What Has Understanding Evolution

  • Thread starter Whalstib
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done for mankind?

I was in a debate recently and the subject came up of just what good is understanding evolution? Many will make the claim it is the single greatest scientific achievement of mankind but what has it done to further mankind or science? Yea it's pretty cool and answers lots of questions and gives a framework to paleontology but what else? What specific advances does it allow?

I don't mean the theory evolution itself I'm much happier being a whole bunch of organized cells than some lowly prokaryotic thank ya very much but what advantages do we have using it as a tool in research etc? If the changes are so slow and drawn out what good does it do in a human life span or even 100 or 1000?

I'm asking here because I have a basic understanding of the evolution of viruses and bacteria to antibiotics but is there more to just understanding adaptive immunity?

Funny I can think of any number of bad things that have arisen due to understanding evolution but can't come up with a whole lot of good ones!

Thanks,

Warren
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Fra
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I'm asking here because I have a basic understanding of the evolution of viruses and bacteria to antibiotics but is there more to just understanding adaptive immunity?
As I see it the big boost is the mere understanding of the mechanisms of evolution is a key to making better and more efficient models in many fields in particular for complex systems in general.

Complex systems meaning systems so complex that a first principle modelling and reductionist approaches simply fails due to

- deterministic chaos
- overflowing requirements for computational and memeory capacity to perform even the most elementary calculation from first principles.

Here new understanding of organisation and evolution of complex systems is a huge boost.

I don't see the evolution just as the understanding of the genes, it's a more general picture where adaptions and regulatory mechanism at different levels just are the way complex systems work and survive.

For example, it's impossible due to the above reasons to make first principle modelling of how a cell in depth responds to say a medicine. Even though you might argue that it's possible "in principle" to write the down equations, it just wont work due to a range of reasons.

But understanding the objectives and response logic of a living cell, gives huge shortcuts. Although it's not mutations, I think a very common way is to simulated the complete gene regulatory chain by means of metabolic network simulations, where you jsut define the metabolic network and the main regulatory points, and they see by optimation algorithms the optimal expression.

Then the assumption is that the response of the cell; given an an inferering substance; will given some equilibriation/evolution time, find the new optimal regulatory state.

Thise has also been confirmed for real mutating bacterial cultures where the organisms converges to the predicted point. Such a prediction would be impossible from first principles.

So evolutionary perspectives and think is I think indispensible for understanding and predicting complex systems.

/Fredrik
 
  • #3
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I do anticipate the possibility that my answer might be unsatisfactory to you Warren, but it is, I believe, the right response to the premise you offer. You might get a whole range of responses to your question that supply purely utilitarian advantages of evolutionary knowledge. I certainly do not dismiss the importance of those utilitarian advantages, and it is clear to me that they are so broad and varied that some might see your question as excessively naïve. But my point is that, whatever the utilitarian advantages, the knowledge and understanding is, of itself, all the justification required.

And I know of no ‘bad things that have arisen due to understanding evolution’. There may be plenty that have arisen due to people’s illogical responses to that knowledge, but that is not actually the fault of evolutionary science.
 
  • #4
jambaugh
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I think you'll find many of the "good ones" have been subtle. Understanding evolution incorporates with and augments our understanding of ecological systems and how component species may achieve an equilibrium niche or upset the equilibrium of an ecology. This applies directly to e.g. agriculture and aquaculture.

Simply finding likely locations to drill for oil, or mine coal require we incorporate evolution and its subsidiary implications into our world view.

Little things like understanding the sickle cell trait, how it arose from a mutation (multiple times in our ancestral history) and why it didn't die out is important to understanding its genetic and physiological roll and thus adapting treatments. Take this example times a number of other genetically based illnesses. Also take it in the social context of understanding its presence in the context of evolution vs some superstitious bigoted view e.g. as the mark of Cain or other divine punishment, "sins of the father..." and all that.

As to "bad things" I can't think of any stemming from knowledge of evolution itself, rather only from ignorant reactions to the idea or its use (no different from the use of its alternatives) to rationalize horrific behavior of tyrants.

From the fact of evolution, I don't think you can paint it in "good" vs "bad" since you don't have a proper alternative to which to compare "better" and "worse".
One can blame gravity for the pain of landing on the pavement when one falls but it isn't the moral obligation of gravity to apply itself only for our benefit. The good or bad of it lies in why we fall given our lifetime of experience with gravity doing what gravity does regardless of our wishes.

Good vs Bad is best left to qualify human choices and behavior. I don't blame gravity because I neglected my shoelaces and tripped.

I don't blame evolution because over-use of antibiotics in agriculture has provided bacteria the genetic incentive to adapt any more than I thank evolution for providing the original difference in physiology between bacterial cell walls and animal cell walls so that a substance can inhibit one without affecting the other to any great extent.
 
