The Gilder effect, as it was known in the late 1990s, was what would happen when George Gilder’s newsletter would recommend a stock, sending its share price surging to absurd levels. By absurd, I mean even relative to those heady dot com, bull market days.

By the late 1999/early 2000, we used to reliably fade (Short) Gilder picks after the first or second wave. It had to be done by scaling, cause you never knew how high these absurdities would run. But they eventually came crashing back down to earth. Many of them subsequently went bankrupt.

The key tell that his newsletter was a house of cards was that even Gilder himself would note that "He doesn’t do price." When you consider how utterly absurd that is for an investment newsletter, you can understand how totally out of hand things can get.

Gilder’s subscribers got utterly devastated in the crash: At one time, over 75,000 subscribers paid him good money for his picks; Today, fewer than 5,000 people subscribe (still a respectable number). Quote GG:  "The trouble with my business is that everyone came in at the peak. The typical Gilder subscriber lost all his money and that made it very hard for me to market the newsletter." Gilder’s saving grace was he ate his own cooking, investing right along side his readers. The WSJ reports  he "was as close to bankruptcy as you can get without filing."

I never liked Gilder’s approach or his "priceless picks," and I just found out why: He is a rigid idealogue. That’s a guaranteed recipe for stock market disaster.

How idealogically rigid is GIlder? Consider:

-He is a zealous advocate of "intelligent design;"
-He believes evolution is a myth;
-He helped found the Discovery Institute;
-He was an early proponent of supply-side economics;
-He was outspoken critic of women’s rights in the 1970s;
-He was a former Nixon speechwriter.

Even Gilder himself admitted "I did not put the companies through a rigorous financial test or filter. It was a real disaster. I was a naïve guy doing this. It almost didn’t matter what the hell I did when all the companies went bankrupt, there is no way to look good."

No shit. That’s got to be the understatement of the year. Additionally, it is horrifically irresponsible.

But understand my takeaway from all this; It isn’t about politics — its about being intellectually flexible and being able to adjust your thinking on the fly. Gilder is the poster boy for the opposite of that. Is it any surprise his  readers and investors got demolished? They got suckered in at the top by someone who was unqualified to give financial advice.

What’s even more astounding is that there are still 5,000 people who continue to pay him for his "insights."

Source:
Where Are They Now: George Gilder
MARCELO PRINCE
WSJ, May 8, 2006
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114433479738318882.html

Category: Data Analysis, Investing, Psychology, Science, Technology, Trading

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

51 Responses to “George Gilder: So THAT explains it

  1. John says:

    Great post…At my work place we had a few ‘Gilder’ followers and they would be saying – Made 100 percent this year and got rich fast YET they are all still working as my conclusion was retained wealth is the key. These are same people working the bubble sphere on real estate this year or perhaps shrimp farming next year.

    I read the WSJ piece and it reinforces with me ‘protect thyself’ and get the facts, use data and analysis and understand for yourself prior to investing. Also, if the return and promise is too good to be true, then it is.

  2. tired says:

    in 1987 in a high school on 91st an class was given a gilder book to laugh at. it was advocating supply side whatever.

    it surprises me that anyone would answer his phone calls.

  3. JRL says:

    I don’t know the first thing about this fellow. I enjoy your blog, but am rather nonplussed at your vitreol and apparent illogic on this one.

    He is a rigid idealogue. That’s a guaranteed recipe for stock market disaster.

    While I see the wisdom in this statement as it relates to market theory and decisions, I don’t see how the points you listed directly apply. By your logic, anyone here who has an opinion on anything is a rigid ideologue, indeed by sneering at Gilder’s beliefs in politics and science, you rather seem to come off as one.

    Also, don’t be mislead by the pervasive misconception that intelligent design is in opposition to evolution. That is simply false. It rather questions the “scientific” expression of rigid materialist ideology in the assumption of abiogenesis and that everything with the appearance of design was, in fact, not designed. Plenty of intelligent designs proponents are evolutionists.

  4. jim says:

    Michael Murphy is about as bad. He had his subscribers buying the tech crash all the way down.

  5. John Navin says:

    I bought HANS Friday afternoon. I am happy this morning.

  6. GRL:

    One of the great things about Science is its willingness to throw away any thesis which gets subsequently disproven.

    Idealogues start with their belief system, then ignore reality. It often leads to trouble.

    My “vitriol” as you described it was due to watching people get financially ruined by this charlatan. Admittedly due to their own greed — but you still can’t help but be frustrated by the whole sordid process . . .

