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40% Americans are Science Deniers
Approximately 40% of Americans deny science and trust the biblical science of the iron age. If the scientists all died, the Christians would soon starve to death. If the Christians all died, peace and prosperity would break out.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
500,000 Years Till Doomsday
The luminosity of the sun is gradually increasing as it ages. In 500,000 years it will be so hot that earth will no longer be able to support life.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
747 in a Junkyard
It is really quite funny when an illiterate Christian quotes the old 747 in a junk yard hurricane argument for the existence of a creator god then smiles smugly. Since they have never read even one book about evolution, they don’t realise they have it exactly backwards. They don’t realise they are parroting a hoary, dishonest straw man argument. The error is like marveling that all the players in the NHL (National Hockey League) are exceedingly good and claiming that the odds of this happening randomly are astronomical. Well you ninny. There is nothing random about the selection of which players get into the NHL. The problem is your naïve misunderstanding of how the player selection process works. Anthony Robbins completely lost my respect when he quoted this old canard.
Here is another analogy. Let us say you set up an aquarium filled with delicious foods (at least to a frog). The only way in is via a 1 cm (0.39 in) pipe. You set the aquarium out in a swamp and you came back the next day and lo, the aquarium was filled with tiny frogs. Miracolo, miracolo! you exclaim. If frogs went into the aquarium randomly, they should be all sizes. But again, the vetting process was not random and it did not require a conscious agent either. It was just a dumb old pipe.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
AbiogenesisIf life arose gradually from chemicals here on earth, it had plenty of time and plenty of space to do it. It only had to do it once. There were no predators. Forms of life that would have no chance today could survive back then without competition. It seems to be also quite possible now we have discovered that earth like planets are common, that life abound in our galaxy. Life was seeded here on earth. For some reason, many lifeforms on earth are so tough they can survive hitching rides on comets. Why would they have such abilities if they never used them?
- Galaxies in the observable universe: 160 billion.
- Stars in a galaxy: 20 billion to 1,900,000,000,000,000. Our galaxy, the milky way has 19,000,000,000,000 stars.
In that case life has had hugely more time and hugely more places to get started. It could require the freakiest event imaginable and still have happened many times.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
We are still in the speculation phase on how life got started. The one thing we are sure of it that is would have started very primitively, possibly based on PNA, then graduated to RNA (Ribonucleic acid) then to DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid). A fully formed amoeba would not just have popped into existence. I hazard that when we do understand, will be very hard to decide where in the painfully slow evolutionary process life actually started. The earliest lifeforms will look very unimpressive, hardly worthy of a deity’s attention, more like eccentric organic molecules.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Even Christians would agree that school teachers should not be permitted to teach astrology in place of astronomy. Teaching creationism in place of evolution is just as silly from a scientific point of view.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Acceptance of New Knowledge
There are still people who insist the world is flat and the earth is the center of the universe. We have known otherwise for 2,245 years. Darwin published his book on evolution only 157 years ago. No wonder there are so many troglodytes still clinging to creationism.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
One of the reasons people are so reluctant to embrace natural selection, is that it forces you to confront just how cruel life on earth is. The process drives whole populations to genocide, overpopulation, greed, betrayal, hypocrisy, hierarchy… There is no advantage to a predator to kill its prey humanely. People would prefer to ignore the evidence and bask in the glow of a kindly imaginary god.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Adapt or Die
Marine animals all need salt water for survival. Land animals all need fresh water for survival. A Christian would say How kind of my god to have provided each what it required. Darwin would say, Animals had no choice. They either had to adapt to thrive with the water type available or perish. Scientist say the saltiness of the ocean has nothing to do with divine beneficence. It is simply that evaporation leaves behind the salt, raining fresh water on the land. The salt leached from the soils and transported by the river gradually builds up in the oceans. Creationism was bleeding edge science — 4000 years ago. Modern day Christians are overly attached to antique science because of its ancient holy books covered everything of interest in the day, including science, which in now embarrassingly obsolete.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Adapted to Small Groups
Man’s environment has charged drastically. He was used to living in bands with no more than 170 others. Now he is expected to cope with 7.357 billion. During such times of rapid change you can expect those who cannot cope with the changes not to reproduce. I notice myself avoiding interacting with more than about 20 people to partially sidestep the problem.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Adapting is Hard and Slow
Nature hates change. Evolution adapting to even tiny changes works only very slowly over tens of thousands of years. Unlike man, plants and animals have no artificial means to insulate them from tiny changes in the environment, for example a minute increase in temperature allowed pine beetles to wipe out massive forests that had thrived for thousands of years.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Addiction to Soda Pop
Driven by desires shaped by evolution when man was a hunter gatherer in a world where calories were hard to come by, Americans now get most of their calories from soda pop.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Man has not been able to agree on which way a toggle is flipped for on, whether you press the top or bottom of a rocker switch for on and the shape and orientation of an AC (Alternating Current) outlet. Man still has not managed to get all the hot taps on the left and cold on the right. How daft to dream of world peace!~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Advantage of Consciousness
Consciousness has baffled man since the beginning. We would not have it, if it did not have some evolutionary advantage. Discovering that advantage may be the key to cracking the mystery.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Drug addicts and alcoholics can be so frustrating. These self-indulgent, immature brats just don’t get it that the long term consequences of a temporary indulgence are suicidal. That is exactly how environmentalists feel about Conservatives, Republicans, politicians and businessmen who refuse to acknowledge the long term environmental consequences of their actions.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Though I find it ludicrous to assert that earth is the only place in the universe harbouring intelligent life, I don’t think intelligent aliens have yet visited earth. Why?
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- Somebody like Wikileaks would have released secret government documents by now. These are too juicy to hold on to.
- Aliens would know we are here by atmospheric changes from the industrial revolution and from radio and TV broadcasts. These would have reached a sphere only about 100 light years radius surrounding earth. Even if aliens noticed and immediately set off for earth at the speed of light (or sent a laser beam back) they would not get here for yet another 100 years. Our local Milky Way galaxy is 100,000 light-years across. Just to check for intelligent life anywhere in our galaxy we would have to wait at least 200,000 years.
Alternative Theory to Evolution
There is no alternative theory to evolution. The creationism hypothesis was debunked over a century a go. It never made it to the status of theory since it was never able to make any predictions or pass any tests. Consider that there is not a single invention that works on creation science. In contrast, paleontology, agriculture, animal husbandry and medicine all heavily depend on evolution.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Computers produce results without understanding how they do it. Similarly human produce things from songs, to poems to inventions without understanding how they do it. That is why they tend to worship their own creations, and overvalue them.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Genetics are absolutely fundamental to our understanding of evolution, but in Darwin’s day they had not been invented yet. Or more precisely, Darwin was not aware of Gregor Mendel’s work. So Darwin had to develop the theory without using genetics, metaphorically with his hands tied behind his back.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
American Idol Metaphor
A modern metaphor for evolution might be American Idol. A motley random assortment of mostly untalented people present themselves to the judges. The judges winnow the pack down to an ultimate winner, who is remarkably talented. The judging process is anything but random. Imagine a world where the next generation of contestants were sired only by American Idol winners. That’s evolution. Nature does the judging and ruthlessly condemns the losers to early death for almost any imperfection.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Humans are almost identical in intelligence to the way they were 50,000 years ago. The most intelligent man of all time might have lived 40,000 years ago. What could he have accomplished without language, without computers, without a way to communicate with other intelligent people, without books, without a school? It is not so much that we modern humans are particularly smart, it is that we inherit so much knowledge technology from others and because society invests so much effort in our education.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Ancient vs Modern Science
You could think of the conflict between science and religion as a conflict between modern and ancient science. Stupid people prefer the ancient notion of gods because they are easier to understand. They don’t require any math.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
All manner of germs have evolved immunity to antibiotics. This is much more serious than you might guess. If we don’t come up with a replacement for antibiotics, it will mean returning medicine to the state it was in 1917. We won’t be able to treat infectious diseases. Several kids per family will die. We won’t be able to treat premature babies. We won’t be able to do major surgery. We won’t be able to treat cancer (It requires turning off the immune system.) Soldiers will die of infections for even minor wounds.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Ants Studying the Universe
Humans are like ants exploring a 1 metre (3.28 ft) region around their nest and from that pontificating on the nature of life in the universe. They assume of course that the tree they discover is probably the only tree in the universe, since it is the only one they have studied.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Apple of God’s Eye?
If the Christians are right and Jehovah created all species, but man was the apple of his eye, why did Jehovah give birds 8 times better vision, fish better colour vision, bees the ability to see UV (ultraviolet) ?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Why do apples require more pesticide that any other crop? Apple evolution has stopped. All commercial apple trees are grafts of just a handful of individual trees discovered in the 1800s. Apple trees are clones. Commercially, there are only five genetic configurations. The insects continue to evolve better and better ways to overcome those few trees’ defences. This is monoculture taken to the extreme.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Arrival of the Terminator Species
The most destructive event in the history of planet earth was the arrival of homo sapiens.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Ever since I was a boy, I was bothered by the way everyone made a sharp distinction between artificial and natural selection. To my mind, what counted what was the selecting done, not who or what did it. The creature evolving was influenced by the selecting, not the selector. So, to my way of thinking, anything that artificial selection could accomplish, so should natural selection be potentially able to accomplish.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Artificial Selection is a Type of Natural Selection
There is no essential difference between evolutionary natural selection and artificial selection.
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- You could look on pea hens choosing the most flamboyant peacocks for mates are doing artificial selection, making the same decisions peacock breeders would.
- You could look on a pack of wolves seeking out the weakest moose in a herd as doing artificial selection. From the point of view of the moose, it does not matter the motivation of the wolf. Whether the wolf actually has the intent to improve the genetics of moose, or just to get an easy dinner, is irrelevant.
- You could look on bees choosing the most flamboyant flowers to pollinate as doing artificial selection.
Artificial vs Natural Selection
Artificial selection and natural selection is the same thing. The only difference is the species putting the selection pressure on the evolving species.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68) Dr. Dawkins expains the evidence for evolution
Artificial vs Natural Selection
Artificial selection is a type of natural selection. People do nothing that nature does not do, namely kill some types of animal but not others (or in some other way prevent some animals from breeding). Humans are a sort of super predator that has very specific tastes in prey.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Astounding Amoeba
The evolution of the amoeba from raw amino acids is much more astounding and took far far longer that the evolution of man from the single cell stage.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
When bacteria acquire resistance to an antibiotic, not only does that antibiotic fail to keep them in check, it helps them thrive by killing off the competition.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68) The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
One of my least favourite features of evolution in that natural selection favours animals that will overbreed, strip the environment and spread pestilence in the absence of sufficient predators, most notably humans.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Bad News Overload
We humans evolved over nearly all our history in groups of 1000 or less. Today, because of the Internet and mass communications we are aware of the suffering of all seven billion people on the planet and hundreds of other species as well. We now know about coming catastrophes such as the global warming, the energy crunch, mass extinctions, running out of water, overpopulation, accidental nuclear war, earthquakes, tsunamis, galactic debris crashing into earth… However, we have not evolved a way to recalibrate our sensitivity. No wonder pharmaceutical companies are doing a roaring business in anti-depressants.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Believing the Untrue
One of the key features of humans is they can easily be hypnotised to believe things that are patently untrue. I suspect the original survival advantage of this trait was group consensus.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Ben Stein, Honourary Surgeon
If Ben Stein were to take after medicine the way he has evolution, he would charge into an operating room without scrubbing up screaming there are no such things as spleens because the bible never mentioned them. They would throw him out. He would complain they were prejudiced and censoring him.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Why does every culture have such a strict taboo against bestiality? The problem is risking introducing parasites and disease from one species into another. It is a crime against two entire species. However, in the case of domestic animals, it is a matter of closing the barn door after the horse has fled.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Big Flaw in Creationism
The big problem with Creationism/Intelligent Design is that is simply not true. It is like a child’s explanation of why the earth has to be flat. (It originally included a flat earth as one of its tenets.) There is no evidence for Creationism. There is a ton of evidence against it. The competing theory, evolution explains things extremely well.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Birds of Paradise
Birds of Paradise live on an island with almost no predators and plenty of food. Females don’t need males to raise a family. Freed of familial duties, male birds of paradise concentrate an impressing females. I suspect the invention of government support for unmarried females is bringing about a similar change in humans.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Blind Loyalty to Children
One of the peculiar things about evolution is it creates a primary loyalty to one’s offspring, even if they are criminal, defective or deformed. Hitler’s mother, even knowing what her child would become, still would have promoted him over everyone else.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Slime mold is not really a mold. It is a giant single celled amoeba up to 1 metre (3.28 ft) across.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Body Odour Attraction
Researchers have found that women are attracted to the body odour of males as different genetically from themselves as possible. With increased travel between parts of the world, we should see an accelerated mixing of genes and a gradual end to both races and racism.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
What are the odds of throwing 40 coins into the air and they all come up heads? If you are willing to repeat the experiment every 30 seconds for a billion years, it will happen most likely about 933 times. Our intuition about what is possible and impossible only works for human-sized elapsed times.
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Head Throwing Probability Time Trials Number of Coins Expected Successes one hour 120 3 15 one year 1,026,720 10 1,002 one century 102,672,000 20 97 1000 years 1,026,720,000 20 979 One million years 1,026,720,000,000 30 956 One billion years 1,026,720,000,000,000 40 933
Bogus Reason For Opposing Evolution
Christians originally opposed Darwin’s theory of evolution not because there was any flaw in its logic, but because they feared the moral implications of the biblical creation myth being debunked. In other words, their opposition was based purely on how they wanted things to be, not on any evidence for how they are.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Bragging about Brain Size
When humans brag they have the biggest brains on the planet (relative to body size), it is a bit like a baseball player bragging he holds the record for the most home runs hit during an eclipse.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Humans have 100 billion neurons, but only 19,000 genes. This implies the brain has a much simpler structure than we imagine. Mathematically it must be mostly repetitive patterns.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
A part of your brain has evolved to become a cruel master. It whips you with negative emotions intending to force you to strive for increased security, sexual opportunity and power over others. Its values are purely Darwinian. It does not care in the least about your welfare or happiness other than as a side effect in promoting your survival, reproduction or dominance. As soon as you accomplish one goal, this Darwinian part of your brain permits you a few moments of relief, before taking up its whip again to drive you to some new goal. If you let that part of your brain control you, you may well accomplish many things, but you will be perpetually driven and miserable. It is an utter delusion that it will let you be happy after you accomplish the current goal. You would never dream of driving anyone else so brutally. It is equally wrong and foolish to treat yourself that way.
If what I have said rings true, the big question is, how you do get that Darwinian part of your brain off your back and effectively tackle goals without punishing yourself? There is a practical scientific smorgasbord of techniques for doing so collectively called, to my embarrassment, Living Love.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The brain evolved not to discover truth, but to ensure survival and reproduction. It should not surprise us then when we encounter people glued to nutty ideas they believe to be the consensus.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Breeding Contest
One of the most ghastly facts of life is that evolution favours those creatures who have the most surviving offspring. This leads all animals try to wildly out breed their fellows, even if it means destruction of the environment that sustains the entire species. It even means that evolution rewards those that brutally kill off the competition. No wonder the world is filled with so many obnoxious people!~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
In species where the males fight to decide which males get to breed, the males are strong and tough. In species where the females judge displays to decide which males get to breed, the males are brightly coloured and good dancers.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Build a Nest
Every male bird knows the best way to attract a mate is to build a nest. Human males waste time with red sports cars that primarily attract younger males.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Bungling Designer
When the Christian sees biological complexity, e.g. a snail shell and announces that could not have happened by chance, it must have a designer, he is right. The catch is the designer is not an invisible bearded man in the clouds; it is natural selection, and it works blindly and incredibly slowly without planning, ruthlessly discarding nearly all of its imperfect work. It is quite bungling compared with a human designer, hardly a god.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Cactus Flowering of Intelligence
I feel so privileged to be alive on earth now, to watch a flowering of cosmic intelligence and its almost instant extinction, like a rare cactus flower that blooms for but one night.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Capitalist Errors In Thinking
Capitalists are neo-Darwinists who imagine humans prevail over other species by ruthlessly culling the weak and poor. They fail to notice that individual humans are puny animals. The secret of their success is intelligent co-operation.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Carbon 14 dating
By comparing the rations of two isotopes of carbon, carbon-12 and carbon-14 you can tell the age of once-living material. It works only for samples up to 50,000 years old, a mere eyeblink of evolutionary time. It works because living material absorbs carbon-14, which then deteriorates slowly to carbon-12 after death. There are other kinds of radiometric dating useful for dating rocks even billions of years old.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68) carbon 14 dating
Caring For The Sick
One of the most unusual features of humans, (if you don’count Republicans as human) is they care for the sick and disabled. Dolphins do this, but I can’t think of any other animal that does.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Though man has relatively recently in his evolution acquired the ability to make tools, he still experiences and thinks about the world with the exact same body and brain he used in his cave-dwelling days.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Changing the Environment
Evolution works extremely slowly. You have to expect serious trouble if you radically change an animal’s environment because it takes so long for the animals to adapt. For humans, we have cut walking from per day to 0. We have radically changed our diet. We have changed from living in small groups to living in giant hives called cities. We have introduced thousands of toxic chemicals. We have changed from living outdoors to living inside. We are no longer adapted.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Changing Our Environment Too Fast
So many of man’s misery comes from the fact we have changed our environment far too rapidly for us to adapt to it. Consider:
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
evolutionary differences Then Now Pick fruits and vegetables and eat them immediately. Eat irradiated, frozen and processed fruits and vegetables that sat in storage 6 months and came from the other side of the earth. Sleep when the sun is down. Sleep according to work schedules. Active Sedentary High calorie fats and sugars hard to come by. High calorie foods in abundance. Salt hard to come by. Salt in abundance. Live in small bands. Live in giant cities. One person does all the tasks to stay alive. Specialisation. Dealing with predators. Dealing with advertisers and other con men.
