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#161 Guest_Keith C_*

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 06:59 PM

Snakes,like most all predators,are ambush hunters.It does'nt matter if the gophers had wings,they never know what hits them until it's too late.

Something that is interesting,though.Prairie Dogs are now immune to the venom of rattlesnakes,but it still does'nt stop them from being eaten.
Enjoy.

If all rattlesnake attacks on praire dogs were fatal, then immunity to the venom would be extremely difficult to explain.
However, if some fraction of the p dogs are bitten but survive, then the (limited) immunity would be easily explained.
Either the few survivors remain immune for the rest of their lives, or there has been selection for some form of (limited?) genetic immunity in the entire prairie dog population.

#162 Ron

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 02:24 AM

If all rattlesnake attacks on praire dogs were fatal, then immunity to the venom would be extremely difficult to explain.
However, if some fraction of the p dogs are bitten but survive, then the (limited) immunity would be easily explained.
Either the few survivors remain immune for the rest of their lives, or there has been selection for some form of (limited?) genetic immunity in the entire prairie dog population.

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Selection?

#163 CTD

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 05:36 AM

If you like it better, consider a population which has several different alleles to a number of genes.  Without knowing which individual has which allele, and without assigning any sense of better or fitter to any of the genes, there are some combinations of alleles which average more than one descendant per parent (> 2 per couple).  Other combinations produce < 2 per couple.
After sufficient number of generations, some alleles will be lost from the descendant population while other alleles become more common.

That change on allele frequency is evolution and I did not say better or more favorable.

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You seem to have strayed from the topic.

Here, once again, is the post which you set out to oppose.

It's nice when things begin to be understood. I noticed this in another thread.

The acid test of whether any particular variation, or set of variations, is a net advantage is reproductive success. Often we fallible humans cannot look at a particular organisms, with its unique variations, and say whether it will be more or less successful at reproducing than its fellows.

This is why 'natural selection' is so utterly meaningless. In order for it to be science, it needs to provide successful predictions. Because it is impossible to say in advance whether or not a creature is "more fit" or "less fit", predictions cannot be consistently successful. (Randomly choosing between two "competitors" would result in about 50% correct guesses, so before 'natural selection' could even be in the running it'd have to do better. It never has.)

Now if all that can be done is to claim the survivor was "better" in the past tense, we don't have science at all - just circular reasoning. It survived because it was better. It was better because it survived.

This really shouldn't be so hard to explain to people as it is proving to be.

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Regurgitating phony definitions of 'evolution' does not remedy the circular nature of "Natural Selection".

#164 Guest_Keith C_*

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 12:14 PM

You said, about Natural Selection:-

In order for it to be science, it needs to provide successful predictions. Because it is impossible to say in advance whether or not a creature is "more fit" or "less fit", predictions cannot be consistently successful. (Randomly choosing between two "competitors" would result in about 50% correct guesses, so before 'natural selection' could even be in the running it'd have to do better. It never has.)

Now if all that can be done is to claim the survivor was "better" in the past tense, we don't have science at all - just circular reasoning. It survived because it was better. It was better because it survived.

You seem to think that 'successful prediction' means knowing the future.
Scientists understand the various forms of radio-active decay, but they are completely unable to predict when a particular atom will decay.

Why do you think that the truth or falsity of evolution should depend on whether I (or anyone else) can look at someone and predict how many children or grandchildren they will have?
Evolution makes some general predictions, but does not get into details.

#165 CTD

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 02:25 PM

You said, about Natural Selection:-

This is why 'natural selection' is so utterly meaningless. In order for it to be science, it needs to provide successful predictions. Because it is impossible to say in advance whether or not a creature is "more fit" or "less fit", predictions cannot be consistently successful. (Randomly choosing between two "competitors" would result in about 50% correct guesses, so before 'natural selection' could even be in the running it'd have to do better. It never has.)

Now if all that can be done is to claim the survivor was "better" in the past tense, we don't have science at all - just circular reasoning. It survived because it was better. It was better because it survived.

