, it seems consistent with the Natural Selection that vestigial structures could be "in the process" of being phased out. GodWarrior 18:26, 23 May 2007 (EDT)
- Part of the 'two-edged sword' of natural selection is that it should weed out inefficiencies as an outgoing occurrence and if it's not doing so, then they aren't inefficiencies. Giving it an open ended "in the process" can be fine if we're talking about short time periods on an evolutionary scale, but when we're talking about tens of millions of years then there is a benefit or a neutrality to the structure that by definition says it is not useless. Learn together 19:45, 23 May 2007 (EDT)
- If the structure is neutral from the point of reproductive and general fitness, then there is no selective pressure for it to be eliminated and it could potentially persist until random mutations eliminate or change it. GodWarrior 21:06, 23 May 2007 (EDT)
- Structures with any meaningful size to them are never neutral if they perform no positive function. The body has to use resources to sustain them as part of the overall living organism. Learn together 22:31, 24 May 2007 (EDT)
- That is true. However, many vestigial structures are greatly reduced in size such as the coccyx and appendix such that their impact on resource usage is negligible in comparison to other factors, even random ones. This makes their impact on reproductive fitness essentially neutral. Consider the appendix, a thin piece of tissue about four inches long, the resources that go in to creating and maintaining such a structure are not likely to have any effect on the number of successful matings a person has. Also consider that the genes responsible for making a vestigial structure may be closely linked genetically (or even share some of the same genes) with the genes that are responsible for making other structures that are still required in humans. This could make it very difficult to remove the genes responsible for the vestigial structure without disturbing those that are still needed. GodWarrior 09:50, 25 May 2007 (EDT)
- If it takes energy and there is a gain in efficiency to be had by its removal, then that should occur unless perhaps the structure is microscopic in size. Based upon your assertion that it should have no affect, then there would likewise be no reason for vestigial structures to become smaller in size, and yet evolutionary theory says that is exactly what has occurred. I should probably also point out that the article as written misses much of current evolutionary thought. While initial beliefs by evolutionists mirrored more of the idea that vestigial structures were useless, that line of thought caused evolutionists to get egg on their face and it is now generally accepted that vestigial structures can provided secondary or alternative positive influences that benefit the species. Vestigial structures are now viewed as those that have lost their original purpose, but without any claim being made to their uselessness. Learn together 03:13, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
- I think Learn together makes a good point about the resources required, and the response to that just goes to show how flexible evolution is: if evolution gets rid of something, it is because it was a disadvantage, but if it doesn't get rid of something, it must be because it wasn't that much of a disadvantage. It's a tautology, really (how do you know if it was a disadvantage? By whether or not evolution got rid if it), and by being so flexible that it explains everything, it really explains nothing, but is a "just-so" story. Philip J. Rayment 08:00, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
- It is not that natural selection won't ever get rid of things that don't provide an advantage, it's just that it might take a while. You can't expect these things to happen in one generation. Also, keep in mind that sometimes changes happen that are clearly not advantageous due to purely to chance, founder effects, etc. For example, humans have a defective gene for the enzyme that makes vitamin C, while all mammals, except apes and guinea pigs, have functional copies of the gene. This is why humans are susceptible to scurvy while other mammals are not and why we must take in vitamin C in our diet. Looking at the current iterations of animals, especially humans, is probably not the best way to study evolution because the influence of humans and modern society has changed the game so much. Evolution is best studied over millions of years. GodWarrior 09:57, 29 May 2007 (EDT)
I've normally heard of these things as vestigial organs, not structures. I'd vote to change the page name accordingly. Any objections? Philip J. Rayment 08:00, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
- Actually, Vestigial organs already exists. So any objections to the content of this one replacing the content of the other? Philip J. Rayment 08:04, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
- I have no objection. Learn together 14:24, 28 May 2007 (EDT)
What about merging the two? This one is longer, but both discuss the same things. PrometheusX303 01:30, 28 June 2007 (EDT)
GodWarrior wrote in his last edit comment: "Read references before adding them please, evidence in them is far from conclusive. The absolute nature of the statement is still far from justified.)". I wonder if he has read the references. I'd like to know what is inconclusive about these:
- "The mucosa and submucosa of the appendix are dominated by lymphoid nodules, and its primary function is as an organ of the lymphatic system."