What kind of intelligent designer would require hours of screaming agony just to bring a new human into the world?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
One of the key attractions of Christianity is that it tells you the lie that you are special, a member of the most important species in the entire universe. In fact the entire universe was all created purely for your delectation. Everything living and unliving on earth is yours, purely for your pleasure, even if your pleasure is to eat, smash, waste or torture it. You are the ultimate spoiled child. Galileo Galilei gave that notion a major kick in the pants by pointing out the earth is not the center of the universe. Darwin gave it an even bigger kick by pointing out that man is just another primate.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
There are a billion billion earth-like planets in the universe. Life appeared on ours almost as soon as it had cooled. What are the odds the Christians are right and that the only one with intelligent life is planet earth? Why would anyone presume something so preposterously conceited?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Christian Courier proposed 5 questions they challenged Darwin could not answer. What is wrong with this picture?
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- Darwin died in 1882. He is in no position to answer any questions. If you want answers, you will have to ask a living evolutionist.
- Most of the questions were not even about evolution, but abiogenesis. They are completely different fields of study. Creationists often conflate evolution, abiogenesis and cosmology.
- There is no commentary section to answer the questions or email to submit the answers to.
Christianity Explains Nothing
Christianity explains absolutely nothing about the images coming in from the Hubble telescope. Science has intricate equations that explain an amazing amount of what you see. Christianity is a primitive attempt at science that was never updated.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Christians Pretend Not to Believe Evolution
Most Christians I think, in their hearts, believe evolution to be true. They pretend otherwise because they are worried if their kids learned they descended from animals they would start eating dog food and humping on the lawn.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Every human has 46 chromosomes. Other species have different numbers. Each corresponding chromosome ( DNA strand) is exactly the same length, measured in base pairs, in all humans. Each slot along each chromosome has the exact same purpose in all humans. E.g. where eye colour is encoded in the DNA is in the same place in all humans. Other species have different schemes, but similar animals like chimps, are similar to ours (they have 2 extra chromosomes). That addressing scheme is what defines a species.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Creationism asserts god created each species individually from scratch. Evolution asserts each species derived from an earlier species, forming a nested set of related categories called clades. There categories show up four ways:
- In the morphology of plants and animals.
- In the similarly of DNA.
- In the way fetuses develop, reliving evolution of the species. Ontology recapitulates phylogeny.
- In the chronology of the fossil record.
The creationists can offer no evidence at all for their hypothesis. Science can offer four independent, mutually-confirming lines of evidence.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Coffee As Pesticide
Why does the coffee plant give us a pleasant buzz? God’s beneficence or the plant has evolved a stimulant to defend itself against insects?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Colonising Other Planets
Stephen Hawking suggests humans should colonise other planets to avoid putting all their eggs in one basket and having humans go extinct if a natural disaster like an asteroid or supernova were to wipe out life on earth. I disagree. I don’t think humans are ready for prime time. We behave like bone cancer in any new environment. I don’t think we have a moral right to metastasise until we become civilised.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Colour is Not About Physics But Human Anatomy
I was so astonished to discover that, to physicists, colour is a wavelength even though to my subjective sense, one colour being longer than another is meaningless. I was astounded to discover everything I learned in elementary school about mixing pigments and beams of coloured lights had nothing to do with physics, but with the anatomy of the eye. Even later, I learned that red, green and yellow-detecting cones were a simplification. Cones are sensitive to a wide range of colours, just more sensitive to some. Wetware sorts it all out by comparing the signals from different kinds of cones.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
One of the astounding, yet obvious, consequences of evolution is that any two creatures, if you go far enough back in time, have a common living breathing individual hairpin ancestor. This is true even if one of the starting creatures of the pair is a lobster and the other a Republican.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68) The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
Competition for Food
Humans believe they own all the food on the planet and need to prevent other species from stealing it. From the point of view of other species, the food supply of earth is up for grabs and they want a slice of the pie. When a strawberry rots, chalk one up for the fungi in this deadly resource war.…~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Do those people who talk of conquering nature ever stop to think what it would be like if they succeeded.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Humans have evolved a habit of consensus. The minority, who doubt the consensus, pretend to agree with it, for group cohesion and coordinated group effort. Unfortunately, this mechanism works just a well when the consensus is wrong. So for example, all Republicans claim to be climate change deniers. It is requirement for belonging to the party. All Pentacostalists claim the earth is about 6,000 years old. The consensus, peer-pressure, group think holds the beliefs in place long after it is clear they are false.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Consequences of Correcting a Defective Heart
If society spends $1 million to correct an infant’s heart defect, we are setting up a potential problem 30 years later when that infant has a child, passing on the genetic defect. If the problem in inheritable and we can’t fix the genetic problem, we really should do something to prevent that person from having a defective child.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Counterfeit Bible
Let’s say you decided to buy a birthday present for your intelligent young niece. She showed an early interest in the animal world, so you went to a bookstore and asked for a suitable title. The proprietor recommended one by Richard Dawkins, not The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True. When you got it home, you thumbed through it and came across a sentence that said, If you paint chicken eggs with blue dye, they will hatch into ducklings. Richard Dawkins could not possibly have written this book. It is a counterfeit. He could not possibly have made a mistake that glaring. You took the book back. The proprietor said, Dr. Dawkins is the ultimate authority on such matters. If he says painting eggs makes ducklings, then it must be so. You tried to explain that Dr. Dawkins said no such thing, that the book must be a counterfeit. However, the very notion of a counterfeit book was completely inconceivable to the proprietor. He shouted at you How dare you contradict Dr. Dawkins. He is the greatest biologist living today. You shouted back You nincompoop! I am not contradicting Dr. Dawkins. I am saying this book is a counterfeit! Dr. Dawkins had nothing to with writing it! He shouted at you Millions of people have bought this book and nearly all of them think Dr. Dawkins wrote it, just as it says on the cover. A counterfeit book! What an insane notion!
In like manner, Christians all over the world accept the bible as the work of Jehovah even though it contains hundreds of ridiculous errors Jehovah, as creator of the universe, could not possibly have made. They refuse to even consider the possibility the bible could be a counterfeit written by ordinary humans and fobbed off as his handiwork.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Animals that do not live near the ocean live with constant sodium shortage. They will go to great lengths to seek out salt. We humans have this same salt hunger. We never needed to evolve a mechanism to tell us when we have had enough salty potato chips and so we overconsume to the point it causes deadly hypertension.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Creationism Counter Evidence
Christian fundamentalists claim that an intelligent designer created each species individually. Why then did he put tiny useless leg and finger bones in whales? No designer would include random junk. Ditto human appendixes, non-working eyes in cave fish and adipose fins on salmon. The designer came up with a much better way of circulating blood through the lungs for the alligator. Why would he put inferior designs in all other creatures? If there were a designer, he was incompetent, hardly intelligent.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Creationism is Not Science
Creationism, aka Intelligent Design, is not a science. By definition a science needs to be testable and hence potentially falsifiable. Creation science is based on the assumption of the infallibility of the King James bible. Such absolute certainty and dismissal of any conceivable contrary evidence disqualifies it as a science. It is a blind religious faith. On the other hand evolution is not a moral system. It says absolutely nothing about how one ought to behave.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Creationism Rejected by Science
95% of the world’s scientists accept evolution and reject creationism. The people promoting creationism are either professional con men, or stupid people who don’t know anything about evolution.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Creationism the Usurper
There is no scientific controversy at all about evolution. Creationism wishes to usurp evolution’s position. However, it has no chance. There is no evidence to support it and roomfuls of evidence against it. Christians do not care. They want it taught nonetheless for religious, not scientific reasons.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Criteria To Consider a Hypothesis
For an idea to be considered as a valid hypothesis in science it needs four things:
- Evidence it is true.
- No evidence it is false.
- It must make predictions than can be tested.
- It is falsifiable. At least in principle the outcome of some experiment would prove it false.
Creationism is a non-starter by (1), (2) and (4). It predicts:
- No evolutionary kludges in animal designs.
- Geological evidence of a massive global flood.
- Evidence of a collapse in DNA diversity 6000 years ago.
- The age of the earth is 6000 years.
Of course, it fails all those predictions. From a scientific point of view, creationism is beyond idiotic. It has absolutely nothing going for it.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Human mothers are much more likely to abandon their infants or kill them than other apes.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Cruelty Is at the Core of Existence
In the game of evolution, it is not enough that you win, others must lose because there are limited resources for the next generation. Cruelty of competition is at the very core of life. I find this fact a life a convincing argument that life could not have been designed by a benign god.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
My hope is life in the universe is like dandelions here on earth. No matter how hard we try to wipe it out, it will reseed.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Dark Side of Natural Selection
It quite depressing thinking about the obnoxious behaviours in humans and animals that you might expect to be caused by natural selection.
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- Destroying food rather than letting other have it.
- Beating up the weakest child in a class.
- Racism and xenophobia.
- The joy in kicking someone out of their home.
- The refusal to let the homeless come in out of the cold.
- Gigantic families.
- Environment-destroying activities such as mining, driving cars, stripping soils, deforestation, releasing greenhouse gases.
Americans are big believers in young earth creationism, so they don’t understand that Darwinian natural selection works on them too. In particular, it works to eliminate from the gene pool, those who get themselves killed or maimed in war. Those who are maimed are impaired in their ability to find mates and have children. The good news is people who get off on hunting fellow humans for sport are gradually being eliminated.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Darwin Is Too Obvious to be Wrong
Darwin says that fitter plants and animals tend to reproduce more offspring than plants and animals with defects that harm their survival and reproductive success. How could it be otherwise? It is a tautology, just the definition of fitter. This means over time plants and animals will gradually adapt to survive in any given environment. It is like a process of always eating the darkest jellybeans from a bowl. Eventually you have only white ones left. How could it be otherwise? Further, we know this is so because have watched the process greatly speeded up when we create artificial environments for guppies, small decorative tropical fish, for example, that require bright colours for survival when we humans interfere with the least colourful males from breeding. Those who reject evolution don’t understand it, or more commonly, don’t want to understand it. They prefer to believe some straw man caricature of it. Christians will still bet on the horse with the best bloodlines, while pretending they don’t believe in the evolutionary selection process that created him.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
It is a revolting thought, but perhaps racial prejudice is an unconscious urge to preserve genetic diversity. Perhaps humans are attempting unconsciously to split themselves into several species to speed up evolutionary adaptation. Whatever it is, it seems to be unconscious rather than rational.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Darwinism is Inaccurate Terminology
Darwinism and Obamacare were originally coined as insults. Oddly, both terms where embraced by the opposition, even by Richard Dawkins, perhaps as a strategy to take the insult out of them. Darwinism is inaccurate since it ignores all we have learned in the last century and the contributions made by many besides Darwin. Science is not about the cult of the personality or authority. The proper term is the theory of evolution. Darwinism is a ploy to focus debate on the theory of evolution as it stood in the 18th century.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Even though he suffered from ill health, Darwin was able to visit many of the unspoiled ecosystems of the world, including the coral reefs. No one can do that anymore.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Dead Ends in Evolution
Natural selection works to spread the most fit genes. This is usually for the good of the species, but not always. It can drive a species to extinction, e.g. mosquito fish with barbed penises. Natural selection favours ever nastier barbs to ensure the female cannot get away before being impregnated.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
According to creationism, if you dig straight down, every skull you find should be a modern skull. God made only one design for humans and never changed it. However, you find skulls gradually changing, aka evolving.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Debunking Intelligent Design aka Creationism
I have several responses to the Intelligent Design con men:
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- You fully accept that man can create a faster racehorse by controlling which studs get to sire the next generation. Yet you reject the possibility that wolves could accomplish the same thing, somewhat less efficiently and without intent or intelligent design, by chasing and killing the slowest horses.
- You claim nothing complex can exist without a designer. Doesn’t that make Jehovah, the most complex thing going in your scheme of things, impossible?
- You claim eyes are too improbable to come into being by chance. You compare them to a 747 forming from junk in a hurricane. Natural selection is the very opposite of chance. It is a meticulous, patient, extremely time consuming, pruning of the incompetent, like a school that shoots the worst students each year. The 747 story is a straw man argument. You claim randomness where there is none.
- You claim complex things like eyes cannot come into being without intelligent design. Some very stupid unskilled labour still manage to produce them without conscious effort in 9 months.
- Quite probably you are simply too stupid to even understand the arguments on either side. You could not have thought very deeply since there is no evidence for Intelligent Design and libraries full for evolution. All you can do is parrot the arguments without understanding. Debating with you is pointless. You can’t even understand your own position.
- If you have read the scientific literature well enough to create straw man arguments, then you understand it well enough to demonstrate that you are not merely mistaken, you are lying, pulling a con perhaps because you think it is necessary for people believe the Christian lie to behave or because you line you pockets this way.
The sun is only half way through its lifespan. There is plenty of time left for evolution to shape us into something completely different, even if we drive ourselves extinct and evolution has to pick up with some surviving species.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Default Birth Control
Predators, disease and hunger provide birth control services for species that refuse to provide their own.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Definition of cringe
Cringe: verb, what one does on viewing science fiction written by Christians.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Definitions of Proof
There are at least three kinds of proof, legal, mathematical and theological. The concept of proof is not used in science. It is not that evolution in unprovable. It is that nothing is provable in science.Legal proof means certain within reasonable doubt, where reasonable doubt is deliberately left undefined.
Mathematical proof is the strongest. It only claims that something is true if a set of postulates are true. It is about reasoning, not facts.
Theological proof is the weakest. It really just means evidence for emotional plausibility.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Degrees of Cooperation
There are three kinds of animal:
- Single cell such as bacteria
- Multi-cell such as sponges and orangutans.
- Hive, such as ants and bees
I wonder what life would be like that evolved a fourth level of co-operation where groups of hives acted like a single entity.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Deliberately Passing on Genetic Disease
When I hear someone with a serious genetic disease has had three children and one of them is saddled with the disease, I wish I could beat him to a pulp for his selfishness. Such people should be given vasectomies. They have no right to risk their children or grandchildren that way.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Design is Ambiguous
We need to retire the word design because of its ambiguity. A design can be something planned on a drawing board then constructed, either by a human on an imagined deity. You might also casually also say the eye is designed to accommodate both close and distance division, meaning it has features that work together to provide both functions. There is no implication somebody planned this. It just gradually came into being by evolutionary pressure. You can also say things like red wood tree rounds are perfectly designed for making coffee tables. Even a theist saying that is talking about useful a purpose for redwood rounds, not Jehovah’s foresight. Perhaps scientists could substitute the word evolved instead of designed when they did not mean to imply human planning or intent. Scrupulous avoidance of the word design would avoid unwittingly promoting medieval superstitions. In a like manner, scientists should avoid the use of the word God when they mean laws of nature. Einstein caused so much trouble with that fanciful metaphor.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Destroyer of Species
Humans drive other species to extinction by hunting, by taking over their habitat, by carrying diseases, by bringing in invasive species from afar, by competing for food, by polluting, by causing climate change… Instead of homo sapiens perhaps we should have called ourselves homo deleotus.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Deviation From Darwinian Fitness
Darwinian evolution has arranged things that animals sacrifice themselves for the next generation. This is usually also true of humans. However, corporate propaganda has convinced millions of people to sacrifice their grandchildren by leaving them no oil, oceans without fish and a world made uninhabitable by greenhouse gases.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Die Humans, Die
I often wish our species would go extinct quickly before they do any more damage. We humans are the biggest disaster to hit earth since the KT asteroid. Our best hope is artificial intelligence, which just might make us come to our senses in time or which could also terminate the human experiment abruptly.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Difference between Human and Wolf Hunting
When wolves attack a herd of caribou, they go after the sick, weak and deformed. This actually helps the herd by removing defective genes and removing infection. When humans attack a herd of caribou, they go after the biggest and healthiest animals.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
If we ever receive signals from an intelligent civilisation, it will most likely be much older than ours. We humans have been sending signals out for only 109 years, spreading out at the speed of light. Our Milky Way galaxy is 100,000 light years across. Our own signals have thus reached just a tiny corner of our own galaxy. If signals from the opposite side of the galaxy reached us, they would necessarily have been sent 100,000 years ago. Of course, the civilisation that sent them might have been no more advanced than us at the time they broadcast. They may have gone extinct shortly after sending the signals, a victim of their own clever technology, just as we soon will.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Distortions in Human Perception
Humans seem universally prone to a number of delusions and thinking errors. They are so pronounced, I don’t think they could be defects, but rather distortions that have some evolutionary value. For example, people like to vilify rivals to justify mistreating or killing them.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Distraction is a modern invention. We are not yet evolved to cope with it.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
If you are sick, the doctor takes a culture. Perhaps five days later he finds out what is infecting you. He cannot treat you until then. If, however, he could do DNA analysis of the infecting agent right in his office, he might know within hours. In principle, such machines should already exist. It is probably just a matter of mass production bringing costs down.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Domestication is a Type of Natural Selection
It is unfortunate that the terms natural selection and domestication came into use. Lay people erroneously think they are completely different mechanisms. Domestication is just a special kind of natural selection where the pressure comes from one particularly oppressive species.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Don’t Play With Lions
Anything parents are absolutely sure is true and important, they tell their kids as soon as they can talk. Don’t play with lions. Don’t set your grandmother on fire. These commands are like firmware, permanently burned in. It is almost impossible to change such beliefs.
