OPEN DISCUSSION SEPTEMBER 2019

Sep 1, 2019

This thread has been created for discussion on themes relevant to Reason and Science for which there are not currently any dedicated threads.

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OPEN DISCUSSION JUNE 2019

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OPEN DISCUSSION AUGUST 2019

83 comments on “OPEN DISCUSSION SEPTEMBER 2019

  • The September open discussion thread is now open.

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  • It’s a globalist delusion to believe that the worldwide population explosion can be alleviated by “lifting nations out of poverty.”  That lacks common sense and it ignores cultural conditions as well as facts.

    People in some cultures will not “make better decisions” if they are more prosperous but will have as many children as they can afford.  It’s blind to ignore religion as a cause.

    I once saw a story about a Pakistani man who bragged about having over 100 children.  He said he was blessed by Allah.   Islamic cultures have an attitude that maximum children is a holy thing.  It has nothing to do with money.  In the Catholic cultures we see the same thing.  They take procreation to an extreme degree because of their religion.   Guatemala is still impoverished but their prosperity and population have increased simultaneously.  That Central American nation will DOUBLE its population over the next 25 years.

    We must also note that the deeply religious Hindu culture worships a God of Fertility (Shiva).  Their holy statues are of sexual organs.  India, despite greatly increased prosperity has continued to explode in population.  It will be a catastrophe for the country.  And they will be spewing more carbon as a result.

    Africa will explode in population.  My study of anthropology taught me that a large family is a cultural thing among their tribes.  It has nothing to do with money.

    World income re-distribution is not the issue or answer.  The cultures must change. Report abuse

  • Dennis G. Carrier  #2

    The cultures must change.

    On that we agree. Education is an essential part of any programme or plan for bringing about a more equitable world in which population growth is kept within manageable limits.

    You mention examples of traditional, religion-dominated societies where having large numbers of children is encouraged. Significant in each of them is the subordinate status of women, who are deprived of their natural right to decide when to bear a child. Women’s financial dependence on male relatives in such societies, especially in poor societies, where fewer opportunities for making money exist, ensure that they toe the socially approved line on a woman’s place and role.

    Whether one is a globalist or not, economic conditions in a society affect the rate of its population growth. Enabling people to improve their standards of living and create further prospects for themselves and their children increases their material security so that they no longer feel the need to beget large numbers of children; indeed, they come to the point where they limit the number of children they have in order to maintain their standard of living.

    https://populationmatters.org/the-facts/development?gclid=CjwKCAjw-7LrBRB6EiwAhh1yXy9tfC9Ik3cn6idx_NomuHXBeSE2pXKpkMDubsS9nYvkPNJOOJqmJRoCsBcQAvD_BwE

    Pax et bonum. Report abuse

  • Dennis and Cairsley, I join what both of you are saying.  Don’t you think the solution to both population explosion and global poverty is found first and foremost most in the empowerment of women?  How many times did we hear Christopher Hitchens say that?  

    I’m also reminded of many points raised by Steven Pinker in Enlightenment Now.  As humanist ideals take root and thrive, health standards rise, infant morality rates fall, people are not driven to having as many children as possible, improvement in food production techniques makes nutrition more affordable.  Et cetera, et cetera. 

    Dennis, I wonder how much of the cultural drive for large families is dictated by male dominance and how quickly those attitudes would change if women were in charge of their bodies as well as other aspects of society— for example political and economic.  Furthermore, you say:  “It’s blind to ignore religion as a cause.”  I couldn’t agree more.  In my opinion whether in India, Africa, Latin America, Islamic countries, or the United States, the biggest impediment to humanist progress is religion.  Funny how most of the gods are male.  On the other hand, where religion is the weakest, standards of living are the highest.  I’m encouraged by the studies the show religion is loosing its influence and I think the historical trend favors reason. Report abuse

  • Michael 100 #4 and Dennis G. Carrier #2

    Religions and other long-established superstitious worldviews in ancient, traditional societies are usually the obstacles to women’s personal autonomy and empowerment and to the progressive improvement of economic conditions, and thus to the significant reduction of birthrates that results from both of these. Hence, the importance of education as an essential part of the solution.

    Whether and how globalization of financial systems affects these problems and their solutions is a murky area for me. I do see that multinational corporations in a globalized financial system can operate outside any legal constraints in many ways, and that their goals have nothing to do with the welfare of any nation’s citizenry. Is this a problem that can only be solved by creating a world government? But whatever transpires about that, the population problem can right now be addressed by empowering women with their natural human rights and overcoming poverty. Report abuse

  • “I once saw a story about a Pakistani man who bragged about having over 100 children.  He said he was blessed by Allah.”

    (comment 2 by Dennis)

    I´m not following any discussion here, only felt it was fun to comment.

    I guess that´s not religion you should have to blame, anyway, even not being “scientific” psychanalisis provides us with a functional kind of explanation of na alter ego, God (Man himself, male, not a female of course).

    I saw a man too, mentioning with pride for having a large number of children, not mentioning religion.

    Sociobiology gives a better hint to grasp it, why do male men (a funny combination “male man”) feel proud to refer to a large number of children of their own? I far as I know (male men) men, even in cultures you referring to, must have children according to their welfair, the man you are referring to must be capable for providing his children with food etc.

    Not to mention that a few  muslim countries have a fierce birth control of natality by inniciative of couples that make no mistake and really avoid having a large number of children with “scientific accuracy” (as far as there´s no free abortion there)…. as far as Portugal with a large population that mentions to be catholic will have serious problems in the next few years, the population will decrease and schools lack young people already, nontheless, in a referedum that took place, the population didn´t follow the advices of tha RCC and voted proabortion. What I mean is thar Sociology is necessary to investigate in the field, in a serious way.

    Anyway the balance between male´s pride for a large number of children of their own and female´s in the survival of their ofspring must have made the natural social institution of marriage functional, and religion and religious leaders are not always part of the game (an ancient tradition too of roman “pater famílias”, the chief of the family that was able to take decisions about his family, not even the king would disagree).

     

    Just for fun, in time of cold War, russian scientists would make children among all women who wanted a “smart child” to bennefit the country´s progress, and the scientist would walk across villages (as kind of a pope) to make “smart kids”.

      Report abuse

  • “Hence, the importance of education as an essential part of the solution.”

    Cairsley on comment 5

     

    Not to mention that to me you seem to be debating a complex subject from a simplistic point of view, moreover, blaming “religion” as the mother of all problems.

    There are academic disciplines to study population rates of birth, and all aspects of a society (Sociology).

    I´ll put here a link to a portuguese academic just as example, you can skip it,it´s just you to know that a “cure” demands the right diagnosis.

    https://lifestyle.sapo.pt/familia/artigos/quais-as-consequencias-da-queda-da-natalidade-em-portugal

    That´s not necessary to know Portuguese, you can of course translate a few lines of texto, just to have idea of what I mean.

     

     

    See this link too as an exemple to remind you to bear in mind that social life is complex and requires sociologists to analise trends, etc.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_planning_in_Iran

    I´ve watched myself interviews to iranian couples about family planning.

  • I agree with much of the above.  It’s very obvious that, as with evolution of all species, humanity uses a sort of “brute force” approach to tackle its problems and to obey its core drive; reproduction.  Instead of having fewer children that we can provide more for, and take better care of in all aspects, we have 100000x more, so that by their collective energy, they can take care of us.