  • #5
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Thanks,

As to the bad things consider how fast one is jump on say the Catholic Church for it's "bad things" when it was not the doctrine but how people interpreted and abused the power of it.

Interestingly many champions of evolution would prefer we don't connect the dots to eugenics, racism and genocide that used evolution for the extremists ideas. Seriously time to admit science sorta went off the rails back there. Darwin himself made volumes of racists remarks that in modern times would have him exiled from science....

" At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla. The Descent of Man (1871) p.201"

So we have the horses mouth THE Word on evolution using such terms...

Once again I agree that the theory is sound and bears no repsonsibility for human actions. It just is.

Oops I have to run to school and I look like a YEC'er! Sorry! I'm a serious geoscience student with no issues with the theory of evolution!

The theory is so polarizing I find myself for apologizing fro discussing it.....what it the deal with that?

More to come....
W
 
  • #6
I perfectly agree with Ken Natton. Sometimes the only reason one needs to study something is the satisfaction of gaining knowledge about it. A lot of science (and other things) is studied for its own sake and not so that some practical application can be taken out.
 
  • #7
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Sometimes the only reason one needs to study something is the satisfaction of gaining knowledge about it. A lot of science (and other things) is studied for its own sake and not so that some practical application can be taken out.
Yes, actually thinking about it, one can expand outwards about scientific knowledge generally in response to Warren’s / Whalstib’s mistaken blaming of evolutionary science for eugenics, racism and genocide. Scientific knowledge can be misused when it is available to some and withheld from others. That, I suppose is the central reason why science is generally so open about what it knows and makes its discoveries so freely available to anyone willing to make the effort to actually understand them. I know of no genuine adverse effect of any openly shared knowledge. The misinterpretations of evolutionary science used to justify eugenics is no reflection whatever on an accurate understanding of evolutionary science. And no open minded and thoughtful reader really believes that Darwin was, in the least bit racist.
 
  • #8
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Interestingly many champions of evolution would prefer we don't connect the dots to eugenics, racism and genocide that used evolution for the extremists ideas.
There are no dots to connect. Evolutionary biology concerns such as common descent and biological diversity. It is not a moral philosophy, but a set of descriptive statements about the world around us. Therefore, it cannot be used to support any given moral philosophy, good or bad.

Darwin himself made volumes of racists remarks that in modern times would have him exiled from science....

" At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla. The Descent of Man (1871) p.201"

So we have the horses mouth THE Word on evolution using such terms...
Actually, that quote is taken out of context. When Darwin spoke of "race" he meant "varieties", not human ethnic groups. This makes sense considering that Darwin did not know about modern genetics. Today, we would use the term "ecotype" or "allele".

Darwin did not want other ethnic groups to be eradicated, he simply made a descriptive claim that this was the likely outcome of the European imperialism and colonialism during his own lifetime.

The quote in full reads

"The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies, which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species, has often been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from some lower form; but this objection will not appear of much weight to those who, from general reasons, believe in the general principle of evolution. Breaks often occur in all parts of the series, some being wide, sharp and defined, others less so in various degrees; as between the orang and its nearest allies—between the Tarsius and the other Lemuridae between the elephant, and in a more striking manner between the Ornithorhynchus or Echidna, and all other mammals. But these breaks depend merely on the number of related forms which have become extinct. At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla."

It is clear from the passage in context that Darwin was not a racist.

Oops I have to run to school and I look like a YEC'er! Sorry! I'm a serious geoscience student with no issues with the theory of evolution!
When you use creationist arguments and tactics, it is very difficult not to draw the tempting conclusion that you are.
 
  • #9
Ygggdrasil
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An understanding that all life arose from a common ancestor is crucial to allowing biologists to translate their findings from work on other organisms to understanding human disease. Simpler organisms such as fruit flies, worms, and mice are much easier to work with in a laboratory setting and study with the tools of genetics than humans. The fact that the basic cellular machinery in these organisms evolved from a common ancestor means that scientists are justified in thinking that studying these organisms can help understand human disease. When we study a certain gene in one of these organisms, we can easily find the related genes in humans and the work on these simpler organisms can then help us infer the function of that gene in humans.

Here's a good example. HIV reverse transcriptase (RT) is an enzyme that performs a very different function than any enzyme that had been studied before; it converts RNA into DNA. However, if you look at the sequence of RT, you can see that the enzyme looks a lot like a regular DNA polymerase, a class of enzymes that had been widely studied beforehand. Knowing that RT and the family of DNA polymerases evolved from a common ancestor has allowed us to use some of the tools developed for DNA polymerases to study RT and to translate our knowledge about DNA polymerases to the study of RT. This evolutionary connection is one reason why we have been so successful in developing very potent anti-HIV drugs that target RT and, in the course of ~20 years, converted HIV infection from a death sentence to a manageable disease.
 
  • #10
bobze
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Zooblots!!!
 
