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Proof most Americans are stupid .. at least when it comes to biology

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What I wonder is - is the theory of evolution not being taught properly in schools, or are the students covering their eyes and ears and singing "la-la-la, it's not in the bible" when it is taught?

I suspect that evolution is largely taught correctly, but the scientific method is not. What's lacking may be a history of scientific discovery as an epistemological process rather than a collection of facts.

I remember in middle school all we learned was the scientific method. It is engraved in my mind because they repeated it so often to us. I attended a public school, by the way. So I think my education in that respect was fine.

I am in college now, and everything we learn in biology pertains to evolution. It is assumed to be completely correct. If it were proven incorrect, the entire curriculum would be pointless. Everything is taught from an evolutionary point of view.

So in my experience, if people are preferring creationism over evolution, it is their own doing.

Edited by Mimpy
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I swear, everytime I take half an hour to type out a relatively long, thought-out post, no one sees fit to respond to it.

Give it time!

Sounds like it was rough, but is your case an extreme case? Also, as people get out in the real world, away from their family lives, aren't there lots of influences to counter that stuff, such as at the work place, where you'll run into people like me. :)

Btw, I do know one guy who had a family that was very strictly religious. They made him do all kinds of things that he strongly resented and resents to this day. Despite being drowned in religion as a kid, he is now an Objectivist and openly expresses disgust for his family.

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Assuming that you know what "possible" really means, I'd say the answer is "no". But perhaps you are aware of some evidence that life has always existed, which I don't know of and which you could share.

I'm afraid I don't have any evidence, sorry. I am aware now that I was dropping the context there.

You have, however, pointed out to me that I am ignorant as to the meaning of the word "possible", so could you enlighten me?

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You have, however, pointed out to me that I am ignorant as to the meaning of the word "possible", so could you enlighten me?
Let me quote from OPAR p. 176

In these cases, the validation of an idea is gradual; one accumulates evidence step by step, moving from ignorance to knowledge through a continuum of transitional states. The main divisions of this continuum (including its terminus) are identified by three concepts: "possible," "probable," and "certain."

The first range of the evidential continuum is covered by the concept "possible." A conclusion is "possible" if there is some, but not much, evidence in favor of it, and nothing known that contradicts it.... For an idea to qualify as "possible," there must be a certain amount of evidence that actually supports it. If there is no such evidence, the idea falls under a different concept: not "possible," but "arbitrary."

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  • 2 years later...

Even at the Georgia Institute of Technology, many of the undergraduates here indicated to me personally that they were not taught evolution in the Georgia public school system.

I grew up in the Georgia public schools, and evolution was, indeed, taught, and there was no hint of any religious alternative. That was before today's college students were even born, though. I would suggest that such failures in the public schools are not special to Georgia.

Mindy

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I grew up in the Georgia public schools, and evolution was, indeed, taught, and there was no hint of any religious alternative. That was before today's college students were even born, though. I would suggest that such failures in the public schools are not special to Georgia.

Mindy

Whoah, you've resurrected quite the old thread here. I'd like to just give my view on human evoultion. I don't think you need a scientist's understanding of the subject to come to a conclusion. All you really need is a couple of facts and simple reason. One fact is that the fossil record indicates humans as we know them today existed back to a certain point in time. Also according to the fossil record, apes existed before the time that humans seem to have appeared. Based on these two facts, there are only two possible conclusions. Either humans were created as they are now at the point in time when they first appeared, or they evolved from the apes that came before. The actual biological processes involved don't need to ever enter the picture. I don't need to understand gravity to know it exists, and I don't need to sail around the world to know the planet is a sphere (or close to it). You have to choose one or the other, or you admit to a kind of agnosticism, which no Objectivist would ever do. Being Objectivist does not mean being a Skeptic.

Edited by Ragnar69
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Speaking as an evolutionary biologist who will shortly be teaching evolution to university students, I will say that in my opinion evolution is taught poorly and inadequately, especially at the high school level and before. A lot of people in my class will disbelieve evolution without even ever having known what it IS. The worst part is, a lot of people who DO accept evolution don't understand it either. For example, a lot of people still think evolution involves progress or increasing complexity (it doesn't), or that evolution can somehow be forward-looking (all evolution is backward-looking).

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Speaking as an evolutionary biologist who will shortly be teaching evolution to university students, I will say that in my opinion evolution is taught poorly and inadequately, especially at the high school level and before. A lot of people in my class will disbelieve evolution without even ever having known what it IS. The worst part is, a lot of people who DO accept evolution don't understand it either. For example, a lot of people still think evolution involves progress or increasing complexity (it doesn't), or that evolution can somehow be forward-looking (all evolution is backward-looking).