    I believe it’s also the case that if we were able to better care for a [smaller] population, there would be less need for God, gods, and religions to fill the void.

    I do wish we had equal rights and equal air time.  Driving through Waco, TX, today…not only is every other radio station religious, they also have several channels which sound like music of various types, but are religious programs.  They have several talk radio stations which are, in fact, religious.  They have Sports programming and News stations, which are religious programming.  No wonder we aren’t seeing much progress.  If Secularism were an Arms Race, we are losing “Bigly”.  It’s nice we have a discussion board like this, but also sad in a way. Report abuse

  • In fact, that´s the way things are supposed to be in civilised countries where religious creeds coexist in a free society, not unsual that some creeds demand “equal rights” (like mórmom) in a society with eight centuries of catholicism, for instance. People are free to have all strange creeds (and non-religious either), but that´s how things are supposed to be, and there´s  nothing wrong with it, as far as a solid  ideology  lays behind, which is secure to support freedom, and “witch hunting” becomes unnecessary. I myself don´t feel concerned for the increasing tv specialised channels, religious, sportive, etc.,as far as that´s how things are supposed to be. Freedom is certainly one of the dearest values I feel of great importance, so, I don´t feel menaced by non-sense so far. Non-sense doesn´t desapear with “atheism” and science and persists even after a scientific education (in fact I know people who don´t follow any religion or believe in  God (from those countries you´d suppose to be “ideal”), however, they believe in tarot etc. Report abuse

  • He seemed old and

    kept

    ,https://youtu.be/ytvZaryTDhg

     

    repeating the same concern all the time.

     

    The subject, object of discussion here -I guess by reading August/September comments.

    Then religion becomes also the topic , the usual topic a “propos de tout”.

  • Maria Melo  #8

    Not to mention that to me you seem to be debating a complex subject from a simplistic point of view, moreover, blaming “religion” as the mother of all problems.

    It would indeed be simplistic of me to blame “religion as the mother of all problems”, and I cannot account for it seeming to you that I had done so. I thought you made a good point at #6, where you mention the pride of men in the number of offspring they have begotten — that is something readily observed, though I would not generalize it to every man. Still, I recognize it as one of the factors underlying cultural norms, practices and institutions.

    You mention the Roman paterfamilias as though his were not a religious position. As you may know, the religion of the ancient Mediterranean was based on the veneration of ancestors, the Lares. Each family was a religious institution, among other things, and the head of the family, the paterfamilias, was its priest, who performed the daily ritual at the household shrine. Within his family, he was also magistrate and lawgiver. It was very much the kind of patriarchy that feminists and reasonable people now abhor. But note the religious character it also had. The authority of the paterfamilias was buttressed and enhanced by the authority of the ancestors, whose spirits resided still beneath the house. Report abuse

  • Religions and other long-established superstitious worldviews in ancient, traditional societies are usually the obstacles to women’s personal autonomy and empowerment and to the progressive improvement of economic conditions, and thus to the significant reduction of birthrates that results from both of these. Hence, the importance of education as an essential part of the solution.

     

    Hi Cairsley,

     

    Just in one statement you have enough complex concepts, as for instance, the role of superstitions in ancient traditional societies, and I was just wondering that, not necessarly the political leader of those traditional societies is the “religious leader” (it always has been like this from medieval European History, so it´s even wrong when some people classify all religious societies as “Theologies”?). I looked to think of it  as an “anthropological rule of societies” (if I can do that), and gave a clear exemple (see how the large portuguese population that assume to be “catholic”  didn´t vote in a referedum accordingly to instrutions of religious leaders, once they voted proabortion despite all instrutions given by religious leaders in contrary? Can it be that “marriage” is a natural social institution and couples like themselves to decide the number of children without interepherence of political or religious leaders? I consider important that  couples can have some help by giving them access to “birth planning”. “Women economic authonomy”?? (I had a professor who I dislike that made of it the subject the subject of her Ph D, in “traditional societies of Mozambique).

    I guess “birth planning” has do do more with “science”, that´s the necessary, not that women have a job outsider home, as simple as that. Report abuse

  • It’s always a mistake, I think, to see eliminating religion as the prerequisite for solving social ills. Quite apart from the fact it will never be eliminated altogether – de-clawed, yes, but eliminated, no – the fact is, history shows there’s only one way to reduce the influence of religion … and that is to solve the social ills that feed it.

    The answer to both religion and social ills (including over-population) involves a long but steady process of education, female emancipation, affordable healthcare, rising living standards, and some kind of social welfare safety net.

    Put those things in place, and individuals no longer need to live fearfully, always limited by terror of the worst. This frees them up to rely on one another, rather than on large numbers of children or divine intervention, to take care of them at times of need.

    Deal with the social ills, and both over-population and religion will decline all by themselves. Report abuse

  • Hi Marco,

     

    I don´t know if Im back, I feel that I don´t have enough time to do nothing, and just made a comment in my last day of holidays.

    PS: The footage of the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being slaped by a religious leader because he said religious leaders were suffocating the civil population (I guess that´s how it was, because the footage of the slap have been removed from internet) was very iconic to me too of this functionalist “anthropological rule” I´m mentioning, I will never Forget it. Report abuse

  • You mention the Roman paterfamilias as though his were not a religious position. As you may know, the religion of the ancient Mediterranean was based on the veneration of ancestors, the Lares. Each family was a religious institution, among other things, and the head of the family, the paterfamilias, was its priest, who performed the daily ritual at the household shrine.

     

    I would need a historian to clear, but the pater famílias, head of houselhold, remained despite the social evolution it might have suffered from roman tradition.

    Vikings had a similar religion in household and head of household too, it seems.

    I was referring that (independently of being or not being a “religious figure” as it might have been in roman society), the figure of a head of household remained respectful, (even the king wouldn´t dare to disrespect the authorithy figure of the head of household”, why would a religious leader?) So, the number of children, I guess, was not, is not, a religious decision from religious leaders, and never was I guess. Of course, totalitarian states like the former Soviet Union were disrespectuful of all familiy natural institution (in the same sense than Plato).

    In fact, one of the two women that participated in democratic election in Portugal, one of them  was a widow, considered then as the head of household, that´s why she voted.

    I was just wondering if religious leaders really have authority to decide the number of children couples decide to have. I don´t think so, nor do I think to consider religion as responsive for the rate of births.

    My grandma, as I heard, knew “technics of abortion” (as a pin in uterus, as a technic, despite the fact that she mustn´t have been sexually active after the age of 50 considering herself too old for such activities). Wasn´t she religious? Yes she was. Do people follow the exact advices of the cleargy? Not always!It is a pratical decision, more practical than “superstition”, less complicated than “religious creeds”, it´s a necessary practical decision, not related with superstion directly, I guess. Report abuse

  • Dennis and Cairsley, I join what both of you are saying.  Don’t you think the solution to both population explosion and global poverty is found first and foremost most in the empowerment of women?  How many times did we hear Christopher Hitchens say that?  

    Christopher Hitchens reffered essencially to latin american societies. I don´t really know how much times did Christopher Hitchens said that, it doesn´t make the point for me. It would be so nice that nations got wealthy after giving women power to decide if they want more children, economical rules would become much easier. comment 4 by Michael

     

    Report abuse

  • Women, even from “traditional societies” are aware of their lack of political power (for instance a really aboriginal traditional society where men kept all day long doing nothing and women serving their meals, amazonian tribes where a woman complained to an anthropologist that the head/chief of the tribe was sexist), but when women don´t have the guts to come forward and even agree with religious discrimination, that´s  strange to make the change. And Christopher Hitchens was one of those discriminatory men when he once said that women don´t need to be funny, and some where “funny” in fact for being gay, etc.