- "The appendix, in conjunction with other parts of the body which also contain cells called B-lymphocytes, manufactures several types of antibodies"
- "Although it used to be believed that the appendix had no function and was an evolutionary relic, this is no longer thought to be true. Its greatest importance is the immunological function it provides in the developing embryo, but it continues to function even in the adult … . The function of the appendix appears to be to expose circulating immune cells to antigens from the bacteria and other organisms living in your gut. That helps your immune system to tell friend from foe and stops it from launching damaging attacks on bacteria that happily co-exist with you."
- "it is now known to play a role in fetal immunity and in young adults. During the early years of development, the appendix functions as a “lymphoid organ”?, assisting with the maturation of B lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) and in the production of immunoglobulin A antibodies [both of which help fight invading germs]. In addition, at around the 11th week of fetal development, endocrine (hormone-producing) cells appear in the appendix. These cells produce peptide hormones that control various biological mechanisms."
The second one can be read as being inconclusive, but was said in direct reply to a surgeon's claim that "it no longer serves a purpose in humans", and was preceded with the comment, "Your surgeon was a little out of date". In case it needs to be said, only one of these quotes is from a creationist.
Philip J. Rayment 23:12, 29 May 2007 (EDT)
I'm talking about actual hard data. What I meant was that if you cite a POV source such as the Journal of Creation, then you have to make sure that their NPOV references actually verify their arguments. None of the peer-reviewed papers (the only ones that really matter) cited in those articles are even accessible. It is therefore impossible to check if they actually agree with the statements attributed to them. Using medline, pubmed, and thomson ISI I was unable to even get an abstract from any of them. This is highly unusual as those sources usually have any article I am trying to find. Also, just because one source draws that conclusion does not meant that it is irrefutable. If there is conflicting evidence on a topic it is inappropriate to make a definitive statement in an encyclopedia such as "The human appendix has a role in early development." It is fine to cite summary pages like you have done because it makes it easier for the reader to learn more about the topic, but please check the veracity of them before you do so. GodWarrior 07:35, 30 May 2007 (EDT)
- This sounds very much like a case of demanding a higher standard than you would normally expect of yourself.
- The Journal of Creation is no more POV than other sources, most of which presume an evolutionary worldview.
- Your Talk.Origins source spends very little of it's page actually discussing whether or not the appendix has a use. The bits that do have the following references:
- Judge and Lichtenstein 2001: The link provides no summary, but the title suggests that it does: "Is the appendix a vestigial organ? Its role in ulcerative colitis." (my emphasis)
- Dasso et al. 2000: The linked summary includes, "If the human appendix functions as a primary lymphoid organ, it may occur during the first few months of age when the GC T-cell density is low". That indicates that they didn't find a use in the areas they looked, not that there is no evidence at all, as Talk.Origins claims.
- Apart from an older reference that predates some of the Journal of Creation's sources, that seems to be it. That's hardly a convincing argument that there is no certain evidence in the face of unequivocal claims that there is evidence. And surely sources that know of evidence trump those that don't know of evidence?
