Sunday, July 5, 2009

Discussion on evolution, part 2

I am starting this post because I felt the comments on the previous one were too bulky (I'll probably do this when this post gets past 200 comments). This post is a response to 28 consecutive comments, and will be of interest to no one else besides aintnuthin. The content is below the fold.
aintnuthin, did you just return to the JazzFanz as aintsheeit? If so, you should know the account has been banned for a) being an obvious duplicate account (whether of yours or someone else's) and b) profanity filter avoidance in the username.

One Brow said: "Nor am I aware of any serious theoretical problems with the Theory of Evolution."

Which begs the entire question, i.e., what is THE theory of evolution in your view? The hypothesis of common descent?

If you are aware of no serious theoretical problems, maybe it's because you pay little or no attention to the proliferation of inconsistent views generated by different evolutionary theorists
.

The inconsistent views are over the parts that people can't demonstrate and don't know how to test. It's all a great deal of fun, but not part of the Theory.

I get the feeling that for you, personally, THE theory is selected from items like a chinese menu. You take one from column A, one from B, one from C, etc., as each is most appealing to your personal tastes. The meal which is then served is, for you, THE dish served by that restaurant.

As long as "appealing to my tastes" is a metaphor for "having been validated by experiment", and "take one" is a metaphor for "accept every proved result", pretty much. I have no problem with a theory being messy.

I'm not sure how you get from "especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena," to your flat assertion that: "A theory is not really a theory until is has been confirmed."

Well, from "especially", I interpreted it to mean that the prototype of a theory is the one that has been confirmed (and by confirmed, as you should be aware by now, I do mean having generated predictions that have survived actual tests). The "especially", to me, said that this is when the usage is most appropriate, and that the word theory was somewhat less accurate if the predictions and verification had not been performed. Not to mention, he definition was not limited to scientific usage. Usually, scientists are more careful about calling something a theory that the general public. Do you disagree with the interpretations of either "especially" or "confirmed"?

Also, you seemed to bypass completely the difference between 1) as a theory for epistemological activities and 3) for formal systems. Did you feel my criticism of your use of 3) to apply to 1) was apt or off-base?

I don't agree with your conclusory assertion at all, and I don't see why you think the dictionary defintion you use supports it. Since it says "especially" ones which are widely accepted, etc., it implies that the definition is not limited to those in particular. If you are tryin to make some semantic hierarchial distinction between "hypotheses," "theories," and "laws," or sumthin OK, but I wasn't tryin to git that refined about it. To me a "hypothesis" is a theory because it is theoretical in it's basic nature, and can make testable predictions even if those predictions have yet to be tested. But if you are using a highly refined sense of the word "theory" we can go with that. Again, the question is what (which) hypotheses, of all those which have been offered over the years on the subject of evolution, is/are THE theory of evolution?

Many different hypotheses have been confirmed over the years in many different ways. They are all part of the Theory of Evolution, and I could write a book out of just listing the proved hypotheses and taking a paragraph or two to explain each one. Some of these hypotheses include descent with modification, the unity of life, the various mechanism involved, the adaptations of bacteria to various sorts of antibiotics, common descent, the pattern of geological radiation of populations, etc.

So, then, would you say that geocentricism, heliocentrism, and jupitercentrism are all equally compatible with the "Theory of planetary motion?" If they are "equally compatible" are they all the same theory, despite wildly different initial premises?

To my understanding, using either geocentrism or jupitercentrism would require massive inputs of energy into the system from sources unknown and unseen, to force the Sun to orbit these bodies under the Theory of Planetary Motion. So I would say that, to the degree that heliocentrism/jupitercentrism make predictions regarding why the Sun orbits the earth/Jupiter, its predictions fail, it is not compatible with the current theory.

Now, if you come up with a different example that does produce identical predictions, like various incarnations of string theory (according to my understanding), then I would say none of them are part of the theory, but all are compatible with it.

One Brow said: "It's an older book."

It's 21st century (2001 edition, accordin to Vallicella)
.

My error. I did not realize Mayr was alive for that long. However, since he was in his 90s when that book was written, it is understandable that it would not reflect the most modern understanding of evolutionary theory at the time of writing. In any case, strict genetic determinism is certainly older thinking.

If the new information contradicts a central claim of the pre-existing theory, does that contradiction automatically generate a brand new, widely accepted and thoroughly tested, theory, as you see it?

That's the first step in the process. You have to verify those observations, come up with new explanations for those observations, incorporate those explanations in a systemic way, and test the new system to get a revised theory.

One Brow said: "You think so? Perhaps you can quote a few texts penned within the last five years or so that agree?"

Well, Eric, why not ask for ones in the last 5 days? Those would be more likely to reflect THE theory of evolution, doncha figure?

How about quotes like this from a 1998 publication by the NAS entitled "Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science?"
:

You are defending a claim about textbooks by quoting book of under 150 pages?

"...selection can work only on the genetic variation that already is present in any new generation, and genetic variation occurs randomly, not in response to the needs of a population or organism." http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=5787&page=16

Note the breezy, strictly "a matter of fact," presentation of this claim. Note also that it purports to apply to any and all variation "present in any new generation.
"

When did "genetic variation" become "any and all variation"? When did evidence of non-random genetic variation (not regions where variation is more permitted, but the actual variation itself) appear?

This same publication approvingly cites another NAS publication which states that "Fossils found in rocks of increasing age attest to the interrelated lineage of living things, from the single-celled organisms that lived billions of years ago to Homo sapiens. The most recent fossils closely resemble the organisms alive today, whereas increasingly older fossils are progressively different, providing compelling evidence of change through time."

Note that this was in 1998, long after reputable scientists called attention to the fact that the fossil record essentially amounts to a disconfirmation of "interrelated lineage of living things," e. g.
"

The standard denailist tactics reappear. You're really better than this, on most topics most of the time. You don't even bother to try to show the quoted sentence is false, instead you bring in a range of quotes that have nothing to do with whether the sentence is true, with an apparent motive to cast doubt on fossil evidence generally.

1. "Species that were once thought to have turned into others have been found to overlap in time with these alleged descendants. In fact, the fossil record does not convincingly document a single transition from one species to another." (Stanley, S.M., The New Evolutionary Timetable: Fossils, Genes, and the Origin of Species, 1981, p. 95)

How does a lack of confirmation of a species-to-species translation equate to a disconfirmation of the interrelated lineage?

2. "The majority of major groups appear suddenly in the rocks, with virtually no evidence of transition from their ancestors." (Futuyma, D., Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution, 1983, p. 82)

How does the sudden appearance of some major groups equate to a disconfirmation of the interrelated lineage?

3. "In spite of these examples, it remains true, as every paleontologist knows, that most new species, genera, and families, and that nearly all new categories above the level of families, appear in the record suddenly and are not led up to by known, gradual, completely continuous transitional sequences." (Simpson, George Gaylord, The Major Features of Evolution, 1953, p. 360)

How does a lack of completeness in transitional sequences equate to a disconfirmation of the interrelated lineage?

4. The principle problem is morphological stasis. A theory is only as good as its predictions, and conventional neo-Darwinism, which claims to be a comprehensive explanation of evolutionary process, has failed to predict the widespread long-term morphological stasis now recognized as one of the most striking aspects of the fossil record." (Williamson, Peter G., "Morphological Stasis and Developmental Constraint: Real Problems for Neo-Darwinism," Nature, Vol. 294, 19 November 1981, p. 214)

How does morphological stasis equate to a disconfirmation of the interrelated lineage?

5. "But fossil species remain unchanged throughout most of their history and the record fails to contain a single example of a significant transition." (Woodroff, D.S., Science, vol. 208, 1980, p. 716)

How does a lack species-level translations equate to a disconfirmation of the interrelated lineage?

6. Darwin himself, ...prophesied that future generations of paleontologists would fill in these gaps by diligent search ...One hundred and twenty years of paleontological research later, it has become abundantly clear that the fossil record will not confirm this part of Darwin's predictions. Nor is the problem a miserably poor record. The fossil record simply shows that this prediction is wrong. ...The observation that species are amazingly conservative and static entities throughout long periods of time has all the qualities of the emperor's new clothes: everyone knew it but preferred to ignore it. Paleontologists, faced with a recalcitrant record obstinately refusing to yield Darwin's predicted pattern, simply looked the other way." (Eldredge, N. and Tattersall, I., The Myths of Human Evolution, 1982, p. 45-46)

Actually, thousands of gaps were filled in. Eldredge is making an observation for punctuated equilibrium, not against the interrelated lineage.

A few more, just for good measure, eh? These relate mainly to your recurring claim that we should expect the fossil record to be incomplete:

1. "One of the most surprising negative results of paleontological research in the last century is that such transitional forms seem to be inordinately scarce. In Darwin's time this could perhaps be ascribed with some justification to the incompleteness of the paleontological record and to lack of knowledge, but with the enormous number of fossil species which have been discovered since then, other causes must be found for the almost complete absence of transitional forms." (Brouwer, A., "General Paleontology," [1959], Transl. Kaye R.H., Oliver & Boyd: Edinburgh & London, 1967, p. 162-163
)

Other causes have been discussed and explored.

2.There is no need to apologize any longer for the poverty of the fossil record. In some ways it has become almost unmanageably rich, and discovery is out-pacing integration. The fossil record nevertheless continues to be composed mainly of gaps." (Neville, George, T., "Fossils in Evolutionary Perspective," Science Progress, vol. 48 January 1960, p. 1-3)

To be even close to complete, we would need some 100 complete vertebrate fossils for each vertebrate species (not to mention all the other types of living things).

3. "A persistent problem in evolutionary biology has been the absence of intermediate forms in the fossil record. Long term gradual transformations of single lineages are rare and generally involve simple size increase or trivial phenotypic effects. Typically, the record consists of successive ancestor-descendant lineages, morphologically invariant through time and unconnected by intermediates." (Williamson, P.G., Palaeontological Documentation of Speciation in Cenozoic )

Again a reference to the lack of species-level changes.

4. "In any case, no real evolutionist, whether gradualist or punctuationist, uses the fossil record as evidence in favour of the theory of evolution as opposed to special creation." (Ridley, Mark, "Who doubts evolution?" "New Scientist", vol. 90, 25 June 1981, p. 831)

Obviously wrong. Many evolutionists make such a claim. It makes me wonder what he was really trying to say.

"We have long known about stasis and abrupt appearance, but have chosen to fob it off upon an imperfect fossil record." (Gould, Stephen J., "The Paradox of the First Tier: An Agenda for Paleobiology," Paleobiology, 1985, p. 7)

Like, whooda thunk, I ax ya!?
)

*Yawn*. I am still waiting for some quote that addresses the interrelated lineage that fossils make evident.

With respect to the education about evolution of high school students, T. Ryan Gregory says:

...

Of course, it is these very "college graduates" (Alters) and biology majors with at least two years of undergraduate education (Gregory) who go on to teach the next generation of high school students, eh?


In schools with a reasonably large student base (let's say 800 students), the preference has been (in my experience) to hire biology teachers who took a full secondary biology education curriculum, which would have included a handful of upper-level courses. I think it would be much better if every single biology teacher had this background, but it's not always possible.

I don't see what this has to do with the content of textbooks on the subject.

Gould, after complaining about concessions to creationists in high school texts, go on to complain about a more serious problem:

This is from an essay that is pre-Edwards, referring to a 1983 textbook and the pre-Edwards texts generally.

According to that article: "The books critiqued are limited to 1991 editions of Biology I textbooks adopted by the state of Texas as listed under References.

Well, I sure hope no one is using that text anymore.

One Brow said: "By the way, I still have not heard an epistemological reason to call these variations non-random. When all of the experiments conducted show distribution's that are indistinguishable from being random, and there are no known mechanism for making the distribution non-random, then random is the only epistemological interpretation."

1. Your reference is to "these variations," whereas as my post was addressed to the source of variation (without limiting the question to a specific range of variation, such as "those which occur on the 3rd Sunday in each new millenium," or sumthin.


Variations can come from any number of sources, and I am not aware of sources that are inherently non-random within themselves. They are random with respect to the needs of the organism, as far as anyone can tell.

2. The literature is rife with examples which suggest that some variation is highly correlated to the needs of the organism with respect to, and are apparently generated by "interaction with," the environment. One such example I recall is of a certain type of insect that has several typical predators, one of which is the dragonfly. If dragonflies are present while the larva is still developing, the larva will be born with a certain color (say green) which makes it more likely to escape detection by dragonflies. If not, it will be born a different color, which provides more natural defense against other common predators.

So, if you don't feed a human food that has Vitamin C, they get scurvy? How does change the notion of random variation?

One Brow said: "When all of the experiments conducted show distributions that are indistinguishable from being random...

To begin with, I would interested in knowin how you came to be familiar with "all the experiments conducted," and just what the nature and methods of all experiments were.


You have mentioned yourself the work of James A. Shapiro, for example, wherein the mutations themselves seem to be randomly distributed within the high-mutation regions. I certainly don't claim to have read every paper on the subject. I'll happily revise my opinion when you provide a counter-example.

But let's leave that to the side. Randon mutation of DNA plays a central explicatory role in prevailing evolutionary theory, because it, and it alone, supposedly provides the "variation" which leads to hundreds of species (genera, phylum, or whatever) disversifying into thousands of species which diversify into millions of species, etc. But, as just noted, the fossil record does not seem to support such a notion, with long-term stasis of phenotype, rather than constant, continuous gradual changes to same, being what is found in the fossil record, and abrupt, rather than transitional, changes being the overwhelming norm.

That would be genetic variation, not all variation, and why is random genetic variation incompossible with long-term morphological stability?

The first answer, presumably from a "scientist," flatly states that: "The fact that chimpanzees and humans have different numbers of chromosomes immediately causes a reproductive barrier and would be an immediate speciation event."

Scientist or not, that's just wrong. Even today we can find humans with broken chromosomes (so they technically have more than 46), fused chromosomes, or a combination of the two, who mate and can pass this condition on their descendants

An "immediate speciation event," eh? How so, if the "speciation event occurred long before? And how, I wonder, would such a rare chromosome split thereafter become, by the process of natural selection, the ONLY type of chromosome structure found in humans?

Populationgenetics models do account for the occasional split/fusion becoming dominant and even exclusive over time, if it is one among many such events.

One last comment on the foregoing website. It is apparently a government-sponsered one for "K-12 educators," designed in part to provide answers to high school students. It identifies itself as follows: "NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators.
Argonne National Laboratory, Division of Educational Programs, Harold Myron, Ph.D., Division Director."

It appears that the answer a high school student gets to such questions is highly dependent on the "educator" who responds.


If you have recommendations for improving the quality of educators in high school science, that would be great to try to put into action, but seems to be off-topic here.

Eric, I kinda been waitin for you to go wild with a "quote-mining" charge, ya know?

Let's talk about "quote-mining" and the allegations thereof, for a second, whaddaya say?
...

This quote does not represent any purported "refutation" of Ridley's point, it IS Ridley's point (about use of the fossil record)
.

Since Ridley's point is that there are better reasons to accept evolution than the fossil record, it would be a legitimate use to quote him in the context of the appropriateness of fossils, and not legitimate to quote him in a effort to claim special creation is better supported. So, anointed-one.net would still be quote-mining.

It's seems that the allegations of "quote-mining" often rely on the imputation of disingenous attempts to "imply" sumthin which "attempts" are created, whole cloth, by the accuser in order to create a strawman through which he can level at unwarranted and unsubstantiated charge of dishonesty.

It is dishonest to take criticisms of certain types of evolution, or quotes that bemoan the lack of a particular types of fossil, and portray them as general proclamations against fossil evidence generally.

Here the author of the quote-mining entry claims that the quote has been used in an attempt to "discredit evolution." Where does the evidence of that "attempt" come from? Ridley is sayin the fossil record aint where it's at if one wants to argue for evolution, and that's all he bein quoted as sayin. What's the problem?

Quoting Ridley without the caveat Ridley added makes unwary readers think Ridley's issue is with evolution generally, and not fossils specifically, and this is the sort of error quote-miners rely upon.

Mebbe we can quit beatin round the bush here, a little, eh, Eric? An article I cited above summarizes some views of Yale biologist Keith Thomson as follows:.

I can always rely on you to pull out anti-evolution denialists, such as ARN, from far and wide. I see no reason to treat this as being an accurate summary.

"[Thomson] indicates three commonly employed meanings of evolution:

1. Change over time
2. Relationships of organisms by descent through common ancestry
3. A particular explanatory mechanism for the pattern and process of (1.) and (2.), such as natural selection
.

Red flag: a biologist who says "evolution" means the same thing as "a mechanism of evolution"? Or, is the biologist critiquing some other work? Are you presenting a fourth-hand account (your quote of a summary of a critique of an original text), with a link to the third-hand account??

Thomson notes that factual patterns of change over time, particularly as seen in the fossil record, can be studied in the absence of theories of how these patterns came to be.

Didn't you just provide several quotes about how there were no factual patterns of change over time? No particular fossil changes, so there is no "factual change". However, the summarizer (which is quite possibly not an accurate reflection of Thomson) is willing to accept a certain amount of evolution (often described as "within kinds"), and so describes this amount of change as "factual".

Thomson also emphasizes that the second meaning, descent through common ancestry, is a hypothesis, not a fact, and that it is derived from the twin premises that life arose only once on Earth and that all life proceeds from preexisting life.

Actually, common descent is perfectly compatible with multiple origins of life, but Thomson may not have been familiar with the work of Woese, and once life becomes omnipresent on earth, there is no place for life to develop de novo. Also, descent through common ancestry as passed the hypothesis stage decades ago, it is now certainly theory. Either Thomson was speaking over a century ago, or this is editorializing on the part of the summarizer.

Cladistic analysis, championed currently by a number of biologists, has sought to eva1uate relationships among organisms without regard to the twin premises cited above. In regard to the third meaning, a particular explanatory mechanism, there are currently many alternative hypotheses. Darwin insisted that changes had to be small and gradual. However, Gould and his associates (1980) have proposed static intervals (stasis), followed by periods of rapid change (punctuated equilibrium).

You would think Thomson would be aware that the the changes in punctuated equilibrium are small and gradual, except when compared to neo-Darwinism.

The authors then state that:

Is this supposed to be Thomson, or the posters on ARN?

The biology texts, in general, do a poor job of distinguishing between these three different meanings of evolution. They generally fail to note that it is possible to accept the factual evidence for change over time, while having a more restricted view of descent through common ancestry. For example, to speak of ancestral descent in regard to the relationship of an ancestral horse to a modern horse would be a very restricted use when compared to the relationship of an ancestral one-celled organism to a modern mammal. Likewise, accepting the factual evidence for change over time does not require the acceptance of a particular explanatory mechanism for these changes.

It is possible to accept every part of the water cycle, except that you believe evaporation water is being skimmed by angels, and rain is caused by God, with no connection between the various molecules involved. After all, the water cycle is only a theory. Just because a position is possible does not make that position reasonable nor scientific.

On another level, many scientists prefer to differentiate between microevolution and macroevolution: the former being the relatively small changes noted in the diversification of species, and the latter being the changes required in the development of new phyla, or possibly of new orders or classes. The term macroevolution has also been used in regard to development of new functions, such as vision or hearing..

Mostly, this terminology is preferred by anti-evolutionary scientists or by people responding to them.

Many proponents of Darwinian natural selection have argued that processes demonstrated for microevolution may be extrapolated to account for macroevolution as well. When this type of extrapolation is used in an attempt to validate a theory, we have moved beyond the reasonable bounds of science. Scientifically, we should simply state that at present, there is no satisfactory scientific explanation for macroevolutionary events. Those explanations that have been presented lie in the realm of philosophy.".

Gosh, an anti-evolutionist thinks we should state there is no scientifically supported explanation? Que surprise!

These observations strike me as sound. (1) is a simple fact, (2) is a hypothesis, one which entails certain (unproven) assumptions, and only with (3) do we enter into the realm of "theory.".

Except, (1), which is a fact and a theory, is supported by the exact same evidence as (2), which is also a fact and a theory, and (3) seems like wither a confusion or a distortion.

Of course not all which parades as "theory" is actually scientific in nature. The attempt to "validate" by projected extrapolation, rather than empirical evidence, is not, in itself, a "scientific" form of validation. It may be part of the theory, which I claim is independent from empirical validation, but it is not any kind of "evidence.".

Duh. It is the verification of the extrapolation that either raises the hypothesis to the level of theory of sweeps it to the dustbin of science.

Do you have any major disagreement with Thomson's summary? Are you using the term "theory" in the same sense Thomson does, or are you perhaps calling (1) and/or (2) THE theory?.

I would not presume to agree or disagree with Thomson based upon a quote of a summary of Thomson.

With regard to the issue of how much ideology is an inherent part of "evolutionary theory," I found the following report interesting. I am taking it as accurate:

"...in 1995 the NABT issued the following statement: ... On the last day of the October 8-11, 1997 annual NABT meeting, the board met again and voted to remove the two objectionable words, "unsupervised" and "impersonal"...
.

Good to know it was removed. The words don't belong in government-run schools.

But most prominent evolutionary biologists do not see the blind watchmaker thesis (as defined above) as an optional ideological add-on to neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. Rather, they see it as a central part of the propositional content of neo-Darwinian theory, as indeed Darwin himself did. .

Perhaps they just have not sufficiently considered the difference between their ontological and epistemological equivalents.

Is their a side on this matter which you agree with, Eric? Should the two words have remained? Is Pigliucci right that "NABT’s two-word alteration to the definition of evolution betrays the core...?".

While I think those words are accurate, I think you can find better ways to describe the concepts that only refer to epistemological concepts, possibly replacing "unsupervised" with "without apparent direction" and "impersonal" with "with no detectable outside influence".

Does it imply anything to you about how high school biology teachers may generally approach the teaching of evolution ...

Since some biology teachers are young-earth creationists, I don't draw any general conclusions from the statement of the NABT.

It seems that the website with Pigliucci's "open letter" to the National Association of Biology Teachers is no longer functional. A few excerpts appear here, though: .

Thiswould be the plea the NABT decided to reject?

Eric, you often suggest that you believe most, if not all, opposition to neo-darwinism is motivated by religious motivations. At the same time, you deny that "scientists" (with the exception of a few, like Dawkins) have any ideological agenda..

Since neo-Darwinism is dead, and was opposed by many scientists even when it was thought to be viable, this is plainly false, and seems worded to again attempt to intertwine neo-Darwinism with modern evolutionary theory.

I think this letter (apparently signed by a number of high profile "scientists")and the position of the high school biology teachers
indicates otherwise. While they may confess that naturalistic fundamentalism is "philosophy," that doesn't temper their certainty that is is ontologoically correct in the least.
.

Most philosophers, and most people, accept some unproven ontological truths as correct.

I have come to view both theism and atheism as equally "religious" doctrines. What's ironic about it is that the atheists come out looking worse than those they oppose in this view. This look like total hypocrites with little or insight or thoughtfulness because they deny their religious faith, and accuse their opponents of being "soft-minded" and "stupid" for openly admitting their religious faith..

Some forms of atheism make no ontological claim and require no faith, other forms do. Either way, they don't fit the term "religion". It is true there are fuzzy-headed atheists,both of the type that make no claims and of the type that do.

I did find the contents of Pigliucci's open letter after lookin a little more:.

I see no reason to care.

I am still unable to give meaning to your dual assertions that (1) Life could have independently arisen on earth a million times without in any way contradicting premise 1 from above, .

I feel it is unfortunate that, after all your efforts to quote Woese, et. al., you still retain this blind spot.

and (2) that anyone who even questions the the "factual" status of the doctrine of common descent is a "denialist.".

Denialism is a matter of tactics, not topic. Not everyone who questions common descent is a denialist (I used to question common descent, but I never used the tactics of denialism to do so, and changed my opinion after a careful examination of the evidence).

According to the NEScent website, this "workshop for educators" is "designed to provide an overview of key evolutionary concepts and explore cutting-edge topics in evolutionary biology for instructors at the high school and introductory college level."

http://www.nescent.org/eog/eognews.php?id=92

Cuttin edge, eh!? Sounds interestin, sho nuff! Like what, I wonder?
.

I'm not going to go through the various topics individually, because I think you are missing the point. It's not about cutting-edge topics in biology, for the most part they don't even belong in introductory biology courses. It's about cutting-edge topics in biology education. I've been to math seminars that discussed cutting-edge ideas in mathematics. I assure, it was not the mathematics that was novel.

Arlin Stoltz, a research biologist in working in the CAMEL (Computational and Analyitical Molecular Evolution) lab at CARB (Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology)

Is this supposed to be Arlin Stolzfus?

does a good job of articulating some of my general thoughts about both theory and the neo-darwinistic axiom of random mutation as the source of genetic variation, eh, Eric?

With respect to theory, he says, for example:

"Sometimes one hears the claim that, in science, "theory" refers to hypotheses that have been repeatedly confirmed and that are widely accepted by the scientific community, but (not to put too fine a point on it) this is a ridiculous position. One only hears of this interpretation of "theory" in discussions of evolution,


Actually, I've read a couple of similar discussion about string theory. Stolzfus seems to be ignorant of the general dispute on what is a theory.

Elsewhere he claims, with respect to the importance of variation to any evolutionary theory, that:

...

"Contempory discord" with "competing views," eh?


This is inevitable in science.

A "yet to be named" new view which abandons neo-darwinistic assumptions and acknowledges "non-randomness in evolution," eh?

Highly unlikely. For one thing, non-randomness was an essential component of many of the mechanisms in neo-Darwinism.

Is this now THE Theory of Evoluton, I wonder? If so, I wonder when they will tell the high school teachers, ya know?

Pretty much the same thing as always.

231 comments:

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Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "How does a lack of confirmation of a species-to-species translation equate to a disconfirmation of the interrelated lineage?"

*yawn* How does anything you could ever say, do, think about, or demonstrate, "disconfirm" my contention that there are three blind mice living inside a basketball on a planet a billion billion billion billion billion light years from here? It can't.

A lack of confirmation is not a "disconfirmation" that obvious, but so what? If you can't even see how a lack of species to species "translation" could shed any light or doubt on the assumption of the common descent off all living things from a single ancestor, then there is certainly no hope of any intelligent discussion here, eh, Eric? As usual, you take the position that whatever you choose to believe, on faith, has been positively proven, or is at least so "obvious" that any doubt about it is "denialism" and the entire burden is on those who disagree with you to prove your assertions wrong. A very easy and comfortable position to take, even if it is totally unreasonable.

One Brow said...

*yawn* How does anything you could ever say, do, think about, or demonstrate, "disconfirm" my contention that there are three blind mice living inside a basketball on a planet a billion billion billion billion billion light years from here? It can't.

If we are ever able to search the spere that is a billion billion billion billion billion light years from here for planets that have basketballs, we can test your assertion then. Until then, the ability not to be tested redenders teh assertion without value.

By contrast, evolutionary theory is tested all the time, and dozens of papaers showing the results of these tests get published every year.

A lack of confirmation is not a "disconfirmation" that obvious, but so what? If you can't even see how a lack of species to species "translation" could shed any light or doubt on the assumption of the common descent off all living things from a single ancestor, then there is certainly no hope of any intelligent discussion here, eh, Eric?

The quote offered, should you care to go back and look it up, referred to fossils ilustrating the interrelated lineage of life. Your response was to bring out a series of things that fossils didn't illustrate, in some cases could not illustrate in principle. It was like watching an attorney, on being told that a pice of hair or dab of semen came from person A, start asking the DNA technician what that meant with regard to the motive of person A, the relationship person A had with person B, or the meal person A had teh night before. DNA does not offer than kind of evidence.

In principle, a fossils can never provide evidence of speacies-to-species translation. The first reason is because the whole concept of species is fuzzy. The second is because if you really do have the one species that immediately succeeded a second, they would often be so identical that would assign them to the same species anyway. The third is that the exstence of two very similar skeletal fossils is not proof the animals were close in ancestry, they could be family members who have evolved separtely under similar conditions, and thier last comman ancestors could be tens of millions of years prior.

However, we don't lack for proof that two species can come from a single species, or that a descendent can change so much over generations it would not longer be able to breed with its ancestor. It's just not fossil proof.

