Jun 09 2010

Is Evolution Science?

Evolution is, undeniably, a science. It is not only science, it is a robust and highly successful line of research and a powerful explanatory model.

But there remains confusion in the public as to exactly what it means to be scientific, on both sides of the evolution/creation debate. Even, at times, among proponents of evolution. The following comment to a recent blog post expresses some of this confusion.

Using the scientific method as the criterion, neither creation nor evolution is an established scientific theory. Evolution is stuck on the 3rd step of the 7-step process, establishing a testable hypothesis. After 150 years, the evolution hypothesis is still being “tweaked” and the 4th step, testing the hypothesis has not yet occurred. As of this date, no peer review publications have been presented that go beyond more observations or modifications to the hypothesis. So, why is evolution being pushed as a “fact”? The scientific method also requires that a proposed principle be “falsifiable”, that is, there is a method to prove the hypothesis false. Since creation is based on the existence of God, and God cannot be proven by science, it is a matter of philosophy or faith, not science. Actually, evolution suffers from that same deficit and is, until the falsifiable requirement is met, more of a philosophical speculation than a scientific theory. An excellent resource regarding the creation-evolution debate can be found at http://sechumanism.blogspot.com/p/secular-humanism.html

The author of the comment is Patrick Vosse, and the “excellent resource” he links to is a blog with a single blog post promoting his book, Secular Humanism. Perhaps he was referring to the book itself. Either way, given that he gets this one point so hopelessly wrong it is difficult to consider his writing even minimally informative let alone a reliable resource regarding evolution.

He claims that evolution is not science because it has not fulfilled the seven steps for “the” scientific method. While that article “the” is often used in haste when referring to scientific methodology (I am sure I have done so occasionally) it is misleading to speak of “the” scientific method as if it is one thing. In fact, science encompasses a range of methods.

The seven steps Vosse is referring to go something like this:

But this is a grade school cartoon of the scientific method, useful for giving students an overview to help them with their science fair project, but not as a starting point for serious philosophical discussions about empiricism.

Often a scientific investigation will begin with an observation, or even an idea. Most relevant to this discussion, the “test with an experiment” bubble is very narrow in its concept of how science progresses. The bubble should really read, “test the hypothesis.” Experimentation is only one way to test a hypothesis. Another way is to see if it is compatible with existing knowledge, especially established laws of nature. If a hypothesis violates the laws of thermodynamics, you can probably chuck it.

Further, you can test hypotheses by making further observations. Observational studies are a critical part of medical science and all historical sciences. We cannot build suns in a laboratory, but we can observe how they behave.

Evolution is largely an historical science, and so much of the hypothesis testing has been observational. But there is also a great deal of experimental data that supports evolutionary theory

Vosse wrote:

“As of this date, no peer review publications have been presented that go beyond more observations or modifications to the hypothesis.”

This is a rather bold, and entirely false, assertion. Vosse clearly does not know the first thing about evolutionary science. There are countless published observational and experimental studies that support various aspects of evolutionary theory – common descent, natural selection acting on variation brought about through mutations and recombination, and the specific relationships among organisms. Much of this evidence is summarized at talkorigins.org. But just to give one example, the long term E. coli experiments of Richard Lenski are a dramatic counter example.

Vosse next brings up the related issue of falsifiability, and claims (again, falsely) that evolutionary theory, as currently formulated, cannot be falsified. This claim is just astounding, and again demonstrates that Vosse should not write about topics that he knows functionally nothing about.

Since Darwin there have been thousands of opportunities to falsify evolution – to deal the theory such a major blow that it would have to be abandoned or at least significantly modified. Evolutionary theory has survived every such challenge. For example, Darwin introduced his theory of natural selection before genetics were discovered. The lack of a known mechanism of inheritance was a serious problem for Darwin. It is most significant that Darwinian evolution requires the persistence of favored traits – not the unlimited dilution of such traits in the larger population. Genes – discrete units of inheritance that are not diluted with reproduction but can be copied intact – provided a mechanism that allowed for Darwinian evolution.

The whole of genetics also supports common descent – the pattern of base pairs and the amino acids they code for are found in an exquisitely evolutionary pattern. Common descent could have been destroyed by looking at the genes of organisms, but instead genetic analysis has provided its strongest support.

The geographic and temporal pattern of fossils also supports evolutionary theory. As J.B.S. Haldane famously quipped – all it would take to falsify evolution is a single rabbit skeleton in a Precambrian layer. We have never found the equivalent of a Precambrian rabbit.

Vosse’s comment that the evolution “hypothesis” is still being “tweaked” is such a non sequitur it’s difficult to know what to even make of it. Scientific theories tend to be modified and tweaked over time – that does not make them less of a scientific theory.

Conclusion

The meme that evolution is not testable or falsifiable is a persistent one, despite the fact that it has been knocked down over and over again by those who actually know what they are talking about. I doubt my humble blog post will end this meme – fighting pseudoscience is often like an endless game of whack-a-mole. But at least I can do my part in giving this one mole a good whack.

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398 responses so far

398 Responses to “Is Evolution Science?”

  1. CaldenWlokaon 09 Jun 2010 at 9:02 am

    “If a hypothesis violates the laws of thermodynamics, you can probably chuck it.”

    I actually just read an excellent quotation by Arthur Eddington the other day along this point:
    “If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.”

  2. Pinkyon 09 Jun 2010 at 11:07 am

    Steve, I share your frustration and I think a lot of it arises from the well known proverb, “Attack is the best form of defense.” which is all that anti-evolutionits, creationists, and so on, have to fight with.

    However, what I find comforting about this is that with every attack skeptics are forced to re-consider what the best response is for that argument.

    I feel like the defense of the scientific method as the valid approach is slowly asymptotically approaching something infinitely rigid – i.e., the only approach.

    In the meantime I’m going on the Duken Diet… (new diet, selling loads of books and resources, next article topic for you!)

  3. EmilKarlssonon 09 Jun 2010 at 11:08 am

    The blog comment that Dr. Novella is responding to is actually a comment that is being posted on many other blogs. I myself has gotten it on at least three different posts on evolution in the past week.

    Excellent dissection, as usual.

  4. SpicyCupcakeon 09 Jun 2010 at 12:03 pm

    It sounds like an advertising ploy for the book. Catch the creationists who are digging into posts that are about evolution and redirect them to your great new book telling them exactly what they want to hear. It is a very Glenn Beck style move and reeks of contempt for their audience. That is my “optimistic” view of the situation. I really prefer to think that people who write books like this know they are either full of it or really stretching to sell things.

    The problem is that day to day when dealing with people I don’t have a ton of references in my back pocket (though I’m starting to think I should). The amount of misconceptions the average person has in my area (Western Kentucky) is staggering. I have just gotten to where I’m shying away from so many topics since pseudo science seems to be turning into a web of misconceptions.

    “I’m doing this diet because (insert misconception of evolution, chemistry, and physics) and that’s how it works!” Now to explain to them how their diet really works or doesn’t work, or loses weight while doing damage, they won’t listen until you have corrected all of their misconceptions in these areas. Without demonstrating you know more than their beloved “Guru” on the subjects he confused to justify his potentially harmful advice, your friend takes his word over yours. This confuses me, since not long ago there was a study showing that people trust their friends over scientists. Why does this get by passed by a “Guru”? Is it an implicit trust or an abuse of certain personality types? Possibly their friends are the one that told them about it and that trust was transferred to the “Guru”?

  5. TimonTon 09 Jun 2010 at 12:19 pm

    If you read the entirety of the post at the “Secular Humanism” blog and the description of Vosse’s book, it’s clear he is a Christian apologist seeking to demonize Humanism.

    From the book description: “The debate is diverting Christians been from their evangelical mission. And there is a third player in this drama, one that sits in the background and manipulates both the Creationists and Evolutionists like puppets -Secular Humanism. ” [sic]

  6. SpicyCupcakeon 09 Jun 2010 at 12:28 pm

    #TimonT To be honest scrolled down the titles on the page and saw the last two. After that I only gave it a quick skim at best.
    “THE HUMANIST/PROGRESSIVE AGENDA”
    That sounds like a very Glenn Beck tag line and selling point.
    “HOW CAN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY MEET THE HUMANISM CHALLENGE?”
    This told me that it was not just a confused fellow, but someone with an ideological agenda that is opposed to evolution. What I insert behind that is a lack of desire for honesty. If they threw a conspiracy theory in the mix it does not surprise me at all.

  7. locutusbrgon 09 Jun 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Ah Yes the Psuedoscience circle of life continues…

    1. Fabricate and state as fact

    2. Ignore Objections.

    3. Dismiss facts as inconclusive

    4. Logical Fallacy

    5. GOTO 1

  8. locutusbrgon 09 Jun 2010 at 12:34 pm

    oops I forgot.

    1.5. Sell you something useless possibly dangerous.

  9. Sastraon 09 Jun 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Evolutionary theory has survived every such challenge. For example, Darwin introduced his theory of natural selection before genetics were discovered. The lack of a known mechanism of inheritance was a serious problem for Darwin.

    I once found a quote on evolution by Henry James, who was a contemporary of Darwin:

    “Evolution is a change from a nohowish, untalkaboutable all-alikeness, to somehowish and in-general-talkaboutable, not-all-alikeness, by continuous somethingelsifications and sticktogetherations.”

    Scientific explanations get more precise over time. James’ description, on the other hand, sounds very much like the current understanding of the mechanisms behind special creation, homeopathy, and energy healing.

  10. RickKon 09 Jun 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I’m very tired of religious apologists that are so very comfortable with lying.

    Here is a guy, Patrick Vosse, who states obvious falsehoods to draw people to his initially and intentionally misleading website, all as a ploy to sell his book.

    And while he is being deceitful, he probably pats himself on the back for being a good advocate for his religious beliefs.

    In the words of Lauren Becker in one of her wonderful Point of Inquiry editorials – “Stop lying!”.

  11. VRAlbanyon 09 Jun 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Thanks Steve! You do good work by delving into these arguments and dissecting them. I will come back to this entry for reference, and even cite it if needed when I run into this argument in the future.
    The “evolution isn’t science” tactic is even more damaging than the old favorite, “it’s just a theory” approach. It covers a broader range of people to dupe.
    The latter finds favor with those who have absolutely no understanding of [the] scientific method (and usually have no interest in gaining an understanding anyway), while those who have the beginnings of a scientific education, or at least half paid attention in high school, will also be susceptible to the former.
    Usually people in the first group won’t ever resolve their misconceptions, but it’s a real pity when those who want to understand science are so shamelessly misled by shills like this guy.

  12. Rikki-Tikki-Tavion 09 Jun 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Thank you Steve. You seemed to loose your usual distance here a little (tiny) bit.

    That’s refreshing every once in a while.

  13. rokstatueon 09 Jun 2010 at 5:35 pm

    And a good whack it is!

    Seriously, STOP LYING! If one feels even the slightest of doubts, it’s so easy to check some basic facts instead of asserting (while ignoring) that gnawing feeling.

  14. SARAon 09 Jun 2010 at 6:32 pm

    If you can get a book published, you are an expert. It doesn’t matter if the information you provide is true or not. Its in black and white and we know that information you look up in a book is true. Because when we went to school, all of the answers were in the book.

    In order to change the gullibility of the public we need to teach critical thinking and questioning attitudes from 1st grade through Phd.

    Sometimes the books are wrong. Sometimes the teachers are wrong. I think our natural diffidence toward people we perceive as authorities on a subject make us too willing to accept their words. We learn that in school. It hurts us in adulthood.

    I don’t just want to stop creationism from being taught…I want critical teaching to be taught. If we teach critical thinking, having creationism in a text book won’t be nearly as bad. It might even help the cause of recognizing false authority.

  15. Pinkyon 09 Jun 2010 at 9:22 pm

    @SARA, I think you’re describing one of the most well known logical fallacies: argument from authority. Just because an authority figure says so doesn’t mean it’s true.

    As things become more complex we rely more and more on authority figures. There almost needs to be a record kept of “People you can trust.”

    It’s also well-known that part of our brain function permits us to be controlled – i.e., be led into a war you might not survive. “Argument from authority” exploits this brain function.

  16. ccbowerson 09 Jun 2010 at 11:25 pm

    The idea that this guy is probably convincing to a lot of people reminds me of the problems with textbook inaccuracies. I remember in school learning things about the scientific method in elementary and middle school textbooks that are simply wrong. Not only did we learn a similar diagram about the scientific method as demonstrated, but also a relationship between results of the tests and the development of a scientific theory and scientific law. Apparently this misinformation was spread to a lot of folks, as many people still get confused on this point.

    Of course many of us know that a theory is just an explanation of a phenomonon (and has nothing to do with the validity of the science), and is a separate concept from scientific law (which describes a fundamental concept in science). It appears that some people still think there is a progression from theory to law, when in fact they are two distinct terms that are not describing the same things.

  17. anatotitanon 10 Jun 2010 at 9:15 am

    @Pinky

    “However, what I find comforting about this is that with every attack skeptics are forced to re-consider what the best response is for that argument.”

    Kind of sounds like evolution itself! As the creationists get fatter and fatter, sauropod-like, on their nutrient-poor diet, we theropods will respond in kind, with stronger jaws, larger claws, and more calculating minds.

    To the sauropods in the audience: I apologize for any anguish caused by this metaphor.

  18. Adam_Yon 10 Jun 2010 at 9:47 am

    If a hypothesis violates the laws of thermodynamics, you can probably chuck it.
    I have been thinking about for a while and I realized that a bunch of pseudoscientifc and conspiracy nonsense can be invalidated solely on the violation of the second law. Homeopathy violates the second law of thermodynamics. Nanothermite has issues that have never been addressed with the second law of thermodynamics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ostwald_ripening). It would really be hilarious if there were more examples.

    Evolution is stuck on the 3rd step of the 7-step process, establishing a testable hypothesis.

    I would really love to corner one of these people in real life. While I am not a biologist I can’t for the life of me imagine how they would dance around how my chemistry research doesn’t fit their definition.

  19. Calli Arcaleon 10 Jun 2010 at 3:54 pm

    If a hypothesis violates the laws of thermodynamics, you can probably chuck it.

    It’s amazing how much woo specifically violates the laws of thermodynamics, as opposed to violating something else. Of course, Creationists will sometimes claim that evolution violates the laws of thermodynamics, but this is because they are applying those laws inappropriately. It seems there is a great deal of confusion in the general public as to what the laws of thermodynamics mean.

    My favorite expression of this sort of thing comes from Akin’s Laws, though, which are more oriented towards engineering (particularly spacecraft engineering) than science, but generally applicable.

    19. The odds are greatly against you being immensely smarter than everyone else in the field. If your analysis says your terminal velocity is twice the speed of light, you may have invented warp drive, but the chances are a lot better that you’ve screwed up.

  20. Paisleyon 11 Jun 2010 at 11:13 am

    Steven Novella: “Evolution is, undeniably, a science. It is not only science, it is a robust and highly successful line of research and a powerful explanatory model.

    Evolution as a historical fact is undeniable. But does the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution explain all the observable data?

  21. Paul N.on 11 Jun 2010 at 1:14 pm

    @Paisley
    I’d rather agree that evolutionary theory needs some progress.

    @Calli Arcale
    Although the ruling evolutionary theory does not contradict the second law of thermodynamics if considered in an open system, thermodynamic does not outright explain increasing complexity of biological systems during evolution. Thus thermodynamic needs some amendments too for these two powerful theories to better cooperate.

    @Adam_Y
    “Nanothermite has issues that have never been addressed with the second law of thermodynamics.”
    I’d like to learn more about it. I cannot see the relation between nanothermite and Ostwald Ripening. I guess it is consistent with my ideas about evolution and thermodynamics.

    @Steven
    Last but not least, you did a great job, but admittedly it is much easier to argue in favor of something that is widely accepted and has a lot of followers already, and whose opponents don’t fear to enter the discussion. By contrast, it is much more difficult, to introduce something new, when the opponents shy away and keep silent.

  22. bindleon 11 Jun 2010 at 6:08 pm

    “Steven Novella: “Evolution is, undeniably, a science. It is not only science, it is a robust and highly successful line of research and a powerful explanatory model.”
    Evolution as a historical fact is undeniable. But does the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution explain all the observable data?”

    Don’t substantive questions like this deserve at least a perfunctory reply?

  23. BillyJoe7on 12 Jun 2010 at 2:03 am

    Paisley and his little echo,

    Steven is probably wise enough to realise that that question is actually an answer framed as a question.

  24. bindleon 12 Jun 2010 at 2:48 am

    Let’s hope he’s wiser than you could hope to give him credit for.

  25. BillyJoe7on 12 Jun 2010 at 3:11 am

    Come clean Paisley/bindle,

    You have an unstated agenda that drives which cherries you pick; and you see everyone who has the skills to paint the big picture as a target for your proselytising rather than as a source of knowledge and understanding.

  26. bindleon 12 Jun 2010 at 3:24 am

    Right on cue. Seems someone’s afraid the answer might be more than he can handle.

  27. BillyJoe7on 12 Jun 2010 at 7:06 am

    Paisley/bindle,

    The presumed answer doesn’t matter. It is worthless. What matters is the subterfuge of framing this worthless answer as a seemingly innocent question. The conceit is in expecting a response from someone far wiser and well up to the game being played here.

  28. bindleon 12 Jun 2010 at 12:07 pm

    “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

  29. ccbowerson 12 Jun 2010 at 12:17 pm

    “Don’t substantive questions like this deserve at least a perfunctory reply?”

    Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb are back at it again with their valueless comments (you two can decide who ends in -dumb).
    No it deserves no reply, and was given the proper treatment. We have heard these same things before.

    “Evolution as a historical fact is undeniable. But does the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution explain all the observable data?”

    The modern understanding of evolution is not constrained by the definitions and labels you throw out there, and it is (like all scientific theories) somewhat work in progress. This is not a flaw at all, as this does not imply that it not a well fleshed-out theory, but the details are being adjusted as more information is obtained. You are constantly implying that not all observable data can be explained, yet you don’t elaborate in a concise way what isn’t explained. Anything not explainable in any theory would be a big deal and would result in reevaluating and tweaking of a given theory. Your implication is that we have a stagnant theory that must be replaced if new data doesn’t fit, and that’s not how science works.

  30. bindleon 12 Jun 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Another sacrificial pawn to the rescue. Is this what they’re afraid of?

    “Purpose is a quality that you attribute to an entity or idea by looking at the outcome, and is not something intrinsic to that entity or idea.” ccbowers

    So much for knowing how science works.

  31. ccbowerson 12 Jun 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Typical tactic of taking a quote out of context and not answering a direct question. The “you” in that quote is you-Bindle and your use of the word “purpose.” I am glad to see you’ve taken a liking to the quote. I like how you imply that my quote has anything to do with science… it doesnt it was a comment about your use of words.

    But, please inform us on how the modern theory of evolution doesn’t explain the data we have. For any data that doesn’t fit would be interesting. I won’t hold my breath that this information will come from you or that this will communicated concisely.

  32. bindleon 12 Jun 2010 at 12:58 pm

    We’re holding our breath for an answer to the original question. Have you presumed to answer it for Steven?

  33. Paisleyon 12 Jun 2010 at 2:25 pm

    ccbowers: “The modern understanding of evolution is not constrained by the definitions and labels you throw out there, and it is (like all scientific theories) somewhat work in progress. This is not a flaw at all, as this does not imply that it not a well fleshed-out theory, but the details are being adjusted as more information is obtained.

    I am not questioning evolution as a historical fact, I am simply questioning whether the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution (this is not my label) explains all the observable data.

    ccbowers: “You are constantly implying that not all observable data can be explained, yet you don’t elaborate in a concise way what isn’t explained.

    This is not true. I am not “constantly implying” anything. I simply asked one question – namely, “Does the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution explain all the observable data?” (That’s a fair question, that’s a relevant question to this thread, and that’s a question worthy of an honest response.)

    ccbowers: “Anything not explainable in any theory would be a big deal and would result in reevaluating and tweaking of a given theory.”

    Agreed.

    ccbowers: “Your implication is that we have a stagnant theory that must be replaced if new data doesn’t fit, and that’s not how science works.

    I merely asked a simple question: “Does the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution explain all the observable data?” I expect an honest answer, not histrionics.

  34. Paisleyon 12 Jun 2010 at 2:41 pm

    BillyJoe7: “You have an unstated agenda that drives which cherries you pick; and you see everyone who has the skills to paint the big picture as a target for your proselytising rather than as a source of knowledge and understanding.”

    My agenda is to dismantle the mechanistic and materialistic worldview which this particular blog is promoting as a scientifically established fact. If that is a point of contention for you, then you should not subject your views in the market place of ideas.

  35. bindleon 12 Jun 2010 at 4:39 pm

    ccbowers, if that quote of yours was taken out of context, could you then explain how these are not in fact your views? Because they’re completely consistent with the mechanistic and materialistic worldview that Paisley just referred to. And with Steven Novella’s own insistence here that evolution doesn’t have or serve a purpose in nature.

  36. BillyJoe7on 12 Jun 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Paisley,

    “My agenda is to dismantle the mechanistic and materialistic worldview”

    That’s the obvious bit.
    But I’m talking about your hidden agenda.

    “which this particular blog is promoting as a scientifically established fact.”

    I’ll correct you for about the sixth time:

    Materialism is the *assumption* of science.
    True, science and has been producing natural explanations for putatively supernatural phenomena for 400 years. True not a single supernatural explanation has stood the test of time. True, the fruits of this assumption are legion, and surround us at every turn.
    But, still, materialism remains the *assumption* of science’

    Okay, I admit it, we are getting pretty close. :)

    “If that is a point of contention for you, then you should not subject your views in the market place of ideas.”

    My point of contention is your agenda of destroying materialism (hey, can you make Kilimanjaro lie down?) whilst keeping your own philosophy safely hidden from view.

    I simply asked one question – namely, “Does the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution explain all the observable data?” “

    Pull the other one.

    You are not seeking knowledge and understanding, you stand poised with, what you think is a sledgehammer but, in reality, is just a little tooth pick.

    …but, let me tell you, Maxwell has a silver hammer, and it has your name on it, and it’s coming down upon your head. As soon as you have the balls to stick it out.

  37. BillyJoe7on 12 Jun 2010 at 6:15 pm

    bingle,

    “We’re holding our breath for an answer to the original question.”

    We’ve been holding our breath for months.
    We now have Lamarckism.
    (Thank you for that :) )

    Still holding on for the crackpot philosophy that drives it.
    (Oooh, I can’t wait :D )

  38. bindleon 12 Jun 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Purposive Darwinism

  39. CWon 12 Jun 2010 at 7:54 pm

    “Purposive Darwinism”

    Did Ben Stein and Deepak Chopra have a baby together? Trying to make science accountable to hollow words?

  40. ccbowerson 12 Jun 2010 at 8:03 pm

    “ccbowers, if that quote of yours was taken out of context, could you then explain how these are not in fact your views? Because they’re completely consistent with the mechanistic and materialistic worldview that Paisley just referred to.”

    These are not my views because I don’t use ‘purpose’ like you did here:

    “Purposive Darwinism”

    Please elaborate on the mechanism for this, or is it part of your philosophy that mechanisms don’t need to exist? Is purpose your god?

  41. bindleon 12 Jun 2010 at 8:51 pm

    ccbowers,
    Simply put, mechanisms exist to serve the organism’s purposes. How many times do I need to repeat that before you can grasp that at least I said it.

    And to which you then said: “Purpose is a quality that you attribute to an entity or idea by looking at the outcome, and is not something intrinsic to that entity or idea.”

    And how are those not your views if you views are consistent with the mechanistic and materialistic world view you are desperately defending here?

    And consistent with those of yet another stooge popping up to speak for Steven Novella, as if Steve is somehow at a loss to deal with Paisley’s simple question.
    Again, do you jokers really think you’re capable of speaking for him?

    And here’s another dopey giveaway of yours that makes my case instead: In asking if I hold that mechanisms don’t ‘need” to exist, you’re inferring that you of course know they need to. And what pray tell is their need if not their purpose?

  42. Paisleyon 12 Jun 2010 at 9:09 pm

    BillyJoe7: “I’ll correct you for about the sixth time:

    I suggest you correct Steven Novella; he is the one whom conflated the so-called “materialistic paradigm of science” with science itself.

    BillyJoe7: “Materialism is the *assumption* of science.

    This is not true. Historically speaking, dualism was the metaphysical assumption, although “natural philosophy” (i.e. science) was confined to natural (i.e. physical) phenomena. Decartes is actually the father of the mechanistic philosophy (a historical fact that materialists do not seem to appreciate).

    BillyJoe&: “You are not seeking knowledge and understanding, you stand poised with, what you think is a sledgehammer but, in reality, is just a little tooth pick.

    I’m still waiting for a response to my question: “Does the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution explain all the observable data?” Hitherto, no response from the materialistic perspective was forthcoming. Why is that?

  43. Paisleyon 12 Jun 2010 at 9:25 pm

    ccbowers: “These are not my views because I don’t use ‘purpose’ like you did here:

    The deterministic worldview of materialism (which is based solely on efficient causation) precludes teleological (i.e. purpose) explanations.

  44. bindleon 12 Jun 2010 at 9:34 pm

    “When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.”
    Jonathan Swift

    True in Darwin’s time and still true about his legacy today. Darwin realized intuitively that Finches and Giraffes evolved to better suit their present needs and purposes. And he set about to prove that with his theory. Which he did quite well until the dunces managed to convince him that his purposes be damned for lack of such a mechanism.

    And now we’ve come to find that such mechanisms abound in nature, with purposes to match, and the dunces still confer and fulminate.
    Present company not excepted.

    Is Steve Novella one? No, but I think he’s found a good spot on the fence to watch the spectacle.

    (I see that Paisley has skewered a couple of dunces in the nonce, but what the hell, there’s plenty to go round.)

  45. ccbowerson 12 Jun 2010 at 9:35 pm

    “Simply put, mechanisms exist to serve the organism’s purposes. How many times do I need to repeat that before you can grasp that at least I said it.”

    Umm thats not what I meant. You didn’t answer the question. If the modern understanding of evolution is inadequate in some fundamental way, and you have some greater insight in your mind, through what mechanism does it occur. If you have a “new” mechanism how is it “better” than our current understanding. What does it predict that is different?

    “Does the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution explain all the observable data”

    No one is addressing the question because it is an unfair one.
    -First we have to define “neo-darwinian,” which is a term I don’t like much because it has had different meanings over time, and is not a term that is consistently used by the people you label as such (note that no one else here has self identified themselves in this way).
    -The other problem with the question is that it requires the person answering the question to know all the observable data. Since no one here is omniscient, no one is answering the question.

    Here are concise and very answerable questions for you:

    What major observations are not consistent with the prevailing modern understanding of evolution? How is this better explained by whatever theory you prefer?

  46. Eric Thomsonon 12 Jun 2010 at 10:45 pm

    cc is right, ‘neo-darwinism’ is anachronistic jargon in this day of evodevo and such. His final para is a much better way to put it.

  47. bindleon 12 Jun 2010 at 11:32 pm

    Evodevo? Another euphemism for a mechanism that still requires a disconnect between cause and purpose in the explanation. Otherwise our latest mechanistic stooge wouldn’t know or dare to mention it.

    You lackeys need to get out of the way and let Dr. Novella answer Paisley’s question. It’s completely fair and all of you should know it.

    There are no conditions to be met before he answers that are yours to make.

  48. bindleon 12 Jun 2010 at 11:44 pm

    Although Steven did say the following in an earlier post:
    “I understand why it might be disconcerting to think that our own behavior, especially our deepest emotions, were crafted by blind selective forces maximizing genetic transfer into future generations.”

    That blind selective forces thing is a bitch to fit an evodevo purpose to.

  49. Paisleyon 13 Jun 2010 at 12:42 am

    ccbowers: “No one is addressing the question because it is an unfair one.
    -First we have to define “neo-darwinian,” which is a term I don’t like much because it has had different meanings over time, and is not a term that is consistently used by the people you label as such (note that no one else here has self identified themselves in this way).

    If there is another term that you prefer (e.g. the “synthetic view of evolution” or the “modern synthesis”), then please state it.

    ccbowers: “The other problem with the question is that it requires the person answering the question to know all the observable data. Since no one here is omniscient, no one is answering the question.

    No, this is not necessarily true. And just to clarify, do you know of any observable data that the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution fails to explain?

    ccbowers: “What major observations are not consistent with the prevailing modern understanding of evolution?”

    That’s what I am asking.

  50. Paisleyon 13 Jun 2010 at 12:53 am

    Eric Thomson: “cc is right, ‘neo-darwinism’ is anachronistic jargon in this day of evodevo and such. His final para is a much better way to put it.

    This is simply a diversionary ploy.

    Following the development, from about 1937 to 1950, of the modern evolutionary synthesis, now generally referred to as the synthetic view of evolution or the modern synthesis, the term neo-Darwinian is often used to refer to contemporary evolutionary theory.[7]

    (source: Wikipedia: Neo-Darwinism)

  51. BillyJoe7on 13 Jun 2010 at 12:54 am

    bindle,

    “Purposive Darwinism”

    No, that is a euphemism for Lamarckism and is a description of your favoured brand of evolutionary science.
    Can we please have the philosophy that drives you to favour Purposive Darwinism/Lamarckism, call it what you will.

    (I say “drives your science” because the data are so meagre that a tooth pick will do to dislodge it)

    Still holding my breath though. ;)

  52. BillyJoe7on 13 Jun 2010 at 1:03 am

    paisley,

    Paisley asked: “[D]oes the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution explain all the observable data?

    ccbowers asked: “What major observations are not consistent with the prevailing modern understanding of evolution?”

    Paisley: “That’s what I am asking.”

    Okay then, let me answer the question with as much innocence as you asked the orignal question:
    None.

    ;)

    (Maybe now we’ll get a response from you listing the data you think destroys the Modern Synthesis. Either that or we can stop right here, enjoy the view, and whistle dixie)

  53. bindleon 13 Jun 2010 at 1:41 am

    Eric explained it this way: He said all you need to know is that the data, left to its own devices, will rot the odd Australian brain.

  54. ccbowerson 13 Jun 2010 at 2:28 am

    “That’s what I am asking.”

    That is not what you asked- you said clearly all the observable data, which is all the data that can be observed.

    “This is simply a diversionary ploy.”

    This is not a ploy. Words must be precise when we are discussing topics such as these. Its not being overly pedantic… its a necessity to have meaningful conversations.

    You apparently view wikipedia as some authoritative source on terminology. Well you should have read the whole entry where it points out the problems with the term “neo darwinian” since it was coined in 1895. Modern evolutionary synthesis is better, but I’m not sure any distinctions are necessary. It is evolutionary theory… anything different should distinguish itself, not the other way around.

    Ploys? Using wishy-washy words, vague terminology, and loaded questions are the real ploys here. The ploys exist to hide your true motives, because so far, after thousands and thousands of words, we only know what you criticize (even that is vague). What is the alternative theory? YOU should point out the data that doesn’t fit, because you are the one that thinks such data exists.

  55. BillyJoe7on 13 Jun 2010 at 5:42 am

    little echo,

    “Eric explained it this way: He said all you need to know is that the data, left to its own devices, will rot the odd Australian brain.”

    But still no data.
    And still no philosophy.
    (You think perhaps we havd all you guys – Paisley, artless Dodge, and little echo – figured?)

    :)

  56. BillyJoe7on 13 Jun 2010 at 6:35 am

    ORegarding terminology.

    The terms are often used loosely but, in general, the following applies:

    Darwinism: Natural selection
    (but inheritance of acquired characteristics not ruled out)

    Neo-Darwinism: Natural selection + Mendelian inheritance
    (inheritance of acquired characteristics ruled out)

    Modern Synthesis: Natural selection + Mendelian inheritance + Population genetics
    (inheritance of acquired characteristics ruled out)

    But let’s get past the terminology argument.

  57. ccbowerson 13 Jun 2010 at 10:25 am

    Regarding terminology: I think the terms listed above are important for describing the theory of evolution over time, but it has limited value when we are talking about current evolutionary theory.

    The reason why BillyJoe7′s response “none” is correct is that over time any data that didn’t quite fit was either later explained by more data, or it resulted in a new understanding. This is how science should be done. We don’t have rigid theories that we have to cling to (this is precisely why NeoDarwinian is misleading to use), but we adjust to new data. There is no major anomalies out there to take down the modern understanding of evolution… there are people out there frantically looking, and the things they come up with are laughable.

    If you want to believe that giraffes willfully grow their necks long because it suits their needs of reaching leaves, and this happens to fit nearly perfectly with the theory of evolution then…ok, but what is the mechanism for this? Magic?

  58. ccbowerson 13 Jun 2010 at 10:28 am

    I asume that it is understood who that last entry is written to: The philosophers Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb.

  59. bindleon 13 Jun 2010 at 12:12 pm

    # ccbowerson 01 Jun 2010 at 11:13 pm
    
Its hard to understand because I don’t think that it has meaning or utility scientifically. Its hard to understand because these terms have different meanings in different contexts. Choices are acts made by entities. They don’t “do” anything, such as find a purpose. Purpose is a quality that you attribute to an entity or idea by looking at the outcome, and is not something intrinsic to that entity or idea. Your perception of purpose says more about your own perspective than anything else.

    Tweedle Doofus

  60. mufion 13 Jun 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Paisley & bindle: You might take it as a compliment that folks here are curious to learn from you: Just “what major observations are not consistent with the prevailing modern understanding of evolution”?

    Of course, that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll persuade us with your answer(s). But, at the very least, we’ll learn what qualifies in your mind(s) as a “major observation” and how you interpret (or misinterpret, as the case may be) “the prevailing modern understanding of evolution.”

    But if you wish to shield your ideas from criticism, then carry on with your vague and quizzical comments. Sooner or later, folks will just learn to ignore you (at least on this topic, if not on others, as well).

  61. bindleon 13 Jun 2010 at 12:53 pm

    didjeridoofus writes:

    “Regarding terminology.
    The terms are often used loosely but, in general, the following applies:
    Darwinism: Natural selection
(but inheritance of acquired characteristics not ruled out)
    Neo-Darwinism: Natural selection + Mendelian inheritance
(inheritance of acquired characteristics ruled out)
    Modern Synthesis: Natural selection + Mendelian inheritance + Population genetics
(inheritance of acquired characteristics ruled out)
    But let’s get past the terminology argument.”

    We got past it, but you determinists can’t. The correct theory as I said before is Darwinism (see above). Inheritance of acquired characteristics was recognized by Darwin and the more advanced evolutionary biologists have clearly ruled it back in.
    The long term E. coli experiments of Richard Lenski cited by Steven Novella earlier failed spectacularly to recognize that.
    Why doesn’t he cite the long term experiments of the Shapiros, Jablonkas, Margulis, Lambs, Ben Jacobs, Agutters and Wheatleys, Fodors, and so many others that I’ve referenced over and over here. Because the cherry picking was on his agenda, not mine, not Paisleys.
    So of course he won’t answer Paisley’s question. He’d have to unpick too many cherries in the bargain.

  62. bindleon 13 Jun 2010 at 1:21 pm

    “If you want to believe that giraffes willfully grow their necks long because it suits their needs of reaching leaves, and this happens to fit nearly perfectly with the theory of evolution then…ok, but what is the mechanism for this? Magic?”
    Another ccbowersism in the making, since nobody said they “willfully” grew anything.
    But will ccbowers now protest again that: “This is not a ploy. Words must be precise when we are discussing topics such as these.”
    Probably not because this clearly was the ploy that he’s excepted.

    So what is the mechanism for such growth and change? Why it’s simply the ability to inherit acquired characteristics. How are they initially acquired? By experience. How does experience correlate with structural change? Read the literature I’ve referenced. The data is there that Steven Novella seems to want left out.

  63. Eric Thomsonon 13 Jun 2010 at 3:24 pm

    bindle: I’m surprised you cite Fodor. He has never done a single biology experiment in his life, yet you mention his “long term experiments.” He is a philosopher whose professional career has been predicated upon a studied ignorance of how biology works, much less getting his hands dirty with experiments. His recent work is merely an implementation of this lifetime of ignorance and hyperbole about biology (starting with his book Language of Thought).

    So, leaving aside the major faux paus of mentioning Fodor as an authority on anything biological, just pick a study for us to analyze together. These are merely empirical questions, not philosophical questions. Let’s see a study. Pick one that you want to analyze with us, and we’ll figure it out together.

  64. bindleon 13 Jun 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I purposely cited Fodor as a source where these studies and their implications are discussed with specific relevance to inheritance of acquired characteristics, plus that his latest book was written in collaboration with an accomplished evolutionary biologist – and one who has studied preadaptive strategies if my recollection is correct. So again that was not a “major faux pas” and again you are resorting to the fallacy of necessity that one alleged mistake must flatten the soufflé.

    And since we completely disagree as to Fodor’s contribution to evolutionary philosophy, and you’re so confident these are merely empirical questions, I have no expectation that we could profitably analyze and/or figure out anything together. Been there, couldn’t do that.

  65. Eric Thomsonon 13 Jun 2010 at 4:00 pm

    I hope I don’t need to clarify that by ‘study’ I dont’ mean a Wikipedia entry. Let’s look over a primary research article that you think supports a Lamarckian view of evolution.

    Here’s a list of necessary and sufficient conditions for something to count as Lamarckian evolution:
    a) Plasticity: the phenotype of an organism X changes in a way that is not merely the unfolding of a genetic program.
    b) Nonrandom: the phenotypic plasticity is not the result of some random mutation. Rather, the change is acquired by an organism in its attempt to reach basic ends such as reproducing, getting sunlight for photosynthesis, etc..
    c) Transmission: The acquired changes are passed on to the offspring of X.
    d) Genetic change: The acquired changes in the offspring of X are heritable.