- Philip J. Rayment 09:31, 30 May 2007 (EDT)
- I am a little confused as to what exactly you're arguing here...the page I cited has copious references most of which are accessible through pubmed. In some cases it even provides a link for you! I am not going to count them all but it looks like over 60 peer reviewed papers. Your sources cited about 4, none of which I could find despite my best efforts. Are you seriously calling the NEJM as POV as the Journal of Creation? It's one of the most widely respected journals in the world. On the ulcerative collitis issue, the proposed role of the appendix in that disease is that it causes it! I don't know about you, but I think causing a disease does not constitute evidence that the organ is not vestigial. If you are in doubt feel free to read the NEJM paper on the same topic (its just above the one you cherry-picked). The page I cited is correct to claim that the Dasso paper provided no evidence for an immunological function for the appendix, it looked for one and was unable to find it! They didn't say that the authors did an exhaustive search of every possible time and place that the appendix could have a role and conclusively determined that it didn't have one. There is a big difference. Please also keep in mind that the statement that my citation is attached to is "Examples of structures claimed to be vestigial include, but are not limited to, the human appendix..." I did not attach this to a definitive statement like you did. As for your last statement: are we looking at the same page? Do you see those dozens of blue hyperlinks? Those are all references! Frankly, I think the page I cited does a much better job providing evidence for non-vestigiality than the ones you cited did. Just look at the section of the references titled "possible functions." There are 10 peer-reviewed sources there. Before you do that however, I would recommend taking a look at some of the references under the "Congenital Absence of the Appendix" section. We just might settle this argument after you do that...unless you can tell me how someone born without a non-vestigial organ can survive with no ill effects? GodWarrior 10:20, 30 May 2007 (EDT)
- The Talk.Origins page has copious references, but as I said, most of the article is not actually arguing that the appendix doesn't have a use. It describes the appendix, discusses what it is similar to, puts a point of view about what the term "vestigial" actually means, explains how the human appendix is not the same as the rabbit appendix, discusses older suggestion regarding possible uses of the appendix, and even has a theological argument about it supposedly being a suboptimal design, but spends relatively little space actually arguing that there are no known uses. And in the section in which it does, it provides three references, all three of which I referred to (one to mention as being older) in my reply above. In other words, the remaining references appear to all be tangential to the specific question of whether or not the appendix has a known use.
- Is the NEMJ neutral on the creation/evolution issue, or does it accept evolution as true? If the latter, then it has a POV just as the Journal of Creation has.
- You've got me on the point about causing a disease. Have you looked at the paper itself to see what it actually says?
- If they didn't do an exhaustive search, the possibility remains that it has a use that they didn't find. And if someone else says that they have found a use, then what weight does the first paper have on that point? You can't argue that the latter is wrong simply because the former failed to find a use.
- I realise that you didn't attach your reference to a definitive statement, but (a) neither did I reject your statement nor its reference, and, more to the point, (b) you are using your reference to make a definitive statement that my definitive statement is wrong and must therefore be changed.
- Explaining how a person born without a non-vestigial organ can suffer no ill effects takes no imagination at all, because the question is a non-sequitur. Having no use is not the same thing as having a supplementary or backup use. If a car's spare tyre is missing but the road tyres don't go flat, the spare will not be missed, but it does not follow that the spare tyre therefore has no use.
- Philip J. Rayment 11:23, 30 May 2007 (EDT)
- I think the point of the entire page is that there is no proven function of the appendix and that most of the references on the page somehow support that conclusion, if only tangentially for some.
- The NEJM is one of, if not THE, foremost medical journal in the world. The journal itself doesn't take any positions on issues such as evolution that I am aware of, as with most peer-reviewed journals, whether an article is accepted or not depends on evaluation of the paper by many peers and editors. From your spelling it seems like you are from the UK so you might be more familiar with Lancet. Think of NEJM as the American equivalent.
- That one paper doesn't seem to be available online unless you pay, but there are many others to choose from on the subject.
- That is true that I can't argue that one paper is wrong just because another contradicts it. My point, however, was that the definitive nature of the statement you added about the appendix in development was unjustified. By your logic it seems that I should add a directly contradictory statement right after yours and cite the reference I found. I don't think that would make for a very good encyclopedia article though. It is much better to put everything in uncertain terms than to have adjacent contradictory statements.
- Your last point would be completely valid except for the fact that you are arguing for a role of the appendix in development, not as a backup to something. I would at the very least expect these people who are born without appendices to have GI problems due to the immune system attacking their gut flora that the appendix supposedly exposed them to during development, but it seems from the available evidence that they don't. In general, developmental defects are quite serious. GodWarrior 16:27, 30 May 2007 (EDT)
- The point of the page is to refute the creationist claim (which is itself based on claims from non-creationists) that the appendix is not vestigial, and it attempts this in a variety of ways, only a small portion of which is to actually attempt to show that it has no function.
- Most such journals don't explicitly state that they take a position on evolution, but I would be very surprised if you could get a statement out of them that they are undecided on whether or not evolution is true. And this article shows them taking an anti-creationist and anti-ID stance.