    I don´t agree with Christopher Hitchens in many points, even the agressive way that made for instances Noam Chomsky turn his back to the “new atheism”. Ok, he can have his ideas, but sociologists have methods, academic education and ethics to analyse societies. Report abuse

  • I feel in the moods of making my silly homage to Richard Dawkins, in case I don´t comment so soon:

    “We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” ― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

    Uau, RD has the right idea of cultural relativism and about the long history of humankind and it´s real grandeur (as Claude Levy-Strauss might have).

    Do we really want that the idea of humanity´s real grandeur, when we think of religion (as catholicism with doctrines that go back 2 centuries or so), are too relevant for world population growth?

    Reprodution might have been “sacred” as a form of “first religion” ok, but that´s not strange, reproduction has its crutial importance.

    (one of the first currency in history was a shell that simbolised the feminin vulve, Oh God, how “pagan”?)

      Report abuse

  • Marco  #14

    Your distinction between de-clawing and eliminating religion is very much to the point. Superstition (including the forms of it commonly recognized as religions) is built into us by our evolutionary past, so the focus of our efforts towards an enlightened society needs to be on ensuring that government is not based on superstitious influences.

     

    Maria Melo

    You give good examples of people in nominally religious societies who defy the directions of the religious authorities. That of course is good news. The power that Roman Catholic authorities have wielded in the past in such countries as Portugal and Ireland has since significantly waned. The de-clawing is working nicely. That is the result of what Marco succinctly summarized at #14 as “a long but steady process of education, female emancipation, affordable healthcare, rising living standards, and some kind of social welfare safety net.” Report abuse

  • “a long but steady process of education, female emancipation, affordable healthcare, rising living standards, and some kind of social welfare safety net.”

     

    (comment 14 by Marco)

     

    I don´t doubt there was quality of education and some wealth that supported the revolutionary  social ant political drastic change  in Portuguese society in 1974 that allowed “Affordable healthcare, rising living standards, and some kind of social welfare safety net”, but births´rates are dropping since 60´s, last years drastically with more deaths than births (that´s the same for other countries).  A “social welfare safety net” maybe difficult to accomplish (two ative people working while one is retired maybe the consequences for near future).

    We can observe it by looking outside of a bus window where it seems “rare” to see young people, schools (that  close sometimes because it lacks  students) and villages where you can see a single child, supermarkets with elederly people shopping for the day in the morning. I was used to have overloaded schools, where we could hardly use the stairs because it was overloaded by a large number of students, some improvised buildings as class rooms, because schools where not big enough,  classes of students used to be overloaded with more than 30 students, now, there s a lack of students, teachers are sometimes unemployed.

    What a change. Report abuse

  • Marco #14

    The perfect recipe. Could I improve on it?

    Not really, but I’d offer that we need somehow to take better note of what our useful but dangerous high PPI (psychopathic personality inventory) individuals do. (These would comprise, among others, business, political and religious leaders.)

    We need to more regularly note them as high PPI for a start.

    With regard to religious leaders I would love to see those proselytizing for, say, medical neglect of children/dependents, actively prosecuted and brought down along with religiously negligent parents/guardians. Indeed they should be treated more punitively (and publicly so) than even the parents who by contrast need to have therapy to rebuild a properly caring relationship with their children (when judged appropriate.)

    Cultures exist because free will doesn’t and poverty/scarcity whether economic or “spiritual” makes people particularly biddable. The bidders, the shmoozers, selling you the problem deficit you never knew you had, need a constant spotlight on them. Them’s claws right there… Report abuse

  • Phil #27

    With regard to religious leaders I would love to see those proselytizing for, say, medical neglect of children/dependents, actively prosecuted and brought down along with religiously negligent parents/guardians. 

    Definitely agree with this. If an act would be prosecuted if committed in a non-religious context, it should be prosecuted if committed in a religious one too.

    Cultures exist because free will doesn’t

    I think I understand what you mean by this, but let me check: the existence of cultures (i.e. more or less standardised codes of conduct, dress, cuisine, ambitions, leisure, ethics, beliefs, even modes of expression – and therefore of thought – within a particular group) shows that we are shaped by powerful influences that are NOT the result of individual free choice.

    If that’s what you mean, then I think it’s a very powerful argument. And one that has reminded me of the module on Sociology I did as part of my degree several decades ago, which opened my eyes to how little control people have over their fate if they are born into the ‘wrong’ social stratum. (Sociology: a much-maligned subject, doubtless because it draws attention to the kind of ingrained, institutional obstacles facing the less well-off that the entire Establishment exists to conceal …) Report abuse

  • Considering the discussion between Phil  and Marco, I feel Marco needs to be enlightened with technical language  or terms of Cultural Anthropology (designed more as Ethnology  by Portuguese ethnologists/anthropologists), I think can help, at least I could be teacher of Cultural Anthropology some years ago, now things changed, only that I don´t have time for now (I´m in lunch time and have just a few minutes).

    Why to use religious language terms as free will? Man uses his creativity and environement resources to make culture (his second nature as Nietzsche would say).

    From early ages we are condictioned and “shaped” by culture, but we may change culture also (otherwise cultures would be static, what aren´t although it seems so). Human cognitive structures can adapt, but can be irreversibly affected too. (I see this in stray cats too that I m caring for now, they aproach me when I feed them, but avoid all phisycal contact, they weren´t socialised from early age). Margaret Mead would call it “mind” (a person that was indoctrinated from early ages may be conditioned, of course, and there are profound aspects of our behaviour we would like to control, as fear for instance, but that´s not so easy, I´m not a neuroscientist, but why to use religious language as “free will”?

    I´ll come  back in my free time.

     

     

     

      Report abuse

  • Cairsley,

     

    I will try to research  about roman “pater familias”.

    Romans adopted and adapted foreign cultural traditions, what´s interesting, for instances as you may know all helenic deities. Report abuse

  • I see there has been a positive move in the USA to protect a child from delusional “beliefs”!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-49642662
    A cancer-stricken four-year-old boy in Florida has been ordered to live with his grandmother after his parents prevented him from having chemotherapy.
    The custody ruling on Monday against parents Taylor Bland and Joshua McAdams came after their bid for alternative treatment garnered national attention.

    The boy was taken from his parents in April after they skipped chemotherapy and left the state.

    According to St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, about 98% of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia go into remission within weeks of beginning treatment, and about 90% of child patients are eventually cured.

    Apparently, the parents “are devastated”, at losing custody, but the prospects for the child now look a lot better!

     

      Report abuse

  • Some cultural traits may e of course crafted original from a mental Hill artist (I have a book that focus on this), it may become colective expression, for instance as Bakota (faceless sculpture that inspire Picasso). I ve attended a lecture on  African Art and, puto the questiona to the anthropologist but He seem quite ofended or nervous. I ve an Anthropology book that focus on this. By The way, The lectures focused  on this too once it Was about a Man that crafted strange sculptures that made People hiding them, previous He use to make Wood sculptures of saints. It may become ust colective art expressionismo even if not made from the original artist. No Wonder. I have a beautiful painting inspired on this as far as I told it to an artist friend that inspired hersef on Bakota. I can show you. Report abuse

  • Hi Maria.