This really shouldn't be so hard to explain to people as it is proving to be.

You seem to think that 'successful prediction' means knowing the future.

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You seem to think I invented the standard. I cannot take credit.

I guess we won't see you complaining that ID and creation science don't make predictions then, huh?

It might seem odd for one to feign ignorance about the relationship of prediction to scientific endeavour. Even moreso for one who has in the past boasted of successful predictions.

http://www.evolution...indpost&p=30958

http://www.evolution...indpost&p=30820

But it's easily explained. Evolutionism can be held to NO standard, no matter how well known, no matter how universally accepted. If ANY element of evolutionism fails to meet a standard of science, it is the standard which is faulty - not the sacred religious dogma.

Scientists understand the various forms of radio-active decay, but they are completely unable to predict when a particular atom will decay.

Then they don't understand so all-fired much, do they? Perhaps you're hoping folks will confuse compilation of data with understanding? They have taken measurement after measurement; this we know. But understanding is something which must be demonstrated.

Why do you think that the truth or falsity of evolution should depend on whether I (or anyone else) can look at someone and predict how many children or grandchildren they will have?

Why would anyone think it?

Why do you keep saying "evolution" when we're specifically discussing "Natural Selection"? How do you expect doing so will work to your advantage? I don't expect you'll tell, but I'm curious.

Evolution makes some general predictions, but does not get into details.

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You post some words, but you don't say much.

Even so, you say more than you intend. If predictions & science don't go hand-in-hand, why are you making this assertion? Choose a position and stick to it.

...or don't. :rolleyes:

#166 CTD

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 04:41 AM

BBC Earth News reports a new "discovery". It's about a story they made up about some mice.

I found this confession noteworthy:

"It's a two part process. First the mutation has to occur and second, selection has to increase its frequency."

The researchers say it is the first time that it has been possible to document the appearance of a gene, its selection and subsequent spread through a population of wild animals.

So up until now, nobody's ever been able to document the very process we're told is an established fact.

How many more of the faithful are already painfully aware of the truth? Would looking at reality really bring the world crashing down? By what mechansim then does refusal to look prevent the crash?

#167 falcone

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 04:58 AM

BBC Earth News reports a new "discovery". It's about a story they made up about some mice.


[Creationist mode]
Surely it fails as an example of evolution because it's still a mouse? Isn't this just an example of simple adaptation?
[/Creationist mode]

#168 TheJarJam

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 10:06 PM

[Creationist mode]
Surely it fails as an example of evolution because it's still a mouse? Isn't this just an example of simple adaptation?
[/Creationist mode]

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Sounds like a perfectly valid criticism to me.

#169 Ron

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 02:17 AM

Surely it fails as an example of evolution because it's still a mouse? Isn't this just an example of simple adaptation?

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Now you're starting to see the light Falcone :rolleyes:

#170 falcone

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 05:34 AM

Now you're starting to see the light Falcone :rolleyes:

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Don't get too excited, Ron. I'm just trying to understand where creationists are coming from. That doesn't mean I agree with you in the slightest.

#171 Richard Townsend

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 11:12 AM

BBC Earth News reports a new "discovery". It's about a story they made up about some mice.

I found this confession noteworthy:

So up until now, nobody's ever been able to document the very process we're told is an established fact.

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So now it is a more strongly established fact. Those who said this is what happens were right.

#172 CTD

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 11:31 AM

So now it is a more strongly established fact.  Those who said this is what happens were right.

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Without smilies, it can sometimes be hard to tell when people are joking.

:rolleyes: either way.

#173 Ron

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 12:58 PM

Don't get too excited, Ron. I'm just trying to understand where creationists are coming from. That doesn't mean I agree with you in the slightest.

