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Darwin Unhinged: The Bugs in Evolution
#1
Darwin Unhinged: The Bugs in Evolution

I happened across this blog while searching for something else. It is quite long and I haven't even finished reading it yet but I felt it might be of interest to others here. So far, I have found myself nodding and smiling as I read it and, whatever your views on evolution, Neo-Darwinism or ID, there are some pretty quotable passages in there, IMHO. Here's one from the top of the page:

Quote:“A scientist is part of what the Polish philosopher of science Ludwik Fleck called a “thought collective”: a group of people exchanging ideas in a mutually comprehensible idiom. The group, suggested Fleck, inevitably develops a mind of its own, as the individuals in it converge on a way of communicating, thinking and feeling.

This makes scientific inquiry prone to the eternal rules of human social life: deference to the charismatic, herding towards majority opinion, punishment for deviance, and intense discomfort with admitting to error. Of course, such tendencies are precisely what the scientific method was invented to correct for, and over the long run, it does a good job of it. In the long run, however, we’re all dead, quite possibly sooner than we would be if we hadn’t been following a diet based on poor advice.”
"I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud.” ― C.G. Jung
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#2
That's Golden
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#3
Following on from the above commentary on the problems with Neo-Darwinism, I have just listened to this interesting debate between Stephen Meyer from the ID camp and Perry Marshall who is promoting what is becoming known as the Third Way in that it is neither old-school (neo-)darwinism nor theologically influenced Intelligent Design. 

I hope those interested are not put off by the fact that the debate is hosted on a Christian podcast show but, if so, I would suggest that the religious angle was not intrusive and mainly confined to the ad-breaks. 

Having read and listened to Stephen Meyer quite a lot over the past couple of years I am something of a fan - at least of his dignity and honesty in debate if not his ultimate conclusions. I'm not so familiar with Perry Marshall but I've been becoming more and more aware of this Third Way he speaks of which seems to be centred on epigenetics and adaption as an alternative to the traditional RM/NS evolutionary mechanisms. So there were points in the discussion where I was inclined to agree with Meyer and at other times I thought Marshall had it about right. 

For example, I agree with Marshall that consciousness goes all the way down and is, indeed, universal. So the intelligence is in the system right down to the cell level thus there is no (or limited) need to invoke an outside agency. But I agree with Meyer when he says that however you imagine the intelligence, it is still Intelligent Design. In other words, I think he is suggesting that he is not pushing God the designer even though he personally believes that to be the case.

It is amusing to note that, at the Royal Society conference they are discussing, God was referred to as the elephant in the room: the thing that an august collection of evolutionary scientists could not bring themselves to mention. Kind of confirms what is being pointed out in that quote I pasted in my first post of this thread.

http://cosmicfingerprints.com/stephen-meyer-debate/
"I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud.” ― C.G. Jung
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#4
That is a superb link, Kamarling.


The amusing thing is that on the one side you have a leading ID proponent, and on the other, you have a "Third Way" proponent.

1)           They both agreed that traditional Darwinism is in deep trouble - even though it is still pushed out the the general public as undoubtably true!

2)           My feeing is that Perry Marshall was hand waiving somewhat - for example, describing the way a protozoa rearranges itself to handle a threat, isn't the same as explaining how it does that!

3)           I think the ID crowd have latched on to a really good point - namely that life needs information, and the only thing that can generate information is intelligence. So for example, horizontal gene transfer could explain why species A acquired a gene from species B, but it doesn't explain where that information came from in the first place.

4)           Epigenetics is very interesting. This is a way in which cells stick small chemical groups on to DNA and/or on to the protein coat hat contains the DNA in higher cells. These activate or deactivate the regions of DNA. 
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Epigenetics-Rev...1848313470

It would seem that this mechanism operates to specialise each different tissue in the body, but can also affect the germ cells. However, at least as it stands, it can't (I think) actually produce real evolution, because those tags eventually come off - the core of the DNA has not been mutated.

I was encouraged by the contact between these two groups, and imagine the academic explosion if all this becomes generally known.

Towards the end Perry Marshall was postulating consciousness running the cell. That is almost conceding intelligent design!

David
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#5
(09-16-2017, 09:53 PM)DaveB Wrote: Towards the end Perry Marshall was postulating consciousness running the cell. That is almost conceding intelligent design!

David

I attended a talk by Bruce Lipton not long ago (this year). He claims to have been working on epigenetics since long before it acquired the name. The interesting thing in his talk was not that he disagreed with any of the recent theories incorporating epigenetics but his opinion that they don't go far enough. What is missing, he says, is mind. There seems to be some sort of conscious direction to the adaptions.

Lipton maintains that there are genetic adaptations which are driven by intelligent processing of sensory data coming into the cells from environmental sensors on the cell walls. He also says (and I hope I'm not misinterpreting his conclusions) that DNA is the protein factory but there is another level of processing which determines how and where cells are deployed in the body. 

