The Joys of Extrapolation

At technology review they have an article discussing the work of two scientists:

These guys argue that it’s possible to measure the complexity of life and the rate at which it has increased from prokaryotes to eukaryotes to more complex creatures such as worms, fish and finally mammals. That produces a clear exponential increase identical to that behind Moore’s Law although in this case the doubling time is 376 million years rather than two years.

Interesting, so what happens to punctuated equilibrium or does that still fit into this idea?  It’s not clear from the article.  The Cambrian explosion appears to fit in nicely.  The article states that if you extrapolate back to single base pair, life is older than the earth.  Then they write:

For example, is it reasonable to think that the complexity of life has increased at the same rate throughout Earth’s history? Perhaps the early steps in the origin of life created complexity much more quickly than evolution does now, which will allow the timescale to be squeezed into the lifespan of the Earth.

Sharov and Gorden reject this argument saying that it is suspiciously similar to arguments that squeeze the origin of life into the timespan (sic) outlined in the biblical Book of Genesis.

So Sharov and Gorden reject the argument because it sounds like arguments used by creationists.  So rather than take the criticism head on they attempt to paint their critics as creationists.  In case you are not in the know, calling a critic a creationist or borrowing from the creationist line of reasoning is heresy punishable by ostracism from the cool scientists club which is dominated by the Westboro branch of evolutionists.  This line of reasoning completely ignores the risks of extrapolation which are well known.  I commented about that a bit here.

One of the implications of their work they claim is that intelligent life may just now be forming in the universe.  Mankind may be the first and be alone.  A little fact and lot of conjecture but it makes for interesting party talk (well maybe only for geeks like me).


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