Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby Reg_Prescott on April 23rd, 2019, 9:45 am 

Positor » April 23rd, 2019, 9:51 pm wrote:Agreed. But suppose we say: "The fit are those who are able to live longer, on average, in a given environment".

They reproduce more successfully because they live longer on average.
It is not the case that they live longer on average because they reproduce more successfully.

In other words:

They reproduce more successfully because they are more fit.
It is not the case that they are more fit because they reproduce more successfully.



I don't think this is gonna work, Positor, with all due respect.

Longevity confers fitness? What if they're hideously ugly, live to be a hundred, and have no kids? Would that be considered fit? Doesn't seem like it.

Hmm, reminds me of me. Haha!
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby charon on April 23rd, 2019, 11:44 am 

What do you mean by fitness? Physical health? Big muscles? Strong lungs?

I'm not sure that has much to do with reproductive abilities. I'd say it has more to do with fertility, good genes, virile sperm, and that sort of thing. I'm sure there are lots of very fit gym-type people or athletes who can't have children or who've been trying hard but not a lot happens.

It's also not true that ex-athletes live particularly longer either. A little, maybe, but not much. I think the reports say about 2 to 3 years at the outside. They've probably worn themselves out!

https://www.quora.com/What-kind-of-people-live-longer
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby PaulN on April 23rd, 2019, 12:26 pm 

Reg_Prescott » April 23rd, 2019, 7:42 am wrote:
PaulN » April 23rd, 2019, 10:23 pm wrote:
Testable prediction: where food supply becomes very limited for a species A, which is isolated from areas with more food by geographic factors, smaller body size will be favored. I.e. selected for.

This prediction was tested and borne out by many discoveries in the fossil record, and is now called insular dwarfism. It has been found recently in the genus Homo. See also the Channel Island fox, or the dwarf elephants of Crete.



Er, is this part of the theory of natural selection?

Or just common sense?


Either way, I was corrected for mischaracterizing the theory by Hyksos, and chastised for "not getting it" by Forrest.

I see nothing in Hyksos's correct characterization that mentions body size.

My own theory predicts those who lack the dosh to pay for a pizza will got less pizza than those who have the greenbacks.

Testable too.


You didn't quote, or address the first paragraph of my post, AFAICT. The part you quoted was meant as a specific example, to suggest that an overarching theory can represent a myriad of observations that can result in sound predictions as to the path that adaptation takes. Many things sound vacuous when you confine yourself to generalities and don't look at the specific knowledge that accrues over time. So when you ask, is it natural selection or common sense, it may be possible to see how those two categories overlap. E.g. insular dwarfism, color variation in Birmingham moths, antibiotic resistance developing in infectious germs, lemurs descending from the trees and learning to talk and make tools and call themselves Reg Prescott, cow-like creatures driven into the sea by predators and lack of forage developing blowholes and fins and calling themselves Flipper or Willy.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby PaulN on April 23rd, 2019, 12:28 pm 

charon » April 23rd, 2019, 9:44 am wrote:What do you mean by fitness? Physical health? Big muscles? Strong lungs?

I'm not sure that has much to do with reproductive abilities. I'd say it has more to do with fertility, good genes, virile sperm, and that sort of thing. I'm sure there are lots of very fit gym-type people or athletes who can't have children or who've been trying hard but not a lot happens.

It's also not true that ex-athletes live particularly longer either. A little, maybe, but not much. I think the reports say about 2 to 3 years at the outside. They've probably worn themselves out!

https://www.quora.com/What-kind-of-people-live-longer


In evolutionary biology, the term refers more to adaptability to an environment than it does "fitness" in the popular sense associated with athletics. Think whales developing thick layers of blubber to retain body heat in cold waters, not gym rats pumping iron.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby charon on April 23rd, 2019, 2:16 pm 

In evolutionary biology, the term refers more to adaptability to an environment


I know, but that's why I asked.

If fitness meant that then it would include reproductive ability as decreed by nature. In which case it means fertility. Not to be fertile would not be good for any species.

But it doesn't necessarily have any correlation with length of life. Disease, predation, and even human intervention, are all factors, or simply a naturally short life-span.

