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Evolution is *NOT* Progressive: Part Two

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JP Rushton

Richard Lynn

L:inda Gottfredson

Goodreads

3800 words

Previous articles here, here, here, here, and here.

PP is moderating my comments again, posting response here.

When exploring such intuitive reasoning, it’s important to note first that the idea of evolutionary “advancement” is not a particularly scientific idea. It is tempting to view organisms that are more similar to humans as more “advanced”; however, this is a biased and invalid perspective. There is no universal scale for “advancement” that favors human-like traits over spider-like, whale-like, or fir-like traits.

“Postmodernist egalitarian propaganda has even spread to zoology.”

Strawman.

You damn well know my politics, so you can’t say that I hold this view because I’m a postmodernist egalitarian spreading this to zoology.

Good comeback.

You can use those words all you want, that doesn’t say anything to what is written. You’re just politicizing this conversation when I’ve brought no politics into it.

I guess Darwin was one of those too since he wrote a note to himself to never call species “higher” or “lower” than one another; but what does he know?

“When you’re comparing life forms of equivalent taxa, you can not arbitrary reorient the tree. You have a common ancestor A. A splits into branches B and C. If B does not split, but C splits into D and E, then D and E are typically more evolved than B, because each split typically (not always) represents an evolutionary development like speciation.”

Still repeating the same garbage.

This is so funny and so wrong. An organism may have “more advanced” (whatever arbitrary trait you want to use) than another and be “lower” on the tree.

A population splitting off from another and becoming a founder population for a new species don’t mean that the new species is “more evolved”; it just means a gross misunderstanding of reading evolutionary trees and thinking about evolution.

The tree doesn’t equal “A < B < C < D”. This is what you don’t understand.

“I thought you said there was no such thing as “more evolved”. So you now admit you were wrong.”

No no. I still used “quotes” for “more evolved”. Just showing what the article said. Of course popular science articles use shitty, attention-grabbing titles; that’s how they get clicks.

“Your Berkeley quotes are way too sophomoric for a blog as advanced as this one. You need to step your game big time if you wan to continue this discussion.”

I laughed. I love your blog and there’s great conversation and you have good ideas, but you’re wrong on somethings and progressive evolution is one of them. You can say I “need to step my game up if I want to continue discussion”, but I’m bringing up good points. I’m directly showing how you’re wrong in reading these trees. Read the papers they cite, surveys were taken on how people read these trees and many people, like you, read them the completely wrong way. The biologists corrected it. You calling it postmodernist egalitarian propaganda is meaningless because I’m not pushing an egalitarian argument, I don’t believe in egalitarianism at all. I believe each organism is “good enough” for its environment and when the environment changes for good, it will change and develop new phenotypic traits. That doesn’t mean that the new species is “more evolved”, it means that evolution occurred to better survive. That’s it. Any reading into trees like you do is wrong and has been pointed out. You’re just repeating the same tired things that have been rebutted. But I need to step my game up. OK.

“Chimps could be more evolved than humans but it’s pretty unlikely, given their inferiority. I would have to examine their taxonomical history to be sure though, to see which lineage has travelled through more equivalent level taxa.”

Chimps are suited to their environment. That’s not an ‘egalitarian statement”, that’s the truth. The term has no biological basis. It’s ‘good enough’ for its environment. You’re just rehashing the great chain of being which is garbage.

“We hate things we can’t understand.”

I completely understand it. I’ve shown there’s no unidirectional trends in evolution due to the frequency of environmental change, the multitude of factors underlying fitness, the possibility of frequency-dependant epistatic interactions amongst features, and selection occurring within population. But I don’t “understand” it.

“Actually it’s brilliant conjecture. I’m sorry if it’s just too subtle for you.”

Too subtle? I just showed you how to read it and you’re saying it’s “too subtle” for me? You’re the one with fantasies of evolution being progressive and “more evolved” organisms. This has no evolutionary basis. I’ve established that. Rushton=psychologist. Not evolutionary biologist. I love Rushton, but of course by going outside of his field he’d make wrong conjectures. Do you believe everything that Rushton ever wrote? Do you think he was wrong on anything?

“Duh! But the concept you can’t seem to grasp is equal time evolving != equal amount of evolving.”

No way to quantify this. Any traits chosen will be arbitrary. This is what you don’t seem to grasp. Which of Darwin’s Finches are ‘more evolved’? You read trees so horribly wrong. Please go tell Razib how you read these trees. I want to see what he says.

“It’s like saying, Usain Bolt and I both spent an hour running. We must have travelled the same amount of distance. Don’t be stupid, RaceRealist!”

Wow, you win. sarcasm

Read up on muscle fiber typing and get back to me.