     

    Its certainly good to see you back. Remarkably some non-religious folk will insist on the reality of free will and still others declare there is some compatible sort of thing like it, making arguments that any workable ethics demands it. Nonsense I say. We need only agree to the tacit social contract to own our own actions. I value being correct over being distinct. I am proud to stand with some others and to have been influenced by them.

    Libertarian Free Will was magicked into existence by Libertarians to better blame individuals, better claim exclusive ownership of even shared efforts. This makes Libertarianism look like a dogmatic religion though in reality it is a case of an aspie arrested development, refusing to admit life is actually complicated.

    Will is never free. It is constrained by everything to one degree or another. We do though have at our disposal an ever growing range of increasingly good choices. Dan Dennett proposes that there is freedom of sorts that slowly evolves in better cultures.

    Cultures quite tightly form individuals by the childhood mechanism known to educationalists as over-imitation.

    Individuals don’t as surely make cultures. High PPI individuals have the most effect but some neglected and suppressed groups may have no input at all. Report abuse

  • Marco,

    Yes that is indeed my intended point. All cognitions are situated. Children are particularly indoctrinated rather than educated because of our unique level of incompetent dependency from our extreme prematurity and brain only a quarter made at birth.

    We might even argue that chimps have something more like free will than we do…hmm? Though there never has been a coherent definition of what free will might be, one with an actual enabling mechanism.

    Alan, #32 hurrah! Report abuse

  • I find this so cute.
    If I was mentioning scuplture with no face expression, this one “sadness” by Marije Botman, a creative therapist actually seems to have the expression of sadness (pity).

    Some people turn their nose to it, but I really like it.

    Happy that the “bakota” post cards I send her, to inspire her, did so it seems.

    So, it really made me happy, someone inspired in my suggestion, am I important?

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=165524843485436&set=a.165524310152156&type=3&theater

  • Maria.

     

    I realise I spoke about free will in a deliberately abrupt way. I did this to make a very simple and hopefully memorable argument. This may have been confusing.

     

    Culture exists because  free will doesn’t (exist). Is the full sentence. Report abuse

  • Really interesting article, Prodigium.

     

    Thank you for bringing it to our attention. What it seems to show is that mutations in the active protein making regions of our DNA (the exome) are surprisingly frequent but 72% of the time don’t result in any detectable adverse (disease) effects.

     

    In the past we would have been more surprised by this, but since Andreas Wagner’s research team in Switzerland has shown, a single mutation in a protein encoding sequence of DNA is more likely than expected to produce a different protein but of good enough function.

     

    A bigger interpretation is to say that we have now a quantified understanding of what regions of our genes suffer recurrent mutations and which have no seeming adverse consequence. Report abuse

  • There seems to be another cult who prey on the vulnerable in the name of “helping”!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-49667769
    The leaders of a California based-church have been accused of imprisoning homeless people, forcing them to beg all day and taking the money.
    Dozens of victims had their papers taken, their welfare benefits stolen and were punished if they spoke of “things of the world”, officials say.

    Imperial Valley Ministries (IVM) operates about 30 affiliate church groups in the US and Mexico.

    A dozen of the group’s leaders were arrested on Tuesday.

    Eventually one managed to climb through a nailed up window and run off to call the police! Report abuse

  • Phil rimmer, my biology teacher told me that article said humans have no beneficial mutations. I was not convinced, so I decided to look at the article, but I did not understand it to well. However, I could understand it well enough to know that it was talking about harmful and neutral mutations and it did not say mention much about beneficial mutations to my knowledge.

    So, did it say that there were no beneficial mutations in the human genome? Also, thanks for taking the time to read it and responding to me. Report abuse

  • Prodigium.

    I think you got it spot on. And a pleasure to help.

    The researchers weren’t looking for beneficial mutations. Indeed how does your teacher imagine they would be detected? It would be, for instance, after many generations of accumulating retention of an earlier mutation. They had no such generational data to work with.

    Your biology teacher is not really worthy of the position and responsibility. This is clearly an idea they wanted to project onto the paper. They seem to have a poor understanding of how evolution might work…

     

    Dawkins books on this are pre-eminent, but I also strongly recommend Neil Shubin “Your Inner Fish.” and Andreas Wagner “Arrival of the Fittest”. The first will give you a great sense of how evolution works, mostly by adapting what it already has, the second which I mentioned before is about how much easier and safer than we imagined mutation works in delivering change. Report abuse

  • phil rimmer says: –
    Your biology teacher is not really worthy of the position and responsibility.

    Dawkins books on this are pre-eminent,

    The obvious choice , is “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins, with perhaps, “The Magic of Reality” as a gentle introduction to science and mythology.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Selfish-Gene-Anniversary-Landmark-Science/dp/0198788606/ref=asc_df_0198788606/?tag=googshopuk-21&linkCode=df0&hvadid=310867999190&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=7503628546530224778&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1006736&hvtargid=pla-416263147669&psc=1&th=1&psc=1

    Any teacher who claims beneficial mutations do not occur, is incompetent at genetics, – even though their occurrence is quite rare, and many are neutral or damaging to the cells where they are situated.

    We all have mutations in our cells happening regularly. but detrimental ones are usually cleared up by cell death and the body’s immune system.

    Only heritable mutations in sperm and eggs are relevant to mutations in future generations or evolution.

    There is some pseudoscience trash circulated by fundamentalists and ID nuts, that the human genome has been “degenerating and de-evolving” since their magic sky-fairy “created man – perfect in his own image”!

     

     

      Report abuse

  • A beneficial mutation of interest to scientists today is the CCR5-delta 32 mutation which helps reduce the risk of HIV infection in those with the mutation.

    Another interesting place to look is Sickle cell trait which can reduce the impact of Malaria. Report abuse

  • Nice examples socialEngineer.

     

    One, even more apparent in populations in everyday experience, is retained lactase production after infancy, marking out dairy and non-dairy cultures. Report abuse

  • Alan #44

    The obvious choice , is “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins

    I’m a huge fan of Richard’s books and learned a huge amount from them, for which I shall always be grateful. I wouldn’t say “The Selfish Gene” is the obvious choice for a relative beginner, though: I can quite see why people with a reasonable scientific background rate it so highly, but personally I struggled with it and didn’t find it either as accessible or as enjoyable as his others.

    For me, the one that did most to cement my understanding of evolution was “The Greatest Show on Earth”. It definitely assumes less prior scientific knowledge than “The Selfish Gene”, so I’d say it’s ideal for anyone coming to the subject more or less fresh. Report abuse

  • My knowledge about Genetics is at most basic level (PRIMARY SCHOOL). I cope better with great metaphors as  mount improbable (MODEL OF COMPHREENSION), by the way,  I confess Im big fan of Professor Dawkins Christmas lectures.

    The Selfish Gene is a reference in an online course of Ethology by Roger Abrantes, I will have to re-read it with other look.

    I´ve became associate of  an animals association of Law, created by lawyers, that focus on animal rights, and they are trying there to cooperate to draw an official schoolar programme to make students aware of humane treatment of animals  (Jane Goodall Roots and Shoots implemented in Portugal have their own programme and taught at schools, with costs), this programme will be developed with no costs by voluntaries. I´ve suggested children need to learn basic ideas about evolution, not only about compassion. I guess the founder lawer of the association was interested in listening to me and I´ve shared the Mount Improbable Christmas lecture with her, as example of how scientific ideas that addults have difficulties in coping with can be made easy, I hope the nice lady liked it.

