Monday, August 06, 2007

Unprobable Evolution

I just read Wonderful Life by Stephen Jay Gould (1989. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.). It was the first Gould book I ever tried to read--I started several years ago, but unfortunately put aside for a while. I reread it from scratch this weekend, but this time with the added benefit of having read much of Gould’s other works, including Full House and The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (although I’ve not yet finished this massive tome). There is one specific issue relating to Wonderful Life that is relevant to some claims that our evolutionist friends have made over the years: Darwinism, despite claims to the contrary, is not predictive.

Gould illustrates this in Wonderful Life by the analogy of "running life’s tape again." This effectively demonstrates that evolution can never be predictable. At the risk of being repetitive to an extreme, we will look at several of his quotes below:

I believe that the reconstructed Burgess fauna, interpreted by the theme of replaying life's tape, offers powerful support for this different view of life: any replay of the tape would lead evolution down a pathway radically different from the road actually taken. But the consequent differences in outcome do not imply that evolution is senseless, and without meaningful pattern; the divergent route of the replay would be just as interpretable, just as explainable after the fact, as the actual road. But the diversity of possible itineraries does demonstrate that eventual results cannot be predicted at the start, and none would ever occur a second time in the same way, because any pathway proceeds through thousands of improbable stages. Alter any early event, ever so slightly and without apparent importance at the time, and evolution cascades into a radically different channel. (p. 51).
Naturally, Gould remained a Darwinist despite demonstrating the problems with Darwinism (and as an interesting side note, his examination of the philosophy of Walcott—discoverer of the Burgess Shale, who tried to shoehorn everything into the prevailing evolutionary paradigm—is relevant in looking at Gould too). But notice the framework here: evolution can be explained "after the fact" but "cannot be predicted at the start." This is illustrated further by Gould:

I challenge any paleontologist to argue that he could have gone back to the Burgess seas and, without the benefit of hindsight, picked out Naraoia, Canadaspis, Aysheaia, and Sanctacaris for success, while identifying Marrella, Odaraia, Sidneyia, and Leanchoilia as ripe for the grim reaper. Wind back the tape of life, and let it play again. Would the replay ever yield anything like the history that we know? (p. 188)
Indeed, such a task is virtually impossible. So pervasive is this unpredictability that Gould rightly asks how it is possible for us to predict an alternate evolutionary sequence when we cannot even see how the sequence that did (supposedly) occur happened:

After all, we cannot even make predictions when we know the line of descent: we cannot see the mayfly in Aysheaia, or the black widow spider in Sanctacaris. How can we specify the world that different decimations would have produced? (p. 292).
Now lest we be charged with twisting Gould’s words, it is important to note that Gould is specifically addressing his argument to catastrophes, and not to "normal" evolution. (It should also be noted, however, that this firm of a distinction is not clearly stated in Wonderful Life, although it is clearly assumed and you can spot it when you know it’s there; the clearer statements that Gould is not speaking universally of evolution here are actually found in other works Gould later penned.) Thus, Gould does seek to avoid some of the charge of circular reasoning that is inherent in the tautology problem—in fact, Gould does address this specifically, although only tangentially:

Arguments that propose adaptive superiority as the basis for survival risk the classic error of circular reasoning. Survival is the phenomenon to be explained, not the proof, ipso facto, that those who survived were "better adapted" than those who died. This issue has been kicking around the courtyards of Darwinian theory for more than a century. It even has a name--the "tautology argument." Critics claim that our motto "survival of the fittest" is a meaningless tautology because fitness is defined by survival, and the definition of natural selection reduces to an empty "survival of those who survive."

