Mar 17 2010

Eye Evolution and Irreducible Complexity

A creationist commenter on a post of mine discussing lame creationist arguments first admitted that he did not actually read my post, and then began to repeat the same tired creationists lies and logical fallacies we hear over and over again.

I had asserted a well-established biological fact – the eye is not irreducibly complex. There are examples in nature of simpler eyes that represent probable stages through which the vertebrate eye evolved. I made this as part of a broader point, that many structures and systems claimed to be irreducible have known simpler antecedents, and I even provided a link to a page on Talk Origins that linked in turn to many articles with the evidence for this claim.

Creationists, however, are apparently not interested in making sound arguments or what science actually has to say about any particular question – only obfuscating the truth with misdirection and debating tactics. The commenter claimed I had not bothered to provide evidence to back up my claim, and inferred that I therefore could not.

He wrote:

That link has absolutely nothing to do with scientifically showing that these two biological systems, specifically vision or blood clotting could have evolved from simpler systems that were functional but served a different purpose from their current one. It is no different than your approach – simply declare that the argument is flawed without specific scientific proof to the contrary but broad statements of the sort …”that is wrong and this is how it works,” without any proof.

He then challenged me to provide evidence for simpler antecedents in eyes. Well, challenge accepted. Of course, what he is really saying is that he is too intellectually lazy and/or dishonest to find the information himself. It is not hidden away in dusty university libraries – it’s just a few Google clicks away.

Without much trouble I was able to find links documenting what I had read from many sources – there are multiple examples of living creatures with simpler eyes – highly functional, often adapted specifically for their function, and representing a plausible path of the evolution of vertebrate eyes from nothing but a patch of light sensitive cells.

I will anticipate the likely creationist misdirection – these examples do not represent an actual evolutionary sequence. Of course not – they are examples from extant (living) species – all of whom share a common ancestor but represent current examples of many different lineages that split off at various times in the past. They are not a sequence.

The point of these living examples is to refute the claim that the eye is irreducibly complex – that if it were any simpler it could not function, or more specifically could not confer an evolutionary advantage to the host.

Eyes are soft tissue – they do not generally fossilize. So we have scant fossil evidence of eye evolution. We do have some, from species with preserved skull bones showing muscle insertions and the structure of the tissue around the eye (for example), but not the soft parts of the eye itself.

Here are some simple eye structures that work just fine for the organisms that have them:

Eye spot – patch of tissue or cells that are photosensitive. Organism can move toward light, or synchronize circadium rythm, but not see shapes.

Example: Euglena

Once you have an eye patch, the next step is for the patch of cells to become progressively depressed. This increases progressively the ability to distinguish direction, each step providing a slight advantage, until you have an Eye cup. Eye cups are able to tell direction of light better than eye patch – the more cupped the eye, the finer the angle of discrimination.

Example: Planarian

When an eye cup continues to deepen, eventually the outer rim of the cup with close in on itself, forming a Pinhole eye. The pinhole eye works like a simple camera, and is able not only to distinguish direction quite well but also make out basic shapes.

Example: Nautilius

A pinhole is still open to the outside world, however, so the formation of a transparent cell layer over the hole has an obvious advantage. Once this happens, that opens the door for layering and specialization, including forming a pocket of cells to act as a lens. A primitive lens would focus light into the eye, increasing the amount of light falling on the retina. Before this was sufficiently refined for the lens to focus an image sharply on the retina, a weak primitive lens would still amplify light. This would allow sea creature to see at greater and greater depths, until they had a strong lens that could focus in on the retina.

Example:  Box Jellyfish - have primitive lenses that do not focus, adapted for low light environments. Jellys in brighter environments have simpler eyes without lenses.

And now you have all the basic elements of a vertebrate eye, requiring only progressive refinement.

Again – this line of evidence does not prove that or how the vertebrate eye evolved. It simply demonstrates that simpler eyes, all the way down to a patch of light sensitive cells, could work and provide an adaptive function – therefore the eye is not irreducibly complex.

There are other lines of evidence, however, from genetics, fossil evidence, and the suboptimal design of the vertebrate eye, that point directly at evolution.

Of course this evidence will not stop trolling creationists from leaving comments claiming the eye could not have evolved because it is just too complex. Creationists have a flat learning curve when it comes to evolution.

Addendum: I also found this article: Evolution of the vertebrate eye: opsins, photoreceptors, retina and eye cup.

This is a nice article published in Nature that reviews the evolution of the vertebrate eye giving examples of the various simpler stages with vertebrate relatives. In other words, this is as close to an evolutionary sequence as we can get with extant species. This goes beyond plausibility, and beyond demolishing irreducible complexity, to documenting the evolution of the vertebrate eye specifically.

It is ironic that creationists continue to use the eye as the example of the complex structure that defies evolutionary explanation – when in reality the various eyes that have evolved in nature represent one of the best lines of morphological evidence for evolution.

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206 responses so far

206 Responses to “Eye Evolution and Irreducible Complexity”

  1. ccbowerson 17 Mar 2010 at 9:49 am

    I will never understand this type of argument. The “I can’t imagine how something so complex can evolve…” type of arguments just seem like an admission of ignorance and lack of understanding. I cannot relate to a mind that thinks this way. It is often the same mind that knows very little (because it is not interested in acquiring knowledge) and has so many opinions.

    Well I can’t imagine how computers and the internet works, so therefore they don’t…? How about automobiles? How about medicine? Most people (non specialists) can’t imagine a lot of things, but that doesnt change reality. Argument from personal incredulity is one of the worst… its an admission of inadequacy not an argument.

    The only hope is that the person is sincere (and just a little lazy about the topic of discussion) and knowledge/education can bring them around (slowly) over time.

  2. cabmilwon 17 Mar 2010 at 10:24 am

    I’m sure many have already read this, but Climbing Mount Improbable by Richard Dawkins has a very good chapter on the relative ease in which the eye has evolved call The Forty-Fold Path to Enlightenment:

    “It has been authoritatively estimated that eyes have evolved no fewer than forty times, and probably more than sixty times, independently in various parts of the animal kingdom. In some cases these eyes use radically different principles. Nine distinct principles have been recognized among the forty to sixty independently evolved eyes.”

    Basically, this suggests to me that if nine distinct types of eyes have been seen in something between forty and sixty independent lines of organisms, this particular adaptation is not at all so difficult to acquire and the problem of remote sensing one’s environment is one that is easily solvable by natural means.

    As you’re post shows, there is no reason to believe that the evolution of such a device would require any unreasonable leaps and living examples of eyes are manifold and show a rather smooth gradient in complexity.

  3. Steven Novellaon 17 Mar 2010 at 10:56 am

    As predicted, the original commenter, Tsad, moved the goalpost in exactly the fashion I stated above:
    http://skepticblog.org/2009/02/09/ten-major-flaws-of-evolution-a-refutation/#comment-19295

    Creationists are so predictable.

  4. modoc451on 17 Mar 2010 at 11:05 am

    @Steve

    That just makes our job so much easier. Of course, it also makes our job much more frustrating.

    Great post as usual.

  5. cabmilwon 17 Mar 2010 at 11:27 am

    Ooooo… And I see someone else is now using the “FAITH” argument and relegating evolution as simply “a theroy”. Predictable indeed.

  6. Calli Arcaleon 17 Mar 2010 at 11:31 am

    The evolution of the eye is one of the more fascinating subjects in evolutionary biology.

    You’ve eloquently attacked the “irreducibly complex” argument, but there’s another side to this. “Irreducibly complex” is an argument against natural evolution of the eye. But the IDers and creationists have a second argument, and that’s the one in favor of a sentient being designing the eye. If you look at the eye, you can see that it has some pretty major design defects. The retina is backwards, for one thing. The lens is insufficiently flexible, and has a significantly shorter lifespan than the actual human. Trichromatic vision is frequently impaired due to a genetic defect, and indeed non-mammal species often possess superior color vision. (Ours is among the best of the mammals, but birds have us beat with their tetrochromacy.) Retinas are famously fragile. The optic nerve’s entrance to the eye results in a whopping huge blind spot in a fairly important part of the eye, which our brains have to work around. The right eye is wired to the left side of the brain, and vice versa. These do not seem like the sorts of things that an intelligent mind would devise, unless that mind were criminally negligent. Ergo, either God is cruel/lazy/incompetent, or the eye was not intelligently designed.

    (Or to put it another way, there’s no evidence the eye was designed well — we only think it works well because we have no personal experience of seeing through any better eyes — so why are the Creationists so keen to attribute it to God?)

  7. cabmilwon 17 Mar 2010 at 11:43 am

    Calli, well said. It’s a difference between a top-down or a bottom-up design. The top-down approach being like that of an engineer’s work and is what ID would suggest, but we don’t see evidence for this in the living design. What we do see, as you point out with all the counter intuitive features of the vertebrate eye, is a bottom-up approach to solving the problem of sight. No intelligence required… Just random mutation, heredity, and natural selection. Can’t get more simple than that. Right?

  8. Steven Novellaon 17 Mar 2010 at 11:54 am

    If you follow the link for suboptimal optics in the vertebrate eye – you will see I wrote a two-part blog post going over the poor design of the eye. This was the basis for a peer-reviewed version.

  9. eiskrystalon 17 Mar 2010 at 11:58 am

    Well, he’s sneaky… Still thats showing more intelligence than the rambling dude after him. Talk about verbal diarrhea.

  10. cabmilwon 17 Mar 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Just for fun: http://www.blindspottest.com/

  11. hpaon 17 Mar 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Something that I think is not brought up enough in these “eye evloution” debates is that the human eye is by far not the most magnificent specimen of an eye we have on the planet. This elusive title probably belongs to the mantis shrimp: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mantis_shrimp
    A human with eyes like this would be a bonafied superhero.

    Example: Mantis Shrimp

    6 rows of specialized ommatidia evolve allowing for hyperspecteral colour vision. The allocation in each eye of two hemispheres allow for trinocular vision, etc..

    It is just a nice example to give out, in addition to our potential “eye” ancestors, we can also imagine potential “eye” descendants…Certainly, our lineage has a long way to go before we can even consider ourselves in the same league as good seafood like the Mantis…

  12. Watcheron 17 Mar 2010 at 12:38 pm

    He seems intelligent, but is hung up on belief rather than evidence. That nature article is nice too. The guy should read it and then get back to you rather than just brushing it off. But, it probably won’t make a difference anyways.

    I also notice a common creationist theme in the lack of providing evidence while deriding evolution for not being able to do “this” and “that.”

  13. Calli Arcaleon 17 Mar 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Sorry I didn’t follow the link to see your eloquent arguments per the defective design of the vertebrate eye. Usually I’m better about following links, but I got lazy. I will follow them now, because I do enjoy your writing, Dr Novella. ;-)

  14. Calli Arcaleon 17 Mar 2010 at 1:01 pm

    That other post no longer allows comments, so I’m going to ask a question here. From your post on the suboptimal design of the eye:

    Even worse than the backward arrangement of the rods and cones is the fact that the blood vessels that feed the retinal sit on top of the retina – between the light source and the receptive layer.

    Out of curiosity, is this why we literally see red when angry (blood vessels dialating), or is that more of a processing issue (false “red” signals, perhaps)?

  15. CWon 17 Mar 2010 at 1:39 pm

    A quick aside that’s somewhat related – doesn’t it seem like more and more people are just forming their belief systems to ‘argument from authority’ and ‘confirmation bias’ reasoning Are people too lazy to investigate claims and confirm facts anymore? Or don’t they know how to do it? They just accept everything at face value. It’s so frustrating.

    I’m so thankful to have acquired an appreciation for science – and the rational thinking and evidence that comes with it.

    Great article. And thanks for the examples about the various organisms with varying eye development. I just read Kenneth Miller’s chapter on this very topic last night – and the evidence for the evolution of the eye is slam-dunk. This is my third book about evolution – and I can’t get enough.

  16. Calli Arcaleon 17 Mar 2010 at 1:46 pm

    CW — I think that’s called human nature. It’s not a new problem; it’s been with us forever. There’s been some fascinating research into why we have these cognitive biases; they help us out in some circumstances, but hold us back in others. (More evidence we’re not intelligently designed, or at least not intelligently designed by someone with our best interests in mind.)

    The way I see, if we first assume the presently untestable premise that there is a single creator God who is responsible for the Universe, a la the God of the Bible, then either He’s a complete jerk or He allowed us to evolve via natural selection.

    Frankly, I find the latter conclusion not only more sound in terms of evidence but also more appealing from aesthetic standpoint. Evolution may not be perfect, but like many things in the world, it’s astonishingly elegant.

  17. Colldenon 17 Mar 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Steven

    Do you know why our eyes evolved with the cell layers backwards, as you describe in that other blog post? I’m not sure I totally grasp the evolutionary path you’re outlining here, but it seems to me that there’s no reason for such a reversion.

  18. nowooon 17 Mar 2010 at 2:24 pm

    “Creationists have a flat learning curve when it comes to evolution.”

    I know it must seem so, and I agree that this appears to be the case with your commenter Tsad, but please keep writing posts like this one because I’m a living counter-example to the idea that creationists can’t be educated about evolution and science/skepticism in general.

    Five years ago I didn’t understand or accept evolution, and I still believed that life on earth was necessarily designed by a supernatural intelligence. I started reading posts (very much like this one) by scientists and skeptics on blogs like Panda’s Thumb, Pharyngula, and others.

    Thanks to a non-flat learning curve I recognized that logic and the evidence solidly support the arguments for evolution. Within a year I came around to fully accept the scientific view, not only of the history of living things, but in general as the best approach we have to understanding the natural world.

    Today I’m actively involved in organizing Vancouver skeptical events, I’m registered for my 4th TAM in July, and I’m even planning to join you in November for TAM Australia. People can learn and change. Even creationists, like I used to be.

  19. artfulDon 17 Mar 2010 at 2:25 pm

    The purpose behind the evolution of the eye has become in itself an evolved purpose. Initial purposes attaining results that then find different or better fitting purposes to serve. Creationists want to believe the initial purpose was that of their particular God. They have no way of proving that except to argue that the purpose had to be God’s by default, as we can’t show how life would have done the job without God’s purpose.
    And in many ways their argument works because we who oppose it haven’t yet come around to accepting that life exists because of its ability to conceive, form, engineer, and serve its own purposes.

  20. Steven Novellaon 17 Mar 2010 at 2:56 pm

    collden – as best we can tell, the original structure of the cell layers that would become the retina was determined by chance (not meaning it was random but that it was independent of later optimality). For a thin patch light sensitive cells, it really did not matter to function what order they were in. But this chance arrangement constrained later evolution, so that when it did matter it was too late, and evolution did the best it could with the hand it was dealt.

    Cephalopods essentially “got lucky” evolutionarily speaking, while vertebrates have to make due with a suboptimal retinal arrangement.

    nowoo – thanks for the story. Of course I agree with you, which is partly why I continue to do what I do. I have had many many e-mails from former true believers, including creationists, so I agree not everyone is hopeless.

    When I referred to “creationists” in that context I meant collectively, or the culture of evolution denial – not necessarily each individual.

  21. ccbowerson 17 Mar 2010 at 3:09 pm

    The theory of evolution is just a theory. So is germ theory, theory of gravity, cell theory…

  22. artfulDon 17 Mar 2010 at 4:59 pm

    “as best we can tell, the original structure of the cell layers that would become the retina was determined by chance (not meaning it was random but that it was independent of later optimality)”

    Determined by chance. Now there’s a phrase that expresses the limits of Neo-Darwininian understanding in a nut-less shell.

    Chance determines nothing. It can only offer options to the “determiner,” which in the creationist scenario is their god, but in the view of the more progressive evolutionary biologists is the life form that first finds an advantage that suits its present purposes. From which further purpose is acquired as part of the adaptive process.

  23. taustinon 17 Mar 2010 at 5:02 pm

    “A creationist commenter on a post of mine discussing lame creationist arguments first admitted that he did not actually read my post. . .”

