A Monkey’s Uncle

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    • #7137
      JDavidE
      Participant

      It has been reported recently that the time-difference between the chimpanzee and us splitting from a common ancestor is closer by a few million years than previously thought. Other apes, gorilla and the Orang, went their separate way several millions of years earlier still.

      The chimpanzee is, we are told by those who delight in telling us such things, a very close cousin. We and the chimp have an astonishing number of genes in common. But I don’t believe that we are related in any way whatsoever. No, this is not an argument against Darwinian theory. I just think we have it wrong. I think we are being just a little too egocentric in our explanation and application of the theory.

      In fact, I don’t think we are related to any of the creatures that we parade in progression in our timeline of life on earth. It is not us who evolve, that is the egocentric part. It is DNA that is favoured by evolution. The only life that persists on this planet is DNA. We and every other organism are simply the expression of DNA as it stands today. Nor do I believe that evolution (in terms of the theory) works from the primitive to the complex. That would make it a pyramid and we place ourselves smilingly at the apex thinking it doesn’t get any better than us.

      If an organism can evolve then it must be capable of devolving as well, otherwise it simply paints itself into a corner to ultimately expire. There are many examples where this was the probable result when conditions changed and the existing DNA models couldn’t cope. And there are examples of devolution as well. There are shrimp, insects and fish living in dark caves that have simply gone blind where the same species elsewhere have eyes. It is explained away by a couple of theories: one being that an error occurs at the molecular level of the gene in replication. The error (read mutation) does not alter the expression of the gene so it is not favoured in any form of selection: hence it is neutral. Eventually it becomes statistically numerous and finally the only gene for that expression. In the case of the fish, it didn’t matter if they had vision because they couldn’t use it. Whether they now lack eyes because of the neutral gene theory (a little too convenient for my liking) or because there was some selective advantage/disadvantage to having eyes doesn’t matter. There is obviously a process.

      I said that I don’t agree that evolution works from primitive to complex. If it did, then we should not have any primitive examples of DNA (or organisms if you aren’t ready to consider my argument) left on earth but we do. We have an overabundance of very primitive (non-complex) organisms and we also have very complex organisms. And it seems that darn near as far back as the fossil record allows us to go, we find a lot of organisms that are far from simple. I think we need to look at evolution as a lateral form of development rather than the upward concept we now hold. There isn’t much that is more primitive than a bacterium. However, it is possible that bacteria have simply reached their pinnacle of complexity. They may have painted themselves into a corner from which they cannot escape. However, since bacteria live anywhere they like, that they may be dead-ended doesn’t matter because to DNA, it still exists and that is all that is important. It is simply success or extinction and neither is important to the DNA so long as it still abounds.

      The North American Passenger pigeon went extinct when the last one died, in captivity, in 1914. It went extinct basically because we made it happen. It was hunted ferociously because it seemed there was an endless supply (much like Cod a few years back) and no one thought it would matter. Apparently, according to accounts, the pigeons were so numerous that flocks would literally darken the sky with their passing and their passing sometimes took days. It is reported that barrels of Passenger pigeon tongues, and only the tongues, were sent back to England in shipload quantities. By the time any alarm bells began to ring, it was already too late. The Passenger pigeon only bred in huge flocks and there were none of those left anymore. The whole niche was collapsing. I don’t think we need to mourn their passing other than a sense of guilt over our part in their extinction. Can you imagine what they would have done to our crops and what would have happened if an avian flu had developed? Not to mention the damage to the trees in which they roosted and nested and the vermin they would have carried and the destruction caused by their droppings. However, they went extinct. They are no more. So surely there must have been some massive and therefore readily noticeable change as a result of this ecological disaster? Undoubtedly there was but nothing so serious that it made much of a stir. Life went on. It did not create a hole. Some things changed maybe for the worse and some things changed maybe for the better but it didn’t matter a bit either way to DNA. It was simply an unsuccessful line of endeavour and other organisms would make up the numbers.

      While it is true that we were the trigger for the disaster that befell the Passenger pigeon, the fault must surely lie within its genes. Somehow, the genes coded only for breeding in vast flocks. So how did this come about? There are as many varieties of pigeons as there are niches to fill, so when did the Passenger pigeon develop this fatal flaw? Was it a strategy of a common ancestor and passed down to the Passenger pigeon like a hereditary curse but, fortunately, to no others? I can find nothing to support it in my limited research. So, if the Passenger pigeon developed the coding error down the track (much further for there wouldn’t have been the huge flocks necessary to trigger this behaviour otherwise) then it belies the notion that evolution follows a path ever upward, ‘new and improved’. Neutral gene theory must almost certainly be brought in to explain it and it implies that there must be more advantage for this process and less disadvantage, otherwise we should expect some method or other of self-correction of mutated genes.

      I’m about to take you away from this line of argument but first let me implant the germ of an idea. I doubt that I can support it or even debate it with much persuasion. But let me slip gradually into the hot water by noting that you (and maybe that should be in capital letters like YOU) have teeth, bones, finger and toenails, hair, cilia and an assortment of soft tissue. None of these things have a great deal in common but they all started with one single cell loosely called a stem cell. Before that it was simply a haploid cell (only half of the genes necessary for life and patently useless on its own) until it could infect or be infected by its opposite half. Everything that you are from brain to buttocks from pinnae to patella is basically one organism built to a design by your DNA for the sole purpose of transporting DNA to find its opposite. It’s a huge investment. So there must be some distinct advantage for the DNA. It would be simpler to let pollen float on air or milt to swirl in ocean currents. The advantage is that a mobile organism can carry the DNA further to all parts of the planet and it can be selective in the quest for quality or desirable genetic matching. This allows for rapid change and, I suspect, changes of some magnitude in the gene codes. This doesn’t matter a bit to a toad or a gnu or even a chimpanzee and it wouldn’t matter to us except for an accident of chance that gave us the ability to ask questions. It matters only to DNA. That germ of an idea that I wanted to implant is this: I am strongly coming to the belief that there is only one single organism on this planet, one single entity, and that is the collective molecules of DNA.

      The Selfish Gene theory suggests that not only do genes dictate our (I mean by this all sentient organisms) physical attributes but also our behaviour. According to the Selfish Gene theory, if it were possible for me to save only one of two people from a burning house, and one of those just happened to be my brother, then I would save my brother because he and I share more genes. It goes on to explain stotting antelope. The antelope that stots draws attention to it (and away from the rest of the herd) and was considered to be, therefore, an example of altruism. The theorists point out that the stotting antelope is also declaring it fit and healthy so as to give the predator second thoughts about chasing it down. The theorists also describe, statistically, what happens if all of the antelope become stotters or if none draw such attention. Extensions to the theory also explain away sectarian violence, crimes and even wars. One might suppose that since we have lost entire generations to war over thousands of years we would have expunged all those with such genetic predilection but that is clearly not the case. It can be done somehow, because the chimpanzees we claim as kin are capable of both behaviours. There is one group that goes out almost every afternoon to hunt for monkeys in a murderous pursuit and whose actions tend to display our own aggressiveness. There is another group (curiously a matriarchy) who do not hunt for meat and display an altogether more peaceable demeanour. But what if the theorists are wrong? I don’t mean the theory. That is well supported by the mathematics involved and even by some recorded evidence. What if none of it matters at all? What if we are the only ones concerned by it? And we are only concerned because we are capable of asking questions? What if it doesn’t matter because it is no loss whatsoever to DNA? Are you at all concerned by the follicle loss from a haircut or those fingernail parings? If, as I contend, DNA were simply one entity, one planet-engulfing organism then such things as wars and animal extinctions wouldn’t matter a whit.

      Just drop the organisms and step over here for a moment. Let us suppose that an anthropologist decided to study a Model-T Ford and a current Cadillac (Yes, I know it’s absurd) to determine if they had a common ancestor. He would certainly note the similarities. They both had two headlights, four wheels, doors, a windshield, a dashboard, a steering wheel, a tail pipe, and pedals on the floor and they were configured much the same way. There would also be many differences such as a vastly improved braking system, a better driveshaft and differential and many changes to the motor. But clearly, while the Cadillac may not necessarily have evolved from the Model-T, they must have had a common ancestor. If you didn’t know better, and if it was being taught, say, as part of Biology 101, you would be obliged to accept this verdict.

      Let’s talk about chimpanzees again. Chimps are smart. They are self-aware for they know what a mirror is and they have a good memory and are able to use deductive reasoning. They are also capable of sentence structure and of using a language and they can learn and do so rather readily. They don’t have a larynx so they can’t talk. They can be taught to communicate with sign language and to use computer based communicators. Moreover, they can teach other chimps to do so, although it is probably more accurate to say that the other chimps watch and learn. Chimps have been communicating with their handlers for at least a couple of decades but not once, that I am aware of, have they ever asked an embarrassing question. They have not once asked why they are being held captive or what effect global warming will have on the African chimp population or even, addressing the handler, who the heck are you? That’s because they are chimps. They are tool users and toolmakers. Rocks they used for cracking nuts have been found in ancient chimp campsites. Till then no one was sure if they used rocks to crack nuts because they had seen man doing it or if it was a skill they learned by themselves. Clearly, they have the ability to figure it all out for themselves. Just like us. And that is where the similarity ends, in my opinion. There is no evidence that chimps are capable of napping (shaping flints into tools) or of creating a tool from more than one element. Nor do they see obvious advantages to crafted items. Clay pottery has been an element of human culture almost as far back as we can trace. Even if chimps were able to create such pots (and I do not doubt they could if shown how) they would not instantly see that water could be carried for long distances or food items kept safe from predators. It should be a eureka moment. Human babies learn early on that they can carry more than one thing at a time if placed in a plastic bucket. Chimps are similar to humans only where the matching genes are turned on. We are two quite different automobiles, if you will allow me the metaphor.

      There is a perception that caveman as we depict him was a brute of low intellect able only to grunt as a form of communication. We like to smugly believe that modern human is significantly more highly evolved. That perception is slowly changing as serious paleoanthropologists begin to craft a clearer picture of their attributes. It is self-evident that we have long had, if not always had, the ability to communicate with speech. It is also clear from the artefacts that we were highly skilled with tools and able to not only manufacture them but to design them. Needles show that we were able to tailor clothing rather than the common perception of a raggedy animal skin wrapped clumsily about our body. Coprolites show that we not only ate animal flesh but grains. This indicates that we either grew them or carried them with us. Cave paintings show that we were able to spend a lot of time engaged in activity other than hunting or to find food so we either had some good organisational skills or we were clever enough to store food in the good times. These were not skills that we learned in a scant few hundred years or even a few millennia. We could not have been able to do them if we were not equipped to do them. We have always been able, for example, to speak. If the larynx was a very recent development then we would have used some other method of communication. Drums can be used to convey complex messages and instructions. Sign languages can be used cross-culturally. One other thing we can do that chimps cannot, is whistle. There is one small group of people who use that ability to convey information over a distance that their voice cannot carry. Clearly we have the ability as well as a need to communicate complex thoughts. Chimpanzees do not and cannot and don’t even know there is a difference.

      Modern human shared living space with Neanderthal. Whether we co-habited is not definitely known. Neanderthal was capable of either learning from us or we from them for certain burials were ritualised in a like manner. Or we simply thought along similar lines. It is also not known for sure if we interbred. There is no evidence to confirm or disprove it. However, since man is known to fornicate with almost anything that is animate (and many that aren’t) at the urging of his DNA, then it is likely it was tried if the opportunity arose. We have been able to extract some mitochondrial DNA from Neanderthal bones. The similarities in sequencing place us a long, long way from a common ancestor. We are as likely to be more closely related to the Galapagos tortoise. [That comment is intended to be flippant] The common ancestor to the chimpanzee and Neanderthal is even more distant than the chimp to us. I just don’t believe that evolution takes us along the path that curves upward. Nor do I believe that evolution places any pressure on an organism to do better, it is simply a consequence. And evolution can take us to a dangerous place of complacency. If the dodo could fly when humans arrived in Mauritius, then it might not be extinct today. However, it had no predators and no need to take flight and, either through neutral gene theory or some other mechanism of devolvement, it lost the ability to fly. We hunted it to extinction.

      Accepted theory is that all mammals derived from a small shrew-like animal that existed at the time of the dinosaurs. When the dinosaurs vacated the countryside (for whatever theory you prefer) the shrew-like animal got to run rampant. Consensus says evolution kicked in and one line gave rise to Rodentia another line gave rise to Marsupialia and another line began to spew out apes and so forth. But those are just convenient classifications and there may not have been a more recent common ancestor than that original shrew-like animal. Our general perception of the event is that this animal simply gave rise to a series of others that went on to form the various Linnean (Carl Von Linné) orders and classes that we stuff the botanical and zoological organisms into today (even if they don’t fit). I appreciate that I am leaving myself wide-open here for a scathing attack. But just because it looks like a duck and it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it doesn’t follow that it simply has to be a duck. Look at how difficult it was to convince the learned know-it-all scientific community that there was such a thing as a monotreme. Two books in a library will contain many identical words and even sentences. It also doesn’t follow that both books must be written by the same author or even, if written by two different authors, that those authors had to be related.

      The stranded human DNA contains a large quantity of junk DNA. That is not the same as discarded rubbish. It is simply DNA sequencing that is not, apparently, coded for anything. It isn’t turned on. And we don’t, as far as I know, even know how it gets turned on. But it sure would be interesting to connect a couple up and see what happens. I wanted to retrofit a piece of electronic equipment to my car. I went to see the people who sold the equipment to get some idea of how difficult (expensive) it would be to retrofit the item and how long would it take. The salesman said in effect that if I bought the item from them they would fit it free and they could do it while I hung about and had a cup of coffee. The dashboards in most cars these days have several snap-out panels to accept retrofitted devices. Some are equipped with mounting slots and all have access to the car’s wiring harness and even that is separately fused. So, in my case it was a simple matter of locating it, screwing it down and plugging it in. I suspect that is what junk DNA represents. All that is needed is the right piece of equipment to come along, and it is already pre-wired and ready to go. In fact, if we can find a way to turn the sequence on, it might just start pumping out the proteins and peptides to build the necessary piece of equipment all by itself. If you happen to be reading this and you happen to work in a lab and your face has just contorted with horror, yes I am being facetious and certainly do not advocate such fooling around, even if it were possible.

      It is also likely that much of the junk DNA is the product of neutral gene theory or the product of a faulty (in terms of it not doing what the parent organism did) gene. We already know what happens when the body doesn’t produce certain hormones such as insulin and what happens when certain proteins are blocked or not suppressed. Much of the junk DNA may well be sequences that have been turned off, which has made us more like what we are today. The sequences may have suppressed hormones or produced hormones and these may have shaped our very existence. That may matter to us, as I doubt we would like too many changes, especially radical ones to our genome, but I doubt that it makes a particle of difference to DNA. I say again that DNA is one planet-engulfing organism.

      People who study the early earth of billions of years ago tell us that it was simply not able to harbour life, as we know it. And many terra-like planets seem to remain that way. So, what happened here to give us the goldilocks effect? Not too warm not too cold but everything just right? We have already discovered that DNA is able to survive in some very inhospitable situations. Bacteria can live in boiling geysers. Shrimp can live in water so salty that it poisons everything else. Shrimp and bacteria can live next to deep ocean vents that should cook them and the pressure should squash them. There are insects and worms that live in solid ice and in water that should freeze them into oblivion. So, what are they doing there? They exist and their very existence is bringing about minute changes that burgeon and multiply into massive changes. DNA is making the planet more hospitable for it.

      We are about to go planet hopping. We have speculated about terra-forming planets to make us more comfortable. I don’t think that’s necessary if we have enough time up our sleeve for I suspect if DNA infects another planet, it will make it not only hospitable for DNA but comfortable for all of its vessels as well.

      I am not convinced that trying to find a common ancestor to explain all of us is anything other than pointless. Like Neanderthal, I don’t think the other early hominids are related to us. I think Australopithecus and the others (even though we name them, like Lucy) are simply different models that dead-ended and have nothing to do with us. And, even though the average chimp may be prettier than me, I still don’t think we are in any way related.

    • #69894
      45561
      Participant

      I’m not quite sure that I follow your argument, but here are a couple of points:

      – Yes, evolution does not go from simple to complex. There is, however, a general trend toward increasing complexity.

      I’d cite hominids as an example, though I’m not sure if you’d believe me, so try instead parasites and hosts. Both (according to the Red Queen hypothesis) continually develop new attack and defense mechanism is response to each other. They exhibit more derived features (different to their ancestors). Complex? Depends on the individual example, but often yes.