Creationists have even been known to trot out this argument as a supposed disproof of evolution (Bethell, 1976; see my response in Gould, 1977)--as if more than a century of data could come crashing down through a schoolboy error in syllogistic logic. In fact, the supposed problem has an easy resolution, one that Darwin himself recognized and presented. Fitness--in this context, superior adaptation--cannot be defined after the fact by survival, but must be predictable before the challenge by an analysis of form, physiology, or behavior. (p. 236).
Ironically, just a paragraph later, Gould refutes this very claim of "easy resolution":

But if we face the Burgess fauna honestly, we must admit that we have no evidence whatsoever--not a shred--that losers in the great decimation were systematically inferior in adaptive design to those who survived. Anyone can invent a plausible story after the fact. For example, Anomalocaris, though the largest of Cambrian predators, did not come up a winner. So I could argue that its unique nutcracker jaw, incapable of closing entirely, and probably working by constriction rather than tearing apart of prey, really wasn't as adaptive as a more conventional jaw made of two pieces clamping together. Perhaps. But I must honestly face the counterfactual situation. Suppose that Anomalocaris had lived and flourished. Would I not then have been tempted to say, without any additional evidence, that Anomalocaris had survived because its unique jaw worked so well? If so, then I have no reason to identify Anomalocaris as destined for failure. I only know that this creature died--and so, eventually, do we all. (p. 236-237)
In other words, Gould here argues that Natural Selection—or more specifically "Survival of the Fittest" is not a tautology because it is predictive; yet it is impossible to predict who will survive. In short, the way I see the argument shaping up is as follows:

Opponents to Darwinism say X neutralizes Natural Selection
Gould says that X does not neutralize Natural Selection because of Y.
Gould then says that Y is not true.

Frankly, I can’t see why Y is relevant then. To be as charitable as possible, perhaps we can argue that Gould is saying Natural Selection is true for most of the time, just not when it really matters—at the time of mass extinction (which Gould labels as "decimation"). This also does fit with some of Gould’s other statements, wherein he specifically says that Natural Selection does not apply during these mass extinctions:

Groups may prevail or die for reasons that bear no relationship to the Darwinian basis of success in normal times. Even if fishes hone their adaptations to peaks of aquatic perfection, they will all die if the ponds dry up. But grubby old Buster the Lungfish, former laughingstock of the piscine priesthood, may pull through--and not because a bunion on his great-grandfather's fin warned his ancestors about an impending comet. Buster and his kin may prevail because a feature evolved long ago for a different use has fortuitously permitted survival during a sudden and unpredictable change in rules. And if we are Buster's legacy, and the result of a thousand other similarly happy accidents, how can we possibly view our mentality as inevitable, or even probable? (p. 48)
In fact, this evolution of traits that can be fortuitously used during a catastrophe is key to Gould’s theory. Later, he calls this the "different-rules model" of catastrophic evolution, saying:
The different-rules model therefore fractures the causal continuity that Darwin envisaged between reasons for success within local populations and the causes of survival and proliferation through long stretches of geological time. Hence, this model strongly promotes the role of contingency, viewed primarily as unpredictability, in evolution. If long-term success depends upon incidental aspects of features evolved for different reasons, then how could we possibly know, if we rewound life's tape to a distant past, which groups were destined for success? Their performance and evolution during our observation would not be relevant. We might base some guesses on incidental features that usually imply survival through a mass extinction, but how could we do so with any confidence? In an important sense, these crucial features don't even exist until the different rules of mass extinctions make their incidental effects important--for extreme stress may be needed to "key up" these features, and animals may never experience such conditions during normal times. And how can we know, in our rich and multifarious world, what the next episode of mass extinction, somewhere down the road, will require? Unpredictability must rule if geological longevity depends upon lucky side consequences of features evolved for other reasons. (p. 310-311)
It is important to note that, again to be as charitable as possible, Gould is arguing that Darwinism works on "normal" times, but during catastrophe, "the causal continuity that Darwin envisioned" is fractured. Indeed, Gould’s argument is that it is because Darwinism doesn’t work when it comes to catastrophe that the unpredictability of evolution comes into play. If Darwinism was the only force at work in evolution, then it would be possible to simply look at the Burgess organisms and determine which one is better suited to survival.

