Evo – Devo


Parody or not? You decide (then tell me). Hat tip to Denyse O’Leary at Uncommon Descent. Check out the comments here! Whatever, it’s a slick video. Congrats to the makers.

149 thoughts on “Evo – Devo

  1. Entropy,

    Your statement was false. “Undirected Darwinian evolution” is not an oxymoron.

    It was a mistake, and phoodoo pointed that out. Deal with it.

  2. keiths: “Undirected Darwinian evolution” is not an oxymoron.

    Entropy’s statement is not false. No-one who understands evolutionary theory claims it is undirected. There is selective bias due to a population of organisms interacting with its niche. The process is biased and non-random.

  3. keiths:
    Your statement was false.“Undirected Darwinian evolution” is not an oxymoron.

    Nope. Undirected Darwinian evolution is an oxymoron unless you’re dealing with an idiosyncratic definition for “undirected.”

    keiths:
    It was a mistake, and phoodoo pointed that out. Deal with it.

    It wasn’t a mistake, and phoodoo didn’t say shit. Otherwise you’d have never entered the conversation.

  4. I don’t like the term “guided evolution,” nor “design by evolution,” generally disliking teleological terms for evolution as we know it (no intervention). But I think that the former two terms can be defended on the broadest definitions, if not really with respect to relating meaning properly, while “directed evolution” gets it wrong in ways that are rather more crucial. So, although I’ve mostly tired of these semantic arguments and tend to leave them alone (you don’t often change minds, and it’s not all that important for this forum, since most get what’s being said even if it’s done poorly), this once I think I’ll state that “Darwinian evolution” in particular should not be called “directed evolution.”

    To what is evolution directed? How is it directed? Was evolution directed to create humans? Tapeworms? Can we predict what will evolve, at least generally, from the direction that evolution is now headed? Are we really supposed to believe that evolution is headed somewhere, and not simply contingent on the vagaries of environment and competition?

    The tendency, especially in more recent decades, is to infer that evolution is not directional per se, and not directed by anything. Perhaps some aspects can be considered as being overall directional, so that many lineages may tend to evolve to become larger, but on the whole evolution isn’t viewed as being directed or directional.

    I know that Talkorigins isn’t a definitive source, but I do think that they, along with Jonathan Wells himself, adequately exemplify how “Darwinian evolution” is generally seen as not being directed evolution, here. Wells is just whining there that the horse “series” is not being seen as directed because evolution isn’t considered to be directed. Yet it seems more than a little obvious that the huge variety of “horse” types found in the fossil record simply lacks any especial direction (maybe tending to become larger, overall, but that’s hardly what evolution is all about).

    Anyway, “directed evolution” is a term that is used, for evolutionary algorithms that have a goal. Even with respect to that, a a Berkeley source warns that it’s a bit misleading, since only the end goal is actually specified. But at least it does have a goal, and in that sense is directed. Evolution in the wild doesn’t have a goal, by contrast.

    Glen Davidson

  5. GlenDavidson,
    I hear what you say Glen, but without input from the environment, what else is there to produce the adaptations we see? No need to talk about ultimate goals.

  6. Ten years too late, I’m reading the book recommended at the end of the video, Sean B Carroll’s Endless Forms Most Beautiful.

  7. GlenDavidson,

    I dislike teleological terms as much as you do. That doesn’t mean that we should consider every word to be teleological. We talk about the direction in which a planet moves, and nobody thinks of that too much or too far. We even know what is directing those orbits (somewhat), and there’s no implication of “intention” to talk about.

    The wording was not “unguided” Darwinian evolution. the wording was “undirected” Darwinian evolution. Like in “Newtonian” gravitation there’s an explicit interplay between masses, in Darwinian evolution there’s an explicit interplay between variation and the environment. That gives the process a direction. What direction? That of what it’s required to deal with the environment given the variants. I don’t see anything wrong with that. I don’t see any teleology either.

    Of course, I can agree that phoodoo might think of directed as implicitly teleological. By doing so, he shields himself from understanding. Since direction doesn’t imply intention. It only implies direction. There’s a huge jump into considering it exclusively teleological. So phoodoo is left with nothing to call the evolutionary process without implying that it must be random.