    Professor Dawkins is really useful.

      Report abuse

  • Contrary to popular opinion I don’t think evolution is easy to understand.  Beyond its basic premise most of us run into trouble.  For example, how many times have you heard someone talk about evolution as though it were making progress?  I recently heard a professor make this mistake.  In fact, he called a perfect example of evolution “anti-evolutionary”; and he is a neuroscientist.  Gould talks about this mistake at length in his book Full House.  In it he expresses concern about a pervasive belief in humans as a sort of peak of evolution.  He cites several examples which show it’s possible to make this mistake regardless of intelligence or educational achievement.

    So, we probably shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves or others when we find some misunderstanding about an important but difficult subject.

    Anyway, as a science educator Dawkins is in a class of his own.  But books aren’t the only way to learn, and today we have many resources available to us.

    Prodigium, and anyone else with the requisite curiosity, I recommend The Crash Course, Biology video series.  They provide an excellent introduction to a lot of subjects.  Their biology material is fantastic, and it goes much deeper than you may expect from a short video series.

  • socialEngineer says:

    Contrary to popular opinion I don’t think evolution is easy to understand.

    Beyond its basic premise most of us run into trouble.

    For example, how many times have you heard someone talk about evolution as though it were making progress?  I recently heard a professor make this mistake.

    I think there are common misconceptions and gaps in the knowledge  of many supposedly educated people.

    One of the sources of this nonsense is the teaching of “God guided theistic evolution to produce worshippers” in religious schools.
    Evolution is a branching process, can contrary to some religious claims has no purpose other than those genes which can successfully replicate themselves reasonably accurately, doing so, while those which fail, become extinct.
    Evolution, is opportunist, expanding into whatever life supporting niches are available.
    Evolution is NOT a ladder which leads specifically to humans or to complexity. Any successful survival strategy of any form or structure of organism, allows it to function, – as can be seen in the vast diversity of life on Earth.
    This link explains it clearly in the picture at the bottom of the page!

    https://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_54

    All the parts of the modern evolutionary synthesis, and how they fit together, should be taught in schools, and well understood by anyone engaged in teaching.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_evolutionary_synthesis#The_preceding_%22modern_synthesis%22

     

  • SocialEngineer is problably right
    socialEngineer says:
    “Contrary to popular opinion I don’t think evolution is easy to understand.
    Beyond its basic premise most of us run into trouble.
    For example, how many times have you heard someone talk about evolution as though it were making progress?  I recently heard a professor make this mistake.”

    I ve attended some Teresa Avelar lectures, including one about how evolution works out with no “jumps” (as Darwin would defend, she has a PhD in Darwin), sexual selection, and some other meetings where creationism was debated.

    Reading this book (the title is something like “Has evolution culminated in Man?”, in my free translation), and she seems to be criticising Professor Dawkins there.

    “Mount improblable” metaphor is not quite equivalent of those hierarchy pyramids with Man on it´s top, I doubt Professor Dawkins would think that way.

    What´s happening is confusing to me as far as I fully trust intectual skills of Teresa Avelar and Professor Dawkins too, otherwise I wouldn´t love so much “Mount Improbable”.

    https://www.wook.pt/livro/a-evolucao-culminou-no-homem-teresa-avelar/9856762

     

  • As you might feel curious about a reference to Richard Dawkins in the book I was mentioning, just in case (probably not because Portuguese doesn´t seem interesting enough, perhaps Antonio Damasio is na exeception).

    Note that I m not graduate, nor will I do further comments that should be made by Richard Dawkins or Teresa Avelar.

    I m just curious about the subject and thought you might be too.

     

     

    «NATURAL SELECTION: ENGINE PROGRESS OR CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT?

    Introduction: What is being “superior”?

    If the “tree of life” were Haeckel’s postulated thick trunk tree, ie, with a well-defined main line, then it would be possible to unravel which direction the trunk is privileged, to objectively identify a general improvement criterion and to define so, if we wished, as “superiority.” The idea that the “tree” is of the Haeckelian type is deeply rooted: the philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn in 1970 still referred to the “trunk” of the evolutionary tree and compared the development of science with biological evolution, which it would be. he, “unidirectional and irreversible” 1. But in reality, evolution is anything but one-way: the “tree” is more like a bush with many branches of equal magnitude, as Darwin showed in the diagram of The Origin of Species (figure 2, chapter 3). Although Darwin does not represent kinship relationships between real organisms, the most recent data on the “tree of life” shows exactly the same one — a branch with many branches, and “our” branch is just a small branch in all of them. living beings: see figure 4. With all these branches, it becomes impossible to distinguish a main line and therefore there can be no single objective measure of “progress.”

    Figure 4. Current version of the “tree of life”.

     

    (look for one, not available here)

    Biologist Richard Dawkins1 has identified several criteria that are commonly used to measure progress, that is, to claim that a given species A is “superior” to another species B:
    1. A is descended from B.
    2. A is newer than B.
    3. A and B are descended from the same ancestor, but A is more different from the common ancestor than B.
    4. A is more complex than B according to criterion X.
    5. A is more similar to Homo sapiens than B according to a criterion Y.
    These different, empirically verifiable assertions do not have a necessary link between them. For example, we can decide if A is greater than B relative to the criterion Y.

    But this does not imply that A is greater than B relative to other criteria. The fact is that virtually all comparisons for “progress” use only criterion 5. (eg see Ayala in chapter 3), as Darwin noted in 1858: “I don’t think anyone has a clear idea of ​​what superior means, not in classes that can be vaguely compared with man ”.
    Indeed, our tendency to consider ourselves ‘superior’ has led us, for example, to ignore, until very recently, that most living things, including vertebrates, are capable of detecting ultraviolet light but, on the other hand, do not. are sensitive to red. This was acceptable, because as a whole they do not detect more wavelengths than we do. We have not considered the hypothesis that many other animals detect all wavelengths that we detect and furthermore detect others that we do not detect – but this is precisely the case in most vertebrates except mammals1. ”
    (page 59 to 61)

    DAWKINS, R. (1992). “Progress.” In E.F. Keller & E.A. Lloyd (eds), Keywords in Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    Original text

    (página 59 a 61)

     

    «SELEÇÃO NATURAL:MOTOR DE PROGRESSO OU MELHORIA CONTINENTE?

     

     

     
    Introdução: o que é ser “superior”?
     

     

     

    Se a “árvore da vida” fosse a árvore de tronco grosso postulada por Haeckel, i.e., com uma linha principal bem definida, então seria possível descortinar qual a direção privilegiada (a do tronco), identificar objectivamente um critério de melhoria geral e defini-lo, se quiséssemos, como “superioridade”. A ideia de que a “árvore” é do tipo haeckeliano está profundamente enraizada: o filósofo da ciência Thomas Kuhn, em 1970, ainda referia o “tronco” da árvore  evolutiva e comparava o desenvolvimento da ciência com a evolução biológica, que seria, segundo ele, “unidirecional  e irreversível”1. Mas, na realidade, a evolução é tudo menos unidirecional: a “árvore” é mais parecida com um arbusto com muitos ramos de igual grandeza, como Darwin mostrou no diagrama de A Origem das Espécies (figura 2, capítulo 3).Embora o diagrama de Darwin não representasse as relações de parentesco entre organismos reais, os dados mais recentes sobre a “árvore da vida” mostram exatamente o mesmo-um arbusto com muitos ramos, sendo que o “nosso” ramo é apenas um raminho insignificante no conjunto de todos os seres vivos: ver figura 4.Havendo todos esses ramos, torna-se impossível distinguir uma linha principal e não pode portanto existir uma medida única e objetiva de “progresso”.