  • #11
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Hi again,

Huh? No dots to connect??? You are living in a world of neo-Darwinism and when the heat comes you retreat to simple evolution; change in population over time...who can argue with that? Read about Ota Benga on display at the Bronx Zoo and an example of "human evolution" True enough it's not the theory but doesn't denying the fact it has been used to fuel atrocities bug anyone besides me?

At my level of education I have not the experience to refute of defend evolution. Sure I understand the basic change in population over time and perhaps more of my confusion comes from neo-Darwinism and it's implications as I outline above.

I think I get suspicious when I see the rabid defense of Darwin and his many racists remarks that are not dismissed as from an age but actually defended and defined in PC terms to make palatable as if the theory of evolution depends on Darwins legacy..which it does not! it is clearly just a law of nature and any issues in my mind only arise when we get the single cell kingdom and frankly I don't get the inorganic to organic leap Miller-Urey accepted, RNA is NOT DNA. Once again I feel I have to apologize for questioning the status quo. I have been reading several university level biology texts and am learning so I do not have a closed mind which I'm afraid a few of you do.

Mkorr I'm sorry you think I'm lying. I was off to class and had to wrap it up. it seems any questioning leads to this conclusion and frankly I have NEVER seen such a wholesale utter defense that leaps to extremes on the mere presentation of a question! Face it to question evolution will use terms that are used by extremist. They are simple questions with little room to edit so if you find some similarities between I and a more extreme point of view that's fine.

Mkorr states: "It is clear from the passage in context that Darwin was not a racist." It is NOT clear! You are merely denying the black and white facts in front of you. I see nothing you added that changes the context!

FRA. Thanks! Excellent explanation! This is what I am looking for!

Folks I think the issues is most of academia as I have been exposed takes Dawkins view that if you don't believe evolution/neo-Darwinism you are ignorant or and idiot which slams the door shut on any discussion.

Off to another class!

Thanks again Fra....I will use that as a thoughtful definition of the good things evolution has done for mankind in future discussions.

W
 
  • #12
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Fra,

Sorry I got caught up in the rhetoric and didn’t reply directly to your thoughtful post. I see what you are saying and you put it most eloquently but are we at the point with the modeling where the change can be predicted to a greater or lesser degree? Is this the ultimate goal? Are we still dealing with rolls of the dice and only recognize that there will be change without fully comprehending the mechanisms?

I don’t mean to detract (see I feel I have apologize for asking a question! No where else in science!) but isn’t it rather hollow until concrete change can be used for the benefit? Perhaps that is where we are. I don’t know and am here to learn.

I think this is what bugs me about evolution is so simple but doesn’t on face value explain enough. I see it as just a jumping off point and in fact most of the advances go to more modern sciences.

Thanks again,

Warren
 
  • #13
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Huh? No dots to connect??? You are living in a world of neo-Darwinism and when the heat comes you retreat to simple evolution; change in population over time...who can argue with that?
You clearly do not even know what Neo-Darwinism even means; it was mainly the synthesis of common descent and Darwinian adaptation on the one hand and population- and statistical genetics, on the other. Modern evolutionary biology, or post-synthetic evolutionary biology, also incorporates things like genetic networks, evolutionary developmental biology, genomics, plasticity, epigenetics etc.

It has absolutely nothing to do with how society ought to work.

Read about Ota Benga on display at the Bronx Zoo and an example of "human evolution" True enough it's not the theory but doesn't denying the fact it has been used to fuel atrocities bug anyone besides me?
Both modern and Darwin's evolutionary theory argues that all humans share a common ancestor with other primates. No currently existing species of primates is the direct ancestor to any other currently existing species. Humans did not evolve from monkeys, humans and monkeys share a common ancestor.

Sure I understand the basic change in population over time and perhaps more of my confusion comes from neo-Darwinism and it's implications as I outline above.
Those are not implications of neo-Darwinism.

it is clearly just a law of nature and any issues in my mind only arise when we get the single cell kingdom and frankly I don't get the inorganic to organic leap Miller-Urey accepted, RNA is NOT DNA.
The origin of life (abiogenesis) is not evolution. Common descent stands regardless of the status of various models for the origin of life.

The Miller-Urey experiment did not even produce RNA, but amino acids and certain bases. We now know that the atmospheric conditions postulated by Miller and Urey are not completely accurate, but experiments have be redone with more adequate models of atmospheric conditions that also produce many building blocks of life. Abiogenesis is a relatively new field of research.

Once again I feel I have to apologize for questioning the status quo. I have been reading several university level biology texts and am learning so I do not have a closed mind which I'm afraid a few of you do.
Debunking the same old creationist canards is not the same as being close minded. Now, presenting such arguments on the other hand...

It is NOT clear! You are merely denying the black and white facts in front of you. I see nothing you added that changes the context!
It does. The context of the quote makes it clear that Darwin is engaging in a descriptive prediction of probable outcomes if western imperialism continues as it did at the time.

