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Thom T
08-08-2008, 10:58 AM
I'm not a religious man, didn't start out that way but the more I studied religion the less religious I became. I do like to think of my self as moral however. So when I recall the seven deadly sins some things bother me. Like contests were people eat until they become ill, or state run lotteries, or pay day loans, and rent to own. I watched two young men put hundreds of dollars worth of gas in an off shore racing boat and some how I thought it was wrong. No! I don't advocate laws against anyone spending big bucks to ride up and down the intercoastal at 65mph but to me, it just seemed somehow wrong.

Kaa
08-08-2008, 11:04 AM
I watched two young men put hundreds of dollars worth of gas in an off shore racing boat and some how I thought it was wrong. No! I don't advocate laws against anyone spending big bucks to ride up and down the intercoastal at 65mph but to me, it just seemed somehow wrong.

While a woman in a mud hut in Africa looked at her hungry malaria-stricken child and as a thought about rich Americans living in big houses, with restaurants, and doctors, and entertainment around them crossed her mind, it just seemed somehow wrong to her.

Kaa

James McMullen
08-08-2008, 11:37 AM
Religion and morals are independent variables. How moral is it to torture someone to death by striking him with rocks until he dies for picking up sticks on a saturday? How moral is it to take a defeated enemy, kill all the adult men and older boys, and kill all of the women who have given birth, but keep all of the younger women and girls as concubines? How moral is it to burn heretics at the stake? How moral is it to crash a jetliner into a skyscraper? All of these things have been enthusiastically followed by extremely religious people at one time or another. The people who carried out these acts believed they were doing God's will by murdering their victims.

You don't have to be religious to find extreme motorsports wasteful and unethical. You only have to have a more refined aesthetic sense than an average fourteen year-old.

Saltiguy
08-08-2008, 11:38 AM
The internet is changing everything. People in 3rd world countries used to be ignorant of the fact that there was a world of prosperity just beyond their borders. No more. 10 years ago I saw an article in National Geographic about a group of untouchables living in an alley in Calcutta, India. They chipped in and got a sattelite dish and were watching CNN and American Television. Today, they're watching YouTube and surfing the net!
As a consequence, the poor folks are pouring out of Africa, Asia and the Middle East and into any country that will accept them.

Kaa
08-08-2008, 11:41 AM
Religion and morals are independent variables.

I don't think so. Like it or not, religions are the source of morals for most of mankind. Granted, a lot of these morals come from human biological hardwiring, but religion is the usual way they are formulated, propagated, and enforced.

Kaa

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
08-08-2008, 11:46 AM
I don't think so. Like it or not, religions are the source of morals for most of mankind. Granted, a lot of these morals come from human biological hardwiring, but religion is the usual way they are formulated, propagated, and enforced.

Kaa

Nope - I don't believe you.

Though many religious types would make that claim.

Kaa
08-08-2008, 11:49 AM
Nope - I don't believe you.

Though many religious types would make that claim.

Well, do tell then, where do morals come from?

I'll easily concede that the original source for most of morality is biology, but in practice morals tend to pass through religions to become cultural norms.

Kaa

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
08-08-2008, 11:55 AM
With an attendance rate well below twenty percent - how might morals be promulgated?

I've seen attendance figures as high as 89% (Nigeria) and as low as 2% (Japan) - which would be the society with the better developed sense of morally correct behaviour?

Tylerdurden
08-08-2008, 12:01 PM
I think most of the issues today continue due to Moral Cowardice.
Just like we accept the rampant corruption that surrounds us without doing a thing as long as we ourselves are fat, dumb and happy.

Many buy into recycling, using less gas and the like all the while we spray depleted uranium in others back yards. Of course to stop that, one may lose their job, their home, their family. Not an easy choice for most so keep up on your saying paper instead of plastic.

Its all going to be OK.:rolleyes:

Osborne Russell
08-08-2008, 12:03 PM
With an attendance rate well below twenty percent - how might morals be promulgated?


By example?

Kaa
08-08-2008, 12:05 PM
With an attendance rate well below twenty percent - how might morals be promulgated?

In the rather obvious way -- through the dominant culture. Religious norms easily become cultural norms.

Besides, note that it's perfectly possible to be religious (especially outwardly) but not particularly moral, as well as the reverse - to be moral, but not religious.

Kaa

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
08-08-2008, 12:43 PM
It is common to mistake the customs and habits of your tribe for universal law.

ron ll
08-08-2008, 12:47 PM
The morality test for an act: Would you will the act to be universal?

Kaa
08-08-2008, 12:48 PM
It is common to mistake the customs and habits of your tribe for universal law.

I believe there's some misunderstanding. I do not claim morality to be universal or absolute. Different people clearly have different morals.

Kaa

Osborne Russell
08-08-2008, 03:22 PM
I believe there's some misunderstanding. I do not claim morality to be universal or absolute. Different people clearly have different morals.


You're the exception that proves the rule. The fact that different peoples have different morals generally means, to them, that their competitors should be eliminated.

PatCox
08-08-2008, 03:38 PM
Hey Kaa, religion and morality both came from the same place. People made them both up. Otherwise, how do you account for so many different religions? God is just jerking around with everyone else but the christians?

Sam F
08-08-2008, 03:51 PM
A compass is a device for finding one's direction based on data that is outside one's own point of view. For instance, a properly functioning magnetic compass "reads" the earth's magnetic field and responds to it and not to the wishes or prejudices of the navigator.
Anyone who tries to navigate entirely with his own inner resources (no magnetic compass, or landmarks/landforms or clouds or wind, etc) is lost.
Anyone who think he makes up his own morality is likewise lost.

MiddleAgesMan
08-08-2008, 04:00 PM
I don't think so. Like it or not, religions are the source of morals for most of mankind. Granted, a lot of these morals come from human biological hardwiring, but religion is the usual way they are formulated, propagated, and enforced.

Kaa

Arthur C. Clarke would disagree: “The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion.”

Sam F
08-08-2008, 04:04 PM
I didn't know that Mr. Clarke was both a historian and a professor of moral theology!

Kaa
08-08-2008, 04:06 PM
Hey Kaa, religion and morality both came from the same place. People made them both up. Otherwise, how do you account for so many different religions? God is just jerking around with everyone else but the christians?

Not at all. Or, rather, it's very much more complicated than just "people made them up".

Consider morals, for example. First, a lot of common morality is based on biology. For example, humans (and many other species) are biologically hardwired to like kids. It's "moral" to care for children and "immoral" to harm them. For another example, humans (and many other species) have strong barriers to killing those-like-us, thus "thou shall not kill". For yet another example, inbreeding leads to a higher percentage of genetic disorders, so incest is highly immoral in most human cultures. Etc. etc.

Second, morality (at least morality dominant in some culture) must pass the social fitness test, that is, the society with this morality must be able to survive. In that respect morality is just another meme, subject to evolutionary pressures. The unfit die out.

Just these two constraints make morality not all that arbitrary as it would be if people "just made it up".

Kaa

Kaa
08-08-2008, 04:08 PM
Arthur C. Clarke would disagree: “The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion.”

You're confusing normative and descriptive.

In the normative sense you may be right -- and I said "like it or not". That's a different issue, however. In the descriptive sense, morality comes to most humans through religion, and whether it's the greatest tragedy or not, that's how it actually happens.

Kaa

George Roberts
08-08-2008, 06:30 PM
We have tried to provide food for the poor in many countries, the effect has been to impoverish local farmers.

As I have said before it costs only a few dollars to save a life in many countries. And there are millions of lives that could be saved each year.

But Africa is a tough place to live. A lot of people are living in areas were there is little water and little chance of growing food, and little chance of earning a "living" wage. And tthe situation is expected to get worse.

---

Perhaps we can rephrase the rules of war:

1) young men die.
2) doctors cannot change rule 1.

to say something about life/death in many areas of the world.

Nicholas Scheuer
08-08-2008, 06:41 PM
In a recent speech, Pope Benedict spoke agains just the sort of obscene consumption reperesented by the two guys in the power boat.

Religion doesn't reach everybody, and some it does reach re not honest with themselves.

So you want to see a perfect World before you take up religion? Good luck with that.

Moby Nick

Keith Wilson
08-08-2008, 10:58 PM
Like it or not, religions are the source of morals for most of mankind. Granted, a lot of these morals come from human biological hardwiring, but religion is the usual way they are formulated, propagated, and enforced.Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that for much of mankind, religion is the way morals are taught; i.e. the conduit, not the source. Much of morality (as opposed to tribal custom) is indeed hardwired as far as I can tell. Unless one considers Confucian philosophy and morals to be religion, a large number of people seem to get by OK without much religion at all.

It's amusing (and a little pathetic) how desperately Sam tries to turn "We each must decide what is right" into "Morality is just something we make up".

jbelow
08-09-2008, 01:17 AM
What I find pathetic is the non religious and anti religious people look at Obama as a messiah. A man that is a devout member of some convoluted christian church.

brad9798
08-09-2008, 01:22 AM
Thom-T ought to study English ... grammar, usage, etc.

Seems like a TROLL to me!

:(

Captain Blight
08-09-2008, 01:28 AM
morality is just another meme, subject to evolutionary pressures. The unfit die out.

Just these two constraints make morality not all that arbitrary as it would be if people "just made it up".

KaaWell.

I don't think that memes are subject to the same evolutionary pressures as the societies that produce them; it's not as though an idea needs to evolve in order to live. Perhaps you might like to re-phrase this statement for greater clarity?

And... no matter how one looks at it, "morality" is an entirely human construct. You can anthropomorphize all you wish, you can drag up precendence from 10,000 BC, you can point to things that are done because it was decided in the court of popular opinion that This Is A Good Thing-- but in the end, we make it up as we go along.

That said, and speaking as an atheist, if you *need* a set of rules to live your life by, the Ten Commandments are probably a good place to start, but realize YMMV. Combining the Ten Commandments with Chrisotpher Hitchins and Richard Dawkins is to my mind a better way to go about it, but again, YMMV.

Domesticated_Mr. Know It All
08-09-2008, 01:34 AM
Religion AND politics?
WTF?!

Yeadon
08-09-2008, 01:35 AM
Thom-T ought to study English ... grammar, usage, etc.

Seems like a TROLL to me!

:(

You gets what you paid for, mister.

brad9798
08-09-2008, 01:47 AM
I paid for nothing, mister! ;)

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
08-09-2008, 02:07 AM
The tricky part of these religious "Moral Compasses" is getting them corrected for deviation.

Yeadon
08-09-2008, 02:12 AM
Deviation is the original problem we're dealing with here. You know that, stazzer.

Domesticated_Mr. Know It All
08-09-2008, 02:17 AM
I paid for nothing, mister! ;)


"Nothing From Nothing"

(Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher)

Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'
You gotta have somethin'
If you wanna be with me
Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'
You gotta have somethin'
If you wanna be with me

I'm not tryin' to be your hero
'Cause that zero is too cold for me, Brrr
I'm not tryin' to be your highness
'Cause that minus is too low to see, yeah

Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'
And I'm not stuffin'
Believe you me
Don't you remember I told ya
I'm a soldier in the war on poverty, yeah
Yes, I am

Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'
You gotta have somethin'
If you wanna be with me
Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'
You gotta have somethin'
If you wanna be with me

You gotta have somethin'
If you wanna be with me
You gotta bring me somethin' girl
If you wanna be with me

Yeadon
08-09-2008, 02:23 AM
I do believe this board may be imbibing this evening.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
08-09-2008, 02:25 AM
Evening!

Oh Buggar.

Yeadon
08-09-2008, 02:26 AM
Wait. You're already at tomorrow. How is it?

Captain Blight
08-09-2008, 03:09 AM
Evening!

Oh Buggar.PISN in (the wind) just under the wire to complete the quadriga

seanz
08-09-2008, 03:15 AM
The tricky part of these religious "Moral Compasses" is getting them corrected for deviation.

Just pop down to your local church and ask them to swing your moral compass as you are concerned about deviation.
Tell us how you get on.
:)

seanz
08-09-2008, 03:34 AM
Just for the record...
I am a big fan of Darwin's theory of evolution.
It's a good thing.
I despise evolutionary psychology.
It's reverse engineered claptrap.


Not at all. Or, rather, it's very much more complicated than just "people made them up".

Consider morals, for example. First, a lot of common morality is based on biology. For example, humans (and many other species) are biologically hardwired to like kids. It's "moral" to care for children and "immoral" to harm them. For another example, humans (and many other species) have strong barriers to killing those-like-us, thus "thou shall not kill". For yet another example, inbreeding leads to a higher percentage of genetic disorders, so incest is highly immoral in most human cultures. Etc. etc.

Second, morality (at least morality dominant in some culture) must pass the social fitness test, that is, the society with this morality must be able to survive. In that respect morality is just another meme, subject to evolutionary pressures. The unfit die out.

Just these two constraints make morality not all that arbitrary as it would be if people "just made it up".

Kaa

Care to give an example of a culture or society that failed due to not passing a social/moral fitness test?


The unfit die out.
Sadly the morally unfit often live to a ripe old age and have many many children.

Milo Christensen
08-09-2008, 08:21 AM
Just for the record...
I am a big fan of Darwin's theory of evolution.
It's a good thing.
I despise evolutionary psychology.
It's reverse engineered claptrap. . . .

It's really too bad you persist in being a fan of Darwin's theory, which was just a rudimentary beginning point for the modern theory of evolution.

Remember that it's all about the frequency of individual genes (and gene complexes) within a population (not necessarily the species). And the math is the same as the math for compound interest. A very small rate of return over hundreds of generations produces profound changes in the original investment or population.

Some reading of the research on sexual selection of mates will reveal that the outward physical displays must be interpreted in the brain of a potential mate. This places a mechanism in the brain from which much of human behaviour originates.

Additional reading of the research on altruistic behaviour would demonstrate the mathematical limits, both upper and lower, within which altruistic behaviour is beneficial to the genes controlling altruism. The evolutionary development of altruism is clearly affected by the enormously more powerful impact on individual survival of selfish behaviour.

Notice that the examples given so far all refer to behaviour. If human behaviour isn't "psychological" and subject to "evolution" then what is it?

It's the struggle between altruism and selfishness that Thom T used to start this thread, but he also interjected the concept of "wrongness" related to certain selfish behaviours.

Wrongness evolves from basic hardwired psychological behaviours related to disgust. Disgust had and continues to have strong survival benefits. Is there anything more disgusting (therefore "wrong") than taking a sip of milk that's gone bad in the fridge?

Once a basic psychological mechanism for disgust/wrongness is present, it's not at all difficult to follow the evolution of the trait as a way to establish upper and lower limits on altruism/selfishness.

Sam F
08-09-2008, 12:03 PM
It's really too bad you persist in being a fan of Darwin's theory, which was just a rudimentary beginning point for the modern theory of evolution.

Other than the post-Darwin addition of genetics, I'm unaware of any significant changes in Darwin's underlying principles.


Wrongness evolves from basic hardwired psychological behaviours related to disgust. Disgust had and continues to have strong survival benefits. Is there anything more disgusting (therefore "wrong") than taking a sip of milk that's gone bad in the fridge?

Is sour milk poison? I think that particular sort of spoilage is the source of a very common and desirable food; cheese.
I accordingly suspect that your "disgust" is often a social construct. After all, what's considered good and wholesome food in some societies is viewed with utter disgust in others. I for instance, don't fancy eating bot fly larvae...


Once a basic psychological mechanism for disgust/wrongness is present, it's not at all difficult to follow the evolution of the trait as a way to establish upper and lower limits on altruism/selfishness.

Now that the basic psychological mechanism of disgust is shown to be a non-Evolutionary social construct, it's pretty much useless for determining "wrongness" in an Evolution-sourced morality.
And since Darwinian and Neo-Darwinian theory stresses that Evolution is driven by random processes, no Evolutionary "ethics" is better than random itself.
Random chance is hardly a convincing foundation for morals, is it?

Milo Christensen
08-09-2008, 12:20 PM
Other than the post-Darwin addition of genetics, I'm unaware of any significant changes in Darwin's underlying principles. . . .

Which is precisely why you should never, ever become a participant in evolutionary discussions. Note carefully that I said evolutionary discussions, not debates. No matter how many times you think they are debatable, the facts I selected are simply not open to debate.

What is open to debate is the correct selection of evolutionarily sound human social policies. Debatable only because the impact of certain social policies on the future of human societies is not clear due to lack of data.

So, for instance, we can debate the effect on human society of a policy like abortion on demand through the second trimester. Or we could debate whether the weakest members of society should be supported on welfare to the point where they can reproduce without contributing to society. Or we can debate whether the corruption of an religious institution, originally based on altruism, by a selfish, theoretically non-reproducing group of clerics has a beneficial impact on society.