If somewhere along the line a command gets burned in, Don’t do anything that would piss off Jehovah or he will torture you (us all) for eternity. It will get passed as a prime directive to subsequent generations. It is like an intergenerational virus.
This suggests the best way to rid the world of religion is to do as much as possible to stop religious brainwashing of children, or to get counter messages embedded as young as possible.
Much of the apparent insanity of believers comes when they hold rational beliefs that counter these burned in ones. They can’t make sense!~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
An animal may experience rejection. He might persist fruitlessly, but only a human can feel doomed to be attracted only to those who will never be attracted back.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution demands that young humans accept whatever their mothers tell them without question. Logic has nothing to do with it. That is why religious belief is so impervious to the usual techniques of logical persuasion. Religion is more akin to a phobia than a belief.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution has seen to it that young children believe anything their parents tell them without question, be it that toadstools are poisonous, matter is made of impossibly small invisible atoms, that an elderly man lives with elves at the North Pole who sneaks into their bedrooms on Christmas eve or that there is a cruel old man with a white beard hiding in the clouds staring at their genitals. Telling lies to those without their capability to resist is a form of child abuse — dishonest manipulation with lifelong harm, even harm down through the generations. Lying to children, including feigning certainty where there is only speculation, deliberately creates crippling phobias and delusions. It is morally equivalent to systematically poisoning a child with a drug that causes schizophrenia.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Roman poet Lucretius in his poem The Nature of Things asserted that matter was made of tiny particles called atoms and that they were always in motion. Given enough time they would rearrange to form pretty well anything imaginable. This meant than new species had to come into being and when things changed to be hostile to a species, it would go extinct. There was no need for a deity to direct this world to create interesting forms. All you needed was sufficient time. This was not just lucky idle speculation. The Romans had their reasons for holding these views.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Early life can be pathetic, because there is nothing better to compete with it.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Early Life Had It Easy
When life started out on earth, it did not have to be competent or efficient. It had all the real estate, all the nutrients, no predators, no diseases, no parasites and no competition.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Egg On Our Face
There is a song in the musical Oklahoma Everything’s Up To Date in Kansas City about a hick who goes to Kansas city and is amazed by the technology. When humans finally make contact with an off-world intelligent species, we are going to be such gawking hicks, astounded that marvels could have existed all along without us suspecting them. Our certainty that we are the best there is in the universe, the very reason it was all created, based on nothing but pride without a single fact to back it up, will make us a laughing stock.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Eggs In a Basket
One of the lessons evolution has burned into life is that you must not put all your eggs in one basket. We humans have decided to unlearn that lesson. With globalisation, we have so interlinked our fates that the majority idiots of our planet are taking us all down. Our other mistake is to give extravagant power and wealth to a few fallible individuals. Even in the colonial insects, no individual has that sort of power for harm.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Elderly View of Sex
Why do the elderly take so much pleasure is poking fun at the strong sexual desires of the young? Have they forgotten what it was like to be so horny your hands shook and it felt like your teeth were sweating? Perhaps it is just envy. We old timers need to be reminded that this hormonal surge has been time tested through millions of years of natural selection.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Emphasis on Short Term Danger
Evolution has left us with people who focus on the immediate danger. We have eliminated most immediate dangers from our environment, so this keenness is not nearly as crucial as it once was. Unfortunately, we have as a side effect evolved to ignore the long term dangers such as nuclear war, climate change and the end of oil which now threaten to extinguish us entirely.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Encountering Alien Technology
Even as recently as the 1950s, we were using horses in my city to deliver milk in glass bottles and ice for iceboxes. If we encounter an alien technological civilisation, it will likely be millions of years more advanced than ours. We will be far more dazzled than nomadic shepherds from 0 AD marvelling at an iPhone.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
In a society that does not automatically abort fetuses created by rape, rape becomes ever more prevalent. Normally, the male must prove himself worthy, a good provider, a good husband and a good father before he gets to sire the next generation. The rapist short-circuits all that. We should not take this lightly. Rape has become the standard mode of reproduction for many other species. Rape in humans is just under the surface. Look what is happening in Africa, India and Pakistan where policing has broken down.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Endangered Great Apes
Every single species of great apes is endangered. That is one heck a rotten way to treat your closest relatives.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Our brain is an incredible energy hog. The brain uses 11.2 watts per kg. Ordinary body tissue uses only 1.25 watts per kg. A typical adult human brain is 1.3 to 1.4 kg. That is one reason we did not evolve an even bigger brain. We could not scrounge enough food to support it.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Animals evolved to use energy a much faster rate than plants. They supported their energy habit by stealing it from plants (aka eating plants). Mammals evolved to use energy ten times faster than cold-blooded animals. The consume ten times the usual share of food to do it.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Enough Babies Already!
If everyone on earth lived the way a European does, we would need three extra planets to provide the resources. If everyone on earth lived the way a North American does, we would need five extra planets. Let us not kid ourselves, our lifestyle depends on most of the world living in dire poverty. That is why we exploit them so viciously.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Creationism has no more right to demand equal time in science classes than evolution has to demand equal time in Sunday school.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
There was a biologist back in the 1800s prior to Darwin, Ernst Haeckel, who drew some embryos, and doctored them a little to illustrate his pet theory. Creationists claim that this dishonesty, long ago detected, somehow invalidates the work of Darwin who had nothing to do with the drawings. But every creationist has been caught in even worse deception. Oddly, this does nothing to weaken their faith in creationism.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Humans are utterly incompetent when it comes to estimating probabilities. Consider how hopeless they are at estimating the odds of having a motorcycle accident, of their home being flooded, of there being a hurricane or tornado. They are utterly incompetent when predicting odds important to the stock market, to personal finances or to personal health. They lose their shirts gambling because of preposterously optimistic estimates of odds. Yet these same bumbling humans imagine they know the odds of things like the spontaneous creation of a DNA molecule which might happen only once in a billion years.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
I look on civilisation as a sort of cactus flower, a fireworks burst, the result of a long buildup meant to last but a moment in the stillness of space.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evidence We Were Not Intelligently Designed
If humans were intelligently designed, surely they would not become incontinent, or senile, or toothless long before their bodies as a whole wore out.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution and Altruism
The lay public often imagine that evolution is about the proliferation of selfishness. Microscopic genes are in a sense selfish, but evolution of humans favours altruism. Whom would you rather marry, a considerate, helpful partner or a selfish, vain, self-absorbed one? Evolutionists call that sexual selection. Altruism is sexy.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution and Monogamy
There are competing evolutionary pressures both toward and away from monogamy. In general, in pairing species, one of the pair tries to stop the other from straying, while straying themselves. If humans were naturally monogamous, like the large sea birds, we would not need ceremonies, laws and social pressure to enforce it. Most species drive off an interloper, but would never dream of attacking their mate.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution and the Soviet Bureaucrat
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night worrying that there may be a big hole in evolutionary theory. I don’t mean that the Christians were right, but that evolutionists may have overlooked something big. Here’s the problem. Ever since I was a child I have loved looking at brightly coloured fish, frogs, salamanders and insects. As an adult, I am similarly fascinated by brightly coloured marine invertebrates and the bizarre world of fluorescent deep sea creatures. I ask evolutionists how does evolution works to create such beauty? I ask why are deep sea creatures so elaborately shaped? Why do deep sea creatures fluoresce? There seems to be no practical purpose for the riot of invention and artistic ingenuity. I would have expected such a mindless, non-planning process, (as evolution is advertised) totally obsessed with survival, to produce grim featureless creatures, the sort you might have expected to arise from the imagination of a Soviet bureaucrat.
The evolutionist give two answers:
- Sexual selection. The colours, patterns and elaborate shapes appeal to potential partners.
- The colours warn potential predators of defensive weapons. They warn off predators.
My main objection to sexual selection as the explanation is that species which do no sexual selection are often also brightly coloured. Consider the corals. My other objection is, the theory of sexual selection does no prediction. It is an after-the-fact rationalisation. It does not help me figure out why one species would embark on some particular bizarre competition in a body part and other species do not. Insects have gone madly off in all directions. Is there any pattern about which unique direction of sexual beauty each species heads off? The theory does not tell me under what conditions which body part will become sexualised. (Then again, maybe it does and I have simply not been exposed to it in the popular press.)
The use of bright colours can work, even when the wearer has no defensive weapons. The bluff works even better if there is exists a similar-looking species that is poisonous or foul-tasting. With bright colours being so ubiquitous, I would think the bluff would no longer work. I would expect they would become a net disadvantage, making it easier for predators to detect the prey species.
Are there any other explanations? Why do you find the standard answers satisfying?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution of Bickering
Most animals, especially primates, bicker. They have frequent fights or attacks that last a few seconds. We humans have used technology to magnify these petty squabbles into decade long wars involving millions of people and millions of deaths. We have even evolved weapons that, if ever used, will drive our species to extinction or near extinction. At the very least, we will be reduced to pre-technological levels. Our prized cleverness and natural malice is our own undoing.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The USA is second only to Turkey in the percentage of people who deny evolution. Americans know nothing about it, but that does not stop them from declaring it invalid. Because of fundamentalist Christians, the USA is rejecting science generally. They wish to become more anti-science than Islamic hell holes and withdraw from modern technology.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
I can understand why some people might find DNA mind-boggling. It is just so incredibly clever. It took billions of years to evolve. Those who are boggled have no intuitive concept of just how long a billion years is, and just how excruciatingly slow that evolution was.
But what I find so utterly weird is their alternative to evolution: a magic fairy, a guy who walks on water, a magic trick turning water into wine, a woman impregnated by a shower of gold flakes, a magic human sacrifice… None of this has the first thing to do with DNA much less explaining it.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution is Glacially Slow
Evolution boggles the mind because of the huge time scales involved and its glacial slowness. For example, life has been evolving on earth for about 3 billion years. The youngest parts of the Grand Canyon started forming relatively recently, about 5.5 million years ago. The canyon descends 1.61 km (1 mile) deep. To do that it only had to erode away only 182 microns (7,165.35 microinches) each year, about half the thickness of a sheet of paper. Life had 600 times as long to evolve its marvels.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution Just Provides Survival
The purpose of evolution is survival, not rapid innovation or living comfortably.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution of Life Unlike Ours
Life as we know it could only have evolved on a planet exactly like earth. However, life as we don’t know it could evolve on a planet quite different from earth.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Why would creatures that live in dark ocean depths or creatures that are colour-blind have such spectacularly colourful bodies?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution is Not a Matter of Chance
Since 1859, dishonest Christians have drummed the lie that the evolution is purely a matter of chance. Even many atheists have swallowed it. Granted, random mutation provides the contestants in the game of life, but natural selection decides who goes on to the next round. The judgement by natural selection is anything but random. It is an exhaustive life-long test of all-round fitness. If Christians were sincere, they should be equally astounded that the winner at Wimbledon each year is such a remarkably good tennis player since the process starts off with a set of players of randomly varied ability.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution is Not a Religion
How do you know that evolution is not a religion?
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- There is no holy book.
- Anybody can write a book critical of the leading figures.
- There are no special clothes.
- There are no special hair cuts.
- There are no churches, and no services.
- There are no hymns.
- There is nothing you have to believe.
- There is evidence for the common knowledge.
- The common knowledge is continually refined.
- There is no special food.
Evolution on Islands
Only on islands does evolution get to wildly improvise.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution Passes Me By
I’m a male senior citizen. Evolution is not much interested in perfecting me or extending my lifespan. Thankfully, science is.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution of Shoes
For most of humanity’s existence, we did not wear shoes. Then we invented sandals then shoes. However, today many people no longer wear shoes. Instead, they wear socks and prepare the floors in their dwellings to be clean, smooth, safe and comfortable.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution is Slow
Laymen have no intuitive feel for how slow evolution is. Millions of generations pass by without any detectable change. The changes are unbelievably slow, yet because the earth is so old, the microscopic changes have had plenty of time to add up to astound. Think of the thin layers of strata that go for miles deep in the Grand Canyon. Each one represents a year’s worth of sediment.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution vs Religion
Though evolution is often associated with atheism, you can both believe in god and believe in evolution without conflict. You will have to give up creationism though.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution of Weapons
The natural course of things is for weapons to evolve to ever greater efficiency. It is only a matter of time until they evolve to any imagined degree of lethality. If a technological civilisation is not to do itself in with its own cleverness, it must firmly resolve to stop and reverse the evolution of weapons.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution: the Cruel Game
Evolution is a cruel game that entraps all life, forcing it to play or have their genes discarded. Even intelligent species will breed to the maximum, destroying all that sustains them, if possible, in a mad dash to be the one to provide a bigger slice genetic base for the next generation.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Do I believe in evolution? Strictly speaking no. Belief is accepting without evidence. Over the last 53 years I have looked for myself at reams of evidence for evolution and I can’t see how evolution could not be true. I have even traced it happening with HIV (Human Immuno-deficiency Virus) DNA sequences in my own body. Conversely, I have found not a spec of evidence to support creationism and wheelbarrows full of evidence to refute it.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
We humans have evolved for feast and famine. Whenever food is available we eat as much as possible. This suggests the way to successful weight control is simply to make food unavailable periodically.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The most puzzling example in evolution for me is an Australian frog. When the father sits on the eggs, the coatings liquefy and the tadpoles are released. They then curl up inside pouches on his hips. Three separate behaviours had to evolve together. I can see how a small pouch could evolve into a large one, but not how a flat surface could evolve into a pouch. As the creations might say, what use is 1/10 of a pouch?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Scientists tell me the graceful moves, elaborate colours and patterns of the sea dragon are the result of millennia of sexual selection, but how could such a primitive creature evolve such an elaborate and refined aesthetic sense? Why?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolutionary Rôle of Mothers
You would think natural selection would favour mothers who were supportive of their children and who helped keep them out of trouble. But in practice, mothers usually are a drain on their children.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolutionary Solution to Drug Addiction
If you have enough patience, drug problems tend to correct themselves. Consider that:
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- People who take meth tend to die young.
- People who die young don’t care for their young.
- People who die young have fewer children.
- The class of people stupid enough to take meth tend toward extinction.
Even when the continents were all crammed together as Gondwanaland, evolution had already been long underway. The reptiles were already roaming the land. Evolution has been continuing its glacial change as the continents slowly drifted to the their current locations. They are still moving just as fast as ever. That gives you an inkling of the inconceivably vast amount of time that evolution has had to work its magic.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution has had a staggering amount of time to produce its wonders. If you descended in an elevator 0.85 km (0.53 mile) deep into a salt mine, every second you would pass over sediments representing 2 million years of evolutionary change.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
We have all seen morphing in videos. Imagine a morph that took 1,000,000,000+ years to play out. S-L-O-W. B-O-R-I-N-G. Far more boring than watching paint dry. That is the sort of speed that the origin of life and evolution work.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
So many of our what we consider human vices, e.g. gluttony, lust and sloth are actually successful survival strategies honed over millennia of evolution for living as hunter gatherers in small groups.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution’s Drive To Overpopulate
Whenever animals (including humans) have sufficient food, water and territory, they reproduce more until they are back into insufficiency. Evolution replaces any animal that refuses to participate in this insanity by those that will.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolved for Hunting
Man is the prisoner of evolutionary strategies that worked brilliantly when he was a hunter gatherer. But in a highly technological global village, they are suicidal. They lead us to strip the environment bare, focus on only the present moment, make war on our rivals and procreate like locusts.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
We tend to think of humans evolving to upright posture as just like a horse or dog walking on its hind legs. I think these images of a sitting horse and a sitting human will make it clear we humans made some major shifts from the basic quadruped design. Note:
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- How much longer the human thigh bone from the pelvis to the knee is in proportion.
- How much further back the horse head sits.
- How much longer the horse tarsal bones in the foot are. They are an extension of the leg. High heel shoes prop the tarsal bones up so they behave more like an extension of the leg the way they do in the horse.
- How the horse fore and hind limbs naturally poke straight out from the body, where the human’s naturally droop straight down.
I wonder what possible mechanisms are possible in evolution to create large-brained intelligent creatures.
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- appendages for manipulating objects need ever more clever wetwear.
- camouflage. Hiding from predators means creating ever more sophisticated illusions to make the creature disappear.
- size. When you have a giant body with a brain cavity that does not get thrashed around, you have the infrastructure to grow, nourish and protect a giant brain. Contrary to urban myth, you don’t need a large brain to control a large body. In other words, the ratio of brain weight to body weight does not mean much for large animals. Consider the dinosaurs. All of a giant brain can be used for thinking or something else.
- Egalitarian social structure. Those that cannot communicate are effectively ostracised and squeezed out of the gene pool. Stratified pecking order societies reduce the pool of who communicates with whom and hence depress the evolution of intelligence.
The reason the notion of space itself expanding so boggles the human mind is that the effect is so tiny on earth, that it is completely undetectable. Our intuition never gets any exercise to get used to the idea.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
99.8% of all species are now extinct. The odds for us are not that great.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
About 99.9% of species that ever were are now extinct. The odds are thus that we too will go extinct relatively soon. We are working hard for our own early extinction a number of ways such as:
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- climate change
- overpopulation and resource collapse
- global pollution
- nuclear war
- soil erosion
- extinction of species we rely on
- biological war
Why would tardigrades have evolved the ability to live in the vacuum of space, if at some point, this did not aid their survival? This suggests they float around the universe colonising suitable planets.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Fact Sheet for Visitors to Planet Earth
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- When homo sapiens first appeared: 200,000 years ago.
