Interesting Topics on Evolution

Search
Go

Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 261 - 280 of total 335 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 22, 2013 - 10:11pm PT
As we mature in our thinking about evolution and genetics...



...we will learn to distinguish between responsible eugenics and irresponsible eugenics.
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 22, 2013 - 11:09pm PT
Oh sure...the Boobs thread gets deleted and now my thread gets a few hits. Come to think of it, wonder what the whole story on the evolution of boobs is. Is their currect, glorious expression primarily the result of sexual or "natural" selection?
moosedrool

Trad climber
lost, far away from Poland
Jan 23, 2013 - 12:59am PT
but I don't think a neanderthal will ever be cloned. That would be something similar to Nazis' experiments on humans.

On what do you base the first assertion?

It is my belief in our humanity (naÔve? maybe).

The Nazi comparison is absurd on the face of it.

Nazis experimented on humans for the benefit of many. I donít see a difference between their philosophy and experimental cloning of a Neanderthal.

Neanderthals are our ancestors

That is only partially true.

Semantics.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jan 23, 2013 - 09:20am PT
Is their currect, glorious expression primarily the result of sexual or "natural" selection?

Surgical, I'd say.

DMR
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jan 23, 2013 - 09:27am PT
Hellyeah let's clone an extinct primate species I mean, think of the benefit!!! (lol)



Here's the Program Director



Think of the benefits, people!

DMT
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 23, 2013 - 10:00am PT
Serious students of evolution should check out this review of Thomas Nagel's latest book in the NYR.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/feb/07/awaiting-new-darwin/


From Allen Orr, the book reviewer,
"a scientific education is, to a considerable extent, an exercise in taming the authority of oneís intuition."

Ain't that the truth.

.....

Thomas Nagel,
The existence of consciousness seems to imply that the physical description of the universe, in spite of its richness and explanatory power, is only part of the truth,

So it "seems" to him. Perhaps this is why Nagel ended up a philosopher instead of a engineer, a bioengineer. (??)

In my (science and engineering-driven) view (shared by others) the existence of consciousness does NOT imply that the physical description of the universe is only part of the truth.

And in the very next sentence, Nagel adds...
[The existence of consciousness seems to imply that] the natural order is far less austere than it would be if physics and chemistry accounted for everything.


My view is, Nagel needs to expand his view beyond physics and chemistry to biology and bioengineering (in other words, to the sciences of how parts and systems interrelate and function synergistically to yield, in the end, useful functionality - not unlike computers, electronics and the internet.

In short, Nagel needs to think less like the ol' time philosopher and more like a computer-literate, information theory-savvy systems analyst or engineer.

What cowboy, even library scholar or librarian, 100 years ago could've conceived that 10,000 books would in the next century be rendered on a piece of plastic or sand? Or that a Go-Pro could render the day's climb start to finish - in HD no less - on same? All ultimately on a basis of physics, of course; and in between on a basis of parts, systems and synergy.

It's not "just" physics and chemistry. It's physics and chemistry and systems (of parts and wholes and interconnects) evolved over millions of years, extant only because their traits (features if not functions) confer existability.

T Nagel needs to either retire or go back to school.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 23, 2013 - 01:49pm PT
Another interesting topic: the evolution of hormonal mechanisms in cooperation strategies.

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/280/1755/20122765.abstract.html?cpetoc

I know I've suspected it a long time now. And, btw, strangely, an image that always seems to come to mind when I think about this subject: seeing a male giraffe giving oral sex to another (a female I presumed) at a zoo some 20 years ago.

I'd bet for every one we know a little something about, there are 50 others we know nothing about. We are sacks of biochemistry, not just molecular biology, evolved into stable structures over billions of years. So says evolutionary biology!

.....

eeyonkee, I've always been more into legs, ass and hips than boobs. I consider it a strength. :)
moosedrool

Trad climber
lost, far away from Poland
Jan 23, 2013 - 03:34pm PT
Oxitocin is old news.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2183953/Oxytocin-Nose-happiness-Doctors-discover-nasal-spray-stop-couples-having-heated-arguments.html

I've always been more into legs, ass and hips than boobs

You probably carry an anti-boob mutation. Nothing serious, but think about your offspring :)
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 26, 2013 - 07:18pm PT
eeyonkee, here's a short video of Steven Pinker, "Better Angels," you might like.

http://vimeo.com/58059626

Steven Pinker's the man.



Tag: Interesting Topics of Evolution / Cultural Evolution / A History of Violence

.....

Oxitocin is old news.