     

     

     
    Figura 4. Versão atual da “árvore da vida”.
     

     

     

    O biólogo Richard Dawkins1 identificou vários critérios que se costumam utilizar para aferir progresso, ou seja, para afirmar que uma dada espécie A  é  “superior” a outra espécie B:

     
    1.       A é descendente de B.
     
    2.       A é mais recente do que B.
     
    3.       A e B descendem do mesmo ancestral, mas A é mais diferente do ancestral comum do que B.
     
    4.       A é mais complexo do que B, segundo um critério X.
     
    5.       A é mais semelhante ao Homo sapiens do que B, segundo um critério Y.
     

    Estas diferentes asserções, empiricamente verificáveis, não têm uma ligação necessária entre si. Por exemplo, podemos decidir se A é superior a B relativamente ao critério

     

     

     

    X- mas isso não implica que A seja superior a B relativamente a outros critérios. O facto é que praticamente todas as comparações para aferir “progressos” utilizam apenas o critério 5. (e.g. ver Ayala no capítulo 3), como Darwin anotara em 1858:” não acho que alguém tenha uma ideia clara sobre o que significa superior, a não ser em classes que possam ser vagamente comparadas com o homem”.

     

    De facto, a nossa tendência para nos considerarmos “superiores” levou-nos, por exemplo, a ignorar, até muito recentemente, que a maioria dos seres vivos, cluindo os vertebrados, é capaz de detetar a luz ultravioleta mas, em contrapartida, não são sensíveis ao vermelho. Isso era aceitável, porque no conjunto não detetam mais comprimentos de onda do que nós. Não considerámos a hipótese que muitos outros animais detetam todos os comprimentos de onda que nós detetamos e além disso detetam outros que nós não detetamos-mas é precisamente esse o caso na maioria dos vertebrados, exceto os mamíferos1.»

     

    (página 59 a 61)

     

     

     

    DAWKINS, R. (1992).«Progress.» In E. F. Keller & E.A. Lloyd (eds), Keywords in Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

     

     

    Figure 4. Current version of the “tree of life”.

    Biologist Richard Dawkins1 has identified several criteria that are commonly used to measure progress, that is, to claim that a given species A is “superior” to another species B:
    1. A is descended from B.
    2. A is newer than B.
    3. A and B are descended from the same ancestor, but A is more different from the common ancestor than B.
    4. A is more complex than B according to criterion X.
    5. A is more similar to Homo sapiens than B according to a criterion Y.
    These different, empirically verifiable assertions do not have a necessary link between them. For example, we can decide if A is greater than B relative to the criterion

    But this does not imply that A is greater than B relative to other criteria. The fact is that virtually all comparisons for “progress” use only criterion 5. (eg see Ayala in chapter 3), as Darwin noted in 1858: “I don’t think anyone has a clear idea of ​​what superior means, not in classes that can be vaguely compared with man ”.
    Indeed, our tendency to consider ourselves ‘superior’ has led us, for example, to ignore, until very recently, that most living things, including vertebrates, are capable of detecting ultraviolet light but, on the other hand, do not. are sensitive to red. This was acceptable, because as a whole they do not detect more wavelengths than we do. We have not considered the hypothesis that many other animals detect all wavelengths that we detect and furthermore detect others that we do not detect – but this is precisely the case in most vertebrates except mammals1. ”
    (page 59 to 61)

    DAWKINS, R. (1992). “Progress.” In E.F. Keller & E.A. Lloyd (eds), Keywords in Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

     

    Figure 4. Current version of the “tree of life”.

    Biologist Richard Dawkins1 has identified several criteria that are commonly used to measure progress, that is, to claim that a given species A is “superior” to another species B:
    1. A is descended from B.
    2. A is newer than B.
    3. A and B are descended from the same ancestor, but A is more different from the common ancestor than B.
    4. A is more complex than B according to criterion X.
    5. A is more similar to Homo sapiens than B according to a criterion Y.
    These different, empirically verifiable assertions do not have a necessary link between them. For example, we can decide if A is greater than B relative to the criterion

    But this does not imply that A is greater than B relative to other criteria. The fact is that virtually all comparisons for “progress” use only criterion 5. (eg see Ayala in chapter 3), as Darwin noted in 1858: “I don’t think anyone has a clear idea of ​​what superior means, not in classes that can be vaguely compared with man ”.
    Indeed, our tendency to consider ourselves ‘superior’ has led us, for example, to ignore, until very recently, that most living things, including vertebrates, are capable of detecting ultraviolet light but, on the other hand, do not. are sensitive to red. This was acceptable, because as a whole they do not detect more wavelengths than we do. We have not considered the hypothesis that many other animals detect all wavelengths that we detect and furthermore detect others that we do not detect – but this is precisely the case in most vertebrates except mammals1. ”
    (page 59 to 61)

    DAWKINS, R. (1992). “Progress.” In E.F. Keller & E.A. Lloyd (eds), Keywords in Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

     

     

     

      Report abuse

  • I ve transcripted page 59 to 61 myself from the “original” Portuguese (not exactlly, I used new orthographic rules) and put it to Google translate motor, I m not responsive for the translation either, but the machine work seems not so bad. Report abuse

  • In the interests of starting an argument, let me propose “progress” in evolution is indeed a thing.

    We have to eliminate minds and teleology. Any progress in evolution cannot be measured by any current human values or convenience. Values, where they can, emerge from what has evolved. Puddles are perfectly suited to their accommodating holes.

    But when we look at the stark physics of it, where evolution works consistently to increase the use of energy, the general increase of entropy, life’s ever (mean, transient) reducing of topical entropy, and the break-through into other evolutionary mechanisms now able to continue and accelerate the universe’s winding down, we may have to admit this is progress of a sort.

    Evolution’s breakthrough into evolving cultures has seen an ability to command increasingly vast use of energy and manufacture of entropy. A move from DNA altogether may mark the next change in putting the Universe to work, hopefully ever improving its efficiency.

    This is a weather versus climate sort of argument. Broad trends when stood very far away appear to exist. Report abuse

  • Another version of the argument may be that progress could be claimed in the degree of extension achieved by the “Extended Phenotype”, genes eventually reaching through to cultural evolution and its complex and distributed coding, then, perhaps a further break through into AI with still another form of coding.

    Progress might be assessed by the accumulating quantity of effective further coding it does and might support. Report abuse

  • A “tree of life” doesn´t measure “progress” towards X, just the ancestry of all forms of life and how they are related, nowadays Genetics maps it.

     

    I wonder if a selected trait of Homo sapiens is brain size, perhaps according to new scientific data, brain size is dropping actually.

    I was just making a point about some comment, giving an example I find myself, actually giving an example of a possible gap.

     

    Alan4discussion reply to Socialengineer:
    I think there are common misconceptions and gaps in the knowledge  of many supposedly educated people.
    One of the sources of this nonsense is the teaching of “God guided theistic evolution to produce worshippers” in religious schools.Evolution is a branching process, can contrary to some religious claims has no purpose other than those genes which can successfully replicate themselves reasonably accurately, doing so, while those which fail, become extinct.Evolution, is opportunist, expanding into whatever life supporting niches are available.Evolution is NOT a ladder which leads specifically to humans or to complexity. Any successful survival strategy of any form or structure of organism, allows it to function, – as can be seen in the vast diversity of life on Earth.This link explains it clearly in the picture at the bottom of the page!

