Buy

Books
Click images for more details

Support

 

Twitter
Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing
Links

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace

Discussion > Theory, law or fact

Evolution Theory. Capital E.

They can all go in the evolution pot for cooking. The more things you put in the less Universal the current theory.

If we could time slice the genetic map of life on the planet, like a CAT scan, create a 3D model maybe we could see thsee things. We cannot.

But in a few generations every human's DNA will be on database and perhaps some things can be data mined from that using computer power far in excess of now.

Then when we have full genetic self awareness that is a feedback into the system. How does the theory cope with that?

Linking the above, perhaps genes do not support life, but we (life on earth) are just a vehicle to arrive a certain gene state. We are part of the experiment, an object instance in the program. Douglas where are you mate?

Feb 5, 2016 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

I think perhaps I'm not bright enough to understand a nuance or something. I don't understand how or in what sense the theory has to "cope" with our being fully aware of our genetic make-up at some indefinite point in the future. If that's what you're suggesting, and I'm not so certain of that either. Come on, it's help-a-half-wit day. To me it seems that you're assuming an intelligent hand in the progression of evolution, and I can't see or imagine a justification for that premise.

Feb 5, 2016 at 12:28 PM | Registered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

Not really sure how an 'evolution' thread helps the sceptic cause.

Feb 5, 2016 at 1:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Well, there we are. All that work by Darwin, a couple of really thick books, and all you can come up with as a definition is 'some things do better than others'. An observation which applies in every field, ideas, cars, finches, whatever.

You have to have something better. Arguing about whether a plainly obvious pair of statements is a theory, a law or a fact will be fruitless.

Feb 5, 2016 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Not really sure how an 'evolution' thread helps the sceptic cause.
The reverse - once evolution is discussed, the degree of stupid here comes into sharper focus.

Yin/Martin, I don't know why you think it unlikely that there is some filtering by academics of the good from the bad. Do you suppose, that when a new PhD student starts work her supervisor tells her to read all of the last 30 years literature on the field. Or do you think she is told which papers are important to read and which can be ignored?

Feb 5, 2016 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

BinYin, please do not police threads, BH has just posted an article on policing and self-censorship, and Raff and EM are criticised for such behaviour. it is about science, and it is related, just do not contribute if you are not happy.

It has nothing to do with "intelligent design". But it no different to laws of mathematics, law of physics, these things have to come from "somewhere". There are all part of a system. How "things" behave is set and constant, then how they interact shapes the universe(s). Saying genes following unknown laws is no different than acknowledging PI exists.

Perhaps the jump is as great as from Newton to Einstein.

It doesn't need a guiding hand, but the laws of the universe have come from somewhere and do interact and what they produce are the facts in science to deduce "backwards".

The universe(s) is/are not linear. And neither is our climate. We probably know **** all in relation to genetics and climate. We think we know a lot, but when we look back in a 1000 years then what we thought we understood will be laughed at.

Feb 5, 2016 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

Oh the great and mighty Raff, I bow down before your intellect, so point out anything that could be regarded as stupid? People may not agree with everything, but what is stupid? Is anything I have written contentious? It is an intellectual discussion.

I do not believe in "intelligent desing" I accept Evolution Theory? Is that it because Dawkins and people like yourself say everything is settled?

I suspect there are people who understand my viewpoint (even if they do not agree with it), but will they call me stupid. Or is it just people who do not have the capacity to think beyond what they are fed? And like to think they are experts in it?

This is the whole point. Scientific areas as no go zones because they have been politicised.

Feb 5, 2016 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

BinYin, please do not police threads,

Please don't tell me what to do.

Feb 5, 2016 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Do you suppose, that when a new PhD student starts work her supervisor tells her to read all of the last 30 years literature on the field. Or do you think she is told which papers are important to read and which can be ignored?
Feb 5, 2016 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

"Or do you think she is told which papers are important to read and which can be ignored?"

In that case, the supervisor would not be doing their job in developing her ability in the key research skill of tracking down and making an independent critical appraisal of the literature.