  7. Frank Rizzo says:

    “It rather questions the “scientific” expression of rigid materialist ideology in the assumption of abiogenesis”

    You mean like the “scientific” method of how we know an airplane flies, or why clouds form? Oh shit, perhaps those were “designed”.

    ID does not deserve to be used in the same sentence as “science”. It has no theories, it offers no predictions, it offers no instances of improvement, has no supporting evidence, or offers ways to disprove it. The theory of evolution has all these things, and has stood the test of time and the scientific method. ID is not science, it is philosophy, and should be taught in a philosophy class.

  8. Hey Jerky says:

    Ok Barry,

    When is the pay site coming out with actionable signals? We get it: Gilder is Bad. Barry is Good.

    Can we keep it under $30 a month ;-) ?

    -Hey Jerky

  9. A says:

    Sounds like George ought to loosen up and do some gasoline huffing with me. A nostalgic trip. After the buzz wears off we can shag some minx.

  10. Frank Rizzo says:

    “Sounds like George ought to loosen up and do some gasoline huffing with me. ”

    Speaking of huffing, who was it on this board that had the long description of a huffing session a couple days ago – complete with details of the auditory effects they experienced (looped and echoed voices, etc)? To me, that sounds like the beginning (prodromal symptoms) of a temporal lobe seizure, though IANAD. Freaky stuff.

  11. By the late 1999/early 2000, we used to reliably fade (Short) Gilder picks after the first or second wave. It had to be done by scaling, cause you never knew how high these absurdities would run. But they eventually came crashing back down to earth.

    Does this mean you are reliably fading the Cramer picks in 2006?

  12. B says:

    Hey, I believe in evolution. Most Wall Street types are rats. Lots of women are dogs. Our leadership is full of jackasses. Alot of men are snakes. And on and on and on.

    The question I really have isn’t evolution, it’s that Darwin’s theory doesn’t seem to apply to the building blocks of life. ie, Why would this cocktail soup of basic building blocks merge to create something new if it was survival of the fittest? The reality is there is no alternative view to evolution based on science. That said, there are a few holes big enough to drive a Mack truck through that need to be filled in. Maybe they’ll be filled in and maybe they won’t. I think those holes are what causes people to question “how or why”, not that it didn’t happen.

    There is a good book that blasts Darwinian theory written by a secularist. ie, It is not an intelligent design babblefest by people attempting to save their religion from science. In case you can’t read this link it is:

    Darwinian Fairytales : Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity and Other Fables of Evolution

    Written by David Stone

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1594031401/ref=ord_cart_shr/104-0652630-
    1859931?%5Fencoding=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&v=glance&n=283155

  13. Now I’ve always thought Gilder an ass because he clearly understands little about technology but has some kind of charisma that even allowed those very technical folks he sometimes worked with to ignore his blatant lack of understanding.

    Example: Build infinite amounts of fiber, Gilder shrieked! And companies did. Go figure. Becauase they didn’t understand, as anyone reading the trade coverage of fiber did (not even the technical IEEE papers, etc.), that fiber bandwidth was barely tapped in the mid-90s. Look at the amount of Gbps you can pass over a single strand today! And that’s still not the top by what sounds like at least an order of magnitude.

    I blame Gilder, in part, for the fiber-mania that tore up streets and caused massive losses.

    The one interesting part of the WSJ profile: if you stuck with him from start to finish, you got a pretty good return over 10 years: $10,000 in 1997 became $30,000+ in 2006. And that’s after droping below $10,000 in 2002. What it says is that dollar-cost averaging would have produced a remarkably good return over 10 years based on his recommendations. That baffles me.

  14. Tim says:

    Barry
    Can you make it three-in-a-row? The last two posts, i.e., Gilder and Dell, were dynamite.
    regards,
    Tim

  15. fatbear says:

    Barry – have you considered that the 5,000 subs left are those who made money (and are still making money) on Gilder by shorting his picks?

  16. jcf says:

    …and don’t let yourself get lured into a religious debate. Your comment established your position with full clarity. We can always go back to Stephen Jay Gould to get our evolution straight.

  17. George Gilder – Telecosmic

    The Wall Street Journal published a biographical article (free till May 10th) on George Gilder, one of the chief exhalers that inflated the optical bubble of 1999.
    I mentioned Gilder last week in my first post on Wintegra (WNTG). He has consistently sp…

  18. McSwiggen says:

    Like any half ass broker knows, give the client one winner and Mr client will give you 10 losers, Gilder gave us all QCOM in a Forbes article and a few years later the rocket launched. All of us half ass brokers became masters of the universe and surely with such powers we could not have evolved into such a state of being!

