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Evolution is *NOT* Progressive

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JP Rushton

Richard Lynn

L:inda Gottfredson

Goodreads

4200 words

PumpkinPerson still believes that evolution is progressive. What exactly is evolution through natural selection ‘progressing towards’? Some, like PP, may say it’s progressing towards a better organism for that specific environment. However, there is no end game. That organism will still continue to change based on whatever changes in its environment. One of the most common misconceptions about evolution is that it’s progressive. One assumes that by looking at the progression from the earliest forms of life to today, that humans must be at the top of this ‘evolutionary ladder’ so to speak. However, evolution has no end game, nor is it conscious to be able to have humans be at the top of this ‘evolutionary ladder’. I’ll take the last thing that PP said to me on his blog and reply to it here as well.

Evolution can happen in four ways: migration, mutation, genetic drift, and natural selection (NS). Evolution is a non-conscious, non-linear event that occurs to make an organism more fit for its environment. Progressive evolution assumes that it’s linear and so evolution is a straight line from ‘more evolved to less evolved’. Would that make sense? For evolution to be in a straight line? Or would a branching tree make more sense? PP knows this fact, yet still attempts to say that the ‘newest species are the “most evolved”‘. We can take 2 genetically similar organisms and put them into one cold environment and the other a hotter environment. Will one of them be “more evolved” than the other in a few generations? Or does evolution dictate what changes occur and there is no “more evolved” because each organism is suited to its environment?

PP says:

No that’s not the point. If two populations are both descended from a common ancestor, and population A remains more similar to that common ancestor than population B, then population A is less evolved, because it’s done less evolving from the common ancestor. Why can’t you grasp this concept, RR?

I do grasp it, it just makes no sense. Because even that organism that “stayed close to the common ancestor” is still markedly different than the common ancestor.

Actually that’s not true. Humans are close to reaching the point where we no longer evolving in the conventional sense. Any further genetic change will be self-directed, via genetic engineering, and not the product of natural selection and genetic drift. And progress needn’t imply an end point, it only implies more recent forms will on average be more adaptable than life from millions of years ago.

This was in response to me saying that evolution would continue until all organisms die out or the Sun explodes. Even the with the genetic change we bring about ourself with CRISPR, we would still be evolving genetically. Umm progress DOES imply an end point. Progress means progression, what is an organism progressing towards? Being more efficient? No. Progression denotes an end game. There IS NO endgame with evolution. Evolution just happens to increase fitness for an organism and population. 

I don’t have any misconceptions when it comes to evolution RR. It’s you who is confused. And I’ve seen Dawkins talk about evolutionary progress. He shows some understanding of the concept, but it’s not complete.

Yes you do have misconceptions when it comes to evolution, PP. There is no way to quantify progress in regards to evolution. You can choose some arbitrary traits, but that’s just our perception of it. You cannot objectively say that one organism is “more evolved” than another based on those traits.

I forgot that Dawkins believes in evolutionary progress. That doesn’t change my mind on this matter. I’m sure that Dawkins of all people knows that each organism is suited for its environment, not perfectly, but good enough. Evolution makes organisms good enough in order to transmit its genes to the next generation. How can you say that there is progress when each organism is fit for its environment? How can you believe in this notion when evolution through NS, migration, mutation and genetic drift make each organism unique in order to survive in its own specialized niche? As I will say below, Darwin’s Finches are the perfect example of how evolution is not progressive. They are fit for each environment. The tree finch has a blunt beak for tearing vegetation, the ground finch has a broad beak for crushing seeds, and Warbler finch’s small beak makes it good for eating insects. Each bird evolved from the same ancestor, each evolved in different ecosystems on the same island, but they evolved to do different things based on what they had to do to survive in that ecosystem. This very simple example shows that evolution is not progressive, and that these mutations occur to better help an organism in that niche in the ecosystem.

Next PP quotes Rushton from Race, Evolution, and Behavior where he says:

In their reviews, Lynn (1996a) and Peters (1995) both referred to my ranking of species on evolutionary scales. For Peters, this was a highly contentious idea but in Lynn’s positive review, he described me as proposing that the K-strategy was “evolutionarily more advanced” and that the Oriental race was “the most evolved.” In fact, I did not use either of these phrases in the book, although I had alluded to similar ideas in previous writing. Regardless, the topic of evolutionary progress provides an intellectual challenge of the first order and needs to be addressed. Figure 10.2 (p. 202) does imply a move from simple r-type animals producing thousands of eggs but providing no parental care to more complex K-type animals producing very few offspring.

In his book Sociobiology (1975), E. O. Wilson also promoted the idea of biological progression, outlining four pinnacles in the history of life on Earth: first, the beginning of life itself in the form of primitive prokaryotes, with no nucleus; then the origin of eukaryotes, with nucleus and mitochondria; next the evolution of large, multicellular organisms, which could evolve complex organs such as eyes and brains; and finally the beginnings of the human mind. (Rushton, 1997: 292-3)

I still don’t see how it’s “progressive and more evolved”. Each organism is suited for its environment to make sure that it breeds and continues its genetic lineage. I see how one could say that newer organisms are “more evolved”, however, each organism is suited for its environment.

You have no idea what you’re talking about. Humans who left Africa 60,000 years ago looked like Andaman islanders who clearly look like modern Africans today. Further, facial reconstructions of the African Eve from 125,000 years ago also looks like modern Africans. The notion that modern looking Africans are only 10,000 years old is INSANE. Did they look EXACTLY like Africans today? No. Were they close enough that no one would think twice if they walked down the street in modern clothing? Yes.