Or, in the case of humans, wars, crimes, accidents, and so on. To equate fertility with longevity would be very deceptive.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby davidm on April 23rd, 2019, 3:19 pm 

No, fitness doesn’t refer to “adaptability” as such and in fact adaptationism is only part of evolution, and it may not even be the most significant part — at least, not at the genotypic level. Whales developing more blubber may be an adaptation via natural selection (or it may be dumb luck or something else), but that adaptation, if it is one, does not (necessarily) make whales more “fit.”

"The fit are those who are able to live longer, on average, in a given environment”.


This is not what “survival of the fittest” means in evolutionary biology. It means: survival of the phenotypic or genotypic forms that leave the most (variant) copies of themselves in succeeding generations. Whether they do this because of natural selection, sexual selection, neutral evolution, genetic drift, or alien intervention, must be investigated on a case-by-case basis (we can rule out God, alien intervention, or ID for lack of any evidence or mechanism for such interventions). Answers may be impossible to come by. Spandrels are byproducts of evolution, not adaptations, but may (or may not) increase fitness down the road. Harmful alleles can be fixed merely by chance.

They reproduce more successfully because they live longer on average.


Not necessarily. Many of the most successful reproducers live short lives. In some species, though, living long lives maximizes reproductive success.

They reproduce more successfully because they are more fit.


No.

It is not the case that they are more fit because they reproduce more successfully.


Yes, that is the case. More precisely, it’s not individuals that are more fit, but populations. Only populations evolve (change in allele frequency over time), not individuals.

What about fitness?



Yes, in fact fitness does NOT mean “those who survive longest,”
only that those who leave the most offspring are the fittest;
unfortunately for Reg, this is NOT circular;

and, those who leave behind the most offspring,
regrettably for contrary claims, may or may not
evince “superior” mental or physical properties;

all sorts of organisms leave behind more offspring,
not JUST because of natural selection: in this forum,

I have discussed drift, neutral evolution, blind luck.
Don’t think that natural selection IS evolution;
it is not. Then we have Berlinski, Denton, et al:
only the finest (fittest?) liars for Jesus! Despite the fact
that in this forum, I, personally,

Reg, have rebutted their claims repeatedly, you still
eject their nonsense emetically; thus you, in this forum,
grossly violate the rule that you must meet rebuttals with rebuttals!

Period.

Evolution is empirically repeatedly confirmed both in the natural world and the lab, and is supported by a vast mountain of evidence, including a robust fossil record, population genetics, molecular biology and more. Those who deny it are either willfully ignorant, religious fanatics, or, as I believe, like Denton, Berlinski and others of their odious ilk, plain dishonest — their motive to make a quick buck off the rubes. Sorry if that offends anyone. It is not ad hom — it is a plain statement of hard, pure, unvarnished fact.

Those who claim they aren’t religious but oppose evolution are lying. Plain and simple.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby charon on April 23rd, 2019, 5:34 pm 

a plain statement of hard, pure, unvarnished fact


Just the sort of thing I like :-)

It is not ad hom


Not quite true :-)
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby Positor on April 24th, 2019, 12:07 am 

Sorry for my misunderstanding about fitness. My apologies to Reg Prescott. I'll now withdraw from this thread.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby Reg_Prescott on April 24th, 2019, 12:40 am 

charon » April 24th, 2019, 12:44 am wrote:What do you mean by fitness? Physical health? Big muscles? Strong lungs?

I'm not sure that has much to do with reproductive abilities. I'd say it has more to do with fertility, good genes, virile sperm, and that sort of thing. I'm sure there are lots of very fit gym-type people or athletes who can't have children or who've been trying hard but not a lot happens.

It's also not true that ex-athletes live particularly longer either. A little, maybe, but not much. I think the reports say about 2 to 3 years at the outside. They've probably worn themselves out!

https://www.quora.com/What-kind-of-people-live-longer


(my emphasis)


Well, this precisely the problem. Fitness seems to evade any possibility of a definition that does not make reference to survival and reproductive success, in which case the theory of natural selection (survival of the fittest and all that) is true but utterly vacuous. Moreover, any appeal to fitness to explain reproductive success would be an exercise in circular folly.

Now, your three suggestions (that you reject yourself), which I've highlighted in bold, would certainly escape the circularity. If we defined fitness in terms of strong lungs, for example, we would now have a perfectly respectable empirical hypothesis ... but one that is obviously false.