    Then who cares what he has to say about it? It is literally impossible for him to offer any meaningful comment on something he hasn’t read. You dignify his idiocy by addressing it. This kind of nonsense is perpetuated by the very refutation of it, because if it’s *worth* refuting, there must be *something* to it.

  24. weingon 17 Mar 2010 at 5:43 pm

    I always wonder about the intelligence that designs a toxic waste conduit through a recreational area.

  25. artfulDon 17 Mar 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Weing, intelligence is in part the ability to understand instinctively which hole is there for recreational purposes.

  26. ccbowerson 17 Mar 2010 at 11:13 pm

    Calli Arcale

    This does not detract from your main point, but I need to correct the following statement from above:

    “The right eye is wired to the left side of the brain, and vice versa.”

    Both eyes are “wired” to both sides of the brain. I think this is what you are referring to: The part of the retina (of each eye) that “sees” the left visual field crosses over to the right side of the brain, and the part of the retina that “sees” the right visual field crosses over to the left.

    It does seem like an odd arrangement, though, and that is your main point.

  27. lazaruson 17 Mar 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Although, admittedly, a Herculean effort to resist the urge, these people should not be engaged in debate. They need to be confronted because they are, indeed, a powerful, organized and well financed group who, make no mistake, consider you to be the Enemy, or else they need to be ignored. Rational debate will never change the mind of a man of faith, it will only embolden him to resist, as proof of the measure of his resolve in the face of his enemies. It is not a deficit in education that holds fast the scales of ignorance that blind his eyes. Engagement legitimizes their cause and dishonours those who dedicated, and gave, their lives to leading humankind out of the darkness of ignorance and superstition and into the light of science and reason.

    And if that doesn’t work there is always ‘I’m right, your wrong. NANANANANANA!

  28. ccbowerson 17 Mar 2010 at 11:47 pm

    artfulD-

    Although worded a bit ackwardly, Steve was not referring to “chance” in the same way you are arguing against. In fact in the same sentence he has parentheses that clarify his use of chance. Do you intentional overlook this? This statement is not a limitation of NeoDarwinism.

    What I think he means is that the changes that took place early in the evolution of the eye did not occur to be maximally optimal for where we are today. At the time, each change that took place for the eye may have been desirable/beneficial, but later some of these became constraints as the eye structure and function changed. So the “chance” part of it is from the perspective of where we are today. Meaning that it could have evolved in a different way (more optimal for where we are today), but didnt because of many factors relating to the selective pressures at various times in our evolution.

    So chance isnt really determining anything itself, it allows for possiblilities.

  29. artfulDon 18 Mar 2010 at 1:05 am

    ccbowers-
    Of course I didn’t overlook the parenthesized part, since I was careful to include it in my quote. Because Dr. N was “explaining” more than one part of the process: First, that the “original structure of the cell layers” was determined by chance, and second, that what has evolved from that was not what was originally selected for.
    Plus the alternative to “not meaning it was random” would be that the original selection process did not include the element of chance that he clearly says it did.
    So I can agree that what we have now was not the result of any direct purpose or plan.
    But the original structure WAS, in the view of many of us, the result of a purposive trial and error process that takes intelligent advantage of chance. No plan needed, just a workable function sought that will satisfy a present rather than future need.
    Funny how you guys always jump to his defense as if he’s not capable of doing so himself. And aren’t aware that he has always supported the Neo-Darwinist point of view that mutations have to be selectable in order to be preserved and it is an organisms environment that selects, not the organism itself – nor with any direction from the organism itself.

  30. eiskrystalon 18 Mar 2010 at 4:43 am

    You dignify his idiocy by addressing it. This kind of nonsense is perpetuated by the very refutation of it, because if it’s *worth* refuting, there must be *something* to it.

    Never, EVER give a creationist even one inch. If he hadn’t addressed it then:

    a) He would have crowed about his victory at the “scientist” not being able to answer.
    b) There would have been no discussion about eye evolution from interested parties.

    Idiots make excellent teaching aids. They are free and relatively easy to find.

  31. BillyJoe7on 18 Mar 2010 at 5:29 am

    ccbowers responding to Calli Arcale:

    “Both eyes are “wired” to both sides of the brain. I think this is what you are referring to: The part of the retina (of each eye) that “sees” the left visual field crosses over to the right side of the brain, and the part of the retina that “sees” the right visual field crosses over to the left…It does seem like an odd arrangement, though, and that is your main point.”

    Not that odd when you consider that the left visual field falls on the RIGHT half of the left eye and the RIGHT half of the right eye and then onto the RIGHT occipital cortex. And the right visual field falls on the LEFT half of the right eye and the LEFT half of the left eye and then onto the LEFT occipital cortex.

  32. BillyJoe7on 18 Mar 2010 at 5:53 am

    artfulD,

    “The purpose behind the evolution…”

    Evolution has no purpose.

    “And in many ways their argument works because we who oppose it haven’t yet come around to accepting that life exists because of its ability to conceive, form, engineer, and serve its own purposes.”

    Blind evolutionary changes resulted in intelligent beings who evolved an ability to serve themselves rather than the genes that gave rise to them. How does that suport their argument?

    “Determined by chance. Now there’s a phrase that expresses the limits of Neo-Darwininian understanding in a nut-less shell.”

    You surely realise that Stephen Novella did not use the word *determined* in the way you implied. All he meant is that there was no advantage either way and hence it was a flip of ther coin that *determined* that the retinal layer was the wrong way around from the point of view of later evolutionary changes

    “Chance determines nothing. It can only offer options to the “determiner,” which…is the life form that first finds an advantage that suits its present purposes. From which further purpose is acquired as part of the adaptive process.”

    Yes it did. There was no advantage either way so it was pure chance that the nerve fibres were in front of the retina. By time there was an advantage for the nerve layer to be behind the retina, it was too late. There was no way for the evolutionary process to be reversed. So, in what way, was chance not the determiner?

    “Weing, intelligence is in part the ability to understand instinctively which hole is there for recreational purposes.”

    What do you mean *which* hole? Do I detect a selectively heterosexual bias here by any chance?

  33. SteveAon 18 Mar 2010 at 8:47 am

    I’ve only had a chance to skim it so far, but in the most recent issue of New Scientist there’s a piece about the most primitive ‘eye’ found to date. Essentially it consists of two protiens that can trigger a response to light.

  34. taustinon 18 Mar 2010 at 12:48 pm

    eiskrystal:

    I’m not saying one shouldn’t refute their foolishness and present real science. Not at all.

    But when someone attacks something they admit they haven’t read, the only acceptable response is to attack their open dishonesty, their outright – and admitted – lies about what you said. To do otherwise is to give them credibility they don’t deserve.

    When they *admit* their dishonesty, make their dishonesty the subject of discussion.

  35. artfulDon 18 Mar 2010 at 1:59 pm

    # weing
    I always wonder about the intelligence that designs a toxic waste conduit through a recreational area.
    # artfulD
    Weing, intelligence is in part the ability to understand instinctively which hole is there for recreational purposes.
    # BillyJoe7
    What do you mean *which* hole? Do I detect a selectively heterosexual bias here by any chance?

    My answer there would be not necessarily, assuming Weing’s purposeful intelligence had viewed recreation as something akin to replication and had eventually placed the hole in question on a female. Purposive functions then evolving to re-create other uses in service of the more newly acquired purposes.

    As to the rest of BillyJoe’s response, all I need to say is, spoken like the true Neo-Darwinists that I made reference to initially. Basically denying that life itself plays a purposive role in natural selection.

    Here’s an excellent new book to read about what Neo-Darwinists get wrong about evolution, and in my view got wrong about Darwin as well, ironically titled “What Darwin Got Wrong,” by Jerry Fodor et al.
    Your fellow Neo-Darwinists are all of a twitter about it, scathing reviews sprouting up like weeds of little substance.

  36. M. Davieson 18 Mar 2010 at 3:57 pm

    @BillyJoe7

    In case you take up the suggestion, Fodor & Piattelli-Palmarini’s book argues (among other things) that a claim that “traits were selected’ is not the same as ‘those traits were selected for‘. This is a much more sophisticated and restricted claim than arguing that “life itself plays a purposive role in natural selection.” The actions of organisms are another selection pressure; just because those actions appear purposeful does not mean that resulting phenotypic changes are what was intended or that those organisms selected those traits ‘for’ evolutionary purposes.

  37. artfulDon 18 Mar 2010 at 4:59 pm

    The results are always to some extent unintended, which is really the point – that one shouldn’t determine the exactitude of either purpose or intent from their observable and/or future consequences. One should be aware instead that certain consequences were best understood as the inevitable result of prior purpose, even or in spite of those clearly (or not so clearly) unintended portions. Purposive behavior is based on predictability, and life forms can’t be expected to predict anything to a certainty. But they can predict well enough to satisfy a significant portion of their needs. And that’s the impetus of adaptation and the eventuality of evolution.
    No they didn’t select traits FOR evolutionary purposes, They “selected” the needs that those traits were found to at least partially fulfill in the present – and found by them rather than some amorphous natural godlike calculator.
    Which is where the “sophistication” lies that has heretofore escaped your notice. Assuming that you actually read the book and actually wanted to understand what you were reading. Because it seems otherwise you’re just parroting some of the rationalistic reviewers.

  38. ccbowerson 18 Mar 2010 at 5:22 pm

    artfulD-

    “Funny how you guys always jump to his defense as if he’s not capable of doing so himself. And aren’t aware that he has always supported the Neo-Darwinist point of view that mutations have to be selectable in order to be preserved and it is an organisms environment that selects, not the organism itself – nor with any direction from the organism itself.”

    I don’t know which group of “guys” you claim I belong to, but I am just an individual making an observation. It must make your arguments easier to make by categorizing me into a vague group. I am not coming to anyone’s personal defense, but saw (and still see) a bit of a strawman there with your comments.

    I’m not sure what distinction you are making about the environment versus the organism selecting. Please give an example (with possible mechanism) in which an organism is doing “the selecting.” I assume that you are not referring to a giraffe growing his neck longer to reach the highest leaves.

  39. ccbowerson 18 Mar 2010 at 5:27 pm

    BillyJoe7-

    I was just correcting his comment on visual pathways. I really don’t have an opinion on whether its a bit odd or not. It is what it is. It certainly makes sense, but I can see how it appears odd to someone.

  40. M. Davieson 18 Mar 2010 at 5:30 pm

    They “selected” the needs that those traits were found to at least partially fulfill in the present

    Give me an example of an organism ‘selecting a need that a trait at least partially fulfills’. I have no idea what this means.

    If you say that organisms don’t select traits for evolutionary purposes and that they don’t procreate with the intention of reproducing those traits then the fact that their action is purposive is irrelevant, being entirely subsumable to existing theories of evolution.

  41. artfulDon 18 Mar 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Actually I am assuming that a giraffe, or series of giraffes, or a critical mass of “giraffic” behaviors, had the purposive effect of their reaching higher levels of leafiness. That was their need, and finding an advantage in any incremental change in that direction was their purpose – chance being the “cause” of the change or not. Which as I recall was actually discussed by Fodor as something Darwin got right and Neo-Darwinists then got wrong.

    And there’s nothing vague about categorizing you as a member of the Neo-Darwinist group as nothing you’ve said differs from arguments presented in their play-book. Perhaps I’m wrong in assuming you wouldn’t be ashamed of the association, but in any case if the ideas and arguments presented in the cited book won’t impress you, any further explanation of mine to be presented here won’t either. As I willingly concede that Fodor has done a better job at debunking you guys than I could have previously hoped to do.

  42. weingon 18 Mar 2010 at 5:57 pm

    I think Artie is referring to situations in bacteria, when under certain environmental stresses, mechanisms are activated that allow an increase in the mutation rate in some DNA segments. Some of these mutations may allow use of previously unused nutrients in the environment.

  43. weingon 18 Mar 2010 at 6:00 pm

    I could be wrong, but he sees telos in everything.

  44. artfulDon 18 Mar 2010 at 6:06 pm

    M. Davies, I put “selected” in quotes because the need that the adaption process acts with intent to satisfy is in the organism, not in the great selective sieve in the sky.
    If you still claim to have no idea what that means, I don’t care.

  45. ccbowerson 18 Mar 2010 at 6:17 pm

    “And there’s nothing vague about categorizing you as a member of the Neo-Darwinist group as nothing you’ve said differs from arguments presented in their play-book.”

    I see. You have surmised this from the very few comments in this discussion. Sounds like a Rush Limbaugh comment about liberals. Its easier to make arguments when you pigeonhole someone into a category, and then criticize the category.

    Also you have not mentioned any mechanism for what you describe in the giraffe example. Perhaps if you did then I could determine if I could agree with the idea. But perhaps you have none, and are just making inflammatory comments on purpose.

  46. M. Davieson 18 Mar 2010 at 6:30 pm

    @artfulD

    the adaption process acts with intent to satisfy the need that is in the organism

    So now the ‘adaptation process’ acts with intent? I thought it was life forms? Which is it?

    Evolution does not intend to satisfy anything since it is not an agent and has no intentional content, any more than an economy does. The intentions of life forms are, like I said, entirely subsumable to existing theories of evolution.

    Actually I am assuming that “giraffic” behaviors, had the purposive effect of their reaching higher levels of leafiness.

    You don’t need to use the term ‘purposive’; it offers no extra explanatory power.

    You have fundamentally misread Fodor; he is removing intentionality from the equation entirely.

    @weing

    I think Artie is referring to situations in bacteria, when under certain environmental stresses, mechanisms are activated that allow an increase in the mutation rate in some DNA segments. Some of these mutations may allow use of previously unused nutrients in the environment.

    Sure, but I don’t see how that relates to his comments about purposive action. I think you’re right about his affinity for reading telos into things.

  47. artfulDon 18 Mar 2010 at 7:16 pm

    No, Fodor was removing what he calls intensionality. A term the use of which has confounded and irritated the hell out of certain book reviewers.

    And yes it is the intentional choice apparatus of the life form that has given the adaptive process its functional purpose. Talk about sophistication, those early forms were a caution. Look how they’ve managed to keep their purposes a secret from those of us who can’t begin to use the type of intelligent engineering that they can accomplish to this very day. Telos, schmelos, aim and object do not equate to the inevitable. Yet there would be no inevitability without them.
    Inflammatory? If some of you mean I know in advance the comments will be controversial, that’s a given. If the ignorant find that controversial opinion is nothing more than inflammatory, then to them perhaps it has acquired that purpose. A thing can have more than one purpose, just as purpose can have more than one consequence. Subsumable, subschmumable.

  48. M. Davieson 18 Mar 2010 at 8:02 pm

    No, Fodor discusses both intention and intension. But more to the point, can anyone make sense of artfulD’s word salad?

  49. artfulDon 18 Mar 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Just think in terms of the incompatibilism paradox.

  50. artfulDon 18 Mar 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Fodor replaces intention with intensionality within the organism, removing both from somewhere (if not nowhere) in space outside of the organism. Page 156 for those who have a copy of the book.

  51. thalescon 18 Mar 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Being a software engineer who works on large projects I find quite amusing how creationists look at a living thing and conclude it’s too complex to have evolved, therefore it must have been designed in a similar way to how humans design technological artifacts – intelligently, that is.

    Clearly these people have never designed anything of significance in their lives – and no, putting together a display for the Creation Museum does not count.

    If they had, they’d realize that the process of designing complex things intelligently looks a lot more like Evolution than the clean, purely top-down idealization of a guy that sits at a desk and draws the complete plans for something anew out of pure inspiration. On the contrary, design is a dirty process that involves a lot of experimentation, discovery, creativity (i.e., randomization), refinement and selection.

