• darthbarracuda
    3.1k
    An atheist made for an American audience whose contact with theology has only ever been through the insanity of American evangelism.StreetlightX

    :100:
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2.6k
    Adaptation is not the dominant force in human (natural :lol: ) evolutionfrank

    Are you talking about change within our species, rather than its emergence?
  • Olivier5
    805
    Assuming that it must is the bad science part.frank
    The bad science part is to assume that it's simple. For instance, there is probably some genetic basis for character traits, but there's no one-to-one relationship between genes and character traits. "The genes of love" or "the genes of selfishness" are gross simplifications of far more complex realities.

    Some day I expect a biologist will find the gene for attributing complex social behaviors to simple genetic causes. ;-)
  • frank
    5.4k
    Are you talking about change within our species, rather than its emergence?Srap Tasmaner

    Yes.
  • frank
    5.4k
    The bad science part is to assume that it's simple. For instance, there is probably some genetic basis for character traits, but there's no one-to-one relationship between genes and character traits. "The genes of love" or "the genes of selfishness" are gross simplifications of far more complex realities.Olivier5

    It's more the assumption that elements of human society must necessarily have explanations in the context of adaptation.

    Those elements may actually exist because 'shit happens.'
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.2k
    An evolutionary biologist told me that. I didnt glean it from the internet.frank

    That's it? Well, two evolutionary biologists told me the opposite. So much for that.

    Adaptation is not the dominant force in human (natural :lol: ) evolution according to scientistsfrank

    Yes it is. Just repeating it doesn't make it true. Except for some creationists, evolutionary theory does not maintain a separate subtheory for humans. From Darwin to Steve Jones, the orthodoxy of evolutionary theory has been that natural selection is the dominant force of evolution, for humans in particular and life generally. Myers thinks it's genetic drift. That's one guy, not a consensus.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2.6k
    For instance, there is probably some genetic basis for character traits, but there's no one-to-one relationship between genes and character traits.Olivier5

    My understanding as well. It's been my impression that there is a long-running debate about what exactly is selected in natural selection, a healthy debate, and I thought Dawkins made a solid contribution to that debate, whether he's right or not, by starting at the ground floor with replication. There's a interesting puzzle there about traits, which environmental pressures can reward or punish, and the genes and alleles of genes that underlie them, which the environment can't get at directly. But then you can look at the allele itself and think of it having an environment, blah blah blah. I always took "selfish" here as a reference to blind, mechanical replication, and that's all.
  • frank
    5.4k
    Myers thinks it's genetic drift. That's one guy, not a consensus.Kenosha Kid

    It wasnt Myers who did the research on that, but he did present that research in that lecture.

    This was fun when I thought you might be inspired to get yourself up to date. You're just sounding like another psych patient now.

    Adios!
  • Olivier5
    805
    It's more the assumption that elements of human society must necessarily have explanations in the context of adaptation.frank

    I don't know. I find 'adaptation' a vaguish term for a few reasons. One is: adaptation to what? The environment is usually not static so a species has to 'adapt' to a range of conditions, threats, opportunities, themselves constantly fluctuating. This means that a species may be adapted to it's past environment but not it's present one. And still survive for quite a while. So adaptation is relative.

    Another point is that, when you see a male peacock show off his tail, it's hard to fathom what it is adapted to... The male peacock tail was selected because it pleased the ladies of the species. It's no adaptation to nothing out there. At best a beautiful tail implies the male can feed itself decently enough to maintain the huge piece, and may perhaps become a better provider for its female... but it'd be an even better provider without this huge tail slowing it down...
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.2k
    It wasnt Myers who did the research on that, but he did present that research in that lecture.frank

    And at least he knows he's going against the consensus.
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.2k
    This was fun when I thought you might be inspired to get yourself up to date.frank

    P.S. The Templeton Foundation -- your idea of a source -- bases its unquestionable wisdom on human genesis on a 3000 year old book. "up to date" indeed.
  • frank
    5.4k
    And at least he knows he's going against the consensus.Kenosha Kid

    What?