Strong lungs, for all I know, may be conducive to survival and reproductive success in a cheetah, say. On the other hand, they're unlikely to provide much benefit to a trout. They would presumably be a positive handicap! It would, therefore, not be true that the more fit survive and reproduce more successfully than the less fit.


P.S. My wife has everything a man could want. Big muscles, hairy chest, etc.
Last edited by Reg_Prescott on April 24th, 2019, 12:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby Reg_Prescott on April 24th, 2019, 12:46 am 

PaulN » April 24th, 2019, 1:26 am wrote:
You didn't quote, or address the first paragraph of my post, AFAICT. The part you quoted was meant as a specific example, to suggest that an overarching theory can represent a myriad of observations that can result in sound predictions as to the path that adaptation takes. Many things sound vacuous when you confine yourself to generalities and don't look at the specific knowledge that accrues over time. So when you ask, is it natural selection or common sense, it may be possible to see how those two categories overlap. E.g. insular dwarfism, color variation in Birmingham moths, antibiotic resistance developing in infectious germs, lemurs descending from the trees and learning to talk and make tools and call themselves Reg Prescott, cow-like creatures driven into the sea by predators and lack of forage developing blowholes and fins and calling themselves Flipper or Willy.



Well, if you feel that the prediction that you offered for consideration can be derived from the theory of natural selection, I'd like to see your derivation. It would presumably look something like this:

Premise 1: the theory of natural selection
Premise 2: various auxiliary hypotheses and background knowledge
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Conclusion: where food supply becomes very limited for a species A, which is isolated from areas with more food by geographic factors, smaller body size will be favored. I.e. selected for.


Hmm, I wonder what would happen if we removed Premise 1. My guess is absolutely nothing.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby charon on April 24th, 2019, 1:54 am 

(that you reject yourself)


Exactly.

Fascinating wife. She's obviously adapted admirably to living with you. Whilst you, naturally, have developed strangely succulent moobs :-)
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby Reg_Prescott on April 24th, 2019, 7:12 pm 

What I always find annoying in discussions of this kind are the pompous know-it-alls who spew crap like:

"Pfft! You idiot! You obviously know nothing about natural selection. Now let ME tell you how it is correctly characterized"

or

"Pfft! You idiot! You obviously know nothing about fitness. Now let ME tell you how it is correctly characterized"

or

"Pfft! You idiot! You obviously know nothing about evolution. Now let ME tell you... blah blah blah"



The presupposition here is that there is one, and only one, way that these concepts can be characterized. And no prizes for guessing which pompous know-it-all has a handle on it.

A useful corrective for pomp and ceremony might be Evelyn Fox Keller and Elisabeth A. Lloyd (eds) wonderful collection "Keywords in Evolutionary Biology".

You think there's only one way to characterize [insert concept here]?

Think again.

Take my wife.

Please!
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby hyksos on April 24th, 2019, 7:36 pm 

Perhaps so. Darwin may not have coined the phrase, though he apparently regarded it as felicitous enough in capturing his theory of natural selection as to incorporate it himself in later writings.

These claims are not historically accurate. Just because the phrase "survival of the fittest" accidentally appears in the writing of Darwin somewhere, does not entail that he thought it was "felicitous in capturing the theory's definition {sic}"


Reg_Prescott » April 23rd, 2019, 1:58 pm wrote:As for how natural selection ought to be characterised, I quote the following from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

(and as for those who can't recall natural selection being referred to as a "theory", a quick google search might do the trick. Prepare for a deluge!)


"Natural selection is a causal process. Distinguishing it from other processes in evolution is one of major conceptual and empirical problems of evolutionary biology. The bare bones of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection are elegantly simple. Typically (but not necessarily) there is variation among organisms within a reproducing population. Oftentimes (but not always) this variation is (to some degree) heritable. When this variation is causally connected to differential ability to survive and reproduce, differential reproduction will probably ensue. This last claim is one way of stating the Principle of Natural Selection (from here on PNS). The PNS goes beyond the causally neutral statement that is sometimes listed as the third of what are often called “Darwin's Three Conditions”, viz., different variants sometimes reproduce at different rates. That statement leaves open the question of whether or not the variation in question is causally responsible for the differential reproduction. It leaves open the question of whether a qualitatively similar outcome would result from repeated iterations of this set-up. It leaves open the question of whether this process is natural selection or drift (see below). It—the causally neutral statement—does not suffice to state Darwin's causal theory. Darwin clearly recognized this (see, for example 1871) as did Lewontin (1978); although many contemporary commentators fail to see this.