    For instance, humans didn’t come up with today’s modern computers in a single try. If we look at the history of the computer we’ll see a progression from simplicity to complexity where each new machine was built on previous successful technology. More importantly, we’ll see lots of failures that were quickly discarded, and even more failures that never saw the light of the day. Of course if we look only at the successes we may get the wrong impression of intentionality and predictability. However, if we look at the failures too we’ll see a different picture, we’ll see that the technological progress is quite random and unpredictable, and that it happens mostly through the selection of the random ideas that worked.

    Some people can’t see how one can arrive at functional complexity through evolution. I have quite the opposite feeling, I can’t see how one can get there otherwise.

  52. artfulDon 18 Mar 2010 at 9:08 pm

    I should add that Fodor in my view was making a tactical move as an academician. And to quote from Wikipedia:
    “Intension and intensionality (the state of having intension) should not be confused with intention and intentionality, which are pronounced the same and occasionally arise in the same philosophical context.”
    But Fodor is also arguing that removing intention as at least a factor within intensionality is a proposal unlikely to work.

    My approach, which has admittedly been somewhat different from his (using counterfactuals to otherwise make his case) is to leave intention in the mix as inherent to the choice making process, and the hell with the academics who don’t like the choice making function of the organism being primarily with the organism in the first place. it plays functional havoc with their great sieve in the sky choice maker.

  53. ccbowerson 18 Mar 2010 at 9:30 pm

    “I think Artie is referring to situations in bacteria, when under certain environmental stresses, mechanisms are activated that allow an increase in the mutation rate in some DNA segments. Some of these mutations may allow use of previously unused nutrients in the environment.”

    Well thats a possible mechanism, but it is also entirely consistent with the terrible NeoDarwinism he seems to have a problem with (yet is never able to articulate why). In that example it is still the interactions between the genes and environment. The fact that the rate of mutation can be altered does not change the fundamental concepts involved.

    After many posts, and several requests to explain a possible mechanism, I am convinced that there is none. artfulD’s posts seem to be little more than marshmallow fluff. Lots of words, but no substance. He criticizes the science perspective, and offers instead a pre-scientific philosophy of evolution. There is a nontestable vague concept some artifact that drives change.

    It is not clear why this additional artifact (magic? will of need?) is even needed. Strictly nonsense, since it does not add anything, does not help predict or explain anything, and there is no evidence for. Show me a possible mechanism for this to cause change, or better yet an example of this in action. Otherwise its a lot of hot air and a waste of time. Despite your hundreds of words, there still is nothing of substance to discuss

  54. Heinleineron 18 Mar 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Damn ccbowers, you came to precisely the same conclusion I did last time I talked to artfulD. He is a very good troll.

  55. artfulDon 18 Mar 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Gee, cc, I guess you’re not going to read the book then? You might stumble across the proposed mechanism inadvertently and be hard pressed to ignore it. Assuming you can understand it. Admittedly it’s a bit more complicated than just being asked to have faith in the concept of a natural selection process that works like a sieve which selects out the color blue from the size of the balls that will necessarily accompany it.

    See this quote from a critique of the book to understand what that means:
    “Sieves are very simple selection devices. Imagine a sieve with a mesh that will allow balls with radii of one inch to fall through, but that will retain those that are even a tiny bit larger. Suppose that balls with several different radii—one inch, two inches, three inches, and four inches—are placed in the sieve. The one inch balls are blue, while the larger ones have different colors. The blue balls fall through, and the others remain. In one sense the sieve has “selected” the blue balls, although it has not “selected for” being blue. That is because size not color is what matters to the transmission. Using the language Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini employ, we might say that the property of having a particular color (blue) is a spandrel or free-rider.
    Yet we might divide the properties up more finely. The balls with radius one inch have a diameter of two inches, a circumference of 2π inches, a cross-sectional area at the equator of π square-inches, a volume of 4π/3 cubic inches, etc., etc. Lots of geometrical properties are correlated—indeed perfectly so. Which of these properties caused the balls to fall through? The question is idle. A person could select for radius rather than diameter, but the sieve cannot. Yet that makes absolutely no difference to the judgment originally made: the sieve selects for size, rather than for color. To recur to the language of indeterminacy, there is a determinate matter of fact as between color and size but not as between radius and diameter.”
    From: http://bostonreview.net/BR35.2/block_kitcher.php

    If you like that, you likely wont understand the book.

  56. weingon 18 Mar 2010 at 10:05 pm

    “Damn ccbowers, you came to precisely the same conclusion I did last time I talked to artfulD.”

    Same here.

  57. artfulDon 18 Mar 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Good old “blue balls” Heinliener probably still thinks bacteria can’t make choices. He shouldn’t read that book either.

  58. artfulDon 18 Mar 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Ooh, look cc, you’ve now been accepted as one of the usual suspects.

  59. artfulDon 18 Mar 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Accepted by Weing that is, but there will inevitably be more.

  60. artfulDon 18 Mar 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Here’s a little something to further bug Heinleiner:
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527501.300-bugging-bugs-learning-to-speak-microbe.html

  61. BillyJoe7on 18 Mar 2010 at 11:21 pm

    artfulDeception,

    Okay, it didn’t take us long to catch onto your game.

    The only way you can prove to us that you have understood what Fodor says in his book is if you can tell us succinctly, and in your own words, what that book says. If you cannot do so, then I have no confidence that you have understood it. The operative phrase is “in your own words”. Stop sounding like you wrote Fodor’s book and start proving you even understood it.

    You sound like a character in a Jerzy Kosinsky novel.

    The only question is: are you the character or are you just playing the part?

  62. ccbowerson 18 Mar 2010 at 11:34 pm

    I guess I should relax a bit then, since your trollness is a well established. So according to your blue balls analogy (why an anology is necessary is beyond me… if you really had something important to say it should have been clear 1000 words ago)… and to link this to the way us bone-headed-and-limited-by-logic people think you are proposing the following:
    All traits or genes that appear to confer a reproductive advantage (and therefore become more prevalent over time) do so not because of the way they interact with the environment over time, but because they are perfectly linked to an organisms desire or need over time? Is this an accurate summation? Its possibly the funniest idea I’ve hear all day. It adds an unnecessary layer for no apparent reason, and no evidence for it. If this is not the implication of what you are saying then I give up. You’ve failed as a communicator.

    Why would I read a book you recommend when you can’t even form a coherent logical argument?

  63. artfulDon 19 Mar 2010 at 12:05 am

    BillyJoe7(out of God only knows how many):
    The book says that if you read it and remain a Neo-Darwinian you’ve wasted your time and money. Otherwise I’ve already discussed and referenced what I think it says relative to the commentary here, especially as to what you in particular have wrong. So I don’t care if you think I don’t understand it. At least I’ve found some value in the reading of it.
    Presenting you with the book to read was first, my way of giving you and others an opportunity to learn something new, and second, a way for me to learn the typical rationale used by Neo-Darwinists to defend what has become the official dogma. So far mot a single one of you has had anything new to say in defense of what has become your faith.
    My game here? What else would it be but that? To make fools of the likes of you? Well, yeah, that might be fun except that you lot were already fools before I could have made you that way.
    And don’t forget the silent majority that reads these posts and those that will be turned on, as I was myself, to the very existence of this particular book. And ironically by a dummy such as yourself on another forum who hated it with a passion

  64. artfulDon 19 Mar 2010 at 12:12 am

    cc, that should read “imperfectly linked” as in unintended consequence of purpose.
    The blue balls analogy was not mine, it’s the one used by your Neo-Darwinist cohorts. But you’re right, why would you read a criticism of what you didn’t even know you were supposed to believe.

  65. ccbowerson 19 Mar 2010 at 12:23 am

    What? Even your criticisms are mindless rants about nothing. Troll is an understatement. It is clear that you have no point. Good night.

  66. ccbowerson 19 Mar 2010 at 12:30 am

    You are like the mentally ill man on the train saying that everyone else is crazy.

    “And don’t forget the silent majority that reads these posts and those that will be turned on, as I was myself, to the very existence of this particular book.”

    You are the one with the issues of faith. Silent minority? I see… if that comforts you… you are not alone. So moved by a single book… this is your religion. I see now what I am dealing with. If I am a “dummy” as you say it is for not recognizing who I am talking to much earlier.

  67. artfulDon 19 Mar 2010 at 1:00 am

    That was silent “majority.” And I was moved, as have been many others, by the fact that me and my new best friend Jerry were so much in agreement. (And actually I’ve been saying much the same things as the book alludes to for quite some time here.)

    By the way is CC Bowers your real name? And do you have a reputation to protect? Pity you had to expose yourself then.

    Also I’m reminded of the old saying, “Never trust a man with two first names or two first initials.”

  68. Heinleineron 19 Mar 2010 at 2:52 am

    Damn you, J. J. Abrams.

  69. BillyJoe7on 19 Mar 2010 at 5:45 am

    Jerry Fodor.

    Okay, I’m leaving artfulDodger to his deceitful dodging.
    He has a god and will have no other gods before him.
    So, what about his god?
    Here is Fodor on polar bears (promise me you won’t laugh):

    “were polar bears selected for being white or for matching their environment? Search me..”

    :D
    (Sorry, I couldn’t contain myself)

    Not content with his own ignorance, he accuses the everyone esle of ignorance as well:

    “…and search any kind of adaptationism I’ve heard of. Nor am I holding my breath till one comes along.”

    I mean, nobody could possibly answer that question could they?
    Go back to grade school, Fodor.
    …and take that fool foot-servant with you.

  70. M. Davieson 19 Mar 2010 at 8:56 am

    Actually, Fodor is an intellectual giant and quite on board with evolution. He is no fool. The point about polar bears is that we don’t know after the fact, in the presence of an adaptive trait, if that trait was ‘selected for’ or even what dimension of that trait was selected for, or whether it was a free-rider. Think about how humans mate – are child-bearing hips selected ‘for’ their attractive properties or ‘for’ their reproductive advantage? And is a man’s desire for those particular proportions – was that ‘selected for’ or simply ‘selected’ (or something else)? Just because artfulD invokes Fodor’s name and gets Fodor & Piattelli-Palmarini’s argument precisely backwards (they don’t “propose a new mechanism”; their approach is deflationary) doesn’t mean their position (F&P’s position) is not a well-reasoned one, even if there is disagreement about it. It’s a pretty dense argument, so it’s hard to tell if their interlocutors even understand it before they critique it.

  71. ccbowerson 19 Mar 2010 at 9:56 am

    “Actually, Fodor is an intellectual giant and quite on board with evolution.”

    I can only comment on the statements being made here, and so far even the direct quotes are lacking. His book (without me reading it – and I probably won’t) on evolution appears to question some of the basic assumptions that are made when people study evolution and natural selection. If I thought the book were a good one, I would read it, but from what I read of other reviewers and commenters either 1. he creates a bit of a strawman to debunk 2. doesn’t fully understand what he’s critiquing. Not to mention the sensationalism of the book title.

    Just because someone is very intelligent in one sense does not mean they are in all ways. How many great lawyers purchase homeopathy? How many brilliant surgeons can’t balance a check book? A person with great ideas in one area, may make a fool of themselves in another. See the guy who created the polio vaccine, and find out what he thought about vitamin C.

  72. M. Davieson 19 Mar 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Well it is too bad that this thread is your introduction to the book and I can understand (but be disappointed) that you probably won’t read it. Of course, you may have no need to read it, since it’s not meant to upturn all of evolutionary theory, nor tell people who study natural selection ‘you are all wrong’ or anything of the sort. The provocative title leads people astray: F&P are tackling a very specific point about how current vocabularies often cloud understanding of selection mechanisms. They are then often critiqued for (1) rejecting evolution (which is just wrong) or (2) not making revolutionary claims (which is not their aim).

    His book appears to question some of the basic assumptions that are made when people study evolution and natural selection

    This is probably correct, though maybe not in the way you intended (and no slight intended on my part). Their book (remember, it’s co-authored) does question basic assumptions. But note: it doesn’t reject those assumptions, it questions them, which is different, and that kind of critical reflection is warranted. Furthermore, it questions assumptions, not tenets or axioms, and this too is warranted – science would be in a poor position if assumptions were not subject to critical reflection. Next, they are questioning assumptions not inherent to ‘evolution and natural selection’ but to assumptions people make when they study ‘evolution and natural selection’. In other words, they are questioning assumptions people bring to the evolution table, assumptions which may make interpretations of evolution and natural selection go awry.

    from what I read of other reviewers and commenters either 1. he creates a bit of a strawman to debunk 2. doesn’t fully understand what he’s critiquing

    But of course from what I read, those reviewers and commentators are doing the exact same thing (making strawmen and mischaracterizations; not understanding what F & P are doing). The only solution is to read the book yourself!

    Just because someone is very intelligent in one sense does not mean they are in all ways. How many great lawyers purchase homeopathy? How many brilliant surgeons can’t balance a check book?

    I agree! How many biologists, surgeons, lawyers, have no idea what philosophy is, how to do it, or what its aims are (despite thinking they do)? There’s this bizarre idea that good philosophy can be done on one’s free time, whereas those who have met and worked with professional philosophers realize that’s about as easy to do as learning surgery on one’s free time. I guess the difference is that when people read a couple of books and do bad philosophy nobody takes them to court, so they can go on their merry way thinking they are philosophically skilled while still being amateurs, unlike people who read a few books and do bad pharmacology or engineering.

  73. artfulDon 19 Mar 2010 at 1:04 pm

    M. Davies,
    Where did I write that Fodor, et al “propose a new mechanism” as you seem by that quote to claim I did, thereby getting their propositions backwards or whatever?
    They propose, as have many before them, that the selective mechanism ultimately resides within the organism rather than without. Their critics (some anyway) use the “blue ball” analogy to demonstrate that Fodor et al are wrong, and not the neo-traditional big sieve in the sky advocates (of which you may be one, but I’m admittedly not sure).

    Neither or none of the sides have yet been able to propose the exactness of the selective mechanism (or more likely mechanisms), as to locations within or without any prototypical organism, and the structural nature of the function when and if they find it.
    And what you in particular have got wrong is that they do not eliminate intention from the process nor, and even more importantly, find (as you seem to) the purposive aspects of that function irrelevant.
    However, I do feel there is hope for you as an evolutionist, but none whatsoever for those usual suspects.

  74. M. Davieson 19 Mar 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Where did I write that Fodor, et al “propose a new mechanism” as you seem by that quote to claim I did

    You said it on 18 Mar 2010 at 10:04 pm:

    Gee, cc, I guess you’re not going to read the book then? You might stumble across the proposed mechanism inadvertently and be hard pressed to ignore it.

    Unless you say they are ‘proposing an old mechanism someone else came up with’ to which I would say you should reference that other person, not F&P.

    They propose, as have many before them, that the selective mechanism ultimately resides within the organism rather than without.

    I believe this is incorrect. Do you have a quote and summarized context to support your assertion?

    neo-traditional big sieve in the sky advocates

    ‘Selection’ isn’t epiphenomenal, it isn’t something added to what goes on the world, it is conceptual shorthand and not an object, and thus you won’t find it ‘in’ an organism or ‘in the sky’. It’s like asking someone to show you the mechanism by which grains of sand pile into a tidy hill with a definable slope when you pour them. There is no external mechanism deciding what the slope will be, even though it persists, nothing separate from the dumb interaction of the grains of sand.

    And what you in particular have got wrong is that they do not eliminate intention from the process

    Intention never enters into the process to begin with, it has no explanatory value. Tell me what intention is necessary to explain.

  75. artfulDon 19 Mar 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Well, since I feel that an understanding of purpose is essential to an understanding of the selection process as well as of the functional nature of life in general, and that intention is essential to the choice making process by which life seeks to accomplish its purposes, and since you don’t see the value in any of the above, there’s little point in answering you in any detail.

    In other words if I were to say intention goes to explain the purpose of an action, and further to explain the causative nature of consequences, you’d have no idea what I’m talking about. You would likely reply that consequences determine intent and purpose, and therefor consequences are all we need to look at (sort of a Skinnerian approach, but i digress there).