And on and on and on. But then the on and on part is your specialty. So attempt a debate based on evolutionary fact and you lose, you just haven't ever been able to admit it.

Keith Wilson
08-09-2008, 12:48 PM
Other than the post-Darwin addition of genetics, I'm unaware of any significant changes in Darwin's underlying principles.LOL! Other than the post-Newton addition of atomic theory, relativity and quantum mechanics, I'm unaware of any significant changes in Newton's underlying principles. :D

Which is precisely why you should never, ever become a participant in evolutionary discussions. One point on which Milo and I agree completely.

Evolutionary psychology is a relatively new field; some of it is indeed "reverse-engineered claptrap", often by people with a philosophical or political axe to grind. OTOH the central idea that mind is something the brain does, and that both the brain and the mind are subject to the same evolutionary processes as the body, is extremely useful. When applied carefully, it can do more to explain "human nature" than 5000 years of philosophizing.

Likewise, considering ideas as self-replicating entities resident in human minds ("memes") and subject to selection is an extremely powerful basic concept. I suspect that in not very long, the idea of understanding human behavior without reference to evolutionary processes will seem like trying to understand the behavior of matter without knowing about atoms.

Milo Christensen
08-09-2008, 12:53 PM
Good points, Keith. There is only one way to understand our brains and that is through reverse engineering. I was somewhat amazed recently to learn that the ability to detect sarcasm is located in a specific part of the brain.

What is the evolutionary advantage to being able to detect sarcasm other than to promote more harmony within a communicating group?

Rigadog
08-09-2008, 01:28 PM
Tylerdurden, please post that chicken chasing the little boy again.

seanz
08-09-2008, 09:03 PM
Evolutionary psychology is a relatively new field; some of it is indeed "reverse-engineered claptrap", often by people with a philosophical or political axe to grind. OTOH the central idea that mind is something the brain does, and that both the brain and the mind are subject to the same evolutionary processes as the body, is extremely useful. When applied carefully, it can do more to explain "human nature" than 5000 years of philosophizing.

Likewise, considering ideas as self-replicating entities resident in human minds ("memes") and subject to selection is an extremely powerful basic concept. I suspect that in not very long, the idea of understanding human behavior without reference to evolutionary processes will seem like trying to understand the behavior of matter without knowing about atoms.


Just to start......I don't reject the evolutionary aspect of psychology. It's just that sometimes the disipline of evolutionary psychology seems to have as much to do with science as scientology does.
(There is obviously an evolutionary basis for religious belief, if so what's the basis for atheism? See, we're not on shaky ground, we're in quicksand)
Evolutionary psychology works quite well for the basics.
Fear of snakes and spiders.... behaviour with solid basis in evolutionary psychology.
More complex social behaviour?
Not so good.
But what to use as an example?
Infanticide? Slavery? Genocide?
These are all evolved behaviours, right?
The whole altruistic vs selfish thing gets real murky when applied to this sort of thing. Peter Singer has a hard time explaining the infanticide issue and he's a professional philosopher, I just play one on the internets......;)

It can be said that, yes, evolutionary psychology is a young (evolving?..sorry) disipline and some aspects will be a bit fluid.
Some aspects are just inadequate. I've yet to hear of an evolutionary psychology explanation for homosexuality that isn't gibberish and I've never even heard an attempt made on the very unevolutionary activity of suicide.

George Roberts
08-09-2008, 09:09 PM
"Is sour milk poison? I think that particular sort of spoilage is the source of a very common and desirable food; cheese."

The sour milk may well be poison.

Unless you have tried to make cheese you will not understand now poorly cheese can come out. Yes, it can kill you.

---

Just because some disgusting foods will not kill you does not mean that no disgusting foods will not kill you.

WX
08-09-2008, 10:11 PM
I don't believe in any God and I do not consider myself morally bankrupt because of it.
If you steal from your neighbour, you don't need a God to tell you it's wrong.
Religion is just an industry, the priests came up with it so they wouldn't have to dig their own vege gardens.

Kaa
08-09-2008, 10:16 PM
I don't think that memes are subject to the same evolutionary pressures as the societies that produce them; it's not as though an idea needs to evolve in order to live. Perhaps you might like to re-phrase this statement for greater clarity?

Memes are subject to evolutionary pressures. Memes that are unfit -- obsolete, inconvenient, inappropriate, out of fashion, or just plain wrong -- die out, they are forgotten. On the other hand memes that are able to claim their share of mindspace continue to live, be remembered, and are passed from one generation to the next one.

And just as with biological evolution, memes might have to evolve to survive, but that it not necessarily so.


And... no matter how one looks at it, "morality" is an entirely human construct. You can anthropomorphize all you wish, you can drag up precendence from 10,000 BC, you can point to things that are done because it was decided in the court of popular opinion that This Is A Good Thing-- but in the end, we make it up as we go along.

Morality is a human construct, but it's not arbitrary. Yes, humans make it up, but they make it up subject to a large number of priors and constraints. Just as, say, ballistics is really governed by physics, morality is governed by biology and social necessities.


That said, and speaking as an atheist, if you *need* a set of rules to live your life by, the Ten Commandments are probably a good place to start

I am not so sure about that. Have you looked at them recently? E.g.



4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me,Kaa

Gary E
08-09-2008, 10:24 PM
I'm not a religious man, didn't start out that way but the more I studied religion the less religious I became. I do like to think of my self as moral however. So when I recall the seven deadly sins some things bother me. Like contests were people eat until they become ill, or state run lotteries, or pay day loans, and rent to own. I watched two young men put hundreds of dollars worth of gas in an off shore racing boat and some how I thought it was wrong. No! I don't advocate laws against anyone spending big bucks to ride up and down the intercoastal at 65mph but to me, it just seemed somehow wrong.

Your intitled to your opinion, even though it to can be wrong.

Kaa
08-09-2008, 10:26 PM
Care to give an example of a culture or society that failed due to not passing a social/moral fitness test?

Heaven's Gate or Jonestown.

If we go back in history -- Sparta, for example.

Kaa

Kaa
08-09-2008, 10:40 PM
A cult is not a culture Kaa.

The issue was what kind of morality would be not consistent with the survival of a society.

Kinda by definition moralities unsuccessful in this particular way tend not to develop till they can be called a culture.

Kaa

seanz
08-09-2008, 11:27 PM
Heaven's Gate or Jonestown.

If we go back in history -- Sparta, for example.

Kaa


Choosing to not exist (let's keep it simple, I don't want to spend any time discussing either Heaven's Gate or Jonestown) is not the same as failing a moral fitness test. Neither of those two examples was set up for the longterm.To be concise...being delusional isn't the same as being immoral.

Sparta did just fine for hundreds of years.
It's not on my list of places/periods that I would like to have lived in but it can't be called a failure, moral or otherwise.

We could try the Aztec culture as an example. It would seem to be morally worse than Sparta but was successful until Cortez arrived.

Kaa
08-09-2008, 11:39 PM
We could try the Aztec culture as an example. It would seem to be morally worse than Sparta but was successful until Cortez arrived.

You're assuming there's the "correct" morality -- yours -- and you are arguing that being immoral does not necessarily lead to a society that does not survive well. That is not my point.

My point is that out of all possible moralities, some would lead to unsuccessful societies and thus would not survive. Which moralities survive or do not survive has nothing to do with your perception of them as "morally worse" or morally better.

The Aztec culture was brutal and prone to some rituals which do not sit well with the modern sensitive and sanitized Western morality. That, by itself, says nothing about its survivability.

Kaa

Keith Wilson
08-09-2008, 11:52 PM
I'd say that cultures which are hostile to empirical knowledge, and which set "revealed" religious truth or tradition above knowledge gained by observation and experiment, will have lots of trouble when in contact with cultures which value empiricism (all else being equal). Empiricism (all else being equal) results in greater material wealth and power, which gives a substantial competitive advantage. As a possible example, consider the Spanish Empire vs. the countries of Northern Europe. That's not the only reason, but it's one of them. The scientific and industrial revolutions did not occur in Spain, and it's not because Spaniards were dumb. For another example, with tradition taking the place of religion, consider China vs. the West after about 1700.

Milo Christensen
08-10-2008, 12:03 AM
. . . Empiricism (all else being equal) results in greater material wealth and power, which gives a substantial competitive advantage. . . .

But does greater wealth and power lead to longer lasting societies? Or do wealth and power contain within themselves the seeds of societal decline?

What are the characteristics of long-lasting societies? That, to me, is the issue as the results of empiricism destroy the environmental foundation necessary for a sustainable human society at the same time as the psychological effects of empiricism destroy the social cohesion necessary for a sustainable human society.

seanz
08-10-2008, 12:04 AM
You're assuming there's the "correct" morality -- yours -- and you are arguing that being immoral does not necessarily lead to a society that does not survive well. That is not my point.
I'm not the one making assumptions.

My point is that out of all possible moralities, some would lead to unsuccessful societies and thus would not survive. Which moralities survive or do not survive has nothing to do with your perception of them as "morally worse" or morally better.
Please provide an appropriate example.

The Aztec culture was brutal and prone to some rituals which do not sit well with the modern sensitive and sanitized Western morality. That, by itself, says nothing about its survivability.
That was my point..well sort of...I wouldn't have used the word sanitized.

Kaa

Now I'm confused, somewhere out there, there must be unsanitized morals........

Glen Longino
08-10-2008, 12:07 AM
Now I'm confused, somewhere out there, there must be unsanitized morals........

Horses have unsanitized morals, regardless what Sam F might say!

seanz
08-10-2008, 12:08 AM
Awww Keith, now you're just going down the track of Open society Vs Closed society. I'm not sure if that's got anything to do with morals...but if you think it has.......convince me.
:)

seanz
08-10-2008, 12:09 AM
Horses have unsanitized morals, regardless what Sam F might say!

Let's make em wear pants.
:D

Tom Montgomery
08-10-2008, 12:12 AM
We could try the Aztec culture as an example. It would seem to be morally worse than Sparta but was successful until Cortez arrived.Worse than the Spartan culture in what way? Aztecs sacrificed adults in religious ceremonies intended to keep the larger community in the god's favor. Spartans sacrificed infants deemed week or sickly in a cold-blooded effort to keep the larger community strong. Both cultures kept slaves. Seems like a moral wash to me.

Keith Wilson
08-10-2008, 12:20 AM
That, to me, is the issue as the results of empiricism destroy the environmental foundation necessary for a sustainable human society at the same time as the psychological effects of empiricism destroy the social cohesion necessary for a sustainable human society. Nah. That’s a fashionable argument, but IMHO at bottom it's wrong. Power is neutral; it can be used stupidly or wisely. Societies with more power dominate those with less - either crudely (the European colonization of much of the planet), or more subtly (the spread of western science to almost the entire planet). Empirical methods tell us that there are now too many of us for habits of previous times to be sustainable. Whether we have the sense and flexibility to change remains to be seen. You can argue that humans are too stupid and evil to be trusted with much knowledge or power, but I disagree.

And I think the contention that there are some psychological effects of empiricism which "destroy the social cohesion necessary for a sustainable human society" is completely false. There are some ideas that by historical accident have been associated with empiricism in the West which one could argue may have that effect (laissez-faire capitalism, individualism taken to excess, social Darwinism), but they're not the same thing, and are not necessarily connected.

Most of our children live to grow up. This is unprecedented in human history. I think it's a good thing.
Awww Keith, now you're just going down the track of Open society Vs Closed society. I'm not sure if that's got anything to do with morals...but if you think it has.......convince me.Nope. Morals have to do with what we think is important, and what we think is right. If one thinks the best source of true knowledge about the world is tradition or "revealed" religion, one will behave differently than if one believes that observation is primary. These differences in behavior will have real results, to wit:

Whatever happens, we have got
The Maxim gun, and they have not.

seanz
08-10-2008, 12:22 AM
Worse than the Spartan culture in what way? Aztecs sacrificed adults in religious ceremonies intended to keep the larger community in the god's favor. Spartans sacrificed infants deemed week or sickly in a cold-blooded effort to keep the larger community strong. Seems like a moral wash to me.

The Aztecs didn't sacrifice infants?
But I can see why you might consider it a moral wash. (Very sanitary, I'm sure :D )

Do you have any examples of societies that failed due to a failure of morals?

Tom Montgomery
08-10-2008, 12:23 AM
Nope.

Might makes right.

Glen Longino
08-10-2008, 12:25 AM
Worse than the Spartan culture in what way? Aztecs sacrificed adults in religious ceremonies intended to keep the larger community in the god's favor. Spartans sacrificed infants deemed week or sickly in a cold-blooded effort to keep the larger community strong. Seems like a moral wash to me.

Aztecs were merely following god's instructions, so I heard. If they were following god's instructions how could they be immoral?
Then again, maybe there was actually No god involved at all? Maybe there was only archaic mythology inflicted upon Aztecs by a powerful priesthood?
Hmmm, sounds kinda familiar, eh?

Tom Montgomery
08-10-2008, 12:29 AM
God said to Abraham, "Kill me a son."
Abe said, "Man, you must be putting me on!"
God said, "No."
Abe said, "What?"
God said, "You can do what you want, Abe, but...
The next time you see me coming you'd better run."
Abe said, "All right. Where do you want this killing done?"
God said, "Out on Highway 61."

Glen Longino
08-10-2008, 12:35 AM
Thanks, Tom!:)
You are a wonder of timeliness, wit, and sincerity! I've appreciated you for some time but never said so, so there it is!
Hey, Tom, do you ever doubt Sam's sincerity? Yes? I figgered!:DMe too!

Tom Montgomery
08-10-2008, 12:37 AM
:D ;)

Captain Blight
08-10-2008, 12:37 AM
The Abrahamic Argument, and the Crucifixion Myth, are to me just two more examples that all gods demand blood sacrifice. Can we take the religious element out of societal fitness? Or, to refer back to an earlier point, can we take the meme away from its host? How will each do?

Keith Wilson
08-10-2008, 12:47 AM
Can we take the religious element out of societal fitness? Confucius say: "Yes."

Captain Blight
08-10-2008, 12:55 AM
Confucianism is kind of a special case, too; being a life-style-wide school of philosophy that isn't a religion. Weird, huh? Wish I knew more about it, but honestly, all the books are either too tedious for words or too precious for me to handle/take seriously.

Keith Wilson
08-10-2008, 01:10 AM
For a lightweight introduction, you might try Confucius Lives Next Door by T.R Reid. Not deep, but quick and pleasant reading. ACB, who knows WAY more about this than I do, might have better suggestions.
http://www.amazon.com/Confucius-Lives-Next-Door-Teaches/dp/0679777601/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1218344751&sr=8-1

Glen Longino
08-10-2008, 01:26 AM
Confucius say: "Yes."

Glenfucius also say yes!
Samfucius say no!

shamus
08-10-2008, 09:27 AM
The basic requirements for creating moral behaviour are empathy and imagination.

jbelow
08-10-2008, 09:28 AM
As usaual , no answers , no problems solved , no enlightenment , and no theorys proven. I doubt that anyone had achange of mind. Only entertaining BS.

shamus
08-10-2008, 09:30 AM
Well you certainly added a lot.

jbelow
08-10-2008, 09:56 AM
Well you certainly added a lot.

Your sarcasm is well founded and my lot is equal to others that posted on this thread.

Tom Montgomery
08-10-2008, 09:58 AM
Entertainment is what the Bilge is all about. If you are looking for more than that, you are looking in the wrong section of the Forum.

Sam F
08-10-2008, 11:27 AM
LOL! Other than the post-Newton addition of atomic theory, relativity and quantum mechanics, I'm unaware of any significant changes in Newton's underlying principles. :D
One point on which Milo and I agree completely.

Uh huh. So what's Newton got to do with Darwin? Nuthin'.
Examples please. Show me how Darwin was wrong about his core principles:
Survival of the Fittest, descent with modification etc.
Until you can demonstrate that you’re just using the ol’ bait and switch tactic.


Evolutionary psychology is a relatively new field; some of it is indeed "reverse-engineered claptrap", often by people with a philosophical or political axe to grind.

Then as such, it isn't science.


OTOH the central idea that mind is something the brain does, and that both the brain and the mind are subject to the same evolutionary processes as the body, is extremely useful. When applied carefully, it can do more to explain "human nature" than 5000 years of philosophizing.

That adds a bit more claptrap. When you can put a fossil homid on the couch and psychoanalyze him you'll have some extremely useful data - otherwise it's just made up.


Likewise, considering ideas as self-replicating entities resident in human minds ("memes") and subject to selection is an extremely powerful basic concept.

Powerful? Certainly. Useful? Not really. It's a concept entirely devoid of data.
For instance, predict the future behavior of any "meme" you choose and let's see how that turns out.
While you at it, please describe a meme's physical properties... :D


I suspect that in not very long, the idea of understanding human behavior without reference to evolutionary processes will seem like trying to understand the behavior of matter without knowing about atoms.

