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Don McIntosh
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:52 pm  Why Evolutionary Theory Is Fundamentally Flawed Reply with quote

The explanatory logic of evolution, at least as it's commonly stated, fails because it assumes (wrongly) that what is true of the parts of a complex system may be validly inferred to hold for the whole as well. Thus my argument:

1. Evolution posits that the function of any complex biological system can be adequately explained as the accumulation of countless minor functional adaptations of its individual components.
2. To say that a characteristic of the whole system can be adequately explained in terms of a characteristic of its individual components is to say that a whole is equal to the sum of its parts.
3. To say that a whole is equal to the sum of its parts is to commit the fallacy of composition.
4. Evolution is a fallacy.

Note that I am not suggesting that all inferences from parts to whole fail to hold, but that the line of reasoning is fallacious on its face because in fact many such inferences do fail to hold. Given that specifiably complex biological systems are structurally heterogenous, there is no prima facie reason to think that what is true of the parts will be true of the whole. Evolution theorists therefore bear the burden of proof, namely, to explain why anyone should expect such an inference to hold in the case of specifiably complex systems.

Read the entire paper here:
https://www.academia.edu/38735629/Black_Box_Logic_Why_Evolutionary_Theory_Is_Fun...

Questions for debate: Is evolutionary theory a fallacy? If so, does that make it false?
Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 101: Sun May 19, 2019 1:50 pm
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[Replying to post 100 by mgb]

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What I'm getting at is that there should be enormous variety but there isn't. Everything is as if there was an ideal.

If there was this enormous variety that you mention, then there would be plenty of shapes of skulls that do not promote reproduction. The kid in the link I gave you is unlikely to have kids of their own. Again, it's "survival of the fittest".

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As the skull approached optimization

Why do you call the common skull optimized? Do you view it as the 'best' skull there is or could be? There's a spot in the back of your head where there's no bone - jab something sharp through the skin there and there's nothing preventing it from going straight through to the brain.

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But those odds should also work against evolution in general; a creature gets a 'good' set of mutations and gets eaten before it reproduces. So it works both ways.

What you might call 'good mutations' clearly weren't in that case - the creature got eaten. There's no such thing as an absolute good mutation. Even our human brains aren't an absolute good in terms of mutations: the brain requires an enormous amount of energy and calories to function. What if we didn't have enough food, were unable to gather or grow it? Then our brains, as smart as they make us, would be useless.

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As I have said, if such an optimized form for the skull is to emerge - and it has - then a great many possibilities must be 'tried out' so to speak.

With those possibilities not succeeding to reproduce.

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There is no other way if you are depending on random changes.

What do you think is meant by "random chance"?

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And if all those many changes took place - billions of them - why were the not inherited if they don't retard survival advantage?

How do you know they did or didn't impede survival?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 102: Sun May 19, 2019 3:09 pm
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rikuoamero wrote:
If there was this enormous variety that you mention, then there would be plenty of shapes of skulls that do not promote reproduction. The kid in the link I gave you is unlikely to have kids of their own. Again, it's "survival of the fittest".


You are missing the point. A ridge or bump on the skull (not a deformity) would not impede reproduction. Billions of things should emerge if evolution is randomly 'trying' new things. Things that are neutral in terms of surival. Species should be replete with these anomalies.

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Why do you call the common skull optimized? Do you view it as the 'best' skull there is or could be? There's a spot in the back of your head where there's no bone - jab something sharp through the skin there and there's nothing preventing it from going straight through to the brain.


I'm not talking about perfection, I'm talking about refinement towards an ideal. The ideal, in terms of function and efficiency, emerges. There is no doubt about that.

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With those possibilities not succeeding to reproduce.


If they don't impede survival they should remain.

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What do you think is meant by "random chance"?


The expression I used was 'random changes'. These are changes within the possibilities available.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 103: Sun May 19, 2019 9:23 pm
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[Replying to post 102 by mgb]

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A ridge or bump on the skull (not a deformity) would not impede reproduction. Billions of things should emerge if evolution is randomly 'trying' new things. Things that are neutral in terms of surival. Species should be replete with these anomalies.


