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The portrait is Charles Darwin, age 31, in 1840

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Comment by Quinton Llewellyn on February 15, 2015 at 4:06am

I think it is more that he is projecting himself as an authority in an area where he is at best an interested amateur (I would also be an interested amateur) while disregarding the weight of skill and knowledge of those who actually have legitimate authority in the subject. This is what I meant I told him that his tone comes across as arrogant. I don't think his point can't be disproven. At the same time I understand with all the exasperated comments I see it might be a fool's errand. Possibly thinking that I can point out to him what no one else has managed to (especially when I can see they know much more about evolutionary biology than me e.g. Joseph P), I am being a bit arrogant myself.

Comment by Lemual Poot on February 15, 2015 at 2:27am


I just don't see the point in hypothesizing for the sake of hypothesizing.  I have a term I call: "Jailhouse genius."  A jailhouse genius is someone who's professing knowledge and arguing about a subject that has no relevance and can't be proven or disproven at that point in time.

A theist says, “I believe because I believe.”  A scientist says, “I believe because…” and cites laws, facts, and figures.  That bozo may think he’s appeasing the first by emulating the second but he’s actually “none of the above.”

Comment by Quinton Llewellyn on February 14, 2015 at 12:28pm

I don't think anyone sees it as disloyal, but your tone does come across as arrogant, this is what makes people angry with you.

Maybe it's worth simplifying things. Let's imagine a self-replicating organism, whenever this organism eats 1x it creates another of itself, after replicating 10 times it dies.
Let's start with 1.
To begin with it consumes and replicates 10 times giving us 10.
7 are just like their parent.
1 has a mutation that means it needs to eat 2x to reproduce.
1 has a mutation that slows down the rate at which they can consume to half the speed.
1 has a mutation that means that they only need 0.5x to reproduce.
With every 10 reproductions that a single organism creates this pattern continues.
Over time does the average rate of reproduction of the organism increase or decrease? What happens when we say there is a limited amount of x available in any given cycle? What happens when we introduce predators?

You say you think your Fisher review is clear, but it needs to be clear to other people or it's pointless. I gave my response to it previously, I thought it was mistaken.

Comment by Shaun Johnston on February 14, 2015 at 9:22am

Quinton, I appreciate your close reading in this thread. I am pursuing two lines of argument at once, that I keep separate but you've brought together. Of course that's confusing. Summary, I'm a science - oriented atheist, who suspects the modern synthesis is faulty, the fault originating in Fisher's statistics. At the same time I am exploring other ways of thinking about evolution, such as my 'genies.' I recommend keeping them separate, because free speculation can't be defended as criticism of statistics can be. I think my Fisher review is clear. He doesn't include consideration, in his statistics, of the much greater number of harmful mutations. This is a statistical gaffe, I think. By the way, he thinks there are no neutral muations, because natural selection is so sensitive all mutations will register.
Some people think it's disloyal to question tthe basis for the modern syntheses. I think it's ok. What do you think?

Comment by Shaun Johnston on February 14, 2015 at 8:58am

Quinton, I appreciate that you reproduced my ideas accurately. We differ about the potency of different populations of mutations, and so arrive at different conclusions. 