LOL! Evolution can't even define it's key concept: species.
You'll have to do much much better before you can make any comparison with an actual science, like physics.

Tom Montgomery
08-10-2008, 11:43 AM
Give it up, Sam. Mr. Christensen has got you pegged. Persisting only makes you appear foolish.

Sam F
08-10-2008, 11:57 AM
Other than the post-Darwin addition of genetics, I'm unaware of any significant changes in Darwin's underlying principles. . . .

Which is precisely why you should never, ever become a participant in evolutionary discussions. Note carefully that I said evolutionary discussions, not debates.

I see. So one may join the "discussion" if and only if one is in complete agreement. Right?
Now the interesting thing to me is that your statement above has no relation to what I said - that "I'm unaware of any significant changes in Darwin's underlying principles"... If you're prepared to educate me on any radical changes in Darwin's principles of how Evolution works, I stand ready for an illuminating experience.
Please do so.


No matter how many times you think they are debatable, the facts I selected are simply not open to debate.

Uh huh... what facts are these?
Perhaps I missed them in the mix so to speak.
Would you please list them in a manner that someone as ignorant as I about Evolution could examine them in isolation?


What is open to debate is the correct selection of evolutionarily sound human social policies. Debatable only because the impact of certain social policies on the future of human societies is not clear due to lack of data.

Oh? I thought Evolution didn't lack data. Therefore, since there is an abundance of data about how Evolution works (Darwinists never tire of telling us so), it seems highly unlikely that anyone lacks data.


So, for instance, we can debate the effect on human society of a policy like abortion on demand through the second trimester.

That data is abundant. The entire US after 1973 and much of the rest of the world is your Petrie dish filled with facts. What happens after abortion on demand is fact that's simply not open to debate



...And on and on and on. But then the on and on part is your specialty. So attempt a debate based on evolutionary fact and you lose, you just haven't ever been able to admit it.

A declaration doesn't necessarily correspond to fact Milo.
My "defeat" is easy to accomplish and I've made clear what it would require.
So far no luck. If however, I've missed something you are welcome to point it out to me. ;)

Sam F
08-10-2008, 12:05 PM
... I was somewhat amazed recently to learn that the ability to detect sarcasm is located in a specific part of the brain.

Why? Isn't there a visual center?


What is the evolutionary advantage to being able to detect sarcasm other than to promote more harmony within a communicating group?

This is part of the non-falsifiable aspect of Darwinism. And what if people couldn't detect sarcasm? The answer would be: "What is the evolutionary advantage to not being able to detect sarcasm other than to promote more harmony within a communicating group".
Works every time for every situation! How handy.

Here's another example:
The other day some guests dropped by and they being birders heard some Carolina wrens singing and remarked on it. I mentioned that C Wrens are the dumbest birds on earth since they'll build a nest anywhere - even in our clothespin bag left hanging on the line only overnight. The next morning wrens were busy stuffing it full of nesting materials.
The response was pure Darwin: "Evolution has lead them to be indescriminate about their nesting choices - it's a survival strategy".
Sure!
And if Carolina wrens were very careful about their nest sites the answer would be the same: "Evolution has lead them to descriminate about their nesting choices - it's a survival strategy".
Whatever that is, it is not science.

Tom Montgomery
08-10-2008, 12:07 PM
Evidently you do not care how foolish you appear.

Sam F
08-10-2008, 12:08 PM
I know... go take a hike Sam...
OK. Tootles!

Tom Montgomery
08-10-2008, 12:12 PM
Thank you. It really does get tiresome.

James McMullen
08-10-2008, 02:34 PM
I am always amazed at how much Sam enjoys all that typing, cutting and pasting, and displaying his ignorance and fundamental misunderstanding about the basic principles of scientific reasoning on a public forum. It really does get tiresome.

"Tootles."

Rick-Mi
08-10-2008, 02:45 PM
Do you know what cracks me up? People who subscribe to an amoral world view defining the bounds of morality.....

James McMullen
08-10-2008, 03:10 PM
Considering morals to be human conventions rather than supernatural laws handed down from the sky does not make one amoral. People who clearly think through their obligations and responsibilities to society are more likely to be universally moral than someone who just blindly accepts what the local authority figures tell him to do.

SamSam
08-10-2008, 05:07 PM
Religion AND politics?
WTF?!

Religion IS politics.

SamSam
08-10-2008, 06:05 PM
Do you know what cracks me up? People who subscribe to an amoral world view defining the bounds of morality.....

Do you mean the religious? After all, without religion, they apparently would have no morals, unlike atheists.

Maybe religion is natures cure for amoral sociopaths.

Milo Christensen
08-10-2008, 07:10 PM
. . . Powerful? Certainly. Useful? Not really. It's a concept entirely devoid of data.
For instance, predict the future behavior of any "meme" you choose and let's see how that turns out. . . .

I'll play your game for a while.

The "meme" is the recent human idea that women have the right to choose an abotion. You and I are both opposed to abortion, so we know the numbers.

Let's see how that turns out.

Millions of women have abortions every year for a huge variety of reasons. Why doesn't matter. The numbers do. There's two major categories of abortion in the world today. Abortion on demand in permissive societies and the demand for abortions due to China's one child policy. Let's leave the one child policy out of the discussion, but it might be interesting to come back to it later (if I have the strength and patience).

So, in permissive societies there are two basic versions of the abortion meme. One is that abortion on demand is acceptable and, of course, the other is that abortion on demand is unacceptable. There's a range of how strongly either of these memes are practiced, or how strongly the "abortion" meme is expressed.

Over a period of time sufficient for the effects of evolution to show the results of a meme which practices population limitation through abortion, I predict that the "abortion on demand is acceptable" meme will be gradually supplanted by the "abortion on demand is unacceptable" meme.

Gee whiz, turns out I was dead right. (http://www.christianliferesources.com/?/library/view.php&articleid=1042)

Sam F
08-11-2008, 10:42 AM
Religion IS politics.
Therefore, Politics IS religion.
Interesting, eh?

James McMullen
08-11-2008, 10:49 AM
Unless, of course, the finite resources available to our population would offer a favorable advantage to a K-selection reproductive strategy.

" In r/K selection theory, selective pressures are hypothesised to drive evolution in one of two generalized directions: r- or K-selection. These terms, r and K, are derived from standard ecological algebra , as illustrated in the simple Verhulst equation of population dynamics:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/math/3/2/3/3234a77b42c176b977451d7657e1ed73.png
where r is the growth rate of the population (N), and K is the carrying capacity of its local environmental setting. Typically, r-selected species exploit empty niches, and produce many offspring, each of which has a relatively low probability of surviving to adulthood. In contrast, K-selected species are strong competitors in crowded niches, and invest more heavily in many fewer offspring, each of which has a relatively high probability of surviving to adulthood. In the scientific literature, r-selected species are occasionally referred to as "opportunistic", while K-selected species are described as "equilibrium".

Andrew Craig-Bennett
08-11-2008, 10:50 AM
Er, no, Sam.

You don't need me to name the logical fallacy, do you?;)

Sam F
08-11-2008, 10:52 AM
Speaking of the idea of memes or... the meme of memes :D

. . . Powerful? Certainly. Useful? Not really. It's a concept entirely devoid of data.
For instance, predict the future behavior of any "meme" you choose and let's see how that turns out. . .




I'll play your game for a while.

The "meme" is the recent human idea that women have the right to choose an abotion...
Over a period of time sufficient for the effects of evolution to show the results of a meme which practices population limitation through abortion, I predict that the "abortion on demand is acceptable" meme will be gradually supplanted by the "abortion on demand is unacceptable" meme.
Gee whiz, turns out I was dead right.

Two problems.
1. You made your prediction after the fact. But that's not really the most serious issue.
2. You misunderstood what a meme is. What you have observed is human behavior - not meme behavior.
Assuming memetics is correct (a HUGE assumption), then memes cause effects on human (and presumably only human*) behavior. But you have only observed an effect without demonstrating a causal relationship. You've merely assumed it.
That assumption remains to be proved - as there are alternate and rather more intellectually satisfying traditional explanations - perhaps from that worthless 5000 years of philosophy and perhaps even religion. ;)

Worse, it well may be that the concept of memes is entirely bogus as a scientific term:

Despite the cult popularity of the idea, memetic theory is hardly discussed in recent texts on evolutionary psychology and linguistics. The prevailing consensus seems to be that the meme is a nice metaphor but one that has perhaps been taken too far. Memes, after all, are hard to define, quantify, and measure; their very existence is somewhat nebulous, inferable but not scientifically verifiable.

Some have also assailed memes not only as bad science but as reactionary politics. The complexity of human development is overly reduced into nonmaterialist, quasi-mystical, pseudo-scientific terms, which in turn are only a new Kabbalah, a recasting of age-old ideas of angels and demons and magic words that can control reality. Many also question the memetics community's frequent, almost reflexive, assaults on religion, which they characterize as nothing more than preprogrammed, irrational memetic replication. Moreover the idea of human behavior as nothing but the programming of snippets of information is troubling to many—and not only those who still maintain a belief in free will. To hold with a radical memetic view of human behavior is to ignore the factors of economics, environment, and politics in history. As such, memetics is a fascinating and promising protoscience but further research and experimentation is needed before it can become a full-fledged discipline in its own right.

Anything that's "hard to define, quantify, and measure" is not science... "for without mathematics there is no science."
That's why I asked Keith if he could give us a meme's physical characteristics.
He hasn't because he can't. Nor can anyone else.
Memes, being immaterial, are a singularly poor candidates for Materialist explanations, though the term's coiner, True Believing Materialist Richard Dawkins certainly tried.


*"I think that a new kind of replicator has recently emerged on this very planet. It is staring us in the face. It is in its infancy, still drifting clumsily about in its primeval soup, but already it is achieving evolutionary change at a rate that leaves the old gene panting far behind... Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms and eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain... " (Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene)

Andrew Craig-Bennett
08-11-2008, 10:52 AM
Unless, of course, the finite resources available to our population would offer a favorable advantage to a K-selection reproductive strategy.

" In r/K selection theory, selective pressures are hypothesised to drive evolution in one of two generalized directions: r- or K-selection. These terms, r and K, are derived from standard ecological algebra , as illustrated in the simple Verhulst equation of population dynamics:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/math/3/2/3/3234a77b42c176b977451d7657e1ed73.png
where r is the growth rate of the population (N), and K is the carrying capacity of its local environmental setting. Typically, r-selected species exploit empty niches, and produce many offspring, each of which has a relatively low probability of surviving to adulthood. In contrast, K-selected species are strong competitors in crowded niches, and invest more heavily in many fewer offspring, each of which has a relatively high probability of surviving to adulthood. In the scientific literature, r-selected species are occasionally referred to as "opportunistic", while K-selected species are described as "equilibrium".

Thank you, James. Most refreshing.

Of course, as a K-selected species, we have been behaving like an r-selected species, hence the problem.

Sam F
08-11-2008, 10:53 AM
Er, no, Sam.

You don't need me to name the logical fallacy, do you?;)

Of course not - though you may well do so for SamSam's benefit. :D

Sam F
08-11-2008, 11:02 AM
Thank you, James. Most refreshing.

Of course, as a K-selected species, we have been behaving like an r-selected species, hence the problem.

Need I remind you that there are no problems in Evolution?
Species do what they do - no morally loaded "problems" are part of the equation.

James McMullen
08-11-2008, 11:12 AM
Earth to Sam,

"problems" are defined by humans for the benefit of humans. Humans may indeed create problems for themselves which have moral components with respect to other humans within the utterly neutral, non-moral processes of evolution by natural selection.

Sam F
08-11-2008, 11:15 AM
Earth to Sam,

"problems" are defined by humans for the benefit of humans. Humans may indeed create problems for themselves which have moral components with respect to other humans within the utterly neutral, non-moral processes of evolution by natural selection.


Problem? What problem?
Since when is Evolution concerned with "moral components"?
If human A wins out over human B, it's NO PROBLEM!
Are you talking science or morality here?

Andrew Craig-Bennett
08-11-2008, 11:33 AM
Ahem!

If individual A, by virtue of an heritable characteristic, breeds sucessfully and individual B does not, that is natural selection at work.

"Winning out" does not otherwise enter into it.

Sam F
08-11-2008, 11:50 AM
Ahem!

If individual A, by virtue of an heritable characteristic, breeds sucessfully and individual B does not, that is natural selection at work.

"Winning out" does not otherwise enter into it.

Absolutely true.
Winning implies a value which does not exist.
So, if either individual B, or species B does not survive, it's merely been selected against, not that it, or they, have "lost" (their lives). ;)

Andrew Craig-Bennett
08-11-2008, 11:54 AM
The essential point is not that the individual survives, it is that it breeds sucessfully, thereby passing on its heritable characteristics to another generation.

No individual within a species survives for very long, in geological terms. From the perspective of mountains, we are but fruit flies.

Keith Wilson
08-11-2008, 12:07 PM
For that matter, few species survive unchanged for very long either. But it makes more sense to consider the unit of selection as the gene, not the individual or the species.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
08-11-2008, 12:09 PM
For that matter, few species survive unchanged for very long either. .....

From memory, the average for vertebrate species is two million years..

Sam F
08-11-2008, 12:19 PM
Years ago, as no doubt justified retribution for my many sins, my employer attempted to make me into a Time Study Engineer.
In one way I was a excellent fit, since these folk designed work aids to improve efficiency which was something I was already doing in a non-official way.

The problem was unfortunately not Evolutionary, but moral.
The math involved was extensive, but not beyond my meager capabilities - I'd have been better off (employment wise) if it had been.
You see all this nifty math more or less worked as a snow job for the machine operators who's pay depended on the results. But I doubt it fooled even a single one.

Why was it phony?
Because it was all constructed around a thing called a "Unit Hour". This was incremented in minutes and a 60 Unit Hour was the pace a competent operator would run in an hour - all day long. The math surrounding that Unit Hour measure was valid - no argument there. We'd stand watching the operators with our clipboards and dual stopwatches and record all this data and it looked very impressive.
It was all great stuff too - except the 60 Unit Hour measure, the number on which everything else depended, was entirely made up - a fiction.
When I queried my instructor about what a 60 unit hour was, he just said: “You’ll know it when you see it.”
Yeah, sure.

If the “pay rates got loose", (i.e. operators were actually making some money) the management would send out a Time Study engineer to "fix" it.
And fix it they did. It was interesting how they'd show these poor (in more ways than one) operators all the fancy math to explain why they'd just got a $1 per hour cut in pay.
Both the machine operators and I knew it was a con job from the get go.

That awareness cost me that job opportunity, but did prepare me to notice similar peculiarities when they present themselves.
Which brings us to this:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/math/3/2/3/3234a77b42c176b977451d7657e1ed73.png

It’s not quite in the same category since I don’t believe it is intended to deceive, but the end result isn’t that far off.
Why?
What’s K?
As Mr. McMullen clearly explained (Thanks James), K is the “carrying capacity of its [a given species’] local environmental setting”.
How do we know what that is?
We don’t – unless it’s been reached. So it’s entirely an after-the-fact determination and has no predictive value.
That’s not necessarily wrong – just useless.

Then there’s r, “the growth rate of the population”. A rate is determinable – also after the fact, but the significance of that rate depends on value K which is also unknowable before the fact. Again true, but useless.

Now the significance of r selection and K selection comes into play.
How does one determine which species is which?

Again… after the fact, but even then, non-scientific value judgments (as so helpfully pointed out by Andrew) come into play.
What is a “relatively low probability” of survival? Does that mean 1%? or 10% or 25% or 50%, or something else? That’s not specified. Perhaps “you’ll know it when you see it.”
Then there’s the K species. What is “invest more heavily in many fewer offspring”?
What level of “investment” is “high” and what is “low”?
I suppose I’ll know that too when I see it.
And what is a “relatively high probability of surviving to adulthood”?
Is that 90%, or 75%, or 25%?
Again, it’s not specified. I guess I’ll know that too - when I see it.
But then, maybe not… witness Andrew’s confusion about whether his own species which presumably he knows better than any other is a K or r selected animal.
Sorry, but I don't intend to dig through these particular snow-drifts any more than I'd accept a phony Unit Hour.

Sam F
08-11-2008, 12:20 PM
For that matter, few species survive unchanged for very long either. .....

That's standard Gradualism doctrine.


From memory, the average for vertebrate species is two million years..

And that's not very long. ;)

Kaa
08-11-2008, 01:21 PM
This leads me to an interesting thought: greed as an individual trait, perhaps hardwired into the gene pool as nature; combined with altruism towards one's group, taught by nurture; leads to higher survival rates for the group's genes. As long as the group teaches the young a balanced mixture of individual greed and group altruism, the gene complex of that group will have an advantage.