    It’s a twisted way of dealing with things. Any word you use to try and explain that evolution is not random finds this barrier where then you’re implying a direction, but direction means god-did-it, etc. A vicious circle. The word needs rescuing from the dirty hands of the misinformed creationist, so that we can have a clean explanation.

    So, if not direction, what word do you suggest that doesn’t imply teleology, yet allows for understanding that it’s not random either? Remember that creationists have this false dichotomy always in mind: if there’s no intelligence involved, then it’s abject randomness.* That is born out of misleading conceptual frameworks, and, without the wording to deal with it, what can we do? Give them simulations? Write everything in the passive voice? Dismiss all of our vocabulary? Invent a new word? What?

    ————————–
    * Absurd to boot. Cart-before-the-horse. How can there be any intelligence unless there’s something implicitly “organized”? Intelligence implies an underlying organization. Organization, thus, precedes intelligence.

  8. Alan Fox: I hear what you say Glen, but without input from the environment, what else is there to produce the adaptations we see? No need to talk about ultimate goals.

    Exactly.

  9. GlenDavidson: Anyway, “directed evolution” is a term that is used, for evolutionary algorithms that have a goal.

    Yep. I think they should say “guided,” or “goal-oriented,” instead.

  10. Alan Fox:
    GlenDavidson,
    I hear what you say Glen, but without input from the environment, what else is there to produce the adaptations we see? No need to talk about ultimate goals.

    No, but do we call weather “directed” or “guided”? Those words simply aren’t typically understood to describe what happens with weather. Of course terms like “random” or “sheer dumb luck” don’t either, to bring up some of the usual creationist misrepresenations.

    Glen Davidson

  11. Alan Fox:
    Ten years too late, I’m reading the book recommended at the end of the video, Sean B Carroll’s Endless Forms Most Beautiful.

    I met that Sean Carroll at a conference. We had a great conversation. Right after that I found the book on sale for 3.00 USD. It didn’t disappoint.

  12. Glen,

    …this once I think I’ll state that “Darwinian evolution” in particular should not be called “directed evolution.”

    To what is evolution directed? How is it directed? Was evolution directed to create humans? Tapeworms?

    Amen.

    It’s especially silly to use “directed evolution” to refer to Darwinian evolution at a blog where ID is routinely discussed. Our opponents (at least of the non-creationist variety) believe that evolution is “directed” or “guided” by an intelligence. We don’t, so it’s perfectly legitimate and natural to use “directed evolution” or “guided evolution” when referring to their position, and “undirected evolution” or “unguided evolution” when referring to ours.

    And since the latter usages are legitimate, “undirected evolution” and “unguided evolution” are not oxymorons.

  13. Alan:

    Entropy’s statement is not false. No-one who understands evolutionary theory claims it is undirected.

    I’m sure Rumraket will be as amused as I am to hear that neither of us understands evolutionary theory — according to Alan, of all people!

    The issue here is word meanings, not scientific understanding.

    Alan has a history of making these mistakes, as when he tried to define the supernatural out of existence rather than arguing against it on empirical and rational grounds.

  14. Entropy, to Glen:

    So, if not direction, what word do you suggest that doesn’t imply teleology, yet allows for understanding that it’s not random either?

    I already gave you three when discussing the unguided missile:

    Take the unguided missile, for example. You can say that the missile’s path is caused by, or influenced by, or shaped by gravity, air resistance, and the burning of the propellant. It isn’t guided, but that certainly doesn’t mean that it’s random.

    Those three can also be applied to the course of evolution, of course.

    Here are some more: affected by, determined by, produced by, altered by, driven by, brought about by. I could go on.

    If you insist that we need to say that the course of evolution is directed by the interplay of variation and selection, then you’re suffering from a severely limited vocabulary.

  15. keiths: If you insist that we need to say that the course of evolution is directed by the interplay of variation and selection, then you’re suffering from a severely limited vocabulary.

    We don’t need to, but I can since I made my meaning clear. I have no need to limit my vocabulary because “directed” has a special meaning at TSZ.

  16. Entropy,

    We don’t need to…

    Then why were you arguing that we do? Remember, you wrote this (to Glen):

    So, if not direction, what word do you suggest that doesn’t imply teleology, yet allows for understanding that it’s not random either? Remember that creationists have this false dichotomy always in mind: if there’s no intelligence involved, then it’s abject randomness.* That is born out of misleading conceptual frameworks, and, without the wording to deal with it, what can we do? Give them simulations? Write everything in the passive voice? Dismiss all of our vocabulary? Invent a new word? What?

