Darwiniana

History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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The Cosmos series: a lost opportunity

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

http://history-and-evolution.com/whee4th/chap2_1.htm

At a time when theories of evolution are under renewed controversy, discussion is hampered by the remoteness of the phenomenon of evolution, and the use of indirect inference to speculate about deep time. In the face of much criticism from religious Creationists, now accompanied by the Intelligent Design movement, adherents of Darwinism forever defend a flawed theory that has been challenged from its first appearance. The objections of the first reviewers of Darwin’s book, indeed even of T. H. Huxley, the original champion of the theory, were never quite answered in the tide of paradigm change that swept modern culture. The perennial issue is natural selection as the mechanism of evolution. The assumption that evolution occurs, and must occur, at random is the crux of the dispute, one unreasonably confused by the claims of religion versus science

I am an outsider to science, and to biology. And yet I suspect that my view of evolution and Darwinism is superior to the official view, and to that of many professionals. How can this be? WHEE at history and evolution.com has a detailed look at the trap that engulfs Darwinism, the issue of randomness. But even without this new perspective I think that an outsider can, if he is careful, learn more about evolution from the outside by looking at some of the classic critics. The latest here are figures from Soren Lovtrup to Michael Denton, since I will, prejudicially or not, avoid at first the ID critics of Darwinism (Denton is cast into this category by some, but his classic, A Theory in Crisis, has close to no references to the design debate, although he is very ardent on the fine-tuning question.)
There are many others. But not that many. In fact, the Darwin paradigm is puzzling in its tenacity. I am puzzled by the stubbornness here. The issue of Darwinism is cutting a hole in science about the way loose tiles did to the Shuttle. It becomes increasingly hard to take scientists seriously: you can’t get away with being that dumb. But dumbness isn’t really the problem, I suspect. It is more an issue of group conformity, fear of dissent, a very real fear, and the confusing popularity of figures like Richard Dawkins whose books should be indicted for misleading presentations, if not downright deceptive ones. But there is an obvious issue right out in front that helps to explain the problem Scientists are very smart, but only within the context of science. Science teaches problem solving according to given bodies of successful science. like physics. But there the emphasis on problems causes atrophy, it seems, in the larger question of what leads to those paradigms, a much more difficult question. And the helping hand of mathematics if absent raises the difficulty level very fast. Over and over the next advance in physics was prefigured by either an existing, or else rapidly developed, branch of mathematics. The most spectacular example is that of the theory of general relativity. And there even Einstein had a helper, Grossman, who helped him with the at first strange, but soon elegantly nifty, tensor analysis. With Newton, and Leibnitz we have a similar situation, but the stages of discovery by those scientists themselves were probably close to a double nit, discovery of the physics, and the self-elucidation of the math, the new and mysterious calculus. Whatever the case, once the mathematical is set, you have a device to grind out answers. All you need to do is, well, it still requires thought, but somehow the answers are approaching the rote application of a formula.
I think this experience is what has created the confused mess called Darwinism. Lamarck, with brilliant intuition, and noone to confuse him or to demand adherence to authority, quickly saw the gist of evolution, and he knew that he couldn’t resolve its perplexities with a simple formula. But he could adopt a kind of shibboleth, the quote/unquote ‘rise in complexity’ (or whatever his actual words). The latter notion would not be hard to debunk with a skeptics logical parry, but the point is not in the phrase as in the way he saw two levels to evolution: a larger directional or teleological or else simply ‘complexifying’ line of upper evolution, and a lower level of the kind of evolution that Darwin (after Wallace) made fundamental. This reduction of levels in the name of doing away with a metaphysical higher evolutionary level, hard to reduce to anything, was what ended up as Darwinism, or Wallace-ism, since it seems like Wallace produced the first version of natural selection paradigming. Wallace soon saw through his own version of evolution, and ended up with some of the Lamarckian idea, mixed with a variant of the design argument.

In any case the fallacy emerged very quickly in the attempt to be satisfied only with something that seemed reminiscent of the successes of physics, which produced a remarkably simple way to reduce complexity to “Newton’s Laws”. It seems as if (and the later population genetics makes the point clear) the only thing that could be acceptable to the reductionist mindframe was a simple formula, and natural selection provided that formula. The only problem is that it doesn’t work. Evolution doesn’t reduce to simple formulas of any kind. Evolution, in fact, is not in the realm of science at all, given science in its current form.

It should have been obvious to scientists long ago that there is something wrong with Darwinism. But the tenacity of the enforced paradigm has frozen all critics, even people like Stephen J. Gould, who came to the point of seeing through the problem, and then turning around and walking back into the woods.
All this is said without referring to the design issue. I think that the ID gambit has clarified one point, and muddled the rest from there. We don’t need to deal with ID, as such, although, we can adapt the word and concept of ‘design’ to a critique of Darwinism that is not theological. Whatever the case, the point is that random evolution fails.