     

    Interesting to know, as the book I´ m quoting mentions, that in France the first edition of the Origin of Species was entitled: De l´Origine des Espèces ou Loi du Progrès Chez les Êtres Organisés (the origin of species or progress rule between organised beings).

    Gaps make part of history of science too and of Homo sapiens thought.

    The lectures of Professor Dawkins help to avoid gaps sometimes, but gaps are human.

     

      Report abuse

  • I wonder if a selected trait of Homo sapiens is brain size, perhaps according to new scientific data, brain size is dropping actually

     

    (the same for dogs related to wolves, Marc Bekoff´s s reference somewhere) Report abuse

  • http://discovermagazine.com/2010/sep/25-modern-humans-smart-why-brain-shrinking
    Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28175-have-we-turned-dogs-into-lazy-thinkers-through-domestication/#ixzz5zcIllycO

    Marc Bekoff at the University of Colorado in Boulder says we should be careful about generalising that wolves do this and dogs do that. “The incredible amount of behavioural variability among dogs makes it impossible to talk about ‘the dog’,” he says.Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28175-have-we-turned-dogs-into-lazy-thinkers-through-domestication/#ixzz5zcIllycO

     

  • Domesticated students need their Professor to engage in the process of learning, that´s why I would need a Professor to point out what´s wrong, as Evolution is not a ladder with  man on it´s top.(just being funny if I can do so, or, because I m a female I don´t need to be funny, being funny is to seduce Men, as Men don´t need to be seduced -because they find all women interesting-, women don´t need to be funny, just kiding). Report abuse

  • I’ve been reading many of the points posted here and they are truly amazing. I can’t say I am as intellectual or as learned as most of you are at all. I just sometimes wonder if we as a species actually take ourselves too seriously in the great gamit of the universe or not? What I mean is we understand that the universe came from nothing and probably given what we have seen will go back to nothing in time. Everything else in between is just the universe acting out its life cycle it seems. As the great Prof. Brian Cox once said that if the universe was a 24 hour clock from beginning to end, then our time in it would be 0.000000001 of a second! Imagine that. 0.0000000001 of a second! We in that time are playing our part in the life and death of the universe too.

    In that time I suppose we are all trying to make sense of our lives and we all see it differently in some way. Some have a religious view, others not. It can sometimes seem like a chaotic place, our world but it is surely turning in its orbit just as nature intended it too and all on it evolving and growing and dying as it should. We are all creatures of the circumstances that nature provides I guess. A biologist I saw on BBC 4 whose name escapes me, sorry, believes that intelligence is actually species based and not what some of us think as humans being the most intelligent species. Our intelligence he said is adapted to our environment and place in nature. For example a squirrel can remember over 25 places in many different places it has hid it’s food. Our brain and intelligence doesn’t and can’t maybe because evolution decided we didn’t need to. Then there is our feline friend whose sense of knowing the moment to pounce and how to play with till dead it’s pray another type of intelligence. We too can pounce but in a different manner as nature intended differently through evolution.

    Does mankind have a deeper purpose to the universe I wonder. Did nature intend given our different type of intelligence for us to be the saviours however unintentionally of its inevitable death. Will we find a way so as to see this universe doesn’t eventually die and decay. Will we leave this planet and in time on others discover how we can stop sun’s going out or develop new ones artificially? Maybe in the randomness of development we might be the universes saviour. Maybe that is where our intelligence is leading is. For in saving ourselves as a species either here or on another planet we might also be saving the universe from death as unintentionally as that may seem and probably is.  Then maybe that 0.0000000001 of a second Brian Cox mentioned might be extended. Maybe what I write is rubbish but these are the thoughts going through my mind as I read your wonderful contributions. Report abuse

  •  

    comment 63 by  Pearse English

    Does mankind have a deeper purpose to the universe I wonder. Did nature intend given our different type of intelligence for us to be the saviours however unintentionally of its inevitable death. Will we find a way so as to see this universe doesn’t eventually die and decay. Will we leave this planet and in time on others discover how we can stop sun’s going out or develop new ones artificially?

    Carl Sangan said:
    “It will not be we who reach Alpha Centauri, and the other nearby stars. It will be a species very like us – but with more of our strengths and fewer of our weaknesses.”
    Species don´t last forever (I m curious about this and even bought the book The Growth of Biological Though by Ernst Mayr to understand  the concept of species).

    We´d like evolution would reserve a brilliant future for us as species, but I m not so sure, We are brilliant in our achievements, but  “stupid” also.

     

     

      Report abuse

  • Hi Maria, I certainly see the point you raise from the great Carl Sagan. He could be so right. It might take further evolution for the thoughts I have written to materialise or not. Yet when President John F. Kennedy said at the beginning of 1960 ‘s that he envisaged a man on the moon by the decades end he was even looked upon with scepticism by the scientific community at the time. Yet it came to pass. Who knows what our future as a species holds but we have the intelligence to create and make things happen on a monumental scale, when you see what we have done down the centuries from the pyramids to monster aircraft like the Airbus and space travel however much in its infancy. Discoveries can happen quickly yet take time for the seed to fully develop. I am now 60 and as a child would never have even dreamt of being able to own or use a computer! Being able here to share with you all, my some might say, inane thoughts would have to be seen to be believed. The computer developed with the help of  one of my heroes Alan Turing in and around WWII is now with the microchip common in more homes than not. That in just a few short decades. I recall seeing a news clip from the early 90’s I think of sending email by phone and computer by dial up. That was a tedious process yet 10 short years afterwards we couldn’t believe how fast and everyday it has become via broadband and now fiber optics.

    Being able to travel to say Australia from the UK in 24 hours today when only at the beginning of the 20th century took weeks by boat. I’m sure so many other examples exist. So yes maybe Carl Sagan is right and it will be a further evolution that might achieve the thoughts I have. But then given the enormous leaps that we born in the last 100 years have seen, who knows. The next generation will be the most educated that our species has produced given the opportunities to advance and their intellect might show and discover things unimaginable to us. Let us embrace our young, educate them, I’d argue without fees, as they are our future and let us behold their wondrous insight as we did the likes of our scientific heroes today. I am of an age when at 13 in school teachers scorned upon the Big Bang as impossible even. Now it is mainstream scientific fact. So evolution of ideas, thought and species can happen slowly but also quickly. And indeed Carl was a hero to me as are all our free thinking scientists. The future can be bright even with some unbelieving politicians in natural events being affected by us. I live in hope and hope the universe can continue to reveal itself to an intelligence that can interpret it and guide us in what it reveals. That might happen as Carl says slowly but might like John F. Kennedy’s wish and our unfeathered education of our young, maybe faster. Who knows, yet it is truly a wonderful journey and a journey none of us should despair of I feel. Report abuse

  • (…) Let us embrace our young, educate them (…)

    previous comment

    Yes, in a balanced way.

    I suggest not spliting “emotion” from  “reason”* (as to think in the end of “irrationality” or “religion” as as if it was  a new  kind of Nirvana or myth of the  End of History, or that a reset was necessary, as if I don´t have the right to be “irrational” sometimes, assuming that I m right all the time and very reasonable).