      – Informed people do not believe that cavemen were stupid. However, you have made assumptions. As evolution is not instantaneous, there was not suddenly a moment where we started chatting away. It is speculated (I can’t provide evidence at the moment) that the language systems of the brain and the vocal organs were part of a feedback loop, developing together.
      Sadly we cannot see many of the supposed evolutionary intermediates, they happen to be dead.

      – To cover a number of points in your text, I ask you to remember that we evolved to deal with life yesterday, in response to the selective pressures on our parents. Passenger pigeons were successful until humans developed a taste for them, and that happened faster than they could evolve.
      It’s a case of what survived from before, which brings us neatly to DNA. Organisms are not DNA transporters. DNA is selected by successful replication, not by spreading out as you may be suggesting. And what do you define as its opposite?

      I haven’t covered these points in as much detail as I’d like, but this is a start. Others can cover the epigenetics.

    • #69896
      JDavidE
      Participant

      "…which brings us neatly to DNA. Organisms are not DNA transporters. DNA is selected by successful replication, not by spreading out as you may be suggesting. And what do you define as its opposite? "

      I have no argument with the mechanics of evolution. That is pretty much self-evident. I do though have a problem with the theory. Lots of theory is wrong.

      Until we understood about chorophyll and mitochondria just a few years back, there were several theories to account for the Autumnal change to the leaves of trees. The mechanics still worked. But the theory was absurd despite the weight of academic utterance and textbook doctrine.

      My personal favourite is Phlogiston. Why did things burn and some not? The theory was the presence of a mysterious element called Phlogiston. If something had it, then it could burn the Phlogiston (that is why there was always some residue left in the form of ash) and if Phlogiston wasn’t present, then it couldn’t burn. The theory still actually works if you are prepared to accept that we just haven’t been able to isolate Phlogiston as yet.

      We now know that theory is wrong. But the mechanics worked just fine despite it.

      Back to your comment. I think (maybe) that organisms are DNA transporters. And as for the opposite…well, just what we think today. If we are thinking incorrectly, that won’t change the facts nor the mechanics of how it is achieved.

      A bunch of years ago, a science fiction writer (maybe Asimov because he was a favourite of mine) wrote a story where some other world intelligence sent a probe to this planet to determine if life existed. When the data was collected and finally transmitted back to the waiting scientists, it turned out that the dominant life-form on the planet was the automobile and plans should be put into effect to attempt some sort of dialogue with them.

      If the mechanics work just fine, then maybe we should stop trying to make things fit theory and start looking at alternate possibilities.

    • #69903
      AstusAleator
      Participant

      I could swear I’ve read this before word-for-word somewhere… but that could just be deja-vu.

      Anyway,
      You wander around a lot in your essay, and at times it’s pretty hard to remember what your argument or your thesis is.
      My understanding of your thesis is:

      Organisms are ultimatlely expressions of DNA, and classifying them as seperate entities or establishing evolutionary timelines to determine their heredity creates a false paradigm for true scientific thinking.

      Is this anywhere near what you’re getting at?

      Are you saying that humans and chimps are not "related" in the sense that they have a relatively recent common ancestor? If so, are you saying that there is no common ancestor, or that the existance of a common ancestor doesn’t make us "related"?

      As far as the complexity issue is concerned: Evolution has been demonstrated to result in greater complexity in certain cases(though complexity is a tricky thing to define concerning organisms). A simple example is polyploidy in plants. However, to say that evolution progresses in ANY direction is to imply that there is a purpose to the process of evolution, which there isn’t. Still, considering how life must have (probably) evolved from an extremely simple proto-cell, even the most basic life on earth today is more complex than it’s earliest ancestor. So, it’s easy to define a trend, and say evolution tends to result in more complexity. Are there exceptions? Yes of course, plenty. This has been known for a long time.

      I have an issue with your treatment of human-caused extinction. Yes, there have been species that have cause other species to go extinct before. Extinction is part of evolution, and natural ecological function on earth. You treat it as simply one form of DNA wiping out another, with little to no net effect.
      There is a reason the passenger-pidgeon is the poster-child for conservation.
      First: The mass-roosting and migration behavior is a very effective survival mechanism, as it decreases predation rates. This is, sadly, why humans were so fond of killing the birds, as it seemed to have little impact on the population. However, humans were capable of killing off the birds in far greater quantities, and by far more devious/insidious methods than any other natural predator. If we look to any of the most effective predators on earth, ever, we probably couldn’t find one that could have wiped out the passenger pigeons as effectively or quickly as we did. In fact, predators rarely cause extinction. It’s really not in the predators best interest to extirpate its source of food. Most commonly it is competition or change in environment that causes extinction.
      Second: It exemplified humanity’s attitude toward it’s environment, as a limitless resource, designed specifically for human consumption. This trend in behavior, if left unchecked, could cause mass-extinctions globally, and eventually an almost complete loss of biodiversity. Ecology was still merely in its infancy, and there were few, if any people that cared enough to consider things such as migration routes, breeding grounds, or minimum viable populations. Even today, though, we wait until an animal is "endangered" and then "protect" it, rather than adjusting the way we live to fit with the natural world we live in.

      So… hopefully, even in your context of DNA being the ultimate organism, you can see how the extinction of the passenger pigeon was not just a meaningless event. An entire genome of a species was wiped out, not because it was outcompeted, or its environment changed, or EVEN because of mass predation. It was wiped out because of the WHIM of another species. For the pleasure, if you will. The reason sportsmen shoot "clay-pidgeons" is because they already shot all the real passenger pidgeons. As far as I know, no other species has ever done that. No other species has ever wielded as much power as humans do, and it is our responsibility to not abuse that power.

      Anyway, I think that ultimately, your idea that DNA is the one-true-organism is pretty much a moot point as long as it is the basic unit of all known living life. Perhaps it will become something to consider if we ever discover life (or life discovers us) that is based on something other than DNA.
      Why not say since DNA is made of nucleotides that we’re all just part of a big nucleotide organism. Or better yet, since nucleotides are made of atoms, we’re all just a big atom organism. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that organisms, NOT DNA, are what interact with the environment and each-other, and thus any and all value judgements are based on those interactions, not the mute contributions of the underlying DNA.

    • #69913
      45561
      Participant

      JDavidE, a theory is based on fact but is not immutable. Theories aren’t always perfect, and if contradictory evidence comes to light then you revise or scrap your theory. You still need to show evidence for scrapping the idea that Pan and Homo are related.

      An interesting point – one naturalist stated that, on average, all living things are insects.

    • #69924
      narrowstaircase
      Participant

      are you basing your entire theory on sociobiology’s selfish gene theory?

    • #69927
      Darby
      Participant

      Old expression, many variants:

      An individual is just a zygote’s way to making another zygote.

      This is yet another variant, substituting DNA. It’s valid, but not intrinsically useful. Just labels.

    • #69968
      JDavidE
      Participant

      Astus Aleator:
      I could swear I’ve read this before word-for-word somewhere….
      I posted the identical blog (apart from some sloppy grammar I discovered) in a couple of places including my own blog page.
      I was hoping to get some reply; in particular a blistering paragraph or two that would tear my hypothesis to shreds. It’s lonely standing out here. If you are implying that someone else may be responsible for the outburst, I don’t think anyone with any reputation would like to own up to it or express it in such a scatty manner.

      You wander around a lot in your essay, and at times it’s pretty hard to remember what your argument or your thesis is
      Sorry about that but I am not good at this. I tried to make it brief but had to keep going back to make another point.

      My understanding of your thesis is:
      Organisms are ultimatlely expressions of DNA, and classifying them as seperate entities or establishing evolutionary timelines to determine their heredity creates a false paradigm for true scientific thinking

      Gee, I hope I didn’t say that. We can classify things till the cows come home as far as I’m concerned. Some people even have different sock drawers. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose. Let me put it this way though and use another absurdity. Let’s suppose that contemporary climatology was based on the theory that the snorting of a mythical celestial dragon was responsible for tornadoes and cyclonic weather patterns. It would be pretty hard to refute and half the researchers would be looking for dragon poop (and probably finding some specimens that almost everyone agreed likely was) and the other half would be researching other weather phenomena that could be attributed to the bodily functions of the mythical dragon. Anyone trying to prove that simple heat exchange was the basis for all weather would likely get covered in some of that dragon poop. The apt expression from the computer world is: garbage in, garbage out. I just think we are looking in the wrong direction.

      Are you saying that humans and chimps are not "related" in the sense that they have a relatively recent common ancestor?
      Huh? I’m saying that humans and chimps are not necessarily related even if they do have a common ancestor, which I doubt. How do we know it was a common ancestor? DNA sequencing? I don’t think that proves a relationship other than we happen to have a lot of the same hardware. Let’s get silly again. You and 29 other people wander into a shop that sells electrical gadgets. All of you make several or many purchases from the trays lying about. By the time you have all finished shopping, it is dark outside. So, those who happen to have bought flashlights will turn them on. The rest will remain in the dark. If you compare purchases, you might discover that many people not only have the identical gadgets but that many may have most. Does that make you all related in the genetic sense? (Yes, I do appreciate that is woefully simplistic).

      DNA, even in fairly simple organisms, has a lot of coding that is not ‘in use’. This just may be remnant or it may be dormant or it just may be a box full of one-time useful hardware. All that is needed (maybe) is some way to turn it back on.

      However, to say that evolution progresses in ANY direction is to imply that there is a purpose to the process of evolution,
      No it doesn’t. Grand Old Darwin should never have used the word evolution because everybody thinks it means it has to be better and stronger. We have got to get away from thinking that evolution always works upward. It simply means the differentiation or mutation from a parent organism. There are several examples of atavism, especially in the plant kingdom. To suggest that evolution doesn’t work laterally as well is fuzzy thinking. Picture an arid zone. Picture all of the plants growing there in the arid zone. They will have many, many features in common to enable them to capture water, retain water, reflect heat, redirect heat and to source nutrient in the soil (often by way of a symbiotic mycelium). Does this suppose that they all had a recent common ancestor? As for purpose, that supposes creationism and that is even stupider than my hypothesis that DNA is one single organism, and we are in the belly of the beast.

      I have an issue with your treatment of human-caused extinction. Yes, there have been species that have cause other species to go extinct before. Extinction is part of evolution, [Really? Why should that be so? That presupposes grand design and is rather a wastefully stupid idea if it is.] and natural ecological function on earth. You treat it as simply one form of DNA wiping out another, with little to no net effect.

      No I don’t. I do not suggest anywhere that one form of DNA wipes out another form. Firstly, DNA is DNA and doesn’t come in different guises or forms (or flavours). If DNA is the only life form (creature) on earth, which I contend, then the loss of an entire species (our terminology) is no more meaningful to DNA than the Autumnal loss of leaves to a tree.

      The mass-roosting and migration behavior is a very effective survival mechanism, as it decreases predation rates. The underscore is mine.
      Sorry, that is simply wrong. Having read your whole comment on conservation issues, I think it is probably safe to say that you are not a member of the NRA. Such behaviour does not decrease predation rates it only enhances the odds that the individual will not be eaten. In fact, where huge food sources are available, even seasonally, it simply increases the number of predators (who seem to know when and where) and the amount of predation. But it still is better odds for the individual than being the only bird in the tree when a hungry snake is slithering about.

      Take, for example the seventeen-year cicada. The larval form stays in the ground attuned to some biological clock that has the alarm set for 17 circuits of the sun. When the alarm goes off, every larvae tunnels to the surface, emerges and heads for the nearest tree or high object. Predators have arrived, in advance, in great numbers and they gorge themselves. They eat and eat until each one swears they couldn’t hold another cicada nymph for at least seventeen years. They haven’t made a dent in the swath of nymphs. The sheer number of the insects simply overwhelms the predators. The cicada adults emerge from the pupae and take off to spend the night in an orgy of procreation. The females lay their eggs…and then every cicada dies. Isn’t that bizarre? If a misguided conservationist happened on the scene to find the entire forest floor carpeted several deep in dead adult cicadas, we might expect to hear some Chicken Little dialogue. The sky is not falling however. Nor was it falling when the Passenger pigeon got extincted by us (I just made that word up for the fun of it) in the space of a few hundred years. It should have been an ecological disaster. So why wasn’t it? It didn’t lead to global warming, or another interglacial and didn’t seem to have any appreciable impact at all. So why not? I think it only makes a difference to us because we can take notes. It wouldn’t matter a damn to a chimpanzee and I don’t think it matters to DNA either.

      As for extinctions, I am really sorry to see it happen to any species, especially if it was caused or facilitated by us. Having said that, I am rather glad that velociraptor didn’t get to hang about.

      It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that organisms, NOT DNA, are what interact with the environment and each-other, and thus any and all value judgements are based on those interactions, not the mute contributions of the underlying DNA.
      Mebbe so. And maybe a mythical dragon causes tornadoes.

      Small note: I just reread everything here and some of my responses seem to be a little curt. They are not intended to be and I have absolutely no wish to belittle or deride. I am just trying to avoid pages of argument where a simple response should do it well enough. The whole purpose of the blog really was to get the con argument so I could refine my direction on the hypothesis.

      45561:
      …a theory is based on fact but is not immutable. Theories aren’t always perfect, and if contradictory evidence comes to light then you revise or scrap your theory. You still need to show evidence for scrapping the idea that Pan and Homo are related.

      Hmmm. Well, no I don’t. I simply don’t think the relationship exists in terms of we must have evolved from some fossilised look-alike. As for DNA sequencing tying us together, I don’t think we are adept enough yet to say anything other than (at best) likely.

      A recent study into Polynesian ancestry using DNA sequencing made the rather startling discovery that the Polynesian was a descendant of Chinese origin. In fact, it went on, from memory, to suggest that it was from two Chinese areas, one being Hong Kong. (If that isn’t correct then ignore the reference). I simply took the research on board as an interesting fact and used it to tease a few of my Maori friends. The matter really isn’t worth pursuing but it suddenly struck me that there was a flaw somewhere in that contention. Captain James Cook took some natives from Tahiti with him on the rest of his voyage. They, or at least one of them, were able to converse with the Maori in New Zealand. Language has a way of changing rather rapidly in isolation. Both countries were basically isolated from the other. So, if the language hadn’t altered to a point where it was unintelligible, each to the other, then the separation hadn’t been of great duration. This supposes then that both Maori and Tahitian both came from a much larger population. And some of that larger population’s language should reflect some Chinese origin as well. Well, checking out instances of Polynesian culture across the Pacific, it doesn’t seem to. Nor do any of their art forms. So the only ‘proof’ seems to be a newly acquired art of DNA sequencing.

      In either event it doesn’t matter. If we can tie a string from us to some tree dwelling ape wondering what to do with his opposable thumb, that is fine by me. It just is that you are going to have to really convince me you have it right. Not just suppose it’s right because it fits contemporary theory. And I reiterate; DNA couldn’t care less, not even about us. No more than you stop to consider the feelings of your automobile.

      Narrowstaircase:
      …are you basing your entire theory on sociobiology’s selfish gene theory?
      Firstly, it’s a little presumptuous to call mine a theory and, yes, I do subscribe to the selfish gene theory ever since I read Richard Dawkins’ book, The Selfish Gene, at Capricornia. I found I was nodding my head as I turned each page and muttering things like, ‘Of course, of course’ and ‘That’s obvious (now that you have pointed it out)’. Yet I do not believe I have used the argument to supplement mine other than in an illustrative way to make a point.

      Nice username.

      Darby:
      Old expression, many variants:
      An individual is just a zygote’s way to making another zygote.
      This is yet another variant, substituting DNA. It’s valid, but not intrinsically useful. Just labels.

      That seems a little cynical, Darby. I’m not trying to promote anything here. Perhaps you can expand on the ‘old expression, many variants’ with some examples so I can see if we are on the same page. As for the second line, it is basically incorrect. An individual (not to put too fine a point on it) can only provide a haploid cell, not a zygote.

      It is kind of you to even suggest my argument is valid for I am far from convinced myself. Can you expound further as to why it may be valid?

    • #69994
      Darby
      Participant

      A chicken is an egg’s way of making another egg.

      You can pick at the particulars, but it doesn’t alter the sayings. Or the basic concept behind them.

      If you want to see all of biology as being driven by DNA competition, there’s a hint of validity to it. But, as in much bad biology, including a lot of stuff that derives from Dawkins (who wasn’t making anything like the sweeping simplification you’re making here), it’s just a bit of a much bigger picture.

