Is evolution actually possible?

Discussion in 'Pseudoscience' started by gamelord, Sep 7, 2018.

  1. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Those are not questions posed by biologists. Those are questions asked of biologists (usually by people trying to start an argument.
    Biologists are not necessarily the most articulate debators, and do sometimes fall into those semantic traps.
    But the questions biologists ask when left to their own research are: How does that organ work? How did it develop?
    Science asks How; philosophy asks Why; theology asks If that's not a miracle, I'll poke some bogus holes in it.
     
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  3. Janus58 Valued Senior Member

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    It's not a matter of one giraffe having a slighter longer neck than every other giraffe. It's a matter of a population of giraffe will have individuals of varying neck lengths. And it's that the giraffe on the longer neck end of this scale do slightly better than those on the short neck scale (Ever hear the joke about two guys who run into a bear. One takes off running, and the other yells after him, "Your wasting your time, you can't outrun a bear." To which his friend replies, " I don't have to out run the bear, I just have to outrun you!" Make this a group of people. you don't have out run the bear, you don't even have to out run everyone else in the group, you just have to out run the slowest member of the group.
    The longest necks outperform the shortest necks, The shortest necked giraffes fail to reproduce as well, which drives up the median neck length of the population.
    But evolution doesn't act in isolation. For example, giraffes eat trees leaves, trees with lower branches get more of their foliage stripped, don't do as well, and produce fewer descendants, Thus the average height of leafy limbs increases. This in turn favors longer necked giraffes, which can eat the leaves on higher branches...

    It isn't always that being at one end of the spectrum give you that much more of an advantage as it is that being at the other end is a disadvantage.

    It is funny that you should bring up giraffes in a thread in which you also brought up the evolution of horns. Giraffes have ossicones, which are skin-covered and more or less a primitive stage of horn evolution.
     
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  5. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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  7. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, complications are the bane of the lazy thinker who wants to overturn centuries of science.
     
  8. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Maybe, but I'm less sure. I think that we will encounter teleological language in most biological texts. The interesting question (if a bit off-topic for this thread) is how easily biological thinking can do away with teleology, and whether that eradication would even be a good idea. Like I said, I'm undecided on that.

    Here's some discussion of that by a very famous evolutionary biologist (who has been discussed on Sciforums before).

    https://cloudfront.escholarship.org/dist/prd/content/qt6k03m9f0/qt6k03m9f0.pdf
     
  9. gamelord Registered Senior Member

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    I am not lazy, just my resources are spread thin and I don't have the memory capacity to be an expert in every subject. My sole life focus is not genetics and anthropology, furthermore him clarifying to me that giraffes ate leaves, instead of apples, was completely irrelevant to the core behavioral concepts. If he framed it differently, like origin did, stating that 2 inches make a bigger difference with leaves during a drought, then it would have actual contextual substance.
     
  10. gamelord Registered Senior Member

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    Fair point, but then I bring the topic of "gene pool".

    We are stuck with the gene pool. There are dummies, normies, freaks and geniuses. Random sperm compete and make it to the egg. I don't believe the sperm that win are neccesarily superior, just random. Ie. A down syndrome sperm can win.

    So this means, say einstein gives birth to 2 babies. These babies have also a chance of being a dummy, or a normie, and a slightly higher chance of being a genius.

    But the traits cannot stack, ie. the geniuses do not give birth to endless and better genius. A genius is a genius and cannot be more so.

    Then comes cataclysm: an environmental factor that wipes out all the dummies, leaves only normies, freaks and geniuses. The gene pool remains the same. Then a final cataclysm: Only geniuses remain. The gene pool is still the same, they do not give birth to endless and better genius, but instead continue to give birth to dummies, normies, freaks and geniuses.

    Ie. a tall person (7 foot), does not suddenly, or reliably, give birth to an 8 foot tall person (or even reliably 7 foot tall people).

    Ie. if all the short necked giraffes were culled, the tall necked would not suddenly or reliably give birth to giraffes that were as tall, or taller than it.

    Only way it could happen is if it was consistent and unending culling that lastest for 1 million years. Trees that consistently refused to grow below a certain height. Both the trees and the giraffee would be causing a their own evolution, trees growing taller while giraffees growing taller. Causeless evolution.

    Or, a drought that lasts for 1 million years, until all of the short gene pool is removed from the sperm competition and litterally only tall giraffes can even exist. And even then, it would also need new content added to the gene pool, for even taller giraffes to exist.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
  11. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    No, they couldn't.
     
  12. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    Then you should spend the time you have trying to understand evolution instead of deciding that it might be "wrong" WITHOUT understanding it.
     
  13. gamelord Registered Senior Member

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    This thread is that process.

    And what is wrong with saying something "might" be wrong. Would you prefer I out-right declared it was wrong?
     
  14. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    When you get on an airplane, do you think the pilot might not know how to fly it? When you go to a restaurant, do you think the chef might not know how to cook? Or do you think that years of experience in the field might count for something?

    Does it make any more sense to think that thousands of biologists working for more than a century might be wrong? Does it make any sense to think you would have a chance of understanding how they were wrong?
     