    And I see by your sand analogy that you are hopelessly unaware that life forms make their sand piles by choice and sand itself has no choice as to the piles it finds itself formed in. So as to your ability to understand that what I would point out Fodor sees as the selection process actually does involve a form of selective choice, that ability of yours is in serious question.

    And if I proposed that a life form is a choice making mechanism whose purpose is to make the choices that will allow it to continue to exist as a choice making mechanism, you’d say, would you not, huh?.

    So my hope for your conversion has dimmed, just as I presume yours will have already dimmed for mine.

    And by the way, as you can see from your own quote, I never said “new” mechanism.

  76. M. Davieson 19 Mar 2010 at 4:41 pm

    So you don’t have any quotes from the source material to defend what you are saying, and F&P aren’t even the originators of this mechanism you have been defending but not articulating. Got it.

    Well, since I feel that an understanding of purpose is essential to an understanding of the selection process as well as of the functional nature of life in general

    That’s your feelings; can you argue that said understanding is necessary to better explain evolution and natural selection? You haven’t so far.

    life form is a choice making mechanism whose purpose is to make the choices that will allow it to continue to exist as a choice making mechanism

    Life forms have no purposes of this sort at all.

    life forms make their sand piles by choice

    Life forms do not choose traits for evolutionary purposes. You’ve already said this yourself. Go ahead and have the last word, I’m done with this nonsense.

  77. artfulDon 19 Mar 2010 at 6:02 pm

    F&P state that “contrary to frequently heard claims that neo-Darwinism is the only game in town, there are in fact prima facie alternatives,” pointing to the resurgence of Lamarckism as one of such (page 67). My personal choice would be something akin to the Baldwin Effect which they don’t mention. Get it now?

    Fodor has more to say in his various papers about life forms choosing traits for adaptive purposes, and the effect of such choices on the chances of their heritability. In other words about how learned experience becomes over time, and in various ways, instinctive. But unfortunately there is much less detail about those aspects of evolution in this book. (Must be why you think you will like what’s in it when you actually get around to reading it.)

    And you say, “Life forms do not choose traits for evolutionary purposes. You’ve already said this yourself.” Yes, because what I also said is they choose behaviors for more immediate purposes. Evolution of those traits has been the unintended consequence – at least initially.
    So here again, you have mistaken an organism’s present and immediate purpose for what will later become the consequence of that intended purpose, yet will never exactly be the consequence expected. Adaptation is based on short term goals, the attainment of which will have unanticipated long term consequences – from which in turn the organism will learn to retool its predictive expectation functions.
    No point in going into that further when you don’t accept that life acts with purpose or intent. Must make you wonder why we have made use of those concepts at all. Oh, yeah, it’s because God created humans with the capability of having purposeful intentions. These talents therefor don’t need to have had an evolutionary past or any connection with some alleged lower forms of choice making entities.
    (Except of course for the talking snakes.)

  78. ccbowerson 19 Mar 2010 at 10:19 pm

    “No point in going into that further when you don’t accept that life acts with purpose or intent.”

    - “Life” does not act, it is a concept. Concepts do not intend to do anything, because they don’t “do” anything.

  79. artfulDon 19 Mar 2010 at 10:59 pm

    life |līf|
    noun ( pl. lives |līvz|)
    • living things and their activity : some sort of life existed on Mars | lower forms of life | the ice-cream vendors were the only signs of life.

  80. artfulDon 19 Mar 2010 at 11:18 pm

    http://www.pacdv.com/sounds/people_sound_effects/c-c-2.mp3

  81. ccbowerson 19 Mar 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Notice all of those examples use “of” in front of life. I didn’t realize you were using definition #20 of life in the dictionary.

    Now onto your point: Wait, was there one?

  82. artfulDon 19 Mar 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Oh wow, you’re right, there was a remote possibility of a grammatical error there that proved beyond a doubt that life, living things and their activity being the exception, does not act with purpose or intent.

    Could you get any dumber?

  83. ccbowerson 20 Mar 2010 at 12:04 am

    Life: “1 a : the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead. b : a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings c : an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction”

    See, usually when people communicate they usually use the more common usages of a word, or make it clear when they are not. Perhaps that is why no one seems to understand what you are saying. Its not because you are full of jibberish and nonsense… its because you are using the least common definition entries of each word you type.

  84. ccbowerson 20 Mar 2010 at 12:05 am

    Purpose or intent is mostly irrelevant

  85. artfulDon 20 Mar 2010 at 12:42 am

    Here’s the way your hero Dawkins uses the term:

    Richard Dawkins, excerpt from Chapter I, “The Anaesthetic of Familiarity,” of Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder (1998)

    “After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with colour, bountiful with life.”

    So it seems you could get even dumber.

    Your purpose or intent here having been, not just mostly, but entirely irrelevant.

  86. BillyJoe7on 20 Mar 2010 at 12:56 am

    artfulD,

    “F&P state that “contrary to frequently heard claims that neo-Darwinism is the only game in town, there are in fact prima facie alternatives,” pointing to the resurgence of Lamarckism as one of such (page 67). My personal choice would be something akin to the Baldwin Effect which they don’t mention. Get it now?”

    But do YOU get it?
    Lamarckism is dead.
    There is something called “lamarckism” – in lower case and scare quotes in order to distinguish it from the impossible form of Lamarckism – but that is entirely within the scope of Neo-Darwinism,
    The Baldwin Effect is, and has always been, within the scope of Neo-Darwinism.
    So obviously you DON’T get it.

    “Fodor has more to say in his various papers about life forms choosing traits for adaptive purposes, and the effect of such choices on the chances of their heritability. In other words about how learned experience becomes over time, and in various ways, instinctive.”

    Read as stated this is pure nonsense.
    Interpretated metaphorically, this is pure Neo-Darwinism.
    Having not read the book, I’m not sure if the problem lies with Fodor or with you.

    “they choose behaviors for more immediate purposes. Evolution of those traits has been the unintended consequence – at least initially. So here again, you have mistaken an organism’s present and immediate purpose for what will later become the consequence of that intended purpose, yet will never exactly be the consequence expected. Adaptation is based on short term goals, the attainment of which will have unanticipated long term consequences – from which in turn the organism will learn to retool its predictive expectation functions.”

    Your ability to communcate a simple fact sucks.
    Just read what you just wrote from the point of view of the reader and see if you can make any sense of it at all. Really, I wonder if YOU even understand the simple point that it seems to me you are trying to make (I’m trying to be generous here)

    “No point in going into that further when you don’t accept that life acts with purpose or intent. Must make you wonder why we have made use of those concepts at all. Oh, yeah, it’s because God created humans with the capability of having purposeful intentions. These talents therefor don’t need to have had an evolutionary past or any connection with some alleged lower forms of choice making entities.”

    It’s no use blaming us for your shortcomings.
    Here are a few of them:

    1) You have read a book on evolution and seem to have unquestioningly accepted all the ideas contained therein.
    2) You have been unable to demonstrate that you have actually understood those ideas by explaining them in your own words?
    3) You have failed to realise that the above is a pre-requisite to having any hope of explaining these ideas to anyone else.

    That’s for starters…

  87. ccbowerson 20 Mar 2010 at 1:04 am

    “bountiful with life”

    It is obvious in context what this means, and I have no problems with people who can communicate effectively.

    Your frequent use of the word “dumb” is completely juvenile and demonstrates your trollness.

  88. artfulDon 20 Mar 2010 at 1:31 am

    Billybob, I can’t explain what you clearly can’t understand.
    You’re as bad as cc with your emphasis on whether Lamarckism should or should not be capitalized. Fodor capitalizes it. But of course you’ve reported him as absent from grade school.
    And both Lamarckism and the Baldwin effect posit that the selection process is directed by the organism. If that’s neo-Darwism, somebody forgot to tell Fodor as well as Dawkins.

    cc, as to your being dumb, I would have hoped I could have simply called you and BobbyJoe ignorant, but not with all this evidence that your ignorance is incurable.

  89. BillyJoe7on 20 Mar 2010 at 7:45 am

    ArtfulD,

    Lamarckism cannot be true because changes in somatic cell lines can have no effect on germ cells. Meaning that there is no mechanism by which this can occur. Therefore physical changes during a person’s lifetime cannot carry on into the next generation. If you have proof to the contrary, please provide it.

    Small ‘l’ “lamarkism” in scare quotes and “The Baldwin Effect” are two sides of the same coin but, because of the complete demolition job that has been done on Lamarkism, the term “The Baldwin Effect” is much preferred.

    The Baldwin Effect is just Darwinian inheritance that superficially *looks like* Lamarckism. Here is an example which could be observed naturally or experimentally in a very short space of time:

    A swarm of insects consists of individuals with a wide range of attributes. Their fitness for survival with respect to environmental temperature distributes along a bell shaped curve. Only a small proportion of the insects is able to survive at very low temperatures. This is not obvious in their normally warm living environment but, if the temperature was to suddenly fall, either experimentally or due to some unusual climatic factor, only the insects who have cold tolerance will survive and the next generation will have a large preponderance of individuals who can survive in colder climates. It looks as if acquired cold tolerance is inherited by their offspring, whereas in fact the cold tolerance of the parents was always genetically present in the first place (merely hidden from view) and they simply passed this genetic fitness onto their offspring.

    Similarly, if there are individuals with a genetically inherited “ability to learn from experience”, they are more likely to survive and pass on the “ability to learn from experience” to their offspring. I trust you can see how this can look like Lamarckian inheritance.

    It should be clear from the above that the Baldwin effect is consistent with Darwinian inheritance, and it should be abundantlly clear that it does not allow “mind to direct evolution”. That is pure fanciful nonsense. Those who promote this mind directing evolution nonsense are all too ready to misinterpret the Baldwin Effect in support of their cause.

    To be fair, when Baldwin first introduced what he called “organic selection” he was inadvertently describing Lamarckian inheritance. Subsequently when he used to his original term “organic selection” in connection with what was later referred to as the Baldwin Effect, he described a process like the one I described above. This had nothing to do with Lamarkism and he never again referred to his original meaning. The Baldwin Effect was intended to be, and clearly was, Darwinian. It was “lamarckian” (lower case ‘l’ and scare quote) only in the sense that it masqueraded as Lamarckism.

    There is some doubt, however, that The Baldwin Effect is a significant factor in evolution. One of the reasons is that the changes that bring it into effect are short term and are just as likely to change in the other direction within a very short period of time. Mere noise in the long term evolutionary change.

  90. artfulDon 20 Mar 2010 at 12:04 pm

    For a much better “explanation” of the Baldwin effect, see this paper:
    http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ip/davidpapineau/Staff/Papineau/OnlinePapers/SocLearnBald.htm

    Which starts off as follows: “The Baldwin effect occurs, if it ever does, when a biological trait becomes innate as a result of first being learned. Suppose that some trait is initially absent from a population of organisms. Then a number of organisms succeed in learning the trait. There will be a Baldwin effect if this period of learning leads to the trait becoming innate throughout the population.”

    Note that “innate throughout the population” does not denote a short term effect. We’re not talking about stressed chickens here. We’re talking about instincts that in some cases have stayed with “us” as life forms through eons. We’re talking about learned behaviors becoming heritable. Behaviors that the organisms have selected, not stemming from some cosmically inspired mutation. Selected by trial and error with a purpose, not your undirected Dawkins version.
    And Lamarck and Baldwin were people, not just labels for their theories. People that “knew” these things intuitively. As did Samuel Butler and others even before Darwin wrote his great, and highly intuitive, treatise. Before Darwinian concepts were pruned by the neo-Darwinist Weismann-heimers.

    But just read the paper. It’s about stuff that’s not “in the book.”

  91. Charles Won 20 Mar 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Fodor …

    … is also arguing that removing intention as at least a factor within intensionality is a proposal unlikely to work

    … replaces intention with intensionality within the organism, removing both from somewhere (if not nowhere) in space outside of the organism

    Another Sokal? This degree of confusion has to be, uh, “intentional”.

  92. BillyJoe7on 20 Mar 2010 at 4:41 pm

    artfulD

    I will read your referenced paper but….

    Lamarck was just flat out wrong. As I said, there is no mechanism whereby changes in the somatic cell line can have an effect on the germ line, which means that physical changes in the organism during its lifetime cannot be passed on to the next generation. The Russian experiment with Lamarckism was a total failure and the Russian people starved as a result.

    Baldwin rejected Lamarckism and was correct in his second incarnation which was purely Darwinian. But, as I said, his effect is of little consequence for evolutionary change in the long run. Many “mind over matter” zealots have misused the Baldwin Effect to promote their own agendas. It’s just another example of theory driving fact rather than facts driving theory.

    But your main problem is that, in reading a particular book you have uncritically accepted everything it has said as gospel. You said before that it confirmed a suspicion you’gve always haboured about evolution. The problem here is that you should try to refute cherished ideas, not look only for confirmatory data. And you need to fully understand the prevailing theory inside and out if you are to have any hope of refuting it.

    regards,
    BillyJoe

  93. artfulDon 20 Mar 2010 at 5:06 pm

    The suspicions the particular book tends to confirm were based on other ideas that were in fact forms of the refutation you seem to advise, yet seem not to participate in yourself, i.e., have not taken your own advice.
    And the book really says little about the mechanisms, which in fact other sources do. Example in point in reference to Baldwin and Lamarck theories, which would seem to require that form evolves by following function:
    Some argue for example that evolution at bottom is all about function. And that functions are at bottom behaviors. So that in evolution, form follows function, because functions are molded by experience – in other words learned – and relatively “easier” for the organism to replicate. The present (and presumably earlier) microbial learning process supposedly creates algorithmic patterns – protein based structural patterns if you will, and 3 dimensional to boot. And if done just right, the RNA replicator treats these a lot like the protein patterns in a gene! Patterns however that can be altered either by changes experienced in the environment or learned improvements in the behaviors.
    But conversely, forms that are altered by experience, such as in Weismann’s infamous mouse tail cutting experiment, don’t “effect” any such corresponding changes in genetic algorithms. Genetic changes by mutation, random or directed, can presumably more effectively change their representative forms than effectively change their strategic behaviors. Which then would be why, evolutionally speaking, the forms will more likely be changed to conform with behaviors than the reverse. With the great diversity of forms in nature that the lack of any perfect fit available between what are multiple functions within an ultimately single form has occasioned. Or so it has been argued. Mechanistically speaking, that is.

  94. BillyJoe7on 20 Mar 2010 at 6:23 pm

    artfulD,

    http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ip/davidpapineau/Staff/Papineau/OnlinePapers/SocLearnBald.htm

    Interestingly the first two paragraphs of your above reference is in total agreement with what I said above:

    “When James Mark Baldwin and others first posited the Baldwin effect over a hundred years ago, their concern was precisely to uncover a respectable Darwinian mechanism for the Baldwin effect”

    “The great German cytologist Augustus Weismann had already persuaded them that there is no automatic genetic inheritance of acquired characteristics: the ontogenetic acquisition of a phenotypic trait cannot in itself alter the genetic material of the lineage that has acquired it”

    “The thought behind the Baldwin effect is in effect that an alternative Darwinian mechanism might nevertheless mimic Lamarckism, in allowing learning to influence genetic evolution, but without requiring Lamarck’s own discredited hypothesis that learning directly affects the genome.”

    And the next paragraph:

    “Why should we be interested in the possibility of Baldwin effects? One reason the topic attracts attention is no doubt that it seems to soften the blind randomness of natural selection, by allowing the creative powers of mind to make a difference. ”

    The operative word here is “seems”.

    But it’s downhill for there:
    In the very next paragraph, we get the typical “it is hard to see how” and “it would seem astronomically unlikely” type of statements leading to what sounds suspiciously like the thoroughly discredited idea of “irreducible complexity”.
    For example the eye is “irreducibly complex” isn’t it? No, of course it isn’t. We have extant examples of eyes in all degrees of complexity from a collection of light sensitive cells on the skin to the almost perfect human eye and beyond.

