Posts Tagged ‘Evolution’

OURSELVES, CREATORS OF CREATION, kingdom of mind!

January 1, 2018

NOTHING MOST SHATTERINGLY NEW SINCE THERE ARE MEN, AND THEY CREATE NATURE, INCLUDING THEIR OWN!

Pure reason incorporates pure emotion. This is what most philosophical critters have missed so far. So when they talk haughtily about reason, they spurn emotions, just as if they were runners, on paper, but couldn’t possibly imagine what legs are for.

A professional philosopher claims that “ethics can’t be based on human nature, because biology tells us, there is no such a thing as human nature”. He deduces from this that everyone is an existentialist… In the sense of Sartre’s silly pronouncement that we are as we decide to be (something he proved by his own life, not to be true, as Jean-Paul as predictable as a cockroach). Not so far from things I wrote for years. However, the devil is in the detail, and I am the devil, as Nietzsche didn’t dare say (he just took himself for Jesus). Actually come to think of it, not really details.

To pretend that ethics can’t be based on nature, because evolutionary biology shows that such a thing as human nature can’t be precisely determined is as smart as saying that Quantum Mechanics couldn’t be based on momentum, because the latter can’t be precisely defined. (Both Relativity and the Quantum are based, in part, on momentum.)

Actually it’s not because something is uncertain that it can’t be determined well enough for precise computations. Quantum Mechanics is complete and well-defined a theory, in spite of the position-momentum uncertainty relationship: (uncertainty position) X (uncertainty momentum) > h. Biology is great, physics is greater. Lack of precision at some point of the logic doesn’t mean anything goes. This is case where the scientifically trained mind reveals itself vastly superior to those who croak with the centuries.

They appeared 1.9 to 1.4 million years ago. Tool use belongs to the Acheulean industry. Distinguished from Homo Erectus by its thinner skull bones. Reduced sexual dimorphism, a smaller face but a larger (700 and 850 cc) brain and was up to a gigantic 1.9m in height. Made hand axes and cleavers. Homo Georgicus (below) found in Dmanisi, Georgia in 1999 and 2001 seems to be intermediate between Homo Habilis and H. Erectus and is 1.8 million years old. It’s the oldest known hominoid in Europe and were found in association of implements and animal bones. Considering the cold climate in winter, he had to have had clothing. The species name originates from the Greek ergaster meaning Workman . This name was chosen due to the discovery of various tools such as hand-axes and cleavers near the remains of H. ergaster. Its use of advanced (rather than simple) tools was unique to this species; H. ergaster tool use belongs to the Acheulean industry. H. ergaster first began using these tools 1.6 million years ago. Charred animal bones in fossil deposits and traces of camps suggest that the species made creative use of fire. By then, tech was launched, big time!

When Sartre said “existence precedes essence” he was getting drunk, drunk on his own words. No, we can’t be just what we decide, and even if we could, most of us don’t decide what we want to decide, as the life of the highly predictable fame driven automaton called Sartre bears witness. Sartre and De Beauvoir were Nazis when it was a profitable to be so, resistant when it got safer that way, then Stalinist, anti-”colonialist”, when, that, too became the highest fashion, before meekly trying to look hip by being a “Maoist”.   

Hume distinguished ‘is’ from ‘ought’, claiming one couldn’t get from one to the other. Hume lived three centuries ago. What does he know about facts and values? What does he know about deduction/ Did he know heat was motion? Did he know nerve impulse was electricity? Could he have guessed that a value could be a fact anchored in physics?

Moore, more than a century ago, was baffled about what reality really mean. Moore wrote before Quantum Mechanics. He could never have guessed how entangled, quantum entangled, our world is.

If reason incorporates emotion, deducing morality from pure reason also means deducing it from pure emotion. Logic is not just ‘logic’. Logic is the set of all possible logics, in particular not just linear logics (as found in treatise on mathematical logic). It also incorporates topologically induced logics (as from neurohormones; in other words, emotions).

The world-wide web enables to recreate fireside conversations our ancestors had, a million years ago. It’s not really revolutionary, it’s just worldwide.

Human nature involves maximal mental creativity. In other words, maximal software innovation, from a hardware, the brain, which is greatly influence programmed. Sartre’s opinion that he was self-created, as he were Jesus/God is just arrogant and dumb. Sartre was trying to hide, with an outrageous theory, obviously wrong, to deflect attention, that he and Simone de Beauvoir, were outrageous collaborators with the Nazi invaders, something which was obviously true (for whoever knows the facts, and has the  values).

hat did Sartre know about existence? Nothing. He was the pampered child of a certain self-absorbed upper layer of the Paris coffee shop culture, famous in his aquarium, when he was not busy seducing Nazi officers with his theater. Existence is not the province of words. It is now the province of hard-core physics, and so it was in Paris, since 1923, when Prince de Broglie rolled out his matter wave theory. To think the matter wave theory has nothing to do with existence and thus values, would be cretinism.

Following human nature is following whatever goes. Just as science, or philosophies themselves. Technology is not just a human transition. Technology is the human transition. Our ancestors (Homo Ergaster) were found in the Caucasus 2 million years ago. They have got to have used technology, from weapons to clothing (the proverbial animal skins). Our ancestors (Homo Erectus, China) used fire at least already 1.3 million year ago. Human technology changed the environment, so our ancestors created not just a theory of evolution, but an evolutionary machine to evolve humanity further from.  

Biological mutation have thus been under the direction of humanity for millions of years. The next complication being of course that Quantum Physics is so smart it’s nonlocal. Hence evolution is driven by intelligence squared, human intelligence multiplied by Quantum Intelligence.

Lamarck was made fun of, excoriated, and threatened by slave master tyrant Napoleon, for suggesting that intelligence drove evolution. The true reason of the rage of the church and plutocrats was that Lamarck had established evolution by studying fossils (some under the microscope). If humanity evolved, and that had been scientifically demonstrated, shouldn’t society evolve too?

Lamarck was right, we know this better everyday. Darwin learned Lamarckism, as a student in Scotland (“evolution”t was outlawed in English universities). Darwin turned evolution into a version more compatible with plutocracy, the nebulously defined “selection of the fittest”. Hitler and the “intellectuals” who inspired those who controlled that German politician, mentally deduced that “selection of the fittest” meant extermination of those who were not the “fittest”. Hitler didn’t realize that ignorant, self-important morons like him, impregnated with their own gravitas, were not the fittest, but instead the lowest of the low. It is now surfacing that, indeed Darwin, by decerebrating Lamarck’s evolution, missed its most important point. Even Tom Wolfe has understood this (see his 2016 published “Kingdom of Speech”).

Humanity is not just the kingdom of speech, as Sartre and his followers, would have it. Humanity is the kingdom of ideas, concepts, pictures, metaphors and emotions rising above previously given nature. Humanity is the kingdom of mind.

The kingdom of mind has its own rules and ethics, never seen before. For example, far from being an aggression, critique is a gift. Criticizing helps thinking (and self-criticism, thus mental betterment).

Selection of the fittest has meant, for at least two million years, selection of the fittest ideas, and selection of those, and the moods, capable of fostering them. Genetics and epigenetics followed. Human will was involved in all this, over 100,000 generations.

The human principle: I think, therefore I, and my descendants, became better.

Selection of the fittest thinking. Selection of the fittest moods.

