Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I've been noodling these

...challenges to the theory of evolution.
Dick Dawk is actually coming to my town in the spring, and hopefully he'll hold an open-mic Q&A like Dembski did back in Sept 07. I'll be much nicer to the good professor than most anyone was to Dr Dembski, but I've been considering what to ask him.
Anyway, I came up with an interesting question that is maybe ready for some scrutiny, so we'll see where it leads. My first unfortunate subject was Tommy Holland, so let's see how it's gone down so far.
Note - I'll use "my side" as shorthand for Intelligent Design. I'm not a total fanboy of ID, but it's a fun argument tool at times like this.

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Rhology said...

I have two challenges to evolution I'm wondering if you'd be interested in addressing, then.

Challenge 1: Given the great care that the Darwinian camp has taken to differentiate itself from the Intelligent Design stuff, one would think that certainly said camp would be highly, strongly interested in providing evidence for its position, absent ANY INTELLIGENCE involved whatsoever. Given that, I'd like evidence that evolution from one type of organism to another is occurring TODAY with the following qualifications:
1) A laboratory injects intelligence into the equation. No lab.
2) Experiments observed on a REPEATED basis, as good science should be.
3) No intelligent (ie, human) manipulation of the events.
4) With ALL normal environmental factors present. No control group, no outside interference from intelligent agents (ie, humans).
5) With ALL normal other factors present, such as predators, weather, fluctuations in prey, water, and other nourishment.
6) And a good way of judging when the line of organism has become a different type.


Challenge 2.



Tommy Holland. said...

The Heisenberg Uncertainty principle states that we can't observe something without changing it. Stick a thermometer into a small vial of water to get its temperature, and the temperature of the thermometer will change the temperature of the water.

Therefore, to artificially constrain science by insisting that it must conduct science without observing the conditions ("No lab.") is unreasonable. Incidentally, your qualifications would be just as inhibiting to demonstrating Intelligent Design as it is to the Theory of Evolution.

Historical events can't be reproduced scientifically. I can't duplicate my birth or the Battle of Waterloo in a lab and study the results. However, we can study the mechanisms of historical events scientifically and learn from them about how the events came to pass.

For example, we can't reproduce Columbus' historic voyage across the Atlantic Ocean--it simply can't be done. But we do know his starting point, his ending point, and his mechanism for sailing the ocean waters (Mediterranean caravels). Even though we can't draw a dotted line across the Atlantic reproducing his exact path, we know beyond reasonable doubt that in the year 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

What's more, our inability to exactly reproduce Columbus' voyage does not allow us to declare that perhaps he teleported from Spain to the West Indies. "Magic" is not a better answer than "probable, but not completely certain."

That said, evolution has been observed both in the laboratory and in the wild. From a century and a half of observational science, we have a framework that can begin with a starting point, an ending point, and the mechanism that bridges the two--natural selection.

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html



Rhology said...

Yeah, actually the Heisenberg principle did occur to me.
It makes, hmmm, drawing strong, hard-and-fast conclusions about the concepts to which it applies pretty much impossible.
But of course, you won't admit that about your precious theory of evolution, will you? Even though you admit that you have to inject intelligence into any study on this supposedly non-intelligent process. It's laughable, actually.


Historical events can't be reproduced scientifically

1) Hey, all this certainty and strong statements come from YOUR side, not mine. Would that your people would realise this and adjust their statements accordingly.
2) Of course, I'm not asking you to reproduce a historical event. I'm asking you for evidence that the processes you appeal to are still in operation TODAY.


That said, evolution has been observed both in the laboratory and in the wild.

Prove it. Where?
Laboratory is right out, for reasons I already explained.
Please describe the "observed" in the wild. I'm very curious.


Go read an article in talkorigins

1) Interesting - this is just confirmation that your side can't define "species", but you're always ready to jump down creationists' throats for not being able to define "kind" of animal...
2) Let's see what this yields.