    There is also the concept of “exaptation”, where several processes previously used for other purposes are “exapted” for another purpose (eg bacterial flagella). No need for astronomical odds of getting it together all at once.

    But here’s the killer:
    “But now add in the Baldwin effect. This now promises a way to overcome the selective barrier. We need only suppose that some individuals are occasionally able to acquire the behaviour using some kind of general learning mechanism. If they can succeed in this, then the Baldwin effect can kick in, and explain how the behaviour becomes innate. ”

    But wait…
    Didn’t we just agree that “there is no mechanism whereby changes in the somatic cell line can have an effect on the germ line”?
    But it seems he doesn’t mean that.
    Here is what he does mean…

    Next paragraph:
    “Suppose some complex behavioural trait P is socially learnt—individuals learn P from others, where they have no real chance of figuring it out for themselves. This will then create selection pressures for genes that make individuals better at socially acquiring P. ”

    How is this any different from what I said a couple of posts ago:

    “Similarly, if there are individuals with a genetically inherited “ability to learn from experience”, they are more likely to survive and pass on the “ability to learn from experience” to their offspring. I trust you can see how this can look like Lamarckian inheritance.”

    In other words, in the *environment* where individuals learn from their parents, a *genetically* inherited “ability to learn” is favoured by *natural* selection.
    Pure Darwinism.
    So, what is the problem here?

    It seems to me David Papineau doesn’t understand what is meant by “environment” in the context of evolution. In the context of evolution, environment means the “total environment” and it includes the social environment in which species find themselves (it even includes the genetic environment in which genes find themselves). He also seems unaware of the concept of exaptation and the total debunking of the irreducible complexity argument.

    I suppose this might be because Papineau is a actually a mathematician and principally a philospoher (his eight books are all on philosophy) and not an evolutionary biologist. An expert offering opinions outside his area of expertise.

    Should I read on?

  95. artfulDon 20 Mar 2010 at 8:19 pm

    The Weismann Barrier, as I referenced earlier, which was thought to exist in Baldwin’s time, has been “penetrated” by more recent research. And I don’t think I ever agreed that it hadn’t been, because this is fairly common knowledge. As to Papineau, he was at one time President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science, so as a philosopher of science, including the evolutionary sciences, it’s doubtful he doesn’t know what you might hope to think he doesn’t.
    If you’d rather hear from an evolutionary biologist, try this article on Lamarck written by Daniel E. Lieberman, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University:
    Lamarck Revisited,
    http://www.alternativeinsight.com/Lamarck.html

    And when you refer to “pure” Darwinism, that would be the Darwinism as it largely stood prior to the Weismann interference. It’s the Neo-Darwinism that followed that I have my quarrel with – Dawkinism as some would call it, the brand that Dr. Nand others here advocate.

    And it’s not just the ability to learn from experience that is supposedly favoured by natural selection, it’s the strategic lessons learned from an organism’s prior experience that are also inherited.
    Called instincts in the general parlance.
    And Neo-Darwinists don’t accept that there’s a causative connection between the experience and any process within that same organism that is central to, or even a determining factor in, it’s selection as a heritable trait. Primarily because, to repeat, of the Weismann Barrier myth.
    Natural selection being a concept that used to see the organism itself as part of the nature that is central to the process, but because of the Weismanns and the Dawkinists to follow, no longer did. But I’m confident soon will again.
    So read on, there’s a lot more out there to learn.

  96. artfulDon 20 Mar 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Here’s a bit of irony, perhaps directed at myself, because while I’m recommending reading both Fodor and Papineau, I’m also aware that Papineau, once an admirer of Fodor, is not all that happy with his recent book either, but for reasons that differ from the Neo-Darwinist’s objections. He doesn’t think it’s up to Fodor’s usual standards, and I tend to agree. Fodor’s been much more hard hitting in some of his earlier papers. So it goes on the academic merry-go-round of competing ideation.

  97. artfulDon 20 Mar 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Further irony, you refer to exaptation as if it’s something I hadn’t considered – the Wikipedia description of that being: “Exaptation, cooption, and preadaptation are related terms referring to shifts in the function of a trait during evolution. For example, a trait can evolve because it served one particular function, but subsequently it may come to serve another.”
    But this is precisely what I was talking about when discussing purpose and its unexpected consequences. Serving one particular function means serving one particular purpose, at least in my book, as does coming to serve another function mean serving another purpose. That’s what’s meant by acquired purpose.
    All of this indicative of ways life acts to engineer its own adaptation.

  98. weingon 20 Mar 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Aw come on! Directed evolution? Who’s doing to the directing? Yes, I believe inheritance of acquired characteristics is possible. We are on the verge of doing this by genetic engineering of germ cells. I figure in the near future we will be directing our evolution.

  99. BillyJoe7on 20 Mar 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Okay, of course I continued reading. :)

    The next few sections are just background information for those not familiar with the concepts but they don’t bear directly on the topic under discussion.
    Then there is a section headed:

    ——————–

    “The Baldwin Effect as Genetic Assimilation”

    In the section, he actually explains how complex behaviours could indeed easily evolve by means of random mutation and natural selection in direct contrast to his previous statement that “it is hard to see how” and “it would seem astronomically unlikely” that this is possible.

    I’m beginning to think that he says these things in order to actually disprove them. In other words, “it is hard to see how” and “it would seem astronomically unlikely” but here is a way in which it can easily happen.

    The problem, I think is yours.
    You seem to think he is using Lamarcks ideas, whereas it is clear to me, the more I read of his article, that that is exactly what he is NOT doing.
    Next:

    ———————

    “Waddington and Genomic Space”

    In this section, he describes a situation where the “environment” includes what I described above as “the genetic environment in which genes find themselves” – in other words how a gene’s expression depends on the presence (in the gene’s genetic environment) of other genes. So, obviously he is not ignorant of the meaning of “environment”.
    But this is a side issue.

    More importantly he shows how the effect he describes does not rely on Lamarck’s idea of the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Here is how it works:

    The flies with [normal DP + HSP] genotypes and the corresponding [presence of veins, even under environmental heat shock treatment] phenotypes are removed from the experiment. This is just artificial selection.
    In order for flies with [abnormal DP + no HSP] genotypes and the corresponding [veinless] phenotypes to predominate, the flies with [normal DP + no HSP] genotypes and the corresponding [veinless only under environmental heat shock treatment] phenotypes would have to undergo a genetic mutation to [abnormal DP + no HSP]. If they do undergo this genetic mutation, then it *seems* as if the environmental heat shock treatment has changed the genotype whereas it has merely selected for the random mutation. It is just ordinary random mutation and natural selection.

    If *you* can see where acquired veinlessness has changed the genotype, I would like for you to point out where exactly this happens.
    Next:

    ———————-

    “Niche Construction”

    This is so straightforwardly random mutation and natural selection that it’s hard to see why you referenced this article at all:

    An environmental change causes tree nuts to become scarce. Animals with genes that enable them to climb trees have a survival advantage over animals without those genes because, when nuts are scarce, less nuts fall to the ground. In other words, the genes for climbing trees are selected for by the environmental change.
    Hmmm, okay, lets move on then.

    ———————

    “Social Learning as Niche Construction”

    Again nothing in here to suggest that Papineau supports the inheritance of acquired characterists. Nothing but random mutation and natural selection. The selecting agent here being the environment in which organisms learn certain behaviours.

    Here is his example:
    (I have added the bits in brackets to make it clearer)

    “…consider the common herring-gull practice of opening shellfish by grasping them in their beaks, flying up to a suitable height, dropping the shellfish on a hard surface, and retrieving the flesh from the broken shell. There is reason to suppose that this behaviour is [learned by young gulls during their lifetime by observing older gulls] … this itself will create selection pressures for genes that make them better at [learning the behaviour]. An individual with an allele that innately disposes it to grasp clams when it sees them, say, will learn how to get shellfish meat more quickly, since it will have less to learn than gulls who lack this allele.”

    A behaviour that is learned creates selection pressures for genes that make them better at learning that behaviour. In other words, if a genetic mutation makes the gull better at learning this behaviour it will increase its chances of survival compared to gulls who do not have this mutation, and hence the mutation will be selected for.
    Where is Lamarck in all of this?

    —————

    So, nowhere is Lamarck in evidence in this entire article.

    As to the question of whether the Baldwin Effect is important in evolutionary change. Papineau has shown a possible mechanism by which the Baldwin Effect can work but, as for whether it is an important mechanism, he says he thinks it *must* be and he makes a prediction about what would have to be the case if it is an important mechanism. But he says that he lacks the expertise to judge this.

    Apparently others have done so and have come to the conclusion that it is not.

    regards,
    BillyJoe

  100. artfulDon 20 Mar 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Those that had initially acquired the inherited characteristics would have accomplished the directing by the assessment of their successful application to their adaptive needs. Bacteria do this on a continuous basis.

  101. BillyJoe7on 20 Mar 2010 at 11:33 pm

    artfulD,

    “Lamarck Revisited,
    http://www.alternativeinsight.com/Lamarck.html

    There is nothing of substance here.
    Just outlines of what might or might not be true.
    As far as I know, there has never been a credible mechanism for the inheritiance of acquired characteristics and no reliable demonstration of it ever having occured.

    I think these things are perhaps worth storing at the back of your shed, but certainly not things worth hanging above your mantelpiece.

    BJ

  102. BillyJoe7on 20 Mar 2010 at 11:38 pm

    artfulD,

    “Those that had initially acquired the inherited characteristics would have accomplished the directing by the assessment of their successful application to their adaptive needs.”

    Could you please expand on that.
    I can just about grasp the bit before “by” but, after that, you’ve completely lost me.

  103. artfulDon 20 Mar 2010 at 11:44 pm

    That last was for Weing. Billy Joe, you should have waited to read the next paper cited to see where Lamarck is now.

    But as to this item you quoted, you’ve missed the point that it’s about selection pressure created by the gulls’ reaction to their environment, not the environment reacting somehow to the presence of the more learned gulls:
    “A behaviour that is learned creates selection pressures for genes that make them better at learning that behaviour. In other words, if a genetic mutation makes the gull better at learning this behaviour it will increase its chances of survival compared to gulls who do not have this mutation, and hence the mutation will be selected for.”
    By the functional mechanisms of the gulls. There’s no agreement as to exactly how that’s done, but lots of agreement that they and other biological entities have been successfully doing it. Read the Lamarck Revisited paper. it’s a very good summary of the theory, its history and its progress as a conceptually viable mechanistic system.

  104. artfulDon 20 Mar 2010 at 11:52 pm

    As to the latest question, Jesus, I don’t intend to run a school here for every aspect of the functional nature of an organism. Suffice it to say that all organisms make choices based on an assessment of the probabilities that their chosen actions will have some degree of success at attaining their functional purpose. Those assessments arguably contribute in the end to the selective process more than does anything else in nature.

  105. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 12:56 am

    Last comment tonight: I seem to have missed reading this from BJ:
    “As far as I know, there has never been a credible mechanism for the inheritiance of acquired characteristics and no reliable demonstration of it ever having occured.”

    Instinctive behaviors of each and every life form are inherited acquired characteristics.
    Or put another way, inherited characteristics acquired by an organism’s antecedents somewhere back down the line, or in the tree, or lurking in the bush. Acquired by learning from experience, not by some magical random mutative force that can zap down a complicated strategy all of a piece.

  106. BillyJoe7on 21 Mar 2010 at 5:29 am

    artfulD,

    “But as to this item you quoted, you’ve missed the point that it’s about selection pressure created by the gulls’ reaction to their environment, not the environment reacting somehow to the presence of the more learned gulls”

    You really need to be a lot more precise in your wording if anyone’s going to understand what you’re saying. It’s not the “gull’s reaction” and it’s not the “environment reacting” whatever that might mean. But what exactly it is you are trying to say is just impossible to say.

    “By the functional mechanisms of the gulls. There’s no agreement as to exactly how that’s done, but lots of agreement that they and other biological entities have been successfully doing it. Read the Lamarck Revisited paper. it’s a very good summary of the theory, its history and its progress as a conceptually viable mechanistic system.”

    What do you mean by “functional mechanisms of the gulls”. And I already commented on that paper. I found it superficial and speculative.

    “As to the latest question, Jesus, I don’t intend to run a school here for every aspect of the functional nature of an organism.”‘

    I hate to break it to you, but you don’t have a hope in hell of running any sort of school. What you write is incomprehensible, sorry.

    “Suffice it to say that all organisms make choices based on an assessment of the probabilities that their chosen actions will have some degree of success at attaining their functional purpose. Those assessments arguably contribute in the end to the selective process more than does anything else in nature.”

    I mean do YOU know what you’re saying here.
    Because I’m sure as hell no one else does.
    I read David Papineau’s entire article and understood it completely, but what you say bears no resemblance at all to the contents of that article. I will tell you again: the only thing controversial in that article is the question of whether the Baldwin Effect is important and Papineau admits he’s not qualified to make that determination. The rest is just random mutation and natural selection which only has the *appearance* of Lamarckism. He is at pains to say that and he reiterates it several times. I don’t know how you could have missed it.

    “Instinctive behaviors of each and every life form are inherited acquired characteristics.”

    Not according to Papineau.
    I invite you to read it again.

    “Or put another way, inherited characteristics acquired by an organism’s antecedents somewhere back down the line, or in the tree, or lurking in the bush. Acquired by learning from experience, not by some magical random mutative force that can zap down a complicated strategy all of a piece.”

    Well, you certainly have a quaint way of putting things. I can just make out what you’re saying here, but I will tell you again: what Paineau has to say bears no resemblance what you seem to be trying to say.
    I’m sorry, artfulD, but you sorely lack both comprehension and communication skills. I’ve done my best to state clearly and succinctly (considering the amount I had to cover) what Papineau says in his article. If you still do not understand it there’s not much more I can do for you.

    BJ

  107. weingon 21 Mar 2010 at 12:44 pm

    “I mean do YOU know what you’re saying here.
    Because I’m sure as hell no one else does.”

    So, it’s not just me. What a relief!

  108. SquirrelEliteon 21 Mar 2010 at 1:06 pm

    To get back to the subject of eye evolution for a moment, I noticed this morning an announcement from Todd H. Oakley at UCSB about the genetic gateway involved in jellyfish and human vision:


    By studying the hydra, a member of an ancient group of sea creatures that is still flourishing, scientists at UC Santa Barbara have made a discovery in understanding the origins of human vision. The finding is published in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a British journal of biology.

    Hydra are simple animals that, along with jellyfish, belong to the phylum cnidaria. Cnidarians first emerged 600 million years ago.

    “We determined which genetic ‘gateway,’ or ion channel, in the hydra is involved in light sensitivity,” said senior author Todd H. Oakley, assistant professor in UCSB’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology. “This is the same gateway that is used in human vision.”

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-03/uoc–sau031110.php

  109. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 1:49 pm

    You assume I’m channeling Papineau. I’m not. I gave you that reference so you would understand at least the basics of the Baldwin Effect as academia understands it.
    I’m going beyond it with a consensus of what else the more progressive evolutionists are saying. That includes Papineau, but you haven’t read his other writings, so you wouldn’t know that.
    In fact, as far as I can tell, you haven’t read any of these people’s writings.
    To select just a representative few, you haven’t read Fodor, you haven’t read Margulis, you haven’t read Shapiro, nor Jablonka, nor Damasio, nor Rose, nor Lamb, nor Eldridge, nor Lakoff, nor Jaques, and probably not even Sagan. And surely not read Mae-Wan Ho. Or if you have, you didn’t understand any of what you think you did.
    You have to understand, purpose, intent, choice, causation, and you have already demonstrated that you don’t.
    You’ve shown some disdain for philosophy as well which is the great giveaway as to your limitations. Evolutionary theory is philosophical. Darwin’s greatest strength was that he was a natural philosopher. As was of course Hume that lead the way. As were in matter of fact Lamarck and Baldwin.