As usual, you take the position that whatever you choose to believe, on faith, has been positively proven, or is at least so "obvious" that any doubt about it is "denialism" and the entire burden is on those who disagree with you to prove your assertions wrong. A very easy and comfortable position to take, even if it is totally unreasonable.

Horse hockey. I keep a firm line between my unsupported beliefs and my beliefs that stem from accepting evidence.

Unsupported beiefs:
I am married to the most beautiful woman in the world.
God does not exist.
Minimal instruction, followed by individual attention to students working on problems, is more effective than doing multiple sample problems.

Beliefs that come from looking at the evidence:
Common descent is true.
I have more children wtih developmental disabilities than I have children who are typical.
I need to get about seven hours of sleep a night.

It's a shame that someone as bright as you feels the need to oppose common descent, and uses questionable tactics in so doing. However, as long as you rely on the arguments of ARN, the Discovery Institute, and various creationist sites, you will be participating in their dishonesty. Your refusal to accept common descent or to see their dishonesty for what it is does not make my acceptance unreasonable.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "It's a shame that someone as bright as you feels the need to oppose common descent, and uses questionable tactics in so doing. However, as long as you rely on the arguments of ARN, the Discovery Institute, and various creationist sites, you will be participating in their dishonesty. Your refusal to accept common descent or to see their dishonesty for what it is does not make my acceptance unreasonable."

You still don't get it, eh, Eric? I don't "oppose" common descent, I merely note that it is an assumption, one that is not proven and cannot be. Long ago I went through the hobson's choice one encounters with the thesis: (1) contradict the basic premise with the conclusion (not all life comes from pre-existing life) or (2) posit that life has always existed.

You still seem to think that if someone you dislike, the discovery institute, for example, re-publishes a scholarly article the article itself, not to even mention the author, is tainted beyond rehabilitation. Arguments stand or fall on their own merit, not by virtue of who utters (or repeats) them. Surely you know that. Whether you realize it or not, much of what you say on the topic of evolution smacks of partisan rhetoric and thought patterns, founded upon emotional conviction as to the evilness and stupidity of your perceived rivals and enemies and the unquestioned righteousness of your own worthy "cause."

One Brow said...

You still don't get it, eh, Eric? I don't "oppose" common descent, I merely note that it is an assumption, one that is not proven and cannot be.

Right, just like heliocentrism can not be proven. After all, you can't disprove some unknown energy souce forcing the sun to circle the earth. You also can't disprove a whole bunch of monkeys popping in out of nowhere.

However, the explanation that the earth orbits the sun fits the known facts, has allowed us to make successful predictions about unknown events, and doesn't require a mysterious energy source. Common descent fits the known facts, has allowed us to make successful predictions, and doesn't require animals popping in out of nowhere. It is probably better established and better evidenced than the earth circling the sun.

Long ago I went through the hobson's choice one encounters with the thesis: (1) contradict the basic premise with the conclusion (not all life comes from pre-existing life) or (2) posit that life has always existed.

Did you miss the one about "life is not a yes/no property, but one that can be acquired gradually through a series of events"?

You still seem to think that if someone you dislike, the discovery institute, for example, re-publishes a scholarly article the article itself, not to even mention the author, is tainted beyond rehabilitation.

No, I think that that the reasons the Discovery Institute published or prints anything is with their one specific goal in mind: discredit evolutionary theory. I think that everything else that comes from them is subsevient to that goal, and every piece of evidence will be re-interpreted in that light. I don't believe authors are tainted because they are printed by the DI, or even because they work for the DI, primarily because 1) the DI is a more than the ID wing, and 2) I don't trust the DI to honestly quote an author anyhow, so how canitbethe author's fault if the DI misuses his work? At worst, the author was naive.

By the way, I don't know anyone at the DI, and for all I know they are a fine group of fellows. I even think most of them are honest within their own framework, and that it is the framework which requires the denialism they so regularly gush out.

Arguments stand or fall on their own merit, not by virtue of who utters (or repeats) them. Surely you know that. Whether you realize it or not, much of what you say on the topic of evolution smacks of partisan rhetoric and thought patterns, founded upon emotional conviction as to the evilness and stupidity of your perceived rivals and enemies and the unquestioned righteousness of your own worthy "cause."

Well, I'll try to keep that in check.

Anonymous said...

The presumption of common descent posits that life can develop "ex nihilo," and adds that it has done so only once. If if can happen once, why not twice? Why not three times?

There are many ways to presuppose that many forms of life are "inter-related" without assuming "descent" and some of those other ways (as posited by Woese, Margulis, et al, for example) strike me as much more plausible than Darwin's notion of a universal common ancestor. If you are hooked on the "tree of life" concept, with one root and millions of branches, help yourself. But to continually insist that it is a virtual "fact" seems presumptuous. If you want to equivocate and compromise on the topic, do that, just quit calling your chinese menu approach "common descent" would be my suggestion. In any case, it is hardly "denialism" to take a different view than the one you seem to think is virtually indisputable, eh, Eric?

Btw, you were just as adamant as the naive PBS video I posted a while back that it is "known for sure," on the basis of the fossil record, that whales evolved from some hyena (or whatever it was). Why do you now say the fossil record can't address such questions, I wonder?

You often strike me as attempting to walk on both sides of the fence.

One Brow said...

The presumption of common descent posits that life can develop "ex nihilo," and adds that it has done so only once. If if can happen once, why not twice? Why not three times?

There are many ways to presuppose that many forms of life are "inter-related" without assuming "descent" and some of those other ways (as posited by Woese, Margulis, et al, for example) strike me as much more plausible than Darwin's notion of a universal common ancestor
.

As I have told you before, the work of Margulis, Woese, et. al. are not in opposition to the notion of common descent, they expand on the concept. "Common descent" =/= "universal common ancestor". You seem to be the one that has had trouble with the comment "if life started a million times separately, then all living things seem to be the descendants of all those million separate beginnings, and thus common descent is still true".

If you are hooked on the "tree of life" concept, with one root and millions of branches, help yourself.

I agree the net seems to be a much better analogy for common descent.

But to continually insist that it is a virtual "fact" seems presumptuous. If you want to equivocate and compromise on the topic, do that, just quit calling your chinese menu approach "common descent" would be my suggestion. In any case, it is hardly "denialism" to take a different view than the one you seem to think is virtually indisputable, eh, Eric?

It's a classic denialism tactic to claim an argument is mine when I have repeatedly stated it is not my current view.

Btw, you were just as adamant as the naive PBS video I posted a while back that it is "known for sure," on the basis of the fossil record, that whales evolved from some hyena (or whatever it was). Why do you now say the fossil record can't address such questions, I wonder?

I said the fossil record can't address such questions strictly on its own merits. That does not mean the fossil evidence has no useful input to the direction evolution has taken for various orders of animals.

You often strike me as attempting to walk on both sides of the fence.?

When side A is insisting on "yes" or "no" answers, and side B is answering "in certain ways, yes, in other ways no", A often feels B is trying to have it both ways.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "You seem to be the one that has had trouble with the comment "if life started a million times separately, then all living things seem to be the descendants of all those million separate beginnings, and thus common descent is still true".


Heh, still true, eh? Not in the sense Darwin meant it, nor any other evolutionist who I've heard use the term. The creationists would love this view of "common descent," no doubt. All rabbits came from rabbits, all whales came from whales, all humans came from humans, etc., each of which had "independent beginnings."

Is that all you've meant when you have insisted all this time that common descent is a "fact?" I thought we had already discussed this view. Where's the commonality? Descent, sure, but "common" descent?

I don't think so. Homey don't play dat. I can't believe we've discussed this concept all this time with you having your own, unrevealed, *special* definition of common descent.

Anonymous said...

Nobody, and I do mean nobody sane, whatever their religious or scientific views, would dispute that life comes from life and that all the organisms we see appear to have ancestors (although not all reproduction is sexual).

What in the world does this have to do with "evolution?" I recall you commenting that Sagin and Lewontin, when presenting the "proven" status of evolution, were probably only talking about "common desecent." Again, as you have defined it just now, what in the hell does "common descent" have to do with evolution?

I am absolutely flabbergasted that your idiosyncratic definition of "common descent," which is, by all common meanings, an oxymoron and a contradiction in terms, is something you think other people must mean when using the phrase. Amazing...once again I find that, due to your unique subjective definitions, we have never even been discussing the same thing.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "aintnuthin, did you just return to the JazzFanz as aintsheeit? If so, you should know the account has been banned for a) being an obvious duplicate account (whether of yours or someone else's) and b) profanity filter avoidance in the username."

My identity was made quite clear when I registered the handle, eh, Eric? I didn't have two accounts, neither.

I'm not sure every moderator has the same understanding of "duplicate accounts" as Jason does. I got a message from a mod sayin I would be banned if I didn't suggest a new username to him. I suggested "aintnothang," or, in the alternative, aintnuthin.

The admin apparently changed my handle to aintnuthin and when I tried to log in I was unable because my "username" had been banned. I sent an email asking if the problem was with the username, or just with me, but, as usual, I got no reply.

Jason has suggested on Jazzfanatic's blog that bans are only for 6 months. I don't know what the policy is, but again, I made no attempt to hide or disguise my true identity when I registered (and that was months ago, I just never logged in).

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "...selection can work only on the genetic variation that already is present in any new generation, and genetic variation occurs randomly, not in response to the needs of a population or organism."

When did "genetic variation" become "any and all variation"?
====
I got that from the quote itself, caincha see? Selection could surely "work on" any kinda of variation. So the quote implies there is no other kind of variation. It could also "work on" variaton which was non-random, but the quotes says no such type of variation exists.

You want to make fine distinctions between "genetic" variation and other variation. So-called "epigenetic" variation could, in my opinion, be called "genetic variation." It all depends on arbitrary definitions. But the substance of the issue goes far beyond definitions.

As I have said many times in this thread, the Modern Synthetic theory (neo-darwinism), which is still the predominant "theory of evolution" in this country, incorporates two fundamental presumptions that are dubious:

1. All "genetic" (within this theory "genetic" means DNA coding) variation is random, and
2. DNA is the (one and only) strict determinate of all subsequent phenotypical traits displayed by every organism.

The psychological need and desire for a fully mechanistic and materialistic "explanation" of "change over time," has been very strong since Darwin's time, with Newton's mechanics having set the "gold standard" for scientific theories in Darwin's time. Physics long ago found this paradigm to be inadequate and misleading, but evolutionists have clung to it throughout the 20th century, and the majority still do.

One Brow said...

One Brow said: "You seem to be the one that has had trouble with the comment "if life started a million times separately, then all living things seem to be the descendants of all those million separate beginnings, and thus common descent is still true".

Heh, still true, eh? Not in the sense Darwin meant it, nor any other evolutionist who I've heard use the term. The creationists would love this view of "common descent," no doubt. All rabbits came from rabbits, all whales came from whales, all humans came from humans, etc., each of which had "independent beginnings.
"

You really thought that is what I meant, even after we had this discussion before? YOur memory is usually not that bad.

However, I will rephrase: You seem to be the one that has had trouble with the comment "if life started a million times separately, then each living thing seems to be the descendant of all those million separate beginnings, and thus common descent is still true".

One Brow said...

My identity was made quite clear when I registered the handle, eh, Eric? I didn't have two accounts, neither.

Made clear to whom? You didn't announce yourself as the same, and a lot of people thought it was some regular imitating you.

Jason has suggested on Jazzfanatic's blog that bans are only for 6 months. I don't know what the policy is, but again, I made no attempt to hide or disguise my true identity when I registered (and that was months ago, I just never logged in).

Technically, bans are permanent, however after 6 months or so Jason is occasionally willing to lift them, if he feels the poster wants to make/will make a positive contribution to the board. You need to send him an email, or a PM, or somethihg else to get the ban lifted, and he will let us know. If he asks my opinion, I'll support bringing you back.

One Brow said...

I got that from the quote itself, caincha see? Selection could surely "work on" any kinda of variation. So the quote implies there is no other kind of variation. It could also "work on" variaton which was non-random, but the quotes says no such type of variation exists.

Sorry, I meant to emphasize the pre-existing nature of the variation, no the genetic component. Yes, selection can work on things like learned behaviors as well.

You want to make fine distinctions between "genetic" variation and other variation. So-called "epigenetic" variation could, in my opinion, be called "genetic variation." It all depends on arbitrary definitions. But the substance of the issue goes far beyond definitions.

Well, location of a gene is not arbitrarily defined (even if the gene itself might be), and so epigentic variations sould never technically be genetic. As for whether evolution would work on them, if they are of he sort that disapears in a few generations, then there isn't really time for much evolutionary effect. The potential to create an effective epigentic response might be more selectable than the response itself is, though.

As I have said many times in this thread, the Modern Synthetic theory (neo-darwinism), which is still the predominant "theory of evolution" in this country,

A dead theory is predominent?

Now, if you mean that DNA and population genetics are the first explanations turned to when looking at a problem, I would be inclined to agree. It's an old, familiar paradigm that has had a lot of success in the past, especially in multi-cellular living things, so it's one of the first tools used to solve problems.

Or, if you mean that they are the central feature of the part of evolutionary theory taught in introductory biology classes, I think that is appropriate. The ideas are relatively simple compared to, e.g., horizontal gene transfer and endosymbiosis, and there is only so much time in these classes.

The psychological need and desire for a fully mechanistic and materialistic "explanation" of "change over time," has been very strong since Darwin's time, with Newton's mechanics having set the "gold standard" for scientific theories in Darwin's time. Physics long ago found this paradigm to be inadequate and misleading, but evolutionists have clung to it throughout the 20th century, and the majority still do.

I think you are insulting a lot of physicists by saying they are not searching for (epistomolocally) mechanical and materialistic explanations, because that seems to be exactly what they are searching for. In general, science is teh attempt to find (epistomolocally) mechanical and materialistic explanations.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "However, I will rephrase: You seem to be the one that has had trouble with the comment "if life started a million times separately, then each living thing seems to be the descendant of all those million separate beginnings, and thus common descent is still true."

What!? You still have no clue what I'm sayin? What are YOU sayin, or what do you think you're sayin, eh, Eric?

Are you tryin to say sumthin like this: Life coulda started 1,000,000 times AND of all those different starts 999,999,999 coulda died off, along with all their progeny. (and I'm positing that they did), leaving only one remaining organism FROM WHICH every organism which now exists on this planet descended? Is THAT what you're tryin to say?

That would meet the definiton of "common descent," at least, however speculative it might otherwise be.

I don't know how I can make what I'm sayin any clearer. Common descent does NOT mean that all organisms share (have in "common") the fact that they descended from some ancestor. The "common" part refers to the particular ancestor, not the general process of descent. If a million separate ancestors generated all life we see today, then all life cannot be a result of common descent. There are then a million separate ancestors, not one "common" one for all.

Anonymous said...

One Brow asked: "Made clear to whom?"

By me. I used the exact same (real) name and e-mail address I had used for aintnuthin. That did NOT allow me access. I had to wait for review by the "authorities" and an e-mailed approval of my registration request before I was allowed to log on.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the question was "by whom" and hence the answer "by me." To whom, was to whomever, checks, reviews, and approves registration requests. You would have a better idea of who that is than I do.

Anonymous said...

I was back on Jazzfanz for several days---I don't remember how many. I do recall someone asking in the general discussion forum if admins were capable of checking who I "really" was--there was some poll on the topic, as I recall.

Someone, I believe it was an admin, responded to the inquiry by asking the poster "what's it to you," or sumthin like that.

I am not sure, but I assume an admin who doesn't like me took it upon himself to change my user name to aintnuthin (which username has been banned) to prevent further log-ins. Like I said, I never get any responses to emails I send to Jazzfanz---from Jason or anyone else, for that matter.

One Brow said...

What!? You still have no clue what I'm sayin?

I believe I understand you.

What are YOU sayin, or what do you think you're sayin, eh, Eric?

I'm talking about what it means when the early stages of life are more net-like than tree-like with regards to descent.

Are you tryin to say sumthin like this: Life coulda started 1,000,000 times AND of all those different starts 999,999,999 coulda died off, ...?

No, no dying off. I mean, I would be a descendent of all million starts, so would you, a fly, a mushroom, an apple tree, an amoeba, etc.

I don't know how I can make what I'm sayin any clearer. Common descent does NOT mean that all organisms share (have in "common") the fact that they descended from some ancestor. The "common" part refers to the particular ancestor, not the general process of descent?

Replace "ancestor" with "group of ancestors".

If a million separate ancestors generated all life we see today, then all life cannot be a result of common descent. There are then a million separate ancestors, not one "common" one for all.?

Neither. A million common ancestors for all.

One Brow said...

colton would have been the one checking your new login, name and email. I don't think he checks every new request against all previously banned accounts.

However, I am perturbed that neither Jason nor colton will even respond to your emails. You deserve politeness, at least. I'll ask them to send you an email.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "You deserve politeness, at least. I'll ask them to send you an email."

Thanks, Eric. Like I done said, I sent an short email with one simple question: Is the problem with the username, or just with me?

I sent this when I was told I could not log in because my "username" was banned. Accompanying that notification was the suggestion that I should send an email if I had any questions. There was a clickable link to do so, and I clicked on it and sent the message.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Neither. A million common ancestors for all."

As I done said, this is a contradiction in terms if you call it "common descent." You don't even seem to understand the significance of the "common descent" thesis for the darwinian and neo-darwinian theories of evolution. The following definition of "common descent" is from wiki, but you can find the same substance in about 8 million other places, if you want:

"A group of organisms is said to have common descent if they have a common ancestor. In modern biology, it is generally accepted that all living organisms on Earth are descended from a common ancestor or ancestral gene pool.

A theory of universal common descent via an evolutionary process was proposed by Charles Darwin in his book On the Origin of Species (1859), and later in The Descent of Man (1871). This theory is now generally accepted by biologists, and the last universal common ancestor (LUCA or LUA), that is, the most recent common ancestor of all currently living organisms, is believed to have appeared about 3.9 billion years ago. The theory of a common ancestor between all organisms is one of the principles of evolution, although for single cell organisms and viruses, single phylogeny is disputed (see: origin of life)." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_descent

One member (or pair) of a "group" of ancestors cannot provide "common descent" to the descendants of the other members of the group. Your parents are not mine, for example, even though we both have parents.

Anonymous said...

Let's try this another way, eh, Eric? Wiki says: "This theory is now generally accepted by biologists, and the last universal common ancestor (LUCA or LUA), that is, the most recent common ancestor of all currently living organisms, is believed to have appeared about 3.9 billion years ago. The theory of a common ancestor between all organisms is one of the principles of evolution..."

Now let's suppose this posited LUCA was generated as a result of 1,000,000 different forms of life, each with independent origins, rampently swapping genes (while reproducing) for millions (or billions) of years. Now what? Well, several questions arise, as I see it, such as:

1. Was the arbitrarily designated LUCA also the "ancestor" of all those organisms which preceded (and generated) it? Presumably not, eh? So how can it be the common ancestor of "all currently living things" unless all other life (and the progeny thereof) which existed at the time the LUCA was generated has disappeared? This is actally question #2, below.

2. If this LUCA is nonetheless the ancestor of "all living things," what happened to the countless members of the progeny of the 1,000,000? Did they all suddenly die off? If not, did they continue to hang around, swap genes, and replicate? If so, where are their "other progeny" (i.e., the progeny other than the one biologists arbitrarily call the "ancestor of all currently living things")?

3. Why wouldn't that enormous body of "ancestors" go on to produce many other LUCA's? See the contradiction? One cannot have more than one LUCA, and still maintain any meaningful content to the concept "common descent." Without a LUCA, the phrase "common descent" becomes self-contradictory.

One must now explain how the pre-existing organisms which comprised the vast "gene pool" which produced the LUCA suddenly quit replicating. If they continued to replicate, their descendants cannot also be descendants of the posited LUCA.

Without such an explanation, the phrase "common descent" is woefully inapt to descibe the historical events. It becomes self-conradictory.

Your response seems to be: So what if it's self-contradictory? I'm going to call it all "common descent" anyway, because I want to stress that something I call "common descent" is a known fact.

One Brow said...

As I done said, this is a contradiction in terms if you call it "common descent." You don't even seem to understand the significance of the "common descent" thesis for the darwinian and neo-darwinian theories of evolution.

As a scientific theory, neo-Darwinism is dead, remember? You might as well be saying I don't understand the importance of humor in phlogiston theory.

It is not a contradiciton in terms to say that each life form today is descended from the same set of inital emergences of life, whether that set has one member or a million. It may contradict a dead theory, but so what?

In modern biology, it is generally accepted that all living organisms on Earth are descended from a common ancestor or ancestral gene pool.

Note the ancestral gene pool does not necessarily relate to one individual.

One member (or pair) of a "group" of ancestors cannot provide "common descent" to the descendants of the other members of the group. Your parents are not mine, for example, even though we both have parents.

So, because none of the million (or two) putative separate emergences of life are descendant from another ermergence, we can't have both as a common ancestor? That's like saying since since my parents are not yours, we can't have the same grandkids (barring other reasons for not having the same grandkids).

One Brow said...

Regarding a LUCA:

First, this seems to exist only for multi-celluar organisms. So, my answer to what happened to all teh other lines of organisms would be that the seed to have stayed uni-cellular. After we have reached a LUCA for multi-celluar organisms, the tree/bush analogy for descent beomes a good picture, but not before.

Second, there is no need for a LUCA for all biological organisms for all organisms to share common descent. Using the net analogy, think of life currently as being the knots at the bottom row of the net. You can trace a path up to any knot at the top of the net from any knot on the bottom row. At no point does the net converge to a single knot, yet every bottom knot descends from every top knot. If is helps, picture a baskball net 7 feet long. :)

I just don't see any contradiction you are raising. I see a net.

Anonymous said...

In the last few posts I have, of course, been using the phrase "common descent" as short for the evolutionary thesis of universal common descent.

If you want to leave that realm and just talk about the "common descent" of various different groups of organisms, then you're obviously talking about a much more limited concept that says nothing about evolution, per se.

I can say that "all rabbits came from the first pair of rabbits" and, in that limited sense be talking about the "common descent" of rabbits. But I would not be talking about "all currently existing life," which is the sense in which evolutionists use the term.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "First, this seems to exist only for multi-celluar organisms. So, my answer to what happened to all teh other lines of organisms would be that the seed to have stayed uni-cellular."

Eric, you can't eliminate the question by pushing it ahead and picking an arbitrary starting point. The same question remains:

If, over the course of eons, a million forms of life with independent origins, having replicated exponentially into billions of billions of "individuals," then "suddenly" generated a multi-celluar organism, then what? Why couldn't (wouldn't) that very same set of billions of creatures "suddenly" create a second multi-celled organism, then a third, etc.

You get back to sayin that certain posited events only happened once, and did (could) not happen again. Why would you be convinced, a priori, of that?

One Brow said...

In the last few posts I have, of course, been using the phrase "common descent" as short for the evolutionary thesis of universal common descent.

So am I. Universal common descent does not require a LUCA.

But I would not be talking about "all currently existing life," which is the sense in which evolutionists use the term.

I am talking about all existing life.

Pick a knot on the bottom row of a 7' long basketball net. Now, identify the knot in the top row that is the unique knot the bottom knot depends upon for support. This is the idea behand the net analogy in the history of life.

If, over the course of eons, a million forms of life with independent origins, having replicated exponentially into billions of billions of "individuals," then "suddenly" generated a multi-celluar organism, then what? Why couldn't (wouldn't) that very same set of billions of creatures "suddenly" create a second multi-celled organism, then a third, etc.

They quite possibly could have created other multi-cellular organisms indepently, only to see them die out (99.9% of all species go extinct) or have their lineages merge together. Either way, by the time we get to the process of being multi-cellular, common descent seems to be very firmly established anyhow, so these independent multi-cellular origins would still have common ancestry in the net of inheritence.

Also, who said if would happen suddenly?

You get back to sayin that certain posited events only happened once, and did (could) not happen again. Why would you be convinced, a priori, of that?

If there were evidence of a form of multicellular life (discovered at the sea bottom, perhaps) that bore no evidence of being in the current eukaryote phyla, I would say it might well have happened twice. I distinguish between "did" and "could", it's curious you would think I would confuse them.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "So, because none of the million (or two) putative separate emergences of life are descendant from another ermergence, we can't have both as a common ancestor?"

No, that's not what I said at all. Theoretically they could have a common ancestor, but if you trace everything all the way back you arrive at 1,000,000 separate ancestors, and "all" life could not have descended from only one of them (unless 999,999 did not reproduce, became extinct together with their progeny, or some further explanation).

Suppose that 200 years ago 500,000 men and 500,000 women "came to be." Suppose further, that initially each male mated with only one female, and had an average of 6 children each. Say that, as a result there are now 20,000,000 human beings on the planet. They could not "all" share a common ancestor. The lines would trace back to 500,000 sets of ancestors, not one.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Second, there is no need for a LUCA for all biological organisms for all organisms to share common descent."

As I done said: "If you want to equivocate and compromise on the topic, do that, just quit calling your chinese menu approach "common descent" would be my suggestion."

Many plausible scenarios have been proposed to explain "change over time," and perhaps one of these is absolutely correct. Scenarios involving HGT, etc., do NOT lend themselves to a picture that could accurately be called "universal common descent."

Why would you continue to insist that the old darwinian notion of universal common descent (which does, and MUST, posit a LUCA) be retained under such circumstances? Call it a "web of life," if you want, but don't call it "univeral common descent" in circumstances which are self-refuting.

The temptation to cling to old, inapplicable terminology in exchange for a false sense of "continuity" in evolutionary theory is part of the reason it becomes so confusing and misleading when "taught," if you ask me. New concepts and new empirical findings would seem to require new terminology, at least when the existing terminology is so completely identified with a discarded viewpoint (and theoretical explanation).

Give it up. HGT aint "descent." Change through time is not a matter of "descent with modification" if you're postulating rampant HGT. The (single) common ancestor of all life goes out the window. Genetic change via reproductive inheiritance and strictly "random" mutation of DNA is gone. If you're really prepared to abandon darwinism and neo-darwinism, then don't try to bring in rejected concepts through the back door by using such terminology as "common descent" when they aint nuthin "common" about it.

One Brow said...

No, that's not what I said at all. Theoretically they could have a common ancestor,

This does not address my question. We can't I have all million occurences in my ancestry?

Suppose that 200 years ago 500,000 men and 500,000 women "came to be." Suppose further, that initially each male mated with only one female, and had an average of 6 children each. Say that, as a result there are now 20,000,000 human beings on the planet. They could not "all" share a common ancestor. The lines would trace back to 500,000 sets of ancestors, not one,

Change that to 5,000 people and make it ten thousand generations ago, and you'd like find that, while some of the original 50,000 had no descendents, every living person would be able to claim each remaining member of the 50,000 as an ancestor.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Change that to 5,000 people and make it ten thousand generations ago, and you'd like find that, while some of the original 50,000 had no descendents, every living person would be able to claim each remaining member of the 50,000 as an ancestor."

I have no idea of what you mean here, eh, Eric, just as you presumably have no idea about what I'm sayin.

I note that you cite Woese as supportive about your view of "common descent." Perhaps a few words from Woese himself will help explain his view, eh?:

"We cannot expect to explain cellular evolution if we stay locked in the classical Darwinian mode of thinking," Woese says. "The time has come for biology to go beyond the Doctrine of Common Descent."

"Neither it nor any variation of it can capture the tenor, the dynamic, the essence of the evolutionary process that spawned cellular organization," Woese writes in his paper.

http://www.unisci.com/stories/20022/0618021.htm

One Brow said...

Give it up. HGT aint "descent."

HGT (of the type that currectly occurs in vertebrates) is only one mechanism by which genetic information is shared at the unicellular level. It is not descent because of the virus that in the intermediary in the transfer process, presumably.

Howver, when you account for things like plasmid exchange, syzygy, etc., there are all sorts of ways linages can combine at the unicelluar level. If you are going to keep prattling about how this could not represent common descent, I suggest you answer this situation on lineage first.

