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Author Topic:   Milton & selection
PaulK
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Posts: 17838
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 1 of 10 (74667)
12-22-2003 11:14 AM


Natural Selection and Evolution
This essay represents conclusive proof that Milton does not adequately understand evolution. It contains two major errors.
Firstly Milton repeats George Simpsons formulation of natural selection as encouraging reproductive success, statign that the characteristics selected for "do not directly matter at all" - which is entirely correct. Whether they are selected for or against depends not on the charateristics, but on their effect on reproductive success (which is not always obvious). It does not undermine Darwin's idea at all -the characteristics DO increase fitness. There is no puzzle either in the diversity of life - there are many ways to succeed reproductively. For instance some species invest their energy in many offspring - others have fewer offspring but take care to bring them up. Both strategies can work in ensuring that there are enough survivors for there to be a new generation.
Milton's second error is even more foolish. If Milton has read Dawkin's _The Blind Watchmaker_ then he knows of the importance of what Dawkins calls "cumulative selection". Certainly he criticises another chapter on his website, so we may assume that he is familiar with this point. However he neglects this to insist that selection can play no role in evolution since it only reduces diversity. But cumulative selection depends on such a reduction - it consists of iterating a process of making small changes and then culling the less effective changes - and that culling is essential to the process. Selection is the thing that channels evolution, making it more than just random drift. Milton seems unable to comprehend this although it is a very basic concept, vital to any understanding of evolution.
Just for a laugh, Milton states this :
"For example, Darwinists claim that camouflage coloring and mimicry (as in leaf insects) is adaptive and will be selected for, yet they also claim that warning coloration (the wasp's stripes) is adaptive and will be selected for. Yet if both propositions are true, any kind of coloration will have some adaptive value, whether it is partly camouflage or partly warning, and will be selected for."
But this is false. Warning colouration relies on a potential predator identifying the potential prey as distasteful (or worse) and no worth the effort. To be useful, then either the species must be genuinely distasteful or dangerous or it must imitiate a common local species that *is* (the species must also have predators to warn !). So "warning colours" are not automatically useful.
Warning colours rely on being obvious, so that the predators can quickly make that identification. Protective colouration on the other hand is another word for camouflage - the whole point is to NOT be obvious at all. A simple mix, therefore is impossible - the warning colour would negate the effectiveness of any camouflage.
[This message has been edited by PaulK, 12-22-2003]

Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by NosyNed, posted 12-22-2003 12:24 PM PaulK has not replied
 Message 3 by Warren, posted 12-22-2003 2:50 PM PaulK has not replied
 Message 5 by MrHambre, posted 12-22-2003 3:55 PM PaulK has not replied
 Message 6 by Cold Foreign Object, posted 12-22-2003 10:57 PM PaulK has replied
 Message 9 by PaulK, posted 01-01-2004 10:32 AM PaulK has replied

  
NosyNed
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Posts: 9006
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003


Message 2 of 10 (74674)
12-22-2003 12:24 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by PaulK
12-22-2003 11:14 AM


A Measure of Credibility
We talked in the rules of debate thread about the determination of a souces credibility.
Thanks, PaulK, for helping put some boundaries around Milton's credibility. That last quote of his certainly makes clear the quality of his understanding and thinking processes.

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Warren
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 10 (74680)
12-22-2003 2:50 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by PaulK
12-22-2003 11:14 AM


Random mutation & natural selection
Deleted.
[This message has been edited by Warren, 12-22-2003]

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AdminAsgara
Administrator (Idle past 2385 days)
Posts: 2073
From: The Universe
Joined: 10-11-2003


Message 4 of 10 (74681)
12-22-2003 3:11 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Warren
12-22-2003 2:50 PM


Re: Random mutation & natural selection
Let's please keep this discussion to R. Milton and his credibility. Your post would be better served in another thread.
------------------
AdminAsgara
Queen of the Universe

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MrHambre
Member (Idle past 1475 days)
Posts: 1495
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 5 of 10 (74683)
12-22-2003 3:55 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by PaulK
12-22-2003 11:14 AM


