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Richard Carrier Addendaf

Bad Science, Worse Philosophy: the Quackery and Logic-Chopping of David Foster’s The Philosophical Scientists (2000)


Addendum F: Hemoglobin Protein Specificity

Richard Carrier


Foster claims originally that hemoglobin consists of 574 proteins and that all must be specific, but later retracts this by admitting that only 516 are invariant, the remainder being neutral or inessential. However, Fred Hoyle, who also makes a similar argument about the complexity of hemoglobin counting against evolution, makes a very different claim about this matter. In Our Place in the Cosmos: The Unfinished Revolution, he writes that “amino-acid changes (‘substitutions’) are permitted, but not for all positions in the chain: usually from about a third to a half of the amino acids are invariant” (p. 156). If Hoyle is correct (he demonstrates a far better command of the scientific facts than Foster), then no more than 287, and possibly as little as 191 of the proteins in hemoglobin need to be specific (Richard Dawkins in The Blind Watchmaker (1987, pp. 45, 49) supports a specificity of 190). This would greatly reduce the odds against it’s formation through natural selection.

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