5.1.1.1 - Nothing is mentioned on whether this variant was before present. And as you said, Tommy, there's little way to know. That's a draw.
5.1.1.2 - Intelligent Design. Point for my side. That's 1 to 0.
5.1.1.3 - See 5.1.1.1. That's 1 to 0, with 2 draws.
5.1.1.4 - See 5.1.1.2. That's 2 to 0, with 2 draws.
5.1.1.5 - See 5.1.1.2. That's 3 to 0, with 2 draws.
5.1.1.6 - See 5.1.1.2. That's 4 to 0, with 2 draws.
5.1.1.7 - See 5.1.1.2. That's 5 to 0, with 2 draws. This is not going well for you.
5.1.1.8 - See 5.1.1.2. That's 6 to 0, with 2 draws. Ouch.
5.1.1.9 - See 5.1.1.2. That's 6 to 0, with 3 draws.

5.2.1 - See 5.1.1.1. That's 6 to 0, with 4 draws.
5.2.2 - See 5.1.1.2. That's 7 to 0, with 4 draws.
5.2.3 - See 5.1.1.2. That's 8 to 0, with 4 draws.

Wow. At the rate this is going, it'll be a disaster for your side. That's embarrassing for you.
So, are you saying that you have no answer to my challenges?

20 comments:

Rhology said...

Looks like I have to repost all these comments. Sorry to all for the inconvenience.

Aubrey said...
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Jason Streitfeld said...
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Dr Funkenstein said...
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Dr Funkenstein said...
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Jason Streitfeld said...
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Rhology said...

...And then I post the comments for a different post. Sheesh. Here goes again.

Nonny Musculus said...

I predict that your grasp of the theory of evolution, the uncertainty principle and logical argument in general will astonish the audience.

Dr Funkenstein said...

Hi Rhology - just a couple of things I picked up on, many of which I have explained before:

1. 1) A laboratory injects intelligence into the equation. No lab.

You have never explained why the control experiments don't yield the same result as the experimental condition if intelligence is a factor. It is present in both scenarios, so why are the effects not the same?

Second, if a human mind alone can manipulate the outcome of experiments in a fashion similar to the designer of ID, why can't I/you/anyone else just will the outcome of an experiment without actually having to do it?

Finally, we actually know the designer in these scenarios - so is your conclusion that the designer of ID is the human race? If not, why?

2) Repeatability/observation:

The general definition of this that I am familiar with is that the researcher in question must be able to repeatably get the same result using the same methods etc over a short period of time. Reproducibility is that another researcher elsewhere could follow the protocol and get the same result.

Observation is not the same as inferences from the observation - eg in the case of my chromosome fusion blog discussion we had - the observation is telomere sequences in the middle of the chromosome pair, the genetic content of which are almost identical to the separate chromosomes in other primates. The inference from that is that it's derived from the fusion of a common ancestral pair of chromosomes.

Under your definition of repeatable, no study is scientific since every event is unique in its own way. eg I can examine the effects of a drug on 6 rats, humans, cell plates etc - but those all exist at different points in time and space.

1) Interesting - this is just confirmation that your side can't define "species", but you're always ready to jump down creationists' throats for not being able to define "kind" of animal...

Because creationists state that there are distinct boundaries between groups of organisms, evolutionists don't. In fact, evolutionists state the opposite, that in many cases there will not always be strict boundaries allowing us do assign distinct groupings to populations of organisms. If there are, why has it been impossible for them to come up with a demarcation point for these boundaries?

Finally, all the proID claims have been shown to be false numerous times (eg irreducible complexity), so why should they expect to be taken seriously any more? This is before we even deal with the underlying religious/political agenda clearly apparent in the movement.

Seth said...

Noting first that many scientists (i.e., evolutionists) misrepresent "good science" while claiming to uphold it. Despite this, the Christian community should maintain the better practices! Keep in mind also that I do not advocate that life evolved from the primordial slime!