Why is it that some variants leave more offspring than others? In those cases we label natural selection, it is because those variants are better adapted, or are fitter than their competitors. Thus we can define natural selection as follows: Natural selection is differential reproduction due to differential fitness (or differential adaptedness) within a common selective environment (see next section). This definition makes the concept of natural selection dependent on that of fitness, which is unfortunate since many philosophers find the concept of fitness deeply mysterious (see e.g., Ariew and Lewontin 2004). But like it or not, that is the way the theory is structured. And, fortunately, we can make considerable headway in understanding natural selection without solving all of the philosophical problems surrounding the concept of fitness
."


I've highlighted the critical section in bold.

"Natural selection is differential reproduction due to differential fitness". In other words, the more fit reproduce more successfully than the less fit.

But who exactly are the more fit? If the answer is "those who reproduce more successfully" then we have an obvious tautology, i.e., "those who reproduce more successfully do so more successfully than those who reproduce less successfully".

This is the source of the tautology problem, and this is why a propensity interpretation of fitness has been suggested. But as noted above, it seems to me the propensity interpretation helps little if at all in escaping the circularity.

These are perfectly fine criticisms of the text portions you have quoted. Your dismissal of the "Propensity Definition" of Mills and Beaty is also well-stated. Unfortunately, you are no longer talking to us here on the forum. Instead you are just debating characters who are not present on this forum using us as a proxy.

I feel no responsibility to defend these people you are quoting, I would go farther and even disagree with them on key premises and disagree with their conclusions too.

If I met the writer of the above quote, or Mills, or Betty, I would tell them what we know in 2019 about evolutionary dynamics.

We have simulated evolution on computers, and it works faithfully to the theory. Early uses of Genetic Algorithms were primarily concerned with optimization. However, those of us at GECCO conferences are aware that the process of evolution is not particularly concerned with driving the population towards an optimum. There are numerous interesting, funny and dramatic stories about how we are let down by Genetic Algorithms "misbehaving" on us. (I could go on all night relaying these stories to the forum.)

In the context of this conversation, there is absolutely nothing about evolution that suggests there is some primrose path that walks living forms up a Great-Chain-of-Being to higher and better forms. If Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace believed this, that's fine. They were mistaken, and likely bewitched by Victorian attitudes of their time and place in England.

Perhaps the use of GAs as optimizers was an attempt to make it "legitimate" in the engineering and science fields. Genetic Algorithms can be set up to produce and refine optimal candidate solutions -- yes -- But everyone at GECCO knows this does not go on in the wild.

(I am going to make a hefty syllogism, so keep up with my tortured english.)

IF the claim is that evolution drives a population directly towards an optimum is the "Incredulity Test" or the "Smell Test" of genetic algorithms ....

THEN Berlinski's assertion that GAs do not rise to an explanatory theory the likes of gravity-and-solar-system theory does, is sound. They do not pass the Smell Test. Incredulity is warranted.

Newtonian-Gravity-Solar-system theory. The measured behavior of the planets nearly maps one-to-one with the predictions of the theory on the chalkboard. Ergo is passes the Smell Test. A Berlinski says it, gravity "rises to the challenge of a predictive theory".

Genetic Algorithms do not always work well. They can fail. Ecosystem simulations can run on a workstation in the corner of an office for over 2 months without stopping. They can also go extinct after several days. My personal interaction with them shows that they are far more likely to keep going than to be found extinct. Extinctions are usually a sign that you have set something wrong in the parameters. ("Something wrong" in the parameters can even be e.g. the density of organisms is too low compared to the size of the environment.) There is no science behind these things. It's still somewhat of a black art.

As any textbook on GAs will show you, there are also anecdotes that are equally dramatic and interesting where a GA performed far beyond anyone's expectations.

(If I may relate one of them.) A mathematician declared he had found the optimum of a batcher sort of 30 items. Then a computer scientist used a GA and found one better than the "optimal" sorter already published. The computer scientist declared that his sorter was optimal. Decades later, another scientist used a different GA and found one even better. At this point, nobody was going to cry wolf a third time, and premature claims of "optimality" are completely missing from the paper.

