• Rich
    3.2k
    The whole raison d'etre for the stories (the claim is far more than descriptive) is to circumvent the notion of a mind.

    Yes, the mind can be viewed as miraculous, I view it as simply as myself, the beginning, the middle and the end. To me, what is miraculous, more so than Genesis, is the scientific explanation for everything, i.e. it just happens. But with that said, each of us has a philosophy that we live by, which makes us different and similar.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.5k
    We already know how memories are in the brainBlueBanana

    More or less. But not really very clearly. Yet.

    How about plants?BlueBanana

    I wouldn't go anywhere close to vegetarian sentience, but some plants, at least, can signal that they are under attack and near-by plants (same species) can receive those chemical signals and initiate defense (increase of alkaloids in their leaves, maybe).

    Plants also have simple tropisms (sunflowers following the arc of the sun for instance.

    Most of their time was devoted to developing marketing pitches for fundraising purposes.Rich

    There is a reason why scientists (and everybody else who does research in a university) spends so much time on fundraising: Over the last few decades legislatures have off-loaded the cost of running universities onto tuition. Tuition can't support teaching AND research, so the researchers have to work as much on finding grants to replace expiring grants. Without replacement and continuing grants, their lab work and research is pretty much closed down.

    Labs can't stick up their nose at commercial entities that give grants, and they are usually interested in products. So, sometimes the tail wags the dog. But that has been true for a long time, not just recently, and not just in research.
  • Rich
    3.2k
    My feeling is that it had become exponentially worse in concert with the incremental infusion and control of big money. Concentration of wealth in a few hands has polluted every aspect of our cultural such that it is almost impossible to avoid no matter where one might want to hide. The greater the money the greater the pollution. Scientific research invites huge money and consequently huge pollution.
  • MikeL
    644
    I wouldn't go anywhere close to vegetarian sentience, but some plants, at least, can signal that they are under attack and near-by plants (same species) can receive those chemical signals and initiate defense (increase of alkaloids in their leaves, maybe).Bitter Crank

    Hi Bitter Crank, would this suggest a sentience?:
    "The ability to recognize kin is an important element in social behavior and can lead to the evolution of altruism. Recently, it has been shown that plants are capable of kin recognition through root interactions. "

    http://www.amjbot.org/content/96/11/1990.full

    It has been shown that if growing beside kin, the plants restrain their root growth so as not to monopolise the nutrients in the soil. When not growing beside kin, there is a race to claim whatever you can get as fast as you can.

    This is one of the signalling types you were talking about:

    ACACIA trees pass on an ‘alarm signal’ to other trees when antelope
    browse on their leaves, according to a zoologist from Pretoria University.
    Wouter Van Hoven says that acacias nibbled by antelope produce leaf tannin
    in quantities lethal to the browsers, and emit ethylene into the air which
    can travel up to 50 yards. The ethylene warns other trees of the impending
    danger, which then step up their own production of leaf tannin within just
    five to ten minutes.

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg12717361.200-antelope-activate-the-acacias-alarm-system/

    But what about this signalling, which describes how caterpillar-damaged plants protect themselves by attracting parasitic wasps.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/92/10/4169.full.pdf

    There is this article about how the plant feeds ants so they take up residence in their bark and attack anything that tries to eat it, but then emits a chemical noxious to ants to allow pollinators to visit the flowers.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8383577.stm

    There are many examples of plant sentience, but this short article sums some of it up. I highly recommend you read this one. It's not very long.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8383577.stm

    So, doesn't ultruistic behaviour, communication with other plants and reaction to other plants, communication with and reaction to other insects suggest that the plant is aware of what is going on? It is sentient.