I've read about how evoultion is not increasing complexity, but I admit I still don't understand that. If a less intelligent animal evolves into a more intelligent animal, isn't that increasing complexity?

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I've read about how evoultion is not increasing complexity, but I admit I still don't understand that. If a less intelligent animal evolves into a more intelligent animal, isn't that increasing complexity?

Evolution can result in more *OR LESS* complexity. It's not about complexity - it's about the most fit adaptation to an environment.

Cave fish have no eyes - they did not evolve into fish inside a cave - the fish became trapped, had no use for eyesight, and over time, lost their eyes. They became less complex, but more suited to their environment (eyes are vulnerable spots and not having some has its advantages in a completely dark environment).

So evolution is not about complexity in the same way that mathematics is not about color.

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I've read about how evoultion is not increasing complexity, but I admit I still don't understand that. If a less intelligent animal evolves into a more intelligent animal, isn't that increasing complexity?

In that instance, perhaps (although intelligence is not the only measure of "complexity"). The point is that for a given organism they may evolve to be more or less intelligent depending on the environment. Also, on balance, it's not correct to say that life as a whole is getting more complex. There are more highly complex lifeforms now than there were 2 billion years ago but that's because there is a "left wall" to the distribution, so to speak. The dominant lifeforms on the planet are still unicellular.

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In that instance, perhaps (although intelligence is not the only measure of "complexity"). The point is that for a given organism they may evolve to be more or less intelligent depending on the environment. Also, on balance, it's not correct to say that life as a whole is getting more complex. There are more highly complex lifeforms now than there were 2 billion years ago but that's because there is a "left wall" to the distribution, so to speak. The dominant lifeforms on the planet are still unicellular.

Is there an example of a species evolving to a less intelligent form?

Mindy

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I've read about how evoultion is not increasing complexity, but I admit I still don't understand that. If a less intelligent animal evolves into a more intelligent animal, isn't that increasing complexity?

That sound like a comment on definitions. Evolution is the field which concerns itself with genetic mutation (the change in the inherited traits of life forms over generations, be it natural selection or random genetic drift), as opposed to the full origin of life, from simple chemical reactions into complex biochemistry.

So, while life is obviously a more complex phenomena than what it originated in (so yes, it can be said that life is inherently an increase in complexity, it's just unclear what caused it), evolution does not refer to that (unknown) process. Evolution is something more familiar to science, which has nothing to do with complexity. The direction of the evolution of life forms over generations is a function of the environment (as well as random mutation), not anything inherent in the concept "evolution". One thing that did cause that direction to often point towards the more complex is the increase in the diversity of environments, as life spread across the Planet. At this point, I don't think that's still a factor.

Is there an example of a species evolving to a less intelligent form?

Mindy

There are examples of intelligent species going extinct (nonexistence is about as unintelligent and non-complex as a thing can get). There are too few intelligent species on Earth (at the moment, only one) to conclude that they do or do not evolve in the opposite direction from how humans have been evolving thus far (meaning away from intelligence). As far as the Theory of Evolution (which is a law of nature) is concerned, there is no reason why an intelligent species couldn't evolve in that direction.

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I suspect that evolution is largely taught correctly, but the scientific method is not. What's lacking may be a history of scientific discovery as an epistemological process rather than a collection of facts.

Since this thread got bumped up I thought I would also bump up this point that was made.

I think this is the most important part of the argument.

Evolution is easy to disbelieve when it is presented as poorly as it is.

The way it is most often taught in schools is in fact a collection of facts divorced from discovery and process.

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Intelligence is a matter of degree, so I don't think you can really say there is only one intelligent species on the planet. I think you are confusing intelligence with sentience. Humans are the only sentient species on the planet, but other animals do have varying degrees of intelligence. For example, we know that after humans, chimps are likely the most intelligent species. Dolphins are more intelligent than fish. Cats are likely more intelligent than dogs. And so on.

I used intelligence just as an example, but the case of a fish losing its eyes through evolution is a good example of an animal getting less complex. Losing vestigial organs in general is getting less complex. I thought of this after my post, so yes, I see how it can go both ways. My problem was with people saying evolution ONLY involves species getting less complex, and that is clearly not the case.