Nature and nurture combined have an advantage over either alone.

Great White sharks have about zero altruism. They survived, they're still around.

Ants have about zero greed. They survived, they're still around.

Sorry, I don't see any evidence that there is a single optimum point somewhere in the middle of the greed-altruism axis.

Kaa

Keith Wilson
08-11-2008, 01:22 PM
Some degree of altruism is probably hardwired in humans, because it increases the probablity that the genes for it will be passed along. The obvious case is care of one's children, which is altruism from the point of view of an individual, but not from the point of view of the genes. Reciprocal altruism within a group is most likely a similar case. True altruism (a characteristic that benefits others and not oneself) at the level of the gene is impossible.

Kaa
08-11-2008, 01:26 PM
True altruism (a characteristic that benefits others and not oneself) at the level of the gene is impossible.

It is possible at the level of population genetics and gene pools.

Kaa

Keith Wilson
08-11-2008, 01:27 PM
Elaborate, please.

Milo Christensen
08-11-2008, 01:38 PM
. . . True altruism (a characteristic that benefits others and not oneself) at the level of the gene is impossible.

A statement that demonstrates as little real knowledge of evolution as SamF demonstrates.

The perfect example is found in those insects where the male is eaten by the female after copulation.

Kaa
08-11-2008, 01:39 PM
Elaborate, please.

I think the first (or maybe just the one that I know of) study was concerned with African antelopes, impalas maybe. They have a habit of jumping straight up in the air when noticing a predator -- after which the entire herd bolts away. The question was, how did this jumping-up behavior made it through the natural selection? It's clearly a warning for the herd and the individual antelope wastes a precious second or two instead of running away as fast as it can.

The conclusion, as I recall, was that for social animals there are two levels of natural selection -- one for individual, "personal" genes and the other for the gene pool of a particular population. Antelopes can't really survive on their own, a local population which falls below a certain size will collapse and disappear regardless of the individual fitness of the few that remain last. Thus genes which help the whole population survive would be useful and would be selected for, even at the price of a slight decrease in the chance of the individual survival.

Kaa

Sam F
08-11-2008, 02:03 PM
Reciprocal altruism within a group is most likely a similar case. … which isn’t altruism at all.
And…

. . . True altruism (a characteristic that benefits others and not oneself) at the level of the gene is impossible.

It's impossible for an organism possessing genes to exhibit altruism?
Sorry, that's not a fact-based observation.
We not only can observe such altruism in humans (countless examples) but we have the concept itself, which given your Materialism, would be impossible if it weren’t first in the genes.
If it is in the genes, it rather invalidates Darwin's Natural Selection – or is that Newton? You seem to have them confused. ;)


A statement that demonstrates as little real knowledge of evolution as SamF demonstrates.

You’ve yet to demonstrate any such thing. There’s ample opportunity presented in this thread – have at it. :)


The perfect example is found in those insects where the male is eaten by the female after copulation.
Um… Milo, need I remind you that this occurs after the insect has passed on his genes?
Whatever happens after that is invisible to Natural Selection.

Keith Wilson
08-11-2008, 03:16 PM
It's impossible for an organism possessing genes to exhibit altruism?Do you really not understand, or are you only pretending? And Milo, I think you missed it too. The gene, not the individual organism, is the basic unit of natural selection.

One more shot; this is what I meant. Any gene which encodes for a characteristic that benefits only others (other genes) and not also itself ("benefits" meaning increases the probability of being passed on to the next generation) will eventually disappear. Thus, true altruism (a characteristic that benefits others and not oneself) at the level of the gene is impossible. But more complex organisms, particularly humans, are more than the expression of their genes.

Tom Montgomery
08-11-2008, 03:35 PM
It's impossible for an organism possessing genes to exhibit altruism?
Of course not. And to pose such a rhetorical question only illustrates the level of your ignorance.

Your religious ideology cripples your comprehension of certain scientific facts. This is not a cognitive or character flaw but the result of indoctrination, albeit voluntary. You'd do better to stick with theology.

This really is tiresome. It fails to be illuminating and begins to be merely masturbatory.

Sam F
08-11-2008, 05:58 PM
It's impossible for an organism possessing genes to exhibit altruism?


Do you really not understand, or are you only pretending? And Milo, I think you missed it too.
Let's see...


The gene, not the individual organism, is the basic unit of natural selection.

OK. That's consistent with the Central Dogma of Biology.
Is that particular Dogma true? Apparently not.*


One more shot; This is what I meant. Any gene which encodes for a characteristic that benefits only others and not also itself ("benefits" meaning increases the probability of being passed on to the next generation) will eventually disappear. Thus, true altruism (a characteristic that benefits others and not oneself) at the level of the gene is impossible.

Then I understood exactly what you said and hit on its core flaw - humans do the impossible.
But this...

But more complex organisms, particularly humans, are more than the expression of their genes.... doesn't solve your contradiction. If humans are more then their genes, you'll have to explain how.


*The problem is that genes aren’t the only unit of Natural Selection.
You seem to have forgotten Epigenetics… Why I can’t imagine, since I’ve mentioned it to you several times.
From The New Scientist - Rewriting Darwin: 09 July 2008:


HALF a century before Charles Darwin published On the Origin of
Species, the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck outlined his own
theory of evolution. A cornerstone of this was the idea that
characteristics acquired during an individual's lifetime can be passed
on to their offspring. … In recent years, ideas along the lines of Richard
Dawkins's concept of the "selfish gene" have come to dominate
discussions about heritability, and with the exception of a brief
surge of interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,
"Lamarckism" has long been consigned to the theory junkyard.


… over the past decade it has become increasingly
clear that environmental factors, such as diet or stress, can have
biological consequences that are transmitted to offspring without a
single change to gene sequences taking place. In fact, some biologists
are already starting to consider this process as routine. However,
fully accepting the idea, provocatively dubbed the "new Lamarckism",
would mean a radical rewrite of modern evolutionary theory. Not
surprisingly, there are some who see that as heresy."It means the
demise of the selfish-gene theory," says Eva Jablonka at Tel Aviv
University, Israel. "The whole discourse about heredity and evolution
will change" (see "Rewriting Darwin and Dawkins?")…

... The recent research… has a firm basis in biological mechanisms - in so-called
"epigenetic" change.
Epigenetics deals with how gene activity is regulated within a cell -
which genes are switched on or off, which are dimmed and how, and when
all this happens…
It is becoming increasingly apparent, though, that
environmental factors can have a direct impact too, with potentially
life-changing implications. The clearest example of this comes from
honeybees. All female honeybees develop from genetically identical
larvae, but those fed on royal jelly become fertile queens while the
rest are doomed to life as sterile workers. In March this year, an
Australian team led by Ryszard Maleszka at the Australian National
University in Canberra showed that epigenetic mechanisms account for
this. They used RNAi to silence a gene for DNA methyltransferase - an
enzyme necessary for adding methyl groups to DNA - in honeybee larvae.
Most of these larvae emerged as queens, without ever having tasted
royal jelly (Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1153069)… For honeybees then, what they eat during early development creates an
epigenetic setting that has fundamental lifelong implications.

Keith Wilson
08-11-2008, 06:27 PM
When something is true 99.99% of the time, pointing out the 0.01% does not make it false. I know about epigenetics; it's certainly real, but almost all of the time the gene is still the basic unit of natural selection, and a gene which produces an effect which benefits only other genes (see definition of "benefit" above) will indeed disappear over time. The occasional instance of epigenetic inheritance is irrelevant to that fact. (FWIW, the example with bees has nothing to do with inheritance.)

Either you don't understand or are willfully misinterpreting. Forget it; it ain't worth the trouble. 'Bye.

Now, gentlemen., we will have some of SamF's trademark taunting and gloating about how he's driven me off because I can't answer his brilliant arguments with my lame incoherent self-contradictory "scientism". Go to it, bubba; knock yourself out. ;)

Milo Christensen
08-11-2008, 07:13 PM
Well, giving it more thought, Keith, I owe you an apology.

Definition: ALTRUISM: a behavior that decreases the reproductive success of one organism to the benefit of another.

I've never heard any one talk about individual genes being altruistic to other genes, and thinking it through, you're correct, an individual gene couldn't possibly be altruistic. Genes must, however, exhibit mutualism and I hope you'll pardon me for confusing the two.

Tom Montgomery
08-11-2008, 07:27 PM
You are casting pearls before swine, gentlemen.

WX
08-11-2008, 07:29 PM
It is not possible to change a persons position with reason when the position they are in has not been arrived at by reason.

Sam F
08-11-2008, 10:09 PM
When something is true 99.99% of the time, pointing out the 0.01% does not make it false.

We need to talk a bit about logic. When you said...

The gene, not the individual organism, is the basic unit of natural selection.... you made an absolute statement.
Even if you're only wrong .01% of the time the statement is still false.
Surely you wouldn't cut me any slack if I described a theory of gravity that was all of 99.99% accurate, would you?
No you wouldn't. :D
You make matter worse by admitting...

I know about epigenetics; it's certainly real, but almost all of the time the gene is still the basic unit of natural selection...
Taken at face value, you deliberately made a false statement.
You'd have been better served by claiming a faulty memory. ;)

Oh and by the way, the epigenetic creation of queens is rather important. Queens are, the last time I checked, extremely important to a hive's reproduction.


Either you don't understand or are willfully misinterpreting. Forget it; it ain't worth the trouble. 'Bye.

If I've misinterpreted, you may feel free to correct me.
I've I'm misunderstood Darwinism (you know, Survival of the fittest, etc.) feel free to explain what I got wrong.


Now, gentlemen., we will have some of SamF's trademark taunting and gloating about how he's driven me off because I can't answer his brilliant arguments with my lame incoherent self-contradictory "scientism". Go to it, bubba; knock yourself out.

Very tacky Keith. Starting with your bait and switch tactic from Darwin to Newton to Einstein and ending up with an attempt to preemptively characterize any refutation as "gloating", your performance has once again been lamentable.
You really ought to be doing better against one so ignorant as I.

Sam F
08-11-2008, 10:11 PM
It is not possible to change a persons position with reason when the position they are in has not been arrived at by reason.

Well that's not technically true. An emotional position can be dethroned by a stronger emotion.

Glen Longino
08-11-2008, 10:29 PM
Well that's not technically true. An emotional position can be dethroned by a stronger emotion.

You do tickle the hell out of me, Sam!":)
Don't bother to tell me I'm obviously lying since I don't actually believe in hell and therefore could not acknowledge having any hell in me to be driven out of me.
Don't let us drive you away with our sometimes rudeness. We need to be whupped and driven down life's long trail by someone far superior to ourselves. Any names come to mind? Yes? I figgered!

WX
08-11-2008, 10:32 PM
Emotions are subjective and not based on reason or logic.

Tom Montgomery
08-11-2008, 11:06 PM
ROTFLMAO!

Sam has out done himself! Truly hilarious! I'm quite sure his comedy is unintentional... But it is entertaining nevertheless!

"...one as ignorant as I." Priceless!

You're a legend in your own mind, Sammy!

Keith Wilson
08-11-2008, 11:11 PM
And still - the gene is almost always the basic unit of natual selection, and a gene which funcions altrustically (i.e. increases the reproductive sucess only of others, rather than itself) will eventually disappear. All Sam's word games haven't cast the slightest doubt on these facts. Mutualism is the rule, since genes funtion in an environment of other genes, but altruism, never.

:D And didn't I call it? The guy is sooo predictable.

Glen Longino
08-11-2008, 11:42 PM
"The guy is sooo pedictable."

You can always count on Sam to value his own cerebrality over genetics or any other science.
The very existence of genes is a challenge to Sam's cerebrality since they demand no rituals, robes, smoke, staffs, liturgy, holy waters, obligations, guilt, or penance. Genes, the irreverant little bastids!;)

Sam F
08-12-2008, 09:23 AM
Emotions are subjective and not based on reason or logic.
You bet.
The same is true for positions held due to, shall we say, other non-reasoned reasons. (Sorry for the double use of the word "Reason", but I couldn't resist.;) )
One may choose a certain view of morality based on personal preference, hormones, childhood conditioning, etc. and use reason from that point on. The position taken can be reasoned and be logical too... except the premises aren't.

Sam F
08-12-2008, 09:50 AM
And still - the gene is almost always...
Much better!

the basic unit of natual selection, and a gene which funcions altrustically (i.e. increases the reproductive sucess only of others, rather than itself) will eventually disappear.

:D A unit that fails to reproduce won't reproduce. Wow! Whoodathunkit?
But that's just a definitional (and tautological) game, isn't it? And have I ever argued anything about altruism in genes?
No.
I've merely pointed out that if a human is just the creation of genes (your Materialist view) then it can't exhibit altruism. If it could, I invited you to explain how... Something you have not done, nor do I expect you to.;)


All Sam's word games haven't cast the slightest doubt on these facts.

Speaking of word games you've been a bit selective in what you read. It may be personally handy for insulation purposes, I'll grant you that, but it's not very effective in a dialog. Let's revisit something you ignored:


Not surprisingly, there are some who see that as heresy."It means the
demise of the selfish-gene theory," says Eva Jablonka at Tel Aviv
University, Israel. "The whole discourse about heredity and evolution
will change"...

Ms. Jablonka is a reputable scientist with quite a resume*.
Yes, she's wrong and you're right.
Well that's unquestionable! :D

What's interesting is Dawkin's response...

What does Dawkins himself think? "The 'transgenerational' effects now being described are mildly interesting, but they cast no doubt whatsoever on the theory of the selfish gene," he says. He suggests, though, that the word "gene" should be replaced with "replicator". This selfish replicator, acting as the unit of selection, does not have to be a gene, but it does have to be replicated accurately, the occasional mutation aside. "Whether [epigenetic marks] will eventually be deemed to qualify as 'selfish replicators' will depend upon whether they are genuinely high-fidelity replicators with the capacity to go on for ever...(from... sandwalk.blogspot.com/)

Now there's a word game for you! Dawkins has hedged his bets by re-defining his core concept. A "gene"? Who needs it? Let's re-brand the evolving units as replicators and thus it won't matter what actual thing is doing the evolving. Of course that doesn't exactly help your the "gene is basic unit of natual selection" dogma though.


Mutualism is the rule, since genes funtion in an environment of other genes, but altruism, never.

One of the cool things about this is the projection of evolutionary principles onto non-living objects. That's very ironic for a fellow who claims that evolution is not concerned with the non-organic origins of life. Genes by themselves do not live. They can be extracted and sit forever on a slide - yet somehow they act volitionally, compete with one another and some win and some lose.


And didn't I call it? The guy is sooo predictable.
Heavens! Any astrologer could predict that because he could make it come true. All you have to do is make an untennable argument first - which you certainly did. :D


*By the way, Ms. Jablonka isn't exactly an idiot.
Her resume includes:


Eva Jablonka, Cohn Institute


Born - Poland 1952. Immigrated to Israel 1957.

Academic Qualifications and Awards

1976 B.Sc. in Biology from Ben-Gurion University, Israel.

1980 M.Sc. (with distinction) in Microbiology from Ben-Gurion University, Israel, for work carried out 1978-80.
Subject of Thesis: Regulation of Peptide Transport in E. coli.

1981 Awarded the Landau Prize of Israel for outstanding M.Sc. work.

1988 Ph.D. in Genetics from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, for work carried out 1983-87 under
the supervision of Prof. Menashe Marcus and Prof. Howard Cedar. Subject of Thesis: Alterations in
Chromosomal Structure and Genic Activity in the Inactive X chromosome in Female Mammals.

1988 Awarded Marcus prize for outstanding Ph.D work.

1990 Awarded the Allon Fellowship in 1990.

Teaching and Research Experience


1978 - 1980 Assistant in Genetics, Microbiology and Biochemistry courses in Ben Gurion University.

1981 - 1982 Research work for the Van-Leer Institute, Jerusalem. Subject: The Biological Perspective in
the Work of Jean Piaget.

1987 Post-doctoral position in the Medical Research Council Mammalian Development Unit,
London, with Dr. Anne Mclaren and Dr. Marilyn Monk.

1988 - 1990 Post-doctoral fellowship in the Edelstein Centre for the History and Philosophy of Science
Technology and Medicine.

1987 - 1989 Taught the following: (i) A course in 'Genetic Analysis' for the students of the
"Interdisciplinary Project for Promoting Excellence" in Tel-Aviv University; (ii) An M.Sc.
course 'Philosophical Problems in Biology', in Tel-Aviv University; (iii) An M.Sc. course
in the Philosophy of Biology at the Hebrew University; (iv) A course in the History of Genetics
for M.Sc. students in Tel-Aviv University.
1986 - 1989 Together with Lia Ettinger created and organized the Discussion Group in Theoretical Biology
at the Hebrew University.