The confusion has persisted in an incredible way. In part this is the power of people like Dawkins to enforce conformity. Whole careers are at stake. So either the many doubters who must be there given the simplicity of the problem are engaging in deception or else a kind of mental state between truth-telling and deception has taken hold and obscured the thinking of professionals to the point of producing the white lie state of mind no lie-detector could detect.
But there is a real world out there, and if took Wallace three years to give up his own creation, taking a hundred a fifty years by Big Science and still not getting it nears the point of no return, for the sanctity of science, which isn’t sancrosanct.

It think it is a pity that the new Cosmos series couldn’t let the cat out of the bag. People in science are more confused by evolution that people in religious circles, despite their theologies of design, because the rightwing thinktanks have amplified the original exposes of Darwinism, to the benefit of everyone in the Bible Belt, but noone in the science fan club. The new Cosmos series could have broken the silence on the question of Darwinism. Instead it will try to endrun around doubt with the same sorry list of half-truths. As the post today from the Discovery group notes, the Cosmos series will soon have to deal with the evolution of complex machines. We will soon know what brand of idiocy Tyson is peddling. Unless, in the unlikely event he decides to level with his viewers.

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The Iranian Nuclear Weapons Programme That Wasn’t

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

RG mail

http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/04/iranian-nuclear-weapons-programme-wasnt/

The Iranian Nuclear Weapons Programme That Wasn’t

*Since its well-known November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, the
U.S. intelligence community has continued to be very clear on the pubic
record about its conclusion that Iran has not had a nuclear weapons
programme since 2003.By Gareth Porter*

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Zombie Democracy in the USA

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

The Implications of the McCutcheon Ruling
by Ajamu Baraka
CounterPunch Weekend Edition (April 11 to 13 2014)

I have always found discussions on democracy in the US curious and at times hilarious. While I have always been impressed by the skillful way elites construct a narrative of democratic values and practice in a country that is, in reality, the antithesis of a democracy, the fervor with which that fairytale is embraced, even by intellectuals, has always been a source of curiosity for me. But at other moments, like the one we are in now, I can’t help but find some of the arguments used to support the US Supreme Court’s recent McCutcheon decision – and even some of the comments lamenting how the decision will destroy democracy in the US – somewhat funny.

_____

Ajamu Baraka is a long-time human rights activist, writer and veteran of the Black Liberation, anti-war, anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity Movements in the United States. He can be reached through his website: www. Ajamubaraka.com

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/11/zombie-democracy-in-the-usa/

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Cosmos Episode 6: Science as the New Sacred, and Failed Darwinian Predictions About Insects and Flowers

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2014/04/cosmos_episode_1084501.html

Host Neil deGrasse Tyson has yet to dare tackle the question of how molecular machines might have evolved – See more at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2014/04/cosmos_episode_1084501.html#sthash.ItKQKB7h.dpuf

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David Cameron says Christians should be ‘more evangelical’

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

David Cameron says Christians should be ‘more evangelical’

http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2014/4/16/david-cameron-says-christians-should-be-more-evangelical#

posted on April 16, 2014 06:03PM GMT
Thanks to Katy Cordeth for the link!
David Cameron says that in a secular age Christians should be even ‘more evangelical’ about their faith and says he has felt the ‘healing power’ of the Church.

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Evolutionary Biology Does Not Explain Morality

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

http://spectator.org/blog/58434/evolutionary-biology-does-not-explain-morality

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Earliest ancestor of land herbivores discovered

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

Earliest ancestor of land herbivores discovered: 300-million-year-old predator showed way to modern terrestrial ecosystem
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416172243.htm
New research demonstrates how carnivores transitioned into herbivores for the first time on land. Previously unknown, the 300-million-year old fossilized juvenile skeleton of Eocasea martini is less than 20 cm long. Found in Kansas, it consists of a partial skull, most of the vertebral column, the pelvis and a hind limb. By comparing the skeletal anatomy of related animals, scientists discovered that Eocasea martini belonged to the caseid branch of the group Synapsid. This group, which includes early terrestrial herbivores and large top predators, ultimately evolved into modern living mammals. Eocasea lived nearly 80 million years before the age of dinosaurs.

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Ancient shark fossil reveals new insights into jaw evolution

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

Ancient shark fossil reveals new insights into jaw evolution
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416133336.htm
The skull of a newly discovered 325-million-year-old shark-like species suggests that early cartilaginous and bony fishes have more to tell us about the early evolution of jawed vertebrates — including humans — than do modern sharks, as was previously thought. The new study shows that living sharks are actually quite advanced in evolutionary terms, despite having retained their basic ‘sharkiness’ over millions of years.

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The Problem of Wealth

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

Why Only the Rich Should be Taxed
The Problem of Wealth
by KRISTINE MATTIS
Preface
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/17/the-problem-of-wealth/
The Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is an institute funded by the right-wing conservative Bradley Foundation. In April of 2013, the Center announced the “Bradley Freedom Prize” essay contest, in which they asked for a response to the question: “Do the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share of taxes? What amount would be fair and why?”