    Some explanation of the conditions:
    Note on a:
    The caveat about ‘genetic programs’is important because we need to focus on non-heritable traits. For instance, growing an arm is a change in a phenotype, but is highly heritable so we wouldn’t want to say that Lamarckianism is true just because our kids also grow arms! Also, turtle sex is determined by the temperature of egg incubation (a heritable genetic program that is sensitive to environmental cues), but we don’t want to say such a change is part of evolution.

    Note on b:
    Lamarck’s vision was of animals improving, during a lifetime, at acheiving certain ends. E.g., a plant becomes better at tracking sunlight. A bacterium becomes better at processing galactose. Note this plasticity cannot merely be part of a pre-existing turtle-sex-determination type of genetic program that has already been selected.

    Note on d:
    Without this caveat, then even cultural evolution would count as biological evolution. The emergence of the behavior of washing one’s hands would count as Lamarckian evolution.

    That won’t do. If there is no heritable genetic change in the population, then it is not evolution.

    Do folks think this is a reasonable characterization of what would have to happen for us to have an instance of Lamarckian evolution? What needs to be modified, deleted, or added?

  66. Eric Thomsonon 13 Jun 2010 at 4:08 pm

    bindle: let me get this straight. we ask for a study, after you say you have given tons of references (‘out the wazoo’ I think was your phrase) and suddenly you want to pack up and go home? Now you decide to clam up? lmao

  67. bindleon 13 Jun 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Eric, I must have absorbed that pack up and go home ploy from watching you employ that tactic one too many times.

    So you’re not competent to locate books and papers written by these people, all of whom have academic credentials that you can only hope to earn?
    And they don’t call it Lamarckian evolution any more as too many 4th stage lab rats like yourself have used the term pejoratively.

  68. Eric Thomsonon 13 Jun 2010 at 4:44 pm

    You expect me to find a study to support your view? I’m not the expert on Lamarckian evolution you claim to be. Pick the best study, the one that will blow our minds. Demolish our myopic and 4th stage lab rat minds, force us to question our silly commitment to an outmoded paradigm of evolution.

    Enlighten us with a reference to a single refereed source. It should be easy, just pick from the oodles you have putatively already mentioned. You are the worlds expert on your philosophy of evolution, please let us in with a link to a single research paper.

  69. Eric Thomsonon 13 Jun 2010 at 4:44 pm

    I assume bindle is OK with my characterization of Lamarckian evolution, the four conditions I mentioned above. I’d be curious if the others here think it is fair.

  70. bindleon 13 Jun 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Your characterization was deliberately distorted to make it resemble the Lamarckian views of old, building a straw man you could more easily knock down. So of course the other stooges here will gladly take their whacks at your clay footed pinata.

    As to a single refereed source, which one of these should I pick:
    http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/index3.html?content=publications.html
    I just can’t decide all by my lonesome – here at the top of my world.

  71. BillyJoe7on 13 Jun 2010 at 5:34 pm

    bindle,

    “Eric, I must have absorbed that pack up and go home ploy from watching you employ that tactic one too many times.”

    Your specialty is keeping your beliefs hidden.
    All the words you’ve written over the past couple of months have been directed solely at keeping your own beliefs hidden whilst attacking the clearly identified beliefs of others.
    Why? What’s so embarrassing about your beliefs that you reveal them only after being dragged kicking and screaming into the spotlight? More pointedly, what is your hidden agenda?

    How long did it take to admit in a clear precise statement, instead of by the ambiguous use of the word “purpose” surrounded by further obfuscating and incomprehensible language, that what you really believe in is The Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics. Out loud now:

    I BELIEVE IN THE INHERITANCE OF ACQUIRED CHARACTERISTICS.

    There, doesn’t that feel better now?

    Of course you flat out still refuse to identify the underlying philosophy that drives your belief in The Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics.

    And, I say “the philosophy that drives your belief in the inheritance of acquired characteristics” because the anomalous results of a few experiments don’t amount to $#!+ scientifically, so there has to be a philosophical driver there somewhere.

    Of course you also flat out refuse to reference any such experiments, prefering instead to send us off on wild goose chases to books you’ve read and probably misunderstood, if your past history on this blog is anything to go by, or that the authors have written based on their own misunderstanding of the evidence and driven by their own philosophical beliefs.

    “So you’re not competent to locate books and papers written by these people, all of whom have academic credentials that you can only hope to earn?”

    I have not read their books, but I have read some of their papers, enough to realise I’d be wasting my time reading their books. But convince us….

    All we ask is for a single reference – your best evidence – that the inheritance of acquired characteristics is a going concern. Is that really too much to ask?

    (BTW, academic credentials sometimes don’t amount to $#!+. Names like Victor Zammit, Peter Dingle, and Gary Schwartz come immediately to mind, but that is another story)

  72. BillyJoe7on 13 Jun 2010 at 5:38 pm

    …oops, my page hadn’t downloaded the last few posts before I posted the above.

    I see we now have a reference.

  73. BillyJoe7on 13 Jun 2010 at 5:48 pm

    ..oh no we don’t!

    “As to a single refereed source, which one of these should I pick:
    http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/index3.html?content=publications.html
    I just can’t decide all by my lonesome – here at the top of my world.”

    What we have here is 4 book references and over 100 article references.
    I assume, having referenced them, that you have read them all.
    Off the top of your head does any one of them stick out in your memory?

    Just one that will convince us to take the inheritance of acquired characteristics seriously.

  74. BillyJoe7on 13 Jun 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Oh, I see, you are trying to impress us with Shapiro’s credentials.

    Perhaps you’d also be impressed with Gary Schwartz:

    http://www.skepticalinvestigations.org/investigators/index.htm#Schwartz

    Gary Schwartz, Ph.D.
    Professor of psychology, medicine, neurology, psychiatry and surgery at the University of Arizona and director of its Human Energy Systems Laboratory. After receiving his doctorate from Harvard University, he served as a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Yale University, director of the Yale Psychophysiology Center, and co-director of the Yale Behavioral Medicine Clinic. He has published more than four hundred scientific papers, edited eleven academic books, and is the co-author, with Linda G. Russek, Ph.D., of The Living Energy Universe. His most recent book is a highly controversial study of evidence for life after death, based on a scientific investigation of communications through mediums, “The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life after Death”.

  75. bindleon 13 Jun 2010 at 5:59 pm

    I have iterated and reiterated from the start that evolution is all about the inheritance of acquired characteristics. And more than that I’ve tried to tell you why, except to a man (Paisley excluded) you’ve argued that the whys are not important.

    I’ll try again, but I’ll have to reference that word that Eric hates to hear, but loves to mock, so this is not for him:

    http://www.biology-direct.com/content/pdf/1745-6150-4-42.pdf
    Is evolution Darwinian or/and Lamarckian

  76. bindleon 13 Jun 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Gary Schwartz is an idiot and you’re an idiot to try to lay off that load of crap on me. Well you’re an idiot regardless so why am I surprised.

    Mufi commented earlier: ‘Paisley & bindle: You might take it as a compliment that folks here are curious to learn from you: Just “what major observations are not consistent with the prevailing modern understanding of evolution”?’

    But is it in any way a compliment that the only ones that ask are the idiots?

  77. BillyJoe7on 13 Jun 2010 at 6:51 pm

    “Gary Schwartz is an idiot”

    We agree on something! :)

    “and you’re an idiot to try to lay off that load of crap on me. “

    Actually, that was just to demonstrate that having “academic credentials” is not always a good test. ;)

  78. sethvon 13 Jun 2010 at 6:54 pm

    I’m curious, bindle, what’s your opinion of Trofim Lysenko?

  79. Eric Thomsonon 13 Jun 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Wow it was like pulling teeth to get something concrete.

    Not a primary research article, but enough to track down a substantive paper and have a real discussion about whether some systems display Lamarckian evolutionary characteristics.

    If you don’t like my characterization of Lamarckian evolution, bindle, then you are free to critique any or all of the four facets in my description. If it is a straw man, then it should be easy to point out where.

  80. Eric Thomsonon 13 Jun 2010 at 7:43 pm

    I think it would be good to focus on the CRISPR-cas system as a putative model of Lamarckian evolution. Some papers include:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/315/5819/1709

    Good review:
    http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/277/1691/2097.abstract

    My hunch is ultimately we will end up arguing semantics, but indeed the CRISPR system is really cool and definitely has some of the four hallmarks of Lamarckian evolution from my list.

    What I need to think about more is what makes this different from textbook stuff on horizontal gene transfer (or mitochondrial evolution), stuff that is already well known in evolutionary biology. I will need to read over the original papers more closely before I have a considered opinion. Ultimately this is an empirical question, and the data will provide the answers.

  81. bindleon 13 Jun 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Eric Thomson,
    To reply to your ‘straw man’ question, i was waiting for all the stooges you invited to weigh in. So far none have. But as I’ve said before, you seem to have no concept of what a strategy is in biological terms. You’ve tried to sneak in purpose again as allegedly the achieving of some long term goal that only a fool would pretend an organism like your photosynthesizing plant or animal could possibly conceive of or connect somehow with its experiences. And only a fool would want to pretend that’s what Lamarck had argued.

    So regardless of the smoke screens you’ve tried to put up next to protect your public image, you can go piss up a rope with your duplicitous maneuvering. And tell that dummy that thinks Lysenko has some relevance to this discussion to help you do it. I’m confident you’ll both find purpose in the doing.

  82. Eric Thomsonon 13 Jun 2010 at 8:53 pm

    bindle: so it seems you dislike condition b in my list.

    What is your alternate?

    The point of condition b is that the changes in the organism, during its lifetime, cannot be a merely random accident (that would be standard selectionist type of explanation which you are trying to throw doubt upon).

    If you have read Lamarck, you know the changes need to be adaptive, that they must help the organism achieve some end. Obviously that doesn’t imply that plants have a conscious goal such as increasing its exposure sunlight (that would be a ludicrous form of panpsychism that not even Fodor would swallow). Rather, it is merely a colloqualism to describe adaptive reactions as specified in certain contexts. That’s the essence of Lamarckianism. If you actually read the article you linked to, they give a very similar set of criteria.

    So, if you don’t like my list, feel free to amend it. Or explain specifically what is faulty in my reasoning. If you are here just to say people are idiots, then have fun with that. I’m sure it will convince everyone you are right and make them see your paradigm-shattering genius.

  83. Heinleineron 13 Jun 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Eric,

    If he keeps it up enough, I’m guessing ArtfulD will just get banned yet again, to resurface later under yet another alias, continuing his rave about purpose, and continuing his relentless dismantling of us so-called Neo-Darwinists. He makes every thread with a whit of evolution in it explode to obscene lengths, which is probably annoying to Steve. It is, but it’s also kind of funny, in the sad, schadenfreude sort of way.

    Shocking that he seems to think that the Lenski experiments in some way support his Lamarckism. I could’ve sworn I explained it to him a couple months ago.

    Oh well. I shall now return to the peanut gallery. Queue further rantings with an incredibly undeserved sense of superiority and an incredibly irritating refusal to elaborate intelligibly about telos, quorum sensing, idiots, dolts, dimwits, and determinism, in five, four, three…

  84. bindleon 13 Jun 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Eric,
    I’ve said repeatedly that these purposes are based on the immediacy of short term expectations. These organisms have no long term goals such as you specifically referred to here: “the change is acquired by an organism in its attempt to reach basic ends such as reproducing, getting sunlight for photosynthesis, etc.”
    They have no such basic ends in ‘mind,’ consciously or otherwise. Lamarck did not make those a part of your reconstructed argument at all.

    It wouldn’t bother me if I thought this was simply carelessness on your part, but you’ve tried this misdirection too many times before for me to assume you didn’t know what you were doing when you wrote that.

    Lamarck believed that change was due to purposive trial and error efforts that didn’t need to meet expectations to at least have some effective, albeit unintended, consequences. The organisms adapted their expectations accordingly. They learned from that continuous chain of trial and error experience. That learning was the heart of their adaptive system. Lamarck felt intuitively that these experiences were crucial to the selection process. So did Darwin. Neither knew exactly what the mechanisms might be, but both are turning out to be right about experience being the central and controlling factor.

    The article I linked to gave a set of criteria in no way similar to yours as far as their effectiveness would be concerned. No similarity in purposes there at all.

    Amend your list? Throw the whole thing out and start over with some effort in seeing the purposes behind the mechanisms. Even if you’re wrong you’ll learn eventually that it’s important – to at least try to find out why things happen other than that they seem to do so with consistency and therefor who cares why if they’re to some extent predictable.

    And yes, any putative scientist who thinks to make his points by duplicity is not only intellectually dishonest but an idiot to even try it. It doesn’t take a genius to see through that tactic.
    Paisley saw it and I see it. (Well he could actually be a genius, but that’s beside the point.)

  85. ccbowerson 13 Jun 2010 at 9:50 pm

    bindle-

    “stooges… fool… piss up a rope… dummy”

    I’m impressed with your vocabulary, and that was just in your last post. Good arguments.

  86. bindleon 13 Jun 2010 at 9:59 pm

    To the newest fool to pop up here, I’ve never been banned from any forum under any name. And as far as having anything explained to me by him, it never happened and from his intellectual tone it couldn’t. Lenski’s experiments don’t support Lamarckism. My point is they could have but he deliberately caused them not to, and got a lot of flak for that. To cite him as some authority in evolutionary science is ridiculous.

  87. bindleon 13 Jun 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Thanks, bowers, I knew you’d appreciate my purpose there. Next?

  88. BillyJoe7on 13 Jun 2010 at 10:38 pm

    bindle,

    http://www.biology-direct.com/content/pdf/1745-6150-4-42.pdf

    ————————-

    PART 1

    First of all, this is an opinion piece, not a paper on an experiment.

    The reason we asked for a reference to a paper detailing an experiment that demonstrates the inheritance of acquired characteristics is that it is then possible to see for oursleves whether the data support the opinion of the authors.

    The fact is that the opinions of authors often are not supported by the data they produce and the only way to see if that is the case is to read the data they produce for yourself. In fact, most reviewers ignore the spin put on the data by the authors and go directly to the methods and results sections.

    The only reason they read the authors comment is to see how faithful they have been to their data and how far their comments go beyond the data thay have produced.

    ————————-

    PART 2

    Nevertheless, I suppose we have a reference to an opinion piece about the significance of three types of mechanisms which impact on the question of Lamrkian inheritance (sorry, that is their term not mine, so you can blame them), and I guess that is about the best we’re going to get. So, let’s have a look:

    From the abstract:

    “Various evolutionary phenomena that came to fore in the last few years, seem to fit a more broadly interpreted quasi Lamarckian paradigm.”

    You will note the qualifiers “seem” and “quasi”. This is continued into the descrption of the three mechanisms they use to illustrate Lamarckian Inheritance (again, their term):

    Mechanism 1:

    “The CRISPR-Cas system…seems to function via a bona fide Lamarckian mechanism.”

    Here we have only one qualifier. Instead of “seems” and “quasi”, we have “seems” and “bona fide”. So they think they have a real example of Lamarckian Inheritance. A bit like saying “I think that I am certain”

    Mechanism 2:

    “Horizontal gene transfer…appears to be a form of quasi Lamarckian inheritance.”

    Back to “seems” and “quasi” so they are hedging their bets quite a bit here. A bit like saying: “I think that maybe”.

    Mechanism 3:

    “Stress-induced mutagenesis can be construed as a quasi Lamarckian phenomenon.”

    Again they use the qualifiers “seem” and “quasi” and are essentially saying “we think that maybe” this is Lamarckian Inheritance

    ——————

    PART 3:

    So far it’s not looking good. And, of course, we haven’t seen what they mean by Lamarckian Inheritance. You, of course, need a variation that demonstrates that the The Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics is directed

    So I suppose we should actually read the paper:

    “The criteria an evolutionary process must satisfy to be considered Lamarckian is” (preceed all the following with the words “change in”):
    environment -> habit -> phenotype -> genome -> inheritance.

    And you’ll love this bit about the organism’s needs, bindle:

    “great alterations in the environment of animals lead to great
    alterations in their needs, and these alterations in their needs necessarily lead to others in their activities. Now if the new needs become permanent, the animals then adopt new habits that last as long as the needs that evoked them”.

    The question is, of course, did he mean this metaphorically or literally? He also saw in nature “progress to wards perfection” and explained the persistence of primitive forms by the process of “spontaneous generation”.

    However that is Lamarck.
    Now we have..um…Neo-Lamarckism?:

    “In terms compatible with modern genetics, Lamarck’s scheme entails that
    1) Environmental factors cause genomic changes
    2) The induced changes are targeted to a specific genes
    3) The induced changes provide adaptation to the original causal factor”

    This is distingusihed from Darwinism:

    “in the Darwinian route of evolution, the environment is not the causative agency but merely a selective force that may promote fixation of those random changes that are adaptive under the given conditions”

    Unfortunately, we do not have discussion of “The Modern Synthesis”, but I suspect we’re going to find that in the what the author calls the “continuum of Darwinian and Lamarckian mechanisms of evolution”:

    “The crucial difference between “Darwinian” and “Lamarckian” mechanisms of evolution is that the former emphasizes random, undirected variation whereas the latter is based on variation directly caused by an environmental cue and resulting in a specific response to that cue”

    But the question is does that make any difference. Is the Lamarckian mechanism any less random? Is the difference merely a difference in the level at which random changes act? More importantly, for your view, is it a directed change.
    I suspect all the answers are not going to be in your favour.

    So let us see their evidence for directed change which they qualify with “seems” and “quasi” in two instances and “seems” in one instance.

    —————————–

    PART 4:
    The First Mechanism: The CRISPR or CASS system:

    Here is the mechanism:

    Virus attacks bacterium. If the virus does not destroy the bacterium and the bacterium does not destroy the virus, the bacterium might incorporate the viral DNA into its own DNA. This confers immunity by the bacterium to further attack by that particular virus.

    Where is the part of the mechanism that demonstrates that the inheritance is directed as opposed to random?
    In fact the mechanism has mostly not even been worked out:

    “most of the mechanistic details remain to be uncovered”

    Moreover, as the following quote indicates, the immunity is short lived and hence cannot be a significant mechanism in evolution:

    “A peculiarity of the CASS-mediated heredity is that it appears to be extremely short-lived…as soon as a bacterium ceases to encounter a particular bacteriophage, the cognate insert rapidly deteriorates. Indeed, the inserts hardly can be evolutionarily stable…”

    ——————————

    PART 5:
    The Second Mechanism: Horizontal gene transfer:

    “Prokaryotes readily obtain DNA from the environment, with phages and plasmids serving as vehicles…The absorbed DNA often integrates into prokaryotic chromosomes and can be fixed in a population if the transferred genetic material confers even a slight selective advantage…the most straightforward and familiar case in point is evolution of antibiotic resistance. When a sensitive prokaryote enters an environment where an antibiotic is present, the only chance for the newcomer to survive is to acquire a resistance gene by HGT.”

    This is a very well known mechanism of antibiotic resistance and amounts to nothing more than random chance. In other words, as far as we know, it is random as to whether transferred genes are helpful or harmful.

    You would have to show that the transferred genes are more likely to be helpful than harmful and you have to demonstrate the mechanism whereby the bacterium directs this to be the case.

    Also, this is not very different from what occurs when an ovum incorporates the genetic material of a sperm – a well recognised mechanism of genetic variation! – with the resulting gamete being subjected to natural selection in the environment in which it finds itself. All just random variation.

    And, of course there is the theory of the origin of mitochondria and chloroplasts (and probably also the neucleur membrane). The origin of these elements is thought to be bacteria that were incorporated whole (by phagocytosis?) into cells.

    ———————-

    PART 6:
    The Third Mechanism: Stress-induced Mutagenesis:

    “Adaptive evolution resulting from stress-induced mutagenesis
    is not exactly Lamarckian because the stress does not cause mutations directly and specifically in genes conferring stress resistance.”

    In other words, the stress-induced mutations are not directly induced by stress, and the insertions can happen at almost any locus!

    Well, that about says it all: Stress indirectly induces random changes in genes – some genes are, of course more resistant to stress and some genes less resistant, but this is also random from the point of view of the stress – and the bacterium’s gene repairing apparatus attempts to repair these genes as best it can – fighting against the mutation as it were. Some random mutations suvive to be selected for in the normal way.

    How is this not consistent with the modern synthesis?
    Where is the directed evolution.

  89. bindleon 13 Jun 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Did I say that it was directed evolution? You seem to have an either or mentality, where an organism can only have one source of direction. Directions can be indirect and be so for a reason. Inference is indirect but on balance more effective than compulsion. Randomness is essential to change – it’s what we have to take advantage of. Randomness is inferential.

    But i don’t have time for this right now. Maybe later. Go back and read the article again with the above in mind.

  90. BillyJoe7on 13 Jun 2010 at 11:30 pm

    “Go back and read the article again with the above in mind.”

    Lots of laughs, bingle. :D

    Perhaps you still haven’t sorted out what you mean by “purpose”. In which case, we sure as hell won’t be able to.

    And still waiting for that one paper that destroys the Modern Synthesis.

    …and, yeah, not holding my breadth.

  91. ccbowerson 14 Jun 2010 at 12:00 am

    Despite all of this conversation, how is any of this in conflict with a modern understanding of evolution? It is not. When the fuzzy phrases like “choice will find its purpose” are missing, the fluffy thinking is hidden.

  92. Eric Thomsonon 14 Jun 2010 at 12:01 am

    ccbowers I think your analysis of the CRISPR-cas system is right. It is interesting stuff, but no more damning to evolutionary theory than freshman textbook stuff like horizontal gene transfer and the evolution of mitochondria via endosymbiosis. Very cool stuff, but not Lamarckian in the teleological sense that bungle wants.

    One nice feature of evolutionary biology is that it puts data on a pedestal. Since we learned about things like horizontal gene transfer (basic biology for many decades now), and the endosymbiant hypothesis seems right, evolutionary thinking has already realized the need to use a metaphor less tree-like, and more resembling the streets of Calcutta. This is stuff that Gould and others have harped on for many years (in addition to attacking panselectionism of course, which nobody holds).

    What’s funny about Fodor, a philosopher who has made a living out of trying to say what biologists do is either irrelevant or stupid, is that his recent book states things any freshman bio major would know (e.g., traits tend to be correlated). He then acts as if this is a paradigm-shattering discovery, and proceeds to throw out the baby (natural selection) with the bathwater (not having high school biology, he doesn’t even have the data at hand to consider that certain things like the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacterial strains are explained quite well via natural selection). Fodor finally discovers that biologists actually have a lot of great data, and still proceeds to miss the point, all the while acting as if he has great wisdom nuggets to teach the silly biologists.

    I go on like this because it seems we have a pico-Fodor here.

    One ironic thing about the work bindle refers to is that it doesn’t conform at all to his naive view that all of biology must explicitly draw on quantum mechanics. The paper presents straightforward, mechanistic, molecular biology.

    Bindle: if you actually read what I wrote, rather than continuing to read into what I wrote, then you’d see I never attributed intentionality to the organisms adapting to their environment (e.g., see what I said about plant phototaxis). Whatever, I tried to help you articulate things more clearly and that seems to be a low priority for you, so fuck it.

    Heinleiner: you got his number. I’m new to this site, and am realizing I just stepped in a big pile of shit. I’m not sure if I’ll keep reading the comment threads here I really like some of the comments but every thread becomes an exercise in futility and one upmanship. It’s fun because it is so easy to give him the smackdown, but ultimately it is a complete waste of time.

  93. Eric Thomsonon 14 Jun 2010 at 12:05 am

    ccbowers I think your analysis of the CRISPR-cas system is right. It is interesting stuff, but no more damning to evolutionary theory than freshman textbook stuff like horizontal gene transfer and the evolution of mitochondria via endosymbiosis. Very cool stuff, but not Lamarckian in the teleological sense that bungle wants.

    One nice feature of evolutionary biology is that it puts data on a pedestal. Since we learned about things like horizontal gene transfer (basic biology for many decades now), and the endosymbiant hypothesis seems right, evolutionary thinking has already realized the need to use a metaphor less tree-like, and more resembling the streets of Calcutta. This is stuff that Gould and others have harped on for many years (in addition to attacking panselectionism of course, which nobody holds).

    What’s funny about Fodor, a philosopher who has made a living out of trying to say what biologists do is either irrelevant or stupid, is that his recent book states things any freshman bio major would know (e.g., traits tend to be correlated). He then acts as if this is a paradigm-shattering discovery, and proceeds to throw out the baby (natural selection) with the bathwater. This ends up killing him, as processes like the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacterial strains are explained quite well via natural selection. It’s just funny: Fodor finally discovers that biologists actually have a lot of great data and ideas, but still proceeds to miss the point, all the while acting as if he has great wisdom nuggets to teach the silly biologists.

    I go on like this because it seems we have a pico-Fodor here.

    One ironic thing about the work bindle refers to is that it doesn’t conform at all to his naive view that all of biology must explicitly draw on quantum mechanics. The paper presents straightforward, mechanistic, molecular biology.

    Bindle: if you actually read what I wrote, rather than continuing to read into what I wrote, then you’d see I never attributed intentionality to the organisms adapting to their environment (e.g., see what I said about plant phototaxis). Whatever, I tried to help you articulate things more clearly and that seems to be a low priority for you, so screw it.

    Heinleiner: you got his number. I’m new to this site, and am realizing I just stepped in a big pile of @#$. I’m not sure if I’ll keep reading the comment threads here. I really like some of the comments but every thread becomes an exercise in futility. It’s fun because it is so easy to give him the smackdown, but ultimately it is a complete waste of time in the big picture.

  94. bindleon 14 Jun 2010 at 12:45 am

    The idea is not to destroy it but to put its mechanistic aspects in their proper place and order. Modern Synthesis sounds progressive but it’s still a closed system at its philosophical core. It’s corroded by determinism if I may be so bold. And that’s the antithesis of a philosophy that has or should have science at its core.
    Like it or not evolution is a scientific philosophy. Its strategic essence is found in the ‘philosophies’ exhibited by the creatures under its domain. You won’t know what I mean by that until you come to understand that all philosophies were meant to serve the strategic purposes of their cultures. And we’re finding that all species that we know of have a culture that enhances their overall survival.
    Yes, I’ve sorted out what I mean by purpose, but there’s much to learn about the strategies that serve them differently in every single species and subspecies in the universe. Strategies which at their core are all the same.

  95. bindleon 14 Jun 2010 at 1:17 am

    That last was for BJ. As to Eric, yes you did attribute intentionality to Lamarckism even though you’re now having second thoughts that someone may think you meant it. But purpose and intention go hand in hand, except the signal biological purpose is to attempt the trial and assess the nature of the error. Not to know the end game in advance if to ever know it at all.
    And what’s this about my “naive view that all of biology must explicitly draw on quantum mechanics.” Duplicity again in spades because I’ve never said that. And Paisley, who is the expert there and the farthest from naive, never put it that way either. All biology depends on an indeterminate universe and quantum indeterminacy is the name of the game, or are you now off the fence and back in the deterministic fold?
    Give me the smack-down? Now that IS a laugh. Every time you open your mouth a thousand real scientists plug their ears with a mixture of chagrin and disbelief.

  96. Eric Thomsonon 14 Jun 2010 at 1:44 am

    Maybe it was an imposter that wrote “quantum physics can’t be bypassed for or by biology.” Unfortunately for whomever said that, this is done all the time, and none the worse for biology!

  97. bindleon 14 Jun 2010 at 2:20 am

    Eric, Do you really think that, even in the proper context, “can’t be bypassed” has the same meaning as “explicitly draw” on something. Even if both are in their own way meaningful?
    No wonder you don’t get the meanings that you should be getting in this business. “Unfortunately for whomever said that,” you say? Unfortunately for any scientist who thinks he’s gotten away with that. Do you really cop to crap like this on your own blog?

  98. BillyJoe7on 14 Jun 2010 at 2:22 am

    bindle,

    “The idea is not to destroy [the Modern Synthesis] but to put its mechanistic aspects in their proper place and order.”

    In it’s proper place and order with what?
    You were offered the opportunity to show evidence in support of your version of Lamarckism and you failed.

    “Modern Synthesis sounds progressive but it’s still a closed system at its philosophical core.”

    I’ve explained all this before:
    The philosophy underlying science is materialism.
    This happened because the “armchair philosophy” that preceded it was getting us nowhere – there were as many philosophies as there were philosophers and no way to tell who was right and who was wrong. The role of science was to sort the wheat from the chaff. It has been finding naturalistic explanations for presumed supernatural explanations ever since.

    So it’s not that science is closed, it’s just that it has found no evidence in support of any philsosophy other than materialism. Regardless of which, it still remains the *assumption* of science.

    “It’s corroded by determinism if I may be so bold. And that’s the antithesis of a philosophy that has or should have science at its core.”

    I’ve also explained this before:
    Materialism includes both determinism and indeterminism. Indeterminism at the quantum level. Mainly determinism at the macroscopic level (though I still maintain that the indetermism that leaks through to the macroscopic level must be severely constrained, otherwise brains would not be able to make sense of the world and everything inside and outside our brains would deteriorate into chaos)

    “Like it or not evolution is a scientific philosophy.”

    Evolution is a scientific fact.
    Evolution by means of random selection and natural selection is the best fit theory to account for the facts.
    Again, you offered to present your best evidence to refute this but the evidence you offered comprehensively failed to do so.

    “Its strategic essence is found in the ‘philosophies’ exhibited by the creatures under its domain. You won’t know what I mean by that until you come to understand that all philosophies were meant to serve the strategic purposes of their cultures.”

    Okay, bindle, have it your way.
    Just remember, you were offered the chance to demonstrate this and you failed. Hey, it might still be true, but excuse me if I don’t take your word for it.

    “And we’re finding that all species that we know of have a culture that enhances their overall survival.”

    Yeah, I know, bacteria and viruses. Hey, maybe even prions. And electrons! You’ve convinced me.

    “Yes, I’ve sorted out what I mean by purpose, but there’s much to learn about the strategies that serve them differently in every single species and subspecies in the universe. Strategies which at their core are all the same.”

    Words are cheap.

  99. bindleon 14 Jun 2010 at 2:29 am

    Thanks for those cheap words.

  100. BillyJoe7on 14 Jun 2010 at 3:04 am

    bungle,

    Obviously what I meant was that they were not backed up by evidence when the opportunity was offered.
    In that sense they are cheap.

    So now you have a new moniker. Congratulations.

    And don’t say we didn’t give you a fair go.

    ————————

    I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure a similar thing happened under your artful D alias. You offered up references which I took the trouble to read and comment on – demonstrating that they did not say what you thought they said (just like in this case) – after which you just dropped it like a hot potato (just like in this case).

    It was the reason I began referring to you as artless Dodge.

  101. bindleon 14 Jun 2010 at 4:30 am

    BillyJoke, you never had an “opportunity” in your life to offer anyone. Your comments have been worthless, your “explanations” laughable.
    You’re the self-selected idiot of this village, or the dog at the gate to bark at anyone who dares to contradict your master. You’ll be the ruination of this blog but that’s not my problem. I get to hear from people like Paisley just because you’re here to play the fool – except for you it’s not an act. You have a purpose but no choice.

  102. ccbowerson 14 Jun 2010 at 10:11 am

    Bindle, are you implying that bacteria have a culture?

  103. ccbowerson 14 Jun 2010 at 10:11 am

    Sorry, I couldnt resist

  104. bindleon 14 Jun 2010 at 11:29 am

    Yes, all life forms have at least the rudiments of a culture. They communicate. Their culture is in their common “language.” It’s crucial to the evolutionary process. Of course you don/t believe that so of course you’ll likely never come to understand it. Your loss, but some other reader’s gain. No, I won’t give you any further references. Those that are truly curious can easily follow up on this.

  105. ccbowerson 14 Jun 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Bindle… it was a joke. A bad pun that you apparently didn’t get.

    As for your comment… You can view everything as existing on a continuum and equivocate if you want. You can try to use words like “language” and “choice” and “purpose” in order to describe bacteria, as if those words describe the same processes as they do in animals. Its just fluffy words for fluffy thinking

  106. bindleon 14 Jun 2010 at 12:33 pm

    I knew it was a joke because you’re not the first that’s made it. So I simply took another opportunity to expose your ignorance, and you have risen to the occasion. And yes, the process in what you separate out as “animals” in your own fuzzy mind was already underway in those bacteria.

    “Purpose is a quality that you attribute to an entity or idea by looking at the outcome, and is not something intrinsic to that entity or idea.”
    Fluffy words for fluffy thinking indeed.

  107. ccbowerson 14 Jun 2010 at 1:51 pm

    You are right, your use of the word purpose is fluffy. We are finally in agreement.

    “If putatively deterministic laws were upset even once in no matter how many eons, determinism is dead, probability reigns and choice will find its purpose.”

    This is classic bindle. Profound nonsense

  108. bindleon 14 Jun 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Yes, it is profound. Too bad I can’t take full credit for the invention.

  109. sethvon 14 Jun 2010 at 8:44 pm

    I asked about your views on Lysenko because there was a person who used to have long debates on any evolution related thread here who also used the words “choice”, “purpose”, and “strategy” and various permutations of the three quite a lot. He claimed to be working on a postmodern synthesis of evolutionary theory that was vindicating a lot of Lysenko’s ideas.

    Also, I couldn’t resist poking some fun after reading through two very long and very confused threads.

    bindle: “I knew it was a joke…” LOL

    ccbowers: “This is classic bindle. Profound nonsense”
    bindle: “Yes, it is profound.” ROFL

  110. bindleon 14 Jun 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Wasn’t me. I’m too profound.

  111. bindleon 14 Jun 2010 at 10:39 pm

    But hey, thanks for provoking me to comment further. Just looked up Lysenko on Wikipedia. Can’t see anywhere that his theories involved choice or purpose. However, since almost all theories openly involve strategies, I can’t say he didn’t consider them – but since he seems to have been involved mostly with plants, it seems he thought plants were selective but not strategic. If so, that could be where he went wrong.

    Humm – one guy tries to align me with Shwartz, another with Lysenko, another with Ben Stein and Deepak Chopra. Now it’s fine with me if you want to compare my ideas to Lamarck and Fodor – I was the first to do so here in fact. But these other jokers have never been referenced by me in any form.
    However, I’d excuse Chopra from the nutcase list because he’s a very smart religionist – just not a very smart evolutionist. Novella calls him a fraud, but then he, like the rest of you, sees consequences from his point of view as compelling evidence of what had to be the purpose from the actor’s point of view.
    Call Chopra a fraud and you might as well call all Hindus frauds – thereby pissing off a large part of a continent of Asia.
    But again and again I digress.

  112. ccbowerson 14 Jun 2010 at 11:41 pm

    “Also, I couldn’t resist poking some fun after reading through two very long and very confused threads.”

    There are some references to previous threads, so that may explain the confusion. Also, bindle is a confused individual.

    “Call Chopra a fraud and you might as well call all Hindus frauds – thereby pissing off a large part of a continent of Asia.”

    Except that Chopra is very coy about what he means when he speaks- giving all the signs that he believes only half of what he says, and makes more than a pretty penny for those who buy into what he is selling.

    Fodor’s take on evolution is embarassing. Usually going outside of your specialty to promote an ideology results in embarassment.
    Intellectual hubris + ideology +nonexpertise = embarrassment

  113. bindleon 14 Jun 2010 at 11:53 pm

    “Purpose is a quality that you attribute to an entity or idea by looking at the outcome, and is not something intrinsic to that entity or idea.”

    Chopra could have said the above, as he’s a determinist just as ccbowers is.

    Fodor’s specialty IS evolution, and he’s NOT a determinist.

    So ccbowers, by his own logic, is as much a fraud as Chopra as both are coy about what they really mean by purpose.

  114. Paisleyon 15 Jun 2010 at 1:38 am

    ccbowers: “This is not a ploy. Words must be precise when we are discussing topics such as these. Its not being overly pedantic… its a necessity to have meaningful conversations.

    Okay. Please provide me with the precise term. (This is the second time I am asking for this.)

  115. Eric Thomsonon 15 Jun 2010 at 10:28 am

    bindle said:
    “Fodor’s specialty IS evolution”

    This is simply false. It the second time you have appealed to Fodor as an authority about evolution. Fodor is a philosopher. His specialties are philosophy of mind and philosophy of psychology. Not evolution.

    When it comes to the topic of evolution, he is a dilettante that has already been slaughtered by the people that do specialize in the study of evolution. Note, the fact that he is not an authority on the topic doesn’t make what he says wrong. No, what makes him wrong are his hole-filed arguments, and his failure to consider obvious refutations of his armchair musings (such as the evolution of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria).

    Fodor is smart, but has embarrassed himself with his recent attempts to stray from his specialty and say something intelligent about evolution.

  116. ccbowerson 15 Jun 2010 at 11:48 am

    “Okay. Please provide me with the precise term. (This is the second time I am asking for this.)”

    So… you want me to tell you what you mean? I think thats up to you. What do you mean to say? The precise term for what? You said all the observable data, which is impossible to assess. I guess what you mean is all the observed data thus far? You said Neo-darwinian theory which is problematic term. It is the worst among common terms to describe the modern understanding of evolution. I’ve already mentioned that this is how I refer to evolution when distinguishing it from past understandings. I don’t think the theory of evolution needs many of these distiguishing terms, but modern evolutionary synthesis is more accurate because its a less rigid term if you need such a term.