- I'm an Aussie, by the way, as you could have seen from my user page.
- You say that you can't argue that one paper is wrong because another contradicts it, but my point was that the other doesn't contradict it. One paper claiming that the appendix has a function is not contradicted by another one that couldn't find a function with a non-exhaustive search. My definitive statement was therefore justified.
- Your last point about my last point seems to assume that a role in development is mutually exclusive to a role as a backup. Why would that be the case? Why couldn't it be a backup role in development (or even a primary role in development with something else being the backup)?
- Philip J. Rayment 22:47, 30 May 2007 (EDT)
- I understand what you are saying about the talkorigins page, but it is not incumbent on me to prove that there is no function of the appendix, it is incumbent upon you to prove definitively that there is if you want to include a conclusive statement about its function. I don't think that the references you cited allow you to make that claim, especially since I can't find any record of them which would be the first step toward seeing if they reliable sources and if they have since been replicated. In the same vein, it is possible that the Donath paper actually did replicate the experiments in the papers you cited but we can't be sure. If that was the case, it would cast serious doubt on the original papers. Because we can't even find the papers, I think the conclusive statement is unjustified.
- I'm not sure who the "them" would be at the NEJM. As far as I know it's just a collection of editors. I am sure that the majority of them believe in evolution because the majority of scientists do, but they are trained to evaluate papers objectively based on the strength of the evidence they present without bringing personal biases into it. As I said before, the NEJM is one of the most highly respected sources that exists in science. If we don't consider it reliable, then nothing is.
- I guess you could be right about the backup thing, redundancy is very common in humans and animals, but I just don't think there is close to enough evidence to say so definitively at this point. GodWarrior 05:45, 31 May 2007 (EDT)
- It is incumbent on you to prove it if you are claiming it in the face of evidence to the contrary. I believe that the sources I have provided are sufficient evidence to make the claim.
- If the New England Journal of Medicine doesn't object to creationary papers because of "personal biases" or any other biases, it would be about the only such journal that doesn't. Evolutionists are so convinced that evolution is a fact and that creation is not even science, that such journals simply won't even consider a paper that supports creation, such is the bias. And if one does get published somewhere, as happened with a Intelligent Design paper not that long ago, the fallout can be horrendous, as in the conspiracy to sack the editor involved.
- I'm not suggesting that it is not "reliable", I'm suggesting that it is not neutral on the issue.
- I wasn't claiming that we can definitively say that that the appendix is a backup system. The point there was that it could be, so your claim that its absence has no ill effects is therefore not evidence that it has no function.
- Philip J. Rayment 10:55, 31 May 2007 (EDT)
- As I said before, without knowing exactly what the evidence in those missing papers says, we simply can't include a definitive statement on the function of the appendix. It would be as if I claimed to have papers proving that God's favorite music was NWA and you asked to see them and I said no. Nobody should believe any claim that can't produce evidence to back it up. Even if the papers in question do support a developmental role for the appendix, the statement that is currently in the article would still be much more appropriate. Many scientific "facts" once thought to be irrefutable were later shown to be incorrect which is why no good scientists will claim something to be absolutely true without mountains of proof, and even then they are always open to new evidence and explanations.
- By the way, that glover piece you cited actually has a ton of references that I missed before because there are two reference sections, one of which is much smaller than the other. I will check some of them when I have more time.
- I think if the science behind ID was as rigorous as the standard the NEJM is used to, they would be open to publishing papers on it. The problem is that it is very difficult, I would argue near impossible, to prove that all other explanations besides an intelligent creator are insufficient, therefore the conclusions of the papers are not justified by the evidence they provide.
- You're right that the appendix could be a redundant structure, my logic was faulty on that point. GodWarrior 12:00, 31 May 2007 (EDT)
- But we do know what was in those "missing" papers; that's what the cited articles were relating. It's not quite like your analogy because nobody is refusing to show you the papers; it's just that you've been unable to find them.