Our descendants deliberately created much of what we became, and for the rest, they created us by eliminating what, or whom, was not the fittest, and by setting up an environment conducive to that.

Yes, a terrible message of hope.

We evolve, thus we hope to create ourselves in a better form.

And ever superior technology will help us to become better, because, should we not rise to the occasion, we will disappear.

Patrice Ayme’

Ctenophora Rewriting 750 Million Years Of Neural Evolution

August 2, 2017

Ctenophora were long considered just a kind of jellyfish. Turns out that was a gross mistake. Indeed a Russian immigrant to the USA, Leonid Moroz, found that these animals were unrelated to jellyfish. In fact, ctenophora are so profoundly different from any other animal on Earth, that it has been discovered they are much older, and unrelated, to sponges (previously sponges were thought to be by far the oldest animals; now this is known to be wrong).

In 1995, Moroz tested the nerve cells of ctenophora for the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and nitric oxide, chemical messengers considered the universal instruments of the neural language of all and any animals. He didn’t find any of them.

Ctenophora were already known for having a serious nervous system, complete with neurons; but these first experiments by Moroz showed that ctenophora nerves are built from molecular building blocks – different from any other animal – using ‘a different chemical language’! says Moroz: he calls these animals ‘aliens of the sea’.

If vertebrates had not appeared, 200 million years after ctenophora, probably confining the latter into an ecological niche, civilization may have evolved from ctenophora.

An obscure force seems to compel the apparition of complex nervous systems to evolve. It is universal – not just on Earth, but also on inhabited exoplanets. And I will show roughly what it is, and where it comes from in a companion essay (to which this one is introductory).

Jellyfishes use muscles to flap their bodies and swim. Whereas ctenophora use thousands of cilia to swim. They can be very small, but the largest are 1.5 meter long (5 feet). Jellyfishes sting, ctenophora capture prey using two sticky tentacles that secrete glue. Ctenophora ambush their prey.  

Studies of ctenophora, starting 130 years ago, showed neuron masses, and, more recently, what looked like synapses. 

Ctenophore. It looks as if the ancestors of vertebrates MUSCLED out (serious pun intended!) the ctenophora. With sheer muscle power the cilia smarts ctenophora were thrown into a niche!

Moroz finally was able to make a “transcriptome” of the DNA of ctenophora in 2007.   5,000 or 6,000 gene sequences were actively turned on in the animal’s nerve cells. His team showed that Pleurobrachia lacked the genes and enzymes required to manufacture neurotransmitters seen in other animals. These missing neurotransmitters included the ones that Moroz found to be absent back in 1995 – serotonin, dopamine and nitric oxide – but also acetylcholine, octopamine, noradrenaline, etc. Ctenophora also lacked genes for receptors that to respond to conventional neurotransmitters.

As Moroz team put it in Nature:

“The origins of neural systems remain unresolved. In contrast to other basal metazoans, ctenophores (comb jellies) have both complex nervous and mesoderm-derived muscular systems. These holoplanktonic predators also have sophisticated ciliated locomotion, behaviour and distinct development. Here we present the draft genome of ten… ctenophore transcriptomes, and show that they are remarkably distinct from other animal genomes in their content of neurogenic, immune and developmental genes. Our integrative analyses place Ctenophora as the earliest lineage within Metazoa. This hypothesis is supported by comparative analysis of multiple gene families, including the apparent absence of HOX genes, canonical microRNA machinery, and reduced immune complement in ctenophores. Although two distinct nervous systems are well recognized in ctenophores, many bilaterian neuron-specific genes and genes of ‘classical’ neurotransmitter pathways either are absent or, if present, are not expressed in neurons. Our metabolomic and physiological data are consistent with the hypothesis that ctenophore neural systems, and possibly muscle specification, evolved independently from those in other animals.”

[Nature, June 2014. The ctenophore genome and the evolutionary origins of neural systems]

Further studies have confirmed that ctenophora have evolved earlier, and completely independently of other animals.

Ctenophora lack entire classes of genes that had been thought to be universal to all animals. These included so-called micro-RNA genes, which help to form specialised cell types in organs, and HOX genes, which divide bodies into separate parts, be it the segmented body of a worm or lobster, or the segmented spine and finger bones of a vertebrate.  Such genes are present in simple sponges and placozoa.

Ctenophora are the oldest type of animal known! (Moroz tried to publish a paper in 2009 which implicitly led to that conclusion; it was rejected. He then did more refined studies which led to the 2014 Nature paper.)

Moroz now counts up to 12 independent evolutionary origins of the nervous system. Including at least one in cnidaria (the group that includes jellyfish and anemones), three in echinoderms (the group that includes sea stars, sea lilies, urchins and sand dollars), one in arthropods (the group that includes insects, spiders and crustaceans), one in molluscs (the group that includes clams, snails, squid and octopuses), one in vertebrates – and now, at least one in ctenophora.

“There is more than one way to make a neuron, more than one way to make a brain,” says Moroz. In each of these evolutionary branches, different genes and proteins ensembles got elected through random gene mutations, to take part in building a nervous system. The details are completely different, yet, the big picture is the same!

And that’s no accident, as I will argue, there is an underlying Quantum force pushing towards intelligence… Thus Lamarck was right.

Moroz rejected much of what he was taught. Because his ‘initial hypothesis was exactly what was in the textbooks’, moving to the correct way of thinking about ctenophora took him 20 years.

Science is truth, but truth is not obvious. And searching for it is even more demanding.

Patrice Ayme’

TRUTH, SCIENCE: CONSTRUCT, Only Then Try To Falsify

December 24, 2016

The notion of truth is central to the human condition. “Belief”, “Faith” claim to solve it. But there is a better way: dynamics.

BUILD, THEN VERIFY: HOW SCIENCE & TRUTH PROGRESS. TRUTH IS AN ECOLOGY.

Popper’s Error: Science Is Not Just About Falsification. Science Is Construction First, Falsification Later:

Abstract: ‘Falsification’ ruled 20th-century science. However, falsification was always second to construction. First construct, only then falsify. Why? As simple as it gets: One cannot falsify something that one has not constructed.

So what is truth? For a hint: look at biological evolution: in a way evolution is a truth, any species solves a number of problems it is confronted to. (It could be the Ebola virus: the virus solves the problem of its own survival.) I will show truths are also denizens of an evolutionary process. (Leaving the Bible’s Logos in the dust…)i

***

Detailed Examples Show That Falsification Is Always Second To Construction: the heliocentric theory jumps to mind.

Heliocentrism (Earth rotates around the Sun) was first proposed by the astronomer Aristarchus (320 BCE). At least so said Archimedes. The arguments were lost. However, Aristotelian physics was in the way. PPP Carefully Looking At The Phases Of Venus Falsified The Ptolemaic Model of the Solar System

Buridan (~ 1345 CE) demolished Aristotelian physics (no, islamophiles, Buridan was indeed first). Armed with his correct inertial theory, Buridan proposed that Earth turned around the sun. But he could not prove it. Copernicus said more of the same two centuries later: yet it could not be proven.

The philosophical argument had been known for 18 centuries: the Sun was the bigger thing, so the smaller thing, Earth, should rotate around the bigger thing. (Maybe some Ancient Greeks thought about another argument, relative to speed: if the Sun turned around, in just a day, its speed had got to be enormous; enormous speeds were unfriendly; if Earth rotated around, it needed to rotate on itself: would the clouds fly away? Aristotle’s erroneous physics said so, but Buridan explained  that Aristotle’s arrow experiment was false, by introducing rotary inertia.