    Education means to me a basic  human right (not a socio-economical social status). To deprive human children from learning human skills as writing and reading seems almost inhumane to me.

     

    People seem to  think in a stressful way, fabricating  “acids” to corrupt  and dissolve important concepts as “culture” I am afraid (I m referring here to the stressful way Phil recently said something  here that makes no sense to me, something as there´s no free will in culture for instance, as if everything could be thought in a destructive way, even “culture” our second Nature and tool for the sucess of our species, even for scientific progress.

    But I think that s a masculine feature perhaps, imaginative, girls are maybe more careful learners?

    (Gosh, all men professors I have had in my education period were very careful, educated and extremely polite, but sometimes, young people have their imaginative immaturity too I guess. I remember first day me as student met our Professor of  History, an elderly man in his 70´s, and when he told us about his foolish academic ideas as a young man, but he told us that he had also the duty to still learning, despite his age).

    As a Linguist I would feel grateful that Phil explained what he meant with that statement (almost)

    Humankind or us a species, seem to have had an explosion from the moment that we were capable, even in Pre-Historical times, to spread our cultural innovations all over the World, from Europe to Africa, as we still do.

     

      Report abuse

  • maria #67

     

    You might forgive me as I tend to speak in a way that likes to make aphorisms. I think you have my views on culture entirely wrong.

    I think it not so much that I’m a quintessential male (I’m bisexual FWIW) but perhaps rather more aspie (Aspergers) liking clearly delineated ideas.

    The extended phenotype of human culture is the most astonishing and transformative thing evolution has so far created. Every single personal human achievement has been made only because of it.

    Free will is a fabricated idea, not in fact possible. Will, what we desire for ourselves, is constrained (limited or modified) to some degree by everything, from our genes, our ecology, our neural development when young, our education, but perhaps mostly by our nurturing culture, and the cultural modes variously for conformity or truthfulness, or morality, etc.

    The aphorism I created was that there could in fact be no culture if free will actually existed. We are, rather, irretrievably bound up with each other and depend to a remarkable degree on their thoughts for much of our own. Report abuse

  • that last line again..

     

    We are, rather, irretrievably bound up with each other and depend to a remarkable degree on others’ thoughts for much of our own.

    So, in summary…

    Culture worth 10/10 points. (Hurray!)

    “Free Will” worth 0/10 points. (Hurray!) Report abuse

  • Hi Phil,

    I´ve tried to understand your first explanation, in fact  there are corhension mechanisms to constrait individuals to complain with cultural norms, more than we can create culture.

    I wonder what´s  FWIW (I don´t wonder what bisexual is, in fact that´s not strange to me if I would  assume myself as you do). 

    Forgive me if it looks like that I m pursuing someone for what she/he has said, but the way once Laurie B put things was that animals don´t have moral because they couldn´t tell the difference between good and evil, from that moment on I realised that “free will” is “a deontic logic of evil” from religion as a psychoanalist would put it clear, the internal conflicts of some individuals (perhaps with some psychopathology dregree).

     

    Instead of using “free will” simply say “intentionality”, that would make things clear?

    I m not surprised that someone writes with asthonishing creativity, what´s more important to me is to understand what the person really means or actually the way he/she does.

     

    On this site I ve been asked if I m autist, so perhaps  I m a bit different too (aren´t we all? strange? I don´t care, I care for those who care for me, and I may look indifferent, but actually I m not, just that I m observer, my nieces have some autist spectrum traits, I explainmy niece in the same way I explain myself).

     

     

      Report abuse

  • Thanks for the response, maria.

     

    Instead of using “free will” simply say “intentionality”, that would make things clear?

     

    Not for me. It is my target and my intention to denigrate “free will” as a concept. Its like saying don’t use the term fascism when complaining about Salazar’s policies.

     

    People, using the term “free will” approvingly, are going to make logical errors. How decent decision making is made by individuals is complex and interesting but not my central thesis. (We make decisions based on the various skews of our gene-gifted cognitions, our cultural indoctrination, knowledge, some of which comprises facts, cultural thinking tools like language and logic, mathematics… its complicated.)

    It is the very inability of “free will” to serve our needs that needs to be demonstrated. I have to name it. Report abuse

  • I’m an atheist, and there’s something about my mind. First law of thermodynamics  ” explains that ‘energy cannot be destroyed when it is present, but can be transformed from one form to another’.  What happens if the energy never disappears? Where does the soul go if it takes on another form? If the energy is not lost, this proves that god exists ?? Sorry for my bad english. Report abuse

  • Yildiray Pat #74  I think Maria Menlo #75 gave a concise answer.  These are my thoughts, as Phil said FWIW:

    I just did a google search, asking: “what is energy?” and found this at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy

    “In physics, energy is the quantitative property that must be transferred to an object in order to perform work on, or to heat, the object.  Energy is a conserved quantity; the law of conservation of energy states that energy can be converted in form, but not created or destroyed. The SI unit of energy is the joule, which is the energy transferred to an object by the work of moving it a distance of 1 metre against a force of 1 newton.  Common forms of energy include the kinetic energy of a moving object, the potential energy stored by an object’s position in a force field (gravitationalelectric or magnetic), the elastic energy stored by stretching solid objects, the chemical energy released when a fuel burns, the radiant energy carried by light, and the thermal energy due to an object’s temperature.”

    If memory serves, this definition is consistent with what I learned in my college physics classes.  And, given this definition of energy, I don’t understand how it has any relationship to eternal life of a so-called soul.  We use energy to perform work, but we are not energy (unless an argument can be made that we have mass and mass and energy are equal).  Humans, like other animals, are born, live, and then die.  There was a time when no humans existed, and I expect that there will come a time when our species is extinct.  I know a lot of religious people think they have struck gold when they use this “first law of thermodynamics” argument, but in my opinion, it falls into the same category as trying to figure out how many angles can dance on the point of a needle.

  • FWIW = for what its worth

    It worths to assume as it is, it doesn´t make anyone better or worse, perhaps it does someone worse if it´s just to use others to satisfy sexual lust and it s not love and friendship.

    . Report abuse

  • Yıldıray Pat says:

    What happens if the energy never disappears? Where does the soul go if it takes on another form?

    “Souls” are theist imaginary mythology.   No biologist has ever found evidence of souls existing. Brain cells die just like all other cells, and their matter and energy is recycled through human metabolism and Earth’s cycles.

    The working of your brain is biochemistry and electrical impulses across nerves and neurons.

    https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/synapse.html

    The evolution and functions of various parts and lobes of the brain have been mapped out, although because of its complexity more research is still needed.

    https://www.quora.com/If-God-didnt-exist-why-cant-atheists-explain-the-relation-between-brain-and-consciousness/answer/Alan-Appleby-4

     

  • Forgive me if it looks like that I m pursuing someone for what she/he has said, but the way once Laurie B put things was that animals don´t have moral because they couldn´t tell the difference between good and evil, from that moment on I realised that “free will” is “a deontic logic of evil” from religion as a psychoanalist would put it clear, the internal conflicts of some individuals (perhaps with some psychopathology dregree).

     

    Sorry Laurie B, the discussion was between Dan and me. Report abuse

  • maria #77

    Using others for my own pleasures was/is not in my own make-up. I don’t know how it came about, except that it was slowly realised, but my greatest pleasures always came from the pleasure I gave. Report abuse

  • I guess my previous comment was deleted because it was not relevant to reason and science or was just too embarrasing, I agree it was embarrasing.

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