1) Ideally, scientific knowledge is fatalistically progressive. Note that there was "no evidence" for plate-tectonics prior to the 1960s. The scientific community was violently critical. Today, we can use GPS and satellite data to accurately track plate motions. Thus, demands for evidence are valid but not always timely. Another example: It took 100 years for the theory of heat as energy to finally take root and replace the archaic concept of the 'caloric' or the substance of fluidic elemental heat.

2) Correction: good science is PREDICTIVE, but not necessarily repeatable. Repeatable experimentation is only one means to validate a prediction. Consider Einstein: his theory of relativity was first validated by matching his calculated predictions with observations during solar eclipses. However, it took over a decade for the stellar observations to be confirmed. Further, it was a few decades later that technology permitted repeatable laboratory experimentation.

3) Re: “Drawing strong, hard-and-fast conclusions…impossible.” Often, improvements and advancing methodology will result in a revision of previous interpretations. Science deals with “what we know now, based on what had access to at the time.” Just consider how the computer has changed things
.
4+5) “…With ALL normal factors present.” This is impossible and thus an unreasonable expectation. That’s like saying I can’t sufficiently discern your face in a crowd because I’ve never seen looked at you in infrared light. It is also irrelevant. Similarly, I wouldn’t need to check your stool samples for small concentrations of radioactive elements content to identify that your diet is rich in fiber. Of course, the easiest way would be to just ask you what you had for lunch!

6) That sounds fair enough. Of course, this exists in excruciating and tedious detail. My experience is with fossils – you can take my word for it or you are welcome to come by the office and let your eyes bleed comparing compilations on fossil descriptions with what you see under the microscope for a few hours!

NAL said...

Tommy Holland:
The Heisenberg Uncertainty principle states that we can't observe something without changing it.

No it doesn't.

Tommy Holland:
Stick a thermometer into a small vial of water to get its temperature, and the temperature of the thermometer will change the temperature of the water.

Not if the thermometer and water are at the same temperature.

Rho:
Yeah, actually the Heisenberg principle did occur to me.
It makes, hmmm, drawing strong, hard-and-fast conclusions about the concepts to which it applies pretty much impossible.

Feel free to explain how the HUP applies to evolution.

Malcolm said...

Challenge one - Evolution in action, no Lab etc. As has been noted your "challenge" is framed in such a way as to make it pretty much impossible to meet. If no lab is allowed, and every thing has to be 'natural' then obviously it wont be repeatable because you've denied the chance for the observers to control the conditions.

That said, there are some ways you can repeatedly observe evolution in action.
For example - try researching "speciation events" You'll find literally dozens of examples where observers have recorded changes in the genetic make up of populations where a sub group emerges with different genetic makeup from the original population, and which does not interbreed with the original population. Evolution in action.

Then you could do worse than read a little, (or a lot) about "ring species". Google/wikipedia the term with reference to salamanders and/or Greenish warblers and/or Gulls.

If you read and understand the literature you'll see that it shows several examples of a longer term speciation event actually happening. As evolution is a slow process it's not yet complete in these cases which what makes them so interesting and exciting. At least it does for people who are more concerned with knowledge and truth, than with framing arguments to score debating points and support a position that they already hold.

Interestingly since the original research was done on the warblers population growth, urbanisation and other changes in China may well mean that the ring has been broken - thus splitting the population in to two separate populations that overlap in some areas, but do not interbreed. That's pretty much a definition of separate species, though in this case the offspring might still be viable and fertile if individuals of the two groups could somehow be induced to mate.

With reference to your repeated references to "your side" and "my side" - let me be quick to point out that I have no preferred side in this debate. I look at the evidence and accept what it tells me. And every thing Ive seen and read convinces me that evolution is real, has happened and continues to happen. Whether the process that lead to evolution are purely natural and unguided, or subject to interference/control by some outside agency is another question. I would be quite happy, and even comforted, to accept that there is some such agent - if there was actually any evidence for it's existence. However there is not yet any such positive evidence. And claiming that "evolution is broken, therefore there must be a designer, (and we all know who HE is)" is not evidence.

