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Thread: On Darwin and his influence

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    On Darwin and his influence

    Survival of the fittest was actually coined by an economist, Herbert Spencer after reading Darwin's 1859 publishing of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

    A most notable influence was on that of Sigmund Freud. Freud had all of Darwin's books and even large portions of his contribution to psychology can have the threads of Darwinian theories.

    Although Darwin never coined the term "survival of the fittest," the impact of his research and writing have obvious influence in the notion that all species moved forward on the backs of the "fittest." In other words, through natural selection our ancestors have passed forward the more favorable genes/traits for us to live successfully.

    These ideas will change, look for a new book coming out in the next 3-5 years. ~RPA

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    Quote Originally Posted by rdmsf View Post
    Survival of the fittest was actually coined by an economist, Herbert Spencer after reading Darwin's 1859 publishing of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

    A most notable influence was on that of Sigmund Freud. Freud had all of Darwin's books and even large portions of his contribution to psychology can have the threads of Darwinian theories.

    Although Darwin never coined the term "survival of the fittest," the impact of his research and writing have obvious influence in the notion that all species moved forward on the backs of the "fittest." In other words, through natural selection our ancestors have passed forward the more favorable genes/traits for us to live successfully.

    These ideas will change, look for a new book coming out in the next 3-5 years. ~RPA
    You make the mistake many Darwinists make, which is, that "stronger" genes implies a forward movement. There is no such implication. Strength is an attribute, like white or tiny. It has nothing to do with motion. So Darwin's idea that strength produced movement is simply false. There is no reason to believe that natural selection, as explained, would not go backwards or sideways, whatever. "Forward" is mere speculation on his and on your part for repeating it. This does not imply that everything he found is false, or that I believe in six days of creation. Just that the implication of movement is not true.

    Al

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    Darwin did not say anything about stronger genes (notably he did not know about Mendel's research in inheritance). Darwinian fitness is misunderstood here by both of you. Darwinian fitness is the ability of an individual to survive and reproduce in any given environment, it is not fitness in the colloquial sense of strength. Moreover, certain traits may be more fit or less fit depending on any environmental factor, which is why diversification of species occurs. Natural selection is an explanation of why some genes that appear within a population can come to be predominant over time, and how this process can lead to the emergence of new species.

    The OP contains a significant misunderstanding of Darwinism. It is not progressive, Darwin proposed the basic truth that species better adapted to an environment will be more likely to survive and reproduce in that environment. Selection is not random but it is directional only in the loosest metaphorical sense. It is not prescient of possible changes to the environment that might render one trait previously adaptive into a maladaptive one. For example, bacteria which are resistant to beta-lactam inhibitors like penicillin expend more energy producing more complex cell walls, and thus are generally less fit than the non-resistant bacteria, but once you had penicillin to the mix, those resistant bacteria take over.
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrphanPip View Post
    Selection is not random but it is directional only in the loosest metaphorical sense. It is not prescient of possible changes to the environment that might render one trait previously adaptive into a maladaptive one. For example, bacteria which are resistant to beta-lactam inhibitors like penicillin expend more energy producing more complex cell walls, and thus are generally less fit than the non-resistant bacteria, but once you had penicillin to the mix, those resistant bacteria take over.
    This past week, I found out about "adaptive mutation": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptive_mutation In the notes there is reference to this article by Patricia L. Foster that I've been slowly trying to make sense out of since the terminology is still foreign to me: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989722/

    I suppose this relates to the OP in the sense that it is about evolution and being fit enough to survive. It looks like not just the best fit organisms survive, but those able to generate suitable mutations in response to the new environment survive. The stress comes first, then some of the individuals in the species initiate hypermutation and that allows the species finding a suitable mutation to survive. If that is true, I can see how evolution could have happened in the time frame of life on earth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    This past week, I found out about "adaptive mutation": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptive_mutation In the notes there is reference to this article by Patricia L. Foster that I've been slowly trying to make sense out of since the terminology is still foreign to me: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989722/

