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Punctuated Equilibria

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JP Rushton

Richard Lynn

L:inda Gottfredson

Goodreads

1000 words

I am Rushtonian and Jensenist on many, if not most things. However, when it comes to whether or not evolution is progressive or not, I believe it’s not progressive. It makes no evolutionary sense for evolution to be ‘progressing’ anywhere. As I’ve said millions of times previously and I will still need to say millions of times more, each organism is suited for its environment with Darwin’s Finches being the perfect example of the non-linear, non-progressiveness of evolution. I’ve also had some choice words for Gould and his theories on race, race and IQ and IQ in general. However, just because someone is monumentally wrong on most things, doesn’t mean they are wrong on all things. Punctuated Equilibrium (PE) is a great theory and explains, in my opinion, why there are so few transitional fossils in the fossil record.

Eldredge and Gould (1972) put forth a new theory of evolution called “Punctuated Equilibrium”. In this theory, species are generally stable and only go through swift speciation changes in bursts of time. Since species changed very little, if at all, over millions of years this would leave behind fewer fossils of phenotypic changes in the species.

Charles Darwin understood that evolution was a slow and gradual process. By gradual, Darwin did not mean “perfectly smooth,” but rather, “stepwise,” with a species evolving and accumulating small variations over long periods of time until a new species was born. He did not assume that the pace of change was constant, however, and recognized that many species retained the same form for long periods.

But if evolution were gradual then there would still be transitional fossils. This is one notion that troubled Darwin; if there were no–or hardly any–transitional fossils, is evolution falsified?

The answer is clearly no. This is where Eldredge and Gould’s Punctuated Equilibrium comes in. PE states that species are generally in stasis and hardly go through any phenotypic change over a large amount of time. Species go through little change, according to Gould and Eldredge, over millions of years. “This leisurely pace is “punctuated” by a rapid burst of change that results in a new species and that leaves few fossils behind.” Gould and Eldredge propose that Darwin’s gradualism is nonexistent in the fossil record with stasis dominating the history of most fossils.

This is, in my opinion, one of the best theories for explaining why there are hardly any transitional fossils in the fossil record. Since most species remain in stasis for a long while, phenotypic changes won’t occur and thus we won’t be able to see the speciation in the fossil record because of the long time in stasis. Basically, one an organism appears in the fossil record it remains in stasis for millions of years until it goes through a quick, gradual change. Benton and Pearson (2001) in their paper Speciation in the fossil record state:

An analysis of the results of 58 studies on speciation patterns in the fossil record, published between 1972 and 1995, demonstrates the widespread occurrence of stasis in the fossil record25. Organisms ranged from radiolaria and foraminifera to ammonites and mammals, and stratigraphic ages ranged from the Cambrian to the Neogene, with the majority concentrating in the Neogene, the past 25 million years (My) of the history of the earth. Of the 58 studies, 41 (71%) showed stasis, associated either with anagenesis (15 cases; 37%) or with punctuated patterns (26 cases; 63%). It therefore seems clear that stasis is common and had not been predicted from modern genetic studies. (pg. 408)

That’s pretty amazing. 63 percent of the studies showed punctuated patterns. Clearly, stasis is common in the fossil record. This, in my opinion, answers Darwin’s question as to why there are hardly any transitional fossils. For an example showing the PE in pictures, see Berkely.

Scientists think that species with a shorter evolution evolved mostly by PE while those with a longer evolution evolved by mostly phyletic gradualism. On page 96 of their paper, Eldredge and Gould write:

“In summary, we contrast the tenets and predictions of allopatric speciation with the corresponding statements of phyletic gradualism previously given:

(1) New species arise by the splitting of lineages.

(2) New species develop rapidly.

(3) A small sub-population of the ancestral form gives rise to the new species.

(4) The new species originates in a very small part of the ancestral species’ geographic extent – in an isolated area at the periphery of the range.

These four statements again entail two important consequences:

(1) In any local section containing ancestral species, the fossil record for the descendant’s origin should consist of a sharp morphological break between the two forms. …. we will rarely discover the actual event in the fossil record.

(2) Many breaks in the fossil record are real; they express the way in which evolution occurs, not the fragments of an imperfect record.”

Most of the claims put forth by Eldredge and Gould were controversial to evolutionary biologists when they put their paper forth. However, PE is 100 percent Darwinian and does not contradict Darwinism at all.

The 3 conclusions Eldredge and Gould came to are as follows:

  1. Species generally remain in stasis.
  2. All adaptive changes usually correspond with speciation
  3. NS at the species level has important macroevolutionary changes

In sum, PE was formulated to explain discontinuities between species and not major taxa. This also answers Darwin’s question on why  there were hardly any transitional fossils.