      As for some of your specific points, you are confusing analogies with homologies, rolling back taxonomic thought a couple of millenia. And even homologies, a much surer way to establish legitimate relationships, is limited, as is DNA correlations.

      And it’s not like all of that non-coding DNA are dormant codes. Coding DNA has particular features, and although there are some stretches like that, they often are recognizable as viral or plasmid codes, inactivated, or codes that are degraded. It’s not an infinite grab-bag of possibilities that would allow a sponge to be a pear tree if only certain ones were expressed.

      I’ve got to say, I may not completely understand the basic point you’re trying to make here.

    • #69997
      narrowstaircase
      Participant

      the thoughts im expressing in this reply are based on the ideas of Pierre Tielhard de Chardin as well as the teachings of Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith. His work can be found on his organisation’s website:

      http://www.humancondition.info/index.html

      quote JDavidE:

      In fact, I don’t think we are related to any of the creatures that we parade in progression in our timeline of life on earth. It is not us who evolve, that is the egocentric part. It is DNA that is favoured by evolution. The only life that persists on this planet is DNA. We and every other organism are simply the expression of DNA as it stands today.

      – It isn’t simply DNA that is favoured by evolution, but certain arangements of DNA. DNA is an information processing mechanism. What is sorts is matter. and to what end does it sort? it sorts according to stability, certain arrangements that are found to be more stable persist.

      – Again, we are expressions of certain arrangements of DNA, not simply DNA unto itself. Every living thing is an idea, a unique arrangement and it persisted because of its physical stability and its stability within an ecosystem. stability = order. The journey of Earth has always been towards more and more order.

      quote JDavidE:

      Nor do I believe that evolution (in terms of the theory) works from the primitive to the complex. That would make it a pyramid and we place ourselves smilingly at the apex thinking it doesn’t get any better than us.

      – primitive to complex is not the transitional language i would use. i would say either simple -> complex, or primitive -> advanced. but anyway, the idea that is being communicated here is that of a building up of smaller units into larger units. The heirarchy of matter stands as: fundamental particle > simple nuclei > complex nuclei > atoms > molecules > compounds > virus-like organisms > single-celled organisms > multicellular organisms. my question here is, what is the alternative to a building up in evolution? A sudden appearance of multicellular organisms?

      quote JDavidE:

      If an organism can evolve then it must be capable of devolving as well, otherwise it simply paints itself into a corner to ultimately expire. There are many examples where this was the probable result when conditions changed and the existing DNA models couldn’t cope. And there are examples of devolution as well. There are shrimp, insects and fish living in dark caves that have simply gone blind where the same species elsewhere have eyes. It is explained away by a couple of theories: one being that an error occurs at the molecular level of the gene in replication. The error (read mutation) does not alter the expression of the gene so it is not favoured in any form of selection: hence it is neutral. Eventually it becomes statistically numerous and finally the only gene for that expression. In the case of the fish, it didn’t matter if they had vision because they couldn’t use it. Whether they now lack eyes because of the neutral gene theory (a little too convenient for my liking) or because there was some selective advantage/disadvantage to having eyes doesn’t matter. There is obviously a process.

      – i dont know where you are going with this paragraph. i can just reinforce what i think you are saying.

      – evolve and devolve are essentially the same things. except devolve has some irrelevant connotations associated with it. with your example, since the fish needed no eyes they evolved into this new form, but because the change includes a change that we would interpret as ‘bad’ it is now labeled ‘devolution’. and these dead end changes occur in many species which obviously lowers its fitness if the environment were to change rapidly. in its current form it is fitted perfectly to its environment.

      quote JDavidE:

      I said that I don’t agree that evolution works from primitive to complex. If it did, then we should not have any primitive examples of DNA (or organisms if you aren’t ready to consider my argument) left on earth but we do.

      – why not? who layed down the law on this assumption? why cant complex matter coexist with simple matter? infact this summises that laws of building-up can’t exist with laws of breaking-down. We know they can, ie. second law of thermodynamics and its partner the second path to the second law of thermodynamics have been proven.

      quote JDavidE:

      We have an overabundance of very primitive (non-complex) organisms and we also have very complex organisms. And it seems that darn near as far back as the fossil record allows us to go, we find a lot of organisms that are far from simple.

      quote JDavidE:

      I think we need to look at evolution as a lateral form of development rather than the upward concept we now hold.

      – the physical adaptations of animals correlate to their environment. it is irrelevant to say that one species is better than another because of its physiology when both are adapted perfectly to their own individual environments and niches. we know this. its also irrelevent to say that one species is better than another because of the complexity, or lack there of, of its physiology when both may support the same ecosystem yet at different levels. we know this. on this level of understanding i agree that life has spread and changed and covered earth in a wholey lateral way.

      – this statement is also charged with non-purpose. it implies no direction in evolution. but there is one anatomical feature that has been steadily developing during the evolution of animals on earth. when single celled organisms first joined to become a community they needed to communicate and what developed was a rudimentary nervous system called a nerve net. over time parts of the nerve net have joined to form nerve chords and ganglia, never going backwards in this developement, always bigger and more centrated nervous systems, until you get to the mammals with their comparitively enormous brains. this is a uni-directional developement that is never admitted. why? the implications of larger more efficient brains are very important in developement such as more complex behaviour -> complex social structure. the next step in the heirarchy of matter. this is our upward march, this is why we are the pinnicle.

      quote JDavidE:

      There isn’t much that is more primitive than a bacterium. However, it is possible that bacteria have simply reached their pinnacle of complexity. They may have painted themselves into a corner from which they cannot escape. However, since bacteria live anywhere they like, that they may be dead-ended doesn’t matter because to DNA, it still exists and that is all that is important. It is simply success or extinction and neither is important to the DNA so long as it still abounds.

      – so beacause DNA persists when one organism or species dies implies the meaning of life is for DNA to persist/survive?

      quote JDavidE:

      The North American Passenger pigeon went extinct when the last one died, in captivity, in 1914. It went extinct basically because we made it happen. It was hunted ferociously because it seemed there was an endless supply (much like Cod a few years back) and no one thought it would matter. Apparently, according to accounts, the pigeons were so numerous that flocks would literally darken the sky with their passing and their passing sometimes took days. It is reported that barrels of Passenger pigeon tongues, and only the tongues, were sent back to England in shipload quantities. By the time any alarm bells began to ring, it was already too late. The Passenger pigeon only bred in huge flocks and there were none of those left anymore. The whole niche was collapsing. I don’t think we need to mourn their passing other than a sense of guilt over our part in their extinction. Can you imagine what they would have done to our crops and what would have happened if an avian flu had developed? Not to mention the damage to the trees in which they roosted and nested and the vermin they would have carried and the destruction caused by their droppings. However, they went extinct. They are no more. So surely there must have been some massive and therefore readily noticeable change as a result of this ecological disaster? Undoubtedly there was but nothing so serious that it made much of a stir. Life went on. It did not create a hole. Some things changed maybe for the worse and some things changed maybe for the better but it didn’t matter a bit either way to DNA. It was simply an unsuccessful line of endeavour and other organisms would make up the numbers.

      – and??

      (i must admit that this part is very funny imo, you are giving DNA an emotive character, "DNA didnt care for the death of the species, for he persisted as he always will, for his own ends. mwahahah!!")

      quote JDavidE:

      While it is true that we were the trigger for the disaster that befell the Passenger pigeon, the fault must surely lie within its genes. Somehow, the genes coded only for breeding in vast flocks. So how did this come about? There are as many varieties of pigeons as there are niches to fill, so when did the Passenger pigeon develop this fatal flaw? Was it a strategy of a common ancestor and passed down to the Passenger pigeon like a hereditary curse but, fortunately, to no others? I can find nothing to support it in my limited research. So, if the Passenger pigeon developed the coding error down the track (much further for there wouldn’t have been the huge flocks necessary to trigger this behaviour otherwise) then it belies the notion that evolution follows a path ever upward, ‘new and improved’. Neutral gene theory must almost certainly be brought in to explain it and it implies that there must be more advantage for this process and less disadvantage, otherwise we should expect some method or other of self-correction of mutated genes.

      – one thing you must know about life. life tries everything to know everything. what we see around us now are the arrangements of DNA, the unique ideas that have survived. some species are going down dead ends as we speak, others are at their end now, and still others are just blossoming from the tree of life. if we knew every unique organism that evolution has ever sprouted we would hardly have the space to record the tree of life.

      quote JDavidE:

      I’m about to take you away from this line of argument but first let me implant the germ of an idea. I doubt that I can support it or even debate it with much persuasion. But let me slip gradually into the hot water by noting that you (and maybe that should be in capital letters like YOU) have teeth, bones, finger and toenails, hair, cilia and an assortment of soft tissue. None of these things have a great deal in common but they all started with one single cell loosely called a stem cell. Before that it was simply a haploid cell (only half of the genes necessary for life and patently useless on its own) until it could infect or be infected by its opposite half. Everything that you are from brain to buttocks from pinnae to patella is basically one organism built to a design by your DNA for the sole purpose of transporting DNA to find its opposite.

      – this is such a round-about conclusion based on conveniantly set up information. i can tackle this by actually telling you what the purpose of reproduction is.. firstly, the purpose of reproduciton is not a scheme by DNA. like ive said, DNA is a mechanism for ordering matter. once life has found a unique sequence of DNA that is stable/orderly ie. species, it works to further organise this unique sequence. how it does this is through sexual reproduction of individuals within the species. one half of the genetic sequence from two individuals come together to furhter order the information. what results are more individuals of the species that are slightly different and so their survival will depend on these differences. the offspring are experiments or ‘life trying eveything to know everything’. certain arrangements of matter (individuals) wont survive because the arrangement is found not to be stable enough to persist. this is the point of reproduction, to find arrangements that are better suited than previous ones. which is why we dont just reproduce by fragmentation which would be far easier for this selfcontrived DNA you speak of.

      quote JDavidE:

      It’s a huge investment. So there must be some distinct advantage for the DNA. It would be simpler to let pollen float on air or milt to swirl in ocean currents. The advantage is that a mobile organism can carry the DNA further to all parts of the planet and it can be selective in the quest for quality or desirable genetic matching. This allows for rapid change and, I suspect, changes of some magnitude in the gene codes. This doesn’t matter a bit to a toad or a gnu or even a chimpanzee and it wouldn’t matter to us except for an accident of chance that gave us the ability to ask questions. It matters only to DNA. That germ of an idea that I wanted to implant is this: I am strongly coming to the belief that there is only one single organism on this planet, one single entity, and that is the collective molecules of DNA.

      – if the only thing that mattered was the persistance of DNA then what we would find (or not find sisnce we wouldnt exist) is that only raw DNA existed. why would a DNA molecule want to traverse the globe within a lifetime? surely it has all the time in the world? why create unique carriers? why create such intricate/complex ecosystems? organisms are active within the ecosystem, changing it, why would DNA have changed earth to such a degree? the atmosphere? the soil? the water? why all these changes towards complexity when all it wants to do is exist? at the birth of life – of DNA – why not just keep all these environments the same?

      – i find it a human low point to believe that we are an accident.

      quote JDavidE:

      The Selfish Gene theory suggests that not only do genes dictate our (I mean by this all sentient organisms) physical attributes but also our behaviour. According to the Selfish Gene theory, if it were possible for me to save only one of two people from a burning house, and one of those just happened to be my brother, then I would save my brother because he and I share more genes.

      – what youve done here is set up a favourable argument. you know very well you have the choice to save both people, or at least try. ive already talked about selfishness and ultruism concerning humans and the differences between animals. maybe look it up.

      quote JDavidE:

      It goes on to explain stotting antelope. The antelope that stots draws attention to it (and away from the rest of the herd) and was considered to be, therefore, an example of altruism. The theorists point out that the stotting antelope is also declaring it fit and healthy so as to give the predator second thoughts about chasing it down. The theorists also describe, statistically, what happens if all of the antelope become stotters or if none draw such attention. Extensions to the theory also explain away sectarian violence, crimes and even wars. One might suppose that since we have lost entire generations to war over thousands of years we would have expunged all those with such genetic predilection but that is clearly not the case.

      – the selfish gene theory is a squewed interpretation of human behaviour. the author ive cited in the beginning of this post (Jeremy Griffith) explains why in is writings. check it out.

      quote JDavidE:

      It can be done somehow, because the chimpanzees we claim as kin are capable of both behaviours. There is one group that goes out almost every afternoon to hunt for monkeys in a murderous pursuit and whose actions tend to display our own aggressiveness. There is another group (curiously a matriarchy) who do not hunt for meat and display an altogether more peaceable demeanour.

      – bonobos have now been classified into their own species. extensive research is being done on bonobo behaviour and social organisation. have you read any research by naturalists? Dianne Fossey on gorrilas and Eugene Marais on baboons. ultruistic behaviour. social organisation. mate slection. plz read. if its bonobo behaviour you are wanting a biological explanation for read Jeremy Griffith. there is a clear and concise biological step by step process that occured which led to altruistic behaviour (not psuedo-ultruistic) in bonobos and humans. (why we dont actually act selflessly all the time is also covered in his books. psychological factors are included in our behaviour which you might want to think about.)

      quote JDavidE:

      But what if the theorists are wrong? I don’t mean the theory. That is well supported by the mathematics involved and even by some recorded evidence. What if none of it matters at all? What if we are the only ones concerned by it? And we are only concerned because we are capable of asking questions? What if it doesn’t matter because it is no loss whatsoever to DNA? Are you at all concerned by the follicle loss from a haircut or those fingernail parings? If, as I contend, DNA were simply one entity, one planet-engulfing organism then such things as wars and animal extinctions wouldn’t matter a whit.

      – this is a case of psuedo-stupidity. not actually being stupid but pretending you are because its easier. what if im not that intelligent and am being duped by DNA molecules??!…. plz no

      quote JDavidE:

      Just drop the organisms and step over here for a moment. Let us suppose that an anthropologist decided to study a Model-T Ford and a current Cadillac (Yes, I know it’s absurd) to determine if they had a common ancestor. He would certainly note the similarities. They both had two headlights, four wheels, doors, a windshield, a dashboard, a steering wheel, a tail pipe, and pedals on the floor and they were configured much the same way. There would also be many differences such as a vastly improved braking system, a better driveshaft and differential and many changes to the motor. But clearly, while the Cadillac may not necessarily have evolved from the Model-T, they must have had a common ancestor. If you didn’t know better, and if it was being taught, say, as part of Biology 101, you would be obliged to accept this verdict.

      -irrelevant

      quote JDavidE:

      Let’s talk about chimpanzees again. Chimps are smart. They are self-aware for they know what a mirror is and they have a good memory and are able to use deductive reasoning. They are also capable of sentence structure and of using a language and they can learn and do so rather readily. They don’t have a larynx so they can’t talk. They can be taught to communicate with sign language and to use computer based communicators. Moreover, they can teach other chimps to do so, although it is probably more accurate to say that the other chimps watch and learn. Chimps have been communicating with their handlers for at least a couple of decades but not once, that I am aware of, have they ever asked an embarrassing question. They have not once asked why they are being held captive or what effect global warming will have on the African chimp population or even, addressing the handler, who the heck are you? That’s because they are chimps. They are tool users and toolmakers. Rocks they used for cracking nuts have been found in ancient chimp campsites. Till then no one was sure if they used rocks to crack nuts because they had seen man doing it or if it was a skill they learned by themselves. Clearly, they have the ability to figure it all out for themselves. Just like us. And that is where the similarity ends, in my opinion. There is no evidence that chimps are capable of napping (shaping flints into tools) or of creating a tool from more than one element. Nor do they see obvious advantages to crafted items. Clay pottery has been an element of human culture almost as far back as we can trace. Even if chimps were able to create such pots (and I do not doubt they could if shown how) they would not instantly see that water could be carried for long distances or food items kept safe from predators. It should be a eureka moment. Human babies learn early on that they can carry more than one thing at a time if placed in a plastic bucket. Chimps are similar to humans only where the matching genes are turned on. We are two quite different automobiles, if you will allow me the metaphor.