    The supposed problem is easily solved using language of the kind I just suggested.

  17. keiths:

    Your statement was false. “Undirected Darwinian evolution” is not an oxymoron.

    It was a mistake, and phoodoo pointed that out. Deal with it.

    Entropy:

    It wasn’t a mistake, and phoodoo didn’t say shit. Otherwise you’d have never entered the conversation.

    Sure he did:

    That’s almost as nutty as Entropy saying undirected Darwinian evolution is an oxymoron. I think he is one Oxy too many.

  18. phoodoo via keiths: That’s almost as nutty as Entropy saying undirected Darwinian evolution is an oxymoron. I think he is one Oxy too many.

    That’s not pointing to anything keiths. That’s an assertion without explanation.

  19. Entropy,

    I wrote this:

    It was a mistake, and phoodoo pointed that out.

    You denied it:

    It wasn’t a mistake, and phoodoo didn’t say shit.

    I just showed you that phoodoo did point it out.

  20. keiths: I just showed you that phoodoo did point it out.

    No, that’s not pointing out anything. It has absolutely no explanation. No clarification. My next step was to ask for that clarification, and phoodoo never provided any. I don’t read minds.

  21. Good grief, Entropy.

    To say “that’s a mistake” is to point out a mistake. You made the mistake. Phoodoo pointed it out. I entered the conversation afterwards.

  22. Entropy,

    keiths:
    Alan:

    I’m sure Rumraket will be as amused as I am to hear that neither of us understands evolutionary theory — according to Alan, of all people!

    I’m sure Rumraket is capable of stating his own view. Your understanding of evolutionary biology?

    The issue here is word meanings, not scientific understanding.

    Of course. You are addicted to pointless semantic arguments.

    Alan has a history of making these mistakes, as when he tried to define the supernatural out of existence rather than arguing against it on empirical and rational grounds.

    I have as much need of the “supernatural” as I have of Santa Claus.

  23. Alan:

    I’m sure Rumraket is capable of stating his own view.

    He has:

    If you think Evo-Devo is a problem for undirected Darwinian evolution, clearly you haven’t thought about in the slightest.

    Now, go on and explain to us how Rumraket and I don’t understand evolutionary theory, since we use the phrase “undirected Darwinian evolution”.

    keiths:

    The issue here is word meanings, not scientific understanding.

    Alan:

    Of course. You are addicted to pointless semantic arguments.

    Says the guy who, right now, is participating in a semantic argument — and who made a goofy semantic argument of his own by trying to define the supernatural out of existence.

    keiths:

    Alan has a history of making these mistakes, as when he tried to define the supernatural out of existence rather than arguing against it on empirical and rational grounds.

    Alan:

    I have as much need of the “supernatural” as I have of Santa Claus.

    As if that were relevant to the question. I have no need of neutron stars, but you won’t find me arguing against their existence on that basis, or trying to define them out of existence.

  24. Alan:

    Seems to me phoodoo can speak for himself too!

    Like Rumraket, he has:

    That’s almost as nutty as Entropy saying undirected Darwinian evolution is an oxymoron. I think he is one Oxy too many.

    When people make comments, they are speaking for themselves. This is not a difficult concept, Alan.

  25. Entropy: No, that’s not pointing out anything. It has absolutely no explanation.

    Why would I need to explain anything?

    You make a dumb statement, all I need to do is highlight it and people can judge for themselves.

    Oxymoron.

  26. keiths: To say “that’s a mistake” is to point out a mistake. You made the mistake. Phoodoo pointed it out. I entered the conversation afterwards.

    Nope. To say “that’s a mistake” with no explanation is not to point something out. It’s just an assertion. I cannot read minds. I doubt that phoodoo would be satisfied with me telling him “that’s ridiculous” and leaving it at that. (Well, to be accurate he would not be satisfied with anything because he seems unable to read for comprehension.) OK, OK, you would not be satisfied if I just made fun of you and provided no explanation. You’d want to know what’s the problem. Right? Or would you read my mind like you read phoodoo’s?

