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The portrait is Charles Darwin, age 31, in 1840

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Comment Wall


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Comment by Joseph P on February 13, 2015 at 5:42pm

I could only make it through about 2 or 3 of his blog posts, before the inanity made me stop.  For someone so intent on criticizing biological evolution, he doesn't understand the basics of what he's criticizing, and his ability to string together a coherent argument is lacking.

The supernatural agent bit is here.  It's an amazing cluster-fuck of incomprehension and misrepresentation, which you might enjoy, if you're into train wrecks.

You don't really have to include @'s most of the time.  I think Lemual was searching for the material you quoted, here on the comment wall.  He probably didn't see Shaun's link.  I only insert markers if I think it won't be immediately obvious, or if I'm responding to two or three people within the same comment.

Comment by Quinton Llewellyn on February 13, 2015 at 3:49pm

@Joseph P

I am new to this thread, and really haven't gone back to look at its past, but I've looked at his blog and I think I might have a go at untangling anyway, not to figure out his objection, but where I think he is coming from.
From his blog it seems that his intentions are to create a mythos about evolution (he says "It's not science, it's more of a story."). Part of this mythos is a character that is an anthropomorphisation of all genomes collectively called "Genie". His representation of all genomes collectively is mindful of its changes (which is supposed to represent evolution) and acts with an intention (e.g. to make thinking minds). If I have this right, this is already a fairly bad and confusing misrepresentation of evolution straight off the mark. I've not seen where he has said that natural selection is supernatural but maybe this is what he is going on about.
His other problem he has with natural selection seems to be something he believes is an actual problem; in his posts his view of natural selection seems to be that it is comparable to something degrading over time with the occasional change being possibly viewed as an improvement, but when everything is taken into account, the whole necessarily heading toward oblivion. He feels that this doesn't work as a motor for evolution but at the same time is confident that it is a fair representation of natural selection, which of course it isn't. I feel that his mistake here may be a result of him not taking into account that evolution doesn't take place in a closed system.
One thing I can't make any sense of is he claims to be an anti-Darwinist in his first post and then implies he is not challenging Darwin in the next.

@Lemual Poot

Sorry, bad form by me there.

Comment by Joseph P on February 13, 2015 at 9:04am

@Quinton Llewellyn

The main problem that I see is that he's attacking something in a scientific field with metaphors ... and usually very poor, inapplicable metaphors which demonstrate that he doesn't understand the science, at that.

Then there's the eugenics and natural-selection-is-supernatural nonsense that he tosses onto the ends of his arguments, as if it's supposed to win us over, rather than pissing us off by blatantly trying to manipulate us with emotional appeals.  I don't know what Shaun's emotional opposition to natural selection is.  He's demonstrated so many emotional angles of attack, that I can't untangle it and figure out which is his primary objection.

@Lemual Poot

Inserted @'s, as I've done here, are a good way to make it clear who you're talking to.  The material that Quinton is quoting comes from the article that Shaun linked, at  Since Quinton was responding to the post two messages before his, I think he figured it would be obvious.  *shrug*

Comment by Lemual Poot on February 13, 2015 at 8:45am

I can't find the comment Quinton is referring to???   If it's not possible for comments to always wind up under, or near, the comment it refers to, maybe the name of the person who wrote the first comment could be at the head of the second.  That way, it would make it a lot easier to find.

Comment by Quinton Llewellyn on February 13, 2015 at 5:49am

I'm not a biologist, so this is just what seems wrong to me with your review.

"Take as an example a blueprint for a two-stroke gasoline engine; damage leading to a shaving of metal from the engine case could make the engine more efficient in use."

You talk about "damage" in relation to things being chipped away, but in evolution it would seem to me that "damage" is an alteration, the organism doesn't become less it becomes different; it could lead as much adding something to the car you mention as taking something away (and just a stray thought but cars have changed and got better over time, but where are all the failed attempts? ;) )

"“If the mutant gene were opposed, even by a very minute selective disadvantage, the change would be brought to a standstill at a very early stage.” He doesn’t explain why this process would be faster than how a mutant gene being favored would lead to it gaining in frequency."

