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Thread: How do scientists know that biological change is undirected?

  1. #1 How do scientists know that biological change is undirected? 
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    I read in the National Academy of Science's book "Science, Evolution, and Creationism" that the biological changes that provide the raw material for evolution are not directed towards goals. How do scientists tell the difference between changes that are directed and changes that are not?


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    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    IINM, in order for something to be "directed," there needs to be a director... there is intent involved. Evolution has no intent. It is just change and natural selection. There is no purpose. There is no direction... Ergo, it's not directed.


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    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
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    Since "directed" evolution implies a director in order to have a "goal," this implies some sort of "intelligent design" and is, therefore, pseudoscientific.

    I'm moving this thread to a more appropriate venue.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Since "directed" evolution implies a director in order to have a "goal," this implies some sort of "intelligent design" and is, therefore, pseudoscientific.

    I'm moving this thread to a more appropriate venue.
    Interesting choice to move this thread here since the book of which I am writing was published by the National Academy of Sciences, and the claim that mutations are not directed was made by them in that book. Why is this post in the pseudoscience section?

    I was hoping for an answer to my original question. I will post it again:

    How do scientists tell the difference between changes that are directed and changes that are not?
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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    How do scientists tell the difference between changes that are directed and changes that are not?
    This is a reasonable question. I hope you will be reasonable (i.e. objective) in listening to the answer.

    Simply put, there is no evidence of direction in evolutionary changes, other than the predicted changes towards chracteristics that are fitter for the current environment. Since there is no evidence for directed change there is no need to postulate it.

    Does that seem clear to you?
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    As long as this does not become a thread about creationism or starts off on the philosophy of science itself, I'm happy to move it back to Biology. If we end up on either topic I'll have to consider moving this elsewhere. Perhaps what we need is a philosophy of science subforum, though I rather doubt it would get much traffic...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    How do scientists tell the difference between changes that are directed and changes that are not?
    This is a reasonable question. I hope you will be reasonable (i.e. objective) in listening to the answer.

    Simply put, there is no evidence of direction in evolutionary changes, other than the predicted changes towards chracteristics that are fitter for the current environment. Since there is no evidence for directed change there is no need to postulate it.

    Does that seem clear to you?
    I second this and add that the absence of a verifiable directing agent capable of acting on the observed scale also makes the assumption fail Occam's Razor, since we have to invoke a new element of undefined complexity.
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    From a philosophical standpoint, evolution would be guided by reason--what the ancient Greek called the Logos. To them, the Logos was the transcendent principle of rationality in the universe. While this isn't science in the modern sense of the word, it is interesting to note that the early Christians identified this as God. Or perhaps the other way around...really, the scholastic philosophy of the Middle Ages dealt with examining what a principles like "rationality", "being", "substance", "actuality", et al implied. I have a greater confidence than most moderns do in the ability of philosophy, when rightly conducted, to bring us to objective knowledge about certain ultimate aspects of reality. However, considering the way the word is used these days, "science" is not what philosophy is. Evolution, or rather the study of it, is a specialized science, and cannot (by the very nature of its inquiry) touch upon universals, or transcendent principles. It simply describes and predicts physical events. Pax!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    How do scientists tell the difference between changes that are directed and changes that are not?
    This is a reasonable question. I hope you will be reasonable (i.e. objective) in listening to the answer.

    Simply put, there is no evidence of direction in evolutionary changes, other than the predicted changes towards chracteristics that are fitter for the current environment. Since there is no evidence for directed change there is no need to postulate it.

    Does that seem clear to you?
    It seems clear enough and correct as far as it goes. But I don't think it goes far enough. I do think some more specifics are in order.

    In a broad sense there are three modes of explanation. They are undirected contingent or chance processes, deterministic processes, and directed contingent or goal driven process.

    We can say that known and observed evolutionary processes including mutation in its many subforms are undirected because when compared to random chance it does not outperform it. We can say that selection is undirected because it has all the characteristics of deterministic processes combined with random chance. We can say that the error correction processes in transcription and so forth are also deterministic for the same reasons.

    From this we can be reasonably confident that observed evolutionary processes that account for modifications and adaptations to current functions are not directed.

    We observe that selective breading is a directed process directly and note that it outperforms observed evolutionary processes in accomplishing changes. Likewise we note that genetic engineering also outperforms known evolutionary processes.

    What we can't know at this time is whether or not the large scale changes observed through the fossil record was directed or undirected. We can speculate about it but we can't know it because we can't know if observed evolutionary processes actually do account for these large scale changes in function and body plans.

    Perhaps someone can help define how me might conclude that these large scale changes are indeed a combination of random and deterministic processes.

    The idea we can dismiss directed processes because we don't know of a director is a logical error because it is an argument from ignorance.

    Edit:

    In rereading your post I do see one slight error and that is that there actually is some evidence for directed (goal driven) change. Genetic engineers have and do add novel molecular alterations by goal driven processes and we observe these kind of differences in higher orders. Furthermore we have not observed non-goal directed processes achieve these same differences. Therefore there is some evidence for a directed process. If we were to uncover random or deterministic processes currently in operation that achieves this result then we can invoke Occam's Razor.
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    Evolution is directed for a specific goal, adaptation/survival.

    What directs?

    The exact conditions/pressures an organism is "pressed" to survive.

    If my skin darkens (not happening, I'm black) by melanin, it means I'm exposed to sunlight, the direction is to provide a shielding from the sunlight.

    Continued exposure results in evolution/new trait.

    Evolution, in many cases is the accumulation of subtle biologic manipulations, this is being realized with more research into Epigenetics.
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    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    Evolution is directed for a specific goal, adaptation/survival.
    I disagree. Try telling that to the 99% of species which have gone extinct due to evolution.
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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    Continued exposure results in evolution/new trait.
    Nonsense. That's pure Lamarkianism. Either you don;t knwo what you are talking about, or you are not expressing yourself clearly.
    Evolution is metaphorically directed by the environment, but not literally. There is no direction, or at least no evidence of direction.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    Continued exposure results in evolution/new trait.
    Nonsense. That's pure Lamarkianism. Either you don;t knwo what you are talking about, or you are not expressing yourself clearly.
    Evolution is metaphorically directed by the environment, but not literally. There is no direction, or at least no evidence of direction.
    Do you know what Epigenetics is?

    The environment has a marked effect on the development of traits, natural selection isn't biologic evolution, it concerns itself more with specific (species) populations, as evolution is simply: "A change in allelic frequency of a specific population".

    What that means is, Natural Selection is primarily concerned with the distribution of traits, not the creation of, as such, it isn't fundamentally biologic - In that it has not biological foundation, the trait distribution is modified/directed by the environment -.

    So what accounts for the emergence of "environmentally specialized traits"? Mutations aren't directed, a mutation on a regulator gene can produce a defective, or improved version of a creature, this would exemplify randomness...

    But what we observe is that organisms develop traits that correspond in a specialized manner to their environment, the Epigenetic system has critical involvement in this process.

    Its currently being researched, with much success, and it will soon be indicated that inheritance of traits (Lamarkian Evolution) isn't exactly wrong.

    This is something I've been harping on from "ever since", but no one listened, not until these articles were released -

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0902195234.htm

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0401181447.htm

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0118200632.htm

    If you need me to provide a more extensive explanation of why Natural Selection is used/extended improperly by the scientific community, I can, but indicated to me that you've researched enough to have the meaningful discussion.

    You guys need to stop accepting everything the scientific "bureaucracy" feeds you, its not always correct, simply because it was in a textbook, start thinking, evolution is very intuitive IMO.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    I disagree. Try telling that to the 99% of species which have gone extinct due to evolution.
    Failure doesn't negate the existence of a purposeful attempt.

    I didn't say every organism would be able to successfully respond to the pressures/constraints...

    Many do fail.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    Failure doesn't negate the existence of a purposeful attempt.
    There are no "attempts."
    There is no "purpose."

    It is just about change. Some changes are beneficial in a given environment, others are not. All of the changes, however, are the result of evolution.

    Repeating an invalid assertion does not suddenly make it valid. There is no purpose, no direction, nor any goals of evolution. It's just about change.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    There are no "attempts."
    There is no "purpose."

    It is just about change. Some changes are beneficial in a given environment, others are not. All of the changes, however, are the result of evolution.