    Such a complex intertangling of nature could not have happened through random accidental misfirings of DNA copying. It is an example of the outcome of Creative Evolution.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2k
    Such a complex intertangling of nature could not have happened through random accidental misfirings of DNA copying.MikeL

    Why not?
  • Bitter Crank
    6.5k
    You won't get an argument from me about the evils of concentrated wealth. But on the subject of scientific research -- the amount of money flowing into basic research is not huge (which is a problem because basic research lays the groundwork for the heavy duty solutions to pressing problems). Into pharmacological research? Sure, if there is the chance of a new drug that millions of people will take for years on end. A life saving drug that they will take for 3 weeks, not so much. There is an extremely pressing need for basic research in antibiotics. So far, huge number of people are not dying from multi-drug-resistant infections (everything from multi-drug-resistant streptococcal and staphylococcal infections, tuberculosis, malaria, gonorrhea, et al, but the numbers of people succumbing and dying is rising, and there are no new antibiotics in the pipeline.
  • MikeL
    644
    I just watched an interesting interview with Feinmann on the question 'why'. He said he could not answer sufficiently when asked why a magnet is attracted to a fridge. Anyway.

    Take the ant on the acacia that feeds on the sugar that the acacia provides for it.

    A random mutation in a segment of the DNA responsible for producing or transporting sugar occurs, causing sugar to pop out through the phloem onto the surface of the tree - ie the tree is bleeding sugar. It is very lucky at this point the plant, with such a hideous disease does not starve to death or get eaten by some huge carnivore.

    A passing ant sees the sugar, says yum, and starts to eat it. It comes back every day to the still uneaten tree, eventually deciding to set up shop in the bark of the tree. Along comes a pollinator to the tree and the ants naturally scare it away, just like they scare away the other herbivores that have come to eat the tree... oh wait there a sec. No I forgot something.

    A second random mutation occurs causing the plant to produce a noxious smell to insects- no, wait, bees are insects. Let me try again. A second random mutation occurs to the plant, causing it to produce a noxious smell to ants, but only noxious to ants, not to pollinating bees. This has the coincidentally lucky effect of ensuring the ants don't chase away the bees when they come to pollinate.

    Oh, hang on. Let me just tweak that mutation a little bit, as I just realised that if the plant is producing a chemical noxious to ants they would not stay in plant. Let me try again. A random mutation occurs causing an aromatic to be produced (not deleted). The aromatic is only expressed in the flowering part of the plant and not elsewhere, at times when pollination is required.

    The aromatic was a very lucky unwanted copying error of the DNA, especially when we consider that without it, the plant should have died in the first generation of ant settlers. - the mutations must have occurred within the one plant within the one generation.

    So the plant now has successfully produced - sorry wrong wording - the plant has now accidentally produced two freak mutations (which should be catastrophic to the plant), one to do with expressing sugar on its surface in nice bitesize portions, the other with producing an aromatic - so a minimum of two highly dangerous mutations, both of which fit perfectly in with the environment.
  • Rich
    3.2k
    Why not?Srap Tasmaner

    Well it could, but as a miracle it tops anything in the Bible by several thousands fold. Without some theory for morphogenesis or consciousness, evolutionary theory floats on quicksand. For all intents and purposes, it should be assigned the library designation of modern mythology.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.5k
    I haven't read the articles you linked, but I am still not inclined to grant plants sentience. Plant to plant and plant to predator interaction is most remarkable, and I'm always happy to hear about it. Certain vines in the Amazon interact with certain ants in a complicated mutually beneficial relationship. I don't find either one - vines or ants - very sentient, but they've still managed to develop this relationship.

    Maybe your articles explain how plants create and maintain sentience, but I will be surprised.
  • Rich
    3.2k
    There is an entirely different approach to disease which is much more effective but will not be researched until the money interests are expunged. FWIW,

    https://healthontheedge.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/the-human-energy-field-an-interview-with-valerie-v-hunt-ph-d/

    The ideas here are spot on. I know nothing about the author or motives.