I was just told something along the lines "so you want to do something in ****? Well, the library is over there. Take your time. Come back when you have done a literature survey and figured out some promising problems waiting to be looked at and we can discuss where you think you might go from there'.

Feb 5, 2016 at 3:37 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Media, I'm sorry, it was unjustified. Caught me at a bad time and I needed to let off steam

All the same, I don't really understand what you are talking about, so maybe the stupid is me.

Feb 5, 2016 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

...perhaps genes do not support life, but we (life on earth) are just a vehicle to arrive a certain gene state.

MH, without wanting to patronise anybody, from what you say there, I really do get the feeling that despite saying you don't like Richard Dawkins, you have not actually read "The Selfish Gene".

Feb 5, 2016 at 3:44 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin, what is the point of a supervisor or colleagues if you have to work everything out for yourself?

Feb 5, 2016 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

" BinYin, please do not police threads,

Please don't tell me what to do. "

Irony is not just another word for ferrous.

Feb 5, 2016 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Raff
Sorry I have other things to do as well as replying, try googling Tasmanian Devil and you find this Australian Top Predator not to be confused with a cartoon character. Nature will find a way, you think that can't be the only so you do a bit more digging and you find , marsupial cats and the extinct Australian thylacine which became extinct after the arrival of man, in 1936.

I'm not sure if you were being serious.

Feb 5, 2016 at 4:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

TheBigYinJames
Not clear to me why we shouldn't discuss anything scientific or technical on a sceptic website. It spreads knowledge, banning discussions is like burning books.

Feb 5, 2016 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Martin, what is the point of a supervisor or colleagues if you have to work everything out for yourself?
Feb 5, 2016 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Are we talking about work or doing a research degree? Well, just off the top of my head:

Work

Supervisor: Agree objectives; approve expense claims; do performance evaluations; be available to resolve/escalate issues.

Colleagues: Work jointly in teams when appropriate; be available for consultation; be available to review work products.


Research degree

Supervisor: Assess candidate's suitability; specify preliminary training requirements; ensure regulations are complied with; advise on research programme; advise on progress (particularly on when to call it a day and pack it in); select and recommend external examiner; review thesis draft; assess thesis with external examiner.

Colleagues: No official role.

Feb 5, 2016 at 6:27 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Not really sure how an 'evolution' thread helps the sceptic cause.
Feb 5, 2016 at 1:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Well there seem to be some anti-symmetries that could be explored

CAGW + climate science - a strong element of pseudo science and with aspects of religion (belief without evidence) widely accepted and taken as fact (especially in Liberal USA/Europe).

theory of evolution - genuine science but widely rejected (especially in redneck USA) and its religious antithesis widely accepted (especially in redneck USA).

Feb 5, 2016 at 6:41 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A

(particularly on when to call it a day and pack it in)

Do people like that exist in Government funded research? I know in my working life I've seen many commercial projects canned at various stages in their development for many reasons, evolutionary dead-ends if you like, but it doesn't seem to be the case in many fields of "pure" research. The we think it could be much worse syndrome.

Feb 6, 2016 at 7:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Sandy S - they eventually closed the Common Cold Research Unit.

I had in mind the situation where it becomes pretty clear that a research student, though perfectly competent in most ways, is not going to produce anything original and a conscientious supervisor will then advise them to write up what they've done for an MPhil and get on with their life.

Feb 6, 2016 at 8:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Martin A

Was that book the 'Biological Evolutionary Animal Simulation Test'?
BEAST.

Feb 6, 2016 at 9:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

Martin A
Points taken. They also serve who only stand and wait.
Had the Common Cold Research Unit come into contact with Peter Gershon in his GEC days I doubt it would have survived the first review.

Feb 6, 2016 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

The book was "Artificial intelligence through simulated evolution" by Lawrence J. Fogel et al.

From a set of slides apparently based on the book, which possibly addresses some of MH's questions:

* So if we make our desired goal one of self-preservation, such machines may begin to display self-awareness in that they can describe essential features of their survival if so requested.

* What are goals made of?
– They are made up ofthe various factors that lead towards self-preservation.
– Only those creatures that can successfully model themselves can alter their sub-goals to support their own survival.
– To succeed their self-image must be in close correspondence to reality.