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It was a joke facone, don't get in a twist. :lol:

#174 deadlock

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 07:15 AM

Survival of the fittest theory: Darwinism's limits

READERS in search of literature about Darwin or Darwinism will have no trouble finding it. Recent milestone anniversaries of Darwin's birth and of the publication of On the Origin of Species have prompted a plethora of material, so authors thinking of adding another volume had better have a good excuse for it. We have written another book about Darwinism, and we urge you to take it to heart. Our excuse is in the title: What Darwin Got Wrong.

Much of the vast neo-Darwinian literature is distressingly uncritical. The possibility that anything is seriously amiss with Darwin's account of evolution is hardly considered. Such dissent as there is often relies on theistic premises which Darwinists rightly say have no place in the evaluation of scientific theories. So onlookers are left with the impression that there is little or nothing about Darwin's theory to which a scientific naturalist could reasonably object. The methodological scepticism that characterises most areas of scientific discourse seems strikingly absent when Darwinism is the topic. :o


Try these descriptions of natural selection, typical of the laudatory epithets which abound in the literature: "The universal acid" (philosopher Daniel Dennett in Darwin's Dangerous Idea, 1995); "a mechanism of staggering simplicity and beauty... [it] has been called the greatest idea that anyone ever had... it also happens to be true" (biologist Jerry Coyne in Why Evolution is True, 2009); "the only workable theory ever proposed that is capable of explaining life we have" (biologist and ethologist Richard Dawkins, variously). And as Dennett continues in Darwin's Dangerous Idea: "In a single stroke, the idea of evolution by natural selection unifies the realm of life, meaning, and purpose with the realm of space and time, cause and effect, mechanism and physical law."

Golly! Could Darwinism really be that good? <_<


Darwin's theory of evolution has two connected parts: connected, but not inseparable. First, there is an explanation of the taxonomy of species. It is an ancient observation that if you sort species by similarities among their phenotypes (a phenotype being a particular creature's collection of overt, heritable biological properties) they form the hierarchy known as a "taxonomic tree".

This is why most vertebrate species are more similar to one another than they are to any invertebrate species, most species of mammals are more similar to one another than they are to any species of reptiles, and so forth. Why is this? It is quite conceivable that every species might be equally different from every other. What explains why they aren't?

Darwin suggested a genealogical hypothesis: when species are relatively similar, it's because they are descended from a relatively recent common ancestor. In some ways, chimps seem a lot like people. This is not because God created them to poke fun at us, or vice versa; it is because humans and chimps are descended from the same relatively recent primitive ape.

The current consensus is that Darwin was almost certainly right about this. There are plausible exceptions, notably similarities that arise from evolutionary convergence, but evidence from a number of disciplines, including genetics, evolutionary developmental biology and palaeontology argues decisively for Darwin's historical account of the taxonomy of species. We agree that this really was as brilliant an idea as it is generally said to be.

But that cannot be the whole story, since it is not self-evident why species that have a recent common ancestor - as opposed, say, to species that share an ecology - are generally phenotypically similar. Darwin's theory of natural selection is intended to answer this question. Darwinists often say that natural selection provides the mechanism of evolution by offering an account of the transmission of phenotypic traits from generation to generation which, if correct, explains the connection between phenotypic similarity and common ancestry.

Moreover, it is perfectly general: it applies to any species, independent of what its phenotype may happen to be. And it is remarkably simple. In effect, the mechanism of trait transmission it postulates consists of a random generator of genotypic variants that produce the corresponding random phenotypic variations, and an environmental filter that selects among the latter according to their relative fitness. And that's all. Remarkable if true.

But we don't think it is true :o . A variety of different considerations suggesting that it is not are mounting up. We feel it is high time that Darwinists take this evidence seriously, or offer some reason why it should be discounted. Our book about what Darwin got wrong reviews in detail some of these objections to natural selection and the evidence for them; this article is a brief summary

Here's how natural selection is supposed to work. Each generation contributes an imperfect copy of its genotype - and thereby of its phenotype - to its successor. Neo-Darwinism suggests that such imperfections arise primarily from mutations in the genomes of members of the species in question.

