January 26, 2021 | David F. Coppedge

SHLooping Undermines Scientific Understanding

It’s the Stuff Happens Law plus Oops, throwing mud into the water of science, fouling understanding.

We hereby introduce the descriptive term SHLooping, which means using the Stuff Happens Law (SHL i.e., chance) as a primary means of scientific explanation, and being careless about it (“oops”). The Stuff Happens Law is, of course, the antithesis of science. Scientists should be attempting to explain the world, not explain it away by saying “stuff happens.” And yet SHLooping is exactly what Darwinians do every time they say, “It evolved,” or otherwise appeal to blind, unguided processes as a means to explain things. They say their findings “shed light” on evolution. They say any and every conceivable trait “emerged” by some kind of rhetorical magic. This is deceptive, vapid and self-refuting. It’s also a bit loopy.

SHLooper: somebody who engages in SHLooping. The worst are those who make the SHL the foundation of their worldview. Having closed off all meaningful explanatory avenues to understand a phenomenon, they have no other option but to SHLoop [hereafter Shloop]. The outcome of this bad habit is even worse than that. Shloopers and Shloopists actually make their own ‘explanations’ implode, because even their explanations—indeed, their very minds—become attributed to the SHL.

Having this term available will help CEH quickly categorize and dismiss bad examples of scientific explanation that amount to, “Stuff Happens.” It may require several rounds of centrifuging to separate the Shloop goop in an article and see if any valid science remains. If Shloop is the active ingredient, though, nobody is obligated to believe or trust any pronouncement from any scientist that reduces to Shlooping. Here are recent examples.

The surprises of colour evolution (University of Groningen). Biologist Casper van der Kooi, shown in the article and its video clip, seems like a decent fellow, like a well-dressed cannibal you might find on the streets of Amsterdam. He just wants to understand “color evolution” (not meaning that red evolves into green, but how insects and flowers interact for pollination purposes). Fair enough. Like the cannibal, though, he’s going to eat himself by Shlooping.

Van der Kooi and his co-authors tabulated which wavelengths can be seen by different insect species. ‘Basically, insect colour vision occurs at wavelengths between 300 and 700 nanometres. Most photoreceptors in insect eyes detect ultraviolet, blue and green light but there is great diversity.’ Insects evolved colour vision before the first flowers appeared. ‘The pigments in flowers appear to be fine-tuned to be visible to pollinators. But of course, insects have subsequently co-evolved.’

Measuring wavelengths in flower organs and determining the perception ranges of insect eyes is perfectly good science. The fine-tuning he speaks of could be due to original intelligent design. Even the dynamically-changing interactions between flower and pollinator over time could be regarded as a design for robustness in a changing world, so that neither species goes extinct. But van der Kooi eats his mouth, saying, “Insects evolved color vision before the first flowers appeared.” That is exactly what the cartoon scientists did: “It evolved”— no further thinking required. He just shut down scientific explanation.

See also: “The mystery of the blue flower” on Phys.org. The Shloop: “This shows blue flowers evolved for enabling efficient pollination.”

We studied these questions and concluded blue pigment is rare at least in part because it’s often difficult for plants to produce. They may only have evolved to do so when it brings them a real benefit: specifically, attracting bees or other pollinating insects.

Why this is a Shloop: The opposite answer, that plants evolved to make blue colors easy, would have worked just as well. Another SHL possibility is that a bee with better blue vision got fat on all the blue flowers out there and won out in the fitness contest, so that blue perception genes spread to all the pollinators. A scientific explanation that is strong does not multiply hypotheses (Ockham’s Razor); it excludes them: “this to the exclusion of that is the correct answer.” Then there might be some understanding. Saying, “It evolved” is no answer at all. Flowers were under no obligation to evolve blue colors (which are not all that rare, anyway). They could have just taken the easy Darwinian way out: go extinct. Who cares? They don’t have minds, after all.

Study provides insight into how the brain may have evolved (Phys.org). Saying something “may have evolved” is no less egregious than saying “it evolved.” In fact, it is worse, because it multiplies the dependence on the SHL: “stuff may have happened.” This article leaves a mess after a series of big wet plops:

We found non-CG methylation evolved [Shloop] at the origin of vertebrates and thus may have been [Shloop] an important requirement for the brain to develop [Shloop] more complex functions.”

The study also revealed that the evolution of all the genetic tools required [Shloop] for cells to use non-CG methylation took place [Shloop] at around the same time.

The gene responsible for writing non-CG methylation, DNMT3A, and the gene responsible for reading it, MeCP2, were found to have originated [Shloop] at the onset of vertebrate evolution. [Shloop]

Starfish: rare fossil helps answer the mystery of how they evolved arms (The Conversation). Here’s a case of invalid inference or non-sequitur: “I found a fossil; it must be a transitional form.” Starfish arms are beautiful and functional, allowing feeding, water vascular transport and locomotion over rough surfaces. The beautiful design is lost on Aaron W. Hunter, Cambridge biologist, who is more focused on where he can plant the “It evolved!” flag. Don’t be distracted by statements that scientists might not know “how” things evolved. They remain cocksure “that” they evolved.

  • the way these animals’ distinctive biology evolved was, until recently, unknown.
  • scientists have been perplexed by how it evolved
  • most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids
  • In the case of Cantabrigiaster, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down [note the Lamarckism*]
  • so it is hard to tell which evolved first

It’s not surprising that Hunter leaves some things to still figure out. “Understanding” or explaining things rationally was never the goal of Shlooping anyway. It’s an eternal game. Shloopists always want to leave more work in the GSS (Great Society for Storytellers) that Father Charlie instituted (22 Dec 2003).

*Lamarckian, because flipping over (an acquired characteristic) will go nowhere unless the trait becomes coded in the germ plasm (inheritance).

Shlooping makes biology easy. That’s why so many lazy Darwinian storytellers are attracted to take the first smoke. They grin like Cheshire cats as their own bodies, minds and souls evaporate away, leaving the grin of Darwin as the last to disappear.

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