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High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 29, 2013 - 09:57am PT
Not sure of your point here.

No doubt the fields relating to evolution theory and its implications for humanity have been full of controversy and debate going back decades and decades now.

Indeed, it's Steven Pinker's artful handling of the subjects, the controversies, and the particular PUSH FORWARD he reps for esp through the rolling hills of bullshit (btw, not unlike Dawkins') that explains his popularity and following.

The whole shebang is steeped in history, and the latter in controversy. Curious how long you've been following along. My attention to Dawkins, Stevens, and evolutionary theory and its implications vis a vis culture goes back 30 years now. Even the recent history, something like a soap opera, is full of story, drama.

.....

Speaking of culture and change, here's a kid making a name for himself...
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zack-kopplin/science-funding-obama_b_2545952.html

.....

To this day, one of the clearest, most information-rich dialogs I've heard from Steven Pinker is starts here...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17nI3Bxtzeo

The interviewer, Robert Wright, is no slouch either.

.....

EDIT re: Patrick Bateson
http://www.edge.org/q2008/q08_8.html#bateson
cowpoke

climber
Jan 29, 2013 - 10:30am PT
High Fructose Corn Spirit wrote:
Not sure of your point here.

No doubt the fields relating to evolution theory and its implications for humanity have been full of controversy and debate going back decades and decades now.

Indeed, it's Steven Pinker's artful handling of the subjects, the controversies, and the particular PUSH FORWARD he reps for esp through the rolling hills of bullshit (btw, not unlike Dawkins') explains his following.

I agree, you are missing the point of my post and the book review. The title of the book review (although stated more harshly than I would have) nearly says it all. No reasonable person denies that there used to be a debate. The critique of Pinker's public intellectual work centers around the extent to which there still is a debate among scholars, and the extent to which we can (or cannot, to be more precise) make inferences about the evolution of innate behavior from sources such as behavioral genetic studies of heritability (i.e., proportion of variance explained by genes for observed behaviors using, for example, twin and adoption studies) and the extent to which a behavior is functionally adaptive to contemporary environmental constraints and opportunities.

High Fructose Corn Spirit wrote:
The whole shebang is steeped in history, and the latter in controversy. Curious how long you've been following along. My attention to Dawkins, Stevens, and evolutionary theory and its implications vis a vis culture goes back 30 years now. Even the recent history, something like a soap opera, is full of story.

Props for "following along" much longer than I have. 30 years ago, I was worried about: (a) passing 9th grade earth science by the skin of my teeth, (b) pimples, (c) girls, and (d) trying to play guitar just like Pete Townsend...albeit rarely in that order.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Jan 29, 2013 - 10:43am PT
Saloon-bar assertions

What? you mean like what goes on here 9 times out of ten?

Say it aint so!

edit: in retrospect and lest I be accused of just another saloon bar assertion, I refer to ST in general not so much this thread, which seems generally pretty well thought out and damn interesting and hardly drunk at all (excepting friday nights). Which perhaps explains why I usually just listen and keep my mouth shut. Anyway, I just loved that saloon -bar thing

Carry on!
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 29, 2013 - 12:52pm PT
A perfect example of how the public can get evolutionary theory and even memes wrong...

is illustrated in yesterday's interview of Alex Honnold by Joe Rogan when Joe starts talking about fear of spiders, instincts, etc. and expresses his thoughts on it. He's close but off, no cigar. Meanwhile, Alex struck me as being fully in the know on both genes and memes.

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/28885845

Spider fear and memes start about 45 minute mark.

As an aside: worthy interview, lots of good stuff.
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:13pm PT
I recall watching a couple of little kids being taught to fear spiders,
by their slightly older siblings and cousins. Up to that point, the poor
tykes thought spiders were pretty interesting.
cowpoke

climber
Jan 29, 2013 - 02:09pm PT
High Fructose Corn Spirit:
[quote]EDIT re: Patrick Bateson
http://www.edge.org/q2008/q08_8.html#bateson[/quote]

As your link indicates: Patrick Bateson is, like his good friend Richard Dawkins, an atheist. Did you post this because you see it as relevant to his critique of Pinker?

Regardless, it is interesting that via the link you have connected the thread back to Dawkins. Despite having tremendous respect for Dawkins and his work and agreeing with 95% of the propositions that Dawkins has laid out in his work (and despite both men reporting that they are friends), Bateson remains an ardent critic of the remaining 5% related to the role of environment in evolution. And, here, I would agree that there remains thoughtful, on-going disagreement (unlike the antiquated nature-nurture debate that Bateson accuses Pinker of relying on to provoke readers).

