Wednesday, August 08, 2012

TED: Alexander Tsiaras, "It was hard not to attribute divinity to it"

Some of you aren't familiar with TED talks so the recent criticism doesn't make sense (e.g. The Trouble with TED). Here's an example of one of the problems with TED talks. This is a "gosh, gee whiz" kind of talk that's almost completely devoid of information.1

The talk has pretty pictures of the developing human embryo/fetus accompanied by the kind of music that evokes mystery and awe. The author of the video talks of the mystery and why it makes him think of divinity.

The first divinity-inspiring observation concerns collagen. Most collagen molecules form fibers (see Collagen) but those in the eye form sheets in the basal lamina. This is because the eye collagen is a different type of collagen. Here's what Wikipedia says [Collagen IV] ...
Type-IV collagen is a type of collagen found primarily in the basal lamina. The type IV collagen C4 domain at the C-terminus is not removed in post-translational processing, and the fibers link head-to-head, rather than in parallel. Also, type-IV lacks the regular glycine in every third residue necessary for the tight, collagen helix. This makes the overall arrangement more sloppy with kinks. These two features cause the collagen to form in a sheet, the form of the basal lamina.
Does that make you think of god(s)?

Would you pay several thousand dollars to hear this TED talk?



1. Recall that the theme of TED is "Ideas worth spreading." Which ideas in this talk are worth spreading?

28 comments:

  1. Thanks for this, Larry. And to think that the morons in developmental biology think that ontogeny is a process that merely involves switching on the right genes at the right time. They don't attribute anything to embryogenesis other than protein production in the cells.

    Yes, if you want to witness intelligent design in action, then watch this video. It takes just 9 months to make something that is astoundingly complex to the nth degree. The materialist scientist thinks that dumb molecules(proteins) are all that is needed to explain this.

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    1. The materialist scientist thinks that dumb molecules(proteins) are all that is needed to explain this.

      So what else is needed according to you?

      AI - so cells could make decisions? (That's what you said in one of your comments.) An Intelligent Designer?

      You do not offer any explanation. You are only pushing unknown further back and criticise scientist for seeking actual explanations.

      And you have nerve to call people who honestly care about knowing anything "morons".

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    2. I think your comments have been getting progressively worse and worse.

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  2. Seems okay to me. I could do without the churchy music, and wish he would slow down a little, as his delivery is breathless. Unlike you, I don't have a strong objection to him using the word 'divinity', because that's the way he sees it; he has a right to see it that way. I imagine many people will be inspired and uplifted by the talk.

    What it makes me think is that our bodies are incredibly intelligent, so much more so than our 'brains'. Our brains don't have the slightest idea how to make a human body, but human bodies know exactly what they need to do to make a brain. So why object to someone attributing that to divinity, if they want to? To me, it reminds me to marvel at this incredible machinery that I inhabit, and hopefully honor it and treat it well. And treat others' well too.

    A few days ago you wrote about Hiroshima. Why not just see this video as a message to everyone that our bodies are amazing, so let's not blow them up and torture them? I think that's an 'idea worth spreading'.

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    1. I imagine many people will be inspired and uplifted by the talk.

      Why? If it was a video of the development of a mouse fetus or a frog embryo would you have been "inspired and uplifted"?

      A really good TED talk would have been one explaining that human development is not fundamentally different from that of any other mammal. There's nothing special going on here.

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    2. Yes, Larry, there is nothing special at all! Development is amazing whether it is a worm or a man. But, obviously, I'd be more impressed seeing an elephant or a blue whale develop.

      You still don't get it, do you? Tsiaras is strongly implying that developmental processes that make babies can't really be fathomed from genetic instructions that produce proteins.

      Why does it just not click with you?

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    3. Well, Larry, perhaps if it were not a frog or a mouse but rather a monarch butterfly or a swan, I think I would be just as inspired and uplifted. Each has his own personal tastes after all. :)

      But fundamentally, I think the same exact talk COULD have been given about the wonders of biology in general concerning higher organisms, with the same effect on the larger portion of the audience. My takeaway from this one wasn't that humans are 'special', and I doubt that was the point Tsiaras was trying to make.

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    4. I think I would have been more inspired and uplifted if it was a frog or a mouse.

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  3. Why mystify something that isn't mysterious?

    There's a huge difference between being in awe of something because one knows nothing about it and being in awe of something because one knows what doesn't know about it.

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    1. Because it is a mystery. We can observe embryogenesis, using increasingly sophisticated tools, but that doesn't mwean we can explain the causes of it.

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    2. The Clasturbator fails again!

      Not being able to see something doesn't ipso facto make it a mystery.

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  4. When I was 2 years old, I was infected with the polio virus, do people like Alexander Tsiaras attribute divinity to it?

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    1. That's such a silly argument of the atheists. Should I ask where the Deity was when I had a nasty bout of chicken pox when I was 13 and which gave me a few scars?

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    2. Yes. You should ask that.

      Ah, you have scars from chicken pox. Are they functional? Or are they non-functional remnants of historical processes-- you know... like ERVs and pseudogenes?

      If you think they're not functional, how do you know? Do you have only negative arguments-- you don't know the function for them, therefore they have no function?

      If negative arguments are permissible for chicken pox scars, why not for ERVs and pseudogenes?

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    3. Should I ask where the Deity was when I had a nasty bout of chicken pox when I was 13 and which gave me a few scars?

      Well, it's you who thinks that proteins are not enough to explain how living things works.

      So why you were ill? Was that God's will? Some kind of test? Satan's plan? Maybe it was those viruses, which made decision to infect you?

