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Author Topic:   Criticizing neo-Darwinism
nwr
Member
Posts: 6421
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 31 of 309 (297592)
03-23-2006 1:37 PM
Reply to: Message 28 by Brad McFall
03-23-2006 8:46 AM


Re: my muddled mind
Message 28, to which I am responding, might be one of the clearest posts that Brad has made (not counting really short ones such as Message 29).
The problem (in biology (keeping all CvE out for the moment, etc.)) is that bean bag Neo-Darwinisms do have all of this 'biology' that is not simply a version of Dawkinsoniansims as "heritibility." But as Waddington remarks (see the first thumbnail provided above) this is a "fudge factor."
Very well stated. And Waddington is clear on what "neo-Darwinism" ought to mean in his first paragraph (what he calls its strict sense). I'm not sure why this is confusing to other participants in the thread. This repeated need to call on biology for a fudge factor should be the indication that neo-Darwinism (strict sense) is not an adequate account of evolution.

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nwr
Member
Posts: 6421
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 32 of 309 (297593)
03-23-2006 1:43 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by Belfry
03-22-2006 9:10 PM


Re: Gradualism
I am not aware of any "neo-Darwinist" account such as this. I think you need to show that such an account actually exists (other than as a creationist strawman) before you present it as a problem.
I am referring to what is summarized in the quote box of Message 1, as quoted from Parasomnium. This can be put into a mathematical form, allowing one to describe and and deductively analyze the evolving of the gene pool over time.

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 Message 23 by Belfry, posted 03-22-2006 9:10 PM Belfry has replied

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 Message 34 by Belfry, posted 03-23-2006 2:08 PM nwr has replied

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 6421
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 33 of 309 (297594)
03-23-2006 1:54 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by Modulous
03-23-2006 8:22 AM


Re: my muddled mind
I'm still confused - Parasomnium was discussing a biological basis for evolution. He talked about heredity.
Heredity isn't the problem. That's included as part of the neo-Darwinian theory, in the form of the stochastic process whereby one derives the gene distribution of the next generation from the gene distribution of the current generation.
It doesn't make a lick of sense to me. Neodarwinism is an explanation for biological change. How does 'appealing to biology' present a problem for a biological theory, surely that is precisely what it should do?
In the strict sense, neo-Darwinism is an explanation for changes in the gene pool.
The general idea of using mathematical models in science, is that you feed data into the model. Then you make deductions purely from the model, without reference back to the real world source. This leads to predictions from the model. Finally, you interpret those predictions, in terms of how the model represents real world data.

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Belfry
Member (Idle past 5169 days)
Posts: 177
From: Ocala, FL
Joined: 11-05-2005


Message 34 of 309 (297598)
03-23-2006 2:08 PM
Reply to: Message 32 by nwr
03-23-2006 1:43 PM


Re: Gradualism
Okay, now can you show how the concepts in Para's summary lead (or have lead) to neo-Darwinist accounts which include this problem:
quote:
They have to do with whether a sequence of steps is required, such that intermediate steps should be impossible or very unlikely due to negative selection against them.
And again, are you saying that neo-Darwinism explicitly or implicitly precludes punctuated equilibria or the evolution of novel forms? If so, how? You say this:
quote:
That's where it becomes downright implausible. The neo-Darwinistic account is one of gradual change. The arguments about irreducible complexity arise because gradual change does not plausibly lead to very complex structures. The biology shows how complex structures can arise, but the gradualism of the neo-Darwinist model seems to argue against it.
I don't see how you arrive at this assessment, and would request that you walk me through your reasoning. How does stepwise progression (I'm using this term to avoid the term "gradual," which often carries the false connotation of "slow") argue against an increase in complexity?

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 Message 32 by nwr, posted 03-23-2006 1:43 PM nwr has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 37 by nwr, posted 03-23-2006 2:42 PM Belfry has replied

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 6421
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 35 of 309 (297599)
03-23-2006 2:08 PM
Reply to: Message 27 by Belfry
03-23-2006 8:33 AM


Re: There is no "better" question, it was already in thread
For example, at one point (in Message 13) nwr suggests that his "preferred alternative theory" (apparently in contrast to neo-Darwinism) "predicts punctuated equilibria as a significant mode of speciation. It predicts that novelty will arise.". If neo-Darwinism, in nwr's thinking, excludes these concepts, then I don't know of any modern biologists who are neo-Darwinists. It is a concept built of straw.
This is an example of what randman might call "total evo dishonesty".
I'm sure it wasn't intentionally dishonest. But there is a huge flaw in the reasoning.
I used "predicts punctuated equilibria". You used "excludes" as the alternative to predicts. Those are not alternatives. A theory can fail to predict X, while also not excluding X. In fact it seems to me that neo-Darwinism neither predicts nor excludes punk-eek. It explains punk-eek only by means of appealing to reproductive isolation. That's an example of an appeal to the biology as a fudge factor. The statement of neo-Darwinism in Message 1 nowhere mentions reproductive isolation as a necessary or important requirement for evolution.