    As for research funding, it is completely controlled by the medical industry and it is huge:

    https://www.thebalance.com/who-funds-biomedical-research-2663193
  • MikeL
    644
    And in a way the man that shot baker really had no creative awareness of what he was doing. It was the nerve impulses that caused the arm to raise and pull the trigger. The baker was just in the way of these unhappy coincidences.
  • MikeL
    644
    Which is the more likely scenario, that the nerves raised the arm and pulled the trigger and the baker was just in the way, or that the man was aware of his actions? It comes down to intentionality.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.5k
    I just finished reading John LeCarré's novel, The Constant Gardiner which is about GiantPharma and corruption. There a new drug that cures TB, crudely conducted field trials in 3rd world countries (like Kenya, where much of the story takes place), dead victims of the new drug, and the efforts of some people to bring the matter to light.

    It's fiction, of course; there is no new drug to cure TB and the company is non-existent. But the way things work in the story have an immensely probably and believable feel. You might like the book.

    Barnes and Noble has the digital copy for $1.99, very good deal. You can download the Nook App.
  • MikeL
    644


    Here is some of the text from one of the articles concerning the chemicals the plants release. It reinforces the question of whether evolution is creative or simply accidental mutations.

    "Selective deterrents
    The repellent chemicals are specific to the ants. In fact, they attract and repel different groups of insects.
    "[The chemicals] don't repel bees, even though they are quite closely related to ants. And in some cases, the chemicals actually seem to attract the bees," says Dr Raine.
    The researchers think that some of the repellents that acacias produce are chemical "mimics" of signalling pheromones that the ants use to communicate.
    "We put flowers into syringes and puffed the scent over the ant to see how they would respond, and they became quite agitated and aggressive" he explained.
    "The ants use a pheromone to signal danger; if they're being attacked by a bird they will release that chemical that will quickly tell the other ants to retreat."
    Dr Raine says this clever evolutionary system shows how the ants and their plants have evolved to protect, control and manipulate each other.
    The ants may be quick to swarm, bite and sting, but the harmless-looking acacias have remained one step ahead."

    This in reference to the previous statement:
    I just watched an interesting interview with Feinmann on the question 'why'. He said he could not answer sufficiently when asked why a magnet is attracted to a fridge. Anyway.

    Take the ant on the acacia that feeds on the sugar that the acacia provides for it.

    A random mutation in a segment of the DNA responsible for producing or transporting sugar occurs, causing sugar to pop out through the phloem onto the surface of the tree - ie the tree is bleeding sugar. It is very lucky at this point the plant, with such a hideous disease does not starve to death or get eaten by some huge carnivore.

    A passing ant sees the sugar, says yum, and starts to eat it. It comes back every day to the still uneaten tree, eventually deciding to set up shop in the bark of the tree. Along comes a pollinator to the tree and the ants naturally scare it away, just like they scare away the other herbivores that have come to eat the tree... oh wait there a sec. No I forgot something.

    A second random mutation occurs causing the plant to produce a noxious smell to insects- no, wait, bees are insects. Let me try again. A second random mutation occurs to the plant, causing it to produce a noxious smell to ants, but only noxious to ants, not to pollinating bees. This has the coincidentally lucky effect of ensuring the ants don't chase away the bees when they come to pollinate.

    Oh, hang on. Let me just tweak that mutation a little bit, as I just realised that if the plant is producing a chemical noxious to ants they would not stay in plant. Let me try again. A random mutation occurs causing an aromatic to be produced (not deleted). The aromatic is only expressed in the flowering part of the plant and not elsewhere, at times when pollination is required.

    The aromatic was a very lucky unwanted copying error of the DNA, especially when we consider that without it, the plant should have died in the first generation of ant settlers. - the mutations must have occurred within the one plant within the one generation.

    So the plant now has successfully produced - sorry wrong wording - the plant has now accidentally produced two freak mutations (which should be catastrophic to the plant), one to do with expressing sugar on its surface in nice bitesize portions, the other with producing an aromatic - so a minimum of two highly dangerous mutations, both of which fit perfectly in with the environment.
    MikeL
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2k

    Got it. Thanks. (I was confused because I hadn't seen the earlier reply.)

