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by Edward J Larson.
History of both the science and the religion, including
the evangelical legislation of terror to protect the young from the idea
that monkeys, slugs, and microbes are all God's children.
The book is also good background for Evolutionary Psychology.
Summarizes lots of history and science, as well as the way that religion interferes with (and sometimes pretends to be) science. Remember that a theory is set of beliefs and that a theory never becomes a fact or event. Also that pseudo science is not science, but is a set of beliefs and evidence that masquerade as science, while violating at least one rule of the the scientific method. Examples of pseudo-science include:
Includes Dawkins' popularization of Hamilton's view that organisms developed to propagate their genes. The process is "blind, unconscious, and automatic".
Darwin said that altruism aids the group even if it is at the expense of the individual. Altruistic traits promote group survival. Hamilton proposed that altruism is in the genes; "Algebra of kin selection" (1964); "everyone" will sacrifice if he can save more than two full-blood brothers, or four half-brothers or eight first-cousins.
The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design
by Richard Dawkins.
See also: Noted in book log.
|"Complicated things everywhere, deserve a very special kind of explanation. We want to know how they came into existence and why they are so complicated. ... Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no mind's eye. ... It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all."|
|"Natural selection is the blind watchmaker, blind because is does not see ahead, does not plan consequences, has no purpose in view. Yet the living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design as if by a master watchmaker, impress us with the illusion of design and planning. "|
|"Living things are too improbably and too beautifully 'designed' to come into existence by chance. How, then, did they come into existence? The answer, Darwin's answer, is by gradual, step-by-step transformation from simple beginnings, from primordial entities sufficiently simple to have come into existence by chance. ... The cumulative process is directed by non-random survival. The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate the power of this cumulative selection as a fundamentally nonrandom process."|
Examples from nature.
|"It is raining DNA outside ... DNA whose coded characters spell out specific instructions for building willow trees that will shed a new generation of downy seeds. ... It is raining instructions out there; it's raining programs; it's raining tree-growing, fluff-spreading algorithms."|
|"Events that we commonly call miracles are not supernatural, but are part of a spectrum of more-or-less improbable natural events. A miracle, ... if it occurs at all, is a tremendous stroke of luck. ... cumulative selection can manufacture complexity while single-step selection cannot. ... once cumulative selection has got itself properly started, we need to postulate only a relatively small amount of luck in the subsequent evolution of life and intelligence."|
|"Natural selection may only subtract, but mutation can add. ... mutation and natural selection together can lead, over the long span of geological time, to a building up of complexity that has more in common with addition than with subtraction. There are two main ways in which this build-up can happen ... coadapted genotypes ... [and] arms races."|
|"The successful scientist and the raving crank are separated by the quality of theri inspirations. But I suspect that this amounts ... to a difference not so much in ability to notice analogies as in ability to reject foolish analogies and pursue helpful ones. ... The reason engineers and living bodies make more use of negative[-feedback] than positive-feedback systems is that controlled regulation near an optimum is useful."|
palaeontologists Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould
proposed their theory of punctuated equilibria.
"They suggested that ... [some of] the fossil record['s] ... gaps are a true reflection
of what really happened,
[and that] ...
evolution really did in some sense go in bursts, punctuating long periods of 'stasis', when
no evolutionary change took place in a given lineage."
"It is not really the gradualism of Darwin that the punctuationists oppose: gradualism means that each generation is only slightly different from the previous generation; you would have to be a saltationist to oppose that, and Eldredge and Gould are not saltationist. Rather, it turns out to be Darwin's alleged belief in the constancy of rates of evolution that they and the other punctuationists object to. ... The theory of punctuated equilibrium lies firmly within the neo-Darwinism synthesis"
Ancestral species are difficult to represent in cladistic classifications. [This difficulty may decrease with the finding and analysis of DNA preserved in some fossil remains.]
Addresses some of the doomed rival theories, including Lamarkism, neutralism, mutationism, and creationism.
Most frequent (about 2% and more each) in this book's 134,360 words:
Discusses W.D. Hamilton's theory of kin selection: natural selection favors genes for behaving altruistically toward close kin; this is because copies of those genes have a higher probability of being in the bodies of kin.
Population Connection's Reporter (Winter 2004) gives:
This table is adapted from Population Connection's Reporter (Winter 2004):
|World Population||Standard of living worldwide|
|2 billion||Average U.S.A. standard of living (health, nutrition, personal freedom).|
|0.5 billion||Same affluence as 2 billion, but with more freedom of action.|
|4 billion||Same affluence as 2 billion, but with many restrictions, requiring recycling, limits, rationing.|
|6 billion||Europe and U.S.A. inhabitants live at level of 2 billion population; rest of the world lives at current prosperity level of Mexico.|
|20 billion||Average standard of living at current prosperity level of Mexico.|
|40 billion||Average standard of living at current "prosperity" level of Northwest Africa.|
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