Sorry everybody, but I’m going to have to rant here.
Could somebody please address the actual points being made in these videos?
It’s all very well providing links to introductory articles on whale evolution. It’s all very well saying that professional evolutionary biologists are unfazed by YouTube videos such as these. It’s all very well criticising ID for not coming up with testable predictions of its own. It’s all very well making blanket statements that the people who make this kind of video are unreliable. And it’s all very well saying that people who find them compelling generally don’t have the background knowledge to assess the validity of those critiques. But many people reading threads such as this one are looking for help in acquiring the background knowledge to assess the validity of those critiques. They may have specific questions raised in their minds by them that the introductory articles on whale evolution quite possibly don’t answer to their satisfaction. They may not have understood the whale evolution articles properly. They may not have known how to fact-check the respective claims for themselves. If you’re not actually addressing the specific points that are being made by the video, but just hand waving them away as being made by unreliable people, you’re just fighting rhetoric with rhetoric. And if you’re just saying that the people who find these videos convincing are lacking understanding, without helping them to gain that understanding, you’re just portraying evolutionary biology as some kind of mysterious cabalistic knowledge made available only to insiders who have been blindfolded, rolled their left trouser leg up, and had the flat side of a dagger placed against their chest while the Headless Monks chant mysteriously in the background.
For what it’s worth, I watched both videos (despite having initially thought “meh, more videos, twenty-five minutes of my life gone, no thanks.”) My initial thought when watching the first was, “meh, another case of if-we’re-descended-from-monkeys-then-why-are-there-still-monkeys.” But then in the second video he explicitly stated that he wasn’t making an “if we’re descended from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?” argument, but that he was asking a different, apparently valid question: “if these fossils aren’t appearing in chronological order in the fossil record, then why are they being presented as if they were?” He also claimed that Tiktaalik roseae was not the bang-on-target prediction of evolution that it is being made out to be, but that there was an element of tweaking the prediction after the facts were known—a kind of Texas sharp-shooter argument.
You’ll probably tell me that those claims have no merit to them. That’s fine. You’ll probably tell me that I don’t have the necessary background to understand them. That’s fine too—I don’t. My background is in the physical sciences, not the biological sciences, and my understanding of evolution comes mostly through the lens of evolutionary algorithms in software development. Some of you may even be snarky with me here. That’s fine too—I can take it. But please, address those specific claims, explain why they are wrong, and provide evidence. Because anything that doesn’t is just noise.
OK, rant over.