  117. ccbowerson 15 Jun 2010 at 12:02 pm

    “So ccbowers, by his own logic, is as much a fraud as Chopra as both are coy about what they really mean by purpose.”

    Bindle, you choose to ignore inconvenient facts. I already told you that I don’t find the word purpose useful in the way YOU use it. The quote you keep bringing up is in reference to your use of the word ‘purpose’ to things that may not have the purpose you attribute to it. Its a fluffy term the way that you use it, and your attribution of purpose to something is an assumption that may or may not be accurate.

    “Note, the fact that he is not an authority on the topic doesn’t make what he says wrong”

    I agree with what you are saying 100% Eric, but the fact that he isn’t an authority on the subject says something about his intellectual hubris. That thousands experts in the field of evolution over all this time didn’t realize some of the obvious arguments he was making? Even doing the slightest bit of homework should have pointed out that these issues have already been contemplated and addressed, which makes me think that there is an ideology behind what he says. His comments on linked traits (genetic linkage) shows some lack of understanding. It is obvious that he has some understanding of evolution, but he fails to recognize his lack of expertise.

  118. bindleon 15 Jun 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Fodor is a philosopher and a cognitive scientist – you boys have somehow left that last part out. He has a number of specialties and the one that has caused the most controversy is evolution. The philosophy of evolution to be more precise.
    After all he did just write a book on the subject that knowledgeable people take seriously, enough at least for the prominent neo-Darwinists to take up arms against it.

    Yes, you boys have books and papers in mind, and even a blog or two, so that makes you equally special, right?
    One of you did point out that: “His specialties are philosophy of mind and philosophy of psychology. Not evolution.” Not evolutionary psychology then, which he has written of and criticized extensively? That doesn’t count because it’s a “why” version of the evolutionary spectrum? No, of course not. Determinists don’t care why.
    You’ve resorted to the flip-side fallacy of non-authority in your desperation to make the argument that you otherwise don’t have against the other evolutionary specialists I’ve listed on this subject. And even with that ploy, you’ve come up wrong.

    I like best what Fodor himself wrote about his critics:

    “Finally, they say that whether I’m right about all this is ‘a philosophical issue’. I don’t know how they decide such things; maybe they think that philosophical issues are the ones that nobody else cares about (a masochistic metatheory that many philosophers apparently endorse). Anyhow, the kind of philosophy I do consists largely of minding other people’s business. I am, to be sure, in danger of having insufficient ‘acquaintance with the biological theory that [I aspire] to replace’; but I’m prepared to risk it. A blunder is a blunder for all that, and it doesn’t take an ornithologist to tell a hawk from a handsaw. Tom Kuhn remarks that you can often guess when a scientific paradigm is ripe for a revolution: it’s when people from outside start to stick their noses in.”

  119. Eric Thomsonon 15 Jun 2010 at 1:34 pm

    When people start to cite Kuhn in support of their subversive theories, they are usually already too far gone to be reasoned with. He should have cited Popper, and considered the data that falsify his antiselectionist viewpoint (evolution of antibiotic-resistant strains). I’m all for attacking panselectionism, but he’s gone to an equally silly extreme in the other direction.

    Should we be surprised? He is masterful at taking shaky premises and extrapolating them to ridiculous conclusions (for instance, his view that every concept, even the concept of ‘carburetor’ is innate: look it up if you don’t believe me).

    It is fun to watch the lemmings slide down the cliff after him.

  120. Paisleyon 15 Jun 2010 at 1:55 pm

    ccbowers: “I don’t think the theory of evolution needs many of these distiguishing terms, but modern evolutionary synthesis is more accurate because its a less rigid term if you need such a term.”

    Okay. What are the prominent features of the “modern evolutionary synthesis?”

  121. bindleon 15 Jun 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Eric,
    That “concept” was concerned with philosophy of language, not with the natural selection controversy, which is where the disagreement with the neo-Darwinists lies. So cherry pick away if you think you’ll draw some relevant analogy in the process. So far you haven’t.
    And Chomsky supported Fodor with respect to this particular conception in any case. Another ‘subversive’ for you to finger as a substitute for lack of any logic to bring to bear against the Shapiros and Jablonkas of evolutionary biology.
    That’s supposed to be within your area, and so far you’ve studiously avoided dealing with them in any depth. Well, depth is not your forte, so I suppose I shouldn’t have asked for that. But what is your forte anyway? For sure it’s not the philosophical side of evolutionary theory.

  122. Eric Thomsonon 15 Jun 2010 at 3:13 pm

    bindle: obviously my point was that Fodor is notorious (in all fields he touches) for overextending shaky trains of reasoning. This was only one instance. Try to keep up.

    I refuse to respond to name dumps, I will engage with arguments, evidence, and reason. So far, the lack of these elements in your posts is superlative, the active avoidance of clarity is Hegelian in its magnitude. And it just became boring, like interacting with a brain held at absolute zero.

  123. bindleon 15 Jun 2010 at 3:41 pm

    “Note, the fact that he is not an authority on the topic doesn’t make what he says wrong” Which anyone can of course agree with.

    And also with the corollary that the fact that he’s an authority doesn’t make what he says right. And I’ve cherry picked that aspect of his writings myself to see what I might disagree with. That’s how I learn (or think I do, in any case). I don’t throw out the baby with the diaper.

    Example from one of Fodor’s papers:

    “So the situation so far is this: either natural selection is a species of `selection for…’, and is thus itself a kind of intensional process; or natural selection is a species of selection tout court, and therefore
    cannot distinguish between coextensive mental states. In the former case it may, but in the latter case it doesn’t, provide an explanation either of the teleology or of the intentional content of the frogs’ snapping.

    In the literature on philosophical semantics, the present point is often formulated as the `disjunction problem’. In the actual world, where ambient black dots are quite often flies, it is in a frog’s interest to snap at flies . But, in such a world, it is equally in the frog’s interest to snap at ambient black dots. Snap for snap,
    snaps at the one will net you as many flies to eat as snaps at the other. Snaps of which the intentional objects are black dots and snaps whose intentional objects are flies both affect a frog’s fitness in the same way and to the same extent. Hence the disjunction problem: what is a frog snapping at when it, as we say, snaps at a
    fly?”

    Now that’s all well and good except from my point of view he’s got the strategy wrong. To quote what I had earlier written in my notes, “I see that frog as snapping at what his expectational apparatus leads him to predict will probably turn out to be a fly, except he won’t “know” that until after he’s able to grasp it. All of this factoring into the strategic formulation of that apparatus.”

    Significant differences there as to the biological use of strategy. But I don’t hold from this that everything he says is therefor wrong, or if either of us is wrong here, the other one will aways be right elsewhere.

  124. bindleon 15 Jun 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Well, I didn’t see that usual snark fro Eric when I posted the above.
    Eric refuses to respond from what he calls name dumps, despite fact he dumps his own as the mainstay of his rebuttals?
    Hell, he can’t even haul up and dump the ghost of Hegel with any relevance to this issue – except perhaps that Hegel would have been on his side with respect to the say of any individual in the natural selection process.

  125. Paisleyon 15 Jun 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Massimo Pigliucci answered my question…

    There have been rumblings for some time to the effect that the neo-Darwinian synthesis of the early twentieth century is incomplete and due for a major revision. . . . Evolution in Four Dimensions is the most recent addition to this genre, and contributes yet another valuable perspective to the discussion.” – Massimo Pigliucci Nature

    (source: Amazon.com’s Book Review of “Evolution in Four Dimensions: Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life (Life and Mind: Philosophical Issues in Biology and Psychology)” by Eva Jablonka and Marion J. Lamb“)

  126. bindleon 15 Jun 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Oh and Eric, Paisley’s question that started this whole imbroglio is waiting patiently for input from any credible respondent. Preferably one with some credentials, but any substantive response at all would be of interest. Substantive with some degree of depth preferred.

  127. bindleon 15 Jun 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Paisley,
    Good for Massimo. He didn’t let his dislike for Fodor stop him from considering the biology put forth by others. But then again he’s been an actual biologist with reputation and publications to boot.

    And did someone just say Jablonka? Eric will be back down in the dumps accordingly.

  128. Eric Thomsonon 15 Jun 2010 at 9:17 pm

    The whole point is that Fodor is regurgitating well-worn conceptual territory discovered by biologists, but somehow ends up with the preposterous claim that natural selection does not happen.

    Yes, we know there are epigenetic factors in development. Yes, we know there is horizontal gene transfer. Yes, we know that there exists cultural evolution. Congratulations Mr Fodor , after all these years you have finally learned some real biology!

    Unfortunately, none of those factors things imply that natural selection doesn’t occur. Again, that’s the whole point of our critique of Fodor.

    Massimo wrote a great review of Fodor’s book, delivering a concise and pointed skewering of Fodor’s folly. Folks can get the review here.

    So, just to again correct your misreading of what everyone in this thread has said: it isn’t about rejecting what smart biologists have known for two or more decades. It’s rejecting Fodor’s hilarious conclusion that natural selection cannot occur in nature.

  129. Patrickon 15 Jun 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Steven, I was very interested in your comments re my blog on evolution-creationism. My premis is NOT that evolution theory is wrong, just that it has not complteted the established process demanded by the scientific method.

    While there have been thousands of observations and over the past 150 years and much modification to the original hypothesis proposed by Darwin, there are no published tests of any evolution hypothesis that establishes the modification of an organism from one species to another. Adaptations – many. Species change – none. So, from the strict requirements of the scientific method, step 4 has not yet been achieved. Even Einstein’s theories of relativity were not accepted until experiments proved them to be true.

    Evolution may be true. It certainly is an intriguing proposition. But without completing all the steps in the process, evolution remains speculation. Maybe some day a bright young scientist will conduct an experiment that proves the modification of one species into another but, until then, good science requires that we teach evolution as a concept that has not been tested and has not advance to theory, let alone fact.

    The falsifiable requirement is, perhaps the greatest challenge to the evolution hypothesis. The falsifiable test is usually presented at the same time the hypothesis test is developed. A good example is The experiment that showed light was bent by gravity thereby proving one aspect of Einstein’s concepts of relativity. Integral to the experiment was the falsifiable element – if light was not bent, that would prove the hypothesis false.

    Since any test that proves evolution true may take a considerable amount of time, the falsifiable component might also take considerable time – perhaps too much time to be observable. It should be noted that Richard Dawkins admits that evolution is not falsifiable. The fact is, there are four questions regarding natural evolution that evolutionary scientist admit cannot be answered: How did life begin spontaneously? How did eukaryotic cells evolve? Howe did animal consciousness evolve? And, how did human intelligence evolve? It is not sufficient to show how the beaks of a bird species adapt to accommodate a different diet. These questions must be answered by evidence, not speculation.

    Given the impediments to evolution as an establish theory, would it not be more honest and better science to teach evolution as a hypothesis and expose its shortcomings? Good science can overcome the shortcomings, but they have to be admitted first.

  130. bindleon 15 Jun 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Eric,
    Did you miss the part where Massimo wrote the review of Jablonka’s book? Fodor wasn’t even in the picture here when all concerned refused to deal with Paisley’s question. Or deal with those biologists you’d been refusing to take on with “I refuse to respond to name dumps.”
    But now you’ve suddenly decided to recognize them (still no names) as the source of Fodor’s mindless regurgitation? They’ve had a few things to say about your determinist, mechanistic versions of selection as well. And Massimo thought there were some valuable perspectives there.
    But you still think they’re not worth dealing with or countering directly?
    Nobody said natural selection does not happen. The issue is about the mechanism by which it happens. These people almost “to a man” say biological experience is the key. You won’t hear of it – and skipped over that completely as one of the parts Fodor supposedly regurgitated.
    Paisley’s question remains unanswered on this forum.

  131. bindleon 15 Jun 2010 at 10:12 pm

    But watch Steven as he now decides to answer that easy target, Patrick.

  132. ccbowerson 15 Jun 2010 at 11:24 pm

    I find it ironic that bindle and paisely have some respect for Massimo Pigliucci, when he openly ridicules the very same ideas you both buy into. I guess its his interest in both biology and philosophy that intrigues. Listen and read to more of him as he thinks clearly, and less of that other crap you are reading and fail to understand.

    “Paisley’s question remains unanswered on this forum.”

    Actually it was answered by BillyJoe7. I’ve addressed the question to the extent that it can be addressed. Really the question should be not asked, but answered by those who are asking the question. Even the Massimo quote refers to Neo Darwinism “of the early twentieth century.” Sorry but that was 100 years ago, and is this the theory you are referring to in your question?

  133. ccbowerson 16 Jun 2010 at 12:14 am

    I see Patrick decided to stop by and further demonstrate his ignorance of the subject. There are too many falsehoods to address.
    Evolution is falsifiable, regardless of what you claim Richard Dawkins says. Falsifiablility does not have to be done by experiment, but observation as well. Even Karl Popper (who raised the falsifiable concept) eventually acknowledged that evolution was falsifiable. Also there are many aspects of evolution to be falsified, but consistently finding modern human skeletons along side of dinosaurs would certainly qualify.

  134. bindleon 16 Jun 2010 at 12:31 am

    ccbowers
    Pugliucci is not a determinist. And if you think that BillyJoe is competent to answer for Steven Novella, then you surely aren’t either just by that measure.
    Pugliucci deals with Fodor on the why level, one that none of you can seem to reach. Determinists can’t comprehend that why is relevant since the what can usually if not always be determined, regardless. And ironically you share those same delusions with the hallucinating Patrick that this thread was meant to disavow.
    And Paisley is still waiting for your latest proffered wisdom in particular.

  135. Paisleyon 16 Jun 2010 at 1:48 am

    ccbowers: “I find it ironic that bindle and paisely have some respect for Massimo Pigliucci, when he openly ridicules the very same ideas you both buy into.

    What ideas are those?

    The bottom line is that Massimo Pigliucci (author and maintainer of the “Rationally Speaking” blog) has gone on record and publicly stated that neo-Darwinism is in need of a “major revision.” Moreover, he is endorsing the work of Jablonka and Lamb. The reason I cited Pigliucci is because I know that you cannot take issue with his credentials.

    ccbowers: “Even the Massimo quote refers to Neo Darwinism “of the early twentieth century.”

    I suggest you implement a new strategy. This is clearly not working for you. Richard Dawkins employs the term “neo-Darwinism.” The term is also employed in the scientific literature to refer to the prevailing form of evolutionary theory (a.k.a. as the synthetic view or the modern synthesis.) There are other theories of evolution (as bindle has pointed out). And it would appear that the orthodox theory of neo-Darwinism is a theory in crisis – especially since the completion of the genome project.

  136. M. Davieson 16 Jun 2010 at 6:20 am

    @Eric Thompson

    Fodor is regurgitating well-worn conceptual territory discovered by biologists, but somehow ends up with the preposterous claim that natural selection does not happen.

    Sorry, where does Fodor say this? I re-read his Against Darwinism paper (way to pick a terrible title, JF) and it seems to me that F. fully believes that natural selection occurs, but that there is no ‘selecting agent’, no intentional process behind evolution. Yes, good biologists have recognized this for a long time, but so what? He is not writing about good biologists but about the excesses of evo psych which assume that any trait must have been ‘selected for’ and assume that any behavior which exists must be or have been adaptive and evolutionary advantageous. It’s about how we can determine whether something is adaptive, whether it has been selected because it’s adaptive, and whether ‘selected’ and ‘selected for’ can be distinguished, among other things. It’s preposterous that bindle would recruit him to defend this claptrap about ‘purpose’ and ‘being a choosing agent of an organism’s own evolution’ since F. is writing precisely against that.

    Fodor’s hilarious conclusion that natural selection cannot occur in nature.

    Ok, could you point me to where he makes this conclusion? He has no doubts about speciation, that some organisms will procreate and others won’t and that those which do will pass on their traits, so I’m not sure where you find this conclusion in his works. He even does say the following, at least:

    . . . unlike natural selection, Mother Nature is a fiction. . .
    and . . . there is nothing that natural selection cares about; it just happens . . .

  137. Eric Thomsonon 16 Jun 2010 at 9:52 am

    M Davies:
    They conclude that natural selection cannot be used to explain the emergence of phenotypes. From his paper ‘Against Darwinism’, Fodor argues explicitly for the claim: ‘Contrary to Darwinism, the theory of natural selection can’t explain the distribution of phenotypic traits in biological populations.’

    Luckily others have pointed out the problems with his view. I like Kitcher and Block’s review of Fodor’s book which you can find here. The right hook. Then Eliot Sober weighed in from the left, a review you can find here. More good stuff. Those two are sufficient for the knockout punch.

  138. ccbowerson 16 Jun 2010 at 10:29 am

    Paisley

    I’m tired of the strawman use of “Neo darwinism” representing a modern understanding of evolution. You can keep refuting a 100 years old version of the theory if you want; it’s boring me right now. Recent data has only helped to strengthen our understanding of evolution. The theory of evolution has been refined to a great degree since that term was coined.

    “Richard Dawkins employs the term ‘neo-Darwinism’ ”
    - why do I care about this?

    I find that Massimo Pigliucci has very interesting perspectives, which are often not in line with the things I hear from you. He appears to be clear thinking without excessive influence from ideology. He brings an interesting persective as a person who started off in the sciences and later ‘discovered’ philosophy, yet still enjoys both.

  139. M. Davieson 16 Jun 2010 at 10:48 am

    Thank for you for the Sober article; I’ll give it a look. Most of the stuff I’ve seen in response to Fodor is blog garbage that hasn’t even read the original material (e.g. they think Fodor is denying evolution or something).

    However, I should say that Fodor does not conclude in AD that ‘natural selection cannot be used to explain the emergence of phenotypes’, he says in AD that it cannot be used to explain their distribution. You can account for the emergence of variation and speciation, the diversity of phenotypes, and so forth, but to explain why they are distributed like they are is an explanation of a different sort. We can say why there are different kinds of fish with different attributes but to say why one fish has gold gills and green eyes whereas another has green gills and gold eyes – is natural selection able to explain the distribution of these specific phenotypes? If you say they were ‘selected for‘ then (1) that kind of language supposes an agent* doing the selecting and (2) how do you know which attribute warranted selection? Was it the roundness of the eyes or their colour? To say that a specific phenotype was selected – how do we know? We might produce a convincing argument, and in certain experimental conditions, we might determine this for specific phenotypes**, but post hoc justifications (the stock in trade of evo psych) are just that.

    Anyway, I’m not going to be Fodor’s white knight; he can decide which battles are worth fighting. I’m not even in agreement with all his arguments! But I see so too many bad faith misreadings of his work by people who get bent out of shape at what they think he’s saying, not what he actually says (Eric, that’s not directed at you). And if Fodor is supposed to prove his biology bona fides if he wants to participate, maybe others should prove their philosophical chops before they talk about his work (ha, yeah right, I won’t hold my breath).

    *and as we agree, good biologists don’t fall into this trap, but mediocre and bad ones do
    ** I’m actually not sure if Fodor would grant this

  140. Paisleyon 16 Jun 2010 at 11:36 am

    ccbowers: “I’m tired of the strawman use of “Neo darwinism” representing a modern understanding of evolution.

    And I’m tired of you playing semantical games. The terms “neo-Darwinism” and “modern synthesis” are the terms employed today to refer to the current paradigm of evolutionary biology.

    The modern evolutionary synthesis is also referred to as the new synthesis, the modern synthesis, the evolutionary synthesis and the NEO-DARWINIAN synthesis. It is a union of ideas from several biological specialties which provides a widely accepted account of evolution. The synthesis has been accepted by nearly all working biologists.[1] The synthesis was produced over a decade (1936–1947). The previous development of population genetics (1918–1932) was a stimulus, as it showed that Mendelian genetics was consistent with natural selection and gradual evolution. The synthesis is still, to a large extent, the current paradigm in evolutionary biology.[2] (emphasis mine)”

    (source: Wikipedia: Modern evolutionary synthesis)

    ccbowers: “I find that Massimo Pigliucci has very interesting perspectives.

    Then you should find Pigliucci’s perspective interesting concerning the current paradigm in evolutionary biology. He is advocating that it requires a major revision. IOW, the cornerstones of the prevailing orthodoxy of evolutionary theory ( natural selection, genetics, random mutations, population genetics) are insufficient to fully account for evolution.

  141. Eric Thomsonon 16 Jun 2010 at 11:48 am

    M Davies: I read him as saying that because of the free rider problem (the correlation of traits), then we cannot, in principle, explain the emergence of an individual trait X in terms of natural selection. My take is that’s the main point (e.g., see his video with Sober here where he summarizes his argument). Perhaps I missed something subtle that you are seeing, that may be possible. Let me know.

    I don’t think people need to prove their credentials before they discuss something. It’s Fodor’s arguments that bug me, not his lack of credentials (well, and that someone would cite him in an appeal to authority on biology, to actually try to push through a point, bothered me). (But also see a confession below)

    I agree that blog commentary is not very useful or even reliable. Skeptic blogs tend to be particularly awful (and frankly bring out my worst behavior for some reason I usually am not mean, even on the internet).

    I should also be honest that I have a special bias against Fodor. I got my MA in philosophy with the Churchlands before switching to neuroscience professionally. You probably know the history there, and I likely inherited some of their bias against him partly by osmosis and partly by doing extensive readings of the debates they had (e.g., connectionism versus LOT, modularity versus plasticity, and etc). Fodor is a master rhetoritician, and said some very good things about content fixation that are almost correct (but which Dretske said better IMO). [I am a huge fan of Dretske, incidentally, if anyone wants to talk about him :) ]

  142. Eric Thomsonon 16 Jun 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Paisley: the problem is that evo-devo is now mainstream, and is actively working on incorporating these really cool points into the more general evolutionary framework (e.g., they deal head on with things like ‘epigenetics’). That’s the problem I had with your original question, it wasn’t clear if you were asking about traditional old school Hardy-Weinberg-focused population genetics that typically focused on single alleles and were incrediblyl Mendelian in their assumptions. Or more modern work that includes quantitative genetics, linked traits, development, lateral gene transfer, endosymbiosis, molecular systematics, genetic drift and other non-selective mechanisms of evolution, and such.

    That, I think was why people were refusing to answer because the word ‘neo-darwinism’ can refer to the old school view (sometimes even panselectionism), while modern evolutionary thinking is way past that.

    If you had clarified your question more, I think people would have been less antagonistic. Plus, well, it’s you, and people seem antagonistic toward you already for historical reasons whether justified or not.

  143. bindleon 16 Jun 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Fodor says this: “Speaking as a fully signed up atheist, I can’t see much difference between claiming that God intelligently selects for fit phenotypes and claiming that Mother Nature does. So I find it puzzling that many of my co-religionists insist on that distinction with such vehemence.”

    From that alone I would infer that Fodor sees the selection process as more concerned with the organisms particular purposes than with natures.

    He didn’t say so with any more specificity and I’ve never written that he did. But the many biologists that none of you want to talk about have.

    In particular I’ve referenced this paper from evolutionary biologist Mae-Wan Ho, but it’s far from the only reference I can cite as to what “purpose” really means in the context of their evolutionary theories:
    http://www.cts.cuni.cz/conf98/ho.htm#89

    Predictably, the deniers that evolution serves life’s purposes rather than their “no purposes” conception have lined up here in a neo-Darwinian drove.

    At the end, what must purpose mean in the evolutionary context? It simply means reasons. A living creature evolves for its own reasons, not mother natures. It finds those reasons from its own experiences. Mother nature didn’t find them first, unless you are, as Fodor hints, akin to a creationist in your philosophies.

  144. ccbowerson 16 Jun 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Paisley: I agree with Eric on his last post.

  145. Charles Wolvertonon 16 Jun 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Probably ignorant question:

    Isn’t “selecting for trait T” imprecise shorthand for “selecting for a gene that manifests itself in trait T – and possibly other traits as well”? And if so, isn’t the problem that those in the know will automatically do the appropriate translation – obviating issues associated with the misleading “selecting for a trait” – while those who aren’t won’t? Or am I missing the point?

    Thanks.

  146. M. Davieson 16 Jun 2010 at 12:39 pm

    @Eric Thomson

    Thanks for the video.

    I read him as saying that because of the free rider problem (the correlation of traits), then we cannot, in principle, explain the emergence of an individual trait X in terms of natural selection.

    Hrmm, possibly – but this is not a failure of evolutionary theory, I would figure, but its misinterpretation. For example, how can a theory of natural selection explain the emergence of red hair (or aggression, or magical thinking, or blue eyes, or fingernails), even in principle? Will the resulting argument be that red hair had a reproductive advantage, that it was ‘selected’ or ‘selected for’? I think implicit in Fodor’s position is any such explanation would beg the question, presuming that the trait was selected (for) and then would detail that process. But one could also argue that there was an absence of evolutionary pressure to the contrary (spandrels etc.). Then, one has to say why red hair differs from things which ‘obviously’ resulted from adaptive success, such as the aorta or particular arrangements of photo receptors, and so forth; I think Fodor’s point is that you can’t legitimately do so, post facto. Anyway, I am going to follow up on the links you sent. Again, it’s not that I think Fodor is ultimately and fully correct, I just think he warrants more than the usual ‘LOL Fodor’ or bindle’s misappropriation. Or if someone is going to say he is wrong, they should say why for the right reasons, not because they think he’s some creationist apologist or trying to undermine every biology department. I think he’s pretty clear about the specificity of his criticisms. And of course, if you’ve worked with the Churchlands and share their approach, which they defend well, yeah, Fodor’s not going to be too convincing. Cheers.

  147. bindleon 16 Jun 2010 at 12:43 pm

    And look at Eric Thomson now. One of his fellow travelers cautions him that Fodor’s not so bad as he had vehemently claimed and Eric’s now a fan that always knew that in his heart. And suddenly he’s understood the question that Paisley asked – except that in that wondrous light of understanding, he still hasn’t managed to contrive an answer.

  148. M. Davieson 16 Jun 2010 at 12:47 pm

    @Charles Wolverton

    Isn’t “selecting for trait T” imprecise shorthand for “selecting for a gene that manifests itself in trait T – and possibly other traits as well”?

    Do you think that is an accurate description of organisms’ behavior – that they select for particular genes?

    As far as I can tell, the crucial difference is between saying “Insect A mated with Insect B because Insect A selected for a trait/gene” versus “The mating of Insect A and Insect B selected a trait/gene, independently of the Insects’ ‘reasons’”. The connotations of each are much different, particular in the causal power we assign to a trait/gene in the selection process.

  149. bindleon 16 Jun 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Crap. The causal power rests with the reasons the insect does anything it does, and those reasons are the results of an insects cumulative experiences over generations.
    What we call its instincts are reasons based on insect experience, not mother nature’s. There was no first naturally selected instinct that substituted for an actual experience. Your neo-Darwinism says there was – that’s the distinction that makes the difference in this entire brouhaha.

  150. Charles Wolvertonon 16 Jun 2010 at 1:16 pm

    M. Davies:

    The latter, of course – no agency assumed. The implied agency that keeps arising seems inherent in the use of “select” without prepending “naturally”.

    Your response seems to reinforce the over-arching point of my question, viz, it appears that imprecision of language is confusing the issue. If one understands the sequence of events – which I understand to be roughly “random” gene modification, trait(s) modification, enhanced reproductive success, proliferation of the trait(s) – then imprecision of language won’t matter – the hearer/reader will substitute appropriately for the “shorthand”. If one doesn’t understand the sequence, the imprecision can – probably will – cause confusion.

    My own (further?) confusion is that Fodor, his coauthor, most of those likely to have read their book obviously understand this, so the fact that the issue is hotly debated suggests that I’m missing something. What is it?

  151. M. Davieson 16 Jun 2010 at 1:48 pm

    What are you missing when it comes to the heated debate? I can think of a few things to explain the responses:

    (1) Fodor might get things wrong, and people address what he gets wrong
    (2) Fodor might get things right, and when the things he gets right undermine others’ claims, those people get defensive to the extent Fodor is an outsider to biology
    (3) Fodor’s (and his co-authors’) provocative language and titles get people defensive
    (4) Fodor’s language which is critical of evolutionary theory assumptions is accessible but the language of his philosophical framework is not. Thus, people who have a gripe with evolution take up the former without understanding the caveats of the latter
    (4) More specific to the issue you describe, it’s because there’s a lot of bad evolutionary ‘explanations’ running around that I think are precisely a result of this semantic confusion about selection. E.g. Why are men aggressive? It must be evolutionarily advantageous! Why are some men passive? It must be naturally selected! Monogamy? Adaptive! Polygamy? Adaptive! People hear Fodor critique the language and the (mis)direction it leads people in; but some readers think he is criticizing the fundamentals of the enterprise

  152. Paisleyon 16 Jun 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Eric Thomson: “Paisley: the problem is that evo-devo is now mainstream, and is actively working on incorporating these really cool points into the more general evolutionary framework (e.g., they deal head on with things like ‘epigenetics’).”

    Epigenetics smacks of Lamarckian evolution. Just for clarity, are you now suggesting that you subscribe to an element of Lamarckism?

    The concept of Lamarckian inheritance has made a comeback in recent years, as scientists learn more about epigenetics.”

    (source: “A Comeback for Lamarkian evolution” by Emily Singer 02/04/09 MIT’s “Technology Review”)

  153. Charles Wolvertonon 16 Jun 2010 at 2:16 pm

    M. Davies -

    So, it’s “the usual suspects”.

    Thanks.

  154. bindleon 16 Jun 2010 at 2:16 pm

    He IS questioning the fundamentals of the enterprise. He’s questioning the deterministic mechanisms that neo-Darwinists have added to the theory. Paisley has seen that problem from the beginning, prior to any introduction of the Fodor issues. I introduced Fodor and Eric made him his favorite red herring. Now he’s filet de sole for all apparently.

    The issue is still the mechanistic and deterministic views of neo-Darwinists and the purposeless apparatus they’ve constructed in their minds to make it work. IOW to give it purpose.

    Who here is ready to disavow determinism – not just halfway but with some intellectually honesty. None so far.

  155. bindleon 16 Jun 2010 at 2:20 pm

    That should read intellectual honesty according to my editor.

  156. Paisleyon 16 Jun 2010 at 2:24 pm

    This is to correct the link in my previous post.

    (source: “A Comeback for Lamarkian evolution” by Emily Singer 02/04/09 MIT’s “Technology Review”)

  157. ccbowerson 16 Jun 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Paisley:

    If you value Massimo Pigliucci take on evolution, in 2009 (on the SGU) he spoke about the history of “darwinism,” and argued that it withstood a lot of criticism and opposition over many years (to counter a creationist argument that its an unoposed orthodoxy), but “in the long run darwinism did win, and currently it is the only theory standing.”

    Now in this he used the term loosely since he is discussing the theory over its entire history in order to encompass the various changes over time. Do you not agree with his assessment and why if not?

  158. bindleon 16 Jun 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Not to intercede for Paisley, but if Massimo used the term loosely, what’s your point? That your “various changes” were not really changes, or that enough was enough and no more should be expected?

  159. Paisleyon 16 Jun 2010 at 3:09 pm

    ccbowers: “Paisley: I agree with Eric on his last post.”

    Okay, then you agree with some element of Lamarckian evolution.

    ccbowers: “Now in this he used the term loosely since he is discussing the theory over its entire history in order to encompass the various changes over time. Do you not agree with his assessment and why if not?.”

    I agree with bindle. You said he used the term loosely. So, what exactly is your point? Do we have a complete mechanistic and materialistic theory of evolution or not? Or, are there major holes that still need to be addressed? Hitherto, the neo-Darwinists have been bamboozling the general public into believing that this is a theory that explains all the relevant facts. Obviously, it does not.

  160. ccbowerson 16 Jun 2010 at 3:14 pm

    My point was not regarding terminology, but asking you if you agree with his assessment. Please show me the major holes, because if they are there then why is it the only theory left standing? That is not to say that everything is completely understood… there is still much left to learn, but you exaggerate the gaps in knowledge as if they are evidence that there is something fundamentally wrong with the approach.

  161. Eric Thomsonon 16 Jun 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Paisley: In those studies that Emily cites there isn’t evolution because the changes induced are not heritable in the technical sense (so they don’t meet the four criteria to count as Lamarckian evolution). If memory serves, she even mentions that on the second page of the article which I have read before.

    Yep, I was right:
    “Feig, on the other hand, argues that while the findings are “a Lamarckian kind of phenomenon it’s still Darwinian, because the changes don’t last forever.” In Feig’s study, the offspring of enriched mice lost their memory benefits after a few months.”

    For a simpler example, the distribution of cytoplasmic mRNA in the mom’s egg has a huge effect on subsequent development (e.g., the axis of the divisions and such). But that’s not evolution, it’s not a heritable trait in the technical sense. Stress levels in a mother can affect brain development in offspring, but these changes are not heritable in the technical sense, they don’t last.

    At any rate, if shown good evidence for Lamarckian evolution (that meets conditions 1-4 in my list above) then I’ll stand corrected. Data are God, after all. We have known for many decades that natural selection isn’t the only mechanism of evolution. If it turns out that I’m wrong about Lamarck, I’ll be happy to admit it. Clearly there are instances where some of the four hallmarks of Lamarckian evolution are met, and some of them would have been very surprising to people in the 1950s even though they aren’t technically cases of Lamarckian evolution.

    Natural selection is real, contra the sophist Fodor we do explain the emergence of individual traits using it, even though it is but one of many engines of evolution and phenotypic change.

  162. bindleon 16 Jun 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Those 4 conditions were manufactured by deterministic mechanists in anticipation of the arguments that were expected to demonstrate that learned behaviors were ultimately heritable – that heritability’s the necessary step in the establishment of instincts. Not the evo psych variety, or the Dawkins meme variety, but behaviors that have in the past met the definition of instinct, IOW, an innate, typically fixed pattern of behavior in animals in response to certain stimuli (and not just animals). And even then Eric has deliberately tinkered with his definition of nonrandom. “Rather, the change is acquired by an organism in its attempt to reach basic ends.” That’s dishonest crap and he know it.

  163. Eric Thomsonon 16 Jun 2010 at 4:16 pm

    OK bindle, suggest something better than my four conditions. Would you prefer that we say that the change (mentioned in condition a) is acquired during a trial and error process? Is that better?

    Make a specific suggestion, your own set of necessary and sufficient conditions for something to count as Lamarckian evolution. Improve it.

    One of my favorite Merleau Ponty quotes is ‘Refutations are uninteresting. It is far better to produce what one reproaches others for not bringing forth.’

    Do it. Improve on what I have produced.

  164. ccbowerson 16 Jun 2010 at 4:22 pm

    “Do it. Improve on what I have produced”

    That hasn’t been his m.o. thus far

  165. bindleon 16 Jun 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Aside from that irony that two of the biggest refuteniks here are now decrying that refutations are uninteresting, I’ve obviously advised that you should start by changing “acquired by an organism in its attempt to reach basic ends” to something close to “acquired by an organism in its attempt to meet basic needs.”
    Changes your “reason what” scenario to “reason why”and takes or should take determinism out of of the picture. Just for starters because the why can take you to another level that determinists are unfamiliar with.

  166. bindleon 16 Jun 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Then read this:
    Bacteria – The Last Stronghold of Lamarckism?
    William D. Stansfield Biological Sciences Department (Emeritus), California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. E- mail: wstansfi@calpoly.edu
    http://www.theaga.org/files/pdf/Stansfield2010.pdf

  167. bindleon 16 Jun 2010 at 5:11 pm

    In case you choose to miss this, here’s the conclusion of that referenced paper:
    Conclusion
    History has shown that bacteria were not “the last stronghold of Lamarckism”, but rather the source from which much of our present knowledge of epigenetics, evolutionary developmental biology, and the induction or inheritance of acquired characters has grown.

  168. bindleon 16 Jun 2010 at 5:12 pm

    bwahahaha

  169. Eric Thomsonon 16 Jun 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Good bindle, Merleau Ponty at least was able to convince you to contribute something substantive.

    So you suggest:
    >>I’ve obviously advised that you should start by changing “acquired by an organism in its attempt to reach basic ends” to something close to “acquired by an organism in its attempt to meet basic needs.”<<<

    I can now see why you reacted so strongly against what I wrote, given the obvious stark difference between "basic ends" and "basic needs".

    At any rate, none of the cases mentioned (even in that paper you just cited) meets all four conditions I laid out. Consider DNA methylation. If such changes produced long-term heritable changes in DNA, you'd have your example. Unfortunately it looks like the unfolding of a pre-existing genetic program that causes methylation of DNA, an environment-sensitive methylation procedure that has short-term consequences for offspring (sort of like the "weak" immunity a baby has from its mother for a while after it is born and it has to transition from umbilical cord dependence to the usual methods of taking in nutrients and oxygen).

    In other words, we have a genetic program analogous to the turtle sex-determination. For those that missed it, turtle sex is determined by temperature at which the eggs are incubated, but this is not evidence for Lamarckian evolution either. Sensitivity to environmental parameters is really cool stuff, not particularly new, but very cool and much appreciated by the evo-devo folks.

  170. bindleon 16 Jun 2010 at 6:12 pm

    How do you “know” that turtle sex determined by temperature at which eggs are incubated is not a characteristic based to some degree on the previous experiences of turtles?
    You have no alternate explanation of “why” this phenomenon exists because you’ve never tried to find that out. You’ve assumed in your admitted mechanistic way that ALL of this was accidentally determined (an untenable proposition right there in the conception).

    And the difference IS the starkest between
    “reach basic ends” and “meet basic needs.”
    One you have to know to seek, and the other you have to seek to know. Long term versus short term. Desire versus necessity.

    And the paper makes it plain that those four conditions are not those of anyone but you who hope to mother nature’s god they’re true.