I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT, yet PP thinks that damn reconstructions mean ANYTHING!! Forensic facial reconstruction is one of the most subjective techniques in forensic anthropology. The skin thickness is subjective to the forensic artist, but I’m sure that that means that the facial reconstruction of Mitochondrial Eve is even a close representation of what she actually looked like. The fact of the matter is, facial reconstructions are highly subjective to the individual forensics artist. There is a great example in the link about how facial reconstruction isn’t anywhere near perfect:

A second problem is the lack of a methodological standardization in approximating facial features. A single, official method for reconstructing the face has yet to be recognized. This also presents major setback in facial approximation because facial features like the eyes and nose and individuating characteristics like hairstyle – the features most likely to be recalled by witnesses – lack a standard way of being reconstructed. Recent research on computer-assisted methods, which take advantage of digital image processing, pattern recognition, promises to overcome current limitations in facial reconstruction and linkage.

Keep in mind that PP believes that Australasians are Negroid, despite the fact that I’ve shown him wrong on that time and time again. Phenotype does not always equal genotype. Just because one group is phenotypically similar to another DOES NOT MEAN that they are genetically similar. It’s PP that doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

How is the notion that modern-looking Africans are 10k years old insane? I see PP doesn’t keep up with the latest studies. Is the notion that modern-day Europeans are 6500 years old insane as well?

It shows that there are lineages that become very adaptable despite not being very evolved, and some that don’t need to be adaptable because they lucked into a fixed ecological niche. But generally speaking, across all lineages, more recent forms of life are more adaptable than more ancient forms of life.

This was in response to what I said to him about there being mosses and fungi who’ve stayed pretty similar. This SHOWS that evolution is not progressive. More recent forms of life are more adaptable? You mean that more recent forms of life incurred more mutations to be more adaptable.** Evolution through NS is about being good enough to pass on your genes, that’s it. Whether or not one species is “more evolved” (whatever that means) over another is meaningless as all that’s occurring is genes passing to the next generation. Break down all of these processes to the simplest possible level and this is what we are left with.

Then I cited two links which said:

“There is no ‘progress’ in evolution. No living thing is trying to get anywhere,” Zuk said. “And humans are not at the pinnacle of the evolutionary ladder.”

Evolution, she said, is no engineer, building the perfect organism from scratch every time the environment changes. Rather, evolution is the ultimate tinkerer, always having to make do with the parts on hand. Its creations tend to be imperfect, just fit enough to survive.

To which PP replied:

WRONG! Humans are the highest branch within the homo evolutionary tree which is the highest branch within the primate evolutionary tree which is perhaps the highest branch of the mammal evolutionary tree, which is perhaps the highest branch within the animal evolutionary tree etc. This can be seen in phylogenetic diagrams.

PP, it specifically said evolutionary ladder. Phylogenetic diagrams prove that evolution is non-linear and does NOT go in a straight line. Phylogenetic diagrams prove that evolution is a tree and not just a straight line of ‘progress’. 

And yet evolution has created the human brain, the most complex known object in the universe.

That doesn’t say anything to the fact that evolution is not an engineer making perfect organisms for their environment. All an organism needs is to be “good enough”. It’s not survival of the fittest as much as survival of the good enough. Sure evolution ‘created’ the human brain. But that doesn’t make evolution, a non-conscious event, an engineer. Why do so many atheists have so much faith in evolution, putting human qualities into it when evolution through natural selection is just a process of making sure that an organism passes its genes on? It is one hundred percent correct that evolution is the “ultimate tinkerer”, making organisms “just fit enough to survive”.

And the other link I cited, which uses Darwin’s finches as an example of the non-linearity of evolution says:

A study of the DNA of Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos Islands (Petren et al. 1999) provides a good example of why the idea of progress makes no sense in evolution. The study’s findings suggest that the first finches to arrive on the islands were the Warbler finches (Certhidea olivacea), whose pointy beaks made them good insect eaters. A number of other finches evolved later from the Warbler finches. One of these is the Geospiza ground finch, whose broad beak is good for crushing seeds, and another is the Camarhynchus tree finch with its blunt beak which is well adapted for tearing vegetation.

..

Even though biologists reject the Great Chain of Being or any similar ladder-of-progress explanation of evolution, the idea still persists in popular culture. A more accurate analogy would be that of a bush that branches in many directions. If we think of evolution over time in this way, we’re less likely to be confused by notions of progress because the branches of a bush can grow in various directions in three dimensions, and new branches can sprout off of older branches without implying that those farther from the trunk are better or more advanced than those closer to the trunk. A more recent branch that has split off from an earlier branch-like a species that has evolved from an ancestral species-does not indicate greater progress or advancement. Rather, it is simply a new and different growth on the bush, or more specifically, a new species that is sufficiently adapted to its environment to survive.

To which PP replied:

The idea of progress makes sense when you look at the grand sweep of evolution across BILLIONS OF YEARS. We’ve gone from simple, restricted life forms that could only survive in the ocean, to complex adaptable GOd-like life-forms like humans, that can live in virtually any environment, and travel to space.

This doesn’t say anything to what was quoted, PP. The fact that Darwin’s Finches each evolved on the same island, yet have completely different phenotypes depending on what they have to do to survive shows that evolution is not progressive and that there is no “more evolved” life form, just life forms surviving. Love how you sidestepped that quote.

This is the same tired nonsense. In evolution, almost every time one branch splits into two, it means evolutionary growth has occurred. So if you’re the first branch, and you don’t do anymore branching, you’re less evolved, and typically less complex and versatile than branches that split off after much branching occurred.

Yes PP. Keep repeating the “if you’re the first branch and you don’t do any more branching than you’re less evolved” canard. PP is confusing “more evolved” for more complex.

Let me repeat this quote again because it’s perfect for this discussion:

If we think of evolution over time in this way, we’re less likely to be confused by notions of progress because the branches of a bush can grow in various directions in three dimensions, and new branches can sprout off of older branches without implying that those farther from the trunk are better or more advanced than those closer to the trunk.

But I’M the one who doesn’t get it. Just because changes occur to make new species does not mean that the common ancestor is “less evolved”, it just means that there were different selection pressures that forced these changes to happen!! That’s it!

Just because your teacher told you something years ago doesn’t make it true, PP. It doesn’t mean that your teacher “got it” while everyone else is blinded to the fact of “organisms being more evolved than others”.