No they shouldn't ... this statement shows that you are misunderstanding a very key point about how evolution works. The "anomalies" don't persist in the population if they don't provide some benefit that increases survival and reproduction rates relative to the rest of the population. Sure, there may be a few organisms with these anomalies running around at any one time, but if they can't outreproduce the rest of the population their numbers will decline relative to the others and their particular anomaly will eventually become a smaller and smaller part of the population and possibly go away. It is all about populations, not individuals within the population.

You are describing things as if every mutation that produces an anomalous feature will produce some number of members with that feature that persist within the population forever, so that over time you have a population of organisms (people, or otherwise) showing all possible anomalies ("Species should be replete with these anomalies"). That is not how it works. The reason species are not replete with these anomalies is because the anomalies, in general, cannot outreproduce the average member of the population to the extent needed to have their relative fraction of the population grow. Instead their relative fraction of the population decreases over time and always remains small (or vanishes entirely). On the other hand, if the anomaly is beneficial it becomes fixed in the population and the species becomes replete with that feature. It is only these particular anomalies that persist in the population ... not every possible statistical anomaly that can exist.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 104: Mon May 20, 2019 9:42 am
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DrNoGods wrote:
No they shouldn't ... this statement shows that you are misunderstanding a very key point about how evolution works. The "anomalies" don't persist in the population if they don't provide some benefit that increases survival and reproduction rates relative to the rest of the population. Sure, there may be a few organisms with these anomalies running around at any one time, but if they can't outreproduce the rest of the population their numbers will decline relative to the others and their particular anomaly will eventually become a smaller and smaller part of the population and possibly go away. It is all about populations, not individuals within the population.


I get your point. But, as I say, if evolution is 'trying out' all kinds of skull shapes it must be doing so prodigiously if such a fine thing as the modern skull is to emerge. So, what if the population is carrying all kinds of anomalies that are thrown up by this trying out process and one of them gets a true survival advantage. Its type will increase, but it is also carrying the harmless anomaly. Shouldn't its survival chances carry that anomaly forward and even preserve it? If this is correct the world should be replete with all kinds of harmless things that were carried forward.

But this is not what we see. We see clean, optimized ideals everywhere.

I should also add that the skull, for example, is perfected way beyond what would be necessary for survival. It is fine tuned to the nth degree - way beyond what is necessary for survival. Would creatures really die out just because their skull is a hair's breadth off the ideal?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 105: Mon May 20, 2019 10:44 am
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[Replying to post 104 by mgb]

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But this is not what we see. We see clean, optimized ideals everywhere.


What we see is that the center portion of the bell curve (eg. a Gaussian distribution of skull shapes in a population) represents the evolutionary optimized shape, with variations in skull shape present at the wings of the distribution, and the example Riku linked to at the very far extremes of the distribution. These anomalies you refer to do exist, but only in relatively small numbers. And the harmless anomalies can also be present in a population and remain there over time, although like the cave fish eyes if they represent a cost to maintain and are not needed, they will go away.

It still seems you are confusing individuals with populations, and thinking that all possible anomalies should be represented if the mutations are harmless. Humans are full of older genes and DNA from our ancestors that serves no known function today, but remain. But if you are referring only to outwardly visible phenotype modifications, things like polydactyly (having more than 5 fingers or toes) are regularly "tried" by evolution, and an extra finger is not necessarily a damaging thing. By your argument there should be far more people around with more than 5 fingers on a hand because it isn't a debilitating mutation and so should be carried forward and better represented in the population. But that is not what we see, and the question is why. The answer is that this mutation does not represent a benefit affording the recipient an advantage in survival and reproduction rates, so it doesn't grow and become a significant fraction within the population. The people who have it can't outreproduce the average, and in fact may find it harder to find a mate because of their condition thereby causing them to produce fewer offspring overall compared to a "normal" person, and their relative percentage of the population decreases over time, or remains very small.

Contrast this to the adaptations humans have undergone for living at high altitudes. Someone with mutations that allows more efficient processing of oxygen would have an advantage in a high altitude environment, but no advantage in a sea level environment. What we see in this case is that such mutations will not spread and be "carried forward" in the sea level population, but will in the high altitude population because it is beneficial in terms of survival and reproduction rates over the people without the mutations ... in the high altitude environment. In this case the environment, and natural selection, control what features carry foward in the population and dominate the center of the distribution. The sea level population sees no significant representation of this set of mutations, while the high altitude population does.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 106: Mon May 20, 2019 11:00 am
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[Replying to post 104 by mgb]

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I should also add that the skull, for example, is perfected way beyond what would be necessary for survival. It is fine tuned to the nth degree - way beyond what is necessary for survival. Would creatures really die out just because their skull is a hair's breadth off the ideal?