There are several glaring problems if we accept Gould’s theory, though. First, the unpredictability of Darwinism means that we do not have any scientific way to examine evolution. Evolution is simply narrative, which does not fit into the strict roles of scientific method. (Gould argues that we should not heed such rules at this point, but I find this to be nothing more than a case of special pleading that he would never allow a theist.) The problem is even summed up by Gould:

Historical explanations are distinct from conventional experimental results in many ways. The issue of verification by repetition does not arise because we are trying to account for uniqueness of detail that cannot, both by laws of probability and time's arrow of irreversibility, occur together again. We do not attempt to interpret the complex events of narrative by reducing them to simple consequences of natural law; historical events do not, of course, violate any general principles of matter and motion, but their occurrence lies in a realm of contingent detail. (The law of gravity tells us how an apple falls, but not why that apple fell at that moment, and why Newton happened to be sitting there, ripe for inspiration.) And the issue of prediction, a central ingredient in the stereotype, does not enter into a historical narrative. We can explain an event after it occurs, but contingency precludes its repetition, even from an identical starting point. (p. 278)
In short, if we accept Gould’s reasoning, we have literally broken the back of Darwinism. Darwinism cannot explain which organisms will ultimately survive when it matters the most, and as a result is limited in scope to only times between the great extinctions. While this accounts for a great deal of time, if we accept the geological time scale, it still does not account for why any specific species survived the Permian extinction, or even the end of the Cretaceous period when the dinosaurs were killed off. Gould’s argument is that mammals survived not due to their being better adapted, but due purely to pure luck, and as such we could not look at a mammal in situ with a dinosaur and determine which one would survive and which one would die. Darwinism had nothing to do with survival at this point; pure chance was all that was involved. Furthermore, our reconstruction of the events can only be done via unscientific just-so stories.

The second, more important problem, is that Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection doesn’t work during the space between mass extinctions either. Remember that the different-rules model Gould proposes is predicated on organisms gaining traits that serve absolutely no survival advantage while they get them, and which only later serve a purpose when a catastrophe hits. The heart of this problem is summed up in the previously quoted passage: "In an important sense, these crucial features don't even exist until the different rules of mass extinctions make their incidental effects important--for extreme stress may be needed to 'key up' these features, and animals may never experience such conditions during normal times."

In other words, animals must gain features that serve no purpose (in survivability terms), which (because science divorces itself from the realm of teleology) cannot have been introduced intentionally, and which then are not weeded out through normal evolution. But the fact of the matter is that after a short time, a species reaches stasis when it comes to variety. As Ernst Mayr points out:

With drastic selection taking place in every generation, it is legitimate to ask why evolution is normally so slow. The major reason is that owing to the hundreds or thousands of generations that have undergone preceding selection, a natural population will be close to the optimal genotype. The selection to which such a population has been exposed is normalizing or stabilizing selection. This selection eliminates all of those individuals of a population who deviate from the optimal phenotype. Such culling drastically reduces the variance in every generation. And unless there has been a major change in the environment, the optimal phenotype is most likely that of the immediately preceding generations. All the mutations of which this genotype is capable and that could lead to an improvement of this standard phenotype have already been incorporated in previous generations. Other mutations are apt to lead to a deterioration and these will be eliminated by normalizing selection. (What Evolution Is, 2001. New York: Basic Books. p. 135, italics his).
Now Mayr was, of course, a gradualist while Gould was a catastrophist. Even so, this illustrates the problem for us. Either organisms evolve slowly and not too far away from the basic phenotype, or else organisms evolve rapidly so that when a random catastrophe occurs there will be a chance for some of the organisms to survive. This tension is part of the reason Dawkins (another gradualist) so despised Gould. When we look at organisms today, they appear to be very similar to their phenotypes—suggesting the slow evolution as put forth by Mayr; but this kind of evolution is destroyed by catastrophes, where it breaks down into oblivion as demonstrated by Gould. Clearly, the two positions cannot both be correct; and equally as clearly, they both fail at crucial points.

Most evolutionists today argue amongst themselves as to which view is right: gradualism or catastrophism. Neither side seems to grasp that there is a third alternative available: neither side is right.

