Knowledge and subjectivity. Origin of life

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by mjs, Mar 17, 2014.

  1. notanumber Registered Member

    Just to prove my point, the phys-org people published this today! -
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  3. notanumber Registered Member

    Darwin's theory was one of many competing ideas circulating around that time, all slightly different. Darwin was aware of those other theories. In addition, his love of analysing nature was part of the great Victorian nature exploration, where adventurers were going off to foreign lands and discovering new species by the score, adding specimens to museum collections, and bringing animals home for zoos and pressed flora for private collections.

    That in itself was a consequence of the British Empire having expanded to all corners of the globe, making travel possible for any wealthy gentleman or amateur botanist (the two overlapped significantly). Darwin was very much a man of his time, and a result of the culture of that time, amongst the educated classes. Science back then was much more of a gentleman's pursuit.

    The poorer classes in class-ridden British society did not have the education, the comfy homes or armchairs, the books, or the free time and peace of mind (most likely) to follow academic wanderings of the mind. They often worked hard from a young age, and were taught more direct ways of earning a living.

    (Sorry for my dely in replying. You wrote a LOT, and I am only now starting to read it!)

    Yes, science was part of the empire-building, and necessary in many ways. I suspect the motivation for individual scientists such as Darwin was curiosity bordering on obsession, with the amazing things being discovered in the Empire, and trying to make sense of them. The various expeditions wanted someone like him to properly document what they found (but I'm not sure how they profited from it).

    The whole empire / expansion / inventing / nature-discovery thing was part of the society of the time.
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  5. wellwisher Banned Banned

    The question is why did Darwin need to travel to Galapagos to develop his theory of evolution, if this theory was universal to nature? Why wasn't this theory developed by simply looking at nature in his home town in England? Didn't evolution also occur there?

    In England, the entire island had been settled and developed by humans, over the centuries, such that its flora and fauna had been impacted by man and as much as by nature. Evolution was not easy to isolate, there. The local England observational data was still consistent with creationism, since human interaction over 6000 years, alone, could explain all the new breeds of cattle and sheep and the preference for foreign plants in the garden. Man was leading the change.

    Darwin needed to isolate himself, from human activity, to see natural change, not connected, to human intervention. Galapagos was an isolated place for eons and could serve as a control experiment. However, Galapagos was not the only type of natural environment isolated from humans. Galapagos created an example of evolution, but since it was not the only possible example. It became a dogma of science and slanted the idea of evolution to one side; slow boat option.

    For example, Yellowstone National Park in USA was an example of a natural fast change option. Yellowstone had a huge forest fire, which burned millions of acres many years ago. This totally altered the environment in weeks, leading to new eco-systems forming in a coupe of years. Galapagos had been stopped in time for millions of years and was not a dynamic natural environment where change was very fast. Both were natural and both evolved differently.

    Fast change was not part of Darwin's theory, even though this could have been his foundation for evolution, if he had visited Yellowstone instead of Galapagos to write this thesis. If this environment had been used, his theory of natural selection would have been slanted toward rapid change. Yellowstone would have allowed him to go back to England and use this same theory to explain the steady state species of wild animals in England; human burnt most (so to speak) and the survivors migrated back. Instead, with slow boat Galapagos, he needed to stay detached from humans, leading to the need for bones and fossils that could exclude humans.

    Say Darwin had developed evolution to mean rapid change due to external potentials. This could be due to humans, like land clearing, or natural disasters such as fires or floods. Chemistry and biology would be looking for something to define fast, instead of biased at slow boat DNA using a dissociated approach of random, to mimic fossil discontinuities. Nobody would be surprise when bacteria change quickly to medicines and not require millions of years like on Galapagos.
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  7. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    Yes evolution occurred in England. You should read up about why the Galapagos and it's finches were such a good example evolution and it will seem less mysterious to you why they were important.

    You are completely mistaken to think that the yellowstone fire resulted in observable evolutionary change. Not even close. What we are seeing in yellowstone is just a regrowth of the forest through well understood stages of succession.
  8. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    The principal competing ideas were Catastrophism (God repeals the laws of Nature at will) vs. Uniformitarianism (Nature is immutable). Darwin was influenced by the founders of geology, Lyell and Hutton, through whom he was convinced that Uniformitarianism had overturned Catastrophism, as a direct consequence of the early evidence from the geologic record. This turned out to be the fundamental science upon which his theory arose, since he was able to determine that the Galapagos rose from the ocean floor after the parent species were established in S America. He was aware of Lamarck's belief that the genera arose through some ill-defined means of adaptation, and what was left for him to solve was the process of adaptation, which, he reasoned, must have followed Malthus' economic theory of survival of the wealthiest. However, it was probably the fatal illness of his daughter which probably brought this into focus for him. Among one of the facts he grieved, it was that she would leave no offspring.