What is the "ideal" for a skull shape? Is there one? Our skulls evolved as functional housings for our brains, eyes, ears, nose, jaws and teeth, etc. The brain case has grown to accommodate the increase in brain size during human evolution. And there are people with details that are not optimized to the Nth degree (whatever that actually means, quantitatively). There is a distribution of skull thickness, exact shapes (some wider or taller than others), etc., but evolution was based on function, not to achieve some specific ideal in terms of appearance except where it impacts mating possibilities.

Sexual selection can play a huge factor in what remains with the distribution of skull appearances. It is clearly more difficult for a really oddball skull shape to find a mate and produce offspring compared to what is perceived as the ideal skull shape, so they will reproduce at smaller rates in general than a "normal" skull shape. So really oddball skull shapes will always remain a small part of the population, even though there may be no physically damaging effects from the oddball shape as far as being able to eat, talk and function. But if mating rates are slower, that is a disadvantage from an evolutionary standpoint and the mutations responsible will not carry forward. You won't see the population replete with these unusual skull shapes.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 107: Mon May 20, 2019 1:46 pm
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DrNoGods wrote:
What is the "ideal" for a skull shape? Is there one? Our skulls evolved as functional housings for our brains, eyes, ears, nose, jaws and teeth, etc. The brain case has grown to accommodate the increase in brain size during human evolution. And there are people with details that are not optimized to the Nth degree (whatever that actually means, quantitatively). There is a distribution of skull thickness, exact shapes (some wider or taller than others), etc., but evolution was based on function, not to achieve some specific ideal in terms of appearance except where it impacts mating possibilities.


I don't mean an aesthetic ideal, I mean it is functionally ideal. But it is so way beyond what is required for survival. It is sculpted in very fine detail and optimised. Get yourself a good high resolution image of a skull. There is no waste anywhere. Every square centimeter is optimized. But this finely crafted piece of bone is not necessary for survival. It could be less precise and still function perfectly as far as survival is concerned. Likewise with the other bones in the body. Everything is optimized. And this is the way it is throughout the animal kingdom as far back as we can record. Everything is already highly optimized and close to the ideal. Look at cat skulls, dog skulls, rabbit skulls...they are all 'crafted' in the finest detail. But this level of detail is not necessary for survival. A 'clunky' skull would do just as well. Why does the ideal emerge so readily?

The thing is this; as the skull evolves towards this high degree of precision, the details become more and more exacting and therefore harder to find by random means. To get these final details would take many many generations because the subset of minute adjustments is so exacting. ToE says that these fine details emerge because anyone that does not have them becomes extinct. But how many humans would have to go extinct to get these fine details by chance? And would someone really have such a problem surviving simply because his skull is not as finely crafted as others?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 108: Mon May 20, 2019 2:30 pm
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[Replying to post 107 by mgb]

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It could be less precise and still function perfectly as far as survival is concerned.


How do you know that? Survival is not just the ability to find food to avoid starvation, shelter and clothing to avoid freezing to death, fighting off rivals in physical fights, etc. It is many other things including the ability to attract mates. Look at the peacock tail. This has evolved to be as large as it is, with many "eyes", because peahens won't mate with a peacock who doesn't have a large tail with lots of eyes. There is no survival benefit to the large and beautiful tail in terms of staying alive for one individual (in fact it can be a disadvantage in escaping prey), but it is crucial if that individual wants to mate and produce offspring because of the sexual behavior of the females.

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Look at cat skulls, dog skulls, rabbit skulls...they are all 'crafted' in the finest detail. But this level of detail is not necessary for survival. A 'clunky' skull would do just as well. Why does the ideal emerge so readily?


Again, you seem to be referring only to survival in the sense of staying alive, and ignoring all the other aspects of survival in the evolutionary sense, which includes the ability to attract mates and reproduce at an adequate rate. A clunky skull may kill the chance to find a mate, so would not persist in the population.