    Repeating an invalid assertion does not suddenly make it valid. There is no purpose, no direction, nor any goals of evolution. It's just about change.
    Wrong.

    Creatures don't make attempts to survive?

    Seriously?

    Listen, go research evolution, gain a clearer understanding, then we can maybe rectify this discussion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    Listen, go research evolution, gain a clearer understanding, then we can maybe rectify this discussion.
    Shall I call you a poo poo head and a booger face now so that we can continue the volley?


    Seriously. Give me a break, kid. Creatures making attempts to survive evolution itself having a direction, a purpose, or a goal. The only way your argument makes any sense whatsoever is if you state more plainly that evolution via natural selection tends to select for a desire in organisms to survive. However, even with that said, you have not supported your point that it is goal-oriented, nor have you refuted mine that it is not.
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    "How do scientists know that biological change is undirected?"

    I think it is mainly done by statistical tools. Undirected creates a certain logical expectation. This expectation is the null hypothesis. If biological change is undirected than mutations will be distributed evenly.

    If the expectation is not met than the change is likely to be directed.

    If mutations show specific distributions than the biological change is probably due to a selective force.

    You can then analyze the changes and link them to structural or functional changes. If you can you can be quite sure the change was directional. The next step is to compare the region of change between species. This will give even more information and can strengthen the notion whether the change is caused by natural selection or not, or has some other cause.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    Do you know what Epigenetics is?
    Yes. Apparently I have a better understanding of it than you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    The environment has a marked effect on the development of traits, natural selection isn't biologic evolution, it concerns itself more with specific (species) populations, as evolution is simply: "A change in allelic frequency of a specific population".
    What that means is, Natural Selection is primarily concerned with the distribution of traits, not the creation of, as such, it isn't fundamentally biologic - In that it has not biological foundation, the trait distribution is modified/directed by the environment -..
    Your thinking is screwed up:
    No one is claiming that natural selection is biologic evolution.

    You haven't defined biologic evolution. Is that a phrase you dreamed up in order to conceal your handwaving?

    Natural selection is one of the means by which evolution occurs.

    We may say environmental pressures favours dwarfism of vertebrates on small, isolated islands. It is misleading, because of its teleological implications, to say that the environment directs the emergence of dwarfism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    So what accounts for the emergence of "environmentally specialized traits"? Mutations aren't directed, a mutation on a regulator gene can produce a defective, or improved version of a creature, this would exemplify randomness..But what we observe is that organisms develop traits that correspond in a specialized manner to their environment,
    Of course they do, because individuals who develop traits favoured by their environment are the lucky ones who had a parent with a germ cell mutation that delivered that trait. They were fitter for that environment as a result. This is simple Darwinism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    ........, the Epigenetic system has critical involvement in this process.
    Its currently being researched, with much success, and it will soon be indicated that inheritance of traits (Lamarkian Evolution) isn't exactly wrong.
    You quite over-rate the influence of the process, at least as far as we have currently researched it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    This is something I've been harping on from "ever since", but no one listened, not until these articles were released -
    Really. You've been harping on about it 'ever since'. Well, I claim priority. In this post made on December 8 2005 I state that I suspect that 'Evolution is partially Lamarckian.'

    Why, then am I not rushing to agree with you? In that same post I preface my suspicion of a Lamarkian aspect to evolution with these words.
    (Where) my view is antithetical to the mainstream view, I have no intention of publishing it until I have sufficient evidence, well assembled and presented, with which to make a clear case. To do otherwise would certainly be the height of arrogance.

    I'll let you join up the dots on that elegantly delivered insult.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Shall I call you a poo poo head and a booger face now so that we can continue the volley?


    Seriously. Give me a break, kid. Creatures making attempts to survive evolution itself having a direction, a purpose, or a goal. The only way your argument makes any sense whatsoever is if you state more plainly that evolution via natural selection tends to select for a desire in organisms to survive. However, even with that said, you have not supported your point that it is goal-oriented, nor have you refuted mine that it is not.
    I'm right, you're wrong.
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    direction doesn't imply goal.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    direction doesn't imply goal.
    Well yes, it does...

    goal
      /goʊl/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [gohl] Show IPA
    Use goal in a Sentence
    See web results for goal
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    –noun
    1. the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.
    2. the terminal point in a race.
    3. a pole, line, or other marker by which such a point is indicated.


    Did you just post to have your voice heard?

    Here's another great word:

    cav⋅il
      /ˈkævəl/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [kav-uhl] Show IPA verb, -iled, -il⋅ing or (especially British) -illed, -il⋅ling, noun
    Use cavil in a Sentence
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    –verb (used without object)
    1. to raise irritating and trivial objections; find fault with unnecessarily (usually fol. by at or about):
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    direction doesn't imply goal.
    Well yes, it does...
    anybody can play word games - jut because direction and goal usually imply the same thing within a human context, applying this as an analogy to how nature works is an anthropomorphism too far
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    anybody can play word games - jut because direction and goal usually imply the same thing within a human context, applying this as an analogy to how nature works is an anthropomorphism too far
    Wrong.

    A reputed dictionary > Random e-persona who thinks he knows science.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    anybody can play word games - jut because direction and goal usually imply the same thing within a human context, applying this as an analogy to how nature works is an anthropomorphism too far
    Wrong.

    A reputed dictionary > Random e-persona who thinks he knows science.

    Chronman, please argue in terms of evidence rather than trying to belittle your opponents or you will find your argument cut short.


    My two cents: You're conflating the concept of the goals possessed by organisms with the concept of teleology in evolution. It is quite possible for organisms to struggle to survive without there being a objective or goal to evolution in itself. The concepts are distinct. We have goals, evolution does not.

    Further, direction does not imply goal. When my pen falls off my desk it moves in a very distinct direction, but it has no goal. It is simply acting in accordance with a law of physics.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    My two cents: You're conflating the concepts of the goals possessed by organisms with the concept of teleology in evolution. It is quite possible for organisms to struggle to survive without there being a objective or goal to evolution in itself. The concepts are distinct. We have goals, evolution does not.

    Further, direction does not imply goal. When my pen falls off my desk it moves in a very distinct direction, but it has no goal. It is simply acting in accordance with a law of physics.
    No, for evolution, I never suggested that there exists an objective goal in itself.

    I simply stated that the environmental pressures provide direction, and there exists a goal, by the organism to effectively adapt. This isn't a conscious effort, this is simply a result of being exposed to a pressure.

    e.g.

    When exposed to a particular stimuli for an extended period of time, neural adaptation occurs, that was a goal, in that it was the result of the pressure exerted by the stimuli.

    When your pen falls off the desk, the goal is for it to gravitate closer to the earth, the direction is the gravitational force.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    My two cents: You're conflating the concepts of the goals possessed by organisms with the concept of teleology in evolution. It is quite possible for organisms to struggle to survive without there being a objective or goal to evolution in itself. The concepts are distinct. We have goals, evolution does not.

    Further, direction does not imply goal. When my pen falls off my desk it moves in a very distinct direction, but it has no goal. It is simply acting in accordance with a law of physics.
    No, for evolution, I never suggested that there exists an objective goal in itself.
    Yes, I can see that looking back over your posts. We agree on this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    I simply stated that the environmental pressures provide direction, and there exists a goal, by the organism to effectively adapt. This isn't a conscious effort, this is simply a result of being exposed to a pressure.

    e.g.

    When exposed to a particular stimuli for an extended period of time, neural adaptation occurs, that was a goal, in that it was the result of the pressure exerted by the stimuli.

    When your pen falls off the desk, the goal is for it to gravitate closer to the earth, the direction is the gravitational force.
    That's where we disagree then. Goal implies intent and purpose, which implies consciousness of some sort. The pen has no intent nor purpose in and of itself. It has a function from my perspective, but not from its own. Cetainly it has no goal in falling to the floor. It is reacting, not "pro-acting".
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    That's where we disagree then. Goal implies intent and purpose, which implies consciousness of some sort. The pen has no intent nor purpose in and of itself. It has a function from my perspective, but not from its own. Cetainly it has no goal in falling to the floor. It is reacting, not "pro-acting".
    No it doesn't imply consciousness, that's wrong - chemical reactions aren't conscious, they have goals; ants aren't conscious, they have goals; etc -.

    Goal - the result or achievement toward which effort is directed.