You probably just copy/pasted the butchered quote from a creationist website without trying to check if it was taken out of context. We caught you with your pants down and your hand in the cookie jar. Game over.
 
  • #14
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The "evolution does not have any practical application, therefore not valid science" argument has been around since at least the 1980s and refuted thousands of times since. Here is a short list of practical applications.

Index to Creationist Claims: Claim CA215: The theory of evolution is useless, without practical application.

1. Evolutionary theory is the framework tying together all of biology. It explains similarities and differences between organisms, fossils, biogeography, drug resistance, extreme features such as the peacock's tail, relative virulence of parasites, and much more besides. Without the theory of evolution, it would still be possible to know much about biology, but not to understand it.

This explanatory framework is useful in a practical sense. First, a unified theory is easier to learn, because the facts connect together rather than being so many isolated bits of trivia. Second, having a theory makes it possible to see gaps in the theory, suggesting productive areas for new research.

2. Evolutionary theory has been put to practical use in several areas (Futuyma 1995; Bull and Wichman 2001). For example:
* Bioinformatics, a multi-billion-dollar industry, consists largely of the comparison of genetic sequences. Descent with modification is one of its most basic assumptions.
* Diseases and pests evolve resistance to the drugs and pesticides we use against them. Evolutionary theory is used in the field of resistance management in both medicine and agriculture (Bull and Wichman 2001).
* Evolutionary theory is used to manage fisheries for greater yields (Conover and Munch 2002).
* Artificial selection has been used since prehistory, but it has become much more efficient with the addition of quantitative trait locus mapping.
* Knowledge of the evolution of parasite virulence in human populations can help guide public health policy (Galvani 2003).
* Sex allocation theory, based on evolution theory, was used to predict conditions under which the highly endangered kakapo bird would produce more female offspring, which retrieved it from the brink of extinction (Sutherland 2002).

Evolutionary theory is being applied to and has potential applications in may other areas, from evaluating the threats of genetically modified crops to human psychology. Additional applications are sure to come.

3. Phylogenetic analysis, which uses the evolutionary principle of common descent, has proven its usefulness:
* Tracing genes of known function and comparing how they are related to unknown genes helps one to predict unknown gene function, which is foundational for drug discovery (Branca 2002; Eisen and Wu 2002; Searls 2003).
* Phylogenetic analysis is a standard part of epidemiology, since it allows the identification of disease reservoirs and sometimes the tracking of step-by-step transmission of disease. For example, phylogenetic analysis confirmed that a Florida dentist was infecting his patients with HIV, that HIV-1 and HIV-2 were transmitted to humans from chimpanzees and mangabey monkeys in the twentieth century, and, when polio was being eradicated from the Americas, that new cases were not coming from hidden reservoirs (Bull and Wichman 2001). It was used in 2002 to help convict a man of intentionally infecting someone with HIV (Vogel 1998). The same principle can be used to trace the source of bioweapons (Cummings and Relman 2002).
* Phylogenetic analysis to track the diversity of a pathogen can be used to select an appropriate vaccine for a particular region (Gaschen et al. 2002).
* Ribotyping is a technique for identifying an organism or at least finding its closest known relative by mapping its ribosomal RNA onto the tree of life. It can be used even when the organisms cannot be cultured or recognized by other methods. Ribotyping and other genotyping methods have been used to find previously unknown infectious agents of human disease (Bull and Wichman 2001; Relman 1999).
* Phylogenetic analysis helps in determining protein folds, since proteins diverging from a common ancestor tend to conserve their folds (Benner 2001).

4. Directed evolution allows the "breeding" of molecules or molecular pathways to create or enhance products, including:
* enzymes (Arnold 2001)
* pigments (Arnold 2001)
* antibiotics
* flavors
* biopolymers
* bacterial strains to decompose hazardous materials.
Directed evolution can also be used to study the folding and function of natural enzymes (Taylor et al. 2001).

5. The evolutionary principles of natural selection, variation, and recombination are the basis for genetic algorithms, an engineering technique that has many practical applications, including aerospace engineering, architecture, astrophysics, data mining, drug discovery and design, electrical engineering, finance, geophysics, materials engineering, military strategy, pattern recognition, robotics, scheduling, and systems engineering (Marczyk 2004).

6. Tools developed for evolutionary science have been put to other uses. For example:
* Many statistical techniques, including analysis of variance and linear regression, were developed by evolutionary biologists, especially Ronald Fisher and Karl Pearson. These statistical techniques have much wider application today.
* The same techniques of phylogenetic analysis developed for biology can also trace the history of multiple copies of a manuscript (Barbrook et al. 1998; Howe et al. 2001) and the history of languages (Dunn et al. 2005).

7. Good science need not have any application beyond satisfying curiosity. Much of astronomy, geology, paleontology, natural history, and other sciences have no practical application. For many people, knowledge is a worthy end in itself.