  171. Paisleyon 16 Jun 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Eric Thomson: “Paisley: In those studies that Emily cites there isn’t evolution because the changes induced are not heritable in the technical sense (so they don’t meet the four criteria to count as Lamarckian evolution). If memory serves, she even mentions that on the second page of the article which I have read before.”

    Wikipedea lists two criteria…

    Lamarck incorporated two ideas into his theory of evolution, in his day considered to be generally true:

    1. Use and disuse – Individuals lose characteristics they do not require (or use) and develop characteristics that are useful.
    2. Inheritance of acquired traits – Individuals inherit the traits of their ancestors
    .”

    (source: Wikipedia: Lamarkism)

    The following LTP (long-term potentiation) experiment conducted by neuroscientist Larry Fiegs of Tufts University supports those two criteria…

    Environmental enrichment fixed faulty LTP in mice with the genetic defect; the fixed LTP was then passed on to their offspring.”

    (source: “A Comeback for Lamarckian Evolution” by Emily Singer 02/04/09 MIT’s Technology Review)

  172. Eric Thomsonon 17 Jun 2010 at 12:27 am

    Perhaps you didn’t see Feigs’ own interpretation of that work:
    “Feig, on the other hand, argues that while the findings are “a Lamarckian kind of phenomenon it’s still Darwinian, because the changes don’t last forever.” In Feig’s study, the offspring of enriched mice lost their memory benefits after a few months.”

    The reason Feigs, and modern evolutionary theorists, would say he didn’t find a Lamarckian mechanism of evolution is because condition four (heritability) in my list is not there. Transmitting something to offspring (condition three) is necessary but not sufficient (after all I transmit hand washing behavior, and mothers impart a brief period of immunity to many infections to their infants, but neither satisfy condition four of heritability).

    That said, many phenomena exhibit a subset of the four conditions. E.g., bacterial transfection, something so simple we have known about it for decades, even satisfies condition a (plasticity), c (transmission), and d (heritability) to some degree, but not condition b, and of course it is crucial for Lamarck that it be based on use/disuse or some such.

    Bindle your comment on turtle sex determination is a good case study I’ll leave people here to consider what seems reasonable: that it is the unfolding of a pre-existing genetic program that is set up to be sensitive to temperature (on one hand), or Lamarckian evolution in progress (on the other hand). For those interested, you can find a review paper on this rather amazing phenomenon here. I

    Independently of this debate with bindle, it is a great example to really familiarize ourselves with, as it is a clear case of organism-environment interactions leading to drastic differences in phenotype given the exact same genotype. I find it a great example to bring up when my nonbiologist friends are having silly fights about “nature versus nurture” and they are both at opposite (and incorrect) extremes.

  173. bindleon 17 Jun 2010 at 1:35 am

    If you start with the assumptions (as a mind experiment) that all genetic functions are behavioral at heart, and all heritable traits were at one point successful as behaviors, and that any changes in their forms had followed changes in their functions, and all such changes were reactions to cumulative experience, then you can end up with an intellectually satisfactory explanation of how any pre-existing genetic program was nevertheless a lamarckian like production.
    The point being that we won’t know if your assumptions are right or mine until we test them. And I don’t think it’s only your non-biologist friends that will dispute your version. Because the biologists I referenced have done and continue to do these tests. Did they consider alternate assumptions all that carefully? You may say they didn’t. You may not, in my view, say they had no reason to consider theirs as viable.

    As to the point in dispute with Paisley, many see this as evidence that the Weismann barrier has been penetrated if not broken, and especially where creatures at the level of bacteria are concerned. The mechanism that didn’t exist may in fact exist in spades.

  174. bindleon 17 Jun 2010 at 1:47 am

    This is not an argument that all learned behaviors are inheritable. It’s an argument that all genetic functions were at some point learned behaviors.

  175. bindleon 17 Jun 2010 at 2:23 am

    Yeah, I realize your non-biologist friends were probably disputing something else, but this was a thought experiment.

  176. BillyJoe7on 17 Jun 2010 at 6:48 am

    bingle,

    http://www.cts.cuni.cz/conf98/ho.htm#89

    http://www.theaga.org/files/pdf/Stansfield2010.pdf

    Yeah, yeah, but why should we think they support your view any more than your “best evidence” link a few days ago that was comprehensively demolished within a few hours by myself and others here without even an attempt at retrieval on your part.

  177. Eric Thomsonon 17 Jun 2010 at 11:31 am

    Bindle you are right these are empirical questions not to be settled by armchair pilots.

  178. ccbowerson 17 Jun 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Bindle:

    Does “purposive darwinism” (whatever it is you mean by that) explain the available data better than the currently accepted modern understanding of evolution? Which data does it explain better? Which data does it not explain? What does it predict differently?

  179. ccbowerson 18 Jun 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Yeah, thats what I thought.

  180. BillyJoe7on 20 Jun 2010 at 7:43 am

    An epitaph….

    From bindle’s penultimate link to show how far gone he is:

    And now, here is the essential factor for the wholeness of organims. Intercommunication can proceed so rapidly through the liquid crystalline continuum of the organism that in the limit of the coherence time and coherence volume of energy storage – the time and volume respectively over which the energy remains coherent – intercommunication is instantaneous or nonlocal. There is no time-separation within the coherence volume, just as there is no space-separation within the coherence time. Because the organism stores coherent energy over all space-times, it has a full range of coherent space-times, which are furthermore, all coupled together. Nonlocal intercommunication can thus occur throughout the system.

    …the organism is a quantum superposition of coherent activities, constituting a “pure coherent state” that maximizes both local freedom and global cohesion, in acordance with the factorizability of the quantum coherent state. Factorizability means that the different parts are so perfectly intercorrelated that the intercorrelations resolve neatly into products of the self-correlations…

    One comes to the startling conclusion that the coherent organism is a macroscopic quantum object, it has a macroscopic wave-function that is always evolving, always changing as it entangles its environment. This wave-function is the unique, significant form of the organism.

    The special coherence of inner relationship in an organism is also the beginning of the conscious “I” , the singular plurality and undivided multiplicity that each and everyone of us perceive ourselves to be. I have suggested that the liquid-crystalline continuum which is our body provides a quantum holographic medium that registers memory of our experience. Quantum holographic memory is the basis of the mutual implication of local and global in the organic whole.

    Quantum bullshit!
    But some people have apparently convinced themselves that $#!+ like this actually makes sense.

  181. ccbowerson 20 Jun 2010 at 10:48 am

    That bindle stuff makes my liquid crystals lose energy. He uses philosophy with a ton of ideology to answer scientific questions, which is the reason why people find his ramblings incoherent (when he’s not hiding his ideology). I’m not trying to say that philosophy isn’t useful in science, but it is being misapplied here.

  182. Paisleyon 20 Jun 2010 at 3:17 pm

    BillyJoe7: “Quantum bullshit!

    Where’s the bull? Simply saying that it is does not make it so.

  183. Paisleyon 20 Jun 2010 at 3:21 pm

    ccbowers: “That bindle stuff makes my liquid crystals lose energy. He uses philosophy with a ton of ideology to answer scientific questions, which is the reason why people find his ramblings incoherent (when he’s not hiding his ideology).”

    And this specific blog is promoting its own philosophical position – namely, materialism. The only problem is that materialists really don’t have a materialistic theory of evolution.

  184. bindleon 20 Jun 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Paisley,
    You’ve hit the nail on the head with that one. They have life evolving with neither a known mechanism or a reason why its presence wasn’t needed.
    These nuts have taken over this asylum.

  185. BillyJoe7on 20 Jun 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Okay, that confirms that you find the quotes from that link comprehensible and reasonable.
    That’s all I was after. ;)

    “These nuts have taken over this asylum”

    :D

    I will leave to the reader to decide who the nut is by referring them to the above quotes. ;)
    Hoist on his own petard!

    Essentially what has happened is that he has misinterpreted quantum physics and then wildly extrapolated that misunderstanding to a realm where it simply does not apply.
    And for what?
    To satisfy an underlying philosophy that he has not the balls to expose to the light of day.

    In any case, as an exercise, I invite you to explain in simple words what those paragraphs mean and then to please provide a shred of evidence to back it up.

    “They have life evolving with neither a known mechanism”

    We don’t know how life evolved, but that is not an occasion for inserting your “god of the gaps argument” whatever your particular “god” might be.

    There are plenty of possible mechanisms. And there is the simple fact that it is impossible to divide everything into two neat groups, life and non-life. In other words, there is a grey area where you cannot clearly identify a thing as either life or non-life. Which suggests a gradual transition from one to the other is at least possible. Whereas all you have are echoes.

    “…or a reason why its presence wasn’t needed.”

    There is no reaon why it was needed or not needed. Need has nothing to do with it. Let that echo around your head for a while. Need has nothing to do with it.

  186. bindleon 20 Jun 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Mechanisms are not needed by mechanists. Mother nature is our god. That seems to sum up this particular nut’s philosophy. Nature has a mother that determines everything – ours not to reason why, ours but to do and serially die.
    These loonies should have quit when they thought they were ahead.
    Neither has been able to answer any of Paisley’s questions, hence their zeal to make them go away.
    And look at them now, two half wits dominating the half a brain and blindness threads. Camels pissing in the tent.

  187. Paisleyon 20 Jun 2010 at 11:54 pm

    BillyJoe7: “Essentially what has happened is that he has misinterpreted quantum physics and then wildly extrapolated that misunderstanding to a realm where it simply does not apply.
    And for what?
    To satisfy an underlying philosophy that he has not the balls to expose to the light of day
    .”

    Mae-Wan Ho is female, not male.

    BillyJoe7: “In any case, as an exercise, I invite you to explain in simple words what those paragraphs mean and then to please provide a shred of evidence to back it up

    Intercommunication in a living organism is nonlocal. Ho provided the evidence…

    Nonlocal intercommunication can thus occur throughout the system. Recently, accurately phase-synchronized action potentials are recorded from neurons in widely separated parts of the brain. These and many other non-classical phenomena (see Ho, 1997, 1998a and references therein) are suggestive of nonlocal intercommunication

    (source: “Is there a Purpose in Nature?” by Mae-Wan Ho.)

    BillyJoe7: “We don’t know how life evolved, but that is not an occasion for inserting your “god of the gaps argument” whatever your particular “god” might be.

    Your promissory materialism does not have any currency here.

    BillyJoe7: “There is no reaon why it was needed or not needed. Need has nothing to do with it. Let that echo around your head for a while. Need has nothing to do with it.”

    In a completely deterministic world, necessity is the only option. This is why I stated previously that there is no materialistic theory of evolution. Neo-Darwinism is based on a combination of chance and necessity. IOW, neo-Darwinian evolution is not a strictly deterministic theory; therefore, it does not qualify as a materialistic theory.

  188. BillyJoe7on 21 Jun 2010 at 12:16 am

    Bindle doesn’t deserve a response
    I will let his failure to back up the link for his “best evidence” that I and others demolished a week or so be his epitaph.

    And Paisley apparently thinks that materialiam = determinism

    Oh well…

  189. bindleon 21 Jun 2010 at 12:44 am

    Gee and I thought the first-rate Ho paper that I referenced next was supposed to be my epitaph.

  190. Paisleyon 21 Jun 2010 at 2:13 am

    BillyJoe7: “And Paisley apparently thinks that materialiam = determinism

    Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines materialism as “a theory that physical matter is the only or fundamental reality and that all being and processes and phenomena can be EXPLAINED as manifestations or results of matter (emphasis mine).”

    Materialism cannot EXPLAIN truly random (or pure chance) events because they do not have any physical cause. Therefore, the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution does not qualify as a materialistic theory of evolution because it is ultimately based on random events which do not have any physical cause.

    The bottom line is that there is no materialistic theory of evolution. And if neo-Darwinism is a scientific theory, then it would appear that the “working assumption of materialism” is not required by science.

  191. BillyJoe7on 21 Jun 2010 at 7:10 am

    Paisley,

    Your quote from the Merriam-Webster dictionary does not contradict my view that materialism is not equivalent to determinism.

    “Materialism cannot EXPLAIN truly random events because they do not have any physical cause.”

    Am I to assume from this that you think truely random events have a supernatural cause?

  192. bindleon 21 Jun 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Since truly random events are purely by chance, they have become the “uncaused cause” of the materialist version of natural selection.
    Thus to materialists, these events are already assumed to have a supernatural origin.
    This represents only one of the many inherent inconsistencies in the materialist philosophy.

  193. BillyJoe7on 21 Jun 2010 at 5:41 pm

    “Since truly random events are purely by chance, they have become the “uncaused cause” of the materialist version of natural selection.”

    It’s…random mutation and natural selection
    In other words, the mutations are random (actually random within biological contraints) but natural selection is anything but random.
    And random does not imply supernatural. If you think so, please explain how a supernatural cause can possibly be identified in a random event.

    “Thus to materialists, these events are already assumed to have a supernatural origin.”

    The materialist assumption is that all phenomena have natural/physical/material explanations.

    “This represents only one of the many inherent inconsistencies in the materialist philosophy.”

    No inconsistencies.
    Materialism has consistently assumed that there are no supernatural/nonphysical/immaterial causes and, in 400 years, consistently none have been found and countless supernatural explanations have consistently been replaced by natural explanations.

  194. Paisleyon 21 Jun 2010 at 5:44 pm

    BillyJoe7: “Your quote from the Merriam-Webster dictionary does not contradict my view that materialism is not equivalent to determinism.

    It most certainly does. And it does for the very reason I stated in my previous post – namely, “Materialism cannot EXPLAIN truly random events because they do not have any physical cause.”

    Your refusal to acknowledge this fact does not change the fact. It simply reveals a basic flaw in your character (i.e. you lack the intellectual honesty to acknowledge the truth).

    Moreover, Steven Novella’s definition of “materialism” (which is accords with Merriam-Webster’s definition of the term) is likewise incompatible with “indeterminism.”

    With all this discussion of materialism I guess I should define it. Put simply, it is the philosophical position that all physical effects have physical causes.” (source: Reports of the demise of materialism are premature – Part II” by Steven Novella)

    BillJoe7: “Am I to assume from this that you think truely random events have a supernatural cause?

    I could care less about your assumptions. The bottom line is that truly random events (e.g. genetic mutations) do not have a physical cause. And no amount of spin-doctoring will change this fact.

  195. Paisleyon 21 Jun 2010 at 6:09 pm

    BillyJoe7: “The materialist assumption is that all phenomena have natural/physical/material explanations.”

    Agreed. However, we have scientific evidence that defies any physical explanation (e.g. quantum indeterminacy, nonlocality, and entanglement). Therefore, we have scientific evidence that dispels the pernicious myth of materialism. And it is only materialistic dinosaurs like yourself who refuse to acknowledge the new physics that keeps the pernicious myth of materialism alive.

  196. bindleon 21 Jun 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Revisiting their causative theorizing, the genetic mutations that the materialists see as central to natural selection are those that are, by their own reckoning and own insistence, purely random in nature. Thusly, and particularly as related to the components of biological forms, they have no physical causation.
    Yet they are said by these materialists to be central to the mechanism for natural selection of adaptive traits essential to these forms’ development over successive generations as a result of that selection.
    To those that believe in the unbreakable causative chain of materialism, these selections have irrevocably become the effects of an uncaused cause.
    Uncaused causes are notorious for what philosophers over the centuries convincingly argue can only have had some form of supernatural origin. The burden being on the materialists to demonstrate how the contrary could be to any significant degree the case.

    Setting aside those that, in addition to honesty, lack the intellectual capacity to acknowledge the truth.

  197. HoneyBadgeron 21 Jun 2010 at 7:33 pm

    It figures when you boll down their pseudo-quantum terminology and aptitude for asinine semantics debates, bindle/bindle2 are essentially just restating Thomas Aquanias’ middle-age thesis of the fist cause/design/purpose. It is a basic argument from ignorance that posits major unstated and untenable assumptions.

    Materialism basically only means scientific naturalism in this context. And yes, science cannot exist without naturalistic assumptions on the nature of existence. So far, judging by our massive advances in both technology and medical science, I would say that thesis is going pretty well.

    I’m still at a loss to figure out whether bindle and his clone are more on the Deepak Chopra’s universal consciousness bandwagon or creationists that have managed to find the terminology index of a quantum mechanics book.

  198. sethvon 21 Jun 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Paisley,

    From your Webster’s link:
    Indeterminsim: a theory that holds that not every event has a cause

    From your link to an earlier blog post:
    “All physical effects have physical causes. There are no non-physical or non-material causes of physical effects.”

    Where exactly is the contradiction? Let me restate the two defintions:

    (1) Indeterminism says that there exists some event E for which there is NO cause.
    (2) Materialism says that for every physical event E that has a cause C, C is a physical or material cause.

    There’s no incompatibility between these statements at all. You seem to be saying that in case (1), there actually IS a cause but it’s not physical or material. If that’s your positions then it’s not indeterministic – no doubt that’s were Purpose gets smuggled in.

    “Agreed. However, we have scientific evidence that defies any physical explanation (e.g. quantum indeterminacy, nonlocality, and entanglement).”

    Sorry, your inability to fit observable physical phenomena fit into the box that you’ve labelled materialism doesn’t prove anything.

  199. Paisleyon 21 Jun 2010 at 9:01 pm

    bindle: “Revisiting their causative theorizing, the genetic mutations that the materialists see as central to natural selection are those that are, by their own reckoning and own insistence, purely random in nature. Thusly, and particularly as related to the components of biological forms, they have no physical causation.”

    Exactly. Randomness is necessary for the spontaneous generation of new information. Without it, there is no variation. A strictly deterministic or mechanistic world is incapable of creating novelty.

    bindle: “Uncaused causes are notorious for what philosophers over the centuries convincingly argue can only have had some form of supernatural origin. The burden being on the materialists to demonstrate how the contrary could be to any significant degree the case.

    Bingo! Of course, the “uncaused cause” is ascribed to conscious free will.

  200. bindleon 21 Jun 2010 at 9:50 pm

    From the Webster’s Link

    Main Entry: in·de·ter·min·ism
    Pronunciation: \-ˈtər-mə-ˌni-zəm\
    Function: noun
    Date: 1874
    1 a : a theory that the will is free and that deliberate choice and actions are not determined by or predictable from antecedent causes b : a theory that holds that not every event has a cause
    2 : the quality or state of being indeterminate; especially : unpredictability
    — in·de·ter·min·ist \-ˈtərm-nist, -ˈtər-mə-\ noun
    — in·de·ter·min·is·tic \-ˌtər-mə-ˈnis-tik\ adjective

    So where was the restatement of the ’1a’ primary meaning of the defined term that sethv saw fit to skip over?
    And no-one needs to smuggle in purpose when we’re considering having a choice to determine actions for our own reasons rather than for those determined in advance.

    Which is what having a purpose means in this context: Supplying your own reasons for an action. Applied to natural selection, it would refer to the instances where life supplies its own reasons for influencing the selection process, rather than the hopelessly muddled system cobbled together in the minds of the materialists.

  201. ccbowerson 22 Jun 2010 at 12:54 am

    Bindle – “Which is what having a purpose means in this context: Supplying your own reasons for an action. Applied to natural selection, it would refer to the instances where life supplies its own reasons for influencing the selection process, rather than the hopelessly muddled system cobbled together in the minds of the materialists.”

    Here is where we get to the core of your ideology: You want to ‘put science (or scientists) in its place.’ You want to point out some fundamental flaw in how science is done because you have contempt for science. But you are misguided.

    The problems are: 1. The concepts in science that you criticize are the ones responsible for the greatest of human endevours 2. Your ideas don’t accomplish anything because… 3. your ideas are not falsifiable and 4. Your complaints are mostly baseless because many of them fall outside of the realm of science.

    So keep with your pointless trolling. You have a thinking problem which is why you have only one person around to defend you. And don’t delude yourself into thinking that you are in some way beyond others here. You are not. Others can see where you are coming from and it is a flawed logic driven by ideology. Notice that many have ignored you because they realize what they were talking to.

  202. bindleon 22 Jun 2010 at 1:20 am

    “Purpose is a quality that you attribute to an entity or idea by looking at the outcome, and is not something intrinsic to that entity or idea.” ccbowers

    So much for knowing how science works, or what’s within its realm.

  203. ccbowerson 22 Jun 2010 at 1:35 am

    Bindle that is your go-to ‘argument.’ Also known as distraction. When you can’t compete with argument you go to the ad hominem or bring up irrelevancies. You are very transparent despite your attempts at hiding.

  204. Paisleyon 22 Jun 2010 at 1:58 am

    sethv: “From your link to an earlier blog post:

    “All physical effects have physical causes. There are no non-physical or non-material causes of physical effects.”

    Where exactly is the contradiction?

    The contradiction is that “all physical effects (e.g. quantum events) do not have physical causes.”

    sethv: “Let me restate the two defintions:

    No, I will not grant you the luxury of “moving the goal posts” by allowing you to redefine “materialism.” If your metaphysical position cannot explain an observable phenomenon (not even in theory), then I expect you to display a modicum of intellectual honesty and acknowledge it. There is no physical explanation for quantum indeterminacy, quantum entanglement, or nonlocality. And according to Steven Novella (see “More on Methodological Naturalism“), any “anomaly” that does not yield to a mechanistic explanation must be deemed “mysterious” and therefore “supernatural.”

    sethv: “If that’s your positions then it’s not indeterministic – no doubt that’s were Purpose gets smuggled in.”

    My position is that conscious free will is compatible with “indeterminism” (bindle has already pointed this out to you) and that it is also “supernatural” (which meets Steven Novella’s definition of the term…”uncaused causes” are completely mysterious and defy all mechanistic explanations).

    indeterminism: a theory that the will is free and that deliberate choice and actions are not determined by or predictable from antecedent causes b : a theory that holds that not every event has a cause” (source: Merriam-Webster: indeterminism)

  205. Paisleyon 22 Jun 2010 at 2:30 am

    ccbowers: “Here is where we get to the core of your ideology: You want to ‘put science (or scientists) in its place.’ You want to point out some fundamental flaw in how science is done because you have contempt for science. But you are misguided.”

    The problem is that atheistic materialists in high places are peddling their worldview under the guise of science. Moreover, they are doing it on the taxpayers’ dime by employing the public educational institutions (especially the nation’s universities) as their platform.

  206. BillyJoe7on 22 Jun 2010 at 6:47 am

    bindle,

    “Uncaused causes are notorious for what philosophers over the centuries convincingly argue can only have had some form of supernatural origin.”

    We are talking here about truely random events.
    So, let me get this straight: you are claiming that truely random events are proof of the supernatural? Is that really what you are claiming?

    “The burden being on the materialists to demonstrate how the contrary could be to any significant degree the case.”

    Not by a long shot.
    The burden of proof is yours.
    Provide the logical proof that random events are necessarily supernatural.
    In fact, it completely defies logic.

  207. BillyJoe7on 22 Jun 2010 at 7:09 am

    Paisley,

    “Materialism cannot EXPLAIN truly random events because they do not have any physical cause.”

    Firstly, as I indicated before, materialism does not equal determinism no matter how much you would like that to be true. Therefore your premise is false and, therefore, you conclusion is false.

    Secondly, how does supernaturalism get to have the default position: supernaturalism is true unless and until materialism can explain random events?
    Well, maybe I’ll just demand the same of supernaturalism. Explain how completely random events could possibly be proof of supernaturalism.

    Finally, there is, in fact, a physical model of quantum phenomena. It is called Quantum Field Theory. The fields are energy fields and, of course, Einstein showed through his famous equation that mass and energy are equivalent, meaning that energy is physical and therefore part of materialism. QFT also models energy fields as consisting entirely of particle exchanges (The Standard Model).

  208. sethvon 22 Jun 2010 at 9:40 am

    Paisley: The contradiction is that “all physical effects (e.g. quantum events) do not have physical causes.”

    You’re relying on the unstated assumption that all physical events must have a cause. The definition of materialism that YOU picked and said wasn’t compatible with indeterminism doesn’t make that assumption.

    Paisley: My position is that conscious free will is compatible with “indeterminism” (bindle has already pointed this out to you) and that it is also “supernatural” (which meets Steven Novella’s definition of the term…”uncaused causes” are completely mysterious and defy all mechanistic explanations).

    Basically what you’re saying is that you take non-physical conscious free will as a given and then work out the implications of that assumption. Of course on that basis naturalism/materialism is false, but it seems like you’re being pretty generous to yourself in making that assumption. And bringing up quantum phenomena is just a distraction unless you’re actually claiming that quantum events are caused by conscious free will.

  209. ccbowerson 22 Jun 2010 at 11:30 am

    “The problem is that atheistic materialists in high places are peddling their worldview under the guise of science. Moreover, they are doing it on the taxpayers’ dime by employing the public educational institutions (especially the nation’s universities) as their platform.”

    Paranoid gibberish. I know of no person who thinks in these terms, and this so called worldview is not some well organized ideology being perpetrated on unknowing victims. It is just how the world appears to be, and that’s all you can ask of someone who is teaching in a university. You are anamoly hunting and failing. So far your perspecitve has not demonstrated anything profound, and appears to be driven by how you want the world to be, not how it really is.

  210. bindleon 22 Jun 2010 at 12:38 pm

    “Explain how completely random events could possibly be proof of supernaturalism.”

    If they were the mechanism for selecting behavioral traits that had a chance in hell of competing with those selected by the simplest form of logic.

  211. Paisleyon 22 Jun 2010 at 1:52 pm

    BillyJoe7: “Firstly, as I indicated before, materialism does not equal determinism no matter how much you would like that to be true. Therefore your premise is false and, therefore, you conclusion is false.”

    To begin with, you initially denied indeterminism.

    Secondly, when it was brought to your attention that nature is deemed to be fundamentally indeterminate based on quantum theory, then you changed your tune and argued that it is only indeterminate on the micro-level, not the macro-level. However, you never honestly acknowledged that you were wrong to begin with on the first point.

    Thirdly, when it was brought to your attention that quantum indeterminism filters up to the macro-level (e.g. random mutations – one of the principle tenets of neo-Darwinism – are directly linked to quantum events), then you changed your tune by arguing that materialism does not entail determinism. Once again, you failed to honestly acknowledge that you were wrong on the second point – namely, that indeterminism filters up to the macro-level.

    Finally, when you were provided with the dictionary definition of “materialism” (which explicitly states that it is theory that holds “all phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter”), then you refused to acknowledge the definition of the term.

    What we have here is a clear track record of an individual who consistently engages in self-deception and intellectual dishonesty. If you continue to engage in such behavior, then you forfeit this debate by virtue of default.

    BillyJoe7: “Secondly, how does supernaturalism get to have the default position: supernaturalism is true unless and until materialism can explain random events?
    Well, maybe I’ll just demand the same of supernaturalism. Explain how completely random events could possibly be proof of supernaturalism.

    According to Steven Novella (see “More on Methodological Naturalism“), any persistent “anomaly” that does not yield to a mechanistic explanation must be deemed “mysterious” and therefore “supernatural.” Quantum phenomena (e.g. indeterminacy, nonlocality, entanglement) definitely do not yield to a mechanistic explanation; thus they must be deemed “mysterious” and therefore “supernatural.” (If you find this answer to be unsatisfactory, then I suggest you send an email to Steven Novella and have him redefine the term “supernatural” so that it is compatible with the term “natural.” In this way, you will be able to salvage your naturalistic worldview – at least to the satisfaction of your own deluded mind.)

    BillyJoe7: “Finally, there is, in fact, a physical model of quantum phenomena. It is called Quantum Field Theory. The fields are energy fields and, of course, Einstein showed through his famous equation that mass and energy are equivalent, meaning that energy is physical and therefore part of materialism. QFT also models energy fields as consisting entirely of particle exchanges (The Standard Model).”

    There is NO physical explanation for quantum indeterminacy, quantum entanglement, or nonlocality…..none, zilch, NADA! In fact, Einstein (who was a strict determinist) refused to believe that nature was fundamentally indeterminate and this was made evident by his now famous quote – “I, at any rate, am convinced that He [God] does not throw dice.” Moreover, he ridiculed quantum entanglement as “spooky action at a distance.”

  212. Paisleyon 22 Jun 2010 at 5:33 pm

    sethv: “You’re relying on the unstated assumption that all physical events must have a cause.”

    That’s the assumption of materialism! Indeed, Steven Novella defined materialism as such…

    With all this discussion of materialism I guess I should define it. Put simply, it is the philosophical position that ALL physical effects HAVE physical causes (emphasis mine).” (source: “Reports of the demise of materialism are premature – Part II”” by Steven Novella)

    The bottom line is that All physical effects do NOT have physical causes. And I have overwhelming scientific evidence to back that up – it’s called quantum physics. Therefore, the present scientific evidence does not support the materialist hypothesis.

    sethv: “The definition of materialism that YOU picked and said wasn’t compatible with indeterminism doesn’t make that assumption.”

    The definiton I cited previously implies determinism (or incompatibility with indeterminism). Why? Because it implies that each and every physical event must have a physical explanation! (That you refuse to acknowledge this demonstrates either that you lack the intellectual capacity to see the implication or that you are intellectually dishonest. Either way, to debate the matter further with you would truly be an exercise in futility.)

    materialism: a theory that physical matter is the only or fundamental reality and that all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter” (source: Merriam-Webster: materialism“)

    Moreover, the Wikipedia article on “materialism” associates it with “determinism.”

    “Materialism typically contrasts with dualism, phenomenalism, idealism, vitalism and dual-aspect monism. Its materiality can, in some ways, be linked to the concept of DETERMINISM, as espoused by Enlightenment thinkers. It has been criticised as a spiritually empty philosophy.” (source: Wikipedia: “materialism“)

    sethv: “Basically what you’re saying is that you take non-physical conscious free will as a given and then work out the implications of that assumption. Of course on that basis naturalism/materialism is false, but it seems like you’re being pretty generous to yourself in making that assumption.”

    Free will is axiomatic (i.e. self-evident). Any attempt to deny it presupposes it. The burden of proof is on those who deny free will, not on those who simply acknowledge the evidence that is provided them based on their first-person experience.

    sethv: “And bringing up quantum phenomena is just a distraction unless you’re actually claiming that quantum events are caused by conscious free will.”

    I broached the subject of quantum phenomena to demonstrate that there is no materialistic theory of evolution. Neo-Darwinian evolution is based on random events which are ultimately without a physical cause. As such, the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution does not qualify as a materialistic theory. Having said that, “consciousness collapses the wavefunction” is a valid intepretation of QM – an interpretation that has been developed by some of the most noted physicists since the dawn of QM.

  213. Paisleyon 22 Jun 2010 at 6:03 pm

    HoneyBadger: “It figures when you boll down their pseudo-quantum terminology and aptitude for asinine semantics debates, bindle/bindle2 are essentially just restating Thomas Aquanias’ middle-age thesis of the fist cause/design/purpose. It is a basic argument from ignorance that posits major unstated and untenable assumptions.”

    Yeah, what specifically are the “pseudo-quantum” terms? And what is the argument from ignorance?

    HoneyBadger: “Materialism basically only means scientific naturalism in this context.”

    Then you are equating “scientific naturalism” with “scientific materialism.”

    HoneyBadger: “And yes, science cannot exist without naturalistic assumptions on the nature of existence.”

    This is not entirely true. There are different schools of thought on this and “methodological naturalism” is simply one. Others permit the supernatural.

    There are different schools of thought in the philosophy of scientific method… Methodological naturalism, therefore, rejects supernatural explanations, arguments from authority and biased observational studies. Critical rationalism instead holds that unbiased observation is not possible and a demarcation between natural and supernatural explanations is arbitrary; it instead proposes falsifiability as the landmark of empirical theories and falsification as the universal empirical method.” (source: Wikipedia: “Science“)

    HoneyBadger: “I’m still at a loss to figure out whether bindle and his clone are more on the Deepak Chopra’s universal consciousness bandwagon or creationists that have managed to find the terminology index of a quantum mechanics book.”

    I will only speak for myself. I am not on the materialist bandwagon – a bandwagon on a purposeless journey into the world of absurdity.

  214. bindleon 22 Jun 2010 at 7:44 pm

    According to Aquinas, there must have been a time when nothing existed. Since there could not have been a nothing, his “first cause” theories have no relevance to anything I’ve said, which were based on the conjecture that something cannot come from nothing, nor can nothing ever come from something. Unfortunately for the materialists, they have the doctrinaire deterministic view of causation that can only have a pre-deterministic genesis. Their natural selection mechanism could only operate from that unknown cause, “uncaused” by any materialistic sequence of events. They share these first cause views with the Chopras and creationists. I don’t.

    As to purpose, I rather prefer the views on final cause initially put forth by Aristotle.
    “The final cause is that for the sake of which a thing exists or is done, including both purposeful and instrumental actions and activities. The final cause or telos is the purpose or end that something is supposed to serve, or it is that from which and that to which the change is. This also covers modern ideas of mental causation involving such psychological causes as volition, need, motivation or motives, rational, irrational, ethical, and all that gives purpose to behavior.”
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotle)

  215. sethvon 22 Jun 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Paisley,
    If there are uncaused events it makes no sense to say that the cause of these uncaused events is non-physical. That’s like asking whether the paint on an unpainted house is non lead based. If you base your argument on answering a question like that, don’t be surprised when people look at you like you’re crazy. Also, if you don’t see a problem with accepting non-physical free will as an axiom I don’t really know what to tell you.

    You seem to have problems with a lot of these terms, though, since you’ve consistently conflated materialism with determinism and you don’t appear to understand what the word “random” means in “random mutation”. On top of all that you have some horror-show fears about science being an atheistic materialist conspiracy.

    I think pretty much everybody here understands your position and your arguments, hard as they were to extract. You stated that your goal was to dismantle the mechanistic and materialistic worldview; you failed. And repeating your querulous objections to materialism over and over again doesn’t constitute an argument.

  216. Eric Thomsonon 23 Jun 2010 at 12:13 am

    Argument from ignorance run amok in the world of the quantum.

    A few points along those lines….

    1. Stochastic isn’t synonymous with uncaused. Obviously, even though coin flip sequences are stochastic processes, but have a cause.

    2. QM may be different. Fine, I’ll grant that photons behave differently than coins. But let’s consider some detals: in the two slit experiment, the ‘there are no causes’ folks are effectively asking us to believe that the individual outcome is not generated by a causal interactions involving photons, two slits, and screens.

    Unfortunatley, that’s an assumption we cannot grant, because the physics isn’t worked out yet. Feel free to frolic in the garden of interpretations of QM, shangrila and dance about with the hippies, philosophers, and naked sea nymphs.

    Physics hasn’t told us how measurement works yet, and once they do tell us how it works, then we can talk about whether the observed outcomes are not caused by an interaction between photon, measuring device, and the two slits.

    Frolic in the happy place, but don’t be cocky about it and act like the claim that these events are uncaused is some consensus claim. It is not. There is no consensus about measurement coming from physics.

    3. Explain why just because physics doesn’t have a consensus view of the mechanism of nonlocal quantum effects, this implies something really deep?

    What follows from our ignorance of how X works is that we are ignorant of how X works. Ignorance is the engine of science: without it we wouldn’t need to do experiments. Ignorance is a boring psychological fact about us, not a deep ontological fact that reveals mysteries about the universe.

  217. Paisleyon 23 Jun 2010 at 2:05 am

    sethv: “If there are uncaused events it makes no sense to say that the cause of these uncaused events is non-physical.”

    They’re deemed to be PHYSICALLY uncaused.

    sethv:” If you base your argument on answering a question like that, don’t be surprised when people look at you like you’re crazy.”

    It’s completely compatible with the definition of “free will” (see definition below). Moreover, “consciousness causes the collapse of the wave function” is a valid interpretation of quantum mechanics. I can assure you that greater minds than yours hold this view.

    free will : freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes” (source: Merriam-Webster: “free will“)

    sethv: “You seem to have problems with a lot of these terms, though, since you’ve consistently conflated materialism with determinism and you don’t appear to understand what the word “random” means in “random mutation.”

    You are the one who is apparently having problems. I have cited two sources. One states that materialism is the theory that holds that all phenomena have physical explanations (quantum events have no physical explanations). The second explicitly links materialism with determinism. Your refusal to acknowledge this fact does not change the fact. It simply reveals one of two things: either you are intellectually dishonest or you lack the intellectual capacity to engage in rational discourse. Either way, this debate is over. I have little patience for dishonesty and/or stupidity.

    By the way, the term “random” in “random mutations” means RANDOM. Duh! That’s why evolutionary biologists say that human beings are accidents. The implication is clear. Evolution is an indeterminate process. If we could go back in time and replay the evolutionary process, it would be very much different. If evolution were a strictly deterministic process, then it would play out exactly the same way. In a completely deterministic world, the very fact that “yours truly” is here could not have been otherwise. In a strictly deterministic world, there are no accidents because nothing is left to chance!

  218. Paisleyon 23 Jun 2010 at 2:17 am

    sethv: “Also, if you don’t see a problem with accepting non-physical free will as an axiom I don’t really know what to tell you.”

    Merriam-Webster defines “axiom” as “an established rule or principle or a SELF-EVIDENT TRUTH (emphasis mine).”

    Free will is AXIOMATIC because it is a SELF-EVIDENT TRUTH! Even those who profess to believe that it is illusory in theory presuppose it in practice. This is made evident each and every time you employ the personal pronoun “I.”

  219. BillyJoe7on 23 Jun 2010 at 7:16 am

    Paisley,

    Your accusations are untrue.

    The fact is that I have learnt a few things from these discussions and I have acknowledged this on each occasion. However, I specifically have not learnt any of them from you. Perhaps you missed my acknowledgements to sonic regarding geiger counters and to Eric regarding photosynthesis.