1990 - 1991 Fellow in the Interdisciplinary Group on 'Biological Foundations of Human Culture' in
Bielefeld University, Germany.

1990 - 1993 Lecturer, The Cohn institute for History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, teaching
Genetics, Evolutionary Biology (in the Zoology Department), Philosophy of Biology, History
of Genetics.

1993 - 2000 Tenured senior lecturer, Tel-Aviv University.

1994 - 1995 Fellow of the Collegium Budapest Institute of Advanced Studies. Member of an International
Theoretical Biology Group.

1997 - 1998 Fellow of the Institute for Advance Studies in Berlin.

2000 Associate Professor, Tel-Aviv University.

2000-2001 Visiting scholar (Sabbatical) in The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley.



Research Interests

Heredity, Epigenetics. Evolutionary Biology, Behavioural Ecology, Developmental Biology, Linguistics,
History of Genetics and the Philosophy of Science.


Fellowships

EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organisation) Post-doctoral Fellowship (10.87 - 01.88).

Post-doctoral Fellowship in the Edelstein Centre for the History and Philosophy of Science,

Technology and Medicine, Hebrew University, Jerusalem (01.88 - 01.89).

Allon Fellowship, Tel-Aviv University (10.90 - 10.93).

Fellow of the Collegium Budapest, Institute for Advanced Studies (10.94 - 2.95).

Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies, Berlin (10.97 - 7.98).

Research fellow in the MVZ, Berkeley, 2001.

Lots more, including a list of publications, at:
http://www.tau.ac.il/humanities/cohn/staff/eva-jablonka.htm

Keith Wilson
08-12-2008, 10:34 AM
Please explain how an occasional instance of epigenetic inheritance (and nobody says that it's other than rare) "means the "demise of the selfish-gene theory". It sure looks like Ms. Jablonka, for all her undoubted credentials, is sensationalizing.

What Dawkins is doing is absolutely standard science - modifying a theory in light of new evidence. That's how it works.
. . . the projection of evolutionary principles onto non-living objectsNope. You mistake language for reality, again. At a molecular scale, making a distinction between "living" and "non-living" is not useful.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
08-12-2008, 10:50 AM
At the risk of going sideways....

What are the cardinal point of this "Moral Compass"?

James McMullen
08-12-2008, 10:57 AM
Those of you who have actually read Dawkin's seminal The Selfish Gene will no doubt remember the chapter in which he thoroughly explained how the seemingly anti-survival mechanism of altruism at the organism level may indeed increase the prevalence of a certain gene that encourages such behavior within a given gene pool, as cooperative behaviors such as this may in some circumstances confer advantages to that species.

He also has several chapters in which he explains, with the math if you'd like, how mutual pairs of opposed characteristics can achieve an equilibrium concentration in a population, how a potentially less favorable adaptation might indeed survive in a gene pool because of contingent factors, and how digital encoding such as that found in DNA can nevertheless result in a truly analog, non-quantized continuum of variation.

Sam's ordered, black-or-white worldview seems to lead him to think that if something can't be specifically categorized as either this or that then the whole notion of that categorization is incorrect. Consider the color spectrum of visible light: there are a range of wavelengths that shade infinitesimally from yellow into orange to red. One can certainly categorise this color as yellow and this color as orange and this one as a yellowy orangey. . .uh. . . .yellowish. . . . Despite the fact that some categories have nebulous boundaries does not invalidate the concept of a specific defined category. So it is with K-strategists and r-strategists.

Keith Wilson
08-12-2008, 10:59 AM
I'd bet a fair amount that Sam hasn't read it. He ought to.

And "ordered" is excessively polite. Note above where he claims that if a statement is true 99.99% of the time, then it's really false.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
08-12-2008, 11:16 AM
Emotions are subjective and not based on reason or logic.

Tee hee, I can quote Pascal. That ought to please Sam:

"Le coeur a ses raisons, que la raison ne comprend pas" ;)

Sam F
08-12-2008, 11:20 AM
Please explain how an occasional instance of epigenetic inheritance (and nobody says that it's other than very rare) "means the "demise of the selfish-gene theory". It sure looks like Ms. Jablonka, for all her undoubted credentials, is sensationalizing.

You might want to read Post 125. Even assuming your made up 99.9% is accurate, it won't work.


What Dawkins is doing is absolutely standard science - modifying a theory in light of new evidence. That's how it works.

No problem there, but that's not as far as it goes. However, it does tend to undermine your "very rare" event can’t mean the demise of the selfish gene theory.
Why rebrand if it's unimportant? Obviously there'd be no reason to.

Now.... as far as it goes, the rebranding of "Selfish Gene" into Selfish Replicator is just a bit extreme. A gene is a bundle of chemicals that contain encoded information (complex specified information actually). They are not in themselves alive. If however, one removes the term "gene" then it extends to... what ever... the term gene becomes non-descriptive.
And you're playing word games to pretend that it doesn't undermine the theory.
It's as if one said "The Director makes the movie" and then under pressure of evidence had to admit that the authors, scriptwriters, cinematographers, grips, actors, and others were also indispensible.
Your original statement goes up in smoke and no amount of word games will bring it back.


. . . the projection of evolutionary principles onto non-living objects


Nope. You mistake language for reality, again.

No evidence of that. You really ought to give up that saying sort of thing. You seem to be letting your "He's wrong a priori" mindset get in the way...since you go on to confirm exactly what I thought you meant:


At a molecular scale, making a distinction between "living" and "non-living" is not useful.

Really?
Does a rock evolve?
How about combustion? Do things on fire exhibit Darwinian Evolution?
Or maybe water. Does that evolve?

Come now Keith, you previously argued strenuously, if not effectively, that Evolution had nothing to say about non-living origins of life and now you say there’s no useful distinction?
That simply Does Not Work.
Care to fix it?

TomF
08-12-2008, 11:24 AM
Gosh, look what I've been missing.

Sam F
08-12-2008, 11:24 AM
I'd bet a fair amount that Sam hasn't read it. He ought to.

And "ordered" is excessively polite. Note above where he claims that if a statement is true 99.99% of the time, then it's really false.

My dear fellow! 'tis only logic.
All it takes is one contrary instance to disprove a proposition.
You know that and you know that you invented that number too. :)
Whining on an on 'bout dat fact don't help.
And hoo boy talk about hypocrisy!
You'd never ever let me get away with a "scientific" theory that admitted of exceptions.

Come on Keith, I know you can do better than that!

TomF
08-12-2008, 11:33 AM
Personally, I liked Keith's comment in #118 that an organism is more than the expression of its genes.

But then, I'm moving more strongly towards a mind/body split than I've even done before.

IMO, matter evolves in the manner Keith's been describing - but other choices are available which allow the potential to contradict the evolutionary process.

But that's because I believe that there is a soul, that it animates the body, and is ultimately independent of it. Much like a driver in an automobile.

Keith Wilson
08-12-2008, 11:47 AM
All it takes is one contrary instance to disprove a proposition.
Not when the proposition is non-exclusive; to wit, "The gene is the basic unit of natural selection, not the individual organism". And, indeed, despite the rare occurrence of epigenetic inheritance, the gene is indeed in almost every case the basic unit of natural selection. Although it's obviously a guess, I expect that my 99.99% number is much too low. Consider the amount of information transmitted genetically to build an organism, how many organisms there are, and how few instances of epigenetic inheritance are known.

So what's your point, Sam? That the gene is NOT the basic unit of natural selection in almost every case? Nope, no evidence of that. That a gene CAN function altruistically? No evidence of that either. Just what are you trying to demonstrate?

You are quite correct in that Darwinian natural selection works with anything that is self-replicating with occasional variation. It is certainly not intrinsically limited to living organisms. I said AT A MOLECULAR LEVEL, the distinction between living and non-living vanishes. Is a DNA sequence "alive"? An amino acid? A protein molecule? The question is becomes mostly meaningless, since all know organisms operate at a much larger scale.

Tom, I can't really say much about the soul; I'm not even sure what the word means in any coherent sense, but any sufficiently complex system is more than its parts - and what system is more complex than a human mind?

Sam F
08-12-2008, 11:55 AM
Those of you who have actually read Dawkin's seminal The Selfish Gene will no doubt remember the chapter in which he thoroughly explained how the seemingly anti-survival mechanism of altruism at the organism level may indeed increase the prevalence of a certain gene that encourages such behavior within a given gene pool, as cooperative behaviors such as this may in some circumstances confer advantages to that species.

That's long been noted as an inadequate explanation for human altruism.
Why for instance, would a person give money to another he's never met, never will meet and who lives 1/2 a world away?
Nah... Dawkins’ “explanation” is just Evo-babble.


He also has several chapters in which he explains, with the math if you'd like,...

Sorry James, but your last math example left a bit to be desired in specificity.


... how mutual pairs of opposed characteristics can achieve an equilibrium concentration in a population, how a potentially less favorable adaptation might indeed survive in a gene pool because of contingent factors...

That's not saying anything James. Everything survives, or doesn't, because of contingent factors.


... , and how digital encoding such as that found in DNA can nevertheless result in a truly analog, non-quantized continuum of variation.

You mean like a random toss of the dice?
Nothing new for Materialism there.


... Sam's ordered, black-or-white worldview seems to lead him to think that if something can't be specifically categorized as either this or that then the whole notion of that categorization is incorrect.

Now you mustn’t stereotype. I'm quite comfortable with a non-quantized continuum of variation.


... Despite the fact that some categories have nebulous boundaries does not invalidate the concept of a specific defined category. So it is with K-strategists and r-strategists.

Non-definable terms with nebulous boundaries and non-specified quantities sounds a lot like Modern Art.

http://sprott.physics.wisc.edu/PICKOVER/pc/miroreal1.jpg

Since when is that science?

Keith Wilson
08-12-2008, 11:57 AM
So you haven't read it.

Osborne Russell
08-12-2008, 12:26 PM
All it takes is one contrary instance to prove that a proposition isn't absolutely true. So what we need is a set-up where contrary instances aren't allowed. Otherwise we'll never be absolutely sure.

TomF
08-12-2008, 12:31 PM
Good luck. Not a whole lot of absolutes out there, in whatever realm.

Glen Longino
08-12-2008, 12:34 PM
The only absolute we have so far is that we are all wrong, along with Richard Dawkins. Sam says so! Sam does not know how genetics works, but he knows for sure how it does Not work. Amazing!

PatCox
08-12-2008, 12:42 PM
Ecce Homo. Sam is a piece of work. Truly an amazing individual. He possesses The Truth, you see. Because of his Impeccable Logic. He has even proven that the tenets of christianity are not a "faith," that they are capable of logical proof, thats up there.

Sam F
08-12-2008, 01:15 PM
So you haven't read it.

What makes you say that?
In fact I did read it (The Selfish Gene) long years ago when I was in college.
It was a hot topic of conversation but I found it unconvincing then when I was a convinced Darwinist, and I still do so now that I'm not.

OK... hands raised now... anybody read Darwin's Origin of Species and Descent of Man?

Sam F
08-12-2008, 01:40 PM
The only absolute we have so far is that we are all wrong, along with Richard Dawkins. Sam says so!

No Glen, not because Sam says so.
Dawkins and company fail quite on their own and need no help from me.
Just don't blame me for noticing.



Sam does not know how genetics works, but he knows for sure how it does Not work. Amazing!

And Glen does not know how genetics works either, but he knows for sure the Sam doesn't know how it does Not work. Amazing!
Except... I cited a reputable authority on epigenetics - and Glen, she really does know more then you do ;) - and no one has made the slightest effort to refute her.



The old genetics literature has many descriptions of peculiar patterns of inheritance that are not readily explained in classical Mendelian terms. Some of these patterns are exactly the type expected for inherited epigenetic variations. The hereditary variations are not transient, like some somatic modifications of gene expression, nor are they reversed in a predictable way like imprints. However they are not as stable as classical mutations caused by changes in DNA base sequence…
A… very good example of inherited induced variations come from the work of Meins… on tobacco plants regenerated from cells grown in culture… Tobacco cells can exist in different epigenetic states with regard to their need for an exogenous sources of the hormone cytokinnin. Cultures of leaf cess need cytokinin for rapid growth – they are stably C- … Leaf cells that are normally non-inducible and stably C- can be habituated by subculturing on media containing successively lower concentrations of cytokinin. Under these conditions, C+ variants arise… what is interesting is that in this case the leaves of plants regenerated from the variants do not revert to normal, C-, cytokinin-requiring state – they retain the C+ state that was induced in culture. The acquired C+ state persists when the plants are propagated asexually and when selfed (self-pollinated), C+ and C- phenotypes segregate, indicating that the regenerated plants are ‘heteozygous’… the molecular basis of this induced heritable chance is not known, but the data suggest that a locus has been modified epigenetically, and the induced epiallele is transmitted through the germ line. The frequency with which the changes arises (10-2 to 10-3), and its directed nature, makes it very unlikely that it is a conventional mutational change. (from Epigenetic Inheritance and Evolution by Eva Jablonka pages 139-140)

Of course Glen knows she has absolutely no idea what she's talking about. ;)

Sam F
08-12-2008, 01:40 PM
So you haven't read it.

Keith Wilson
08-12-2008, 02:45 PM
Once again, what's your point, Sam? What are you trying to demonstrate?

James McMullen
08-12-2008, 04:14 PM
It occurs to me that what he is trying to demonstrate and what he is actually demonstrating are not overlapping sets. It is, however, a near textbook example of pervasive confirmation bias.

Tom Montgomery
08-12-2008, 04:28 PM
I want to know from what website Sam cut & pasted the passage from Eva Jablonka's book? Sam conveniently neglected to provide a link. I am quite sure that Sam has not read the book and is not quoting from his personal copy. Revealing his online source would be quite illuminating.... We would see who we are actually arguing with.

Sam? Do you have the cojones?

Kaa
08-12-2008, 04:42 PM
I want to know from what website Sam cut & pasted the passage from Eva Jablonka's book? Sam conveniently neglected to provide a link.

Um, yes, he did.


From The New Scientist - Rewriting Darwin: 09 July 2008:

Kaa

Keith Wilson
08-12-2008, 04:47 PM
I doubt he subscribes to The New Scientist. Here's a link to the full text of the article (but not Jablonska's paper) http://groups.google.com/group/soc.culture.romanian/msg/ccf8322969990515

Tom Montgomery
08-12-2008, 04:55 PM
Kaa -- you mean to tell me you believe Sammy reads The New Scientist? LOL!

I want to know what website provided Sammy with this info. Tell me you don't think that would prove interesting? I'll bet it's connected somehow with the Discovery Institute creationist/IDrs. Care to take that wager?

Kaa
08-12-2008, 05:06 PM
Kaa -- you mean to tell me you believe Sammy reads The New Scientist? LOL!

I don't see why not. Being a strict Catholic with a penchant for sophistry and mental masturbation does not preclude reading pop-sci journals.


I want to know what website provided Sammy with this info. Tell me you don't think that would prove interesting? I'll bet it's connected somehow with the Discovery Institute creationist/IDrs. Care to take that wager?

Even provided SamF does not read the New Scientist and provided he tells you the website, I still wouldn't find it all that interesting. What exactly do you think you'll discover? That SamF doesn't like the evolution theory? :D

And "connected somehow" is a very vague term. There is a popular pastime which consists of generating a path from one web site to another website via clicking the links. The goal is to minimize the length of the path for a given pair of websites. The number of clicks is almost always in single digits, often 3-5, for completely unrelated websites.

Kaa

Tom Montgomery
08-12-2008, 05:18 PM
"Connected somehow" as in the website' primary operator is a Fellow of the Discovery Institute.

Sammy?

Milo Christensen
08-12-2008, 07:06 PM
Dear SamF: Please explain how the very recent discovery of the precise method of epigenetic expression is honeybees is not subject to natural selection. Thenkyewveddymuch.

Glen Longino
08-12-2008, 09:30 PM
No Glen, not because Sam says so.
Dawkins and company fail quite on their own and need no help from me.
Just don't blame me for noticing.




And Glen does not know how genetics works either, but he knows for sure the Sam doesn't know how it does Not work. Amazing!
Except... I cited a reputable authority on epigenetics - and Glen, she really does know more then you do ;) - and no one has made the slightest effort to refute her.




Of course Glen knows she has absolutely no idea what she's talking about. ;)

Who among us has any reason or enough knowledge to refute her?
What's to refute?
You seem to be the only one around here with a need to discredit Dawkins, and you'd like to twist this piece of research to bolster your argument that Dawkins and his science are full of beans.
Are you determined to prove to us that God made Adam from clay/mud that had genes and DNA and a chemical factory in it?
If Dawkins is wrong and all of us in this discussion are wrong, except you, then I suggest you enlighten all of us.
C'mon, one time, tell us how we began and how we've continued through the millenia.
Quit telling me I'm wrong without offering me the benefit of your enlightened "rightness". I'd love to hear your origin and perpetuation theories. You must have some, else how can you impeach mine.
If you plan to keep on telling me I'm wrong, then you must follow up by showing me how you're right. We'd all love to hear how you're right and we're wrong. That's why we're here, don't you know!