There are situations where a GA came up with something that is far better than anything designed by a human engineer -- and the solution uses techniques never considered by human scientists.

So it's a mixed bag. If I could meet Mills and Beaty, I woudl tell them that our current understanding of evolution in 2019, is that evolution is a description of a Complex Adaptive System.

http://wiki.cas-group.net/index.php?title=Complex_Adaptive_System

CASs are finicky, prone to failure, sometimes exhibit extreme success. They are highly sensitive to initial conditions, difficult to control and most of their statistical properties have to be described using Chaos Theory.
We simulate evolution for the same reasons we simulate weather and high-temperature plasmas. There is no closed-form solution to their dynamics.

It seems to me this harping away at fitness is really driven by a human desire to try to describe the complex dynamics of evolution using some obvious, one-sentence catch-all mechanism. Some local and simple like "domino A knocks over domino B." A chain of dominoes falling then constitutes "the process". It's the intellectual equivalent of trying to describe the Stock Market as "people sell stuff, and others buy stuff." In our context of this thread it is "the fittest survive". It's local, easy-to-understand, punctual and clicky.

But is woefully wrong.

The reality is that no such catch-all sentence exists, because evolution, strictly speaking, is a long-term process over several million or billion cycles of reproduction. The kind of guarantees delivered by Gravity-Moves-Planets-In-Orbits is not found here.

http://gecco-2018.sigevo.org/index.html/tiki-index.php?page=Accepted%20Papers
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby Reg_Prescott on April 24th, 2019, 7:56 pm 

hyksos » April 25th, 2019, 8:36 am wrote:These claims are not historically accurate. Just because the phrase "survival of the fittest" accidentally appears in the writing of Darwin somewhere, does not entail that he thought it was "felicitous in capturing the theory's definition {sic}"




Accidentally?

Pretty sure he used the phrase in the 5th edition of Origin.

You mean it was a typo?
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby hyksos on April 25th, 2019, 10:12 pm 

The mere appearance of the phrase in text does not rise to proof of Darwin finding it felicitous as a definition of the theory.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby doogles on April 30th, 2019, 6:20 am 

Hyksos, I like your contributions in this forum.

But I have a small problem with the down-grading of the term 'survival of the fittest' -- "These claims are not historically accurate. Just because the phrase "survival of the fittest" accidentally appears in the writing of Darwin somewhere, does not entail that he thought it was "felicitous in capturing the theory's definition {sic}"

In an earlier post I said "Let's accept that a range of modifications and mutations of genomes occurs regularly within all, or most, species. Hyksos says that he has produced computer simulations of such (Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen by hyksos on Sat Jul 08, 2017 4:14 am).
If those modified genes are expressed as altered manifestations in phenotype (eg white polar bears) or in hormone secretions (personality or behaviour), doesn't it then become a question of whether any new manifestion of gene expression provides nil, negative or positive advantages over its own or other species within the micro- or macro environment in which the species exists?
So it then becomes a case of ENVIRONMENTAL SUITABILITY for the manifestation of the modified or mutated gene. As I said earlier, the new manifestation may be a handicap, may be irrelevant, or may provide an advantage over its own or other species. Obviously in the case of the latter, isolation of a new variety that is fit, fitter or the fittest to survive in a particular environment may result in gene modifications over time that are unsuitable for sexual repoduction with older varieties of the species, and then we can say that a new species has evolved.
It all depends on the ENVIRONMENTAL SUITABILITY for the manifestations of altered genomes.
It's a PASSIVE occurrence dependent on the chance modifications of genes and the state of nature (micro- or macro-environment) in which the genome modifications happen. In one way, we could say that the natural environment determines which changes are unfit, fit, or the fittest to survive in any given area."


Nobody commented on that perspective, but it does suggest that such a thing as unfit, fit, fitter or fittest of manifestations of genetic modifications to survive (allow me to add 'in terms of survival in the micro- or macro-environmental in which the genetic modifications occur.') does operate.

I was intrigued by the use of genetic algorithms to compute evolutionary events, Hyksos. Were these algorithms developed on the basis of measurable data on rates of genetic changes in nature? If so, on what data?
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby doogles on April 30th, 2019, 6:26 am 

While we are on the topic of evolution, natural selection and 'survival of the fit', it seems pertinent to add to the subject with a mention of a man-made, very practical use of the ability of genomes to change.