While given your expertise and long time studying these matters, HFCS, you must be intimately familiar with the disagreements between Dawkins and Bateson much more than am I, others here may be interested in a summary of the disagreement (from Bateson's point of view) in the book celebrating Dawkins and the 30th anniversary of The Selfish Gene: Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think

The conclusion of Bateson’s chapter provides a summary of his critique (pp. 174-175):

"Darwinian evolution operates on characters that have developed within a particular set of conditions. If those conditions are stable for many generations then the evolutionary changes that matter will arise in the way that Richard has so clearly and carefully described. Apparent design is produced, even when it is at the end of the long and complicated process of development. But the environment does not cease to be important for evolution just because it remains constant. Change the environment and the outcome of an individual’s development may be utterly different. Indeed, if an individual does not inherit its parents’ environment along with their genes and other transmittable factors, it may not be well adapted to the conditions in which it now finds itself. But the altered environmental conditions may throw up variation that was previously hidden and from that may spring new lines of evolution. Active choice and active control by the organism together with its own adaptability may all be important additional drivers of evolutionary change. These possibilities do not conflict with the ideas about the evolution of apparent design, which Richard describes so well, but they can explain why sudden changes in direction can and obviously did occur over the long span of biological evolution."

On the topic of critiquing and questioning important details within the paradigm-shifting arguments and ideas of great minds like Pinker and Dawkins, I say "hear, hear!" to Bateson's conclusion in his chapter celebrating and honoring Dawkins in Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think (p.174)

"It is comforting to be praised, and Richard certainly deserves heaps of praise. Even so, constructive criticism should also be seen as flattery and may be more stimulating...Just because I admire the clarity and brilliance of his writing, I think it is appropriate to identify where Richard might have led others astray by the very gifts that have made him justifiably famous."
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 30, 2013 - 11:59am PT
Cowpoke, in your quote there, I don't think Dawkins would disagree with any of it. Not regarding hidden variation, for instance, or active control, etc.

I linked to Bateson there because I was led to his edge essay in the process of reviewing who he was.

Nice to see you're poking around in these matters. :)
.....

Speaking of radically altered environmental conditions: Adapt or be marginalized.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/opinion/friedman-its-pq-and-cq-as-much-as-iq.html?smid=tw-NYTimesFriedman&seid=auto&_r=0

How to adapt? It will require more individual initiative. We know that it will be vital to have more of the “right” education than less, that you will need to develop skills that are complementary to technology rather than ones that can be easily replaced by it...
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 31, 2013 - 02:27pm PT
This is an asteroid hunter appreciation post.



http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/sciencefair/2013/01/29/asteroid-flyby-february/1875121/

Thanks for your help in keeping our progressive evolution (aka Ascent of Man) on track.

Two earth diameters away is a pretty close shave, I'd say. Recall Meteor Crater in Az.

.....

re: individual selection vs group selection

Ouch! Jerry Coyne comes down hard on my other hero: E.O. Wilson...

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/
31jan2013 entry
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Feb 5, 2013 - 01:30am PT
here are some thought provoking articles that may be interesting to this thread:

The new biology: beyond the Modern Synthesis

Michael R Rose and Todd H Oakley
http://www.biology-direct.com/content/pdf/1745-6150-2-30.pdf

DO WE NEED AN EXTENDED EVOLUTIONARY SYNTHESIS?

Massimo Pigliucci
http://www.nespolo.cl/LECTURAS/Clase%200_Pigliucci%202007-Evolution-EES%207pp.pdf

Developmental plasticity and the origin of species differences

Mary Jane West-Eberhard
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1131862/
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Feb 5, 2013 - 05:31am PT
I'm not sure which social scientists Pinker had in mind unless it was sociologists since they are the only social science without a biological component. Anthropology and psychology expend as much as half their field on studying the biological, while economics has done a lot of research into consumers and the impact of advertising, aethetics in store displays, and use of space in relation to sales and in conjunction with neurobiologists on exactly what areas of the brain are reward centers and what activates them in regard to sales. I think this was true in 2002 although even more so today. Coincidentally, sociology which was once the most popular social science is now the one with the fewest students.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Feb 5, 2013 - 10:01am PT
Rethinking the Theoretical Foundation of Sociobiology
David Sloan Wilson and Edward O. Wilson

http://mechanism.ucsd.edu/teaching/philbio/readings/wilson-wilson.rethinking%20sociobiology.inpress.pdf
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Feb 9, 2013 - 02:14pm PT
Why we are still here and the Neanderthals aren't.

http://live.wsj.com/video/why-we-outlasted-the-neanderthal/DEDF09ED-71E8-4DAF-8131-C30D86FC9150.html?mod=WSJ_article_outbrain&obref=obnetwork#!DEDF09ED-71E8-4DAF-8131-C30D86FC9150
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 9, 2013 - 07:08pm PT
Sheesh, there's been some good posts since I last contributed (been going through a voluntary reduction in time spent on ST). Cowpoke, you blow me away. Loved that critique of Pinker's, The Blank Slate. Of the three books that I have read of his, the chapter on parenting in this book is the one I remember best, and the one that I thought flew in the face of conventional thinking. His thesis was that, based on evidence from twin studies and the like, 50% of what makes you you is genetic but, of the other 50%, only 0 to 10 percent could be correlated with your family. He speculates that who you hang with (peers) might account for a big part of that remaining 50%.