NAL said...

Correction to my previous comment:

In thermodynamics, a standard mercury-in-glass thermometer must absorb some thermal energy to record a temperature, and therefore changes the temperature of the body which it is measuring.

Dr Funkenstein said...

#1

First of all, you failed to acknowledge the fact that the researcher is present in both control and experimental scenarios, so the only difference is the environmental variable (eg glucose vs citrate in the Lenski experiment). So how is intelligence guiding the outcome to a desired conclusion in one but not the other? This is quite important to your whole case.

Second, you say any time intelligence is present the experiment is guided - well, not really. The researcher has a hypothesis - there are no guarantees prior to actually conducting the experiment that it will turn out that way. The opposite of the expectation could occur, or absolutely nothing of note could occur. Generally speaking, any case of purposeful intelligent design has a desired outcome, and the design actutation process will guarantee this outcome (or close enough). For example, if a person intends to build a bike, they dont end up making a car by accident. However, the researcher has no control over (say) how bacteria respond to a reduction in glucose or the presence of citrate in its place.


#2

In any research publication, the following things are listed: the names of the researchers; the publication date; the methods used in the project; the rationale for doing the project. So in the case of every experiment we have the who, when, where, why and how. In fact, if you decided to take up a research career, you could even watch some of these people do it or learn the process yourself.

On the other hand, ID as practised by Dembski et al (when they arent talking to Christian groups that is) clearly states that we don't (or maybe even can't) know the who, when, where, why and how. There's no means of finding out, and noone seems to have ever witnessed the designer in action. Additionally,in known cases of design, once an improved general design is hit upon, it usually gets implemented wholesale and supplants the outdated one (eg computers, mobile phones, TVs etc etc). But for some reason the designer of ID decided against this, leaving 1000s of different flagellae, some of which are considerably less efficient than others - after all, you may get different models of cellphone, but you don't find anyone carrying one the size of a shoebox from the '80s any more. So what are we left with? Well the only designers that even remotely fit the bill are human beings. Since you've ruled that out anyway, and it would still leave us with the problems in #1. Other than that, we'd have to conclude we have no idea if anything in biology is designed or not.

On your other points:

1. The HUP I think states that you can measure either the position or the momentum of a subatomic particle, but not both at the same time.

2. As far as where boundaries exist, you and the Triablogue (amongst others) have gone to great lengths to hold Henry Gee's views up as the authority on paleontology - given that he says quite a few times that there aren't any objective boundaries between certain groups eg birds and reptiles, are we to assume you also trust his expertise on this?

If you're looking for arguments relating to genetics rather than fossils Ed Babinski did a post on this a while back on DC pointing out some of the problems for creationists who like to set where the boundaries are between groups - it's worth a read (and thankfully saves me the effort of having to type out an answer!).

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2008/09/creationist-admits-problem-chimpanzee.html

There was also one ages ago on Panda's Thumb pointing out similar problems with attemtping to define kinds that I will try and find for you if I can.

Also, do you know if there is any preview button on this new comments setup? I like to preview them before I submit so I can check for mistakes more easily.

Dr Funkenstein said...

Addition:

I meant to say at the end of #1:

You have to also wonder why, if the researcher is guiding an experiment, why in the case of the Lenski project they'd spend 20 years and 10s of 1000s of generations to get the adaptation rather than just guiding it there right away?

Dr Funkenstein said...

*sigh*

This new comments box seems pretty fiddly - i tried to make an 2nd post to add an addition to my previous post and it deleted what I'd written before. Hopefully I'm not accidentally spamming your combox with repeated posts here! ah well, I'll try again...