Oxytocin is just one of many many players, as I'm sure you know, in the endocrine control system of bodies and behavior.
moosedrool

Trad climber
lost, far away from Poland
Jan 26, 2013 - 07:50pm PT
eeyonkee, here's a short video of Steven Pinker, "Better Angels," you might like.

Can I watch it too?


oops, I already did.
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 26, 2013 - 08:31pm PT
Nice find, HFCS. I don't know who I like best, Steven Pinker or Richard Dawkins. They are both such great writers and thinkers. I've been reading three of Pinker's books over the last couple of months. The other two being "The Blank Slate" and "How the Mind Works". Just started reading two of Dawkin's books again, "River out of Eden" and "The Blind Watchmaker". Reading any of these books makes you feel smart.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 28, 2013 - 10:15pm PT
re: Interesting topics

There seems to be a robust (but somewhat hushed) debate over just how long (5 generations or 50 or 500) it will take to "dumb down" to the proverbial dodo bird equivalent or eyeless salamander now that we've made our environment from sea o shining sea a relatively soft place to fall - and, of course, to reproduce - thanks to medicine, social welfare, modern law and democracies, etc..

In other words, just how long will it take the forces of entropy to dull the gene pool - first, enough to notice, and later, enough to cause problems - in the absence of Nature Past's red in tooth and claw honing pressures.

Of course the evolved features likely affected in our case won't be wings (dodo bird or galapagos cormorant) as much as physical prowess (speed, musculature) and brains. Eyes, too.

Needless to say, I'd be more concerned with this implication of evolutionary theory and genetics (maybe even eugenics) and technology and ethics if I were going to be around 500 years from now. I won't be.

Nonetheless it's interesting I think to think about.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jan 28, 2013 - 10:20pm PT
It's not "just" physics and chemistry.

that's right, it is only physics... which describes everything else.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 28, 2013 - 10:24pm PT
that's right, it is only physics...

You need to change your perspective, my man.

Your recent ice climbing experience, for instance, wasn't "just" physics or "only" physics. To name just one other item, it was also actin and myosin filaments interacting in a metabolic matrix. This needs to be appreciated, too.

Along with other so-called "levels of explanation" or "levels of operation."

That was the point, Mr High Energy Physics man.
part-time communist

Mountain climber
Jan 28, 2013 - 10:25pm PT
needs to think less like the ol' time philosopher and more like a computer-literate, information theory-savvy systems analyst or engineer.


that's why we have analytic philosophy. The dominant branch of philosophy these days.
part-time communist

Mountain climber
Jan 28, 2013 - 10:33pm PT
Has anyone seen this article? I thought it was amusing. I saw it when someone posted it on facebook a while back

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/4575024/Youll-have-smaller-brains-more-wrinkles-and-fewer-teeth.html


I would say its safe to say that technological advancement, at an advanced enough level, will allow us to shape our own fate with the ability to tinker with genetics.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 28, 2013 - 10:43pm PT
Yeah, note your qualifier there...

at an advanced enough level

We can hope. ;)
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jan 28, 2013 - 10:54pm PT
I think that troll on p2 of High on Boulder bit me...

you seemed to take the bait HFCS, and rather quickly... oh, do you ever post on climbing threads? or started a climbing thread? I forget...
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 28, 2013 - 11:04pm PT
lol! :)
cowpoke

climber
Jan 29, 2013 - 09:34am PT
Steven Pinker's the man.
He likes the Red Sox, at least.

He is brilliant man and a fabulous writer, but I would urge those reading him to apply some skepticism concerning his framing and extensions of the science. For public intellectuals, in general, there is a temptation to exaggerate and oversimplify. And, while Pinker is rightly adored for his contributions and his tremendously positive impact on psychological science, he has been accused of this behavior. I think fairly so. He is, no doubt, not the only offender, but I do empathize with those who find frustrating his playing up of controversy and his skipping over some of the nuance of what we don't understand and why we don't understand it. And, I should point out these criticisms are the same type of criticisms being leveled more generally at speculations among evolutionary psychologists and are directly relevant to my (and Ed's) earlier posts in this thread responding to those using evolutionary theory to interpret contemporary observed behaviors (e.g., in mating).

Here, for example, is a review from Science (297.5590, Sept. 27, 2002) of The Blank Slate by Patrick Bateson, Emeritus Professor of Ethology at Cambridge:

The Blank Slate The Modern-Denial of Human Nature

by Steven Pinker

Viking, New York, 2002. 527 pp. $27.95. ISBN 0-670-03151-8.