    If there is effort directed, the result is a goal.

    What you're doing is creating your own definition of goal.

    If a gust of wind pushes a ball to the side, so that it moves to the left, that is the goal, leftward push.

    That's not to say, the gust sought after the ball to push to the left, its to say that the result of the effort directed was leftward push.
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    ants aren't conscious
    Really? I mean, I know they probably aren't conscience of themselves, but they do seem to be conscience of certain things around them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by delsydebothom
    ants aren't conscious
    Really? I mean, I know they probably aren't conscience of themselves, but they do seem to be conscience of certain things around them.
    They can respond to stimuli, they are sentient, but not sapient.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    Quote Originally Posted by delsydebothom
    ants aren't conscious
    Really? I mean, I know they probably aren't conscience of themselves, but they do seem to be conscience of certain things around them.
    They can respond to stimuli, they are sentient, but not sapient.
    I see what you mean. Although saying they aren't "sapient" is perhaps an understatement. I'm not sure how others define it, but I'd reserve the word "sapient" to creatures able to ask broad questions like, "Why are there bad people?" But anyway, I don't want to derail the thread.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    That's where we disagree then. Goal implies intent and purpose, which implies consciousness of some sort. The pen has no intent nor purpose in and of itself. It has a function from my perspective, but not from its own. Cetainly it has no goal in falling to the floor. It is reacting, not "pro-acting".
    No it doesn't imply consciousness, that's wrong - chemical reactions aren't conscious, they have goals; ants aren't conscious, they have goals; etc -.
    Consciousness was perhaps too specific a word. Intent then. Ants we could probably debate about, I might even agree with you. Chemical reactions do not have goals. I have never heard a chemist claim that a reaction has a goal. An endpoint, yes. A product, certainly. Never a goal, not in itself, because it cannot take intentional, purposful action. It cannot make an effort. The chemist can have a goal when initiating some reaction of course. If we want, we might at a stretch say the chemist has given the reaction a purpose or goal. But alone, the reaction has neither.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    Goal - the result or achievement toward which effort is directed.

    If there is effort directed, the result is a goal.
    Sure, which agrees with what I have said above. Effort also implies intentional action. The chemist has a goal, the reaction does not. The player has a goal, the ball does not. The pen falling has no goal, but if I drop it on purpose I may have a goal. Things have purpose, goals, telos or whatever we might call it only from the perspective of minds.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    What you're doing is creating your own definition of goal.
    Really I am not. As you point out, the definition of "goal" always includes some reference to purpose, effort or intent. These are things exclusive to minds.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    If a gust of wind pushes a ball to the side, so that it moves to the left, that is the goal, leftward push.

    That's not to say, the gust sought after the ball to push to the left, its to say that the result of the effort directed was leftward push.
    That's a bizarre definition of the word. The ball has no goal. The wind has no goal. The person who threw or kicked the ball had a goal in mind. If the wind altered the path so that the ball landed other than where the player intended, then that new landing spot is not the goal. It's a destination perhaps, an endpoint. The goal, the intended landing spot, was missed.
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    The use of "goal" implies agency. To use "goal" in discussions of evolution is meaningful in ways that are metaphorical, but any analysis that uses "goal" as anything other than a trope is misuse of the term at worst, misleading at best.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Consciousness was perhaps too specific a word. Intent then. Ants we could probably debate about, I might even agree with you. Chemical reactions do not have goals. I have never heard a chemist claim that a reaction has a goal. An endpoint, yes. A product, certainly. Never a goal, not in itself, because it cannot take intentional, purposful action. It cannot make an effort. The chemist can have a goal when initiating some reaction of course. If we want, we might at a stretch say the chemist has given the reaction a purpose or goal. But alone, the reaction has neither.
    The goal of a reaction is the reaction product.

    Look:

    goal
      /goʊl/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [gohl] Show IPA
    Use goal in a Sentence
    See web results for goal
    See images of goal
    –noun
    1. the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.


    There is a goal, because there is an end, result, and achievement of the reaction (as indicated in the definition); thus, chemical reactions have goals.

    Sure, which agrees with what I have said above. Effort also implies intentional action. The chemist has a goal, the reaction does not. The player has a goal, the ball does not. The pen falling has no goal, but if I drop it on purpose I may have a goal. Things have purpose, goals, telos or whatever we might call it only from the perspective of minds.
    No, effort doesn't imply intentional action.

    ef⋅fort
      /ˈɛfərt/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ef-ert] Show IPA
    Use effort in a Sentence
    See web results for effort
    See images of effort
    –noun
    7. Mechanics. the force or energy that is applied to a machine for the accomplishment of useful work.


    ef·fort (ěf'ərt)
    n.
    4.

    Something done or produced through exertion; an achievement
    5.

    Physics Force applied against inertia.


    No intent there.

    Really I am not. As you point out, the definition of "goal" always includes some reference to purpose, effort or intent. These are things exclusive to minds.
    No, you're wrong.

    I posted a definition for effort above which portrays effort as a force, namely mechanical.

    That's a bizarre definition of the word. The ball has no goal. The wind has no goal. The person who threw or kicked the ball had a goal in mind. If the wind altered the path so that the ball landed other than where the player intended, then that new landing spot is not the goal. It's a destination perhaps, an endpoint. The goal, the intended landing spot, was missed.
    You're not listening, look up the definition of goal, I've posted it a few times already.

    The problem with your argument is it has no support, whereas mine, has the dictionary to support it. In order for your argument to be correct, you're going to have to disprove the dictionary entry on goal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    The problem with your argument is it has no support, whereas mine, has the dictionary to support it. In order for your argument to be correct, you're going to have to disprove the dictionary entry on goal.
    get yourself another dictionary - it obviously disagrees with how goal and effort is understood within the confines of the scientific community
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    A reputed dictionary > Random e-persona who thinks he knows science.
    Dictionary definitions have little or no place in a scientific discussion. You were wrong to attempt to use this discredited approach.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    My two cents: You're conflating the concept of the goals possessed by organisms with the concept of teleology in evolution.
    I suggest he's actually conflating the term "goal" with the term "outcome." Either way, what was this thread about, again? I seem to smell a word which at the very least rhymes with "goal." 8)
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    My two cents: You're conflating the concept of the goals possessed by organisms with the concept of teleology in evolution.
    I suggest he's actually conflating the term "goal" with the term "outcome." Either way, what was this thread about, again? I seem to smell a word which at the very least rhymes with "goal." 8)
    I think it might be that simple. Or even simpler. He's re-defining the word, even from its accepted colloquial sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    The problem with your argument is it has no support, whereas mine, has the dictionary to support it. In order for your argument to be correct, you're going to have to disprove the dictionary entry on goal.
    The dictionary does not say that inanimate things can have goals. It mentions effort, which you have taken to mean "work" in the sense used by physicists, though you have no reason to assume that was the meaning in this case. So tell you what Chronman, find me a peer-reviewed paper in physics, chemistry or biology in which some process lacking any discernible intent or agency is described as having a goal, with the caveat that the goal must clearly not be the goal of the experimenter. That might convince me. Genuine challenge, I have no idea if any exist.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    I think it might be that simple. Or even simpler. He's re-defining the word, even from its accepted colloquial sense.
    No, I posted a definition, you are the one who has been forcing a definition.

    The dictionary does not say that inanimate things can have goals. It mentions effort, which you have taken to mean "work" in the sense used by physicists, though you have no reason to assume that was the meaning in this case. So tell you what Chronman, find me a peer-reviewed paper in physics, chemistry or biology in which some process lacking any discernible intent or agency is described as having a goal, with the caveat that the goal must clearly not be the goal of the experimenter. That might convince me. Genuine challenge, I have no idea if any exist.
    The dictionary indicates that the result of physical events can be characterized as goals; the fact that you would even suggest that I find a scientific paper which uses the word goal in the manner presented, as if an author's(') word choice was the "end all be all" in verbiage, indicates that this argument has lost is merit.

    Simply because a scientist hasn't used the term, it doesn't negate its validity.

    I won't entertain that ridiculous challenge, I'm not going on a word hunt.

    If you can't provide any proof for your argument, accept that its wrong. Am I just supposed to "take your word for it"?

    Here, I'll post it again, read closely:

    goal
      /goʊl/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [gohl] Show IPA
    Use goal in a Sentence
    See web results for goal
    See images of goal
    –noun
    1. the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.