Level 1: People who don’t believe in evolution

Level 2: People who think evolution is progressive because they don’t understand the random nature of natural selection (most secular non-scientists fit in this category)

Level 3: People who think evolution is NOT progressive because they understand natural selection is random and geared to specific environments(most scientists and science writers and bloggers fit in this category)

Level 4: People who realize that even random processes will eventually show progress through billions of years of trial and error, and no environment is 100% specific (many of the greatest minds in history reached this stage: E.O. Wilson, Darwin, Rushton)

You’re stuck on Level 3, RR, and so are all the people you quote. I hope your mind can one day make the leap to Level 4.

This is hilarious. The fact that NS is random SHOWS that evolution is not progressive. PP may say “over billions of years through trial and error it made ‘more evolved’ organisms”. I love how PP’s speculations are the final word and what I say and who I quote are conveniently a level below his little hierarchy.

On PP’s “Level 4”:

NS, migration, mutation and genetic drift are how organisms evolve. Changing the mix of the 4 will lead to different outcomes each time. What PP is trying to say here is that I’m conveniently below the level that he’s at because he recognizes evolution as being “progressive” “progressing to be the ultimate organism in that environment”.

On the non-linearity of evolution:

“The idea of sharing a common ancestor leads to the second major misunderstanding inherent in the question,” says Dr Willis, “that evolution is a linear process where one species evolves into another.”

Evolution is really a branching process where one species can give rise to two or more species.

“The fallacy of linear evolution is most clearly illustrated by the analogy of asking; how can I share common grandparents with my cousins if my cousins and my grandparents are still alive?,” says Dr Willis.

“The answer is of course that your grandparents had more than one child and they each went off and started their own families creating new branches of your own family tree.”

The same thing happens in evolutionary families. A species can split into two or more descendant species and they can split again and again across the generations.

But PP would say that the organism who branched into the new one that stayed the same is “less evolved” than the other, when the only difference is that the newer organism faced different pressures which led to different changes!

Let me repeat: evolution is not progressive. Each organism is suited for its environment so that it can pass its genetic code to the next generation. Even an earlier organism is not “less evolved” than one that came after it, because it still has to survive in that ecosystem. The process of evolution leads to a branching pattern of relationships amongst similar organisms.

Ever since Aristotle, people have had an inclination to rank living things in a single dimension of “lower to higher” or “primitive to advanced”.  Such rankings have a name, “the Great Chain of Being” or “the Ladder of Life”.  But such rankings have no basis in evolutionary biology.  All living organisms occupy equivalent positions on the tips of the latest twigs in phylogeny.  The “lowliest” worm or microbe is just as “advanced” (i.e., has been just as successful at adaptation and reproduction throughout its lineage) as is the ‘highest” primate or social insect.  “Progress” was an essential feature of some pre-Darwinian evolutionary theories, notably Lamarck’s believe in evolution driven by inward striving toward improvement.  But modern evolutionary theory supports no clear expectation of progress, at least not in any dimension that has yet been explored.

Isn’t there an obvious sense in which evolution MUST be progressive?  Doesn’t natural selection assure that species are always becoming better adapted, so that degree of adaptedness must be increasing over time?  Doesn’t the fossil record document continuing advancement toward improved design and complexity?  Doesn’t the process of adaptative radiation (continuing speciation with adaptation) guarantee that the ecological world will be ever more precisely subdivided into niches occupied by ever-increasing numbers of species?

In short, no.  No one has yet demonstrated any measureable parameter that shows a consistent, reliable increase over time as evolution proceeds.  This is an important point.  Belief that evolution is always necessarily “improving” something can interfere with clear appreciation of the actual mechanism of evolution, which is simply the replacement of one heritable variant by another because, in specific conditions which include the presence of both variants, one does better than the other.

Concepts and Questions in Evolutionary Biology. Is evolution progressive?

As I keep saying to PP, each organism is fit for its environment. You can use some arbitrary things to say “this more evolved than that”, but evolutionarily speaking it doesn’t make sense, as I keep saying, because each organism is perfectly suited to its environment.

Yes, bacteria is simpler than a hawk, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any less adapted to its environment than a hawk is.

Evolution arises from mutation, genetic drift, migration and finally natural selection. This leads to large random variations amongst individual organisms. Natural selection then acts upon those random variations and over time this leads to differences between organisms which lead to them eventually becoming different species. How one can then make the leap in logic to say that evolution is progressive due to that is beyond me.

We only ASSUME that evolution is progressive because we look at traits that have been selected for and we don’t look at the traits that have been made negative due to the positive selection. Another point that PP likes to bring up is that the increasing complexity and increase in brain size shows how it’s progressive. However, our brains are shrinking. So if evolution was ONLY PROGRESS, why is the “most complex thing in the known universe” getting smaller? And with a decrease in brain size comes a decrease in intelligence. Such progress PP!!! Evolutions has no direction so it CANNOT be progressive. Most people want to assume that evolution is linear and thusly we were here BECAUSE we’d have been here regardless of what happened. This is not true. The fact of the matter is, evolution is a random process. The only reason there is a belief that evolution is progressive is because we strive to make meaning in everything in our lives even when there is nothing there.

Now with the thought that evolution is progressive, comes the thought of more evolved and less evolved races. As I have shown early in this article, Rushton believed that Mongoloids were “more evolved” because they came last. This then assumes that Africans are “less evolved” because they came first. This, however, makes no evolutionary sense. I love Rushton and all he did to bring racial differences to the mainstream, but evolutionary biologist he was not. The assumption here is that East Asians and Caucasians are the newest races, and thusly would have to be more advanced than the Africans. However, these notions are baseless. They are extremely subjective and one cannot say that one race is “more evolved” or “more superior” than another.

Charles Murray says:

As the story is untangled, it will also become obvious how inappropriate it is to talk in terms of the “inferiority” or “superiority” of groups. Consider, for example, the Big Five personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. What are the ideal points on these continua? They will differ depending on whether you’re looking for the paragon of, say, a parent or an entrepreneur.