8. Science with little or no application now may find application in the future, especially as the field matures and our knowledge of it becomes more complete. Practical applications are often built upon ideas that did not look applicable originally. Furthermore, advances in one area of science can help illuminate other areas. Evolution provides a framework for biology, a framework which can support other useful biological advances.

9. Anti-evolutionary ideas have been around for millennia and have not yet contributed anything with any practical application.
I don’t mean to detract (see I feel I have apologize for asking a question! No where else in science!) but isn’t it rather hollow until concrete change can be used for the benefit? Perhaps that is where we are. I don’t know and am here to learn.
The "I'm just asking questions" and "I'm a martyr for questioning the orthodoxy" routine is getting pretty old.
 
  • #15
Fra
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Fra,

Sorry I got caught up in the rhetoric and didn’t reply directly to your thoughtful post. I see what you are saying and you put it most eloquently but are we at the point with the modeling where the change can be predicted to a greater or lesser degree? Is this the ultimate goal? Are we still dealing with rolls of the dice and only recognize that there will be change without fully comprehending the mechanisms?

I don’t mean to detract (see I feel I have apologize for asking a question! No where else in science!) but isn’t it rather hollow until concrete change can be used for the benefit? Perhaps that is where we are. I don’t know and am here to learn.

I think this is what bugs me about evolution is so simple but doesn’t on face value explain enough. I see it as just a jumping off point and in fact most of the advances go to more modern sciences.
No need to excuse yourself in any way.

I don't know you it's hard to see from which context your questions are fired so to speak. I can only guess.

But I think I see one of your concerns. You may wonder, what does evolution actually explain? You may ask, "ok we are the result of evolution" but so what? How does that help us here and now? What VALUE does this "insight" add?

There ARE good answers to that! But I'm not sure how to put it, to best convey it to you in a brief way.

Like in tried to say in my point, evolution is not just biological evolution. Evolution is much deeper and reflects all the way down to physical law.

Any discussion that focues only about evolution on earth, borderlining to almost religious discussions are missing a deeper point on evolution. Science itself is evolving, as it is a learning process. Life is very much similar.

As to what's the ultimate goal? That's up to say, what questions do You ask? Are the laws and rules of the world eternally true? Then one may ask, why exactly these laws?

Two nice quotes from Charles Sanders Peirce

"To suppose universal laws of nature capable of being apprehended by the mind and yet having no reason for their special forms, but standing inexplicable and irrational, is hardly a justifiable position. Uniformities are precisely the sort of facts that need to be accounted for."

"The only possible way of accounting for the laws of nature and for uniformity in general is to suppose them results of evolution. This supposes them not to be absolute, not to be obeyed precisely."

So except for the examples alread mentioned, what deeper does the evoluiontary insight add? and how does this improve our predictive capabilities of the future?

"On the reality of time and the evolution of laws"
http://pirsa.org/08100049

That is a philosophy of physics discussion but it's quite relevant to the questions you ask in a broader perspective.

The key predictive advantage is that once you understand that the other systems in your environment you are trying to predict, does EVOLVE in it's environment and that these systems are selected by their survival and reproduction skills, it's easier for you to predict these systems.

This is analogous to that it's easier to predict another human beeing, simply becase we understand how fellow humans think and feel. Predictions of human behavour from first principles are impossible due to previously mentioned reasons.

Science is an inference process; it's about learning. Learning to understand how other systems in our environment are behaving. But if the systems in our environment are ALSO merely trying to make inferences about their environment (including us) clearly we have here a situation where learning about how other systems act; is the same as learning about how learning works!

There are plenty of deep insights here... In some sense I think some of these things is what makes a different in intelligence between humans and some less clever animals. There are different levels of awareness and layers of reflections here.

Beeing able to "picture" how other individuals think and feel; and thus predict their behaviour to an extend otherwiser not possible - and thus increase your own advantage, is an insight to understanding that the behaviour of any system is adaptive and is evolving! This can be understood in terms of an abstract infernce or learning perspective. The genes, dna, and gene regulatory mechanism of molecular biology are just the concrete situation when it comes to life... but I see this as a special case of something even deeper.

Even the laws of physics can be seen as evolved. This has nothing to do with genes or earth at all.

But still this is controversial and non any established consensus among physicists. The talk from Smoling just indicates a trend existing among some people. To take this idea to a concrete falsifiable predictive framework is still under construction. SMoling made some attempts with his CNS; but this is still far from the deepest realisation IMO.

I suspect this may not have been understandable though. that's what I meant with not knowing your background. It's easier to try to convey a possible answer if the reason for your question is known. I'm just guessing here....

/Fredrik
 
  • #16
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Fra


So would a simple analogy be like a chess match where one move/change doesn't 100% predict a resulting change but it narrows down a logical counter move? Like chess pieces certain mechanisms have certain limits and provoke certain responses....Just brain storming here.