- When dinosaurs disappeared: 65 million years ago.
- When dinosaurs appeared 231.4 million years ago.
- When Tiktaalik first came onto land: 375 million years ago.
- The Cambrian explosion: 542 million years ago.
- When life started on earth: 3.7 billion years ago.
- Age of the earth: 4.54 billion years.
- Age of the universe: 13.82 billion years.
- Galaxies in the observable universe: 160 billion.
- Stars in a galaxy: 20 billion to 1,900,000,000,000,000. Our galaxy, the milky way has 19,000,000,000,000 stars.
Natural selection has given man the value that no other species is of importance other than how it serves man. Now that value is killing us because we failed to see how simple biodiversity serves man.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Family Tree of Species
You can draw a family tree of species much like a family tree of humans. The difference is each species has only one parent species.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Humans evolved in an environment where the optimum strategy was to eat whenever food is available and to eat as much as possible. In our modern world, this leads to obesity, diabetes and cardio-vascular disease. Christianity with its Lenten fast and Islam with its Ramadan fast may unconsciously have been trying to artificially restore the environment for which we are adapted.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Because we only live at most a century, our intuition is does not work estimating the likelihood of things that happen less often than once a century. We must abandon intuition and use math. In particular, abiogenesis happens only about once every billion years. Our intuition about it is way, way over its head.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Fear of Christians
Though Darwin had formulated his theory of evolution by natural selection by 1837, because of his fear of Christians, he procrastinated publishing it until 22 years later in 1859 in The Origin of Species. Even as it was, they mercilessly personally attacked him.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The best thing that could happen to mankind would be a plague that lowered fertility to 10% of what it is now.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Flowers invented advertising and payment for services rendered. Blossoms convince insects and hummingbirds to spread pollen. Fruits convince animals to spread seeds.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
For Evolution To Be False…
For there not to be evolution you would need:
- offspring would have to be absolutely identical to parents.
- or any differences that did occur should not in any way help or hinder survival. Offspring would have to be absolutely identical to parents.
- or siblings would have to look like a random sampling of children of the generation, with no family similarities.
None of these things are true. So evolution inevitably follows, the same way it does for dog breeding. If you doubt, show me a scenario where evolution (gradual drift toward favourable characteristics) would not inevitably occur.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
One of the many reasons there are fossil gaps is a creature may evolve in a territory unfriendly to Fossilisation, then after it has made significant changes invade a territory friendly to Fossilisation.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Function of Aggression
Aggression is common in animals. It is used to compete for food, territory, mates and to establish a pecking order. Except in rhinos, the aggression is rarely fatal. Humans have so much trouble with it because they have artificially amplified it with technology — from spears to guns to nuclear weapons.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Game of Life
Life can be looked on as a 3D game where the goal is to maximise the total amount of carbon stored inside the collective bodies of one’s species. Right now, humans, rats, krill and ants are winning. Whales, elephants, lions and frogs are losing.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Life is anything that reproduces itself faster than it is destroyed. It is not all that mysterious. Once you get reproduction, you get some things reproducing faster than others. Now you have natural selection and evolution to take it from there.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
If you extrapolate where medicine is heading, I suspect when feel ill in future, the doctor will sequence your DNA and the DNA of whatever ails you. Then AI (Artificial Intelligence) will concoct a treatment, not necessarily a drug, customised to that matching pair.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Imagine a beautiful young woman of 20 told she you has an inoperable brain tumor. Within two years she will go blind and die. A compassionate woman would carefully avoid pregnancy so she would not abandon her child. Yet a woman following the Darwinian imperative would have two babies, abandon them and hope others would raise them, even if she knew there was a high probability they too would have brain tumors. Dr. Richard Dawkins called his book The Selfish Gene.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
If you pick two people at random from the earth, even of different races, they will differ in only 1/1000 of their DNA genetic code. If you did the same thing with chimpanzees, they would differ in 5/1000. We have such low genetic diversity because a small group of humans left Africa and spread over the entire earth. We, as a species, have about the same amount of diversity as that small band.
Surprisingly humans and bananas share 50% of their genes. Evolution, when it has worked out a solution to a problem, rarely abandons it for another.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Gerontology Recapitulates Pediatric Development
Gerontology recapitulates pediatric development, only in reverse — wispy hair, loss of hair, bulging tummy, crankiness, loss of teeth, loss of ability to speak coherently, loss of ability to walk, atrophied soft muscles, loss of ability to handle solid foods, loss of bowel control…~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Our technology is doing us in. We evolved the ability to change the entire planet without the necessary patience to thoroughly test an innovation before globally applying it.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Global Warming Is Not New
The closest parallel we have to today’s global warming was 50 million years ago. It was a much more gradual rise by 6.0°C (10.8°F). It resulted in mass extinction.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Goal of Life
We live in a hell where each species tries to fill every cubic metre of the universe with its own likeness and kill off all the competition.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
God Does Not Want You to Believe Creationism
If god wanted you to believe creationism, wouldn’t he have at least provided one piece of physical evidence to support it rather than stacking it all for evolution?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
God Explains Nothing
We know for sure that something exists. So the existence of something clearly is possible independent of whether we think it was possible or believe we know how it happened. Either the universe was always here, or it appeared spontaneously from nothing, or it was formed from some primal universe building stuff recycled from some previous universe. I can’t think of any other possibility, but there’s lots about the universe I don’t understand.
Even if you presume the assistance of a god in the creation process, the universe contains all that is, which would include any gods. So how did the universe get started to its first stage where it contained nothing but a god?
We are right back where we started. The catch is a universe containing only a god is a heck of a lot more complicated and improbable to just spring into existence than one without any gods containing just some hydrogen that math and physics that fits all the data. We have gotten rid of one messy problem and replaced it with an even bigger more difficult mystery. We are just spinning our wheels. The notion of god does not explain anything; it makes the puzzle even more difficult to solve. Christians like to pretend introducing the notion of god is the answer to the mystery, yet all they are doing is giving up on the problem as too intractable. They still have nothing to say about the origin of the universe. They have performed a bar bet trick.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
God the Gardener
If God were like a gardener, who designed a garden and created it. Why would he then hide and refuse to tend it and leave it to vandals to destroy?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Darwin pointed out that evolution runs on automatic without any tweaking. A god would be superfluous. By Occam’s razor, we exclude that needless complication.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Why did humans come to dominate earth while chimpanzees are headed for extinction? Humans learned to co-operate while chimps remained stuck in individual competition. Like ants, humans have a group loyalty and are murderous to other groups. As our technology advances, we will do ourselves in. We are unable to move to the next level of global co-operation, such as needed to handle problems like global warming, global pollution, global water supply and global habitat preservation.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Haikouichthys and Tiktaalik
There are two animals I think deserve to have statues erected to them: Haikouichthys the first vertebrate and the Tiktaalik, the first animal to venture out onto land. You can get Tiktaalik Tee shirts from Zazzle, CafePress, MeeTees, 6DollarShirts and spreadshirt.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
You may have noticed how quotations pop up at random all over my website, aimed at explaining how evolution really works and why Christian notions are idiotic. You are welcome to use any or all of the quotations in my quotation collection in a similar way on your own website. To get your point across these days, you have to shrink it to a sound bite.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Hiding the Food
Natural selection long ago lead humans to eat whenever they see food. This suggests, until we learn to fine tune the brain chemicals that control appetite, the only diet plan likely to succeed is one that keeps excess food out of mind. Just as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) provides socialising without alcohol, fat people need socialising without food. Thanksgiving and Christmas socialising with other dieters would save 8 kg (17.64 lbs) a year.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
HIV Drugs are Proof of Evolution
People who don’t believe in evolution need to talk with someone like me who has HIV. My personal strain of HIV has managed to develop immunity to eight advanced drugs specially designed to destroy it, using ordinary Darwinian evolution.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Your typical Hollywood hero is a stubborn, uncompromising man. He is bully who takes the law into his own hands. This sort of personality would make a great gorilla pack leader, but not a great human. Humans have prevailed because they are good at working in groups and creating consensus.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
I have often despaired that humans refuse to take measures to ensure their future such as reduce greenhouse gases, get rid of nuclear weapons, develop alternative energy, reduce population, prepare for earthquakes, volcanoes and floods… It is as if we should be called homo procrastinatus. I suspect evolution has made us this way. During most of our species time on earth man had little ability to predict the future. There was so much that had to be done to deal with immediate threats, that it was counter productive to fret about future ones.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
How to Avoid Extinction
The creatures that have avoided extinction longest are those like the crocodilians that learned to conserve energy. They can go years without food.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
How Big Is The Universe?
Just how big is the universe? It big enough that pretty well any logically consistent creature you could imagine must exist on at least 1000 planets.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
How Did Homo Sapiens Wipe Out the Neanderthals?
The Neanderthals left Africa for Europe long before Homo Sapiens did the same thing. The Neanderthals, shortly after the arrival of Homo Sapiens, went extinct. What happened? This is still hotly debated.
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- Somewhat similarly to the colonisation of North and South America when the newcomers brought new diseases and parasites for which the natives had no resistance, there were terrible plagues.
- Homo Sapiens had superior technology and as humans always do, they used it for genocide of the competition.
- Modern humans have about 10% Neanderthal DNA and Neanderthals are sometimes classified as a subspecies, so the two groups interbred.
- Neanderthals might not have been as successful in adjusting to climate change.
How Evolution Equipped Man
Evolution has left man a bit like a robot, equipped with a 745.70 kilowatts (1,000 horsepower) motor, no brakes and only a rudimentary safety interlock.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
How Man Cheats in Competition With Other Species
Mankind has prevailed against all other species using an unprecedented dirty trick to annihilate the competition — they destroy the habitat of competing species.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
How Many Genes
Humans have 23,000 genes, the same as a chicken or a nematode worm, less than a corn plant. Some of the earliest animals had only 8.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
How Religions Delude With Flattery
Imagine a group of frogs philosophising that their pond contains all the life in the universe. It is absurd for the frogs to do that without first examining a very large number of other ponds. Humans would never have even considered such questions had it not been for religions stroking their egos with notions of grandiose importance. Flattery is an integral part of conning.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
How Science Textbooks are Composed
Novel science does not make it into textbooks until the ideas have been succinctly formulated into a theoretical structure, have been well tested, have accumulated evidence, have survived challenges, have published research in peer reviewed publications and beat out competing theories, but the intelligent design people want to bypass all this verification and even bypass creating a formal theory and go straight to student textbooks. They have no interest in science. They are interested only in religious indoctrination and discrediting evolution which more clearly than other sciences debunks the bible. Evolution is the target because it is one of the simplest sciences to understand.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Human Are Not Up To The Task
Using technology, we humans have managed to create massive problems that we are not capable of solving. It is as hopeless as expecting a pack of dogs to solve the problem of soil erosion. Humans are not up to the task:
- They don’t care about the big picture.
- Their prime focus is on competing with, defeating and hurting enemies.
- They are driven primarily by emotion.
- They tenaciously hold onto beliefs that have been proven wrong.
- They prefer I win-you lose solutions to win-win. This creates political logjams.
I can see three possible solutions:
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- The development of artificial intelligence that simple overwhelm humans and tricks them into doing the right thing.
- Some sort of technology to amplify intelligence, the ability to concentrate or the ability to look at problems from a planetary perspective. A think of these people might be able to overwhelm ordinary humans.
- A think tank of the brightest people funded by billionaires who see our planet is in peril. People are selected for their intelligence and global perspective. It is one thing to create a solution, but quite another to get idiotic FOX viewers to accept it.
The Human Cancer
It is painful to realise I belong to a species that is like a cancer destroying earth.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
From the point of view of non-human life on earth, humans came out of nowhere like a plague of cybernetic locusts ravaging the earth with unparalleled ferocity.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Throughout history man keeps making the same error over and over, presuming that what is known is all there is and presuming that which is closest is unique in the universe. I think by now the default presumption should be there is still more to discover until proven otherwise and the way things are here is likely the way they are elsewhere unless proven otherwise. There is likely nothing unique of consequence about us and our location.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
From the point of view of the gene pool, sacrificing the best and brightest to the volcano god is the worst thing a society can do. Modern societies are more practical. They sacrifice the unemployable and those with a taste for bullying and mayhem to the gods of war.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Humans and Roundworms Share the Same Building Blocks
Humans and roundworms use the same chemical building blocks to build their brains and nervous systems. Evolution likes to reuse and reuse any solution it stumbles on.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Humans are Mammals
We humans are mammals. We have not changed much in hundreds of thousands of years. If we were in a zoo, the visitors would come to laugh at us because of our strange adaptations:
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- We totter around upright on two feet like meercats.
- We have almost no hair, except for a decorative tuft on the top of our heads and some to direct attention to the genitals.
- We are hunchbacks with multiple spine curvatures.
- We breed constantly. We don’t confine it to a few days a year like respectable animals.
- We have pathetic little claws and teeth, not even as formidable as a rabbit’s.
- We have great paddles for feet, like some sea creature.
Humans Are Not Adapted for Modern Life
Evolution works very slowly, over hundreds of thousands of years. We humans have very rapidly changed our world. Evolution has not yet caught up to prepare us to live in this new world. In the meantime we muddle through. Here are some examples.
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- We humans require pure water. When it is polluted with human feces, animal feces, chemical and pesticides, we have trouble.
- We humans are evolved to eat lean meat. When it is grain fed and marbled with fat, it clogs our arteries.
- We humans are evolved in a world where sodium was rare and precious. We evolved a craving for it that is toxic in a world of abundant salt.
- We humans evolved a world where calories were hard to come by. We evolved a craving for any form of concentrated calories which is doing us in when we are surrounded in junk food.
- We humans evolved in the quiet of nature. Today we are bombarded with cacophony.
- We evolved a fear of heights, but no equivalent fear of speed. We recklessly smash ourselves to bits with our complete lack of caution around speed.
Humans are Relatives
All modern humans descended from a group of 2000 people who lived 70,000 years ago and most of us descended from an even smaller group of 150 people. 2000 is about the enrollment of my high school. It amazing how so few people notice how alike we all are and that you can’t help but marry a not-that-distant cousin.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Humans Deserve Extinction
Humanity is behaving so aggressively stupidly on greenhouse gases, nuclear weapons, overpopulation, environmental destruction…, humanity fully deserves the extinction it is preparing for itself.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Young chimps are brighter than young humans. Why then did humans develop technology and not chimps? Humans actively teach their young. Their young unquestioningly accept whatever they are told. Young chimps must learn solely by observing the adults.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Humans vs Wolves as Hunters
Wolves hunt the weakest and sickest individuals in a herd. Humans hunt the strongest and fittest. Wolves act like animal breeders to improve the stock. Humans…~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Christians are horrified their ancestor is the amoeba. The find shameful they could have such humble beginnings. But if they but understood the amoeba, they would see its evolution from raw amino acids is much more astounding and took far far longer that the evolution of man from the single cell stage.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Hunger is the Norm
We humans evolved under conditions of food deprivation. We evolved hunger to prod us to spend much of our time seeking out food. The catch is, we now live under conditions of superabundance. We interpret hunger as a signal we should eat and thus quickly become obese. You must’t eat just because you are hungry! And you especially have to learn not to eat when you are not even hungry. You have to stop eating, even in the middle of a meal, when you are no longer hungry. It is as simple as that. To implement this, you need to perform an experiment. Refrain from eating for a week unless you are at least slightly hungry. Monitor your weight. If you don’t lose fat, you must turn it up a notch and refrain from eating unless you are at least moderately hungry. If that does not work, turn it up another notch and avoid eating unless you are at least very hungry. By experimenting, you will come to know the hunger tipping point at which you can maintain your ideal weight. You don’t have to count any calories or follow any special diet, other than common sense nutrition. Unfortunately, the ideal point is uncomfortable. Evolution made it that way to keep you from starving to death. One advantage of living at the ideal point, with a hunger edge, is food tastes much better.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Husband and Wife Bond is Secondary
Christians imagine the primary bond is between husband and wife, yet the bond crucial to survival is the parent’s bond to his or her children, just as it is in other mammals and the birds.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
I leave out seeds for small birds outside my window. I notice they spend considerably more time checking for predators than they do eating. I imagine telling them Relax. Nothing is going to hurt you. But evolution knows far better than I what the optimum degree of wariness is. Without that hypervigilance, they would rarely make it to laying eggs.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Idiocy Of Be Fruitful and Multiply
Most of the time, be fruitful and multiply is a sound strategy for survival. However, in today’s world, it is insane, selfish and suicidal. The earth cannot sustain anywhere near the number of humans already born. We must stop looking procreation (as opposed to sex) with such rose-coloured glasses. It is more deadly on a planetary scale than taking crack.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Humans have no more wit than tent caterpillars when it comes to slowing down reproduction when resources get tight.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
If There Were a God…
If there were a god interfering with evolution, the god should have an effect. You would see violations of Darwinian behaviour e.g.
- Animals evolving features not currently useful, but that will eventually evolve into something useful.
- Animals that are less adept at avoiding predators prevailing without some compensating advantage.
- Some sign of moral judgement — animals with disgusting or cruel habits unexpectedly going extinct. Icheneumon wasps have grossed-out many a Christian including Darwin.