Nicholas Wade says:

From an evolutionary perspective, African populations were just as well adapted to their environment as were those of Europe and Asia to theirs. Small. loosely organized populations were the appropriate response to the difficult conditions of the African continent. But they were not necessarily well suited to high efficiency economies to which European and East Asian populations had become adapted. From this perspective, if valid, it would be unsurprising that African countries should take longer to make the transition into modern economies. (Wade, 2015: 181-2)

And finally I asked Razib Khan what he thought about this back in August. He said:

people who talk in those terms about population genetics are inferior and less evolved. sabine’s statement in my other posts applies: you’re not a serious thinker and label yourself as stupid or ignorant.

This notion of “superiority” when discussing human races, or even organisms as a whole is baseless. When looking at subjective traits then we can say that. BUT objectively, there is no way to quantify this.

Some people in the HBD-sphere, as well as the Alt-right, may say that Eurasians are ‘superior’ to Africans. On what traits? Because looking at a completely different set of traits would have you come to the opposite conclusion. Like with r/K Selection Theory (now known as the CLASH model). People assume that Africans and others who live nearer to the equator are inferior due to how many children they conceive. However, from an evolutionary perspective, the ultimate measure of human success is not production, but reproduction (van den Berghe, 1981). When that single variable is looked at, they are “more evolved” and if PP were to be believed, evolution is going backward for Eurasians since they have fewer children than Africans.

In sum, evolution is NOT progressive. Mutation, migration, and genetic drift set the stage for differences between organisms, then natural selection selects for those advantageous alleles which then get passed on to the next generation. This notion of progressive evolution is ridiculous. Evolution is a branching tree, not a straight line as is commonly thought. Progressive evolution assumes that we are progressing towards something. This is not the case. Evolution just happens, it’s not attempting to “progress” anywhere as these differences between organisms just happen and thusly you cannot say that one organism is “more evolved” than another nor can you say that this organism showed more “evolutionary progress” over another as changes are random.

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15 Comments

  1. kabotch says:

    right on. anyone with a degree in BIO knows evolution does NOT mean progress. even SJ Gould, the noted fraud, knew & preached that correctly. evolution is just whatever adaptations fit the changing local environment. if being stupid & violent is a better fit with environmental demands, then that’s what gets selected for.

    Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Correct. It only seems like ‘progress’ because we look at traits that are positively selected for while ignoring those traits that were negatively selected for DUE to the positive selection.

      This is one thing that I agree with Gould on. He was 100 percent correct on this. He was the one who posited a “branching tree” and not a linear line as is the popular misconception of monkey to man.

      Where PP is mistaken is his belief that “newer branches” denotes a “more evolved” organism. I see the logic here, except it makes no evolutionary sense. He may say that earlier branches “did less evolving” than newer branches, however, that refutes the notion that evolution is about progress AND STILL that doesn’t mean that newer branches on the evolutionary tree are “more evolved”.

      He cites Rushton (1997) as proof, where Rushton only IMPLIED it when Lynn was the one who came outright and said it. They’re both wrong, of course. I love Rushton and all he did to bring these things to the mainstream, but he was wrong here and for once I agree with Gould. (I feel dirty typing that.)

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  2. SophicDrippins says:

    Evolution isn’t always survival of the fittest. If you survived, that’s all it means. You may not be the fittest at all… especially now that our environment keeps us fairly coddled.

    Evolution from here could be more conscious rather than random or “fittest”. If there is a conscious selection, then it implies a purpose or goal.

    I’ve theorized in the past that the purpose of life was to reproduce, but now I’ve revised that to say that the purpose of reproduction is to evolve and the purpose of evolution is to bring order to the universe. Entropy. Reproduction is just a component of evolution that led us to conscious-control over our evolution and the goal is not to accidentally have 1 monkey out of a googleplex pound-out shakespeare on a typewriter. Our goal is to bring order to randomness by managing our environment and ultimately leaving nothing to chance. Life is a natural aspect of a universe trying to (re)organize itself. Cool theory, right? 🙂 If evolution does have an ultimate goal, an end, what else could it be?

    A type 4 civilization could have the whole universe under management. It’s fun to think about what a type-4 being would do for fun 🙂 If you know everything and can do anything, then what would you do? I guess that’s the end… the goal.

    Thoughts?

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    • RaceRealist says:

      Evolution isn’t always survival of the fittest. If you survived, that’s all it means. You may not be the fittest at all… especially now that our environment keeps us fairly coddled.

      Exactly. It’s the “survival of the ‘good enough'”.

      Evolution from here could be more conscious rather than random or “fittest”. If there is a conscious selection, then it implies a purpose or goal.

      Evolution isn’t progressive, nor is it teleological:

      Another widespread erroneous view of natural selection must also be refuted: Selection is not teleological (goal-directed). Indeed, how could an elimination process be teleological? Selection does not have a long-term goal. It is a process repeated anew in every generation. The frequency of extinction of evolutionary lineages, as well as frequent changes in direction, is inconsistent with the mistaken claim that evolution is a teleological process. Also, there is no known genetic mechanism that could produce goal-directed evolutionary processes. Orthogenesis and other proposed teleological processes have been thoroughly refuted (see Chapter 4).

      To say it in other words, evolution is not deterministic. The evolutionary process consists of a large number of interactions. Different genotypes within a single population may respond differently to the same change of the environment. These changes, in turn, are unpredictable, particularly when caused by the arrival at a locality of a new predator or competitor. Survival during a mass extinction may strongly be affected by chance. (Mayr, 1964: 121)

      I’ve theorized in the past that the purpose of life was to reproduce, but now I’ve revised that to say that the purpose of reproduction is to evolve and the purpose of evolution is to bring order to the universe. Entropy. Reproduction is just a component of evolution that led us to conscious-control over our evolution and the goal is not to accidentally have 1 monkey out of a googleplex pound-out shakespeare on a typewriter. Our goal is to bring order to randomness by managing our environment and ultimately leaving nothing to chance. Life is a natural aspect of a universe trying to (re)organize itself. Cool theory, right?🙂 If evolution does have an ultimate goal, an end, what else could it be?