My level is in my 3rd year of college science as a geology major so biology is on the other side of campus. I studied paleontology and have an appreciation for "deep time" and can see how the physical earth changes over time-evolves and can actually clearly see how noting mechanisms allows modeling that predict a variety situations or results.

Thanks,

Warren
 
  • #17
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6
Hi again,
I don't get the inorganic to organic leap Miller-Urey accepted, RNA is NOT DNA. Once again I feel I have to apologize for questioning the status quo. I have been reading several university level biology texts and am learning so I do not have a closed mind which I'm afraid a few of you do.
The experiment produced amino acids and organic molecules. As Ygggdrasil mentioned RNA is used as a template to produce Dna by reverse transcriptase enzymes in viruses such as HIV viruses to be incorporated in the host DNA.

And there is TRNA , MRNA etc that work to translate the genetic code to make protiens inside the cell. ITs not like RNA and DNA work in isolation. IN fact RNA and DNA differ by a oxygen atom and a nucleotide.

while DNA contains deoxyribose, RNA contains ribose (in deoxyribose there is no hydroxyl group attached to the pentose ring in the 2' position). These hydroxyl groups make RNA less stable than DNA because it is more prone to hydrolysis. , The complementary base to adenine is not thymine, as it is in DNA, but rather uracil, which is an unmethylated form of thymine
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RNA" [Broken]
 
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  • #18
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Yep...I'm a year removed from chemistry and forgot it was amino acids...a far cry from even RNA...Sorry

W
 
  • #19
bobze
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Hi again,

Huh? No dots to connect??? You are living in a world of neo-Darwinism and when the heat comes you retreat to simple evolution; change in population over time...who can argue with that? Read about Ota Benga on display at the Bronx Zoo and an example of "human evolution" True enough it's not the theory but doesn't denying the fact it has been used to fuel atrocities bug anyone besides me?

At my level of education I have not the experience to refute of defend evolution. Sure I understand the basic change in population over time and perhaps more of my confusion comes from neo-Darwinism and it's implications as I outline above.

I think I get suspicious when I see the rabid defense of Darwin and his many racists remarks that are not dismissed as from an age but actually defended and defined in PC terms to make palatable as if the theory of evolution depends on Darwins legacy..which it does not! it is clearly just a law of nature and any issues in my mind only arise when we get the single cell kingdom and frankly I don't get the inorganic to organic leap Miller-Urey accepted, RNA is NOT DNA. Once again I feel I have to apologize for questioning the status quo. I have been reading several university level biology texts and am learning so I do not have a closed mind which I'm afraid a few of you do.

Mkorr I'm sorry you think I'm lying. I was off to class and had to wrap it up. it seems any questioning leads to this conclusion and frankly I have NEVER seen such a wholesale utter defense that leaps to extremes on the mere presentation of a question! Face it to question evolution will use terms that are used by extremist. They are simple questions with little room to edit so if you find some similarities between I and a more extreme point of view that's fine.

Mkorr states: "It is clear from the passage in context that Darwin was not a racist." It is NOT clear! You are merely denying the black and white facts in front of you. I see nothing you added that changes the context!

FRA. Thanks! Excellent explanation! This is what I am looking for!

Folks I think the issues is most of academia as I have been exposed takes Dawkins view that if you don't believe evolution/neo-Darwinism you are ignorant or and idiot which slams the door shut on any discussion.

Off to another class!

Thanks again Fra....I will use that as a thoughtful definition of the good things evolution has done for mankind in future discussions.

W
You're over looking something simple. Words and their usage changes over time. When is the last time you heard someone say "thou" in everyday speech?

The full title to Darwin's works;


On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life


By "races" he is referring to variety, or forms, or flavors etc. This is patently clear to anyone who reads the book or understands his "4 postulates" of natural selection. Those are; that "varieties" exists within species, some of that variation is passed on, there is a finite amount of resources in a environment and there is differential survival and reproduction.

Here you can substitute the word we use nowadays--"varieties", with the word used in Darwin's day; "races".
 
  • #20
Fra
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So would a simple analogy be like a chess match where one move/change doesn't 100% predict a resulting change but it narrows down a logical counter move? Like chess pieces certain mechanisms have certain limits and provoke certain responses....Just brain storming here.
A "game/player" analogy can be very good!

Indeed the evolutionary picture does not come with a deterministic prediction from the past to an arbitrary future. Thole point with evolutionary thinking is than any inside observer (observer,organism,material) only "sees" a certain window of history and this is to what it responds, and the development is INCREMENTAL.

In the physics analogy of smolin in the link the case is this: In the normal view, there are eternally true laws, and govern evolution in a fixed state space. In an evolutionary picture, there is no eternal laws and no fixed statespace. Even the LAWS are changing and so does the STATESPACE measured relative to the inside observer.

