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Discussion > Theory, law or fact

Media, my examples of inadvertent evolution are direct proof of survival of the fittest. My example of deliberate intervention (dogs, cats) was not inadvertent. Survival of the fittest is fact not theory. Evolution is the inevitable consequence of this.

Feb 4, 2016 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

I will state it clearly, I do not believe Evolution is a universal theory.

MH - do yourself a favour and invest £1.06 + £2.80 UK delivery for the cheapest s/h copy of Dennett's book (Amazon). I'm pretty sure it will address all your questions - and far better than anyone here.

I lost my copy otherwise I'd see what he has to say on your particular question. I'll take a look at The Blind Watchmaker tonight and remind myself if Dawkins discussed it there. You can be certain that it has been examined rigorously and in detail.

Feb 4, 2016 at 4:39 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Honestly Raff, as you usually deliberately disrupt threads (including this one with your first comment) I only pay half attention to what you write. I accept what you state (I am not going to check)... doesn't make any difference to what I wanted to say.

Feb 4, 2016 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

Media, arguably my 2nd and 3rd comments were OT (sorry about that) but the first was an answer to Sandy and Martin said much the same just afterwards.

Feb 4, 2016 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

I am sure it has.

And it is all dependent on where you draw the boundaries of the system, and have a theory to describe the box.

Does Evolution theory apply on other planets? We are isolated (probably) at the moment. Who is to say that survival and mutation is the desired result? Is the fact that I am asking that question actually part of the theory? Self-awareness is a pretty big step in evolution terms.

The fact that we can destroy most of the life forms on this planet as the dominant life form, how does that effect the evolution of other life forms?

You cannot say, "Evolution theory operates in isolation. if we have stopped other lifeforms evolving (extinction), then the theory was working to that point and evil man screwed it up."

And what about latency? Or the reduction of it?

500 years ago a ship left port and the moment it was out of sight, the latency on news of your investment was a minimum of 3 years. The ship could have sunk in the first hour, but there was no effect on your life for three years when you gave up. Then messaging systems improved. The time went reduced, through the age of the telegraph on onwards to now.

There is effectively no latency. A person will say I missed the football last night on the TV and my team won. But had he watched the match, the act of switching on the TV will have an effect on that match. It will not be the same match, the same state. The display of the internet page of a person close to the match will be one tiny faction of a second different because the electrical currents of the world have changed simply by some switching on the TV thousands of miles away. The knock on effect is the football does not follow the same path. Everything is connected and reacting. Billions of people on the planet are directly effecting the others. 500 years ago, that boat went down and there was no effect for 3 years, and then only a limited set of the population.

We are living at a special point in human history. A crux. Not one that was envisaged. Not even one 30 years ago. This is not the Information Age, it is the Communication Age.

Is this a universal thing? Does it happen on other planets. Can you describe this as "survival of the fittest"?

I am just throwing things out there, I am not claiming any great position. But I just do not think Evolution Theory is a universal law. Where we are now is a step change. Just throwing thoughts out :)

And that is the point of the thread and why I do not like Dawkins. Our world has effectively speeded up exponentially. Can Evolution Theory cope with that? And remember Evolution with a "E".

Feb 4, 2016 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

EM - you are coming across rather like someone who says "I know [snip]all about electromagnetic radiation but it is obvious to me that the greenhouse effect is complete bollocks".

"I do not like Dawkins". It does not sound to me as if you have ever even picked up one of his books dealing with evolution.

Please take some time to find out what its all about and then come back in a week or two to tell us what you have found.

Feb 4, 2016 at 5:45 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Noted Raff, I am just trying to create some positive tension. Probably, more for my own benefit.

I just do not like the feeling (my feeling) of science becoming dogma.

Feb 4, 2016 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

Martin please do not patronise me... the thread is not about that. I am not going to justify myself on that level to you.

Feb 4, 2016 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

Did anyone predict which bacteria would become resistant before they did and why? Did anyone predict which of the Galápagos Finches would show character displacement and in what way?

As I've said already I think the theory of evolution works, but at the moment it is another way of saying nature will find a way. Until someone comes up with when A happens nature will respond by doing X with species Φ when species ϑ becomes extinct then it is Nature Will Find A Way as far as I am concerned.

For example:
When the Arctic sea-ice melts every summer and only forms in January and February north of 80° N and Polar bears become extinct then some Grizzly bears will evolve into a species which becomes white in winter and hunts the seals on Arctic beaches. Nature Will Find A Way says when Polar Bears become extinct another top predator will take their place in the hierarchy.

Feb 4, 2016 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Sandy...I read somewhere that grizzly and polar bears are basically the same genetically. I think grizzlies and polars can mate and produce viable, birth-capable offspring - unlike lions and tigers, or horses and donkeys. I will try to locate a link.

Feb 4, 2016 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

My take is that evolutionary prediction is a sum over probabilities kind of game, as with quantum physics. You cannot give a definite outcome in advance of the game happening.

Feb 4, 2016 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Martin please do not patronise me...

I am sorry.

But I am pretty sure that what you are asking is out there and fully explained and just needs tracking down. but nobody posting here so far is clued up on it and we are all just pissing in the wind attempting to answer you.

And to ask whether the theory of evolution has ever predicted what would evolve is to misunderstand what the theory is about. As diogenes implies, the evolution of a new strain is the result of many successive random changes, even a single one of which cannot be predicted in advance.