PatCox
08-12-2008, 10:14 PM
Glen, SamF does not feel the need to provide an alternative hypothesis, he is out to discredit science itself. He claims empiricism is inextricably linked with materialism in the most radical marxist sense of that term, and his goal is simply to destroy the validity of "science" entirely. He instead prefers what he often calls "impeccable logic," or sophistry. I have often theorized that he has a unique perceptual-psychological disorder that literally makes it impossible for him to distinguish between the objective and the subjective. He does not understand the difference between symbols, words, and the thoughts we have which are expressed in words, and the reality they imperfectly represent. I think that he lives so completelty in the subjective, that he believes his every thought is reality, because he thought it, it cannot not be so, because it is "logical" to him, it must BE. He fascinates me, understanding him, if its possible, I think would provide answers to so much of the behavior of human beings that is so damaging.

How often, witnessing people doing, believing, preposterous things, do we think to ourselves, "what was he Thinking?" I think they are thinking the way SamF thinks, whenever we think that of someone like that.

Glen Longino
08-12-2008, 10:49 PM
Whew, heavy, Pat!
I've seen you make some of those observations about Sam before.
I know you're right!
"impeccable logic" is the entire game to Sam. The subject of the discussion is merely a vehicle to carry Sam's logic forward and upward over our heads, which always inspires a huge gloat from Sam.:)

"He fascinates me"...
That goes for all of us! What else would keep Keith Wilson and Tom Montgomery and a host of others messing with Sam after all these years?(longer than I've been here)
Sam's better than the two-headed calf at the county fair at dragging rubes in off the midway. We're all suckers and Sam knows it!;)

Tom Montgomery
08-12-2008, 10:54 PM
Sammy worships "logic" and believes mainstream evolutionary science can be overthrown by debate. I'd like to see him attempt to bring his soaring logic to bear on particle physics. Imagine Sam attempting to refute Sum Over Histories as illogical. Wouldn't that be a trip?

Sam should stick to theology. His conceit is that he comes across as strctly logical when, in fact, he comes across as an ideologue.

Glen Longino
08-12-2008, 11:04 PM
Sammy worships "logic" and believes mainstream evolutionary science can be overthrown by debate. I'd like to see him attempt to bring his soaring logic to bear on particle physics. Imagine Sam attempting to refute Sum Over Histories as illogical. Wouldn't that be a trip?

Sam should stick to theology. His conceit is that he comes across as strctly logical when, in fact, he comes across as an ideologue.

Don't get him started, Tom! :D

Tom Montgomery
08-12-2008, 11:09 PM
I actually consider Sam and his ilk to represent a threat to scientific literacy in this country. While I find him and his fellow travellers to be, for the most part, fools who are easily refuted... because they are religious "true believers" they tend to be persistent. They need to be challenged whenever and wherever they pop up.

Glen Longino
08-12-2008, 11:13 PM
I actually consider Sam and his I'll to represent a threat to scientific literacy in this country. While I find him and his fellow travellers to be, for the most part, fools who are easily refuted... because they are religious "true believers" they tend to be persistent. They need to be challenged whenever and wherever they pop up.

That's what keeps me hanging around here. I simply can't let him get away with his sanctimonius assumptions without a challenge.:)

Tom Montgomery
08-12-2008, 11:32 PM
Sam despises "materialism." But all he offers as an alternative are "just so" stories presented as "history" that resemble nothing so much as myth and fable.

Now, I respect myth and fable as vehicles of certain kinds of truth. But I don't look to myth and fable to explain the physical universe. Earlier cultures did, of course, as does Sam and his ilk.

I was not kidding when I said that - for folks like Sam - "morality" comes from Roman Catholic theologians. Sam did not dispute that observation. Legalistic interpretations of myth and fable....

I respect religious faith.. On the other hand, I find those who claim to have come to faith by force of logic to be laughable and self-deluded.

Glen Longino
08-12-2008, 11:52 PM
Let me get this straight!
Sam is actually the Barbarian around here, believing in myth and fable, and I'm a civilized Modern Man?
What a relief!:D

Tom Montgomery
08-13-2008, 12:02 AM
The transparent sophistry involved in the doctrine of the trinity tells the whole story.

"Orthodox" Christians are "monotheists" who believe in three gods. And the theology explaining this contradiction is hilarious. They are also "pro-life" and believe in the sanctity of life... except for those whose lives are not so sanctified and while regretting the collateral damage inflicted during "just" wars. Don't you just love theology?

PatCox
08-13-2008, 12:06 AM
SamF's mental workings are as alien to me as if he just stepped off a flying saucer. I am even fascinated by the fact that he would take that statement as proof of his intellectual superiority. There is one aspect of him that is pretty common and understandable, he is incapable of thinking that anyone in the world is as smart as, or smarter, than he is. Thats why he is so incredibly confident in his ability, through his "impeccable logic," to dismiss some of the greatest intellects in history, he has considered their works, from his position of ignorance, and feels, thats it, he knows better than they, he sees their flaws, the dummies. He is truly amazing to me, I think he should be on display in a museum, come see the cocksure fool who thinks he knows better than anyone who ever lived. See him refute Aristotle, Plato, Descarte, Newton, Einstein, Darwin, Hawking, Dawkins, everyone and anyone who has in any way contributed to raising mankind above superstition. Amazing.

Glen Longino
08-13-2008, 12:25 AM
The transparent sophistry involved in the doctrine of the trinity tells the whole story.

I wish Sam and many of my neighbors here in the Bible Belt would see it as sophistry! But not likely!
I could become a Baptist Preacher tomorrow morning if I could only accept sophistry as truth, like Sam does. Praise the Lord!!!!!!
If only I could accept mythology and fable as reality the way Sam does I could be a Sheep in God's Flock like Sam is, instead of looking forward to Everlasting Fire And Damnation. Woe is me!
What a lie Sam expects us to believe, while we tell him the truth.
Call me a fool, but I refuse to give up on Sam, regardless of his degree of delusion!

Glen Longino
08-13-2008, 12:52 AM
You boys notice how pleasant it is talking About Sam rather than To Sam?
Yes? I figgered!:)

Kaa
08-13-2008, 01:24 AM
Are y'all y'all sure you won't break your arm patting yourself on the back and congratulating yourself how smart and insightful you are?

Kaa

Glen Longino
08-13-2008, 01:30 AM
We're pretty damn sure!
What's it to you?

jbelow
08-13-2008, 02:07 AM
Sam F strikes again! It is said that the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. You guys must love to hate Sam F. I think he hits a raw nerve of truth. You guys can't handle the truth. That explains why you libturds gang up on Sam F. I notice you turds treat Bob Smalser and Donn the same way.

Glen Longino
08-13-2008, 02:23 AM
Sam F strikes again! It is said that the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. You guys must love to hate Sam F. I think he hits a raw nerve of truth. You guys can't handle the truth. That explains why you libturds gang up on Sam F. I notice you turds treat Bob Smalser and Donn the same way.

Nobody around here "hates" anybody.
Sam hits a raw nerve of sanctimonius delusion, not truth.
Some of us call him on it, that's all. Get used to it.
You're not sanctimonious and delusional too, are you? No? I figgered!

SamSam
08-13-2008, 04:06 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamSam http://www.woodenboat.com/forum/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.woodenboat.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1914805#post1914805)
Religion IS politics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam F http://www.woodenboat.com/forum/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.woodenboat.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1915484#post1915484)
Therefore, Politics IS religion.
Interesting, eh?

Originally Posted by Keith Wilson
. . . True altruism (a characteristic that benefits others and not oneself) at the level of the gene is impossible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam F http://www.woodenboat.com/forum/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.woodenboat.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1915484#post1915484)
It's impossible for an organism possessing genes to exhibit altruism?Is it possible for there to be actual hollow spots in a living brain?

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
08-13-2008, 04:20 AM
Is it possible for there to be actual hollow spots in a living brain?

It should take you about thirty seconds to answer that with google.

WX
08-13-2008, 08:24 AM
http://www.reclusiveleftist.com/wp-content/cartoon-jesus.jpg

WX
08-13-2008, 08:31 AM
http://lambiek.net/artists/c/cobb_ron/cobb_jesus.gif

This one I like, it about sums up the history of the church for me....2,000+ years of mis-information.

Tom Montgomery
08-13-2008, 09:04 AM
And jbelow appears to drop a few turd bombs! I'm sure Sam will be proud to know he has a huge fan in Vidor, Texas.

Keith Wilson
08-13-2008, 09:31 AM
If you have no coherent arguments, use insults.
If you can't manage coherent insults, use a scatological version of your opponent's name or affiliation.
If you can't manage that, pee on his leg.

Sam F
08-13-2008, 09:46 AM
Dear SamF: Please explain how the very recent discovery of the precise method of epigenetic expression is honeybees is not subject to natural selection. Thenkyewveddymuch.

Why wouldn't it be subject to Natural Selection?
Did I or anyone else say otherwise?

Sam F
08-13-2008, 09:54 AM
Given your peculiar question (above) - which seems to demonstrate a certain lack of focus regarding another's actual statements, how about answering a couple of questions you apparently missed...
They're already posted and now repeated here:


A statement that demonstrates as little real knowledge of evolution as SamF demonstrates.


You’ve yet to demonstrate any such thing. There’s ample opportunity presented in this thread – have at it.




The perfect example is found in those insects where the male is eaten by the female after copulation.


Um… Milo, need I remind you that this occurs after the insect has passed on his genes?
Whatever happens after that is invisible to Natural Selection.

Why shouldn't I conclude that you demonstrate as little real knowledge of what SamF says as you apparently do of Evolution? ;)

Sam F
08-13-2008, 10:00 AM
Once again, what's your point, Sam? What are you trying to demonstrate?


So you haven't read it.
Once again... How's about reading Post #'s 17 & 41 & 80 & 83 & 107 for starters.

Keith Wilson
08-13-2008, 10:01 AM
OK, #17 has nothing to do with the subject of the last three or four pages.

#41 contains so may distortions and logic errors that it's quite incoherent.

#80 picks at points others made, and asserts very little.

#83 is the same stuff you've posted hundreds of times. It was wrong then, and it's wrong now.

#107 is argument through false analogy. You time study example is not at all analogous to the example James posted.

So what's your point again? One pithy paragraph should do it. Go ahead, don't be shy.

Milo Christensen
08-13-2008, 10:05 AM
SamF: I'm outa here. Have a good day. Declare victory, do a dance, you've gotten me so confused with all the bull**** you've thrown around that I appear to have misunderstood your reasoning behind introducing epigenetics into the discussion.

Rick-Mi
08-13-2008, 10:06 AM
Sam F strikes again! It is said that the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. You guys must love to hate Sam F. I think he hits a raw nerve of truth. You guys can't handle the truth. That explains why you libturds gang up on Sam F.


I've just read through this thread and conclude Sam F is an army of one! He doesn't need reinforcement from other members of a pack to wield his sword. And yes, the hate and personal viciousness is unmistakable from the materialists. Perhaps that is just an animalistic reaction in an attempt to "circle the wagons" when presented with serious flaws in their worldview.

Sam F
08-13-2008, 10:13 AM
http://www.reclusiveleftist.com/wp-content/cartoon-jesus.jpg


Funny how just about everybody wants to re-make Jesus in his own image.
Back in "ancient" days when a boy's hair growing over his collar was simply scandalous I remember reading an article (apparently intended as serious) explaining how Jesus must have had a crew cut.

I know a bit about right wing Christians and know a few of them reasonably well... so I find it equally funny how your "reclusive leftist" cartoon stereotypes, and essentially re-makes, a religious movement in their own mirror image... I guess they just can't help it. :D Like this...


http://homepage.mac.com/yingloon/images/liberalguysF.jpg

and...

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2220/2469706580_1764514acd.jpg?v=0

Keith Wilson
08-13-2008, 10:16 AM
Rick, if you think Sam has pointed out any "serious flaws" in anything, you are even more confused than he is.

C223, unless it was just a joke, please explain how genes can function altruistically (in the narrow sense of the word Milo defined).


Funny how just about everybody wants to re-make Jesus in his own image.
Quite true. I suspect it's been going on since he wasn't quite cold yet.

Sam F
08-13-2008, 10:18 AM
SamF: I'm outa here. Have a good day. Declare victory, do a dance, you've gotten me so confused with all the bull**** you've thrown around that I appear to have misunderstood your reasoning behind introducing epigenetics into the discussion.

No Milo I did not get you confused - you did that to yourself.
Stop stereotyping
Stop using insults like "bull****".

And please everybody...
Stop whining about how mean and/or ignorant and/or awful and or Catholic, Sam F is.
You boys is all growed up now and momma ain't gonna give you points for being mortally offended by having your sacred opinions questioned.

Instead, Start reading and paying attention. Respond to the issue and quit the ad hominem foolishness.

Keith Wilson
08-13-2008, 10:20 AM
Awww, poor Sam.

Milo Christensen
08-13-2008, 10:20 AM
You know what, I'll even relinquish the moral high ground in this discussion if you'd just tell me why you introduced epigenetics into it.

Sam F
08-13-2008, 10:23 AM
Rick, if you think Sam has pointed out any "serious flaws" in anything, you are even more confused than he is.

How would you know?
The evidence is that you haven't read a thing... ;)

Keith Wilson
08-13-2008, 10:25 AM
It would be interesting to know. What does epigenetics have to do with anything we've been discussing? He brought it up after I said "The gene is the basic unit of natural selection, not the individual organism." Since the existence of occasional epigenetic inheritance doesn't affect that statement at all, what is the point?

And having Sam tell Milo to "stop stereotyping" was funny enough to almost justify this thread.

Oh, I read it, Sam. I just didn't have as high opinion of the arguments as their author does.

Sam F
08-13-2008, 10:26 AM
You know what, I'll even relinquish the moral high ground in this discussion if you'd just tell me why you introduced epigenetics into it.

To correct a factual error. Not unfortunately, to fit your stereotype of what I'm supposed to believe.
You boys never tire of telling me that I don't know what I'm talking about concerning Evolution*... so why get bothered when it's apparent that I do?
Oh... never mind I see why. :D


*I see there's still no answer on if anyone has actually read Darwin's two major books. :D

Rick-Mi
08-13-2008, 10:34 AM
Rick, if you think Sam has pointed out any "serious flaws" in anything, you are even more confused than he is.


I find it surprising after posts 120 and 125 that you persist in suggesting other people are confused. Are masochistic tendencies derived genetically?

Sam F
08-13-2008, 10:41 AM
...Oh, I read it, Sam. I just didn't have as high opinion of the arguments as their author does.

Now Keith, that doesn't work at all. If you'd read it why ask?


Once again, what's your point, Sam? What are you trying to demonstrate?

You really need to stop making statements " that you've already proved false with your own words.
It occurs to me that what Keith is trying to demonstrate and what he is actually demonstrating are not overlapping sets. It is, however, a near textbook example of pervasive confirmation bias.

Keith Wilson
08-13-2008, 10:45 AM
Ah, well, Rick, you've demonstrated my point about confusion. I said, "The gene is the basic unit of natural selection, not the individual organism." This is not, nor was it intended to be an absolute statement, such as "genes are the only . . ". Sam was factually correct about epigenetic inheritance: it exists, it's fairly rare as far as we know, and it's utterly irrelevant to the point I was making. For that matter, I'm entirely willing to concede that group selection may occur under some circumstances. However, the fact remains that in almost every known case, the gene is indeed the basic unit of natural selection, and not the individual organism.

Sam did not correct a factual error; his introduciton of epigenetics was irrelevant to the point being made.

Tom Montgomery
08-13-2008, 11:12 AM
sad, sad, sad

James McMullen
08-13-2008, 11:20 AM
Dammit, Sam! You're supposed to put it in that little blue quote box or at least use quotation marks when you plagiarize someone else's carefully crafted elitist and demeaning put-down.

You owe me an apology, you non-overlapping set, you!

PatCox
08-13-2008, 11:30 AM
Far far more fascinating than the underlying "debate," if it can be so called, is SamF's apparently genuine belief that he is making valid arguments and winning points. The degree of utterly unwarranted smugness and superiority is astounding, fascinating, and also, amusing.

PatCox
08-13-2008, 11:33 AM
From Wikipedia:

The Chewbacca defense is a fictional legal strategy used in episode 27 of South Park, "Chef Aid", which premiered on October 7, 1998 as the fourteenth episode of the second season. The aim of the argument is to deliberately confuse the jury. The concept satirized attorney Johnnie Cochran's closing argument defending O. J. Simpson in his murder trial.