  19. Bynocerus says:

    B,

    Este, mi amigo, esta donde pieza maneras.

    David Stone’s book is sophistry of the rankest order. We would not expect a history professor to give us a detailed critique of Plate Tectonic Theory, yet nearly anyone with a postgraduate degree has free range to take pot shots at evolution. Mr. Stone may have known a great deal about Hume and Kant, but from browsing his book, one questions whether he had even a cursory knowledge of terms such as adenine and speciation.

    The wealth and fame that would go with disproving any pillar of evolution would be mind blowing. Not to mention that evolution would be phenomenally easy to disprove. Unfortunately for its critics, evolutionary theory grows more robust with each passing day. Mr. Stone’s book does nothing to change this.

  20. B says:

    I said it was a good book. I didn’t say he was a geophysicist. Read the book and have an open mind. Then judge.

    Btw, philosophy is not to be discounted. Some of the greatest minds in history were philosophers. There is much in this life that cannot be described by a mathematical equation. That includes why evolution took place. (although I would prefer everything to be described by mathematical equations, that to be the case and it appears that is also your argument to discount his writings.) While much of evolution is very logical, it is not the “logicalness” of it that is intriguing. It is the “illogicalness”.

    ie, You think too much like Spock! lol. You must be a Trekkie.

  21. Noname says:

    B,

    I’ve been a fan of your writing on this blog (most of your posts at least), but I must set you straight on the issue of evolution, which unlike stocks, I know more than a little about.

    “Survival of the Fittest” is an unfortunate misnomer, mainstream life scientists don’t ascribe to this belief, we believe “Survival of the most adaptable” to be more appropriate.

    Think of evolution as variations in the genome (resulting from mutations etc.) that are selected for depending on environmental conditions. Every organism from an e. coli residing in your gut, to even you B, harbors “mutations” in their DNA, and in certain condition will confer it survival advantage. Example: “superbugs” that have become antibiotic resistant.

  22. jkw says:

    In a very technical sense, evolution is a myth. A myth is a story that has at some point been claimed to be true that explains why some aspect of the world is the way that it is. But if you use this technical definition of a myth, then claiming something is a myth is not a claim that it isn’t true. Most people that claim evolution is a myth are using the common definition, which does imply that the myth is not true.

    That said, there are problems with the theory of evolution. It is currently the best explanation of how life came to be if you assume that there were no gods involved. As such, atheists believe it to be true and don’t worry about the problems (which will probably be fixed some day anyway). If you believe in gods already, there is no logical way to pick between creation and evolution, so you can pick whichever one you are more comfortable with without being an idealogue.

    The creation/evolution debate is more of a religious debate than a scientific one. The fundamentalists think that creation is good proof that God must exist, so they hate evolution for providing the possibility of a universe with no gods. The atheists will take anything that allows them to justify not believing in gods, and they mostly don’t learn enough biology to even understand whether there are problems with evolution or not. The biologists can’t try to explain how creation works, so they work on explaining how evolution works, because that is a process that either can eventually be explained through science or will eventually be proven wrong by science (in which case a new theory will replace it).

    My limited understanding of biology and evolution says that speciation doesn’t work. In particular, 2 animals with a different number of chromosomes can’t breed (the only exceptions to this produce infertile offspring). This produces a prediction that all mammals (and actually more than mammals) should have the same number of chromosomes. This is clearly false, so either my understanding of evolution is wrong or evolution itself has a serious problem that needs to be addressed. I’m religious enough to accept creation as a viable theory until biology provides an explanation for everything that I find plausible. I expect that to happen someday, though it may not be until after I die. Until then, I will continue to consider people who have strong feelings on either side of the creation/evolution debate to be idealogues.

    None of this has anything to do with how well someone can pick stocks or time the market. It sounds like the way to make money off of Gilder would have been to buy immediately, close the position once it went up n%, and then short it once it had peaked enough (this probably won’t work anymore). It also sounds like his ability to pick stocks couldn’t be measured because the action of him picking a stock moved the price too much to tell whether he was ever making good calls or not.

  23. noname says:

    sorry, I didn’t mean to diss our host. Barry, you rock man, love the site.