I'm talking about the development of attenuated vaccines, wherein we actually reduce the ability of organisms to survive by reducing their pathogenicity. We allow them to multiply in an environment that is artificial (but not normal, or natural) for their multiplication.

Natural selection of the manifestations of gene modifications (a passive process in terms of the previous post) sometimes results in improved survival of varieties, sometimes to the point over time where they become a new species.

Attenuation of the pathogenicity of organisms does exactly the opposite. We use an environment in which the organisms maybe would not survive if they had competition, and as a result of the lack of competition, the natural modification of genomes results in varieties that lose pathogenicity. I have no idea how that happens but it does.

This site -- https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/ne ... ed-vaccine -- contains a few papers on the development of attenuated vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (chickenpox), rabies, influenza, the original Sabin polio vaccine, and yellow fever.

Nowadays, new methods are available that enable the selection of more genetically homogeneous vaccine strains. Attenuated mutants can be selected by monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) or developed by site-directed mutagenesis in genes involved with virulence using reverse genetics.

I didn't see mention of the role that Louis Pasteur played in the principle of attenuation of pathogenic organisms. He first produced a vaccine for Anthrax. He was of course the first person to show that a microscopic organism could kill animals when he was able to culture anthrax bacilli in a suitable medium and then use organisms from the cultures to infect sheep. But then, as far as I can ascertain, he started to culture Anthrax bacilli at a higher temperature than normal for prolonged periods and succeeded in producing a variety that would not cause Anthrax, but which would produce immunity in animals injected with the attenuated strain.

His production of a rabies vaccine really intrigued me. He'd discovered that if you prevented air-contact with food materials, the materials would not putrefy. Thus he was able to preserve the brains of rabid dogs for long periods. He discovered that extracts of such brains that were up to 10 days old would cause rabies, but that after 11 days, the extracts would not cause rabies but would, in fact, produce immunity from injections of fresher samples.

Attenuation is not Natural Selection of course, but it is an example of man-made utilisation of the propensity of genomes to modify with time -- for better or worse.

Just a thought.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby doogles on April 30th, 2019, 8:47 pm 

Corrigenda

I made two errors in my previous post. 1) Pasteur used the brain of a rabid rabbit (not a dog) to produce his vaccine and
2) Pasteur was not the first to produce an attenuated vaccine, and his altered environment for attenuation was not by temperature, but by adding potassium dichromate to his cultures. Wikipedia describes it thus -- "Pasteur publicly claimed he had made the anthrax vaccine by exposing the bacilli to oxygen. His laboratory notebooks, now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, in fact show Pasteur used the method of rival Jean-Joseph-Henri Toussaint (1847–1890), a Toulouse veterinary surgeon, to create the anthrax vaccine.[3][4] This method used the oxidizing agent potassium dichromate."
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby hyksos on May 1st, 2019, 2:44 pm 

Were these algorithms developed on the basis of measurable data on rates of genetic changes in nature?

A contemporary computer workstation has 32 Gigabytes of RAM in it. That could barely hold the genome of about 13 ants. (average ant genome is ~550 million base pairs.) Our simulations maintain 10 to 20 thousand agents, and other corners are cut to make the simulation "tractable". The mutation rates are tweaked to those choices. It would not be feasible to simulate the rates seen in nature.

Also, our simulations saturate.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby doogles on May 2nd, 2019, 4:42 am 

Thank you Hyksos for the response. It never occurred to me that genetic algorithms would deal with genomes themselves. But I'm also not familiar with how genetic algorithms are used. I assume they are shortcut types of mathemattics based on Natural Selection and Evolutionary Biology.

I may be way too naive about the methodology, so bear with me if I ask again 'if' and 'what data' relating to Natural Selection and Evolutionary Biology the algorithms are based upon. The answer to this seems in one way to be related to the OP.