Is it really the case that, as Steven Pinker claims in The Blank Slate, the biological underpinning of human behavior is denied by most people? Almost daily we are told about genes for maternal behavior, promiscuity, homosexuality, language, and much else. Certainly, the simplistic idea of a straightforward pathway from gene to behavior has had its severe critics (quite properly, in my view): genes code for proteins, not behavior. However, the center of that academic debate is not about whether genes influence behavior but rather how they do so. Pinker is concerned with a very different debate between the natural and the social sciences. He argues that the social sciences are dominated by a belief that all of each individual's characteristics are generated by that person's experience. This looks like a caricature to me, one used to sustain yet another round of the tedious and increasingly irrelevant nature-nurture debate. It is all too easy to pour scorn on stupid arguments or on those people suffering from cultural lag, and Pinker should have resisted this temptation. He undoubtedly writes well and is able to express complex ideas in ways that make them intelligible to lay people. Yet too frequently he overstates his case.

Pinker bases his charge against the naive social scientist on three strands of current scientific inquiry: cognitive psychology, behavior genetics, and evolutionary psychology. The cognitive psychologists have uncovered rules that underlie and generate highly complex behavior. No quarrel with that. But to argue that the rules are, therefore, the basis of "real" human nature is to miss a crucial point. Chess has clear rules, which can be explained to a child. Yet, the interest and the richness of the game lie in what can be generated by those rules.

Behavioral genetics has established beyond all reasonable doubt that many individual differences in behavior can be attributed to genetic differences. However, the notion that the variability in behavior can be partitioned into genetic and environmental components is utterly misleading. Doing so ignores the rich and crucial interplay between the developing individual and his or her social and physical world. The estimates of heritability, with which Pinker seems completely comfortable, depend on the population of individuals and the range of environments sampled. Worse, the effects of a particular set of genes depend critically on the environment in which they are expressed, while the effects of a particular sort of environment depend on the individual's genes. Finally, heritability estimates say nothing about the ways in which genes and environment contribute to the biological and psychological processes of development. Walking on two legs is a fundamental property of being human, and it is one of the more obvious biological differences between humans and other great apes such as chimpanzees or gorillas. Although it depends heavily on genes, it has a heritability of zero because human variability in this respect depends on the vagaries of the environment. Pinker appears to miss the irony that the dependence of high heritibilities on human diversity conflicts with conclusions from the other modern subject he draws on for his attack on the social scientists--the evidence for human universals derived from the work by evolutionary psychologists.

Like many biologists, I regard proposals about the evolution and current utility of behavior as helpful in making sense of behavior. But it does not follow that all examples of present-day behaviors that clearly benefit the individual in the modern world are products of evolution. The combination of oral linguistic ability and manual dexterity, both of which are doubtless derived from past evolutionary pressures, generated written language in several parts of the world in the last 6000 years. IT is not at all likely that the different forms of written language are adaptive in the sense of having been shaped by Darwinian evolution. Moreover, proposals about past evolutionary pressures or current utility must leave open the question of how the behavior develops. Whether or not an individual's development involves some "instruction" from a normally stable feature of the environment, or whether it would be changed by altering the prevailing social and physical environment, cannot be deduced from even the most plausible evolutionary or functional argument.

Part of the problem is that Pinker is so vague in his use of the term instinct, on which much of his conception of human nature depends. Apart from its colloquial uses, the term instinct has at least nine scientific meanings: present at birth (or at a particular stage of development), not learned, developed before it can be used, unchanged once developed, shared by all members of the species (or at least of the same sex and age), organized into a distinct behavioral system (such as foraging), served by a distinct neural module, adapted during evolution, and differences among individuals that are due to their possession of different genes. One use does not necessarily imply another even though people often assume, without evidence, that it does. Behavior that has probably been shaped by Darwinian evolution and appears, ready-formed, without opportunities for learning may be changed in form and the circumstances of expression by subsequent experience. The human smile is a good example. This matters because what Pinker happily calls human nature is in reality individual nature and depends critically on the circumstances of that person's life.

Where do these shortcomings in the argument leave Pinker's thesis about human nature? In poor shape in my view. Saloon-bar assertions do not lead to the balanced discussion that should be generated on a topic as important as this one, and they do a disservice to the really powerful biological arguments that can be deployed. Furthermore, the misplaced combative style delays the honest synthesis Pinker professes he wants so much. I fear that The Blank Slate will become a happy hunting ground for the social scientists already predisposed to be skeptical about evolutionary thinking and that the wretched unnecessary debate over human nature is due for yet another silly round.

two edits: I failed to mention the title of the book review, The Corpse of a Wearisome Debate, and I should have correctly identified the author as Sir Patrick Bateson.
Messages 261 - 280 of total 335 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
 
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks


Try a free sample topo!

 
SuperTopo on the Web

Review Categories
Recent Route Beta