  24. Get Long Vega says:

    My hunch is that there is plenty more to what is really going on than what is ‘proven’ by mainstream science today.

    I suspect that in 100 years folks will look back and say, “Whoa, they belived *that*?” Let’s ask Galileo what he thinks.

    I also suspect that our individual and collective beliefs (a fancy way of saying our thoughts) create physical reality.

  25. trader75 says:

    “Darwin’s theory doesn’t seem to apply to the building blocks of life. ie, Why would this cocktail soup of basic building blocks merge to create something new if it was survival of the fittest?”

    Check out the work of Stuart Kauffman on autocatalytic sets. Or just buy ‘Complexity’ by Mitchell Waldrop. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

  26. B says:

    See, now I love to chew the fat on a topic like this. It is so fertile for discussion as long as it is not based in religion. Although I deeply respect that perspective as well.

    I think you guys are missing my point. The first thing I said was that I believe in evolution. (Although, not to digress too much to noname’s response but mutation and evolution are not the same scientific arena. Humans have mutated over time. So it’s not just e-coli. Many examples of that in nature.)

    Ok, back to my point. You guys are giving me left brain answers about the logic of evolution. If I were having this discussion with a woman, her response to my posts might be very different because in my nonscientific experience women are more likely to be both left and right brain capable. Maybe evolution has shut off our right side. lol.

    I am talking about the philosophical perspective. Don’t you ever question why or how? Or it’s just case closed? Bring it up a level of detail to the abstract. What is the basis for what has happened? Why has it happened? Is it just randomness? Or was it those guys from Star Trek that created that device to populate a planet with life? lol. Evolution is not the interesting topic to me. It is the unknown. The illogical. That without an obvious or scientific answer.

    Btw, that is what Stone is writing about. The right brain.

  27. Bynocerus says:

    JKW,

    Not to clown on you, but that is the poorest definition of speciation I have ever heard. Not to hijack Barry’s thread, but let’s clear something up.

    Speciation occurs, in a very broad sense, in two different ways: Geographic and non-geographic. Geographic speciation is pretty straightforward – over time, populations become isolated and evolve new characteristics.

    Non-geographic speciation, termed polyploidy, spefically addresses chromosomes. Organisms have the ability to produce extra chromosomes through the process of polyploidy, and given a large enough population size, reproduction between individuals with different numbers of chromosomes is often inevitable. Of course, polyploidy can often result in sterility, BUT IT MUST NOW ALWAYS DO SO. And, in cases of infertility, parthenogenesis, gynogenesis or hybridogenesis fills the gap (forms of asexual reproduction).

    The fact that we have only 23 paired chromosomes after 3.5 billion years of evolution should tell you how long it takes for evolution to “get it right,” or more appropriately, allow for chromosomal mutations that increase fitness.

  28. RW says:

    Darwin’s theory, and the modern synthetic theory of evolution for that matter (Darwinian selectionism + genetics + population dynamics), does not attempt to explain biogenesis; I’ve seen selectionist principles used in some attempts at explaining the origin of life (as contrasted with the origin of species) but have never seen the two domains successfully united theoretically although it seems necessary that at some point they should be. Along with a host of other errors, such as ignoring the implications of geologic time spans or refering to evolution as ‘random’ when it is stochastic (probabilistic), creationists like to cite this as a critique of evolutionary theory generally but no empirical or logical foundation exists for doing so; biogenisis and evolution are (currently at least) separate problem areas.

    The distinction between materialism and its more restrictive corollary, mechanicism, is fairly important: The former is a fundamental assumption concerning reality, the latter is epistemological, an assumption about how we can understand and know reality. Mechanicism supports scientific reductionism, the assumption that we can break apart something and through understanding its smaller pieces separately, understand the whole (difficult to imagine a controled experiment in which that assumption is not necessary). However mechanicism also supports determinism, strict cause and effect, and that can be misleading outside a strict regime of empirical support in which the whole is indeed observed to behave as predicted; e.g., the statement “step out of a window and you will fall” has the same logical status as “sin and you will go to hell” independent of confirmation.

    Before ID was suborned by creationists, the young-earth species in particular, there was some rather interesting work going on – not just attempts to reconstruct dualism but approaches where materialism (and evolutionary theory) were accepted but mechanicism either questioned or restricted in scope (to linear or non-complex systems for example) – but all that’s pretty much drowned out now in the creationist driven cacaphony.