The following Bradley Award-losing essay submission likely inflamed the judges of the prize; rather than focusing on taxes and wealth merely in relation to the economy – the obsession of nearly all news media reports and academic literature – it instead focuses on taxes and wealth in relation to ethics, equity, and ecology.

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Why Israeli Officials are Chuckling

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/17/why-israeli-officials-are-chuckling/

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[Marxism] Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro speaks: ‘They want our oil’(VIDEO and article)

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro interviewed by *The Guardian*’s Seamas
Milne, who also speaks to some of the opposition protesters blocking
streets and a grassroots activist from one of Caracas’s poor barrios (who
describes the protests as a revolt of the rich, suggesting they “sweat
Chanel”). Below, is an opinion
piece
Maduro
wrote for for the*New York Times* on the situation in Venezuela.

https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/56283

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Nikil Saval’s new book, Cubed, shows us the future of the workplace.

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

http://inthesetimes.com/article/16562/a_cubicle_of_ones_own

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Map: Is There a Risky Chemical Plant Near You?

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/04/west-texas-hazardous-chemical-map

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The 10 Most Obese States in America (And the Right-Wing Policies That Promote Poor Health)

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/10-most-obese-states-america-and-right-wing-policies-promote-poor-health

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Bullets Fly in Ukraine …

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments

Published on Thursday, April 17, 2014 by Common Dreams
Bullets Fly in Ukraine as High-Level Talks Commence in Geneva
Expectations low, tensions high as US and Russia continue to trade accusations and offer competing narratives
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/04/17-0

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IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions

April 16th, 2014 · No Comments

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New Age cowardice over the question of darwinism

April 16th, 2014 · No Comments

http://www.gurdjieff-con.net/2014/04/16/the-hyprocrisy-of-the-guru-gang-on-darwinism-how-about-it-mr-adyashanti-some-comments-on-the-evolution-question/
I am a little tired of being ostracized for being a Darwin critic. The new age guru circuit is completely hypocritial here, although the Dalai Lama at least let the cat out of the bag.

There is a very good way to rewrite the new age platform around a new paradigm, but the whole shebang of phony gurus will not dare this. It is possible they don’t understand the issues.

We had a lot of discussion here on the gurru of ‘spiritual’ evolution, and that perhaps explains the confusion.

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China shoe factory workers refuse to toe the line

April 16th, 2014 · No Comments

RG mail
China shoe factory workers refuse to toe the line, walk out on job

Workers’ strike fits growing pattern of industrial activism that has emerged as China’s economy has slowed

Reuters
April 15, 2014

Thousands of workers at a giant Chinese shoe factory shrugged off an offer for improved social benefits on Tuesday, prolonging one of the largest strikes in China in recent years amid signs of increased labor activism as the economy slows.

The industrial unrest at Yue Yuen Industrial (Holdings), now stretching to around ten days and sparking sporadic scuffles with police, has centered on issues including unpaid social insurance, improper labor contracts and low wages.

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/4/15/massive-china-shoefactorystrikerollsonasofferfallsflat.html

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These Sweet 3D Fitness Landscapes Show Evolution At Work

April 16th, 2014 · No Comments

http://io9.com/these-sweet-3d-fitness-landscapes-show-evolution-at-wor-1563440239

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“In China We Can Criticize Darwin”: Prelude

April 16th, 2014 · No Comments

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2014/04/in_china_we_can084451.html

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Is cosmologist Carroll’s eternal universe possible?

April 16th, 2014 · No Comments

http://www.uncommondescent.com/cosmology/is-cosmologist-carrolls-eternal-universe-possible/

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Researchers create roadmap for gene expression

April 16th, 2014 · No Comments

Finding the switch: Researchers create roadmap for gene expression

http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2014/4/16/finding-the-switch-researchers-create-roadmap-for-gene-expression#

by Science Daily posted on April 16, 2014 03:20PM GMT

In a new study, researchers have taken the first steps toward creating a roadmap that may help scientists narrow down the genetic cause of numerous diseases. Their work also sheds new light on how heredity and environment can affect gene expression. Pinpointing the genetic causes of common diseases is not easy, as multiple genes may be involved with a disease. Moreover, disease-causing variants in DNA often do not act directly, but by activating nearby genes.

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Glow-in-the-Dark Roads Now a Reality

April 16th, 2014 · No Comments

Glow-in-the-Dark Roads Now a Reality

by Janet Fang posted on April 16, 2014 03:13PM GMT

http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2014/4/16/glow-in-the-dark-roads-now-a-reality#

A smart highway that promises to save energy while improving safety was unveiled along a 500-meter stretch in the Netherlands last week. Interactive and self-sustaining, it’s being called the “Route 66 of the future.”

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