    So how does creative evolution handle a case like this?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.4k

    There is a fundamental difference between survival and creativity with respect to temporal continuity. "Survival" implies a thing, an organism or being, which continues to exist through time. "Creativity" implies a beginning of something new, with the new thing created existing through time. So "creativity" recognizes a discontinuity between the old and the new, a separation between what is created, and the thing which did the creating, while "survival" does not allow for such a separation because continuity is essential to survival.

    This is what I see as the principal deficiency in describing evolution in terms of survival. There is no being, or thing which survives, they all die. There is no survival. Evolutionary theory attempts to get around this problem by assuming the real existence of an abstract thing, a variety, or species, which survives. But there is really no such thing which survives. Therefore the concept of "creativity" better handles this problem of temporal continuity. It allows death to the old and birth to the new, through the mentioned separation and discontinuity, without clinging to the illusion or false hope of survival.
  • Rich
    3.2k
    This is what I see as the principal deficiency in describing evolution in terms of survival. There is no being, or thing which survives, they all die.Metaphysician Undercover

    Mind persists and is continuous. There is no discontinuity. Physicality persists but morphs. Analogous would be waves moving in and out of oceans.

    In terms of survival, the mind is just figuring out, by experimentation, how to survive.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.4k

    That's easy for you to say, "mind persists and is continuous", but I cannot say that I have the same mind as you, nor is my mind the same as my mother's or father's or brothers' or sisters'. So I really cannot agree with you.
  • Rich
    3.2k


    There is a difference between the persistence of waves and the persistence of the ocean. While not precise, the analogy is sufficient for creating the image. The persistence of my mind throughout one physical life and possibly more is quite obvious and my total experience. I have no idea how your mind might be constantly stopping and restarting in a discontinuous manner.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2k
    This is what I see as the principal deficiency in describing evolution in terms of survival. There is no being, or thing which survives, they all die. There is no survival. Evolutionary theory attempts to get around this problem by assuming the real existence of an abstract thing, a variety, or species, which survives.Metaphysician Undercover

    Well, insofar as the phrase "survival of the fittest" has any use, it's just this: you don't get to reproduce if you don't survive. Evolution is about populations; not individual organisms. The concept of species only comes into the theory as the question of whether two populations can interbreed.

    Do you have a different understanding of evolution by natural selection?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.4k
    Well, insofar as the phrase "survival of the fittest" has any use, it's just this: you don't get to reproduce if you don't survive.Srap Tasmaner

    We all die. No one survives, that's the point. Some breed some don't. Or are you defining survival as successful reproduction? Having children is not my idea of surviving. I think it's called procreating.
  • BlueBanana
    875
    Or are you defining survival as successful reproduction? Having children is not my idea of surviving.Metaphysician Undercover

    It's what the word means in the context of the survival of the fittest though.
  • MikeL
    644
    So how does creative evolution handle a case like this?Srap Tasmaner

    Hi Srap, that is what I am trying to figure out. That something other than blind dumb luck allows evolution to continue to progress through time, I have little doubt of. What to prove and how to prove is what I'm wrestling with. Maybe you can help.

    The first method, the one I alluded to earlier was about proving creativity. That living organisms love to throw out a wealth of variants, just for the hell of it. To be expressive. I thought we might be able to test this idea using divergent evolution. In Australia, after its geographical isolation the possum was king. It had no predators. Therefore without a driver to change - it could reproduce successfully as a species ad infinitum.

    In the normal model of evolution I would therefore expect the genome to become very conserved. It would not want to mess up a winning survival combination. If creativity was the driver here I would expect the allele (variant genes that code for the same thing, eg blue eyes, brown eyes, green eyes) number in the population would rise rapidly. There should be a stark contrast.

    The drawback with this though, as I now see it, is that there is no driver for constraint either in traditional evolutionary models. If every variant is also able to reproduce successfully then divergent evolution will occur. The test hits a speed hump. I haven't yet tried to resolve this.