    Reference for adaptation is the dominant force in human evolution?
  • bongo fury
    606
    The bad science part is to assume that it's simple. For instance, there is probably some genetic basis for character traits, but there's no one-to-one relationship between genes and character traits. "The genes of love" or "the genes of selfishness" are gross simplifications of far more complex realities.Olivier5

    To be fair:

    The bogey of genetic determinism needs to be laid to rest. The discovery of a so-called ‘gay gene’ is as good an opportunity as we'll get to lay it.

    [...]

    Genes, in different aspects of their behaviour, are sometimes like blueprints and sometimes like recipes. It is important to keep the two aspects separate. Genes are digital, textual information, and they retain their hard, textual integrity as they change partners down the generations. Chromosomes — long strings of genes — are formally just like long computer tapes. When a portion of genetic tape is read in a cell, the first thing that happens to the information is that it is translated from one code to another: from the DNA code to a related code that dictates the exact shape of a protein molecule. So far, the gene behaves like a blueprint. There really is a one-to-one mapping between bits of gene and bits of protein, and it really is deterministic.

    It is in the next step of the process — the development of a whole body and its psychological predispositions — that things start to get more complicated and recipe-like. There is seldom a simple one-to-one mapping between particular genes and ‘bits’ of body. Rather, there is a mapping between genes and rates at which processes happen during embryonic development. The eventual effects on bodies and their behaviour are often multifarious and hard to unravel.

    The recipe is a good metaphor but, as an even better one, think of the body as a blanket, suspended from the ceiling by 100,000 rubber bands, all tangled and twisted around one another. The shape of the blanket — the body — is determined by the tensions of all these rubber bands taken together. Some of the rubber bands represent genes, others {105} environmental factors. A change in a particular gene corresponds to a lengthening or shortening of one particular rubber band. But any one rubber band is linked to the blanket only indirectly via countless connections amid the welter of other rubber bands. If you cut one rubber band, or tighten it, there will be a distributed shift in tensions, and the effect on the shape of the blanket will be complex and hard to predict.

    [...]

    So, if you hate homosexuals or love them, if you want to lock them up or ‘cure’ them, your reasons had better have nothing to do with genes.
    Dawkins: Genes Aren't Us - A Devil's Chaplain, chapter 2.4
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.2k
    What?frank

    Did you even watch the video you linked?

    Reference for adaptation is the dominant force in human evolution?frank

    Happy to oblige, although just a Google scholar search on "human evolution review" will sort you out. I'm just waiting for your reference for that original assertion that the evolutionary biologist consensus is that Dawkins'publications are junk science. Key words being "evolutionary biologists", not "creationists who'll talk shit to the Templeton Foundation".
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2.6k
    the assumption that elements of human society must necessarily have explanations in the context of adaptation.frank

    Then your beef is with really simplistic sociobiology, right? Humans respond to the Beatles as they do because 200,000 years ago...

    Eh. Everyone knows that stuff is tricky and people aren't always all that circumspect about it. As near as I can tell, Midgley is somewhat skeptical of sociobiology (incl. E. O. Wilson) but believes we ought generally to begin the analysis of human behavior by remembering that humans are after all animals, and what we learn about "them" helps us understand ourselves. To some, that would make her a sociobiologist. Big shrug.
  • Olivier5
    805
    I always took "selfish" here as a reference to blind, mechanical replication, and that's all.Srap Tasmaner

    DNA doesn't even replicate itself. It's just the software, and it needs some hardware. Proteins do that, enzymes, etc. A whole machinery of them. DNA is just a cookbook for proteins. It gets copied (and read, regulated, repaired, and many other things) by some of the very proteins it's coding for. So you could say: DNA is coding its own duplication by proteins, but you can also see it as proteins needing to write down their own recipes on some cookbook, and selfishly making copies of their cookbook along the way...