Kepler came out with his laws, a stupendous achievement. Still one could not prove heliocentrism definitively. It had become the simpler description, though, by a long shot. 

Falsification Of The Egocentric Ptolemaic System Was Only Provided By The Goddess Venus

Falsification Of The Egocentric Ptolemaic System Was Only Provided By The Goddess Venus; By The Way, I Protest Against The Adjective “Copernican”. Aristarchus, and Even More, Buridan, Were The Main Architects of Building The Truth About The Heliocentric System. Buridan threw Down Aristotelian Physics, Something Even Archimedes Did Not Do (that we know of!)

[In the Ptolemaic System, Venus Was Always Between Earth And Sol, Thus, Venus Always Appeared As A Crescent. Seeing Venus fully lighted by Sol showed Ptolemaic astronomers were full of it. Now, OK, they had to wait for the progress of European optics in the middle Middle Ages… Reading glasses and all that…]

And then Galileo found that the little things, the four satellites of Jupiter, were rotating around the big thing (Jupiter). Another indice.

At this point, there were several independent lines of arguments each pointing at heliocentrism as the most economical, most likely explanation (size, speed, lesser overall rotational inertia (rotational “impetus”, to speak as Buridan did), Kepler’s Laws, Jupiter’s satellites).

It was a “beast in the forest approach”: it sounded like a lion, it smelled like a lion, it had the color of a lion, it looked as if it had the ears of a lion. So what of Popper’s “falsification” approach in this? Suppose that it did not have the color of a lion. Does that prove it’s not a lion? No. It could be bright red, because it’s covered with blood, and it’s still a lion. Or all black, because it’s in the shade, yet, still a lion.

By 1613, though, Galileo’s telescope had enough power to resolve the phases of Venus (and dare to publish the result). Only then was the heliocentric theory definitively proven, and the Ptolemaic system ruled out. If the way the phases behaved had not come out right, heliocentrism would have been wrong. PPP Venus provided with the Popper Falsification. However, even before that, all astronomers had come to the conclusion that it was certain that the Earth turned around the Sun.

***

Of The Bad Influence Of Popper & The Primacy Of Falsification:

Falsification is not fun and cuts down the impulse of imagination. Putting falsification from cognition first kills imagination. Imagination is more important than cognition. Imagination is the definition of the human condition.

To realize that only the phases of Venus were an incontrovertible proof, one had to have derived the heliocentric theory far enough to come to that conclusion. By the time it became clear that the Venus phases were the incontrovertible proof could be, 99% of the theory of heliocentrism was established. 

It was a question of mental chicken and egg: neither came first, the theory had to evolve. Actually, the phases of Venus can be resolved by exceptional observers with fantastic eyes, and special atmospheric conditions (the human eye can resolve a minute of arc, Venus apparent size is around two-third of that).

If one had been guided by only finding a definitive proof of heliocentrism, one would have invented no science. For example Buridan and his students invented graphs. They also demonstrated early calculus theorems, but without any of the sophisticated formalism, equation, analytic geometry, which those theorems would push to discover…

By considering that only the last step of an inquiry makes that inquiry scientific, Popper and his falsification obsession make science impossible. (Down with Popper; make no mistake, I like Popper, but then I also “like” Ivanka Trump’s mien in the coach cabin of a Jetblue sardine can, when she kept calm in the middle seat, while being “harassed” by two PC college professor idiots… They were thrown out of the plane, came to regret their actions, and then deleted their Tweeter accounts where they wrote about the deedd they planned. Both the martyrized Ivanka and one of the cruel college professors of barbarity were with small children, including two infants…)

As Buridan pointed out, one could not tell the difference, experimentally , between the heliocentrism he proposed and Scripture (so one may as well believe scripture, he added insolently). But that impossibility to falsify did not prevent him to think about it, and to think about it as a science.

***

Evolution theory is even more constructivist: 

The Greek philosopher Anaximander of Miletus, before the Persian fascist annihilated Miletus, proposed that people descended from fishes. Later, Aristotle, baffled by fossils, ordered his students to go out, observe and establish a registry of living forms.

By then evolution theory by mixed artificial and natural means was well-known in Greece, as related methods produced superlative cattle sold around the Mediterranean. Nobody can know how much was explicitly in writing about evolution (out of 700 Greco-Roman classics we know of, only 150 survived… through the Frankish controlled monasteries).

Evolutionary ideas were revived in the Eighteenth Century, until Lamarck proposed the theory of evolution in 1800 CE. Lamarck became quickly an object of hatred from the dictator Napoleon and the Christian Church. A bedrock of his conclusions were microscopic studies of fossils of mollusks (decades behind the microscope destroyed his eyesight). Lamarck was a research professor, not a falsification professor: he invented ideas, and even words: he used neologisms such as biology, mollusk, invertebrate, etc.

Lamarck also proposed a non-selective mechanism to explain evolution (as I said above, the Greeks were thoroughly familiar with natural and artificial selection). That obviously could not be disproven, and the mechanism was completely unfathomable. It is only now that epigenetics has been demonstrated to exist, and some mechanisms explaining it have been made explicit.

Methinks there is much more to come (because DNA is a Quantum machine in a Quantum environment, and all interactions are non-local…

***

Those Who Don’t Want To Build, Don’t Want to Know:

We build theories, first. Then we test them, always. First build.

Those who don’t want to build, don’t want to falsify.

***

Finding Truth By GOING BEYOND The BIBLICAL GOD:

To assuage and pacify the Neoplatonist leadership of the Roman empire, the evangel of John proclaims in its first few sentences that the “logos” was God, and God was the “logos”. In other words, logic, the discourse, ruled the universe.

Now the “logos” itself is its own truth: any logic defines a propositional truth from its axioms: well-formed propositions are “true” in a sense. HOWEVER, propositional truth is not ALL the truth in a logical system. That observation is the key to the problem of truth.   

Moreover, there is the problem of meta-truth. Meta-truth evolves out of truth (Godel famously proved that meta-truth existed). Logicians have been struggling with both non-propositional truth and metatruth (Godel’s proofs were proofs of existence, and did not provide with an explicit mechanism to build metatruths; later Godel and Cohen rolled out axioms which were independent of others, and thus could be considered true or not).

The preceding shows that building a scientific theory is a built-up of truth: Popper’s work was naive, removed from reality.

A scientific theory’s formation is an evolution of truth: it defines truth as it goes. Science is the best state of formal knowledge we have: thus truth is an evolution

Still, although truth evolves, that does not mean there is no absolute formal truth. There is: planes fly, don’t they? For a plane to fly one million formal truths need indeed to be true, at the same time, or the plane would crash.

Thus one can see that truth does not evolve like a species: metatruth evolves like an ecology does, generating on its way perfect species, local truths. An ecology evolves perfect species, such as sharks and oysters, which barreled, same as they always were, through massive extinction waves in the last few hundreds of millions of years. Evolution also produced species whose main business is to evolve, such as hominins (ourselves and all those cousins of us we used for dinner, in the past).

So, in the evolution of logic and metalogic, perfect truths are produced, so perfect they become part of the logos themselves (truths such as realizing that love is the engine of all things human!).