    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/goal

    I think you've confused me with someone else, I don't care whether or not I convince you, really.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    I think it might be that simple. Or even simpler. He's re-defining the word, even from its accepted colloquial sense.
    No, I posted a definition, you are the one who has been forcing a definition.

    The dictionary does not say that inanimate things can have goals. It mentions effort, which you have taken to mean "work" in the sense used by physicists, though you have no reason to assume that was the meaning in this case. So tell you what Chronman, find me a peer-reviewed paper in physics, chemistry or biology in which some process lacking any discernible intent or agency is described as having a goal, with the caveat that the goal must clearly not be the goal of the experimenter. That might convince me. Genuine challenge, I have no idea if any exist.
    The dictionary indicates that the result of physical events can be characterized as goals; the fact that you would even suggest that I find a scientific paper which uses the word goal in the manner presented, as if an author's(') word choice was the "end all be all" in verbiage, indicates that this argument has lost is merit.

    Simply because a scientist hasn't used the term, it doesn't negate its validity.

    I won't entertain that ridiculous challenge, I'm not going on a word hunt.

    If you can't provide any proof for your argument, accept that its wrong. Am I just supposed to "take your word for it"?

    Here, I'll post it again, read closely:

    goal
      /goʊl/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [gohl] Show IPA
    Use goal in a Sentence
    See web results for goal
    See images of goal
    –noun
    1. the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.


    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/goal

    I think you've confused me with someone else, I don't care whether or not I convince you, really.
    Not confused at all. Posting and re-posting that definition is not going to mean that inanimate things have goals, unless "effort" in this case actually means effort in the sense you suggest and not one of the other 4 meanings.
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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effort

    Even the author of that Wiki entry identifies effort as energy.

    Here's the dictionary definition I posted earlier:

    ef⋅fort
      /ˈɛfərt/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ef-ert] Show IPA
    Use effort in a Sentence
    See web results for effort
    See images of effort
    –noun
    7. Mechanics. the force or energy that is applied to a machine for the accomplishment of useful work.
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    This is ridiculous... I would have thought that we could say that inanimate objects lack goals on a purely logical basis. But here we are trawling through dictionaries and encyclopaedias...

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effort

    Even the author of that Wiki entry identifies effort as energy.
    In line with one of the meanings of "effort" you mentioned before, yes this is correct. Though you'll note that it is a redirect to the article on "energy", because "effort" is not a word normally used as a substitute for energy in science. It would not be the first meaning we would assume, it would be rather far down the list. We would use the word energy if we meant energy. I'm guessing the dictionary would agree. I can't imagine how Wikipedia would go about writing encyclopaedic articles about the other meanings of the word that you yourself posted. But endless posting of this definition and that definition still does not mean that inanimate objects have goals. We as scientists do not use the word that way, nor have I ever heard it colloquially used in that sense. Even when creationists speak of goals in evolution, they're talking about God's goal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    Here's the dictionary definition I posted earlier:

    ef⋅fort
      /ˈɛfərt/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ef-ert] Show IPA
    Use effort in a Sentence
    See web results for effort
    See images of effort
    –noun
    7. Mechanics. the force or energy that is applied to a machine for the accomplishment of useful work.
    Yes, and look at the number before the definition you have chosen. 7. The seventh most popular meaning of the word effort, according to one dictionary (I assume they put the most likely ones first). So why are you assuming that this is the meaning of "effort" in the definition of "goal"? Why this one of the six other meanings put before it? In the definition of goal, if they meant "energy" or "work" in the sense meant in physics, why did they use the word "effort" instead?
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    I selected the 7th one because it specified "Mechanical", the others prove the point as well.
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    since we're going to start trawling wikipedia to bolster the meaning of the word "effort", how about doing the same for "goal" ?

    Quote Originally Posted by wikipedia
    A goal or objective is a projected state of affairs that a person or a system plans or intends to achieve — a personal or organizational desired end-point in some sort of assumed development. Many people endeavor to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines.
    A desire or an intention becomes a goal if and only if one activates an action for achieving it (see goal-oriented).
    It is roughly similar to purpose or aim, the anticipated result which guides action, or an end, which is an object, either a physical object or an abstract object, that has intrinsic value.
    you see ? no reference to effort at all - all that's required is an intention made actual through action
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    I selected the 7th one because it specified "Mechanical", the others prove the point as well.
    They really don't. You just chose the one that fits your preconception.

    Anyway, I think we can agree that inanimate objects and non agent processes such as evolution don't have goals in the same way that people have goals?
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Anyway, I think we can agree that inanimate objects and non agent processes such as evolution don't have goals in the same way that people have goals?
    Of course.
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    You are wrong. I am right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Interesting choice to move this thread here since the book of which I am writing was published by the National Academy of Sciences, and the claim that mutations are not directed was made by them in that book.
    I am a newcomer to this thread (and the blog in general), and I've read through these comments with a mixture of high and low impressions. I learned some interesting history on epigenetics experiments. But I am upset by the high level of pedantry that is present.

    Yes, science needs to be exact, when exactness is required for clarity. The use of the word 'directed' in the NAS book is clearly not intended to imply a creator, it is merely an anthropomorphic term applied to evolution. Many biologists talk about systems being 'designed', but they are clearly not talking about a 'designer'.

    We may be scientists, but we are human too. Anyone that reads too deep into exact wording to find new meaning beyond that of the clear intention of the scientist will draw false conclusions.

    I am (and I hope many others too, who I have learned to respect over the last few weeks in reading really interesting topics) not interested in discussing the meaning of words, rather bigger concepts and good scientific discussion.

    Anyone with me?
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    The challenge, mascott, is that there exists right now a very real battle... a fight for truth and accuracy and the advancement of humanity... a struggle between those wish to remain forever in the dark ages due to indoctrinated beliefs versus those who wish to move us forward and through another enlightenment.

    That fight is taking place across the internet on forums and blogs and chat rooms, and there is a very real reason people are wholly unwilling to give even an inch on the meaning of these terms.

    This is about more than pedantry. This is about killing these continued attempts by a majority of the populace to insert flawed and useless religious thinking into our science and understanding of nature and reality. If everyone out there in our world were as well informed and articulate and thoughtful as you, then I'm sure there would be no problem whatsoever and I would agree wholly with the content, tone, and tenor of your post.

    However, they are not. More than 60% of citizens in the US don't think evolution is true. When you take that number to heart, you realize just how important it is to avoid even the slightest possibility of any vagaries, ambiguity, or confusion when selecting the words and terms we use.
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    Well, there are inherent characteristics to the system that guide actions. Evolution will always 'strive' for reproduction. Because if it doesn't there wouldn't be evolution to start with.

    Humans also have goals dictated by their biological makeup and upbringing. They aren't always in control of their goals.

    Is control what it is all about here?

    A 'controlled goal' vs 'non-controllable goals'?

    Evolution has inherently non-controllable goals. There are merely the outcome of a system. You can't predict them other than in general terms, and they can't suddenly change.

    It's all really semantics really if you limit yourself to hanging on to a single word. You will have to define the word and stick with it. Dictionaries aren't interesting in this respect. That isn't how scientific definition works.

    You can take an ordinary word and define it in a specific manner in a scientific article. And as long as you refer to this word in the article it will have this specific meaning and none of the colloquial ones.

    I suggest that participants in this thread now specify exactly their definition of the word goal or effort or sphincter.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Simply put, there is no evidence of direction in evolutionary changes, other than the predicted changes towards chracteristics that are fitter for the current environment.
    But how would scientists recognize if change was directed?