Bacteria X, with plasmids a, b, c, d drops opens its cell membrane to bacteria Y, with plasmids c, d, e, f. After the cell membrane separates the conglomeration into two bacteria, one of them has plasmids a, b, c, d, f and the other has plasmids a, c, d, e, f. Is one of these X? Is one of them Y? Is one of them the child of X but not of Y, while the other is a child of Y but not X? What happened to the two lines of lineage here?

Does your answer change if both bacteria after the exchange have a, b, c, d, e, f?

You talk like this whole idea of lineage is cut-and-dry, but reality says it may not be.

One Brow said...

His theory challenges the longstanding Darwinian assumption known as the Doctrine of Common Descent -- that all life on Earth has descended from one original primordial form.

Common descent was defined for a long time as teh existence of a LUCA, but that is no longer thought to be true.

One Brow said: "Change that to 5,000 people and make it ten thousand generations ago, and you'd like find that, while some of the original 50,000 had no descendents, every living person would be able to claim each remaining member of the 5,000 as an ancestor."

I have no idea of what you mean here, eh, Eric, just as you presumably have no idea about what I'm sayin
.

You seem to be saying that, since there is no LUCA, we have separate pipes of descent, if you like, with some HGT across pipes. However, Woese's net is much more dynamic than that. Not only are Darwin's trees gone, even the pipes are gone.

Anonymous said...

More from Woese (same source): "...the arrival of microbial genomics, Woese says, is shedding a more accurate light. Horizontal gene transfer, he argues, has the capacity to rework entire genomes. With simple primitive entities, this process can "completely erase an organismal genealogical trace."

As has also been noted in prior posts, cladistic analysis (or whatever it's called) cannot even begin to apply itself to situations involving HGT. Other posts have noted findings suggesting that HGT is quite prevalent, even today, in mammals and other "multi-cellular organisms."

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Common descent was defined for a long time as teh existence of a LUCA, but that is no longer thought to be true."

It is still defined that way, that's my point (see the wiki entry). The fact that it is no longer thought to be true does not change the definition. Spontaneous generation is no longer thought to be true, either, but it is still called spontaneous generated, not re-defined to mean that "all life comes from life"
or whatever other viewpoint is presently "thought to be true."

Anonymous said...

One Brow asked: "This does not address my question. We can't I have all million occurences in my ancestry?"

Your old homey, Doug Theobald at talk reason, defines "common descent" as follows: "Universal common descent is the hypothesis that all living, terrestrial organisms are genealogically related. All existing species originated gradually by biological, reproductive processes on a geological timescale."

Merriam-Webster: "Main Entry:ge·ne·al·o·gy 1. 1 : an account of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor or from older forms

Does that give you a clue? Does his reference to "biological reproductive processes" give you a clue?

If 100 guys screwed my mama one night, I will still only have one Pappy. The fact that the others were alive and present, and participating in the fun, doesn't change that. I can't have 2 Pappys, let alone 100, not to even mention 1,000,000.

Know what I'm sayin?

One Brow said...

We could go around in circles on this for quite a while, so I'll put the definitional question aside for now. All the putative million origins are ancestors of each living thing, but since there is no LUCA, we can call that something else, like the common ancestry list (CAL), or "shared ancestry". If you have a better term, use it. Until then, let's just say each living thing has a shared ancestry with every other living thing.

One Brow said...

BTW, now the definition of "common descent" is no longer in play, will you be addressing the net analogy or the bacterial plasmid illustration, and explain how the notion of several distinct lines of inheritance fits in?

If 100 guys screwed my mama one night, I will still only have one Pappy. The fact that the others were alive and present, and participating in the fun, doesn't change that. I can't have 2 Pappys, let alone 100, not to even mention 1,000,000.

How many grand-pappies? How many great^19-grand pappies? (About 1,056,000).

Anonymous said...

One Brow asked: "How many grand-pappies? How many great^19-grand pappies? (About 1,056,000)."

Yeah, and....?

Let's go the other way, eh? Spoze I has myself 49 chillinz, they each haz theyself 49, and that goes on for 10,000 generations. I now have 25 billion progeny, let's say. So what? That still doesn't make the guy takin sloppy seconds their ancestor.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "...you be addressing the net analogy or the bacterial plasmid illustration, and explain how the notion of several distinct lines of inheritance fits in?"

If my Mama dies and leaves me her washin machine, then I "inherited" that washin machine. If my homey, Jethro, gives me his used-up washin machine, I also have a free washin machine. Thang is, I didn't "inherit" that one. Catch my drift, eh, Eric?

Anonymous said...

Spoze God threw a buncha hox genes into a lake, then threw in a buncha critters to go git them hox genes and do what they want with them. Spoze he made it so if one critter was bottom feedin, and found one hox gene, that critter didn't hafta just keep it to hisself but could share it with his homeyz and keep it too. That would be purty nifty, doncha think?

If all that happened, I figure all critters livin thereafer would have a common ancestor---God.

One Brow said...

One Brow asked: "How many grand-pappies? How many great^19-grand pappies? (About 1,056,000)."

Yeah, and....?


And you come from a million different lineages.

If my Mama dies and leaves me her washin machine, then I "inherited" that washin machine. If my homey, Jethro, gives me his used-up washin machine, I also have a free washin machine. Thang is, I didn't "inherit" that one. Catch my drift, eh, Eric?

Does not address the plasmid exchange illustration at all.

If all that happened, I figure all critters livin thereafer would have a common ancestor---God.

If they were the genes from God's cells, and God merged with all of them to share the genes, he just might one of the shared ancestors.

Anonymous said...

Here's another scenario I like, eh, Eric? God piles up billions and billions of hox genes on the ocean floor. Then he throws in billions of granite nuggets, and heads off to Jupiter, or somewheres.

Thang is, in each of those granite nuggets, he left a timing device which would turn them into mobile critters, one at a time. Each would then cruise on out, pick up some hox genes, and start self-replicatin, see?

Would the progeny of these billions of granite nuggets, which themselves were each "born" at a different time, without parents (except God), show "genetic" similarities? Probably, eh? Would they all have the same ancestor? Naw.

Would they all be "related?" Well, I spoze, in a sense, yeah, but not in any genealogical sense. They are similar, at first, because they have the same hox genes. They vary from each other quite a bit, down the road, because each critter chooses to put his hox genes to different uses, as he sees fit.

Did there differences derive from "descent with modification?" Naw, not really. Are their differences the result of genetic inheritance, from one generation to the next? Naw, not really. Is their variation the result of random mutation of their DNA? Naw, not really.

Do we nonetheless later see a huge degree of "change over time?" Yeah.

Does this prove that "evolution" is true? Well, yeah, if all you mean by evolution is change over time. On the other hand, you told me once that if organisms had the innate genetic make-up to transform into whatever they wanted, there would be "no evolution," dincha?

One Brow said...

Here's another scenario I like, eh, Eric?

...

Would the progeny of these billions of granite nuggets, which themselves were each "born" at a different time, without parents (except God), show "genetic" similarities
?

Depends upon how alike the granite nuggets are and the genes they acquire.

Would they all have the same ancestor? Naw.?

Hey, suppose God created the whole world last Thursday, but he faked us all out by giving us ages, memories, creating starlight, fossils, etc. Then no two humans over one week old would be related, right?

Heck, maybe it's just the Great Spaghetti Monster always changing our test results.

After all, when you start invoking God or the Great Spaghetti Monster, anything could be true.

However, since your point seems to be that all the HGT does not change lineages, and you are still ignoring my example of plasmid exchange, still not discussing syzygy, and not even adressing how Woese describes much of this HGT as happening in the pre-cellular world, where the only lineages are at the molecular level, it's not much of an argument.

So, it's not that I am disagreeing with your position that HGT across cells does not correspond to combining lineages. I am trying to point out all of the other things that do correspond to combining lineages, and still waiting for you to address them.

Does this prove that "evolution" is true?

Proof is for mathematics and alcohol. The Theory of Evolution, and the shared ancestry of all living things, is well-established and well-validated.

On the other hand, you told me once that if organisms had the innate genetic make-up to transform into whatever they wanted, there would be "no evolution," dincha?

Hopefully, I was careful to talk how different means of controlliong genotype and phenotype meant different aspects of evolutionary theory would not apply.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "After all, when you start invoking God or the Great Spaghetti Monster, anything could be true."


Perzakly! I can make up just so stories with the best of them (the Darwinians) I tellya! Such as the "once upon a time a single organism came out the rocks and thereafter spawned every form of life on earth today. This is called "common descent, and it a fact just as certain as the fact that the earth orbits the sun."

One Brow said...

Such as the "once upon a time a single organism came out the rocks and thereafter spawned every form of life on earth today. This is called "common descent, and it a fact just as certain as the fact that the earth orbits the sun."

Except the current thinking is shared ancestry, not common descent.

Anonymous said...

"An ancient adaptive episode of convergent molecular evolution confounds phylogenetic inference

Todd A. Castoe*1, A.P. Jason de Koning*1, Hyun-Min Kim1, Wanjun Gu1, Brice P. Noonan2, Zhi J. Jiang3, Christopher L. Parkinson4, & David D. Pollock1

.1073/pnas.0900233106 (Peer Reviewed) Revised version published in PNAS (April 28, 2009).

=====

Buncha big-ass words in that topic title, eh? What's up with this, I wonder? Lemme see here....

"Convergence can mislead phylogenetic inference by mimicking shared ancestry...convergent molecular evolution can seriously mislead phylogenetics, even with large data sets....

"Indeed, convergent evolution is extremely common...the duplications shared between human and chimpanzees are equally polymorphic in humans and chimpanzees. This unusual result contradicts the sister grouping of humans and chimpanzees, because both the MGD and the bottleneck hypothesis would predict lower polymorphism in humans if these duplications are shared because of common ancestry. However, it is fully consistent with the interpretation that the shared duplications between humans and chimpanzees are not due to common ancestry..."

http://precedings.nature.com/documents/2123/version/1

Like, whooda thunk, I ax ya?

Anonymous said...

Evolutionary theory has, based in large part on the the premise of common descent, long assumed that macroevolution is just microevolution on a larger, prolonged scale. Like many others, this author rejects that assumption:

"...simple organisms with low epigenetic complexity can tolerate more variations in DNA or have higher genetic diversity. There exists an inverse relationship between genetic diversity and epigenetic complexity. Genetic diversity is defined here as genetic distance or dissimilarity in DNA or protein sequences between different individuals or species...

Neo-Darwinism was from the beginning a theory of population genetics or microevolution invented by geneticists of the 1940s who had
essentially no understanding of epigenetics ...

the modern evolution theory is a theory of microevolution, relevant only to divergence of similar or identical organisms. It does not describe macroevolution because it fails to take into accountthe obvious fact that functional constraints on mutations differ tremendously in different kinds of organisms. A theory of microevolution is necessarily unsuitable for macroevolution because the two different evolutionary processes are complete opposites.

In essence, macroevolution is not at all prolonged microevolution as is assumed by Neo-Darwinism. The two processes are in fact exact opposites with one leading to lesser genetic diversity while the other to greater genetic diversity. What is good for microevolution, i.e., mutation, is mostly bad for macroevolution and must be suppressed in order to evolve higher complexity processes are complete opposites."

http://precedings.nature.com/documents/1751/version/2/files/npre20091751-2.pdf

"No understandng of epigenetics," eh? I guess that would follow from the positing of a deterministic, mechanistic, DNA controlled view of genetics, inheritance and variation (i.e., no mutation to DNA, no genetic variation).

This author also comments on the heritability of epigentic programs, as follows:

"Epigenetic programs are not only inherited during mitotic cell division but are also transmitted through the germline to the next generation [27-29]. The next generation receives not only genetic information encoded in
DNA but also epigenetic information carried by the non-DNA molecules of the fertilized egg.
Epigenetic programs control both expression levels of genes and the specific combination of co-expressed genes within a specific cell type."

Anonymous said...

Eric, I tried to make another post and got this message, which I've never seen before. Has sumthin changed?:

"Your HTML cannot be accepted: Must be at most 4,096 characters."

Anonymous said...

I will try breaking up the post a lil, eh?

Some interesting commentary from a biochemist and molecular biologist (who says he is new to, and still in the process of learning to think about macroevolution), which touches on the polemical and partisan propaganda programs of the neo-darwinists:

"I think it's important to appreciate what macroevolutionary biologists are saying. Most of these scientists are paleontologists and they think of their area of study as an interdisciplinary field that combines geology and biology....macroevolutionary theory is intimately connected with the observed fossil record and, in this sense, it is much more historical than population genetics and evolution within a species. Macroevolution, as a field of study, is the turf of paleontologists and much of the debate about a higher level of evolution (above species and populations) is motivated by the desire of paleontologists to be accepted at the high table of evolutionary theory.

It's worth recalling that during the last part of the twentieth century evolutionary theorizing was dominated by population geneticists. Their perspective was described by John Maynard Smith, "... the attitude of population geneticists to any paleontologist rash enough to offer a contribution to evolutionary theory has been to tell him to go away and find another fossil, and not to bother the grownups."

Anonymous said...

I just said that many scientists think of macroevolution as simply a scaled-up version of microevolution, but a few paragraphs ago I said there's more to the theory of evolution than just changes in the frequency of alleles within a population. Don't these statements conflict? Yes, they do ... and therein lies a problem.

When the principle tenets of the Modern Synthesis were being worked out in the 1940's, one of the fundamental conclusions was that macroevolution could be explained by changes in the frequency of alleles within a population due, mostly, to natural selection. This gave rise to the commonly accepted notion that macroevolution is just a lot of microevolution. Let's refer to this as the sufficiency of microevolution argument.

At the time of the synthesis, there were several other explanations that attempted to decouple macroevolution from microevolution. One of these was saltation, or the idea that macroevolution was driven by large-scale mutations (macromutations) leading to the formation of new species. This is the famous "hopeless monster" theory of Goldschmidt. Another decoupling hypothesis was called orthogenesis, or the idea that there is some intrinsic driving force that directs evolution along certain pathways. Some macroevolutionary trends, such as the increase in the size of horses, were thought to be the result of this intrinsic force.

Both of these ideas about macroevolutionary change (saltation and orthogensis) had support from a number of evolutionary biologists. Both were strongly opposed by the group of scientists that produced the Modern Synthesis...

We see, in context, that the blurring of the distinction between macroevolution and microevolution was part of a counter-attack on the now discredited ideas of saltation and orthogenesis. As usual, when pressing the attack against objectionable ideas, there's a tendency to overrun the objective and inflict collateral damage...Simpson's attack was so successful that a generation of scientists grew up thinking that macroevolution could be entirely explained by microevolutionary processes. That's why we still see this position being advocated today and that's why many biology textbooks promote the sufficiency of microevolution argument. Gould argues—successfully, in my opinion—that the sufficiency of microevolution became dogma during the hardening of the synthesis in the 1950-'s and 1960's.

However, from the beginning of the Modern Synthesis there were other evolutionary biologists who wanted to decouple macroevolution and microevolution because they knew of higher level processes that went beyond microevolution...

The orthodox believers in the hardened synthesis feel threatened by macroevolution since it implies a kind of evolution that goes beyond the natural selection of individuals within a population. The extreme version of this view is called adaptationism and the believers are called Ultra-Darwinians by their critics. This isn't the place to debate adaptationism: for now, let's just assume that the sufficiency of microevolution argument is related to the pluralist-adaptationist controversy...

"The very term macroevolution is enough to make an ultra-Darwinian snarl. Macroevolution is counterpoised with microevolution—generation by generation selection- mediated change in gene frequencies within populations. The debate is over the question, Are conventional Darwinian microevolutionary processes sufficient to explain the entire history of life?" [quoting Eldredge].

Anonymous said...

[Quoting Mayr]: "Among all the claims made during the evolutionary synthesis, perhaps the one that found least acceptance was the assertion that all phenomena of macroevolution can be ‘reduced to,' that is, explained by, microevolutionary genetic processes. Not surprisingly, this claim was usually supported by geneticists but was widely rejected by the very biologists who dealt with macroevolution, the morphologists and paleontologists. Many of them insisted that there is more or less complete discontinuity between the processes at the two levels—that what happens at the species level is entirely different from what happens at the level of the higher categories. Now, 50 years later the controversy remains undecided.

http://bioinfo.med.utoronto.ca/Evolution_by_Accident/Macroevolution.html


The point? Well, whatever you think it is, I guess, eh, Eric?

Anonymous said...

Excerpt from a prior post:

Author: The term macroevolution has also been used in regard to development of new functions, such as vision or hearing..

One Brow: Mostly, this terminology is preferred by anti-evolutionary scientists or by people responding to them.

Author: Many proponents of Darwinian natural selection have argued that processes demonstrated for microevolution may be extrapolated to account for macroevolution as well. When this type of extrapolation is used in an attempt to validate a theory, we have moved beyond the reasonable bounds of science. Scientifically, we should simply state that at present, there is no satisfactory scientific explanation for macroevolutionary events. Those explanations that have been presented lie in the realm of philosophy.".

One Brow: Gosh, an anti-evolutionist thinks we should state there is no scientifically supported explanation? Que surprise!
======
Eric, it is obvious from some of your unsupported assertions that you have read, and relied upon, expositions and claims made by ardent dawinists. What seems almost as obvious is that you give virtually no thought, consideration, or regard to any counter-views or claims that you think you can attribute to "creationists" (even if those same views may be shared by non-creationists).

Evolutionary theorists, not creations, invented the term "macroevolution," although, as noted above, many, if not most, current theorists wish to deny any meaningful distinction between microevolution and macroevolution. What Moran calls the "sufficiency of microevolution" argument has no compelling evidence to support it. It is basically an axiom of neo-darwinism, that's all (which is what this author was noting cited at the beginning of this post was noting).

Anonymous said...

One Brow: Mostly, this terminology is preferred by anti-evolutionary scientists or by people responding to them.

It stikes me as puzzling that you would refer to scientists who "prefer" terminology which includes "macroevolution" as themselves "anti-evolutionary." It does however, shed some light on what you must presume THE (tried and true, established as a virtual "fact") theory of evolution to be.

Your purported agreement that neo-darwinism is dead seems to conflict with the assumptions you frequently appear to make, the "facts" you take for granted, and the types of explanations and arguments you proffer.

Anonymous said...

You commented at some length on Thomson's 3 meanings (change, common descent, and a particular mechanism) of evolutiono, above, claiming 1 and 2 are facts, and that 3 is a confusion.


Here is a definition from lecture notes published by Illinois.edu: "Evolution--the process by which the genetic composition of a population changes over time--is a FACT." Yes, the claim that genetic composition changes over time is an undisputed fact. This appears to correspond to Thomson's first meaning, the the word "process" is thrown in, making the intended meaning somewhat ambiguous. This author goes on to say: "Darwin established the FACT of evolution, and proposed a THEORY, natural selection, to explain the mechanism of evolution." I'm don't think Darwin is the one "established" this "fact," but this does perhaps somewhat clarify the difference between theory and fact.
http://www.life.illinois.edu/bio100/lectures/sp98lects/25s98evidence.html

2. You claim that "common descent" is a fact, and we have already discussed that quite a bit. Woese (and others) claim that biology must move beyond the doctrine of common descent.

3. Your homeys at talkorigins seems to be immersed in the "confusion" which you attribute to both Thomson and the "creationists" who was citing him. On the topic of macroevolution they say:

"We would not expect to observe large changes directly. Evolution consists mainly of the accumulation of small changes over large periods of time. If we saw something like a fish turning into a frog in just a couple generations, we would have good evidence against evolution." http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB901.html

How could a fish changing into a frog possibly be evidence "against" either change over time or common descent? Obviously, this author equates the term "evolution" with the neo-darwinistic theory thereof.

Anonymous said...

Another of your talkorigin homeys, Theobald, also freely uses the term "macroevolution," and undertakes to provide evidence for it, but he is careful to divorce his analysis from any particular theory of evolution. He does, however, make it clear that the case for macroevolution depends on, and is merely an implication of, the presumption of common descent:

"Common descent is a general descriptive theory that concerns the genetic origins of living organisms (though not the ultimate origin of life). The theory specifically postulates that all of the earth's known biota are genealogically related, much in the same way that siblings or cousins are related to one another. Thus, macroevolutionary history and processes necessarily entail the transformation of one species into another and, consequently, the origin of higher taxa."

He defines common descent as follows: "Universal common descent is the hypothesis that all living, terrestrial organisms are genealogically related. All existing species originated gradually by biological, reproductive processes on a geological timescale. Modern organisms are the genetic descendants of one original species or communal gene pool."

Note that he incorporates "gradualsim" into his defintion. Nonetheless he later says: "whether microevolutionary theories are sufficient to account for macroevolutionary adaptations is a question that is left open. Therefore, the evidence for common descent discussed here is independent of specific gradualistic explanatory mechanisms. None of the dozens of predictions directly address how macroevolution has occurred, how fins were able to develop into limbs, how the leopard got its spots, or how the vertebrate eye evolved. None of the evidence recounted here assumes that natural selection is valid. None of the evidence assumes that natural selection is sufficient for generating adaptations or the differences between species and other taxa. Because of this evidentiary independence, the validity of the macroevolutionary conclusion does not depend on whether natural selection, or the inheritance of acquired characaters, or a force vitale, or something else is the true mechanism of adaptive evolutionary change."

This passage also clarifies that he is actually addressing "common descent," irrespective of mechanism or theory, and takes "macroevolution" to necessarily follow from the concept of "common descent."

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/default.html#common_descent

Anonymous said...

Talkorigins, quoting Lewontin, obediently repeats that: "It is a fact that all living forms come from previous living forms."

This is not a "fact." It is a premise. If it is true, there is no need for any speculation or hypothesizing about abiogenesis, because, by "factual" definition and implication, there could be no such thing. If biogenesis is a fact, then abiogensis must be false.

Anonymous said...

To clarify, I meant to say "universal biogenesis," in the last post. Lewontin does not simply claim that *some* living forms come from previous living forms." He says it is a fact that ALL living forms come from previous living forms.

Some may take the unabashed assertion of fact by some blustering advocte to be sufficient to settle the issue in question. I don't.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Stolzfus seems to be ignorant of the general dispute on what is a theory." Sorry, Eric, but this statement strikes me as utterly presumptuous on your part.

I don't mean to be rude, but, frankly, it seems obvious to me that Stolzfus has a much better grasp on the distinction between theory (whether concrete or abstract) and fact, and the nature/merit of any supposed "disputes" on the matter than you do. You may not agree with him, but the charge of "ignorance" is particularly ill-founded, if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

Youtube has an 11 part videotape of a debate between Phil Johnson and Bill Provine on the question of: "Darwinism: Science or Naturalistic Philosophy?" which I just listened to. http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Darwinism%3A+Science+or+Naturalistic+Philosophy&search_type=&aq=f

Johnson directly addresses this question, rather eloquently, in my opinion, in his introductory statement. Provine's response, both immediate and deferred, is primarily a derisionary attack on theism coupled with his own vociferiously stated philosophical positions on such things as the non-existence of free will, the lack of any absolute standard for ethics, the non-existence of an afterlife etc., and innumerable unsupported claims about what the evidence shows.

It seems to me that his own comments quickly decide the debate adversely to the position he advocates (which is presumably that Darwinism is science, and not naturalistic philosophy), at least if he is a typical example of a "darwinian scientist."

I have litte doubt that you would see the import of Provine's comments and arguments much differently, though, eh, Eric?

One Brow said...

aintnuthin,

I'll catch up this weekend. Meanwhile, Jason said he did not receive your email from the previous account (or maybe misunderstood it). If you want to return to JazzFanz, I suggest a direct email would be in order.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for axxin, eh, Eric? I'm really not sure what a "direct email" is in this case. Is there a special email address for Jason that you know of?

One Brow said...

aintnuthin,

Sorry, I thought the "Contact Us" link in the sidebar was an email, but I gues it is not. Did you use that?

Alterntively, if you are not getting a response, you could try creating an account for the purpose of sending a PM (but not for posting).

Of course, I'll also be happy to forward any message to Jason directly.

Anonymous said...

I guess the "contact us" deal is some kinda email. They say they (whoever "they" is) will get back to you, but they never do. I have no idea who the message goes to. Once I use it, I have no record that anything was ever even sent.

I guess the "short" question for Jason is whether (1) I, as a person, am banned, and (2) is my old username banned--the answer to this seems to be "yes," but perhaps it could be unbanned. I have other questions about the joint, of course, but nuthin I really need answers to, ya know? He has my email address on file, I assume, if he wants to send me sumthin. Thank again for your efforts, Eric.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "By the way, I still have not heard an epistemological reason to call these variations non-random. When all of the experiments conducted show distribution's that are indistinguishable from being random, and there are no known mechanism for making the distribution non-random, then random is the only epistemological interpretation."

To me, nothing could better demonstrate your extremely selective processing of information, Eric. Throughout this latest round of posts and even going back two or three years to Jazzfanz, I have repeatedly cited authors and experiments which clearly suggest non-randomness of some heritable variation. Yet you always say that all the evidence shows otherwise.

Here is a brief excerpt from Pigliucci's review of Labonka and Lamb's book, from which I quoted extensively to you years ago:

"The second meaning [of Lamarckism] is actually closer to the core of Lamarck's ideas, which are rarely, if ever, read by modern biologists. The suggestion is that some heritable, adaptive changes come not from natural selection, but from the action of evolved internal systems that generate non-random 'guesses' in response to environmental challenges. Examples are not hard to find, contrary to the assumed wisdom of standard neo-darwinism."

http://darwiniana.com/2005/06/beyond-neo-darwinian-synthesis.html

The literature is full of such claims, yet you continue to assert that "all" the evidence is to the contrary.

One Brow said...

aintnuthin:
I guess the "contact us" deal is some kinda email. They say they (whoever "they" is) will get back to you, but they never do. I have no idea who the message goes to. Once I use it, I have no record that anything was ever even sent.

I guess the "short" question for Jason is whether (1) I, as a person, am banned, and (2) is my old username banned--the answer to this seems to be "yes," but perhaps it could be unbanned. I have other questions about the joint, of course, but nuthin I really need answers to, ya know? He has my email address on file, I assume, if he wants to send me sumthin. Thank again for your efforts, Eric.

Jason:
Both answers are yes. I found and fixed why his email didn't get through. Tell him to contact me in October if we let Trout back and we may decide to make it a party.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Jason: Both answers are yes."

Thanks for the help with communication, eh, Eric? This helps cement Jazzfanz as a legit enterprise, safe for all, I figure. Like Groucho, I wouldn't belong to any organization which would have me as a member.

Anonymous said...

A quote with a fair amount of backing from current evolutionary theorists: "There is ample evidence showing that phenotypic variations that are independent of variations in DNA sequence, and targeted DNA changes that are guided by epigenetic control systems, are important sources of hereditary variation, and hence can contribute to evolutionary changes. Furthermore, under certain conditions, the mechanisms underlying epigenetic inheritance can also lead to saltational changes that reorganize the epigenome. These discoveries are clearly incompatible with the tenets of the Modern Synthesis, which denied any significant role for Lamarckian and saltational processes. In view of the data that support soft inheritance, as well as other challenges to the Modern Synthesis, it is concluded that that synthesis no longer offers a satisfactory theoretical framework for evolutionary biology."

http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S1415-47572008000300001&script=sci_arttext

From the perspective you seem to present, the last statement incorporates a serious error. As I read your interpretation, nothing could undermine the "modern synthesis" as a satisfactory theoretical framework, because it is NOT a theoretical framework to begin with. It is simply a contentless empty vessel, meant to hold and contain any and all subsequent "theoretical frameworks" which are expounded, tested, and generally accepted.

Anonymous said...

Some of the major and indispensable axiomatic tenets of the modern synthesis (aka neo-darwinism) are that the process of evolution is:

1. Utterly mindless, undirected, and bereft of even the slightest degree of teleology;
2. Completely materialistic, and
3. Strictly mechanistic and deterministic.

These tenets preclude the consideration/acceptance of certain theoretical answers ab initio, on principle, within the theoretical framework of neo-darwinism. It is not a question of reductionistic/materialistic "methodology." A premise of intelligent design (or any other theory) could also use a reductionistic/materialistic methodology. Premises such as materialistic determinism are indeed metaphysical; they precede, are prior to, and are independent of any particular methodology.