*With this knowledge we can hope to achieve a greater understanding of our own intellect, or of even greater significance, to create inanimate machines that accomplish these same tasks

Feb 6, 2016 at 2:19 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"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?"

The reason that evolution by natural selection became such a hot political issue is that it was perceived as a refutation of the argument by design: the argument that organisms are so obviously well adapted for survival and in such a sophisticated way that it could only be the result of design, which implies the existence of a designer. That we can recognise fitness to survive is precisely the problem that evolution was designed to explain.

Evolution by artificial selection was already well-understood and widely accepted. Plant and animal breeders had been doing it since pre-historic times. That part wasn't controversial. But how could the appearance of complicated design appear without any such guidance from an intelligent designer? Darwin's inspiration was to realise that selective survival could do the job too. Left to themselves, the organisms that got to breed wouldn't be those the designer picked out for their desirable traits, but those with a talent for survival and reproduction, hence survival and reproduction would be selected for in exactly the same way that big seeds are selected for by a plant breeder.

"If you can't think of anything but random changes ( for which Darwin had no mechanism) you have a theory with little substance."

Evolution by natural selection is not random. Evolution occurs when organisms die. It's like topiary: a bush grows in all directions at random, but if you cut off any branches that grow outside a particular surface, you'll get a bush shaped like a duck, or whatever. The shape doesn't originate in the random growth of branches, but in the distinctly non-random pruning by the gardener.

The point is that bushes can have non-random shapes naturally. If there is some natural effect that sheers off branches that stray into a certain space, you'll get a bush precisely shaped so as to avoid that space. What a miracle it is, that the bush should grow randomly with such strange contortions so as to precisely fit around the threat! Well, no, not really. It's obvious that it will.

Incidentally, this also means that the entire religious controversy is a wasted effort, since there's an obvious way in which a deity can still be responsible for the design. Since death is the designer, and religious people believe that it is some deity's will when an organism lives or dies, obviously that deity is therefore responsible for the appearance of design. It just so happens that this deity more often tended to decree that badly arranged organisms should die. If people can believe they survived by God's will (else why pray for it?) then it shouldn't bee too hard to believe that his design for the world is brought about by such decisions. People can have free will, like a bush growing branches where it chooses, but the gardener still achieves his design through the judicious pruning of possibilities. There's no inconsistency between religion and evolution.

So can we stop arguing about it?

Feb 7, 2016 at 1:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

"Why discuss evolution on a CAGW skeptic site ?"
They are connected by the way propagandists try to smear CAGW skeptics as on par with 'people who don't believe in evolution theory'
- The bottomline : Evolution Theory gives predicitve results, CAGW Theory does not.

Evolution theory gives predictive results : take you sample of bacteria and watch them evolve so some traits arise whilst others die out.
..Whereas CAGW Theory predictions don't seem to get validated. (that's why one day they say it causes cold winters, the next day they say it causes hot winters)

(Now you can't prove a negative so 100% discount an idea that God designed life and built in evolution as a bit of a laugh ..but evolution theory of life would work without him)

Feb 7, 2016 at 7:54 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

stewgreen
Whilst I agree with the general thrust of what you say, in adverse conditions survivors will evolve quickly to cope or the species will die out to be replaced in time by another. What evolution can't predict, is what the actual new species will be and exactly how the survivors will evolve. In that respect Evolution in a strict sense is not accurately predictive.

Rabbits and Myxomatosis being an interesting modern example, the UK rabbit population after the first case in 1953 within two years at least 95% of rabbit population had died. Some isolated rabbit colonies where I grew up were wiped out in the 1960s and have never been replaced by immune incomers as far as I'm aware. But 50 years later the population of wild rabbits had, as a result of genetic resistance, or acquired immunity, started to expand in the way rabbits are famous for. Now what other differences, if any, there are between rabbits genetically immune to Myxomatosis and the extinct, or nearly extinct non-immune rabbits I don't think evolution can tell us. Rabbits in New Zealand were not affected in the same way due to, it is thought, there being no fleas or mosquitoes suitable to spread the infection between colonies.

Feb 7, 2016 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS