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Author Topic:   Criticizing neo-Darwinism
Parasomnium
Member
Posts: 2225
Joined: 07-15-2003


Message 7 of 309 (296991)
03-21-2006 5:45 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by nwr
03-20-2006 10:08 PM


Defending neo-Darwinism
nwr writes:
mathematicians tend to understand the mathematics better than non-mathematicians. Fred Hoyle was no slouch at mathematics, and he found fault with the neo-Darwinist account.
Well, apart from stating the obvious about mathematicians, your mentioning Fred Hoyle doesn't do your argument much good either. Hoyle was not a mathematician, he was an astronomer, and a controversial one at that. Although he coined the term "Big Bang" himself, he fervently opposed the idea, even in the face of ever accumulating evidence for it. His equally fervent opposition against chemical evolution, culminating in his comparison of the random emergence of even the simplest cell to the likelihood that "a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein", is a prime example of the misunderstanding of the probabilities involved, which I mentioned earlier.
..., and if the environment can only sustain the better adapted, which is also a fact, then the adaptive changes are preserved at the expense of the less well adapted.
That's where the argument begins to run into problems. The expression "better adapted" is itself a little vague.
[...] There are many contingencies of life that affect whether an individual survives to reproduce. Differences in how well adapted are only part of the story. Sure, there might be a statistical filtering effect. But for small differences in how well adapted, this filtering is a weak effect in a sea of contingencies. Any filtering would be very slow, and in my opinion it would be too slow to account for biological diversity.
Of course you are right in saying that chance plays a part in how evolutionary history unfolds: even what might be considered the best adaptations to the current environment may not protect a creature against very sudden, haphazard changes like asteroid impacts and such. However, events like that kill indiscriminately, leaving the statistical filtering effect you mentioned firmly in place. Any net filtering effect will inevitably lead to diversification, it just remains to be seen how fast it proceeds. Since you question the adequacy of the speed with which it takes place, it's up to you to show that it's too slow if you do not wish to be accused of personal incredulity.
I'd like to point out that the sheer numbers involved, in terms of the individuals and generations that have passed, and the vast gulf of time this has taken, are mind-boggling. I think that personal incredulity might well be a symptom of a boggled mind.
A long cumulation of these changes naturally leads to extremely well adapted, very complex structures.
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.
You will have to explain this in more detail to convince me. How does gradual change not plausibly lead to very complex structures, and how does the gradualism of the neo-Darwinist model seem to argue against it?
According to neo-Darwinism, evolution advances by adaptation. However, it seems to me that a species cannot exist unless it is already adapted.
You seem to assume that being adapted is an all-or-nothing quality. Although I am sure you don't mean it that way, you might want to reassure me.
The only way I can see a species being mal-adapted, is when some environmental change destroys the environment to which a species was previously adapted. Granted, such changes can and do occur, some caused by other evolutionary changes in the biosphere (what Dawkins refers to as an arms race). But I am skeptical that such environmental change can account for all of the adaptation that would be needed to explain the degree of biological diversity and complexity that we find.
Isn't that just more personal incredulity you are displaying here? Could you somehow quantify your skepsis?
Being science-minded, they will certainly not resist your theory if it stands up to rigorous scientific tests and explains things better than the theory of evolution does.
My theory doesn't change the biology at all, so it should stand up to the biological testing. And it would still be a theory of evolution, just not the neo-Darwinist version. But I think you underestimate the resistance to change.
If your theory is a theory of evolution, it should not just stand "biological testing", whatever that means, but it should stand evolutionary testing, i.e. it should make evolutionary predictions that could be verified.
This message has been edited by Parasomnium, 21-Mar-2006 02:35 PM