Those who say that "science" must presume strictly "natural causes," could just as well be arguing that Platonism must presume the existence of idea forms or that Hegelianism must presume freedom and self-determination.

Every methaphysical philosophy has basic premises which make it distinguisable from other philosophies and give it an identity. The fact that one wants to call a form of philosphical naturalism "science" does not make it any less of a philosophy. It just gives a specific name to a specific philosophy, ya know?

Anonymous said...

Quote from wiki: "A second prominent proponent of panspermia was the late Nobel prize winner Professor Francis Crick, OM FRS, who along with Leslie Orgel proposed the theory of directed panspermia in 1973. This suggests that the seeds of life may have been purposely spread by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panspermia

This appears to be, in effect, a form of "intelligent design" theory. At a minimum, it posits intelligent, directed purpose as underlying the appearance of life on earth. Adhering to it did not make Crick any less of a "scientist" and was not even contradictory to his methodologically mechanistic view of genetics.

Anonymous said...

Those adhering to a strong materialistic, mechanistic, deterministic philosophy, when cheering on darwinism, often ask "how do you test for intelligent design?" (or more often, just postively assert that it can't be tested). They see this as the discussion-ending smoking gun which proves that ID is "not science."

What they overlook is that, to be consistent, they would have to also dismiss their own prejudices, presuppositions, and speculations as "unscientific." How do you "test" the assumption that blind, mechanistic, material forces, acting in deterministic fashion, can explain (and is in fact the only conceivable explanation for)for the whole history of life on this planet?

Whether this is utter blindess or just unbridled hypocrisy, I find it very distasteful. I would have no problem with it if they also asserted the assumptions underlying neo-darwinism also relegate it to the category of untestable, unscientific "psuedo-science," but of course they want to assert the exact opposite, and proclaim that their initial assumptions are "fact." How pitiful, ya know?

Anonymous said...

Massimo Pigluicci is a perfect example. In a debate against Wells, he was quickly demanding to know how ID theory can be tested.

Pigluicci is not, by any means, a staunch neo-darwinian. He does, however, appear to be a militant atheist and/or metaphsyical "naturalist." He was the one who was outraged to the point of circulating petitions when the biology teachers choose to remove their "impersonal and undirected" language from their manifesto.

He is also the one who claimed that naturalism is proved on a daily basis with experimentation, an absurd, and very naive, claim, needless to say. Ideology has a way of leading people to lose sight of consistency and of encouraging people to routinely demand from others what they can't (or are unwilling) give themselves, I guess.

Anonymous said...

I mean, like, think about it, eh, Eric? Spoze school officials decided that the best way to educate and prepare students for the challenges ahead of them was to indoctrinate them with Platonism, deemed by some to be the one "true" philosohpy.

The basic premises of Platonism would then be espoused as generally-accepted truths, and anyone who wanted to bring up, discuss, or note the existence of alternatives (such as, say, Aritotlianism) would be silenced and dismissed on the ground that such thought is "not Platonism" (corresponding to the "not science," claim that adherent who dub their brand of metaphysical philosophy "science" make against ID theory).

Know what I'm sayin?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a better way to illustrate the point would be to posit a class called "philosophy," wherein only those viewpoints consistent with platonism could be taught. Any other philosophical views which were not entirely consistent with platonism would then be dismissed as irrelevant and outside the scope of the subject because they are "not philosopy."

One Brow said...

Buncha big-ass words in that topic title, eh? What's up with this, I wonder? Lemme see here....

"Convergence can mislead phylogenetic inference by mimicking shared ancestry...convergent molecular evolution can seriously mislead phylogenetics, even with large data sets...
.

"Here, we show that significant convergence occurred in snake and agamid lizard mitochondrial genomes."

Evidence that convergent evolution may have happened with a vertebrate lineage is not evidence that there are non-shared ancestors of living things. I'm not even going to bother repoding to the comment that thinks "The more complex sister species is always closer to human than the simpler sister species", and I don't know why you would quote such a commenter. That screams of the the type of pre-judgement and arbitrarinessyou are claiming to be opposed to. Shi Huang's claims about genetic diversity flatlining at some "microevolutionary" limit while "macroevolution" represents changes in epigenetic complexity seems iull-defined and unlikely to produce fruitful experiments. All I could find was the summary article you connected to.

Evolutionary theory has, based in large part on the the premise of common descent,

I thought we both agreed common descent was no longer the operational premise, it is now shared ancestry. Macroevolution nonetheless continues to be a powerful and verified explanatory device.

"No understandng of epigenetics," eh? I guess that would follow from the positing of a deterministic, mechanistic, DNA controlled view of genetics, inheritance and variation (i.e., no mutation to DNA, no genetic variation),

No one understood epigenetics back then. There was no arbitrary decision to ignore epigenetic inheritence factors, rather there were no known mechanisms for these factors to play on, no studied effects to witness. If the lack of epigentic understanding was a result of a pre-dermination, scientists never would have studied it at all.

Eric, I tried to make another post and got this message, which I've never seen before. Has sumthin changed?:

"Your HTML cannot be accepted: Must be at most 4,096 characters."


I get that from time to time as well, starting a few months ago.

One Brow said...

Some interesting commentary from a biochemist and molecular biologist (who says he is new to, and still in the process of learning to think about macroevolution), which touches on the polemical and partisan propaganda programs of the neo-darwinists:

While it's awful nice of a young biochemist to explain the motivations of paleontologists and offer a quote from 35 years ago where maynard Smith extols the return of paleobiology to the high table thanks to the contributions of Gould, et. al., I didn't see anything relevant to science today.

[quoting Eldredge].

[Quoting Mayr]


The point? Well, whatever you think it is, I guess, eh, Eric?


Scientists are people too, perhaps?

Eric, it is obvious from some of your unsupported assertions that you have read, and relied upon, expositions and claims made by ardent dawinists. What seems almost as obvious is that you give virtually no thought, consideration, or regard to any counter-views or claims that you think you can attribute to "creationists" (even if those same views may be shared by non-creationists).

You grasp of the obvious is clearly tenuous, it you think that pointing out that it is creationists who equate macro-evolution with new functions (as opposed to scientists, who would use the term for variation above the species level) and claim that we have no satisfactory explanation for macroevolutionary events (as opposed to have a variety of macroevolutionary mechanisms), suggests I am close-minded. Did you know new functions can be developed in a microevolutionary framwork? Did you know we have a variety of macroevolutionary mechanisms? If so, why would you disagree with what I said?

Evolutionary theorists, not creations, invented the term "macroevolution," although, as noted above, many, if not most, current theorists wish to deny any meaningful distinction between microevolution and macroevolution. What Moran calls the "sufficiency of microevolution" argument has no compelling evidence to support it. It is basically an axiom of neo-darwinism, that's all (which is what this author was noting cited at the beginning of this post was noting).

Neo-darwinism is dead anyhow, remember?

One Brow said...

You commented at some length on Thomson's 3 meanings (change, common descent, and a particular mechanism) of evolutiono, above, claiming 1 and 2 are facts, and that 3 is a confusion.

Part of my comment was that I didn't even know they were Thompson's meanings.

2. You claim that "common descent" is a fact, and we have already discussed that quite a bit. Woese (and others) claim that biology must move beyond the doctrine of common descent.

I have already agreed to use the narrower notion of common descent that Woese says we must move beyond, and that this notion is probably not true. Feel free to alter thestatement to say "shared ancestry" is a fact.

How could a fish changing into a frog possibly be evidence "against" either change over time or common descent? Obviously, this author equates the term "evolution" with the neo-darwinistic theory thereof.

Changed over time and shared ancestry are two aspects of evolution, but there is much more in it, including mechanisms of how and why changes occur. Such rapic change would throw the whole system into disorder. Change over time and shared ancestry might survive, but the theory would be a different as general relativity was from Newton's gravitational work.

Another of your talkorigin homeys, Theobald, also freely uses the term "macroevolution," and undertakes to provide evidence for it, but he is careful to divorce his analysis from any particular theory of evolution. He does, however, make it clear that the case for macroevolution depends on, and is merely an implication of, the presumption of common descent:.

Theobald defined common descent in the boader sense we have agreed not to use. His arguments work equally well with shared ancestry.

Talkorigins, quoting Lewontin, obediently repeats that: "It is a fact that all living forms come from previous living forms."

This is not a "fact." It is a premise. If it is true, there is no need for any speculation or hypothesizing about abiogenesis, because, by "factual" definition and implication, there could be no such thing. If biogenesis is a fact, then abiogensis must be false.
.

It is a fact, in that every currently living thing whose origin is know has a biological origin. Abiognesis would then become the sutdy of how a system that was not alive became 1% alive, then 2% alive, then ..., then 99% alive, then fully alive. At no point does it require something alive to come directly from something not alive.

Some may take the unabashed assertion of fact by some blustering advocte to be sufficient to settle the issue in question. I don't.

Do you have a counterexample?

One Brow said...

One Brow said: "Stolzfus seems to be ignorant of the general dispute on what is a theory." Sorry, Eric, but this statement strikes me as utterly presumptuous on your part.

If Stolzfus believes this debate only happens with respect to evolution (as your quote indicates), and I have read about this debate in other fields, then what difference does it make that you find me presumptuous? He still remains unaware of the general applicaiton of the debatre, focused on a narrow applicaiton.

Youtube has an 11 part videotape of a debate between Phil Johnson and Bill Provine on the question of: "Darwinism: Science or Naturalistic Philosophy?

I would classify the worship of Darwin as a religion, personally. With a topic title like that, I doubt there will be anything worth hearing in the debate.

I have litte doubt that you would see the import of Provine's comments and arguments much differently, though, eh, Eric?

I have no idea.

One Brow said: "By the way, I still have not heard an epistemological reason to call these variations non-random. When all of the experiments conducted show distribution's that are indistinguishable from being random, and there are no known mechanism for making the distribution non-random, then random is the only epistemological interpretation."

To me, nothing could better demonstrate your extremely selective processing of information, Eric. Throughout this latest round of posts and even going back two or three years to Jazzfanz, I have repeatedly cited authors and experiments which clearly suggest non-randomness of some heritable variation. Yet you always say that all the evidence shows otherwise
.

We were discussing specifically the mutation of the DNA strand, and the "these variations" is that they are in fact random. We agree that the location of the variation can be influenced in some organisms so that the randomness of the "where" is influenced, but the variation itself, the "what", shows no deviation from the assumption of randomness. Naturally, this does not even address other sorts of heritable information nor even the occasional corrective process.

One Brow said...

From the perspective you seem to present, the last statement incorporates a serious error. As I read your interpretation, nothing could undermine the "modern synthesis" as a satisfactory theoretical framework, because it is NOT a theoretical framework to begin with. It is simply a contentless empty vessel, meant to hold and contain any and all subsequent "theoretical frameworks" which are expounded, tested, and generally accepted.

Did you mean the historical notion called the Modern Synthesis, to which the author referred, or the current synthesizing of a much wider variety of evolutionary knowledge into modern evolutionary theory? Because the broad scientific theories are indeed initally contentless and quite plastic, and theoretical framworks get inserted into them as they are developed and confirmed. This has been true of continental theory in geology, particle physics, evolutinoary theory, etc.

Some of the major and indispensable axiomatic tenets of the modern synthesis (aka neo-darwinism) .

Neo-darwinism is dead. Even so, you confused ontological and epistomological claims, it seems.

It is not a question of reductionistic/materialistic "methodology." A premise of intelligent design (or any other theory) could also use a reductionistic/materialistic methodology.

I don't think "reductionistic" is necessary, but when the ID advocate come up with materialistic methodologies that produce results supporting intelligent design, they will be doing science.

I don'ty see the point in responding to treating epistomological claims as if they were ontological.

This appears to be, in effect, a form of "intelligent design" theory. At a minimum, it posits intelligent, directed purpose as underlying the appearance of life on earth. Adhering to it did not make Crick any less of a "scientist" and was not even contradictory to his methodologically mechanistic view of genetics..

Crick was still a scientist, but his work on panspermia produced no science, AFAIK.

What they overlook is that, to be consistent, they would have to also dismiss their own prejudices, presuppositions, and speculations as "unscientific." How do you "test" the assumption that blind, mechanistic, material forces, acting in deterministic fashion, can explain (and is in fact the only conceivable explanation for)for the whole history of life on this planet?.

There is a difference between "can" explain (which is possible within a scientific standpoint) and "is in fact the only conceivable explanation for", which is not a result acceptable in any science of which I am aware.

One Brow said...

Massimo Pigluicci is a perfect example. In a debate against Wells, he was quickly demanding to know how ID theory can be tested.

Pigluicci is not, by any means, a staunch neo-darwinian. He does, however, appear to be a militant atheist and/or metaphsyical "naturalist." He was the one who was outraged to the point of circulating petitions when the biology teachers choose to remove their "impersonal and undirected" language from their manifesto.

He is also the one who claimed that naturalism is proved on a daily basis with experimentation, an absurd, and very naive, claim, needless to say
.

I agree.

Perhaps a better way to illustrate the point would be to posit a class called "philosophy," wherein only those viewpoints consistent with platonism could be taught. Any other philosophical views which were not entirely consistent with platonism would then be dismissed as irrelevant and outside the scope of the subject because they are "not philosopy."

When ID advocates start doing successful science that proves ID, ID will earn a place in the classroom.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "When ID advocates start doing successful science that proves ID, ID will earn a place in the classroom."

You seem to completely miss the point, eh, Eric, which is, in large part, there is a definite distinction between "science" and metaphysics. Can't really say I'm surprised.

Are you suggesting that neo-darwinist advocates have done "successful science" that "proves" it's underlying metaphysical assumptions? Those assumptions are definitely part of what's being taught (as fact) in many classrooms. Or are you just sayin that there is a justifiable double standard on this point?

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Some of the major and indispensable axiomatic tenets of the modern synthesis (aka neo-darwinism)

Neo-darwinism is dead. Even so, you confused ontological and epistomological claims, it seems."

No, I did not. I am talking about the ontological claims made by the modern synthetic neo-darwinistic theoretical framework.


One Brow said: "I don't think "reductionistic" is necessary, but when the ID advocate come up with materialistic methodologies that produce results supporting intelligent design, they will be doing science.

The point is that the methodologies can not "produce results supporting" a priori metaphysical assumption, whether such assumptions are designed to support neo-darwinism or ID theory.

Take two premises:

1. Life is too complex to be explained as having originated out of inanimate mindless matter in motion in a void.

2. Mindless, undirected matter is perfectly capable of producing intelligent, self-replicating living organisms.

Which is NOT a metaphsyical/ontological presumption? Which one would preclude studying biological phenomenoa by means of trying to understand the naturalistic mechanics of that phenomena? Which one can be experimentally confrimed?

These are pre-scientific presumptions. They are not "science" and they are totally unneccessary to the employment of a naturalistic methodology. You could adopt neither and still study the phenomena. You could perhaps adopt both, in part. Instead of saying that either (1) matter precedes mind, or (2) mind precedes matter, you could assume that (3) the two arose simultaneously. Such metaphysical speculation is irrelevant to the methodology in that sense. Darwinists want to teach (1) as unquestioned dogma, and prohibit any exposure to the position that (2) or (3) could be the case.

Like Pigliucci, you always want to put the burden on your opponent to produce what you can't produce on behalf of your own metaphysics, and seem to think that your preference is therefore correct by default.

There is all kinds of prima facie evidence for design. Even Dawkins admits that the world is full of organisms that "appear" to be designed for a purpose--and then devotes all his energy agruing that this appearance is "illusory."

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "There is a difference between "can" explain (which is possible within a scientific standpoint) and "is in fact the only conceivable explanation for", which is not a result acceptable in any science of which I am aware."

(1) Intelligent design "can" explain (in a very general sense) the evolution of life on earth, so what?

(2) If a total lack of teleology and intelligence is not the ONLY conceivable explanation for neo-darwinistic "science," then it would have to include intelligent design as a "conceivable explanation," which it doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Two metaphysicians come across a spaceship in a field.

Metaphysician #1: "I believe this craft must have been designed by some advanced form of intelligence."

Metaphysican #2: "Ya think!?" Sounds rather speculative and rather supernatural to me. I think it was assembled by diverse forces of nature pushing nearby matter around."

Metaphysician #1: Well, I suppose we could argue about that all day, but there's no real need to do that. Let's just see if we can figure out how this baby works. Whaddaya say?

Metaphysician #2: Great idea. Let's get started.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Abiognesis would then become the sutdy of how a system that was not alive became 1% alive, then 2% alive, then ..., then 99% alive, then fully alive. At no point does it require something alive to come directly from something not alive."

Heh, Eric, sumhowze, this reminds me of the Babe who claimed she was a "little bit" pregnant.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "With a topic title like that, I doubt there will be anything worth hearing in the debate."

It is this attitude that convinces me that you will probably never understand the distinctions and points I am making. You don't care to understand. The whole issue is not even worth hearing about, from your pespective.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "We were discussing specifically the mutation of the DNA strand, and the "these variations" is that they are in fact random."

Several comments in response:

1. No, we weren't just talkin about mutation of the DNA strand. Does this ring a bell?: One Brow said: "Variations can come from any number of sources, and I am not aware of sources that are inherently non-random within themselves. They are random with respect to the needs of the organism, as far as anyone can tell."

2. Your claims of "fact" come very freely, and in disregard of certain evidence. Just read the literature, rather than asserting what "all" evidence shows, eh? For example:

"By the neo-Darwinian definition, a mutation is random if it is unrelated to the metabolic function of the gene and if it occurs at a rate that is undirected by specific selective conditions of the environment...With the above neo-Darwinian definition of random in mind, an impressive array of circumstances that enhance background mutation rates in response to environmental stress may be examined with respect to whether or not they are random (undirected)....In nature, nutritional stress and associated genetic derepression must be rampant. If mutation rates can be altered by the many variables controlling specific, stress-induced transcription, one might reasonably argue that many mutations are to some extent directed as a result of the unique metabolism of every organism responding to the challenges of its environment....Many scientists may share Dobzhansky's intuitive conviction that the marvelous intricacies of living organisms could not have arisen by the selection of truly random mutations." http://jb.asm.org/cgi/content/full/182/11/2993

3. What is so special about the "DNA strand" anyway? Oh, sure, the creators of the modern synthetic posulation of a theoretical "gene" which was the sole unitary causal agent of inheritance, later encouraged by Crick's discovery of the double helix, thought it was extremely "special." That view is fading fast, of course. As our old homey, Picliucci, notes:
"...genes are not at all the sort of things Richard Dawkins and some other biologists think they are. For instance, contrary to the standard view, genes are not “unities of heredity”...sophisticated theoretical biologists are abandoning talk of “genes” altogether, referring instead to the more diffuse concept of “genetic material.”
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rationally-speaking/200907/memes-selfish-genes-and-darwinian-paranoia

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Such rapic change would throw the whole system into disorder. Change over time and shared ancestry might survive, but the theory would be a different as general relativity was from Newton's gravitational work."

I agree, and that's exactly what Jabonka and many others say is happening (a radically different theory is required). That wasn't really the point, though.

The point was that many (including yourself, it seems, when you speak of throwing the whole system into disorder) tend to equate the term "evolution" with a specific theory thereof. This is the "confusion" which you imputed to Thomson and/or those commenting on his views.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "It is a fact, in that every currently living thing whose origin is know has a biological origin."

That aint what Lewontin claimed was a "fact." What about living things whose origin in not known? What about living things that are not "currently living?"

You asked if I had a counter-example. Not sure what you were getting at, exactly, but I think I gave one. Either (1) ALL life comes from pre-existing life, and Lewontin claims is a fact or (2) ALL life does NOT come from pre-existing life. If Lewontin's claim of "fact" is correct, then (2) must be false, and the concept of abiogenesis is counter-factual.

One Brow said...

You seem to completely miss the point, eh, Eric, which is, in large part, there is a definite distinction between "science" and metaphysics. Can't really say I'm surprised.

Are you suggesting that neo-darwinist advocates


Neo-darwinism is dead. It's advocates are irrelevant.

have done "successful science" that "proves" it's underlying metaphysical assumptions? Those assumptions are definitely part of what's being taught (as fact) in many classrooms. Or are you just sayin that there is a justifiable double standard on this point?

Last I heard, the science being taught in science classrooms had spistemological assumptions, but not ontological (at least, not beyond the notion of being able to record and interpret evidence).

No, I did not. I am talking about the ontological claims made by the modern synthetic neo-darwinistic theoretical framework.

Why are still discussing a dead system? Why do think the epistemological framework is the one postulating ontological claims, as opposed to some of the men who formulated teh framework?

The point is that the methodologies can not "produce results supporting" a priori metaphysical assumption, whether such assumptions are designed to support neo-darwinism or ID theory.

I agree with you here.

Take two premises:

1. Life is too complex to be explained as having originated out of inanimate mindless matter in motion in a void.

2. Mindless, undirected matter is perfectly capable of producing intelligent, self-replicating living organisms.

Which is NOT a metaphsyical/ontological presumption?


The second.

Take two more premises:

3. There is a specific feature of design that we can find in living things that seems to come from no human designer

4. There was no designer involved in the development of life.

2 and 3 are not ontological statements, they are epistemological. Either could go in a science lcassroom (leavingout the word "perfectly from 2). 1 and 4 are ontological, and do not berlong in a science classroom. You seem to be treating 2 as if it were 4. It is not.

Which one would preclude studying biological phenomenoa by means of trying to understand the naturalistic mechanics of that phenomena?

Both 1 and 4 limit the potential areas of study.

Which one can be experimentally confrimed?

2 and 3 have the potential to be confirmed experimentally.

These are pre-scientific presumptions. They are not "science" and they are totally unneccessary to the employment of a naturalistic methodology. You could adopt neither and still study the phenomena. You could perhaps adopt both, in part.

2 is a testable claim.

Instead of saying that either (1) matter precedes mind, or (2) mind precedes matter, you could assume that (3) the two arose simultaneously. Such metaphysical speculation is irrelevant to the methodology in that sense. Darwinists

People who whorship Charles Darwin?

want to teach (1) as unquestioned dogma, and prohibit any exposure to the position that (2) or (3) could be the case.

I am unaware that Darwin did any research, or even held an opinion, on the mind-body issue, and I'm not sure why you want to bring that into this topic.

Like Pigliucci, you always want to put the burden on your opponent to produce what you can't produce on behalf of your own metaphysics, and seem to think that your preference is therefore correct by default.

There is all kinds of prima facie evidence for design. Even Dawkins admits that the world is full of organisms that "appear" to be designed for a purpose--and then devotes all his energy agruing that this appearance is "illusory."


If you choose to accept the ontological argument based on prima facie evidence, fine. However, when you look at the details, the the apparent design in biology does not look like design at all.

One Brow said...

(1) Intelligent design "can" explain (in a very general sense) the evolution of life on earth, so what?

Explain how, from an epistemological standpoint?

(2) If a total lack of teleology and intelligence is not the ONLY conceivable explanation for neo-darwinistic "science," then it would have to include intelligent design as a "conceivable explanation," which it doesn't.

Since neo-Darwinistic science is dead anyhow, I don't see the relevance.

Two metaphysicians come across a spaceship in a field.

Metaphysician #1: "I believe this craft must have been designed by some advanced form of intelligence."

Metaphysican #2: "Ya think!?" Sounds rather speculative and rather supernatural to me. I think it was assembled by diverse forces of nature pushing nearby matter around."

Metaphysician #1: Well, I suppose we could argue about that all day, but there's no real need to do that. Let's just see if we can figure out how this baby works. Whaddaya say?

Metaphysician #2: Great idea. Let's get started.


How do they know it's a spaceship and not a meteor? Because it looks like a machine?

Heh, Eric, sumhowze, this reminds me of the Babe who claimed she was a "little bit" pregnant.

Reality does not always conform to a simple yes/no paradigm.

One Brow said: "With a topic title like that, I doubt there will be anything worth hearing in the debate."

It is this attitude that convinces me that you will probably never understand the distinctions and points I am making. You don't care to understand. The whole issue is not even worth hearing about, from your pespective.


The issue of "Darwinism: Science or Naturalistic Philosophy?" is already wrong from the title. I don't know of anyone who worships Darwin. The term is so ill-defined plastic that it is sometimes used to refer to science, sometimes to philosophy, and sometimes just as an invective. It the title itself has no meaning, the debate does not look promising.

One Brow said...

One Brow said: "We were discussing specifically the mutation of the DNA strand, and the "these variations" is that they are in fact random."

Several comments in response:

1. No, we weren't just talkin about mutation of the DNA strand. Does this ring a bell?: One Brow said: "Variations can come from any number of sources, and I am not aware of sources that are inherently non-random within themselves. They are random with respect to the needs of the organism, as far as anyone can tell."


Sorry I was not more clear just which variation were "these variations" in the discussion.

2. Your claims of "fact" come very freely, and in disregard of certain evidence. Just read the literature, rather than asserting what "all" evidence shows, eh? For example:

...

http://jb.asm.org/cgi/content/full/182/11/2993


Since neo-Darwinism is dead, who cares what their definition of random is? Back in 2000, when it was still barely breathing and this article was written, it might have been relevant.

Another quote, just above where you quoted:
As discussed above, background mutations are sequence directed and not random in the sense that they occur in bases made vulnerable by virtue of their particular location within specific DNA sequences, such as tandem repeats, or the unpaired and mispaired bases of stem-loop structures.

I have repeated, and you have ignored, the evidence is that the locations of the variations can be influenced, directed, and not random, but the variations themselves seem to be random.

3. What is so special about the "DNA strand" anyway?

I'm not sure what you mean by special. It was the first known entitiy to carry heritable information.

I agree, and that's exactly what Jabonka and many others say is happening (a radically different theory is required). That wasn't really the point, though.

I see the changes as more akin to the enhancement of Newton's Laws of Motion with Special Relativity.

The point was that many (including yourself, it seems, when you speak of throwing the whole system into disorder) tend to equate the term "evolution" with a specific theory thereof. This is the "confusion" which you imputed to Thomson and/or those commenting on his views.

Looking at a third-hand account gives me no confidence I have a clue what Thomson's views are. Evolutionary theory does not consist of a list of formalized axioms (it's the wrong type of knowledge for that), but it does have a broad framework in place that caqn be disrupted or overthrown.

One Brow said: "It is a fact, in that every currently living thing whose origin is know has a biological origin."

That aint what Lewontin claimed was a "fact." What about living things whose origin in not known? What about living things that are not "currently living?"

You asked if I had a counter-example. Not sure what you were getting at, exactly, but I think I gave one. Either (1) ALL life comes from pre-existing life, and Lewontin claims is a fact or (2) ALL life does NOT come from pre-existing life. If Lewontin's claim of "fact" is correct, then (2) must be false, and the concept of abiogenesis is counter-factual
.

That's not a counter-example, it's a chain of reasoning based on a presumption that every object is either fully alive or not alive at all.

Anonymous said...

Heh, Eric, you repeatedly demonstrate that your way of convincing yourself that anything you choose to believe is "true" is by means of semantics and *special* idiosyncratic definitions. I noticed this trend in your mode of "reasoning" (it's not reasoning to me) long ago, but am still amazed at how often it reveals itself.

Darwinism means "worship of darwin" or nothing at all, and therefore anything said by anyone who uses the term "darwinism" is inherently meaningless, eh?

Things are (or can be) alive, but not "fully alive," eh? Ya mean like some guy in a coma, that the idea? A rock is "alive" in the sense that it exists, but not "fully alive" because it is inanimate, unconscious, etc., that the idea? It's all nonsensical to me. One cannot debate anything logically or rationally with you when you resort to such semantical contortions.

I have concluded that your personal ontology must along the lines that the only "real" things are definitions of words, and that the definition one chooses to give a concept defines dictates the form and substance of that concept as it exists in "reality."

Anonymous said...

Edit: I have concluded that your personal ontology must along the lines that the only "real" things are definitions of words, and that the definition one chooses to give a concept dictates the form and substance of that concept as it exists in "reality."