“he runs faster than me for a short amount of time; this proves that there are ‘more evolved’ organisms than others”. How stupid does that sound? Don’t be stupid, PumpkinPerson!

“Good comeback.”

I showed how you’re wrong the evolutionary tree.

An organisms placement on the tree is arbitrary, the trees branches can be rotated, blah blah blah. There’s so much information for you to read about this out there. Here.

Let me Google that for you, PP.

“You continue to miss the point. See my Usain Bolt analogy above. Two people can run for the same amount of time but when can have traveled through more spatial distance. Similarly, two lineages can evolve for an equal amount of time, but one has evolved through more taxonomical distance.”

I do not miss the point. Your Usain Bolt analogy is garbage. Just because one “evolves through more taxonomical distance” doesn’t mean that it’s “more evolved”. Email any evolutionary biologist or stop by Razib and tell him what you think on this matter.

There is one species. One small subset of that one species diverges 500 miles away into a completely different environment. Selection only occurs on heritable alleles. Over time since this species isn’t adapted to that environment, those who can’t survive die. Those who survived incurred mutations to help them survive and through natural selection they passed on the heritable gene variants to help them survive. They turn into a new species. The same thing happens again. The third species is not “more evolved” than the two previous ones. It went through different selection pressures and thus different heritable phenotypic traits occurred in that organism so it could survive. Just because an organism goes through different selection pressures doesn’t mean it’s “more evolved” because of differing selection pressures.

Let’s say that whites and East Asians died out one day, only leaving the equatorial races. Are they still “more evolved”. Do you see how retarded that is now?

“More evolved only means superior or more complex if you believe evolution is progressive, the very assertion you deny.”

I do deny. I said that as “more evolved means superior or more complex” because they would logically follow. That’s the logical progression. As I’ve said, you’re rehashing the great chain of being.

“But without the assumption of progress, more evolved simply means having undergone more evolutionary change.”

Not quantifiable. I’ve written at least 20,000 words on this on why you’re wrong.

The ‘more evolutionary change’ occurred due to a different environment. ‘More change’ isn’t ‘more time’ evolving. This isn’t scientifically quantifiable.

“No you’ve misunderstood my argument. If H floresiens evolved from H erectus, then by definition it is more evolved because it has evolved into one extra taxa then its ancestor.”

This is baseless in biology. It’s ‘more evolved’ yet smaller in stature and with a smaller brain; the thing that “more evolved” organisms don’t have. You just said that brain size and intelligence correlate with the tree branches, which is implying brain size and intelligence to be the traits you’ve chosen. Well, I choose the ability to breath underwater naturally. Who’s ‘most evolved’ then? Ask any biologist about this, see what they say.

“My argument is (1) some extant organisms are more evolved than others”

This is a premise, not an argument.

“More evolved organisms are ON AVERAGE superior to less evolved organisms, but there are lots of exceptions to this general trend.”

This is a premise, not an argument.

“You keep conflating argument 1 with argument 2. Please read more carefully before belabouring this point.”

Those are premises, not arguments. Please learn the difference between premises and arguments. They are wrong.

“Yes, I’m well aware of that theory.”

This is one reason why it occurred, the ‘devolution’ of H. floresiensis, AKA evolving to adapt to its environment.

“My definition is having undergone more evolution, full stop. So a monkey that evolves into a human and then evolves back into a monkey is more evolved than a monkey that merely evolves into a human. But as far as I know, examples of backwards evolution are relatively rare (homo florensis is the only documented case among primates, and even it is extremely controversial) but Mugabe has implied it’s common in simpler organisms. But perhaps once you get beyond a basic threshold of complexity, it becomes very unlikely to go backwards.”

Monkeys don’t “evolve” into humans!!! You have a Pokemon-like understanding of evolution. It’s pretty concrete. They had to have come from somewhere and I documented great evidence that shows it’s true. It is ‘common’ in ‘simpler organisms’. And it’d be common for humans too, the ‘most evolved’ ‘most adaptable’ species. We will respond to our environment.

An asteroid crashes into earth and blocks out the sun. Then what? We’d evolve differently. We wouldn’t be ‘more evolved’ if we changed into a new species if that pressure was long enough. ‘Complexity’ is not definable!

“The latter. If an organism has to evolve into a new species to adapt to its environment, then obviously the original species was not very adaptable. Humans are arguably the most adaptable organism precisely because we’re one of the few organisms that doesn’t have to evolve in order to adapt. We don’t need to change our genes because we can change our behavior, and now we’ve even learned how to change our behavior to change our genes.”

What do you mean? The founding population of the new species was the same as the old species. But through natural selection (and even when NS is weak as I’ve shown), changes occur. But that doesn’t mean “more evolved” or “more adaptable”. It means an organism survived because it was “good enough”.