What matters is that the alterations of phenotypes that the mechanisms of trait transmission produce are random. Suppose, for example, that a characteristic coloration is part of the phenotype of a particular species, and that the modal members of the ith generation of that species are reddish brown. Suppose, also, that the mechanisms that copy phenotypes from each generation to the next are "imperfect" in the sense given above. Then, all else being equal, the coloration of the i + 1th generation will form a random distribution around the mean coloration of the parent generation: most of the offspring will match their parents more or less, but some will be more red than brown, and some will be more brown than red.

This assumption explains the random variation of phenotypic traits over time, but it doesn't explain why phenotypic traits evolve. So let's further assume that, in the environment that the species inhabits, the members with brownish coloration are more "fit" than the ones with reddish coloration, all else being equal. It doesn't much matter exactly how fitness is defined; for convenience, we'll follow the current consensus according to which an individual's relative fitness co-varies with the probability that it will contribute its phenotypic traits to its offspring.

Given a certain amount of conceptual and mathematical tinkering, it follows that, all else again being equal, the fitness of the species's phenotype will generally increase over time, and that the phenotypes of each generation will resemble the phenotype of its recent ancestors more than they resemble the phenotypes of its remote ancestors.

That, to a first approximation, is the neo-Darwinian account of how phenotypes evolve. To be sure, some caveats are required. For example, even orthodox Darwinists have always recognised that there are plenty of cases where fitness doesn't increase over time. So, for example, fitness may decrease when a population becomes unduly numerous (that's density-dependent selection at work), or when a species having once attained a "fitness plateau" then gets stuck there, or, of course, when the species becomes extinct.

Such cases do not show that neo-Darwinism is false; they only show that the "all else being equal" clauses must be taken seriously. Change the climate enough and the next generation of dinosaurs won't be more fit than its parents. Hit enough dinosaurs with meteors, and there won't be a next generation. But that does not argue against Darwinian selection, as this claims only to say what happens when the ecology doesn't change, or only changes very gradually, which manifestly does not apply in the case of the dinosaurs and the meteorite strikes

So much for the theory, now for the objections. Natural selection is a radically environmentalist theory. There are, therefore, analogies between what Darwin said about the process of evolution of phenotypes and what the psychologist B. F. Skinner said about the learning of what he called "operant behaviour" - the whole network of events and factors involved in the behaviour of humans and non-human animals.

These analogies are telling. Skinner's theory, though once fashionable, is now widely agreed to be unsustainable, largely because Skinner very much overestimated the contribution that the structure of a creature's environment plays in determining what it learns, and correspondingly very much underestimated the contribution of the internal or "endogenous" variables - including, in particular, innate cognitive structure.

In our book, we argue in some detail that much the same is true of Darwin's treatment of evolution: it overestimates the contribution the environment makes in shaping the phenotype of a species and correspondingly underestimates the effects of endogenous variables. For Darwin, the only thing that organisms contribute to determining how next-generation phenotypes differ from parent-generation phenotypes is random variation. All the non-random variables come from the environment.

Suppose, however, that Darwin got this wrong and various internal factors account for the data. If that is so, there is inevitably less for environmental filtering to do.

The consensus view among neo-Darwinians continues to be that evolution is random variation plus structured environmental filtering, but it seems the consensus may be shifting. In our book we review a large and varied selection of non-environmental constraints on trait transmission. They include constraints imposed "from below" by physics and chemistry, that is, from molecular interactions upwards, through genes, chromosomes, cells, tissues and organisms. And constraints imposed "from above" by universal principles of phenotypic form and self-organisation - that is, through the minimum energy expenditure, shortest paths, optimal packing and so on, down to the morphology and structure of organisms.

Over the aeons of evolutionary time, the interaction of these multiple constraints has produced many viable phenotypes, all compatible with survival and reproduction. Crucially, however, the evolutionary process in such cases is not driven by a struggle for survival and/or for reproduction. Pigs don't have wings, but that's not because winged pigs once lost out to wingless ones. And it's not because the pigs that lacked wings were more fertile than the pigs that had them. There never were any winged pigs because there's no place on pigs for the wings to go. This isn't environmental filtering, it's just physiological and developmental mechanics.

