As expected, the IDiots are gloating over the widespread media misrepresentation of human evolution based on a recent Nature paper [The Ileret Skulls: My Two Cents] [Man Bites Dog].
Over on Uncommon Descent, one of our favorite IDiots has jumped on the bandwagon [Paleoanthropologists bungle again…]. The sycophants that are allowed to post comments on that blog have raised the old issue about the presumed lack of transitional fossils. As usual, they demonstrate their lack of understanding of evolution although, in this case, they have lots of company in the media and even among some scientists.
One person has posted this video of Richard Dawkins being interviewed by Creationists. The sycophants are delighted because it supposedly shows Dawkins being stumped by the demand that he give an example of the increase in genetic information in the genome. They ignore the second part of the video where he explains why we don't see the kinds of transitional fossils that the Creationists demand.
Look at the first part of the video. This is a very famous incident and Dawkins has written about it several times, most notably in a lengthy article on Australian Skeptics [The Information Challenge]. The article also appears in A Devil's Chaplain. Here's how Dawkins describes the incident.
In September 1997, I allowed an Australian film crew into my house in Oxford without realising that their purpose was creationist propaganda. In the course of a suspiciously amateurish interview, they issued a truculent challenge to me to "give an example of a genetic mutation or an evolutionary process which can be seen to increase the information in the genome." It is the kind of question only a creationist would ask in that way, and it was at this point I tumbled to the fact that I had been duped into granting an interview to creationists - a thing I normally don't do, for good reasons. In my anger I refused to discuss the question further, and told them to stop the camera. However, I eventually withdrew my peremptory termination of the interview as a whole. This was solely because they pleaded with me that they had come all the way from Australia specifically in order to interview me. Even if this was a considerable exaggeration, it seemed, on reflection, ungenerous to tear up the legal release form and throw them out. I therefore relented.Now that I've provided the link, I'm certain all the IDiots over on Uncommon Descent will read the Dawkins article and learn how new information gets into the genome. That should be the end of this little episode, right?
My generosity was rewarded in a fashion that anyone familiar with fundamentalist tactics might have predicted. When I eventually saw the film a year later, I found that it had been edited to give the false impression that I was incapable of answering the question about information content. In fairness, this may not have been quite as intentionally deceitful as it sounds. You have to understand that these people really believe that their question cannot be answered! Pathetic as it sounds, their entire journey from Australia seems to have been a quest to film an evolutionist failing to answer it.
With hindsight - given that I had been suckered into admitting them into my house in the first place - it might have been wiser simply to answer the question. But I like to be understood whenever I open my mouth - I have a horror of blinding people with science - and this was not a question that could be answered in a soundbite. First you first have to explain the technical meaning of "information". Then the relevance to evolution, too, is complicated - not really difficult but it takes time. Rather than engage now in further recriminations and disputes about exactly what happened at the time of the interview (for, to be fair, I should say that the Australian producer's memory of events seems to differ from mine), I shall try to redress the matter now in constructive fashion by answering the original question, the "Information Challenge", at adequate length - the sort of length you can achieve in a proper article.