Feb 4, 2016 at 6:43 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

martin and all. I know the theory cannot predict. We cannot predict the result of the game. Or even the length or speed. Or passage of play. The rules are set and you let the game commence. Which species will dominate, which become extinct (ignoring human intervention on that)

Let me take it back to Dawkins and genes. Nothing else.

Say in 100 years, because the exponential increase in the speed of knowledge communication, we can choose to create a genetic mutation to extend life by 20 years. It is a perfectly reasonable assumption. However, because of poor testing, it actually wipes out the whole of human life in a few generations? Again not unreasonable.

Is the result of Dawkin's evolution always the progression to intelligent design of genes? Because that is where we aqre heading. It doesn't matter what planet, what lifeforms come into effect. Will Evolution always result in self created genetic changes? And therefore Evolution Theory stop?

Feb 4, 2016 at 7:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar


Did anyone predict which bacteria would become resistant before they did and why?
Would that convince you? It should be possible. If a type of bacteria has protein A on its surface and you design a drug that targets and kills cells with that protein, then all of those bacteria will die. But the one in a million bacteria (or billion or trillion etc) that by chance mutation have a defective gene for that protein (and hence don't produce it) will not die. The bacterial population will henceforth have that defective gene - i.e. the organism will have evolved. Convinced now?

Nature Will Find A Way says when Polar Bears become extinct another top predator will take their place in the hierarchy.
Maybe, or maybe not. Or maybe it would just take a long time. Until humans arrived, Australia had no top predators.

Feb 4, 2016 at 7:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

You guys can't agree what 'evolution' actually means. There has to be more to it than survival of the fittest and random changes, which is mere obviousology. (even if it took a long time for the obvious to be noticed, possibly due to a competing idea that everything is fixed.) Find a mutually acceptable definition then proceed from there.

Feb 4, 2016 at 9:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda


There has to be more to it than survival of the fittest and random changes, which is mere obviousology.

Feb 4, 2016 at 9:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Because that doesn't amount to much. Survival of the fittest is a self-fulfilling statement. If you don't recognise fitness before the (random change of environment) test but only by designating the survivors as the ones which were fit in hindsight, you have not really done much, have you? If you can't think of anything but random changes ( for which Darwin had no mechanism) you have a theory with little substance.

Feb 5, 2016 at 12:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

This discussion reminded me of this thermodynamics theory underpinning evolution.

Feb 5, 2016 at 1:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

rhoda, I don't know what extra substance you require. Do you think random variation, survival of the fittest and environmental change are not sufficient conditions for evolution to occur?

Feb 5, 2016 at 2:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

I'm unable to grasp objections to evolutionary theory from a scientific point of view. While I don't think the theory is complete - there are, as I understand it, a number of co-dependent auxiliary theories - but evolution seems a strong theory with no strong competing theories that I know of. It's not something I've really put much thought into, to be frank. The principle of ecological equilibrium and survival of the fittest (as in environmentally most suited, not most athletic) seems solid. What's to diss?

Feb 5, 2016 at 3:25 AM | Registered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

"Survival of the fittest and environmental change are not sufficient conditions for evolution to occur?"

"I'm unable to grasp objections to evolutionary theory from a scientific point of view."

Perhaps there is a undetected "parasite" output (I do not mean a parasite lifeform)? feeding off those inputs? Effecting the system.

or what if,

The theories deal with hierarchies and "columns": Start the game and everything progresses and forks. What if there undetected layers? I am not talking about species interaction. Perhaps there are layers of interdependence at the genetic level, not linked by environment.

or what if,

There are actually no forks, just expansion. That is one large gene pool, like a gene "ant colony"? Such that your personal gene progression is not dependent on your environment and the suitability of those genes to it? They are linked to the colony as a whole?

We are talking about a billion year old system, that is very robust. Who is to say that these things do not exist? Beyond Victorian techniques, it has only since the second world war we have moved from purely field studies.

Feb 5, 2016 at 6:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar


That will be common knowledge in university departments. Scientists they will know who is doing good research, which papers are essential reading and which can be binned.

And you know this from your extensive experience working in university science departments?
You really are fond of constructing a fiction to your tastes then claiming it as reality, aren't you?


Feb 5, 2016 at 9:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

I was surprised to read what Raff had said:

...That will be common knowledge in university departments. Scientists they will know who is doing good research, which papers are essential reading and which can be binned. You and I and everyone else here are not privy to that information and never will be.
If that is true, then it is yet another characteristic of climate science that marks it as different from other fields.

In other fields there is no private grapevine, available only to the initiates and concealed from the world at large, passing on information on which work is trivial and which is innovative and significant. A researcher's publications themselves make it clear whether their work is is essential reading or should be ignored.

While what Raff said is nonsense in any other field, in climate science I am not certain that what he said is altogether fantasy. Take a look at EM's recent rantings about Dr Willie Soon ("took money to publish false science").. There is an example of a climate scientist who is very clearly on the clicsci grapevine shitlist (apparently for having shown there is a correlation between arctic temperatures and solar output).

Feb 5, 2016 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Media Hoar

... what if...

Well, indeed. I have no problem with what ifs but I'm missing where such things as you describe negate or diminish (or even *not* complement) evolutionary theory.

Feb 5, 2016 at 10:21 AM | Registered CommenterSimon Hopkinson