    And I made my meaning very clear!

  27. phoodoo: Why would I need to explain anything?

    Because I’m not your imaginary all-powerful, all-knowing friend. I cannot read minds. That’s why.

  28. Entropy,

    To point to a mistake, as phoodoo did, is to point it out. This is freakin’ obvious.

    You are just making things worse, adding mistake after mistake to your original one.

    Learn to cut your losses.

  29. keiths:
    To point to a mistake, as phoodoo did, is to point it out. This is freakin’ obvious.

    Holy crap. For that the mistake has to be actually pointed out! Making fun of a statement that had clear terms, with no explanation, is not the same as pointing out a mistake. I don’t read minds! That’s what’s freaking obvious!

    My meaning was clear. I pointed to what gives direction in Darwinian evolution. Under that explanation, phoodoo’s statement is an oxymoron. Clearly and unambiguously. So, if he doesn’t say that he has a different definition in mind, and he just makes fun of my point without explaining anything, then he’s just declaring that an oxymoron is not an oxymoron. How’s that pointing out a mistake? It’s an admission of his failure by compounding it with one more oxymoron.

    Yet, I fucking asked for clarification more than once!

    Hell. This is clear cut keiths. I’m really amazed that you have such a hard time understanding something this simple.

  30. keiths:

    To point to a mistake, as phoodoo did, is to point it out. This is freakin’ obvious.

    Entropy:

    Holy crap. For that the mistake has to be actually pointed out!

    Um, he did point it out. As I already showed you.

    Imagine you’re typing something while a colleague watches. The colleague says, “You made a mistake here” and points to a typo on the screen. Are you actually saying, with a straight face, that your colleague in that scenario has not pointed out a mistake?

    The hole is getting deeper, Entropy, yet you keep digging. I think this stuff is fascinating — I even did an OP on the topic:

    The psychology of (not) admitting mistakes

  31. Entropy,

    Making fun of a statement that had clear terms, with no explanation, is not the same as pointing out a mistake.

    To point to a mistake, as phoodoo did, is to point out a mistake. To point to a mistake, as your colleague does in the scenario I described above, is to point out a mistake.

    Consider how much better this would have turned out if you had simply acknowledged your initial mistake instead of digging the hole deeper and piling on additional mistakes.

  32. Entropy, to Glen:

    Any word you use to try and explain that evolution is not random finds this barrier where then you’re implying a direction, but direction means god-did-it, etc. A vicious circle. The word needs rescuing from the dirty hands of the misinformed creationist, so that we can have a clean explanation.

    “Directed” doesn’t need to be rescued “from the dirty hands of the misinformed creationist”. The phrase “directed evolution”, where “directed” means “by an intelligence”, is a perfectly legitimate description of an ID position.

    Why make a bogus semantic argument when you can simply refute the creationist’s (or IDer’s) claims?

  33. phoodoo,
    I’m suggesting you can clarify what you meant by “undirected evolution”. I already pointed out to you the niche. The niche environment acts as a bias on reproductive success in a population of organisms that possess heritable variation.

    So Entropy is saying undirected evolution is an oxymoron unless you are using “undirected” in some special sense. Can you clarify?

  34. Entropy,

    Now we’ve passed two great hurdles, first how proteins are coded, then how development is coded, I hope I live long enough to read a book on how innate behaviour is coded.

  35. Worth repeating:

    It’s especially silly to use “directed evolution” to refer to Darwinian evolution at a blog where ID is routinely discussed. Our opponents (at least of the non-creationist variety) believe that evolution is “directed” or “guided” by an intelligence. We don’t, so it’s perfectly legitimate and natural to use “directed evolution” or “guided evolution” when referring to their position, and “undirected evolution” or “unguided evolution” when referring to ours.

    And since the latter usages are legitimate, “undirected evolution” and “unguided evolution” are not oxymorons.

  36. Alan Fox: So Entropy is saying undirected evolution is an oxymoron unless you are using “undirected” in some special sense. Can you clarify?

    No Alan, there is no special sense! You think because Entropy can come up with his own special meaning about what HE calls Darwinian evolution is, that this means I need to clarify mine??

    So Entropy think Darwinian evolution is directed. Good for him. That’s his own burden to justify, certainly not mine. Its a stupid use of the word directed, but it has no bearing on my words.

