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Author Topic:   Artificial Selection - Is the term simply convenient?
AppleScratch
Junior Member (Idle past 842 days)
Posts: 9
Joined: 08-26-2014


Message 1 of 37 (735870)
08-27-2014 12:51 PM


Hello!

This might be a trivial question, but I am not able to find any good discussion on it elsewhere and wanted to hear what some of you might say.

Main Question: Is the concept of Artificial Selection just a convenient terminology, or is it considered scientifically differentiated from Natural Selection?

I am not able to grasp why human intention is considered to transcend natural process, at least when speaking scientifically.

As an example of my thoughts: If humans breed a new type of dog that is born with no legs at all, and 'decide' that it is cute, and 'decide' that they will take care of it despite it's obvious doom without this relationship...this still seems like it should be considered natural scientifically. Evolution naturally produced a being that has thoughts about cuteness and willingness to spend its own energy caring for the other creature, creating an environment where that creature is fit for survival.

Is there some massive miss-step that I am making with this line of reason? Thanks in advance, and please feel free to point out my ignorance, that is what I desire.


Replies to this message:
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 Message 4 by Stile, posted 08-27-2014 2:14 PM AppleScratch has responded
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 Message 11 by 1.61803, posted 08-27-2014 4:47 PM AppleScratch has responded
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AdminNosy
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Posts: 4751
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Joined: 11-11-2003


Message 2 of 37 (735872)
08-27-2014 2:02 PM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Artificial Selection - Is the term simply convenient? thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
Stile
Member
Posts: 2848
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 3 of 37 (735873)
08-27-2014 2:13 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by AppleScratch
08-27-2014 12:51 PM


AppleScratch writes:

Is the concept of Artificial Selection just a convenient terminology, or is it considered scientifically differentiated from Natural Selection?

I am not able to grasp why human intention is considered to transcend natural process, at least when speaking scientifically.

The difference you are describing (human intention transcending natural process) is not the difference that is attempting to be clarified when discussing Artificial vs. Natural Selection.

Artificial vs. Natural selection is basically used to reference human-interference vs. no-human-interference.

Think of it the same as "artificial flavor" vs. "natural flavor."
They are both "natural" in the sense that they are both made of things that exist in nature (chemicals exist on their own just as fine as anything else).
But, again, the point is to differentiate between human-interference-to-achieve-the-flavor vs. no-human-interference-to-achieve-the-flavor.

Is there some massive miss-step that I am making with this line of reason?

You're just using a secondary definition for the word "natural" (natural vs. imaginary or supernatural) and applying it to some specific scientific terminology that is using a different definition of the word (human-interference vs. no-human-interference).


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Stile
Member
Posts: 2848
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 4 of 37 (735874)
08-27-2014 2:14 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by AppleScratch
08-27-2014 12:51 PM


How rude of me
Oh, and welcome to EvC!

Hope you stick around, there's lots to read and learn around here.
Frolic and enjoy!

...don't worry, I'm just weird


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by AppleScratch, posted 08-27-2014 12:51 PM AppleScratch has responded

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New Cat's Eye
Member
Posts: 11176
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 5 of 37 (735875)
08-27-2014 2:20 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by AppleScratch
08-27-2014 12:51 PM


Main Question: Is the concept of Artificial Selection just a convenient terminology, or is it considered scientifically differentiated from Natural Selection?

There's basically two ways to dichotomize the word "natural".

One is the natural vs. supernatural dichotomy.

Another is the natural vs. artificial dichotomy.

For the natural vs. artificial dichotomy, artificial means "man-made" while natural means that it was not man-made.

So, when a selective pressure is referred to as artificial, that just means that it was caused by man.

There's really nothing more to it than that. Its just a distinction that we've created for our own purposes.

I am not able to grasp why human intention is considered to transcend natural process, at least when speaking scientifically.

Human intention is still a natural process, in the sense that its not supernatural, but we do separate it from processes that we have no hand in because, well, because we're the ones making the rules and that's how we want to do it.

Is there some massive miss-step that I am making with this line of reason?

I think you're applying more to the distinction than is intended.

Say you found an a sharp triangular stone in the dirt, like an arrow head. As a geologist, you may be interested in determining if unintelligent geological processes could have formed it, or if it was made by a person on purpose. To distinguish between those options, you may refer to the first as a natural process and the second as an artificial process. But calling it an artifact only means that it was made by man, not that it was some supernatural process.

Or we could look at something like the banana. Regular old naturally occurring bananas are full of seed and have very little fruit. The bananas at the grocery store are the result of a long line of man-made selective pressure (and cloning).

The purpose of referring to that as artificially selected is just to distinguish is from the process that occur in nature without our help. There's really nothing more to it than that.


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Stile
Member
Posts: 2848
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 6 of 37 (735876)
08-27-2014 2:23 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by New Cat's Eye
08-27-2014 2:20 PM


Swoooosh
Like a ninja in the dark.
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New Cat's Eye
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Posts: 11176
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 1.7


(3)
Message 7 of 37 (735878)
08-27-2014 2:43 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Stile
08-27-2014 2:13 PM


Damn ninjas...

You're just using a secondary definition for the word "natural" (natural vs. imaginary or supernatural) and applying it to some specific scientific terminology that is using a different definition of the word (human-interference vs. no-human-interference).

So I work in the chemical industry.

Occasionally I'll get some hippy-dippy customer call me to ask if the chemical product they have is natural or not.

Sometimes I'll joke: "I assure you, none of the chemicals that we use are supernatural."

After they explain that's not what they meant, I'll challenge them to explain exactly what they are asking. And they really don't know. So I'll tell them that some of the surfactants we use are petroleum derived, so they are artificial. But, snake venom is 100% all-natural so if they want that in there instead maybe we can look into it.