    Darwin can better be compared to Linnaeus and Mendel for his motivations. That is, even as a child he was fascinated by the natural world around him, so much so that he had to sneak specimens and pets into the house. His motive for embarking on the Beagle was two-fold: it gave him an excuse to get away from the pressure his father was putting on him to get his medical degree, and, more importantly, it gave him an opportunity to collect all the specimens he had dreamed of having since he was a boy.

    He was entirely self-motivated by his love of nature and an insatiable desire to understand it better. The person on the voyage most influenced by the imperialism was Capt FitzRoy. He had already been to S America, took command of the Beagle upon the death of its first captain, and brought home several Fuegians (tribal people of Tierra del Fuego). His plan was to turn them into Anglophiles, and then into loyal servants of the Crown, so that he could take them back to Argentina to convince all of the locals to lay down their arms and support the imperial causes of Britain.

    I think that certainly applies when the Industrial Age was under full swing, but probably less so in the early 19th c.

    Darwin's recruitment was the brainchild of Capt FitzRoy who lobbied for another mission primarily under the need to improve British cartography. It was he who conceived of having a naturalist or "science officer" to support this effort, but also to help him find natural way points for British ships -- natural harbors, reefs to avoid, and food and water supplies.

    I think Darwin was not at all interested in the trappings of society, and that, if anything, the proposed second voyage of the Beagle presented an opportunity for him to get away from it all.
  9. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    You can't read a child's book on evolution and draw an intelligent conclusion from it? :bugeye:

    Well, duh: he had to see the evidence at Galapagos in order to have a need to explain it. So what? :shrug:

    Read his work instead of rewriting it for him. He saw on Galapagos some 20 varieties of the Darwin's finches he had seen in S America. And yet he realized the island chain had arisen from the sea floor after the rookeries were established on the continent. He saw the adaptations of turtles from island to island, and the remarkable adaptations of the iguanas to marine life. What's your problem with repeating back the actual words of the people you are attacking? Oh, yeah: it smashes your nonsense to smithereens.

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    Evolution occurs everywhere. Needing an explanation for what happened on Galapagos required a trip to Galapagos. DUH!

    No it was not consistent with creationism, which is why Uniformitarianism replaced creationism in the 19th c. as the unassailable explanation that the Creation Myth is not historical narrative.

    No, Darwin's theory relied in part on the evidence that artificial selection accounts for heritable adaptations. He needed to do exactly what he did: to learn this, and then to discover the exceptional problem of accounting for the extraordinary ecosystems of the remote island chain.

    Isolation is one of the central causes for speciation. And no, the Galapagos are younger than the mainland species who laid eggs there.

    Pure, unmitigated bullshit. :shrug:

    You simply can't connect the dots.

    You should be permabanned for your relentless attacks on science in favor of the social conservatism that comes with your preference for creationsim

    Stop inventing nonsensical explanations, troll.

    Really? So there are no lodgepole pines left? No elk, or bighorn sheep? No rainbow trout?

    Typical nonsense posting
    No, the Galapagos were created only millions of years ago. During the time frame you claim it was static, the fragile ecosystems were waxing and waning.

    No, troll, Darwin's theory explains what happened on Galapagos exactly in the timeframe that it happened, which is neither fast nor slow. It's at the pace that it actually happened. :bugeye:

    Speaking of writing a thesis, what is yours, troll? Yellowstone has no bearing on the discovery at Galapagos, so nothing you said has any merit.

    This is based on your observation that Yellowstone is now inhabited by . . . zebras? . . . palm trees? . . . wallabies? :shrug:

    you should be permabanned for posting nonsense

    The site moderators should put you on a slow boat to Troll Island where you may freely continue to crow about nonsense with your troll friends/socks without disturbing the peace and continuity of these threads.

    Why say that? It's nonsensical bullshit? Oh I forgot: because your trolling is not quite on the mods' radar.

    No the only thing that would surprise anyone is that you actually went into Darwin's actual writings to cite something he actually did instead of making up fairy tales about the scientist you hate so much.
  10. river

    Darwin's concept was a slow change to any biology

    he was wrong
  11. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    The word "biology" makes no sense in this sentence. Are you using a translator, are you not a native speaker, are you confused, or are you deliberately being obscure?

    Citation required. This is a science thread, not a playground for creationists.
  12. notanumber Registered Member

    As I understand it -

    Darwin's concepts explained a SLOW change because every tiny adaptation relied on a multitude of random mutations, which took a long time prove themselves. I can't recall details, but wasn't there some debate over the excessive time frame for his theories to develop advnced life forms? - and weren't there some essential modifications to his theories, which permitted it to happen within the time frame it has?
  13. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    I wonder if what you may both be vaguely recalling is the Punctuated Equilibrium concept. But even though this concept proposes that evolution often may move in jerky steps rather than soothly and evenly, the steps still take a long time compared to the timescales of human history.