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 Message 27 by Belfry, posted 03-23-2006 8:33 AM Belfry has replied

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 Message 36 by Belfry, posted 03-23-2006 2:31 PM nwr has replied

  
Belfry
Member (Idle past 5169 days)
Posts: 177
From: Ocala, FL
Joined: 11-05-2005


Message 36 of 309 (297603)
03-23-2006 2:31 PM
Reply to: Message 35 by nwr
03-23-2006 2:08 PM


Re: There is no "better" question, it was already in thread
Okay, I think I'm starting to catch on now. No, I wasn't being intentionally dishonest (let alone -gasp!- evo dishonest). {edit: While you did specifically state that ND "argues against" an increase in complexity, I acknowledge that you did not say this about PE, which you argue it simply fails to predict. It was sloppy on my part, I apologize.}
You're saying that neo-Darwinism, as summarized by Para, neither includes nor predicts all known evolutionary mechanisms. Apparently you're also saying that some biologists (such as Dawkins) think that it does?
Okay, I have no quarrel with that on its face, and I will step aside and watch the discussion.
{fixed smiley, marked addition}
This message has been edited by Belfry, 03-23-2006 02:33 PM
This message has been edited by Belfry, 03-23-2006 02:45 PM

This message is a reply to:
 Message 35 by nwr, posted 03-23-2006 2:08 PM nwr has replied

Replies to this message:
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 Message 86 by Brad McFall, posted 04-10-2006 1:51 PM Belfry has replied

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 6421
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 37 of 309 (297606)
03-23-2006 2:42 PM
Reply to: Message 34 by Belfry
03-23-2006 2:08 PM


Re: Gradualism
And again, are you saying that neo-Darwinism explicitly or implicitly precludes punctuated equilibria or the evolution of novel forms? If so, how? You say this:
I have already commented on this, with respect to punk-eek (Message 35). I will just say that the same applies to novelty. That is, neo-Darwinism neither predicts or precludes novelty. It explains novelty by appealing to possible eventualities that are not predictable from neo-Darwinist assumptions.
How does stepwise progression (I'm using this term to avoid the term "gradual," which often carries the false connotation of "slow") argue against an increase in complexity?
Hmm, randman might refer to that as evo deception.
Replacing "gradual" by "stepwise" comes across as an evasion.
The molecules of air in my office can be described statistically. It is theoretically possible that the molecules could all happen to gather in one corner of the room, while I suffocate. One can come up with a stepwise sequence of events that would have such a result. Nobody worries about this, because it is highly improbable.
The important thing about "gradual" isn't the speed. Rather, it is that the steps are part of a stochastic process. That you can come up with a stepwise solution to explain a particular novelty does not alter the fact that the arising of such a novelty depends on a highly improbable sequence of steps. That neo-Darwinism does not predict novelty is because of the improbability of such occurrences. That it does not preclude novelty, is because such a sequence of steps is not impossible, even though it is highly improbable.

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 Message 34 by Belfry, posted 03-23-2006 2:08 PM Belfry has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 39 by Belfry, posted 03-23-2006 2:57 PM nwr has replied

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 6421
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 38 of 309 (297607)
03-23-2006 2:46 PM
Reply to: Message 36 by Belfry
03-23-2006 2:31 PM


Re: There is no "better" question, it was already in thread
You're saying that neo-Darwinism, as summarized by Para, neither includes nor predicts all known evolutionary mechanisms. Apparently you're also saying that some biologists (such as Dawkins) think that it does?
That's about it, except that I don't claim to be able to read what are Dawkins' thoughts. I'll note, however, that when Gould argued for punk-eek, he suggested that this required more than could be found in neo-Darwinism. It is my understanding that Dawkins, Maynard Smith and several others objected to that claim by Gould.