In the game analogy, one can consider the world to be composed of an undefined set of interacting players, playing some kind of game against all other players in their environemnt. But the point is that there is no objective outside or descirption view of this "game", because even scientists are merely players in this game!

It means each player merely has their own "expectations of what the rules of the game are", and the RULE are constnatly subject to negotiation! (This is NOT the case in chess, which is a static classical game; this is why the simple chess analogy doesn't do).

The STAKE here is that each player is betting with their life or persistance, when competing with all other players. The whole game is played so to take advantage of your environment, to benefiy yourself. To do that you need to PREDICT your competitors! (ie the entire environment!) and in order to try to do this and to survive, the understanding and behaviour of each player is evolving! WE do not have a MECHANISM to the VARIATION, the variation is simply due to uncertainty and undecidability. But this VARIATION is small and controlled by the in-place effective local rules each player sees.

In this game.... some players simply make the wrong movesw and get controlled the environment and thus dies. The evolution then will select for players that have acquired the traits of flexibility, fitness and means of "reproduction".... but reproduction in the physics-sense does not mean sexual or asecual reproduction; one cna picture other ways like induction... a given environment simply be selection "prefers" certain "consistent" opponents that are in minimal conflict with them... and of course each single player does contribute to each own environment and therefor defined the breeding ground. This is what MIGHT (again this is not consensus in an way) replace the "reproduction" part in evolution in more general perspective... the biological cellular reproduction cycles are of course merely a much for efficient and evolved means... but obviously some kind of "reproduction" must have taken place before these structures where in place.... before the first dna/rma and the first copying machinert.... This is why the deepest view of this has nothing at all in principle to do with DNA or RNA. Because there were certainly no DNA or RNA or first cells during big bang.

In a sense I see each player as doing a random walk, but a random walk guided by the contraints and effective laws... but these laws change in response to each step...

So yes evolution does contains elements of undecidability! But this is not to be seen as something missing. On the contrary is it an important point. It is exactly what allows for the small, but controlled variation we need to make we get constructive learning/evolution and selection and not just random variation and chaos.

The key is that the ACTION of each observe gets CONSTRAINED by what it can decided. The action is invariant with respect to what's beyond decidability.

Analogy: look at social interactions; people that due to various reasons have imparied ability to understand other people and feel compassion, sometimes take actions other people would not. But these people do receive backreactions and this is why this hasn't been selected as normality.

This is why also the RESPONSE pattern, or level of sophistication of responses drops with the complexity of the system, mainly because a very simple system can't encode or afford the complex information processing required for complex responses.

In biology even a single cell is complex of course, but not near as complex as an organism with a brain, like a human. Understanding a cell is in fact EASY in principle one you see that pretty much everything a cell does, is a rational response in to the environment, given the current status of development depending also on it's history.

We know that all cells has both long term and short terms responses, so the current response pattern of a cell is not just a function of the environment now, but a function of it's history too!

So the focus is NOT to predict the future perfect; the focus should be on survival and LEARNING about the environment... this is why he predictions are constanly evolving for several reasons... we have learned to konw better, BUT also that the subject is also changing... the environment we are "predicting" is also different tomorrow than it was to day and this is impossible to predict... thisi is why flexible learning is the only route to survivlal.

/Fredrik
 
  • #21
jambaugh
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As to the bad things consider how fast one is jump on say the Catholic Church for it's "bad things" when it was not the doctrine but how people interpreted and abused the power of it.
That's because it is so easy. The CC has held power for centuries in the west. Plenty of examples. But how can you say persecution for heresy is not related to doctrine? The belief that an individual has an immortal soul and that whatever violence one inflicts on the body it is justified by the benefit to that soul is completely doctrine based...and repeated enumerable times in history.

Interestingly many champions of evolution would prefer we don't connect the dots to eugenics, racism and genocide that used evolution for the extremists ideas.
And white supremacists use patriotism to justify their actions. This doesn't make patriotism nor evolution wrong and neither are they the cause of the positions. Racism, genocide, and eugenics are older than history and certainly older than the theory of evolution.

Those policies themselves were not deduced from the theory of evolution but rather existent. Incorporating the new theory was an act of sophistry to legitimize their views. This is not the case in e.g. a man being tortured on the rack for "being an instrument of satan". Although I am sure many in power used their authority, granted to suppress heresy, to actually suppress power rivals or people they just did not like. However there were sincere and pious agents of the inquisition who believed they were instruments of god when they flayed the flesh off some poor fool who questioned some doctrine of the church.

Now I know this is not the doctrine of today's churches and most will argue it is not the doctrine taught by the founders of the church... but here is the point. It was the doctrine of the church of that time and there is no empirical means nor objective test to determine which faith is correct and which is not. The epistemological foundation does not allow this.