      – and?? yes we are different to chimps. you chose the right things to highlight our differences. This is an example of us not knowing everything, not an example of everything we’ve learnt about our animal heritage being wrong.

      quote JDavidE:

      There is a perception that caveman as we depict him was a brute of low intellect able only to grunt as a form of communication. We like to smugly believe that modern human is significantly more highly evolved. That perception is slowly changing as serious paleoanthropologists begin to craft a clearer picture of their attributes. It is self-evident that we have long had, if not always had, the ability to communicate with speech. It is also clear from the artefacts that we were highly skilled with tools and able to not only manufacture them but to design them. Needles show that we were able to tailor clothing rather than the common perception of a raggedy animal skin wrapped clumsily about our body. Coprolites show that we not only ate animal flesh but grains. This indicates that we either grew them or carried them with us. Cave paintings show that we were able to spend a lot of time engaged in activity other than hunting or to find food so we either had some good organisational skills or we were clever enough to store food in the good times. These were not skills that we learned in a scant few hundred years or even a few millennia. We could not have been able to do them if we were not equipped to do them.

      – and?? these lengthy paragraphs aren’t proving or disproving anything. so weve learnt and gained a clearer picture of the past?

      quote JDavidE:

      We have always been able, for example, to speak. If the larynx was a very recent development then we would have used some other method of communication.

      – how do you know we have always been able to speak? What do you mean by always? what do you mean by speak – to form sentences/have language? or just to vocalise?

      quote JDavidE:

      If the larynx was a very recent development then we would have used some other method of communication. Drums can be used to convey complex messages and instructions. Sign languages can be used cross-culturally. One other thing we can do that chimps cannot, is whistle. There is one small group of people who use that ability to convey information over a distance that their voice cannot carry. Clearly we have the ability as well as a need to communicate complex thoughts. Chimpanzees do not and cannot and don’t even know there is a difference.

      – indeed they dont. once again, and? youve pointed out every way chimpanzees are different from humans, we know this. we also know that there is genetic similarity between humans and chimpanzees that has been found and confirmed by scientists. its simply a case of finding out what led to us being so different. "i dont know" is a better conclusion for now than, "DNA is using organisms as shuttling devices" imo.

      – why did we need complex modes of communication before consciousness? no other animal needs it, why would we have? we have the need to communicate complex thoughts now but why do you think we have always had this need? do you think we have always been conscious to the degree we are now?

      quote JDavidE:

      Modern human shared living space with Neanderthal. Whether we co-habited is not definitely known. Neanderthal was capable of either learning from us or we from them for certain burials were ritualised in a like manner. Or we simply thought along similar lines. It is also not known for sure if we interbred. There is no evidence to confirm or disprove it. However, since man is known to fornicate with almost anything that is animate (and many that aren’t) at the urging of his DNA, then it is likely it was tried if the opportunity arose.

      – this is not fact. how do you know our current sexual preoccupancy is not because of other factors, such as psychological, since that is the main springboard for action in conscious creatures like ourselves?

      quote JDavidE:

      We have been able to extract some mitochondrial DNA from Neanderthal bones. The similarities in sequencing place us a long, long way from a common ancestor. We are as likely to be more closely related to the Galapagos tortoise. [That comment is intended to be flippant] .

      – i would like to see the reference for this comment plz.

      quote JDavidE:

      The common ancestor to the chimpanzee and Neanderthal is even more distant than the chimp to us. I just don’t believe that evolution takes us along the path that curves upward. Nor do I believe that evolution places any pressure on an organism to do better, it is simply a consequence. And evolution can take us to a dangerous place of complacency. If the dodo could fly when humans arrived in Mauritius, then it might not be extinct today. However, it had no predators and no need to take flight and, either through neutral gene theory or some other mechanism of devolvement, it lost the ability to fly. We hunted it to extinction.

      – the points in this para have been covered in previous paragraphs.

      quote JDavidE:

      Accepted theory is that all mammals derived from a small shrew-like animal that existed at the time of the dinosaurs. When the dinosaurs vacated the countryside (for whatever theory you prefer) the shrew-like animal got to run rampant. Consensus says evolution kicked in and one line gave rise to Rodentia another line gave rise to Marsupialia and another line began to spew out apes and so forth. But those are just convenient classifications and there may not have been a more recent common ancestor than that original shrew-like animal. Our general perception of the event is that this animal simply gave rise to a series of others that went on to form the various Linnean (Carl Von Linné) orders and classes that we stuff the botanical and zoological organisms into today (even if they don’t fit). I appreciate that I am leaving myself wide-open here for a scathing attack. But just because it looks like a duck and it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it doesn’t follow that it simply has to be a duck. Look at how difficult it was to convince the learned know-it-all scientific community that there was such a thing as a monotreme.

      – i think you should take your own advice. what you have here is a new classification system that sheds no new knowledge. which is what people are trying to tell you. i can make one up too on levels higher or lower than that of DNA.

      quote JDavidE:

      Two books in a library will contain many identical words and even sentences. It also doesn’t follow that both books must be written by the same author or even, if written by two different authors, that those authors had to be related.

      – irrelevant. bad analogy

      quote JDavidE:

      The stranded human DNA contains a large quantity of junk DNA. That is not the same as discarded rubbish. It is simply DNA sequencing that is not, apparently, coded for anything. It isn’t turned on. And we don’t, as far as I know, even know how it gets turned on. But it sure would be interesting to connect a couple up and see what happens. I wanted to retrofit a piece of electronic equipment to my car. I went to see the people who sold the equipment to get some idea of how difficult (expensive) it would be to retrofit the item and how long would it take. The salesman said in effect that if I bought the item from them they would fit it free and they could do it while I hung about and had a cup of coffee. The dashboards in most cars these days have several snap-out panels to accept retrofitted devices. Some are equipped with mounting slots and all have access to the car’s wiring harness and even that is separately fused. So, in my case it was a simple matter of locating it, screwing it down and plugging it in. I suspect that is what junk DNA represents. All that is needed is the right piece of equipment to come along, and it is already pre-wired and ready to go. In fact, if we can find a way to turn the sequence on, it might just start pumping out the proteins and peptides to build the necessary piece of equipment all by itself. If you happen to be reading this and you happen to work in a lab and your face has just contorted with horror, yes I am being facetious and certainly do not advocate such fooling around, even if it were possible.

      – this information is nonconsequential in relation to your argument. im not sure if it has any truth involved since i dont know much about genes.

      quote JDavidE:

      It is also likely that much of the junk DNA is the product of neutral gene theory or the product of a faulty (in terms of it not doing what the parent organism did) gene. We already know what happens when the body doesn’t produce certain hormones such as insulin and what happens when certain proteins are blocked or not suppressed. Much of the junk DNA may well be sequences that have been turned off, which has made us more like what we are today. The sequences may have suppressed hormones or produced hormones and these may have shaped our very existence. That may matter to us, as I doubt we would like too many changes, especially radical ones to our genome, but I doubt that it makes a particle of difference to DNA. I say again that DNA is one planet-engulfing organism.

      – again, conveniantly setup information as well as guessing, strung together.

      quote JDavidE:

      People who study the early earth of billions of years ago tell us that it was simply not able to harbour life, as we know it. And many terra-like planets seem to remain that way. So, what happened here to give us the goldilocks effect? Not too warm not too cold but everything just right? We have already discovered that DNA is able to survive in some very inhospitable situations. Bacteria can live in boiling geysers. Shrimp can live in water so salty that it poisons everything else. Shrimp and bacteria can live next to deep ocean vents that should cook them and the pressure should squash them. There are insects and worms that live in solid ice and in water that should freeze them into oblivion. So, what are they doing there? They exist and their very existence is bringing about minute changes that burgeon and multiply into massive changes. DNA is making the planet more hospitable for it.

      second path to the second law of thermodynamics, look it up.

      quote JDavidE:

      We are about to go planet hopping. We have speculated about terra-forming planets to make us more comfortable. I don’t think that’s necessary if we have enough time up our sleeve for I suspect if DNA infects another planet, it will make it not only hospitable for DNA but comfortable for all of its vessels as well.

      I am not convinced that trying to find a common ancestor to explain all of us is anything other than pointless. Like Neanderthal, I don’t think the other early hominids are related to us. I think Australopithecus and the others (even though we name them, like Lucy) are simply different models that dead-ended and have nothing to do with us. And, even though the average chimp may be prettier than me, I still don’t think we are in any way related.

      – i sincerely regret replying to this whole post.
      – my friend likened this idea to scientology’s believe that we are vessels for aliens.
      – your thinking is so crippled in the line from question to solution my brain was about to ESPLODE.
      – im sorry i lost my patience
      – your analogies dont apply to your argument at all, revise them.
      – why do you discard the small questions in favour of out-of-this-world all encompassing theories?
      – if you ever write something like this up again plz save us the time and leave out all intellectual extravagances, present your argument succinctly, not drawn out.
      – alot of the stuff you are saying leaves me asking where did he get that from? in places where you think the audience will ask this question for sure, leave a reference. or just do it all the time if you want.
      – also alot of the information (almost all of it) you give provides no evidence to support your argument. like dead end developement in animal evolution. just because these species have become extinct and others have not doesnt mean DNA is using organisms as shuttling devices.
      – also you points are based on points are based on points that are unsubstantiated. i can imagine this whole thing sprouting from the mind of someone reading about selfish gene theory…

    • #69998
      narrowstaircase
      Participant
      quote JDavidE:

      My understanding of your thesis is:
      Organisms are ultimatlely expressions of DNA, and classifying them as seperate entities or establishing evolutionary timelines to determine their heredity creates a false paradigm for true scientific thinking

      Gee, I hope I didn’t say that. We can classify things till the cows come home as far as I’m concerned. Some people even have different sock drawers. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose. Let me put it this way though and use another absurdity. Let’s suppose that contemporary climatology was based on the theory that the snorting of a mythical celestial dragon was responsible for tornadoes and cyclonic weather patterns. It would be pretty hard to refute and half the researchers would be looking for dragon poop (and probably finding some specimens that almost everyone agreed likely was) and the other half would be researching other weather phenomena that could be attributed to the bodily functions of the mythical dragon. Anyone trying to prove that simple heat exchange was the basis for all weather would likely get covered in some of that dragon poop. The apt expression from the computer world is: garbage in, garbage out. I just think we are looking in the wrong direction.

      – that is exactly what you’re saying, and including the dragon analogy reinforces this – new models of classification, yet no new knowledge or better understanding.

      quote JDavidE:

      Are you saying that humans and chimps are not "related" in the sense that they have a relatively recent common ancestor?
      Huh? I’m saying that humans and chimps are not necessarily related even if they do have a common ancestor, which I doubt. How do we know it was a common ancestor? DNA sequencing? I don’t think that proves a relationship other than we happen to have a lot of the same hardware. Let’s get silly again. You and 29 other people wander into a shop that sells electrical gadgets. All of you make several or many purchases from the trays lying about. By the time you have all finished shopping, it is dark outside. So, those who happen to have bought flashlights will turn them on. The rest will remain in the dark. If you compare purchases, you might discover that many people not only have the identical gadgets but that many may have most. Does that make you all related in the genetic sense? (Yes, I do appreciate that is woefully simplistic)..

      this analogy is entirely wrong, to rectify it, [b]we are the collection of gadgets, not the people collecting them, so yes, we are all related since our parts are all from the same place.[/b]

      quote JDavidE:

      As for purpose, that supposes creationism and that is even stupider than my hypothesis that DNA is one single organism, and we are in the belly of the beast.

      dude, creationism is looking pretty hawt right now.

      quote JDavidE:

      and natural ecological function on earth. You treat it as simply one form of DNA wiping out another, with little to no net effect. No I don’t. I do not suggest anywhere that one form of DNA wipes out another form. Firstly, DNA is DNA and doesn’t come in different guises or forms (or flavours). If DNA is the only life form (creature) on earth, which I contend, then the loss of an entire species (our terminology) is no more meaningful to DNA than the Autumnal loss of leaves to a tree.

      the simple fact is that DNA does come in different forms. you dont want to accept that fact. guess waht we did to all strings of acid made from (A,T,G,C) nucleotides? we labelled them DNA. because they all fall under this classification doesnt mean they are all the same. they are unique.

      quote JDavidE:

      Take, for example the seventeen-year cicada. The larval form stays in the ground attuned to some biological clock that has the alarm set for 17 circuits of the sun. When the alarm goes off, every larvae tunnels to the surface, emerges and heads for the nearest tree or high object. Predators have arrived, in advance, in great numbers and they gorge themselves. They eat and eat until each one swears they couldn’t hold another cicada nymph for at least seventeen years. They haven’t made a dent in the swath of nymphs. The sheer number of the insects simply overwhelms the predators. The cicada adults emerge from the pupae and take off to spend the night in an orgy of procreation. The females lay their eggs…and then every cicada dies. Isn’t that bizarre? If a misguided conservationist happened on the scene to find the entire forest floor carpeted several deep in dead adult cicadas, we might expect to hear some Chicken Little dialogue. The sky is not falling however. Nor was it falling when the Passenger pigeon got extincted by us (I just made that word up for the fun of it) in the space of a few hundred years. It should have been an ecological disaster. So why wasn’t it? It didn’t lead to global warming, or another interglacial and didn’t seem to have any appreciable impact at all. So why not? I think it only makes a difference to us because we can take notes. It wouldn’t matter a damn to a chimpanzee and I don’t think it matters to DNA either.

      – we already know that within an ecosystem there are species that are important for the functioning of that ecosystem, they are called key-stone species. we can make an inference on this observation of passenger pigeon extinction, the species was not a key-stone species.

      quote JDavidE:

      It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that organisms, NOT DNA, are what interact with the environment and each-other, and thus any and all value judgements are based on those interactions, not the mute contributions of the underlying DNA.
      Mebbe so. And maybe a mythical dragon causes tornadoes.

      nice sidestep of a relevant point.

      quote JDavidE:

      45561:
      …a theory is based on fact but is not immutable. Theories aren’t always perfect, and if contradictory evidence comes to light then you revise or scrap your theory. You still need to show evidence for scrapping the idea that Pan and Homo are related.

      Hmmm. Well, no I don’t. I simply don’t think the relationship exists in terms of we must have evolved from some fossilised look-alike. As for DNA sequencing tying us together, I don’t think we are adept enough yet to say anything other than (at best) likely.

      to reiterate what 45561 said, you still need to show evidence for scrapping the idea that pan and homo are related…

      quote JDavidE:

      A recent study into Polynesian ancestry using DNA sequencing made the rather startling discovery that the Polynesian was a descendant of Chinese origin. In fact, it went on, from memory, to suggest that it was from two Chinese areas, one being Hong Kong. (If that isn’t correct then ignore the reference). I simply took the research on board as an interesting fact and used it to tease a few of my Maori friends. The matter really isn’t worth pursuing but it suddenly struck me that there was a flaw somewhere in that contention. Captain James Cook took some natives from Tahiti with him on the rest of his voyage. They, or at least one of them, were able to converse with the Maori in New Zealand. Language has a way of changing rather rapidly in isolation. Both countries were basically isolated from the other. So, if the language hadn’t altered to a point where it was unintelligible, each to the other, then the separation hadn’t been of great duration. This supposes then that both Maori and Tahitian both came from a much larger population. And some of that larger population’s language should reflect some Chinese origin as well. Well, checking out instances of Polynesian culture across the Pacific, it doesn’t seem to. Nor do any of their art forms. So the only ‘proof’ seems to be a newly acquired art of DNA sequencing.

      science is a human endevour and when you slander it you disrespect the long line of people before us that devoted their lives to increasing human knowledge. if we cant trust ourselves within reason why dont we just stare at the ceiling and dribble on our chests all day. sure we should question everything, but all you are doing is slandering.

      quote JDavidE:

      In either event it doesn’t matter. If we can tie a string from us to some tree dwelling ape wondering what to do with his opposable thumb, that is fine by me. It just is that you are going to have to really convince me you have it right. Not just suppose it’s right because it fits contemporary theory. And I reiterate; DNA couldn’t care less, not even about us. No more than you stop to consider the feelings of your automobile.

      DNA doesn’t care. thats the thing. it cant. and the string you talk about isnt some feeble irrelevant guess work. its conclusions based on many observations over hundreds of years.

      quote JDavidE:

      Darby:
      Old expression, many variants:
      An individual is just a zygote’s way to making another zygote.
      This is yet another variant, substituting DNA. It’s valid, but not intrinsically useful. Just labels.

      That seems a little cynical, Darby. I’m not trying to promote anything here. Perhaps you can expand on the ‘old expression, many variants’ with some examples so I can see if we are on the same page. As for the second line, it is basically incorrect. An individual (not to put too fine a point on it) can only provide a haploid cell, not a zygote.

      It is kind of you to even suggest my argument is valid for I am far from convinced myself. Can you expound further as to why it may be valid?

      darby explains your idea perfectly. we are left with one last thing to consider, how to make a blind man see.