    And I have been aware about probability at the quantum level for as long as I can remember, so it is ludcrous to suggest that I learnt about that here. The determinism I expressed was initially in reference to brain function. And there is still no evidence that quantum probability plays any role whatsoever in brain function. There is no evidence that brain function is anything but deterministic cause and effect despite your protestations to the contrary. And even if there was, all quantum effects would add is random chance and would be up to you to explain how random chance could possibly be the basis of consciousness and freewill.

    ON the other hand, very early in the piece I already pointed out that the results of quantum probability are seen at the macroscopic level “otherwise how would we know about them”. And I gave the example of the double slit experiment where quantum probability produces the interference pattern on the photographic plate. You’ve conveniently forgotten that. Similarly, as sonic indicated, random decay produces random clicks on a geiger counter.

    But the point is this: Only quantum objects exhibit quantum effects (though the results can be seen at the macroscopic level). Macroscopic objects, on the other hand do not exhibit quantum effects. In fact, the experimental evidence is that quantum effects rapidly diminish as the size of the object increases and, at about the 60 atom size, the effects seem to completely disappear. Considering that the brain consists of 100,000,000,000 neurones each consisting of about the same number of molecules, we are not going to see brains exhibiting quantum effects.

    You, on the other hand, are still wallowing in ignorance as evidence by your unquestioned acceptance of the pseudoscientific ideas of the the chinese lady bindle referenced. If you don’t recognise quantum nonsense such as espoused in that piece there is no hope for you frankly. It is typical pseudoscience where words that represent concepts in quantum physics are stripped of their meaning and then applied where they clearly do not and never did belong.

    Anyway, all your last post served to do was to divert attention away from the unaswerable question:

    How does random chance imply the existence of the supernatural.

    On the other hand, at least at the macroscopic level it is outright simple to explain how determinism explains randomness.

  220. BillyJoe7on 23 Jun 2010 at 7:25 am

    Paisley,

    “Free will is AXIOMATIC because it is a SELF-EVIDENT TRUTH! Even those who profess to believe that it is illusory in theory presuppose it in practice. This is made evident each and every time you employ the personal pronoun “I.””

    So, when I say my computer is playing up, that makes it self-evident that my computer has personhood and therefore consciousness and freewill?

  221. sethvon 23 Jun 2010 at 8:57 am

    Paisley,
    I don’t know any more than you do you about quantum mechanics. I’ve read Wikipedia on the subject and had a couple classes but that doesn’t make me think I’ve grasped the whole field and am now able to use it to support my ideology.

    But it doesn’t take any knowledge of quantum mechanics to say that if it is possible for an event to occur for which no cause exists, you can’t base anything on the properties of this non-existent cause. Paint that doesn’t exist doesn’t have actual lead in it, but you can’t use that by itself to prove the existence of non-lead based paint. Your position appears to be logically inconsistent.

    On your point about randomness: Do you believe that coin flips prove the supernatural? What about poker hands?

  222. Eric Thomsonon 23 Jun 2010 at 10:16 am

    Sethv I think you grant too much when you grant that individual experimental outcomes are uncaused. That’s not part of the physics, but a philosophical overlay on an unsolved problem in physics. Do you really think the individual outcome isn’t produced bycausal interactions involving photons, the two slit apparatus, and the measuring device?

    More generally, right now physics treats measurement as a black box, and everyone and his mom are invited to speculate on what is in that black box (e.g., pilot waves, splitting worlds, interactions with measuring devices, deviant logic, consciousness, God [yes, I have seen the measurement problem used as a proof that God exists]). Ultimately, the physicists will tell the nonphysicists what is happening. It ain’t gonna be solved by philosophers, new-age hippies, or bloggers. :)

    The measurement problem is little more than an intellectual Rorschach test, so it is funny when people make use of their particular “solution” to the problem as a premise in a shaky argument. (E.g., it is well known that consciousness is now part of fundamental physics, therefore x, y, and z). It’s funny.

    Speaking personally, I once considered going to grad school to study philosophy of QM. Toward this, I got my BS in math-physics, took QM and a bunch of supporting math of course. That’s when I concluded the solution isn’t going to come from philosophy, or folks arguing in ordinary English. It’s going to come from some genius physicist speaking in the language of quantum theory (and probably some theory we can’t imagine right now), and it likely won’t happen for another 50 years.

    One nice thing that has changed since I studied physics (I got that degree about 15 years ago) is that it is becoming more mainstream to talk about this problem in physics. Even 15 years ago it was considered merely philosophical, not worth discussing as a real science question. Aspect’s experiments sort of started the ball rolling, and the work of other respected theorists have helped real physicists realize that it is too important a question to be left to the philosophers.

  223. Paisleyon 23 Jun 2010 at 11:06 am

    sethv: “I don’t know any more than you do you about quantum mechanics.”

    Correction. I have a better understanding of QM than you. I know what quantum indeterminacy means and implies; you do not. If you did, then you would not have asked the following questions:

    sethv’s question: “On your point about randomness: Do you believe that coin flips prove the supernatural? What about poker hands?

  224. sethvon 23 Jun 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Eric,
    I think I pretty much agree with everything you said. It seems odd to me when people talk about detectors as if they’re completely passive. Also, the fact that scientists can calculate the probability of specific experimental observations seems to me to contradict the idea that the events are entirely uncaused. But I agree with you that these things will be settled (if it’s possible) by physicists and experimental results, not by anyone’s intuitions.

    My point was that Paisley’s argument is invalid even if you grant his premise that some events are uncaused. No evidence or knowledge of physics is required to dismiss his argument as garbage. Same for his assertion that he can directly assess that he has free will and that it’s not physical. If he considers that axiomatic, then clearly he’ll always reach his desired conclusion no matter what else we find out. Paisley already has all the knowledge he feels he needs.

    I’ll have to start following your blog. I would have liked to study these things in grad school, but I ended up getting a job instead.

  225. BillyJoe7on 23 Jun 2010 at 5:35 pm

    Eric and Seth,

    Your last few posts have sealed this argument in my opinion. In my participation in these discussions I always hope to learn something or to get things I sort of know clearer in my head. Thanks for your contributions.

    On the other hand I struggle to find anything of benefit in the ramblings of both Paisley and bindle. It is clear that they have not thought things through largely because their philosophy drives their science which is always a big mistake. One thing that stands out about both of them is that they avoid many of the difficult questions put to them.

    Typical is bindle and typical examples are his links. I have on a number of occasions deconstructed his links and the only response is usually a meaningless one liner. You have to wonder don’t you. And he agrees with absolutely everything that Paisley says and vice versa. How that is possible is the only remaining question here.

  226. BillyJoe7on 23 Jun 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Paisley,

    “Materialism cannot EXPLAIN truly random events because they do not have any physical cause.”

    A test of your honesty:

    Do you now acknowledge that this statement is false?
    In fact determinism* alone can explain truely random events.
    Do you now acknowledge that?

    If so, where does this leave your necessary supernatural explanation?
    (I mean, quite apart from Eric and Seth’s devastating points)

  227. ccbowerson 23 Jun 2010 at 5:53 pm

    “One thing that stands out about both of them is that they avoid many of the difficult questions put to them.”

    This is because their m.o. for their comments on this site is destructive not constructive.

  228. Paisleyon 24 Jun 2010 at 7:22 am

    BillyJoe7: “So, when I say my computer is playing up, that makes it self-evident that my computer has personhood and therefore consciousness and freewill?”

    You neither understand what “axiomatic” means nor what “self-evidence” means. Free will (as well as consciousness and personhood) is self-evident because it is based on evidence accorded to me by my first-person perspective, not yours!

  229. BillyJoe7on 24 Jun 2010 at 7:51 am

    Paisley,

    You misunderstand.

    I was commenting about the last bit of your post: “This is made evident each and every time you employ the personal pronoun “I.”” In other words, because I use the personal pronoun “I”, I really do believe in freewill. In which case I suppose I really do believe my computer has personhood because, whenever it doesn’t function properly I always say that it is “playing up”.

    Great argument.

    As for “axiom”, I go with the mathematical defintion: something you *assume* to be true to see what follows by *assuming* it to be true.

    Good example:
    Science *assumes* materialism to be true to see what follows by *assuming* materialism to be true. Result: 400 years of scientific progress, countless supernatural explanations replaced by natural explanations, and not one example of proven supernatural agency.

    Yeah, I know, that’s starting to sound like science is taking on your meaning of axiom as “self-evident truth”, but still, despite all the victories, science continues to just *assume* that materialism is true.

    Sucks, hey, all this uncertainty.

  230. BillyJoe7on 24 Jun 2010 at 8:11 am

    Paisley,

    “Free will is self-evident because it is based on evidence accorded to me by my first-person perspective, not yours!”

    That’s just an example of the logical fallacy called “question begging” or “circular argument”:

    Freewill depends on the existence of the self. Therefore it is a fallacy to assume the existence of the self in order to claim that as the basis for the existence of freewill.

    If that is not clear, perhaps the counterargument will help you see the fallacy of your argument:

    If freewill is self-evident and the selfis an illusion, then freewill is an illusion.

  231. Paisleyon 24 Jun 2010 at 9:29 am

    BillyJoe7: “The fact is that I have learnt a few things from these discussions and I have acknowledged this on each occasion. However, I specifically have not learnt any of them from you. Perhaps you missed my acknowledgements to sonic regarding geiger counters and to Eric regarding photosynthesis.”

    I’m the one who informed you that indeterminacy scales up from the microlevel to the macrolevel, and I’m the one who informed you that photosynthesis is a quantum process (I cited sources to back up these claims). You refused to acknowledge what I had presented to you. It was only when Eric corrected you, that you changed your position – and even after that point, you began to make this pretense as if you had always understood these things.

    BillyJoe7: “The determinism I expressed was initially in reference to brain function. And there is still no evidence that quantum probability plays any role whatsoever in brain function.”

    I have already provided you with evidence that this not true. Your refusal to acknowledge the evidence does not negate the evidence. It simply reveals a basic flaw in your character – namely, that you’re an intellectually dishonest person.

    Professors Friedrich Beck and John C. Eccles developed a model for quantal emission process at the synaptic cleft with reasonable results. These authors also discussed in detail the problem of elementary microscopic processes in protein complexes able to survive thermal fluctuations. Evidence for quantum processing was also claimed by the physicist Evan Harris Walker (see above).

    Between 2003 and 2009, professors Elio Conte, Andrei Yuri Khrennikov, Orlando Todarello, Antonio Federici, Joseph P. Zbilut, performed a number of experiments reaching evidence on possible existence of quantum interference effects on mental states during human perception and cognition of ambiguous figures. See further reading[13, 14, 15, 16]. These authors have also realized theoretical contributions on the analysis of quantum interference effects in mental states, and on time dynamics of cognitive entities[13, 14, 15, 16].” (source: Wikipedia: Quantum mind)

    BillyJoe7: “And even if there was, all quantum effects would add is random chance and would be up to you to explain how random chance could possibly be the basis of consciousness and freewill

    Spontaneity is an attribute of consciousness, not its basis. And this fulfills the very definition of free will. (You apparently have not grasp the fundamental concept that free will is compatible with indeterminism.)

    free will: freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes
    (source: Merriam-Webster: free will)

    indeterminism: a theory that the will is free and that deliberate choice and actions are not determined by or predictable from antecedent causes b : a theory that holds that not every event has a cause” (source: Merriam-Webster: indeterminism)

    Here’s a basic explanation how it works. Below is the computer code for a built-in random number function (in the Perl programming language) to “choose” a number between “0″ and “10.”

    $PickANumber = int(rand(10)) + 1;

    If the computer were actually linked to a quantum event (and we do have random number generators that are linked to quantum events), then a physically uncaused “choice” would be made each and every time this program was executed. (Your typical digital computer cannot really perform this function because it is completely predetermined based on the internal clock of the computer. IOW, the execution of the function only has the “appearance” of randomness.)

    But what is of greater significance here is that quantum processing allows for exponentially greater computing power because information is held in superposed states (this is why there is such a strong push for the development of quantum computers). Also, spontaneity allows for the creation of novelty. And this is exactly how we experience our own creative process. IOW, it’s not a strictly mechanical process.

    BillyJoe7: “ON the other hand, very early in the piece I already pointed out that the results of quantum probability are seen at the macroscopic level “otherwise how would we know about them”.”

    Bull! You originally argued that indeterminacy does not scale up from the microlevel to the macrolevel. Both bindle and I corrected you on this point but you refused to yield to reason until Eric corrected you.

    BillyJoe7: “But the point is this: Only quantum objects exhibit quantum effects (though the results can be seen at the macroscopic level). Macroscopic objects, on the other hand do not exhibit quantum effects. In fact, the experimental evidence is that quantum effects rapidly diminish as the size of the object increases and, at about the 60 atom size, the effects seem to completely disappear. Considering that the brain consists of 100,000,000,000 neurones each consisting of about the same number of molecules, we are not going to see brains exhibiting quantum effects.

    I have already presented you with evidence that quantum effects do take place in the brain. But more to the point, we can say with confidence that the macroworld is ultimately indeterminate because the the microworld is indeterminate. This is due to the nature of chaotic systems. Based on the “butterfly effect,” small perturbations (e.g. quantum effects) in the intial conditions of a chaotic system are amplified over time and dramatically change the outcome of what would otherwise be characterized as a completely deterministic process. The bottom line is that neo-Darwinian evolution is deemed to be a truly random process (not a pseudo one) because genetic mutations are directly linked to quantum events, which are truly random events (i.e. they are physically uncaused events).

    BillyJoe7: “You, on the other hand, are still wallowing in ignorance as evidence by your unquestioned acceptance of the pseudoscientific ideas of the the chinese lady bindle referenced. If you don’t recognise quantum nonsense such as espoused in that piece there is no hope for you frankly. It is typical pseudoscience where words that represent concepts in quantum physics are stripped of their meaning and then applied where they clearly do not and never did belong.”

    Mae-Wan Ho’s thesis is based on the Bohmian interpretation of QM (David Bohm was Eintein’s protege. Moreover, Eric Thomson – whose viewpoints you apparently hold in high regards – expressed his appreciation for the Bohmian interpretation of QM earlier in this thread.)

    BillyJoe7: “Anyway, all your last post served to do was to divert attention away from the unaswerable question: How does random chance imply the existence of the supernatural.”I already addressed this issue, but you refused to acknowledge my the response. If you continue to engage in these antics, I will simply ignore your posts. Responding to your juvenile behavior is simply not worthy of my precious time.
    According to Steven Novella (see “More on Methodological Naturalism“), any persistent “anomaly” that does not yield to a mechanistic explanation must be deemed “mysterious” and therefore “supernatural.” Quantum phenomena (e.g. indeterminacy, nonlocality, entanglement) definitely do not yield to a mechanistic explanation; thus they must be deemed “mysterious” and therefore “supernatural.” (If you find this answer to be unsatisfactory, then I suggest you send an email to Steven Novella and have him redefine the term “supernatural” so that it is compatible with the term “natural.” In this way, you will be able to salvage your naturalistic worldview – at least to the satisfaction of your own deluded mind.)

    BillyJoe7: “On the other hand, at least at the macroscopic level it is outright simple to explain how determinism explains randomness.”

    This is sheer stupidity. Determinism does not explain randomness because randomness implies indeterminism. There is no physical explanation for physically uncaused events. If there were, then they would not be physically uncaused. Duh!

  232. Eric Thomsonon 24 Jun 2010 at 10:43 am

    There is no good evidence for large-scale quantum effects in brains Paisley (Hameroff’s rather tendentious speculations notwithstanding). Why don’t you pick a particular experimental study that you think demonstrates, particularly well, such effects in brains (not a philosophical review article, not a Wikipedia entry (for goodness’ sake), but a primary research article with direct empirical evidence.

    Traditional neuroscience already has tons of data relating conscious states and more standard variables such as electrical activity in large populations of neurons (and single neurons). The quantum consciousness folk are still in a pre-evidence stage, unless something new has come out recently. If you have found some solid data, let us know.

    My take is that lower-level mechanisms such as retinal phototransduction and single ion-channel function will likely require QM, and these effects will have effects that are measurable. Unfortunately photoreceptors and ion channels are not conscious: consciousness is a much more large-scale distributed phenomenon (I discussed in some detail the topic of levels of spatial and temporal organization in nervous systems, and the level at which consciousness is instantiated at this post).

  233. Paul N.on 24 Jun 2010 at 11:48 am

    I’d didn’t expect the discussion on this page lasting for so long. I posted my point on evolution and science several days ago. Maybe it is still of some interest, but I rather don’t think so as the discussion entirely moved into philosophical fields.

    @Eric

    “That’s when I concluded the solution isn’t going to come from philosophy…, and it likely won’t happen for another 50 years.”

    Is it fauceir theory that you have in mind? (Just kidding, of course.) But I don’t think it will take an other 50 years. I eagerly will study your recently recommended post and maybe comment there.

  234. bindleon 24 Jun 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Eric Thomson wants to cite himself as a reference, especially in preference to those fools at Wikipedia.
    Here’s an Ericism:
    “1. Stochastic isn’t synonymous with uncaused. Obviously, even though coin flip sequences are stochastic processes, but have a cause.”

    What was the material cause that made that coin flip causative in the context of selection? Is that explained at Eric’s site?

    Will BillyJoe start commenting on that site, and will Eric hold his tongue and let him jabber on as to how determinism explains randomness?

    Will Eric support that scholarly dissection of Mae-Wan Ho’s thesis on his blog? So may questions that I look forward to have answered over there. Especially as to those unaware amoeba.

  235. Paisleyon 24 Jun 2010 at 12:48 pm

    BillyJoe7: “That’s just an example of the logical fallacy called “question begging” or “circular argument”:

    Freewill depends on the existence of the self. Therefore it is a fallacy to assume the existence of the self in order to claim that as the basis for the existence of freewill.”

    I’m stating an axiom (i.e. a self-evident truth), not drawing a logical conclusion based on a premise. So, there is no “question begging” or “circular argument.” (All arguments presuppose some premise – a belief assumed to be true or taken for granted.) Free will is axiomatic because it is self-evident. Without the “self,” nothing would be SELF evident; therefore, nothing would qualify as axiomatic. Duh!

    axiom: an established rule or principle or A SELF-EVIDENT TRUTH (emphasis mine).” (source: Merriam-Webster: axiom)

    (If you refuse to acknowledge or address the point I just made, then you shouldn’t expect me to respond to any future posts you might make.)

    BillyJoe7: “If that is not clear, perhaps the counterargument will help you see the fallacy of your argument:

    If freewill is self-evident and the self is an illusion, then freewill is an illusion.”

    Those who deny the existence or reality of their “self” bar themselves from rational discourse for reasons I’ve already discussed above.

  236. BillyJoe7on 24 Jun 2010 at 5:41 pm

    bindle,

    “Here’s an Ericism:
    1. Stochastic isn’t synonymous with uncaused. Obviously, even though coin flip sequences are stochastic processes, but have a cause.”

    Yet you have no idea how to refute this do you? So you simply imply that it is untrue and save yourself any effort. But, unless you want to say that coin flips involve the supernatural, it is obviously true. Whether a coin falls heads or tails, or even on its side, is the result of deterministic cause and effect. Do you deny that? Yet the outcome of a coin toss is random. Every time you toss a coin (eliminating the rare side landing) there is an even chance of head or tails. The more coins you toss the more closely the ratio approaches 1/2. Do you deny that?
    Therefore deterministic cause and effect can cause random events.

  237. BillyJoe7on 24 Jun 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Paisley,

    “I’m stating an axiom (i.e. a self-evident truth)…
    axiom: an established rule or principle or A SELF-EVIDENT TRUTH (emphasis mine).” (source: Merriam-Webster: axiom)”

    You need to read my whole post before commenting, that way your response will not be all over the place.
    You missed this bit from my post:

    “As for axiom, I go with the mathematical defintion: something you *assume* to be true to see what follows by *assuming* it to be true.”

    And this bit:

    “Yeah, I know, that’s starting to sound like science is taking on your meaning of axiom as self-evident truth, but still, despite all the victories, science continues to just *assume* that materialism is true.”

    Sort of makes nonsense of your response don’t you think?

    So, here’s the thing.
    Science assumes something to be true to see where it leads. You take a thing to be self-evidently true without proof. That’s a telling difference.

  238. bindleon 24 Jun 2010 at 6:36 pm

    “What was the material cause that made that coin flip causative in the context of selection?”

    The refutation is implicit in the question. There is no material cause that could give a coin flip causative direction outside of a deterministic system.
    And in a deterministic system, any such causation, to be effective, would have been predetermined. But by what, if not the supernatural? That’s in the materialist’s world, however, not in mine.

    And yet in my indeterminate world, the coin-flip would not determine anything except by accident. The probability/predictability aspect of causation has thus gone missing.

    Yet for materialists to remain correct, they’d leave us with a natural selective function that “accidentally” creates an array of behavioral traits for its selection, and matches that selection to whatever organism might need it, all without that organism’s prior input.

    But thanks to BillyJoe for biting on the question that Eric might rather have left unanswered. Unless of course they both agree that the coin flip IS somehow causative, even if it took the coin to chose to flip itself.

  239. bindleon 24 Jun 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Proposed test question in Logic 101:

    “Whether a coin falls heads or tails, or even on its side, is the result of deterministic cause and effect.
    Yet the outcome of a coin toss is random. Every time you toss a coin (eliminating the rare side landing) there is an even chance of head or tails. The more coins you toss the more closely the ratio approaches 1/2.
    Therefore deterministic cause and effect can cause random events.”

    What’s wrong with that syllogism?

  240. Eric Thomsonon 24 Jun 2010 at 9:45 pm

    bindle is close to getting it. He just needs to grasp the distinction between
    1) the causes of outcomes on individual trials (H or T), and
    2) the mathematical description of the population of responses over many trials.

    Understanding such a distinction is the key to see the semantic point I was making, namely, that ‘stochastic’ isn’t synonymous with ‘uncaused.’

  241. bindleon 24 Jun 2010 at 10:58 pm

    But you didn’t make that point with that analogy. In addition, the uncaused cause, as everyone concerned with evolution should know, refers to the cosmological argument, not simply to the definition of stochastic.
    As to grasping the distinctions you’re now irrelevantly concerned with, try reading this material, which doesn’t think much of that coin toss analogy for stochastic purposes either:
    http://bayes.wustl.edu/etj/science.pdf.html

    And again, what’s wrong with the syllogism offered by your protege?

  242. ccbowerson 25 Jun 2010 at 12:05 am

    Bindle – “And yet in my indeterminate world…”

    Yes you do seem to exist in a different world than (almost) everyone else. Perhaps that is the problem… we are communicating from different universes?

    Bindle – “If putatively deterministic laws were upset even once in no matter how many eons, determinism is dead, probability reigns and choice will find its purpose”

    If the world was consistent with the way you see the world science would have been a failure that we learn about in history class. The fact that you guys reach for anything (your evidence/references are almost textbook examples of searching for anomalies) …just shows how your ideology drives your interpretation of facts, and not the other way around.

  243. BillyJoe7on 25 Jun 2010 at 12:18 am

    Another reference. :D

    This time its an online version of a book.
    Is anyone going to read it?
    Not a chance in hell.

    So far we have had multiple references which either do not support bindle’s argument and do not say what he thinks they say, or are easily refuted philosophising beyond the evidence and argument by analogy where the analogy is mistaken for the real thing.

    And, of course no meaningful response from his highness.
    Again, I ask, why should be go on yet another wild goose chase.

  244. Paisleyon 25 Jun 2010 at 12:40 am

    Eric Thomson: “Speaking personally, I once considered going to grad school to study philosophy of QM. Toward this, I got my BS in math-physics, took QM and a bunch of supporting math of course. That’s when I concluded the solution isn’t going to come from philosophy, or folks arguing in ordinary English. It’s going to come from some genius physicist speaking in the language of quantum theory (and probably some theory we can’t imagine right now), and it likely won’t happen for another 50 years.”

    Why does QM require a ‘solution?’ Answer: Because materialists know that indeterminacy (physically uncaused events), entanglement, and nonlocality are incompatible with the materialist assumption.

  245. bindleon 25 Jun 2010 at 12:44 am

    ccbowers,
    Aside from that witless rant, this question is still on the table:
    What’s wrong with this syllogism as offered by your mentor here?

    “Whether a coin falls heads or tails, or even on its side, is the result of deterministic cause and effect.
    Yet the outcome of a coin toss is random. Every time you toss a coin (eliminating the rare side landing) there is an even chance of head or tails. The more coins you toss the more closely the ratio approaches 1/2.
    Therefore deterministic cause and effect can cause random events.”

    Or is it all just fine, and merely an anomaly we’ve found in logic? Or in Science, which is, after all, an intellectual application of logic.

    I do expect you’ll say there’s nothing wrong, but that’s a probability in my world – although determined to a certainty in yours, where you claim to have no choice of purpose.

    After all, in your now famous words:
    “Choices are acts made by entities. They don’t “do” anything, such as find a purpose. Purpose is a quality that you attribute to an entity or idea by looking at the outcome, and is not something intrinsic to that entity or idea.”

  246. bindleon 25 Jun 2010 at 12:55 am

    “Whether a coin falls heads or tails, or even on its side, is the result of deterministic cause and effect.
    Yet the outcome of a coin toss is random. Every time you toss a coin (eliminating the rare side landing) there is an even chance of head or tails. The more coins you toss the more closely the ratio approaches 1/2.
    Therefore deterministic cause and effect can cause random events.”
    BillyJoe7

    He stands by this, but who will stand by with him? So far Bowers and Thomson are with him, although not exactly answering to the call.

  247. bindleon 25 Jun 2010 at 1:05 am

    By the way that citation wasn’t meant for BillyJoe. He’s too dumb to know to go to the chapter on “Physics of ‘Random’ Experiments” – easily downloaded by itself.

  248. Paisleyon 25 Jun 2010 at 1:32 am

    Eric Thomson: “Frolic in the happy place, but don’t be cocky about it and act like the claim that these events are uncaused is some consensus claim. It is not. There is no consensus about measurement coming from physics..”

    Science is based on a democratic vote? That’s interesting.

    Eric Thomson: “Explain why just because physics doesn’t have a consensus view of the mechanism of nonlocal quantum effects, this implies something really deep?

    What follows from our ignorance of how X works is that we are ignorant of how X works. Ignorance is the engine of science: without it we wouldn’t need to do experiments. Ignorance is a boring psychological fact about us, not a deep ontological fact that reveals mysteries about the universe.”

    Are you ignorant on the nature of consciousness (i.e. whether it is physical or nonphysical)?

  249. Paisleyon 25 Jun 2010 at 2:00 am

    BillyJoe7 “You misunderstand.

    I was commenting about the last bit of your post: “This is made evident each and every time you employ the personal pronoun “I.”” In other words, because I use the personal pronoun “I”, I really do believe in freewill.

    Without “free will,” there is no “I.” In fact, I believe you already stated this much.

  250. ccbowerson 25 Jun 2010 at 2:13 am

    “Science is based on a democratic vote?”

    No, not democratic at all, but scientific consensus. Not ‘everyone’ gets a vote. For nonspecialists talking about topics in specialties the scientific consensus is the best position. Its not always correct, but it is better than going beyond your knowledge against people who have studied the topic to a great degree. But you don’t always seem to realize where your knowledge ends and your ideology begins.

    “Are you ignorant on the nature of consciousness (i.e. whether it is physical or nonphysical)?”

    There is no evidence that I know to date that consciousness can occur without physical cause. It would be huge news if there was such evidence. (I know the question was not directed towards me, but I’m addressing it anyways)

    Why are you so hung up on the supernatural explanation for things? Just because scientific knowledge at any given point is incomplete doesn’t mean that we should jump to the supernatural.

  251. Paisleyon 25 Jun 2010 at 2:34 am

    BillyJoe7: “As for “axiom”, I go with the mathematical defintion: something you *assume* to be true to see what follows by *assuming* it to be true.”

    The term “axiom” (like many terms) has more than one meaning, depending on context. I clearly stated that I was employing the term “axiomatic” to mean “self-evident.” There should be no confusion whatsoever on this issue.

    BillyJoe7: “Science *assumes* materialism to be true to see what follows by *assuming* materialism to be true. Result: 400 years of scientific progress, countless supernatural explanations replaced by natural explanations, and not one example of proven supernatural agency.”

    This is historically inaccurate. Science does not assume materialism to be true. You could argue that science initially assumed physical phenomena to be mechanistic/deterministic. But it never assumed mental phenomena to be physical. That idea that science assumes materialism is simply materialistic propaganda.

  252. Paisleyon 25 Jun 2010 at 3:03 am

    ccbowers: “No, not democratic at all, but scientific consensus. Not ‘everyone’ gets a vote. For nonspecialists talking about topics in specialties the scientific consensus is the best position. Its not always correct, but it is better than going beyond your knowledge against people who have studied the topic to a great degree. But you don’t always seem to realize where your knowledge ends and your ideology begins.

    Quantum indeterminacy, quantum entanglement, and nonlocality are based on the Standard Interpretation of QM.

    ccbowers: “There is no evidence that I know to date that consciousness can occur without physical cause. It would be huge news if there was such evidence.”

    There is no objective evidence whatsoever that consciousness is physical. Moreover, there is no evidence that the physical is actually fundamental. In fact, there is compelling evidence to the contrary. Apparently, ignorance is not preventing materialists from taking an ideological stance.

    The bottom line is that materialists invoke the “ignorance” mantra in order to provide some kind of faux justification for ignoring evidence which undermines the materialist hypothesis.

    ccbowers: “Why are you so hung up on the supernatural explanation for things? Just because scientific knowledge at any given point is incomplete doesn’t mean that we should jump to the supernatural.”

    This is simply a promissory materialism argument – an argument constructed just to deny the present evidence.

  253. BillyJoe7on 25 Jun 2010 at 7:53 am

    Paisley,

    “The term “axiom” (like many terms) has more than one meaning, depending on context. I clearly stated that I was employing the term “axiomatic” to mean “self-evident.” There should be no confusion whatsoever on this issue.”

    I thought it would be quite clear that I was playing with you over this double meaning. You know, leading you down one path, somersaulting you over to the other, and wrapping it around your head in the process.
    Oh well…

  254. BillyJoe7on 25 Jun 2010 at 8:31 am

    bindle,

    Answer your own damn question you witless master of obfuscation, goose chasing, and pedagogical pretension.

    Otherwise die with it for all I care.

  255. Eric Thomsonon 25 Jun 2010 at 9:40 am

    Instead of giving a reference to an original research paper with evidence that large-scale quantum effects are important in brains, Paisley asked:
    Why does QM require a ’solution?’

    I answered this question in the beginning of the very post that you selectively quoted from here.

    Just to repeat what I said there: Measurement is not explained yet, and this is an area of active research.

    Gaps in our knowledge don’t destroy science, they fuel science. Without gaps, science would be superfluous, experiments would not be needed.

    Ignorance is a rather boring psychological fact about us, not a fascinating fact with deep metaphysical implications. Unless you are a narcissist.

  256. bindleon 25 Jun 2010 at 1:13 pm

    “Whether a coin falls heads or tails, or even on its side, is the result of deterministic cause and effect.
    Yet the outcome of a coin toss is random. Every time you toss a coin (eliminating the rare side landing) there is an even chance of head or tails. The more coins you toss the more closely the ratio approaches 1/2.
    Therefore deterministic cause and effect can cause random events.”
    BillyJoe7

    The Rosetta stone of determinism. Filling the gap of ignorance with the logical fuel of science. No pedagogical pretender he.

    “What’s wrong with that syllogism?” I asked, heretic that I am. Damn you and your temerity, he cries, the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.

    What’s wrong with that answer?

  257. Paisleyon 25 Jun 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Eric Thomson: “I answered this question in the beginning of the very post that you selectively quoted from here.”

    This is simply a tacit admission that your materialistic bias precludes you from accepting the present scientific evidence.

    Eric Thomson: “Instead of giving a reference to an original research paper with evidence that large-scale quantum effects are important in brains, Paisley asked:
    Why does QM require a ’solution?

    I did provide you with a reference, but you summarily dismissed it because it does not comport with your materialistic bias. Besides, you yourself have already gone on record and stated that quantum processes are involved in the brain.

    Eric Thomson’s previous comment “My take is that lower-level mechanisms such as retinal phototransduction and single ion-channel function will likely require QM, and these effects will have effects that are measurable.”

  258. Eric Thomsonon 25 Jun 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Paisley: I explicitly asked for evidence of quantum effects on a large scale in brains. The discussion was of consciousness, which is not in a single photoreceptor or ion channel, but is a highly distributed process. So yes, I suggested that we might discover independent quantum coin-flips at individual photoreceptors, with the probability of photoactivation at each photoreceptor depending on the intensity of light (like a population of independent Geiger counters with rates changing depending on light intensity). That wouldn’t be too surprising, but it still doesn’t address my original question about consciousness.

    For one, there isn’t even evidence that I am right about photoreceptors. You acted as if there was good evidence for large-scale quantum effects in brains. Hopefully this sets the record straight. Such evidence does not exist. Compare that to evidence about large-scale effects on “classical” neuronal variables such as voltages from populations of neurons. Lots of data there. None from the quantophile.

    Listen Paisley, we already know that you see consciousness in the Rorschach test of the quantum measurement problem. Yoiu have made that clear.

    Unfortunately, it isn’t supported by the evidence any more than the other dozen proposed solutions. Indeed, it is one of the more implausible of the theories in that pile of other attempted solutions (which includes things such as God, pilot waves,splitting universes, interactions with measuring devices, free will, consciousness, etc). That you are fixated upon one of these logical possibilities is your prerogative, but to act as if the evidence especially supports your view over and above the other dozen interpretations is unjustifiable. To act as if there is no problem in need of solution, when you are merely acting as an advocate for one particular (and particularly implausible) solution, is either a defect of knowledge or integrity.

  259. Paisleyon 25 Jun 2010 at 4:07 pm

    The bottom line is that materialists do not appear to have a bona fide materialistic theory of evolution. And even if I concede, for the sake of argument, that “neo-Darwinism” (or the “modern synthesis”) qualifies as a materialistic theory of evolution (and I really don’t because it is ultimately based on true randomness which implies it is based on physical events occurring without physical causes), the lingering doubt still remains that neo-Darwinism does not appear to fully account for the fossil record. (Mind you, I am not denying evolution as a historical fact. I am simply questioning as to whether neo-Darwinism , or any other materialist theory of evolution, can fully account for the fact. So, you cannot marginalize me by labeling me a “evolution denier.” This tack won’t work.) Moreover, the materialists cannot account for why consciousness was naturally selected, since on the materialist view, consciousness is causally inert and therefore incapable of conferring any survival benefit. These items seriously cast in doubt the “materialistic hypothesis” (which materialists would have us believe is the paradigm of science…indeed, which materialists would have us believe is science).

  260. Paisleyon 25 Jun 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Eric Thomson: “Paisley: I explicitly asked for evidence of quantum effects on a large scale in brains. The discussion was of consciousness, which is not in a single photoreceptor or ion channel, but is a highly distributed process”

    I did provide you with a reference, but you summarily dismissed it.

    “Hameroff further proposed that these electrons could become locked in phase, forming a state known as a Bose-Einstein condensate [15][16]. Furthermore, he thought that condensates in one neuron could extend to many others via gap junctions between neurons, thus forming a macroscopic quantum feature across an extended area of the brain. When the wave function of this extended condensate collapsed, it was suggested that this could give access to non-computational influences related to mathematical understanding and ultimately conscious experience that are embedded in the geometry of spacetime.

    Hameroff further postulated that the activity of these condensates is the source of gamma wave synchronisation in the brain. This synchronisation has also been viewed as a likely correlate of consciousness in conventional neuroscience, and it has been shown to be linked to the functioning of gap junctions [17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27]” (Quantum mind)

    By the way, your tack to discredit Wikipedia won’t work here. Each of those superscripts references a scientific publication. Now, you either address it or stop your whining that I haven’t provided you with a reference. I most certainly have.

  261. Paisleyon 25 Jun 2010 at 4:41 pm

    This is to correct the link to the Wikipedia article I cited in my previous post.

    (source: Wikipedia: Quantum mind)

  262. Eric Thomsonon 25 Jun 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Sigh.

    Paisley once again says something patently false about the “materialist”:
    on the materialist view, consciousness is causally inert and therefore incapable of conferring any survival benefit.

    I addressed this in some detail at this comment, which he didn’t address then either. I discussed four ways in which consciousness has a role to play in our nervous system. It isn’t causally inert.

    Why do you go to the dentist? Because of the pain in your tooth. Consciousness of pain caused you to go to the dentist, so it helped you plan your future. There are three other ways consciousness is causally potent mentioned at that comment (just to list all four here, consciousness aids in long-term planning, memory formation, selecting important information to process (similar to attention), and serves to tag the present moment).

    We are getting the same tracks on the CD now. Their order is semi-random: you don’t know if you are going to get the ‘consicousness is inert’ track, the ‘natural selection is not part of nature’ track, or the ‘bacteria are conscious’ track. Each devastating objection leads to a mere skipping of the CD to another track, another garden path, another waste of time to even respond. There is no progress. There is no evolution of the conversation taking into account previous information. There is just a shifting of the needle to a new track that is set to never change.

  263. Eric Thomsonon 25 Jun 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Paisley: Citation dumps show no understanding of anything. You are the advocate for the theory here, tell us which research study provides the best evidence to date. I’m not going to do your research for you, I am quite familiar with Hameroff’s theories. Pick the link to an experimental study of large-scale quantum effects in brains. Not Wikipedia (are you kidding me?), not a list of links, but a particular research study that we can examine in detail for the evidence.