God is truth, and we make it up, as we debate reality with our imagination.

Patrice Ayme’

P/S: The essay is better appreciated if one is familiar with 20th century philosophy of science (and it penetrated the exercise of science itself, especially physics). Karl Popper claimed that, if a theory is falsifiable, then it is scientific. However, if I say, tomorrow the sky is blue, that’s falsifiable, but not necessarily scientific. The Popperian criterion excludes from the domain of science not unfalsifiable statements but only whole theories that contain no falsifiable statements. That’s silly, because Popper wanted to ‘prove’ that Marxism was not scientific… Yet clearly the work of Marx contains falsifiable statements. Moreover, Pauperism leaves one with the Duhemian problem of what constitutes a ‘whole theory’ as well as the problem of what makes a proposition ‘meaningful’.

My approach above pretty much throws the whole thing through the window. Science has to do with truth, and metatruth, which have architectures of truth, just as a building or a plane have them.

 

QUANTUM LIFE FORCE

April 15, 2016

Biological systems use Quantum Mechanics continually, at the smallest scale. That’s what I think, but I think this, because it’s obvious: molecular biology is all about transporting protons and electrons. Those “elementary particles” are not little balls. They are fully Quantum objects, here, there and everywhere. Quantum Physics describe their behavior. I used to find the Quantum weird, because I was taught that it was weird. But no more: it’s Classical Mechanics which I find weird.

For example, Classical Mechanics has edges: objects terminate with a border. But what is the border made of? Quantum Physics says there are no borders, just fuzzy zones of waning influences.

Quantum Entanglement & Coherence Does Not Just Hold DNA Together. It Enables DNA To Communicate With Its Environment, Both Ways.

Quantum Entanglement & Coherence Does Not Just Hold DNA Together. It Enables DNA To Communicate With Its Environment, Both Ways.

This is from a biological paper from Rutgers in 2014, “Improvement of DNA and RNA sugar pucker profiles from semiempirical quantum methods”

That the Quantum is fundamental for biology is proven for chlorophyll. Basically Quantum Non-Locality inside the chlorophyll molecule enables to find the lowest energy outcome for electrons excited by light in a way which is (classically) magical.

From Nature:

http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110615/full/474272a.html:

“On the face of it, quantum effects and living organisms seem to occupy utterly different realms. The former are usually observed only on the nanometre scale, surrounded by hard vacuum, ultra-low temperatures and a tightly controlled laboratory environment. The latter inhabit a macroscopic world that is warm, messy and anything but controlled. A quantum phenomenon such as ‘coherence’, in which the wave patterns of every part of a system stay in step, wouldn’t last a microsecond in the tumultuous realm of the cell.

Or so everyone thought. But discoveries in recent years suggest that nature knows a few tricks that physicists don’t: coherent quantum processes may well be ubiquitous in the natural world. Known or suspected examples range from the ability of birds to navigate using Earth’s magnetic field to the inner workings of photosynthesis — the process by which plants and bacteria turn sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into organic matter, and arguably the most important biochemical reaction on Earth.

Biology has a knack for using what works, says Seth Lloyd, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. And if that means “quantum hanky-panky”, he says, “then quantum hanky-panky it is”. Some researchers have even begun to talk of an emerging discipline called quantum biology… laboratory physicists interested in practical technology are paying close attention. “We hope to be able to learn from the quantum proficiency of these biological systems,” says Lloyd. A better understanding of how quantum effects are maintained in living organisms could help researchers to achieve the elusive goal of quantum computation, he says. “Or perhaps we can make better energy-storage devices or better organic solar cells.”

Massimo Pigliucci, a biology PhD paid as a chaired philosopher, and esteemed enough as a philosopher of science to be invited as a speaker to exclusive conferences for top physicists desperately looking for ideas, somewhere, somehow, anywhere, sort of concurred with me:

Massimo: “There clearly is a logic to evolution, albeit not a Newtonian one.”

Indeed. As I said so many times before. And we can see this ever more precisely. Newton anticipated several things, but not the Quantum. The Quantum is at the core of physics (= nature), and thus biology. It is just a matter of time, probably only a few years, before the formal scientific proofs are rolled out that Quantum processes guide evolution itself (several teams are at work).

Not to say that “natural selection” does not play an important role. But the Quantum provides with much more intelligent design. Intelligent design is what the Quantum does, teleologically, even across light years (Einstein Podolski Rosen Thought Experiment, now a real experiment across more than ten kilometers).

The Quantum can influence, at a distance and globally. The Quantum sounds very much like one of these gods of lore our primitive ancestors believed in.

At the core of DNA are hydrogen bonds which are sensitive to the environment of said DNA. My guess (philosophical moment) is that the Quantum will provide that life force, or complexity driving principle, that Lamarck hoped for, and Darwin was taught when he was a student at Edinburgh around 1821 CE.

Synred objected: “Intelligent design is what the Quantum does, teleologically, even across light years (EPR)?”Frankly, that sounds silly to me. Time will tell.

I lay my traps, and mammoths fall into them. Nothing changed much that way, in 50,000 years. I replied this to Synred:

Changing the chemical environment around the double helix affects the hydrogen “bonds”. The word “bond” is misleading: a hydrogen “bond” is actually delocalized and interacts with what is outside of the DNA (this, interacting outside, beyond classical limits, is what the Quantum does). The (Quantum) tunnel effect had already been demonstrated with some enzymes.

It may sound silly to you, as it did to Einstein, 80 years ago, but it has been demonstrated, ad nauseam. Surely if a Quantum influence can cross light years, it can cross a fraction of a nanometer.

The whole mystery of Quantum Physics, the core of the debate, ever since the 1920s, has been teleology. The Quantum acts teleologically.

Teleologia is a word coined by the German philosopher Christian von Wolff in 1740. Greek teleos “entire, perfect, complete,” genitive of telos “end, goal, result, at a distance” (see tele-), + -logia (logic).

The Public Relation failure of philosophy is partly due to the fact that too few philosophers know real recent science (Goethe and Helmholtz used to, and contributed to the advancement of science).

Thus all too many  Twentieth Century philosophers created their own jargon, not anchored in the study of reality (also known as science). Instead of using scientific semantics, and the notions attached to it. The divorce between philosophy and science is only apparent. Top scientists such as  Poincaré and Gödel were also top philosophers, but most philosophers are blissfully unawares of this.

Once in Princeton University, a (then famous) philosopher came, and gave a talk. His main theme was that logic did not progress since the Greeks. Gödel was in the front row. The speaker was unaware of the Gödel incompleteness theorems.

No wonder Gödel became crazy (he starved himself, being at least in part heartbroken from the death of his wife; but the lack of appreciation of the sort exposed above played a role).

So here we are, getting full circle on the theory of evolution. Around 1800 CE, Lamarck demonstrated, with the careful study of mollusks, that biology (a word he coined) evolved. On top of the well-known artificial and natural selections, Lamarck posited two potential forces: a sort of Elan Vital (which Bergson revitalized later), and, or, a force towards greater complexity.

The young Lyell and Darwin were taught Lamarck’s evolution in Scotland, as English universities were in the grip of the Christian Church. Which, naturally enough, hated Lamarck and his evolving life, millions of years old.