    Since there is no evidence for directed change there is no need to postulate it.
    I don't understand what you mean here. It sounds like you are saying that there is no need to consider that something might be the case unless there is already evidence that something is the case. In other words, if there is no evidence for something then evidence should not be sought. Could you clarify what you mean?
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    If biological change is undirected than mutations will be distributed evenly.
    We know of some equally distributed things that are directed, such as Andy Warhol paintings, and we know of unequally distributed things that scientists would not say are directed, such as the locations of lakes and rivers. So, why do scientists believe that an equal distribution is most likely due to chance but an unequal distribution is most likely due to direction?
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    direction doesn't imply goal.
    In this context it does. The passage that prompted this thread is as follows:

    "Contrary to a widespread public impression, biological evolution is not random, even though the biological changes that provide the raw material for evolution are not directed toward predetermined, specific goals. When DNA is being copied, mistakes in the copying process generate novel DNA sequences" - p. 50.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    Since there is no evidence for directed change there is no need to postulate it.
    I don't understand what you mean here. It sounds like you are saying that there is no need to consider that something might be the case unless there is already evidence that something is the case. In other words, if there is no evidence for something then evidence should not be sought. Could you clarify what you mean?
    The point is that the description we have works incredibly well without the need to posit direction or intentionality. As a default position, those who are scientifically-minded tend to leave open possibilities for just about anything. However, when we have a description of nature which works incredibly well and with accuracy and precision, then there is really no good reason to seek out other explanations unless there is a compelling reason to do so. There is no compelling reason to assume direction, and our models currently reflect reality with enormous precision. Other ideas can be safely disregarded until a compelling or evidence based reason to pursue them is presented.

    By example... Might there be invisible unicorns responsible for swine flu? Sure, that's possible, but the explanation we have works very well without the extraneous and superfluous addition of unicorns. Same with the present discussion. The implication of design is superfluous and without any evidence, so is essentially ignored until said evidence or other compelling reasons are provided.



    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    The passage that prompted this thread is as follows:

    "Contrary to a widespread public impression, biological evolution is not random, even though the biological changes that provide the raw material for evolution are not directed toward predetermined, specific goals."
    I think you may just be reading too much into this. In short, evolution is not random, but it instead builds on that which came before it. The successes of the past impact the successes of the present, and it's much more than a simple dice toss with every generation. It's iterative, not random (more specifically, the dna copying has random mutations, but the process itself encapsulates past successes inherently).
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    @Chronman:
    Look at this definition:

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/goal

    Do you really think a pen endeavors to hit the ground when falling?

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/endeavor

    If you look at the definition of "endeavor", I hope you'll agree with me that a pen doesn't have conscience.
    By the way, a word can have different meanings, which might also be the case with "goal", and you know all to good how it is meant by the employers of the word here. As it was already said, in a scientific context, a goal is directed by a more or less conscious force - let's say, an acting subject.

    I also think evolution itself has no goal (as far as I could figure, you are of the same opinion).
    Individuals, in contrary, have the goal to survive (except lemmings). Or, as is very interesting, a swarm can strive for the survival of the swarm itself, sacrificing individuals - like a single organism split into different, autonomically acting parts.

    Now the interesting part: Biological change.
    A change occurs only because of random mutations. Yes, there is a pressure from the outside, from the environment, but this pressure does not cause the mutations, thus does not direct change.
    It is more like a glass which is shaped in a certain way. Let's say I put this onto a table in the kitchen. Now I got a bucket full of water. I splash a little around with the water in the kitchen (what a mess!), and the drops which fall into the glass are the "surviving" ones, while the others will "die". But we assume the falling of the drops within the kitchen as being random.

    As you see, not the glass decides if the drops survive, but actually the randomness decides.
    If you are of different opinion here, you'd have to say that the whole universe in its constellation directs evolution, serving the properties for life to be able to exist.
    I am.
    You can't deny it.
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    I never said anything about a pen having any goals, you misinterpreted the argument, please reread my posts carefully.

    And also, I already posted a definition for "goal", posting alternative meanings doesn't negate the one I posted from www.dictionary.com.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    And also, I already posted a definition for "goal", posting alternative meanings doesn't negate the one I posted from www.dictionary.com.
    true - cherry-picked definitions are equally irrelevant
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by uf
    It sounds like you are saying that there is no need to consider that something might be the case unless there is already evidence that something is the case. In other words, if there is no evidence for something then evidence should not be sought.
    The search for evidence of direction in the changes of life has been going on for centuries.

    No luck so far.
    Quote Originally Posted by uf
    We know of some equally distributed things that are directed, such as Andy Warhol paintings,
    Andy Warhol paintings are not "equally distributed". There are clear pattens in them, typical of human creations.

    The only artist I know of whose work resembles naturally evolved objects of equivalent complexity is Jackson Pollock.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    If biological change is undirected than mutations will be distributed evenly.
    We know of some equally distributed things that are directed, such as Andy Warhol paintings, and we know of unequally distributed things that scientists would not say are directed, such as the locations of lakes and rivers. So, why do scientists believe that an equal distribution is most likely due to chance but an unequal distribution is most likely due to direction?
    *

    Andy warhol paintings aren't equally distributed. If they were they would be just one tone and depict no scene.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    The point is that the description we have works incredibly well without the need to posit direction or intentionality.
    The problem of course is that the current description of known evolutionary processes and the predictions of their capacity to drive large scale change and therefore observed diversity is not supported by experimental and observational results. It does not work well at all. One could say that on the basis of experimental results it fails.

    If you wish to suggest otherwise. Please offer a real demonstration of an observed success. Please do not claim that it takes too long. That excuse no longer works because we now know what kinds of molecular level alterations are required to account for new protein function and interaction and they generally require 5-10 focused substitutions. That level change must occur in fewer than a trillion organisms in order to account for macro changes observed by the fossil record in the time allowed (there have been fewer than an estimated 10^14 total mammals ever in existence). It is easy to produce trillions of microorganisms in a few months or less.
    Cypress, you keep on bringing up the same topic up in multiple threads. Those threads get derailed and end up just another Cypress-says-evolution-can't-work-by-mutation-and-selection-alone thread. There's actually a fairly decent debate going on here so if you persist with this, I'll have to start merging your comments into the macro/mirco thread.
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy
    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    If biological change is undirected than mutations will be distributed evenly.
    We know of some equally distributed things that are directed, such as Andy Warhol paintings, and we know of unequally distributed things that scientists would not say are directed, such as the locations of lakes and rivers. So, why do scientists believe that an equal distribution is most likely due to chance but an unequal distribution is most likely due to direction?
    *

    Andy warhol paintings aren't equally distributed. If they were they would be just one tone and depict no scene.
    It sounds as though you are saying that an equal distribution contains zero variation. Is this what you are saying?

    So as to not get off-topic I will ask my question again: Why do scientists believe that an equal distribution is most likely due to chance but an unequal distribution is most likely due to direction?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy

    So as to not get off-topic I will ask my question again: Why do scientists believe that an equal distribution is most likely due to chance but an unequal distribution is most likely due to direction?
    Are you talking about the distribution of alleles or "traits"?
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    @Chronman:
    It's interesting how you pick some part of my post and ignore the rest. No, actually it's disappointing.
    And I didn't just offer a different definition, but I also explained to you your fault - I shall not say "mistake", since it is not a mistake in this sense, and it's probably more personal than to the matter that you argue about this word so much.
    Look again in my former post and you'll see what I mean. I pointed out that you, for some reason, want to diverge from the widely accepted notion of the word "goal" in the scientific sense.
    So I ask you: WHY would you just argue about that? You know what we all mean. Do you just wanna be different? I don't know...
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastermind
    @Chronman:
    It's interesting how you pick some part of my post and ignore the rest. No, actually it's disappointing.
    And I didn't just offer a different definition, but I also explained to you your fault - I shall not say "mistake", since it is not a mistake in this sense, and it's probably more personal than to the matter that you argue about this word so much.
    Look again in my former post and you'll see what I mean. I pointed out that you, for some reason, want to diverge from the widely accepted notion of the word "goal" in the scientific sense.
    So I ask you: WHY would you just argue about that? You know what we all mean. Do you just wanna be different? I don't know...
    No, your statement signified misinterpretation, so I suggested you go back and read.

    The fact that you made that mistake affected my interest in even responding to your tenuous argument.

    And find me one post where I actively sought to initiate any argument, it was always someone else who saw it fit to make an issue of my verbiage; and this is precisely why I don't respond to you seriously, biased loon.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    Quote Originally Posted by ufcarazy

    So as to not get off-topic I will ask my question again: Why do scientists believe that an equal distribution is most likely due to chance but an unequal distribution is most likely due to direction?
    Are you talking about the distribution of alleles or "traits"?
    You would need to ask Spuriousmonkey.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    - - We do observe the kind of differences ( you chose the word "changes" rather than "differences") in higher orders (families, orders etc.). We don't observe that known observed evolutionary processes produce these differences but we do note that genetic engineering is capable of producing these kinds of differences.
    This is false. The kinds of differences we see between families, orders, etc, are not at all like the differences created by genetic engineers - instead, they form genealogical trees of relationships closely corresponding to expected relationships of inheritance and similarity by descent from common ancestor.