#1

The only point of mine you didn't acknowledge was regarding controls, and an answer to this is probably central to your entire case - intelligence is the same in both cases, but the environmental variable isn't. In cases where the experiments give different outcomes, how is intelligence rather than environment the key factor?

#2

You state researchers guide experiments - not really, since they can't guarantee any outcome. The experiment may fail, the opposite to the hypothesis may be observed, or absolutely nothing of note may happen. The researchers in these sorts of experiments have no control over whether (say) the bacteria respond to the selection pressure or not - there's every chance the bacteria will not respond in line with the hypothesis. This sounds like the opposite to ID which actively forces a specific outcome.

You have to also wonder why, if the researcher is guiding an experiment, in the case of an experiment such as the Lenski project they'd spend 20 years and 10s of 1000s of generations to get the adaptation rather than just guiding it there right away if ID is in action?

#3

In the case of any experiment, the following will be on the publication: names of researchers; methods; rationale behind why they did it; publication date; the location of the lab(s) it took place in.

On the other hand, ID states that we don't (and maybe even can't) know the where, when, how, why or who of design events. So yet another barrier to equating ID with lab experiments

#4

Some of your other points.

-I think the HUP means that you can measure the position or the momentum of a subatomic particle, but not both at the same time

-You again cite Gee in relation to fossils, and state a bird is a 'kind'. He clearly states on a few occasions that based on the fossil record it is impossible to objectively place a boundary line between birds and reptile-like animals based on the fossil record. Since you and the Triablogue amongst other seem to consider him the sole voice of authority on paleontology (never mind that he cautions against this very idea), are we to assume you will also be agreeing with his expertise in this instance?

-If you want an argument against biblical kinds based more around genetics rather than fossils, Ed babinski wrote a good piece on this on DC a while back (which thankfully saves me typing out an answer!) - for example he writes that some cats are more genetically disimilar to each other than humans are to chimps, as are rats and mice.

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2008/09/creationist-admits-problem-chimpanzee.html


Panda's Thumb also did something similar ages ago highlighting the problems the concept of 'kinds' runs into, which I will try to find for you.

Dr Funkenstein said...

Hi Rhology, thank you for clearing up the confusion with the disqus combox.

I have decided to respond to your challenge on increasing information in the genome with a small series of posts.

The first one is here

Rhology said...

Once again, I apologise to all for the comments screwup. I am pretty sure I got all the comments pasted in.


Malcolm said:

As has been noted your "challenge" is framed in such a way as to make it pretty much impossible to meet.

So maybe you should change your position. But NO, that's just impossible!
So you're damned if you don't and ID if you do. Bummer for you. I'm glad I don't hold to evolution.


If no lab is allowed, and every thing has to be 'natural' then obviously it wont be repeatable

Then it might be back to the drawing board. Since evolution is false, that would be the best thing that could happen to the biological sciences.


you've denied the chance for the observers to control the conditions.

No, the evolution position has defined that chance out of existence for itself. You're supposed to prove that evolution performed its work on an UNGUIDED basis, wanting to overturn the idea of any intelligent design, yet you guide all these experiments with intelligence. It's hilarious in its futility.


You'll find literally dozens of examples where observers have recorded changes in the genetic make up of populations where a sub group emerges with different genetic makeup from the original population, and which does not interbreed with the original population. Evolution in action.

I was more interested in a serious change from, say, a bird to a lizard. A dog bred into a different kind of dog is not the object of controversy.
Start with a banana and get a dog, now we're talking.


I would be quite happy, and even comforted, to accept that there is some such agent - if there was actually any evidence for it's existence.

As I've already explained, every single one of these experiments is evidence for Him. You can't make this thing fly w/o guiding it, but you want to tell me you have faith that it really did go that way all throughout geological history? Have your religion, fine, but I don't see any arguments here.


Dr Funk said:
the researcher is present in both control and experimental scenarios, so the only difference is the environmental variable

Wouldn't that simply mean that both of the groups are guided by intelligence and thus evidence for ID?


how is intelligence guiding the outcome to a desired conclusion in one but not the other?