That there is a force towards greater complexity is common sense: four billion years ago, life was immensely simple. Now some of the simplest animals around, such as aplysia, the swimming sea mollusk, famed for its memory and 600 neurons, is immensely complex, much more so than any art ever crafted by human beings.

Quantum Physics operate at a distance, it operates by finding (sometimes), at a distance, the lowest energy solution. It computes, mimicking what looks like the most primitive form intelligence could take.

Being teleological, the Quantum is fully capable, given enough time, of helping chance & necessity evolve a little bit of intelligent design. (Nobel Laureate Jacques Monod wrote, in his famous book, that evolution came from chance and necessity. But, central to necessity is the Quantum.)

And of course evolution was bound to stumble on it, and embrace it, all the more as it is the mother nature who gave birth to her.

Patrice Ayme’  

For Our Creator, Evolution

October 3, 2015

Mammals we are,

Milk we need.

Or we won’t even be.

Thinkers we are,

Love we need.

Or we won’t even think.

Love tells us,

What to feel.

Love:

Milk for the soul.

We, bodies and souls

From a tangled web blossom.

Not just the quantum web,

Holding the universe together,

But even the web,

Of the highest values,

Holding minds together.

Values we learned to become

While other minds,

Gave us,

What we are.

No Love, No Chipmunks. No Heart. No Mind. And No Cuteness.

No Love, No Chipmunks. No Heart. No Mind. And No Cuteness.

 

Patrice Ayme’

Humans: Naturally Born Scientists

June 5, 2015

Philosophers, through the ages, have tried to distinguish man from beast. The soul was suggested as a possible distinction (that was an old Middle Age theory, later adopted by Descartes). Tool usage was proposed (Bergson). And then language was offered as characteristic of humans. But animals were found to have theories of mind, tools, and language. How is man going to feel proud and different?

What about science? Does the inbred ability to produce it characterize us? I think so.

What Is Science? It Is Not To Be Confused With Scientific Theories:

Science is the body of certain facts. Science is the body of facts which have been proven experimentally to be true.

Curiously, many people do not get this simple statement. Is it because primary school is not taught adequately?

We Have Been Scientists, All Along, Ever More

We Have Been Scientists, All Along, Ever More

Science is the body of certain facts. Science is the body of facts which have been proven experimentally to be true. How hard is it to understand this?

Newtonian Mechanics for example is science because, within its domain of application, all its predictions are, and have been proven to be, indeed, what is observed.

Same thing for classical thermodynamics: facts are predicted, and observed to be true, time and time again. Same thing for continental drift: it predicts that continents are moving, and they are observed to move, indeed. At the exact rate predicted.

Biological evolution, too, is science. It says species have evolved. This is indeed what is observed. Thus, evolution is science. It’s not just a theory. Biological science says even more: that species are still evolving, as observed.

And so on:

Science is the body of facts which have been proven time and time again, to be indeed, occurring.

Then there are so-called “scientific” theories.

Scientific Theories Are Not Science, But, First, Theories:

Theory means: a point of view. Theories are not just facts anymore, but a way to organize them according to a perspective. That calls onto pieces of logic which are not proven. A “scientific” theory can be made of a mumbo-jumbo of facts, and completely unproven, even outrageous hypotheses.

Evolution is science. But scientific theories of how this evolution exactly happens are debatable, and debated. They are not sure. They are just theories. (Is evolution just from “natural selection”, haphazardly, or is there more, such that intelligent steering by Quantum epigenetics, as I believe?)

Most Quantum mechanics is science: it’s a set of rules, a logos, which has been checked, time and time again. However, as soon as one steps a bit away from it, it becomes uncertain (for example the Many Interacting World, MIW, a theory is handy, but it assumes that particles are points; that latter point is not a proven, certain fact).

String Theory, Supersymmetry, Multiverse, for example, are theories which include some “scientific” or “mathematical” facts. But they cannot even be checked, let alone capable of making predictions which are observed.

So those “scientific theories” are not “science”. They make a body of knowledge of some sort, like a game. But they are not allowing to make predictions observed in nature.

***

Subtleties:

There are so-called “demarcation problems“, always. It happens within science: Newtonian Mechanics makes superbly exact predictions about where space probes go as engineers use planets as slings to launch them further. However, if one wants to find out about GPS drift, one has to use the more general version of gravitation of Einstein (the latter reduces exactly to Newtonian Mechanics inside the solar system; so the theory changes from Newton, for rockets, to General Relativity (GR), for GPS).

A more subtle demarcation is found, within the body of any given science. For example, part of Einstein theory of gravitation is science, as it predicts exactly what is exactly observed (say with the Geo Positioning System). However, the same set of ideas when applied to, say, Black Holes, comes short: it runs out of enough ideas to make exact predictions, runs out of experiments to be checked, and observed facts.

Thus the theory of gravitation, GR, is science (the closest one stays to Newton), and also a hoped-for scientific theory (but not as disconnected from reality as String Theory, Susy, Multiverse, etc.). However, GR, as a general scientific theory, has disappointed: the unified theory which Einstein tried to develop did not work. (Instead it morphed into something else the general fiber space theory with Ehresman connections, known as Gauge Theory, also know as Quantum Field Theory, etc.)

Thus:

Science is what we know for sure:

How do we know that a logic is true, for sure? By conducting experiments.

By that token, archery was a science (launched just right, an arrow goes where it’s supposed to). Archery later blossomed into gunnery, ballistics, Newtonian Mechanics. Nowadays we would not consider archery as a science, but it’s among the simplest cases of dynamics.

For millions of years, our ancestors have used plants to help with their health. (Ethology has shown many animals do this, not just upper primates.) At this point, around 60% of our medical drugs come from plants.

The European iceman was found carrying general purpose antibiotics. Not by accident. He died more than 5,000 years ago.

And so on. Science is what is sure. We have been sure for a long, a very long time. If we were not so sure, we could not do much.

An artisan making a work perfectly is a scientist, in the particular domain in which this artisan excels. A prehistoric man striking a stone, just so that the force would split a crystal perfectly along pre-determined planes, was a scientist. A rock scientist. He, or she, was engaging in an application of a science we now know as crystallography. (And also in the theory of the mechanical forces, vector calculus.)

Humanity has blossomed, because humanity has learned how to establish, for sure, certain truths which required artificially devised experiments, and the proclivity to push the last frontier of truth, ever more, by being ever more subtle.

We evolved to become an intentionally scientific, that is, prone to experiment, species.

SCIENCE IS US.

And philosophy and its philosophical method, in all that? It’s the category of all the wild guesses, absolutely indispensable to suggest the next experiments, to feed tomorrow’s truths.

***

Science Is Starting To Address Ethics, And Theory Of Mind:

Long the rage smoldered between the so called “humanities” and science. How obsolete. Clearly science is making inroads in the humanities, and clearly the humanities can ask pointed questions to physics, biology, even engineering. Let’s consider the first point, how science is informing humanities.

There is a science called ethology. It comes from “ethos” which means character. Ethology is the logic of character. Ethos also gave the notion of ethics.

Ethology originally was the study of character of animals, from their objective behavior. A number of methods pertaining to the field were developed, Nobel Prizes in biology and medicine were awarded to ethologists.

Then, in the following decades, it dawned on ethologists that the methods of ethology could be extended to the study of the human character.