In light of the findings from epigenetics, I could conceive that big portion of that 50% is epigenetic-related. The evidence for the lack of nearly any parental/family influence strikes me as probably wrong, but only in that personal incredulity way that can often steer you wrong.

I'm still reading Ed's links, including the one by the Wilsons. I've read a lot more of Dawkins, who has no respect for group selection. I've only read onebook by E.O. Wilson, The Social Conquest of the Earth. I must admit of having a "fancy" about group selection. I need to study this more.

Glad you could join the conversation, Scuffy!
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Feb 9, 2013 - 08:55pm PT
Matthew Gregg, twitter follower of Bill Nye
What is the newest discovery in science that you find the most interesting?

Bill Nye,
Our emotions are a result of evolution. Spooky but empowering. Another detail of how we all came to be as we are.
MH2

climber
Feb 9, 2013 - 09:02pm PT
Also consider reading what Richard Lewontin has to say. I see he appears in one of cowpoke's references. The only book of his I have read was It Ain't Necessarily So: The Dream of the Human Genome and Other Illusions. It seemed a good antidote to the tendency to invest too much explanatory power in DNA.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Feb 9, 2013 - 10:39pm PT
The notion that emotions or any other form of psychology being totally seperate from natural selection is flat out false. It is the old Nature vs. Nurture argument, but as things have moved along in my lifetime, Nature has a far larger impact than was thought. I'm just saying that the role of evolution in psychology, sociology, behaviour, etc. is far stronger than was thought 30 years ago.

Evolution isn't really my bag, but I'm lucky to have this guy as my next door neighbor:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_S._Ray

We have had some really good discussions.

My contribution to any topic on evolution is limited to the evidence of it in the rock record. The rock record agrees with Darwinian evolution completely. I'm not aware of anything in the fossil record that conflicts completely with Darwinian evolution except a couple of things that are odd, but not game killers.

The best way to improve a human will probably not be through cloning. Follow the tracks of a company like Monsanto, who is raking in money by selling genetically modified seeds. If I remember my genetics at all, hybrid seeds lose their recessive traits in one or a small few generations, and since Monsanto holds the patents on certain alterations, they bring in the bucks.

Again, if there was not somebody somewhere trying this, I would be surprised.

My guess is that within 100 years, if we survive the many perils we have created for ourselves, human embryos will be big business. You don't have to have much imagination to see the inevitability. There is a strong desire to have high quality children, and if there isn't a local market for this, some military will certainly do it. Remember, the strong survive.

Either that will happen or the opposite will happen. Smart people have fewer children than stupid people!! :) Just go rent the movie Idiocracy

I think Darwinian evolution is winding down for Humans. We will have the technology in our hands to evolve much faster in the future. We can already do crazy things with rodents. I read a really cool PNAS paper on genetically engineered "knockout mice" that had no histamine receptors. It was a drug trial, and evidently this is fairly common.

I can see all sorts of wild possibilities. One thing is sure. Morality will have no real affect on whether this will happen. If it CAN happen, it WILL happen. Technology that provides any sort of real use will be used.

I can imagine a genetic arms race. It is just a matter of when.

Look at a country like North Korea. They are so batshit crazy that they are probably elbows deep in trying to breed super soldiers or whatever.

If we were in the middle of WWII right now, you can bet your ass that we would be doing this just to survive.

High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Feb 9, 2013 - 10:46pm PT
Good interesting stuff there.
moosedrool

Trad climber
lost, far away from Poland
Feb 10, 2013 - 01:02am PT
Those with good eye are inclined to fall into deep well.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Feb 10, 2013 - 02:02am PT
Base, this is the sort of hybridization that falls apart in the next generation if attempt is made to breed them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F1_hybrid
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Feb 10, 2013 - 09:47am PT
Here's an amazing piece of both evolution and photography.


Transparent Ants from India drinking colored sugar water.
Transparent Ants from India drinking colored sugar water.
Credit: Dr. Mohammed Babu, Mysore, India.

Dr. Mohamed Babu of Mysore India noticed that some of the ants on his kitchen floor turned white after drinking milk. Realizing that they were transparent, he got an idea for a set of photos by spreading droplets of sweet colored water on white plastic in the garden. The ants preferred green and yellow then red with blue coming in last of all.

I wonder if the ants noticed that they changed color? If so, one could imagine humans influencing evolution by feeding only some ants the preferred colors.

And of course, only humans have the brain capacity to dream up such useful projects.
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