- True, many scientific "facts" once thought to be irrefutable were later shown to be incorrect, but that doesn't mean that we have to go around qualifying every statement that doesn't suit evolutionists, particularly when the "scientific facts" of the other vestigial organs have all been shown to be wrong. I haven't noticed you qualifying any other scientific observations, why is this one different?
- Despite your rosy view of scientists, they are not as objective as you would like to think.
- Your response regarding the ID paper presumes that the science wasn't rigorous. Do you have any reason for suggesting that? It was accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal (which means, of course, that it passed peer-review), and the opposition to it was on ideological grounds.
- Surely you know that science can never prove anything, only fail to disprove it, so nothing is ever 100.00% certain. So of course it is impossible to prove that all other explanations are insufficient, but that's not the standard that science normally uses. For example, an archaeologist who finds an odd-shaped stone can often determine that it was intelligently designed simply by knowing that the shape does not arise naturally. If archaeologists can conclude intelligent design, why can't biologists? Oh that's right, because in the case of biology, the intelligent designer is presumably (please avert your eyes) shock, horror—God!!! And as an evolutionist said, you can't allow a Divine foot in the door.
- Philip J. Rayment 12:36, 31 May 2007 (EDT)
- The problem with using those sources that you cited is that they interpreted the findings of those papers to support their conclusions, but we have no way of knowing if those interpretations are legitimate. I think it's fine to keep the statement about the appendix in development in its current form based on those sources, but as long as there are numerous reasonable people on both sides of this debate, it would not be right to make that statement into a conclusive one.
- I agree that sometimes scientists make unqualified statements when they shouldn't, but sometimes it is appropriate because there is no significant debate on the issue. Everyone agrees that the heart pumps the blood and the lungs oxygenate it and remove the carbon dioxide etc. The same cannot be said of the appendix, and on issues where reasonable people disagree it is best to acknowledge the controversy when writing an encyclopedia. I can recall many instances of my biology textbooks making it clear that the function of certain hormones and enzymes was still debatable despite good evidence supporting a function. One in particular said that the function of the hormone melatonin was unknown despite a large amount of evidence (hundreds of papers, not just a handful like for the appendix) advocating a role for melatonin in circadian rhythm regulation. Whenever I see scientists discuss a controversial issue, they almost always preface their statements with something like "the best available evidence suggests..."
- As for ID, you can't really blame the journals for not wanting to publish something that is not testable and makes no predictions because without those things it's not really science at all. That is not to say that it's wrong, just that unless we figure out a way that it can be tested and come up with a clearer picture of what Intelligent Design predicts under a variety of circumstances, it doesn't really belong in the same realm as science that can be falsified. GodWarrior 14:57, 31 May 2007 (EDT)
- Why don't you just come out and say it: you don't trust those sources because they are creationists. At least in some cases, they didn't interpret, they directly quoted. Why can't you accept that they represented those sourced accurately? There might be reasonable people on both sides, but as I've said, a claim that there is function is not contradicted by claims that non-exhaustive searches couldn't find function.
- I wasn't referring to statements such as the heart pumping the blood, but about things like evolution and millions of years being true. You say that such controversies should be acknowledged in writing an encyclopedia—so would you mind going to Wikipedia and convincing them of that? I've rarely seen evolutionists preface their statements about evolution with something like "the best available evidence suggests..."
- Intelligent Design: Now we get down to it, don't we. Earlier you claim that the New England Medical Journal wouldn't be biased, and now you attempt to justify the bias of not publishing ID papers. So are you admitting that you knew all along that they wouldn't publish such papers? But to get to the point you are making, you are simply asserting your opinion in order to argue your case. ID proponents claim that ID is testable and makes predictions, and the same applies for creationists. Creationists have not only made testable predictions, they made ones that have been shown to be correct.
- Philip J. Rayment 23:08, 31 May 2007 (EDT)
- I don't trust those sources because I can't even read them! That's all there is to it. I still haven't had time to check the other references but chances are some of them will be available.
- The New England Journal of Medicine is not biased when it comes to scientific evidence. I believe that the reason more ID papers are not published (there are some btw) is because for the most part, ID is not science.