    If one likes to personify polymers, why stop at DNA?
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2.6k


    Exactly my point, and well put. It might be possible to tell a "selfish protein" story in which DNA is how proteins reproduce themselves, or move up to cellular machinery, or up to cells, or organisms, our species. That's a healthy debate about the concept of natural selection, and the modern synthesis settled on DNA, which Darwin didn't even know about.
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.2k
    It might be possible to tell a "selfish protein" storySrap Tasmaner

    Except we don't pass on our characteristics to our progeny by sending the proteins our DNA encodes. We send chromosomes.
  • Nils Loc
    765
    The male peacock tail was selected because it pleased the ladies of the species. It's no adaptation to nothing out there. At best a beautiful tail implies the male can feed itself decently enough to maintain the huge piece, and may perhaps become a better provider for its female... but it'd be an even better provider without this huge tail slowing it down...Olivier5

    What about the eyes in the peacocks tail? You don't think they use the tail to scare away predators. And do male peacocks sit on eggs? How much "providing" are they doing outside of shooting sperm?
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.2k
    Another point is that, when you see a male peacock show off his tail, it's hard to fathom what it is adapted to...Olivier5

    This is pan-adaptationism. Sexual selection, also formulated by Darwin, is also a contributor to evolution.
  • frank
    5.4k
    Then your beef is with really simplistic sociobiology, right? Humans respond to the Beatles as they do because 200,000 years ago...Srap Tasmaner
    Good science doesnt make unfounded assumptions. If humans are selfish, we cant assume there's a survival advantage to that. Same if humans are altruistic.

    The adaptationist approach is attractive and intriguing. "I know art must enhance survival, I just need to figure out why."

    But no, we dont know that art or any other aspect of human society enhances survival. In fact it isn't clear what "enhancing survival" even means.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2.6k


    Absolutely. And that's why DNA takes center stage in the modern synthesis, not any of the other candidates. Darwin couldn't have known this, so that left some work to do getting natural selection to play nice with genetics. I always thought of Dawkins as part of that tradition starting, I guess, with Fisher.
  • Olivier5
    805
    There's no 'settling on DNA' that I can see. The research on how all this initially started is focussing on RNA as the driving force behind the begining of life. I guess that makes RNA the most selfish of all them polymers...

    Joke aside, the problem about the selfish gene theory (or metaphor, whatever) is that it puts the world upside down. It tells people they are machines who serve 'selfish genes'. It's attributing to life at it's elemental level some "will", and vice versa, denying this will (and it's selfishness) to human beings, where it belongs. People do bad things, and genes are just machines, not vice versa.

    It's not even new. It's called finalism, and it's considered a thought crime among biologists. Dawkins' big idea is akin to 'élan vital' of Bergson, or to the 'struggle for life' of Haeckel: just another outdated misunderstanding of Darwinism.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2.6k


    Above my paygrade, but it looks to me like you're opposing a caricature of bad science with a caricature of good science. That said, I personally wouldn't encourage biologists to do an end-run around anthropology.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2.6k
    It's attributing to life at it's elemental level some "will", and vice versa, denying this will (and it's selfishness) to human beings, where it belongs.Olivier5

    Eh. I read a bunch of his books years ago and was never tempted to reach this conclusion. YMMV.
  • frank
    5.4k
    Above my paygrade, but it looks to me like you're opposing a caricature of bad science with a caricature of good science.Srap Tasmaner

    There's nothing controversial about anything ive said. It's all standard stuff.
  • Olivier5
    805
    This is pan-adaptationism. Sexual selection, also formulated by Darwin, is also a contributor to evolution.Kenosha Kid
    Of course, Darwin was a genius. But it's no adaptation to nothing, it's a flourish, an embellishment of life, an emerging phenomenon that was selected on easthetical grounds among a variety of possibilities.
  • fdrake
    4.2k


    How did Dawkins set evolutionary theory back by decades?
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.2k
    But it's no adaptation to nothing, it's a flourish, an embellishment of life, an emerging phenomenon that was selected on easthetical grounds among a variety of possibilities.Olivier5

    Yes, sexual selection can yield arbitrary feedback loops.
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