    If you can’t do that, then you don’t understand the pages to which you are linking.

  264. Eric Thomsonon 25 Jun 2010 at 4:51 pm

    LOL it turns out I am familiar with all those studies Paisley cited. They do not show any evidence for large-scale quantum effects in brains, but show good old fashioned electrical coupling at a special type of synapse known as a ‘gap junction’ (basically a protein channel connecting two neurons directly sort of like a resistor). This is all standard V=IR type circuit theory from freshman physics.

    Never take Wikipedia at face value, paisely. Notice all the ‘theorized’ and ‘postulated’ qualifiers in that article? They are there for a reason: there is no evidence.

    Paisley, unless you want to post to a specific experimental study demonstrating large-scale quantum effects in brains, consider yourself PWND! lol

  265. bindleon 25 Jun 2010 at 5:11 pm

    The fossil records would indicate that life has evolved by virtue of its own strategic choices. For me that’s unequivocal. For those who’ve claimed I wait for Paisley’s input to establish my opinions, we’ll see now if that’s the case for either of us.

  266. bindleon 25 Jun 2010 at 5:21 pm

    On the other hand I suggest that Paisley ask Eric why he’s right when all he’s ever tried to demonstrate is how. He’s said before he doesn’t consider the why of anything as evidence.

  267. Eric Thomsonon 25 Jun 2010 at 5:33 pm

    I’m gonna stop checking this thread, for obvious reasons. If Paisley does end up providing an experimental study that gives empirical evidence supporting large-scale quantum effects in brains, then email me (thomson dot eric, account is with google) and I’ll take a look. By experimental, I don’t mean speculative proposals or logical possibilities, but evidence.

  268. BillyJoe7on 25 Jun 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Paisley,

    Regarding self-evident truth.
    …and to slam the lid on it:

    When there is reasoned and rational argument for the illusion of freewill, it will no longer do to PROCLAIM that freewill is self-evident.

    Good heavens, once the geocentric universe was self-evident: because, hey, there’s the sun rising up in the east, and passing over us to during the day, and disappearing below the western horizon at night to rise up again in the east in the morning.

    Self-evident truth?
    Yeah right.

  269. BillyJoe7on 25 Jun 2010 at 5:47 pm

    bindle,

    Asking “why?” presumes that it is a legitimate question.
    Nope.

  270. bindleon 25 Jun 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Actually, there is no center of the universe except the spot from which the observer has perspective. So that’s another very bad analogy.

  271. bindleon 25 Jun 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Asking why to BillyJoe presumes he’d have an illegitimate answer.

    Or in the case of why that silly syllogism, no answer at all.

  272. Paisleyon 25 Jun 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Eric Thomson: “I addressed this in some detail at this comment, which he didn’t address then either. I discussed four ways in which consciousness has a role to play in our nervous system. It isn’t causally inert.”

    You’re a liar. I did address them. You’re attempting to manufacture a causal role to consciousness which belies your deterministic and materialistic viewpoint. According to physicalism (a.k.a. materialism), the only things which are real are those things that can be described by the language of physics. Since you deny consciousness from having any causal role in physics (you deny the probability wave represents a mental realm of possibilities), then you have no basis whatsoever to ascribe a causal role to consciousness. Indeed, you have no basis for even acknowledging that consciousness exists. If physics doesn’t describe consciousness, then consciousness does not exist. This is the very view that eliminative materialists take. And although it is completely irrational, at least it is logically consistent. You, on the other hand, are apparently attempting to have it both ways. You can’t.

    Everything you stated in your link can be performed by an information processing system (no consciousness required). Or, to express this in other terms, what would an “organic robot with consciousness” do that an “organic robot without consciousness” cannot? Now, unless you’re willing to make consciousness fundamental and ascribe consciousness to all information processing systems (i.e. “organic robots” or “biological machines”) or ascribe “free will” to consciousness, then you have no basis for ascribing any causal role whatsoever to consciousness.

    By the way, I have asked you repeatedly to state your position on free will. No response was ever forthcoming.

    Eric Thomson: “Why do you go to the dentist? Because of the pain in your tooth. Consciousness of pain caused you to go to the dentist, so it helped you plan your future.

    The materialist viewpoint (which is based strictly on “efficient causation”) must necessarily deem all teleological (i.e. purposive) explanations as superfluous. Indeed, there is no teleology whatsoever in a strictly materialist world. Asking “why” in the context that you are stating above presupposes “purpose.” Moreover, “pain” is a stimulus. And unless you are willing to ascribe consciousness to all “stimulus-responses systems” (i.e. living organisms), then I must conclude that “responding” to environmental stimuli (e.g. pain) does not require any consciousness.

    Eric Thomson: “There are three other ways consciousness is causally potent mentioned at that comment (just to list all four here, consciousness aids in long-term planning, memory formation, selecting important information to process (similar to attention), and serves to tag the present moment).”

    Unless the “selecting” process implies something indeterminate, then there is nothing for consciousness to do. Whether or not an “information processing system” is “aware” is completely inconsequential to the information processing that is taking place.

  273. Paisleyon 25 Jun 2010 at 6:58 pm

    BillyJoe7: “Paisley,

    Regarding self-evident truth.
    …and to slam the lid on it:

    When there is reasoned and rational argument for the illusion of freewill, it will no longer do to PROCLAIM that freewill is self-evident.

    Good heavens, once the geocentric universe was self-evident: because, hey, there’s the sun rising up in the east, and passing over us to during the day, and disappearing below the western horizon at night to rise up again in the east in the morning.

    Self-evident truth?
    Yeah right.

    I like the “geocentric” analogy. There was a time when people believed that the sun revolved around the earth. This wasn’t an irrational belief. It was a belief based on evidence. However, the burden of proof was still upon those who argued for a heliocentric view. That is, they had to provide people with some proof that dispelled the illusion that the sun revolves around the earth. Without that proof, people would still be rationally justified in believing the “geocentric” view. If free will is an illusion (and it may well be), then you have to prove that it is an illusion. Hitherto, you haven’t provided any proof – just some rehashed Libet experimental results that can easily be interpreted as evidence for psi phenomena!

  274. ccbowerson 26 Jun 2010 at 1:32 am

    I would like to bring up the main question that sparked this discussion since the detractors like to keep things off topic.

    “But does the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution explain all the observable data?”

    The only answer that we can make about this from a scientific perspective is that the modern understanding of evolution, almost by definition, explains the data better than any other theory (if it didnt, it would be adjusted to any new data). Thats all we can say… thats all theories can do – is a best fit of the data.

    If you disagree, then show me your alternative theory and how it does a better job. Of course this is never done, because its easier to be critical than to be correct. The question must be about the theory that best fits the data. Anyone have a better one? Bindle? Paisley? Where is your better theory?

  275. BillyJoe7on 26 Jun 2010 at 4:04 am

    Paisley,

    I’m glad you like the geocentric analogy.

    It was just self-evidently true, and that self-evident truth is recapitulated by pretty well everyone on Earth up untill some point in their lives when they read about the scientific facts of the matter that reveals the geocentric view as an illusion.

    So, please stop claiming self-evident truth.

    There is a rational explanation for freewill as an illusion. I have already described it in outline some time ago but, to my surprise, no one took it up.

    Oh well…

  276. BillyJoe7on 26 Jun 2010 at 4:07 am

    bindle,

    As I said, answer your own friggin’ question.
    Or die with it.
    Take your pick.

  277. BillyJoe7on 26 Jun 2010 at 5:15 am

    Freewill as illusion.

    The universe, and the galaxies and solar systems contained within it, all follow deterministic physical laws of cause and effect.

    Imagine for a moment that the planets within the solar systems suddenly developed freewill. What would be the result? Inevitably there would be chaos. If all the suns and planets within our universe were suddenly to be endowed with freewill, the result would be death and destruction. It is the deterministic laws of cause and effect that maintains order in the universe.

    Why would the brain be any different? The brain must function within this deterministic universe. It takes in information from the universe, combines it with memory of recent and past events and information it has accumulated about the universe and the objects and people within it, and then produces an output derived from, and determined by, all those inputs. In other words, it arrives at “decision” about what to do next in a perfectly deterministic way that is attune to everything that is going on around it.

    So what would freewill add to this perfectly functioning system. Presumably it could act as a veto on the brain’s output. So there are two choices: Go with the output that was arrived at by the deterministic cause and effect activity within the brain, which is constantly keeping track of the determinsitic cause and effect relations in the universe at large. Or ignore all this work done by the brain and decide to reject it.

    But why reject it? On a whim?

    Being “free”, freewill cannot be based on anything. Which means it must be random as to whether it vetos the brains mechanistic output or to go with it. And what would be the result? What would happen if the mechanistic brain were to be suddenly endowed with freewill. Inevitably, like the planets, this would rapidly result in destruction and death. And, since we do not rapidly descend into destruction and death, that is a good argument against the existence of freewill.

    So freewill does not exist, freewill cannot exist. But there is certainly an illusion-of-freewill which is very real. And an illusion-of-self that is very real. It is very likely that the illusion-of-self and the illusion-of-freewill arose, along with consciousness, as emergent properties in increasingly complex brains. And, of course, increasingly complex brains were selected for because of their survival value in a world full of predators.

    But despite them being illusions, freewill and the self seem so real to all of us that all of us – including those who accept that they are illusions – act for all the world as if they are real.

    The best of both worlds you might say.

  278. BillyJoe7on 26 Jun 2010 at 5:20 am

    Paisley,

    You may disagree with the above, but you cannot claim that freewill is a self-evident truth.

  279. bindleon 26 Jun 2010 at 10:50 am

    “Whether a coin falls heads or tails, or even on its side, is the result of deterministic cause and effect.
    Yet the outcome of a coin toss is random. Every time you toss a coin (eliminating the rare side landing) there is an even chance of head or tails. The more coins you toss the more closely the ratio approaches 1/2.
    Therefore deterministic cause and effect can cause random events.” BillyJoe7

    What’s wrong with that syllogism?
    Hint: The same things that are wrong with the following:

    “Being ‘free’, freewill cannot be based on anything. Which means it must be random as to whether it vetos the brains mechanistic output or to go with it. And what would be the result? What would happen if the mechanistic brain were to be suddenly endowed with freewill. Inevitably, like the planets, this would rapidly result in destruction and death. And, since we do not rapidly descend into destruction and death, that is a good argument against the existence of freewill.” BillyJoe7

  280. Paisleyon 26 Jun 2010 at 12:50 pm

    BillyJoe7: “You may disagree with the above, but you cannot claim that freewill is a self-evident truth.”

    I do disagree with your assessment, and “yes,” I can claim that free will is a self-evident truth for the very reasons I have already stated and to which you are now conceding – namely, that “even if we deny free will in theory, we cannot but help to presuppose it in practice.” Such is the nature of our first-person experience.

    Your argument that free will is an illusion is based on a faith-commitment to determinism, not on empirical evidence. Indeed, quantum physics would suggest that the world is fundamentally indeterminate (e.g. physical events occurring without physical cause).

    Also, I do not see “randomness” as being completely destructive. It is also creative -providing the means by which new information and novelty are spontaneously generated.

  281. bindleon 26 Jun 2010 at 1:18 pm

    What the determinists/materialists don’t understand is this problem is not reducible to an either/or dichotomy. Some call this the logical fallacy of false dilemma.
    The universe is indeterminate relative to the negation of determinism as a viable philosophy. But in a positive sense, the universe is probabilistic.
    The greater mystery is how these laws of probability have come about – how the universe has acquired its self-regulatory purpose.

  282. Razakelon 26 Jun 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Because there isn’t a specific explanation currently for a bit of quantum mechanics, what with most of it occurring at a level the vast majority of us will never “experience”, doesn’t negate that there is an explanation, at some point in time. Saying “It must be supernatural, since it’s not been explained naturally” is how most of the people throughout time have ended up being wrong.

    This is actually a problem from Paisley’s original question. If it doesn’t answer all the questions perfectly, it should be discarded. The problem being, nothing is known 100%, even if you accept the supernatural “hypothesis”.

    In this case though, the modern synthesis of evolution does explain more than any other scientific proposition on that topic. Later someone will come along and explain those bits that are unable to be explained, and then move on again.

  283. Paisleyon 26 Jun 2010 at 2:03 pm

    ccbowers: “I would like to bring up the main question that sparked this discussion since the detractors like to keep things off topic. “But does the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution explain all the observable data?” The only answer that we can make about this from a scientific perspective is that the modern understanding of evolution, almost by definition, explains the data better than any other theory (if it didnt, it would be adjusted to any new data). Thats all we can say… thats all theories can do – is a best fit of the data.”So, are conceding the point(s) that I raised in a recent post (see below)?
    The bottom line is that materialists do not appear to have a bona fide materialistic theory of evolution. And even if I concede, for the sake of argument, that “neo-Darwinism” (or the “modern synthesis”) qualifies as a materialistic theory of evolution (and I really don’t because it is ultimately based on true randomness which implies it is based on physical events occurring without physical causes), the lingering doubt still remains that neo-Darwinism does not appear to fully account for the fossil record. (Mind you, I am not denying evolution as a historical fact. I am simply questioning as to whether neo-Darwinism , or any other materialist theory of evolution, can fully account for the fact. So, you cannot marginalize me by labeling me a “evolution denier.” This tack won’t work.) Moreover, the materialists cannot account for why consciousness was naturally selected, since on the materialist view, consciousness is causally inert and therefore incapable of conferring any survival benefit. These items seriously cast in doubt the “materialistic hypothesis” (which materialists would have us believe is the paradigm of science…indeed, which materialists would have us believe is science).”

  284. BillyJoe7on 26 Jun 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Paisley,

    “I can claim that free will is a self-evident truth for the very reasons I have already stated and to which you are now conceding – namely, that “even if we deny free will in theory, we cannot but help to presuppose it in practice.” Such is the nature of our first-person experience.”

    You are simply confusing the illusion-of-freewill with freewill.
    It’s the illusion-of-freewill that is real and of practical value for the brain. Freewill itself does not exist, cannot exist for the reasons given above which you haven’t even attempted to refute.

    “Your argument that free will is an illusion is based on a faith-commitment to determinism, not on empirical evidence.”

    It was to demonstrate to you that it is no longer acceptable to say that freewill is self-evidently true. There is an alternative totally reasonable explanation to the contrary, and therefore you can no longer claim that freewill is self-evidently true.
    You now need to address this perfectly reasonable alternative explanation and demonstrate that it is false, before claiming victory for freewill.

    “Indeed, quantum physics would suggest that the world is fundamentally indeterminate (e.g. physical events occurring without physical cause).”

    But you have yet to rise to the challenge of:

    1. Providing experimental evidence that quantum phenomena are of any relevance to macroscopic objects such as the brain.

    2. Explaining how something that is uncaused could possibly require the supernatural for its existence – an oxymoron if ever I saw one.

    3. Providing an explanation for how randomness could possibly be a basis for freewill.

    4. Demonstrating how vetoing or not vetoing the brain’s output for absolutely no reason whatsoever amounts to anything useful?

    You have not, because I believe you cannot, answer those fundamental points.

    “Also, I do not see “randomness” as being completely destructive. It is also creative -providing the means by which new information and novelty are spontaneously generated.”

    Except “spontaneous” is the wrong word to use here. Yes, even though random mutation is largely destructive, it is also the driver of evolution. But it is not the case that new information and novelty are “spontaneously” generated. It requires natural selection to remove the large majority of mutations that are destructive leaving the small minority that are useful for surviving the evironmental challenges.

  285. BillyJoe7on 26 Jun 2010 at 4:56 pm

    bindle,

    Are you going to say anything useful anytime soon, or should I just stop reading your repetitive blatherings as the continued waste of my time that it has been up to this point.

    Put up or shut up.

    Without using language accessible to no one but yourself, explain why my explanation for how deterministic cause and effect can cause randomness is false.

  286. bindleon 26 Jun 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Is that a confirmation that you stand by those statements as models of logical construction?

    Because one answer to my question would be that nothing’s wrong, and so far neither you or anyone else has had the guts to say that.

  287. bindleon 26 Jun 2010 at 5:43 pm

    While I’m waiting, let me hammer on the point some more.
    “It requires natural selection to remove the large majority of mutations that are destructive leaving the small minority that are useful for surviving the evironmental challenges.” BillyJoe7

    What’s the logical process that can come up with that explanatory outline?

    How does ‘natural selection’ function in a universe without the need for purpose, yet manage to acquire as its functional basis the removal of mutations that without an independent decision making capability must nevertheless assess the destructive capabilities of its blindly chosen array of those possibly beneficial to an otherwise uninterested entity of the biological world?

    A function which after that assessment must make the independent choices necessary to that entity’s evolution as to which mutations the target entity must carry forward without its knowing how to either eliminate those chosen for that purpose or carry forward those chosen for potential replication?

    The blind unblinding of the blind?

  288. BillyJoe7on 26 Jun 2010 at 6:18 pm

    bindle,

    We are not going to answer your questions.

    We are waiting for a meaningful response from you to the proposition that deterministic cause and effect can cause random events.

    Questions are not a meaningful response.
    If you disagree, give your reasons, in clear English.

    Yes, I said, in clear English.
    Not impenetrable gibberish like this:

    “A function which after that assessment must make the independent choices necessary to that entity’s evolution as to which mutations the target entity must carry forward without its knowing how to either eliminate those chosen for that purpose or carry forward those chosen for potential replication?”

    If you want a response to that…um…question…please provide a…translation.

  289. BillyJoe7on 26 Jun 2010 at 6:24 pm

    …I mean, with some effort, I can half see what you’re saying but, without a look inside your brain there’s a good chance that I am mistaken and hence a reply seems a waste of my time as it may be totally irrelevant to what you actually meant by that paragraph so, please, please, strive for clarity.

    And please stop responsing with questions.

  290. bindleon 26 Jun 2010 at 6:39 pm

    What I’m demonstrating is that your logic stinks and you can’t even smell it.
    Or if you do, you can’t admit it. What amuses me is that no-one on you side will tell you.

  291. bindleon 26 Jun 2010 at 6:44 pm

    What’s even more amusing is that they won’t say it doesn’t.

  292. BillyJoe7on 27 Jun 2010 at 12:21 am

    …another couple of insightful posts from bindle.

    You can never be refuted if you never reveal what’s on your mind.
    Safe stradegy, but you learn nothing.
    That is called losing.

    ;)

    My take is that you have no idea what is wrong with my post, so you just pretend there is a fatal error and just keep implying that that is so. It is also possible that you think you have seen an error, but you don’t have the courage of your convictions to point it out, just in case you are wrong.

    I have no such qualms.

    I have laid my views bare and I am happy for anyone to correct me on anything I’ve said. But if no one does, I’ll take that as a vindication.

    ;)

    And, as I have always said in situations such as this:
    If I am right, I win.
    But if I am wrong, I still win.
    …because I have learned something.

    Regards,
    BillyJoe

  293. bindleon 27 Jun 2010 at 1:15 am

    If I’m making this stuff up, why don’t your cronies here agree with you that nothing’s wrong with your use of syllogistic logic in those examples?
    Perhaps because their credibility will suffer with the audience they’re playing to here – many of whom, regardless of their materialism, are well aware of the rules of logical argument.
    Or perhaps because you’ve desperately signaled for them not to answer. Although why would you do that?

    But if you’re sure that nothing’s wrong, and that you have learned something by that re-examination, then I’ve accomplished my purpose.

  294. BillyJoe7on 27 Jun 2010 at 4:00 am

    “why don’t your cronies here agree with you”

    …because they’re not echoes.

  295. ccbowerson 27 Jun 2010 at 10:22 am

    BillyJoe7 – “3. Providing an explanation for how randomness could possibly be a basis for freewill.”

    Yeah, this seems to a major problem if Paisley is trying to propose quantum mechanics as a mechanism for free will.
    Random free will is a self contradiction.

    bindle – “What’s wrong with that syllogism?”

    There is nothing wrong with his logic as long as you agree with the assumptions. I think bindle thinks there is begging the question going on there, but its really a matter of a problem of the subject matter. We cannot have a logical argument if someone else is implying a supernatural cause, because the rules of logic fall apart if you can insert a supernatural cause for anything. Supernatural causes can even mimic natural causes except when its ‘convenient’ for the person in the argument.

    pasiley – “the lingering doubt still remains that neo-Darwinism does not appear to fully account for the fossil record.”

    You keep saying this, yet:

    1. You don’t point to examples of this, you just assert this
    2. You don’t acknowledge that an imperfect theory does not imply anything at all, and is a function of limited data and some gaps in knowledge
    3. You do not suggest a better theory

    The reason why you never do those things is that you have no argument.

  296. bindleon 27 Jun 2010 at 1:46 pm

    ccbowers: “There is nothing wrong with his logic as long as you agree with the assumptions.” Well, let’s take a gander at that goose:

    BillyJoe’s first premise:
    “Whether a coin falls heads or tails, or even on its side, is the result of deterministic cause and effect.”

    Second premise:
    Yet the outcome of a coin toss is random.

    Argument that ties these premises together::
    The more coins you toss the more closely the ratio approaches 1/2.

    The inference we must draw from that:
    Therefore deterministic cause and effect can cause random events.

    If we assume the first premise is true, then the second premise is necessarily false. Random in this context means not determined in advance. (A tenuous exception might be that randomness was predetermined by the supernatural, but based on the conclusion, that doesn’t seem to have been the intended inference.)

    But ccbowers has advised we assume both premises to be true, which tells us oddly that neither can be false. So therefor, the statistical analysis presented that randomness is after all not random in the end has lost its relevance. (Thank god for that!)

    And the conclusion is that if a thing can cause an event, then that thing is able to cause the event.
    Otherwise the thing couldn’t be the cause. And the premise says it was. (Unless we start with the assumption that the premise, or either premise, could be false. Which I unfortunately did.)

    Thank you ccbowers for clearing that up. Your goose, by the way, is cooked.

  297. BillyJoe7on 27 Jun 2010 at 5:47 pm

    bindle,

    “Random in this context means not determined in advance.”

    So, here’s your argument in a nutshell.

    Deterministic cause and effect cannot cause randomness because deterministic cause and effect cannot cause randomness.

    Congratulations.

    (Hint: How do you determine whether something is random or not?)

  298. bindleon 27 Jun 2010 at 9:40 pm

    You set the context by contrasting random with deterministic.
    Remember, I have made no argument here other than that you have demonstrated no facility for logical argument.

    Your inference that this has led to some tautological dead end is ludicrous. Syllogisms are true or false determinants. You have not determined logically that your conclusion is true. Neither have you determined that if your premises are false, the opposite would be true. So many things were wrong with your procedures that no valid inferences could be drawn in any direction, including circular.

  299. bindleon 27 Jun 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Here’s a story I always liked, apocryphal or not:
    ‘Bertrand Russell once claimed that, starting with any false premise, he could logically conclude any other false statement. “Oh, yeah?” said his friends, “Start with 2 + 2 = 5, and prove that you’re the Pope.” So Mr. Russell computed:
    If 2 + 2 = 5, then (subtracting 2 from each side), we get 2 = 3.
    Subtracting 2 again, we get 1 = 2.
    The Pope and I are two people; therefore the Pope and I are one person, therefore I am the Pope.’

  300. ccbowerson 27 Jun 2010 at 10:07 pm

    BillyJoe7 right about your argument, bindle. Your conclusion that “If we assume the first premise is true, then the second premise is necessarily false” is only based upon your own beggin the question.

    You introduced the inconsistency in the premises… this is a theme with you, bindle. You introduce the inconsistencies that you point out. Just like the ‘purposes’ you attribute to things without realizing or acknowledging that they are assumptions.

  301. bindleon 27 Jun 2010 at 10:56 pm

    ccbowers,
    At least I assume that purposes are needed. And you have demonstrated again that you know nothing about formal logic.
    What conclusion would you reach if both premises were in fact true, other than that randomness was an illusion with a predetermined cause? In which case the second premise wouldn’t have been true after all.
    Everything we feel we know is to some extent an assumption. The questions for science include (among many others), at what degree of probability can these assumptions be deemed accurate and reliable, and why is one degree at times more reliable than the other.

    But again, what conclusions would you reach if both premises were in fact true?

  302. ccbowerson 28 Jun 2010 at 1:15 am

    Actually I don’t think that the coin flip argument explains much, but not for the reason you state. It is you who is hung up wanting to explore this.

    You or Paisley have yet to offer a theory of evolution that explains the data better, even though I have asked several times. The reason you won’t touch it with a 10 light-year pole is that you don’t have a good answer. I’m calling you out in this and you are ducking.

  303. bindleon 28 Jun 2010 at 1:36 am

    I don’t speak for Paisley, but note that I’ve cited numerous papers where scientists support the concept that the experiences of life forms are central to the evolutionary process. And I’ve given detailed arguments of my own in support of that hypothesis.
    Whereas you jokers have cited nothing to speak of and instead tried to dispute everything both of us have put forward by logic alone. Why was it important to explore the coin flip argument? Because it has shown that if all you two have to work with is logic, you have from zilch to nada.
    Calling me out? Calling Paisley out? Get real. We’ve come out and kicked your asses. Deal with it.

  304. BillyJoe7on 28 Jun 2010 at 7:17 am

    bindle,

    “You set the context by contrasting random with deterministic.”

    You have lost track.

    The argument was that determinism cannot explain randomness.
    Therefore supernaturalism is true.

    I explained that supernaturalism does not get to be the default position. You actually need an argument. No argument was offered. Next I asked how supernaturalism could possibly be an explanation for randomness. There was no answer. Or how an uncaused cause could have a cause (supernaturalism). No answer. Finally I demonstrated how determinism can explain randomness. The response was that it just can’t because…well…determinism cannot explain randomness.

    Apparently the outcome of a coin flip is supernatural because it just is…you know…because it can’t be natural.

    Thanks for playing.

  305. BillyJoe7on 28 Jun 2010 at 7:20 am

    …oh and:

    Hint: How do you determine if something is random?
    No answer.

  306. bindleon 28 Jun 2010 at 12:25 pm

    More stupid “logic” tricks from BillyJoe7.
    “The argument was that determinism cannot explain randomness. Therefore supernaturalism is true.”

    Whose argument was that? Not mine. Not anybody’s. Meaning not only does he mistakenly use false premises, he uses them knowing they are false.
    And he expects an answer?

    “A liar that expects an honest answer is a fool to boot.”

  307. mufion 28 Jun 2010 at 2:25 pm

    BillyJoe: I would like to recommend Dennett’s Freedom Evolves to you.

    Like I said earlier, it’s been a while since I read it myself (ca. 2003), but I do recall coming away from it with the feeling that: whatever it is that I might want in terms of “free will” is logically available to me in a deterministic universe. What’s more (and this part you may already agree with), adding an indeterminate feature (like quantum randomness) into that universe offers me nothing that I might want.

  308. bindleon 28 Jun 2010 at 3:41 pm

    From International Journal of Ethics, Vol. 46, No. 4, July, 1936, 473-83. “Our very apprehension of the imminence of a future act changes the environment which makes the act imminent.”
    June 31, 2009

    On a Fallacy in “Scientific Fatalism”
    Susanne K. Langer

    Like a long-forgotten photograph by chance re-covered—some close friend of far-off days—Professor Perry’s Thought and Character of William James suddenly reminds us of that great and genial American whose vivid nature dominated an aca-demic era, who always seemed to stand in the very center of vital discussions and to see the immediate issues that were shaping themselves out of the new ideas and experiments of his time. Most of these issues, if they have not been settled, at least have paled a little, displaced by more crying problems, or perhaps obscured by some shift of emphasis, some new slant on old ideas; Monism and Pluralism no longer hold the philosophical stage, Functional Psychology has become too respectable to cause any commotion, even Optimism and Pessimism now-adays do not force our choice between them. Revealed Religion and Evolution have fought out their enmity, and the former has retreated to its last stronghold in the hills of a southerly state. Like a faded photograph, James’s impassioned letters now show the contours of those philosophical chimaeras, as they looked in their young and untried strength.
    But one of the questions that seriously agitated James, though little discussed by men of letters at present, is still alive and vital to many thoughtful minds: that is the question of determinism versus true freedom of action. It is a perennial problem; for it is not only a theoretical affair, but a moral issue; once the philosophers have raised it, the laity cannot forget it. It was raised long before there were professional thinkers. The “insolubilium” it presented to James’s generation was merely a new version of a Sphynxian riddle. But every option presents itself in its peculiar style until it is either resolved or circumvented, and this one has met with neither fate as yet. It is to us, as it was to our fathers and teachers, a living problem—the Dilemma of Determin-ism. So, despite its age, I may be pardoned for rousing this sleeping dog once more, for the purpose of finally dispatching it.
    The doctrine of determinism, in its philosophic form, is a modern version of belief in Fate. On the basis of this identification a veritable war has been waged between those who, in the interests of science, welcomed the idea of a closed causal system, and those who, from moral considerations, found it abhorrent. As usual, assent and denial were given before anyone made a logical analysis of the concepts involved, or traced the actual implications of the dogma that is supposed (both by its supporters and its haters) to re-establish Fatalism in the modern world. Yet these concepts, besides being exciting, are also very interesting from a logical standpoint. The connection between causal determinism and fatalism is not simple—in fact, they have at one time stood in contradiction to each other—and their identification rests on a genuine, howbeit somewhat “technical,” mistake. A demon-stration of this momentous misconception dispels the phantom Fate, and shows us once more—if we care to draw the moral—how heedlessly the “will to believe” outruns logical inference, and jumps at the most vigorously beckoning conclusion.
    It may be well, before challenging the view that determinism implies fatalism, to consider the latter in its classical form.1 In ancient mythology, the destinies of certain men were laid down by the mystic agency of a god; and struggle as they might, these men must consummate their assigned triumphs or sufferings, though the end might be reached by unpredictable paths. In the Christian doctrine of predestination the same fatalistic element prevails: it matters not how hard the soul may struggle that is initially condemned, or how low the elect may fall through his own guilt; the conclusion of every career is written in the stars before ever the race is run.
    This belief in the omnipotence of destiny has always been countered by an equally primitive philosophy of individual action: of responsibility, justice, personal initiative, in short, of prevision and purpose within a purely causal, indifferent universe. As a man sows, so shall he reap. The very struggle of a doomed hero against his fate expresses his unbelief in the absoluteness of doom. The reason why the spectator, knowing the end to be inevitable, does not regard the struggler merely as a fool, is that he sympathizes with the philosophy of effective action even while he accepts the philosophy of fate. There is a strange conflict of two doctrines that seem to be equally fundamental: the belief that man is a puppet in the hands of higher powers, and the belief that his future is “Karma,” a function of his own deeds, determined wisely or unwisely, for better or worse, by his own decisions.
    Ancient mythology and Christian mysticism gra-dually yielded to the conception of a thoroughgoing causal order, wherein the power of Words, the agency of charms and curses, have no place whatever. The universe of our scientific era is a huge network of causal relations, wherein each term, i.e., each physical event, is connected directly with its next neighbors: determined by events immediately preceding, and itself the origin of the terms which immediately follow. In such a world a man’s actions of today determine his fortunes for tomorrow. By understanding the nature of causal connection, by learning the rules of the cosmic game, he can exploit those relationships, he can play his hand in that game. No evil star, no malevolent deity presides over his life; no high destiny or heavenly crown is his birthright. He must make his bed as he would lie in it. The philosophy of causation, which reasons from item to item, has defeated the mystical metaphysics of a younger age, which interpreted present and future as the fulfilment of a divine plan—a preordained drama, wherein men were merely actors whose parts were written in advance—a sham battle, like the conflict between Ahura Mazda and Ahriman, which must turn against the latter, whatever may occur between the beginning and the end. In the cosmology of science, every occurrence matters; every event creates a new situation; and any claim to clairvoyance, beyond a natural knowledge of given causes, is humbug and deception.
    A world of causal relations is necessary, indeed, for intelligent action, and consequently is a prerequi-site for the existence of any aim, intent, or responsi-bility. But there is a joker in this deck, nonetheless: the very thoroughness of our belief in causation is the joker. For, by this doctrine, every act we perform has not only an effect, but a cause as well; it is itself the effect of a cause, which in turn is a consequence of an earlier cause, and so on ad infinitum. What we do today determines what shall happen tomorrow, but since causation is regressive, our deed is by no means the ultimate cause; all the causes of our act are causes of its consequences. There is an endless chain of causes, wherein each link connects any cause in its past with any consequent in its future, and from given causes there can be only one set of effects. If all causes up to a given cross-section of the world’s events were known, all consequences would be unequivocally determined. So we do, indeed, suffer the consequences of our own acts, but we have acted only as the events of our past have predestined us to act. The upshot of scientific philosophy, then, is that responsibility becomes just as meaningless here as in a doom-driven tragedy; our struggle against heredity is as vain as the hero’s fight against fate; we are once more the puppets in a show, the innocent dupes of destiny.
    This is the doctrine of determinism, which is generally regarded as a modern version of fatalism. Not only for demigods and heroes, but for every one of us, the future is established from all eternity, and from it there is no escape by wit, or luck, or heavenly intervention. Only, it is not a god, a mystic Will, or a bad fairy that spells our fate; it is Nature itself that is in conflict with our ideals and ambitions and our dream of freedom.
    Whatever step we take, whatever we do, say, or even think, a world-old decree of Nature stands behind the act. Each word and thought, each breath that we draw, realizes an appointed occasion. For, in the great world-order, it has causes that could have had no other effect than just this one, and anyone who had known those causes could have predicted the personal act which is their inevitable consequent.
    “Anyone who had known those causes”; this clause conveys a crucial assumption in the philoso-phy which may be termed “scientific fatalism”: the assumption that there is a theoretically knowable collection of causes for any act. In the mystical order of fate and fulfilment, there is a simple correlation between one event of the past—the act of divine or demonic Will that creates the destiny by fiat—and one event of the future, the dramatic climax which completes it. Whatever may be the source of the oracle that declares such a predetermined fate, the connection between the spell which is the cause and the disaster or triumph that is its effect is a simple relation between two terms. The nature of this relation is mystical, for it does not postulate a causal chain wherein every link follows necessarily and unequivocally from a first cause. The links are vari-able; the end may come about by one means or another; if there be interference with one line of ap-proach, another will be taken. The only certain con-sequence of the first event is the last. When this relationship has been declared to us, we can grasp its logical structure: the end follows simply—though we know not why from the beginning. The hero may know his fate, or not know it, his knowledge has no bearing at all on the final act. Other people may know it, but their knowledge has no causal con-nection with his doom. At most, it may alter the way this doom is accomplished. Had Oedipus not been exposed in the forest, he would not have met his father as a stranger on the road; but he would presu-mably have slain him in civil strife, or by some gymnastic accident, or in his cups. The foreknow-ledge on the part of his elders could alter only the manner, not the nature, of his destiny. The cause of his mischance was solely a work of the Fates. If the decree of these mystic beings was known, as it was supposed to be upon the word of the oracle, then the future event which it determined could be known just as surely: for here was one cause and one effect, and nothing else was relevant to the occurrence of the latter, than the fact that this cause was given.
    It is different with scientific determinations. Surely, every act has a cause; and if the total state of the universe at any time before the occurrence of an act could be known, the act could be theoretically foreseen. But if there were such knowledge on the part of any human being, this knowledge itself would constitute an item in the “total state of the universe,” and would alter the conditions of which the act in question was supposed to be a result. Let us say, then, that what is to be known is the state of the universe, including our knowledge of the future act and its relation to the given state. But this complex, if it be known, again becomes augmented by the knowledge of which it is the object. Such a “total state of the universe” is what Whitehead and Russell have called an “illegitimate totality,” a whole which cannot be theoretically constructed.2 Present knowledge of the future is itself a cause of events in the future; therefore it cannot be knowledge of all the causes that operate upon the future. Quite aside from the human impossibility of knowing more than a negligible amount about the state of the universe at any time, even a hypothetical supermind could not know that total state, because such a total would have to include the knowledge itself. In short, there is no such totality.
    There are certain events which can be predicted with fair accuracy, because we have learned that only a certain class of previous events is causally relevant to them, and that our thoughts and feelings, our knowledge or ignorance, are not in this class. Notably in physical science the relevant antecedents of an event may be known, and the knowledge of them add nothing to them, so the event may be predicted. Yet every scientific prediction is made with the tacit reservation: “Other things being equal.” The expression “other things” refers to the immense body of relevant facts which is steady and familiar enough to be presupposed without explicit mention. There is a constant environment wherein the causal connection takes place. This environment is itself a complex of causes for any event that occurs in it; the slightest change in it creates a new causal nexus, and stands out as a definite new agency.
    Now, in the case of personal activities, although we have undoubtedly a perfectly good causal pro-gression, wherein each member is unequivocally determined by certain preceding members, it is not true that the determining complex may be known, for in the causation of personal acts this knowledge is not itself irrelevant, as it is in physics. The environ-ment of the causal process is changed by a know-ledge of causal connections; the knowledge itself destroys the original situation. Even as we think and learn about the consequences of our present activities, we are altering the sum total of those very activities. To collect the premises, the relevant causes, of our own future is like carrying water in a sieve; there is no steady environment wherein any given cause may be said with certainty to entail one definite effect, so long as that effect is in the future. The sort of prediction that rests on the understand-ing: “Other things being equal,” is unattainable in ethics and social science, because other things are never equal. Our very apprehension of the immi-nence of a future act changes the environment which makes the act imminent.
    Only in so far as our knowledge is not itself a relevant factor, can future effects of present human situations be foreseen; that means that at best we can foresee developments along very general, broad lines, with plenty of leeway for “chance variations.” That is why we can predict social events only with the sort of accuracy that belongs to statistical calcula-tions, never with the precision of a laboratory experiment: “If this, then that, other things being equal.” If by the predictability of an event we mean its unfailing consequence upon known causes, then we must admit that personal acts are not only practically unpredictable, because of the immense complexity and variety of their causes, but theoretically as well, because “all the causes of an act,” before the act itself has taken place, form an “illegitimate totality.”
    But this does not mean that acts are not causally produced, that they spring from chance, caprice, or nothing at all. Every act undoubtedly has a gapless family tree of responsible ancestors, and is unambig-uously determined by them. But this detailed, complete, and flawlessly rational determination is not accessible to our view except in retrospect, since any access to it in advance of its completion would destroy it.
    “Determinism” is the assumption that every event has immediate causes through which it may be completely understood. This appears to be a tenable thesis and, for all scientific purposes, an indispen-sable one. But the supposed implication that, if an event is thus determined by its immediate antece-dents, it must be predictable from them, rests on a fallacy, and the fallacy in its turn rests on a hasty generalization from physical science, where predicta-bility does happen to go with determinateness. In the sphere of human activity it does not. There the future is necessarily obscure, although the past might theoretically be understood in every detail.
    The sting of “Determinism” lies in the notion that the future is really predictable,3 that only our ignor-ance hides it from us, and that somewhere—in the mind of God, perhaps—it is already known. Since causality is transitive, the “ultimate cause” of any act may be traced back to the causes of its causes, etc., and we may choose at random any “totality” of facts in the remote past as the starting-point for predicting any act in the future. But in truth the “totality” of cumulative causes breaks up at exactly the point which is, for the knower, the present; for here his knowledge enters in as a fact, and makes the “totality” impossible.
    It is a short step from the belief that the future is predictable by knowledge of a remote past to the belief that the future is peculiarly determined by some pre-eminent moment of the world’s past history (this being simply the “totality of facts” we happen to have chosen); and by a figure of speech, to regard any future act as “decreed” in that pre-eminent moment. This is the line of argument whereby determinism has become identified with the doctrine of scientific fatalism. But all that the old and the new concept of fatalism really have in common is the notion of “doom,” the notion that some future act, known or unknown to the agent of it, is somewhere already entertained as inevitable. The fact that, in the fatalistic drama, a man may know his fate and struggle against it, though his knowledge and his struggle are not causally relevant to it at all, whereas in a deterministic universe the knowing and the struggle are part of the immediate, relevant environment, and determine the future just as much as they, in turn, were determined by their past—this fact is overlooked in drawing the analogy. Yet this indifference of intervening events is the essence of true fatalism. Determinism merely maintains that what we will do tomorrow is just what we will do tomorrow, and nothing else, and that if we knew how we were going to do it, we would know what it was going to be. This is really not a very radical or debatable proposition. The thesis of classical fatalism, on the other hand, is that we know certain acts are going to be performed tomorrow; how they will come about is obscure and indifferent. Their causal origin is in a single past event and operates in advance of the natural order, forcing that order into compliance with the mystic connection. Truly, all that pure determinism and fatalism hold in common is the notion that past and future are causally connected, so that the future may be predicted from the past; and in a completely causal universe, the latter half of that contention breaks down for the case of human activities.
    A purely retrospective determinism loses all dramatic interest. It escapes between the horns of the dilemma which William James constructed for it,4 and rests in the prosaic safe haven of common sense. Everything a man does could be understood if we had enough scientific insight; that is really all it claims. The supposed consequence, that it makes no difference whether we exert ourselves or not, belongs to fatalism, for in a genuine determinism every exertion has some effect, and just what this will be depends on certain attendant causes, and is not knowable. Now, if determinism does not entail predictability of the future, there is no pragmatic difference between it and its alternative, indetermin-ism5; since even an indeterminist would hardly be ready to ascribe a complete lack of cause or motive to acts which are accomplished, and maintain that they did not happen “somehow,” i.e., that they happened, but happened in no way at all. The choice between an indeterminate future and a determinate unpredictable future is really what James himself has called a “dead option”; his own desire “that things not yet revealed to our knowledge may really in themselves be ambiguous,”6 is in violation of all pragmatic principles, for “ambiguous” could have no meaning for him except in relation to knowability, and things “really in themselves” are absolutistic chimeras. What can true ambiguity of the future mean, upon the pragmatist theory of truth, but genuine radical unpredictability? In a thoroughgoing determinism, we do not even have to assume this unpredictability by any “hazard of faith”; it is demonstrably there.
    The revolt against determinism is really a senti-mental revolt against scientific fatalism, with which it has become fused in the philosophical imagination. We can certainly no longer accept James’s statement that “Fortunately, no ambiguities hang about this word or about its opposite, indeterminism . . . . Their cold mathematical sound has no sentimental associ-ations that can bribe our partiality in advance.”7 Two pages after this praise of impartiality, he speaks of “the deterministic sentiment,” and tells us that “What makes us . . . . determinists or indeterminists, is at bottom always some sentiment like this.”
    The fact is that the very essay from which I quote these remarks has been enough to endow determinism, for a generation after, with all the terrors of fatalism: predestination, the council of the gods, inescapable fortune, doom. But what is Fate without the Oracle? What is Fortune without the fortune-teller, or Doom without a decree? The predictability of the future, the notion that it is already accomplished for some mind, human or divine, that our ignorance of it is merely human limitation, makes us feel like fools of heaven, puppets in a divine comedy or tragedy. But any power of prevision is limited to a proper part of the determinate world, namely, the realm of mechanical events, facts. So, since the “total sum of causes of a future act” cannot be constructed, the melancholy determinist knows no more than his sanguine brother, the indeterminist. And if the god have a scientific secret, he need not guard it in his holy bosom lest the Sybil betray it; for it is beyond logic and language, in the limbo of the Inconceivable.