So, how many constraints on the evolution of phenotypes are there other than those that environmental filtering imposes? Nobody knows, but the picture now emerging is of many, many of them operating in many, many different ways and at many, many different levels. That's what the evolutionary developmental school of biology and the theory that gene regulatory networks control our underlying development both suggest. And it strikes us as entirely plausible.

It seems to us to be no coincidence that neo-Darwinian rhetoric in the literature of experimental biology has cooled detectably in recent years. In its place, we find evolutionary biologist Leonid Kruglyak being quoted in Nature in November 2008 (vol 456, p 18) thus: "It's a possibility that there's something [about the contributions of genomic structure to the evolution of complex phenotypes] we just don't fundamentally understand... That it's so different from what we're thinking about that we're not thinking about it yet." :unsure:


And then there is this in March 2009 from molecular biologist Eugene Koonin, writing in Nucleic Acids Research (vol 37, p 1011): "Evolutionary-genomic studies show that natural selection is only one of the forces that shape genome evolution and is not quantitatively dominant, whereas non-adaptive processes are much more prominent than previously suspected." There's quite a lot of this sort of thing around these days, and we confidently predict a lot more in the near future.

Darwinists say that evolution is explained by the selection of phenotypic traits by environmental filters. But the effects of endogenous structure can wreak havoc with this theory. Consider the following case: traits t1 and t2 are endogenously linked in such a way that if a creature has one, it has both. Now the core of natural selection is the claim that phenotypic traits are selected for their adaptivity, that is, for their effect on fitness. But it is perfectly possible that one of two linked traits is adaptive but the other isn't; having one of them affects fitness but having the other one doesn't. So one is selected for and the other "free-rides" on it.

We should stress that every such case (and we argue in our book that free-riding is ubiquitous) is a counter-example to natural selection. Free-riding shows that the general claim that phenotypic traits are selected for their effects on fitness isn't true. The most that natural selection can actually claim is that some phenotypic traits are selected for their effects on fitness; the rest are selected for... well, some other reason entirely, or perhaps for no reason at all.

It's a main claim of our book that, when phenotypic traits are endogenously linked, there is no way that selection can distinguish among them: selection for one selects the others, regardless of their effects on fitness. That is a great deal less than the general theory of the mechanics of evolution that the Darwinists suppose that natural selection provides. Worse still, there isn't the slightest reason to suppose that free-riding exhausts the kinds of exceptions to natural selection that endogenous structures can produce.

"All right," you may say, "but why should anybody care?" Nobody sensible doubts that evolution occurs - we certainly don't. Isn't this a parochial issue for professional biologists, with nothing cosmic turning on it? Here's why we think that is not so.

Natural selection has shown insidious imperialistic tendencies. The offering of post-hoc explanations of phenotypic traits by reference to their hypothetical effects on fitness in their hypothetical environments of selection has spread from evolutionary theory to a host of other traditional disciplines: philosophy, psychology, anthropology, sociology, and even to aesthetics and theology. Some people really do seem to think that natural selection is a universal acid, and that nothing can resist its powers of dissolution.

However, the internal evidence to back this imperialistic selectionism strikes us as very thin. Its credibility depends largely on the reflected glamour of natural selection which biology proper is said to legitimise. Accordingly, if natural selection disappears from biology, its offshoots in other fields seem likely to disappear as well. This is an outcome much to be desired since, more often than not, these offshoots have proved to be not just post hoc but ad hoc, crude, reductionist, scientistic rather than scientific, shamelessly self-congratulatory, and so wanting in detail that they are bound to accommodate the data, however that data may turn out. So it really does matter whether natural selection is true. :o ( Please, Tell me that scientists dont do that )

That's why we wrote our book.

New Scientist




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