When humans die out for good and other organisms are still here, will we still be ‘more evolved’?

I’ve shown 6 million times that we aren’t as ‘complex’ as you think we are.

He approved it, replied, and I gave him this reply.

The people you are citing are brainwashed by postmodernist views and you accept their interpretations uncritically.

Not an argument. I can say that Rushton is brain washed. Where does that get us?

Of course. But generally speaking, the more splits on the evolutionary tree you’re descended from, the more evolved you are.

Not quantifiable. Any trait chosen is arbitrary.

Of course. But generally speaking, the more splits on the evolutionary tree you’re descended from, the more evolved you are.

No one looks, except laymen, look at a tree like that and see what you’re seeing. Email Cavalli about that.

Of course it does. More evolved means having undergone more evolution. How do you know when you’ve undergone more evolution? When you’ve evolved into something new.

RaceRealist is saying “just because we ran a mile, and you split off and ran another mile, doesn’t mean you’ve run more miles than me!”

Yes it does.

Evolving into something new, speciation, occurs due to pressures from the environment. You’re trying to throw a mask of evolutionary progress there, but it doesn’t work like that.

Splitting off means nothing.

But ‘progress to adapt’ doesn’t always mean ‘gets better’, in the grand, anthropomorphic scheme of things. Cave animals for example have evolved to lose their sense of sight (because mutations that negatively disrupted vision were not detrimental, and actually allowed them to save energy that otherwise would be spent towards maintaining vision systems). They’re better fit for living in caves, but I think one could easily argue that that adaptation significantly reduced their ability to survive elsewhere. Similarly, a polar bear putting on extra padding and thicker fur makes it better suited for the arctic, but strikingly less suited for further south ranges, and not surprisingly, you don’t see polar bears in the US.

Evolution pressures organisms to become better fit to the environment they’re currently in, because those organisms that are better suited than their competitors are the one’s that produce yet more competitive progeny to continue the process. Evolution doesn’t care about more evolved Zorn progress, or your masked great chain of being. It’s an ongoing process, whether there is speciation or not. That’s what you don’t understand.

No, RaceRealist, I’m not merely reading from left to right. What I’m saying is A < B = C < D = E

Splits on a tree typically indicate speciation. So whatever species is descended from the greatest number of splits, typically has the most species in its ancestry. Since evolving into a new species reflects evolutionary change, whoever is the descendent of the most species (within a given taxa) has experienced the most evolutionary change. Most evolutionary changed = most evolved.

Trees are read in terms of most recent common ancestors. The ancestor before is not more or less evolved. And when you bring this argument to human races you’re most definitely applying superiority here which I’ve shown doesn’t exist in biology. You’ve basically just read left to right. You’re saying a is better than b who’s better than c who’s better than d who’s better than e. Each one is set for their environment. Saying one is more evolved is a stealth way to say “superior” and “progressive” evolution.

When the biologist say it doesn’t matter which species is on the left or right of the tree, they are correct. However my point is that whichever species is descended from the most SPLITS on the tree is TYPCALLY the most evolved. If you don’t like the term most evolved, then can we at least agree they’ve generally undergone the most evolutionary change?

And other times you’d be wrong. Because trees aren’t just not typically read like that, they are never read kkk that. It’s in terms of common ancestors.

Yes actually that’s exactly what it means. Undergoing more evolutionary change makes you more evolved. It doesn’t matter WHY you’re more evolved.

This is such a 5th grade understanding of an ultra complex concept. Evolution is an ongoing process. So one species isn’t more evolved than its predecessor. This is where your misconceptions are huge.

If they’ve been rebutted, explain the high correlation between number of splits each of these populations is descended from, and brain size/IQ. If number of splits is completely meaningless, no such correlation should exist:

This is an utterly ridiculous claim, because ‘number of splits’ has literally nothing to do with ‘duration of separation’, and everything to do with A ) resolution used to depict the tree, and B ) number of offshoots. For example, monotremes are one of the three original mammal offshoots, and there have been very few offshoots from that lineage relative to marsupials or eutherians. Explain the high correlation? Because those groups went to colder climates. Simple.

More evolved is quantified by the number of taxa you’re descended from within a given taxa. The traits favoured are not arbitrary, they’re decided by examining the most evolved specimens.

But they would be arbitrary. Because organisms survive with the traits they have. Natural selection selects from the current heritable variations already in that species. Therefore any traits you choose will be arbitrary. You can’t say E is more evolved than A because it comes from more splits. Please ask Razib Khan if that’s correct. Or email a biologist. I’d love to see the response.

Yes they are, until the equatorial races catch up to where the Eurasians left off.

Evolution is not a linear line. It won’t happen the same for others. What do t you get about that? Evolution isn’t linear.