25 comments:

  1. Utter, profound cluessness.

    Not even wrong.

    You're so far from beginning to understand this basic stuff, it's just not worth pointing out what Gould is talking about.

    Just let the record show that this is what passes for scientific thinking at Triablogue.

    -TS

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  2. Touchstone makes a lot of claims above, but fails to provide reasons, citations, or arguments as to why.

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  3. Bryan,

    Indeed. I, on the other hand, have plenty of reasons, citations, and arguments as to why it's pointless to try to communicate with T-Stone; his previous comment is just one more for the pile.

    Although I do wonder what cluessness is, let alone the utter and profound kind. I think I could sell that on eBay.

    I do especially love how T-Stone thinks I'm misrepresenting authors when I quote them with large chunks of context and he...um, well he doesn't even bother to quote them at all...yet somehow he knows I'm taking them out of context. Yes, the vast intellect of the Tiny Pebble doth astound me much.

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  4. (BTW, I'm waiting for the upcoming T-Stone Google Search (TM) to provide us with quotes from, say, Robert Wright, as if these were actually T-Stone's thoughts.)

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  5. 1. Check out T-blog. Check.
    2. Entry on evolution? Check.
    3. Knee-jerk reaction with plenty of assertions, no arguments. Check.
    4. Find a nice area. Turn around three times. Lie down. Sleep until the next ringing of the bell. Check.

    Pavlov's dog.

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  6. Because I'm feeling a bit gracious to the poor troglodyte, I
    ll give a source that T-Stone is comfortable with (Wikipedia --> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Jay_Gould ).

    There we learn what John Maynard Smith thinks of Gould:

    "Because of the excellence of his essays, he has come to be seen by non-biologists as the preeminent evolutionary theorist. In contrast, the evolutionary biologists with whom I have discussed his work tend to see him as a man whose ideas are so confused as to be hardly worth bothering with, but as one who should not be publicly criticized because he is at least on our side against the creationists." (NYRB, Nov. 30th 1995, p. 46). Further, Maynard Smith says Gould "is giving non-biologists a largely false picture of the state of evolutionary theory."

    We also learn that Simon Conway Morris now disagrees with Gould on the Burgess Shale (although at the time Conway Morris' papers were heavily used by Gould). Ernst Mayr says of others who hold Gould's position, although not mentioning Gould specifically, they "quite conspicuously misrepresent the views of [biology's] leading spokesmen." Robert Wright calls Gould "The Accidental Creationist", maintaining:

    ---
    Obviously, we can't hold scholars strictly responsible for how their words are used. There are lots of gaps in the fossil record, and though many biologists believe that Gould cites the record too selectively, it isn't his fault when creationists quote him dishonestly, as they sometimes do. The problem is that often they don't have to.

    (see: http://www.nonzero.org/newyorker.htm linked to in the Bibliography of the Wiki article)
    ---

    I could go on, but the point is clear. T-Stone claims that I have misrepresented Gould. If this is true, then so have Ernst Mayr, John Maynard Smith, George Williams, Bill Hamilton, Richard Dawkins, E.O. Wilson, Tim Clutton-Brock, Paul Harvey, Brian Charlesworth, Jerry Coyne, Robert Trivers, John Alcock, Randy Thornhill, and many others--all of whom have criticized Gould personally, or his position.

    The fact is that so many atheist evolutionists would not have a problem with Gould if it was a simple case of creationists misrepresenting him. But because creationists are not misrepresenting him, they have to attack Gould personally...all the while maintaining that creationist are misrepresenting him by coming to the same conclusions about his views that they do!

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  7. Peter,

    You don't have enough basic understanding of what Gould is saying here to even misrepresent him. That's what I mean by "not even wrong" -- misrepresentation implies some grasp of the true meanings of the words which one will then misrepresent.

    Read this sentence again from your post and tell me you think this is anything but foolish:

    First, the unpredictability of Darwinism means that we do not have any scientific way to examine evolution.

    Do you claim this is an a coherent, intelligent statement, given Gould's text? I'm not talking about even misrepresenting. I'm just talking about a basic, feeble grasp of the concepts at work here?