    And all of the things that you have just quoted me as saying are incomprehensible to you because they represent the antithesis of neo-Darwinism. I knew they would be incomprehensible to the uninformed when I wrote them. They’re really not meant for you, but for those who can think at that level.
    Your lot look for simple and discrete selective mechanisms. There are none. Life itself is the mechanism for its own evolution. It’s constantly assessing and evolving based on the combined effect of all those billions of assessments going on daily in just one form of that life. Humans, for that example. But then the Dawkinists don’t understand that, so why should you.

    And I repeat as the truest of facts in that regard:

    “Instinctive behaviors of each and every life form are inherited acquired characteristics.”

    Papineau neither said that or denied that it was so.
    I said it. It’s a basic tenet of the postmodern synthesis of evolutionary biology. Get on the wagon, or get used to watching all that passing you by.

  110. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 2:04 pm

    BJ: Weing can tell you how that feels. Complacently ignorant.

  111. M. Davieson 21 Mar 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Can anyone paraphrase what artfulD’s position is, and then say whether what he is saying anything which is not subsumable to existing theories of evolution?

    I stated the following: If you say that organisms don’t select traits for evolutionary purposes and that they don’t procreate with the intention of reproducing those traits then the fact that their action is purposive is irrelevant, being entirely subsumable to existing theories of evolution.

    And he replied with Well, since I feel that an understanding of purpose is essential to an understanding of the selection process as well as of the functional nature of life in general, and that intention is essential to the choice making process by which life seeks to accomplish its purposes, and since you don’t see the value in any of the above, there’s little point in answering you in any detail.

    In other words if I were to say intention goes to explain the purpose of an action, and further to explain the causative nature of consequences, you’d have no idea what I’m talking about.

    Whether you think artfulD is right or wrong, can someone explain this for me? Apparently I suffer from Neo-Darwinism so you will have to dumb it down (if that’s possible).

  112. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 3:01 pm

    “Instinctive behaviors of each and every life form are inherited acquired characteristics.”
    Subsume that while you’re at it.

  113. Heinleineron 21 Mar 2010 at 3:57 pm

    artfulD,

    Perhaps you should take a moment to consider the profound improbability that we’re all misunderstanding you and everything you’ve linked, and that you’re somehow smarter than everyone else on this site, and that perhaps you don’t have the foggiest clue what you’re talking about in any degree?

    Look at this blog, look at what it discusses. Is it REALLY possible that you’re the ONLY one who can interpret this information correctly, and that we’re all “Neo-Darwinian” sheeple?

    You’re like a conspiracy theorist who thinks he’s the only one who can see the truth (for some reason). This act is tired.

  114. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Heinie,
    What’s more possible is that the ones like you who pop up and say they can’t understand are predominantly the “only ones.” Did you read that cited article, by the way, and still say bacteria can’t make choices?

    But of course I also know that this is a Neo-Darwininian forum where any lurking postmodernists will prefer to leave the self-identied simpletons to your own devices.

  115. Heinleineron 21 Mar 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Oh no, not the postmodernists. Now I feel inadequate!

  116. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 4:45 pm

    There are neo-Darwinists here who do understand what I’m saying and disagree. They remain silent on that point because to admit they understand would seem to require them to tell me where I’m wrong, which many have already done, and see no point in rehashing the process.
    The “mystery” to me is why the simpletons among you get so irate about what I’m saying if you have no idea what I’ve intended the stuff to mean?

    And Heinie, I ask again, do you still say bacteria can’t make choices?
    Or can’t you understand the question?

  117. weingon 21 Mar 2010 at 5:25 pm

    artie,

    Do they have a choice?

  118. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Ask Heinie. He says they don’t. Make them that is.

    But one answer is that they have no choice except to make choices.
    After the first bacteria made the first choice of course. Or as M Davies would argue, made it instinctively.

  119. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Begging the question, did life evolve from a first instinct?

  120. weingon 21 Mar 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Sounds like the circle of life.

  121. Heinleineron 21 Mar 2010 at 6:17 pm

    We all pretty much understand what you’re TRYING to say, because my god, you will not shut up about it. The thing is, we’ve explained to you in no uncertain terms how you’re wrong. And you refuse to accept it and simply wish to extend the debate ad nauseum (and this is truly nauseous). If you understood natural selection, you wouldn’t need to say meaningless things like “bacteria make choices.”

    You calling us “simpletons” doesn’t even begin to describe the irony underlying this situation. People probably get “irate” and take offense to you because you are being OFFENSIVE and substituting decent arguments for insults and veiled threats, so let me spell it out for you very, very simply.

    Nobody here likes your comments, not because they’re threatening our worldview, not because you’re dismantling neodarwinism, not because you’re right, but because you refuse to substantiate anything you say, and you’re a fucking douchebag! Mystery solved!

  122. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 6:28 pm

    With a circular purpose then?

  123. weingon 21 Mar 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Circular logic.

  124. M. Davieson 21 Mar 2010 at 7:04 pm

    After the first bacteria made the first choice of course. Or as M Davies would argue, made it instinctively.

    This is an excellent example of artfulD not reading properly. I never said that organisms do not make choices. What I did say is, and I quote: “The actions of organisms are another selection pressure; just because those actions appear purposeful does not mean that resulting phenotypic changes are what was intended or that those organisms selected those traits ‘for’ evolutionary purposes.”

    Furthermore, artie said life form is a choice making mechanism whose purpose is to make the choices that will allow it to continue to exist as a choice making mechanism and I deny that life forms have this overarching purpose. This is the difference between saying ‘individual bears act with purpose and make choices in their environment’ and saying ‘bears as an entity have a purpose’, that is to say ‘the purpose of bears is X’. The former sort of claim (bears act purposively) is reasonable and something I have said in the thread; the latter is nonsensical, and as you can see from my quote, is what artfulD has said explicitly. I am still waiting for an observer to paraphrase what artfulD is saying but I am pretty sure that the evidence suggests Heinleiner is correct.

  125. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 7:10 pm

    If life forms are programmed to make choices, then they have no choice except to make choices. They could choose to die before making a choice, but that would be a choice. They could chose to do nothing. Still a choice. So either they are choice makers or not. Yes, no, or maybe? Or do you understand the question, yes, no, or maybe?

    Or, à la M. Davies, would they simply form a sandpile? Yes, no, or maybe.

  126. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 7:45 pm

    M. Davies, the question was, do they make choices instinctively? You obviously can’t answer it.

    So where did I have you saying that bacteria never make choices? It was your new best friend Heinleimer who said that in an earlier post and now avoids the question as to whether he still believes it.

    And in your case, am I correct in assuming you hold that the choice making mechanism of a life form does not concern itself with its continuing existence as such a mechanism, even though one reason its there would seem to be to assess its master’s options? Too complicated for your understanding?
    And note I said life form as an individual rather than life in toto, and the mechanism of that individual form, not the mechanism of life itself, which can acquire a diversity of purposes. Such as do your “straw man” polar bears which are related to grizzlies, yet have acquired purposes that grizzles likely couldn’t act on if they had to. Although polar bears are now forced to acquire those of their ancestral grizzlies.
    But yes, bears act reasonably, and it’s because they contain reasonable choice mechanisms.
    As do all forms of life. Or do you know of some that don’t? If not, Heinie can refer you to a particulars train of bacteria.

  127. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 8:00 pm

    However, M, even that we’re in agreement that ‘individual bears act with purpose and make choices in their environment’ do you surmise that there are other life forms or entities that act with choice, but not with reasoning behind it? That’s could be the escape clause that the Heilneimers might want to use. Like discovering coin flipping bacteria perhaps?

    Note to self: These boys have now both ducked the questions about the genesis of instincts.

  128. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 8:06 pm

    (Cue in cc to point out the typos that invalidate all meaning.).

  129. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 8:29 pm

    M also says: ” just because those actions appear purposeful does not mean that resulting phenotypic changes are what was intended or that those organisms selected those traits ‘for’ evolutionary purposes.”

    Exactly. The bear’s purposes are immediate. Evolution was neither conceived or intended. Nevertheless these immediate purposes have turned out to have evolutionary consequences. Tell me I’m wrong.

  130. weingon 21 Mar 2010 at 8:35 pm

    I think you need a shave. After all that, what does it have to do with the price of bread?

  131. ccbowerson 21 Mar 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Why are we still talking to artfulD? He has made no major point thus far. He has only tried to troll by insulting the intelligences of people much smarter than he is. He has not even pointed out a major flaw of the thinking he criticizes as “Neo Darwanian,” but implies that it is lacking in some major way (without specifying exactly how).

    The only limitation that he has implied is that there is no room in modern evolutionary thinking for organisms’ intentions/purpose/decisions/behavior (I’m not sure which of these is most accurate), but he:

    1. Has not proven that modern evolutionary thinking does not take these into account in ways that matter evolutionarily(behavior itself can result in the ability of and organism to procreate and live and/or die and pass on genes – therefore is accounted for)

    2. Does not make the case that intentions/purpose/behavior in and of themselves matter other than how they impact survival and ability to procreate (therefore are consistent with modern evolutionary thinking)

    3. Has not shown how behaviors he described as instinct are inheritable in ways not accounted for in genetics –> physiology

    Whenever he is asked of a mechanism (outside of what currently accepted in genetics) for the inheritance of things such as behavior/purpose/intentions he ducks then question, and goes to the tried-and-true ad hominem attack, or he goes to another point.

    You are right evolution doesnt focus on an individual’s intentions and behavior. If you’re interested in those I suggest you read some psychology, sociology and philosophy books (not that there is anything wrong with that).

    Next thing, you’ll be complaining that physics doesnt take your feelings into account?.

    A discussion with arftfulD: it feels like a waste of time with a waste of space. (maybe he’s right ad hominems are fun)

  132. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Domestication of crops to avoid the necessity to hunt bears?
    What are you, Weing, the designated pawn tasked to divert the probe of the inquisitori and preserve the complacence of your fellow ignoranti by offering up the occasional brain fart?

  133. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 9:33 pm

    I knew I’d smoke out the cc putz. Another pawn to divert the need to answer the questions about the origin of instincts, other than through purposive trial and error and ongoing assessments of unanticipated consequences – learned strategies that are then heritable in ways as suggested by Lamarck, Baldwin, Shapiro, Margulis, Jablonka, and yes, Fodor. Evolutionary philosophers all.
    See this for an example of at least that I’ve tried to suggest answers to some of this: # artfulDon 20 Mar 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Hey putz, from whence came the first instinct?

  134. weingon 21 Mar 2010 at 9:40 pm

    What I mean is that your rambling is reminiscent of mental onanism. It accomplishes nothing of consequence. Your buddy Lysenko tried this nonsense in the old Soviet Union. How many starved? Luckily, our ancestors were wiser than this when they domesticated crops. If you want us to believe something that we can’t readily explain with current knowledge, you will have to show it to us. I’ve been trying to disprove evolution since I started studying biology back in the 70s. The damned theory still stands.

  135. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 9:46 pm

    By the way, ccboners, physics may not take our feeling into account but it can explain a lot about what accounts for our feelings: Emergent Biological Principles and the Computational Properties of the Universe, P. C. W. Davies is at the Australian Centre for Astrobiology, Macquarie University, New South Wales, Australia 2109; e-mail: pdavies@els.mq.edu.
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0408014

  136. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Weing, Lysenko’s ideas turned out to have been substantially correct. His perceived status as a spokesman for the Communist regime is what did him in. And I’m not trying to disprove evolution, I’m actually trying to prove that Darwin, initially in concurrence with Lamarck’s ideas, was right all along and you Dawkinists are simply wrong. Natural Selection is a process governed by the organism, not some amorphous mechanism independent from its mechanistic purpose.

  137. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 10:00 pm

    By the way, I’m putting all this stuff in a book, the working title to be How to Shoot Fish in a Barrel.

  138. weingon 21 Mar 2010 at 10:06 pm

    “Weing, Lysenko’s ideas turned out to have been substantially correct.”

    Except they don’t work in the real world. You might end up like the sea squirt http://goodheartextremescience.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/meet-the-creature-that-eats-its-own-brain/

  139. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 10:44 pm

    The sea squirt essentially accomplishes its acquired purpose. Note that it replicates and passes on those acquired strategies to its progeny. Whether the forms it acquires to live between these replicating events live for longer or shorter times than other sea critters is not in itself relevant. Note that the smartest cephalopods in the ocean tend to have the shortest lives. Except the strategies that form the essence of their beings don’t perish. That’s all that counts with most creatures that lack our acquired capacity for abstract thought (some with more of that capacity than others – hence the progressives among us).
    What accounted for these instincts initially and what accounts for the way they’ve been observed to evolve from these critters’ experiences?

    Only the progressives among us seem to know at least a part of the answer.

  140. sethvon 21 Mar 2010 at 10:46 pm

    “Lysenko’s ideas turned out to have been substantially correct.”

    Is this serious? Wait never mind, I don’t care. It’s certainly true that Lysenko’s biology is best practiced in the comment section of blogs, though, not by farmers who plan to produce food for people to eat.

    “It’s a basic tenet of the postmodern synthesis of evolutionary biology. Get on the wagon, or get used to watching all that passing you by.”

    Surely you meant a flying carpet not a wagon. Hold on tight, you’ll be leaving the ground any minute now!

  141. ccbowerson 21 Mar 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Artful Dandelay:

    “Only the progressives among us seem to know at least a part of the answer.”

    You seem to fancy yourself as some sort of enlightened man, much wiser than people who can actually think clearly and have a strong sense of logic. Its called delusional. What you speak of is religious or ideological in nature, and not based upon any evidence nor does it have real world utility. If you started a school it would be an intelligent design cult.

  142. weingon 21 Mar 2010 at 11:15 pm

    “That’s all that counts with most creatures that lack our acquired capacity for abstract thought (some with more of that capacity than others – hence the progressives among us).”

    I’m sorry, but through long exposure in a socialist country to the use of the word progressive as a euphemism for communist, I understand you to mean that communists have more capacity for abstract thought. I presume, that by abstract you mean divorced from reality. I would then agree with you.

  143. BillyJoe7on 21 Mar 2010 at 11:31 pm

    artfulDodge,

    “You assume I’m channeling Papineau. I’m not. I gave you that reference so you would understand at least the basics of the Baldwin Effect as academia understands it.”

    So you think the Baldwin Effect proves that mind can determine evolution but instead you give me a link which successfully explains it in purely Darwinian terms?
    Admit it, artfulDeception, you thought it supported your view.

    “I’m going beyond it with a consensus of what else the more progressive evolutionists are saying. ”

    You are not going beyond it, that is to say, you are not speculating. That would not be a problem. What you are doing is explaining evolution using your unsupported pet theory when it is not required, when we have a perfectly satisfactory evidence backed explanation already.

    “That includes Papineau, but you haven’t read his other writings, so you wouldn’t know that.”

    If you like you can provide a link to where Papineau supports “mind directing evolution” because he sure as hell disintegrates it in that article.

    “In fact, as far as I can tell, you haven’t read any of these people’s writings.”

    I haven’t read much UFO literature either. I’ve read enough of both to know there’s not much point in reading a whole book on the subject. On the other hand, you don’t seem to have much grasp of the theory of evolution by natural selection. That, my friend, is the starting point.
    And please take Eldridge and Sagan off your list – or a reference please!

    “Evolutionary theory is philosophical.”

    Evolution is a theory backed by a raft of evidence that elevates it to the status of fact. What you are doing is philosophy based on what you would like to be true. Sorry, the evidence is that nature doesn’t care about you (or I) would like to be true.

    “And all of the things that you have just quoted me as saying are incomprehensible to you because they represent the antithesis of neo-Darwinism.”

    No, they are incomprehensible because you lack communication skills.
    This is not the first time I have come up against the idea you seem to be supporting here. It’s just that this time it’s impossible to have a discussion because you cannot seem to state your ideas clearly and unambiguously.

    “I knew they would be incomprehensible to the uninformed when I wrote them. They’re really not meant for you, but for those who can think at that level.”