- You are absolutely correct about evolution; no one can be absolutely certain that it happened because we weren't there. I happen to think that most of the evidence supports it, but I can understand how other reasonable people could disagree. I don't know anything about wikipedia, but we should probably aim to be better than them, not stoop to their level.
- The relevant point here is that reasonable people disagree about the evidence on the function of the appendix. Your point about how papers that prove a function are not contradicted by those that don't show one is not really the issue. Just because one paper provides evidence for something does not make it indisputable. GodWarrior 01:35, 1 June 2007 (EDT)
- Ok, surprise, I wasn't able to view even an abstract of any relevant peer-reviewed paper having to do with the human appendix in any of the sources you cited. However, I did come across this little snippet from the glover page: "The appendix would appear to have a role (although not as the sole organ) in establishing and maintaining the bowel-blood barrier for such bacteria in its area." (my emphasis) How can you make such a definitive statement when the source you cite from doesn't even do so? The other two sources make quite definitive statements, true, but the best source between them is a popular press magazine article. I think it might be time to find new sources or give up on this one. GodWarrior 02:24, 1 June 2007 (EDT)
(unindenting) The sources that I was suggesting that you weren't trusting because they are creationist are the ones that you can read. They are quoting others which you apparently can't read, but those others are not creationist. My suggestion was that you aren't prepared to trust the creationists ones that you can read, because they are creationist.
You say that the New England Medical Journal is not biased, yet you defend it for not publishing ID papers. I say that refusal to publish ID papers—or refusal to consider such scientific—is bias. I rebutted your reasons for claiming that ID was not science, and you didn't refute my rebuttal, but merely repeated your assertion. Repeating an assertion without substantiating it is not a convincing argument.
I agree that we should be better than Wikipedia, which is why we try and give coverage to both evolution and creation. But that doesn't mean that every last detail needs to be qualified. The point with creation and evolution is that they are explanations for the past, not observations in the present. Functions of the appendix are observations in the present, so there is not the same inherent uncertainty.
That some sources claim a function is not contradicted by others that are not aware of one is the point, because the net result is that there is a known function or functions. And that was not from a single source.
Yes, I agree that Warwick Glover's paper doesn't say it so definitively, which is why I added those other references. Warwick Glover's paper is somewhat older than the more definitive ones, so again, its uncertainty is no contradiction to later sources which have certainty.
Philip J. Rayment 11:16, 1 June 2007 (EDT)
- I am giving the creationist sources equal weight to the one I found. I think that is more than fair given the lack of sources. I want to make it clear that I don't inherently distrust creationist sources, what I do distrust are unsourced statements. Just look at the "Cutting out a useless vestigial argument" source. The first paragraph asserts a function and is sourced. So what's the source? A popular press magazine. The second paragraph presumably comes from the same source, but it relies solely on the word of a magazine writer. The third paragraph relies solely on the word of "Johan Uys of Bellville, South Africa." No qualifications are listed. After that, the rest of the evidence is merely used to show what evolutionists have said about the appendix. Are you beginning to understand why I have a problem with this source? It is just a summary of a popular press magazine question and answer column. That is the extent of the evidence, unless you count the two lay-people's personal opinions.
- Now look at the "Your appendix...it's there for a reason." The only two sources (other than the glover piece, which we already settled was not definitive) are one medical textbook from 31 years ago and one from 12 years ago. I am not sure where to begin here because not only do the quotes from those books not mention a role in development in any way, one of them isn't even definitive in its assertion of an immunological role for the appendix. I won't even get in to the question of what makes that one definitive-sounding source from 1995 take precedence over divided scientific opinion that persists to the present day. Not to mention that we have no idea what original research the 1995 medical text used, or what other more current medical texts say about the issue. What we do know is that we have a very well sourced article arguing otherwise, and that is enough to keep the statement from being definitive. In summary, there is absolutely no way you can claim a definitive developmental function of the appendix based on these sources, and the case for an immunological function would be weak at best.
- In retrospect I wish I had taken a closer look at those two sources earlier instead of just futilely trying to find the sources they cited. We could have avoided a long and unneccesary debate. GodWarrior 13:27, 1 June 2007 (EDT)