I explained that in my post.
"3) No intelligent (ie, human) manipulation of the events.
4) With ALL normal environmental factors present. No control group, no outside interference from intelligent agents (ie, humans).
5) With ALL normal other factors present, such as predators, weather, fluctuations in prey, water, and other nourishment."


the researcher has no control over (say) how bacteria respond to a reduction in glucose or the presence of citrate in its place.

But I'm not asking about experiments on how bacteria respond to a reduction in glucose.
You're usually a careful sort - don't stumble where so many others do in thinking that ID=jettison all science.


if you decided to take up a research career

Haha, not smart enough! I leave that to friends and then ask them questions.
But I do have a fair enough idea how it's done.


ID as practised by Dembski et al (when they arent talking to Christian groups that is) clearly states that we don't (or maybe even can't) know the who, when, where, why and how.

True. I don't pretend to like everything about ID.
I'm just pointing out that, absent a good answer on these challenges, most of the experiments on "evolution" are actually evidence for ID.


Since you and the Triablogue amongst other seem to consider (Gee) the sole voice of authority on paleontology

Not the sole voice.
I read his book and it made a ton of sense.
I read Dawkins' "Selfish Gene" and SOME of it made sense, so I counted that as lessons learned. Other parts of it didn't...
I take these things on a case-by-case basis.


are we to assume you also trust his expertise on this?

For the sake of argument, why not?


genetics

Genetics as argument on this topic has never impressed me at all, but I appreciate the link.


in the case of an experiment such as the Lenski project they'd spend 20 years and 10s of 1000s of generations to get the adaptation rather than just guiding it there right away if ID is in action?

I'm not claiming that they're TRYING to furnish evidence for ID. I'm saying that, absent a good argument contra these challenges, they have inadvertently furnished just that, over and over.


Thanks for the link.
Trying to keep my head above water; hopefully I can respond in something like a timely manner.

Dr Funkenstein said...

Wouldn't that simply mean that both of the groups are guided by intelligence and thus evidence for ID?

I don't see how since the presence is controlled for in both scenarios - it's like saying with cultures if you put sugar in both treatment groups and citrate in only 1, that the sugar rather than the citrate is the important variable. The point of doing controls is to account for factors that are the same between the two groups, leaving only the experimental variable as the cause of any difference.

the other alternative is that the effects of intelligence are simply random and result in different outcomes in any given experiment, which doesn't really help the ID cause

I explained that in my post.
"3) No intelligent (ie, human) manipulation of the events.
4) With ALL normal environmental factors present. No control group, no outside interference from intelligent agents (ie, humans).
5) With ALL normal other factors present, such as predators, weather, fluctuations in prey, water, and other nourishment."



But I'm not asking about experiments on how bacteria respond to a reduction in glucose.
You're usually a careful sort - don't stumble where so many others do in thinking that ID=jettison all science.



I think you've mistaken my intention here - ID would posit that a system (eg blood clotting cascade) was designed in a specific manner with a specific goal in mind (ie blood clotting).

In all design processes we know, the designer usually draws up a plan of what he/she expects, then eventually implements it in a directed fashion to achieve that goal. If successful, whatever they design will look and operate roughly as planned.


However, the researcher can't guarantee any outcome or how that outcome will occur if it indeed does. It may be that there are 100 different ways for bacteria to adapt to use citrate as a carbon source. There may also only be 1, or even none at all. it may be that any adaptation affects another system as a result, or it may not.

eg it could be achieved by deletions, duplications, substitutions, (of single bases or large strings of bases etc)

It doesn't seem comparable to ID, where the whole process is very goal oriented and specific.

At best you could describe lab experiments as 'random design', which again doesn't fit with the ID outlook


On part (5),the reason for doing this initially is to isolate the variable responsible for the effect - I think physicists and engineers try and do a lot of similar things to ensure that the effect they are investigating is not just due to some unnacounted for variable. Afterwards, other variables can be gradually introduced back into the equation.

really things like culture experiments are an attempt to create a 'mini-biosphere' for the system under investigation.