Science IS an epistemological discipline and one which insists on objectivity and testability. Evolution as a scientific theory may be utilized to justify some act but that utilization can be tested for validity within the scope of science. And that utilization cannot be without additional interjected values. Evolution is a model of how things behave not what they are worth. Worth and thus justification of actions is a social and personal issue, not a law of nature... that is unless you subscribe to some Church's doctrine.

Now let me ask you... what do you find specifically wrong with: eugenics, racism and genocide? Argue the case by means I can accept and test. If you invoke scripture it is lost on me unless you invoke scripture to which I already subscribe. If you invoke science you invoke a discipline which by its nature I can verify on my own if I wish.

Here is an example: According to the theory of evolution, dark skin is not a mark of inferiority but rather a specific genetic adaptation to equatorial climates just a light skin is an adaptation to temperate climates. Wearing clothing in colder climates prevents production of vitamin D from sunlight. Lighter skin compensates. Sunlight also causes damage to unprotected skin which is offset by higher pigment levels in warmer climates. Evolution explains how people in different regions developed locally beneficial traits and that the superiority of one race over another is specific to their environment.

If anything, evolution as a scientific theory has given us a better understanding of our differences and thus undercut the prejudices which existed prior to its discovery.
 
  • #22
I perfectly agree with Ken Natton. Sometimes the only reason one needs to study something is the satisfaction of gaining knowledge about it. A lot of science (and other things) is studied for its own sake and not so that some practical application can be taken out.
I agree... Such result are not really aimed for what they really looking forward from the result. They tend to be stray and then just continue to research because they are getting pleasures in researching. (I feel it sometimes) This is because of the curiosity of oneself towards the unknown.
 
  • #23
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That's because it is so easy. The CC has held power for centuries in the west. Plenty of examples. But how can you say persecution for heresy is not related to doctrine? The belief that an individual has an immortal soul and that whatever violence one inflicts on the body it is justified by the benefit to that soul is completely doctrine based...and repeated enumerable times in history.
The OP is (or ought to be) referring to the lack of historical merit for the Draper-White thesis (a thesis which is largely discredited as far as modern historians are concerned), rather than persecution for heresy. There are plenty of times where individual religious authorities or groups of religious authorities have been anti-scientific, but many of the examples provided by Draper and White where generalizations and exaggerations. For instance, it was never an official position of the Catholic Church that the earth was flat, they never tortured Galileo for advocating Copernicanism, they never prohibited human dissection nor did the denounce anesthesia in childbirth on biblical grounds.

Numbers, R. L., editor (2009). Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England.
 
  • #24
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Jambaugh states:

"The CC has held power for centuries in the west."

Not even close! In fact I counter with the idea the CC never held power but existed at the graces of prevailing political powers. This is evidenced by the high incidence of nepotism that cut through ranks of royalty and clergy. One of the reasons for unmarried priests was to separate any lineages and transfer of power within families.

Even with atrocities like the "Spanish Inquisition" most don't seem to notice the term "Spanish" and learn the history of Spain at the time.

BTW I am Catholic and don't excuse any of this behavior neither do I deny it. I think that's why the "Darwin Apologist League" disgusts me so much. I think until you can admit there were abuses and atrocities in the name of evolution and Darwin was known to have some at least in modern eyes racists ideas you will still be attacked by the radical right as denying what appears so clear cut illustrates a dishonest core.

Although it hasn't stopped the Catholic bashing so what do I know...

W
 
  • #25
bobze
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Jambaugh states:

"The CC has held power for centuries in the west."

Not even close! In fact I counter with the idea the CC never held power but existed at the graces of prevailing political powers. This is evidenced by the high incidence of nepotism that cut through ranks of royalty and clergy. One of the reasons for unmarried priests was to separate any lineages and transfer of power within families.

Even with atrocities like the "Spanish Inquisition" most don't seem to notice the term "Spanish" and learn the history of Spain at the time.

BTW I am Catholic and don't excuse any of this behavior neither do I deny it. I think that's why the "Darwin Apologist League" disgusts me so much. I think until you can admit there were abuses and atrocities in the name of evolution and Darwin was known to have some at least in modern eyes racists ideas you will still be attacked by the radical right as denying what appears so clear cut illustrates a dishonest core.

Although it hasn't stopped the Catholic bashing so what do I know...

W

This is your misunderstanding, someone explained it back on the first page--Darwin and the word "races". I explained it again on the second page;

You're over looking something simple. Words and their usage changes over time. When is the last time you heard someone say "thou" in everyday speech?

The full title to Darwin's works;


On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life


By "races" he is referring to variety, or forms, or flavors etc. This is patently clear to anyone who reads the book or understands his "4 postulates" of natural selection. Those are; that "varieties" exists within species, some of that variation is passed on, there is a finite amount of resources in a environment and there is differential survival and reproduction.

Here you can substitute the word we use nowadays--"varieties", with the word used in Darwin's day; "races".
 

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