That sound like a comment on definitions. Evolution is the field which concerns itself with genetic mutation (the change in the inherited traits of life forms over generations, be it natural selection or random genetic drift), as opposed to the full origin of life, from simple chemical reactions into complex biochemistry.

So, while life is obviously a more complex phenomena than what it originated in (so yes, it can be said that life is inherently an increase in complexity, it's just unclear what caused it), evolution does not refer to that (unknown) process. Evolution is something more familiar to science, which has nothing to do with complexity. The direction of the evolution of life forms over generations is a function of the environment (as well as random mutation), not anything inherent in the concept "evolution". One thing that did cause that direction to often point towards the more complex is the increase in the diversity of environments, as life spread across the Planet. At this point, I don't think that's still a factor.

There are examples of intelligent species going extinct (nonexistence is about as unintelligent and non-complex as a thing can get). There are too few intelligent species on Earth (at the moment, only one) to conclude that they do or do not evolve in the opposite direction from how humans have been evolving thus far (meaning away from intelligence). As far as the Theory of Evolution (which is a law of nature) is concerned, there is no reason why an intelligent species couldn't evolve in that direction.

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Is there any other view than creationism or evolution?

The Independent Birth of Life by Periannan Senapathy, Ph.D.

He was with the NIH. He had a book out which I bought, and I hoped that Steven Speicher would have read it to get his thoughts on it.

http://www.mattox.com/genome/

I found the book very good metaphysically. Truly secular.

It's worth noting that the Origin of Species is not the same question as the Origin of Life. These questions are often confused. Of course the latter question is more interesting.

What I liked about Senapathy's theory is that it addresses my observation that everything natural happens multiple times. There are many examples of mountains, deserts, lakes, planets, comets, stars, lightning, and so on. Why should life be any different? The idea that the conditions that start life happened only once billions of years ago on this planet alone seems preposterous. Indeed a miracle. (I brought this up to Dr. Binswanger years ago when I was on his list. He dismissed this thought.)

Senapathy shows how life generates in primordial ponds which can exist for brief moments ~4 million years. This would explain the Cambrian explosion and the Burgess Shale finds, which were unique forms of life that do not seem to have analogues to previous life forms.

It also explains how different species like mice and men share vast amounts of similar genes. They came from the same pond at different times.

I like the Electric Universe theory too. Forget Big Bang. I'm sure there is a connection between Electric Universe Theory and Senapathy's. Electricity is braided and so is the double-helix.

If you can get his book go for it.

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The idea that the conditions that start life happened only once billions of years ago on this planet alone seems preposterous.

I know of no proponent of evolution who claims that life definitely started from a single event, or that it could only have happened on Earth.

Electricity is braided and so is the double-helix.

This is absurd. Any number of things can be considered "braided" and yet obviously have no relation to eachother. And in what sense is the flow of electric charge in a wire "braided"? You have formed an invalid concept of "braidedness" to unite unrelated things.

Edited by brian0918
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I know of no proponent of evolution who claims that life definitely started from a single event, or that it could only have happened on Earth.

This is absurd. Any number of things can be considered "braided" and yet obviously have no relation to eachother. And in what sense is the flow of electric charge in a wire "braided"? You have formed an invalid concept of "braidedness" to unite unrelated things.

I'm saying the similarity is worth investigating. It's a hunch, not a concept. The flow of the electricity through space is braided and if electricity is a component of the formation of DNA, then molecules may be formed in some way related to the flow of electrical energy when thousands or millions of amps are involved. Sure, it's speculation, a superficial observation perhaps, but it may bear fruit later. It is something to be mindful of.

It is interesting that there are very few prominent Objectivists in science. I wonder how much self-inflicted damage Objectivists do to themselves in destroying their creativity by the quirks of Objectivism. I'm sure you're referring to the "encircle" story in OPAR illustrating the schizophrenic mind. Thanks for that. I try to avoid these boards, but I did find it important to mention Senapathy's theory since it is an alternative scientific theory that virtually no one knows about.

The idea of life starting from a single event is implied by the whole theory of evolution as it is currently taught. You hear about the tree of life, not the forest of life; you are told about branches whose origins go back to some common root, rather than multiple trees with their own roots.

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It is interesting that there are very few prominent Objectivists in science. I wonder how much self-inflicted damage Objectivists do to themselves in destroying their creativity by the quirks of Objectivism.

Speaking as an Objectivist, I find the philosophy neither quirky nor antagonistic to my creativity. Properly understood as a system of thought, it is very helpful to the gaining of new knowledge.

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