I have to emphasise that I am not trying to be a 'smart-arse' in asking this question. I'm being totally curious. Obviously, in view of the existence of GECCO conferences, genetic algorithms are in widespread use beyond my imagination.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby edy420 on May 15th, 2019, 1:44 am 

TheVat » 14 Apr 2019, 02:50 wrote:The environment is real. There are causal forces that impact survival and continued abiity to reproduce. That's the force at work. Your difficulty seems semantic. Selection is a metaphor, and so I reckon there are always ways for a metaphor to be misconstrued, and teleology to be erroneously dragged in. The same can be said for "force," I would imagine. Or "pressure," another word oft used. As in "coal soot on the trees in Birmingham exerted a selective pressure on the moth species...."


My biggest issue is that randomness is a large part of these theories. But as you say there are causal forces at play. Fish have fins because of hydrodynamics and we have legs because of gravity.

The idea of natural selection means that we randomly sprouted legs, found that they served us well, so we kept them. Being pedantic, I want to know what are the chances, but I'm given variables between millions and billions of years. There's no way to crunch any numbers in a scientific way (what are the chances a polar bear will have white fur).

What are your thoughts on the idea that these causal forces when combined, are actually an intelligent designer. Less of a random force and more of a dictating control.

I think if we created an identical earth, abiogenesis and evolution will be identical to our own. Fish will have fins and humanoids will have legs. Because this new earth has light, creatures will have eyes. Because of the way body's are affected by centripical force, creatures will have a balanced center of gravity. Because of the way biomechanics utilise this center of gravity, limbs will be similar length and have the same number of joints.

Basically, on an identical earth, humans will be systematically recreated, as well as polar bears. This causal force is intelligent.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby PaulN on May 16th, 2019, 1:22 pm 

My biggest issue is that randomness is a large part of these theories.


It's not an issue for those who understand the science, and the massive multiple lines of evidence for it.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby edy420 on May 16th, 2019, 2:49 pm 

What's the top 3.

Considering no one can answer my simple questions, I'm of the opinion no one knows as much as they like to think. What evidence is there that Mutation is random?

We observe changes in single cells, and in species, ok. Why is that a random process? I played an evolution game on PC. I observed that all the levels of changed appeared to be random. The way creatures in the environment are actually randomly generated by computer code. Some creatures have extra arms, others have extra mouths etc. But despite any theory or observation I derive from this game, I can say with 100% certainty that these creatures had a designer. That their existence although random, is founded on an underlying man made code. Why not consider that our code is similar.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby doogles on May 17th, 2019, 8:54 am 

edy240, you asked a very good question -- "What evidence is there that Mutation is random?"

I would like to try to answer that question. One of the facts of life is that many foetuses are born with physical abnormalities. Obviously the genetic coding had become garbled at some time between fertilisation of the egg and the developed fetus. One particular type in cattle that we called a schistosomus reflexis had obviously no hope of survival in our planet's environment. If you could imagine cutting open a dead rabbit allowing the viscera to hang out, holding it by front and back legs and breaking its back by bringing your hands together, that would describe a schitosomous. None were born naturally; they had to be delivered by embryotomy or caesarean section.

There is no way such a genetic modification or faulty expression of genes could be explained as 'intelligent design'. The mother would die in agony, unable to give birth because the foetus was double the width of a normal calf. I never delivered a live one at caesarean. They would be unable to breath because the chest cavity was open. There were other cases of idiosyncratic abnormalities that could not survive.

When I worked at a University, we used to get culled one-day old chicks that we would euthanise with gas, to feed to various types of bats used for neurology research. These were obtained from egg hatcheries. You may be familiar with 'chicken-sexers'. These men examine newly-hatched chickens and cull out the males (which don't lay eggs of course), as well as any deformed females. The latter included extra malformed legs, double heads, twisted beaks, malformed eyes, twisted backbones and many other defects that I can't recall after more than 30 years. I now regret that I didn't keep a record for scientific purposes. I briefly searched the literature before I typed this post but I could not find any such record.

I can't imagine any environment in which these malformed animals could survive.

Would you accept this as evidence that there can be RANDOM faults in either the gene coding or the expression of genes? Certainly it can't be labelled 'intended or intelligent design'.

If it can be accepted that these major changes can be 'random' as distinct from 'intended' design, could it not then be possible that many minor, non-lethal changes can occur at random?

I did find one reference to gene-related beak deformities in chickens on this site -- https://journals.plos.org/plosone/artic ... ne.0107050. If a circumstance ever arose where a deformed beak was an advantage for survival, then this random gene-related modification would prevail.
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