    If someone gave you a "card shuffling machine" to reverse engineer, would you refuse the task as a trick, since the shuffling machine produced provably unpredictable results every time you pressed the "shuffle" button? You're lost in confusion about the predictability of specific *outcomes* from a system, and predictable features and properties of the system itself.

    If that isn't enough a clue, feel free to languish in you foolishness here...

    -TS

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  8. Originally, I thought that T-Stone could not possibly be this stupid. But I am willing to admit I was wrong: he IS this stupid.

    T-Stone quotes part of my argument (by the way, T-Stone, what you did with my quote IS a misrepresentation). I said, in its entirety:
    ---
    First, the unpredictability of Darwinism means that we do not have any scientific way to examine evolution. Evolution is simply narrative, which does not fit into the strict roles of scientific method. (Gould argues that we should not heed such rules at this point, but I find this to be nothing more than a case of special pleading that he would never allow a theist.)
    ---

    Note that I summed up the problem, and I even said that Gould argues that it should not apply in this case. I noted that this reads to me as nothing more than special pleading, but the point is that I went out of my way to ensure that readers (T-Stone excluded, since he's too incompetent to figure out anything) would know that this conclusion was challenged by Gould.

    How T-Stone could use this to say I'm misrepresenting the argument when I have, indeed, acknowledged the argument is simply astounding.

    Historical narrative is what Gould was speaking of here. Historical narrative is NOT scientific. The fact that Gould had to say that the scientific method needing to be predictive is "stereotypical" (his words, found in the quote I provided) demonstrates that this view of the scientific method is out there.

    Further, I can quote other scientists on the fact that historical narrative is not scientific. For instance:
    ---
    The stories we tell ourselves about evolutionary history, such as the tale of how fishes got their legs...are only true inasmuch as they reinforce our prejudices: they tell us what we want to hear, not what really happened. How do such stories have the potential to be so wrong? The reason is that they become detached from science or rather, the capacity of science to examine these stories in terms of hypotheses or experiments that can be tested.

    (Gee, In Search of Deep Time, p. 86, emphasis added).

    Further:
    ---
    ...[A] lot of what we read in popular as well as scholarly literature is essentially an explanation of how, why, when, or where some evolutionary change occurred. But evolutionary explanations--for example, of how selection could have caused this or that feature to change from this or that--are always based on a previously accepted theory of who is related to whom precisely because we have to know beforehand the points between which this purported change would have occurred. How else could we have any basis for formulating a scheme about how something changed from this to that? All too often, however, an explanation of how something could have happened given a certain scheme of relationships is accepted as representing the rigorous analysis of the evolutionary relationships that have already been assumed.

    (Schwartz, What the Bones Tell Us p. 239).
    ---

    Note that Schwartz gives this quote in reference to the fact that he believes humans are descended from orangutans, and not chimps. In fact, he says of the Human-Chimp arrangment:

    ---
    If we are going to accept an exclusive human-chimp association, then we are going to have to accept the consequences that go along with it. The most profound consequence is, I think, that morphology has to be viewed as unrevealing when it comes to resolving the evolutionary relationships of organisms. Otherwise, the uniquenesses shared by chimps and gorillas, especially in their forearm anatomy, provide overwhelming evidence of their close evolutionary relationship. If we accept molecularly based phylogenies exclusively, and not as potential alternative hypotheses, we must reject fossils as being informative sources of data, because fossils are known only as preserved morphological entitites. And, thus, because fossils cannot be placed reliably in schemes of phylogenetic relationships--that can result only from a morphological analysis--they cannot be used to provide dates from which to calibrate any evolutionary clock, molecular or otherwise.

    (ibid. p. 262)
    ---

    But that is an aside. The point is that the reason the narrative fails is because the narrative is based on assumptions which are not proven, and the conclusion of the arguments are then used as "evidence" for the assumptions that were required in the first place--in short, narrative is circular reasoning, which is precisely why Gould acknowledged this point: "Arguments that propose adaptive superiority as the basis for survival risk the classic error of circular reasoning" and "Anyone can invent a plausible story after the fact" (p. 236).