I'm far from being one who understands DNA or cellular biology but I had often wondered about that too. Does such a control system have a name? Is it even recognised? There seems to be a complex system which includes signalling, activation (hormones, enzymes, etc.) and role determination (how a cell becomes part of the structure of an eye or the liver, for example).
"I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud.” ― C.G. Jung
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#6
I think the truth is that far less is understood than has been claimed.

IMHO, this is one huge theme of non-materialism - one that Sci has built up on Skeptiko and here. The exciting thing is that the truth is starting to spill out - in that video and in the conference, and I think this book will be good too (but I am waiting for the Kindle version):

https://www.amazon.com/Purpose-Desire-Mo...0062651560

The sad thing is that although that conference happened some time ago now, I don't think the population at large is aware of the fact that Darwinian theory is tottering.

I have been in touch with the author after reading the preface of the book on Amazon.

I think discussion of what controls what in a cell is sort of meaningless until you acknowledge that there is something conscious at work. Consciousness can take control, everything else is just going to do its stuff like clockwork. That is why Dawkins talking about the 'selfish' gene is so daft - it makes no more sense than talking about a selfish flywheel in a mechanical clock!

That discussion contained some extraordinary claims. For example that the genes for the flagellum has been removed from a bacterial cell, and they had reformed after a period of time. If that is true (and if I understood it correctly), it is staggering.

Rupert Sheldrake has a lot to say about what gets deployed where in the body (i.e. how multicellular organisms develop. Clearly epigenetics must be relevant here too - I mean those chemical notes stuck on DNA mean that the DNA in different types of cells behaves differently - the DNA for fingernail proteins remains silent in the eye, for example. However there is still an impossible organisational problem that obviously does need intelligence.

For example, Sheldrake reports on some work (not his own) in which the lens of the eye of a tadpole was removed. Over time it regrew. The amazing thing was that the regrowth used a quite different method from the way it is formed originally - which surely implies some intelligence - "Bugger that lens has gone missing, how can I fix it?"


David
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#7
I know this is my old hobby-horse but I still don't have a good explanation for instinct.

A google search will bring pages of definitions but it is hard to find how instincts arise. I'm not talking about reflex actions - something is hot so you pull away from it - I'm talking about unlearned complex behaviours, common in animals.

My old example was watching the birth of a lamb. I watched it fall to the ground and within moments it had found its feet, walked around its mother and found a teat. This is a complex behaviour. The mere act of getting up to walk without being taught is astounding to me. Yet all I can find are well worn phrases like "innate behaviour" or "hard-wired" or "programmed into the DNA".

Does the DNA contain programs for behaviour? I thought DNA was a protein factory - how does a protein carry instructions on how to walk? Does a honey bee have a program to tell it how to dance in order to tell his fellow bees where to find the flowers? And how are these programs interpreted? How and where is the transfer of the instructions to the brain and nervous system achieved?
"I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud.” ― C.G. Jung
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#8
Here is a new review of Scott Turner's book on Amazon (my added emphasis):

Quote:This is yet another in a line of PRO-evolution books by highly credible, mainstream biologists who are stepping forward one by one and insisting that The Emperor really does have no clothes.

Turner is not in any way, shape or form opposed to the idea of evolution itself. He’s no creationist. In fact he insists we are obligated to study and understand purpose, just to even make sense of evolution itself. And there are so many mechanisms we need to study.

I recently talked to a grad student who dares not advocate teleology in nature until his career is on safer footing. I have consulted in 300 industries and I have never encountered a field more choked with fear and political correctness than evolutionary biology.

Fortunately it seems more and more scientists are getting away with calling a spade a spade. It’s about time, because this nonsense has been going on far too long. Fodor’s “What Darwin Got Wrong” and James Shapiro’s “Evolution: A View from the 21st Century” were among the first to breach the wall. Suzan Mazur’s books chronicled the schism between old-school Darwinism and evolution experiments by top researchers, nearly 10 years ago. More recently, Denis Noble’s “Dance to the Tune of Life: Biological Relativity” has joined the chorus. Systems biology is on the rise.

10-15 years ago, detractors were limited to creationists and Intelligent Design advocates. But today, dissent comes from many eminent scientists with impeccable credentials. Before, scientists risked losing their careers. Today, the strength of the Neo-Darwinians is fading.

The 2016 Evolution meeting at the Royal Society in London was the first time a major conference was entirely devoted to asking whether new mechanisms can be shoe-horned into Neo-Darwinism, or if the theory must be rebuilt from the ground up. The consensus seemed to favor the latter.

Rock-star biologist Carl Woese lamented at how reductionist thinking reduced biology to “become a science of lesser importance, for it had nothing fundamental to tell us about the world.” He described how biology has become shackled by the confines of reductionist physics. He hoped that it will “press forward once more as a fundamental science.”