Here is a nice picture to show how PE works in contrast to phyletic gradualism (PG):

fig-8-2-punctuated-equilibrium

PE vs PG

You can see that in the PE model, a species remains in stasis while in the PG model a species is constantly changing. Looking at the fossil record, as I’ve shown previously, we will see that a great majority of species remained in stasis before a sudden phenotypic change (probably a change in environment forcing this). This is why, in my opinion, there are hardly any transitional fossils. This is the best theory to answer Darwin’s question.

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21 Comments

  1. iffen says:

    Somewhat OT

    I like NS because of the homogeneity aspect. That was the main draw for me. Not anything else you have in your head about my supposed character.

    What do you mean by homogeneity aspect? I know you are not talking about race.

    Like

  2. iffen says:

    You keep returning to this objection that you have to the idea that evolution can be considered progressive. OTH you made a big deal over Linh Dinh’s subjects being degenerates. Degeneracy implies retrogression from some ideal or desirable state. You can’t have it both ways.

    Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Degenerate–having lost the physical, mental, or moral qualities considered normal and desirable; showing evidence of decline

      Evidence of decline from the average. Like hard drug use is degenerate. They are degenerate because they deviate from the average of society.

      The non-progressiveness of evolution has nothing to do with people being degenerate (really, a societal construction if you want to get technical).

      And on NS, I like it because of what he did for his country and how he got them out of the economic rut they were in. I’m more libertarian/an cap on my political views now (especially with economics. I’m a Ron Pauler there). The homogeneous aspect is a plus because all countries work better as homogeneous entities (with a birthrate above replacement, of course).

      Read Steven Jay Gould’s critique of evolutionary progress. It’s outstanding and he really pinpoints how and why evolution is not progressive. I strongly disagree with most everything else he’s written, but on Punctuated Equilibria and the non-prpgressiveness of evolution, he is correct. Rushton and Wilson are wrong on evolution being progressive.

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  3. iffen says:

    Strive to be average!

    Saying a hard drug user is degenerate implies that there is “something” that is not being fulfilled. That there is some “purpose” that is not being obtained.

    I think that I understand what you mean when you say evolution is not progressive. OTH, it is quite clear to me that I “value” complex society over the intellectual pleasures that might be had by single-celled life.

    He didn’t rescue his country from economic ruin. The German economy was well on its way to recovery before his grabbing power. In any case, he didn’t do it for everyone in his country, just some, and at a horrible cost to humanity.

    The exchange of objects, ideas and people is an irreplaceable feature of civilization. Even if there is homogeneity in some areas we make up stuff to choose sides over.

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  4. iffen says:

    “as Gould well recognized, our personal or political preferences should not be imposed on nature”

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  5. iffen says:

    Just because we are the most complex critters yet, and we know that because we can look back in time for millions of years and see the rise of complex critters, that is no reason for us to describe it as a trajectory of any sort.

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    • RaceRealist says:

      When I say a drug user is degenerate I mean that he drags society down giving it a bad image. I do agree that addiction is a disease and they do need better help though.

      I think that I understand what you mean when you say evolution is not progressive. OTH, it is quite clear to me that I “value” complex society over the intellectual pleasures that might be had by single-celled life.

      Exactly this. Organisms are fit for their environment, no one organism is “more evolved” or more progressed than another. To believe so is idiocy.

      He didn’t rescue his country from economic ruin. The German economy was well on its way to recovery before his grabbing power. In any case, he didn’t do it for everyone in his country, just some, and at a horrible cost to humanity.

      His first year in power something like 50 percent of Germans got back to work. I forget the exact number I’ll get back to you on that.

      The exchange of objects, ideas and people is an irreplaceable feature of civilization. Even if there is homogeneity in some areas we make up stuff to choose sides over.

      Correct. It’s an innate trait for us to split into groups whether based on ideology or any other similar views one has, as well as to derogate out groups.

      “as Gould well recognized, our personal or political preferences should not be imposed on nature”

      Extremely ironic quote coming from Gould after reading The Mismeasure of Man. Though I know you quoted that for my views on degeneracy. It’s a net negative to society. But I am now rethinking my view on it.

      Just because we are the most complex critters yet, and we know that because we can look back in time for millions of years and see the rise of complex critters, that is no reason for us to describe it as a trajectory of any sort.

      This is some threat PP fails to grasp. PP will quote Rushton who quotes E.O. Wilson who says evolution is progressive due to the ‘trajectory’ of life and how we got to where we are today. This is 100 percent wrong.

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  6. iffen says:

    “Though I know you quoted that for my views on degeneracy.”

    Actually I was thinking of him and his skull measurements misrepresentation.

    Isn’t the thinking on these Hobbit types that the environment must have been that a bigger brain was not needed and it became a liability because of caloric requirements?