Even worse though: "Are your chemicals organic?"

"Uh, mam, you do know that organic chemistry is a thing, right? And that it has nothing to do with farming, yeah? So that product contains both organic and inorganic chemicals. But that has nothing to do with how we grew them..."


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AppleScratch
Junior Member (Idle past 842 days)
Posts: 9
Joined: 08-26-2014


(1)
Message 8 of 37 (735879)
08-27-2014 2:43 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Stile
08-27-2014 2:14 PM


Re: How rude of me
quote:
Oh, and welcome to EvC!
Hope you stick around, there's lots to read and learn around here.
Frolic and enjoy!

...don't worry, I'm just weird


Thanks! I have been lurking here for years just reading. Sorry to have my first post be such a bore!

Thanks for the replies, not much to discuss on this one lol! I was just curious if there was something more substantial to the terminology.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Stile, posted 08-27-2014 2:14 PM Stile has responded

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Stile
Member
Posts: 2848
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 9 of 37 (735880)
08-27-2014 2:55 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by AppleScratch
08-27-2014 2:43 PM


Re: How rude of me
AppleScratch writes:

I have been lurking here for years just reading.

I did that before I started posting too.
Get in there! Spread your thoughts and expand your ideas! And other motivational things!!

Sorry to have my first post be such a bore!

Trust me, the only thing that's boring is when someone doesn't make a post...


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Taq
Member
Posts: 6014
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.6


(1)
Message 10 of 37 (735893)
08-27-2014 4:18 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by New Cat's Eye
08-27-2014 2:43 PM


So I work in the chemical industry. . .

It's a relief to find someone who views things the way I do. People always give a strange look when I try to explain that gasoline is organic.

What people are trying to convey is the idea that humanity screws things up, so they want as little human intervention as possible. However, they often ignore how long we have been messing around with our common cultivars. I see no reason why 10,000 years of selective breeding (i.e. artificial selection) is less of a problem than 20 years of genetic recombination in a lab.

Like you, I often ask people if they would rather have a hot dog or a glass of 100% all natural organic hemlock tea.


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1.61803
Member
Posts: 2664
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004
Member Rating: 3.9


Message 11 of 37 (735896)
08-27-2014 4:47 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by AppleScratch
08-27-2014 12:51 PM


quid es natural?
Hi AppleScratch,
I feel your concept of the dog being 'natural' because it was a natural extention of human intervention, to be stretching the idea of what is natural and what is artificial.

I am guilty of that too. I like to say that everything in the universe is natural. How could it be otherwise?
I suppose it is important to define ones terms concerning natural and artificial.
Otherwise technically if it exist in the universe it is natural.
Just look at Global warming, it is as natural as can be!! Or at least the Oil companies and the Koch brothers would have us believe that.


"You were not there for the beginning. You will not be there for the end. Your knowledge of what is going on can only be superficial and relative" William S. Burroughs

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by AppleScratch, posted 08-27-2014 12:51 PM AppleScratch has responded

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AppleScratch
Junior Member (Idle past 842 days)
Posts: 9
Joined: 08-26-2014


Message 12 of 37 (735899)
08-27-2014 5:04 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by 1.61803
08-27-2014 4:47 PM


Re: quid es natural?
quote:

Hi AppleScratch,
I feel your concept of the dog being 'natural' because it was a natural extention of human intervention, to be stretching the idea of what is natural and what is artificial.
I am guilty of that too. I like to say that everything in the universe is natural. How could it be otherwise?
I suppose it is important to define ones terms concerning natural and artificial.
Otherwise technically if it exist in the universe it is natural.
Just look at Global warming, it is as natural as can be!! Or at least the Oil companies and the Koch brothers would have us believe that.

I agree that it stretches the bounds of a 'useful' definition of Natural, and that was why the example was pretty much absurd. That was really my only question though.

There is no difference in artificial and natural other than the convenience of human language and discussion, which was my first assumption but wanted to see if smarter people than myself disagreed!


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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8751
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003


(1)
Message 13 of 37 (735900)
08-27-2014 5:09 PM


Missing the Real Issue
IMHO the real point isn't the man as part of nature part though it stems from us poking at things.

"Natural" selection and "Artificial" selection differ in that man is not (or little ) involved in the former and centrally involved in the later. But that isn't the important fundamental difference.

"Natural" selection has no end goal, no foresight, no global picture. Nothing beyond this individual member of a species and it's success or failure.

"Artificial" selection may have a very definite goal (short or long term), it incorporates the whole picture (that may be selecting individuals to increase the diversity of a rare species, e.g.). It may involve selecting for things that aren't part of the environment yet but are expected (e.g., higher heat tolerance of crops).

Yes, it requires us to do this but I don't see that as being the issue. If we were selecting individuals based on a coin flip then our effects may not be different from "artificial" selection even though we would be selecting.


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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 15474
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 3.9


Message 14 of 37 (735902)
08-27-2014 5:12 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by AppleScratch
08-27-2014 12:51 PM


Well, perhaps the terminology is not what it should be, but the distinction is scientifically important. If you wanted different terminology you could call them intelligent and unintelligent selection. Now it is clear that intelligent selection can do things that unintelligent selection cannot. We can explain the legless dogs of your example on account of human whims; legless snakes cannot be explained by a whim of nature, but must be explained in terms of functionality. When we wish to test the theory that things in nature are the product of unintelligent ("natural") selection acting on variation, we are testing a stronger --- more precise and more demanding --- thesis than if we just asked whether it was all produced by some kind of selection, no matter what.
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Tangle
Member
Posts: 4406
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 15 of 37 (735904)
08-27-2014 5:22 PM


Probably more precise to use the phrase anthropogenic selection when referring to human intervention in the 'natural' selection process.

Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


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