    One thing that springs to mind though is to invoke a valley between two hills. On one hill is the possum and on the other the kangaroo it will change into. The problem is that in order to reach the kangaroo morphology it must pass through the valley - which is a valley of all the less desirable traits that must occur for a possum to become a kangaroo.
  • MikeL
    644
    Splintering tangentially now from this idea though is the idea of sentience. That there is an overarching sentience driving evolution. For a while I have conflated the two, but they are clearly different ideas (Rich, if you are reading, I have started watching your morphic fields video, which I must admit is interesting). In a sentient model of evolution the tree adapts to its environment through the genome because it is aware of the environment. They are not random mutations. The tree knows roughly which areas of the genome to punch until it gets the result it wants. So for example we would expect a loosening of constraint around root growth and style in a new dry environment.

    To prove this postulate, you could see if indeed mutations were higher in these regions, but it would not definitively establish intentionality. That is what we need to prove. I was working on this idea in another post but someone decided they wanted to grandstand and has trashed the OP for now. (If we could figure out how to establish intentionality in anything in science, we could apply it to other areas as well such as establishing that the universe was intentionally created.)

    The question becomes how can we demonstrating that the changes in the plant were intentional. One way to reason might be that the environment influences the higher order features of the plant during is life - such as geotropism, so why not also affect aspects of the germ line during the lifetime. That the germ line could be affected by experiences was first proposed by Lemarck a couple of hundred years ago and has no support.

    Another way might be to test the ratio of actual successful adaptive mutations against predicted successful mutations. If mutations really were random we would expect a staggeringly high number that would be fatal to the plant - reducing its chance of survival.

    The idea that was put forward by the trasher of the OP suggested initially was that we need to invoke the environment in a closed loop with the plant. I am still working through this idea as well, I haven't considered it in any real depth yet.
  • StreetlightX
    3.1k
    One thing that springs to mind though is to invoke a valley between two hills. On one hill is the possum and on the other the kangaroo it will change into. The problem is that in order to reach the kangaroo morphology it must pass through the valley - which is a valley of all the less desirable traits that must occur for a possum to become a kangaroo.MikeL

    Look into genotype networks! This is exactly the challenge it aims to ameliorate:

    http://www.molecularecologist.com/2015/02/bigger-on-the-inside/

    A teaser, from the above article, on how to skip the valley (add dimensions!):

    2-D.jpg

    3-D.jpg
  • MikeL
    644
    Wow, that's it. You've advanced my thinking on the matter by quite a few steps. Thank you.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.4k
    It's what the word means in the context of the survival of the fittest though.BlueBanana

    Well that's the point, it's a misleading use of the word. We commonly think that "survive" means to stay alive. But in "survival of the fittest" it means something different, it refers to successful procreation. So the discontinuity of life, the fact that there is a separation between parent and offspring, is glossed over, and hidden by that misleading use of "survival".

    A teaser, from the above article, on how to skip the valley (add dimensions!):StreetlightX

    How creative. But how does the being know to proceed through the other dimension? Does it somehow anticipate or foresee getting to the other side, and create a passage through the other dimension, in that direction? I think we can exclude complete randomness, and we can exclude survival, as the means. So what is left, how is the passage through the other dimension found?
  • BlueBanana
    875
    Well that's the point, it's a misleading use of the word. We commonly think that "survive" means to stay alive. But in "survival of the fittest" it means something different, it refers to successful procreation. So the discontinuity of life, the fact that there is a separation between parent and offspring, is glossed over, and hidden by that misleading use of "survival".Metaphysician Undercover

    So the survival of the fittest is incorrect because it's incorrectly named?
  • MikeL
    644
    No, I think you've missed the trick there Metaphysician. If we extrapolate the inteference from the paper, there are not billions and billions of different lifeforms on earth, there is only one organism covering the adaptive landscape like a mat. It slides through the valleys and around the edges all at once. And when it goes into the valley it is wiped out and when it goes around the valley it survives.
    But there is only one living creature. Species are only several steps of genetic diversity away from each other. We differentiate one species from the next because they can't mate. That's it. But that just reflects their distance from each other in the nodal network. They are all the same.
    Wow. This is huge.
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