    I think you have an very inflated opinion of yourself.
    I seem to have no trouble understanding Papineau’s article, but you have shown no inkling at all of understanding it. If you think you have, I invite you to summarise the experiment with the flies and the heat shock treatment. It’s headed: “Waddington and Genomic Space”. It is this section that blows your ideas out of the water, whether you realise it or not so it would be a good place to show you understand.

    “Your lot look for simple and discrete selective mechanisms. There are none. Life itself is the mechanism for its own evolution. It’s constantly assessing and evolving based on the combined effect of all those billions of assessments going on daily in just one form of that life. Humans, for that example. But then the Dawkinists don’t understand that, so why should you.”

    If all you were saying is that we can alter the course of evolution by, say, gradually changing “wild wolf” into “domesticated dog”, I would have no problem. But you seem to be saying more than that, but just what that is still escapes me and, it seems, everyone else.

    BJ

  144. artfulDon 21 Mar 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Yeah sethv, I remember you as another one that admittedly had no conception of life’s function as a choice making entity.

    It’s true that Lysenko’s theories were perverted by the communist regimes, both in the USSR and China, doing a lot of damage to their agricultural production in the process. But to the extent that they were based on Lamarck’s ideas, they were a bit ahead of their time. Which has since marched on, leaving Lysenko in the dust, but Lamarckism itself is being revisited with a new air of discovery.

    You’re also the one that claimed life could have arisen from the proper mix of chemical substances without any need for a felt purpose in doing so. Without any calculative capacities as well as I recall.

    Nature would presumably zap its initial instinctive survival strategies down to it as cosmological phenomenon.

    Where do you guys come from anyway? Hopefully you’re not all a product of our American educational system, which seems not to encourage critical thinking. Just read and memorize and have faith that the truth has been revealed..

  145. artfulDon 22 Mar 2010 at 12:01 am

    bj, just answer the question about the development of instinctive behaviors.

    Nowhere did I say or even imply that “you [meaning me} think the Baldwin Effect proves that mind can determine evolution.” So of course you won’t find that in Papineau because neither of us has ever said or thought that.
    And I don’t think that highly of myself, just don’t think much at all about the level of thought necessary to continue to believe in Dawkinism, despite all the evidence coming out to the contrary. Of course a lot of this goes to demonstrate the power of self-delusion. because I note that you all seem to need to misquote what I’ve said to make your points, while all I need to do is ask simple questions based on quoting y’all accurately, and which none of you so far will even try to answer. How consistently self-protective of your delusions is that?

    But hey, a lot of good stuff there for my book!

  146. weingon 22 Mar 2010 at 12:22 am

    I don’t know about the others, but in trying to make sense of what you are saying, I try to repeat in my own words what you may be saying. That’s how I learn. I have a sneaking suspicion that you are not dazzling us with your brilliance but are simply baffling us with your BS.

  147. ccbowerson 22 Mar 2010 at 12:50 am

    “I don’t know about the others, but in trying to make sense of what you are saying, I try to repeat in my own words what you may be saying. ”

    I tried this initially, but when asked directly he never answered questions and continued on his rants. He could never explain what mechanism(s) there could be for inheritance outside of genetics (when he clearly implies that there are) for purposeful behavior or instinct. This is because he has no answers. His posts usually involve name-calling. He is a troll, and there appear to be nothing to gain from discussions with him. If you doubt this then count how many posts he has, and how much you have learned from them? What is his position? What is he saying about the limitations of NeoDarwinian evolutionary thinking? What does he have to offer?

    Are you drawing a blank on these questions?

    An intellligent person who has a point should be able to make it in a concise manner, and he cannot (This is a complex topic, but these are not complex questions to address). This is because he is doesnt have a meaningful point to make. He is looking for reactions and he is getting them.

  148. artfulDon 22 Mar 2010 at 1:42 am

    These are not complex questions? What a putz you are, cc. And all I’ve done here is answer questions, except those that are unanswerable due to the stupidity of their premises. Yes, questions do have premises.
    Here was one of may answer that you lot studiously ignore:
    “Some argue for example that evolution at bottom is all about function. And that functions are at bottom behaviors. So that in evolution, form follows function, because functions are molded by experience – in other words learned – and relatively “easier” for the organism to replicate. The present (and presumably earlier) microbial learning process supposedly creates algorithmic patterns – protein based structural patterns if you will, and 3 dimensional to boot. And if done just right, the RNA replicator treats these a lot like the protein patterns in a gene! Patterns however that can be altered either by changes experienced in the environment or learned improvements in the behaviors.
    But conversely, forms that are altered by experience, such as in Weismann’s infamous mouse tail cutting experiment, don’t “effect” any such corresponding changes in genetic algorithms. Genetic changes by mutation, random or directed, can presumably more effectively change their representative forms than effectively change their strategic behaviors. Which then would be why, evolutionally speaking, the forms will more likely be changed to conform with behaviors than the reverse. With the great diversity of forms in nature that the lack of any perfect fit available between what are multiple functions within an ultimately single form has occasioned. Or so it has been argued. Mechanistically speaking, that is.”
    Just one attempt of many.
    None really directed to you anymore, cc, after it became clear that you’re not only dumb but a blatant prevaricator to boot.

  149. artfulDon 22 Mar 2010 at 2:12 am

    And Weing, the hell with you as well. I’ve dealt with you before and your approach is to accuse those you disagree with as liars from the start, daring them to prove that they aren’t. Trying to learn? A sneaking suspicion that what you are thus “learning” is BS when I furnish sources up the wazoo that would back me up if you ever went to the trouble to find out. And should have already studied on your own considering the ears you claim to have been at this.
    I may be wrong, as we all have to (or should) recognize that to some extent we always are. But I don’t lie to cover it up. I don’t misquote people to cover up my failure to grasp what they actually said. That’s a dead giveaway that you understood the words, having probably heard them before, but since the meaning was clearly beyond your ken, you pretend its my words that obscure the meaning, not the limitations of your intellect.
    I’m done for the night and unless someone really wants to either answer MY questions, or ask some that reveal a spark of intelligence, I’m done for tomorrow as well.
    Those of you who think I’ve wasted your time, the laughs on you for having taken so much of it to write those reams of prevaricatve crap.

  150. artfulDon 22 Mar 2010 at 2:45 am

    I forgot to post this if you want to see an example of density in more or less typical evolutionist prose:

    In his Ever Since Darwin, S.J. Gould acknowledges that “preadaptation implies prescience although in actuality it means just the opposite! His explanation of “preadaptation is not easy to grasp.

    “In short, the principle of preadaptation simply asserts that a structure can change its function radically without altering its form as much. We can bridge the limbo of intermediate stages by arguing for a retention of old functions while new ones are developing.”

    From Preadaptive Evolution, http://www.science-frontiers.com/sf124/sf124p06.htm

    I used to read a lot of Gould and maybe some of that style has rubbed off. I should be so lucky as to have a mind like his however.
    Even if he was a somewhat equivocal neo-Darwinist.

  151. BillyJoe7on 22 Mar 2010 at 6:01 am

    artfulDodger,

    Quid pro quo.

    You ask me a question and I will answer it.
    (it has to be coherent tough)

    Provided you first* answer my request.

    My request is that you describe in your own words the setup of the experiment involving the flies and heat shock treatment, the results obtained, and the meaning of those results in the context of Darwin v Lamarck.

    Unless you can show some understanding of the topic by answering my request, there is no point in continuing.

    (*If you think this is unfair, consider that I actually spent some considerable time reading your reference and responding to it only to have you more or less ignore my effort completely)

  152. artfulDon 22 Mar 2010 at 11:59 am

    bj, sorry, but the class has been dismissed. You failed the course.
    But seriously, do you think I’d trust you enough at this point to waste the time to answer your manufactured question in the belief that, assuming you even understood the answer, you’d then keep your word and answer those of mine that had long been asked under the same understanding that your answer would have been quid pro quo for my previous responses to your previous questions?

    I asked each of you those questions so that in the process of trying to answer them, you’d learn that with your present doctrinal mind set, you really couldn’t. And as it turns out, none of you could answer, but sadly, learned nothing from he realization that you couldn’t.

    But I learned a bit in the process of asking them so it wasn’t a total waste. I’ve reformulated them in a series where later answers are all conditional on their antecedents. An evolving series if you will.

    And what’s remarkable to me is that you recognize that the heat shock experiment was relevant to understanding how the organism can respond as an intelligent whole to what are in essence the deleterious effects of its environment, yet not grasp what this means about how that same organism has prepared itself for the replication of the changes it has made to the strategic formations of its functional apparatus.
    Pity.

  153. weingon 22 Mar 2010 at 12:37 pm

    For me, it’s difficult to figure out what your questions are. They remind me of questions like “Have you stopped beating your wife?”

  154. Charles Won 22 Mar 2010 at 1:47 pm

    To elaborate a brief (and somewhat botched due to missing quote marks) comment @ 20 Mar 2010 at 3:47 pm …

    M Davies’s query “Can anyone paraphrase … artfulD’s position …” is the key to dealing with suspected trolls. If you know something about the topic under consideration and can’t do that because the “position” is total nonsense, then you know the troll is either hopelessly ignorant or – as I suggested before – a Sokal wannabe. In either case, the appropriate action is to ignore.

    Eg, consider the following quotes:

    “Fodor …

    … is also arguing that removing intention as at least a factor within intensionality is a proposal unlikely to work

    … replaces intention with intensionality within the organism, removing both from somewhere (if not nowhere) in space outside of the organism”

    “intention” (in the sense meant here as aim, purpose, etc) has nothing to do with “intensionality”, a concept of reference (on the other hand, it does relate to “intentionality” in its Brentano sense). So, “removing intention as at least a factor within intensionality” is about as meaningful as “removing rhythm as a factor in network protocols”.

    Similarly with the second quote, although compared to it, the first is a paradigm of lucidity.

    My bet is Sokalism.

  155. artfulDon 22 Mar 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Yes, it certainly does relate to intentionality in the Brentano sense. You silly old Dawkinists just can’t sense that. Blinded perhaps by the blueness of your selectively spaced balls?

    And Weing, in a sense you are correct, because you clearly can’t answer a question which asks if you have stopped being stupid.

  156. weingon 22 Mar 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Precisely. I just call them trick questions and wait for a normal question.

  157. artfulDon 22 Mar 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Meaning not only that you haven’t stopped, you’re not even trying to quit. (Being a Dawkinist that is.)

  158. artfulDon 22 Mar 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Actually they call those loaded questions. Like for example asking Charles W to stop deriding Derrida.

  159. Charles Won 22 Mar 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I never deride Derrida. However, I do occasionally try to sort things out while lounging in my leotard, sipping a few cold beers.

  160. artfulDon 22 Mar 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Brentano lederhosen with handbag to match?

  161. BillyJoe7on 22 Mar 2010 at 4:47 pm

    artfulDodge,

    “bj, sorry, but the class has been dismissed….”

    …because the teacher has had a complete mental breakdown.

    “You failed the course.”

    Yes I understood nothing in your class of Extraordinary Self-delusion and the Madness of One.
    Happily I am winning in real life though.

    “But seriously, do you think I’d trust you enough at this point to waste the time to answer your manufactured question in the belief that, assuming you even understood the answer, you’d then keep your word and answer those of mine that had long been asked under the same understanding that your answer would have been quid pro quo for my previous responses to your previous questions?”

    I saw no questions, only dodges.
    I read the piece written by Papineau that you linked to and I summarised his points so that they could be understood by even a very simple person.
    Your failure to address that speaks loudly of your ignorance that an article that you thought supported your view is in fact diametrically opposed to it.
    If it wasn’t so sad I’d be laughing.

    “I asked each of you those questions so that in the process of trying to answer them, you’d learn that with your present doctrinal mind set, you really couldn’t. And as it turns out, none of you could answer, but sadly, learned nothing from he realization that you couldn’t.”

    What question?
    You mean that one about instinct?
    You are kidding right?
    Let me put it this way, if you can’t see a Darwinian explanation for that facile question you are completely ignorant of the theory which you purport to “go beyond” as you put it.
    Please, learn the basics first.

    “But I learned a bit in the process of asking them so it wasn’t a total waste. I’ve reformulated them in a series where later answers are all conditional on their antecedents. An evolving series if you will.”

    You’ve leaned nothing if you can’t see that your friend Papineau has completely destroyed you.

    “And what’s remarkable to me is that you recognize that the heat shock experiment was relevant to understanding how the organism can respond as an intelligent whole to what are in essence the deleterious effects of its environment”

    Massive fail.
    See, I told you you misunderstood it.
    I had a math teacher once who I had to show how to solve problems in calculus, but both of us were okay about it. You, my friend, are a disgrace in your petulant refusal to accept help.

    “…yet not grasp what this means about how that same organism has prepared itself for the replication of the changes it has made to the strategic formations of its functional apparatus.”

    Let this be your epitaph:
    He lived spitting green boogies into the wind and died with them still plastered on his face.

  162. BillyJoe7on 22 Mar 2010 at 4:53 pm

    “My bet is Sokalism.”

    You are very kind.
    I’m going for…well, I think the epitaph sums it up pretty well.

  163. dissolon 22 Mar 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Steve, being brought up in the UK, with the fantastic David Attenborough (he would be a great guest on SGU), I never realised that there were people who did not (or is that will not?) get evolution.

    But I think I have found the way to convince these people; I have been in a wheelchair for 10 years (evolution left our spines very compromised). Now I find out that evolution did not intend us to roll around in wheelchairs either! Being disabled suddenly makes you really closely aware of all these compromises that we are left with. If I was a creator or designer then I would make a much better job of things; more protection for spinal cord; spinal cords which could repair, scar tissue that does not build up in the arachnoid layer, shoulders that don’t wear out, no pressure sores would be nice too… And maybe stop these religious idiots from coming up to me each week and telling me that this is their god’s punishment for me. As I don’t believe in any of their gods it is just tiresome, but for some people it would be the most awful thing that anyone could say to them.

    So, give all these morons a disability & watch them change their minds…

  164. artfulDon 22 Mar 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Gee bj, does all that mean you still can’t answer the question about the alleged first instinct? Even though as you allege, you’re fully competent to present the Darwinian explanation for that facile question? But haven’t really given any other explanation of anything at all except to refer us to that shibboleth. (Darwin explained it as Lamarckian by the way, but then you’re a Dawkinian.)

    And do you not know that organisms act as an intelligent whole, which is in fact one way that scientists delineate the boundaries that define the term?

    Could you not see there was a clarity of purpose in the strategies involved? Rhetorical question when you don’t know what to look for or even know to look for it.

    You had a math teacher that you had to show how to teach what he was teaching? Presumably one you didn’t have to ask questions to first. Why then ask me so many, many, many. And Papineau was wrong because he was a philosopher and not a scientist, except that even with that wrongness he destroyed the rightness of my arguments Your attempts all along to make arguments from analogy have been pathetic.
    Relevant to your mention of madness, the way you switch strategies from the insulting to the obsequious, you may need to put “bipolar” somewhere in your resume.

    You’re winning in real life? Remarkable how there’s always someone who actually pays for what little your lot know.
    Did you ever ask yourself why you had to say that publicly? The I’m not really a loser syndrome? Or just that your name really is BillyJoe? Bummer.

  165. BillyJoe7on 22 Mar 2010 at 11:16 pm

    ArtlessDodge,

    You remind me of a man who thinks he’s winning because his hair has stopped falling out, failing to realise that he has gone completely bald.

    I will leave you to your delusions and madness.

    Best of wishes,
    BillyJoe

  166. artfulDon 22 Mar 2010 at 11:22 pm

    Happily I am winning in real life. Oh, wait, this IS real life.

  167. BillyJoe7on 23 Mar 2010 at 5:38 am

    artless,

    The following bit is not totally original and for that I apologise…

    I will let you have the last word.
    No really.
    In the space below you can write anything you like. You can write the most egregious bullshit that ever split your lips. You can slander me to your heart’s contents burst through your chest, and I promise, I give you my word of honour, that I will not respond in any way whatsoever.