This is why I am surprised when I hear that one needs a metaphysics to have an ethics. Instead, ethics is something that is determined by the bottom up (instead of top down).

First, through trial, error, and natural selection, human ethology evolved in the last 500 million years. Nature played scientist to evolve us.

Second, human beings observe, and make theories, even social and ethical theories, and then they apply what is basically the scientific method to them.

The scientific method consists in establishing with reasonable certainty facts. As it becomes ever more subtle, it can address ever more sophisticated domains, which used to be exclusively philosophical.

An example? The Theory of Mind. That is a subject long exclusively philosophical. However, scientific research published in recent years showed that children exposed to a second language have, in the average, a better theory of mind. Here is a fresh example, published in 2015:

http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21652258-children-exposed-several-languages-are-better-seeing-through-others-eyes-do

Here is an abstract of the research:

HUMAN beings are not born with the knowledge that others possess minds with different contents. Children develop such a “theory of mind” gradually, and even adults have it only imperfectly. But a study by Samantha Fan and Zoe Liberman at the University of Chicago, published in Psychological Science, finds that bilingual children, and also those simply exposed to another language on a regular basis, have an edge at the business of getting inside others’ minds… Some objects were blocked from the experimenter’s sight, a fact the children could clearly see. With a large, a medium and a small car visible to the child, but the small car hidden from the adult, the adult would ask “I see a small car” and ask the child to move it. Both bilingual and those in the exposure group moved the medium-sized car (the smallest the experimenter could see) about 75% of the time, against 50% for the monolinguals. The successful children were less likely even to glance at the car the experimenter could not see.

Why is this happening? Multilingual children observe that different languages provide with different perspectives, thus different theories (theory means literally, to “see” (horan) a “view” (thea)). So multilingual children are more apt to consider which view others see, when considering others.

Multilingual children have a theory of theories of behavior, and we can prove it scientifically. Epistemics” is now a science. And it informs morality.

We are the scientific species. No science, no man. Now, more than ever. And at last smart enough to understand what it means. It means: “Plus Oultre!”, as emperor Charles Quint put it, five centuries ago. Wherever we arrived, in place, time, or understanding, we have to go beyond. It’s not just what ecology requires, it’s what we are.

Patrice Ayme’

IMPROVING BIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION

February 10, 2015

Biological evolution creates capabilities that, in turn, add dimensions to the universe in which life blossoms. That makes life more mathematically complex than (known) High Energy Physics (which does not evolve in higher dimensions as time flows).

No, I am not trying to contradict Darwin’s natural selection, nor Lamarck’s various selective evolutionary mechanisms. I suggest to complement them with new evolutionary mechanisms: ecological and social evolution, and FUNCTIONAL evolution. No, I am not day dreaming: I have explicit examples: flight, brain, consciousness.

I have thought of this for years, but the discussion with Brian Key, a neurobiologist, brought it to the fore.

Professor Key argued fishes could not experience pain (or suffering), because they were not conscious. Brian ascertained the latter point from his inability to distinguish structures in fish brains similar to those found associated to consciousness and pain in human.

Similarly, the drunk searching for his keys, below the closest lamp post.

Some Academics Climb the Tree of Academia, Showing their Bottoms Ever More

Some Academics Climb the Tree of Academia, Showing their Bottoms Ever More

Einstein used a higher level reasoning. I used a higher level reasoning.

What is the brain for? Figuring things out. How does that work? Well, in humans, consciousness helps. Ergo, consciousness appeared at some point in animal evolution.

At which point?

That’s an ethological question. A question of behavior.

In the past, I used to think fishes were dumb machines of the sea. Then, as a fisher, I discovered older trouts to be really smart. Recent studies have shown (some) fishes to be incredibly smart. On some tests, some fishes are found to be chimpanzee smart.

Brian Key: “Patrice raises the idea that “common sense” tells us that animal brains have the same general purpose as humans. I challenge readers to go beyond their everyday experiences because sometimes “common sense” can be misleading.”

If animal brains don’t have the same general purpose as ours, what could their purpose be? And how come we developed a different purpose?

What is the purpose of a human brain? Surviving. If animal brains are not for surviving, what are they for?

All and any animal brain is there to do exactly what the human brain is doing.

A case of the function defining the tool.

Conventional evolution theory looks at the evolution of organisms.

But there is a higher level of evolution than the one of organisms: ecological evolution. And an even higher one: the evolution of functions. For example, the function of flying was evolved by insects, pterosaurs, birds and bats.

Once flying had been invented by insects, it created its own ecological niche, its own universe in which at least birds and bats could evolve. Because at least birds and bats could eat insects, if they learned to fly.

The apparition of brain created its own ecological niche, its own evolutionary force.

This is why the brain capabilities of the brainiest species have been on an ascending trajectory.

The octopus’ eyes do what ours do. And they look very similar. Even though they evolved in completely separate fashion, and are inverted.

Vision defines the eye. Specifics follow.

Same for brains: one needs a reward and punishment (pain) system, and consciousness is useful. A question arises naturally, which philosophers have not answered: what is consciousness for?

The case of birds is clear: although their brains are completely different, they fulfill all functions found in humans.

Homo Floresiensis is perhaps even more telling: these 1.1 meter tall hobbits had completely different, much simpler brains. However, they developed sophisticated weapons.

There too the basic functions were satisfied from completely different neuroanatomy.

I am not claiming neuroanatomy plays no role, and that all animal brains can have as many functions as human ones: supposedly cockroaches keep on drinking, even when their throats are cut. Some insects seem perfectly dumb. However, wasps are smart. And they seem to experience pain. (I have experimented with wasps; my anti-wasp method is to hit them. Once hit, or even after a near-miss, they deduct that they better get somewhere else; conversely, wasp will makes it dangerous to approach a wasp nest!)

Socratic Gadfly claimed that wolves do not discuss hunting. Pendantry rightly asked him how he knew. We know little about animal languages.

It was just discovered that “… chimpanzee referential food calls are not fixed in their structure and that, when exposed to a new social group, chimpanzees can change their calls to sound more like their group mates.”

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150205123016.htm

Drawing massive conclusions, when one knows so little? Is that “scientific”? Is that prudent? Is that wise? Should it be called that intellectual fascism?

Science is not getting animal brains yet.

If it were, it would get ours.

However, from this we got a conclusion: biology does not just evolve, it evolves its environment. The invention of flight by insects incited other species to “invent” flight. The invention of brains made the evolution of consciousness in (some) other species more likely.

Biology is an engineer, a scientist, a thinker.

Systems of thought, and systems of moods, have lives of their own. So does life itself. Life has a life of its own (to speak like Lacan). Life, as it evolves, adds not just complexity, but, outright, new dimensions. The Multiverse may not happen in physics, but, with life, it does, with a vengeance.

A very speculative question in physics (raised by no less than Paul Dirac) has been the permanence of physical laws. Tests have actually been made to test whether physical laws changed (they have been found not too, so far).

However, with life, the laws do change. Biological evolution evolves its own universe (and do not forget that the devil in the details is Quantum mechanical).

Patrice Ayme’

 

 

 

Wingsuit Philosophy: 400 Million Years Strong

November 28, 2014

 

If Life is Quantum, why do Quantum assemblies jump off cliffs and peaks in wingsuits, with a high probability to be blown to bits? (See flying off the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey, Mont Blanc Range.)