In nature, on your view, from a purely logical perspective there must be changes in the genome - for example you describe birds as a kind,which originated from either a pair (or seven pairs I think it is for the birds on the Ark). There exists quite a huge variety of birds, so the initial bird 'kind' would probably have had to have had an enormous genome to give rise to all the variants we see today, and much of the genome would have had to go later somehow go missing in all the members of specific bird populations.

Haha, not smart enough! I leave that to friends and then ask them questions.

I wouldn't say that - I managed it after all! It's really not as highbrow as it all seems - I think quite a lot of people would be more than capable of doing it, but just choose not to - one of the main barriers I'd guess is probably simply the time that needs to be spent on acquiring the relevant background knowledge and going through the motions of learning techniques.

Sometimes the hardest parts are not the thinking involved, but the technical skill needed for some procedures (certain microsurgeries are a real hassle to do, for example) and maintaining concentration (really repetitive tasks such as filling up well plates for things like PCR reactions can be a nightmare - it is so easy to switch on to autopilot, then later realise you have no idea which well you just put which solution into!)

Trying to keep my head above water; hopefully I can respond in something like a timely manner.

Not a problem, obviously the holidays are here over the next few days, so I'm anticipating a bit of a wait for responses.

Rhology said...

I don't see how since the presence is controlled for in both scenarios - it's like saying with cultures if you put sugar in both treatment groups and citrate in only 1, that the sugar rather than the citrate is the important variable.

It's cultures, though.
This is not a wild, natural habitat.


The point of doing controls is to account for factors that are the same between the two groups, leaving only the experimental variable as the cause of any difference.

The cost is, apparently, injecting intelligence into the equation.
Look, I fully understand and even sympathise. The true position is that life was indeed designed by a Designer - God. It stands to reason that your very unbelieving experimentation would turn out to be backhanded evidence for His existence and handiwork.
No one said that being a naturalist was going to be easy or intellectually satisfying.


the other alternative is that the effects of intelligence are simply random

I don't see how, not random.
Besides, incomplete design can be and often is, well, incomplete and jumbly. Doesn't mean that intelligence wasn't involved.


In all design processes we know, the designer usually draws up a plan of what he/she expects, then eventually implements it in a directed fashion to achieve that goal.

Fair enough.


It doesn't seem comparable to ID, where the whole process is very goal oriented and specific.

Well, I think that's a bit of a misstatement.
Sure, an all-powerful Designer, God, has a directed and sure end in mind, but that doesn't necessarily mean that WE know what it is or can predict it.
But at any rate, out of the total set of possible configurations of atoms, the subset of configurations which yield living organisms is small indeed, and indeed exhibits a goal.


I think physicists and engineers try and do a lot of similar things to ensure that the effect they are investigating is not just due to some unnacounted for variable.

And those processes are intelligent. Appealing to how engineers do things is really not a good strategy for a Darwinian.


really things like culture experiments are an attempt to create a 'mini-biosphere' for the system under investigation.

1) Yes, an attempt.
2) Created by an intelligent agent.


There exists quite a huge variety of birds, so the initial bird 'kind' would probably have had to have had an enormous genome

I suppose that's possible, but I don't think it's all that relevant to the question at hand.


one of the main barriers I'd guess is probably simply the time that needs to be spent on acquiring the relevant background knowledge and going through the motions of learning techniques.

Yeah, I can see what you're saying.
All that book-larnin'.


certain microsurgeries are a real hassle to do

My hands are not nearly steady enough for that! I thank God for steady-handed people like the doc who did my Lasik.


it is so easy to switch on to autopilot, then later realise you have no idea which well you just put which solution into!

Haha, I hate to ask how many times that might have happened! *Sympathetic wincing*