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    • RaceRealist says:

      Are you talking about H. Floresiensis? I’ve never heard of a big brain becoming a liability due to caloric requirements but it does make sense. Our brains became bigger after we began cooking. We could extract more nutrients out of the food that aided brain growth. So it seems to be true that consuming less kcal done by H. Floresiensis led to having a smaller brain, as well as smaller body.

      On Gould and Morton’s skulls:

      In the Lewis et al 2011 paper there is an outstanding comment. The guy says that he showed that Gould’s analysis of Morton’s data was wrong in the late 80s.

      Now that twenty years have passed, during which time I had assumed my work had been entirely forgotten, I have gained some perspective. Indeed my technique was imperfect, as was Gould’s and Morton’s. We are all complex human beings just like everyone else.

      The anthropological community had an opportunity to say that my work was somewhat flawed but worthy of considering, but instead it chose to say it was somewhat flawed, and so should be discounted. It could have gone either way. And now we are left to ask why things went the way they did. As an outsider, I am wholly unqualified to answer that question.

      Stephen Gould should be celebrated as an innovative scientist whose significant work on punctuated evolution is way beyond me. However, my sense is that he wanted to be a philosopher and to that end tried to show that science could serve a moral function by proving all men are equal. But science is a tool, so like a primitive stone hammer, which can be used for good or ill. We should not view science as moral or immoral, but rather as amoral. That was Gould’s mistake.

      He even showed his work. I’m going to write on that one day but tomorrow I’m writing on Rushton and Jensen as it’s been 4 years tomorrow that Jensen has died.

      There was also another paper that came out last year in opposition to Lewis et al. I have to read it again as it’s been a while but they make good points.

      It seems like this debate isn’t over by a long shot. But I still go trust Lewis et al’s work. They showed that he overestimated “Native” skulls, falsifying any implicit bias he supposedly had!!

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  7. iffen says:

    An intriguing question for me is whether Gould knew what he was doing and intentionally fudged the numbers or did he “fool” himself. I put a lot of confidence in our ability to “get” the results that we want in the first place while at the same time convincing ourselves that we are just “observing” the facts.

    Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Well Gould didn’t remeasure the skulls himself; he just redid the numbers from Morton. I believe he obfuscated the numbers to fit his egalitarian views. I believe full well he knew exactly what he was doing saying that g is reified and not pinpointing any biological factor. Though that’s wrong and I’ve rebutted that here.

      Gould, Lewontin, Rose, Diamond, and Kamin are all self-professed Marxists and its clear that they let their ideology drive their scientific work. I seem to recall a quote where one, I believe it was Rose or Lewontin, who said that it’s fine that Marxism drives their science. Something to that effect. I’ll grab the quote in a few hours.

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  8. iffen says:

    “Are you talking about H. Floresiensis?”

    Yes, I don’t have a scientific background so you will have to bear with me.

    It seems to me that if they started with a bigger brain that they would keep it unless the environment changed in such a manner to select against it. I guess this would apply to any other organ or feature.

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  9. iffen says:

    “So it’s posited that homo erectus made is to the island at least 800kya and natural selection drove it to have a smaller brain and small stature to cope with a lack of food.”

    If this hypothesis is correct, it seems to run counter the idea that “we” are always “progressing.” 🙂

    Thanks for researching this.

    You don’t seem to have an open thread so I have to go off topic and ask, Why do the black bell and the white bell have such obviously different shapes? Perhaps you have written on this and can point me to the relevant post. I am reading your archives, but I have a lot of other reading that I am doing as well.

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    • RaceRealist says:

      iffen,

      Exactly. This is an example with homonids that shows that evolution isn’t “progressive”.

      Why do the black bell and the white bell have such obviously different shapes?

      It’s the IQ distribution of whites and blacks in proportion to each group’s population.

      Like

  10. Santoculto says:

    Micro or single organisms and and and becoming macro and/or complex organisms…

    we are nations of this micro organisms…

    complex organisms evolved from simple organisms

    if it’s not progressive i don’t know what i may be…

    Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      We aren’t that “complex”.

      Like

    • iffen says:

      Equating complexity with progression is a value judgement. Evolution makes no such determination; it just allows for certain entities to survive by virtue of their being lucky enough to be in tune with their environment. From our vantage it appears to us that we are the pinnacle; we’re number one. Fact is, if the environment is “correct” then “evolution” will throw in with idiocracy and not shed a tear.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Exactly. It is a value judgment. A judgment that can’t be objectively quantified and anything we say it will be tinted with our biases. It’d about environment, PP is trying to rehash the great chain of being which has been discredited by biologists since the 19th century. H. floresiensis shows how this is the case.

      Like

  11. iffen says:

    “It’s the IQ distribution of whites and blacks in proportion to each group’s population.”

    I know that.

    Why is the black one flat in relation to white one which more sharply peaked?

    Like

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