  15. gamelord Registered Senior Member

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    Totally different and innaccurate comparisons. It is a theory based on 200,000,000 years about the past. There is a much wider margin of possible error than say, a chef who follows strict and repetitive, time-tested formulas of how to pay fry some peppers.

    Key word here is, "time-tested". Evolution simply occurs for such a long span of time, as opposed to a half-hour cooking a pizza, using a repetitive recipe you have seen repeated, over and over again.

    Also I would expect a pilot, to go through years of training, doing repetitive simulations and training flights, not just read a few books. Show me one theorist who has actually been through 1 billion years of time to see evolution happen first hand.
     
  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Nothing. Just stop there - everyone here will agree with you.
    Don't do this, in other words:
    unless you have become informed.
    Leading off by telling people what evolutionary theory is or what it says, and getting it wrong, is too common - it pigeonholes you.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
  17. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    It's also a theory of what you can see happening in the lab right now.
    You might not know it but that's a standard creationist argument: "You weren't there, so how can you really know?"

    You can see a volcano erupting today. Would you suspect that volcanoes were different millions of years ago? You can see evolution happening in the lab today. Why would you suspect that it was different millions of years ago?
     
  18. Janus58 Valued Senior Member

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    1,915
    This is where mutation comes in. Genes don't always faithfully copy. So in any population, you are going to get a number of births with characteristics outside the norm and not existing in the present population. Mutations that go to far outside the norm usually don't reproduce, but minor mutations, such a slightly longer neck. Mutations cause variation in the gene pool, and environmental pressures can select which mutations stay and which ones are culled out. Without environmental pressure, evolution proceeds extremely slowly ( witness the crocodile, which has changed very little over millions of years. Without mutations to modify the gene pool, environmental pressures could just drive a species to extinction. ( which can still happen if the environment changes faster than the mutation rate can keep up with.)
    Again, evolution works on populations, not individual bloodlines. There is a higher chance for a genius to produce an offspring with a mutation that makes the offspring more of a genius, than for someone at the lower end the intelligence spectrum
    to produce an offspring of equal intelligence. The first instance takes less radical of a mutation. And if environmental pressures tend to cull the lower intelligence individuals before they reproduce, then there is a slight statistical shift towards babies of greater intelligence than their parents.
     
  19. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Possibly in a gang-rape, but not as a rule. Individuals don't carry all the genes of their species. Each individual has a number of dominant characteristics that are evident, and these are what make them attractive to others of their species. Recessive characteristics may show up in some or all of their offspring - then those traits will help determine the eligibility of the offspring when they come of reproductive age: if the gene combination is unsuccessful, that individual will have fewer opportunities to compete that a more successful sibling.
    There is nothing random about mate selection: every species has strict rules on how to go about it.
    Humans are something of an anomaly, in that our mate selection is no longer natural, but cultural mores and customs have only been in effect for a few thousand years, so they haven't made a big difference in human development. What has a great deal of influence is prosperity coupled with technology: those make a big difference in human survival, body size, terms of competition and reproductive capability.
    In each event, the sperm all belong to the same donor and carry the same complement of chromosomes. This is not a competition or race; it's a scatter-shot.
    Down's syndrome is an accident of cell division, more frequently in the egg.

    Here you go
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/blogs/education/2016/02/everything-you-need-to-teach-evolution/
     
  20. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    It doesn't seem to me useful for a biology textbook to tell student that eyes are to see or legs are to walk.
    There may be other instances where the language is imprecise; certainly, in lectures and discussions it often gets quite sloppy.

    But writing or talking is quite different from the investigation itself. It also doesn't seem useful for a biologist to begin an investigation by asking the only question to which he already knows the answer. But there are relationships that may be discovered by asking: "what function does it serve?" or "how does it help the animal survive?" I don't think it can harm the science to presuppose survival as a universal aim of biological entities.
    I don't see how you could eradicate it from communication. We are talking to one another about life and living, which is of intense personal interest to both participants, and we have a common language that deals intensively with that preoccupation. It would not only be difficult to leave every freighted word and assumption out of the subject, it would also impede the communication itself: the necessary circumspection, circumlocution and persnickety word-selection would make books and conversations very difficult to follow. I expect it would lead to quite a lot of misunderstanding, as well.
    The only reason this is a problem is that science is under so much attack lately: we're constantly on guard against what can be misconstrued with ill-intent.
    There is no gap-seeking missile proof verbal armour. If they can't find a hole, they invent one.
    I suspect that becoming overly defensive would do more harm than good, if only by making science less accessible to laymen.
     
  21. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

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    adding "actually" makes it no more or less possible.
     
  22. gamelord Registered Senior Member

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    I am defining it on their own terms.

    Evolution says life has been around for 3.8 billions of years. So it exists within a past of 200,000,000 years. Which is what I said in the first place.
     
  23. gamelord Registered Senior Member

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    The only thing I heard, was that some bacteria evolved the ability to do citrate, after 31,500 generations. Interesting, but also pretty lame.
     

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