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About H.sapiens

  • Birthday 01/25/1950

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  • Location
    The southern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii
  • Interests
    Evolution theory, Oceanography, old cars, old motorcycles, old fighter aircraft.
  • Favorite Area of Science
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Quark (2/13)



  1. BTW, with respect (and I have none for him) to Berlinski, considering him an middlingly skilled sophist at best: Berlinski's enumerative “cows cannot evolve into whales” argument (Rationalwiki) One of Berlinski’s most celebrated anti-evolution arguments is his calculation that at least 50,000 changes were required to change a cow into a whale (he stopped counting). Of course, since even if he was capable of listing out these differences at an implausibly fast average rate of one every ten seconds, it would still take more than 5 days of non-stop 24h-hour activity to accomplish this, few believe that he actually did what he claimed to have done.[1] Berlinski does not, of course, know anything about the evolution of whales, missing such rather central details as the fact that cows did not evolve into whales.[2] (1) Berlinksi, whales, and why Intelligent Design can’t get no respect (the Bad Idea Blog): A commenter expressed incredulity about my claim that ID proponents engage in deception and gross misrepresentations of science. So to help prove my point in a timely fashion, along comes a video of Intelligent Design mathematician David Berlinski explaining why it’s implausible to imagine a cow evolving into a whale. As many science bloggers have pointed out, we could just stop at the title: no possible understanding of evolutionary taxonomy could possibly lead one to believe that cows are relevant comparisons to the ancestors of whales and dolphins (amazingly, he even mentions a relevant ancestor, Ambulocetus, later in the video; so where did cows come from?). The entire thought experiment makes virtually no sense on any level, and his bizarre implication that biologists do not employ mathematics, let alone quantitative analysis, is just boldly ignorant. But none of that even compares to sheer grandiose absurdity of Berlinski’s claim that he, with his supposedly unique grasp of the quantitative (i.e., in this case, counting) “stopped at” thinking of 50,000 differences between a cow and a whale, implying that he, personally, literally really did go through the process of listing them all out, one by one. Here’s a bit of math for Berlinski: even if he was capable of listing out these differences at an implausibly fast average rate of one every ten seconds, it would still take more than 5 days of non-stop 24hr activity to accomplish this seemingly trifling task. Does he really expect anyone to believe that he actually did this? How was he sure that he didn’t double-count something during either in one marathon session of counting, or in many many counting sessions over many weeks? If he wrote anything down to prevent this sort of thing, that would just make the time required shoot upwards dramatically. And what happened when he hit 40,000 after a few days of solid, uninterrupted counting? Does he really expect people to believe that he shrugged and said to himself “ah well, I might as well do 10,000 more, and then arbitrarily stop, just for kicks!” Here’s a much more plausible explanation: Berlinski is full of it, and by my calculations, it wouldn’t even take a single morphological change to turn this guy into a laughingstock. (2) Cows into Whales - Posted by Larry Moran (Professor of Biochemistry, University of Toronto): Here's one of the chief IDiots, David Berlinski, expounding on how difficult it must be to change cows into whales. Berlinksi has a Ph.D. in philosophy and has written several books on mathematics. He is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Science & Culture (CSC). Here's a free clue for the IDiots: cows didn't evolve into whales. Instead whales are the modern descendants of a primitive carnivore that lived over 50 million years ago. See the video at the PBS site for basic information on the evolution of whales—the sort of information that you'd expect anyone to know if they were going to criticize the scientific explanation for the evolution of whales [Whale Evolution]. Berlinski knows some of this history but he's missing the big picture. Berlinksi and most of his fellow fellows at the CSC don't know much about evolution and how it works. It's all a big mystery to them; but then, that's why they are IDiots. https://www.youtube.com/embed/8iFnyCjcodY? [Hat Tip: The video was posted on the Discovery Institute website by Robert Crowther, who presumably believes that the evolution of cows from whales (sic) is important.]
  2. I am new here, I started at unniversity in a two year lliberal studies "Great Books" program. Having finished that, and declared a major in philosophy, in my senior year I found that the questions I was interested in were somewhat more concrete; and changed my major to zoology. Fortunately, along the way, I had done the majors' lower division sequences in biology, chemistry, physics and math, so a great deal of backing up was not required. In the end I finished a degree in zoology with a minor in philosophy and paleontolotgy. My interest in the evolution of fish behavior led me to graduate school in oceanography. After years of grad school and post-graduate reseach I stayed on in university administration and then retired here in Hawaii. I have been banned from any number of science/religion so-called debate sites because I do not suffer fools gladly enough.