      The purpose of life IS to reproduce. The purpose of life IS NOT production. (Evolutionarily speaking.) Life is just a random process that occurred, if we replayed the tape of life, the same processes that led to our existence wouldn’t have occurred.

      A type 4 civilization could have the whole universe under management. It’s fun to think about what a type-4 being would do for fun🙂 If you know everything and can do anything, then what would you do? I guess that’s the end… the goal.

      Even then, how would that be the “end goal” of evolving? An “end goal” in evolution must show an increasing drive in complexity, which it does not. I like Kaku’s theory, I know a lot of his work.

      What do I would think would occur if this theoretical level 4 civilization were achieved? Evolution would still occur. It wouldn’t stop even if we reached this so-called “pinnacle” of evolutionary change.

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  3. SophicDrippins says:

    I agree that evolution is not generally teleological, but if evolution is consciously directed, then teleological is implied. No?

    Isn’t that how corn got here? It’s a grass that humans bred until we achieved a big seed-head. We could argue that it was the goal all along. http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/selection/corn/

    Evolution itself cannot be teleological if we can’t presume to know the outcome nor the process to get there; hence, evolution is the solution to the problem when no obvious path can be found.

    How do we program a computer to win at Mario? We don’t… we have the computer learn it through an evolutionary process.

    There is no “goal” programmed in, just a condition to maximize fitness.

    But, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a goal in mind and evolve towards it. When you make a conscious decision in selecting mates for breeding, I think teleological is implied.

    So, if evolution is becoming more teleological because of conscious interference, then what is the goal? Maybe increased health and intelligence. But if medical science evolves enough, perhaps health is not a huge concern. If healthcare is generally good, then women prefer more feminine men. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704100604575145810050665030

    If computers replace our ability to spell and do math (and others), then maybe intelligence isn’t so important anymore (like muscles being antiquated by machines). So what will women choose? Women drive evolution by being selective, so a goal can be inferred by their selections. Evolution is teleological because of women’s consciousness. Maybe you could argue that women are unconscious of their decision, but it doesn’t seem fully random either. It sure seems like there is a direction and a destination.

    We are capable of being fairly callous about directing our future:

    “Eugenics was practiced in the United States many years before eugenics programs in Nazi Germany[5] and U.S. programs provided much of the inspiration for the latter.[6][7][8] ” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics_in_the_United_States

    In summary, I’d say evolution can be directed and undirected, either way. It doesn’t have to be mindless nor does it have to have a goal.

    “Evolution – the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.” That doesn’t imply direction nor does it exclude it.

    So, evolution can be progressive, but it doesn’t have to be. And progressive doesn’t have to be good either, it could be progressing to a worse state.

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    • RaceRealist says:

      I agree that evolution is not generally teleological, but if evolution is consciously directed, then teleological is implied. No?

      Tell that to the Intelligent Designers. They believe that evolution is teleological, despite the ridiculousness of a non-conscious event being teleological. Natural selection is local adaptation, not ‘progress.

      Isn’t that how corn got here? It’s a grass that humans bred until we achieved a big seed-head. We could argue that it was the goal all along.

      When you move away from the randomness of just evolution with no human interaction to artificial selection then that’s a whole different ballgame. I’m talking about the process of evolution through natural selection, mutation, genetic drift and migration. Human-guided acts aren’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the randomness and beauty of what natural selection does.

      That’d be an example of ‘guided’ artificial selection, sort of how dogs came into being today. But that doesn’t signify ‘progress’, it just signifies an artificial selection.

      Evolution itself cannot be teleological if we can’t presume to know the outcome nor the process to get there; hence, evolution is the solution to the problem when no obvious path can be found.

      We can know the process, and even what was under selective pressure. Evolution isn’t teleological, it’s not goal-directed. That’s putting a human quality onto a non-conscious event. It’s just local adaptation, that’s not ‘progress’.

      How do we program a computer to win at Mario? We don’t… we have the computer learn it through an evolutionary process.

      Good video. If you want to get technical, evolution is about reproduction (fitness) not production (van den Berghe, 1981). Would you call that ‘progress’ though? Someone programmed that algorithm. No one programmed the evolutionary process that occurs on earth.

      But, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a goal in mind and evolve towards it. When you make a conscious decision in selecting mates for breeding, I think teleological is implied.

      So you’re saying that sexual selection is teleological evolution? But what is the goal? Goals imply that there is an end goal; what is that end goal?

      So, if evolution is becoming more teleological because of conscious interference, then what is the goal? Maybe increased health and intelligence. But if medical science evolves enough, perhaps health is not a huge concern. If healthcare is generally good, then women prefer more feminine men.

      Good link. Increased health? Well, agriculture—a main driver in human evolution—is a current cause for our health woes in first-world countries. Even then, environmental factors would still come into play with both health and intelligence.

      If computers replace our ability to spell and do math (and others), then maybe intelligence isn’t so important anymore (like muscles being antiquated by machines). So what will women choose? Women drive evolution by being selective, so a goal can be inferred by their selections. Evolution is teleological because of women’s consciousness. Maybe you could argue that women are unconscious of their decision, but it doesn’t seem fully random either. It sure seems like there is a direction and a destination.

      Women still want big, powerful men to take care of them.

      It also depends on the geographic location on what drives the selection. In Africa, women did most of the food gathering and farming and had more selective power. The same think occurred in Eurasia, with men having the selective power since they hunted for food. Since food acquisition is linked to intelligence, African women are more intelligent than African men, who are “the most physically attractive sex”, and Eurasian women are “the most physically attractive sex” while Eurasian men became more intelligent. Women are unconscious of their decision. It is the gene itself driving the selection, that doesn’t mean it’s teleological, though, the gene just wants to make more copies of itself at all costs.