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science." - Charles Darwin.
Did you know that most of the time your computer is doing nothing? What if you could make it do something really useful? Like helping scientists understand diseases? Your computer could even be instrumental in finding a cure for HIV/AIDS. Wouldn't that be something? If you agree, then join World Community Grid now and download a simple, free tool that lets you and your computer do your share in helping humanity. After all, you are part of it, so why not take part in it?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by nwr, posted 03-20-2006 10:08 PM nwr has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by nwr, posted 03-21-2006 2:54 PM Parasomnium has not replied

  
Parasomnium
Member
Posts: 2225
Joined: 07-15-2003


Message 212 of 309 (434167)
11-14-2007 6:21 PM
Reply to: Message 209 by Elmer
11-14-2007 3:55 PM


Re: bump
Elmer writes:
My critique of the notion that 'parasomnium' finds "plausible" begins with his statement, " hereditary information randomly changes, which is a fact". There are two main 'sins of omission' in that statement. The fist is, that by failing to mention it, he implies that there are no 'no-random', i.e., intentional and systematic, teleological changes in genetic information.
You may notice that I've also failed to mention, say, gravity in my statement. Would that mean that I imply that gravity doesn't exist? Certainly not! If I were deemed to imply the non-existence of everything I fail to mention, then posting would become a rather burdensome task, and I would decidedly decline any further participation in discussions such as these.
Nevertheless, it is true that I think that the changes in genetic information are nothing but random. Why do I think this? Because each and every statistical analysis of the data singularly and consistently points to randomness. There is not a shred of evidence that suggests "intentional and systematic, teleological" causes for mutations in genetic material.
Moreover, by making the cause of any of these changes a random, anomalous, irregulat, and unpredictably accidental one, he implies that change 1/ and change 3/ are identical; which is illogical, since less can never be more.
I fail to see how the randomness of a mutation would imply that changes 1 and 3 are identical, and a supposed intentionality of the same mutation would not. You might want to elaborate on that.
He then adds--"the environment can only sustain the better adapted, which is also a fact", but isn't. Not unless you play games with the words 'environment' and 'adapted', making them so general and all-encompssing as to become nebulous, meaningless and absurd. At which point his statement becomes the vacuous tautology that those that the enviroment sustains are the better adapted, and vice-versa. Which is perfectly "plausible", but silly. And rendered even sillier, unfortunately, by the inane ( but accidental, I'm sure) redundancy of the entire phrase, "if the environment can only sustain the better adapted, which is also a fact, then the environment can only sustain the better adapted, which is also a fact".
From countless discussions about evolution, both here in these forums, and elsewhere - and even elsewhen - it should be clear that to say that "the environment can only sustain the better adapted" is to recapitulate the notion that living creatures generally spawn more offspring than the environment has room for, in various meanings of the word 'room'. I trust I do not need to spell it out any further.
By the way, if you check out what I actually said you will find that I did not make the redundant remark you quoted. As far as I can determine, the redundancy originates in your own misquote - accidental, I'm sure - of the original message by nwr, who quoted me correctly. I'm afraid any silliness in the resulting argument is entirely of your own making.
[...] the notion that a series of accidental genetic changes confronted by a meaningless tautology is the cause and explanation for, "extremely well adapted, very complex structures", is at best dubious. It does not strike me as the least bit plausible.
In light of the fact that the tautologous nature of what you suppose I said rests on your misquoting nwr, I trust it all becomes a bit cleared now that I've pointed it out. If not, then I think personal incredulity is the next best explanation for your last remark.
Edited by Parasomnium, : No reason given.
Edited by Parasomnium, : No reason given.

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science." - Charles Darwin.
Did you know that most of the time your computer is doing nothing? What if you could make it do something really useful? Like helping scientists understand diseases? Your computer could even be instrumental in finding a cure for HIV/AIDS. Wouldn't that be something? If you agree, then join World Community Grid now and download a simple, free tool that lets you and your computer do your share in helping humanity. After all, you are part of it, so why not take part in it?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 209 by Elmer, posted 11-14-2007 3:55 PM Elmer has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 213 by RAZD, posted 11-14-2007 7:02 PM Parasomnium has not replied

  
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