  3. Cause it's like shooting fish in a barrel and that's always good for a newbie trying to master the mechanics of a new board.
  4. Hardly a scientific paper, more a religious tract cloaked in scientific trappings. Here's a good debunking: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/03/11/a-tiny-bit-of-knowledge-is-a-dangerous-thing/
  5. Different regimes of ballancing selection applied to two allopatric population is one route.
  6. "Wheels" have evolved ... well sort of, in the form of flagella and their origin and evolution are well reseached.
  7. That is not a theory, it is (at best) a hypothesis, one immediately falsified by the fact that the environment (which includes things like rapid evolving diseases) is not constant thus "perfection" is a moving target. Good try, no cigar, I recommend a class in evolutionary theory and some time meditating on what a niche is.
  8. 1. William Beebe said: "The beauty and genius of a work of art may be reconceived, though its first material expression be destroyed; a vanished harmony may yet again inspire the composer; but when the last individual of a race of living beings breathes no more, another heaven and another earth must pass before such a one can be again." 2. You can never predict what may be useful in the future. 3. The more species in the system the more stable the system. Lots of species reduce the effects of large outside perturbations.
  9. Might I recommend the south end of the Big Island of Hawaii to you?
  10. Nature. 2001 Mar 22;410(6827):463-6. Intraspecific competition favours niche width expansion in Drosophila melanogaster. Bolnick DI1. Author information Abstract Ecologists have proposed that when interspecific competition is reduced, competition within a species becomes a potent evolutionary force leading to rapid diversification. This view reflects the observation that populations invading species-poor communities frequently evolve broader niches. Niche expansion can be associated with an increase in phenotypic variance (known as character release), with the evolution of polymorphisms, or with divergence into many species using distinct resources (adaptive radiation). The relationship between intraspecific competition and diversification is known from theory, and has been used as the foundation for some models of speciation. However, there has been little empirical proof that niches evolve in response to intraspecific competition. To test this hypothesis, I introduced cadmium-intolerant Drosophila melanogaster populations to environments containing both cadmium-free and cadmium-laced resources. Here I show that populations experiencing high competition adapted to cadmium more rapidly than low competition populations. This provides experimental confirmation that competition in a population can drive niche expansion onto new resources for which competition is less severe. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ecological release from interspecific competition leads to decoupled changes in population and individual niche widthDaniel I. Bolnick, Travis Ingram, William E. Stutz, Lisa K. Snowberg, On Lee Lau, Jeff S. Paull Published 17 February 2010.DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0018 Article Figures & Data Info & Metrics eLetters PDF AbstractA species's niche width reflects a balance between the diversifying effects of intraspecific competition and the constraining effects of interspecific competition. This balance shifts when a species from a competitive environment invades a depauperate habitat where interspecific competition is reduced. The resulting ecological release permits population niche expansion, via increased individual niche widths and/or increased among-individual variation. We report an experimental test of the theory of ecological release in three-spine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). We factorially manipulated the presence or absence of two interspecific competitors: juvenile cut-throat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki) and prickly sculpin (Cottus asper). Consistent with the classic niche variation hypothesis, release from trout competition increased stickleback population niche width via increased among-individual variation, while individual niche widths remained unchanged. In contrast, release from sculpin competition had no effect on population niche width, because increased individual niche widths were offset by decreased between-individual variation. Our results confirm that ecological release from interspecific competition can lead to increases in niche width, and that these changes can occur on behavioural time scales. Importantly, we find that changes in population niche width are decoupled from changes in the niche widths of individuals within the population.
  11. If you leave Earth at relativistic speed go a long way and then return at relativistic speed when you land you will have aged just a little but everyone on Earth will have aged a lot. The exact amounts are dependent upon your velocity and how far you traveled (the time it took you, but that confuses things). A really fast ride could, therefor, serve as a one way time machine ... no way back however.
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