    So its directed by completely random events in nature, and has no plan whatsoever, and yet he (and you) claim that ALSO means directed.

    Whoopee for him-and you.

  37. phoodoo: No Alan, there is no special sense!

    Thanks for clarifying.

    You think because Entropy can come up with his own special meaning about what HE calls Darwinian evolution is, that this means I need to clarify mine??

    .You’re picking up Keiths’ bad habits. Ask me what I think and I’ll tell you. I agree with Entropy that it is correct to describe the process of evolution as directed, so when you use the phrase “undirected evolution” you are attacking a strawman.

    So Entropy think Darwinian evolution is directed.Good for him.That’s his own burden to justify, certainly not mine.Its a stupid use of the word directed, but it has no bearing on my words.

    But remember the niche, phoodoo, remember the niche!

    So its directed by completely random events in nature, and has no plan whatsoever, and yet he (and you) claim that ALSO means directed.

    Not completely random. Selection is biased, not random.

  38. Alan Fox: So its directed by completely random events in nature,

    Alan:
    Not completely random.

    Oh, so the events in nature also aren’t random Alan? So everything in the world in now directed. Because something causes it.

    Then the word directed in regards to anything is redundant, because everything is directed, and there is no such this as anything being undirected. Undirected is an oxymoron.

    “The Skeptical Zone” is an Oxymoron. Alan is a moderator is an oxymoron. We can just play with definitions all day long. Oh wait that phrase is an oxymoron, because I get to decide what all the words in a phrase mean. So you can’t play with definitions because all definitions are already unbounded. And there is no such thing as unbounded, because nothing is bounded to begin with, so how can you unbound things that aren’t bounded?

    Finally Alan has managed to bring together evolutionist and creationists all under one big umbrella, ALL OF EVOLUTION IS DIRECTED! And random mutations don’t exist, because something must cause them. We are united, Hooray!!

    Now let’s just figure out a name for our God.

  39. phoodoo: No Alan, there is no special sense! You think because Entropy can come up with his own special meaning about what HE calls Darwinian evolution is, that this means I need to clarify mine??

    My own special meaning of what I call Darwinian evolution? Are you really saying that Darwinian evolution is not about the interplay between variability and the environment (AKA natural selection)? That I made that up? Holy crap!

  40. Alan: Not completely random.

    phoodoo: Oh, so the events in nature also aren’t random Alan? So everything in the world in now directed. Because something causes it.

    I’d imagine that you know that there’s a difference between “not completely random” and “not random at all.”

    P.S. That something is not-random doesn’t mean that some magical being is involved.

  41. phoodoo: So Entropy think Darwinian evolution is directed. Good for him. That’s his own burden to justify, certainly not mine. Its a stupid use of the word directed, but it has no bearing on my words.

    I don’t need to justify anything. In Darwinian evolution the environment gives direction. Darwin justified this very well all by himself. Many others continued showing that the process works. I have no burden whatsoever.

    phoodoo: So its directed by completely random events in nature, and has no plan whatsoever, and yet he (and you) claim that ALSO means directed.

    The environment is not a random event. It has random elements, and non-random elements. For example, gravitation is not random. It doesn’t move objects everywhere. It has a definite direction: towards the heaviest, most massive, object. The relative position of things in the atmosphere is not random either. More dense stuff goes farther down than less dense stuff, so liquid water stays below the atmosphere, but water vapor floats up to the height where it has the same density as the atmosphere. Nothing random about that. Still, no intelligence involved.

    I don’t think you’re actually stupid. But I do think that you’re willing to behave like an idiot just because it’s inconvenient to use your intelligence when explanations contradict your deeply held assumptions. Direction doesn’t imply intelligence, and lack of a “guiding” intelligence doesn’t mean that all that’s left is randomness. Natural phenomena can have direction on their own. Otherwise nobody would talk about such things as natural “laws.”

    Please stop the idiocy. It doesn’t work as advertisement for your beliefs.

  42. Entropy

    Are you convinced now that when phoodoo talks about “undirected” he really means random?

    Who cares? Our dispute is over whether “undirected Darwinian evolution” is an oxymoron. It isn’t, which is why neither Rumraket nor I hesitated to use the phrase.

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