      In summary, I’d say evolution can be directed and undirected, either way. It doesn’t have to be mindless nor does it have to have a goal.

      Humans can kind of direct evolution (artificial selection, ie dogs and the Russian silver foxes), however, in a strict Darwinian sense, evolution itself is not teleological or goal-driven, just random mutations occurring, and those organisms who survive into the next generation are fitter and have the right phenotype to survive. Though teleological evolution does imply a goal.

      “Evolution – the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.” That doesn’t imply direction nor does it exclude it.

      Evolution is not gradual, but mostly punctuated. Species remain in stasis before a quick phenotypic change. Most species remain in stasis for an extremely long time. The simplest form of life being bacteria at the left wall of complexity, there’s only one ay for it to go: towards the right wall. But there is no inherent drive towards complexity and progress.

      So, evolution can be progressive, but it doesn’t have to be. And progressive doesn’t have to be good either, it could be progressing to a worse state.

      So, evolution can be progressive, but it doesn’t have to be. And progressive doesn’t have to be good either, it could be progressing to a worse state.

      Progress implies that it’s teleological.Evolution occurs due to differences in environment, and will take a species where it goes based on the changes in that environment. How would you be able to say what is “worse”? Is H. Floresiensis “worse” than habilis or erectus because he evolved a smaller brain size and stature due to the pressure he faced on the island Flores? Organisms that arise between the left and right walls of complexity can either go towards the right wall or the left wall, except no organism can become more simple than bacteria. Bacteria rules the planet.

      Like

  4. SophicDrippins says:

    Do we know for sure that no one programmed the evolutionary process that occurs on earth? How could we know for sure? If you were the product of that evolution inside the Mari/o computer, you’d know you came from natural processes by observation, but how could you determine if someone had programmed it that way or not? Maybe you’d speculate there could be infinite Mari/o computers or that the Mari/o computer was the product of the same evolution that produced you. Maybe you’d figure the universe is so vast, that you exist as a near-certainty 🙂

    Yes, artificial vs natural selection. Would space aliens look at the earth and figure everything the humans do are “natural”? The things that we consider artificial, would the aliens conclude it’s just something the humans naturally do? Why are we so special that when we build a dam, it’s artificially damming a river, but when a beaver does it, it’s natural? So, maybe our conscious selections could be natural selections, but even that change in nomenclature wouldn’t exclude the possibility of a common goal among the humans. If our conscious direction is considered a natural phenomenon, it could still have a goal because the direction is conscious and at least some members actively try to produce better humans by consciously selecting better mates. So now we have conscious selection and unconscious selection instead of artificial and natural, but considering the quantum rule that the wave function doesn’t collapse unless a conscious being observes it, then wouldn’t all of evolution be under the observation of a kind of cosmic consciousness in order to exist? Shouldn’t said consciousness be a natural part of the universe awaiting discovery? Or would we consider that “supernatural”?

    Humans consciously care for the weakest and it’s considered something humans naturally do, and though being natural, it doesn’t jibe well with the notion of natural selection because the fittest are not selected, but the weakest. So we term it “artificial selection” because it doesn’t fit well in our model. Instead of rejecting the model, we label ourselves as artificial, but how does something that is artificial evolve from something natural and from natural processes? Can we expect to find an artificial chemical compound in a leaf deep in the jungle one day? Of course not. So why would we expect to find unnatural and artificial beings on a planet if those beings are a product of the evolution on that planet? In that light, does “artificial” have a meaning? It seems “artificial” is an arbitrary distinction born out of necessity to exclude items that don’t fit models (aka bad science).

    If a beaver decides to build a dam, it is not the result of a coin flip, but a conscious decision, no different than that of a human. The problem with conscious decisions is the inherent lack of randomness. The Mari/o computer may depend on random mutations for evolution, but the best genomes are bred and that’s by design or conscious decision. We can’t escape the fact that when two animals decide to mate, it is a conscious decision and not a random event. If there is no randomness, then that implies organization and direction. Mutations are random, until science can direct those changes as well, but the decision about who to mate with or even to mate at all is a conscious one and not random.

    I think the inherent lack of randomness is the biggest obstacle you will have to overcome in order to show that evolution doesn’t have a goal. In order to do that, I think you’d have to show that consciousness is the result of predictable chemical interactions and that challenges the idea of free will.

    Life seems to be the means by which the universe reorganizes itself. Negative entropy, if you will. http://www.beyondwealth.com/the-artistry-of-fighting-entropy/

    Schrödinger’s paradox, the paradox that living systems increase their organization despite the Second Law of Thermodynamics. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy_and_life#Negative_entropy

    So, the purpose of life is to fight entropy and the purpose of evolution is to become better at it… and evolution should progress until there is nothing left to organize (level-4 civilization)… or some sort of disaster where entropy reasserts itself. I vote for the former 🙂

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    • RaceRealist says:

      Do we know for sure that no one programmed the evolutionary process that occurs on earth?

      Nope. Is it scientifically quantifiable? There is the simulated universe hypothesis, very interesting:

      If you were the product of that evolution inside the Mari/o computer, you’d know you came from natural processes by observation, but how could you determine if someone had programmed it that way or not? Maybe you’d speculate there could be infinite Mari/o computers or that the Mari/o computer was the product of the same evolution that produced you. Maybe you’d figure the universe is so vast, that you exist as a near-certainty🙂

      How could I myself determine it? I can’t. I’m not a physcist. Though, the running theory is that if we can perfectly program a universe just like ours that it’s almost certain that we’re living in a simulation.

      So, maybe our conscious selections could be natural selections, but even that change in nomenclature wouldn’t exclude the possibility of a common goal among the humans. If our conscious direction is considered a natural phenomenon, it could still have a goal because the direction is conscious and at least some members actively try to produce better humans by consciously selecting better mates.