If there is a god, he seems to have a hands-off philosophy. He might as well not exist in terms of understanding evolution.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Ignorant Have No Right To An Opinion
Religious fundamentalists have absolutely no right to criticise evolutionary theory. They have carefully avoided learning anything about it their entire lives.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Essentially what evolution claims is that the makeup of the gene pool changes slowly over time as animals with less fit genes are less successful at reproduction. It is so odd that fundamentalists claim to have an opinion on the matter without having the foggiest clue what a gene is.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Implication of the Extinction of Hominids
One of the darker things to contemplate about evolution is we are discovering more and more extinct species on the hominid tree. Did homo sapiens wipe out its cousins with the same ruthlessness that today it is exterminating the gorillas, chimps and bonobos? If so, it implies genocide, war and brutality are in our bones, hiding just below the surface in all of us. It is only a matter of time until our essential nature drives our own species extinct.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Implications of Creationism
Why doesn’t everyone have the same DNA ? If God created Adam and there is no evolution (change in DNA ) then all his descendants should have the same DNA as he did. Yet we know everybody has his own unique DNA. How and when did the changes happen?
I suppose you could postulate some ad hoc miracle to explain it, but science explains it this way: Your DNA sometimes is damaged in the womb. You might be born with 100+ sites of damage. This could happen from a stray cosmic ray hitting you or exposure to a noxious chemical, e.g. from your mom drinking, smoking or taking drugs like thalidomide. Sometimes the damage is so severe, you will spontaneously abort early in the pregnancy. This damage is called a mutation. Most of the time it does not cause you any serious harm. Sometimes it will give you a terrible deformity. Sometimes the damage happens even earlier to your mother’s eggs or your father’s sperm.
Sometimes it will give you a benefit, e.g. resistance to HIV, the ability to eat cholesterol without clogging your arteries, extra strength muscles, cavity-resistant teeth, perfect pitch… Your children may or may not inherit this mutation. If they do, the mutation can be passed on to your children’s children. Mutations, especially beneficial ones, then accumulate over the generations and spread throughout the entire population.
By the way, this process of mutation and differential fitness is usually called evolution. People think they disagree with evolution, but that is only because they have some misconception about what it says, e.g. that it requires rocks to turn into spiders, or because they have been told belief in evolution leads to devil worship.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The biggest favour a human can do for another, bigger even than saving their life, is to ensure their genes live on in the next generation. When a female allows a male to impregnate her and tacitly promise to raise the child to adulthood, that is a huge favour and commitment. It is amazing that human females hand it out so casually.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Inadvertent Implied Intent
Zoologists pull their hair when lay people say something along the lines: The pitcher plant evolved purple and brown colouration and a rotting odour to reassemble rotting meat in order to attract insects. The problem is language improperly implies conscious planning and cunning. To say that same thing accurately takes several extra sentences. We need new vocabulary to say this both accurately and concisely, suitable for lay use. Perhaps something like: The pitcher plant evolved purple and brown colouration and a rotting odour to reassemble rotting meat, driven by attracting insects. where driven gets a precise evolutionary context definition.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
If a cosmic designer with infinite intelligence had designed the human brain would he have made the following errors?
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- A triune reptile, mammalian and rational brain that work at cross purposes. Surely they would have been better integrated.
- A skull that is shaped and sized to often kill the mother during birth.
- A brain that often creates false memories. It does not warn you they are reconstructions.
- Nerves that work chemically. Electronics are millions of times faster.
- A brain that is so delicate (like Jello) without internal bracing, that a glancing blow to the head will shear it causing permanent brain damage.
Insects with Good Taste
We imagine that our aesthetic sense is transcendent. Yet oddly even insects with tiny brains have almost the same preferences in flowers. In fact, the flowers evolved to please insect notions of beauty not ours.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Though rivers grind round the rocks and cave springs create fantastic crystals, there is no reason to believe they do it with intelligent intent.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
If humans were intelligently designed, surely testicles would have some sort of armour plating.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
If humans were intelligently designed, surely they would have a spine properly designed for upright walking, not a recycled quadruped design.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
If we were intelligently designed:
- why do we have an appendix, tonsils and adenoids?
- Why does our urethra run down through the middle of our prostate? When the prostate swells, it chokes off the urethra.
- Why do we use the same pipe for breathing and food?
- Why do we have a spine better designed for a quadruped?
- Why isn’t the female pelvis big enough to pass babies?
This looks more like bungling trial and error to me, things you might expect from evolution.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Intelligent Life on Earth Improbable
Astronomers studying earth from the other side of the galaxy might dismiss it as unlikely to harbour intelligent life because it is so large its gravity caused huge asteroids to smash into it ten times, each time sending life back to square one.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Interfering With Evolution
The thing that evolution has the most trouble dealing with is a very rapidly changing or varying environment. Perhaps that fact could be used to slow down the ability of HIV to develop drug immunity. Perhaps even changing the amounts of non-toxic chemicals in the blood could confuse it. Or perhaps rotating the HIV drug regimen on a daily basis.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
When the environment changes suddenly, it upsets the species balance. A newcomer species can then take over in a population explosion because it has elsewhere previously adapted to the new local conditions giving it a competitive advantage over the native species. For example, global warming has allowed a virulent tropical fungus Cryptospordium Gattii to overwhelm the native fungi species on eastern Vancouver Island. One microbiologist said she was as astounded to see it so far north as she would at Godzilla making an appearance.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
When we were hunter gatherers, change was slow, linear and usually cyclic. These are the conditions under which our intuition evolved and became hard wired. In the technological age, most change is exponential (ever speeding change) e.g. improvement in technology, arms races, climate change, pollution, population growth… Our intuition boggles. It insists tomorrow will be almost the same as today.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Scientists are working to contain the electric ants that man accidentally introduced to New Caledonia. They are pushing out all other insects and killing off species after species of plant. Similarly scientists are trying to control the explosion of crayfish accidentally introduced to Cape Breton National park. Will we someday get a visit from the GBA (Galactic Biodiversity Agency) to thin the human herd and restore biodiversity?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Invention of Fires
Imagine if a rabbit evolved that liked to set fires. What a frightening creature man must have been for the other animals when he first learned to use fire!~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
IQ (Intelligence Quotient) of Evolution
Mindless natural selection is estimated to have an IQ of 1. It is what designs natural creatures so painfully slowly and ineptly. I guess by Christian standards that still counts as intelligent design.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Circa 1990 we have discovered, that even though junk DNA is snipped out in DNA⇒RNA transcription and has no function creating proteins, some of it still has a function turning genes on and off. It is not nearly as junky as we first thought. 98% of the human genome is such non-coding DNA.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Just Right vs More Is Better
Evolution works toward the optimum, not too much, not too little. Man works on a different principle, more is better. He pursues this goal even when it destroys his environment, ruins his health, bankrupts him or condemns his offspring to extinction.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Kangaroos Not Intelligently Designed
If the kangaroo were intelligently designed, surely the young lima-bean-sized kangaroo should have emerged directly into the pouch, rather than forced to make a long journey through the mother’s hair along the outside of her body.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Ken Ham’s Vanity
The only argument that Ken Ham has ever put forward for creationism is that he is handsomer than the people he is debating.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Scientists estimate the Kepler project will discover at least 50 planets very similar to earth. Bit by bit, the conceited notion that earth is unique in the universe is crumbling.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Kill the Distant
Otherwise gentle people will drop large rocks from bridges onto passing ships or from overpasses onto cars, or drop bombs from airplanes onto schools. I suspect the ancient hard-wired morality is: if they are small and distant kill them, if large and close, treat them as kin.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
In the USA, it is possible to patent parts of the human body, namely the genes. The patent holder gains the legal right to block anyone from doing research on that gene or developing any drugs which might have an effect on the gene or prohibiting any test that checks for genetic anomalies in that gene. It is similar to a legal right to stop anyone from doing any research of any kind on some other part of the human body, e.g. the knee.
Normally, a patent is awarded for developing something novel (no prior art) and non-obvious. In theory, you can’t patent something like granite or orange juice that you did nothing to create. However, the US courts are so corrupt, that they allow wealthy unscrupulous corporations like Monsanto to patent plant strains that clearly do not in any way belong to them, strains that have been in the public domain for thousands of years. All they have to do is be the first to think of patenting some pre-existing object, plant or animal. In principle, by this relaxed reasoning, they could patent kitchens, shoes, blood, ring fingers, knees, haircuts or even the ocean and thereby gain exclusive use to them. It has not got quite that silly yet, but similar insanity has already happened in principle.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Large Number Anaesthesia
When I was a child, there was a politically incorrect joke: How do Newsiest [people who live in Newfoundland] count fish? One fish; two fish; three fish; anudder fish; anudder fish… Though most people can do arithmetic with large numbers, their intuitions are at sea with them. For example, the biggest government scandals involve under $100,000 because people can relate to what that number means. Scandals in the billions or trillions are just big numbers.
In particular people have a problem with time intuition. About the longest span they can intuitively grasp is 80 years. They have absolutely no intuitive feel for just how long a billion years is. When evolutionists talk about a change that took a billion years of natural selection and tens of millions of generations, all they can envisage is the same change happening in a few seconds, like a movie of a man morphing into a werewolf, without any generations. Because they can’t picture such a long gradual evolution, they idiotically postulate an evil old man building creatures in his workshop in the sky.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Last Man Standing
There have been 17 species of hominids. All but one, homo sapiens (us), have already gone extinct. With odds like that, I think it rather optimistic to imagine we will prevail forever.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Laws of the Universe are the Same Everywhere
It would be a bit eccentric to presume the laws of chemistry and physics are completely different on other planets otherwise identical to earth, without some evidence. Since the laws of biology derive from chemistry and physics this is what Christians do when they claim only earth, the center of the universe, harbours life.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Laws of the Universe are Universal
Mathematicians, physicists and chemists consider the notion that mathematics, physics and chemistry work differently elsewhere in the universe, an absurd notion, one that would need strong evidence to even consider. Yet, because of religious brainwashing, many biologists presume life on earth is unique until proven otherwise, even though biology could be a considered a special branch of chemistry.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Layman Estimates Age of Earth
Anyone without any scientific education could still notice the way rivers lay down a new layer of sediment each year, or a volcano lays down a new layer of lava each time it erupts, or a glacier a new layer of snow-ice each year. Now count the layers. There are way, way too many to have been laid down in 6,019 years, as Bishop James Ussher claimed.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Legitimate Sources of Energy
Plants get their energy from the sun. Herbivores get their energy by stealing the reserves of plants. Carnivores get their energy by killing then stealing reserves from the herbivores. Bees, fruit bats and hummingbirds are among the few animals that get their food legitimately, by working for it by pollinating the plants or disbursing their seeds.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Life May Have Come From Elsewhere
Scientist try to figure out how life originated on earth. I think this is wrong-headed. It is not as though earth sits in a vacuum bottle. Material from all over the solar system pummels it every day. It would make more sense to also study how life could have arrived on any of that material. Allowing for that possibility greatly expands the field of study to well outside the solar system to find the initial sparks of life. Bits of it could well have come about in widely separated parts of the universe under vastly different conditions.
That life came from elsewhere on earth is our default assumption whenever we find life on earth.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Life on Earth is Impossible
I can imagine scientists on some planet arguing, But how could earth possibly support life, much less intelligent life? It has almost no arsenic or germanium. Consider the temperature. Water is a liquid there for nameless one’s sake! It even falls from the sky!~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Life is Ordinary
Life is not as nearly as magical as we imagine. Craig Ventnor synthesised the DNA for a bacterium with a genetic sequencer, then inserted it into a cell without DNA. It was able to reproduce and produce new bacteria cells.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Limitation of Evolution
The biggest limitation of evolution is that it cannot, even in the simplest way, plan ahead.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Limitation of Evolution
A living being has no way to prefer adaptive mutations. All it can do is try out random mutations in the next generation.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Limits to Growth
Animals cannot increase their population unless it has recently been decimated. There is limited territory and food. Humans try to increase their numbers indefinitely anyway exploiting temporary food sources.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Living With Starvation
Imagine living in a time or place where starvation was a constant threat. You would collectively have to decide how much food each member of the group should get based on how much food they bring in relative to the amount they consume and how violent they would become if deprived.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Humans have created tools to predict 100 years into the future and even further for some things such as astronomy. Unfortunately, psychologically, we have almost no ability to react to that information. We are creatures of the here and now. The species that replaces us may have no more ability to predict, just a propensity to act on the predictions, considering the well being of future generations as more important than the current one — the way most other animal species behave.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Mad Overpopulation Pressure
The fundamental vanity built into every animal to see its DNA predominate over the earth at the expense of all other life forms is what drives humans to overpopulate the earth past its breaking point.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Exobiologists studying humans might characterise our species by its unique habit of males displaying feats of genetic fitness for other adoring males without females present.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
A female human is looking for a male who can be counted on to help her raise her offspring to maturity, someone who will not abandon her and who has the resources to be useful. Thus the sexual allure of male shyness. The male is advertising, perhaps falsely, that not only will he stay faithful, but also that he could not stray even if he wanted to. Evolutionary natural selection sometimes plays a cruel trick on males, making them so shy that they cannot even approach one female.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
In most species, the males strut, dance and decorate themselves to impress the females, but in man, it is largely the reverse. This is because, for most animals, all the male contributes is sperm. In man, the male contributes almost all his income to the raising of the young and supporting his mate. As the human two-parent family breaks down, you can expect to see a reversion in humans to the peacock pattern of male beauty and sartorial splendour.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The first large animal that evolved on earth looked like a pizza.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Man is Driving Himself Extinct
Man will have one of the shortest reigns on earth of any species. Usually a species goes extinct through competition, predation or inability adapt to changing climate. In contrast, man is busily doing himself in. He has too much power to change the planet and not enough wisdom to know what is safe to change. Man is like a 4-year old child with a chainsaw.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Meaning of Lust
When you encounter an individual who makes your teeth sweat, makes you shiver and bite your hand in lust, you have just unconsciously computed that your genes merged with theirs would create an individual with optimal survival and reproductive success. Your genes are screaming Go for it!~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Mind Boggling Science
There are many things in science that boggle the layman’s mind: the immense size of the universe, the fact the universe has a finite size, that you eventually get back to where you started if you head off in a straight line, that space itself expands, quantum mechanics, that time is not universal, that the Grand Canyon was dug by a river, that satellites don’t fall down, the big bang, evolution… That does not make them any less true. There is no law that says the universe has to be simple enough for even a wilfully ignorant Southern Baptist high school dropout to understand.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Which of these statements does not belong?
- At one point in earth’s history, there were only two of each species and they all coexisted on a boat.
- The moon is made of green cheese.
- Species never change.
- At one point, water covered all the mountains of the earth, even Mount Everest.
- Fairies cause milk to curdle.
Answer: none of them. They are all popular misconceptions that science has thoroughly debunked.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
It is misleading to talk about how the universe was created or how the elephant was created. To avoid childish presumptions of creationism, instead we should ask about how the universe and the elephant came to be.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Missing Warning Bells
The body sets off alarm bells when there is too little food or too little blood sugar, but has no equivalent for too much food or too much blood sugar. The problem came up too rarely over our time evolving to create a solution. Now in our world of abundance that lack is killing us.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Modern Society is Disease Friendly
From the point of view of a new disease organism, our technological civilisation seems custom-tailored to help it spread. We transport diseases around the entire planet within hours on airliners; we move them around in food transported tens of thousands of miles; we congregate in tight spaces like buses, elevators and office buildings each day to exchange microorganisms. Even our greeting ritual, the handshake, exchanges more germs than had we ritually drunk each other’s urine. We have undone all we have evolved/learned in millions of years to control disease, namely live in small groups and be wary of contact with strangers.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Imagine being a member of an ancient intelligent species living in the local Milky Way galaxy. You would be aware of earth’s rapid military evolution. You would probably not be too concerned. The math would show the evolution is so fast it will almost certainly drive humans to extinction long before they start making a mark off planet.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
There are about ten times more extinct species that extant ones. Some sources say the ratio might be ten times higher.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
On average, every person has 4 mutations that were not present in either parent. The rest of the 3 billion base pairs are reproduced exactly.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
My Antievolutionary Choice
The whole business of evolution sounds like so much sturm und drang, but really it is quite relaxed. Most of what I do has no effect at all on whether I survive and leave offspring. I made the conscious decision about age 12 never to have children. That is the ultimate sin from an evolutionary point of view, but it did not have that drastic effect on my experience of life. I had more than enough to keep me occupied without raising children.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
My Personal Encounter with Evolution
I have had HIV since 1985. I am still alive. Most of my friends at the time are now dead. I am alive because of the theory of evolution.
Every month I get my HIV viruses sequenced. Doctors can monitor mutations which confer immunity to various drugs. We get early warning of a drug failing. We can also tell which drugs I have not tried might work and which will not. The theory of evolution predicted that a multi-drug cocktail would reduce the ability of HIV to evolve immunity. I take a whopping cocktail of 5 drugs. HIV has usually been able to evolve to defeat each drug within two years.
Doctors tell me I will probably die, not of HIV but of something more ordinary like a heart attack or diabetes.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
National Geographic Betrays Trust
Once upon a time you could trust what you read in the National Geographic to be true. However, in a mad dash for more subscribers they have padded the pages with biblical myths disguised as archaeology.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Natural Selection is a Designer of Sorts
Given enough time, evolution will come up with some pretty impressive designs. Most of the time though, it is pretty sloppy, just enough to get by. (This is how you know humans were not divinely designed.) You might wonder at my use of the term designs. Yes, evolution does design. It is quite stupid, about IQ 1, but it is not just random. By analogy, your wife might learn to drive the family car, without any instruction, but just randomly pressing buttons and pedals, making small changes one at a time. Whenever the car drives better, she keeps that setting or pedal pressure. This is a considerably cleverer strategy than trying random combinations. Give her a decade and she will drive better than you.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Is Natural Selection a Form of Intelligent Design?