Great link, Pablo. I also like Milton's assertion that natural selection is a tautology to people who don't understand it. Here he quotes Simpson with the same fidelity to the original meaning as when he quoted Pilbeam:
quote:
Notice the words; "The characteristics themselves do not directly matter at all." This innocent phrase fatally undermines Darwin's original key conception: that each animal's special physical characteristics are what makes it fit to survive: the giraffe's long neck, the eagle's keen eye, or the cheetah's 60 mile-an-hour sprint.
Simpson's reformulation means all this must be dropped: it is not the characteristics that directly matter -- it is the animals' capacity to reproduce themselves. The race is not to the swift, after all, but merely to the prolific. So how can neo-Darwinism explain the enormous diversity of characteristics?
Simpson is right, the characteristics in and of themselves don't matter unless they contribute to the organism's differential reproductive success (DRS hereafter). Thus we get the giraffe's neck, which we would imagine would aid its DRS, and the peacock's long tail, which we wouldn't. Darwin's original key conception, as Milton puts it, is still valid: the only reason this trait is shared throughout the population is because it contributed to its ancestors' DRS. A post-hoc rationalization? Well, does he expect us to be able to gauge changes in allele frequency prior to the changes?
------------------
The dark nursery of evolution is very dark indeed.
Brad McFall

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Cold Foreign Object 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3130 days)
Posts: 3417
Joined: 11-21-2003


Message 6 of 10 (74765)
12-22-2003 10:57 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by PaulK
12-22-2003 11:14 AM


Great topic, and I can assure you that by 12-27-03 I will respond. Not that you are like waiting for me but I just wanted you to know that I am not ignoring this topic.
You have opened Pandoras proverbial box: credibility.

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NosyNed
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Posts: 9006
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003


Message 7 of 10 (74777)
12-22-2003 11:27 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Cold Foreign Object
12-22-2003 10:57 PM


Milton is the Topic
It is a busy time of year of course. Take what time you need and it is nice of you to let people know that you do intend to come back to it.
I'd just like to remind you that Milton is the topic and, at this rate, there won't be much left of his credibility by next week.
------------------
Common sense isn't

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PaulK
Member
Posts: 17838
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 8 of 10 (74812)
12-23-2003 5:27 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Cold Foreign Object
12-22-2003 10:57 PM


I'll be offline myself for several days, so if you post on the 27th I probably won't be able to respond until the New Year.
However I am concerned that you describe credibility as a "Pandora's Box". It sounds like you intend to launch some sort of attack on my credibility. Such a response would be futile since Milton's errors are quite clear.
I would add that since your defence of Milton's (and Gene Scott's) credibility has been based on qualifications (in a very general sense) both Simpson and Dawkins are more highly qualified than Milton and therefore any such defence would still leave us concluding that Milton is incorrect.
So your only valid options are to show either that I have misrepresented Milton's assertions or to show that Milton's assertions are in fact correct. I don't believe you have any realistic chance of doing either.
Of course Milton's credibility is also badly hurt by evidence I posted on the other thread. So if you want to claim that Milton is a credible souce you need to explain how he deals with the issue of fine grained transitions in the T.O. vertebrate transitional fossil FAQ. The FAQ states:"Part 2 lists numerous species-to-species transitions from the mammals". According to Milton this somehow leads him to expect such an example in the "Transition from primitive jawless fish to sharks, skates, and rays" in section 1. "Then what the Dickens is this description doing in a "FAQ" purporting to give concrete, species-to-species examples of transitions between jawless fish and sharks?" Now I think that a MENSA member can be expected to know that fish aren't mammals and 1 does not equal 2. Don't you ?
So perhaps you would like to explain how Milton came to the conclusion that the FAQ purported to give "concrete, species-to-species examples of transitions between jawless fish and sharks" when the material quoted by Milton makes no such assertion and the actual FAQ states that such examples will be found in a different section amongst the mammals ? Don't forget to explain why Milton does not quote anything from the FAQ explaining where the examples are to be found and why he does not comment on any of the examples provided (instead giving the impression that there are none).
"Transitions"
Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ"
[This message has been edited by PaulK, 12-23-2003]

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PaulK
Member
Posts: 17838
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 9 of 10 (76117)
01-01-2004 10:32 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by PaulK
12-22-2003 11:14 AM


*BUMP*
N/C

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by PaulK, posted 12-22-2003 11:14 AM PaulK has replied

Replies to this message:
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PaulK
Member
Posts: 17838
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 10 of 10 (76701)
01-05-2004 5:22 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by PaulK
01-01-2004 10:32 AM


*BUMP* Again
Well it's after the 27th December and Willowtree is posting so maybe we'll see an answer now...

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