    • #70000
      AstusAleator
      Participant

      Well narrowstaircase has addressed a few points in response already, but I’ll take my stab:

      quote JDavidE:

      My understanding of your thesis is:
      Organisms are ultimatlely expressions of DNA, and classifying them as seperate entities or establishing evolutionary timelines to determine their heredity creates a false paradigm for true scientific thinking

      Gee, I hope I didn’t say that. We can classify things till the cows come home as far as I’m concerned. Some people even have different sock drawers. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose. Let me put it this way though and use another absurdity. Let’s suppose that contemporary climatology was based on the theory that the snorting of a mythical celestial dragon was responsible for tornadoes and cyclonic weather patterns. It would be pretty hard to refute and half the researchers would be looking for dragon poop (and probably finding some specimens that almost everyone agreed likely was) and the other half would be researching other weather phenomena that could be attributed to the bodily functions of the mythical dragon. Anyone trying to prove that simple heat exchange was the basis for all weather would likely get covered in some of that dragon poop. The apt expression from the computer world is: garbage in, garbage out. I just think we are looking in the wrong direction.

      The problem with this analogy is that it is an analogy. The reality is much more complex. Observable patterns are science’s greatest ally. In your analogy, anyone looking for patterns would have a hard time missing the correlation between temperature, season, and weather patterns, regardless of how much dragon poop they were or weren’t finding. The evolutionary relationships that are part of current theory are based on decades of intense study and observation. That’s not to say that they’re correct, but from what we are able to observe, they make the most sense. And, unlike your dragon poop, there are plenty of people trying to refute evolution.
      Anyway, what "direction" do you think we should look, to discern how evolution has occured, and is occuring?

      quote JDavidE:

      Are you saying that humans and chimps are not "related" in the sense that they have a relatively recent common ancestor?
      Huh? I’m saying that humans and chimps are not necessarily related even if they do have a common ancestor, which I doubt. How do we know it was a common ancestor? DNA sequencing? I don’t think that proves a relationship other than we happen to have a lot of the same hardware. Let’s get silly again. You and 29 other people wander into a shop that sells electrical gadgets. All of you make several or many purchases from the trays lying about. By the time you have all finished shopping, it is dark outside. So, those who happen to have bought flashlights will turn them on. The rest will remain in the dark. If you compare purchases, you might discover that many people not only have the identical gadgets but that many may have most. Does that make you all related in the genetic sense? (Yes, I do appreciate that is woefully simplistic).

      As far as analogies go, narrowstaircases version is more accurate. At least you acknowledge the simplicity of the example. If we see two species of finches, similar in almost every regard except the shape of their beaks, we can hypothesize that they share a recent common ancestor. The only other explanation i could think of is that every species on earth evolved independenty from its own original proto-cell. Or possibly, there was a common ancestor farther back than hypothesized, and the two species evolved in a parallel fashion. That still calls for a common ancestor though. Evolutionary theory (especially cladistics) generally follows the most parsimonious path (to weigh options, not discount them).

      quote JDavidE:

      However, to say that evolution progresses in ANY direction is to imply that there is a purpose to the process of evolution,
      No it doesn’t. Grand Old Darwin should never have used the word evolution because everybody thinks it means it has to be better and stronger. We have got to get away from thinking that evolution always works upward. It simply means the differentiation or mutation from a parent organism. There are several examples of atavism, especially in the plant kingdom. To suggest that evolution doesn’t work laterally as well is fuzzy thinking. Picture an arid zone. Picture all of the plants growing there in the arid zone. They will have many, many features in common to enable them to capture water, retain water, reflect heat, redirect heat and to source nutrient in the soil (often by way of a symbiotic mycelium). Does this suppose that they all had a recent common ancestor? As for purpose, that supposes creationism and that is even stupider than my hypothesis that DNA is one single organism, and we are in the belly of the beast.

      Actually I believe the association of "better, stronger" comes from post-darwin treatment of the word evolution. I could be wrong though. As far as "direction" is concerned, I think we misunderstood each other. It’s common knowledge that evolution is not a linear progression (such as shown in charts of human evolution) but a branching, sprawling, haphazard phenomenon that is difficult to demonstrate visually. In fact, we really don’t have any methods perfected for the visualization of evolutionary relationships. Cladistics is probably the closest, but even it has its flaws.
      No, analogous features do not necessarily indicate organisms are closely related. For example, dolphins and sharks are not closely related, even though they both have dorsal fins. However, we can probably conclude that a dolphin and a shark are more closely related than a shark and a starfish.

      quote JDavidE:

      I have an issue with your treatment of human-caused extinction. Yes, there have been species that have cause other species to go extinct before. Extinction is part of evolution, [Really? Why should that be so? That presupposes grand design and is rather a wastefully stupid idea if it is.] and natural ecological function on earth. You treat it as simply one form of DNA wiping out another, with little to no net effect.

      No I don’t. I do not suggest anywhere that one form of DNA wipes out another form. Firstly, DNA is DNA and doesn’t come in different guises or forms (or flavours). If DNA is the only life form (creature) on earth, which I contend, then the loss of an entire species (our terminology) is no more meaningful to DNA than the Autumnal loss of leaves to a tree.

      While you can have adaptation and speciation without extinction, it is a fundamental aspect of evolution. If you can’t understand this… ask yourself what would happen if no species ever went extinct. I am in no way indicating that there is a "grand design". It’s just how things work.

      I will sub-quote what you originally said about the pidgeons:

      quote :

      quote JDavidE:

      Life went on. It did not create a hole. Some things changed maybe for the worse and some things changed maybe for the better but it didn’t matter a bit either way to DNA. It was simply an unsuccessful line of endeavour and other organisms would make up the numbers.

      I think narrowstaircase dealt quite well with this portion. You’re anthropomorphizing DNA, and at the same time, pidgeon-holing it as a catch-all entity, rather than what it really is. There are variations on DNA. Disagree? compare viral dna to bacterial, or bacterial to mitochondrial, or mitochondrial to nucleic mammal.

      quote JDavidE:

      The mass-roosting and migration behavior is a very effective survival mechanism, as it decreases predation rates. The underscore is mine.
      Sorry, that is simply wrong. Having read your whole comment on conservation issues, I think it is probably safe to say that you are not a member of the NRA. Such behaviour does not decrease predation rates it only enhances the odds that the individual will not be eaten. In fact, where huge food sources are available, even seasonally, it simply increases the number of predators (who seem to know when and where) and the amount of predation. But it still is better odds for the individual than being the only bird in the tree when a hungry snake is slithering about.

      […cidada example]
      The sky is not falling however. Nor was it falling when the Passenger pigeon got extincted by us (I just made that word up for the fun of it) in the space of a few hundred years. It should have been an ecological disaster. So why wasn’t it? It didn’t lead to global warming, or another interglacial and didn’t seem to have any appreciable impact at all. So why not? I think it only makes a difference to us because we can take notes. It wouldn’t matter a damn to a chimpanzee and I don’t think it matters to DNA either.

      I’ll take the high-road on your first comments, and not be mean. "predation rate" means the ratio of individuals killed by predators. Yes, more predators show up for these swarms, but the predator to prey ratio (and thus the predation rate) is still lower than if they were spread out over a large area and time. I think you probably just misunderstood me, since you mention the decreased chance of the individual being killed.

      I’m not going to try to go into the ethics of conservation with you, as you obviously seem to have your mind made up (and no, i’m not in the NRA). However, I was talking to DNA the other day, and it was really pissed off about the pidgeon thing… yeah… Something about genocide. I dunno. Must be a cultural thing.

      quote JDavidE:

      It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that organisms, NOT DNA, are what interact with the environment and each-other, and thus any and all value judgements are based on those interactions, not the mute contributions of the underlying DNA.
      Mebbe so. And maybe a mythical dragon causes tornadoes.

      try again.

    • #70137
      JDavidE
      Participant
      quote Darby:

      quote :

      A chicken is an egg’s way of making another egg.

      I guess I’m just being dense here, Darby, and I apologise. That just seems to border on existentialism and I never understood that either.

      quote :

      It’s not an infinite grab-bag of possibilities that would allow a sponge to be a pear tree if only certain ones were expressed.

      Hmm. I suppose the gap between sponge and pear tree might be a little unrealistic but otherwise why not, Darby? Many animals undergo rapid and dramatic changes in response to season and breeding cycles. Breeding salmon in particular make a startling change in morphology (presumably atavistic) at the prompting of a hormone. We already know that, in humans, chromosomal abnormalities at certain loci not only produce brain and mental disorders but symptomatic morphological alterations as well (such as Down’s syndrome).

      quote :

      I’ve got to say, I may not completely understand the basic point you’re trying to make here

      Well, that’s the problem, Darby: I’m not sure I do either. That’s why I’ve thrown it out here to see if someone can debunk it simply and entirely (using provable concepts). That would let me stop pursuing it.
      Life both developed here and burgeoned here in accord with the present diagram or it didn’t. Let’s suppose it didn’t. One reason might be that the formation of life anywhere in the universe is in the realm of Quantum theory (and might just wink out of existence at any moment). Or the formation of life here on earth is subject to Chaos theory and we simply need to change disciplines. There are probably lots more reasons but any I come up with have the same problem as our present model. It is far too open-ended and when something presents itself that doesn’t fit, we hammer it and bend it to make it fit. That doesn’t seem right to me. If a theory really, really works, then it should be elegant and simple and predictable, shouldn’t it?

      You (Darby) are a container for many genera of other creatures. If one strain of bacteria in your gastro-intestinal tract, say, (back to the absurd) developed intelligence, how long do you suppose it might take them to figure out just what the living arrangement was?

      My only ‘what if’ model that seemed to fit the (my) parameters was that there was only one creature here on earth and we were all just part of it. And if someone came visiting, who would they shake hands with?

    • #70139
      JDavidE
      Participant
      quote Narrowstaircase:

      The journey of Earth has always been towards more and more order.

      Really? Complexity creates order?

      quote Narrowstaircase:

      my question here is, what is the alternative to a building up in evolution? A sudden appearance of multicellular organisms?

      Maybe not but why not? We accept that a collection of amino acids (that we can produce in lab conditions from early earth atmospheres) spontaneously became able to replicate. We still can’t do that (as of this writing) and may never be able to do it. There is not a lot that is startling in a polyploid organism.

      quote Narrowstaircase:

      single celled organisms first joined to become a community they needed to communicate and what developed was a rudimentary nervous system called a nerve net. over time parts of the nerve net have joined to form nerve chords and ganglia, never going backwards in this developement, always bigger and more centrated nervous systems, until you get to the mammals with their comparitively enormous brains. this is a uni-directional developement that is never admitted. why? the implications of larger more efficient brains are very important in developement such as more complex behaviour -> complex social structure. the next step in the heirarchy of matter. this is our upward march, this is why we are the pinnicle.

      I was going to let this go but I just spilled my coffee and I’m a little bit cranky. NSC, you really have to get off the bandwagon. You are talking manifest destiny crap here. Some of my friends who know a whole lot about dinosaurs will be glad to tell you (try and stop them) that several dinosaurs had very large brain cases and so should have been considered as intelligent as any similar animal today like us and like our friend, Tursiops Truncata, the bottle-nosed dolphin. And speaking of flipper, why the hell, after forty or more years of intensive study, hasn’t he had the courtesy to at least ask us a question so we can justify the amount of money we’ve spent getting him to jump through a hoop and shake our hand? And, NSC, if we are the pinnacle, then the world is in worse shape than the doomsayers predict.

      quote Narrowstaircase:

      – so beacause DNA persists when one organism or species dies implies the meaning of life is for DNA to persist/survive?

      In terms of my argument: Bingo

      quote Narrowstaircase:

      which is why we dont just reproduce by fragmentation which would be far easier for this selfcontrived DNA you speak of.

      Of course this DNA I speak of is self-contrived. Or would you care to offer a theory as to who otherwise might have contrived it? And you are correct. Fragmentation is easier and it was tried rather successfully but that only produces clones. Clones are vulnerable to rapid extinction if a species becomes threatened. You point out several times that DNA tries everything “to know everything”.

      quote Narrowstaircase:

      – if the only thing that mattered was the persistance of DNA then what we would find (or not find sisnce we wouldnt exist) is that only raw DNA existed. why would a DNA molecule want to traverse the globe within a lifetime? surely it has all the time in the world? why create unique carriers? why create such intricate/complex ecosystems? organisms are active within the ecosystem, changing it, why would DNA have changed earth to such a degree? the atmosphere? the soil? the water? why all these changes towards complexity when all it wants to do is exist? at the birth of life – of DNA – why not just keep all these environments the same?

      You’ve answered all that yourself in earlier paragraphs. Let me just make a few amendments or comments here. First up we would exist, because we do exist, nothing would be changed except a different approach to our research. A DNA molecule doesn’t want to traverse the globe in ‘our’ lifetime, you are right, it has all the time in the world. So, do we. Why create unique carriers? Pollen either finds a stigma or it doesn’t and is wasted. If it finds a stigma then it has to be compatible or is wasted. It’s all the luck of the draw. A carrier such as an animal can seek out a partner with desirable heritable attributes. Just consider why you get ‘turned on’. This is not random. This is aiming.
      Change is progress even if the change is for the worse. Anything else is stagnation.
      Back in the early nineteen-forties a couple of geophysicists (if that’s what they called them in those days) cleared their throats and brazenly suggested that whole continents might just raft around the globe on magma. When the laughter died down and a few decades had passed by, the idea didn’t seem quite so silly. But nothing had changed; just an attitude and a whole lot better understanding in several disciplines.
      More than a generation ago some palaeontologists suggested that the histology of a few groups of dinosaur bones indicated that some might have been homeothermic. No one laughed but some rather eminent people seriously debunked the idea. And when these same guys suggested that the bones looked like those of a chicken and that maybe we still had dinosaurs with us today, there were almost shouts of blasphemy. Now that we concur that birds did descend from those terrible lizards, nothing has changed. We are just looking at things a little differently now.

      quote Narrowstaircase:

      – and?? yes we are different to chimps. you chose the right things to highlight our differences. This is an example of us not knowing everything, not an example of everything we’ve learnt about our animal heritage being wrong.

      Why would I choose the wrong things to highlight our differences?
      Look, whether a chimpanzee is my half-sister or totally unrelated is of no consequence to either my argument or to the consequences IF my argument is substantive. That we are not related is my, me, the one writing this, personal belief. I am entitled to one of those am I not? I am not asking you to believe it nor am I asking you to drop your personal beliefs and adopt mine. I am simply giving you my reasons (right, wrong, stupid) for casually mentioning why I don’t personally choose to believe it. It’s up to you to prove my argument wrong or stupid: Not just tell me that you believe it to be different and because you believe it to be different it must therefore, be different.
      If you argue that chimp and man are close relatives, then, if it is also true that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, there should be some point where both embryos are identical. Is there? (I withdraw that; it isn’t really a fair assertion. But you can perhaps see that if A is correct then B should also be correct. They seldom seem to be. And that is my dilemma).

      Two people have had a go at me because I mentioned Selfish Gene theory. It’s not a religion it’s a theory. You can only refute the theory with the guy that proposed it, not the guy that happens to think it works. That’s like shooting the messenger. You should see some of the books I have here on my shelf with some pretty stupid theories by some pretty brainy and authoritative people. I have one book here, quite a few years old now, (as you would guess) that states…with authority, mind you, that the reason we find fossil marine animals high on mountains is because they were left there by Noah’s flood. That was the high-water mark.

      quote Narrowstaircase:

      – this is not fact. how do you know our current sexual preoccupancy is not because of other factors, such as psychological, since that is the main springboard for action in conscious creatures like ourselves?

      I suppose very few of us ‘know’ anything clinical. But it would appear that people with very serious psychological problems causing them not to function rationally (and institutionalised because of it) still manifest sexual desires. Hormones are responsible for sexual desire, not the workings of the ego; and those hormones are produced on demand by DNA. (And speak for yourself; I don’t believe that I am sexually preoccupied)

      quote Narrowstaircase:

      – i would like to see the reference for this comment plz.

      I would expect a simple search of the web to turn up several reports. If you can’t find one or two to support my comment, then let me know and I will dig through mine and cite the authority for it.

      quote Narrowstaircase:

      what you have here is a new classification system that sheds no new knowledge. which is what people are trying to tell you. i can make one up too on levels higher or lower than that of DNA.

      No it isn’t. Nothing I am writing is about classification changes. You can classify anything you want anyway that you want so long as it helps you sleep at night.