In the episode, Chef discovers that Alanis Morissette's (fictional) hit song "Stinky Britches" is the same as a song he wrote years ago, before he abandoned his musical aspirations. Chef contacts a "major record company" executive, seeking only to have his name credited as the composer of "Stinky Britches." Chef's claim is substantiated by a twenty-year-old recording of Chef performing the song.

The record company refuses, and furthermore hires Johnnie Cochran, who files a lawsuit against Chef for harassment. In court, Cochran resorts to his "famous" Chewbacca Defense, which he "used during the Simpson trial", according to Stan.

“ Cochran
Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, Chef's attorney would certainly want you to believe that his client wrote "Stinky Britches" ten years ago. And they make a good case. Hell, I almost felt pity myself! But, ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, I have one final thing I want you to consider. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk. But Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now think about it; that does not make sense!
Gerald Broflovski
Damn it!
Chef
What?
Gerald
He's using the Chewbacca Defense!
Cochran
Why would a Wookiee, an eight-foot tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of two-foot tall Ewoks? That does not make sense! But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense! Look at me. I'm a lawyer defending a major record company, and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca! Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense! And so you have to remember, when you're in that jury room deliberatin' and conjugatin' the Emancipation Proclamation, [approaches and softens] does it make sense? No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests.[1] ”

This last statement is a parody of Johnnie Cochran's closing arguments in the O. J. Simpson murder case where he states to the jury: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit," in reference to an earlier point in the trial when prosecutor Christopher Darden asked Mr. Simpson to try on a bloody glove found at the murder scene, which he did unsuccessfully. [2]

Cochran's defense is successful and the jury finds Chef guilty of "harassing a major record label" and sets his punishment as either a two million dollar fine to be paid within twenty-four hours or, failing that, four years in prison (the judge initially sentences him to eight million years).


The coup de grâce: "Look at the silly monkey!"Ultimately a "Chef Aid" benefit concert is organized to raise money for Chef to hire Johnnie Cochran for his own lawsuit against the record company. At the concert Johnnie Cochran experiences a change of heart and offers to represent Chef pro bono. He again successfully uses the Chewbacca Defense, this time to defeat the record company and make them acknowledge Chef's authorship of their song. In the second use of the Chewbacca Defense, he ends by taking out a monkey puppet and shouting "Here, look at the monkey. Look at the silly monkey!" causing a juror's head to explode.

James McMullen
08-13-2008, 11:35 AM
By the way, I did read both the Origin of Species and the Descent of Man back in college. But so what? These books are not Scripture, handed down from God, inviolable and perfect. Since those books were written there have been thousands more books and papers and articles written which expand, correct and improve on the original theories presented in these books. Someone who wants to learn about evolutionary theory today would do far better to read some of the works by Stephen Jay Gould, E.O Wilson, Ernst Mayr, Jonathon Weiner or Richard Dawkins which include the discoveries and improvements made since the 19th century.

Darwin is justly famed for discovering a theory which revolutionized our understanding of biology, but he was also writing before we had discovered the structure of DNA, before we had mapped genomes, before we had computers to crunch numbers, before we had accumulated so much data.

Darwin's original books are of interest to the completist, but are no more vital to understanding modern evolutionary biology than Galileo's writings are important for understanding the heliocentric solar system. We stand on the shoulders of giants, yes, but the view from up here is clearer than ever before.

Milo Christensen
08-13-2008, 11:35 AM
The morality test for an act: Would you will the act to be universal?

Our condemnation of SamF is very close to passing the test.

jbelow
08-13-2008, 11:37 AM
If you have no coherent arguments, use insults.
If you can't manage coherent insults, use a scatological version of your opponent's name or affiliation.
If you can't manage that, pee on his leg.

We do abhor other people in what we see in ourself.

Sam F
08-13-2008, 11:39 AM
Dammit, Sam! You're supposed to put it in that little blue quote box or at least use quotation marks when you plagiarize someone else's carefully crafted elitist and demeaning put-down.

Not so very well crafted - since it was so easily turned against your purpose.
Though I'll grant you the "elitist" bit.
Here's some advice:
Don't believe your own propaganda.
Don't assume your elitism is any guarantee of superiority.
Don't use a put-down that you, or your own allies, are actually susceptible to and guilty of. That’s a fatal mistake.
Try to think one or two steps ahead, and if you really can't address criticisms made (your math for example), then it's best to simply sit on your hands.


You owe me an apology, you non-overlapping set, you!

What’s the matter? Don't like your own words? Did I really say what you intended?
Or did I say something different? :D
Really James, you need to address criticisms of your own posts reasoning before you resort to an appeal to technicalities. It just looks whiney & lame.

Sam F
08-13-2008, 11:54 AM
OK, #17 has nothing to do with the subject of the last three or four pages.

:D # 17 is on topic and answers your question succinctly (What’s your point?).
Why ask if you didn’t want to know?
Why complain when it’s answered?
Since you asked that question on page four, that rather invalidates your objection, doesn’t it?
And you’ve nothing left! :D
Let's see if you've got anything else...


#41 contains so may distortions and logic errors that it's quite incoherent.

You’re stating that on your own unbiased authority? Given your demonstrated performance just above, you’ll need to do just a bit better on documentation department Keith.


#80 picks at points others made, and asserts very little.

“…points others made…”
That’s rich! They’re points you made. Believe it or not that’s a perfectly valid and useful way to make a point – or many points.
So let’s repeat part of Post # 80.


LOL! Other than the post-Newton addition of atomic theory, relativity and quantum mechanics, I'm unaware of any significant changes in Newton's underlying principles.
One point on which Milo and I agree completely.


Uh huh. So what's Newton got to do with Darwin? Nuthin'.
Examples please. Show me how Darwin was wrong about his core principles:
Survival of the Fittest, descent with modification etc.
Until you can demonstrate that you’re just using the ol’ bait and switch tactic.

Why can’t you answer that Keith?



OTOH the central idea that mind is something the brain does, and that both the brain and the mind are subject to the same evolutionary processes as the body, is extremely useful. When applied carefully, it can do more to explain "human nature" than 5000 years of philosophizing.


That adds a bit more claptrap. When you can put a fossil hominid on the couch and psychoanalyze him you'll have some extremely useful data - otherwise it's just made up.

This is quite to the point and I’ll restate it so it’s perfectly clear: Your belief in evolutionary psychology and its demonstration of anything, let alone a foundation for morals, is just that - BELIEF. It is NOT science. It’s has none of the characteristics of a science and it never will. Until you can crawl into a time machine and prove something useful about our hominid ancestors, this view is data-free, Faith Based and no better than Zeus worship.
Post # 80 demonstrates yet again how your Materialism is a faith not science. If it were scientific you’d be able to, for instance, predict the future behavior of any "meme" you choose and let's see how it turns out.
While you at it, please describe a meme's physical properties...:D
Any Astrologer can “predict” the past. You need to do better.



I suspect that in not very long, the idea of understanding human behavior without reference to evolutionary processes will seem like trying to understand the behavior of matter without knowing about atoms.


LOL! Evolution can't even define its’ key concept: species.
You'll have to do much much better before you can make any comparison with an actual science, like physics.

Did you define species? No.
Let’s clarify this a bit more: Non-definable terms with nebulous boundaries and non-specified quantities has a lot in common with Palmistry and is no better than superstition. It’s not science and neither is this Evolution psychology clap trap.


#83 is the same stuff you've posted hundreds of times. It was wrong then, and it's wrong now. .

Translation: You’ve never been able to refute any of it, so why try now?


#107 is argument through false analogy. You time study example is not at all analogous to the example James posted. .

Reading comprehension problems?
That awareness [of phony math] cost me that job opportunity, but did prepare me to notice similar peculiarities when they present themselves….
Got it? That’s not an analogy at all.
The Time Study example was the first time I was intimately involved in the misuse of math to defraud and was provided by way of background.
James’ example, while I think not a deliberate fraud, amounts to the same thing. I provided an analysis which you are welcome to dispute. But you’d better start coming up with some hard-to-demonstrate assertions like: Proving carrying capacity before the fact not after, demonstrating growth rates before the fact not after and a specified definition of low and high.
Good luck with that.



So what's your point again? One pithy paragraph should do it. Go ahead, don't be shy.

Just did it again. WhatsamatterU? :D

Keith Wilson
08-13-2008, 12:09 PM
We do abhor other people in what we see in ourself.Yes, sometimes we do. However, in this thread I have not used insults, nor do I ever use scatological terms like "lubturd", nor have I peed on anyone's leg.

Sam F
08-13-2008, 12:17 PM
By the way, I did read both the Origin of Species and the Descent of Man back in college. But so what?

That's great. I also read them.
And as for the "So what?"
That'll be easy for you, since you too have read the books.
Perhaps you'll bewilling to tell us if Keith's false analogy was correct when he linked the difference between Darwin and NeoDarwinism with Newton and today's physics with this scarcasm:
"Other than the post-Newton addition of atomic theory, relativity and quantum mechanics, I'm unaware of any significant changes in Newton's underlying principles. "
Tell us... is the analogy between Newton and Einstein valid for Darwin and NeoDarwinism?
I asked Keith this and got no answer: Was Darwin wrong about the core principles of Darwinism?
If so, what did he get wrong about the principle of Natural Selection?
In other words, if you wish to repudiate Darwin, please do so now and explain why.

Keith Wilson
08-13-2008, 12:29 PM
Amazing. Well, epigenetics is still irrelevant, the gene is still the basic unit of natural selection, and genes still cannot have altruistic effects (in Milo's restricted definition) .

Let's go back to what Sam says is the point of all this:
Anyone who tries to navigate entirely with his own inner resources (no magnetic compass, or landmarks/landforms or clouds or wind, etc) is lost. Anyone who think he makes up his own morality is likewise lost.Well, part of this is a straw man; just as it's both foolish and rare to navigate with one's eyes closed and ears plugged, so is it to decide what is right and wrong a priori, ignoring all one's experience of the world and human behavior. Nobody here is doing that. I have never known anyone who's moral decisions do not take into account the things they've learned during their life.

There are two arguments contained in the compass analogy:
- There is an absolute standard of right and wrong analogous to the earth's magnetic field. This standard, like the magnetic field, exists independently of anything humans think or believe.
- By applying the proper technique, one can know accurately what this standard is, just as by using a compass and deviation table one can tell which way one's going.

There is, of course a third argument unexpressed: Sam knows the proper technique. His compass is correct.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
08-13-2008, 12:31 PM
Yes, sometimes we do. However, in this thread I have not used insults, nor do I ever use scatological terms like "lubturd", nor have I peed on anyone's leg.

Showing admirable restraint...

But by now we've seem this played many, many times - and I cannot recall seeing any real communication.

Time and again I am reminded of the time my labrador met a lobster, Bang clack went the lobster - Woof went the labrador - and quite clearly both animals were upset by the experience but neither could find a useful way forward - complete failure on the usual four F tests.

Without a common language, a discussion forum has something of the same quality.

Keith Wilson
08-13-2008, 12:37 PM
Quite. I have, however, learned a little about lobsters by the discussions here.

Kaa
08-13-2008, 12:42 PM
There are two arguments contained in the compass analogy:
- There is an absolute standard of right and wrong analogous to the earth's magnetic field. This standard, like the magnetic field, exists independently of anything humans think or believe.
- By applying the proper technique, one can know accurately what this standard is, just as by using a compass and deviation table one can tell which way one's going.

There is, of course a third argument unexpressed: Sam knows the proper technique. His compass is correct.

Well, SamF actually doesn't have a compass. He has an imaginary friend who tells him which way to go. Some people claim direct communication with that imaginary friend, and so can claim they personally were told where to go. Other people do not and have to rely on notes and stories of other people who did say they were in direct communication.

In any case, it's not a compass -- a mechanical device -- we're talking about. It's some being pointing a finger and saying "There!". And for all we know that being is fond of practical jokes :D

Kaa

Sam F
08-13-2008, 12:58 PM
Amazing. Well, epigenetics is still irrelevant,

and you still, by your own admission, knowingly made a false statement. ;)


and genes still cannot have altruistic effects (in Milo's restricted definition) .
Huh? Do you mean to say that human genes don't effect humans?
And you've still failed to explain how a thing composed of something that can't exhibit altrusim can itself exhibit altruisism.
Murmering about sums being greater than parts doesn't work as science.
How's about showing how that works?


Let's go back to what Sam says is the point of all this:

OK, but that has nothing to do with the subject of the last three or four pages. :D
Well thanks anyway for the de facto admission of error.



Well, part of this is a straw man; just as it's both foolish and rare to navigate with one's eyes closed and ears plugged, so is it to decide what is right and wrong a priori, ignoring all one's experience of the world and human behavior. Nobody here is doing that. I have never known anyone who's moral decisions do not take into account the things they've learned during their life.

Speaking of straw men, as usual, you just set up one.
Please provide evidence of my ever saying that anyone should ignore his experience.
But since you raised the subject, what does the things "learned during their life" have to do with morality anyway? Do you mean religious instruction?
Cultural influences?
Let's get some specificity here.


There are two arguments contained in the compass analogy:
- There is an absolute standard of right and wrong analogous to the earth's magnetic field. This standard, like the magnetic field, exists independently of anything humans think or believe.
- By applying the proper technique, one can know accurately what this standard is, just as by using a compass and deviation table one can tell which way one's going.

There is, of course a third argument unexpressed: Sam knows the proper technique. His compass is correct.

And whether I posses the proper technique or not, is irrelevant.
While I'm glad you read the post (finally) you've said nothing whatsoever about grounds for your objection - if you do.

Sam F
08-13-2008, 01:01 PM
Well, SamF actually doesn't have a compass. He has an imaginary friend who tells him which way to go...
Kaa
Well no Kaa, I don't have an imaginary friend but that raises the question:
How do you know which way to go?

Kaa
08-13-2008, 01:09 PM
Well no Kaa, I don't have an imaginary friend

I am sorry :D


but that raises the question:
How do you know which way to go?

Well, there's the general direction determined by biology and internalized socialization, and within that direction I bumble and stumble, and hopefully learn something in the process about the landscape :-)

Kaa

Sam F
08-13-2008, 01:14 PM
I am sorry :D

Don't be.

How do you know which way to go?



Well, there's the general direction determined by biology and internalized socialization, and within that direction I bumble and stumble, and hopefully learn something in the process about the landscape :-)

Kaa

So you don't have a moral compass.
You might do better with an imaginary friend than to have nothing. :D

Kaa
08-13-2008, 01:17 PM
You might do better with an imaginary friend than to have nothing. :D

Define "better". What's your yardstick?

Kaa

Sam F
08-13-2008, 01:22 PM
Define "better". What's your yardstick?

Kaa


Nothing is nothing. Anything that's not nothing, is presumably "better" since nothing is nothing. Nothing is certainly not better - than anything.
If ever there were a position with nowhere to go but up - it's when you're at nothing.
Even an imaginary friend is better than nothing.
Unless you prefer nothing... If you do, I'm sorry.;)

Kaa
08-13-2008, 01:33 PM
Nothing is nothing. Anything that's not nothing, is presumably "better" since nothing is nothing. Nothing is certainly not better - than anything.

That's silly on the face of it. Nothing is better than a large variety of things, for example, pain, a bullet in your gut, an IRS audit, a compulsion to torture small children, a large asteroid on a collision course with Earth, etc. etc.

But in any case, the question is not about the compass -- the question is about the path that it points to. Even if, as you claim, I have nothing to guide my way, I still follow a certain path or leave a trail, if you will. You, armed with directions from above, also follow a path and leave a trail. The issue is whether your path is better than mine. In that context I continue to wonder what is "better", how do you define and measure it?

Kaa

SamSam
08-13-2008, 02:28 PM
Gene? No. Genes? Yes.

http://lauramartinez.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/jeans.jpg


Originally Posted by Keith Wilson http://www.woodenboat.com/forum/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.woodenboat.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1916971#post1916971)
C223, unless it was just a joke, please explain how genes can function altruistically (in the narrow sense of the word Milo defined).

Altruistic


Zoology Instinctive behavior that is detrimental to the individual but favors the survival or spread of that individual's genes, as by benefiting its relatives.

I think he meant "jeans". Those jeans will definitely help spread that girls genes.

Keith Wilson
08-13-2008, 02:42 PM
and you still, by your own admission, knowingly made a false statement. My goodness, and you accuse ME of not reading.
Here it is again for your convenience. I said, "The gene is the basic unit of natural selection, not the individual organism." This is not, nor was it intended to be an absolute statement, such as "genes are the only . . ". Sam was factually correct about epigenetic inheritance: it exists, it's fairly rare as far as we know, and it's utterly irrelevant to the point I was making. For that matter, I'm entirely willing to concede that group selection may occur under some circumstances. However, the fact remains that in almost every known case, the gene is indeed the basic unit of natural selection, and not the individual organism. You did not correct a factual error; the introduction of epigenetics was irrelevant to the point being made.