    In fact, I will not even read it.

    regards,
    BJ

  168. artfulDon 23 Mar 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Word of honour? You won’t read the anticipated reply? But of course you will as you can’t wait to see if yours had any of its hoped for effect. That was your intended purpose and immediate goal. A largely instinctive process beyond your comprehension. That goal being to assuage those lingering doubts that you have won anything at all by any win-lose standards except your own, and not even those.
    Because all you had to win or lose was the fight within yourself to prevent what I represent from winning you over. A fight to preserve the status quo. If that status is one of ignorance, you have preserved your ignorance. And thus have won.

    Or think you have. But life survives in part because it operates more intelligently at an unconscious level than the conscious forms of intelligence it has develped have yet been able to understand. Scares you to think your unconscious mechanisms might be whirring along right now under the influence of my intended purposes. That I have somehow won them over instead.
    Pity.

  169. Draalon 24 Mar 2010 at 9:08 am

    Hi artie,
    I’ve had a question that I’m curious if you have any references that address it.

    Given:
    There was a time when no life existed on Earth.
    Assumptions:
    The Earth (all parts of it, even piles of sand) is incapable of intention. Life originated on Earth.
    Hypothesis:
    Life was created through some process that involves any possible permutation available.

    So I have a problem with applying behavior driving evolution to this problem because there appears to be a discontinuity between Earth without life and Earth with life. Artie, do you have a reference you can post that addresses this discontinuity?

  170. artfulDon 24 Mar 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Draal, good question except that it’s not a given that life as an independent choice making process originated on earth. Earth may well have been hospitable to an original variety of forms that served that function best in Earth’s environment.
    How that function found and adapted those forms is the big burning in hell if you get it wrong question.

    And to assume that there was no behavior in the sense of “reactive choice” activity found, for example, at the molecular level would be a mistake. Exactly how the precise combination of those molecules found themselves reacting to each other in what became a calculative choice process with the means and purpose to sustain that process is in the book that hasn’t yet been written.

    References? Too many that speculate, not many that do it well. One that does might be P C W Davies in his paper, Emergent Biological Principles and the Computational Properties of the Universe. (I’m still reading it – the speculation above is my own.)

  171. Watcheron 24 Mar 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Exactly how the precise combination of those molecules found themselves reacting to each other in what became a calculative choice process with the means and purpose to sustain that process is in the book that hasn’t yet been written.

    Are you inferring that the molecular reaction that lead to life was also a choice by the molecules participating in the reaction?

  172. artfulDon 24 Mar 2010 at 2:40 pm

    No.

  173. Watcheron 24 Mar 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Could you try to explain it a bit better then? Not just that sentence, but the preceding one also. It seems like you’re inferring that the molecules themselves are participating in choosing behaviors that lead to life.

  174. sonicon 24 Mar 2010 at 4:12 pm

    artfulD-
    I never did thank-you for the reference you gave me. Mae-Wan Ho has given me much to think about- ideas to play with. Much fun.
    Thank-you again.

  175. Draalon 24 Mar 2010 at 4:13 pm

    “And to assume that there was no behavior in the sense of “reactive choice” activity found, for example, at the molecular level would be a mistake.”
    I was taught that reactions occur as a probability distribution. It’s hard to accept “reactive choice” over probability. For instance, temperature is an average of the discreet energy levels of atoms. I can write an equation that describes the distribution of the number of molecules in discrete energy states. This has been tested experimentally and replicated. It’s not necessary to introduce “reactive choice” if a proper probability description for a chemical reaction is described.

  176. Draalon 24 Mar 2010 at 4:15 pm

    I’ll read over the Emergent Biological Principles and the Computational Properties of the Universe article. thank you.

  177. artfulDon 24 Mar 2010 at 4:30 pm

    According to my philosophy, the choices to join up as a calculative apparatus were not made by the molecules. They found themselves in circumstances where these choices were made for them. Forced if you will to choose as dictated by that circumstance. And given by their nature extremely limited options, if any, from which to react. (Here we get into quantum indeterminacy which I have no intention to get further into.)
    And since I don’t know who you are or what school of thought you represent, scientifically or philosophically, or the sincerity of purpose behind your question, and given the hostile atmosphere that now exists on this thread, I don’t know where we might find any common ground from which we can discuss the role of choice in nature further. Such as what it is, why it’s needed, the nature of need from which it might arise – or the differences between or among reactive choice, proactive choice, independent choice, freedom of choice, selective choice, etc.

  178. artfulDon 24 Mar 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Draal, you have just described or at least made reference to the nature of reactive choice as dependent on prior probability. Which distinguishes it from choice made through an apparatus that contains its own probability assessment function. Good on ya.

  179. artfulDon 24 Mar 2010 at 4:46 pm

    sonic, thanks for the thanks.

  180. Watcheron 24 Mar 2010 at 5:18 pm

    They found themselves in circumstances where these choices were made for them. Forced if you will to choose as dictated by that circumstance.

    So no choice then. The molecules are reacting in a manner set forth by quantum mechanics, and follow the same sequence of steps, so if that situation of molecular concentrations, pressure, etc. were to be replicated at another point in time, it would end in same result. Do I have it right?

    Also, my intentions are to better understand your thoughts, nothing more.

  181. artfulDon 24 Mar 2010 at 5:57 pm

    I and others refer to it as a choice simply because we can’t know for certain that it isn’t. All we can “know” (again with reference to quantum indeterminacy, etc.) is if any options are involved they are extremely limited. Draal makes a good point that probability distribution tells us something about the limits within which the molecules can react to that causative web you might hope to replicate. But I’d argue that even with the single added circumstance that you’ve given as a different point in time, the result to be expected will virtually never be a duplicate. Under the theories pointed to by Draal, time itself is a dimension that represents continuous change in the constituent nature of the molecule itself.

  182. Watcheron 24 Mar 2010 at 6:53 pm

    I understand, the term “choice” is arbitrary then.

  183. artfulDon 24 Mar 2010 at 7:09 pm

    No it’s not arbitrary. And I more than suspect you know that’s not my meaning.
    Actually Watcher, I’m fairly certain that you’re working from a basic position that life forms could not have evolved through any process where they made any choices on or of their own that could be designated as instrumental in that process.
    And I’d agree that absent the possibility that molecules were other than innate lumps of an internally (as well as eternally) consistent mix of matter, you’d be right.
    So unless you can ask a question that you will attest by the asking of that something akin to the above is is not the premise, I won’t be able to provide an answer. Test questions from hidden premises are not what I came here to deal with.

  184. Watcheron 24 Mar 2010 at 7:27 pm

    And I more than suspect you know that’s not my meaning.

    No, not at all. Look, your way of thinking about this is vastly different than what’s taught to 99.9% of the populace in the sciences. You even admit, your philosophy flies in the face of scientific consensus. So when I say I don’t understand, I’m being genuine. I’m trying to understand your point of view, because honestly, I don’t know anything about it.

    Arbitrary is defined as “subject to individual will or judgment without restriction,” I’m sorry if it offends, but to me that’s what it seems like when you invoke molecular choice that’s been constrained by the physical environment.

    Also, I echo Draal’s question about why it needs to be called upon to explain something we have a pretty good idea of how it works. Or at least possess a decent enough understanding of to make predictions from.

  185. artfulDon 24 Mar 2010 at 8:14 pm

    My judgement is not without restriction, and I gave my reasons why. You may not agree with the reasons, but don’t pretend I came to it as an arbitrary choice. And our 99.9% figure that’s supposed to imply that less than .1% agree with me is arbitrariness personified. Unless of course you’re arguing that less than that number in science are in complete agreement with each other. And where have you been hiding to attest you don’t know anything about the possibilities of life engineering its own adaptive processes?
    Enough with the disingenuous pretense.
    Read Margulis, Shapiro, Jablonka, Jaques,etc., etc., and when it comes to life elsewhere in the universe, see Sagan. And of course you already know exactly who these people are and what they stand for.
    And sonic has just endorsed my recommendation of Mae-Wan Ho, who goes far beyond where I have.

    But if all we’re after is a decent enough understanding of something to make predictions from, then stop where you are. Those could be your famous last words.

  186. artfulDon 24 Mar 2010 at 8:20 pm

    Yeah, I know Carl Sagan isn’t here anymore, but his son Dorion Sagan is hard at it echoing to a large degree my sentiments.

  187. weingon 24 Mar 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Geez, you’re still at this? Name dropping doesn’t help either. I still have no idea what you are on about. To me, you are like someone attributing intention to inanimate objects. Make your predictions and test them.

  188. artfulDon 24 Mar 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Geez, if you jokers will stop asking questions, I’ll stop answering.
    Name dropping doesn’t help? Ever check out a book from a library, or do you just tell the librarian, surprise me!

    And it occurs to me that where choice is concerned, attributing intent to inanimate objects is the linchpin of your Dawkinist selective process, imputing purpose intent and choice to an inanimate prototypical gigantic sieve in the sky, in the service of all known forms of life. All those that lack that ability that is, as some of the lower forms don’t seem to need it.

  189. weingon 24 Mar 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Make your predictions and test them.

  190. artfulDon 24 Mar 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Done and doing. You’ve been running as a rat in my maze or didn’t I tell you that

  191. weingon 24 Mar 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Didn’t I tell you that in the great mouth of life, I’m just a temporary filling? Paraphrasing the dentist from MASH.

  192. artfulDon 24 Mar 2010 at 11:19 pm

    Randomly selected to fill the tooth of wisdom? That ‘splains a lot.

  193. BillyJoe7on 25 Mar 2010 at 7:19 am

    artlessDiarrhoea,

    And if you were to ask me if anyone would believe in a pie in the sky sort of scenario wherein the quantum physical entanglement embodying the energetically charged particles oscillating in complementary fashion to the real time diametrically unopposed shananagans of fool’s gold tipped higher intellectual dysfunction, I would say no you are not allowed to do that.

    BJ

  194. artfulDon 25 Mar 2010 at 10:46 am

    BoobyJoe, so much for your “word of honour.” LMMFAO. I see you’re making an ass of yourself on the other threads now. Talk about verbal diarrhea. Can’t get that whirring sound out of your head, can you.

  195. artfulDon 25 Mar 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Draal, to answer your earlier question, which to some I’ve left unanswered, it seems to me there’s no other word to use except choice when dealing with options that natural entities are forced to “select.” It seems we can metaphorically call the “taking” of this optional direction a “reaction,” though clearly not one of intent, but to some it seems we can’t call that same reaction a “choice” without invoking an intentionality behind that unintentional reaction. Or put another way, we can call a chemical reaction unintentional, but it seems we can’t at the same time differentiate the results of that reaction as unintentional choices.
    But perhaps we really can, if in fact we are allowed to refer to causative forces of unintentional reactions as independent choices of nature. And it seems, by golly, that we can and do. Check the following out:
    The Independent Choice Logic for modelling multiple agents under uncertainty (1997)
    by David Poole, Artificial Intelligence
    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.24.2746
    Abstract:
    Inspired by game theory representations, Bayesian networks, influence diagrams, structured Markov decision process models, logic programming, and work in dynamical systems, the independent choice logic (ICL) is a semantic framework that allows for independent choices (made by various agents, including nature) and a logic program that gives the consequence of choices.

    I’d tell you why I think you can’t have choice at all in the biological world if you can’t find that concept of any use in the world outside of biology. But that would be wrong.

  196. Steven Novellaon 25 Mar 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Even if we call the behavior of all living things “choice” this still does not equate to living things directing their own evolution. Because those choices are made at a hierarchically lower level than that at which evolution occurs.

    It is like consumers making choices. Those choices add up to macro-economic changes, but individual consumer choices are made at the level of the consumer (getting a better product for less money, for example) and not at the level of macroeconomics, which is a higher level emergent effect.

  197. artfulDon 25 Mar 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Thanks, but I think the more credible “directional” theories on the subject don’t argue that the choices led directly to evolution. What they argue is that they were instrumental to adaptation, without which evolution would not have been the result, albeit unintended as the purposes behind the choices.

    You don’t have to agree that the connection is there, but should at least concede that our concept of direction involves biological self-guidance for achievement of very limited goals.

  198. Watcheron 25 Mar 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Enough with the disingenuous pretense.

    Wow, I’m being serious. Sorry if it doesn’t come across in text. But, and this is the truth, your thoughts are not in textbooks, at least not high school or college level courses so you you’re going to have to explain yourself a bit when what you say is a bit different than what people have thought for the better part of a century and longer in some instances. Peer-review my friend, is not all daisies. I have questions that require attending if you want to sway me one way or another.

  199. BillyJoe7on 25 Mar 2010 at 4:41 pm

    “so much for your “word of honour.”

    Nope, still haven’t read that response nor commented on it.
    Just treating like with like.
    …or did you actually understand what I said :D

    Just to be clear:
    I enjoy hearing alternative views and I think you do have something to say, but you just aint saying it. You’re not expressing yourself clearly and consistently. Even after a week you still haven’t managed to convey what you mean to a single responder here. I think some of us have an inkling of what you’re on about but then, at times, you sound like you’re saying something almost entirely the opposite, so it’s hard to be sure.
    Just speak friggin’ clearly for a change.
    That’s all we ask.

    Let’s just be kind and say that you need to attend the Steven Novella school of clear writing.

  200. artfulDon 25 Mar 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Yes, there are thoughts of mine that are not in textbooks. And peer review can be a bitch. As can book reviews – except praise the gods that books can be published prior to review where papers that express identical themes cannot.

    This forum is not the place to publish either. Just a fairly good place to run stuff up the flagpole and take notes on who salutes, or in the alternative shoots the moon.

    And I’m looking as much for disagreement here as agreement. But intelligent disagreement – by use of questions with an open premise for example. Agendas are fine, but not so fine when secret.

    Hidden agendas tend to protect their vulnerable areas.
    Look how no-one wants to discuss the genesis of biological instincts for example.
    And if you can question me, I should be able to question you in return on the same basis. If someone wants my take on selection for example, they should be prepared to reciprocate with theirs.
    As to wanting to sway you, I’m not a proselytizer for a cause. I’m interested in your interest, not all that much in your disinterest.

  201. artfulDon 25 Mar 2010 at 5:21 pm

    That response was for Watcher.

    Not for the likes of bj who has given us another example of his duplicitous nature – claims he’s not breaking his promise to not respond to my response because he didn’t read it – and thus if he were to let me have the last word as promised, he’d have to be told first that I’d had it.

    And bj, for the record, I don’t give a shit whether you understand me or not. You don’t possess a typical example of the kind of brain that the clearest form of exposition could penetrate to any significant depth.

  202. weingon 25 Mar 2010 at 9:38 pm

    “And bj, for the record, I don’t give a shit whether you understand me or not. ”

    I hear you. Constipation can be a real bitch. Ever think of using a laxative?

  203. artfulDon 25 Mar 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Every time your moniker pops up. Although you’re more like a pain in the ass.

  204. weingon 25 Mar 2010 at 9:58 pm

    So you think I’m an asteroid?

  205. BillyJoe7on 26 Mar 2010 at 5:43 am

    artfulD,

    “Not for the likes of bj who has given us another example of his duplicitous nature – claims he’s not breaking his promise to not respond to my response because he didn’t read it – and thus if he were to let me have the last word as promised, he’d have to be told first that I’d had it.”

    The last word means the last word – you know, one last post.
    But then you went on and on.
    (Granted you have some help)

    “And bj, for the record, I don’t give a shit whether you understand me or not. You don’t possess a typical example of the kind of brain that the clearest form of exposition could penetrate to any significant depth.”

    How come you can be so clear when you want to and totally unclear when expounding your view about whatever view it is you are expounding on?

  206. Draalon 26 Mar 2010 at 7:38 am

    http://xkcd.com/386/

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