I didn't want to leave the meaning of that sentence uncertain on account of a typo, that's all.

Anonymous said...

2. Mindless, undirected matter is perfectly capable of producing intelligent, self-replicating living organisms.

Which is NOT a metaphsyical/ontological presumption?

One Brow said: "The second."

Daniel Dennett said: "There is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination."

Some "examination" might be in order if Dennett is right, eh, Eric?

One Brow said...

Heh, Eric, you repeatedly demonstrate that your way of convincing yourself that anything you choose to believe is "true" is by means of semantics and *special* idiosyncratic definitions. I noticed this trend in your mode of "reasoning" (it's not reasoning to me) long ago, but am still amazed at how often it reveals itself.

Commenting on the variety of usage of various terms is not applying special definitions.

Darwinism means "worship of darwin" or nothing at all, and therefore anything said by anyone who uses the term "darwinism" is inherently meaningless, eh?

To a young-earther, "Darwinism" seems to mean essentially evolutionary theory in general. That obviously science. Some people use the term to mean the combination of philosopical naturalism with evolutionary theory. That's obviously not science. Johnson seems to have used the term both ways. It seems to me that is the point of calling either them "Darwinism" anyhow. It a deliberate attempt to confuse one concept with the other.

Things are (or can be) alive, but not "fully alive," eh? Ya mean like some guy in a coma, that the idea?

How about a collection of protiens and RNA that uses raw materials to create more enzymes and RNA, sometimes dividing itself into two groups, but that does not use oxygen? Is a virus alive? You can always say you are drawing a line, but unless the line is infinitely small, there is usually some way to land directly on it.

I have concluded that your personal ontology must along the lines that the only "real" things are definitions of words, and that the definition one chooses to give a concept dictates the form and substance of that concept as it exists in "reality."

Well, we probably do see reality differently. Mine is full of between states and shades of color, even for concepts like "alive".
Absolutes tend to be seen only in formal structures. YMMV.

One Brow said...

I've been listening to the Johnson-Provine debate while working on other things. It's pretty obvious why Johnson does not debate evolutionists who are religious (more famous examples would include Ken Miller, Wesley Elsberry, etc.). All he would be left to disagree with would be the bad science.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "How about a collection of protiens and RNA that uses raw materials to create more enzymes and RNA, sometimes dividing itself into two groups, but that does not use oxygen?"

Yeah, what about em? You can make it as gradual as you want, but that only pushes the question back. How do amino acids, of which many are required to make even one protein, form? Crick, Hoyle, and many others have rejected the possibility of even an amino acid forming on earth, the over-hyped and now debunked Miller-Urey myth notwithstanding.

Last I knew, the proposition that something dead could turn into something alive was anti-scientific "supernaturalism," ya know?

The point is that semantical modifications like "fully" alive say nothing out of context. Logic depends on the premise of non-contradiction (e.g. not both "alive" and "not alive" at the same time, in the same sense). You are free to reject logic all you want, but then there is no use in you acting like you are thinking or acting logically, and there is no reason for anyone to try and address you logically. We can all just be "touchy-feely," ya know?

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "I've been listening to the Johnson-Provine debate while working on other things."

Johnson, he ROCKS, eh!?

I don't share his religious views at all, but they are irrelevant to his analysis and observations. Whatever his personal motivations, he makes valid points about the philosophy of science, etc.

I honestly don't see how ID theory implies any sort of personal God, even though those espousing it may have that concept in mind.

There may well be a plausible, completely naturalistic explanations for evolution that develops with time, but the prevailing dogma of the last 70-80 years aint it, and the fact that so many "scientists" have proclaimed the theory to be virtual fact only shows that they too have their faith, their blind spots, and their (secular) agenda.

It pains me to see so many otherwise brilliant people be so philosophically naive as to present there premises as empirically-established fact, while never even acknowledging that their assumptions are just that: assumptions, made a priori, from which all their subsequent reasoning is derived, and upon which all their conclusions depend.

I hate dogmatic, illogical "explanations," whether religious or non-religious in character. Partisan ideological agendas bring out and highlight the lack of intellectual integrity, the hypocrisy, and the close-mindedness of both sides of the issue, not just the side opposing that which one chooses to join. It aint nuthin purty.

Anonymous said...

It seems that Pigiucci's conclusion that "naturalism" is proven every day rests on his observation that nature is structured and intelligible. To him, this proves that there is no God. For him, only irregularity in natural processes, unpredictabiliby and chaotic disorder would give evidence for God.

Many theisists (or dieists), including such scientific luminaries as Newton and Einstien, reach the exact opposite conclusion based on the very same evidence. They believe the order exists and can be percieved by thinking beings only because it was "designed" in an intelligible fashion.

So what does "the evidence" really show? It all depends on your assumptions and your standards of "proof," I suppose. The "evidence" will always be interpreted in light of, and in favor of, one's pre-existing assumptions. The evidence can therefor equally support opposite sides of any given issue.

Know what I'm sayin?

One Brow said...

Yeah, what about em? You can make it as gradual as you want, but that only pushes the question back. How do amino acids, of which many are required to make even one protein, form? Crick, Hoyle, and many others have rejected the possibility of even an amino acid forming on earth, the over-hyped and now debunked Miller-Urey myth notwithstanding.

I have no idea how they formed, and we may never know. That's a different issue from the 'life comes from life' issue.

Last I knew, the proposition that something dead could turn into something alive was anti-scientific "supernaturalism," ya know?

Even the most rabid naturalists don't propose that dead things become live things.

The point is that semantical modifications like "fully" alive say nothing out of context. Logic depends on the premise of non-contradiction (e.g. not both "alive" and "not alive" at the same time, in the same sense). You are free to reject logic all you want, but then there is no use in you acting like you are thinking or acting logically, and there is no reason for anyone to try and address you logically. We can all just be "touchy-feely," ya know?

Well, that a rather poor dilemma. How about we expand logic instead to incorpoate new tools and processes? Mathematicians have been doing this for decades, if not centuries. Look up multi-valued logics, for example.

Logic is a tool, not a universal arbiter. If your claw hammer's head is too small, you buy/build a sledgehammer. If the head is too hard, you buy/build a rubber mallet. We create logic, we set the rules, and we can change the rules if we need to.

Johnson, he ROCKS, eh!?.

He's a good speaker.

Whatever his personal motivations, he makes valid points about the philosophy of science, etc.

There are some valid points, a few non sequiturs, a couple of reactions against positions not taken.

There may well be a plausible, completely naturalistic explanations for evolution that develops with time, but the prevailing dogma of the last 70-80 years aint it, and the fact that so many "scientists" have proclaimed the theory to be virtual fact only shows that they too have their faith, their blind spots, and their (secular) agenda..

The questions about the Cambrian explosion, for example, are not quite in the limbo Johnson describes. However, I agree that science should always tread lightly when making pronouncements.

It pains me to see so many otherwise brilliant people be so philosophically naive as to present there premises as empirically-established fact, while never even acknowledging that their assumptions are just that: assumptions, made a priori, from which all their subsequent reasoning is derived, and upon which all their conclusions depend..

If there were no religious evolutionists, you'd have a point.

I hate dogmatic, illogical "explanations," whether religious or non-religious in character. Partisan ideological agendas bring out and highlight the lack of intellectual integrity, the hypocrisy, and the close-mindedness of both sides of the issue, not just the side opposing that which one chooses to join. It aint nuthin purty..

I agree.

The evidence can therefor equally support opposite sides of any given issue.

Know what I'm sayin?
.

I agree.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "If there were no religious evolutionists, you'd have a point."

The point I was trying to make had nothing to do with religion, or lack thereof, so I'm not sure if you thought I was making a different point, or if you're seeing some connection that escapes me.

One Brow said...

My understanding is that you are saying th main reason people see randomness in evolution, a lack of direction, and no design is that they believe these are the ontological states of the universe (i.e., they are atheists, natrualists, etc.), and import those beliefs into the science.

However, there are a number of religous men who see randomness in evolution, a lack of direction, and no design, including the vast majority of religious men who are biologists. They don't have the ontological imperative to bring in randomenss without reason, yet they say it is there.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "They don't have the ontological imperative to bring in randomenss without reason, yet they say it is there."

Well, "imperatives," like beauty, are in the eye of the beholder, I figure. It seems to me that certain people "naturally" tend to deny the existence of free will (just to get off the topic of evolution as a possible source of confusion) and others "naturally" tend to assume the existence/reality of free will.

Those with a belief in God may be more likely to affirm free will and those with atheistic views may be more likely to deny it, I dunno, but I don't see their "natural" inclinations to be a product of their religious views, per se.

Rather I see it more as a function of what I might call "personality types." Those who deny free will invariably seem to do it on the basis of an extrapolation of the interrelated concepts of cause and effect to a universal scale, as LaPlace did with Newton's laws of mechanics.

I see this as a mode of thinking that is independent of any particular religous/spiritual belief system (or lack thereof). It strikes me as more of a prediliction for seeking predictable order, and perhaps a desire for being in possession of "truth" (which the concept of God seems to afford to the devout). In some cases, the more basic underlying need may to deny or affirm responsibility for (and thereby either avoid the culpability for, or else claim the "credit" for) one's own actions. I do think that certain psychological needs are fulfilled by either affirming or denying free will, I just don't see the needs as either being religious or anti-religious at bottom.

My initial references to a priori assumptions were totally without consideration of belief in God. These assumptions, whether consistent, inconsistent, or neutral with respect theism or atheism are what I would simply call "metaphysical" assumptions, as opposed to religous/non-religous assumptions.

Some christian sects (denominations), such as Calvinism (I think), take predestination and lack of free will as a given, while others hold the concept of free will to be a necessary implication of christianity. Which one represents "true" christianity, I wonder? Maybe neither, but each incorporates it's own branch of metaphysics which is independent of it's ultimate committment to theism.

Anonymous said...

The point about "randomness," which I just keep making over and over, is that it is totally unnecessary to even the darwinian view (as science, rather than as ideology). Mutation (whether random or not) plus natural selection is all that's needed for the theory.

Yet guys like Maynard-Smith write entire books with the "central idea" that mutations are random. Of course, given their mechanistic, reductionistic view of genetics, random mutation of "genes" boiled down to random variation of all heritable and/or internal variation for them.

As more and more evidence accumulates, more and more scientists are rejecting the concept of strictly non-random variation and mechanistic genetic determination. One can only wonder why the darwinists and neo-darwinists felt is was absolutlely necessary to insist, a priori, that all mutations MUST be random. That is one place where the obvious metaphysical (as opposed to scientific) elements of the theory (philosophy) present themselves from the git-go.

Anonymous said...

Edit: As more and more evidence accumulates, more and more scientists are rejecting the concept of strictly random variation and mechanistic genetic determination. [Probably obvious, but I meant to say strictly random, not "non-random").

Anonymous said...

The following cite is to a video sponsored by the Univeristy of California called "On Darwinsim." A recurring theme is the role of "propaganda" in the promotion of evolutionary theory in public discourse and educational settings.

I'm sure you would disagree with virtually every word of it, Eric, but, "know your enemy," eh? Are these claims just the product of irresponsible, incoherent "conspiracy theories," ya figure? Give me your take on the idiocy of it all, eh?:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clqi5ZRfMcE

Anonymous said...

As Johnson himself points out, his criticisms are neither new nor original. Johnson relates, and quotes from, an exchange (via book andd book review) between Grasse and Dobzhansky in 1975.

Johnson summarizes Grasse's view as follows: "Grasse denied emphatically that
mutation and selection have the power to create new complex organs or body plans, explaining
that the intra-species variation that results from DNA copying errors is mere fluctuation, which never leads to any important innovation...
Grasse insisted that the defining quality of life is the intelligence encoded in its biochemicalsystems, an intelligence that cannot be understood solely in terms of its material embodiment...arguing that the evidence of genetics, zoology, and paleontology refutes the
Darwinian theory that random mutation and natural selection were important sources of
evolutionary innovation. Given the state of the empirical evidence, to acknowledge paleontology refutes the Darwinian theory that random mutation and natural selection were important sources of evolutionary innovation. Given the state of the empirical evidence, to acknowledge the existenceof some as yet undiscovered orienting force that guided evolution was merely to face the facts....The sentence with which Grasse ends his book is: "It is possible that in this domain biology, impotent, yields the floor to metaphysics.""

Johnson then summarizes Dobzhansky's response as follows:

[Quoting Dobzhansky directly]: "Now one can disagree with Grasse but not ignore him. He is the most distinguished of French zoologists, the editor of the 28 volumes of Traite de Zoologie, author of numerous original investigations, and ex-president of the Academie des Sciences. His knowledge of the living world is encyclopedic."

[Back to Johnson]: "In short, Grasse had not gone wrong due to ignorance. Then where had he gone wrong? According to Dobzhansky, the problem was that the most distinguished of French zoologists did not understand the rules of scientific reasoning...To Dobzhansky, therefore, Grasse's insistence that the sources of new genetic information might not be "accessible to reason" was pointless and harmful to the cause of science...From Dobzhansky's viewpoint... to accept
that kind of limitation would be to give up on science."

====

Grasse's point was apparently that the processes and mechanisms behind macro-evolution were totally unknown, and certainly not adequately explained by neo-darwinism, given the evidence. Basically, I as read it, Grasses was willing to admit that science currently had no good answer, and Dobzhansky believed that any such admission would be bad for science and tantamount to "giving up on science."

If this summary is correct, it certainly helps document his claim that mainstream scientific theorists would rather give a bad answer than admit that is has no answer. Is this really "science," ya figure? What is worse is the widespread insistence by dogmatic neo-darwinists that their unproven assumptions are acknowledged to be virtual fact.

http://ebd10.ebd.csic.es/pdfs/DarwSciOrPhil.pdf

Anonymous said...

I wuz talkin to a theist today. He sez: aint, looky here: The existence of God is a FACT. The vast mulitiude of evidence for the existence of God is well-documented, and is rproven to me anew each and every day.

The FACT of God's existence is considered non-controversial by all reasonable people and is generally accepted by the majority of people on this planet. Any "denialist" who doubts that evidence and authority is either completely biased and/or utterly irrational, git it?

I sez: Well, OK, then!

Anonymous said...

“Through use and abuse of hidden postulates, of bold, often ill-founded extrapolations, a pseudoscience has been created. It is taking root in the very heart of biology and is leading astray many biochemists and biologists, who sincerely believe that the accuracy of fundamental concepts has been demonstrated, which is not the case. - Evolution of Living Organisms (1977), p.6

Today, our duty is to destroy the myth of evolution, considered as a simple, understood, and explained phenomenon which keeps rapidly unfolding before us. Biologists must be encouraged to think about the weaknesses of the interpretations and extrapolations that theoreticians put forward or lay down as established truths. The deceit is sometimes unconscious, but not always, since some people, owing to their sectarianism, purposely overlook reality and refuse to acknowledge the inadequacies and the falsity of their beliefs. - Evolution of Living Organisms (1977), p.8

It follows that any explanation of the mechanism in creative evolution of the fundamental structural plans is heavily burdened with hypotheses. This should appear as an epigraph to every book on evolution. The lack of direct evidence leads to the formation of pure conjectures as to the genesis of the phyla; we do not even have a basis to determine the extent to which these opinions are correct. - Evolution of Living Organisms (1977), p.31." ("Pierre-Paul Grassé)

Obviously some kinda creationist, eh?

Anonymous said...

1. I have no objection to, and in fact see the need for, methodological naturalism. However I believe it is disingenous for the evolutionary ideologues to pretend that is the issue here. ID, per se, has nothing to do with changing that methodology. Einstein, Newton, and many others continued to adhere to it, notwithstanding their belief in ultimate "design."

The ideologues simply want to claim that their metaphysics are strictly methodological when that is far from the case. They incorporate a good deal of ontological and metaphysical naturalism into their so-called "scientific theory" and then deny they have done so. A cheap, easily exposed tactic.


2. I have no desire to see ID "taught" in high school biology classes. It too is simply metaphysics. But if evolutionary theorists are going to present metaphysical belief systems as necessary requirements of their "factual" theory, then the alternative should also be presented. For the neo-darwinistic theory the metaphysical assumptions are not "optional;" they are part and parcel of the theory, as presented and promulgated by the theorists.

The problem is that they deny that they are doing it, and try to define other metaphysical approches out of existence.

3. There is no valid "scientific" reason to rule out the very possibility of the existence of "intelligence" and teleology in biological processes, any more than there is to exclude the possiblily that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. One would not, for example, rule out the very possiblity of design if an apparently alien spacecraft were found. Nor would any investigator refuse to analyze the structure of a previously unknown computer programming code on the grounds that intelligence and design cannot be the subject of natualistic analysis and testing. Indeed, any such suggestion would strike most people as ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Edit: Nor would any investigator refuse to analyze the structure of a previously unknown computer programming code on the grounds that PRODUCTS OF intelligence and design cannot be the subject of natualistic analysis and testing. Indeed, any such suggestion would strike most people as ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

As an analogy, think about code-breakers. Codes can be designed in very sophisicated manners which give every appearance of utter, indecipherable randomness to the communications (such as by using "enigma" machines, etc.).

Nonetheless, the code-breakers assume that the apparently random communication is intelligible to both the sender and receiver because each of them understands the code's underlying structure and basis.

Without this conviction, the code-breakers would have no reason to believe in the possibility of deciphering and understanding the disguised communications, and certainly would have no incentive to even try to do so.

If they started with the assumption that the appearance and structure of the symbols was truly random, they would have no conceivable hope of ever understanding it.

Know what I'm sayin?

Anonymous said...

"Systems biology...is about putting together rather than taking apart, integration rather than reduction. It requires that we develop ways of thinking about integration that are as rigorous as our reductionist programmes, but different....It means changing our philosophy, in the full sense of the term." Denis Noble

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_biology

Wiki says that Noble is an eminent biologist from Oxford who pionereed systems biology and created the first virtual organ (heart) through use of super-computers. Needless to say, he is "is critical of the ideas of genetic determinism and genetic reductionism. He points out that there are many examples of feedback loops and "downward causation" in biology, and that it is not reasonable to privilege one level of understanding over all others. He also explains that genes in fact work in groups and systems, so that the genome is more like a set of organ pipes than a "blueprint for life".

Noble offers 10 Principles of Systems Biology:

1.Biological functionality is multi-level
2.Transmission of information is not one way
3.DNA is not the sole transmitter of inheritance
4.The theory of biological relativity: there is no privileged level of causality
5.Gene ontology will fail without higher-level insight
6.There is no genetic program
7.There are no programs at any other level
8.There are no programs in the brain
9.The self is not an object
10.There are many more to be discovered; a genuine ‘theory of biology’ does not yet exist

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denis_Noble

A change of philosophy is needed? No theory of biology? Two-way transmission? DNA aint the sole transmitter of inheritance? Feedback loops? No programs in genetics, the brain, or at any other level?

These aint the "known facts" that evolutionists have been learnin us for 80 years, eh?

Obviously some kinda creationist, I figure.

One Brow said...

One Brow said: "They don't have the ontological imperative to bring in randomenss without reason, yet they say it is there."

Well, "imperatives," like beauty, are in the eye of the beholder, I figure. It seems to me that certain people "naturally" tend to deny the existence of free will (just to get off the topic of evolution as a possible source of confusion) and others "naturally" tend to assume the existence/reality of free will.

Those with a belief in God may be more likely to affirm free will and those with atheistic views may be more likely to deny it, I dunno, but I don't see their "natural" inclinations to be a product of their religious views, per se.

...


Well, free will seems a little off-topic. However, I'm not aware of many naturalists that would argue for the ontological truth of free will, nor do I know of many religious people who argue against it, depending on the precise level of freedom you are discussing.

Some christian sects (denominations), such as Calvinism (I think), take predestination and lack of free will as a given, while others hold the concept of free will to be a necessary implication of christianity. Which one represents "true" christianity, I wonder? Maybe neither, but each incorporates it's own branch of metaphysics which is independent of it's ultimate committment to theism.

Actually, Calvinists accept a more limited version of free will, often called compatiblistic free will. Both Calvinists and Arminians accept their beliefs because of their religious views.

The point about "randomness," which I just keep making over and over, is that it is totally unnecessary to even the darwinian view (as science, rather than as ideology). Mutation (whether random or not) plus natural selection is all that's needed for the theory.

What is that sentence, and in particular "needed", supposed to mean? First of all, many mechanisms beside mutation and natural selection are needed. Secondly, adding the epistomelogical randomness of specific mutations adds the theory predictive power, in the sense that you can get better estimates on how long some types of chanmges might take to appear.

As more and more evidence accumulates, more and more scientists are rejecting the concept of strictly random variation and mechanistic genetic determination.

Some types of variation are random, and some are not.

One can only wonder why the darwinists and neo-darwinists felt is was absolutlely necessary to insist, a priori, that all mutations MUST be random.

Neo-darwinism is dead. Who are the "darwinists" that *currently* insist all variation is random?

One Brow said...

The following cite is to a video sponsored by the Univeristy of California called "On Darwinsim." A recurring theme is the role of "propaganda" in the promotion of evolutionary theory in public discourse and educational settings.

I'm sure you would disagree with virtually every word of it, Eric, but, "know your enemy," eh? Are these claims just the product of irresponsible, incoherent "conspiracy theories," ya figure? Give me your take on the idiocy of it all, eh?:


I might one day listen to another hour of Johnson on the subjuect, but it likely will not be soon. If you want to discuss specific claims (besides the one below), list them.

As Johnson himself points out, his criticisms are neither new nor original. Johnson relates, and quotes from, an exchange (via book andd book review) between Grasse and Dobzhansky in 1975.

...

Grasse's point was apparently that the processes and mechanisms behind macro-evolution were totally unknown, and certainly not adequately explained by neo-darwinism, given the evidence. Basically, I as read it, Grasses was willing to admit that science currently had no good answer, and Dobzhansky believed that any such admission would be bad for science and tantamount to "giving up on science."


Did you do any research on that, or just take Johnson's word for it?

At the philosophical level, he challenged the crucial doctrine of uniformitarianism, which holds that processes detectable by our present-day science were also responsible for the great transformations that occurred in the remote past. According to Grasse, evolving species acquire a new store of genetic information through "a phenomenon whose equivalent cannot be seen in the creatures living at the present time (either because it is not there or because we are unable to see it)."

http://www.skepticfiles.org/evolut/swaa2pej.htm

Last I heard, there was no information on Grasse's "store of genetic information" or from where it would come. Instead, the scientists who agreed with Dobzhansky--who acknowledged the inadequacy of current science to explain the origin of species--kept adding to our knowledge, and eventually killed neo-Darwinism the right way: they replaced it with something better. When you have a million or so biologist in the world, there's always going to be a few highly talented crack-pots.

Now, I will certainly grant you that uniformitarianism is a philosphical, non-scientific assumption used by scientists. I also think that this is not the same thing as naturalism.

“Through use and abuse of hidden postulates, ... we do not even have a basis to determine the extent to which these opinions are correct. - Evolution of Living Organisms (1977), p.31." ("Pierre-Paul Grassé)

Obviously some kinda creationist, eh?


Considering his alternative, some store of undetectable information applied en masse in a population, he's not far from one.

One Brow said...

1. I have no objection to, and in fact see the need for, methodological naturalism. However I believe it is disingenous for the evolutionary ideologues to pretend that is the issue here. ID, per se, has nothing to do with changing that methodology.

When they claim what they are doing is science, ID is trying to get admitted ideas that are not arrived at through methodological naturalism.

Einstein, Newton, and many others continued to adhere to it, notwithstanding their belief in ultimate "design."

Einstien's design was a naturalistic version. Not that it matters for this argument.

The ideologues simply want to claim that their metaphysics are strictly methodological when that is far from the case. They incorporate a good deal of ontological and metaphysical naturalism into their so-called "scientific theory" and then deny they have done so. A cheap, easily exposed tactic.

Except, you don't expose it. You claim it over and over, but all of the relevant scientific material you produce does not require ontological naturalism, just an inability to predict the results (empirical/epistomelogical randomenss). There are a lot of authors who make that transition, but it is not in the scientific work.

2. I have no desire to see ID "taught" in high school biology classes. It too is simply metaphysics. But if evolutionary theorists are going to present metaphysical belief systems as necessary requirements of their "factual" theory, then the alternative should also be presented. For the neo-darwinistic theory the metaphysical assumptions are not "optional;" they are part and parcel of the theory, as presented and promulgated by the theorists.

Perhaps you could start by naming the state that requires teaching ontological randomness in biology class in their course standards, or the textbook that teaches it. With full quotes, please.

3. There is no valid "scientific" reason to rule out the very possibility of the existence of "intelligence" and teleology in biological processes, any more than there is to exclude the possiblily that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. One would not, for example, rule out the very possiblity of design if an apparently alien spacecraft were found. Nor would any investigator refuse to analyze the structure of a previously unknown computer programming code on the grounds that intelligence and design cannot be the subject of natualistic analysis and testing. Indeed, any such suggestion would strike most people as ridiculous.

I agree. Of course, we know what spacecraft and computer programming code looks like by analogy to other designed objects. There are no good analogies for biological systems. Instead, ID has to create counter-factual claims like Irreducible Complexity and the Law of conservation of Information.

Without this conviction, the code-breakers would have no reason to believe in the possibility of deciphering and understanding the disguised communications, and certainly would have no incentive to even try to do so.

If they started with the assumption that the appearance and structure of the symbols was truly random, they would have no conceivable hope of ever understanding it.


Let me know when ID advocates claim they have broken a biological code.

One Brow said...

"Systems biology...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denis_Noble

A change of philosophy is needed? No theory of biology? Two-way transmission? DNA aint the sole transmitter of inheritance? Feedback loops? No programs in genetics, the brain, or at any other level?

These aint the "known facts" that evolutionists have been learnin us for 80 years, eh?

Obviously some kinda creationist, I figure.


Noble is an evolutionist, and not one thing listed impacted the notion of philosophical naturalism in any way, from what I could tell. He's probably correct that, at a systems level, there is no current theory. The mathematics needed for that would prbably be a well-developed form of chaos theory, and we don't have that.

Methods are distinct from the theories which employ them. A supernaturalist can employ naturalistic methods and a "naturalist" can employ what is essentially supernatural methodology.

A point I have tried to make is that neo-darwinism may well employ naturalistic methods,


Neo-Darwinism is dead.

Evolutionary theory has always encountered resistance from certain segments of society. As a counter-measure, scientists decided to "take the offensive" and repeatedly proclaim that their assumptions were "fact." This was often coupled with ridicule of any "naive" person who did not take them at their word. Decades of this have led many to unquestionably accept the demonstrated "truth" and indubitability of neo-darwinism.

Neo-Darwinism is dead.

Many scientists have themselves admitted to succumbing to the power of such an omnipresent confident assertion of certainty by the respected scientific authorities.

I have a feeling that this rhetoric tactic influenced your acceptance of the "scientific" orthodoxy as much as, or maybe more than, the "evidence" itself. Just guessin, of course.


Do you think I'm a neo-Darwinist? If not, just what facts do you think I accept that are suspect?

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Neo-Darwinism is dead....Do you think I'm a neo-Darwinist?"

You have said that repeatedly, and you also seem to think that your personal rejection of that theory constitutes a wholesale rejection by the scientific community. This in spite of my presentation of a series of quotes, from people in the profession and in a position to know, of the widespread acceptance by current biologists of the major neo-darwinist premises.

My point really has nothing to do with how widely accepted neo-darwinism is today (although I think it is widely accepted) though. The point is that, adequate or not, scientists have been touting the theory as virtual fact for decades, and I have little doubt that you did the same prior to your more recent conclusion that "neo-darwinism is dead."

For that matter, I don't think you have yourself rejected many of the basic neo-darwinian premises, such as:

1. Common descent is a known fact (changing the terminology to "shared ancestry" does not seem to change the fundamental viewpoint that you are expressing, although I must confess that I don't even know what you are trying to say with that terminology).

2. The purported difference between macro and micro evolution is virtually non-existent, and this artificial distinction is primarily a misconception of creationists.

Common (or shared, whatever that means) ancestry may be a fact, I dunno, but there is no reasonable basis for asserting that it is a "fact" (as opposed to a reasonable inference or hypothesis).