    So, to bring this back to topic, it appears that Gilder approached the market mechanically, as a relatively simple or linear system to which he had found the key. That worked for awhile, until it didn’t, and there was no conceptual fallback and perhaps even more importantly no real reason to question the basic assumption(s) that drove – or more likely appeared to drive – the previous success.

    I suspect most successful traders approach markets as complex, nonlinear systems – something capable of spontaneous behavior change, something that can reward or unexpectedly turn and bite – and develop their own systems, heuristics, etc. accordingly. Such systems could be quite complex themselves or perhaps as simple as a set of rules that tell you when you should be in the arena with the beast or sitting in the stands marveling at the gladiatorial slaughter below.

  29. noname says:

    “mutation and evolution are not the same scientific arena”

    They’re not? whoa, that’s news to me. Genetic mutation (simply a change in DNA) is a prequisite for the evolutionary process.

  30. Steve Goulet says:

    What a great eye opening post. Your blog is fast becoming one of my favorites. I was never a subscriber to Gilder’s newsletter, but I bought the whole Third Wave thing hook line and sinker. And I made many a bad investment decision based on the tapestry of BS that resulted from his Telecosm predictions. Your analysis regarding his rigid thought processes is right on.

    For those of you who believe evolution is a myth, please provide a list of your favorite stock picks so that I can consider them for short positions.

  31. Lord says:

    Prerequiste but not sufficient as evolution also includes selection. Great discussion guys!

  32. trader75 says:

    “I am talking about the philosophical perspective. Don’t you ever question why or how? Or it’s just case closed? Bring it up a level of detail to the abstract. What is the basis for what has happened? Why has it happened? Is it just randomness?”

    Here’s the deal: God is sitting in an armchair on Alpha Centauri, watching us on his plasmatron with a fridge full of Bud by his side.

    When we finally figure out how to get to Alpha Centauri, he is going to throw us a party and say Yo Dudes–You Finally Made It!

    I find the philosophical side of evolution more interesting than the scientific side because the principles of evolution are so prevalent, not just in biology but in human society as well. Edward O. Wilson observed that, for the first in history, man has been able to decommission the natural selection process. Which is true to a significant degree. And yet we are still evolving. Evolving into what? We choose. It is not just our physical traits that are evolving, but our cultures, our perspectives, our attitudes toward society.

    And we get to decide where we’re going. A lot of poltical philosophies have a sort of “back to Eden” bent, as if things were perfect way back when and we just need to get “back to the garden.” I think that’s goofy. Things were never perfect. We came from the plains–you know, nature red in tooth and claw. The natural human disposition is selfish and violent, because those are survival traits that allowed us to survive back in the day.

    But if there’s nothing to go back to, there’s nothing to constrain us from moving forward either. And enlightenment is indeed spreading, even if it’s happening at a snails pace. A couple centuries ago we were stoning people for minor indiscretions. Slavery was seen as no biggie. Those attitudes are dying out now, replaced by more enlightened ones.

    The other fascinating thing about evolution, from a philosophical perspective, is that the process of envolution is BYOP–bring your own purpose. It doesn’t really matter whether the purpose of the human race is handed down from on high or determined from within by the human race itself. What matters is that the purpose exists. The source of that purpose is semantics.

    It’s kind of like the debate over whether words have meaning. This is a stupid debate because it doesn’t matter whether words have meaning, it only matters whether or not words serve their purpose. If I tell you “get your umbrella, it’s raining,” and you get it, then voila, intent has been served.

    In conclusion, I like evolution–and spend a lot of time thinking about it–precisely because it is such a powerful metaphor and descriptor for so many of the processes that are unfolding around us here and now, in the markets, life and elsewhere, and because it is so fully packed with philosophical portent.

  33. jcf says:

    Get Long Vega,
    I used to think a lot about Angie Dickinson and it didn’t help my physical reality one bit.

  34. B says:

    ok,
    So, your post was that evolution and mutation were somehow the same thing? e-coli mutuating in my gut, therefore evolution? Maybe I misunderstood why you were using that analogy. Care to clarify? And what does “Genetic mutation (simply a change in DNA) is a prequisite for the evolutionary process” have to do with evolution?

    I could answer with a mathematical equation in Boolean logic or I could use something I relate to as much easier to understand. I need to get off of my ass and walk to the kitchen to make a ham sandwich before I can eat it. But, I wouldn’t confuse that laboring effort with actually eating the ham sandwich. Nor does walking to the kitchen presuppose I am going to eat a ham sandwich.