Is it the love of danger? What else? Indeed, most of these ladies and gentlemen, when interviewed, insist that they love life. And most of them, indeed, seem to enjoy life, and are extremely lively.

Flier Jumped Off Peuterey (Peak on the Right)

Flier Jumped Off Peuterey (Peak on the Right)

Wingsuit flying is an extreme form of extreme sport. It entangles extreme neurological control, extreme speed, and extreme terror. Plus extreme contempt for probabilities. In other words, all what makes man tick where it counts most, in what counts most, in battle.

The film concludes with a list of more than two dozen wingsuit fliers known to have died in 2013, while practicing their passion.

The first attempted wingsuit flight, more than a century ago, was off the Eiffel Tower (then the world’s tallest structure). The gentleman long hesitated before jumping. He received a significant hole in his head. However, an autopsy revealed that he had died of a heart attack during the flight (so great was his fright?). Frenchmen invented the modern suits in the 1990s. Tubes inflated by air pressure rigidify them. The explicit aim was to land with them (to do this, I believe a 6 meter wing span is needed, thus further, hard, but imaginable, progress in material science).

Wingsuited Corliss Popping Balloons Before Zooming Into A Gorge

Wingsuited Corliss Popping Balloons Before Zooming Into A Gorge

So why is danger lovable? Danger is not just lovable, it is adaptative, in the evolutionary sense of the term. That means that, for human beings, to love danger present greater advantage that the alternative. Can I prove it? Well, wingsuit flying and all sorts of behaviors potentially lethal to those who indulge in them, are only explainable by the thrill of danger. If this thrill is perceived as more valuable than life, it’s that life cannot do without it.

As Sherlock Holmes noticed, when one has eliminated all other explanations, what’s left is what is going on.

The usual suspects, the loud vegetarians, mosquito lovers, peaceniks, Dalai Lama worshippers, partisans of the intrinsic goodness of man in general, and of the extreme placidity and sanctity of themselves in particular, will meekly bleat that from such violence comes the undoing of man. Assuredly, they will reckon, loving danger leads to war, mayhem, and horror of horror, violence, to put it in one hated word.

Yet, what is man if not the creature of ultimate force? Violence is how man was built, one mutation at a time.

After these vigorous considerations, I went running more than twenty miles in the mountains, some of it above 8,000 feet. Never mind a little snow and ice: the greenhouse presents advantages in late November. At some point I met some mountain bikers: ”What are you doing, so far from anywhere?” I did not tell them I was philosophying, as I already looked crazy enough with my skimpy outfit (running is higher metabolism than biking).

Back in the land of computers, I stumbled on an interview of Jeb Corliss, an expert of “proximity flying” (see above). He reached pretty much the same conclusions as yours truly, in an interesting article with a stupid title:

“Courting popularity has never been a priority for Corliss. “Listen,” he tells me, “I talk about the deaths. I talk about the disasters.”

“And if you die?”

“If I die, I want that footage on TV the next day.”

“Why?”

“Why? Because this is not chess. This is not backgammon. This is not . . . ” (Corliss racks his brain for a yet-more-contemptible pastime, and finds one) “golf. This is dangerous. I believe that footage of fatalities is way more important than film of some guy flying across a beautiful meadow. What we are doing here is very important. I believe that flying is what evolution is about. Think of the squirrels.”

“OK.”

“At the beginning, there were probably only a very few squirrels that even contemplated flying from tree to tree. The other squirrels thought they were crazy. I imagine hundreds of them died in the attempt. But then, in the end, one of them managed it. Now that, to me, is evolution. And now we are evolving, through technology and through skill. I liken what we’re doing in proximity flying to the first animals that left the water. We are evolving and growing. And becoming stronger. What else,” he asks, “is the purpose of life?”

The usual suspects, if they have time to stop grazing their pastures, will call the preceding Nietzschean, or Hitlerian, and condemn it. But that would be wrong on both counts: Nietzsche hated evolution, and Hitler loved regression. Corliss’ philosophy wants progress. That philosophy, which has been mine, ever since I reflected in the wastes of Africa, is very close to Lamarck, and… Sade.

400 million years ago, during the Devonian Period, the earliest tetrapods derived from the lobe-finned fishes.

It is an important point that, although plants did not need brains to conquer the land, brainy animals, having brains, had to decide to conquer land.

Strict “Darwinists” speak as if they cannot understand this, and brains are just what genes do (see in particular Dawkins). Does that mean they never decide anything, except what class and genes gave them? (Lord Matt Ridley, one of the most strident advocates of total gene control, and of plundering the planet, is a major and most propagandizing plutocrat; believing “genes” control all means class controls all).

Yet, that’s obviously wrong: if all and any fish had been so terrified of land that they had not tried to crawl on it, all the mutations in the world would not have made the vertebrates conquer land.

For 400 million years, our brainy ancestors took great chances, and very few of those who took the greatest chances, that is, the most lethal chances, could reproduce. They died early, they died hard, but they tried something crazy, to give some mutation a chance… And, as we will see in a companion essay, a chance for this mutation to appear!

Without the will to progress, there would have been no progress. There would be only plants, bacteria, viruses.

Patrice Ayme’

The (Ongoing) Evolution of Evolutionary Theory

November 14, 2014

The last two essays on Biological Evolution, the fruits of decades of meditation, were proximally suggested by an essay from Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher and biologist (PhD genetics) initially from Italy and now, armed with a PhD in Philosophy (PhDPh?) from the USA, a professor at CUNY.

I thought Massimo unfortunately engaged in the usual Anglosphere trick of attributing the scientific establishment of Biological Evolution to Darwin, not Lamarck. This is fraught with numerous pitfalls, and adverse consequences, not the least of which being that Evolution deniers are thick on the ground in the USA.

Indeed reducing the Evolution debate to Darwin and a handful of finches, is all too reductive. Reductive to the point of eschewing most of the debate on evolution, as I tried to explain in the preceding two essays.

Lamarck established the Foundations of Evolution, and demonstrated, first of all, that it happened. And that it happened over eons.

Darwin and other made more explicit Evolution through natural selection (which is implicit in Lamarck, who, obviously considered it self-evident from what he described).

“Do we not therefore perceive that by the action of the laws of organization . . . nature has in favorable times, places, and climates multiplied her first germs of animality, given place to developments of their organizations, . . . and increased and diversified their organs? Then. . . aided by much time and by a slow but constant diversity of circumstances, she has gradually brought about in this respect the state of things which we now observe. How grand is this consideration, and especially how remote is it from all that is generally thought on this subject!”
[Text of a lecture given by Lamarck at the Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, May 1803.]

Lamarck was 57 years old when in 1801 he published his book, “The Inheritance Of Acquired Traits.”

This traits would now be called, genes, somas, prions, transposons, alleles, plasmids, and all what we have not discovered yet…

How these inherited traits are “acquired” is not clear to this day.

In recent decades, it became clear that the situation was at least as complicated as Lamarck had described it, and that the so-called “Neo-Darwinist” oversimplification of the 1960s was a grave error (ironically Darwin was on Lamarck’s side, as he tried to prove “pangenesis”! Pangenesis is pretty much a proven fact now!).

I will suggest in further essays of few more paradoxes and perspectives. Or how strict “Darwinism” contained the germ of its own de-selection as not the fittest theory.