    Notes
    1 The relation between these two concepts was recently discussed, and very clearly defined, by E. V. McGilvary in his article “Freedom and Necessity in Human Affairs,” which appeared in this journal for July, 1935.
    2 Cf. Principia mathematica, Vol. I, chap. ii, for the original statement of the fallacy of types; or, for a somewhat simplified version, R. M. Eaton’s General Logic.
    3 Cf. William James, “The Dilemma of Determinism,” in The Will To Believe (New York, 1897), p. 152: “If we are determinists, we talk about the infallibility with which we can predict one another’s conduct; while if we are indeterminists, we lay great stress on the fact that it is just because we cannot foretell one another’s conduct . . . . that life is so intensely anxious and hazardous a game.”
    4 Op. cit.
    5 The identity of determinateness with predictability is taken for granted by Professor McGilvary, when he says (op. cit., p. 384) “. . . the smallest events in the physical world are matters of chance in the literal sense of the word. The exact movements of an electron can no more be predicted by the physicist than the exact date of a man’s death can be foretold by an actuary.”
    6 Op. cit., p. 150.
    7 Ibid.

  309. BillyJoe7on 28 Jun 2010 at 5:29 pm

    bindle,

    “Whose argument was that?”

    Paisley.
    He said that because materialism cannot explain quantum phenomena, then supernatural is assumed to be true. Or words to that effect.
    If I have time I’ll quote it to you.

  310. BillyJoe7on 28 Jun 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Mufi,
    mufi,

    “BillyJoe: I would like to recommend Dennett’s Freedom Evolves to you.”

    Thanks.
    I have read some of his books, but not that one.

    “whatever it is that I might want in terms of “free will” is logically available to me in a deterministic universe.”

    Yes, I suspect his definition of freewill will be something quite different from what our dynamic duo are convinced it self-evidently is.

    “What’s more (and this part you may already agree with), adding an indeterminate feature (like quantum randomness) into that universe offers me nothing that I might want.”

    Yes, the ability to veto the brain (on some whim?) would actually destroy us eventually.

  311. BillyJoe7on 28 Jun 2010 at 5:38 pm

    bindle,

    Nice tr4y.
    You know I won’t read your links any more, so you post the whole thing.
    Nope.

  312. bindleon 28 Jun 2010 at 5:45 pm

    You addressed the post to me. I’m not Paisley. And what you call “words to that effect” has been simply your excuse for ‘misinterpreting’ either of our words.

    Here’s what I said:
    “What was the material cause that made that coin flip causative in the context of selection?
    The refutation is implicit in the question. There is no material cause that could give a coin flip causative direction outside of a deterministic system.
 And in a deterministic system, any such causation, to be effective, would have been predetermined. But by what, if not the supernatural?
    That’s in the materialist’s world, however, not in mine.
    And yet in my indeterminate world, the coin-flip would not determine anything except by accident. The probability/predictability aspect of causation has thus gone missing.”

    Misinterpret that.

  313. bindleon 28 Jun 2010 at 6:05 pm

    That previous post wasn’t for BillyJoe, it was for mufi. Even if BJ read it, he couldn’t understand it. (Odds are he tried to read it anyway and lied about it.)

    Dennett defends a particular form of determinism known as compatibilism – akin to the “Scientific Fatalism” that Susanne Langer raised questions to.

  314. mufion 28 Jun 2010 at 7:13 pm

    bindle, perhaps I should have extended my book recommendation to you, instead.

    Suffice it to say, determinism and fatalism are not the same. Just contemplate how different your life would be if you never made a conscious decision in your life and perhaps you’ll come to appreciate what I mean (or not, depending on how “determined” you are to not appreciate it).

  315. bindleon 28 Jun 2010 at 8:03 pm

    I did not say that determinism and fatalism are the same. That’s one of the reasons I posted that essay, which also doesn’t say that.
    And if you re-read your own recommended tome, you’ll see that Dennett is not a strict determinist, or even the intellectual determinist that Einstein was. (And I read the book long ago as well as the criticism.)
    The version of determinism that Dennett defends is compatibilism, another term for scientific fatalism.

    Here’s a good critical essay on the book, although I’m not a fan of the site where it appears:
    http://www.objectivistcenter.org/showcontent.aspx?ct=766&printer=True

    But I’m done arguing the point, because, for me, any form that makes no room for independent choice is undefendable as a habitat for life. But you determinists of whatever stripe are free to talk amongst yourselves.

  316. ccbowerson 28 Jun 2010 at 10:25 pm

    “bindle 28 Jun 2010 at 1:36 am
    I don’t speak for Paisley, but note that I’ve cited numerous papers where scientists support the concept that the experiences of life forms are central to the evolutionary process. And I’ve given detailed arguments of my own in support of that hypothesis.”

    Umm, no. You have never shown anything that isn’t explained by the modern understanding of the theory of evolution. You have never demonstrated that natural selection is not the most important component of evolution. You have not even demonstrated a mechanism that could account for a substantial effect for “experiences” outside of natural selection or other already well-known mechanisms for evolution.

    The reason why I do not post references supporting the concept of natural selection or other mechanisms for evolution is because they are so well established, and there are so much evidence, that it seems completely unnecessary.

    I recently listened to the Fodor and Massimo Pigliucci’s debate from May of this year (you have referenced Fodor several times), and his criticism of natural selection is completely unfounded. After 1 hour+ he was not able to clearly state his case, and in fact his stumblings and feeble criticisms make me think that he too is obtaining his argument from ideology. Have you listened to this?

  317. bindleon 28 Jun 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Yes, and both men were not doing very well, sorry to say. A sparring match with no punches. That’s often the nature of these debates – almost a rule that each must bore the hell out of the other.
    But somehow you have an odd idea that a stated ideology is not the ideology that is somehow behind the one being stated – that the real ideology represents some hidden motivation or ulterior purpose.
    Yet you and your buddies here are completely ideological without an original or individually derived thought among you. You have nothing hidden as whatever thoughts you manage to obtain are not your own.
    Almost everything I write here is done extemporaneously, so since it doesn’t match some commonly known dogma, you think there’s some hidden script involved. As there would have to be with you, if you actually ever had anything to say except illogical objections.

    And here’s the rub: Experiences are not “outside of natural selection,” they ARE the essence of that process. They ARE the driver of the mechanism. It’s your magical thinking lot who have no fleshed out selective mechanism or rational description of its function that uses that experience as a guide.
    Show me a citation where that mechanism is described? Because here’s what the blog owner said about that:
    “I understand why it might be disconcerting to think that our own behavior, especially our deepest emotions, were crafted by blind selective forces maximizing genetic transfer into future generations.”

    Blind selective forces? There’s your stupid “umm” for you.
    Leaving us, as I’ve said before, with a natural selective system that “accidentally” creates an array of behavioral traits for its selection, and matches that selection to whatever organism might need it without that organism’s prior input.
    Your well established mechanism, I presume?

    I’m done arguing that point as well. Go thee and whine at me no more.

  318. Paisleyon 29 Jun 2010 at 12:08 am

    Eric Thomson: “Pick the link to an experimental study of large-scale quantum effects in brains. Not Wikipedia (are you kidding me?), not a list of links, but a particular research study that we can examine in detail for the evidence.”

    Quantum coherence in brains was detected by experiment designed to improve MRI methods.

    MR Imaging Contrast Enhancement Based on Intermolecular Zero Quantum Coherences

  319. ccbowerson 29 Jun 2010 at 12:14 am

    “Yet you and your buddies here are completely ideological without an original or individually derived thought among you. You have nothing hidden as whatever thoughts you manage to obtain are not your own.
    Almost everything I write here is done extemporaneously, so since it doesn’t match some commonly known dogma, you think there’s some hidden script involved.”

    You are incorrect. Of course I am not trying to reinvent the wheel, because I don’t waste my time trying to come up with something new in areas in which the old is just fine. I prefer to spend energy thinking about areas that are more lacking, rather than well established theories.

    Maybe you should stick to rehashing, because you’re doing nothing groundbreaking. Its clear that your writing are extemporaneous, at least its an excuse for their incoherence.

    For Fodor, it appear that his only beef with natural selection is that, according to him, it cannot differentiate between linked traits. Well, yes it can. Here are some issues with his argument:
    1. Linked traits are only linked to a degree, it is not a 100%, so selection can separate the two
    2. Natural selection says that for linked traits, only the ones that contribute to fitness will be selected for

    It appears that Fodor has a problem with the concept that natural selection alone may not be able to explain which traits contribute to fitness, but so what? If we need other information obtained from physiology or functional biology then whats the problem? From that information we can use the theory of natural selection to explain that this trait will persist, or may increase in frequency, etc. Its a nonargument. The theory of natural selection does not need to explain everything; it is what it is. There are other components to the theory of evolution and that is fine.

  320. bindleon 29 Jun 2010 at 1:05 am

    “Natural selection alone may not be able to explain which traits contribute to fitness, but so what?”ccbowers
    That was (almost) the dumbest thing you’ve written so far. But then you went and wrote this:
    “The theory of natural selection does not need to explain everything; it is what it is.”ccbowers
    And just when it couldn’t get worse, it did:
    “There are other components to the theory of evolution and that is fine.”ccbowers

    What other fine components are there that don’t involve behaviors?

    Don’t answer, or whine for me to tell you. I’ll just resort to incoherence at your level.

  321. ccbowerson 29 Jun 2010 at 1:40 am

    “Natural selection alone may not be able to explain which traits contribute to fitness, but so what?”

    Don’t pretend that this doesn’t make sense. If you listened to the debate (or read Fodor’s book) then you know what I am talking about. This is in regards to linked traits.

    The example that Massimo used was the heart having two characteristics that cannot be separated 1. the ability to pump blood and 2. the requirement that in the pumping of blood it makes a sound. We know that the heart was selected for due to its ability to pump blood, not because of any benefit of the sound.

    However, we don’t arrive to this conclusion because of natural selection alone, but because we know the function of the heart. Knowing this allows us to determine that the pumping of blood contributes to fitness and the sound does not (sound is just a consequence of having a pump). Once we know this, then natural selection can be utilized. But the fact that natural selection isn’t an all-in-one theory doesnt make it a faulty one. When we are talking about complex situations, many theories and concepts will have to utilized to come to a valid conclusion because many things play a role. We should not expect an all encompassing single theory in biology.

  322. Paisleyon 29 Jun 2010 at 2:10 am

    BillyJoe7: “You are simply confusing the illusion-of-freewill with freewill.
    It’s the illusion-of-freewill that is real and of practical value for the brain. Freewill itself does not exist, cannot exist for the reasons given above which you haven’t even attempted to refute

    The only reason you believe that “free will” cannot exist is because of a faith-commitment to “determinism.” There is no reason why we should assume determinism to be true. Quite the contrary. The prevailing scientific evidence suggests that nature is fundamentally indeterminate. Moreover, our first-person experience of free will provides us with proof positive that our own actions are not predetermined.

    The bottom line is that you cannot but help to presuppose free will in practice even though you deny it in theory. This fact bolsters my argument while undermining yours.

    BillyJoe7: “It was to demonstrate to you that it is no longer acceptable to say that freewill is self-evidently true.”

    It is most certainly acceptable to acknowledge free will because it is self-evident. If you believe it is an illusion, then you have to prove it. Hitherto, you have utterly failed to provide compelling evidence to suggest that it is an illusion.

    BillyJoe7: “Providing experimental evidence that quantum phenomena are of any relevance to macroscopic objects such as the brain

    I have already provided evidence that quantum indeterminacy scales up to the macrolevel. (In fact, you have already acknowledged this yourself when Eric Thomson corrected you on this point.) The present scientific evidence suggests that nature is fundamentally indeterminate. If you refuse to acknowledge this, then you deny science.

    BillyJoe7: “Explaining how something that is uncaused could possibly require the supernatural for its existence – an oxymoron if ever I saw one

    The observation of physical events occurring without physical cause is evidence for supernaturalism (that which is beyond the natural). Why? Because naturalism provides no explanation whatsoever why physical events occur without physical cause. It’s that simple. Whether you chose to acknowledge this or not does not change the fact. It simply reveals that you are an intellectually dishonest person. Dishonesty is a serious character flaw. I suggest you seek professional help.

    By the way, quantum “anomalies” also qualify as supernatural according to the criteria set forth by Steven Novella.

    BillyJoe7: “ Providing an explanation for how randomness could possibly be a basis for freewill.”

    I most certainly did by providing you with the definition of “indeterminism” – which includes free will as the defintion! Also, “superposed states” are paramount for exploring vast possibilities simultaneously. Indeed, this is the basis for quantum computers!

    BillyJoe7: “Demonstrating how vetoing or not vetoing the brain’s output for absolutely no reason whatsoever amounts to anything useful?

    I have already demonstrated that those who attempt to provide experimental evidence to deny the existence of “free will” only succeed in providing evidence for psi phenomena! If we truly make decisions seven to ten seconds before we are actually aware of the decision, then our subconscious information processing must be deemed conscious because they are clearly exhibiting ESP.

    BillyJoe7: “Except “spontaneous” is the wrong word to use here. Yes, even though random mutation is largely destructive, it is also the driver of evolution. But it is not the case that new information and novelty are “spontaneously” generated. It requires natural selection to remove the large majority of mutations that are destructive leaving the small minority that are useful for surviving the evironmental challenges.

    Random mutations are directly linked to quantum events. That’s the source of the new information. Natural selection is experimenting with what works and what doesn’t.

    Incidentally, Ken R. Miller – professor of evolutionary biology at Brown University and noted opponent (not proponent) of ID and creationism – employed “random mutations” as the mechanism (if that is the right word) to argue for “theistic (not atheistic) evolution” in his book entitled “Finding Darwin’s God.”

  323. Paisleyon 29 Jun 2010 at 2:33 am

    ccbowers: “You have not even demonstrated a mechanism that could account for a substantial effect for “experiences” outside of natural selection or other already well-known mechanisms for evolution.”

    I have already demonstrated that the “neo-Darwinian theory of evolution” does not actually qualify as a materialist theory because it is based on random mutations – which are directly linked to physical events occurring without physical causes (namely, quantum events). But even if I were to assume, for the sake of argument, that the neo-Darwinian theory (or modern synthesis) was a materialistic theory, it still does not fully explain the fossil record.

    Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of “morphic resonance” or “formative causation” is a testable hypothesis and preliminary experimental results are suggesting that there is evidence for it (“An Experimental Test for the Hypothesis of Formative Causation“)

  324. Paisleyon 29 Jun 2010 at 3:06 am

    BillyJoe7: “Yes, I suspect his definition of freewill will be something quite different from what our dynamic duo are convinced it self-evidently is.”

    I’m sure it will be very different. Daniel Dennett is an “eliminative materialist“. He not only denies free will (libertarian), but he actually denies the reality of subjective experiences.

    The most common versions are eliminativism about propositional attitudes, as expressed by Paul and Patricia Churchland,[6] and eliminativism about qualia (subjective experience), as expressed by Daniel Dennett and Georges Rey.[2]

    (source: Wikipedia: Eliminative materialism)

    Those who deny their own subjective experiences are embarking on a journey that will eventually lead to the insane asylum. Materialism is a pernicious doctrine and when it is taken to its logical conclusion it ultimately leads to eliminativism. It is completely irrational. At what is ironic is that individuals like Dennett actually believe that they are in a position to cast aspersions on the rationality of others.

  325. bindleon 29 Jun 2010 at 3:27 am

    ccbowers
    “We know that the heart was selected for due to its ability to pump blood, not because of any benefit of the sound.”

    Actually we don’t know that at all. Since the selection mechanism proposed is unintelligent, and some direct connection to behavioral experience is not a requisite, a purpose for the heart selection is just an educated guess. And it’s ironic that those that don’t believe that evolution is purposeful, find purpose as the explanation after the fact.

    There are strategic benefits to being “heard” that may have taken precedence over the strategies that found developing a heart effective for their purposes. That’s not an argument, just an observation, because with you, I see no purpose in persuasion at this point.

    Especially to someone who seems to feel that a Fodor looking stupid when he thinks out loud destroys the work of the Jablonkas or Shapiros.

  326. ccbowerson 29 Jun 2010 at 9:43 am

    “Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of “morphic resonance” or “formative causation” is a testable hypothesis and preliminary experimental results are suggesting that there is evidence for it”

    So you are criticizing a well established theory with overwhelming evidence in its favor for 150 years, because in your estimation it doesnt explain everything? But at the same time you want to bring up a theory with almost no evidence? OK, thanks for playing. Its been fun.

    “Actually we don’t know that at all. Since the selection mechanism proposed is unintelligent, and some direct connection to behavioral experience is not a requisite, a purpose for the heart selection is just an educated guess.”

    Come bindle. You are now arguing that the heart was selected for sound? Even Fodor conceded that arguing that point would be absurd. Sorry but you are in no-mans-land. If you want to stay in reality we can have a discussion. Don’t start arguing that we can never truly “know” anything, because then we can’t even have a discussion about anything. We know that a heart is required to pump blood for the organism to survive (remove the pumping action of the heart), but we have no reason to believe sound has any functional role.

    “Especially to someone who seems to feel that a Fodor looking stupid when he thinks out loud destroys the work of the Jablonkas or Shapiros.”

    Ha. Nice excuse. It sounds like that you feeling were hurt when you actually hear one of your idols talk. Reality hurts sometimes, bindle. Listen, he was not just thinking out loud. He knew in advance, had time to prepare for the debate, and the debate was about HIS BOOK. I assume he a great deal of time on the topic for his book. Can the deck be stacked anymore in his favor for a debate? So to say that he was just thinking outloud is just an excuse for why his nonargument failed. Massimo only struggled a little bit pointing out why Fodor’s argument failed, but he figured out where he was coming form in the end.

  327. Eric Thomsonon 29 Jun 2010 at 11:32 am

    Swing and a miss.

    I suggested to Paisley:
    “Pick the link to an experimental study of large-scale quantum effects in brains. Not Wikipedia (are you kidding me?), not a list of links, but a particular research study that we can examine in detail for the evidence.”

    He responded:
    Quantum coherence in brains was detected by experiment designed to improve MRI methods.
    Link:
    MR Imaging Contrast Enhancement Based on Intermolecular Zero Quantum Coherences

    Nice try. Let me deconstruct this claim.

    MRI works because different types of matter display different responses when they are perturbed with extremely high amplitude magnetic pulses. Blood vessels look different than grey matter, for instance, because they have different responses to said magnetic pulses. This shows up as contrast on the MRI images. Even deoxygenated blood in a dish will have a different response than oxygenated blood in a dish.

    Technically, when you provide strong magnetic pulses to a system you cause an alignment of molecular dipoles, and the time it takes them to return back to the normal state of nonalignment is called the “relaxation time” and this is what is observed in MRI signals. In the study Paisley cited, they extended this technique by using the fact that the magnetic pulses cause coherent alignment among molecular dipoles.

    See Figure 4 of the paper, where they compare the signal decay when such coherence is taken into account. They show different degrees of coherence in eyes, brains, tumors, and ventricles. The point is that different tissues show a different response to magnetic pulses, and this can be measured. They aren’t showing that ventricles operate via quantum coherence.

    To put it bluntly, saying they measured an intrinsic (and functionally important) feature of brain function is like saying that Red Dye Number 5 is an important feature of brain function because when it is injected into brains we observe it.

    To see the application of such technology in bone marrow and glasses of water, see the paper Multiple quantum coherences: New NMR tools to study materials and living systems. It ain’t special to brains, it’s just a useful way to study biological tissues and other semi-aqueous systems.

    Paisley it is obvious you don’t think QM is important in brain function because of data from neuroscience, because it ain’t there.

  328. bindleon 29 Jun 2010 at 12:20 pm

    ccbowers,
    Do you know that a silent version of a circulation system could not have been selected for, when in fact in many species, it has been? No, because you have an either/or mentality. The heart was either selected for sound or it wasn’t? Those aren’t the only options when we really should be talking about behaviors.
    And again, to base an entire argument against the purposive attributes of evolution on whether Fodor, in your personal opinion, lost a debate, is ludicrous. (Both men have competing books out by the way, and debates are usually lying contests about who best conceals their weaknesses – and neither is my idol.)
    And we’re not having a dialogue.

    And I see you’re try to win some points by conflating my arguments with Paisleys. But we’re coming at these matters from different points of view, and the object we are examining is multi-dimensional. A little more abstract than you might like, but that’s your problem.

  329. Paisleyon 29 Jun 2010 at 12:25 pm

    bindle: “And it’s ironic that those that don’t believe that evolution is purposeful, find purpose as the explanation after the fact.”

    It is ironic and demonstrates that materialists are suffering from cognitive dissonance. On the materialist view, all evolution is strictly the result of blind chance and natural selection. What materialists fail to recognize is that their blind determinism and chance extends to every aspect of existence. IOW, the evolution of human technology and whatever other things that human beings may “appear” to design is strictly the result of blind deterministic forces and chance.

  330. bindleon 29 Jun 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Paisley,
    Yes, their fellow creationists call that “deterministic chance.”

  331. Paisleyon 29 Jun 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Eric Thomson: “To see the application of such technology in bone marrow and glasses of water, see the paper Multiple quantum coherences: New NMR tools to study materials and living systems. It ain’t special to brains, it’s just a useful way to study biological tissues and other semi-aqueous systems.”

    Previously, you made the following request: “Pick the link to an experimental study of large-scale quantum effects in brains.”

    I satisfied your request by providing you with an experimental study that demonstrates that quantum coherence can be maintained in the brain. This is paramount because the primary arguments leveled against quantum mind theories is that quantum coherence cannot be maintained in the brain.

    Eric Thomson: “Paisley it is obvious you don’t think QM is important in brain function because of data from neuroscience, because it ain’t there.”

    It is obvious that you really don’t believe that consciousness has any causal role because you have utterly failed to provide us with some function that cannot be duplicated by a computer program.

  332. Paisleyon 29 Jun 2010 at 1:42 pm

    ccbowers: “So you are criticizing a well established theory with overwhelming evidence in its favor for 150 years, because in your estimation it doesnt explain everything? But at the same time you want to bring up a theory with almost no evidence? OK, thanks for playing. Its been fun

    Previously, you stated: ““You have not even demonstrated a mechanism that could account for a substantial effect for “experiences” outside of natural selection or other already well-known mechanisms for evolution.”

    I have provided a testable hypothesis that can “account for a substantial effect for experience outside of natural selection.” Also, neo-Darwinianism does not have “overwhelming evidence in its favor.” You are conflating the neo-Darwinian (or the “modern synthesis” or any other “pseudo-materialistic theory of evolution”) with evolution itself. They’re not the same! I am not denying evolution as a historical fact. I am simply arguing that neo-Darwinian does not fully account for the historical fact of evolution. And, judging by your defensive stance on the subject, it would appear that you do not believe it does either.

  333. Eric Thomsonon 29 Jun 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Paisley said:
    I satisfied your request by providing you with an experimental study that demonstrates that quantum coherence can be maintained in the brain. This is paramount because the primary arguments leveled against quantum mind theories is that quantum coherence cannot be maintained in the brain.

    You picked a study that shows that quantum coherence can be generated in all aqueous systems that are subjected to high-amplitude electromagnetic pulse (e.g., a cup of water). There is no evidence that such effects play a role in normal brain function. The authors never make that point, or even hint that it might be true because they know it doesn’t follow from the study. Not even close.

    They can generate such effects in a cup of water, so do you want to day your plumbing works via quantum coherence. :)

    Notice I never said that small regions of brain tissue, when slammed with massive perturbations from the outside, cannot enter into coherent quantum states. I can slam a dead fish with these magnetic pulses and generate quantum coherence. Indeed, this has been done in the tail of a pig (Intermolecular double-quantum coherence MR microimaging of pig tail with unique image contrast). lol what deep metaphysical mysteries does that solve? Does this mean that pig tails communicate with their original owner via quantum coherence?

    It’s fun to laugh, but getting serious for a second, it is clear this study is a red herring. What is the issue is your claim that large-scale quantum effects are important in brain function. There is zero evidence for this claim.

    Consider the following analogy. Let’s say I subject a human head to sound waves of a really high amplitude, and when I turn the sound off the brain briefly continues to vibrate before relaxing to its baseline value. Different parts of the head (blood vessels, bone, grey matter, white matter) have different resonance frequencies and we can use this to build up an image of the brain (we’d end up with a resonance map that would differentially reveal different types of tissue).

    Such a study wouldn’t show that sound waves are used to transmit information in the brain. It would merely show that sound is a useful way for external experimenters to visualize the human head. This is exactly analagous to what that study did, except with high-amplitude electromagnetic pulses rather than sound waves.

    There is no experimental evidence showing that the brain uses large-scale quantum effects in a natural environment, any more than there is evidence that neurons use sound waves to communicate with one another.

    Paisley’s fixation on the idea that QM is important in brain function cannot be based on evidence, because such evidence does not exist. Zero! Nada! Zilch!

    Paisley then tries to switch to a familiar track on his CD:
    It is obvious that you really don’t believe that consciousness has any causal role because you have utterly failed to provide us with some function that cannot be duplicated by a computer program.

    So while I have described multiple causal roles of consciousness, I also believe that consciousness has no causal role. lol At least you could be consistent.

    I believe that consciousness plays an extremely role in planning future behavior, that when I experience a toothache that is one cause of me going to the dentist. I guess you can disagree. Perhaps quantum toothaches are different. If you think such things can be implemented by a computer program, be my guest. I’ve said nothing about that topic you are again reading too much into what I’ve said. As usual.

  334. bindleon 29 Jun 2010 at 5:50 pm

    When it seems I’m forced by causation to choose to see a dentist, I always turn to my quantum particles for permission to independently decide which dentist I should want to go to.
    But maybe that’s just me.

  335. BillyJoe7on 29 Jun 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Paisley,

    Eric said: “So while I have described multiple causal roles of consciousness, I also believe that consciousness has no causal role. lol At least you could be consistent.”

    That seems to be part of your MOA. Ignore everything that’s been said to you and just repeat your own original error. He have given you that list at least twice, and twice you have completely ignored it and continued to insist that he thinks consciousness plays no causal role.

    In my own case, I explained freewill as illusion in a long post a few days ago devoted to just that issue, but you have completely ignored that and continue to insist that I have not done so.

    —————–

    The Echo Chamber:

    bindle: “And it’s ironic that those that don’t believe that evolution is purposeful, find purpose as the explanation after the fact.”

    Paisley: “It is ironic and demonstrates that materialists are suffering from cognitive dissonance. ”

    Apparently neither are able to recognise metaphor even when it hits them slap bang square in the face. :D

  336. mufion 29 Jun 2010 at 6:42 pm

    bindle:

    I did not say that determinism and fatalism are the same.

    OK, then why did you choose the term “scientific fatalism” to characterize Dennett’s view? Knowing that he is a compatibilist (i.e. that he believes that free will and determinism are compatible ideas), why use the word “fatalism” at all if you don’t intend that connotation?

  337. bindleon 29 Jun 2010 at 7:12 pm

    mufi,
    Because Dennett in my view has tried to make determinism compatible with the view that whatever freedom of choice we have was predetermined. Leaving him free to consider his philosophy consistent with his views on evolution. Mocked by some as the “blind meme hypothesis.”

    By the way, as a pal of BillyJoe’s, can you advise if he’s just used the word “explain” as a metaphor for self-deluded rationalization?

  338. Paisleyon 29 Jun 2010 at 7:16 pm

    mufi: “OK, then why did you choose the term “scientific fatalism” to characterize Dennett’s view? Knowing that he is a compatibilist (i.e. that he believes that free will and determinism are compatible ideas), why use the word “fatalism” at all if you don’t intend that connotation?

    The compatibilist redefines “free will” in order to make it compatible with determinism. It’s simply a semantical ploy.

    It’s ironic that skeptics believe themselves to be “free thinkers” while failing to recognize that their enslavement to the dogma of deterministic materialism precludes the very possibility.

  339. ccbowerson 29 Jun 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Eric “It’s fun to laugh, but getting serious for a second, it is clear this study is a red herring. What is the issue is your claim that large-scale quantum effects are important in brain function. There is zero evidence for this claim.”

    Is there any doubt that Paisley has the problem of starting with the conclusion he desires and digs for any ‘evidence’ he can find even if the reference is only marginally related? Look at his positions on evolution and consciousness…. he’s just reaching for anything that supports a possibility of the supernatural in the world.

  340. bindleon 29 Jun 2010 at 11:32 pm

    Perhaps he’s simply trying to show you that the brain is not merely a determinant machine where a certain cause comes in and the predictable effect inevitably comes out. Especially if the mechanism itself cannot be pre-constructed with determinant materials.

  341. Eric Thomsonon 29 Jun 2010 at 11:36 pm

    cc yes that is clearly the case. We used to joke, when I taught writing, about students’ overreliance on the thesaurus. They’d pick polysyllabic words whose meaning was actually not what the student thought. We have the same kind of thing going on here.

    It’s funny it is so obvious that they lock in on key words that they think might support their claims, but with zero comprehension of what they just cited. Like little bindle when he thought dark adapted retinas referred to evolutionary adaptation.

    Or in this MRI paper Paisley cites, the words ‘brain’ and ‘quantum coherence’ appeared together, so Paisley threw it out here even though it is clear he had absolutely no idea what was in the paper. The problem is what takes him five seconds to cite dump can take me a half hour to factcheck and respond, so I fear I’m a bigger idiot in some ways.

    On the up side, at least it led me to the paper where they used coherence-based MRI measures to visualize the tissue in pig tails. That is a great hilarious example I will now use when discussing quantum boners in the study of consciousness. Also, my analogy with sound-based resonance mapping of the human head is new (for me anyway) and I will use it to teach students how MRI works because it is easier to understand than magnetic dipoles. So I got something out of it :)

    At any rate, I gave Paisley his chance, he tried twice and gets a failing grade. Not sure why he doesn’t just admit that his quantum neuro-fetishism is not based on evidence from neuroscience. It’s not like we don’t already know this.

  342. BillyJoe7on 30 Jun 2010 at 12:23 am

    bindle,

    “Perhaps he’s simply trying to show you that the brain is not merely a determinant machine where a certain cause comes in and the predictable effect inevitably comes out.”

    Yes, apparently he thinks that adding in a bit of quantum randomness will at least make the output unpredictable (even though he’s pushing uphill trying to explain freewill with it), whilst failing to realise that a sufficiently complex but deterministic machine like the brain already produces an unpredictable output without any need for any extra and extraordinary postulates.

    ;)

  343. bindleon 30 Jun 2010 at 12:47 am

    We think in terms of why things work, and these bozos can only summon up the curiosity to imagine how – if even that. What amazed me was that Eric’s cramped imagination sees adapted as not even a how, but a what.
    Note that he claimed earlier that the why of a function is no more predictive than the how. Soon to be notorious little Ericism:
    “What follows from our ignorance of how X works is that we are ignorant of how X works.

    So it would seem the ignorance of why X function works has no relevance to knowing how it works – to these materialists in any case.
    Yet most of us know the reason “why” serves our predictive functions better than virtually every other aspect of our curiosity.
    That these fools don’t appreciate that is mind boggling.

  344. bindleon 30 Jun 2010 at 12:56 am

    Did some idiot just say, ‘a sufficiently complex but deterministic machine like the brain already produces an unpredictable output?’
    This logically impaired determinedick can’t even determine the what, let alone the how and why.

  345. Eric Thomsonon 30 Jun 2010 at 1:20 am

    bindle: look up chaos theory for more examples of deterministic, but unpredictable, systems.

    People conflate uncaused and stochastic.

    They also conflate stochastic and unpredictable.

    Bindle is a person.

    Therefore Bindle conflates uncaused and unpredictable.