Correlation != PERFECT correlation

If it happened once it’ll happen again. The fact that it happened to H. erectus, one with a bigger brain, it throws a wrench in your theory. Island dwarfism is also another reason why they changed that abruptly. That doesn’t mean more evolved. It mean different selection pressure.

But according to you evolution is not progressive so why would more evolved imply superior? If evolution is completely directionless as you imply, then more evolved organisms would be just as likely to be inferior as inferior.

RaceRealist logic: “people don’t walk in any direction, but the people who’ve walked most have walked most North”

“More evolved” implies “superior”. If the “more evolved” organism is “more evolved” than the “less evolved” organism, that means its “higher” than the other organism. That’s “superiority”. It doesn’t exist in biology. Yes more “evolved organisms” are just as likely to be “inferior” than “less evolved” organisms. Because evolution has no direction. No organism is worse or better than another. No organism is “more or less evolved” than another.

Whoever has gone through the most evolutionary change since the shared common ancestor.

Whoever goes through evolutionary change has to to to survive. Evolutionary trees are read in terms of most common ancestors. That’s it.

You have a concrete definition of a monkey. Broadly speaking, a monkey is any sub-human higher primate, including the anthropoid apes

 

They still don’t evolve into humans.

Under extreme cases we’d evolve drastically, but unlike other animals, we went from sub-Saharan Africa to the arctic without evolving into a new species. That’s an incredible accomplishment.

Sewall Wright believed the Fst value to be great enough between the races to call them separate species. He would know because he kinda invented the concept. Of course we’d evolve drastically, because we’d have a new change to the environment. That’s what happens. It doesn’t mean more evolved. That more evolved organism will die in an environment where its no suited. It’s that simple.

Yes we would because in order to evolve into something new, you have to do MORE EVOLVING!

In order to evolve into a new species, new selection pressures are needed. Why you’re using these terms, I don’t know why.

Sure it is. Most people would agree that angiosperms are more complex than slime molds and that multicellular organisms are more complex that prokaryotes with no nucleus, and that the human mind is more complex than a snake’s brain.

Who is “most people”? Average Joe and Jane? Why should I care what a layperson thinks? Read the paper I linked and get back to me.

If the founding population were able to adapt as it was, changes would not have needed to occur.

Where do you get these ideas about evolution?

The founding population adapted genotypically which obviously after that occurs the phenotype is affected. Then speciation occurs after long enough. Remember Punctuated Equilibria. Long time in stasis, quick jump to a new species. Most fossils have been in stasis. When an organism moves into an area, it either adapts or dies. Those traits are already in the population, natural selection selects for alleles that are beneficial to that organism. If the founding population can’t adapt, it wouldn’t have turned into the new species anyway. This is where you’re confused.

Yes, but maybe in another few million years, something else will have experienced even more evolution than we have.

Why should I care about “maybe”? I care about what’s quantifiable. From what I’m seeing, you’re attempting to revive the great chain of being. It’s a junk argument. Time matters, not amount of splits, for evolution. You looking at a tree, seeing more splits and saying aha!! More evolved! Shows a rudimentary understanding of evolution.

The human mind is the most complex known object in the universe.

The universe is the most complex known object in the universe


Why PP doesn’t grasp this yet is beyond me. Maybe it’s Rushton hero worship. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t want to be wrong on something he’s so invested in. Whatever the case may be, he’s persistence in repeating the same things that have been shown to be false is pretty damn annoying. It shows he doesn’t care about the actual data and how trees are read, for one, and call it Marxist propaganda that I’m pushing on zoology. As if I’m a Marxist. I’m the direct antithesis of Marxist. His strawmen don’t mean anything, I’ve more than made a good enough case that what he’s saying has no basis in evolutionary biology but he continues to push it. Hopefully one day he understands how wrong he is here.

Most people become blind and have tunnel vision with their beliefs. No matter how many times they’re shown that they’re wrong and here is why they still hold on to their beliefs. People don’t like to hear that they are wrong. When people are presented with contrary information, they gather support for their beliefs with “paradoxical enthusiasm”.This is because people have become so invested in their worldview that when provided contradictory evidence they lack the self-esteem to admit they were wrong and change their view. There is also something called “the backfire effect“, in which correcting of a wrong perception actually increases misperceptions. The tunnel vision that people with huge misconceptions have, in this case progressive evolution and “more evolved” organisms, leads to them attempting to find anything they can to substantiate their claims, even if they’re objectively false. This is the perfect example of that in effect in action. People don’t want know that their worldview is wrong. They don’t want to alter it, even when shown factual information that directly refutes what they say.

Hopefully one day PP can set aside his bias, join us in the real world, and objectively look at the data and see how wrong he truly is.
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