I find it very odd that you would argue humans can do nothing that is not directly programmed by our genes. I don't think that, nor, I imagine, do you. We can do lots of things that have no direct genetic basis, specific behaviors which never evolved biologically. Reading is one example, a complex phenomenon of recent origin.


Please provide evidence of my ever saying that anyone should ignore his experience.
Anyone who tries to navigate entirely with his own inner resources (no magnetic compass, or landmarks/landforms or clouds or wind, etc) is lost. Anyone who think he makes up his own morality is likewise lost. Perhaps I misinterpreted your vague analogy.

Tom Montgomery
08-13-2008, 03:21 PM
I find it fascinating that whenever someone - in this instance Kaa - cuts to the heart of the matter, Sam is reduced to sputtering blatant nonsense.

"Something is presumably 'better' than nothing." That is some wild presumption, Sammy! LOL!

I, for one, would like to hear the story of how atheist Sam F came to choose the Roman Catholic variety of Christianity as the moral and belief system he would accept and proselytize. Most of us are indoctrinated into religious belief as children and make our adjustments from there. Not Sam. How did you come to make your choice, Sam?

Sam F
08-13-2008, 03:43 PM
My goodness, and you accuse ME of not reading.

It's technically an observation, a repeated observaton, not an accusation.


Here it is again for your convenience. I said, "The gene is the basic unit of natural selection, not the individual organism." This is not, nor was it intended to be an absolute statement, such as "genes are the only . . .

It may or may not have not been intended, but your earlier reaction doesn't fit your claim.
If it did, you've not have argued that epigenetics were irrelevant.
Nice try though.


Sam was factually correct about epigenetic inheritance:

Of course.


... it exists, it's fairly rare as far as we know, and it's utterly irrelevant to the point I was making.

"As far as we know"... you made up the % of its likelihood. ;)
My only point is that you'd made an incorrect absolute statement and then made up a number to justify it. No other point is needed and you'd have been well served to leave it at that but...


For that matter, I'm entirely willing to concede that group selection may occur under some circumstances. ... but here you undermine your own case.
So, if under some circumstances, genes aren't responsible, then given the contingent nature of Natural Selection, the effects of even a rare event can well be enormous – it can utterly reshape the course of life. And that’s not exactly irrelevant.


You did not correct a factual error; the introduction of epigenetics was irrelevant to the point being made.

Nope. It made my point nicely. You boys ought not presume ignorance even in those so benighted as to no longer believe in Evolution. :)


I find it very odd that you would argue humans can do nothing that is not directly programmed by our genes.

It’s very odd that you would think that. That you could say so indicates that once again, you don't practice that “recent complex phenomenon”. ;)



We can do lots of things that have no direct genetic basis, specific behaviors which never evolved biologically. Reading is one example, a complex phenomenon of recent origin.

What’s any of that got to do with a moral compass?
And it in no way explains how a creature/machine built by non-altruistic genes can exhibit altruism.
How’s that work Keith? Were we programmed for Altruistic tendencies?
Who or what did the programming?

That’s why I said:
“But since you raised the subject, what does the things "learned during their life" have to do with morality anyway? Do you mean religious instruction?
Cultural influences?
Let's get some specificity here.”
So? Where is it?


Please provide evidence of my ever saying that anyone should ignore his experience.


Anyone who tries to navigate entirely with his own inner resources (no magnetic compass, or landmarks/landforms or clouds or wind, etc) is lost. Anyone who think he makes up his own morality is likewise lost.


Perhaps I misinterpreted your vague analogy.

What? You were born knowing how to read a compass?
I think not!

Sam F
08-13-2008, 03:54 PM
That's silly on the face of it.

Well yes, it's supposed to be silly. But not as silly as supposing one can get a morality from nothing.


Nothing is better than a large variety of things, for example, pain, a bullet in your gut, an IRS audit, a compulsion to torture small children, a large asteroid on a collision course with Earth, etc. etc.

Really? I don't think you've considered what nothing means.


But in any case, the question is not about the compass -- the question is about the path that it points to. Even if, as you claim, I have nothing to guide my way, I still follow a certain path or leave a trail, if you will.

Even a floating leaf blown by the wind across a pond does that. Surely you can exhibit a tad more volition than that!


You, armed with directions from above, also follow a path and leave a trail. The issue is whether your path is better than mine.

Better? What's your yardstick?


In that context I continue to wonder what is "better", how do you define and measure it?

Kaa

One's moral compass is a great help there.
Yours depends on biology (great white sharks, ticks and lampreys!) or social conditioning (Pol Pot's Kampuchea, Sendero Luminoso!) which works just dandy, doesn't it?

Once again, the Secular vision is an amazingly effective reductio ad absurdum argument for transcendent morality.

Sam F
08-13-2008, 04:02 PM
I think he meant "jeans". Those jeans will definitely help spread that girls genes.

I rather doubt that spreading genes is the intent - far from it.
Generally speaking, in Western societies, when women actually intended to "spread their genes" they seldom dressed that way. The garments were more like this:

http://www.cartoonstock.com/lowres/csl1469l.jpg

Or this...
http://www.medats.org.uk/images/Medats002.gif

Kaa
08-13-2008, 04:09 PM
Better? What's your yardstick?

LOL. My yardstick?

Let me remind you of what you posted quite recently:


You might do better with an imaginary friend than to have nothing. :D

I inquired as to what you do mean by "better". In response I got a bunch of what you admit was "supposed to be silly" and a question about my yardstick.

You started comparing things and claiming that I might "do better" with an imaginary friend than with an absence of one. All I want is for you to explain what did you mean by your words "do better" -- define what is better and how do you go about measuring it so that you can judge that A is "better" than B.


One's moral compass is a great help there.

One's moral compass is a great help in determining whether one's moral compass is useful and "better"?

Really, SamF, I know you like circular arguments but this is getting a bit embarrassing.

Kaa

Keith Wilson
08-13-2008, 04:11 PM
And it in no way explains how a creature/machine built by non-altruistic genes can exhibit altruism.If we can do things that are not directly programmed by our genes (and we both agree that we can), then it's not problem a problem and requires no explanation.

We're missing the essence of this. Sam's argument is that HIS moral compass is the only right one, because it was endorsed by the creator of the universe himself (a.k.a. Sam's imaginary friend) . What the rest of us think is just wrong, to the extent it differs from the standards of right and wrong originated by God, transmitted to the Roman Catholic Church, and brought to us by our ever-faithful SamF.

Tom Montgomery
08-13-2008, 04:15 PM
Good luck, Kaa. Sam really doesn't like answering questions.

Gonzalo
08-13-2008, 04:28 PM
Better start building a chest of drawers, Kaa.

Kaa
08-13-2008, 04:32 PM
Good luck, Kaa. Sam really doesn't like answering questions.

Yeah, well, ljb5 also doesn't like answering questions :D and I've got quite a bit of teeth-pulling practice on him. We'll see how SamF compares :D :D

Kaa

James McMullen
08-13-2008, 04:35 PM
I don't know which I am more proud of at this moment: being labeled as a "libturd" by jbelow or having SamF think he scored a point off both me and Keith Wilson at the same time by misusing my phrasing to fatuously accuse Keith of suffering from "confirmation bias".

Actually, I guess I'm most proud of being associated with Keith, even in this minor, tangential way, as he offers some of the most well-reasoned postings on this forum on all sorts of topics. And as far as bias goes, Sam, I want you to know that I am being completely neutral and objective when I tell you that having jbelow rooting for your side doesn't do very much to bolster your credibility.

Well, ta ta for now, chappies. I'm off to drive my Prius to the abortion clinic for a combination gay marriage and flag burning while sipping a latte, sympathising with the terrorists and denying the Holy Spirit with the rest of my liberal friends. Sorry if you don't like it, jbelow, but that's just what we libturds do, you know?

Keith Wilson
08-13-2008, 05:47 PM
Gee, thanks - and likewise, for sure. It's hard to keep on target when Sam keeps throwing out chaff and flares and smoke at such an impressive rate.

Tom Montgomery
08-13-2008, 05:55 PM
"Every man is known by the company he is wont to keep."

And, may I add, by the company he attracts.

Glen Longino
08-13-2008, 06:15 PM
"You boys ought not presume ignorance even in those so benighted as to no longer believe in Evolution." Sam F

Interpretaton please, from some of you "boys" who know Sam better than I do.
Does this mean Sam actually does not believe in evolution?
Does it mean he actually does believe in evolution but won't admit it to us mob of heretics?
Does it mean he believes in evolution, but disbelieves Darwin's or Dawkins versions of evolution.
Help me, I'm trying to understand Sam so I can better tolerate him. :) Thanks!

Tom Montgomery
08-13-2008, 06:29 PM
When pressed he will deny that he is one of "those."

C. Ross
08-13-2008, 06:53 PM
Can someone figure out how to get SamF and ljb5 into the same thread?

Maybe they're one and the same. I can't really tell the difference between their reasoning styles, "self confidence" and magnanimous respect for others, especially those whom they have judged to be inferior.

PatCox
08-13-2008, 10:12 PM
C.Ross, they're very different. Most of ljb's arguments are strictly from passion and emotion. Often emotions and passions I share, sometimes not. He argues straight from the heart and lays out there his true feelings without trying to conceal them in clouds of sophist argument. SamF is very different, he argues with a coldness, a deliberate calculated complicated obfuscating stream of what he thinks is the logic that says not "this is what I believe and why," but rather, "this is what any intelligent and logical person must believe, and anyone who argues to the contrary is stupid or a liar, evil." What most clearly distinguishes SamF is his steadfast refusal to ever simply and plainly state his own position, he has enough canniness to know that if he ties himself to any clear positive statement, he won't have the wiggle room to deny it if necessary later. If asked for his plain and simple position he invariably retorts with an attack on the questioner for being to stupid to divine it from his deliberatly vague and often irrelevant prior statements.

Tom Montgomery
08-13-2008, 10:54 PM
Yep. For example, if pressed he will deny that he ever meant that he was one of "those."

Glen Longino
08-13-2008, 11:04 PM
..."he argues with a coldness, a deliberate calculating complicated obfuscating stream..."

As good a description of Sam as I've ever seen, Pat. Thanks!

Kaa
08-13-2008, 11:07 PM
Interpretaton please, from some of you "boys" who know Sam better than I do.
Does this mean Sam actually does not believe in evolution?
Does it mean he actually does believe in evolution but won't admit it to us mob of heretics?
Does it mean he believes in evolution, but disbelieves Darwin's or Dawkins versions of evolution.
Help me, I'm trying to understand Sam so I can better tolerate him. :) Thanks!

As far as I remember, SamF believes in microevolution (that is, that a species evolves to better fit its environment), but does not believe in speciation (that is, that evolution can produce completely new species). Let me see if I can find a quote... Ah, here it is


Quote: Originally Posted by Kaa http://www.woodenboat.com/forum/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.woodenboat.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1799713#post1799713)
I am a bit confused. What is the crucial difference between the little-e evolution and the NDE that you reject?

That species appear to have a familial relationship to one another and that they change over time can be thought of as an evolution. The mechanism is a different matter entirely.

Quote: Originally Posted by Kaa
Is your position that evolution occurs but is inadequate to explain speciation and biodiversity?

Darwinism (both Neo and Old) have a mechanism that does not work to explain the evidence. Therefore, absent a miracle (;)), some other method of evolution must be at work.

Darwinian natural selection definitely works in the "micro" sense. That may explain how you get a bit "better" tiger within the natural variability of a given species and it works very well to explain extinction (as an old critique of Darwin noted), but is inadequate to explain speciation. And so far, it's proved quite incapable of accounting for what ID'ers call irreducable complexity.

So there we go.

Kaa

Kaa
08-13-2008, 11:16 PM
C.Ross, they're very different. Most of ljb's arguments are strictly from passion and emotion.

Oh, please. ljb5 is not that emotional.

What SamF and ljb5 share is the conviction that reason and rationality MUST lead to their position. Both insist that those who disagree with them make errors in reasoning (typical of SamF) or errors in fact (typical of ljb5). Both are very intolerant people -- they think that those who disagree with them do not just hold an alternate, also possible view, but are WRONG, period.


SamF ... argues ... "this is what any intelligent and logical person must believe, and anyone who argues to the contrary is stupid or a liar, evil."

That's a very typical ljb5 position :-) He argues all that time that anyone who bothers to acquaint himself with the facts MUST necessarily arrive at a position similar to his own, and if you don't you're stupid.


What most clearly distinguishes SamF is his steadfast refusal to ever simply and plainly state his own position,

LOL. I just had a discussion with ljb5 where I spent more than a dozen posts trying to get him to plainly state his position, and he spent the same amount ducking and weaving and weaseling.


If asked for his plain and simple position he invariably retorts with an attack on the questioner for being to stupid to divine it from his deliberatly vague and often irrelevant prior statements.

Yep, classical ljb5 :-)

Kaa

Glen Longino
08-13-2008, 11:25 PM
Thanks, Kaa!

C. Ross
08-13-2008, 11:27 PM
My momma always said, sophistry is as sophistry does.

Captain Blight
08-13-2008, 11:49 PM
Define "better". What's your yardstick?

Kaa
New theory: Kaa is an instructor at a small, liberal arts college or perhaps prep school. Perhaps one of the philosophical fields.

I can't think of another reason for him to use what is obviously a keen and incisive mind for such petty talents. Divisiveness gets no one anywhere.

Rigadog
08-13-2008, 11:52 PM
I don't need any sort of compass, I have GPS. A signal from above tells me which direction to point my bow,

C. Ross
08-13-2008, 11:57 PM
Keen and incisive yes. Divisive? Not so much, I'd say.

Tom Montgomery
08-14-2008, 07:46 AM
Kaa is about to jump feet first into the reality distortion field.

Sam F
08-14-2008, 08:59 AM
Better? What's your yardstick?


LOL. My yardstick?

Sure Kaa. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
If you wonder what my yardstick is, it's perfectly proper that I ask about yours.
Don't pretend you don't know what mine is - you know better and can do better than that sort of game.
So, what's your yardstick Kaa?


Let me remind you of what you posted quite recently:



You might do better with an imaginary friend than to have nothing.


I inquired as to what you do mean by "better". In response I got a bunch of what you admit was "supposed to be silly" and a question about my yardstick.

Not quite. You asked a silly question and got a silly answer.
I also mentioned what you get when your rely on biology and social conditioning as a yardstick. If you think those results are necessarily moral then you have no yardstick at all.
Thems de facts Kaa.
Whatcha wanta do? Pick the Great White Sharks altruism or Pol Pot's social conditioning?
If they're wrong (i.e. Not better)... why?


You started comparing things and claiming that I might "do better" with an imaginary friend than with an absence of one. All I want is for you to explain what did you mean by your words "do better" -- define what is better and how do you go about measuring it so that you can judge that A is "better" than B.

Actually all I noted is that something is better than nothing.
If you can prove otherwise please do so. But you'd better contemplate what radical non-existance actually means first.



One's moral compass is a great help there.


One's moral compass is a great help in determining whether one's moral compass is useful and "better"?

Really, SamF, I know you like circular arguments but this is getting a bit embarrassing.

Kaa

Curiously, the concept of a moral compass that is not self-referential is the most un-circular of arguments.
You apparently have no compass at all outside your own biology & conditioning. That's not only self-referential and thus circular, it's also completely useless. That's why you apparently can't imagine why Madison is better than Guzman.
So tell us Kaa, why isn't one better than the other?

Sam F
08-14-2008, 09:13 AM
And it in no way explains how a creature/machine built by non-altruistic genes can exhibit altruism.

If we can do things that are not directly programmed by our genes (and we both agree that we can), then it's not problem a problem and requires no explanation.

Wave the magic wand and you've got no problem, huh?
No Keith, that won't work. It's still a problem for you.
Explain how that works.
By what mechanism does this biological machine break it's Determined existence?
You're view is supposed to be "scientific", right?
Evidence please. Explanation please.


We're missing the essence of this. Sam's argument is that HIS moral compass is the only right one,...

The essense of this is that Keith (and others) pretend that all human compasses are different.
Nonsense.
Show me any culture where murder of innocents is OK.
Where armed robbery is fine.
Fact is, that the essential moral code is universal across cultures*...
It's only on the margins that they differ and those are seldom considered universal... for instance, orthodox Jews won't eat pork. Does that extend to the goyim? No. It's for Jews.

*exceptions are, by their nature, very short-lived.