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the details become more and more exacting and therefore harder to find by random means.


Why would they be "harder to find by random means"? There is no end design goal so there cannot be any situation where things are getting closer to some final, optimum design. That whole concept is not at all part of ToE. You're assuming that there is some final, optimum design that evolution is working towards, and the closer it gets the fewer changes are needed to complete this final design, and so finding these random changes is therefore more difficult and less likely. But that is not how it works. The premise that there is some optimum design target or goal s wrong ... there isn't such a thing.

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ToE says that these fine details emerge because anyone that does not have them becomes extinct.


It says that the ones who gain them outreproduce the ones who don't, and the ones that don't may become extinct as a result. But the fine details emerge because they provide some kind of outright survival (live or die) advantage, or something that better attracts mates (like the peacock tail, which is a very finely structured feature), or some other benefit that isn't' directly related to the live or die kind of survival.

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And would someone really have such a problem surviving simply because his skull is not as finely crafted as others?


Again, what do you mean by "surviving"? Simply living or dying? Or all the other things that contribute to an evolutionary advantage beyond just that small subset of the definition.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 109: Mon May 20, 2019 9:06 pm
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Perhaps it would be useful to emphasize the term ‘Natural Selection’, which is likely to be less confusing or threatening to many people.

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Natural selection – process that results in the adaptation of an organism to its environment by means of selectively reproducing changes in its genotype, or genetic constitution.

In natural selection, those variations in the genotype that increase an organism’s chances of survival and procreation are preserved and multiplied from generation to generation at the expense of less advantageous ones. Evolution often occurs as a consequence of this process. Natural selection may arise from differences in survival, in fertility, in rate of development, in mating success, or in any other aspect of the life cycle. All such differences result in natural selection to the extent that they affect the number of progeny an organism leaves.

Gene frequencies tend to remain constant from generation to generation when disturbing factors are not present. Factors that disturb the natural equilibrium of gene frequencies include mutation, migration (or gene flow), random genetic drift, and natural selection. A mutation is a spontaneous change in the gene frequency that takes place in a population and occurs at a low rate. Migration is a local change in gene frequency when an individual moves from one population to another and then interbreeds. Random genetic drift is a change that takes place from one generation to another by a process of pure chance. Mutation, migration, and genetic drift alter gene frequencies without regard to whether such changes increase or decrease the likelihood of an organism surviving and reproducing in its environment. They are all random processes.

Natural selection moderates the disorganizing effects of these processes because it multiplies the incidence of beneficial mutations over the generations and eliminates harmful ones, since their carriers leave few or no descendants. Natural selection enhances the preservation of a group of organisms that are best adjusted to the physical and biological conditions of their environment and may also result in their improvement in some cases. Some characteristics, such as the male peacock’s tail, actually decrease the individual organism’s chance of survival. To explain such anomalies, Darwin posed a theory of “sexual selection.” In contrast to features that result from natural selection, a structure produced by sexual selection results in an advantage in the competition for mates.
https://www.britannica.com/science/natural-selection


A very simple explanation, with pictures and few big words https://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_25

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 110: Tue May 21, 2019 6:04 am
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DrNoGods wrote:
Why would they be "harder to find by random means"? There is no end design goal so there cannot be any situation where things are getting closer to some final, optimum design. That whole concept is not at all part of ToE. You're assuming that there is some final, optimum design that evolution is working towards, and the closer it gets the fewer changes are needed to complete this final design, and so finding these random changes is therefore more difficult and less likely. But that is not how it works. The premise that there is some optimum design target or goal s wrong ... there isn't such a thing.


I'm not arguing that there is an ideal. What I'm saying is that evolution functions as if there was an ideal. Why? Because the ideal skull (or very near it) emerges anyhow. Whether this ideal is there or not, evolution attains it. And it does so again and again. Adherents of ToE would say that this ideal is an emergent property of chance events and natural selection. I'm not talking about working towards an ideal. I'm saying that the ideal is arrived at which or whether.

"Why would they be harder to find by random means?" Let's rephrase that and say they are less likely to be arrived at by random/chance events. Why? Because they are so exacting and so detailed only the most select mutations will achieve them. The nth refinements of the skull are detailed 'micro sculpting' on little a very small scale. So the chances of random events finding these details are diminished the more detailed they are.

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