      Anyway, how about just one response or argument at a time? I am prepared to attempt an answer on most things and would really like to be able to do so, but I get tired of reading pages and pages that present no new refutation of my argument.

      quote Narrowstaircase:

      – also alot of the information (almost all of it) you give provides no evidence to support your argument. like dead end developement in animal evolution. just because these species have become extinct and others have not doesnt mean DNA is using organisms as shuttling devices.
      – also you points are based on points are based on points that are unsubstantiated. i can imagine this whole thing sprouting from the mind of someone reading about selfish gene theory…

      I have finally gotten this far and you really are becoming tiresome. An argument, by definition, is not evidential. Why would you expect otherwise? However, directly after having chastised me for not supporting my comments, you have the audacity to declare, “just because these species have become extinct and others have not doesnt mean DNA is using organisms as shuttling devices.” Where, oh where, is your supporting evidence?
      And finally, and I mean very finally, if you do not read everyone’s argument and theory (though Selfish Gene theory is apparently heretical to you) then how can you know what is the truth? I think you should change your username to Narrow-Minded Staircase.

    • #70140
      JDavidE
      Participant
      quote AstusAleator:

      I’ll take the high-road on your first comments, and not be mean. “predation rate” means the ratio of individuals killed by predators. Yes, more predators show up for these swarms, but the predator to prey ratio (and thus the predation rate) is still lower than if they were spread out over a large area and time.

      I would presume that you have done the research (or seen it). I haven’t so I will defer to you in this instance. But I must admit it still seems very counter-intuitive to me. You are suggesting that a million (birds) in one large massed group loses fewer individuals than would happen in a million birds spread out say country wide (defining country wide as their eco-habitat)? My only experience is with shoaling baitfish. Predators act in concert, not only within a species but also across species, to ball these creatures into a dense mass where the predators can simply swim open-gaped through the swarm and Hoover them up. The loss of individuals is staggering.
      Does it then follow (though we have few predators) that human populations in metropolitan areas suffer fewer mortalities than a similar population figure spread over sparsely settled areas? (all other things being equal)

      quote AstusAleater:

      I’m not going to try to go into the ethics of conservation with you, as you obviously seem to have your mind made up

      No, not really, AA, I can’t even make up my mind about what to have for lunch. But I am by any definition a conservationist. I’m just not a greenie. I think the loss of the Passenger pigeon was tragic only in that it was a result of human greed and cupidity and ignorance. I abhor the pointless death of any life form such as all the untargeted fish caught in trawl nets (as well as the quantity of the target species). I detest the use of such fish being used for fertilizers or pet food. I can give you a litany of all such things that I abhor. You just won’t find me out on the street-corner haranguing passers-by or trying to ram a Japanese whaling ship because I want publicity enough to rent very large offices and employ lots of people earning salaries. I just find that such things as mass extinctions leave me wondering if we really have a handle on the mechanics of it all.
      I mentioned breeding salmon in another reply somewhere else on this page. I find it incomprehensible that these fish face the rigours of the upstream journey and arrive at the headwaters, exhausted. Then, with the last few scraps of what energy they have left, they are forced to make massive morphological changes, pass on their genes and die. The poor females also had to do all the sweeping of the gravel bed. Typical. But why? I know we can hammer out some kind of a theory that will fit (this one instance) but don’t you think that at least one strategy would be for some of the fish not to waste all their energy in such grotesque alteration. Then just maybe, after laying their eggs or releasing their milt, they could make their way downstream again and back to the ocean to come back a second time the following year?
      Yes, I know all of the consequences of this strange cycle. I know that the phosphorous in the decomposing fish is a nutrient that feeds other organisms that feed the fry. I know that the spring floodwaters wash the fish onto land where they decompose further to fertilize the forest. I just think this is all simply consequence and doesn’t explain how such a complicated strategy ever had a hope of forming. It must lie within the DNA. Hence my argument that maybe we aren’t looking at this whole thing from the right perspective.

      I hope this doesn’t get lost as a later edit to this particular discussion.
      I must have become lost in the maze of quotes and pages of reply from respondents that I missed your other questions and did not address them. I apologise for that and assure you I did not just dismiss them out of hand. However, I would like to address them all with one reply for I feel that I did not make the thrust of my argument plain. And I may have implied (in your reading of it) a totally incorrect basis to my argument.

      Let me make it quite clear that I do not refute any of present day theory. In particular I am an evolutionist and champion of Darwin (although he certainly doesn’t need my help). Nor am I seeking to change anything within the realm of the biological sciences. My argument is that we seem not to be able to agree on determinations where, if we are talking science, we should be in agreement. And if we are not in agreement, then there is something wrong.

      Let’s define science. The following is an excerpt from the Oxford English Dictionary so that you can direct any disagreement to them and not to me:
      Science: A branch of study that deals either with a connected body of demonstrated truths or with observed facts systematically classified and more or less comprehended by general laws, and which includes reliable methods for the discovery of new truth in its own domain; spec., any of the natural sciences.

      Suppose I take a thermometer outdoors and I determine by the use of the thermometer that the temperature of the air is 2 degrees below zero. Then suppose that you take an identical thermometer outdoors, stand in the same spot, and your determination is that the temperature is 2 degrees above zero. There can only be two (reasonable) conclusions. Either, one of us has a faulty thermometer, or the theory upon which the thermometer is based is flawed.

      There are many examples in biological science where scientific group A uses a set of rules or a specific tool to make a determination on a specific datum or data. Then scientific group B uses the exact same rules or tool to make a determination that is quite different. (I will not quote here instances for fear of polarising the debate into different arenas.) When the discrepancy is queried, the general excuse seems to be that it is open to interpretation. Think about that for a moment. That says that the scientists deliberately defined a set of rules or built a tool designed to purposely misinterpret data. That isn’t science, that’s guesswork. Otherwise you might as well include such things as tealeaf reading, horoscopes, tarot cards, palmistry and the reading of entrails and knucklebones as sciences.

      A theory should not only be able to explain the observable, but to predict results. Whilst I appreciate that we do not have all of the evidence and fully understand that we may likely not ever have it all, I still suggest that we should be able to use theory to predict. We are not futurists and so can’t lay down an evolutionary trail into tomorrow. But we should be able to use the theories to predict what should have happened an eon ago and then go and look for the supporting evidence. We have done this many times. The problem is, whenever we do, it seems that Groups A and B have different determinations.

      Every so often someone stumbles across some irrefutable evidence that changes many of our preconceived notions. When it happens we all look startled. But we shouldn’t be, for if our theory was valid, it should have predicted something like that. My argument is that if there is nothing wrong with our thermometers, then just maybe we should be re-evaluating the theory. Because, to my mind, something is amiss.

      I just happen to think that maybe all life on this planet (now and up to now) is simply one single organism. I can’t prove it and I doubt if it is possible to prove it. But let’s hear your argument to disprove it. If you can, then I will be ever so happy to discard it.

      The forum member, Darby (who appears rather thoughtful and insightful) joined the argument and was most likely correct in his dismissal of the idea as vapid and unprovable, hence of no value as a foundation to more knowledge. I am eager to concur but I really would like it if someone could put a stake through its heart.

    • #70174
      Darby
      Participant

      The more I read, the less this makes any kind of coherent sense. In a response to me, you seem to see the whole biosphere as one organism; just below, you seem to be claiming that chimps and humans aren’t closely related.

      I’ll try to make some responses, and although it would make some sense to do quote boxes, I’m just going to wing it –

      The range of gene expression seen in a salmon (or even more dramatic cases) isn’t comparable to the range found across the Kingdoms. That everything is genetically "the same," with just expression differences, seems to underly your entire idea, but it’s not even close to being a true premise.

      From some of the other response boxes:

      Complexity can create order, if there’s usable energy around. That’s the problem with wanting simple straightforward and elegant theories: biology is a messy business. If you don’t like fuzzy parameters and lots of exceptions, there’s always physics (but stay away from the quantum stuff).

      The prevailing theory right now is that amino acids never self-replicated, but were tied to a template, probably RNA, that itself might have used clays as a template. Once you stop thinking in individual molecule terms and start thinking in complexes from the earliest steps, it kinda sorta works (but there’s still lots to figure out yet). DNA becomes a stabler form of RNA, and proteins become a more chemically active form, both reachable from an RNA starting point. But the system is never DNA in and of itself. To use your own comparison, selfish DNA is more like an intestinal bacterium – much more dependent on the system than vice versa, but capable of doing some "independent" evolving within some very limited parameters.

      I hate this evolution = progress stuff that never goes away, too, but there is a general movement toward complexity, if only because genomes tend to evolve additively – the most important process might be the one that produces extra copies of genes.

      "Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" hasn’t been an accepted concept for a very long time. Ontogeny is suggestive of phylogeny, but we don’t replay our history; like any organism in a largely stable environment, there has been less obvious evolution for embryos than adults, whose environments aren’t as comparable. But take it from someone who taught vertebrate embryology for several years, there are points where it’s close to impossible to tell a human, bird, or reptile embryo apart, much less a human and ape. Those are the areas where the "in common" genes are at work.

      Your examples of animal behavior border on the logic of the Intelligent Design crowd: if it’s too complicated for you to grasp the rationale, there must be something unnatural about it. Schooling behavior is countered by corralling behavior, but there is still a definite advantage to schooling; if the evolutionary arms race had been that good at countering it, you wouldn’t see schooling behaviors. But since it does exist, of course you will see some predatory behaviors specifically aimed at it.

      Salmon behavior may not be a reflection of the rigors of upstream reproduction, but the advantages of spending adolescence as a marine fish, making the return to origin energetically feasible. Those stream certainly couldn’t support that salmon population if they all stayed there…

      To me, that’s a much more reasonable line of thought than some mystical aspect of DNA being responsible. And it really does sound magical – what you are suggesting apparently somehow ties to the selfish gene, but certainly not in any way Dawkins (in my opinion) envisioned it.

    • #70177
      narrowstaircase
      Participant
      quote JDavidE:

      Really? Complexity creates order?

      i didn’t say that. plz read carefully before you reply. complexity and order go hand in hand, they develop together, neither one creates the other. Science has found this to be a physical law on earth. its called The Second Path to The Second Law of Thermodynamics.

      quote JDavidE:

      Maybe not but why not? We accept that a collection of amino acids (that we can produce in lab conditions from early earth atmospheres) spontaneously became able to replicate. We still can’t do that (as of this writing) and may never be able to do it. There is not a lot that is startling in a polyploid organism.

      i find it strange that you are willing to accept a sudden appearance of multicellular organisms on earthand then in the same breath admit to evolution as a process. its also strange that there is evidence all around you (that you can see and touch) of a heirarchy of matter and yet you are unwilling to admit to this fact.

      quote JDavidE:

      I was going to let this go but I just spilled my coffee and I’m a little bit cranky. NSC, you really have to get off the bandwagon. You are talking manifest destiny crap here. Some of my friends who know a whole lot about dinosaurs will be glad to tell you (try and stop them) that several dinosaurs had very large brain cases and so should have been considered as intelligent as any similar animal today like us and like our friend, Tursiops Truncata, the bottle-nosed dolphin. And speaking of flipper, why the hell, after forty or more years of intensive study, hasn’t he had the courtesy to at least ask us a question so we can justify the amount of money we’ve spent getting him to jump through a hoop and shake our hand? And, NSC, if we are the pinnacle, then the world is in worse shape than the doomsayers predict.

      – [firstly, i have no idea what NSC means.] i dont refute that several dinosuars had large brain cases. you didnt adress my point. my point is that nervous system development is linear. and the pinnicle of this development is mammals and humans at the tip. another point, comparative brain size = brain size compared to the body size of the organism. if you say several dinosaur brains were large, my reply is ok, but how big was this organisms body? and then if the body/brain ratio was small, then i say ok, has that development gone backwards from that point? ie. this includes brain size/efficiency, centration of nerves to form ganglia/chords. also, because i said mamals have comparitively enormous brains doesnt mean every mammal is concious to mans level. you know very well why chimps and dolphins cant talk or rationalise. why play this game?
      – the world is in bad shape, because people like to transfer responsibility from conscious humans to DNA.

      quote JDavidE:

      “so beacause DNA persists when one organism or species dies implies the meaning of life is for DNA to persist/survive?”
      In terms of my argument: Bingo

      implicit in this statement is a misunderstanding or a manipulation of understanding of DNA. why don’t you address other points like those provided before you commit to this statement?, "You’re anthropomorphizing DNA, and at the same time, pidgeon-holing it as a catch-all entity, rather than what it really is. There are variations on DNA. Disagree? compare viral dna to bacterial, or bacterial to mitochondrial, or mitochondrial to nucleic mammal." (AstusAleator) and "It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that organisms, NOT DNA, are what interact with the environment and each-other, and thus any and all value judgements are based on those interactions, not the mute contributions of the underlying DNA." (AstusAleator)

      quote JDavidE:

      Of course this DNA I speak of is self-contrived. Or would you care to offer a theory as to who otherwise might have contrived it? And you are correct. Fragmentation is easier and it was tried rather successfully but that only produces clones. Clones are vulnerable to rapid extinction if a species becomes threatened. You point out several times that DNA tries everything “to know everything”.

      the chemistry of early earth didnt change on its own. life changed it. my question was. if the meaning of life (as youve declared) is for DNA to persist, why did life change the earth to such a degree? why not try to keep it simple?

      quote JDavidE:

      You’ve answered all that yourself in earlier paragraphs. Let me just make a few amendments or comments here. First up we would exist, because we do exist, nothing would be changed except a different approach to our research. A DNA molecule doesn’t want to traverse the globe in ‘our’ lifetime, you are right, it has all the time in the world. So, do we.

      – no, what ive answered is why there is a trend towards complexity and order in physical matter. not why the point of life if for DNA to persist as its own self-involved entity. why would you use my evidence for development of order and complexity to justify your own idea with its premise of non-development from simple to complex?

      quote JDavidE:

      Why create unique carriers? Pollen either finds a stigma or it doesn’t and is wasted. If it finds a stigma then it has to be compatible or is wasted. It’s all the luck of the draw. A carrier such as an animal can seek out a partner with desirable heritable attributes. Just consider why you get ‘turned on’. This is not random. This is aiming.
      Change is progress even if the change is for the worse. Anything else is stagnation.

      – as i recall i was the one describing sexual reproduction to you. we know the reason sexual reproduction is usefull. the link between this fact and that which states DNA is the all encompasing self involved organism is where most people get lost.

      quote JDavidE:

      Back in the early nineteen-forties a couple of geophysicists (if that’s what they called them in those days) cleared their throats and brazenly suggested that whole continents might just raft around the globe on magma. When the laughter died down and a few decades had passed by, the idea didn’t seem quite so silly. But nothing had changed; just an attitude and a whole lot better understanding in several disciplines.

      – you are confusing techtonic plate theory with continental drift theory. also refer to my next comment plz.

      quote JDavidE:

      More than a generation ago some palaeontologists suggested that the histology of a few groups of dinosaur bones indicated that some might have been homeothermic. No one laughed but some rather eminent people seriously debunked the idea. And when these same guys suggested that the bones looked like those of a chicken and that maybe we still had dinosaurs with us today, there were almost shouts of blasphemy. Now that we concur that birds did descend from those terrible lizards, nothing has changed. We are just looking at things a little differently now.

      – the rest of the paragraph is evidence you are being unsubstantially and wrongfully picked on?
      – youre ‘evidence’ is essentially saying, these people were right but no one believed them, therefore i am right because no one believes me. ugh

      quote JDavidE:

      Why would I choose the wrong things to highlight our differences?
      Look, whether a chimpanzee is my half-sister or totally unrelated is of no consequence to either my argument or to the consequences IF my argument is substantive. That we are not related is my, me, the one writing this, personal belief. I am entitled to one of those am I not? I am not asking you to believe it nor am I asking you to drop your personal beliefs and adopt mine. I am simply giving you my reasons (right, wrong, stupid) for casually mentioning why I don’t personally choose to believe it. It’s up to you to prove my argument wrong or stupid: Not just tell me that you believe it to be different and because you believe it to be different it must therefore, be different. If you argue that chimp and man are close relatives, then, if it is also true that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, there should be some point where both embryos are identical. Is there? (I withdraw that; it isn’t really a fair assertion. But you can perhaps see that if A is correct then B should also be correct. They seldom seem to be. And that is my dilemma).

      why do you say this is your own personal belief then say we have to prove your argumant wrong? when A you have no argumant? B they are your beliefs. and C youve ignored your own advice by not disproving many facts that your idea simply overlooks.

      quote JDavidE:

      Two people have had a go at me because I mentioned Selfish Gene theory. It’s not a religion it’s a theory. You can only refute the theory with the guy that proposed it, not the guy that happens to think it works. That’s like shooting the messenger.

      no its not like shooting the messenger. i have not had a go at you. because you agree with that idea, and my aims are to disprove it, you feel i am actually attacking you. its your ideas that are unfounded that are being subjected to scrutiny. you must have an ego investment in them to not see what other people write about your ideas, choose to ignore what peopel write about your ideas, and manipulate information to back up your ideas.

      quote JDavidE:

      I suppose very few of us ‘know’ anything clinical. But it would appear that people with very serious psychological problems causing them not to function rationally (and institutionalised because of it) still manifest sexual desires. Hormones are responsible for sexual desire, not the workings of the ego; and those hormones are produced on demand by DNA.