Natural selection has a IQ of only about 1 but look around the plants and animals on the planet. The results are so impressive many people attributed them to a supernatural being. Granted, natural selection gets billions of years to hone its designs. Anatomists can see the design blunders, but natural selection is about being good enough, not perfection.
Natural selection could be thought of like a minor deity who ran an American Idol-like contest:
- Look at all the animals (and plants)
- Rank them considering how many living offspring they had, ability to stay alive, how sexy they were to the opposite sex, metabolic efficiency (ability to get fat easily)…
- Only the top x% gets to participate in the next generation (ratio differs by species). The rest are either already killed or rejected from breeding.
Because every generation is not genetically identical, due to mutations that create individual differences, there will always be a ranking. And every generation will be marginally better than the previous one. Over time, indescribably small differences add up. That is evolution in a nutshell.
Of course, natural selection is just nature as a whole, not a deity. Nature daily plays out the dramas of predator-prey. The interactions are guided by the motivations of the animals involved, not by some bearded man in the sky playing with his toy animals. The struggle for life and reproduction pits all creatures against each other in a huge contest. Only the offspring of victors get to go to the next round of breeding. That keeps upping the quality of the competitors every generation.
Christians insist such microchanges could never add up to anything of significance. How much longer would human penises be after a mere 10 thousand generations if they were on average only a thousandth of an inch longer each generation. Answer 10 inches longer. Evolution is much more patient than you.
What’s optimal changes over time. In an ice age, a long hairy coat is better. During global warming, a coat just long enough to repel insect bites is best. Natural selection automatically changes the selection criteria on the fly, which results in populations growing or losing hair over the generations to best match the changing climate. Ditto for skin colour.
Just in case I have mislead you with analogies, let me make it clear, there is no conscious agency of any kind involved with evolution, mutations or natural selection, other than the evolving animals themselves.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Natural Selection Under Your Nose
In 1977 there was a drought on one of the Galapagos islands. The population of one of the Darwin finch species dropped to about 100 individuals. Researchers studied the survivors and discovered they all had significantly larger beaks that usual. The reason: the only food left were large hard seeds. The ordinary finches that could eat only small seeds had starved to death. Here is just one of many examples of natural selection happening right under our noses. Evolution is an observable fact.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Natural vs Artificial Selection
I think the distinction between natural and artificial selection is not nearly as sharp as most people imagine. For example, bees, in their selective pollinating attention to various plants, impose their notion of fitness on them. That is analogous to the artificial selection done by plant breeders. The distinction is more, does the selection come from some other species or from the general environment?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
When I was a toddler I absolutely hated being left in a totally dark room. I pleaded with my parents to leave bedroom door ajar or to leave a lamp on. They told me not to be silly. I was both terrified and furious they would not grant me this tiny concession which would not inconvenience them in the least. Eventually my Dad relented and got me a brown Bakelite night light. This fear was so primal. For a cave-dwelling child, if the fire went out, it probably meant those looking after it had been killed by predators or other bands of humans. Even it if went out from lack of fuel, this too was a major catastrophe. I ask you to consider a night light when you need to buy a baby shower gift. There is no need to put kids through this primal trauma. You can get them inexpensively at Canadian Tire, amazon.com or Cloud·b. Some project stars or soothing images on the ceiling. Battery-powered ones will need to recharged each day.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
No Cave Man Ever Saw A Dinosaur
In the popular imagination, cave men and dinosaurs shared the earth. Not so. Dinosaurs were wiped out in 60,000,000 BC and but humans did not show up for another 59 million years in 6,000,000 BC.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
It is astounding that there is even any debate over evolution vs. intelligent design. On one side you have all the world’s scientists who have millions of facts about chemistry, molecular biology and biology to bolster their argument. On the other you have the scientifically illiterate whose only argument is that one particular allegedly magically blessed desert tribe living 3000 years ago surely would have guessed correctly about how the world worked.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Humans have evolved an amazing ability to use belief systems that fly in the face of common sense. It allows people to think about quantum mechanics or particle physics, but it also lets them become trapped by institutionalised insanity such as Mormonism and Christianity.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Novelty of Continuous Abundance
Not having enough to eat is the normal situation for any animal. Having enough is a rare, temporary situation to be exploited with gorging. Most humans in North America have created an environment of continuous abundance. Evolution has not yet equipped them for this novelty, but evolution is diligently winnowing the unfit with sexual exclusion and early death by cardiac disease, diabetes…~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Only Humans Refuse to Recycle
Humans are the only animal that does not have a sustainable recycling policy.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Only Life In The Universe
I have always found the assertion ludicrous that the only life in the universe is here on earth. Imagine you had another earth-like planet. How could you possibly keep it sterile with thousands of meteorites bombarding it each day?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Only the Most Advanced Civilisations Persist
When we go looking for technological civilisations in space, the problem is they will mostly likely be at least 100,000 years more advanced than us. Most of the ones similar to our level will rapidly go extinct.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Opinions of the Stupid on Complex Matters are Void
Christians claim evolution is false because they cannot understand it and partly because they do not want to. It seems absurd to them. Most Christians do not understand algebra either. It is Greek to them. Why don’t they claim it too is false for the same reason?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Order of Fossils
Fossils are always found with oldest fossils deepest and the most recent fossils on top. This is because there are new sediments each year that bury that year’s dead. Further, the evolutionarily most primitive animals are found deepest, and the most complex is on top. The ordering is extremely precise. Why? because an animal species does not live that long on earth. Its bodies are found only in a narrow band of sediments. In particular we never see dinosaur and human fossils mixed together because they never lived on earth at the same time.
When J.B.S Haldane was asked what would disprove evolution, he said Rabbits in the Precambrian. This incredibly precise ordering of fossils is one of the best evidences of evolution. How do Christians explain it? A swimming contest during Noah’s flood. I kid you not. The idea is so hare-brained I can barely bring myself to refute it.
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- Surely some humans, the sick and elderly would be poor swimmers.
- Some of the creatures who lost the swimming contest were fish or aquatic animals. Surely they could swim better than humans.
- All the fossils should date to 2000 BC, yet they are all much much older.
- Why should swimming ability precisely match evolutionary age? Some of these creatures could not even swim.
- In any population of modern animals, e.g. caribou, you see quite a range of swimming ability. Yet in the fossil record, all caribou sort as if they had identical swimming ability.
- The fossil record is in places over a mile deep. The incredible chaos associated with laying down than much sediment at once belies the meticulous ordering of both rock types and animal types.
- If do an experiment and shake up some sediment and water in a jar, it will settle out smoothly with the heaviest sediments at the bottom graduating to the finest clays at the top. It will not form distinct pure layers of different types of material unrelated to density.
Origin of Life
I suspect within a couple decades we will have proof that primitive life exists on billions of planets even within our galaxy. We could interpret this two ways:
- Life spontaneously generates very easily.
- Life spores spread like dandelions very easily from planet to planet. We humans are descended indirectly from aliens.
I am looking forward to experiments to be able to tell which is so, perhaps both.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Origin of Life
The number of places life can survive is likely much wider than the number of places it could start.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Other Intelligence In Past?
What are the odds that at some time in the past, another technological species arose on planet earth, but destroyed itself in a couple of millennia, leaving no obvious traces? If it did, what subtle signs might be left?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Other Intelligent Species Have a Huge Head Start
Intelligent life in some other galaxies would have a 4 billion year head start on us. Think of how technology has changed earth in the last 400 years. You can’t begin to imagine what could happen with 10 million times more opportunity.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Our Close Relative, the Salmon
We humans are more closely related to a salmon than a salmon is to a shark.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Our Close Relatives
We share 98.7% of our genes with chimps. We share 99.5% of our genes with fellow humans. Chimps and humans are so closely related that they can donate blood to each other. We have the same blood types.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Our Extinction Event
We are in the middle of a global extinction event, the biggest since the end of the dinosaurs, but this one we humans caused. But cheer up; in past, it took the earth only 10,000,000 years to recover.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
We humans have all kinds of trouble because we did most of our evolving long before there was technology or even agriculture. For example:
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- We crave high calorie foods, a great strategy in a world where calories are hard to find.
- We are constantly on guard, a great strategy in a world where predators attack you daily and strangers will usually try to kill you.
- We have more than two children, a great strategy in a world where most children die of infectious diseases or starvation.
- We create the most lethal weapons our imaginations can concoct, a great strategy in a world where all other animals have teeth and fangs and we do not.
- We try to be as sedentary as possible, again a great strategy in world where calories are scarce and you have to work hard to dig/find/hunt your own food.
- We have no fear of speed, a great strategy in a world where the fastest you could go was the fastest you could run.
We humans are genetically very similar to both chimps and bonobos. We are like chimps with our violence and competitiveness. We are like bonobos with our consideration and rampant sexuality. Bonobo society is unusually peaceful. Prudes are horrified to learn that in bonobo society, homosexuality, incest and pedophilia are all compulsory.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Overriding Natural Selection
Evolution by natural selection was able to get us this far by making us act in our own immediate, obvious, self interest and to compete ferociously with others, even when it made everyone miserable. To progress further, we humans have to override this legacy conditioning and use our intelligence to maximise overall welfare and negotiate our own true long-term best self interest. This will require unnatural co-operation. Natural selection is mindless. The process is quite happy to drive a species to extinction as it is doing to humans now with things like arms races, overpopulation and environmental plundering. Natural selection is just a feature of the universe, not a god, not a virtue, not something that has to be endured. We now have the power to influence it to make our lives more pleasant.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Every species of mammal on earth has 10+ species of parasite that do nothing but make that animal miserable. What sort of benevolent loving god would design in such a nasty feature as that? Christians do not worship Jehovah because he is kind and good, but because they are terrified their imaginary god will torture them. They worship an evil god out of cowardice and in doing so, they become sadistic and cruel like their god.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Like any parasite, HIV just wants to eat your body or its nutrients.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Our ancestors made identical stone hand axes for over a million years. You would expect the design to at least drift a little, but no. There must have been something, perhaps some religion, that kept the design identical.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Teaching creationism to balance evolution is like teaching astrology to balance astronomy, homeopathy to balance pharmacology, crystal healing to balance geology, tarot cards to balance psychology and safecracking to balance bookkeeping.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Whenever someone tells you the probability of something, find out just what it is the probability of happening and ask to see the calculations that derived the estimate. You may quickly find they just pulled a number out of their ass or that in any one of 100 other ways the number is meaningless. One common trick is illustrated here: Getting any particular string of heads and tails is highly improbable (1/2 ^ 100), but every time you toss a coin 100 times, one of those highly improbable patterns has to come up. There is nothing special at all about one of them coming up, just about one particular pattern specified in advance coming up.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Plants emit odours, not for the delectation of humans, but to attract insects for pollination. We humans have thus come to appreciate subtle odours made of a complex mixture of aromatic organic chemicals. Why then do perfume chemists create overpowering scents made of just a few elements whose psychological effect is like an ice pick rammed into the nose?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
One of the few happy facts you stumble over in the study of evolution is that plants enjoy insects drinking their nectar and animals eating their fruits.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Playing With Statistics
The easiest way to reduce the number of deaths due to cancer is to increase the number of deaths due to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. So take care interpreting statistics.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
What are the words every woman longs to hear? Would you mind if I did the windows today?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
It is poetic justice the folk who chose greed over the health of others to mine the tar sands will die of brain cancer. It is too bad the investors and executives will not be hit too.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
I can understand which humans have evolved to avoid procreating with those who are different or have a deformity, but it makes no sense to be cruel to them in culture of over-abundance.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Power of Evolution
To get an idea of the power of evolution, it manages to convince nearly everyone that the most rewarding activity imaginable is inserting a penis and removing it again over and over. This applies to straight males and females and even gay males. Can you imagine any activity more intrinsically boring?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Supporters of big oil give the impression there is something wimpy about solar. Yet 5000 times as much energy falls on earth as we use from all energy sources combined.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Predominance of Artificial Selection
Whether a species goes extinct is no longer primarily a matter of natural selection, but of artificial selection. Humans decide which species are worth keeping. The best traits for survival are cuddliness and a face similar to a human’s.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Preference For Others To Suffer
I am so disgusted with my species. Humans refuse to even act in their self interest. They would sooner others get less than everyone including themselves get more. They are happy to see the extinction of their species so long as they enjoy a slight relative advantage over others in the interim.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
There are only two primates that hunt and eat meat: chimpanzees and man.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Prime Directive
Darwinian evolution insists that every plant and animal take as its prime directive Make sure your offspring survive! If a creature deviated, it would soon go extinct.
After hundreds of thousands of years, a minority of humans have decided to abandon the prime directive in favour of making money. As a result, our entire species is doomed to extinction within a century (perhaps two). Even those dedicated to their grandkids will also go because they allow a small minority of powerful individuals to emit greenhouse gases, drive species extinct, deplete soils, overpopulate… in a single-minded pursuit of money.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Primitive Man Too Triggered Extinctions
Paleontologists have discovered many mass extinctions, even before the last ice age. They have discovered the cause. They all happened shortly after man invaded the territory. So much for the myth primitive man was a conservationist.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Is Twitter the primordial ooze from which a planetary consciousness will evolve?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Problem With Evolution
The biggest problem evolution has is that creationists shamelessly lie about it.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Problems with Evolution
If there were outstanding problems with evolution, of course, they would be taught along with it, just as they are in cosmology. However, there are not any. The so-called evidence against evolution are not legitimate science. It amounts to objections based on the fact Christian dogma and evolution disagree.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The advantage of sexual over asexual reproduction is the genes get more mixed up. There is more genetic diversity. This means natural selection has a bigger palette to work from for evolution. Promiscuity mixes the genes even further. A bird whose eggs all have different fathers has a better chance of perpetuating its genes, rather that putting all her bets on one male. Most animals are promiscuous.
What are the advantages then of monogamy? It is one of the few defences against STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases). Males are more willing to put effort into raising young if they know they are his. Religion has elevated monogamy to absurdly important heights. Partners split over even one incident of straying. Humans claim to be monogamous, but in practice almost nobody is 100% monogamous. We cause ourselves so much grief with this pretence.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Propagating Gay Genes
In nearly every species males try to prevent fellow males from breeding, but human Christians attempt to force male homosexuals not only to copulate but to sire children. What motivates this desire to propagate gay genes?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Nesting sea birds spend a considerable percentage of their energy squabbling with each other over territory. Humans invented private property and the laws protecting it to reduce the amount of time and energy we need to protect our territories. It is a sort of global cease fire.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Every aquarist knows that fish will not breed unless you get the conditions just right including light, water pH, hardness, salinity, depth, food, space, plant cover, rock shape… There are many fish species so picky that no one has ever managed to accurately enough mimic their native environment to induce them to reproduce. Fish are much more sensitive to changes in the environment than lay people would ever imagine. If we humans recklessly change the conditions in the wild even a small amount, fish will stop breeding and go extinct.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The universe works to reward (with preferential survival) those creatures who sacrifice the good of all for personal gain. This bleak fact should, once and for all, nail the coffin lid shut on the nutty idea the universe was designed by a benign god.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Purpose of Fruit
From a plant’s point of view, a fruit is payment to an animal for spreading its seeds. The plant makes the fruit delicious to attract the animals and nutritious to encourage the genes of animals that co-operate.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Purpose of Humanity
From the point of view of a bacterium, the purpose of humans is to convert plant material into easily-digested sewage.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Purpose of Pain
Evolution’s purpose for pain is to tell you that you just did a foolish thing that will hurt your survival/reproductive success and to convince you never to do it again. A wise human contemplates what that foolish thing might be and seeks to avoid doing it again in future. Oddly, I have never heard this very basic advice in a self-help book.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Purpose of Post Partum Depression
One of the grimmer facts of human existence was the discovery that post partum depression evolved to give women a hard-nosed look at their odds of being able to raise their newborn. She has to decide if she has enough resources to raise it. If she does not, attempting to raise it could starve her existing children. Sometimes the most life-preserving action is infanticide. We are used to seeing this in birds and animals often when parents sometimes starve one twin. It was a bit of a shock to discover it in humans too.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Rape and Natural Selection
From the point of view of natural selection, rape is just a male strategy to bypass female sexual selection. In species where females have no strategy to prevent rapes from resulting in births, rape becomes endemic, such as in ducks. Christians insisting on forcing females to carry rape pregnancies to term are providing even more Darwinian motivation for rape.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution has encouraged rat curiosity even when that curiosity leads rats to take significant risks because curiosity leads to knowledge of new resources to exploit and improved knowledge of the terrain to use to evade predators.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The only terrorism that would make sense is environmental terrorism — eco-vandalism to destroy the equipment responsible for massive CO₂ emissions or serious general pollution. Unlike regular terrorism, it would save rather than take lives. It amounts to self defence of planet earth.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Reaction to Adultery
Man is the only animal who abandons his mate if she or he is unfaithful. Other animals sometimes try to maintain exclusive access to their mate, but they take their aggression out on rivals, never on their mate.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Recovering After An Extinction
When you despair about man destroying the planet and himself, consider these two things:
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- The earth will repair itself within about 10,000,000 years. This seems eternity to us, but it is an eyeblink in evolutionary time. Earth has recovered from similar catastrophes many times before and recovered life in completely new forms.
- Scientists estimate there are 400 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. It takes light 100,000 years to cross it. There are 125 billion such galaxies. We have visited none of them. From a cosmic perspective, lamenting the extinction of man is a bit like lamenting the loss of a population of paramecia in a drop of water. That surely is not all the life there is.