Comment by Quinton Llewellyn on February 14, 2015 at 6:21am

Yeah he doesn't seem to give you a straight answer, maybe he thinks he is, but having looked through that whole dialogue I understand your frustration. It can come across much like Bill O'Reilly's "How do waves happen?" or The Insane Clown Posse's "Magnets, how do they work?" but I don't think he thinks natural selection is supernatural, I think he thinks it has a problem that can't be explained so the supernatural thing is done with a sarcastic voice "so how does that work unless you're invoking 'then something magic happens' to the middle of your argument?", he does in one reply say "I am accusing modern evolutionary theory of resorting to supernatural explanations.".
The idea he has is that if a mutation arises that hinders the organism but doesn't kill it or necessarily stop it from reproducing then it will be passed on (and for arguments sake let's always consider it as a dominate trait), lets say it slightly weaker knees. He then muses that thrown out at random there has to be many more mutations that will hinder you than help you (a long the lines of 'there is 100 ways to get this wrong, only 1 way to get it right') and so a beneficial mutation amongst mutations will be relatively a rarity. He concludes that if this is true, over time the resulting organism will be so weighed down by the mutations that hinder it that for whatever the benefits it gains from mutations that have happened in it's ancestry that favour survival and reproduction, they will do little to overcome the accumulation of the vastly more mutations that challenge it. He has clearly made a number of errors. The important error seems to me to be this, he discounts the range of organisms that are products of their parents traits (or combined traits) with the claim that it is only the exceptions that make a difference (he says "Only beneficial and harmful variations are relevant to how mutations induce the action of natural selection."). The problem with this is that the group he considers irrelevant is the largest group in pool that the organisms are fighting in, those with traits from these "harmful mutations" that lessen the organism's chances of survival and reproduction for the most part do so in relation to this group. Everything taken into account the mutations he talks about as being either "harmful" or "beneficial" are themselves the rarity in relation to the whole and so can easily be adopted or wiped out. By excluding anything but his "harmful and beneficial mutations" he is left with a group that might look likely to snowball into chaos. This I think is where his main mistake lies.
To me what would get my back up about how he has gone about this whole thing is that he has assumed that he has found a problem and proclaims it to be a problem without any sense of humility. If he had approached this by saying there was something he didn't get about natural selection and could anyone explain it to him he would of had a completely different conversation, but just assuming that he has found out something that no evolutionary biologist had noticed and attacking natural selection like he did was a bit of a dick move.

Comment by Lemual Poot on February 14, 2015 at 3:16am

Anyone who says the fact of evolution is unsound should take a look at the National Geographic enlarged photos of houseflies walking unharmed, on pure DDT crystals.

Or how about the "Devil's Lapdog."  Tea baggers and other fundamentalists should enjoy this one:

 I also read about a strain of rats in NYC that can create massive doses of vitamin K, the antidote to anticoagulant poisons.  They can be either Asian gray, or Norway brown, and they are not only able to eat Warfarin and other such poisons without problem, they can thrive on what it's mixed with to get the rats to eat it.  It's estimated that more than half NYC's rats have evolved resistance to the only rat poison currently legal for use in New York.

 Maybe their god is working on his new favorite species - rats!

Yeah, that's it; that's why he hasn't done too much to impress his people lately; he's moved on!

If you think about it, those idiots are just cutting nose to spite face.  If they worked it right, evolution could easily be spun as a greater proof of their "higher power" fable.  "Not only did "HE" create all things interactive with one another, his creatures have the ability to become whatever they need to be in order for their species to survive!"

 I can just hear Reverend Billy Sol Harkus, first church of the gooey death and discount house of worship, Del Rio Texas, gold buckle of the bible belt, (Imus circa 1975) as he belts it out over the airways.  They almost lost their shit by convicting Galileo, they may just topple over this one.

Comment by Joseph P on February 14, 2015 at 2:24am

Well, yeah, the supernatural agent just gave those animals those super powers, Lemual.  ^.^

Comment by Lemual Poot on February 14, 2015 at 1:49am

Thanks Patricia.  If I live long enough, I just may learn how to use this thing. ;)

Comment by Joseph P on February 14, 2015 at 1:04am

Oh, and Quinton, I know I'm kind of abusive towards Shaun, at this point, but you can see from the date on that discussion thread I linked that he's been at this for a while now.  He's like that crazy uncle who won't shut up about it at family gatherings, no matter how many times you tell him that putting us back on the gold standard won't magically fix the economy, and he doesn't have any clue how economics works.

And no, the Jews didn't orchestrate 9/11 to make the Muslims look bad ... although that narrative is at least more coherent than what you hear from most 9/11 Truthers.  Most never get beyond, "Oh yeah?  Well, what about building 7?  Oh yeah?  Well, why did they fall at free-fall speeds?  Oh yeah?  Well, why were there no Jews in the towers that day?"

No, uncle, we don't want to hear about chemtrails ...


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