So if I understand it, it something like this - an opposed mutation is one that gets to reproduce less than the starting condition for any particular reason, a favoured mutation is one that gets to reproduce more. Because the favoured mutation increases in the population it's rate of increase increases over time as well, clearly this is not a feature of an opposed mutation.

"“In addition to the defective mutations, which by their conspicuousness attract attention, we may reasonably suppose that other less obvious mutations are occurring which, at least in certain surroundings, or in certain combinations, might prove themselves to be beneficial.” He doesn’t explain why beneficial genes will attract less attention"

Again I don't know the book (or the author), don't know what he wrote before or after, but he might be thinking of something like this. Compare a man born with poor eyesight with one born with better than average eyesight. Which do you think attracts more attention?

You end by saying he is a proponent of eugenics, I don't know why this has anything to do with the rest of the article. He might of believed in fairies but that would also seem irrelevant.

Hope this is helpful.

Comment by Donald L. Engel on February 12, 2015 at 7:14pm

This conversation is going on in at least two places on Nexus, and I don't know how I keep getting bounced from one string to the other.  It seems like it is different people on each string.

Comment by Shaun Johnston on February 12, 2015 at 8:41am

As recently as 2010 Fisher was Richard Dawkins’ choice for the greatest biologist since Darwin: "He therefore could be said to have provided researchers in biology and medicine with their most important research tools, as well as with the modern version of biology’s central theorem.”

If that central theorem is faulty, the modern synthesis collapses. In my review I detail precisely where I think Fisher is wrong. If you go to that review, it's laid out there, for anyone to see and follow along. Do please pass the link along to people able to assess Fisher's work. 

Comment by Joseph P on February 12, 2015 at 6:22am

The problem is that Shaun is carrying it from seems supernatural to is supernatural, without justifying that jump.  It's similar to the argument from design, in which they say that something seems designed then treat it as if it is designed.  That's absolutely crappy reasoning.

Hell, Shaun didn't even make an argument that coherent, in his post about Natural Selection being supernatural.  He just asserted it, flat-out.

The big problem I have is that he's presenting his borderline-incoherent ramblings here, in a forum with a bunch of people who aren't qualified to evaluate his claims.  If he actually had something, he would be presenting it to real scientists and trying to get it published in a peer-reviewed journal.

What he's engaging in is equivalent to what the 9/11 Truthers do.  If he has a better model for biological evolution, I'd love to hear it, but he has yet to even hint at such a thing.

Comment by Joan Denoo on February 11, 2015 at 9:06pm

Of course, natural selection is not beyond discussion. To me, germination of a seed or fertilization of an egg is supernatural. How does this happen? What starts the process? How does a peach seed split open and produce an embryo and then a root? Another node forms into two cotyledons that use photosynthesis to provide food for the growth of a stem and leaves, then into a peach tree or a bean vine? 

Any seed that sprouts, any egg that hatches performs a full-of-wonder act. I don't know where, when, or why the beginning of life as we know it begins. That is like asking an ant to explain why thy like to live in a colony. Does it really matter? Maybe there is a prime mover and if so, I am willing to entertain that idea. Maybe there was no superhuman act by anything or anybody. It doesn't matter to me. 

What does matter to me is whether I can live in peace, harmony and joy in my home. Others may want to know the answers to these questions and let them go after them. 

You may be on to something, Shaun, and if so, I hope you take it to a place more appropriate for closer examination and evaluation. If it turns out you opened a whole new way of explaining natural selection and if so, I will celebrate with you. Until then, I really don't care. I am in no situation to care because I know diddly squat what you write about. 

Comment by Joseph P on February 10, 2015 at 12:29pm

And it's published in which scientific journal, after several qualified biologists have examined the proposal for flaws?


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