    And we do have a theory of evolutionary change that not only accounts for the relationship patterns we see, but predicted, the subsequently discovered mirroring of genealogical relationships in the content of inheritance - what was later identified as the genetic code of DNA. That was the Darwinian Theory of Evolution.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    that mistake affected my interest in even responding to your tenuous argument.

    And find me one post where I actively sought to initiate any argument, it was always someone else who saw it fit to make an issue of my verbiage; and this is precisely why I don't respond to you seriously, biased loon.
    Consider this one official warning Chron. You may attack arguments, evidence and even question competence, but we don't allow personal attacks here. This is a discussion forum and we would like the tone here to encourage discussion, not flaming.
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    @Chronman:

    I explicitly wrote in my post that AS FAR AS I HAVE UNDERSTOOD, I agree with you partly and disagree with you with the other part.
    You, in contrary, discredited my whole post even though it consisted of two parts, the first being related to the "goal"-dispute and the other one relating to the topic.
    However you just ignored the second part and you don't seem to be eager to hold a constructive discussion. It'd have been a merry if you had replied me as well to what I've written about evolution. And if I have misunderstood you, it's a reason for you to break up a serious discussion and belittle the one who has misunderstood? Why couldn't you just correct me in regard to what I've written about how I see evolution? Nobody of us two gets anything out of the situation if misunderstanding leads to conflict. Misunderstanding is actually an all too common thing, and we should strive to diminish it. The first thing to do now is, to tell the discussion partner what, in your opinion, is wrong, and then offer your own view, which is then object to criticism of the other members of discussion, and vice versa.
    I'd be thankful if you give our discussion a second chance and finally reply to the other thing I've written. Let's concede to use the word "goal" in the common scientific sense and let's use "result" or "outcome" as something without intention. If not, propose a different usage of words.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastermind
    @Chronman:

    I explicitly wrote in my post that AS FAR AS I HAVE UNDERSTOOD, I agree with you partly and disagree with you with the other part.
    You, in contrary, discredited my whole post even though it consisted of two parts, the first being related to the "goal"-dispute and the other one relating to the topic.
    However you just ignored the second part and you don't seem to be eager to hold a constructive discussion. It'd have been a merry if you had replied me as well to what I've written about evolution. And if I have misunderstood you, it's a reason for you to break up a serious discussion and belittle the one who has misunderstood? Why couldn't you just correct me in regard to what I've written about how I see evolution? Nobody of us two gets anything out of the situation if misunderstanding leads to conflict. Misunderstanding is actually an all too common thing, and we should strive to diminish it. The first thing to do now is, to tell the discussion partner what, in your opinion, is wrong, and then offer your own view, which is then object to criticism of the other members of discussion, and vice versa.
    I'd be thankful if you give our discussion a second chance and finally reply to the other thing I've written. Let's concede to use the word "goal" in the common scientific sense and let's use "result" or "outcome" as something without intention. If not, propose a different usage of words.
    You're right, I ignored your post.

    I didn't feel it would be productive to proceed to debate with someone whose not "on the same page".

    Again, it wasn't my intention to initiate any argument about it, I didn't expect a group of posters to derail the thread by trying to argue a definition contained in the dictionary.

    Regarding what you wrote about evolution, I didn't read it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastermind

    Now the interesting part: Biological change.
    A change occurs only because of random mutations. Yes, there is a pressure from the outside, from the environment, but this pressure does not cause the mutations, thus does not direct change.
    It is more like a glass which is shaped in a certain way. Let's say I put this onto a table in the kitchen. Now I got a bucket full of water. I splash a little around with the water in the kitchen (what a mess!), and the drops which fall into the glass are the "surviving" ones, while the others will "die". But we assume the falling of the drops within the kitchen as being random.

    As you see, not the glass decides if the drops survive, but actually the randomness decides.
    If you are of different opinion here, you'd have to say that the whole universe in its constellation directs evolution, serving the properties for life to be able to exist.
    I already refuted a similar argument, check the first response I made to "Ophiolite".
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    I already refuted a similar argument, check the first response I made to "Ophiolite".
    You may think you refuted it. I doubt anyone else does.
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    i wonder why "Ophiolite" was placed in inverted commas ? surely Chronman does not imply this isn't your real name, or that you are to gain in any way from using a pseudonym ?
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by Chronman
    I already refuted a similar argument, check the first response I made to "Ophiolite".
    You may think you refuted it. I doubt anyone else does.
    I thnk he made a couple of sound points in his earlier post. Not sure how it totally refutes your argument, but ....

    What I don't understand is how it adds or subtracts to the question about how one can be certain that evolutionary processes are not goal directed. Chronman seems to be suggesting his example process is goal driven. I would suggest it is deterministic.
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    I have removed the off-topic discussion to it's rightful home in the Micro/Macro thread which is now in pseudo. If you guys would like to continue to discuss the cypress version of evolution, please do it there. This thread is about how we determine the difference between directed and undirected processes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    - - We do observe the kind of differences ( you chose the word "changes" rather than "differences") in higher orders (families, orders etc.). We don't observe that known observed evolutionary processes produce these differences but we do note that genetic engineering is capable of producing these kinds of differences.
    This is false. The kinds of differences we see between families, orders, etc, are not at all like the differences created by genetic engineers - instead, they form genealogical trees of relationships closely corresponding to expected relationships of inheritance and similarity by descent from common ancestor.

    And we do have a theory of evolutionary change that not only accounts for the relationship patterns we see, but predicted, the subsequently discovered mirroring of genealogical relationships in the content of inheritance - what was later identified as the genetic code of DNA. That was the Darwinian Theory of Evolution.
    Presuming for the moment your descriptions are accurate (they are not), how would this confirm that the events were undirected? The rate of change far exceeds blind search, and research into effective searches and selection functions are universally the product of a goal driven processes or targeted searches. This would indicate that something other than chance and natural selection are at work.

    There is also the problem of scale, if selective advantage is obtained with a range of changes between 1 and 100 individual modifications then selection can only aid with changes on the very low end of the scale. This leaves us with no effective search process for changes that require many steps. How does your explanation address this issue?
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    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    The rate of change far exceeds blind search, and research into effective searches and selection functions are universally the product of a goal driven processes or targeted searches. This would indicate that something other than chance and natural selection are at work.
    Got any solid numbers on this? Taking into account of course the massively parallel nature of evolution and incorporating other influencing factors like HGT and endosymbiosis. Please show us how the observed rates differ from the expected- I would love to know how the calculations are performed and what the shortfall is.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Presuming for the moment your descriptions are accurate (they are not), how would this confirm that the events were undirected?
    It's called evidence, not confirmation. We have evidence that points to undirected events. We have no evidence that points to directed events.
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    The rate of change far exceeds blind search,
    That is false. The rate of change is slower than blind search would produce.
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    and research into effective searches and selection functions are universally the product of a goal driven processes or targeted searches.
    Among the various possible non-targeted and goal-free search/selection processes, Darwinian Evolution has proved the best fit to the evidence.
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    There is also the problem of scale, if selective advantage is obtained with a range of changes between 1 and 100 individual modifications then selection can only aid with changes on the very low end of the scale. This leaves us with no effective search process for changes that require many steps.
    Except for one of the evolutionary theories, such as the current standard Darwinian theory. Hence the status of the theory - it explains things we had no explanation for, things that had baffled us for centuries.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    The rate of change far exceeds blind search, and research into effective searches and selection functions are universally the product of a goal driven processes or targeted searches. This would indicate that something other than chance and natural selection are at work.
    Got any solid numbers on this? Taking into account of course the massively parallel nature of evolution and incorporating other influencing factors like HGT and endosymbiosis. Please show us how the observed rates differ from the expected- I would love to know how the calculations are performed and what the shortfall is.
    My comparison was of observed rates verses blind search. I did not make any statement about observed rates verses processes involving gene transfer and function capture by symbiosis. I believe this is the calculation you have asked me to provide. I am fascinated at your constant requests for me to prove a negative.