    Darwin certainly didn't have all the processes in his original formulation of evolution. It remains a live science today, greatly enlivened in fact by what we can now do with molecular biology, which did not exist in Darwin's time. What is remarkable is how much of what he predicted has been confirmed by DNA sequencing etc. It is quite astonishing. He was on the money, alright.
  14. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    And your claim to fame is?

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  15. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    His main claim to "fame" is: not having a clue.
  16. pluto2 Banned Valued Senior Member

    The gene-centric view of evolution is wrong in my opinion.

    If we take the gene-centric view of evolution for granted then this leads to implausible theories like the ancient astronauts for example.

    My conclusion is that there is probably more to evolution than just genes.
  17. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Genes play a major role in evolution. This was explained by Darwin and Mendel and is now known to be true by all kinds of testing.

    If you take away the gene, then evolution becomes the result of alien bio-synthesizers, which is less plausible. Better is to go with genes and natural selection, and leave the aliens out of it.

    Yep, like natural selection. But it's primarily acting on gene mutations.
  18. wellwisher Banned Banned

    The human DNA is 98% junk genes and about 2% coding genes. Bacteria are about 98% coding genes and 2% junk genes. This trend in evolution reflects a net movement into a higher ratio of junk genes to coding genes. This suggest that one theory cannot be accurate for all of evolution, unless you can accurately define the role of junks genes as being the same as coding genes.

    Say junk genes have a contextual function. One would need to know just how much control over coding genes do the junk genes have ? An analogy is say we have a box of building blocks (coding genes). Depending who is playing with those blocks (junk genes) the results can be a wide range of projects of various skill and quality. With humans only needing 2% building blocks to form the most complex of organisms, the junk has all the controls allowing differentiated projects that themselves often differentiate, without changing genes.

    I am not saying to take Creationism literal, but as the gist better describes when junk dominates coding. Evolution can prove itself easier with bacteria, which has less junk genes. But when it comes to all the major changes within human nature, without much change in coding, the theory gets sophomoric.

    I have tried to compare Darwin's most logical conclusion for a theory of evolution, if he had used two different scenarios instead of just one. The first was the traditional Galapagos and the second was before and after the fire at Yellowstone National park. A good development scientist, will let the data define the theory and will turn on a dime if the data warrants its. He will not try to fix the experiment to fit preconceived opinions. But not all scientists do development work, some have a thesis they are married to.

    To a development person, Galapagos strongly suggest a slow rate of change to evolution via selection. But this conclusion is not the best for Yellowstone. That data would strongly suggest selection still occurs, but this can occur very fast, in a fast changing environment. The difference appears to be connected to which has more impact, coding versus junk genes, with each favored depending on the environmental speed. Yellowstone does not to need new blocks (there is no time for that) but rather the old is recycled and built a new way. Galapagos does not change very fast so the junk is holding steady waiting for new coding changes before a major reshuffle.
  19. mjs Registered Member

    Yes, but if the building blocks of evolution and natural selection are plain random chemical reactions, faster rates of changes are allowed. Besides, any proportion of DNA can be junk without altering anything. Additionally, its more democratic. Why chemicals likeDNA being so special? And no need to mess up with supernatural forces (regardless if they exist or not). Why try to fit god into mathematical or scientific equations?
  20. river

    Fundamentally I agree with Darwin

    what I think he would change though is that evolution can be both fast and slow

    it depends on the organism
  21. Le Repteux Registered Senior Member

    Hi MJS,

    May I add an unusual perspective to your point? If life is randomly driven, then what about our own mind? Could it produce random activities without us yet being able to imagine so? What is imagination for instance if not a random process? How could we change our ideas without a random process to initiate a change? How could species change anything in their genes without any random process to help them? What we call subjectivity is about us not being able to change our ideas rapidly, but if this ability depends on a random process similar to the mutation one, wouldn't it be natural that it takes time to change them?
  22. mjs Registered Member

    A new study has provided some insights. It generally underscores the fact that mutations alone are not that important in the evolutionary process as was previously thought.
  23. Enoc Registered Senior Member

    Scientists today behave a lot like bureaucrats and not much like real scientists. They don't want progress and they don't want to discover what's really out there.

    That's why we have seen no much real progress over the last decade in our understanding of questions like "what is the origin of human consciousness?", "what is life and what is the origin of life?" and "is there life after death?" and questions such as "is death really the end of everything (an eternal oblivion)"?

    There's still a lot we don't know about the universe we live in and that's because of the scientific bureaucracy which doesn't want progress and to discover what's really out there.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2014

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