    Mutation is not the same as evolution. Nor does it presuppose evolution. That’s my left brain answer and I’m sticking to it!

  35. B says:

    Ok, that was an enlightened post Trader75. :) I don’t want to discount all of the good things you said by extracting something that made me chuckle……..but……what the hell.

    “And enlightenment is indeed spreading, even if it’s happening at a snails pace. A couple centuries ago we were stoning people for minor indiscretions. Slavery was seen as no biggie. Those attitudes are dying out now, replaced by more enlightened ones.”

    That goes back to the origin of this thread, George Gilder. You are a little too generous in that statement. George and others that are members of the religious right don’t share your view on enlightenment. Their wahabi-type fanaticism for those who have alternative views or alternative beliefs in religion is a step towards the stone age. Of course, these were the people who were lynching people in between football games on Friday night and church service on Sunday. And that was just a generation ago. So much for “What would Jesus do”.

    I vote we send you into the Bible belt to teach enlightenment. Oh, and of course, trading tactics.

  36. billy says:

    >That said, there are problems with the theory of evolution. It is currently the best explanation of how life came to be if you assume that there were no gods involved.

    Thank you.

    >”currently the best explanation of how life came to be” – thats the key.

    Science is not perfect. But as BR comments, it will immediately throw away any thesis that is subsequently disproven. So evolution has holes. So what? These holes will eventually get filled by subsequent findings, or evolution will get disproven by another new _scientific_ theory

    Look at the theory of light in science ..

    Huygens wave theory – could explain reflection and refraction – but could not explain colours. He was supereseded by Newtons corpuscular theory, which could not explain diffraction and intereference. (Newton won the argument with Huygens, even though both could not explain everything). Later Young proved Newton wrong, and proved by experiments that Huygens was right ( note – PROVED WRONG).
    Later came Planck – with this quantum theory which proved that light consisted of packest of energy – almost like particles. Followed by Einstein, .. and so on

    And thats just a few of the theories in the long history of science grappling with light. Not all the theories could explain everything, but progess was made by discarding, disproving, and reformulating new theories. And they got better and better at it.

    ID proponents on the other hand says “evoultion has holes, so it is not scientifically true”. Their real aim is to sort of **erase the science about evolution, so that we can all go back to the pre-Darwin era of philosophical speculation about the origin of life**. They want a situation where there is no scientific theory about the origin of life. But there is no putting the genie back in the bottle. Science will not move back to ignorance of understanding, however poor that understanding may be.

    The real problem ID’ers have is this – to disprove evolution, they have to come up with another _scientific_ alternative, and they have only a philosophical alternative. And for ID to be accepted as science, it has to move from the realm of philosophy, and prove itself by scientific methods. Which it cant, since that requires a scientific proof that the ‘I’ in ID exists.

  37. jkw says:

    I know that there is more to speciation than chromosome counts, but I have not seen an explanation ever, anywhere that allows for mammals to produce fertile offspring with a different number of chromosomes from the parents. Therefore, either evolution is a flawed theory or every set of animals with a different number of chromosomes evolved separately from asexual ancestors. The second idea seems unreasonable.

    I have never seen any evidence that suggests it is possible for mammals to evolve in a way that would change their chromosome count. There is direct evidence that it is not possible. The logical, scientific conclusion is that evolution is a flawed theory. This does not mean that it is wrong, because it might be fixable when we have a better understanding of things. It just means that people who claim evolution is based only on solid science while creationism is just wishful thinking are currently wrong.

    I have posted things like this in various places and the response has always been something along the lines of “it just works.” Pointing to something that works for asexual reproduction is irrelevant to something that is only a problem for sexual reprodution. I want evidence, and assume that someday somebody will actually point me to some if there is any. Until then, I will continue to claim that evolution is a critically flawed theory when it comes to explaining how life came to be (it is a wonderful theory for explaining how species change over time, but that is a different question).

    My primary purpose in making this argument is to solicit references to information that I have been unable to find. At this point, I don’t believe it exists.

  38. JRL says:

    Barry-

    Idealogues start with their belief system, then ignore reality. It often leads to trouble.

    That’s fine, but which of these establishes that he ignores reality?

    -He was an early proponent of supply-side economics;
    -He was outspoken critic of women’s rights in the 1970s;
    -He was a former Nixon speechwriter.

    All we can take away from this list is that the man has, or had at some point, several opinions that you presumably disagree with.

    My “vitriol” as you described it was due to watching people get financially ruined by this charlatan. Admittedly due to their own greed — but you still can’t help but be frustrated by the whole sordid process . . .