      Is artificial selection a natural process? No. Artificial selection can be said to be a type of ‘conscious selection’, but it’s still artificial and not done ‘randomly’ by the actual evolutionary process. What goal? What is the end goal? Can you give an example? Sure we ‘try’ to ‘produce better humans’, yet we don’t have *full* control over it (until we roll out CRISPR to the general public and, even then there would still be natural evolution occurring).

      but considering the quantum rule that the wave function doesn’t collapse unless a conscious being observes it, then wouldn’t all of evolution be under the observation of a kind of cosmic consciousness in order to exist? Shouldn’t said consciousness be a natural part of the universe awaiting discovery? Or would we consider that “supernatural”?

      Definitely supernatural and not scientific. A supernatural Creator wouldn’t want to be discovered so he’d make it so. This is not a scientific question.

      Humans consciously care for the weakest and it’s considered something humans naturally do, and though being natural, it doesn’t jibe well with the notion of natural selection because the fittest are not selected, but the weakest. So we term it “artificial selection” because it doesn’t fit well in our model. Instead of rejecting the model, we label ourselves as artificial, but how does something that is artificial evolve from something natural and from natural processes? Can we expect to find an artificial chemical compound in a leaf deep in the jungle one day? Of course not. So why would we expect to find unnatural and artificial beings on a planet if those beings are a product of the evolution on that planet? In that light, does “artificial” have a meaning? It seems “artificial” is an arbitrary distinction born out of necessity to exclude items that don’t fit models (aka bad science).

      We care for the weakest because we are ‘moral’ beings. This morality was driven by evolution—so we could take care of those genetically similar to ourselves. In the way you’re describing it, ensuring that the meek and weak survive is artificial since, with no modern society, those people wouldn’t survive (or would have less of a chance to).

      The Mari/o computer may depend on random mutations for evolution, but the best genomes are bred and that’s by design or conscious decision. We can’t escape the fact that when two animals decide to mate, it is a conscious decision and not a random event. If there is no randomness, then that implies organization and direction. Mutations are random, until science can direct those changes as well, but the decision about who to mate with or even to mate at all is a conscious one and not random.

      The ‘best’ is arbitrary. Organisms can only make due with what is around them in their environment. Even then, as you said, the mutations are random. So can animals ‘direct’ their evolution? No. In regards to humans directing evolution through eugenics, it could be directed fully through CRISPR, however, that’s not the randomness of evolutionary history. Regular evolution through natural selection, mutation, genetic drift and migration are random and local adaptations which will change when those four variables change as well. Selecting the best possible mate is really an unconscious decision as your genes just want to procreate more copies of themselves, genes drive behavior.

      I think the inherent lack of randomness is the biggest obstacle you will have to overcome in order to show that evolution doesn’t have a goal. In order to do that, I think you’d have to show that consciousness is the result of predictable chemical interactions and that challenges the idea of free will.

      Our brain know our actions before we do.

      If our brains know our actions before we consciouslly do, what does that tell you?

      So, the purpose of life is to fight entropy and the purpose of evolution is to become better at it… and evolution should progress until there is nothing left to organize (level-4 civilization)… or some sort of disaster where entropy reasserts itself. I vote for the former🙂

      The purpose of life is to make more copies of genes. Any other reasoning is anthropometric.

      Like

    • SophicDrippins says:

      “Is it scientifically quantifiable?”

      I think so. Either the universe evolved or it was created. Now we have to look for evidence to support one case or the other.

      “What is the end goal? Can you give an example?”

      To organize the universe. Reverse entropy. If that is the purpose of life, then that is the goal of evolution.

      “Definitely supernatural and not scientific.”

      No, it’s scientific. Quantum theory is THE most successful physical theory of alltime.

      “Selecting the best possible mate is really an unconscious decision as your genes just want to procreate more copies of themselves, genes drive behavior.”

      So then it’s not artificial and, yet, not random either.

      “If our brains know our actions before we consciouslly do, what does that tell you?”

      It tells me that those actions are not consciously directed, but are required to maintain the continuity of consciousness. Consciousness can’t be a result of chemical reactions because conscious observation is required for those chemicals to exist. How can the effect of consciousness also be the cause?

      If consciousness were the result of chemical reactions, like falling dominoes, then there would be no freewill. This is why computers will never be conscious because they can never have freewill. Every action a computer could take would be predictable with 100% certainty and that will never change regardless how powerful a computer becomes. Computers will never have freewill and; therefore, will never be conscious.

      “The purpose of life is to make more copies of genes. Any other reasoning is anthropometric.”

      Sure, if we throw out Schrödinger’s work 😉

      Science would be a lot easier if we toss quantum mechanics and anything that doesn’t fit our models.

      In 1964, James Lovelock was among a group of scientists who were requested by NASA to make a theoretical life detection system to look for life on Mars during the upcoming space mission. When thinking about this problem, Lovelock wondered “how can we be sure that Martian life, if any, will reveal itself to tests based on Earth’s lifestyle?” [8] To Lovelock, the basic question was “What is life, and how should it be recognized?” When speaking about this issue with some of his colleagues at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, he was asked what he would do to look for life on Mars. To this, Lovelock replied:

      I’d look for an entropy reduction, since this must be a general characteristic of life.[8]

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy_and_life#Negative_entropy

      Wherever you see organization, there is life. So the purpose of life is to organize.

      Like

  5. SophicDrippins says:

    “Women still want big, powerful men to take care of them.”

    In the future? I’m not sure.

    Would you rather be smarter than someone or stronger than someone? If you say “smarter”, then is it because you think women would be more impressed by brains than brawn? If so, then what does the preference of women say about the future appearance of men?

    Being big takes calories, lots of them. That doesn’t leave a surplus for the brain. Being strong is antiquated. There is no utilitarian reason to be abnormally strong anymore. Being smart is a far more useful asset and the higher your aptitude, the more glucose you’re going to use/need http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0160289695900179

    It would seem the edge would go to someone who doesn’t concentrate on muscular development as much as neural. If your proclivity is for thinking, then why develop all this muscular-sugar-leaching tissue to compete with your passion of thinking? That isn’t to say that big people can’t be smart and vice versa, but just to point out the competitive advantage, which is all that’s needed on a long enough timescale.