    I suppose this relates to the OP in the sense that it is about evolution and being fit enough to survive. It looks like not just the best fit organisms survive, but those able to generate suitable mutations in response to the new environment survive. The stress comes first, then some of the individuals in the species initiate hypermutation and that allows the species finding a suitable mutation to survive. If that is true, I can see how evolution could have happened in the time frame of life on earth.
    I don't see how. These processes in micro-organisms, which are poorly understood and could still be artifacts of the experiments, are themselves the product of natural selection. Also, I don't see what problem there is with the timeframe available for life to evolve on earth, the only objections to that I've ever seen have been arbitrary projections made by creationists.
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrphanPip View Post
    I don't see how. These processes in micro-organisms, which are poorly understood and could still be artifacts of the experiments, are themselves the product of natural selection. Also, I don't see what problem there is with the timeframe available for life to evolve on earth, the only objections to that I've ever seen have been arbitrary projections made by creationists.
    I am aware that Christians such as Behe have made models that show that evolution through chance mutations could not have happened in the given time frame. Do you know of any counter arguments to them that show that these chance mutations could have happened in the given time frame without claiming that we were just really, really lucky.

    I'm motivated by comments made by Thomas Nagel in Mind and Cosmos in which he seems to accept the improbability that people like Behe have presented. Here is a brief summary of the book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_and_Cosmos

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    We don't have to be really lucky, the improbability models used by ID proponents are just bad math that misrepresents evolution. Frequent tactics used are calculating the time based on the assumption that evolution is sequential rather than parallel. Another common tactic is ignoring the impact of multiple individuals in any generation. Genetic algorithms have no problem accommodating for evolution in the time available.

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    Thanks. Which source would you use to best show that we don't have to be really lucky. I would like to check it out.

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    http://www.pnas.org/content/107/52/22454.full

    http://www.rpgroup.caltech.edu/cours...ilsson1994.pdf

    There's not many people writing about it because there simply isn't a controversy about the time required for structures to evolve, there was plenty of time for things to evolve not only once, but multiple times as we see convergent and parallel evolution between different species.
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    Thanks. I'll check them out.

    Apparently there is a controversy. At the beginning of the first article by Wilf and Ewens is the following:

    One of the main objections that have been raised holds that there has not been enough time for all of the species complexity that we see to have evolved by random mutations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OrphanPip View Post
    Darwin did not say anything about stronger genes (notably he did not know about Mendel's research in inheritance). Darwinian fitness is misunderstood here by both of you. Darwinian fitness is the ability of an individual to survive and reproduce in any given environment, it is not fitness in the colloquial sense of strength. Moreover, certain traits may be more fit or less fit depending on any environmental factor, which is why diversification of species occurs. Natural selection is an explanation of why some genes that appear within a population can come to be predominant over time, and how this process can lead to the emergence of new species.

    The OP contains a significant misunderstanding of Darwinism. It is not progressive, Darwin proposed the basic truth that species better adapted to an environment will be more likely to survive and reproduce in that environment. Selection is not random but it is directional only in the loosest metaphorical sense. It is not prescient of possible changes to the environment that might render one trait previously adaptive into a maladaptive one. For example, bacteria which are resistant to beta-lactam inhibitors like penicillin expend more energy producing more complex cell walls, and thus are generally less fit than the non-resistant bacteria, but once you had penicillin to the mix, those resistant bacteria take over.
    You're confusing development or adaptation as some inheritable direction, progressive, whatever. This is speculation, also false. Darwin's take on evolution infers direction of genes toward species, that genes move toward a goal, a species, new species, as in "descent with modification." Again, there is no reason why the genetic "progress" isn't backwards, or any direction at all. Just because a gene survives means nothing. It's the claim that a gene mutates that matters, adapts, and toward a species. That it is through a process he called natural selection is not a direction. If so, explain how genes don't just survive but actually move in a certain direction and why. Again, survival is not a direction.

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    Quote Originally Posted by os2al View Post
    You're confusing development or adaptation as some inheritable direction, progressive, whatever. This is speculation, also false. Darwin's take on evolution infers direction of genes toward species, that genes move toward a goal, a species, new species, as in "descent with modification." Again, there is no reason why the genetic "progress" isn't backwards, or any direction at all. Just because a gene survives means nothing. It's the claim that a gene mutates that matters, adapts, and toward a species. That it is through a process he called natural selection is not a direction. If so, explain how genes don't just survive but actually move in a certain direction and why. Again, survival is not a direction.
    I'm trying to make sense out of this. The survival of the gene means nothing makes sense to me. What moves evolution is at a level higher than the gene, as I see it. Also there should be an emphasis on "species" rather than gene, higher than the individual organism, to best describe evolution.