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 Message 40 by Modulous, posted 03-23-2006 3:38 PM nwr has replied

  
Belfry
Member (Idle past 5169 days)
Posts: 177
From: Ocala, FL
Joined: 11-05-2005


Message 39 of 309 (297608)
03-23-2006 2:57 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by nwr
03-23-2006 2:42 PM


Re: Gradualism
quote:
I have already commented on this, with respect to punk-eek (Message 35). I will just say that the same applies to novelty. That is, neo-Darwinism neither predicts or precludes novelty. It explains novelty by appealing to possible eventualities that are not predictable from neo-Darwinist assumptions.
I accept my error as I said before. We're crossing posts, I'm afraid.
quote:
Hmm, randman might refer to that as evo deception.
Replacing "gradual" by "stepwise" comes across as an evasion.
Except that I pointed out what I was doing and explained why. You yourself seem to agree with me when you go on to say, "The important thing about "gradual" isn't the speed."
Since when did Randman's favorite false accusations become de rigueur? It's only dishonesty if one is being intentionally deceptive. I don't know why you chose to set that tone, but I am stepping aside as I previously indicated.

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 Message 37 by nwr, posted 03-23-2006 2:42 PM nwr has replied

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Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 40 of 309 (297611)
03-23-2006 3:38 PM
Reply to: Message 38 by nwr
03-23-2006 2:46 PM


gould vs dawkins *ding ding*
I was going to bore you with mindless drivel - I've changed my mind so let me sum it up: I think I understand you. To pad this out, let's look what Dawkins and Gould have to say:
gould writes:
But the truly curious aspect of both Dawkins's and Dennett's charge lies in their subsequent recognition, and fair discussion, of the important theoretical implication of punctuated equilibrium”the establishment of species as Darwinian individuals, and the consequent validation of species sorting and selection as a prominent process in a hierarchical theory of Darwinian evolution. In 1984, Dawkins acknowledged that this aspect of punctuated equilibrium "does, in a sense, move outside the neo-Darwinian synthesis, narrowly interpreted. This is about whether a form of natural selection operates at the level of entire lineages, as well as at the level of individual reproduction stressed by Darwin and neo-Darwinism."
source
Dawkins writes:
The fact is that, in the fullest and most serious sense, Eldredge and Gould are really just as gradualist as Darwin or any of his followers. It is just that they would compress all the gradual change into brief bursts, rather than having it go on all the time; and they emphasise that most of the gradual change goes on in geographical areas away from the areas where most fossils are dug up.
So it is not really the gradualism of Darwin that the punctuationists oppose: gradualism means that each generation is only slightly different from the previous generation; you would have to be a saltationist to oppose that, and Eldredge and Gould are not saltationists. Rather, it turns out to be Darwin's alleged belief in the constancy of rates of evolution that they and other punctuationists object to...
What needs to be said now, loud and clear, is the truth: that the theory of punctuated equilibrium lies firmly within the neo-Darwinian synthesis. It always did. It will take time to undo the damage wrought by overblown rhetoric, but it will be undone. The theory of punctuated equilibrium will come to be seen in proportion, as an interesting but minor wrinkle on the surface of neo-Darwinian theory.
Source: The Blind Watchmaker
I like Gould the most (but Dawkins is growing on me), so I'll let him have the last say here:
gould writes:
I am puzzled by the discordance and inconsistency, but gratified by the outcome. Dawkins and Dennett, smart men both, seem unable to look past the parochial boundaries of their personal interest in evolution, or their feelings of jealousy towards whatever effectiveness my public questioning of their sacred cow of Darwinian fundamentalism may have enjoyed (see Gould, 1997d)”so they must brand punctuated equilibrium as trivial. But they cannot deny the logic of Darwinian argument, and they do manage to work their way to the genuine theoretical interest of punctuated equilibrium's major implication, the source of our primary excitement about the idea from the start.
That said, at this time I am more inclined to go with Dawkins' explanation, but I am currently reading his book so that might be why. I think Gould is upset that some respected evolutionists have said that his major contribution to evolutionary scientists is 'interesting but not as important as it has been made out.'

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 Message 38 by nwr, posted 03-23-2006 2:46 PM nwr has replied

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nwr
Member
Posts: 6421
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 41 of 309 (297662)
03-23-2006 9:01 PM
Reply to: Message 39 by Belfry
03-23-2006 2:57 PM


Re: Gradualism
Since when did Randman's favorite false accusations become de rigueur?
I should have added a smiley to indicate that I wasn't being completely serious. I was well aware that you were not intentionally dishonest.
I was being half-serious. I wasn't meaning to accuse you of any actual deception. But I was trying to point out that a creationist such as randman probably would see that as deceptive.
Anyway, apologies if it came across as an accusation.