The same is of course true for the confident assertion that the mechanisms of micro-evolution have been factually and empirically established as known and viable explanation for macroevolutionary phenomena.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "When you have a million or so biologist in the world, there's always going to be a few highly talented crack-pots."

Now, who would have guessed that you would dismiss a scientist of Grasse's stature, and all of his aruments for his position (which you are probably not even familiar with), as a "crackpot?"

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "When they claim what they are doing is science, ID is trying to get admitted ideas that are not arrived at through methodological naturalism."

When evolutionary theorists claim that their metaphysical assumption are science, they too are trying to get admitted ideas that are not arrived at though methodological naturalism.

Once again, methodology is distinct from the theory. Neither the intuition that biological complexity and diversity "must" have had some intelligent direction to evolve as it did, nor the one that raw matter, reacting to impersonal and undirected forces of nature, could produce all the known complexity and diversity, is an issue of "methodology."

Behe, Denton, and others are not trying to reduce the study of biology and evolution to the claim that "God did it all, end of investigation." In essence they are simply rejecting the primary philosphical (not methodological) claims that underlie what they see as wholly inadequate materialistic explanations. As we have previously agreed (I think), one need not be either a theist or an atheist to accept (or reject) the ultimate adequacy of aggressively materialistic explanations.

The NABT's position, which they abandoned (for public disemination) very reluctantly, under pressure from those who truly understood the difference between ontology and methodology, demonstrates that those promoting the theory tend to think in terms of metaphysics, not methodology when claiming what is "fact." The strong outcry from Pigliucci (and the, what, 1000 or so? eminent scientists, including Lewontin who signed his petition) also shows a conflation of metaphsyics with methodology.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Noble is an evolutionist, and not one thing listed impacted the notion of philosophical naturalism in any way, from what I could tell."

Given his claim that the underlying philosophy needs to completely change, Noble himself apparently sees it differently.

Noble's views definitely conflict with the major philosophical premises (mechanistic, deterministic material cause and effect) which underlie classic evolutionary thought.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Instead, ID has to create counter-factual claims like Irreducible Complexity and the Law of conservation of Information."

As Johnson noted in his debate with Provine, a very lenient standard of evidence and "proof" will suffice to convince one of something he already whole-heartedly believes. This was also the point underlying my story about my brother-in-law who killed a women in NYC years ago.

Your choice of the phrase "counter-factual" says nothing about "the facts." It does, however, speak volumes about your pre-existing premises, convictions, prejudices, and standards of "proof."

Anonymous said...

Hegel thought he could explain, on the basis of a priori assumptions, the entire history of man and God with the "mechanism" of dialectical idealism.

Marx undertook to "stand Hegel on his head," and do the same with dialectical materialism.

Both schools still have their devout followers who insist that their particular choice a prior assumptions constitute "the truth" and this obvious truth is empirically confirmed by observation, at least if the observation is "unbiased."

What else is new, eh?

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Considering his alternative, some store of undetectable information applied en masse in a population, he's not far from one."

His "alternative" seems to have been rather prophetic, eh, Eric? Most evolutionists who could not detect a coding (or any other) function to large segments of DNA in the genome called it "junk dna," and some even used the existence of this so-call "junk" as just one more proof of atheism--Why would an intelligent being create "junk?".

You seem to equate "undetected" with "supernatural" or "pseudo-scientific." Then why not treat the "missing links" in the pre-cambrian fossils accordingly, eh?

Turns out that some of this "junk" dna has complex functions for controlling and implementing dna coding on a selective basis, and could well provide the basis for an altenative "mechanism" for saltational evolution.

Hox genes and the like, could well be seen as "some store of (previously) undetectable information applied en masse in a population," except it would not be simply a specific "population" but virtually all livings things.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Perhaps you could start by naming the state that requires teaching ontological randomness in biology class in their course standards, or the textbook that teaches it. With full quotes, please."

Heh, state mandates are irrelevant to the issue, but, name one that doesn't, eh? Textbooks are full of the claim that mutations *are* random. Like I said, it's part and parcel of the very theory, which cannot be taught without that claim. Just like the NABT's claim that evolution *is* produced by undirected and impersonal forces.

Anonymous said...

My Mama told me one time: "Aint-boy, looky here: It fine if you wanna hang out with homeys who seek the truth. But you best git your little ass to runnin in high gear if ya come across someone who has found it, ya hear?"

One Brow said...

When you say "today," you imply that I may be bringing up an exchange from years back. But it was relatively recently (probably in the first set of 200 posts on this topic in this blog).

If I didn't recall the exchange, why wouold I presume the conversaiton was recent?

One Brow said...

The scientist used the word "random" or "randomness" in connection with a reference to the black box of variation. You maintained that he was referring to a ontological form of randomness, and apparently thought I was profoundly dense to think otherwise.

...

Actually, it was April 27, but these old posts are hard to read because I think they got scrambled between two threads (including one pre-dating the Nagel thread). You did in fact acknowledge that it was a metaphysical claim at the time, but you imputed an ontological intent to the scientist (Gerhart).

...

My point in bringing this up again now is to demonstrate that you yourself seem to impute metsphysical presumptions to evolutionary theorists.


Scientists aren't allowed ot have metaphysical outlooks? Gerhart and Kirschner were writing a popular book, one that used both science and a particular philosophical outlok to make a statement. As with many other scientitsts, this is separate from their actual scientific work. It is certainly separate from whether ID is science.

Stimulated by the ID critics, the authors of the book being reviewed here, who we just discussed in the last thread, try to address the powerful criticisms of the IDers (which simply exploit long-recognized weak points in the standard orthodoxy) while simultaneously refuting ID

I am not aware of said powerful criticisms. Perhaps they seem powerful to those disinclined to accept evolution.

As I said a long time ago, I look at the works of Denton, Behe, et al for a good critique of the generally accepted theory, not for a positive statement of an alternative platform. A rational, coherent critique of existing explanations constitutes "science" just as much as the theory being criticized. In this sense, ID theory constitutes "good science."

In addition to being rational and coherent, a critique also needs to be grounded in observable, testable, successful claims. 'Evolution disagrees with the Bible' is a rational, coherent critique that fails because the claims from the Bible fail in at least on of thse three latter categories.

The fact is that ID theorists, aided by new findings made possible by new techniques, have stimulated a great deal of reflection upon, and new ways of thinking about, existing theory in (some segments of) the evolutionary community. They have thereby done a service to the advancement of science. These authors are professors at Berkeley and Harvard, so the "revolution" is hitting the top tier, I guess.

The ID proponents have influenced the writing of a popular book or two, certainly.

"From this they assert that living things do not show design, as the same mechanism is used over and over by seemingly unrelated organisms. If living things were the work of a Creator, they ask, wouldn’t each organism be unique, built from its own particular and idiosyncratic plan?"

A very weak (even if correct) argument, doncha think?


Weak, metaphysical, and not scientific in the least.

Even hardliners like Mayr seem to have some sympathy with guys like Grasse and see the wisdom of scientists/philosophers like Noble and Woese with respect to (ontological) materialistic reductionism.

I am sure Mayr would always respect men working to improve understanding, even when they were wrong.

I wonder which of these viewpoints is mere psuedo-science (philosophical supernaturalism) and which one represents "true science" (realistic pursuit of truth, without philosophical presuppositions)? Is is possible that both are equally "philosophical" in nature at bottom? Could both be equally "scientific?"

I tend to see reductionism and anti-reductionism as different flavors that can both be persued using methodologically natural means. Reductionist technigues yeild easy answers more quickly, but oftten don't provide overall vision. System analysis techniques involve very hard questions and don't have the mathematical support that reductionist techniques have, but have a much more general application.

One Brow said...

I can't help but chuckle at the way he advocates the secular/materialist view with a straight face and apparent (if you didn't know better) sincerity. For example, to paraphrase (very roughly):

"Ya see, God just causes a bunch of trouble. That concept would just lead to a dogmatic biblical dictatorship, ... and it is our duty to utterly destroy that kinda superstitious myth.


I'm sure that is very effective propaganda, and fits in well with the claim he makes the the issue is materialism.

One Brow said: "Neo-Darwinism is dead....Do you think I'm a neo-Darwinist?"

You have said that repeatedly, and you also seem to think that your personal rejection of that theory constitutes a wholesale rejection by the scientific community. This in spite of my presentation of a series of quotes, from people in the profession and in a position to know, of the widespread acceptance by current biologists of the major neo-darwinist premises.


Some, but not all, of the neo-Darwinist premises have stood the test of time. However, it has been your insistance on treating neo-Darwinism as a single, specific set of axioms in a formal system that has caused my statements. If even one axiom is partially contradicted by evidence, then the formal system is useless as a model for the real world. As long as you insist on that construction, neo-Darsinism is dead. In a reducitonist framework, using it might still lead to some results in experiements, but it is no longer the overall story in biology. Pointing out that all scfientists accept a few of the premises does not mean they accept the full-blown system.

My point really has nothing to do with how widely accepted neo-darwinism is today (although I think it is widely accepted) though. The point is that, adequate or not, scientists have been touting the theory as virtual fact for decades, and I have little doubt that you did the same prior to your more recent conclusion that "neo-darwinism is dead."

There has never been a point where neo-Darwinism had near-universal acceptance. It was bvarely formulated in the mid-60s, and you already start to see it questions in the late 60s.

For that matter, I don't think you have yourself rejected many of the basic neo-darwinian premises, such as:

1. Common descent is a known fact (changing the terminology to "shared ancestry" does not seem to change the fundamental viewpoint that you are expressing, although I must confess that I don't even know what you are trying to say with that terminology).


You have insisted that common descent includes the implication of a universal common ancestor. while it's possible there is a universal common ancestor, it's also possible there is not. What we do have is shared ancestry, where each current living organism has the same set of ancestors (plural), which may have had separate beginnings. Even then, that position is only valid until we find a living organism that doesn't. It's concievable we might find life (or the remnants of life) on the sea floor, on Mars, etc. that have no relation to us at all. So far, all living things are related to us.

2. The purported difference between macro and micro evolution is virtually non-existent, and this artificial distinction is primarily a misconception of creationists.

Since I have twice published a list of evolutionary mechanisms, and that list includes mechaisms that operate at or above the level of species, it whould be clear that I accept there are differences between microevoltuion and macroevolution.

Common (or shared, whatever that means) ancestry may be a fact, I dunno, but there is no reasonable basis for asserting that it is a "fact" (as opposed to a reasonable inference or hypothesis).

Like evolution, it is both a fact and a theory. It is a fact in that it is true (until we discover some hypothetical unknown life form). It is a theory in it explains--along with many other theories--why living things look the way they do.

One Brow said...

One Brow said: "When you have a million or so biologist in the world, there's always going to be a few highly talented crack-pots."

Now, who would have guessed that you would dismiss a scientist of Grasse's stature, and all of his aruments for his position (which you are probably not even familiar with), as a "crackpot?"


If the summary I read was wrong, and Grasse accepted uniformitarianism, I will happily admit I was wrong.

Once again, methodology is distinct from the theory. Neither the intuition that biological complexity and diversity "must" have had some intelligent direction to evolve as it did, nor the one that raw matter, reacting to impersonal and undirected forces of nature, could produce all the known complexity and diversity, is an issue of "methodology."

You equivocate "must" and "could", again. They are not equal claims, and the second is indeed epistemological.

The NABT's position, which they abandoned (for public disemination) very reluctantly, under pressure from those who truly understood the difference between ontology and methodology, demonstrates that those promoting the theory tend to think in terms of metaphysics, not methodology when claiming what is "fact." The strong outcry from Pigliucci (and the, what, 1000 or so? eminent scientists, including Lewontin who signed his petition) also shows a conflation of metaphsyics with methodology.

Yet, it was abandoned, and rightly so. We should be just as vigilant about any sort of metaphysical assumptions creeping into the science curriculum. It should be kept free of them, as it currently is.

Noble's views definitely conflict with the major philosophical premises (mechanistic, deterministic material cause and effect) which underlie classic evolutionary thought.

I saw nothing in the material you offered from Noble that disputed a mechanistic, deterministic, or materialistic world view. Certainly it would be anti-reductionistic, but reductionism is not essential to materialism.

One Brow said...

One Brow said: "Instead, ID has to create counter-factual claims like Irreducible Complexity and the Law of conservation of Information."

Your choice of the phrase "counter-factual" says nothing about "the facts." It does, however, speak volumes about your pre-existing premises, convictions, prejudices, and standards of "proof."


When IC was first proposed (it has been modified since) it made specific, testable claims, and was rebutted, because those claims were counter-factual. The last version of IC I saw makes no such claims, though, so I would agree that is not coungter-factual.

As for the LCI, think about this post: http://recursed.blogspot.com/2009/01/test-your-knowledge-of-information.html.

One Brow said: "Considering his alternative, some store of undetectable information applied en masse in a population, he's not far from one."

His "alternative" seems to have been rather prophetic, eh, Eric? Most evolutionists who could not detect a coding (or any other) function to large segments of DNA in the genome called it "junk dna," and some even used the existence of this so-call "junk" as just one more proof of atheism--Why would an intelligent being create "junk?".


Actually, most evolutionists seems to have referred to it as non-coding DNA, and no, Geasse was not particularly prophetic.

You seem to equate "undetected" with "supernatural" or "pseudo-scientific." Then why not treat the "missing links" in the pre-cambrian fossils accordingly, eh?

Because Grasse's non-detection seems to have been based in non-uniformitarianism.

Turns out that some of this "junk" dna has complex functions for controlling and implementing dna coding on a selective basis, and could well provide the basis for an altenative "mechanism" for saltational evolution.

Hox genes and the like, could well be seen as "some store of (previously) undetectable information applied en masse in a population," except it would not be simply a specific "population" but virtually all livings things.


You missed the part about being applied en masse. Neither of those possibilities gets appies to more than a couple of organisms at a time. If the changes are too large, the individual can't interbreed and pass on the changes.

One Brow said: "Perhaps you could start by naming the state that requires teaching ontological randomness in biology class in their course standards, or the textbook that teaches it. With full quotes, please."

Heh, state mandates are irrelevant to the issue, but, name one that doesn't, eh? Textbooks are full of the claim that mutations *are* random. Like I said, it's part and parcel of the very theory, which cannot be taught without that claim. Just like the NABT's claim that evolution *is* produced by undirected and impersonal forces.


Again, random refers to what we can see of the changes, not an unknown, probably unknowable ontological nature, and I thought the NABT retracted that statement.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "I saw nothing in the material you offered from Noble that disputed a mechanistic, deterministic, or materialistic world view. Certainly it would be anti-reductionistic, but reductionism is not essential to materialism."

Feedback loops, lack of "programming," two-way information exchange, and such, is inconsistent with a view that things are determined (in the classical recursive sense) and mechanical in operation.

Mayr called "reductionism" a "philosopy" and it is (or can be). Mayr also said that Cartesian philosophy, which treats living things as "machines" (as deterministic mechanists do, as a matter of "philosophy") cannot solve biological problems (at least not some of them).

As quoted from wiki, some philosophers view "emergency" as some sort of vitalistic "psuedo-science." There are many (often closely related) aspects of metaphysics which generally accompany what is sometimes broadly referred to as "naturalism" (I prefer the term "materialsim" for the same basic concept).

The point is that there are usually several(not just one, such as "god exists") separate elements or doctrines which go to make-up a metaphysics which has been given a name. If nothing else, certains doctrines are implicit in any particular metaphsical view.

Noble attacks just about all of them, as far as what might be called the "Newtonian world view" goes, and appears to be enumerating points that he thinks are central to the needed "change in philosphy" that he is espousing.

Anonymous said...

Your link does not work for me: "Sorry, the page you were looking for in the blog Recursivity does not exist"

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Again, random refers to what we can see of the changes, not an unknown, probably unknowable ontological nature, and I thought the NABT retracted that statement."

I have already responded to this in part in the other thread. Evolutionists explain the random part of "random mutation" to mean, undirected, aimless and purposeless with respect to needs of the organism, with no mention of, or elaboration upon, a mere lack of predictability. Your field is math, but certainly you are aware of non-mathmatical meanings used by the popluation in general, aincha?

You also miss the simple point: Mutations *are* random speaks for itself (an ontological claim in being made as the common person would understand it). To merely say "mutations are unpredictable" would NOT convey the total lack of teleology which orthodox evolutionary theory incorporates as part of its "philosophy."

Google "random mutation" or something similar, and look for elaboration upon its intended meaning in the context of evolutionary theory, on scientific or academic sites (such as those sponsored by universities, etc.). Then tell me it is intended to have only the meaning you insist upon, eh, Eric?

Anonymous said...

By doing a search, I did find the blog you were trying to link. It's fine, as far as it goes, but I think it is missing a couple of underlying points:

1. This "is it possible" format of the questions requires an affirmative answer, but it in no way addresses the likelihood of that possibility actually occuring.

2. More importantly, the questions are ambiguous in an crucial respect. Each of them contains the formulation of "can information be created by...." In one sense, the answer must be no. The means of communicating information (a language, or whatever) must first be present. Therefore the questions do not address the underlying issue of whether the processes in question can actually "create" (as opposed to communicate) information...i.e., can they create a language?

I'm not sure how relevant this is to ID theory--I really don't know what ID theory really is, truth be told, not in any technical sense, at least.

Of course, as I have already said, I have never viewed the value of ID propronents to be in the "program" they advocate. Their criticisms of the standard explanations raise serious questions, whether their alternative is correct or not.

The "is it possible" formulation seems to be a favorite stand-by for evolutionary theory. Is it "possible" for strictly material undirected processes to create all the life we see, in all it's complexity?

Sure, it's "possible," but what, exactly does that prove? The next question has to be, "but how likely is it?"

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "When IC was first proposed (it has been modified since) it made specific, testable claims, and was rebutted, because those claims were counter-factual."

Would you be able to provide an example? Are you perhaps referring to a factual rebuttal of the claim that certain "systems" are "irreducibly complex?"

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "and I thought the NABT retracted that statement."

As I said in my post. Do you really see this as in any way relevant or responsive to the point I'm making?

Like your recurring "neo-darwinism is dead" response, this merely suggests evasive action rather than confrontation of the issues.

If you were on trial for murder, elected to testify in your own defense, and were asked "Did you murder Joe Smith last week?," the repeated "response" that "I didn't murder anyone today" would likely git your ass convicted, eh, Eric, even if you didn't cap Smitty.

Anonymous said...

Here is on entry from wiki which elaborates on my point about the notions of mechanism and materialism. A couple of excerpts:

"The doctrine of mechanism in philosophy comes in two different flavors. They are both doctrines of metaphysics, but they are different in scope and ambitions: the first is a global doctrine about nature, which has been more or less thoroughly abandoned; the second is a local doctrine about human beings and their minds, which is hotly contested. For clarity we might distinguish these two doctrines as universal mechanism and anthropic mechanism.

The older doctrine which we have called universal mechanism is a theory about the nature of the universe, closely linked with the early modern version of materialism. Universal mechanism held that the universe is best understood as a completely mechanical system--that is, a system composed entirely of matter in motion under a complete and regular system of laws of nature. The mechanists understood the achievements of the scientific revolution to show that every phenomenon in the universe could eventually be explained in terms of mechanical laws: that is, in terms of natural laws governing the motion and collision of matter. It follows that mechanism is a form of thoroughgoing determinism:..."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanism_(philosophy)

Determinism, mechanism, and materialism (of a philosophical, not methodolgical nature) are all touched upon right there, see?

One Brow said...

One Brow said: "I saw nothing in the material you offered from Noble that disputed a mechanistic, deterministic, or materialistic world view. Certainly it would be anti-reductionistic, but reductionism is not essential to materialism."

Feedback loops, lack of "programming," two-way information exchange, and such, is inconsistent with a view that things are determined (in the classical recursive sense) and mechanical in operation.


Why?

Mayr called "reductionism" a "philosopy" and it is (or can be). Mayr also said that Cartesian philosophy, which treats living things as "machines" (as deterministic mechanists do, as a matter of "philosophy") cannot solve biological problems (at least not some of them).

I would say that 'everything can be reduced' or even 'reduction is the only valid methodology' are philosophical statements. However, the process of looking at small pieces when you analyze something does no seem to carry any metaphysical connotations in and of itself.

There are many (often closely related) aspects of metaphysics which generally accompany what is sometimes broadly referred to as "naturalism" (I prefer the term "materialsim" for the same basic concept).

Well, I'm only an amateur here, but I thought one of the differences between a materialist and a naturalist is that the naturalist would recognize emergent phenomena as being real, and the materialist would not.

Noble attacks just about all of them, as far as what might be called the "Newtonian world view" goes, and appears to be enumerating points that he thinks are central to the needed "change in philosphy" that he is espousing.

I would agree that Noble had a good list for attacking a 'reduction only' point of view.

One Brow said...

One Brow said: "Again, random refers to what we can see of the changes, not an unknown, probably unknowable ontological nature, and I thought the NABT retracted that statement."

I have already responded to this in part in the other thread. Evolutionists explain the random part of "random mutation" to mean, undirected, aimless and purposeless with respect to needs of the organism, with no mention of, or elaboration upon, a mere lack of predictability.


You are not mentioning the connection. It is the lack of predictability that engenders the conclusion of undirectedness in that regard.

Your field is math, but certainly you are aware of non-mathmatical meanings used by the popluation in general, aincha?

Certainly. You are aware that part of learning science is learning scientific jargon?

You also miss the simple point: Mutations *are* random speaks for itself (an ontological claim in being made as the common person would understand it). To merely say "mutations are unpredictable" would NOT convey the total lack of teleology which orthodox evolutionary theory incorporates as part of its "philosophy."

I'm not aware that either form carries a larger rejection of teleology than the other. The action of any putative designer, sans prior knowledge of the purpose and means of the putative desiogn, would appear random and unpredictable.

Google "random mutation" or something similar, and look for elaboration upon its intended meaning in the context of evolutionary theory, on scientific or academic sites (such as those sponsored by universities, etc.). Then tell me it is intended to have only the meaning you insist upon, eh, Eric?

I used Yahoo! and searched "random mutation". The first link was not to a academic site. This was the second.

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIIC1aRandom.shtml

Mutations are Random

The mechanisms of evolution—like natural selection and genetic drift—work with the random variation generated by mutation.

Factors in the environment are thought to influence the rate of mutation but are not generally thought to influence the direction of mutation. For example, exposure to harmful chemicals may increase the mutation rate, but will not cause more mutations that make the organism resistant to those chemicals. In this respect, mutations are random—whether a particular mutation happens or not is generally unrelated to how useful that mutation would be.


Now, where precisely is this ontological claim you keep complaining about?

One Brow said...

1. This "is it possible" format of the questions requires an affirmative answer, but it in no way addresses the likelihood of that possibility actually occuring.

Which means what for the LCI? It's still bogus.

Let's say only one point replacement in a trillion can substantially increase information on a DNA string. My understanding is that a typical human has some 9 or so of these. Account for the DNA from every living organism, and we find that there would still be massive potential for information increase every year.

2. More importantly, the questions are ambiguous in an crucial respect. Each of them contains the formulation of "can information be created by...." In one sense, the answer must be no. The means of communicating information (a language, or whatever) must first be present. Therefore the questions do not address the underlying issue of whether the processes in question can actually "create" (as opposed to communicate) information...i.e., can they create a language?

I'm not sure how relevant this is to ID theory--I really don't know what ID theory really is, truth be told, not in any technical sense, at least.


That's understandable. To be brief, Kagolmorov-Chaitan information theory attempts to measure the amount of information on a string of consecutive position, each position of which can contain one value from two or more. There are specific ways to measure the information that lead to results like, in a string of eight os and 1s, 00000000 has less information 01010101, which is less than 01000011. This is the type of information Dembski has tried to apply to DNA in creating his LCI.

One Brow said...

The "is it possible" formulation seems to be a favorite stand-by for evolutionary theory. Is it "possible" for strictly material undirected processes to create all the life we see, in all it's complexity?

Sure, it's "possible," but what, exactly does that prove? The next question has to be, "but how likely is it?"


Unfortunately, the only way to really know that is to create multiple earths, and see what happens on each one.

One Brow said: "When IC was first proposed (it has been modified since) it made specific, testable claims, and was rebutted, because those claims were counter-factual."

Would you be able to provide an example? Are you perhaps referring to a factual rebuttal of the claim that certain "systems" are "irreducibly complex?"


In brief, the inital claim was that any system which built of multiple parts, each part of which was essential, could not be evolved. One primary example was the blood-clotting cascade. However, as an example, various fish can clot using the same basic process, but make do without some clotting protiens are are esential in human clotting.

One Brow said: "and I thought the NABT retracted that statement."

As I said in my post. Do you really see this as in any way relevant or responsive to the point I'm making?

Like your recurring "neo-darwinism is dead" response, this merely suggests evasive action rather than confrontation of the issues.

If you were on trial for murder, elected to testify in your own defense, and were asked "Did you murder Joe Smith last week?," the repeated "response" that "I didn't murder anyone today" would likely git your ass convicted, eh, Eric, even if you didn't cap Smitty.


On the other hand, if the crime in question is whether I smoked marijuana lst week, and my answer was that I have not smoked it since I was 14, that would matter. Here, we both seemed to agree that the NABT correctly retracted the offensive material, yet you seem to still want to find them guilty of putting forward the offensive doctrine. They made a mistake, they corrected it.

Here is on entry from wiki which elaborates on my point about the notions of mechanism and materialism. A couple of excerpts:

...

Determinism, mechanism, and materialism (of a philosophical, not methodolgical nature) are all touched upon right there, see?


Yes, it was one form of determinism. You can be deterministic without relying in universal mechanism.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Now, where precisely is this ontological claim you keep complaining about?"

Right here (although the Berkeley site is phrasing it in light of the findings of modern science, rather that the age-old dogmatic premsises of the neo-darwinists):

"In this respect, mutations are random—whether a particular mutation happens or not is generally unrelated to how useful that mutation would be."

"mutations *are* random" elaborated upon by the reference to a lack of mutation/usefulness relationship (NOT "a quite possibly useful, but not in occuring any predictable--by us--manner" type of elaboration).

Give it up, eh, Eric? Despite your contortions, this issue here is NOT about mere methodology. Classical neo-darwinism, as well the Berkeley site you cite, still state that mutations *are* random, and they do not qualify that statement by sayin it's strictly a mathematical definition (which wouldn't tell you that a non-teleological approach is inherent is the concept anyway).

Mutations may in fact *be* random, but that possibility alone does not give one the license to say they *are* random. Only a metaphysical stance justifies that claim.


"

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Here, we both seemed to agree that the NABT correctly retracted the offensive material, yet you seem to still want to find them guilty of putting forward the offensive doctrine. They made a mistake, they corrected it."

Why do we keep goin over the same ground, eh? The NABT voted unanimously NOT to retract the statement, but were advised that they must do so by the NAS, as I understand it. Needless to say, this alteration of a publicly deseminated statement, againt their will, would not change their approach to the topic nor their method of teachin it. Of course the widespread protest from the Univeristy level just further confirms that they feel it is absolutely essential to propagate a metaphysical form of naturalism, and not limit themselves to some watered-down "methodological" claim which would undercut their desire to pronounce that common descent, etc., is a "fact."

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "One primary example was the blood-clotting cascade. However, as an example, various fish can clot using the same basic process, but make do without some clotting protiens are are esential in human clotting."

Hmmmm. And this proves what? And how does it "prove" it? Is the reasoning here that if both humans and fish can clot blood (I didn't think fish had much in the way of "blood"), then that proves blood clotting "evolved" by means of gradual, gene-by-gene random mutations, that the idea?

Anonymous said...

Eric you are free (and wise) to acknowledge that any "materialism" which is required by the fundamental axioms of evolutionary theory can, and in the name of science, "should" be viewed as merely methodological. That would be contrary to the express statements and arguments of the creators on the neo-darwin synthesis however. That is not what they intended.

I don't, and never have, claimed that "atheism" was the sole motivation behind the formulation of these creators. They had other philosophical axes to grind, such as against Lamarckian, saltationist, orthogenetic and other disfavored (by them) viewpoints. But they were very clear about their premises--such concepts were excluded, a priori, by their theory as being possible explanations of the phenomena. ALL teleology must be excluded on principle. Natural selection must the the dominant "creative" force." Saltationism would give too large a hand to the "chance" element and would undermine the strictly mechanical, materialistic, deterministic nature of the theory they wanted to create, and make things too hard to "predict," so it had to go.

These guys were pining for natural law along the mechanistic Newtonian lines, which was the only "respectable" kinda science, as they saw it. That said, most of them probably had utter contempt for theistic views too, but, still....

My point is that they deliberately incorporated certain metaphysical assumptions into their "theory." Henceforth, any explanations which did not conform to the theory would be rejected out of hand.

One Brow said...

One Brow said: "Now, where precisely is this ontological claim you keep complaining about?"

Right here (although the Berkeley site is phrasing it in light of the findings of modern science, rather that the age-old dogmatic premsises of the neo-darwinists):

"In this respect, mutations are random—whether a particular mutation happens or not is generally unrelated to how useful that mutation would be."


Actually, it stated that the mutations were caused by the exposure to harmful chemicals. That is not a random process, it does not fit your defintion of a random event. Mutations are happening through a deliberate activity. The only sense in which they are random is whether the mutation itself can be related to a function of the organism, and this is an epistemologically verifiable claim, using mathematics and statistics, to see the pattern of the changes themselves and whether they confirm to random change or not.

"mutations *are* random" elaborated upon by the reference to a lack of mutation/usefulness relationship (NOT "a quite possibly useful, but not in occuring any predictable--by us--manner" type of elaboration).

Useful mutations can be identified by survival. If the survival is not increaed, the mutation was not useful.

Give it up, eh, Eric? Despite your contortions, this issue here is NOT about mere methodology. Classical neo-darwinism, as well the Berkeley site you cite, still state that mutations *are* random, and they do not qualify that statement by sayin it's strictly a mathematical definition (which wouldn't tell you that a non-teleological approach is inherent is the concept anyway).

There is nothing here to give up. At an ontological level, the changes were caused, not random, and the site explicitly says so.

One Brow said: "Here, we both seemed to agree that the NABT correctly retracted the offensive material, yet you seem to still want to find them guilty of putting forward the offensive doctrine. They made a mistake, they corrected it."

Why do we keep goin over the same ground, eh? The NABT voted unanimously NOT to retract the statement, but were advised that they must do so by the NAS, as I understand it.


So, they changed their position to match what scientists said. Got it.

Needless to say, this alteration of a publicly deseminated statement, againt their will,

The change was voted on, and passed. How is that "against their will"?

would not change their approach to the topic nor their method of teachin it.

You think biology teachers don't care what the country's leading science organization biologists has to say on the issue? That they would not defer to the NAS expertise in preparation of their lessons? Hmmmm....

Of course the widespread protest from the Univeristy level just further confirms that they feel it is absolutely essential to propagate a metaphysical form of naturalism, and not limit themselves to some watered-down "methodological" claim which would undercut their desire to pronounce that common descent, etc., is a "fact."

Obviously, the protest was not so widespread that it changed the opinion of the NAS (which is largely composed of those same univeristy-level biologists).


Hmmmm. And this proves what? And how does it "prove" it? Is the reasoning here that if both humans and fish can clot blood (I didn't think fish had much in the way of "blood"), then that proves blood clotting "evolved" by means of gradual, gene-by-gene random mutations, that the idea?


It disproves the notion that irreducably complex systems can't evolve, since the human system evolved from the fish system.

One Brow said...

Eric you are free (and wise) to acknowledge that any "materialism" which is required by the fundamental axioms of evolutionary theory can, and in the name of science, "should" be viewed as merely methodological. That would be contrary to the express statements and arguments of the creators on the neo-darwin synthesis however. That is not what they intended.

According to your reading of many of their statements.

At any rate, what they intended is irrelevant. What counts is what they could demonstrate. They did not relegate ideas like Lamarckism to the dustbin by shouting it down, they did it by publishing results and convincing other scientiasts they would be able to publish results. Their success are promulgating their view was not based on charisma or politics, it was based on the body of work. That's why they had to open the doors to men like Gould: he created his own body of impressive work. That's why the ideas of Margulis and Woese later came in wide acceptance. In the end, neo-Darwinism briefly flourished because it was simple and moderately accurate, not becuase of any supposed philosophical viewpoints.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Feedback loops, lack of "programming," two-way information exchange, and such, is inconsistent with a view that things are determined (in the classical recursive sense) and mechanical in operation.

Why?

There are probably several reasons for this, theoretical, metaphysical, and practical.

Classical deterministic notions require that the cause precede the effect. They cannot influence each other and must be unidirectional.

Furthermore Crick said this about his centra dogma: "My own thinking (and that of many of my colleagues) is based on two general principles, which I shall call the Sequence Hypothesis and the Central Dogma. The direct evidence for both of them is negligible, but I have found them to be of great help in getting to grips with these very complex problems. I present them here in the hope that others can make similar use of them. Their speculative nature is emphasized by their names. It is an instructive exercise to attempt to build a useful theory without using them. One generally ends in the wilderness."

Elsewhere (and here I'm paraphrasing) I have seen him quoted as sayin that any sort of feedback loop would make deductions and predictions virtually impossible. The unilineal, deterministic genetic theory he sought would disintegrate if DNA changed (let's just say) phenotype which then changed DNA, which then changed phenotype, etc. If such were the case, you could not really deduce much of anything about DNA from the phenotype, nor anything about the phenotype from the DNA. Simply too messy and unacceptable, and no doubt one of the reasons that some theorists claim that any postulation of "emergent" qualities is "pseudo-scientific."

There are no doubt better explanations of the problem than I have given here, but I'm just sayin what comes to mind right now.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "It disproves the notion that irreducably complex systems can't evolve, since the human system evolved from the fish system."

Heh, Eric, I'm sure you don't realize it, but this is classic circular "reasoning." You think you have "factually" disproved any notion that evolution cannot occur by asserting that things evolved (in the transmorphological sense).

Again, once you "know" (assume) that a certain proposition is true, it is self-proving. Put another way it is in no need of any kinda "proof" and will not be questioned. Anything inconsistent with that assumption is then "factually known" to be false.

This is perfectly logical, a priori, reasoning, but it has nuthin to do with what is factual (or "counter-factual).

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Obviously, the protest was not so widespread that it changed the opinion of the NAS (which is largely composed of those same univeristy-level biologists)."

No this is not obvious. NAS's "opinion" was already shared with that expressed by the protestor, no there was nothing to "change" in that respect. NAS literature is itself completely littered with equivalent statements about what "is." with respect to evolution. The concession made was a "political" one, but not one which changed the philosophy in any way. You can force a racist to rent his property to a minority on technical, legal grounds, but that won't turn him into a non-racist. On the contrary, he will probably be even more bitter, bigoted, and hateful after the experience.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "At any rate, what they intended is irrelevant. What counts is what they could demonstrate. They did not relegate ideas like Lamarckism to the dustbin by shouting it down, they did it by publishing results and convincing other scientiasts they would be able to publish results. Their success are promulgating their view was not based on charisma or politics, it was based on the body of work.

I agree that propaganda and the mere assertion of authority can only keep "control" of a situation for a limited amount of time, mebbe years, mebbe decades, mebbe centuries, but not forever. But that is beside the point I'm makin.

McClintock, Margulis, Woese, and (to a lesser degree because he was too high profile to be as easily marginalized) Gould all encountered stiff resistance (often in the form of personal attacks and open ridicule for even "thinking" what they thought) from the entrenched dogmatic adherents to the orthodox theory. The point I am making is that such theories are not "science," such tactics are not scientific, and that the attemtpt to enforce conformity to orthodoxy via intimidation and ridicule does NOT engender public (or private) faith in the self-proclaimed "truth" of their ontological dogma (well, except for the chumps in the group, ya know?).

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "The only sense in which they are random is whether the mutation itself can be related to a function of the organism, and this is an epistemologically verifiable claim, using mathematics and statistics, to see the pattern of the changes themselves and whether they confirm to random change or not."

What a "gene" is, and how it effects phenotypical change is still too complex and mysterious to be "verifiable" in any meaningful empirical way. Until quite recently, the concept of a "gene" was strictly formal and theoretical. To say that what happens to "genes" via mutation and how such changes affect phenotypical survival probabilities even "can be" (let alone "has been") empirically and/or mathematically verified is not true. It is simply a matter of faith, as is the assertion that mutations are random with respect to the "needs" of the organism.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that I just quoted from the review of an entire book by professors from Harvard and Berkeley which claims that the results of "random mutations" are biased in favor of "useful" variation. They are far from the only ones who reject this "central dogma" of evolutionary theory, ya know?

Anonymous said...

Most evolutionary scientists talk (at least in their discourse with students and the public) about genes as if they were well-known, well-defined, and well-established ontological entities. A lot of religious folk do the same when talkin about, say, angels. In either case, if you're a true believer, there is simply no real question that the referents of such talk are "real," easily understood, and non-controversial.

To me, the decades of incessant talk about genes and the "random mutation" thereof, has about the same degree of persuasiveness as do Sunday School teachers who talk about angels. This is just one of many examples.

Much of neo-darwinist evolutionary theory has taken on all the trappings of a psuedo-scientific ideology. This applies to it's theoretical content, but even more so it's practice and the attitude of it's adherents.

One need look no further than prominent adherents like Provine, Pigliucci, Dawkins to see that they have a strong emotional commitment to the metapsyical implications of their ideology and that they are not embracing evolutionary from the perspective of detached "scientists."

Does it "have" to be approached this way? No, of course not. But, if it wasn't neo-darwinism would have been rejected as an adequate theory by the vast majority of scientists many decades ago.

Anonymous said...

It took David Hume to "awaken" Kant from his dogmatic slumber. Sometimes people just "wake up" on their own, though:

"Just as pre-Darwinian biology was carried out by people whose faith was in the Creator and His plan, post-Darwinian biology is being carried out by people whose faith is in, almost, the deity of Darwin....One of the reasons I started taking this anti-evolutionary view, or let's call it a non- evolutionary view, was last year I had a sudden realization for over twenty years I had thought I was working on evolution in some way. One morning I woke up and something had happened in the night and it struck me that I had been working on this stuff for twenty years and there was not one thing I knew about it. That's quite a shock to learn that one can be so misled so long." (Colin Patterson)

Anonymous said...

"[Gillespie, the historian of science]takes it for granted that a rationalist view of nature [Darwinism] has replaced an irrational one [creationism] and of course, I myself took that view about eighteen months ago. Then I woke up and realized that all my life I had been duped into taking evolutionism as revealed truth in some way. [Gillespie said:] "Frequently, those holding creationist ideas could plead ignorance of the means and affirm only the facts." That seems to summarize the feeling I get in talking, to evolutionists today. They plead ignorance of the means of transformation but affirm only the facts, knowing that it's taken place." (Patterson)

Anonymous said...

Patterson is NOT sayin he believes in creationism. He's just sayin that he can't see darwinism as having much more empirically verified concrete subtance to it than does religion, as I read him.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "They did not relegate ideas like Lamarckism to the dustbin by shouting it down, they did it by publishing results and convincing other scientiasts they would be able to publish results."

Like the classic "disproof" of Lamarck which entailed a guy cuttin the tails offa mice and then observing that their offspring still had tails, ya mean? Lamarckian concepts are making a come-back, based on what some scientists see as the best interpretation of the evidence.

In fact, the neo-darwinists did make a big display of "shouting down" lamarckian notions. For years, lamarck was dismissed and ridiculed by sneering neo-darwinists on the basis of their theoretical commitments. Needless to say, anyone who suggested that there might be some merit to lamarck's concepts were treated as being even more incorrigibly ignorant, since they should "know better" by now, even if lamarck didn't.

Anonymous said...

C.H. Waddington said: “Lamarck is the only major figure in the history of biology whose name has become, to allintents and purposes, a term of abuse...[He] is still rejectedwith an indignation so intense that the skeptic may suspect something akin to an uneasy
conscience.”

Goldshmidt, the saltationist who Gould later admired and rehabilitated, in principle, after the discovery of regulatory genes, suffered a similar hostile fate, what Gould in fact called "the unkindest fate all:"

"When I studied evolutionary biology in graduate school during the mid-1960s, official rebuke and derision focused upon Richard Goldschmidt, a famous geneticist who, we were told, had gone astray. I do, however, predict that during this decade Goldschmidt will be largely vindicated in the world of evolutionary biology.

Goldschmidt's hopeful monster became the whipping boy of orthodox darwinists...and his theory suffered the unkindest fate of all--to lie unread and misunderstood while being ridiculed in a caricatured version."

My point here has nothing to do with atheism as such. It is that when one's "world views" are at stake, the response to challenges often becomes highly charged with emotions, quite extreme, arbitrarily emphatic, and uncritical in pronouncing the mandatory rejection of the challenge. Again, this does not inspire confidence in the supposed dispassionate objectivity of those so responding, and leads one to wonder why they are so overly defensive. A lack of true confidence in their alternative, perhaps (the "uneasy conscience" Waddington suggested)?

One Brow said...

There are probably several reasons for this, theoretical, metaphysical, and practical.

Classical deterministic notions require that the cause precede the effect. They cannot influence each other and must be unidirectional.


The cause and the effect are not an objects, but events that come from/occur on objects. A feedback loop is where the cause of event A orginates from object 1 and acts upon object 2 as A', in turn initiating or altering event B from object 2 which becomes B' on object 1, in turn initiating or altering event C on object 1 whichbcomes event C' on object 2, etc. At no point is any event affected by an event it caused, and unidirectionality is not violated.

Furthermore Crick said this about his centra dogma:

IIRC, most of Crick's work came in the early years after the discovery of DNA. I am very sure keeping things simple was a useful and productive initial investigative choice. However, as both biology and mathematics have advanced, it has become more fruitful to consider a more integrative stance. Currently both reductionist and integrative methodologies seem to be bearing useful results.

One Brow said: "It disproves the notion that irreducably complex systems can't evolve, since the human system evolved from the fish system."

Heh, Eric, I'm sure you don't realize it, but this is classic circular "reasoning." You think you have "factually" disproved any notion that evolution cannot occur by asserting that things evolved (in the transmorphological sense).


Even Behe acknowledges that we have ancestors very similar to today's fish. However, you are correct that this fact alone is not sufficient. What is also needed are mechanisms that we can see, and preferably have seen or at least have evidence of, that allow this to happen without outside influence. One such mechanism is the "Muellarian two-step", a version of the the more general scaffolding mechanism.

No this is not obvious. NAS's "opinion" was already shared with that expressed by the protestor,

Evidence?

no there was nothing to "change" in that respect. NAS literature is itself completely littered with equivalent statements about what "is." with respect to evolution.

Probably, you would interpret these statements ontologically when I would interpret them epistemologically.

One Brow said...

McClintock, Margulis, Woese, and (to a lesser degree because he was too high profile to be as easily marginalized) Gould all encountered stiff resistance (often in the form of personal attacks and open ridicule for even "thinking" what they thought) from the entrenched dogmatic adherents to the orthodox theory. The point I am making is that such theories are not "science," such tactics are not scientific, and that the attemtpt to enforce conformity to orthodoxy via intimidation and ridicule does NOT engender public (or private) faith in the self-proclaimed "truth" of their ontological dogma (well, except for the chumps in the group, ya know?).

I think you'll find that sort of resistance goes with any sort of revolutionary thought in any science, dating back to the time of Copernicus and probably before. It's at least partly because for every radical idea that produces fruit, there are 19 others that don't, and it's very hard to tell the good from the bad before the work is done. I think this is overall a good thing, it keeps the scientists who are better techniciams than visionaries working in areas that we already know have value, while allowing visionaries who are true believers opportunity to "show them all" how right they are or fail.

One Brow said: "The only sense in which they are random is whether the mutation itself can be related to a function of the organism, and this is an epistemologically verifiable claim, using mathematics and statistics, to see the pattern of the changes themselves and whether they confirm to random change or not."

What a "gene" is, and how it effects phenotypical change is still too complex and mysterious to be "verifiable" in any meaningful empirical way. Until quite recently, the concept of a "gene" was strictly formal and theoretical. To say that what happens to "genes" via mutation and how such changes affect phenotypical survival probabilities even "can be" (let alone "has been") empirically and/or mathematically verified is not true. It is simply a matter of faith, as is the assertion that mutations are random with respect to the "needs" of the organism.


While don't, and may never, have such exact definitions, what we do have is a very exact definiiton of a base-pair and of DNA sequences. So, while it would be difficult to constuct the DNA change -> gene change -> protien change -> phenotype pathway, if we treat the middle parts as a black box, it can be very easy to trace the DNA change ---> phenotype change. So, while we can't necessarily precisly define the gene that creates vitamin C in most mammals, we can point to the specific mutaiton in primates that disabled this gene. It's not the whole story, but it's a useful piece of it.

One Brow said...

Don't forget that I just quoted from the review of an entire book by professors from Harvard and Berkeley which claims that the results of "random mutations" are biased in favor of "useful" variation. They are far from the only ones who reject this "central dogma" of evolutionary theory, ya know?

My understanding of "facilitated variation" was that the organism was set up to take advantage of a wide variety of possible changes, so that fewer changes would have negative effects and more changes would be potentially useful.

Most evolutionary scientists talk (at least in their discourse with students and the public) about genes as if they were well-known, well-defined, and well-established ontological entities. ... Does it "have" to be approached this way? No, of course not. But, if it wasn't neo-darwinism would have been rejected as an adequate theory by the vast majority of scientists many decades ago.

Most mathematicians talk about sets and the element relation as if they were well-known, well-defined, and wel-established entities. Then, you take an upper level course in set theory and find that they are actually consider to be undefined. It does not have to be approached that way, but for lower-level students, it's often much easier and allows them to focus on the tasks they really need to master.

One Brow said...

"Just as pre-Darwinian biology was carried out by people whose faith was in the Creator and His plan, post-Darwinian biology is being carried out by people whose faith is in, almost, the deity of Darwin....(Colin Patterson)

I don't know of a single modern biologist who thinks Darwin had everything, or even almost everything, correct. They respect what he was correct about because it was revolutionary and robust. Let's chalk this off to hyperbole.

Patterson is NOT sayin he believes in creationism. He's just sayin that he can't see darwinism as having much more empirically verified concrete subtance to it than does religion, as I read him.

I believe we have discussed his views before.

One Brow said: "They did not relegate ideas like Lamarckism to the dustbin by shouting it down, they did it by publishing results and convincing other scientiasts they would be able to publish results."

Like the classic "disproof" of Lamarck which entailed a guy cuttin the tails offa mice and then observing that their offspring still had tails, ya mean? Lamarckian concepts are making a come-back, based on what some scientists see as the best interpretation of the evidence.


No, I don't believe the results of that particular undertaking were published in the scientific literature.

In fact, the neo-darwinists did make a big display of "shouting down" lamarckian notions. For years, lamarck was dismissed and ridiculed by sneering neo-darwinists on the basis of their theoretical commitments. Needless to say, anyone who suggested that there might be some merit to lamarck's concepts were treated as being even more incorrigibly ignorant, since they should "know better" by now, even if lamarck didn't.

Much like "McClintock, Margulis, Woese, and (to a lesser degree because he was too high profile to be as easily marginalized) Gould" were. So, why didn't the Lamarckians get their ideas into the mainstream, in your view? I think you know mine.

One Brow said...

It is that when one's "world views" are at stake, the response to challenges often becomes highly charged with emotions, quite extreme, arbitrarily emphatic, and uncritical in pronouncing the mandatory rejection of the challenge. Again, this does not inspire confidence in the supposed dispassionate objectivity of those so responding, and leads one to wonder why they are so overly defensive. A lack of true confidence in their alternative, perhaps (the "uneasy conscience" Waddington suggested)?

Perhaps. The scientists who are right even in such circumstances will nonetheless find a way to convince their contemporaries, by doing the necessary work.

Anonymous said...

"Probably, you would interpret these statements ontologically when I would interpret them epistemologically."

Yeah, probably, eh, Eric? If I said "Houston IS in Texas," you could probably strain for some interpretation about how I didn't intend this to be a claim of fact, only some kinda probability.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "So, why didn't the Lamarckians get their ideas into the mainstream, in your view? I think you know mine."

There are a variety of reasons...Of course there are many "lamarckian ideas" some of which were rejected with good reason. With respect to the general idea that an organism can alter it's own heriditary components on the basis of stimulus from the environment, the dogma of the Weissmann barrier was deemed to be absolute, and this was one primary reason why the idea was rejected "on principle." Nothing about the Weissmann barrier was empirical, it was intuitive, and actually based on the presumption, by Wiessmann, that at one time in biological history ALL variation was lamarckian.

Another is that any and all experimental evidence will be disputed, denied, and/or downplayed by the neo-darwinians, and the whole neo-darwinian theory, like Freudian psychology, is so malleable that virtually any evidence can be interpreted to conform to (at least one of) it's premises, at least in "possibility."

I think it's now been established to the satisfaction of most that the Wiessmann barrier is not inpenatrable. Epigentic phenomena certainly suggest a "lamarckian" aspect where cues from the environment seems to trigger adaptive genetic changes.

But the real point here is this: There is a difference between doubting the notion and/or wanting "strict proof" to be satisified, and simply ridiculing and rejecting the notion a priori on the basis of metapyshical hypotheses. Such tactics discourage, rather than stimulate, research in an area that has not been empirically established (or disestablished).

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "My understanding of "facilitated variation" was that the organism was set up to take advantage of a wide variety of possible changes, so that fewer changes would have negative effects and more changes would be potentially useful."

Yeah, exactly. The exact quote of the authors which I posted from the book review was this:


“The bias introduced by facilitated variation accelerates the process of natural selection by giving it more viable variation of a type likely to be appropriate to the selective conditions than it would have been if variation occurred in all directions.”

Of course they deny this is "lamarckian" which is a matter of definition and is further required to avoid ridicule, but, like, what's the difference, eh? A "bias" toward variation which is "appropriate to the selective conditions" aint "random mutation" in the sense of the (substantive, not semantical, please) meaning intended by the neo-darwinists, is it?

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "I believe we have discussed his views before."

Yeah, we have, but basically on the topic of how "creationists" quote mine and distort the intended meaning, eh? Surely Patterson did not really "mean" that adherence to Darwinism resembled devotion to revealed religion, even if that's what he said.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "The cause and the effect are not an objects, but events that come from/occur on objects. A feedback loop is where the cause of event A orginates from object 1 and acts upon object 2 as A', in turn initiating or altering event B from object 2 which becomes B' on object 1, in turn initiating or altering event C on object 1 whichbcomes event C' on object 2, etc. At no point is any event affected by an event it caused, and unidirectionality is not violated."

Yeah, I agree, but it goes beyond that. I suppose it is really more the acceptance of "emergent" phenomena by Noble that offends traditional notions of causality. To again quote from good ole, reliable and easily, accessible wiki again:

"[If] systems can have qualities not directly traceable to the system's components, but rather to how those components interact, and one is willing to accept that a system supervenes on its components, then it is difficult to account for an emergent property's cause. These new qualities are irreducible to the system's constituent parts (Laughlin 2005).

As suggested by this wording, reductionism has it's own conception of "causality," which cannot be "downward." Anything which has no discernible cause (in the classical sense) is bound to offend materialists and mechanists. Of course concepts like relationship, interconnectivity, complexity, coherence, and the like are not material objects, and their introduction may disturb those of a materialist mindset as well that those of a "mechanistic" mindset (of course, as evidenced from a prior wiki quote I posted, most think that a materialistic philosophy necessarily implies a mechanistic one, so the distinction between the two may be somewhat artificial and redundant).

Needless to say, concepts like relationship, interconnectivity, complexity, coherence, and the like are not material objects, and their introduction may disturb those of a materialistic, mechanistic mindset as well.

Anonymous said...

Oops, that last post got all jumbled in editing.

Anonymous said...

Edit: Last part of previous post should've read like this:

As suggested by this wording, reductionism has it's own conception of "causality," which cannot be "downward." Anything which has no discernible cause (in the classical sense) is bound to offend materialists and mechanists (of course, as evidenced from a prior wiki quote I posted, most think that a materialistic philosophy necessarily implies a mechanistic one, so the distinction between the two may be somewhat artificial and redundant).

Needless to say, concepts like relationship, interconnectivity, complexity, coherence, and the like are not material objects, and their introduction may disturb those of a materialistic, mechanistic mindset as well.

Anonymous said...

I said: "There are many (often closely related) aspects of metaphysics which generally accompany what is sometimes broadly referred to as "naturalism" (I prefer the term "materialsim" for the same basic concept)."

Your response was: "Well, I'm only an amateur here, but I thought one of the differences between a materialist and a naturalist is that the naturalist would recognize emergent phenomena as being real, and the materialist would not."

Well, everyone may have their own definition, I dunno. It's not really a term I have encountered much before, but I take it to be virtually identical with what I've always called "materialism."

Wiki on the topic: "In its broadest and strongest sense, naturalism is the metaphysical position that "nature is all there is, and all basic truths are truths of nature. All things and powers commonly regarded as supernatural, for example, God, souls and witchcraft, are asserted to be nonexistent."

This definition seems quite vague to me, and the definition by reference to "common regard" seems problematic. Wiki says the term was first used in 1983, and notes that "In a series of articles and books from 1996 onwards, Robert T. Pennock wrote using the term methodological naturalism to clarify that the scientific method confines itself to natural explanations without assuming the existence or non-existence of the supernatural, and is not based on dogmatic metaphysical naturalism as claimed by creationists and proponents of intelligent design, in particular Phillip E. Johnson."

Creator became "designer" I guess, and materialism became "naturalism." This article suggests the terminology gained widespread currency in the efforts to deny that science is "truly" materialistic, and only apparently so.

As I said before, I view the distinction to be made between ontological and methodological naturalism to be an important one which is valid. On the other hand, I think it is disingenious to suggest that this is all the vast majority of evolutionary theorists and teachers have in mind when conveying the "reality" of evolution to the public.

Like the substition of "designer" for "god," it makes a good "cover story" but it doesn't reflect the (typical) substance of the claims made on behalf of evolutionary theory by it's adherents and propagators.

That said, there are no doubt some on both sides that do not have an evasive purpose in mind when using either the term "intelligent design" or "methodological naturalism." Without importing any classic notion of "God," I, for example, tend to intutively conclude that some form of "intelligence," (in my view probably something innate in "nature") was involved in evolution.

I have not even attempted to develop some "mystical" theory or systematic explanation to account for it, and I don't care to try. I just can't, as an intuitive matter, conceive of intelligence, consciousness, self-propulsion, and all the other vast complexities of life comin from stupid-ass rocks (chemicals, etc.), I guess. Some intelligence and directionality must have been there all along, I figure.

Anonymous said...

I should add that my "intuition" is not the basis of my objections to neo-darwinism. I'm not wedded to it and if a sensible material explanation, founded upon empirical research rather than preconceived dogma, develops I'm quite open to it.

Neo-darwinism never made sense to me, and the kinds of "answers" I got when inquiring about the details left me with the same sense Patterson said he got (they could affirm only the facts and plead ignorance (same thing as vague, self-contradictory explanations, in my book) as to the means. The pretense to "knowledge" manifested in the form of what always sounded like "recited" explanations did not give me a sense of confidence in theory, I'm afraid. They could never even seemed to understand the question and seemingly could not fathom any real or apparent difficulties with the theory.

Even that doesn't bother me too much. I think "string theory" is kinda a joke even though I know virtually nuthin about it. Just good for a laugh, I don't let it concern me. Darwinism is different. The incessant claims to "fact" and vague assurances that "all the important details are known since the experimental results provide overwhelming evidence" has always bothered me, especially coming from experienced scientists. It soon becomes apparent that there is something "personal" about it to most of them.

But what's even worse is the way they brainwash students. One can't question any aspect of evolutionary theory without 25 colleges sophomores, like Sharpshooter, proclaiming that the theory of evolution has been indisputably proven. Of course that is usually immediately followed by an accusation that you must be a stupid fundamentalist christian followed by a combination of schoolyard insults and a rant against the "stupidity" of religion.