Enter J. Scott Turner, whose deep work with termites (and many other things) lead him to conclude: “This Darwinian dog don’t hunt.” He, like Noble, is a physiologist, and as such acknowledges that it’s manifestly incoherent to claim that hands only *appear* to have the purpose of grasping, and that hearts only *appear* to have the purpose of hunting, and wings only *appear* to have the purpose of flying.

This dogma of purpose being mere illusion has been used for decades to shame scientists into thinking that IF they think there is purpose in nature, then they really are not scientists after all.

Turner finally came to the conclusion that this is nothing but an arbitrary piece of philosophical dogma, and worse, it sucks the true power out of the science of biology.

I could not agree more. The purposefulness of living things is apparent to any six year old. It is manifest at every level at which you study life. So as in Mao’s China, it takes a great deal of “re-education” for people to unlearn the obvious.

He explores what Lamarck actually believed and wrote, as opposed to his detractors’ straw-man caricatures (Lamarck is now vindicated after 200 years - yes, acquired traits do pass to offspring); Turner reconsiders the implications of “vitalism” and what is really meant by such a term; he explores components of the cell like the cytoskeleton and its roll in intracellular communication; he considers various origin of life scenarios, concluding that we are studying the problem at entirely the wrong scale.

In banishing purpose from the discussion, he says, “Where we have striven to exclude the ghosts from our machines, we have inadvertently constructed back doors that allow the ghosts to creep right back in.”

The book is extremely well written and congenial. Like Shapiro and Noble, Turner is a gentleman and does not go on a shaming rampage. This book is no rant. Rather, he invites you to really think and decide for yourself.

And like those before him who first cracked the Berlin wall, he carves a middle path between the two extremes. I predict that in 2-5 years, hordes of former prisoners of Neo-Darwinian dogma will make their escape to freedom.

David
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#9
(08-20-2017, 02:41 AM)Kamarling Wrote: Following on from the above commentary on the problems with Neo-Darwinism, I have just listened to this interesting debate between Stephen Meyer from the ID camp and Perry Marshall who is promoting what is becoming known as the Third Way in that it is neither old-school (neo-)darwinism nor theologically influenced Intelligent Design. 

I hope those interested are not put off by the fact that the debate is hosted on a Christian podcast show but, if so, I would suggest that the religious angle was not intrusive and mainly confined to the ad-breaks. 

Having read and listened to Stephen Meyer quite a lot over the past couple of years I am something of a fan - at least of his dignity and honesty in debate if not his ultimate conclusions. I'm not so familiar with Perry Marshall but I've been becoming more and more aware of this Third Way he speaks of which seems to be centred on epigenetics and adaption as an alternative to the traditional RM/NS evolutionary mechanisms. So there were points in the discussion where I was inclined to agree with Meyer and at other times I thought Marshall had it about right. 

For example, I agree with Marshall that consciousness goes all the way down and is, indeed, universal. So the intelligence is in the system right down to the cell level thus there is no (or limited) need to invoke an outside agency. But I agree with Meyer when he says that however you imagine the intelligence, it is still Intelligent Design. In other words, I think he is suggesting that he is not pushing God the designer even though he personally believes that to be the case.

It is amusing to note that, at the Royal Society conference they are discussing, God was referred to as the elephant in the room: the thing that an august collection of evolutionary scientists could not bring themselves to mention. Kind of confirms what is being pointed out in that quote I pasted in my first post of this thread.

http://cosmicfingerprints.com/stephen-meyer-debate/

This a big topic and I am probably not going to bite this off and chew on it because I know I will invariably get sucked into many hours posts and research.

That said-
I will comment that for my first 4-5 decades I thought that evolution/Darwinism was reasonable, in fact obvious, and supported by essentially all of the facts. I have come to see that this isn't the case, and that a substantial number solid arguments can be made against. 

OTOH: I don't believe for a single heartbeat in the biblical explanation, so I lean toward something that is a variation on the theme of evolution (incremental change over time). In my mind I'm thinking of the process as "guided" evolution. Essentially that the changes to our physical system that have happened over the millennia are not just about adaptation, but have been guided by other forces and/or intentions. And the more I learn about the subtle effects (some physical) that seem to be possible, and attributable to non-physical aspects of our world, the more I consider the possibility that this is where some or all of the change agent lies.
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#10
(09-17-2017, 11:00 AM)jkmac Wrote: OTOH: I don't believe for a single heartbeat in the biblical explanation, so I lean toward something that is a variation on the theme of evolution (incremental change over time). In my mind I'm thinking of the process as "guided" evolution.
Don't worry, I am not a Christian, and I am not even sure all the people in the ID movement are. They seem to have sawn off the old young Earth ideology as well.

J Scott Rurner is a "bad" Christian, whatever that means, but he seems to be pushing for some sort of consciousness running the cell - even though he likes to call it homeostasis Big Grin 

David
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