    Therefore, tornadoes have no cause. lol

    :O

  346. bindleon 30 Jun 2010 at 2:16 am

    Eric,
    Chaos “theory” is probabilistic, not deterministic. True chaos would be the opposite, yet theoretically would have been the nature of the universe before the alleged big bang, not after.
    You may also conflate, by your inept parody of BillyJoe’s deductive logic, stochastic and unpredictable, but I’d be one that also doesn’t.
    Try induction or abduction one of these days, and you might find out
    ‘why’ the coin-flip had to have a flipper. Then flip it where the sun still doesn’t shine.

  347. bindleon 30 Jun 2010 at 4:05 am

    Wait a minute, hold the presses, BillyJoe was right, a sufficiently complex but deterministic machine like the brain would already produce an unpredictable output!
    The output would have been predicted by the uncaused causer. The deterministic brain was functionally unpredictive, and could not itself predict its output. (Except that Eric Thomson would try to show us how it could – not needing to know why.)

  348. BillyJoe7on 30 Jun 2010 at 7:16 am

    bindle,

    “Chaos “theory” is probabilistic, not deterministic. “

    Well, we can all pause now and have a good belly laugh.

    :D

    Okay, have we recovered?

    Here is a lesson for you bindle:

    Chaotic systems are completely deterministic.
    They are also unpredictable.

    This is because even a very minor change in the initial conditions can lead to enormously different outcomes.
    This simply means that you have to know the initial conditions to an impossible level of accuracy in order to predict the outcome.

    You have misunderstood something here, bindle, and I think it is plain to everyone what the basis of your misunderstanding is.
    The butterfly effect is just an expression of how you cannot know the initial conditons with sufficient accuracy to predict the outcome. That’s all. Nothing to do with indeterminacy at all.

    :D

    The weather is actually a good example of a chaotic system.
    It is deterministic but unpredictable.
    At present, at any point in time, we have sufficient information about the system to predict the weather with a reasonable amount of confidence for about 3-4 days into the future. The reason why we cannot predict the weather beyond that time frame is that we do not know the details of the system at any point in time with sufficient accuracy to do so. Beyond a week or two, we might as well…flip a coin!

    ———————–

    In the brain, it is both the initial conditons (or conditions at t=0) and the complex multilayered network of deterministic cause and effects relations which make the output so unpredictable.

    The fact that the brain’s output is so unpredictable is what makes freewill seem so convincing.

  349. bindleon 30 Jun 2010 at 11:26 am

    Did he miss the word “theory” in chaos theory?
    And how could you know that the system was deterministic except by faith in deterministic dogma? Even Eric (i think) knows that. His point (I think) was that the theory shows that chaos can be a “system” that has predictable results. It’s also a mistake to infer it determines anything, except that Eric likes to conflate the word determine with the meaning predetermine as suits his dishonest purposes.(BillyJoe is too dumb to catch him at it.)
    Does BillyJoe in the end even understand what determinism is by definition?

    determinism |diˈtərməˌnizəm|
    noun Philosophy
    the doctrine that all events, including human action, are ultimately determined by causes external to the will. Some philosophers have taken determinism to imply that individual human beings have no free will and cannot be held morally responsible for their actions.
    ______

    And what good is a brain that has that unpredictable output?

    unpredictable |ˌənpriˈdiktəbəl|
    adjective
    not able to be predicted : the unpredictable weather of the Scottish islands.
    • (of a person) behaving in a way that is not easily predicted : he is emotional and unpredictable.

    The (alleged) deterministic Scottish) weather? Or the (alleged) logical systems of the BillyJoe/Eric brains? Aren’t they supposed to produce predictions, whether on their own or as a conduit for nature’s?

    Even bad predictions? Which BillyJoe will never have to take responsibility for, and Eric wants to never know why not?

  350. Eric Thomsonon 30 Jun 2010 at 11:37 am

    bindle look up chaos theory at your coveted wikipedia you have no idea what you are talking about.

  351. bindleon 30 Jun 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Chaos theory is not probabilistic? Look it up at Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

  352. bindleon 30 Jun 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Or check this out:
    http://www.strevens.org/research/simplexuality/Chaos.pdf

    Bwahahaha.

  353. bindleon 30 Jun 2010 at 12:35 pm

    For those dogmatists determined not to read citations, here’s the part best suited for your avoidance:
    “Chaos and Probability
    The disorderly behavior of chaotic systems can be called “random” in a loose and popular sense. Might the behavior of at
    least some such systems be random in a stronger sense? The suggestion that
    chaos might provide a foundation for probabilistic theories such as statistical
    mechanics has been one of the more fruitful contributions of chaos theory
    to philosophy.
    The best scientific theories of certain deterministic, or near deterministic,
    systems, are probabilistic. The most prominent examples are perhaps
    the systems characterized by statistical mechanics and population genetics;
    the simplest examples are various gambling setups such as a roulette wheel
    or a thrown die. The probabilistic characterization of these systems is apt because the various events that make up their behavior (die throws or deaths,
    for example) are patterned in characteristically statistical ways, that is, in
    ways that are captured directly by one or other of the canonical probability
    distributions in statistical theory.
    The mathematics of chaos offers an explanation of the probabilistic aspect
    of these patterns, and so offers an explanation of the success of probabilistic
    theories applied to certain sorts of deterministic systems.”

  354. Eric Thomsonon 30 Jun 2010 at 12:46 pm

    bindle

    That quote directly contradicts everything you have been saying, and confirms what we have been saying about coin flips and such. It says that probability provides a great way to characterize deterministic systems. Remember what I said about coin flips? He’s basically repeating it here.

    Stop embarrassing yourself. You know nothing about chaos theory. You won’t fool us, you just fell flat on your face. Your attempts to cover your shit by finding quotes that have the words “chaos theory” and “probability” won’t work.

    If you truly want to learn about Chaos Theory, start with the (passable) Wikipedia article here. Then go read the paper you just cited that went right over your head. Seriously read it, the whole thing, try to understand it. Read it carefully, and think about what it is saying. If you really want to learn something, read the book ‘In the Wake of Chaos’ by Kellert. It’s excellent.

    Bindle brings to mind when Burns on the Simpsons is reading the comics, ‘Oh, Ziggy, will you ever win?’

  355. Eric Thomsonon 30 Jun 2010 at 1:46 pm

    The Stanford Article bindle mentioned but obviously didn’t read can be found here. It is pretty good.

    For instance, “In addition to exhibiting sensitive dependence, chaotic systems possess two other properties: they are deterministic and nonlinear (Smith 2007).”

    Oh wait, the second article he cited that directly contradicts him. lmao

    It’s funny that bindle argues here, as it’s so clear-cut in the mathematics. It’s like he’s arguing that even numbers cannot be divided by two.

  356. bindleon 30 Jun 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Eric,
    The deterministic systems that DO NOT ALLOW FOR FREE WILL are not probabilistic. You are intellectually dishonest to pretend to have it both ways. Just as you’ve tried to do with quantum mechanics. Part deterministic, part indeterminate. Give us a break with that idiocy. Paisley called you out as a liar and I’m doing the same.

    I invite the audience to read the Stanford article in total, rather than let you fool them by your usual out of context trickery. Except that you screwed up by (apparently) misunderstanding the meaning of nonlinear in that context, which is “random.”
    And what do you imagine was inferred by “sensitive dependence?” Why look, it’s another phrase for chaos: “indeterminacy mixed with some notion of determinacy.”

    Good your supernatural god, Eric, you are as blitheringly a fool as those you’ve regularly come here to try to rescue.

  357. Eric Thomsonon 30 Jun 2010 at 2:39 pm

    bindle bungles:
    screwed up by (apparently) misunderstanding the meaning of nonlinear in that context, which is “random.”

    You again have no idea what you are talking about. Look it up. Look up navier-stokes, or hodgkin-huxely. Nonlinear differential equations are simply a species of differential equations. Calling a system nonlinear implies nothing about randomness, and indeed most systems of nonlinear differential equations are deterministic (e.g., Lorenz, Hodgkin Huxely, etc).

    Just look it up at your favorite source here. Again we have bungle arguing that even numbers cannot be divided by two.

    BillyJoe called bindle out, showing bindle knows nothing about this topic. We are served a of pastiche of new age free associations that don’t add up to anything real. In response to being called out we get more citations and word associations, coupled with fanciful confabulations built into a kind of psychotic delusion with zero grounding in the actual scholarship cited.

    OK guys time sink he may be a troll he is saying such stupid things. Email me if there is anything substantive added in this thread I gut sucked back in by that paper Paisley cited the one that led me to quantum coherence induced in pig tails, but need to focus on work. (email is thomson dot eric using a gmail account).

  358. bindleon 30 Jun 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Note how that little liar Eric carefully avoided mentioning sensitive dependence.

    http://www.learner.org/courses/mathilluminated/units/13/textbook/04.php

    Note also how he always runs away when nailed.

  359. bindleon 30 Jun 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Flip a coin and take your pick of the nonlinear random:

    http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=nonlinear+random&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

  360. bindleon 30 Jun 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I’m going to cite this extremely valuable paper again, especially because Eric and his pals would want you to avoid the read:

    PHYSICS OF “RANDOM EXPERIMENTS”
    [see] How to Cheat at Coin and Die Tossing

    http://www-biba.inrialpes.fr/Jaynes/cc10k.pdf

  361. CivilUnreston 30 Jun 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Bindle, are you trying to convince me that non-linear systems are necessarily random by pointing to your google search results that come from typing in “nonlinear random”?

    If you aren’t, I have no idea what you’re saying.

    If you are….then I guess there’s nothing TO say.

  362. bindleon 30 Jun 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Not “necessarily” but when used in context with sensitive dependence.

    The inference was that Eric could have found where he was wrong, but liar that he is, he wouldn’t want to.
    Perhaps you don’t either, but trying to convince you or anyone else is not my goal or problem. Merely trying to inform those who feel free enough to choose to be informed. Also resentful of attacks by liars in the process.

  363. BillyJoe7on 30 Jun 2010 at 5:47 pm

    bindle,

    I doubt if even Paisley will come to your rescue here.

    This is not the first time your links support the opposite of what you contend. You simply do not understand what you read. That is your greatest impairment quite frankly. You didn’t understand the links you referenced on evolution. You didn’t recognise the very obvious quantum pseudoscience in that article by the chinese author. You didn’t understand the article on chaos theory. You are clueless about nuance, metaphor, and the different meanings of words in different contexts.

    No wonder you speak in riddles and rhymes, because when you speak clearly, the nonsense is so obvious it’s painful.

    What is truely sad, though, is the arrogance of your ignorance.
    It means you can never correct your errors, even the most glaringly obvious ones.

    regards,
    BillyJoe

  364. bindleon 30 Jun 2010 at 7:15 pm

    How would a blithering idiot like BillyJoe7 know what the links he claims he hasn’t read support except to take direction from his fellow liars that advised him what to claim he understood?

    Was it in spite of that he wrote the following – which they later were in full support of?

    “Whether a coin falls heads or tails, or even on its side, is the result of deterministic cause and effect.
    Yet the outcome of a coin toss is random. Every time you toss a coin (eliminating the rare side landing) there is an even chance of head or tails. The more coins you toss the more closely the ratio approaches 1/2.
    Therefore deterministic cause and effect can cause random events.” BillyJoe7

    “Being ‘free’, freewill cannot be based on anything. Which means it must be random as to whether it vetos the brains mechanistic output or to go with it. And what would be the result? What would happen if the mechanistic brain were to be suddenly endowed with freewill. Inevitably, like the planets, this would rapidly result in destruction and death. And, since we do not rapidly descend into destruction and death, that is a good argument against the existence of freewill.” BillyJoe7

    Talk about never controlling or admitting error – they all stand by this sort idiocy to this very day.

  365. bindleon 30 Jun 2010 at 7:30 pm

    And despite his racist oriented slurs, that “chinese author” is so far ahead of BillyJoe in education, comprehension, intelligence, judgement, scientific acumen, international respect and reputation, that I’m proud to have had the opportunity to introduce her views to any here who might not have otherwise known of them.

    These slurs alone prove what an imbecile and dolt the rest of you will have to deal with as he continues to pollute this forum with his self-delusional blather.

  366. sethvon 30 Jun 2010 at 8:37 pm

    I don’t think bindle read the chapter he linked above either (at http://www-biba.inrialpes.fr/Jaynes/cc10k.pdf)

    The whole chapter is about how things that appear random are really deterministic after all. And if you scroll down to page 11, you’ll find that quantum mechanics is no exception in his book.

    bindle, the idea that probabilities don’t actually exist in nature is called “determinism”. Did you not read the section of the chapter called “But What About Quantum Theory”? Or the one after that called “Mechanics Under the Clouds” where the author says he thinks a mechanistic theory will replace the indeterminate theory of quantum mechanics within the next century?

    bindle: These slurs alone prove what an imbecile and dolt the rest of you will have to deal with as he continues to pollute this forum with his self-delusional blather.

    LOL. There are so many levels of irony here it makes the head spin.

  367. ccbowerson 30 Jun 2010 at 9:28 pm

    “And despite his racist oriented slurs, that “chinese author” is so far ahead of BillyJoe in…”

    So bindle, the use of the adjective ‘Chinese’ is a slur? Perhaps you are the one with issues concerning race.

    “These slurs alone prove what an imbecile and dolt the rest of you will have to deal with as he continues to pollute this forum with his self-delusional blather.”

    Talk about projection. You are just mad about that zing that BillyJoe7 sent your way. It was a bit harsh, but not untrue.

    Here’s Massimo’s take on the free will thing. It doesn’t really have an answer, which may be unsatisfying, but at least he appears to address the important considerations with the topic.

    http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2009/11/incoherence-of-free-will.html

  368. bindleon 30 Jun 2010 at 11:23 pm

    First he said chinese woman and when Paisley called him on it, he said chinese author. But this very brilliant woman works and lives in England so what’s the reason for the persistent “chinese” reference? The inference at the very least was that’s she’s not conversant with the Western point of view. Is this some ethnic mind taint then or what. But you’re right that part of this is that I just don’t like the S.O.B.
    As to what Massimo says about free will, it’s reasonable, and gives us credit for being responsible and capable of choice. BillyJoe’s determinism, and apparently yours and Eric’s, does not.

    I’m now going to respond to that other fool, SethV, and if you feel you should have been included there, be my guest.

  369. bindleon 30 Jun 2010 at 11:32 pm

    sethV
    The author of that piece argues that things that appear random are probabilistic. That’s NOT doctrinaire determinism. Show me where he writes that we are in a deterministic, choice-less universe? You can’t.
    Are you going to tell me next that chaos theory is deterministic because it’s probabilistic? Or that it’s not probabilistic?

    Why, I bet you can find something in the Langer article on determinism that proves I was a fool to post it!! Because I’ll confess right now I agree with virtually every word.

    You who assume at the start you live in a deterministic universe will then have to assume that the probable is determinantly so because that’s consistent with your deterministic philosophy. But when you go on to argue for its denial of free will, IOW free choice, then that’s what I take issue with.
    I emphasized the part in the chapter regarding the coin tossing and dice rolling. It doesn’t support at all what Eric says or the others echo. Why haven’t you mentioned that?
    Coins and dice don’t flip and roll themselves. Are you smart enough to get what that section demonstrates? The opposite of BillyJoe and Eric’s deterministic causation of true randomness.

    I’m not the quantum expert here, so while I agree with Paisley and respect his expertise, I have no arguments of my own to defend there. You might go after Paisley directly if you have the guts to do so.
    However if the author actually predicted a mechanistic theory would replace indeterminism within the next century, he seems to have been wrong so far. Is it then your argument that he should have been, or wanted to, or ever will be right?
    Quote the argument where he says probabilities don’t exist in nature, and what he means by that. Is it that the laws of nature are predetermined, or that they are certain and inviolable? Show me where he says or even implies that. I never saw it and I suspect you’re lying just a tad there.

    And why not if you approve and agree with BillyJoe But what does that say about you? What does that portend for the future of this forum? Because it’s certain there are fewer and fewer of the indeterminate set extant.
    And why didn’t you defend him as a logician: You still have a chance to do so. Do you also think the “chinese author” is a pseudoscientist?
    Add another layer of irony if you do.

  370. BillyJoe7on 01 Jul 2010 at 12:23 am

    I have time only for the accusation of racism.

    In my original response to the article linked to by bindle, I seemed to be referring to the author as “he”. Paisley then informed me that the author was a female. In actual fact, I was not referring to the author at all, but to bindle. If he is a female I apologise. At the time, I re-read my response and understood how Paisley would have thought what he did, so I decided to comment no further and just accept his correction.

    My use of the term “chinese author” in my last post was just a simple way of identifying the artical I was referring to. If the author does not identify as chinese I apologise. But I don’t apologise for identifying her article as pseudoscience, becasue that clearly is what is in, her qualifications notwithstanding. Gary Schwartz also has extensive qualifications.

  371. BillyJoe7on 01 Jul 2010 at 12:26 am

    …correcting the typos in the last bit:

    But I don’t apologise for identifying her article as pseudoscience, because that clearly is what it is, her qualifications notwithstanding.

  372. bindleon 01 Jul 2010 at 1:01 am

    Here’s exactly what that liar BillyJoe7 wrote:
    “the pseudoscientific ideas of the the chinese lady bindle referenced”

    How does that refer to me unless he had reason to believe I am a chinese lady? And referenced by myself? And why the lower case c in chinese, be she a female, author, or whatever?
    Over where I live the name of BillyJoe is often female. Would it be meaningful to identify BJ as that lady okie from Fenokie? Well, maybe it would be somewhat relevant in his case.

    Just had a thought for sethv and company. If it turns out the author I referred to for the coin toss explanation is actually a pure determinist and I missed it, all the more ironic that one of your own has destroyed your coin toss argument.

  373. bindleon 01 Jul 2010 at 5:00 am

    sethv,
    I reread the article I cited, CHAPTER 10, PHYSICS OF “RANDOM EXPERIMENTS,” from the book, The Logic of Science by E. T. Jaynes, Wayman Crow Professor of Physics, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, U. S. A.
    And I found there’s something radically wrong with either your understanding of this rather complicated subject, or with your integrity, or very obviously both.
    There is nothing there to tell us the writer is a determinist, or believes in a deterministic universe.

    There is no place, to quote your false allegation, “where the author says he thinks a mechanistic theory will replace the indeterminate theory of quantum mechanics within the next century.” You’ve simply made that up as something you wanted to infer from other matters he was examining. You have to be incredibly dumb or a liar to post something like that.

    More tellingly, you also claimed he wrote that “probabilities don’t actually exist in nature.” That’s a lie as well. What he wrote was: “Belief in “physical probabilities” expressing a volition of the coin is recognized finally as an unfounded superstition.” This doesn’t have a goddamn thing to do with probabilities not actually existing in nature, and not a goddamn thing to do with determinism.
    You took that sentence completely out of context and rewrote it to leave out the word ‘physical’ and make it seem he’s talking about statistical probability not existing, or at best being some sort of an illusion, since after all the goddamned book was all about statistical probability.
    In short you are a damned liar and a damned stupid one to think I wouldn’t check this out. What a pack of scoundrels we have in BillyJoe, Eric and yourself, and those others that lap it up whenever you fallaciously and dishonestly, and stupidly defend the master here.

  374. BillyJoe7on 01 Jul 2010 at 7:43 am

    bindle,

    “Here’s exactly what that liar BillyJoe7 wrote:
    “the pseudoscientific ideas of the the chinese lady bindle referenced”. How does that refer to me?”

    See what I mean.

    You comprehend nothing you read. I said, and I quote: “In my original response to the article linked to by bindle”. My ORIGINAL response (which was several days ago), not the one I just wrote!

    Goddamn! Nobody needs to destroy your arguments, you do fine all by yourself! :D

    “Just had a thought for sethv and company. If it turns out the author I referred to for the coin toss explanation is actually a pure determinist and I missed it, all the more ironic that one of your own has destroyed your coin toss argument.”

    As I said, you understand nothing you read.
    There is a saying that goes “He’s not even wrong”.
    You’re unlikely to know what that means but it applies to you.

  375. mufion 01 Jul 2010 at 11:29 am

    me:

    …whatever it is that I might want in terms of “free will” is logically available to me in a deterministic universe… adding an indeterminate feature (like quantum randomness) into that universe offers me nothing that I might want.

    BillyJoe to me:

    Yes, I suspect his definition of freewill will be something quite different from what our dynamic duo are convinced it self-evidently is.

    then Paisely to me:

    The compatibilist redefines “free will” in order to make it compatible with determinism. It’s simply a semantical ploy.

    If, by “free will”, Paisley has in mind that an agent’s ability to make choices that are completely free from any constraints, then I would have to agree: it is incompatible with determinism (in the sense that “future events are necessitated by past and present events combined with the laws of nature”). But, if that’s the only definition of “free will”, one has to wonder: what sort of a flake came up with that idea?

    In any case, I’m not interested in battles over semantics, which is why I (and Dennett) stressed the notion of a “free will” that is “worth wanting” (at least from the POV of non-flakes).

  376. Paisleyon 01 Jul 2010 at 1:19 pm

    BillyJoe7: “If, by “free will”, Paisley has in mind that an agent’s ability to make choices that are completely free from any constraints, then I would have to agree: it is incompatible with determinism (in the sense that “future events are necessitated by past and present events combined with the laws of nature”). But, if that’s the only definition of “free will”, one has to wonder: what sort of a flake came up with that idea?

    That definition of “free will” (which is technically referred to as “libertarian free will” in philosophy) is the definition that everyone (including yourself,by your own admission!) presupposes in practice. It is also Merriam-Webster’s definition of the term.

    free will : freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention.”

    (source: Merriam-Webster: “free will“)

    Free will is incompatible with determinism . Why? Because determinism implies that whatever constitutes the “first cause” (e.g. the “Big Bang” or “God”) is ultimately the cause of every choice you make or will make.

    Here we have another example of cognitive dissonance. The materialists want to have it both ways. They can’t. The materialists fancy themselves as “free thinkers,” but fail to recognize (or acknowledge) that their very enslavement to the dogma of determinism precludes the very possibility of free thinking.

  377. bindleon 01 Jul 2010 at 1:34 pm

    I see Paisley has more politely smacked you down again, but I’ll say directly to you, BllyJoe7, you lying SOB, how does “the chinese lady bindle referenced” refer to me as the lady and not to the woman I referenced? The “excuse” was that the gender referred to me and not to her if you’ll remember.
    Why lie about the circumstances if you weren’t in fact slurring the reference by using her race as an epithet? And you keep on lying even when anyone who cares to can read the exchanges and see you for what you are, a liar and possibly pathologically so in the bargain.
    You can’t stop yourself even when all evidence will show that you lied.
    As to your comment re sethv and company, it turns out he’s another you and flat out lied about what was actually in the cited paper – you said you wouldn’t read it (or did you lie there to) so how would you know the nature of the coin toss argument there in any case?

    He lied about the author saying “probabilities don’t actually exist in nature.” Flat out lied there and also about where “the author says he thinks a mechanistic theory will replace the indeterminate theory of quantum mechanics within the next century.”

    I’ll not respond directly to any of your crap again on any forum but I will point out your lies every chance I get.

    Here’s what Paisley said about you earlier and I wholeheartedly agree: “What we have here is a clear track record of an individual who consistently engages in self-deception and intellectual dishonesty. If you continue to engage in such behavior, then you forfeit this debate by virtue of default.”

    You continue to do so. Your lying is persistent and obsessive. It’s pathological.

    You’re going to continue to make this blog your forum and destroy its integrity in the bargain. You don’t post on any of the more strictly moderated blogs that I can see, and that’s no wonder. They’d cut you down and off immediately, and I suspect they’ve done just that.
    The blog owner doesn’t answer Paisley’s questions, yet he answers yours. That makes you proud and shows that lying and stupidity pays off. But of course you’re right because it pays off here.
    I do post elsewhere and rather successfully, but that’s beside the point. The point is I’ve called you out and shown that you have no logic, no powers of inference, no education, and no honesty. If you keep this lying up, I’ll put you down again as long as I’m allowed. Hopefully others will have the guts to do the same.

  378. Paisleyon 01 Jul 2010 at 2:02 pm

    BillyJoe7: “Chaotic systems are completely deterministic.
    They are also unpredictable.

    This is because even a very minor change in the initial conditions can lead to enormously different outcomes.
    This simply means that you have to know the initial conditions to an impossible level of accuracy in order to predict the outcome.

    You have misunderstood something here, bindle, and I think it is plain to everyone what the basis of your misunderstanding is.
    The butterfly effect is just an expression of how you cannot know the initial conditons with sufficient accuracy to predict the outcome. That’s all. Nothing to do with indeterminacy at all

    There are two different definitions of determinism at play here. On the one hand, something can be said to be indeterminate because it cannot be predicted or determined (not even in theory). On the other hand, something can be said to be indeterminate because it is without any cause. “Chaos theory” is indeterminate in the former sense; “quantum theory” is indeterminate in the latter sense. Having said that, both chaos theory and quantum theory undermine the deterministic worldview of materialism. Why? Because the “butterfly effect” assures us that small perturbations (e.g. quantum events) in the initial conditions of a system can become amplified over time and dramatically alter the future course of the system. (IOW, the world is fundamentally indeterminate, not only on the microlevel but also on the macrolevel). Also, any time materialists must invoke the “infinite” (e.g. scientists typically invoke the infinite in mathematics and physics), they are presupposing something that does not exist as a physical actuality. (The only way to overcome this limitation is to presuppose an “infinite mind” to provide a basis for the mathematical abstraction of the infinite. Indeed, this is the very reason why many, if not most, mathematicians believe in a platonic realm of forms.)

  379. sethvon 01 Jul 2010 at 2:34 pm

    bindle, it’s rather bizarre that you accuse people of lying about things that can easily be checked by anyone. Here’s a quote from page 12 of your link in the third full paragraph:

    Biologists have a mechanistic picture of the world because, being trained to believe in causes, they continue to use the full power of their brains to search for them and so they find them. Quantum physicists have only probability laws because for two generations we have been indoctrinated not to believe in causes and so we have stopped looking for them. Indeed, any attempt to search for the causes of microphenomena is met with scorn and a charge of professional incompetence and ‘obsolete mechanistic materialism’. Therefore, to explain the indeterminacy in current quantum theory we need not suppose there is any indeterminacy in Nature; the mental attitude of physicists is already sufficient to guarantee it. (Emphasis mine)

    And there’s a footnote referenced at the end of this paragraph:

    …Our (sethv: the author’s) impression is that by 1954 the views of Huxley in biology were in a position of complete triumph over vitalism, supernaturalism, or any other anti materialistic teachings… (Emphasis mine)

    No one is accusing you of lying (or at least I’m not), but your reading comprehension doesn’t seem to be very good. I’m not even really sure what you think this article has to do with anything in this thread, except that you seem to imply it somehow supports your ideas.

  380. mufion 01 Jul 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Note that Paisley (quite predictably) cherry-picked from Merriam-Webster’s the definition of “free will” that he prefers.

    Here’s the full entry:

    Main Entry: free will
    Function: noun
    Date: 13th century

    1 : voluntary choice or decision
    2 : freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention

    A completely uncaused choice, huh? Yeah, I think I’ll stick with definition #1.

    And so what if a “first cause” is “ultimately the cause of every choice you make or will make”? In the real, everyday world, when you make a choice or a decision that attracts attention (e.g. in a criminal court trial), it is not the ultimate cause that concerns us – it is the proximate cause; e.g, was he coerced into doing it by another agent? or did he do so of his “free will” (meaning: voluntarily, as in definition #1)?

  381. Eric Thomsonon 01 Jul 2010 at 3:26 pm

    sethv great detective work thanks for taking the time.

    Indeed, that is a really nice smackdown of the physicists’ credulity compared to the biologists. Another unintentionally relevant quote from bindle that draws the opposite of the conclusion he thinks.

    All this talk of everyone being ‘liars’ is a bit desperate, bindle.

    Thanks to the person that emailed me the update on the Jaynes stuff.

  382. bindleon 01 Jul 2010 at 3:51 pm

    sethv, where does it say that probabilities don’t actually exist in nature? That’s the lie that you’re hanging all your other lies on.

    And anyone can see from the parts you now were forced to quote that your emphasis alone was deliberately misplaced. Emphasize the last part of that sentence if you’re capable of understanding why he wrote it. What is it, do you ponder, that “the mental attitude of physicists is already sufficient to guarantee?”

    And in the footnote, he’s speaking of the views of Huxley on the anti-materialistic views at the time, which were clearly unsupported by the evidence. What has that got to do with asserting the validity of determinism? Indeterminism supposedly supports vitalism and supernaturalism? Only in your mind because he didn’t say that or imply it. And quite the opposite is true. Determinism supports a supernatural first cause. Indeterminism requires nothing of the kind.

    But it seems that you determinists feel that if it’s been determined that you first lie to yourselves, the passing of that self-deceptive truth to others is an honest statement because you’ve been determined to believe it. And in any case you’re not responsible for any lying that you couldn’t help but do. (The BillyJoe excuse.)

    And apparently now the Eric Thomson excuse as well. Who has also been called out before by Paisley as a liar.

  383. bindleon 01 Jul 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Eric Thomson, state directly that the article in question says the universe is deterministic and says especially that probabilities don’t exist in nature.

    Go on the record as asserting that these statements are not only there but true as well.

    Go on the record again that chaos theory is deterministic, not probabilistic, and I was wrong to say, and I quote, “Chaos ‘theory’ is probabilistic, not deterministic.”

    Go on the record that the references I gave supported your position regarding the above and not mine.

    Or just don’t answer, go back into your hole and pretend you’re waiting for an email – the most transparent lie extant here.

  384. bindleon 01 Jul 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Eric, excuse me but I forgot to ask that you go on record that the article lacks support for my contention that your coin flip analogy won’t work without a flipper whose purpose was to flip it. And even then with consummate and virtually supernatural skill.

    Or more succinctly go on record that the coin flip can be decisively effective as a determinant without a flipper.

  385. BillyJoe7on 01 Jul 2010 at 5:29 pm

    bindle,

    “I’ll say directly to you, BllyJoe7, you lying SOB, how does “the chinese lady bindle referenced” refer to me as the lady and not to the woman I referenced? The “excuse” was that the gender referred to me and not to her if you’ll remember.”

    Really, you should quit while you’re not ahead. :D

    In my ORIGINAL response to your link, I used the pronoun “he”. I never used the phrase “the chinese lady”. And I’ve already said that I re-read that response again after Paisley said the author is a female and I accept that it sounds like I was referring to the author rather than you, bindle, when I used the pronoun “he”, and therefore I just accepted his correction.

    But enough already!

  386. BillyJoe7on 01 Jul 2010 at 5:33 pm

    bindle,

    “you said you wouldn’t read it (or did you lie there to) ”

    You said some time ago that “this is my last post here” or something to that effect. Was that a lie? Did anyone call you a liar? No. You simply changed your mind.
    Well, then, please allow me the same priviledge. ;)

  387. bindleon 01 Jul 2010 at 6:17 pm

    “the chinese lady bindle referenced” billyjoe7

    Changed from the “chinese author” that he had supposed was a man?

    Didn’t change the ethnic reference, did he? Or can you slur the man but not the lady?

    Whatever I said about a last post here was intended to be true. But I did break a promise by speaking to the SOB directly.

  388. Paisleyon 02 Jul 2010 at 12:22 am

    mufi: “Note that Paisley (quite predictably) cherry-picked from Merriam-Webster’s the definition of “free will” that he prefers.

    Here’s the full entry:

    Main Entry: free will
    Function: noun
    Date: 13th century

    1 : voluntary choice or decision
    2 : freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention

    A completely uncaused choice, huh? Yeah, I think I’ll stick with definition #1.”

    Are you seriously making the claim that people generally believe free will to be completely COMPATIBLE with determinism?

    I don’t see any definition above that remotely suggests that “voluntary choice” is compatible with determinism. On the other hand, libertarian free will is clearly implied in definition number two (and this is the common understanding of free will…I would argue that your average person would vehemently protest at that notion that we are nothing more than “organic robots with consciousness.” And make no mistake about it, that’s exactly what your definition of “free will” implies.) Moreover, Merriam-Webster defines “indeterminism” as “a theory that the will is free and that deliberate choice and actions are not determined by or predictable from antecedent causes.” Besides, one of your fellow materialists participating on this thread has already conceded the point that we cannot but help to presuppose free will (libertarian) in practice.

    mufi: “And so what if a “first cause” is “ultimately the cause of every choice you make or will make”?

    This implies either the entire causal nexus is an intelligent process (after all, it’s determining all decisions!) or there is no intelligence whatsoever in the universe. The former implies pantheism; the latter implies that you’re without any intelligence whatsoever and therefore are incapable of participating in a rational debate with yours truly. Either way, I win and you lose.

  389. bindleon 02 Jul 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Hey, somebody needs to send Eric Thomson an email. The materialists have been logic bombed again.

  390. BillyJoe7on 03 Jul 2010 at 2:41 am

    There should be a fallacy called “Argument by dictionary definition”.

    If there isn’t, it could only be because the vast majority of people do not engage in it and therefore it hasn’t attained critical momentum.

  391. mufion 03 Jul 2010 at 4:05 pm

    I suspect that Paisley knows darn well that he cherry-picked a dictionary definition of “free will” that accords with his dualistic/supernaturalist outlook, so as to make like it is the only definition. What I don’t get is why he think his readers are so lazy as to not click on his link and read the other definition given by Merriam-Webster’s (putting aside other sources), one which is considerably less metaphysical in overtone.

    And that was largely my point: “free will” (in the general sense of “voluntary decision or choice”) is compatible with a variety of metaphysical doctrines (including determinism). Of course (as Paisley demonstrates), that won’t stop some from trying to claim ownership of the term, or from using fallacious logic (e.g. fallacy of composition or false dilemma) in their desperate attempts to proselytize others (again, see Paisley).

    But (with the exception of bindle, perhaps), I trust that most readers/commenters here are savvy and steeped enough in critical thinking to recognize his tactics for what they are. (Gosh, no wonder Dr. Novella calls mind/body dualism the “new creationism.”)

  392. bindleon 03 Jul 2010 at 4:52 pm

    If the proper use of logic to establish what is most probably the truth is Paisley’ tactic, then yes, I recognize that he’s the best tactician in that regard that’s shown up here so far.

  393. Paisleyon 03 Jul 2010 at 6:33 pm

    mufi: “I suspect that Paisley knows darn well that he cherry-picked a dictionary definition of “free will” that accords with his dualistic/supernaturalist outlook, so as to make like it is the only definition. What I don’t get is why he think his readers are so lazy as to not click on his link and read the other definition given by Merriam-Webster’s (putting aside other sources), one which is considerably less metaphysical in overtone

    We can settle this dispute very easily. Is your definition of free will COMPATIBLE with the idea that your mother is nothing more than an “organic robot with consciousness?” If it is not, then please explain your position and demonstrate to us why your definition of free will does not imply this.

    I expect a response. Failure to respond on your part will be interpreted by me as your way of conceding the point.

  394. arthurgoldenon 04 Jul 2010 at 12:17 am

    1. Just as the proposal in the late 19th Century to close down the U.S. Patent Office because there were no new inventions to be discovered was a bit premature, I think there is much more to be discovered by Science, whether about Evolution (does any one still here remember that “Is Evolution Science?” was the topic of this blog entry?) or “mind/body dualism” (where at least Dr. Novella is mentioned here recently).

    2. So 25 days after the original blog entry by Dr. Novella on “Is Evolution Science?” I wish to note the following statement therein by Dr. Steven Novella:

    “…Often a scientific investigation will begin with an observation, or even an idea. Most relevant to this discussion, the “test with an experiment” bubble is very narrow in its concept of how science progresses. The bubble should really read, “test the hypothesis.” Experimentation is only one way to test a hypothesis. Another way is to see if it is compatible with existing knowledge, especially established laws of nature. If a hypothesis violates the laws of thermodynamics, you can probably chuck it.

    Further, you can test hypotheses by making further observations. Observational studies are a critical part of medical science and all historical sciences. We cannot build suns in a laboratory, but we can observe how they behave.

    Evolution is largely an historical science, and so much of the hypothesis testing has been observational. But there is also a great deal of experimental data that supports evolutionary theory.”

    3. I admit that I am not a Scientist but I do accept Science as a useful tool to help human beings. I am not prepared to join this debate which is currently discussing Free Will, but I wanted to thank Dr. Steven Novella for his above explanation about “What is Science” because I am currently trying to help arrange good scientific research about the communication of nonverbal persons. As Dr. Novella may remember, I am a supporter of Facilitated Communication, but I am willing to accept the results of Science. Getting back to the original blog entry and the current debate, I am also a supporter of Creationism and mind/body dualism. I look forward to seeing the results of further good scientific research.

    Arthur Golden

  395. BillyJoe7on 04 Jul 2010 at 3:57 am

    Paisley,

    “We can settle this dispute very easily. Is your definition of free will COMPATIBLE with the idea that your mother is nothing more than an “organic robot with consciousness?” If it is not, then please explain your position and demonstrate to us why your definition of free will does not imply this.”

    Nothing more than?
    What a loaded question!
    Do you have any idea what is entailed in your “nothing more than?”
    Nothng more than. Goddamn!

  396. BillyJoe7on 04 Jul 2010 at 3:58 am

    …to say nothing of the use of the word “robot”.

  397. BillyJoe7on 04 Jul 2010 at 7:08 am

    Hey…

    The so called freewill of the dualist is nothing more than a coin flip!

  398. mufion 05 Jul 2010 at 10:06 am

    To quote the Italian philosopher and mathematician Guilio Giorello (from Dennett, Freedom Evolves):

    Si, abbiamo un anima. Ma e fatta di tanti piccoli robot. / Yes, we have a soul, but it’s made of lots of tiny robots!

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