    What keeps me interested in this topic are the issues raised by Thomas Nagel in Mind and Cosmos. OrphanPip provided some links claiming that evolution by chance could have actually happened. I am still sorting through them, but I wonder if that model actually represents evolution. I'm not sure.

    Niles Eldredge, in Reinventing Darwin, also has objections to neo-Darwinism or "ultra-Darwinism" as he calls it. As a paleontologist he, like Gould, is interested in species rather than a smooth change of genes over time by chance. What is missing in neo-Darwinism is the "equilibrium" and the emphasis on the species rather than the genes inside the organism. The research by Patricia Foster seems to show a non-smooth genetic change in E. coli when stress is introduced as well as a communal response, that is, not all of the individual cells engaged in hypermutation, only a small fraction of them, as if they were coordinating their efforts to respond to the change in their environment when a food source was replaced with something they were not used to eating.
    Last edited by YesNo; 07-30-2014 at 10:07 AM.

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    Direction, and why, is the question ...

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    I'm trying to make sense out of this. The survival of the gene means nothing makes sense to me. What moves evolution is at a level higher than the gene, as I see it. Also there should be an emphasis on "species" rather than gene, higher than the individual organism, to best describe evolution.

    What keeps me interested in this topic are the issues raised by Thomas Nagel in Mind and Cosmos. OrphanPip provided some links claiming that evolution by chance could have actually happened. I am still sorting through them, but I wonder if that model actually represents evolution. I'm not sure.

    Niles Eldredge, in Reinventing Darwin, also has objections to neo-Darwinism or "ultra-Darwinism" as he calls it. As a paleontologist he, like Gould, is interested in species rather than a smooth change of genes over time by chance. What is missing in neo-Darwinism is the "equilibrium" and the emphasis on the species rather than the genes inside the organism. The research by Patricia Foster seems to show a non-smooth genetic change in E. coli when stress is introduced as well as a communal response, that is, not all of the individual cells engaged in hypermutation, only a small fraction of them, as if they were coordinating their efforts to respond to the change in their environment when a food source was replaced with something they were not used to eating.
    I'm questioning the idea that evolution can work without inherent direction, which Nagel appears to address by the title of his book (though I haven't read it). I'm no believer in random evolution, obviously, or evolution as often taught. Are there various processes at work in nature? Surely, there seems to be. I see the situation as similar to having a body, which is kind of a machine with functioning processes: we don't worry about breathing, it happens without our concern; nor do we have to monitor that blood flows through the veins, or that the heart pumps. What makes life meaningful is that we use the body, the machine, if you will, to accomplish things, which gives meaning to life. Without conscious direction, life means nothing, nor can one accomplish anything useful.

    So I don't see how any system in nature could operate without what one might call an inherent directive nature. Plants move toward the light and water. Evidence shows plants can understand their surroundings as well; something internal exists even in plants, never mind animals. And so on. Thus, to me genes would simply go in no particular direction without an inherent directive nature of some kind. That's why I started commenting, and it may not even have been something you said. So don't worry, it might just be me. I'll have to read the Nagel book now. Best,

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    I don't believe in random evolution either. I also agree with you about plants, however, I have tried recently to avoid using a machine metaphor to describe nature since I don't think nature is deterministic, only pseudo-deterministic.

    Do you have any references that you would recommend? I'm just trying to figure these ideas out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    Thanks. I'll check them out.

    Apparently there is a controversy. At the beginning of the first article by Wilf and Ewens is the following:

    One of the main objections that have been raised holds that there has not been enough time for all of the species complexity that we see to have evolved by random mutations.
    I think you misunderstood his statement about controversy. The matter is a lot like global warming; there is no controversy about the matter among scientists. Among the general public and evolution "opponents", that is a different issue. Once in a while scientists will write a paper aimed at giving a demonstration of "debated" principles for non-scientists to help them understand, but generally Behe et. al.'s views (and papers) produce little more than an eye roll among most scientists.

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