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    4. Diogenes:

      This may come as a surprise to you, but the scars I received from the bout of chicken pox cannot be inherited. I am probably healthier for having endured the annoying itches.

      Every puppy needs a little tough love now and then.

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    5. No, you are now at risk for shingles later in life.

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    6. The set of genetic instructions itself is a mystery and Godless individuals are always attributing every unexplainable topics to science which is perpetually searching for answers which could only be possibly discovered yet in the distant future..but for me at the moment they are all miracles and mysteries of life...including your own body...exemplified by the fact that you can think, move, talk, see, hear,feel, desire to love and be loved. Death is also a miracle because there are many times when pathologists do not have a very good explanation of how people die...your life is not yours but it is owned by SOMEBODY much powerful and greater than you. Did you ever think of that?

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  5. 5000 whining atheists vs the Great Prophet

    ottawaskeptics.org/forum?func=view&catid=3&id=4570#4570

    Pass it On

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  6. The developing human embryo/fetus makes me think of unprotected sex.

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  7. Well, well, I see that andyboerger is here and that he hasn't spoken up about atheistoclast calling biologists and material scientists morons and dumb for no good reason whatsoever. atheistoclast's comment is the very first one in this thread and he started right in on the undeserved insults.

    I also see that atheistoclast is again pushing "intelligent design" even though he said the other day that he's only "sympathetic" to ID.

    Hey andy, where are your objections when atheistoclast is the one throwing insulting remarks at people who don't deserve them? Don't you remember saying this self-righteous, two-faced crap in another thread:

    "andyboergerSunday, August 05, 2012 8:14:00 PM

    For a great example of what Luskin is talking about, go to the thread on this site from a few days ago under the article 'On the Evolution of New Enzymes'. The Whole Truth excoriates Atheistoclast, calling him dishonest and sneaky in paragraph after redundant paragraph. He accuses him of furtively hiding religious beliefs (with no real evidence), and finishes by, wish I were making this up, charging that he wants to 'destroy science and control the world'. Oh my!

    Atheistoclast shows great restraint by not responding in kind. So as much as you may chortle and delight in putting up things from ID sites in order to ridicule them, you are actually providing a great service for folks like me who are interested in the personalities involved beyond the science. You no doubt have some very brainy, well educated people here, but that doesn't stop some of them from being excessively immature and bullying."

    And how about this:

    "andyboergerMonday, August 06, 2012 4:13:00 AM

    Allan, I am sure you could. In fact I have no doubt of it. And I also noted that other posters were able to carry on a civil discussion in the midst of whole truth's rant. I found that encouraging, but would have even more so if someone had spoken up and said, "excuse us, but we are attempting to have an ADULT argument here."

    I think that too much tolerance for bad behavior is little different from tacit approval for it."


    So, is atheistoclast being "civil"? Isn't he "excoriating" biologists/material scientists for no good reason? Is he "showing great restraint"? Isn't he being excessively immature and bullying"? Isn't what he said a "rant"? Is he "attempting to have an ADULT argument here" by calling biologists/materialist scientists morons and dumb? Isn't he chortling and delighting in ridiculing them? Does he have any "evidence" that they're morons and dumb? Why aren't you asking him to "prove it".

    Your tolerance for atheistoclast's "bad behavior is little different from tacit approval for it".

    And if you think for even one second that his insulting remarks above are unusual, or that he isn't an IDiot creationist (dominionist), think again. The other day I said that when you've read all the stuff that the IDiot creationists (dominionists) say, let me know. Well, it's abundantly clear that you've not read all, most, or even much of what they say and that you either haven't read all, most, or much of what atheistoclast has said on various sites or that you don't have any complaint if he and/or other IDiot creationists dish out insulting remarks, false accusations, lies, etc.

    See part two.

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    1. Part two.

      I'm getting a clearer picture of you and it isn't pretty. And I also must say that what you said above about bodies and brains, etc., is just plain screwy.

      Hey, if you're so "interested in the personalities involved beyond the science", why don't you ask atheistoclast what he thinks of jews and the holocaust?

      And did you notice that atheistoclast definitely has a problem with "material scientist(s)" and "atheists? Now what kind of person would have a problem with material scientists and atheists? An IDiot creationist perhaps? Yeah.

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    3. Twt, charming as always. I see no need to engage with you; your words speak for themselves and you're not someone I care to waste my time on.

      btw, I didn't pay any attention to atheistoclast's comments above mine; why should I? I don't see him attacking another poster here personally, and more particularly, accusing him of something, in the way you did to him. If I do in the future, I'll protest. We're all bloggers here; we comment on the things we WANT to, not what we have to. Your respect is not something I'm in the least bit interested in 'earning'.

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    4. and just one last thing, because you asked. No, I don't consider the tone of atheistoclast's comment above mine to be mature in the least. He is obviously baiting, and I think that shows a lack of class.

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    5. @the whole truth:

      You need to understand the difference between "intelligent design" and the ID movement with which I have no affiliation. The fact is that we have been intelligently designed - just watch Tsiaras' presentation. The only question is whether it is merely due to gene regulation and expression, the argument of (moronic) developmental biologists, or that some other agency is involved.

      Frankly, I think anyone who believes that protein production is the cause of such astonishing organismic complexity is amazingly ignorant or in abject denial.

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  8. the basal lamina is not restricted to the eye. AFAIK every epithelial tissue has a basal lamina (also called the 'basement meMbrane').

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  9. This Tsiaras guy is blown away that such complexity could happen di novo, but he merely fails to see that this complexity arose out of a (minimum) 3.5 billion year old genome. If you sit down and try to really grok what that time scale means, the number of generations which that entails... then the magic quickly vanishes.

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