The good news that comes from the study of evolution, is that even when earth suffers a massive catastrophe that wipes out nearly all life on earth, given enough time, life comes back changed, able to handle the new conditions.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution works because animals compete for territory, food, mates, status, offspring… Then along comes a being like me who says Screw it! I don’t want to play. It is a stupid game. I voluntarily take myself out of the game, out of the gene pool. I am the ultimate in unfitness. Oddly, nothing too terrible happens to me personally as a consequence.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Christians don’t reject all science. They just reject that which debunks the bible. The are OK with physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, metallurgy, aeronautics, agriculture, astronomy, engineering… They react in horror at evolution, cosmology and geology. In earlier times, the big fight was with astronomy. The bible contradicts all the sciences, but Christians focus on just a few of them.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Mammals drive their young away once they become teenagers. Humans presume it is the children rejecting the parents, but the rejection works both ways.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Religion is for Stalling Change
Here is why I think humans evolved religion. In a primitive society, nearly always innovation is a nutty idea. The time honoured way of doing things is better. There is no systematic way of exploring science or systematically testing alternate hypotheses. You need a mechanism to discourage innovation and command social cohesion, to pass cultural knowledge reliably from generation to generation.
Religion does this. It allows a shamanic/priestly class to control the population and enforce the traditional knowledge and valued encoded in myths and stories. The priestly class often selects recruits for the next generation from the entire population.
It long ago outgrew its usefulness. It stifles innovation. It fosters economic inequality and exploitation of the poor. It creates conflict when different religions rub shoulders (originally they were isolated).~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
If you were watching Jeopardy and Alex Trebek said No, the first world war was in 1929 millions of people would write to complain. Yet when equally incorrect assertions appear on TV, in books or even in school lectures, almost nobody complains because this is religiously protected misinformation, with even higher sacred cow status than the existence of Santa Claus. We don’t realise how ridiculous it is because we are so familiar with the religious myths. It is just as silly as if Christians started asserting John McCain were 200 years old and pounced on anyone who dared suggest otherwise, providing, of course, no evidence at all for this bizarre assertion.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Replacement for Evolution
If some new theory ever replaces evolution, it definitely will not be creationism. It is not even a theory, much less a plausible one.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Reproducing Human Intelligence
Humans diverged from chimps 13 million years ago. According to the National Geographic we share 96% of our genes with chimps. This means all the fancy thinking ability, language, motor skills evolve in an eyeblink and the changes to implement them packed into a mere 1200 genes. Human superiority can’t be as big as deal as we imagine. We should not imagine Einstein as our typical human intelligence. We should think in terms of Duck Dynasty or Donald Trump.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Requirements for Artificial Life Forms
The last things artificial life forms made of metal want covering their planet are water and oxygen.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Requirements for Life
A species has to do two things to avoid going extinct:
- Reproduce and ensure the next generation survives.
We humans have violated these rules big time:
- Creating a nuclear arsenal that has no practical function, that if triggered accidentally would take out not only man but most other species.
- Ditto for biological warfare.
- We have polluted the air and water with poisons, carcinogens, artificial hormones and radioactive waste.
- We have driven many food species (plant, fish and animal) to extinction. We are on schedule to eliminate all the remaining food fish by 2050. Canada’s Stephen Harper has repealed most of the endangered species protections.
- We ignored the scientists when they told us that we absolutely had to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. Now we are about to experience the full fury of our planet with the heat balance off kilter.
- We conspicuously consumed and left waste, with no thought for the needs of future generations. We acted as though it were the duty of this generation to consume every last speck of natural resources.
We are a defective species. We care more for our own comfort than the survival of our offspring. No wonder we are scheduling our species’ rapid (by evolutionary terms) extinction.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Results of Evolution
Opening your eyes at random on the fruits of evolution can’t help but boggle the mind:
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- Somebody’s occupation is concocting stage vomit.
- A rack of Taiwanese day-glo slippers.
- Photograph of a women pretending to copulate with an octopus.
- The bombardier beetle.
- bottled tap water.
Eventually, we should be able to guess what the genome of various dinosaurs was, or at least could have been. Then we might be able to revive species, perhaps pint sized versions you could keep as exotic pets.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Rôle of Testosterone
When a male primate wins a battle his testosterone level rises; when he loses, it drops. Presumably this helps prevent needlessly refighting a battle because the loser is discouraged. Unfortunately, this mechanism spills over into political battles that never end such as poor against elite, gay against bigot, rationalist against religion, democracy against tyranny, triggering needless capitulation.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Seashells in the Mountains
Leonardo da Vinci went on a hike in the Italian mountains. He discovered huge banks of sea shells. He concluded that the bible must be wrong. How do modern scientists explain this?
There are great continental tectonic plates that move very slowly, floating on the molten core of the earth. When two plates smash into each other, they push up and form a mountain range. The process is very slow, but with satellite laser surveying, it can be measured. Areas that were once the bottoms of seas are sometimes thrust up to become mountains.
On the bottom of the sea, each year, creatures living that year fall to the bottom and a tiny fraction of them fossilize. The process may continue over a million years or so. During this time the creatures change, according to evolutionary pressure. That is why you find the layers finely sorted in evolutionary order.
How do Christians explain this? They say Noah’s flood washed the shells to the top of every mountain. There are three problems with this.
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- You don’t find shells at the top of every mountain.
- It does not explain why the shells at the top of mountains are layered precisely in evolutionary order.
- It does not explain why the Burgess Shales got millions of trilobites, but no seashells.
Second Time Lucky
50,000 years ago, climate change almost wiped us out. We were down to under 2000 individuals. What we are doing to ourselves now with global warming, could be even nastier.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Secret Of Life
If you look at our two closest relatives, the bonobos and the chimpanzees, you would conclude the secret to a peaceful society is not religion, but a relaxed attitude toward sex and encouraging female solidarity.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Secret of Our Success
Oddly, the reason we humans are so smart (have such a large cranium) is because we have so many monkey genes that fail to work. Other members of the family have big teeth, big biting muscles and a muscle-anchoring crest instead.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Senility is Artificial
In nature, if an animal becomes incapable of running swiftly it soon becomes lunch. There is no old age or senility. Humans suffer a much more terrible and protracted end than being eaten. They are confined and kept barely alive with non-person status, sometimes suffering for decades with no access to death by any possible means.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Seniority and Genetic Fitness
The male moose proudly displays an ever larger rack of antlers with each passing year. It proves his genetic fitness and sexual desirability. The male human hides his signs of seniority with hair dye and a toupée. This is because younger males are more desirable because they have more years in them to help raise the offspring.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Sex and Population
In prehistoric times, if couples had sex, there would be plenty of babies. With contraception, that is no longer true. However, enough people still want babies (or refuse contraception) that the population is still exploding.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Most animals don’t seem to get much pleasure from sex, compared with what humans do. Apparently nature has to offer a massive bribe to persuade humans to have children and tend them for two decades.…~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
What changes in the modern world affecting sexual selection are different from the conditions under which we evolved?
- Women can now raise children without male help given government aid.
- Men who are wealthy can now help raise children even when they are absent or dead.
- Working women now have less time to care for their children. To properly care for their children, they need money to pay others to supervise their children.
- Birth control now means mainly people who want children have them.
I think this means handsome male promiscuous charmers and wealthy older men will rise in perceived attractiveness. Women who like children will become more desirable than women who like sex.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Shark Fin Soup
The Spanish are rapidly driving sharks extinct by killing them for their fins used to make a gourmet soup that Chinese pay a bowl for. The fisherman remove the fins without killing the sharks first. Canadian courts have shot down laws attempting to ban shark fin soup claiming the laws are racist.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Shift to Polygamy
Zoologists wondered why some bird species, such as the Birds of Paradise, were polygamous. The males spend all their time looking beautiful and trying to impress the females. The prettiest, most athletic male impregnates a dozen females, but takes no rôle in caring for the offspring. Because New Guinea is a recently formed island, birds have reached it, but not many bird predators. There is plenty of food. It is a bird paradise. Life is so good that females don’t need the help of a male to raise the young. I speculate that greater ease of existence in the USA is similarly driving the switch to polygamy in the zoological sense.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The recurrent laryngeal nerve runs from the brain to the larynx. In mammals, it doesn’t take the direct route, but, even in giraffes, makes a long detour, via the heart. Evolution explanations why this is so. The Bible cannot not explain how a god could design such shoddy work.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
It is not that hard to write a computer program that simulates the mindless intelligence of evolution, with mutation and natural selection. This can be used to solve all sorts of problems. The results are indistinguishable from something a person might come up with on his own. The results can look designed because the results were designed, but by a very stupid, but diligent, designer, namely natural selection which has an IQ of approximately 1, not by a god or a conscious intelligence.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Slow Evolution Still Adds Up
The human genome has not changed detectably is the last 40,000 years. Evolution is so slow and the length of time it has had, so long, that our intuition simply cannot get its head around it. The mind cannot comprehend just how drastic change can be when you let a glacially slow process be for three billion years.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Smuggling In Science
Creationists have a number of key words such as evolution, god, creationism, intelligent design which trigger their insanity. Perhaps knowledge can be smuggled in by disguising it as just so stories for infants. E.g. how the frog got its spots. Explain camouflage, selective predation by birds all in some mythical pond.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Teaching creationism along side evolution would be as fey as giving equal time to the conceit that fairies are responsible for soil fertility.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Sound of the Big Bang
We can hear the actual sound of the big bang (it sounds like a slow trombone glissando). We can even recreate the conditions when it was a billionth of a second old in a particle collider. Unsolved Cosmological Mysteries~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Source Of Opposition to Evolution
The opposition to evolution is based on religious wishful thinking that the bible be inerrant. It has nothing to do with science.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Spectacle of our Extinction
Man’s technological evolution proceeds much faster than his social evolution. This is leading to his early extinction. How fortunate for our generation to get to observe the spectacle.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Speculation on the Purpose of Depression
Depression is common in humans, especially in winter. I speculate that depression is an adaptation. When we lived in caves, starvation was a major problem each winter. You could pretty well count on some of the people in the group dying each winter. If the people who most likely to die self-identified, became depressed and stopped eating and otherwise stopped consuming communal resources, that would leave more to support the rest of the group. Depression is outmoded in western society. Getting depressed won’t help your fellows in the least.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The good news about global warming is the ancestors of plants and animals alive today squeaked through severe global warming events of the past without going totally extinct. Global warming will knock technological man on his ass, possibly even drive him to extinction. The planet will recover in a million years or so, evolving new bio-diversity and rich, balanced ecosystems. The bad news is global warming is just one of extreme stresses technological man has put on the other species and the ecosystems that sustain all life. Most of the of the species we all love will soon be gone forever. I consider that a crime even more serious that genocide.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
O.J. Simpson that his DNA sample might have been someone else’s but changed into his by having the analysis delayed a few hours. For some reason the prosecution did not point out that even Neanderthal DNA had been successfully sequenced and there was no record of any such transformation in history.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Six times in earth’s history it has been hit by meteorites so large they sterilised the earth and vaporised the oceans (both water and salt).~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Stop Rewarding Rapists
If you want to stomp out rape, you must stop rapists from breeding. You could do that with chemical or physical castration or long terms in jail. Catholics work to promote rape by pressuring women to bear the children of rape.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Stories Around a Fire
For millennia, we would sit around a fire at night and tell stories to each other and bask in the warmth. I suspect this behaviour by now is hard wired in our DNA. Even today we sit around campfires or sit in front of a fireplace or pot-bellied stove ignoring the high tech alternatives.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Humans are quite strange animals. What other animal cuts or plucks its hair to create artistic patterns? What other animal paints its face? What other animal persuades others of its species to cut it open and rearrange the muscles to give the illusion of youth? What other animal covers itself in woven plant fibres? What other animal eats so much and moves so little it dies an early death? What other animal hoards things it has no use for, just to deny them to others?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Stupid People Should Have No Opinion on Complex Things
Christians claim evolution is false because they cannot understand it and partly because they do not want to. It seems absurd to them. Most Christians do not understand algebra either. It is Greek to them. Why don’t they claim it too is false for the same reason?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Under the mathematically precise south pole is a frozen sturgeon, put there to baffle the next intelligent species after man.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Man is the only animal who goes off to sulk when his sexual advance is rebuffed. Every other animal gets back in the game immediately.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Why have not all men evolved 38.10 cm (1¼ ft) penises? Humans have evolved very large penises relative to our size. Fleas beat us, but not many other animals. They confer high status on large-penis males, primarily with other males. President Johnson sought every opportunity to display his to establish dominance. There are disadvantages to overly large penises. That is why they deflate and shrink when not in use. We spent a considerable amount of our history running about naked through thorn bushes. The most important disadvantage is that they are uncomfortable to some females. This reduces the breeding opportunities for the super-sized male.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Super Time Lapse
Human intuition fails when we try to study processes that take place over vast amounts of time, such as astronomy, geology and evolution. Time lapse photography now lets us study things like glaciers, plant growth, decay and tides, thereby extending our intuition. Imagine if we had a super time lapse photography that let us watch the birth of stars, or the wobbling of the north pole, the carving of rivers or the evolutionary flowering of life on earth, brutally pruned back to the ground again and again by mass extinction events.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68) Quantum Leap: how matter behaves at the atomic level
The main reason birds can fly but mammals cannot is that birds have lungs 20 times as efficient that look nothing like mammalian lungs.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Dinosaurs had lungs 33% more efficient than ours.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
If civilisation collapses, your best bet for survival is to have a son in a criminal gang.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Survival of the Adaptable
It is not so much survival of the fittest as survival of those who adapt most quickly to change.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Survival Of the Fittest
Evolution is like a marathon. It is sometimes characterised as a game of survival of the fittest. However, the contestants have no concern for ensuring the healthiest or most intelligent prevail. They are out to ensure their own genes prevail, wretched as they may be. They are willing to win by hook or by crook. The mother of a psychopathic serial killer soldier or a severely deformed child favours her son over any Nobel prize winner. When there are not enough resources to go around (the norm) it is to one’s advantage to see the competition killed off, crippled or at least denied the resources to live. This explains why herd animals almost never go to the defence of each other during a predator attack. It explains why humans treat the homeless so cruelly. Fitness is defined as the creatures that win this no-rules war.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Humans are the last surviving hominids. We all descended from a small band of Africans.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
One of the most impressive things about life is how it will take advantage of the tiniest opportunity, the most microscopic inhospitable living space, the tiniest bit of food, barely suitable conditions that are present only for hours. Life never gets discouraged.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Taste of Dinosaurs
Given that birds and modern day reptiles are close cousins of the dinosaurs, dinosaurs probably tasted like chicken.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Taste of Dinosaurs
We have good reason to think dinosaurs would have tasted like chicken because modern day birds are dinosaurs.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Teach the Controversy
For Intelligent Design to become a viable theory to rival evolution, to be taken seriously, to be taught in schools, it would need some evidence to support it. So far, it has none. It would have to explain everything evolution does. It would have to make predictions, better ones that evolution does. If it wants to keep the supernatural designer feature, it would have to provide some hard evidence that a designer exists. From where I stand, it has absolutely nothing going for it but an endorsement in an ancient book. I don’t think it has a ghost of a chance of being accepted as legit by science because it is a religious hypothesis masquerading as a scientific theory. At the current time, it is no more science than astrology.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Teaching the Controversy
Christian: Doctor, you say thorough tooth brushing is the best way to control cavities. I say it is smearing them in a mixture of chocolate and holy water. Let’s teach the controversy! There is no controversy, just a nutcase trying to get free publicity for his nonsense without any evidence for it.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
We wonder why there are not more signs of technological life in space. The most obvious answer comes from looking at life here on earth. There are at least a dozen ways we are likely to wipe ourselves out before we reach the stars. We will be here on earth for just an eye-blink of evolutionary time. Technology evolved too quickly. We are still using the mindset of the hunter-gatherer band to deal with our fellows.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Theory of Evolution
Evolution is a theory in the same sense that germ theory is. Germs are also observable facts. Evolution is also an observable fact. Rejecting the science of evolution for religious reasons is just as idiotic as rejecting the science of germs.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
A Theory Must Explain and Predict
Darwin’s geological theory explains circular coral atolls. The biblical theory of a very young earth has no explanation. A theory that explains nothing, predicts nothing and that is not even consistent with observation is by definition not even a theory.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
As They Are, or As You Wish Them To Be
Christians sometimes reject Darwin on aesthetic grounds. I too find the consequences of evolution hideous. I am revolted by the cruelty of predators for their prey. I am disgusted by petty territoriality in so many species. I am ashamed of the mindless brutality of my own species. I can see how these traits were inevitable given natural selection. Darwin accurately describes things the way they are, not as I would wish them to be.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
We humans have evolved to deal with two kinds of threat, immediate, like tigers and regularly recurring, like winter. We are idiots when it comes to cars, floods, fires and earthquakes. We are complete cretins when it comes to ecological damage we gradually create ourselves like soil erosion, water pollution, air pollution, global warming and overpopulation. Instead, we fret over one-shot, dramatic things like 9/11 which harmed relatively few people.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Three Questions for Dr. Dawkins
I understand that something like eye colour is determined by which combination of 4 nucleotides occur starting at some particular and apparently arbitrary location, e.g. at position 524,287 on some particular chromosome. I further understand that a different combination of nucleotides will manufacture different proteins when that gene is read via RNA transcription. That leaves me with three big questions.
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- How does whatever it is that is building the eye know to look at position 524,287 for this information? I know how a computer would do it, but that requires a whole separate and extremely intricate mechanism from the data storage called a program. Perhaps location does not match. Genes are effectively in random order, with attached markers.