    I have no problem whatever that this guy should be taken to task if he gives crappy or dangerous advice, but saying his advice is crappy because he’s an ideologue and he’s an ideologue because he disagrees with you isn’t exactly a substantive smackdown.

  39. trader75 says:

    “George and others that are members of the religious right don’t share your view on enlightenment. Their wahabi-type fanaticism for those who have alternative views or alternative beliefs in religion is a step towards the stone age.”

    So first I’m a gloom and doomer, and now I’m too pollyanna… ;-)

    Once again I think we agree more than disagree. The devil is in the details. When I express my belief that enlightenment is speading, that doesn’t mean that enlightened thoughts and attitudes have wholly prevailed. Far from it. It just means that, on balance, we are moving towards a more enlightened picture overall. Enlightenment is in a long term uptrend. Existing barbarism doesn’t disprove that thesis; it merely shows that the ball is still in play.

    The other interesting thing about evolution is that positive outcomes are not guaranteed. Many conceptualize evolution as this inexorable march towards progress, as if nirvana were a predetermined goal of the evolutionary process. It isn’t. Evolution is blind, it has marched many a species right into the wall, and it can march us humans right into the wall too. The jury is still out.

    We might not make it to Alpha Centauri. Heck, we may have already peaked… a possibility many a peak-oiler has piquantly pondered with peaked brow. (Sorry, don’t know where that came from.)

    But thanks to self-awareness, at least we have a say in our destiny. What’s unique about the societal evolutionary process, as opposed to the biological evolutionary process, is that society is not blind. We are self-aware, and can thus make decisions that actively mold and shape our long term process. In that sense, the evolutionary process has itself evolved, by taking on the aspect of self awareness. And that’s a very cool thing. Though it still doesn’t give guarantees.

    Ultimately, if we make it through the gauntlet and graduate to the level of type II or type III civilization, it will be a meritocratic process. We will have ‘earned our wings,’ so to speak, by learning how to handle our newfound technological power with sufficiently enlightened means. Power is dangerous, and man must advance in moral understanding as his power increases. Nuclear weapons are a pretty stark example of this. Just think of what life will be like when someone invents the quantum-powered version of fat man and little boy. We either get our moral shit together, which means continuing to travel the enlightened path, or we do ourselves in. It’s pretty much that simple, as long as the Ray Kurzweils of the world help us figure out how to prevent the next ice age in time.

  40. Bynocerus says:

    AHHHHHH JKW. Now I understand more clearly what you are asking.

    First off, to be perfectly blunt, there is no such thing as evidence against chromosomal duplication. It happens all the time in species such as salmon, turkies, lizards, strawberries, etc etc etc.

    Moreover, chromosomes can duplicate themselves without harming a species’ reproductive capabilities. In fact, the chromosomes can be duplicated with inversions, leading to even greater genetic variation.

    Deletions also happens. For example, monkeys have one extra pair of chromosomes than us. There IS a lot of debate as to why chromosomes get deleted, but what’s very interesting is that monkeys share the same genetic “mistakes” on the same places in their chromosomes. In fact, one of the stronger pieces of evidence for evolution are mistake duplications.

    Anyway, hope that makes it real clear.

  41. bionick says:

    Intelligent design seems to be magic, like alchemistry or astrology. The former believed in the philosopher’s stone, a mythical substance that could turn everything in gold; the latter, of course, in mythical connection between fate and stars. IDiests believe in the supreme brain/mind that arranged all things. They are not even Christians, although some Christians are happy to take their money for their own goals. IDists are pagan (or Gnostic at best, but I would not grant them even that) and IDist writings are bizarre, like for example when one of them represents the particle/wave duality as the Christian Cross (that one always brings a smile to my face). Or they present modern science as a superstition. See their Discovery Institute web site and search it with words Christian Cross or superstition.

    Noname

    There is no adaptation, as in change, on the individual organism level, simply because the genome of an individual organism is static, take away cancers; adaptation changes occur on the level of the population. A population as a whole is influenced by the environment, so that those individuals whose genomes encode traits that enable them to harness resources most efficiently and procreate will pass on their genes – survive, as the proportion of different alleles and genes changes in the population, it adapts. In other words, no matter how successful someone is at picking stocks, if he or she never procreated, he/she never “survived”.

  42. “It just means that people who claim evolution is based only on solid science while creationism is just wishful thinking are currently wrong.”