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nwr
Member
Posts: 6421
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 42 of 309 (297663)
03-23-2006 9:11 PM
Reply to: Message 40 by Modulous
03-23-2006 3:38 PM


Re: gould vs dawkins *ding ding*
I was going to bore you with mindless drivel - I've changed my mind so let me sum it up: I think I understand you.
Thanks.
quote:
Dawkins writes:
The fact is that, in the fullest and most serious sense, Eldredge and Gould are really just as gradualist as Darwin or any of his followers. It is just that they would compress all the gradual change into brief bursts, rather than having it go on all the time; ..

I agree with Dawkins there. But I'm inclined to disagree with his last paragraph (which I did not requote).

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 Message 44 by JustinC, posted 03-23-2006 10:31 PM nwr has replied

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 6421
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 43 of 309 (297664)
03-23-2006 9:14 PM


Thanks everybody
This has been a good discussion.
I think I made my point, even if some did not agree. That point being that there are problems in neo-Darwinism as it is seen by non-biologists.
At this stage, maybe I should take a month or three to write up my alternative theory. Then I can bring that back for discussion, either here or in a new thread.

Replies to this message:
 Message 49 by Wounded King, posted 03-24-2006 5:35 AM nwr has replied

  
JustinC
Member (Idle past 4927 days)
Posts: 624
From: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Joined: 07-21-2003


Message 44 of 309 (297674)
03-23-2006 10:31 PM
Reply to: Message 42 by nwr
03-23-2006 9:11 PM


Re: gould vs dawkins *ding ding*
quote:
I agree with Dawkins there. But I'm inclined to disagree with his last paragraph (which I did not requote).
I believe Dawkins is correct in asserting that it is firmly based in neo-Darwinism. PE wasn't even a new concept, it was basically Mayr's theory of peripatric speciation (1954), which was wholly situated in neo-Darwinism.
Mayr writes
The first to pick up my theory was Eldredge (1971), who found in his study of Paleozoic trilobites that the majority of species showed no change in species-specific characters throughout the interval of their stratigraphic occurrence, whereas new species appear quite suddenly in the strata. He therefore proposed that the allopatric model be substituted in the minds of palaeontologists for phyletic transformation as the dominant mechanism of the origin of new species in the fossil record. This was followed in 1972 by the Eldredge and Gould paper, in which the term "punctuated equilibrium' was proposed. The Eldredge-Gould proposal was essentially my 1954 theory, except for a far stronger emphasis on stasis, indeed a belief that no further evolutionary change would occur after the speciation process was completed.
Now, I'm not too sure if Eldridge actually read the paper, but the above seems to suggest he did.
Do you feel it isn't completely within the neo-Darwinian framework because Gould mentions Goldshmit work in the original PE paper? If so, this seems to be a misinterpretation of Goldshmit's work. To quote from Mayr once again (no point in trying to translate):
It entirely misrepresents Goldschmidt's theory to claim that Goldschmidt "argued that speciation is a rapid event produced by large genetic changes (systemic mutations) in small populations" (Gould and Colloway, 1980:394). The whole concept of populations was alien to his thinking. According to him, a new type is produced by a single systemic mutation producing a unique individual. Gould (1982) is also wrong in claiming that Goldschmidt never had the view "that new species arise all at once, fully formed, by a fortunate macromutation." Actually , this is what Goldschmidt repeatedly claimed. For instance, he cited with approval Schindewolf's suggestion that the first bird hatched out of a reptilian egg, and he was even clearer on this point in a later paper (1952:91-92) than in his 1940 book.
The article these are taken from is Speciational Evolution or Punctuated Equilibria
This message has been edited by JustinC, 03-23-2006 10:32 PM

This message is a reply to:
 Message 42 by nwr, posted 03-23-2006 9:11 PM nwr has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 45 by nwr, posted 03-23-2006 11:24 PM JustinC has replied
 Message 47 by PaulK, posted 03-24-2006 2:27 AM JustinC has replied

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 6421
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 45 of 309 (297683)
03-23-2006 11:24 PM
Reply to: Message 44 by JustinC
03-23-2006 10:31 PM


Re: gould vs dawkins *ding ding*
Do you feel it isn't completely within the neo-Darwinian framework because Gould mentions Goldshmit work in the original PE paper?
Gould's mention of Goldschmidt was probably a mistake. In any case, I am not arguing that Gould has everything correct.
My disagreement with the last Dawkins paragraph was particularly disagreement with:
Dawkins writes:
It will take time to undo the damage wrought by overblown rhetoric, but it will be undone. The theory of punctuated equilibrium will come to be seen in proportion, as an interesting but minor wrinkle on the surface of neo-Darwinian theory.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 44 by JustinC, posted 03-23-2006 10:31 PM JustinC has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 46 by JustinC, posted 03-24-2006 12:12 AM nwr has seen this message but not replied
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