    “It also depends on the geographic location on what drives the selection.”

    I didn’t know that about African women being more intelligent than men. That’s an interesting perspective.

    Wikipedia has a topic on sex role reversal: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mate_choice#Male_mate_choice.2FSex_role_reversal

    Mammal: There are no confirmed cases of sex role reversed mammals but female spotted hyenas have peculiar anatomy and behavior that has warranted much attention.[48] Female spotted hyenas are much more aggressive than males due to their high levels of androgens during development. The increased male hormones during development contribute to an enlarged pseudopenis that is involved in mating and birth.[49] Although the anatomical and behavioral roles differ from accepted norms, spotted hyenas are not sex role reversed because the females do not compete with each other for mates.[50]

    In your example, do the African women compete for mates? If so, I guess that’s the first mammalian example of sex role reversal. If not, then the women are still in the driver’s seat of evolution.

    Kanazawa makes the case that women are selecting intelligent mates whereas men don’t seem to have a preference. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/1ae3/fb3c0656357d24279e6e8aee4b191816d9d7.pdf

    That reaffirms that women are driving evolution. Kanazawa argues that global intelligence should decline throughout the 21st century because of minority populations out-reproducing. But I think once the socioeconomic status of the whole globe improves, the minority women will also begin to select intelligent men (or remain childless) and the global IQ should rise again.

    Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Would you rather be smarter than someone or stronger than someone? If you say “smarter”, then is it because you think women would be more impressed by brains than brawn? If so, then what does the preference of women say about the future appearance of men?

      Why not both?

      I’d rather be smarter than someone (I’m way over the average strength for my body size). The future appearance of men would change (that is, if intelligent AND strong people weren’t breeding).

      Being big takes calories, lots of them. That doesn’t leave a surplus for the brain. Being strong is antiquated. There is no utilitarian reason to be abnormally strong anymore. Being smart is a far more useful asset and the higher your aptitude, the more glucose you’re going to use/need

      Thanks for the link. I’ll read into it.

      This is why H. floresiensis ‘devolved’ on Flores. Less kcal were available so they shrunk in brain size and stature.

      No functional reason to be strong anymore? I strongly disagree.

      It would seem the edge would go to someone who doesn’t concentrate on muscular development as much as neural. If your proclivity is for thinking, then why develop all this muscular-sugar-leaching tissue to compete with your passion of thinking? That isn’t to say that big people can’t be smart and vice versa, but just to point out the competitive advantage, which is all that’s needed on a long enough timescale.

      I do agree that in today’s modern society that brains are far more important than brawn. Though, things don’t last forever and ‘dark ages’ will happen. You will need a good mix of brains/brawn to survive. Sure the nerd can be able to think 2 steps ahead to the strongman’s 1, but in certain situations in this hypothetical dark ages scenario I’m envisioning, being strong will be more important than being intelligent. Obviously the two groups will need to work together, but these two traits are both useful in the context I’m speaking of.

      I didn’t know that about African women being more intelligent than men. That’s an interesting perspective.

      Those who provide the food are more intelligent, evolutionarily speaking, they have to be.

      In your example, do the African women compete for mates? If so, I guess that’s the first mammalian example of sex role reversal. If not, then the women are still in the driver’s seat of evolution.

      Mate competition holds for both sexes. Both sexes are constantly competing for mates. Recall back to my discussion with PP when I said to him that the reason why we attempt to become succesful and do all these things in life is just to make more copies of our genes, nothing more. Read pages 64 and 65 for more info on male and female selection.

      In your example, do the African women compete for mates? If so, I guess that’s the first mammalian example of sex role reversal. If not, then the women are still in the driver’s seat of evolution.

      Both males and females compete for mates. Flashy clothes and new car for a male? Trying to attract women. Make-up and new clothes for a woman? Trying to attract a man.

      Kanazawa makes the case that women are selecting intelligent mates whereas men don’t seem to have a preference.

      Thanks for the paper. I’ll read it tonight and get back to you. This is exactly how thinks happened, evolutionarily speaking. Women needed intelligent men as being more intelligent in Eurasia was conducive to being more successful acquiring food. This is why African women are slightly more intelligent than African men. African women were able to be the selectors which allowed African men to become the more attractive sex, the inverse for Eurasians.

      That reaffirms that women are driving evolution. Kanazawa argues that global intelligence should decline throughout the 21st century because of minority populations out-reproducing. But I think once the socioeconomic status of the whole globe improves, the minority women will also begin to select intelligent men (or remain childless) and the global IQ should rise again.

      Women driving evolution? To a point. Men also select women based on beauty, and if they cannot find a beautiful mate, they ‘settle’ for one that’s less attractive (meaning, someone in ‘their league’). But a woman will (more often than not) always want an intelligent, attractive, tall man (they’re all correlated) to breed with.

      Women in MENA countries are beginning to become more educated. The global IQ MAY rise. If Africa got some sensible institutions and if they are able to get greatly reduce disease and parasitic load as well as get better nutrition, they will have fewer children along with their IQ slowly rising due to better social institutions (ie school).

      Like

  6. RaceRealist says:

    The comment doesn’t appear after you hit “post comment”?

    Like

  7. SophicDrippins says:

    I hit post comment twice. It’s not in a moderation queue?

    Like

  8. SophicDrippins says:

    “if you hit back in the browser and hit reply your comment will still be there.”

    I have the comment saved. I always copy the comment before submitting.

    I replied to your second comment first (the brains/brawn one), then hit submit and the browser refreshed, but I didn’t see the comment so I figured it was in moderation.

    Then I replied to your first comment and it posted (did you see? Up there ^)

    Then I noticed my first comment never showed. So I tried again and still nothing.

    I’ll try once more and if not, I’ll email it to you.

    You can delete this thread if you want. I didn’t have any other way of contacting you.

    Like

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Charles Murray

Arthur Jensen

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