    Unfortunately for proponents of intelligent design/creationism, evolution is based on solid science. It is the function of scientists to test specific hypotheses to explain natural phenomena. As hyotheses are accepted and rejected, new hyoptheses are formulated. In order for a hypothesis to stand it has to be repeatable. Repeatable hypotheses can be formulated into governing theories. Advancements in technology (e.g. genomic analysis) allow for better detailing of existing theories. This is how science works. Science questions, it does not just accept.

    There is no such thought in creationism. Creationism is simply acceptance. God created everything. Period.

    “I know that there is more to speciation than chromosome counts, but I have not seen an explanation ever, anywhere that allows for mammals to produce fertile offspring with a different number of chromosomes from the parents.”

    Human females with trisomy at Chromosome 21 (aka Down Syndrome), born to parents with a regular chromosome complement, are more likely to produce children with trisomy at Chromosome 21. If there was a competitive advantage to having an additional Chromosome (e.g. an immunity to bird flu) then trisomy would be favored and thus form a bigger part of the population. Environmental conditions would then dictate the future direction of this group. Would the competitive advantage remain (e.g. bird flu)? Would the extra chromosome pair through further mutation? Would the newly paired chromosome provide additional competitive advantages? Or would this line go extinct? The point I want to make is viable chromosomal changes are not unusual.

    “I will continue to claim that evolution is a critically flawed theory when it comes to explaining how life came to be”

    You can claim away – but creationism and intelligent design are not the answer and should not be allowed anyhwere near a scientific school curriculum. Sunday School perhaps.

  43. I don’t mind the “hijacking” at all — since the original post brought up evolution and ID, this is very consistent with the spirit of the Gilder post. And you can never go wrong with a philosophical discussion.

    My only problem with the entire thread was that I was disappointed to learn (via trader75) that God drinks Bud . . . I expected more of him ; )

  44. trader75 says:

    @#$#@ You’re right, what was I thinking… practically blasphemy to suggest such a thing.

    I meant to say the Almighty prefers Budvar–the ORIGINAL Budweiser–imported from the Czech Republic, purveyors of the finest beer in the world.

    He likes a nice Pilsner Urqel on occasion too.

  45. B says:

    Come on Barry. You knew he drank Bud. He just bought a big stake in the company.

    http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/jan2006/nf20060119_5299.htm

    God is all knowing.

  46. Bynocerus says:

    You’re all wrong; God drinks Guiness. Budshiser is straight horse piss – didn’t you know that’s what the Clydesdales are for?

  47. B says:

    I’ve got an Irish friend who has a beer belly worthy of Guiness………THE GUINESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS!

    He calls Guiness a “sub sandwich in a glass”. I just can’t acquire the taste. I’m a sissy. I like Blue Moons, Coronas and Negro Modelos.

  48. RW says:

    Ah, a Negro Modelo on the veranda at Budro’s, River Walk, San Antonio, TX. Accompanied by fresh guacamole (made right at your table) and the house speciality, blackened (rare) prime rib; (sigh) yes waiter, thank you, I believe I will have another after all.

  49. douglas nast says:

    First, let me stipulate that Gilder is an ass. That 3 out of 4 accusations levied by BR are irrelevant to his thesis that Gilder is an ideologue is a point that has already been made forcefully enough so that no answer has been attempted. I want to address the 4th, regarding ID.

    To the extent that ID is the belief that the universe we know has created by a designer God it, I challenge anyone to demonstrate that this belief is less rational than the prevailing belief that the universe sprang spontaneously from the void, or some other unknowable ‘substrate’.

    Note that I am not saying anything about science, since these suppositions have nothing to do with science. I have intentionally narrowed the scope of ID here, since I agree that ID is not a scientific theory: It must be a supposition of science to exclude any assumption that the phenomena under study are caused by something so arbitrary as an active personal will. But I feel justified in making this simplification, since no evidence has been provided to demonstrate the particular beliefs that Gilder holds, but rather it appears that the point is to dismiss him as a crank ideologue for not praying at the materialist alter.

    It seems quite rational to at the very least assign each of these possibilities regarding the ultimate origin of our universe the probability of ½. However, based on all of our experience of design one could surely be excused for being biased toward giving God a prob somewhat larger than 1/2. But if any conclusion is worthy of the sobriquet “ideologue”, it would seem to be one which insists that p(God design) = 0. On what value-free non-ideological basis does this thesis rest? Inquiring minds are waiting.

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