    If you are going to insist that I haven't followed the argument, you could do your part by demonstrating it instead of bloviating, T-Stone. Once again you are buried under such an all-encompasing refutation that it is a waste of my time to keep flogging your dead caracas. Either get an argument or shut up.

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  9. The reasoning of Gould, as demonstrated by Shrek...

    "Fiona, I picked you this flower because it's pretty, and, well I don't really like it, but I thought you might because you're pretty. But I like you anyway!"

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  10. Peter,

    I haven't suggested this was *Gould's* position:


    First, the unpredictability of Darwinism means that we do not have any scientific way to examine evolution.


    Nor have I suggested that you think Gould says this. I took this to be a position you were offering as a bit of your own thinking. Is it?

    Do you stand by this as the result of your own thinking:


    First, the unpredictability of Darwinism means that we do not have any scientific way to examine evolution.


    Forget Gould for the moment. Is this a valid representation of the analysis of the situation from Peter Pike?

    -TS

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  11. T-Stone,

    We already know you're dense. There is no need to continue to prove it.

    I already explained your misrepresentation of my quote in my previous post. If you had any reading comprehension, you would be able to look at it and grasp this. Since you cannot, there is little point in my repeating myself now.

    Allow me to explain a bit of reading comprehension to you. You are quoting one sentence that begins a train of thought that continues through the entirety of the paragraph. If you read the other sentences that surrounded the one sentence you are quoting, you would see that my comment is directed to a specific point regarding narrative as science. I have pointed out that narrative is not science. I have provided sources from two people who agree with my position. I could find more, but what's the point when you can't even follow what's already been presented.

    Third grade children do not have this amount of difficulty, T-Stone.

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  12. Peter,

    Well, maybe you could just provide a definition of "Darwinism" as you've used it here, and maybe "evolution" as well. If you meant to say that "narrative" isn't scientific, I think that still is overly broad. But that doesn't account for your use of "Darwinism", or "evolution" here.

    Do you mean to say that this statement of yours was sort of so much rhetorical fluff or hand-waving, and the *real* points you had to make lie elsewhere? If not, what did you mean by "Darwinism" and "evolution" specifically? Please forget trying to overlay Gould's meanings, as you are having enough trouble just getting across what *you* mean, for starters. Let's get "Darwinism" and "evolution" defined as *you* mean them in this sentence, and then we will be getting somewhere...

    -TS

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  13. Please forget trying to overlay Gould's meanings, as you are having enough trouble just getting across what *you* mean, for starters. Let's get "Darwinism" and "evolution" defined as *you* mean them in this sentence, and then we will be getting somewhere...

    TS many of us are having no difficulty in following PP's argument. It's amazing what you can comprehend when your mouth is not planted in your mouth because of a predictable knee jerk reaction. As to defining "Darwinism" and "evolution" you are the master of 'duck and weave'.

    I wonder who takes precedence in your life. Your god, Science, or Jehovah?

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  14. I'm happy to have someone else provide the definitions here, if they are so obvious. What do "Darwinism" and "evolution" mean here, such that they cannot be examined scientifically?

    Anyone?

    Or is this just 'leave little Peter Pike alone' to his hand waving? I can do that, if that's all it is.

    -TS

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  15. TS - No this is you being backed into a corner and trying to equivocate on definitions. Why weren't you asking for definitions before you jumped in?

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  16. I don't see "Darwinism" and "evolution" here as "equivocable" is why. It's just pulling random terms from the air, for all I can see. If not, then show the math.

    I don't expect Peter (or anyone) *can* equivocate here, as his terms aren't attached to what is "unpredictable". He's just confused, so far as I can see. I'm not holding my breath for definitions, just asking for them as a way of showing the problem with his statement.

    -TS

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  17. To equivocate...
    to use ambiguous or unclear expressions, usually to avoid commitment or in order to mislead; prevaricate or hedge: When asked directly for his position on disarmament, the candidate only equivocated.