    Since this is your proposal, perhaps you have some numbers that indicate what rates should be expected by these processes?

    The difficulty I see in deriving them is in determining the full range of stepwise changes required to obtain a selective advantage. If the number is always 1, then selection should be very effective. At an average of two, it should proceed much more slowly. At 4 or 5, I would be willing to bet that the time requirement is unreasonably long. How would someone explain the changes that required coordination of multiple components, each requiring two or three changes plus commensurate changes in expression controls, developmental controls, and transport and inventory mechanisms?

    The numbers for blind search are an interesting question, so I will offer one way to answer it. I have previously provided a reference with models for stable tertiary protein structures (and therefore function) of a few particular types including B-lactamase with about 150 base pairs. These examples indicate there are fewer than 1 in 10^70 functional residues. Blind search should reasonably be eliminated as an explanation on this basis alone. This is because the total number of organisms ever to have lived on earth is estimated at less than 10^45, this means that it would take over 10^25 generations just to obtain even odds of finding just one 150 AA functional protein of the type I described using blind search. We of course need millions of functional proteins.

    HGT of course explains how existing function might be transferred from one bacterium like organism to another but does not explain the origin of the function or derivation of a novel function. Endosymbiosis seems more notional and more controversial but presuming it is correct, it also can only account for transfer of existing function and likewise does not explain origin or alteration of function.

    As far as performing calculations, rates of changes are fairly straightforward. For any two species, count up the number of point changes based on Phenotypes and divide by twice the estimated time period from their presumed common ancestor.

    Since our entire combined experience with search routines to date indicate that successful searches are exclusively the product of goal driven causes and teleological searches, it would be up to the person who claims undirected processes are capable of deriving a successful search routine to show how it is so. Are you making this claim?
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    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    I have previously provided a reference with models for stable tertiary protein structures (and therefore function) of a few particular types including B-lactamase with about 150 base pairs. These examples indicate there are fewer than 1 in 10^70 functional residues.
    No, those examples don't indicate anything about the number of functional residues. You haven't specified the range of functions available, or the structures of "residue" possible.
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    As far as performing calculations, rates of changes are fairly straightforward. For any two species, count up the number of point changes based on Phenotypes and divide by twice the estimated time period from their presumed common ancestor.
    That's extraordinarily naive, even reading into the nonsensical "point changes based on phenotypes" to assume you meant something relevant, and that you knew what it was that you were talking about "changing". You would be assuming a constant rate of change, for starters.
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Blind search should reasonably be eliminated as an explanation on this basis alone. This is because the total number of organisms ever to have lived on earth is estimated at less than 10^45, this means that it would take over 10^25 generations just to obtain even odds of finding just one 150 AA functional protein of the type I described using blind search.
    So you can appreciate the status due a theory that explains how such a protein could be found, right? Darwinian theory solved a serious, baffling problem.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura

    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Blind search should reasonably be eliminated as an explanation on this basis alone. This is because the total number of organisms ever to have lived on earth is estimated at less than 10^45, this means that it would take over 10^25 generations just to obtain even odds of finding just one 150 AA functional protein of the type I described using blind search.
    So you can appreciate the status due a theory that explains how such a protein could be found, right? Darwinian theory solved a serious, baffling problem.
    A theory, if it fails to provide direct observable confirmation of its claims is little more than a just so story. 150 years ago, Darwin claimed evolution proceeds by undirected causes and this claim is regularly repeated today. Yet when you are now asked how we know that evolution is undirected you obfuscate. How do we know that every evolutionary process is in fact undirected?
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    because there is no credible evidence to the contrary ?
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    I was under the impression that environment, chance, developmental constraint and available mutation directed evolution.
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    i'm pretty sure that when cypress uses the word "undirected" he's referring to the lack of an intelligent guiding principle, rather than the lack of any driving mechanisms

    as per usual he doesn't accept "chance" (including environment, developmental constraints and mutation) as a sufficient final cause for what appears to be the process of evolution
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    i'm pretty sure that when cypress uses the word "undirected" he's referring to the lack of an intelligent guiding principle, rather than the lack of any driving mechanisms

    as per usual he doesn't accept "chance" (including environment, developmental constraints and mutation) as a sufficient final cause for what appears to be the process of evolution
    Primarily I am taking this side to challenge someone to justify the assumptions being made. I take this side because few people here will and yet IPSOS reports that worldwide, more than twice as many people take this side of the argument. Early in the thread "undirected" was defined closer to what you have proposed again here marnixR, though undirected in my sense means something other than chance or necessity (determinism). I'm not certain that it must be intelligent. Goal directed would be more accurate. Perhaps it is the same, I'm not sure it is.

    In any case, can anyone answer the primary question? Can anyone demonstrate that appearance of new body plans and new biological function occurred by chance and necessity with no influence from goal driven processes? If not, why must evolutionary theory presuppose this? If this assumption is wrong, then those who accept it have a blind spot and will be prevented from ever discovering the facts.

    If on the other hand you are certain this assumption is not wrong, why are you certain? What scientific observations have settled this matter?
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    define new bodyplan.

    define necessity.

    define chance (as in why insist that new bodyplans occurred by chance when no scientist claims that this is the case).


    show that the theory of evolution shows your deluded thoughts.
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    i think the question should not be

    "Can anyone demonstrate that appearance of new body plans and new biological function occurred by chance and necessity with no influence from goal driven processes?"

    but

    "Can anyone demonstrate that appearance of new body plans and new biological function occurred by goal driven processes?"

    as you well know it's nigh on impossible to prove a negative, so science is more likely to consider the 2nd question, and when such evidence fails to materialise, assume as its current working hypothesis that it is unguided until such moment that any goal driven processes have been identified

    as things are, i'm not aware of any
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    define new bodyplan.
    New body plan is self evident. There was a time when birds did not exist, now they exist. Birds are new compared to the time that the body plan of a bird did not exist.

    define necessity.
    Necessity is a deterministic process. Events that occur based on physical laws are deterministic. Selection has a deterministic component.

    define chance (as in why insist that new bodyplans occurred by chance when no scientist claims that this is the case).
    Reread my posts. I do not make that claim either. I do not insist new body plans occurred by chance only. I used the term chance and necessity.

    show that the theory of evolution shows your deluded thoughts.
    I interpret this to say that you can't answer the question.

    Now you can predict my thoughts too? You have a grand idea of what evolution has bestowed on you. In any case, the moderators do not allow demonstrations that could overturn their prejudices.

    By the way, can evolutionary theory demonstrate that my thoughts are deluded while your thoughts are correct? Does evolution select certain thought processes over others? How can we know that one thought is correct while another is incorrect since selection is for reproductive advantage and not truth?
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    i think the question should not be

    "Can anyone demonstrate that appearance of new body plans and new biological function occurred by chance and necessity with no influence from goal driven processes?"

    but

    "Can anyone demonstrate that appearance of new body plans and new biological function occurred by goal driven processes?"

    as you well know it's nigh on impossible to prove a negative, so science is more likely to consider the 2nd question, and when such evidence fails to materialise, assume as its current working hypothesis that it is unguided until such moment that any goal driven processes have been identified

    as things are, i'm not aware of any
    The two questions are identical. Both have a negative component. The second question implies; "and not exclusively undirected processes". As I stated in the previous post, attempts on this site to answer the question you suggest are not allowed.

    What justification is there for presuming one direction over the other? Prior to Darwin, prejudice was in the opposite direction. Even today, by almost three to one, most of the world population takes the opposite presupposition. What harm is there in taking a neutral or no view on this point? I can see one advantage in that a neutral view ensures that the full range of possibility is covered, so that there is no blind spot.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Even today, by almost three to one, most of the world population takes the opposite presupposition.
    as if science was a popularity contest
    as for holding 2 contrary points of view, that may be something that comes naturally to some people, but i'm not one of them
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    The pope has decided for all Roman Catholics that evolution is true.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Even today, by almost three to one, most of the world population takes the opposite presupposition.
    as if science was a popularity contest
    as for holding 2 contrary points of view, that may be something that comes naturally to some people, but i'm not one of them
    But since you hold a single point of view (that evolutionary processes are undirected), and you cannot support that view with scientific based evidence, then you hold that point of view by faith. If so, then that component of the theory is metaphysical and not scientific.