      – hormones are responsible for sexual desire in animals as well as humans. ego is also responsible for sexual desires in humans, there is clear and easily understood reasoning behind that statement. refer to Jeremy Griffith.

      quote JDavidE:

      (And speak for yourself; I don’t believe that I am sexually preoccupied)

      – an example, having sex or thinking about sex without the intention of procreation is a common behaviour. but why does it happen? and why does this imply preoccupation and not simply a genetic mechanism? becasue we are conscious. its a choice. but then why are we practicing sex if not for preocreation if its not a genetically induced drive? this brings us to the Human Condition. a really interesting and enlightening subject. once again, i reference Jeremy Griffith.

      quote JDavidE:

      I would expect a simple search of the web to turn up several reports. If you can’t find one or two to support my comment, then let me know and I will dig through mine and cite the authority for it.

      its not my responsibility to refernce your material. the one line i ask for a reference for and its like shitting bricks for you. just give me your reference.

      quote JDavidE:

      No it isn’t. Nothing I am writing is about classification changes. You can classify anything you want anyway that you want so long as it helps you sleep at night.

      couple this statement with your previous statements of "nothing has changed. We are just looking at things a little differently now."

      quote JDavidE:

      I have finally gotten this far and you really are becoming tiresome. An argument, by definition, is not evidential. Why would you expect otherwise?

      i love that line.

      quote JDavidE:

      However, directly after having chastised me for not supporting my comments, you have the audacity to declare, “just because these species have become extinct and others have not doesnt mean DNA is using organisms as shuttling devices.” Where, oh where, is your supporting evidence?

      – you might recall the first paragraph of my post. no wait what am i talking about. go back. look.
      – and the point of that statement was, youve privided no link between the occurance of extinction and your idea of DNA using organisms as shuttling devices. no evidence at all.

      quote JDavidE:

      And finally, and I mean very finally, if you do not read everyone’s argument and theory (though Selfish Gene theory is apparently heretical to you) then how can you know what is the truth? I think you should change your username to Narrow-Minded Staircase.

      – ive read selfish gene theory, i think it is awesome when it comes to explaining animal behaviour, it is totally out of context when it comes to human behaviour. ive already given refernces to why i think that as well as expamples in other posts.
      – ive read your idea and asked questions pertaining to it. youve totally ignored valid points made by myself and other posters. your interpretation of reality is being scrutinised, if you thought people would come here and fawn over your idea without disecting it you were wrong. deal with it.
      – narrow-minded staircase?? its soo easy to take a personal swipe at people on the net.. did it feel good to write that eh? the only thing i can think of is that you have some personal investment in this idea, some ego saticfaction riding on it. whatever. i dont care. just try to make more sense when you are writing your ideas. if someone says hey i dont have a clue what you are writing about and other people are also having trouble understanding you its not everyone else. its you. its the way you are communicating your idea or it may simply be that the rationalisation of your idea is wholey crippled.

      quote JDavidE:

      Anyway, how about just one response or argument at a time? I am prepared to attempt an answer on most things and would really like to be able to do so, but I get tired of reading pages and pages that present no new refutation of my argument.

      some things that have been ignored by you. plz address these before pushing your argument further.
      – "You’re anthropomorphizing DNA, and at the same time, pidgeon-holing it as a catch-all entity, rather than what it really is. There are variations on DNA. Disagree? compare viral dna to bacterial, or bacterial to mitochondrial, or mitochondrial to nucleic mammal." (AstusAleator)
      – "It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that organisms, NOT DNA, are what interact with the environment and each-other, and thus any and all value judgements are based on those interactions, not the mute contributions of the underlying DNA." (AstusAleator)
      – "You still need to show evidence for scrapping the idea that Pan and Homo are related." (45561)

    • #70186
      AstusAleator
      Participant
      quote JDavidE:

      quote narrowstaircase:

      – so beacause DNA persists when one organism or species dies implies the meaning of life is for DNA to persist/survive?

      In terms of my argument: Bingo

      FINALLY! A THESIS!

      Honestly, aside from its relevancy, I don’t really see a problem with that statement, except of course the use of the word meaning. I wouldn’t agree that there is "meaning" or "purpose" to life, but I would accept that all life is the chance result of proto-DNA’s ability to replicate itself and evolve.

      I know that JDavidE said something like this to begin with, but he attached the sense of DNA being cognizant, and having a will. Furthermore, there was a lot of additional rigamarole attached to whatever attempt at a thesis there was.

      If the above is the crux of what JDavidE is trying to get at, then I don’t think much of this discussion has even had a point…

      Finally: The relevance issue: DNA-based life is all we know. We realize the importance of DNA in heredity, and in defining biodiversity. Perhaps keeping in mind that all life is a form of DNA-expression can remind us the intrinsic value each species, virus, etc carries. A thesis such as JDavidE’s can serve to humble us, but I don’t see how much good or bad it really does in the long run. Like I said before, it seems kind of like a moot point.

      I suppose it might help people to change their frame of reference, which is always good when conducting science.

      -JDavidE: In response to your bit about predator-prey behavior. Predator-prey relationships are ever changing. Predators adapt to prey behaviors. There are cases similar to the one you cited, in which dolphins will create cylinders of bubbles that trap anchovies in ever smaller bunches, so that the dolphins have a higher success rate when they swim through.
      This is an example of predators innovating or adapting ways to take advantage of previously effective prey survival strategies. Another very good example is the passenger pidgeon itself (although to compare technology/society/language/etc to basic adaptations is a rough analogy indeed). Though the mass-swarm behavior had served the pidgeons well in the past, a new predator arrived that they were not adapted to, which also happened to be able to innovate ways to capitalize on the pidgeons behavior.

      It’s funny, as a side-note, that humans seem to have come up with ways to conquer pretty much every adaptive strategy ever developed by any species, except maybe humans themselves…

    • #70189
      AstusAleator
      Participant

      Oh, sorry to be a pain but

      quote narrowstaircase:

      single celled organisms first joined to become a community they needed to communicate and what developed was a rudimentary nervous system called a nerve net. over time parts of the nerve net have joined to form nerve chords and ganglia, never going backwards in this developement, always bigger and more centrated nervous systems, until you get to the mammals with their comparitively enormous brains. this is a uni-directional developement that is never admitted. why? the implications of larger more efficient brains are very important in developement such as more complex behaviour -> complex social structure. the next step in the heirarchy of matter. this is our upward march, this is why we are the pinnicle.

      I wouldn’t go so far as to call humans a pinnacle. That indicates purpose. You can’t deny that evolution occurs in more than just a linear fashion. From what you say, I take you to mean by pinnacle that we are the most complex, physically and behaviorally. I’m sure there are plenty of organisms out there who’s physiology far-surpasses ours in complexity. And I know I see plenty of animals on the Discovery Channel whos behavior boggles my mind.

      Some dinosaurs were the biggest and/or most socially developed (pinnacle) of their time, but as far as we can tell, have no extant progeny.

      Oh and dolphins have gigantic brains, but it’s mostly insulation. They’re not really that smart. Dogs are smarter…

      As for this "hierarchy of matter" I’m not sure what you’re getting at there… If I have you right, eventually we’ll have something akin to the "brain-bug" in Starship Troopers. I say meh. double meh.

      *points to his sig*

    • #70248
      narrowstaircase
      Participant

      I wouldn’t go so far as to call humans a pinnacle. That indicates purpose.

      – ye thats my point. i do think there is purpose in evolution and i also think science is our tool to find truth, and we will prove purpose using science.

      You can’t deny that evolution occurs in more than just a linear fashion. From what you say, I take you to mean by pinnacle that we are the most complex, physically and behaviorally. I’m sure there are plenty of organisms out there who’s physiology far-surpasses ours in complexity. And I know I see plenty of animals on the Discovery Channel whos behavior boggles my mind.
      Some dinosaurs were the biggest and/or most socially developed (pinnacle) of their time, but as far as we can tell, have no extant progeny.

      – thats not what i meant by pinnacle. and i havent denied evolution occurs in more than just a linear fashion. here is my opinion on complexity (that i posted in my second post in this thread) and how it doesnt equate to being ‘better’ than another organism. note the emphasis.

      – the physical adaptations of animals correlate to their environment. it is irrelevant to say that one species is better than another because of its physiology when both are adapted perfectly to their own individual environments and niches. we know this. its also irrelevent to say that one species is better than another because of the complexity, or lack there of, of its physiology when both may support the same ecosystem yet at different levels. we know this. on this level of understanding i agree that life has spread and changed and covered earth in a wholey lateral way.

      Oh and dolphins have gigantic brains, but it’s mostly insulation. They’re not really that smart. Dogs are smarter…

      – when i try to emphasise a linear physiological developement occuring with the nervous system im talking in millions and millions of years. im also not refering to specific animals being ‘smarter’ than other animals. im not refering to all mammals being conscious even close to our degree. im simply saying that over the biological history of earth there is a linear development as it relates to the nervous system. it has always become better. ie. more centrated and efficient.

      As for this "hierarchy of matter" I’m not sure what you’re getting at there… If I have you right, eventually we’ll have something akin to the "brain-bug" in Starship Troopers. I say meh. double meh.

      – why i originally brought the heirarchy of matter up is because the OP denied negative entropy, developemnt from simple to complex, chaos to order.

      *points to his sig*

      – i would enterpret that as a tongue in cheek remark.

    • #70269
      narrowstaircase
      Participant

      Behaviour and Complexity

      (if at any point you disagree or dont understand pls address that specific point so that i can clear it up and we can reach a mutual concensus.)

      – as far as behaviour and complexity is concerned, i think that most behaviours we take note of are anomolies (eg. sexual behaviours, i dont include interspecies interaction for now either). that is, you can class it pretty much the same way as i classed physical complexity in my previous point. the way behavioural anomolies are divided from behaviour as it relates to a development or a linear progression is in how the behaviour effects the grouping of organisms within a species.

      – an eg. of behavioural anomolies. which human culture around the world is the best? well that doesnt make sense – (except in the case where a cultural practice may inhibit the health of a society) – because they are just different. why is this cultures’ dance or celebration sequence better than another? it isn’t. they are behavioural anomilies. there is no scale from bad to good as it relates to complexity.

      – behaviour that results in groupings of organisms, that were once independant, can be seen to correlate to negative entropy. which is linear. negentropy states that in an open system (earth) where there is energy coming in (from the sun) matter tends to form larger and more stable associations over time. this can be seen in the heirarchy of matter.

      fundamental particle > simple nuclei > complex nuclei > atoms > molecules > compounds > virus-like organisms > single-celled organisms > multicellular organisms.

      – each step involves the association of the previous stage of matter to form larger and new wholes. new plataus of associations. the next thing to consider is what is the next state of stable associations of matter after multicellular organisms? we can extrapolate quite easily to determine the next step in the physical ordering of matter on earth is stable groups of multicellular organisms, or specie societies. not just any groupings, they must be stable and ordered. groupings we find on earth at the moment can be categorised in scale or even ordinaly.

      – the grouping of multicellular organisms directly relates to their behaviour, which is why it was so important for the organisms on earth to develop a nervous system and brain that could associate information coming from its surroundings and develop behaviours.

      – when it comes to specie societies which are utterly stable and are the next platau or step in the ordering of matter on earth it must be emphasised that they must consist of parts that work entirely toward the same ends. they are ultrustic/selfless. like the cells in your body that all work entirely for the health of the entire system.

      – humans as a specie society? not really. humans as we know do not display this same singular vision that is required to make a new level of ordered association. our society is not stable although it is quite ordered, which is one of the reasons we are the most advanced. there is a lot to talk about at this point in the discussion about why humans are the way they are. our history and how it relates to human organisation, instincts, development of consciousness, why humans act selfishly when we intrinsically know we should act selflessly, development of ultruism and so on. which i couldn’t explain so simply.

      – but do you get the line of reasoning ive taken? can you follow that point by point?

    • #70271
      narrowstaircase
      Participant

      dbl post sry

      🙁

    • #70317
      AstusAleator
      Participant
      quote narrowstaircase:

      – ye thats my point. i do think there is purpose in evolution and i also think science is our tool to find truth, and we will prove purpose using science.

      For some evolutionary lines, in certain ecological conditions, it has been advantageous to develop larger, more complex nervous systems. For others, such as archeobacteria… it was never necessary, and they’re still around. Some disaster could occur tomorrow, wiping out all terrestrial life, and most marine life, leaving nothing but bacteria and protists. Or, for that matter, simply wipe out all life on earth. Where is your "purpose" then?

      Just because evolution has occured to the point where a glorified ape can start asking existential questions doesn’t mean that there is a point or purpose to the process of evolution itself.

      Evolution as a scientific model has no attached values of purpose or direction of intent.

      As for your second post:
      Because we can observe a trend in evolution, of organisms progressing from unicellular->multicellular->gastric->etc does not necessarily indicate that there is purpose, or an ultimate goal.

      Personally, you may take it to mean whatever you want. Scientifically, there can be no assumption of a guiding force, or purpose.

    • #70324
      narrowstaircase
      Participant
      quote AstusAleator:

      quote narrowstaircase:

      – ye thats my point. i do think there is purpose in evolution and i also think science is our tool to find truth, and we will prove purpose using science.

      For some evolutionary lines, in certain ecological conditions, it has been advantageous to develop larger, more complex nervous systems. For others, such as archeobacteria… it was never necessary, and they’re still around.

      – i knew i shouldn’t have put that in since it is such an easy target. Why out of everything to reply to you chose that idk. i say purpose and you say boo. what has been achieved? nothing.

      – id like to change your statement above to a more truthful and scientific observation that doesnt imply anything. this sentence:

      "For some evolutionary lines, in certain ecological conditions, it has been advantageous to develop larger, more complex nervous systems."

      this statement includes some value judgment in the phrase "it has been advantageous" and so doesn’t simply state what we see. Where you say “for some evolutionary lines” and “in certain ecological conditions” i can see you imply randomness. And i dont deny randomness (chaos) as a part of our universe. But what if it is “only for those evolutionary lines” and “only in those specific ecological conditions,” that those changes can actually occur?

      i would like to change the statement to:

      "larger and more complex nervous systems can only develop if certain ecological conditions exist and hense only in some evolutionary lines."

      this describes what we see occuring. there is no value judgment involved. It also reiterates what we know about evolution and how interactions drive certain changes. Do you agree with this statement? It also reiterates negetive entropy in that you can only end up with a certain thing if some conditions are met prior. ie. You can only have a multicellular organism if molecules joined to form compounds, compounds joined to form virus like organisms and virus like organisms joined to form single celled organisms in the first place. With out those interactions occuring prior you cannot end up with a multicellular organism.

      the new statement also addresses your next point about archeobacteria. they are single celled organisms and hence cant develop a nervous system. they have no need for it because they dont need to function as a whole, their certain ecological condition doesnt allow for that development.

      “…and they’re still around…” : i dont ever recall saying that purpose implies different associations of matter can’t coexist. I dont know where people get this idea from.

      quote AstusAleator:

      Some disaster could occur tomorrow, wiping out all terrestrial life, and most marine life, leaving nothing but bacteria and protists. Or, for that matter, simply wipe out all life on earth. Where is your “purpose” then?

      that is akin to me saying, “some wonderful enlightenment could occur tomorrow, wiping out all your doubts and negativity on purpose. Where is your ‘non-purpose’ then?” i thought we were having a scientific discussion here. Maybe it reflects our views on life. I think they are called feelings… omg i said the f word.

      quote AstusAleator:

      Just because evolution has occured to the point where a glorified ape can start asking existential questions doesn’t mean that there is a point or purpose to the process of evolution itself.