    Seems to me your get out of jail card is, "Aha well that's not exactly what I (or Gould) mean by 'Darwinsim' and 'evolution'. As usual you have simply asserted without specifically showing why PP has it sooooo wrong.

    Warren

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  18. Warren,

    It's one thing to trade on different (and possibly misleading) meanings of one's terms. Here, we're told "Darwinism" -- whatever Pike supposes that means (he doesn't say here, and the usual definitions don't fit at all) -- is impervious to scientific scrutiny.

    We're not just talking about different usages of "Darwinism" here, but something that I can't see attached to "Darwinism" at all, given whatever usage you want to cite (I'm open to citations that show this, of course).

    It's like saying "theology" isn't relevant to religion or spirituality -- one can only wonder what is possibly *meant* by the term, as it's not vaguely recognizable in context.

    [Insert usual Lewis Carroll reference to Humpty Dumpty in "Alice in Wonderland" -- words mean what you want them to mean, no more and no less... requests for definitions are in order.]

    -TS

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  19. Warren,

    Reading that back, it might not be perfectly clear; above, I was suggesting that Pike is *not* equivocating, as he's not in close enough proximity to anything recognizable as "Darwinism" (even in creationist understandings) to be misleading. It's more just... surreal prose here than anything else from Peter.

    At least until I can see what "Darwinism" means such that it can't be scrutinized scientifically...

    -Touchstone

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  20. Notice that T-Stone entered this conversation all guns blazing:
    ---
    You're so far from beginning to understand this basic stuff, it's just not worth pointing out what Gould is talking about.
    ---

    And:
    ---
    You don't have enough basic understanding of what Gould is saying here to even misrepresent him. That's what I mean by "not even wrong" -- misrepresentation implies some grasp of the true meanings of the words which one will then misrepresent.
    ---

    Yet NOW, T-Stone is saying that he doesn't know what I meant by my terms. T-Stone impales himself with this tactic. If my terms are not knowable (by him), then he cannot know that my argument was wrong. By stating my argument was wrong, T-Stone admitted that he understood my terms fully. It is only after he has been complete destroyed that he changes his tune and tries to find some other way of escape.

    Frankly, T-Stone is pathetic. He treats consistency in the same light as...well, as I now view him. You know, as something that's nice in theory, but in reality should be shunned completely.

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  21. Peter,

    My request for clarity on terms was just to two terms in a single sentence. I think I generally get your drift elsewhere. And while I don't see hardly any resemblence between what Gould is saying, and what you are saying (or saying he's saying), I've come to think it's not generally intentional. Just a failure to grasp the basic fundamentals of the underlying theories.

    Let the record show no definitions for "Darwinism" or "evolution" have been provided for the quote above. There's a reason for that.

    -Touchstone

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  22. Yes, the reason is that it's unnecessary.

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  23. Let the record show that you presented no credible argument/evidence that PP showed no... resemblence between what Gould is saying, and what you are saying (or saying he's saying)

    "It's in the mind you know" The Goons.

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  24. By the way, I should also point out that T-Stone is heading toward a Gnostic-like position here.

    When I used the terms "evolution" and "Darwinism", they were used in the context by which Gould was using them. I was critiquing Gould's claims, and he was the one who used these words.

    T-Stone is saying that I have to have some kind of "hidden" knowledge of what the terms mean; knowledge that is not provided by Gould. In other words, T-Stone is essentially stating that the meaning of the terms is not found by the context of the terms in the passages that Gould states, but instead is found in some other source "out there." Presumably, T-Stone has this knowledge...but I don't. (This is his Gnostic-esque tendency--the idea of the hidden knowledge that only he has access to.)

    So I would ask T-Stone to demonstrate how my use of the terms is inconsistent with Gould's use of the terms. But this requires T-Stone to know what Gould's use of the terms are too.

    So, since T-Stone likes to say this so much: Show that math. Show what Gould meant by evolution and Darwinism, T-Stone.

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