    Surely it is possible to provide clear evidence for the 150 year old position that evolution is undirected.
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    it would be silly for Marnix to claim that evolution is not directed.

    It clearly is. Just not in the way you believe it is.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    But since you hold a single point of view (that evolutionary processes are undirected), and you cannot support that view with scientific based evidence, then you hold that point of view by faith.
    nothing to do with faith - merely the appication of logic in the face evidence or the lack thereof
    if there is no credible evidence that evolution is guided in the sense that you understand the word, then i see no reason whatsoever to that give point of view any credence
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    But since you hold a single point of view (that evolutionary processes are undirected), and you cannot support that view with scientific based evidence, then you hold that point of view by faith.
    nothing to do with faith - merely the appication of logic in the face evidence or the lack thereof
    if there is no credible evidence that evolution is guided in the sense that you understand the word, then i see no reason whatsoever to that give point of view any credence
    Now you are explaining the rationale for your faith (belief without evidence). I have no problem with your faith or the rationale. In fact, as stated, it is reasonable. I'm just calling a spade a spade. (BTW Why do you think you can predict my understanding of the world?)

    However, since you claim there is no credible evidence that biological change is guided, and by the obvious failure to provide an evidence based response to the question, we have established here that you have no credible evidence that macro level change occurs by known processes. So you have two ideas that in your mind both lack evidence. Yet you have chosen one over the other. That choice has a metaphysical basis not a scientific basis.

    Should we therefore say that the Darwinian claim that biological diversity occurred by undirected (non-goal driven) forces is metaphysical not scientific? Ken Miller has acknowledged this several times and has since removed that claim from his recent versions of his biology texts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    ... we have established here that you have no credible evidence that macro level change occurs by known processes.
    when did anyone come to that conclusion ?

    my evidence for macro-evolution is that it's not different in kind from micro-evolution (after all, that's just your postulate), and that micro-evolution * time = macro-evolution
    after all, once speciation is complete (your micro-evolution) there's nothing to prevent 2 species from drifting further and further apart, since there is no longer any mixing of the gene pools - it's just that human beings are very poorly equipped to appreciate the vastness of deep time, whist at the same time it's so easy to underestimate evolution speeds during one of its growth spurts (think the 450 or so endemic species of cichlids that evolved in Lake Victoria since it last fully dried up 17,000 years ago)
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    ... we have established here that you have no credible evidence that macro level change occurs by known processes.
    when did anyone come to that conclusion ?

    my evidence for macro-evolution is that it's not different in kind from micro-evolution (after all, that's just your postulate), and that micro-evolution * time = macro-evolution
    after all, once speciation is complete (your micro-evolution) there's nothing to prevent 2 species from drifting further and further apart, since there is no longer any mixing of the gene pools - it's just that human beings are very poorly equipped to appreciate the vastness of deep time, whist at the same time it's so easy to underestimate evolution speeds during one of its growth spurts (think the 450 or so endemic species of cichlids that evolved in Lake Victoria since it last fully dried up 17,000 years ago)
    I think you are conflating my argument or at least changing it into something you can more easily answer. I suppose it might be because you choose to misunderstand my point about what evolutionary processes have demonstrated and what they have not. I'm not overly concerned about speciation, though it is certainly hotly debated. Macro level changes, the changes in body plans and functional components require molecular changes to drive new tertiary protein structures, chemic affinities, protein-protein binding sites, gene regulation, developmental regulation and control and a host of other changes. These changes are things that can be studied in real time without making an unreasonable appeal to "deep time" and it is not scientifically unreasonable for demonstration that these changes occur by a particular process when the theory predicts that they should. This is the level of change I am referring to.

    Can you show that these changes are derived by the processes you appeal to above? Can you show that these changes are accomplished by mutation and selection?

    A good way to demonstrate this would be by modeling it with evolutionary algorithms. Unfortunately, so far the only functional models all use targeted search routines and targeted searches are fundamentally teleological. I have tried to have a discussion here of the ability of known evolutionary processes to accomplish the changes listed above, but the moderators find that discussion too challenging and they routinely remove it. Perhaps we can discuss evolutionary models instead.

    As it stands now we have broad agreement between you and me about what known evolutionary processes can and do accomplish. We agree that these known processes are almost certainly not goal driven (they are a combination of chance and necessity). However we disagree about the kinds of events that are left to be explained or accounted for by known evolutionary processes. You seem to be saying there aren't any left to be accounted for. But I am certain you don't really believe that. Do you?
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    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Can you show that these changes are derived by the processes you appeal to above? Can you show that these changes are accomplished by mutation and selection?
    that's not the subject of this thread - i was merely showing how there's plenty of evidence for undirected biological change, and none that i can see for any sort of guidance

    whether the processes i was talking about are the only ones out there (and i would be very much surprised if they were the only ones) is not part of this discussion
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    A theory, if it fails to provide direct observable confirmation of its claims is little more than a just so story.
    Most people find scientific theories quite useful and enlightening, but you are welcome to dismiss them all on vague metaphysical grounds if you so choose.
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Primarily I am taking this side to challenge someone to justify the assumptions being made.
    As you are the only one making them, such justifications would be your responsibility.
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Can anyone demonstrate that appearance of new body plans and new biological function occurred by chance and necessity with no influence from goal driven processes?
    We can, and have, presented you with an overwhelming preponderence of evidence and solid argument for evolution having proceeded according to Darwinian theory. Whether you accept that as a "demonstration" of "chance and necessity" seems to involve some confusion on your part.
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    What harm is there in taking a neutral or no view on this point?
    The "harm" from accepting what is known to be unwarranted, false, apparently deluded, unreal, etc, as components of one's worldview is an interesting topic of both anthropoligical and philosophical consideration. But the relevant consideration here is: what good is it? Theories do something valuable for scientific inquiry - discarding excellent and fundamentally important theories cripples ones ability to formulate hypotheses, allows one to pursue hopeless lines of inquiry (always the more prevalent and likely, in a random choice), and wastes one's life and time.
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    I'm not overly concerned about speciation, though it is certainly hotly debated.
    Yes, you are - as follows:
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Macro level changes, the changes in body plans and functional components require molecular changes to drive new tertiary protein structures, chemic affinities, protein-protein binding sites, gene regulation, developmental regulation and control and a host of other changes.
    Speciation, then.
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    These changes are things that can be studied in real time without making an unreasonable appeal to "deep time"
    They are studied, usually by investigating the evidence of their having occurred. In real time.
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    However we disagree about the kinds of events that are left to be explained or accounted for by known evolutionary processes. You seem to be saying there aren't any left to be accounted for. But I am certain you don't really believe that. Do you?
    I am willing to assume that there are kinds of events that cannot be brought about by evolutionary process - that has never been demonstrated, but it seems theoretically possible as far as I can tell.

    I see no evidence of the occurrence of such events in the development of living beings - any of them - on this planet.
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    iceaura, molecular Biologist Ken Miller has written several editions of biology textbooks and several other books on evolutionary biology. He is an outspoken advocate for modern evolutionary theory. Most of his earlier versions made the claim that evolutionary processes are undirected in the sense we are speaking. Recently in court testimony he reluctantly admitted that this claim was insupportable with current evidence and the claim is in fact a metaphysical belief. He subsequently removed the statements from his newest editions. Do you claim that Ken Miller is incorrect? Do you know something he doesn't?
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  101. #100  
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    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    iceaura, molecular Biologist Ken Miller has written several editions of biology textbooks and several other books on evolutionary biology. He is an outspoken advocate for modern evolutionary theory. Most of his earlier versions made the claim that evolutionary processes are undirected in the sense we are speaking. Recently in court testimony he reluctantly admitted that this claim was insupportable with current evidence and the claim is in fact a metaphysical belief. He subsequently removed the statements from his newest editions. Do you claim that Ken Miller is incorrect? Do you know something he doesn't?
    Arguments from authority don't cut it here. Ken Miller's inability to make an argument about this does not undermine Iceaura unless Iceaura is actually Ken Miller or is relying entirely on his say-so. Plenty of other scientists have made convincing arguments against design, so we don't need to rely on Ken Miller. Incidentally, Miller has always had a tendency to stop short on some of the more profound implications of evolutionary theory- he's a Christian and still very much faithful. So I think we can cut him a bit of slack there.

    Out of interest, which book was the claim removed from and where was it in that book?
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