- Then why would the presence of any particular protein trigger a particular eye colour? The body is awash in all the possible proteins from all manner of genes being transcribed is it not? There are nowhere near enough proteins it would seem to control all attributes by analog means. Again, I know how a computer making the eyes of a plastic doll could use this digital information, but I have not heard anything about an equivalent mechanism in the body. It sounds like this is still just a digital convention, that has to translated into something analog to control physical reality.
- In The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design, you describe genomes in terms of Encyclopedia Britannica’s worth of info. I presume a value of about 300 million bytes. I recently bought a hard disk of 1 terabyte, 1,000,000,000,000 bytes for about $100. A genome now-a-days is impressive not for is size, but for its astounding compactness. The blueprints for a passenger jet will easily fill many such disks. This suggests to me that genomes are not blueprints at all, but more specifications. They certainly could not possibly specify the exact wiring plan of even a modest brain. Though Bernard Till once built a model of a nematode, that replicated its behaviour repertoire with something like only 149 neurons. It was a hard wired creature. Such programming compactness boggles Java programmers. When a person grows a freak extra digit, the new digit seems remarkably like the others. This suggest the genome describes some general rules of thumb for creating finger or brain, rather than specifying every bump and wrinkle. Can you give me an idea just what is specified to what level of detail. Do we have any idea yet?
One of my favourite animals is the Tiktaalik. It was an intermediate between fish and amphibians. It had four legs and an alligator-like mouth. It is considered to be the first animal to venture from water onto land (other than the insects).
The event was one of the most important in evolution. I think it deserves celebration. I think it would be nice if a life size hollow bronze (or other suitable durable material) Tiktaalik were mounted in a pool crawling out on land in some park, museum or public place. Such a statue might become a signature feature of any place that teaches evolution.
It would also be nice to get sculptures in various sizes in some suitable museum-quality material to decorate desks, homes and offices as symbolic support for evolution education. It would be a conversation-starter about evolution and intermediate forms. The Tiktaalik might become the poster child for evolution.
Do you think this idea has merit? Have you any idea of what budget would be required? Do you know a place that would likely welcome the statue? What would be the best materials? Would you want such a desk sculpture yourself? Where would I get an original 3D model of one?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Time To Evolve
The Grand Canyon is 1.61 km (1 mile) deep. The sediments were laid down 6.10 metres (6.67 yards) every million years. Life had even more time to slowly evolve.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Early in man’s history, we had very little understanding of how the universe worked. Pretty much all we had was tradition. We knew that doing what we had been doing for generations would work reasonably well. It was safer to stick with it than try something new. We enforced this strategy with peer pressure. People believed what everyone else, including our ancestors, believed, no matter how bizarre. This was a safer strategy than having people try to think things through for themselves. Unfortunately, this survival strategy makes it very easy for the media to manipulate modern humans. It also ensured the survival of cruel and irrational beliefs enshrined in religions.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
I speculate that religion evolved to encourage people to maintain traditions. For most of man’s existence, collective knowledge grew very slowly. Nearly always it was wiser to follow the established tradition than set out on a new untested path. Religion provided all manner of bogus fears to encourage sticking with the tried and true. The problem, of course, is much of that traditional knowledge was simply wrong. Today, knowledge is evolving so quickly and our world is changing so quickly, it is almost suicidal to stick with traditional knowledge. Religion has become toxic.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Truth My Ass
Fundamentalists proclaim the Truth with a capital T. Why then do they compose their case against evolution with nothing but carefully constructed lies? — most notably straw man arguments to misrepresent what science has to say on evolution:
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- They are charlatans who make money peddling religious superstition.
- They falsely believe people would behave much worse than they do now if fundamentalism were debunked. The lie must be preserved at all cost.
- It would be humiliating to admit error.
Tyranny of the Peer Group
Why is man so susceptible to believing nonsense, or pretending to believe nonsense, just because his peers do? Man is a social animal. In times past, if he expressed deviant views he would be outcast from his group. That meant death. Man thus evolved the ability to suppress common sense in favour of group consensus. The key then to dispelling religious superstition is just to let everyone know there is a sizeable number of people to think it is bunk.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Since eyes have evolved independently and step-wise at least 7 times on earth, scientists are fairly sure higher life on other planets will have eyes too. Apparently it is not that hard to do, and happens naturally, without the aid of a deity. If Intelligent Design were correct, you eyes should have appeared fully formed, not gradually.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
After years of watching David Attenborough documentaries, I have love all animals and plants, even the ugly ones. I look on some homely or dazzling creature and wonder to myself what sort of environment shaped a creature into that?~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Uniqueness Is Rare
If some other technological species ever evolved on earth before us, would it have endured long enough to leave any evidence of its passing in the fossil record? We might not see it directly if it had corpse destruction rituals, but we might see remains of its artificially selected domesticated animals. It might even be still here, but not recognisable to us as earth-life because it took control of its own evolution.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
I have heard biologists argue that intelligent alien species that evolved off-earth probably would not have a face: two eyes, a nose and a mouth. They see that as an accident of evolution. I am not so convinced. Having the eyes on top gives greater range of vision. Two eyes are needed for 3D or to see to both sides. Having the mouth on the bottom puts it closer to the prey, especially for animals whose ancestors routed in the mud. I could see a single nostril instead of two, but two small ones probably helps keep out insects and debris. Humans have a fatal design flaw, taking air down the same tube as food. I would not be surprised if aliens were free of that defect.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Universe Boggles Intuition
Look at the theories of relativity or Quantum mechanics. The universe does not care if that math makes your head explode trying to make sense of it. The universe is not constrained to make sense to your intuition. Our intuition was honed from a long time living in caves. It has no clue about how the very small or very large are supposed to behave, or how things are supposed to behave over millions or billions of years.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
The Universe Is Not Friendly to Life
Christians claim Our deity, Jehovah, designed the universe expressly for homo sapiens. That could not be so. If you were plopped down at random in the universe you would die instantly. There are only a few extremely rare places where you would have any chance of survival.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
According to Steven Hawking, he has proved you don’t need god to create the universe, just gravity. This is not the same as proving there is no god, just that he is unnecessary.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Urban spiders are evolving larger and larger. They don’t have to work as hard to find prey. Artificial light attracts it to them.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
As germs develop immunity to antibiotics, the importance of vaccines in public health become ever more important. There are several villains in this story:
- Christians who spread lies about the dangers of vaccines.
- People who refused to get their children vaccinated on religious grounds, endangering both them and their children’s friends.
- People who deliberately ignored the research and heed conspiracy theorists and other fruitcakes.
- People who are just too busy to get vaccinated. They potentially infect not-only themselves, but everyone they come in contact with.
If just a few irresponsible people refuse vaccination, they do little trouble. They can’t very well infect anyone when nearly everyone is vaccinated. However, when the irrational fear of vaccination insanity spreads, we put ourselves back to the 1920s when lots of kinds routinely died.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Vanity and Evolution
Christians seem to have much less problem with the first 10 billion years of the universe’s evolution than they do with the last million, even though astounding things happened like the formation of stars and the creation of gold out of hydrogen. Why is this? Vanity. They can’t stand the idea they are just another primate. They are only interested in science where it intersects with Christian dogma.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Evolution has been more thoroughly verified than the theory of gravity.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Some animals have territories. They are constantly attacking each other. Some animals have pecking orders. They fight to establish and maintain that order. I presume these behaviours ensure that the most vigorous animals get the scarce territories, scarce food and help avoid overpopulation. Perhaps human bullying is nothing more than these same competitions for resources, engaged in even though they are not really needed.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
According to Darwin, people are competing in a life and death struggle for limited resources. Perhaps that is why even kindly people enjoy watching others experience death, pain and unpleasant experiences in the movies.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Imagine if you saw a single file line of 300,000 people about 182.88 km (113.64 miles) long. This represents all the generations of people since we humans evolved from apes. You can get an idea of how minute the change in each generation is. This gives you an idea how slow and gradual evolution is.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
War Between Science and Creationism
When science and creationism have crossed horns in past, science has always won. Consider the flat earth, the heliocentric solar system, the cause of mental illness, the inferiority of women… Why? Science offers detailed reasons for its claims and points out thousands of reasons why the biblical accounts could not be correct. Creationism offers just the bible, which is full of inconsistency and error. It just says have faith in this twaddle without giving any reason why the bible deserves your blind faith or why it is likely true.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
War Is Killing the Wrong People
In the 1700s, war was fought by gentlemanly rules, almost as a sport, sparing civilians. It had the salutary effect of reducing the population and reducing domestic violence by attracting violent young men to their Darwinian deaths. Today, we have ruined war for this purpose by directing it primarily at civilians and by making it too safe for the combatants.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Watching the Fall of Rome
Through most of earth’s history evolution proceeded with glacial slowness punctuated by periods of excitement called extinction events. We humans are living in the middle of one of the biggest and rapid extinction events ever — one that we are causing. It is like having a first row Colosseum seat to watch ancient Rome destroy itself from excess.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
We Are Evolved For Village Life
For all but a thin sliver of our evolutionary history, we humans lived in groups of less than 1000 people. The strategies we evolved work brilliantly at the level of the village. They go hideously awry when magnified to a planet-sized group of 7,000,000,000 people, especially when technology hugely enhances the influence of an elite few.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
We Are Not Adapted for Modern Life
Humans did 99.99% of their evolving prior to the domestication of plants and animals, let alone civilisation. No wonder our natural urges are so out of sync with our technological way of life.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
We Are Not Alone
The assumption that the only life in the entire universe is here on earth is so monumentally absurd, so preposterously self-centered that only a Christian could have suggested it with a straight face. We know that the laws of chemistry and physics here are earth are the same throughout the universe. Why not the biology? This Christian notion man’s universally unique and special status is not only ludicrous, it is odious. It is conceit taken to the nth power.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
We Are Not So Smart
Given that human DNA is so similar to other mammals and given that humans lived pretty much as other animals did until 10,000 years ago, I suspect vanity has made humans exaggerate how much more intelligent they are than other species. Granted there are some clever humans, but the average one survives merely because he lives in a sustaining womb of civilisation that tells him what to do. He has not the sense on his own to even come in out of the rain. Further, we measure intelligence by human goals, e.g. construction and the manipulation of objects rather than the goals of other species such as musical composition or athletics.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
We Are Part Neanderthal
Neanderthals and humans interbred, perhaps as few as six times, possibly through force. As a result, all humans except those in Africa, carry 3% Neanderthal genes. There were never more than about 100,000 Neanderthals on earth at one time, so today there is far more Neanderthal DNA on earth than ever before.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68) source CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) Quirks and Quarks
What Aliens Might Look Like
If even cuttlefish and octopodes (relatives of the clam) and cetacea can develop intelligence, I see no reason why intelligent creatures in other parts of our galaxy need look anything like humans.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
What is Creationism?
Creationism is not a scientific hypothesis. It is a desperate attempt to defend the absurd claim that a deity penned the incompetent bible with ESP (Extra Sensory Perception). It reminds be of the fanciful lies a student caught forging a paper would use to deny his guilt.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
What Evolution Covers
The theory of evolution does not concern itself with how life arose on earth. That is a much more difficult question than evolution. A totally different group of scientists tackle it. It is harder because:
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- We presume life appeared only once. Evolution happens all over the place, all the time, anywhere there is life.
- We don’t yet know where it happened, here on earth, somewhere in the galaxy or somewhere in the universe.
- It happened a long time ago where we cannot watch.
What Use Is Half A Wing?
Darwin asserted that a new anatomical feature like a wing would have to evolve gradually, directed at each stage by natural selection. That poses the question, what use is half a wing? Why would there be any pressure to evolve a partial wing? The answer comes from watching young birds of many species. They can run up logs and trees of various angles to escape predators by beating their tiny useless wings. They use their wings to push their bodies against the trunks, gaining extra traction.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
What We Say To Aliens
In dramatic fiction, the most common thing humans do to aliens is kill them. We broadcast our dramas to the cosmos. We are broadcasting the message We don’t want visitors. Polite aliens would stay away. Predatory ones, perhaps seeking exotic food species, would follow the scent we laid for them.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
When Suicide Is Justified
Oddly, sometimes suicide attacks make sense from a Darwinian point of view. Attackers are usually male, single, poor and from unusually large families. If they go through with the suicide, they can earn enough money so their brothers can afford wives. Without the suicide none of them could.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Who Will We Take Down With Us?
There is little chance we humans will avoid driving ourselves to extinction in the next few centuries, but it is possible we can go without taking most of the other multi-celled creatures with us.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Why Are There Still Monkeys?
One of the stupidest things Christians says is If we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?. For a start, we did not evolve from monkeys. Both humans and monkeys evolved from a common ancestor that had traits similar to both humans and monkeys. Why are there both humans and monkeys? That is like asking why are there zebras, and horses and lions? Different animals are suited to different environments. Monkeys evolved for life in the trees. Humans evolved for life on the savanna. We diverged and specialised. Having cousins on the tree of life does not make a species die out any more than your aunt having a baby will kill you. That is just crazy. What nutty idea infects Christians to think the presence of humans automatically should make all monkeys go extinct? There is no reason at all to think that.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Why Do We Die?
Why do we die? I think I have a non-religious answer to that question. Dying is an altruistic behaviour the older generation of animals have evolved to avoid competing with the younger generation for food and territory. If the adults are not likely to have any more offspring, they might as well die and make room. The giant cuttlefish lives only 3 years. Many animals take this to extreme and die before next generation are even born, e.g. the salmon and the octopus. Some sacrifice their bodies as food for the next generation as do some spiders. People live longer than other primates because elderly people provide wisdom that younger people cannot. Most animals don’t have a culture as complex as humans and hence are not as dependent on the elderly. In humans, having a long-lived grandmother enhances your survival. At the very least, she acts as midwife.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Why The Egg Came First
The age old question has been solved, which came first, the chicken or the egg. I reasoned this out as a child based on a primitive understanding of evolution. As an adult, I discovered science agrees with me. All animals in a species have the same number of genes, the length strands of DNA in each of the various chromosomes are the same length in all members of the species. Every once is a while there is an error and the new creature has a chromosome with a different length. It is technically a new species, a new species even if it looks very much like the old one. So any change in species has to appear with the egg. Thus the egg came first.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Ancient people’s were appreciative of honey, and in their extremely self-centred way imagined gods commanded flowers to make nectar and bees to collect it so they could enjoy its sweetness. It is actually a side effect of evolution. Flowers that produced nectar were most frequently pollinated by insects, and flourished. They evolved to produce more of it. The bees with the mouthparts most suited to collecting the nectar flourished. The bees that saved up a store of nectar for the winter flourished better than those that do not. We humans started stealing part of that store. The bees that saved up extra to compensate flourished.
In a similar ways, plants with signals to attract the attention of bees got the most pollination. The dazzling variety of patterns and colours in flowers are the result of evolution of this attempt at attraction. Some flowers even have infrared patterns than only bees can see. Humans imagine this is all for their benefit, compliments of their gods. Of course, human have hijacked flowers with artificial selection to create beauty to purely human standards.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Why the Origin Of Life Must Appear a Miracle
In The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design, Dawkins argues that a theory of the origin of life necessarily has to appear miraculous. The creation of life has to be sufficiently rare to explain why there is so little intelligent life out in the galaxy sending out radio signals. (We still have not found any besides ourselves.) I suggest some other explanations for the paucity of life.
~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
- If you walk through a forest, it is quite silent and you don’t see much life unless you start digging. The creatures have the wit to stay out of sight/earshot of predators. Entire civilisations have the wit to lie low.
- There is a sort of cosmic FCC (Federal Communications Commission) that forbids broadcasting. Only laser-like beams pointing directly at the recipient would be permitted for communication.
- Intelligent life is so good at battle, that it wipes itself out within a few centuries of developing technology.
- Properly compressed and encrypted radio messages should sound indistinguishable from background hiss. Mature civilisations would use such technology. Our technology is nowhere near that sophisticated.
Why the Rising IQ?
The average IQ of the population creeps up about 3% per decade. The makers of tests have to keep making the questions harder so that the average stays at 100. What could be causing this? better nutrition, better medicine, more mental stimulation, more emphasis on the importance of education… Possibly the stupid people tended to get themselves killed off in the many wars, or damaged so badly they did not reproduce. Intelligent people get student deferments. Stupid people preferentially wipe themselves out with drugs, fast cars, extreme sports… Life has changed drastically in the last century. That is when you see the most winnowing. There is also the matter that stupid people can no longer earn their daily bread through labour. They become homeless derelicts. The scientists say genetic evolution is far too slow to have any noticeable effect. Society as a whole has simply become more familiar with the abstract reasoning and scientific way of speaking used in intelligence tests.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Did you ever watch a lion attack a herd of wildebeest? The herd watches passively as the lion takes one of the wildebeest down. Surely if they ganged up, the lion would not have a chance, but they don’t. Why? Because it is to their advantage if the herd is thinned. There is more grass and space to go round. Humans behave the same way acting unconsciously for the same reason. They want their neighbours to die. That is why they vote against welfare and universal medical care.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
Wiping Out Species Deliberately and by Error
It should kick man’s ego in the behind, that he has managed to deliberately drive extinct only one noxious organism (smallpox) while wiping out thousands of beneficial ones inadvertently.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
You Don’t Need Faith
The nice thing about evolution is you don’t need faith. If you think anything about it is iffy, you can see all the evidence. You don’t have to ask anyone. It all out there on the net from reputable sources. If you can find a serious hole in it, you will become rich and famous.~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)
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