Meanwhile, let Massimo describes it as he sees it!
Patrice Ayme’

Scientia Salon

41J0nOguz-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_by Massimo Pigliucci

Nature magazine recently ran a “point-counterpoint” entitled “Does evolutionary theory need a rethink?” [1] Arguing for the “Yes, urgently” side were Kevin Laland, Tobias Uller, Marc Feldman, Kim Sterelny, Gerd B. Müller, Armin Moczek, Eva Jablonka, and John Odling-Smee. Arguing for the “No, all is well” thesis were Gregory A. Wray, Hopi E. Hoekstra, Douglas J. Futuyma, Richard E. Lenski, Trudy F. C. Mackay, Dolph Schluter, and Joan E. Strassmann.

That’s a good number of top notch evolutionary biologists, colleagues that I very much respect, on both sides of the aisle. My own allegiances have been made clear in a number of papers [2] and a co-edited book [3]. I have been arguing for some time now for what I consider the moderate-yes side of the debate: yes, evolutionary theory does need (and is, in fact, getting) an update, but that update is yet another expansion along…

View original post 3,093 more words

Evolution Scientifically Established Before Darwin’s Birth

November 13, 2014

English speaking authorities found a master thinker, Darwin, He created evolution. Charles Darwin is the messiah of evolution. Any critique of this miracle, this shattering of ill preconceptions, is labelled “postmodernist”, and no doubt arises noxiously from a gross lack of non-appurtenance to the church of righteous thinking (prestigious, well-paid American academia). Or then is to be attributed to the hysterical nationalism of the French.

This roughly summarize some of the critiques American professors have made of my “Lamarck Discovered Evolution” essay. It is typical.

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck Scientifically Established Evolution By 1800

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck Scientifically Established Evolution By 1800

Paradoxically, this scornful attitude comforts religious creationism.

Why? Making Darwin into what he was not, a snow capped giant towering above a sea of error, is all too close to the terror of the religious mindset. Making Darwin into God, neglects the evolution of ideas, the giant collaborative reasoning that is science. It reintroduce the concept of the prophet: everybody got it all wrong, before, then comes miracle man, Darwin. Miraculously speaking English.

So why not Jesus for miracle man?

Or why not Muhammad? Hey, Muhammad spoke Arabic, which is obviously the language of God.

The scientists who claim Darwin did it all, are lying. Lying because they have not integrated the scientific method, and do not know how truth is established historiographically is the worst possible case.

Most of the ideas demonstrating that there had been “biological evolution” were evolved before Darwin.

The truth is that Darwin was astounded by the audacity of several of his professors who praised ‘Mr. Lamarck” for having shown how life had “evolved” from “simple worms”.

Darwin’s publications came in a full century after evolution started to be established scientifically.

Buffon introduced the idea that migration caused speciation. He illustrated this with pachyderms.

Augier introduced the “Tree of Life”, then much improved by Lamarck. Lamarck’s Tree was much more specific than the general idea that all species came from fishes (Pre-Socratic philosophers).

Lamarck had spent decades looking at life and fossils through a microscope, and he demonstrated that life had evolved over millions of years, by documenting in extreme, microscopic details the evolution of mollusks.

The great geologist Lyell got a copy of one of Lamarck’s books from a friend in 1827. He wrote back:

“I devoured Lamark… his theories delighted me… I am glad that he has been courageous enough and logical enough to admit that his argument, if pushed as far as it must go, if worth anything, would prove that men may have come from the Ourang-Outang. But after all, what changes species may really undergo!… That the Earth is quite as old as he supposes, has long been my creed…”

However, Lyell, a close friend of Darwin and Huxley, rejected evolution when he was a professor at the prestigious King’s College, London.

Lyell explained in a letter to Whewell in 1837:

“If I had stated… the possibility of the introduction or origination of fresh species being a natural, in contradistinction to a miraculous process, I should have raised a host of prejudices against me, which are unfortunately opposed at every step to any philosopher who attempts to address the public on these mysterious subjects”

When finally Lyell endorsed evolution, he endorsed Lamarck. Darwin’s daughter Henrietta (Etty) wrote to her father: “Is it fair that Lyell always calls your theory a modification of Lamarck’s?”

No wonder. Darwin revisited Lamarck’s example of the giraffe, with more details:

“The giraffe, by its lofty stature, much elongated neck, fore-legs, head and tongue, has its whole frame beautifully adapted for browsing on the higher branches of trees. It can thus obtain food beyond the reach of the other Ungulata or hoofed animals inhabiting the same country; and this must be a great advantage to it during dearths…. Those individuals which had some one part or several parts of their bodies rather more elongated than usual, would generally have survived. These will have intercrossed and left offspring, either inheriting the same bodily peculiarities, or with a tendency to vary again in the same manner; whilst the individuals, less favoured in the same respects will have been the most liable to perish…. By this process long-continued, which exactly corresponds with what I have called unconscious selection by man, combined no doubt in a most important manner with the inherited effects of the increased use of parts, it seems to me almost certain that an ordinary hoofed quadruped might be converted into a giraffe.” (Darwin 1872. Sixth edition of his seminal book, Origin of Species.)

In other words, Darwin subscribed to Lamarck’s book of 1801, on inheritability of acquired characteristics. (The whole problem now being what these “acquired characteristics”, now called “genes”, “epigenetics, transposons, prions, soma, whatever…) are and how they arise…)

Darwin had produced a toy model of evolution. Anatomist Gould told him that some varieties of birds he found in the Galapagos were different species. Yet they all belonged to the finch group. Darwin then brandished that as an example of evolution.

Darwin’s dubious birdies no doubt beat the millions of years Lamarck had uncovered. That’s the strength of the Anglo-American empire!

Darwin’s “B” notebook showed that he speculated a species could turn into another by summer 1837. He discarded Lamarck’s independent lineages progressing to higher forms, drawing a tree of life with a single trunk branching out (there too Lamarck proved right: decades behind the microscope, remember?).

On the continent, evolution was solidly established.

Cuvier discovered the “Ptero-Dactyle” (name Latinized later), and Mesosaurus (sea going giant). Cuvier also invented stratigraphy, and demonstrated species came and went.

Cuvier was a Christian fundamentalist, but a very clever one, with an open, and changing mind. He invented most of the “Creationist” Biblical arguments. Yet he explained why he could be proven wrong in the fullness of time, thanks to, say, more discoveries.

Lamarck’s reputation was soiled because Cuvier smeared it all over with “pangenesis”. The original texts make it clear that Lamarck believed in natural selection. In the case of giraffes, to put it in modern terms, he believed that giraffe ethology, and the vegetation being what it was, due to climate, put a selective pressure favoring giraffe’s anatomy, the way it was. (Cuvier later said it was all about “desire”; that’s not in Lamarck).

Darwin tried hard to prove pangenesis. A battle was engaged, still ongoing. Many of the arrogant certainties of the 1960s have been washed away. Elements of heredity are known now to travel among species, and interact with ethology.

To combat religious fanatics, we need the weight of evidence, not inappropriate celebritism. Misrepresenting those who discovered evolution only helps creationists.

Darwin is an important biologist, but evolution had been scientifically established more than a generation before he published anything.

Everything else is pathetic tribalism, and, or, making fun of the scientific process. No way to help the advancement of civilization.

Patrice Ayme’