This is not a rare or atypical response from those who have uncritically been exposed to the indoctrination of evolutionists in my experience. I can only shake my head about what is being done in the name of "science."

One Brow said...

"Probably, you would interpret these statements ontologically when I would interpret them epistemologically."

Yeah, probably, eh, Eric? If I said "Houston IS in Texas," you could probably strain for some interpretation about how I didn't intend this to be a claim of fact, only some kinda probability.


The claim about probability comes from the word 'random', not the idea of epistemological versus ontological. With regard to the statement "Houston IS in Texas," there would be an ontological and an epistemological meaning to that statement.

There are a variety of reasons...Of course there are many "lamarckian ideas" some of which were rejected with good reason. With respect to the general idea that an organism can alter it's own heriditary components on the basis of stimulus from the environment, the dogma of the Weissmann barrier was deemed to be absolute, and this was one primary reason why the idea was rejected "on principle." Nothing about the Weissmann barrier was empirical, it was intuitive, and actually based on the presumption, by Wiessmann, that at one time in biological history ALL variation was lamarckian.

The absence of any detectable mechanism for the transfer from soma cells to germ cells in a non-random fashion is hardly "intuitive". If some new mechanism is discovered, the Wiessman barrier will be discarded. If some young scientist can propose the details of such a mechanism, they will probably get lots of initial ridicule, but they will also get some initial funding for a small expewriment or two. If those pan out, the funding will improve and eventually they'll be the next Woese or Margulis.

Another is that any and all experimental evidence will be disputed, denied, and/or downplayed by the neo-darwinians, and the whole neo-darwinian theory, like Freudian psychology, is so malleable that virtually any evidence can be interpreted to conform to (at least one of) it's premises, at least in "possibility."

I thought the evidence for epigentic inheritence, the creation of zone of increased mutability, endosymbiosis, HGT, etc. had been both well-established and counter to neo-Darwinism. So, I don't know why you are are saying this.

I think it's now been established to the satisfaction of most that the Wiessmann barrier is not inpenatrable. Epigentic phenomena certainly suggest a "lamarckian" aspect where cues from the environment seems to trigger adaptive genetic changes.

We don't know that epigentic phenomena which have environmental cues affect germ cells. We have observed some types of epigentic influence where one gene affects the expression of another (paramutation), but there don't seem to be environmental triggers. DNA methylation changes, RNA transcription changes, and prions don't have regular mechanisms that take them from cell to cell (the mechanisms that are known, such as HGT, are very irregular). Tnhe Weissman barrier does have a couple of cracks, but they are not the sort that allow for Lamarckian influences. If such mechanisms are discovered, the Wiessman barrier will be discarded.

But the real point here is this: There is a difference between doubting the notion and/or wanting "strict proof" to be satisified, and simply ridiculing and rejecting the notion a priori on the basis of metapyshical hypotheses. Such tactics discourage, rather than stimulate, research in an area that has not been empirically established (or disestablished).

You don't need strict proff to get a small grant for initial funding. You do need a mechanism that reflects how things actually seem to work in the cell.

One Brow said...

“The bias introduced by facilitated variation accelerates the process of natural selection by giving it more viable variation of a type likely to be appropriate to the selective conditions than it would have been if variation occurred in all directions.”

Perhaps I misunderstood. If they authors proposed a believable mechanism for the alteration in variations, they should be able to get a grant to test it.

Of course they deny this is "lamarckian" which is a matter of definition and is further required to avoid ridicule, but, like, what's the difference, eh? A "bias" toward variation which is "appropriate to the selective conditions" aint "random mutation" in the sense of the (substantive, not semantical, please) meaning intended by the neo-darwinists, is it?

I agree.

Yeah, we have, but basically on the topic of how "creationists" quote mine and distort the intended meaning, eh? Surely Patterson did not really "mean" that adherence to Darwinism resembled devotion to revealed religion, even if that's what he said.

Scientists don't use exaggeration and hyperbole? Can you name one contemporary scientist that actually did seem to keep every idea of Darwin's? I'm just trying to go by the evidence.

Yeah, I agree, but it goes beyond that. I suppose it is really more the acceptance of "emergent" phenomena by Noble that offends traditional notions of causality.

As a philosophical position, I don't find reductionism or similar positions palatable. If their notions of causality are offended, so be it.

As I said before, I view the distinction to be made between ontological and methodological naturalism to be an important one which is valid. On the other hand, I think it is disingenious to suggest that this is all the vast majority of evolutionary theorists and teachers have in mind when conveying the "reality" of evolution to the public.

Since the majority of biology *teachers* would not subscribe to ontological naturalism, from what I can recall, I think it's unfair to say they intend to convey it as reality.

I have not even attempted to develop some "mystical" theory or systematic explanation to account for it, and I don't care to try. I just can't, as an intuitive matter, conceive of intelligence, consciousness, self-propulsion, and all the other vast complexities of life comin from stupid-ass rocks (chemicals, etc.), I guess. Some intelligence and directionality must have been there all along, I figure.

OK.

But what's even worse is the way they brainwash students. One can't question any aspect of evolutionary theory without 25 colleges sophomores, like Sharpshooter, proclaiming that the theory of evolution has been indisputably proven. Of course that is usually immediately followed by an accusation that you must be a stupid fundamentalist christian followed by a combination of schoolyard insults and a rant against the "stupidity" of religion.

This is not a rare or atypical response from those who have uncritically been exposed to the indoctrination of evolutionists in my experience. I can only shake my head about what is being done in the name of "science."


I understand how you feel. I get the same type of reaction when I explain things like the idea that logic or artihemtic is a construction, not a universal law; that there is no reason to think a two-valued logic is sufficient to describe reality, etc. However, rather than blame the teachers on being determined to impose a philosohical mindset on the universality of the law of non-contradiction, I accept that student with less experience in an issue will necessarily have gaps in their studying. Evolutionary theory generally, and shared ancestry in particular, are still highly confirmed, and predictive, so much so that it seems ludicrous to deny the underlying resulting from these theories. That many student have just not done enough studying to realize there are open questions, and what they are, is an unfortunate but inevitable part of the educational process.

Anonymous said...

Like the classic "disproof" of Lamarck which entailed a guy cuttin the tails offa mice and then observing that their offspring still had tails, ya mean? Lamarckian concepts are making a come-back, based on what some scientists see as the best interpretation of the evidence.

No, I don't believe the results of that particular undertaking were published in the scientific literature.

===

This is still widely cited as "disproof" of lamarckism, eh, Eric? For example:

1. "In a famous series of experiments in which he cut off the tails of mice for 22 generations, Weismann disproved the theory that acquired characteristics could be inherited."
http://www.answers.com/topic/august-weismann

2. "Weismann firmly opposed the idea of inheritance of acquired characters. He put the matter to a practical test in a somewhat naively conceived experiment in which he cut off the tails of mice. With painstaking thoroughness, he observed five generations of progeny of tailless parents, 901 mice in all. Needless to say, they all grew normal tails, and Weismann was able to conclude that mutilations were not inherited."
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/639121/August-Friedrich-Leopold-Weismann

3. "Weismann also conducted one of the seminal experiments disproving Lamarckism. By cutting the tails off mice for twenty-one generations and seeing that the twenty-second generation still had tails, Weismann demonstrated that the injury was not passed on to the offspring and thus that acquired characteristics are not heritable (see Neo-Darwinism).[1]
http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/August-Weismann

One Brow said...

But, did he publish the results in the scientific literature?

Seriously, that was a stupid and strange experiement to run, unless someone was really arguing that that at some point there would be a tailless generation.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Seriously, that was a stupid and strange experiement to run, unless someone was really arguing that that at some point there would be a tailless generation."

Glad to see you agree, but it is still widely cited in textbooks and 21st century encylopedias as a "disproof," ya know?

Of course all of this is in response to your question of "why" I thought lamarckism had been rejected. Apparently these experimental results had a huge impact on the rejection of lamarckism at the time.

Caricaturizing, then "demolishing," opposing theories is exactly what Gould said the neo-darwinists did to Goldschmidt. The "acceptance" of scientific theories is never as "objective" as you like to pretend, eh, Eric? The neo-darwinists definitely implemented (quite successfully) an all-out propaganda war to ridicule all opposing thought.

But, the real underlying issue that I am trying to revert to is the nature of the built-in ontological claims in their theory. Such claims were not empirically arrived, are not "science" (except in the strictly theoretical sense), and should not be taken as a filter through which all subsequent research and explanation thereof must pass.

The dogmatism was widespread and rampant for decades. The real basis for the formulation of the strictly materialistic,deterministic, mechanicistic and reductionistic "ontology" their theory incorporated was their desire to propogate and prove their preconceptions about "reality" and to conform to what they saw as the necessary prerequiste for a "proper," mathematically-based, "science."

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand the obsession with "mechanisms" as a strict basis for adopting a scientific theory. We have touched on this is prior posts, but I don't think it was given enough emphasis.

Newton's "law of gravity" was strictly descriptive and mathematical in formulation. It proposed, and indeed Newton explicitly refused to propose, a "mechanism" for this mysterious "action at a distance."

No such mechanism has yet been found, so far as I know, although many hypothetical ones have been proposed. Yet the "law of gravity" was almost-univerally recognized as scientific theory at its best.

What gives with the assertion that, unless a mechanism is proposed, a hypothesis in "non-scientific," anyway?

Anonymous said...

Edit: Meant to say "It proposed NO, and indeed Newton explicitly refused to propose, a "mechanism" for this mysterious "action at a distance."

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "The absence of any detectable mechanism for the transfer from soma cells to germ cells in a non-random fashion is hardly "intuitive".

Wiesmann was not dealing in "mechanisms," just theoretical speculation. At the time, no one making any claims about the nature of genetics and inheritance (including claims about "random mutations") had a mechanistic basis for their claims.

As it turns out many of Weismann's premises about the "immortal" germ cells were also inconsistent with darwinsim, and just plain wrong, as it turns out. For example:

"In fact, Weismann was quite wrong about heredity in most respects. All cells in
fact contain the material of heredity, DNA. Germ cells can sometimes be produced from
somatic cells, even after an animal is neutered. Plants can reproduce new individuals from nearly any part—there is little or no sequestering of independent germ cells. Bacteria can incorporate hereditary material from the environment that is reproduced in
subsequent generations. Despite all this, the implication of Weismann’s germ/soma distinction wasgradually incorporated into the Darwinian program’s protective belt."

http://etd.library.pitt.edu/ETD/available/etd-05152009-110207/unrestricted/CartieriFJ_BPhil_ETD2009.pdf

Anonymous said...

A couple other interesting (to me) excerpts from the article just cited:

1. "In 1987, Matsuda (p. 33) investigated the role of environmental stimuli on
amphibian development and evolution via genetic assimilation. In a typical response, a
review claimed that “there can be little point in taking Matsuda’s thesis seriously…
because it does not fit traditional evolutionary theory.” (Duncan, 1985)...The subsequent lack of conflict between Neo Darwinism and any
other evolutionary program has resulted in what Karl Popper has called “a too dogmatic
adherence to Darwinism” (Popper, Evo Epistemology, p. 85)."

2. One consequence of Weismann’s concept of the
separation of the germ line and soma was to make it possible to understand genetics, and
hence evolution, without understanding development.” (JM Smith, Evo and Theory of
Games, p. 6)...As long as the Weismann barrier is assumed to be absolute, conflict between the
Neo Lamarckian program and the larger Neo Darwinian program is impossible, as their
problem domains cannot overlap. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the
Weismann barrier is not absolute, that genetic inheritance is not the only means of
inheritance, and that IAC may play a significant role in evolution. If the Neo Darwinianprotective belt is not modified to accommodate these developments (to be discussed
below), it risks becoming a degenerative program."

I believe that it is commonly accepted that the exclusion of embryology from neo-darwin for decades greatly showed the advance of evolutionary theory. This is the kind of problem I'm talking about when I complain about scientific programs that take certain metaphysical doctrines as "absolute" a priori. Certain areas of reseach are simply excluded from consideration ab initio.

Anonymous said...

Meant to say: "I believe that it is commonly accepted that the exclusion of embryology from neo-darwinistic theory for decades greatly slowed the advance of evolutionary theory."

Anonymous said...

I said: "The real basis for the formulation of the strictly materialistic,deterministic, mechanicistic and reductionistic "ontology" their theory incorporated was their desire...to conform to what they saw as the necessary prerequiste for a "proper," mathematically-based, "science."

A little anedoctal evidence here, eh, Eric?:

"Lewontin visited an economics class at the University of Massachusetts a few years ago to talk to the students. In a kind of neo-Darwinian jockeying, he said that evolutionary changes are due to the Fisher-Haldane mechanisms: mutation, emigration, immigration, and the like. At the end of the hour, he said that none of the consequences of the details of his analysis had been shown empirically. His elaborate cost-benefit mathematical treatment was devoid of chemistry and biology. I asked him why, if none of it could be shown experimentally or in the field, he was so wedded to presenting a cost-benefit explanation derived from phony human social-economic "theory." Why, when he himself was pointing to serious flaws related to the fundamental assumptions, did he want to teach this nonsense? His response was that there were two reasons: the first was "P.E." "P.E.?," I asked. "What is P.E.? Population explosion? Punctuated equilibrium? Physical education?" "No," he replied, "P.E. is `physics envy,'" which is a syndrome in which scientists in other disciplines yearn for the mathematically explicit models of physics.

His second reason was even more insidious: if he didn't couch his studies in the neo- Darwinist thought style (archaic and totally inappropriate language, in my opinion), he wouldn't be able to obtain grant money that was set up to support this kind of work." (Lynn Margulis)

http://www.edge.org/documents/ThirdCulture/n-Ch.7.html

Anonymous said...

Margulis is often good for a chuckle, so here's a little more, eh?:

"The neo-Darwinist population-genetics tradition is reminiscent of phrenology, I think, and is a kind of science that can expect exactly the same fate. It will look ridiculous in retrospect, because it is ridiculous...I've been critical of mathematical neo-Darwinism for years; it never made much sense to me. We were all told that random mutations — most of which are known to be deleterious — are the main cause of evolutionary change. I remember waking up one day with an epiphanous revelation: I am not a neo-Darwinist! It was if I had just confessed to a murder."

One Brow said...

One Brow said: "Seriously, that was a stupid and strange experiement to run, unless someone was really arguing that that at some point there would be a tailless generation."

Glad to see you agree, but it is still widely cited in textbooks and 21st century encylopedias as a "disproof," ya know?


I agree that it is not a disproof of anything expect the specific case of cutting tails off of mice.

Of course all of this is in response to your question of "why" I thought lamarckism had been rejected. Apparently these experimental results had a huge impact on the rejection of lamarckism at the time.

Where were the pro-Lamarckian experiements? Weissmann's show proved nothing, but it was still up to the Lamarckians to prove something.

Caricaturizing, then "demolishing," opposing theories is exactly what Gould said the neo-darwinists did to Goldschmidt. The "acceptance" of scientific theories is never as "objective" as you like to pretend, eh, Eric? The neo-darwinists definitely implemented (quite successfully) an all-out propaganda war to ridicule all opposing thought.

Such propaganda wars seem to be common in science. When the propagandists are wrong, they are eventually discarded.

The dogmatism was widespread and rampant for decades. The real basis for the formulation of the strictly materialistic,deterministic, mechanicistic and reductionistic "ontology" their theory incorporated was their desire to propogate and prove their preconceptions about "reality" and to conform to what they saw as the necessary prerequiste for a "proper," mathematically-based, "science."

They started out by answering the easy, reductionistic questions, so they had success and encouraged others to imitate them. Again, hardly a suprise.

I really don't understand the obsession with "mechanisms" as a strict basis for adopting a scientific theory. We have touched on this is prior posts, but I don't think it was given enough emphasis.

Newton's "law of gravity" was strictly descriptive and mathematical in formulation. It proposed NO, and indeed Newton explicitly refused to propose, a "mechanism" for this mysterious "action at a distance."


I think we both agreed that Newton had a law, but no theory. Have you changed your opinion on that?

No such mechanism has yet been found, so far as I know, although many hypothetical ones have been proposed.

I'm pretty sure the bending of spacetime by masses, and the tendency to travel on geodesics, is at least one level of mechanism.

Yet the "law of gravity" was almost-univerally recognized as scientific theory at its best.

What gives with the assertion that, unless a mechanism is proposed, a hypothesis in "non-scientific," anyway?


When you apply the Law of Gravity, sans General Realtivity, what is the hypothesis?

Relating this to intelligent design, what is the hypothesis?

One Brow said: "The absence of any detectable mechanism for the transfer from soma cells to germ cells in a non-random fashion is hardly "intuitive".

Wiesmann was not dealing in "mechanisms," just theoretical speculation. At the time, no one making any claims about the nature of genetics and inheritance (including claims about "random mutations") had a mechanistic basis for their claims.

As it turns out many of Weismann's premises about the "immortal" germ cells were also inconsistent with darwinsim, and just plain wrong, as it turns out. ... Despite all this, the implication of Weismann’s germ/soma distinction wasgradually incorporated into the Darwinian program’s protective belt."


So, we dropped the parts that he was wrong about, and kept the parts that were verified, and this means his positions ran roughshod over Lamarckian ideas?

One Brow said...

1. "In 1987, Matsuda (p. 33) investigated the role of environmental stimuli on
amphibian development and evolution via genetic assimilation.


How did that experiment pan out? If it was sucessful, there would have been additional funding for larger experiements. How did they turn out? This sounds like an idea that just died. Happens to many scientists of all fields in every generation.

I believe that it is commonly accepted that the exclusion of embryology from neo-darwin for decades greatly slowed the advance of evolutionary theory.

Are you claiming there was a deliberate exclusion, or just that people did not appreciate the interaction? Considering the best-known popularizer of embyological research is solidly in the camp you identify as the successor of neo-Darwinism, which seems more likely?

This is the kind of problem I'm talking about when I complain about scientific programs that take certain metaphysical doctrines as "absolute" a priori. Certain areas of reseach are simply excluded from consideration ab initio.

Hindsight is 20/20.

I said: "The real basis for the formulation of the strictly materialistic,deterministic, mechanicistic and reductionistic "ontology" their theory incorporated was their desire...to conform to what they saw as the necessary prerequiste for a "proper," mathematically-based, "science."

A little anedoctal evidence here, eh, Eric?:

... which is a syndrome in which scientists in other disciplines yearn for the mathematically explicit models of physics.

His second reason was even more insidious: if he didn't couch his studies in the neo- Darwinist thought style (archaic and totally inappropriate language, in my opinion), he wouldn't be able to obtain grant money that was set up to support this kind of work." (Lynn Margulis)


Margulis did not have physics envy and was able to recieve grant money. Obviously Lewontin was wrong.

Margulis is often good for a chuckle, so here's a little more, eh?:

She was a visionary, and they are not know for using faint words.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "I'm pretty sure the bending of spacetime by masses, and the tendency to travel on geodesics, is at least one level of mechanism."

Well, if all you mean by "mechanism" is some kinda hypothetical or theorectical explanation, mebbe, but I don't take that to be the meaning of "mechanism" when used in this context. I look at "Einstein's" explanation of gravity about the same way I view Newton's (or that of the Newtonians)--see next section:

One Brow said: "When you apply the Law of Gravity, sans General Realtivity, what is the hypothesis?"

That all matter "attracts" other matter. Kinda like Einstein's explanation, see? This is not what I would call a "mechanism," except in the hypothetical, basically tautological, sense.

One Brow said: "I think we both agreed that Newton had a law, but no theory. Have you changed your opinion on that?"

No, I didn't knowingly agree to that. We did agree that he had no "mechanism" for gravity, though.

Newton's mechanics are classical examples of the Deductive-Nomological and/or Hypothetico-Deductive models of "scientific" explanation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_science#Scientific_explanation

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothetico-deductive_model

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Where were the pro-Lamarckian experiements? Weissmann's show proved nothing, but it was still up to the Lamarckians to prove something."

That's always the position you seem to take, eh, Eric? But, your preconceived conceptions of truth aside, why is it not up to the Darwinian to show that prove that all mutations are random?

Anonymous said...

As noted in the Pitt article I cited, the neo-lamarckian experiments were done by the embryologists, and ignored by the neo-darwinians, by and large. That whole article is worth reading, I think, if you have any real interest in understanding how what it calls the "protective belt" of a theory limits the issues it will question.

Anonymous said...

This "we know we're right so the burden is on others to disprove us" attitude is just another manifestation of the selective (and hypocritical) application of "standards" to one's opponent.

We have already agreed that the notion of "random mutation" is at bottom a metaphyisical one that cannot be proved or disproved. So why is not neo-darwinism, like ID theory, untestable and hence "not scientific," I wonder.

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "So, we dropped the parts that he was wrong about, and kept the parts that were verified, and this means his positions ran roughshod over Lamarckian ideas?"

1. The question was about mechanisms--where is the "mechanism" for random mutation?

2. What was kept was the absoluteness of the doctrine lack of soma to germ cell influence. This has not been "verified" and is in fact widely believed to have been disconfirmed.

3. That "doctrine" been assumed, but not "proven," it is basically an aprioi axiom of neo-darwinism. Maynard Smith, a long time avid believer in the Wiesmann germ/soma cell distinction (he once said the modern synthesis should really be called "neo-wiesmannism" as I recall) has since conceded that the acceptance thereof was unfortune and misleading:

"[Wiesmann] was in effect saying that it is possible to understand genetics without understanding development. He thus set the stage for the growth of the science of genetics for this century; sadly, we still do not understand development. It follows that our understanding of evolution is necessarily partial, because genes are selected through their effect on development"

http://books.google.com/books?id=KmEx_bhnsDQC&pg=PA87&lpg=PA87&dq=maynard+smith+weismann&source=bl&ots=fLxlWTqjym&sig=oAvS7mMSvOJDlc83tormkBdsH_Q&hl=en&ei=T358SuTOOovUM96jvN0C&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10#v=onepage&q=maynard%20smith%20weismann&f=false

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Relating this to intelligent design, what is the hypothesis?"

In a loose sense it in that evolution is not exclusively the result of selection processes acting on "random mutation." If this is not a valid "scientific" hypothesis, then how can it's negation be one?

Anonymous said...

One Brow said: "Are you claiming there was a deliberate exclusion, or just that people did not appreciate the interaction?"

I guess I'm just claimin, like Maynard-Smith has specifically said, that the acceptance of the Wiesmann barrier as absolute made, by virtue of the dictates of the fundamental theoretic axioms, development totally irrevelvant to the gene-centric neo-darwinian theory of evolution. One always tends to exclude from consideration anything that is "irrelevant," so in that sense it was quite "deliberate." It is just as true that they did not "appreciate the interaction."

How could they? Their basic theorectical premises told them that there could be no interaction (remember Mayr sayin, as late as 2001, that all possibility of genetic variation stopped at the moment of fertilization?).

One Brow said...

One Brow said: "I'm pretty sure the bending of spacetime by masses, and the tendency to travel on geodesics, is at least one level of mechanism."

Well, if all you mean by "mechanism" is some kinda hypothetical or theorectical explanation, mebbe, but I don't take that to be the meaning of "mechanism" when used in this context. I look at "Einstein's" explanation of gravity about the same way I view Newton's (or that of the Newtonians)--see next section:

One Brow said: "When you apply the Law of Gravity, sans General Realtivity, what is the hypothesis?"

That all matter "attracts" other matter. Kinda like Einstein's explanation, see? This is not what I would call a "mechanism," except in the hypothetical, basically tautological, sense.


No, I don't see. Einstien's General Relativity describes a local effect of matter, not on other matter, but directly on spacetime itself. The interaction of the effects of different bodies is what create gravity. Now, you can argue that no mechanism is offered for why matter warps space, and I don't recall ever seeing a mechanism for that. But the warping of space is a mechanism for the attrction of bodies. There is no more "spooky action at a distance", just local effects.

One Brow said: "I think we both agreed that Newton had a law, but no theory. Have you changed your opinion on that?"

No, I didn't knowingly agree to that. We did agree that he had no "mechanism" for gravity, though.

Newton's mechanics are classical examples of the Deductive-Nomological and/or Hypothetico-Deductive models of "scientific" explanation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_science#Scientific_explanation

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothetico-deductive_model


Both of those articles talk about the importance of explanations to a theory. Newton had a Law of Gravity, but no theory.

One Brow said: "Where were the pro-Lamarckian experiements? Weissmann's show proved nothing, but it was still up to the Lamarckians to prove something."

That's always the position you seem to take, eh, Eric? But, your preconceived conceptions of truth aside, why is it not up to the Darwinian to show that prove that all mutations are random?


Mutations are not random per se, except very rarely when caused by proton decay or similar events. Mutation that result from chemical interactions, copying errors, etc. happen in the realm of chemistry, and are determined by the properties of the chemicals involved. However, of the various ways mutations are known to happen, none of them take the actual needs of the organism into account.

One Brow said...

As noted in the Pitt article I cited, the neo-lamarckian experiments were done by the embryologists, and ignored by the neo-darwinians, by and large.

In a skimming, the experiments it refers to a neo-lamarckian seem to be looking at epigentic influences rather than mutational influences.

We have already agreed that the notion of "random mutation" is at bottom a metaphyisical one that cannot be proved or disproved. So why is not neo-darwinism, like ID theory, untestable and hence "not scientific," I wonder.

We did? I must have been off my feed that day/week/month. I'm fairly sure I have been saying for quite some thime that the randomness of mutations are epistemological, not ontological. We can verify that by examining the resutls of actual mutations from a known starting genome.

One Brow said: "So, we dropped the parts that he was wrong about, and kept the parts that were verified, and this means his positions ran roughshod over Lamarckian ideas?"

1. The question was about mechanisms--where is the "mechanism" for random mutation?


In chemical interactions.

2. What was kept was the absoluteness of the doctrine lack of soma to germ cell influence. This has not been "verified" and is in fact widely believed to have been disconfirmed.

Anything in science is only verified until it is disconfirmed. The experiments that were run for decades under Weissmann's boundary were very successful.

3. That "doctrine" been assumed, but not "proven," it is basically an aprioi axiom of neo-darwinism. Maynard Smith, a long time avid believer in the Wiesmann germ/soma cell distinction (he once said the modern synthesis should really be called "neo-wiesmannism" as I recall) has since conceded that the acceptance thereof was unfortune and misleading:

Hindsight is 20/20.

"[Wiesmann] was in effect saying that it is possible to understand genetics without understanding development. He thus set the stage for the growth of the science of genetics for this century; sadly, we still do not understand development. It follows that our understanding of evolution is necessarily partial, because genes are selected through their effect on development"

I don't see anything in this quote that equates to "unfortunate and misleading". I'm sure you had anopther quote in mind.

One Brow said: "Relating this to intelligent design, what is the hypothesis?"

In a loose sense it in that evolution is not exclusively the result of selection processes acting on "random mutation." If this is not a valid "scientific" hypothesis, then how can it's negation be one?


It's negation is not even considered true. Modern evolutionary theory provides for much more than selection processes acting upon random mutation. I would say your 'loose sense' is a much better description of current scientific thought. We have discussed many examples.

One Brow said...

How could they? Their basic theorectical premises told them that there could be no interaction (remember Mayr sayin, as late as 2001, that all possibility of genetic variation stopped at the moment of fertilization?).

I don't think he would argue that statement even after acknowledging the importance of development, for which he used the term "selected through their effect on development", as opposed to varying because of their development.

Anonymous said...

"Maynard Smith credits August Weismann’s germ plasm theory as a key factor in the modern synthesis since – by sequestering the germ line very early in development – acquired characteristics cannot be inherited via egg & sperm. Hence, Lamarckian evolution is (in principle) not possible."

http://genes2brains2mentalhealth.wordpress.com/2009/02/09/happy-200th-birthday-charles-darwin-heres-an-inherited-acquired-characteristic-for-you/

See? Impossible, in principle, from the git-go, and we aint just talkin some kinda candyass "methodology" here, eh, Eric? We're talkin about what is otologically IMPOSSIBLE.

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