      I havent used consciousness in humans as evidence for purpose. This statement confuses me, is it directed to anything specific that ive said or is it a general attack on the idea of purpose? Or are you saying humans should simply stop asking questions about purpose?

      quote AstusAleator:

      Evolution as a scientific model AS IT EXISTS TODAY has no attached values of purpose or direction of intent.

      yar i know this.

      quote AstusAleator:

      As for your second post:
      Because we can observe a trend in evolution, of organisms progressing from unicellular->multicellular->gastric->etc does not necessarily indicate that there is purpose, or an ultimate goal.

      so because we observe a continual ordering of matter into larger, more complex, more stable associations throughout the history of Earth we can’t extrapolate that to mean there could be an end point of complete order and stability?

      quote AstusAleator:

      Personally, you may take it to mean whatever you want. Scientifically, there can be no assumption of a guiding force, or purpose.

      I have made no assumption. I have given negative entropy as scientific evidence for the trend in evolution. Evolution is simply change in associations of living matter using DNA as the information processor. You can say thats all there is to it but you must remember that evolution – DNA – exists within the parametres of fundemental laws of physics. The second law and its second path of thermodynamics have been proven and they effect all the matter and energy that make up Earth.

      Also i think you would take offense to someone if they gave you permission to understand things in only a certain way. ie. Their way. I know science doesn’t involve assumptions. In fact thats the opposite of science. Science is truth. Which is why i give you scientific evidence for a trend in evolution. I havent even explained how this relates to humans but you include your interpretation of this anyway. I’ve only explained how this trend relates to different associations of matter.

    • #70414
      AstusAleator
      Participant

      First I would like to say that I’m enjoying this debate, and by no means am I ever attempting personal attacks. If you feel I am, I apologize.

      quote narrowstaircase:

      – id like to change your statement above to a more truthful and scientific observation that doesnt imply anything. this sentence:

      “For some evolutionary lines, in certain ecological conditions, it has been advantageous to develop larger, more complex nervous systems.”

      this statement includes some value judgment in the phrase “it has been advantageous” and so doesn’t simply state what we see. Where you say “for some evolutionary lines” and “in certain ecological conditions” i can see you imply randomness. And i dont deny randomness (chaos) as a part of our universe. But what if it is “only for those evolutionary lines” and “only in those specific ecological conditions,” that those changes can actually occur?

      i would like to change the statement to:

      “larger and more complex nervous systems can only develop if certain ecological conditions exist and hense only in some evolutionary lines.”

      this describes what we see occuring. there is no value judgment involved. It also reiterates what we know about evolution and how interactions drive certain changes. Do you agree with this statement?

      While I’m not sure "advantageous" implies a value judgment, I concede that it is unnecessary in the context, as adaptations are by nature advantageous in one manner or another to the organism. The "value" I was using in reference to the term "advantageous" was simply that of fitness, nothing more. I would also substitute the word "develop" with the word "adapt." So my edited statement would be:

      "For some evolutionary lines, in certain ecological conditions, adaptation resulted in larger, more complex nervous systems."

      The point I’m driving at with this statement is that development of increasingly complex nervous systems is an organisms adaptive response to their environment, not an intentional stage of development towards some ultimate purpose.

      quote narrowstaircase:

      It also reiterates negetive entropy in that you can only end up with a certain thing if some conditions are met prior. ie. You can only have a multicellular organism if molecules joined to form compounds, compounds joined to form virus like organisms and virus like organisms joined to form single celled organisms in the first place. With out those interactions occuring prior you cannot end up with a multicellular organism.

      I would like to point out that you seem to have a very deterministic view of evolution. Perhaps it’s just my perception. I see you saying "x can only happen if y," a lot when really we don’t have any of those theoretical models 100% figured out yet. There are many different hypothetical versions of how single-celled org.s formed, and several as to how multi-celled org.s came to be.
      I know you were just providing a rough example to illustrate a point, but I wanted to point out that perhaps you’re stuck in a mode of thinking that doesn’t always apply.

      quote narrowstaircase:

      the new statement also addresses your next point about archeobacteria. they are single celled organisms and hence cant develop a nervous system. they have no need for it because they dont need to function as a whole, their certain ecological condition doesnt allow for that development.

      “…and they’re still around…” : i dont ever recall saying that purpose implies different associations of matter can’t coexist. I dont know where people get this idea from.

      While my point about archeobacteria was somewhat flawed, the ultimate message is that if there is purpose behind this accumulation of matter and complexity, and that purpose exists within our DNA or the physical laws of our world (ie is intrinsic in all life) then we would have no remaining examples of primitive life.
      I was, of course, extrapolating that your "purpose" is somehow a part of evolution, and thus a part of all living beings. If that’s not what it is, then that point is irrelevant.

      quote narrowstaircase:

      that is akin to me saying, “some wonderful enlightenment could occur tomorrow, wiping out all your doubts and negativity on purpose. Where is your ‘non-purpose’ then?” i thought we were having a scientific discussion here. Maybe it reflects our views on life. I think they are called feelings… omg i said the f word.

      well… I would say my scenario has a little more scientific plausibility (ie meteors, orbit/rotational shifts, etc) but you’re right. I was attempting to use the improbable to support my position, which is never a good thing to do.

      quote narrowstaircase:

      I havent used consciousness in humans as evidence for purpose. This statement confuses me, is it directed to anything specific that ive said or is it a general attack on the idea of purpose? Or are you saying humans should simply stop asking questions about purpose?

      By all means, look for meaning and purpose. That’s human nature. I’m just saying that in science, there is no context for things such as "purpose" or "meaning." To science you are just an individual Homo sapiens, and your cognitive processes are only significant inasmuch as they affect your and others’ fitness, and the environment. Again, I’m not saying that that’s all you are, or that there is no purpose to life. Just that within the context of science, philosophy is irrelevant.
      I’ll go ahead and admit the weakness of that statement right now though: scienctific methods are based on the philosophy of science, so it can probably never be completely free of certain implicit values.

      quote narrowstaircase:

      so because we observe a continual ordering of matter into larger, more complex, more stable associations throughout the history of Earth we can’t extrapolate that to mean there could be an end point of complete order and stability?

      exactly. :). No seriously though, that’s not necessarily a logical conclusion. It’s the kind of logical leap that results in very interesting but very improbable science fiction.
      Your ultimate being would be incapable of adaptation, and thus subject to extinction due to changes in the environment or any other number of causes. It’s fun to think about things like that, and you could even explore it scientifically if you didn’t imply purpose.

      quote narrowstaircase:

      I havent even explained how this relates to humans but you include your interpretation of this anyway. I’ve only explained how this trend relates to different associations of matter.

      Well, you did mention humans some, but you intentionally didn’t go into detail. That’s fine… sorry if I jumped ahead.

      quote narrowstaircase:

      Science is truth.

      No, my friend. Science is the never-ending pursuit of truth. Name one thing that science has proven to be absolutely true.

    • #70416
      JDavidE
      Participant

      Thanks, Darby. You’ve given me some valid points to work with. Let me just quickly clarify a couple of items.
      "…you seem to see the whole biosphere as one organism"

      I don’t actually see it that way, Darby, I am just positing a ‘what if’.

      "…you seem to be claiming that chimps and humans aren’t closely related."

      This opens up a whole new can of annelids, but briefly my objection is that we are trying to portray evolution as a periodic table or the ‘begats’ section of the Old Testament (you have already remarked a similar disinclination). Whilst we must indeed have had a common ancestor, regardless of one’s perception of evolution, it is not likely to be recent, in geologic terms. If mutations are cumulative (which they should be) then they must have started out fairly early with either animal. And each cumulative mutation would take them further apart. (I also contend that there just might be a shortcut. This goes on to your sponge and pear tree point (see further down)). We are waving this DNA sequencer tool around (for example) like it was a brand new toy and making all kinds of claims and then counterclaims. I suspect that matching sequences in us and chimps (and several other hominids that we keep pasting into our family album) are just as likely caused by parallel evolution as they are due to a recent ancestor.

      "That everything is genetically "the same," with just expression differences, seems to underly your entire idea"

      That’s an oversimplification but not totally invalid as to my premise. To modify it so that the argument has some meat would just take too much paper and time for a forum discussion. Let’s go back to your sponge and pear tree example, Darby. The gap from sponge to pear tree is almost certainly too far to make a jump. Even the gap between rose and pear tree is probably too far but at some point, maybe not until right down to the genus level of Pyrus, it might be possible to find the right sequence(s) that declares itself as a pear tree. The problem is, as you rightly pointed out in an earlier response, so what? And to that, I don’t (yet) have an answer.

      "… there’s always physics (but stay away from the quantum stuff)."

      Darby, I can’t even spell quantum. I listen to physics friends expounding theories and I find myself examining their sandwiches to see what condiments they have been sprinkling on them.

      "DNA becomes a stabler form of RNA, and proteins become a more chemically active form, both reachable from an RNA starting point. But the system is never DNA in and of itself. "

      Total agreement. But it was simpler to just type DNA.

      "- the most important process might be the one that produces extra copies of genes."

      Now, that’s a very interesting comment.

      ""Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" hasn’t been an accepted concept for a very long time."

      I thought it was crap the first time I heard it and still think so today. I used it (and withdrew it) because I was trying to think of something to illustrate that if A is true and B is true then both A and B must be true and that was the only thing I could think of at the moment.

      "Your examples of animal behavior border on the logic of the Intelligent Design crowd:"

      Dear God, no.

      "But since it does exist, of course you will see some predatory behaviors specifically aimed at it. (schooling behaviours)"

      I have no complaint with any survival strategy. I marvel at each one that unfolds. There is a small rodent-sized animal in Australia (whose name refuses to come to mind) with a strange breeding behaviour. All of the males go into a breeding frenzy and rape with violence as many females as they can and continue to do so until each male suffers a stroke and dies (with a smile on its face). The reason for the strange strategy has now been discovered when the biologists (cruelly) allowed some females to be impregnated by only one male. It seems that the survival percentage of the offspring was significantly greater with females who had multiple matings compared with those who mated (several times) with only the one male. A simple and elegant strategy; just as you would expect from the evolution sieve. But I can’t see any way that the animal can get out of its box. So, apparently, it doesn’t matter if an entire species and maybe an entire phylum can just get obliterated if some small modification occurs. I would like to know why it doesn’t matter. I can almost hear you drawing a breath, Darby, and yes I understand that giving it a name (Evolution) doesn’t give it substance and that it is simply a process of cause and effect. But sentient life surely exerts some influence?

      "- what you are suggesting apparently somehow ties to the selfish gene"

      If I had it to do over, I would never have begun that sentence by mentioning The Selfish Gene. It plays no part in my argument. I introduced it only to suggest that no theory matters if some other bigger or greater reason is in control. Let me hasten to add before everyone reaches for the Grand Design Argument button that it has nothing to do with that either. Let me illustrate it by taking us entirely away from the subject at hand. The earth experienced a Little Ice Age around 1400. We know it was warmer before then because of inferential evidence. It was in fact warmer then than now (we are still retreating from that cold period). Winemaking was an established industry in England before the Little Ice Age wiped it out. No one has been able to pinpoint the reason for the climate change but there were lots and lots of theories. Galileo was the first to notice sunspots. A record has been kept of their activity ever since. An amateur (I think) astronomer was studying these records and noticed that a period where almost none of these magnetic blemishes appeared on the face of the sun just happened to coincide with the dates of the Little Ice Age. It was too much coincidence to be coincidence. No one knows how sunspot activity can affect our weather but astronomers are certain that they do. So, all of those orthodox theories before sunspots were considered, got trumped by the bigger theory. We now have a very vocal group today warning us about global warming and presenting all of their theories why we should go to great expense to decrease greenhouse gas emissions on their say so. If they haven’t taken sunspots into their equations (we are now in a period of much sunspot activity) then maybe their theories don’t matter either. Can you see my point?

    • #70421
      narrowstaircase
      Participant

      First I would like to say that I’m enjoying this debate

      – i wholeheartedly agree, although i prefer the term discussion. i like your whole previous post. very clear 😀

      While I’m not sure "advantageous" implies a value judgment, I concede that it is unnecessary in the context, as adaptations are by nature advantageous in one manner or another to the organism. The "value" I was using in reference to the term "advantageous" was simply that of fitness, nothing more. I would also substitute the word "develop" with the word "adapt." So my edited statement would be:

      "For some evolutionary lines, in certain ecological conditions, adaptation resulted in larger, more complex nervous systems."

      The point I’m driving at with this statement is that development of increasingly complex nervous systems is an organisms adaptive response to their environment, not an intentional stage of development towards some ultimate purpose.

      – your new statement is almost exactly the same as my statement "larger and more complex nervous systems can only develop if certain ecological conditions exist and hense only in some evolutionary lines." when you say "an organisms adaptive response to their environment" isnt it clear that those responses can only occur if that environment exists in the first place? (although both the environment and organisms change together, not independantly) this is somewhat a departure in my argument and isnt the evidence im giving for direction in evolution but it does answer the question of why there are different associations of matter on all levels. because certain ecological conditions dont allow for certain developments. you cant get to B if A doesnt exist. you cant develop something if you werent pushed in that direction by your environment. i know that in my example im implying that we already know that B will exist before A has occured but we can extrapolate information. thats how we predict and prediction is substantial.

      I would like to point out that you seem to have a very deterministic view of evolution. Perhaps it’s just my perception. I see you saying "x can only happen if y," a lot when really we don’t have any of those theoretical models 100% figured out yet. There are many different hypothetical versions of how single-celled org.s formed, and several as to how multi-celled org.s came to be.
      I know you were just providing a rough example to illustrate a point, but I wanted to point out that perhaps you’re stuck in a mode of thinking that doesn’t always apply.

      – i see what you are saying here and i do understand that there is still alot to be figured out when it comes to ecology. im glad you see that i was illustrating a broad point. i wasn’t arguing along the lines of specific organisms adaptations, only when it comes to groupings of matter. the specifics of how multicellular organisms developed is not known for sure but what we do know is that single celled organisms had to have existed beforehand. nervous systems can only be developed if multicellular organism existed beforehand. please tell me where this doesnt apply.

      While my point about archeobacteria was somewhat flawed, the ultimate message is that if there is purpose behind this accumulation of matter and complexity, and that purpose exists within our DNA or the physical laws of our world (ie is intrinsic in all life) then we would have no remaining examples of primitive life.
      I was, of course, extrapolating that your "purpose" is somehow a part of evolution, and thus a part of all living beings. If that’s not what it is, then that point is irrelevant.

      – why wouldn’t we have any remaining examples of primitive life? i dont understand this premise. the purpose that exists in us also exists in primitive associations of matter below that of life.

      I’m just saying that in science, there is no context for things such as "purpose" or "meaning."

      – im working on it dude 😉

      To science you are just an individual Homo sapiens, and your cognitive processes are only significant inasmuch as they affect your and others’ fitness, and the environment.

      – yes, i agree but im attempting to take this understanding a step further. im saying theres purpose in our actions and we can effect the environment toward a meaningfull end.

      Again, I’m not saying that that’s all you are, or that there is no purpose to life. Just that within the context of science, philosophy is irrelevant.
      I’ll go ahead and admit the weakness of that statement right now though: scienctific methods are based on the philosophy of science, so it can probably never be completely free of certain implicit values.

      – lol ty

      exactly. :). No seriously though, that’s not necessarily a logical conclusion. It’s the kind of logical leap that results in very interesting but very improbable science fiction.
      Your ultimate being would be incapable of adaptation, and thus subject to extinction due to changes in the environment or any other number of causes. It’s fun to think about things like that, and you could even explore it scientifically if you didn’t imply purpose.

      – i think this is a significant moment in communicating this idea.!! im excited!

      – an ultimate being implies spacial independance but we know this cant be for humans for the reasons you give. the ‘ultimate being’ im talking about is infact planet Earth that does exist independantly to its surroundings ie. in space. and the energy it needs comes from outside the system (from the sun) and the physical laws it abides by affects its development unidirectionally towards more order and larger associations of matter. do you understand? before i was simply trying to explain that an end point can be seen by extrapolating knowledge and trends we already know. i never said humans are the end point. we are only part of the system. Earth is the system that will reach the end point of total order and stability increasing associations of matter in the process.

      Well, you did mention humans some, but you intentionally didn’t go into detail. That’s fine… sorry if I jumped ahead.

      – i might talk about humans and how they fit into this idea later. although it becomes very complicated.

      No, my friend. Science is the never-ending pursuit of truth. Name one thing that science has proven to be absolutely true.

      – omg you admitted to truth!

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