Noyau (1)

…the noyau, an animal society held together by mutual animosity rather than co-operation

Robert Ardrey, The Territorial Imperative.

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2,559 thoughts on “Noyau (1)

  1. keiths: Were you expecting a tickertape parade?

    Maybe I’ll throw one when you figure out why you were never a candidate for hell in the first place.

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  2. Besides the infantile hands over the ears, “La la la I can’t hear you!” maneuver, Alan repeatedly refused to acknowledge his mistake — and still refuses.

    The statement he disputed is obviously correct:

    The [soldier] ants aren’t reasoning about their sacrifice, so their behavior requires a genetic explanation.

    You have to be pretty confused about ant biology to disagree with that statement, but Alan did.

    At one point I asked incredulously:

    I have no idea what non-genetic explanation Alan has in mind. Cultural? Older ants teaching their younger siblings to be good workers and soldiers?

    The arguments Alan offered ranged from the absurd to the surreal. He argued that it was a miscommunication, when it was clearly a disagreement. He argued that the disagreement was semantic, when in fact we disagreed on the biology. He withdrew his statement of disagreement, but then claimed that he hadn’t thereby acknowledged his mistake.

    Perhaps my favorite was when he argued that the sentence “Well, no” did not in fact mean “no” — it was a “stylistic irrelevance”, he said.

    He even dragged Joe Felsenstein into the discussion, and when Joe (to no one’s surprise) confirmed that the ants’ behavior required a genetic explanation, Alan pretended that Joe hadn’t disagreed with him.

    It was an amazingly childish display. All of this to avoid admitting a mistake, at a blog where no one is the least bit surprised when Alan gets confused again and makes another error.

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  3. Mung: Maybe I’ll throw one when you figure out why you were never a candidate for hell in the first place.

    I think he’s more of a carrier.

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  4. Finally have a little time!

    Apologies to Keiths for my admittedly poor behaviour in remarking that his quote of Ernst Mayr was a “quote mine”. Of course I should have considered that Keiths had a copy of What Evolution Is before voicing my suspicion that he lifted it from a secondary source. Being irritated over his exchange with Joe Felsenstein is no excuse for this poor behaviour and I’ll try to control my irritation in the future.

    More after supper.

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  5. Perhaps off topic — if that’s possible — but I think Mayr’s What Biology Is is a better book. It covers evolution and other topics of interest to people who didn’t major in biology.

    It would be interesting to populate a five foot bookshelf with books for laypersons about biology.

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  6. Richardthughes:
    Gentlemen. I love you both. I don’t think you’re going to see eye to eye on this one and I’m not sure the payoff is worth it for anyone.

    KeithS has sharp edges. I like that , but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

    I appreciate your concern and will try to be brief but there are a couple more points I’d like to make.

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  7. Regarding Keiths’s accusation directed at Neil:

    Neil, did you block my IP address?

    I can only reiterate two points.

    Firstly, Neil, nor any admin, can, via the admin panel, block requests from a particular IP address to view TSZ. This can only be done by someone (in this case only Lizzie, who has already stated she would have no idea how to carry out such a procedure) who can access and modify the .htaccess file on the TSZ server. Keiths’s suspicion that Neil might have blocked the IP address he was using is baseless. WordPress (via the Akismet plugin) can be set to send comments from listed IPs to either the moderation queue or directly to the spam folder. This is not the scenario Keith describes.

    When I point out that this is the method that UD used to block my IP, my comments from that IP just disappearing without trace, Keith says something very puzzling – that he was in fact blocked from viewing UD. I’m puzzled why he mentions it only now. He also says I should consider the possibility that my experience may not be typical. I’m also puzzled that the several other ID skeptics who were similarly IP blocked did not mention being unable to view the site but described similar experiences to mine. Had I had the experience of being blocked from viewing UD I would have, I’m sure, thought it extremely noteworthy. I suspect I would have made hay with it. And this would have involved some trouble on behalf of a UD admin, having to modify the .htaccess file on the server. Considering that most private subscibers have dynamic IP addresses that will be re-allotted following a reboot of the modem, it seems a lot of trouble for not much in the way of a result. As I say, puzzling.

    Secondly, I still think it was unnecessary to voice a suspicion, however strongly held, before checking to see whether there could be other explanations.

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  8. Regarding whether or not I was being obtuse regarding what, precisely, it was that you were insisting was a mistake, I can assure Keiths that (and I readily concede that it may have been a failure of communication on my part) that until reading what I quote below, I was still unclear what the nature of this mistake was. Thanks for the clarification.

    keiths: The statement he disputed is obviously correct:

    The [soldier] ants aren’t reasoning about their sacrifice, so their behavior requires a genetic explanation.

    In a situation where soldier ants are defending the colony against attack, the adaptations in behaviour and morphology that are heritable via the germ line carried by mated queens, that may result in differential survival of those better adapted colonies and hence the germ line carried by the queen and passed on to daughter queens, will be subject to the evolutionary process. To me “requires a genetic explanation” is not a meaningful phrase. Perhaps “must have a plausible evolutionary explanation”. I still don’t see why you consider my disagreeing with your statement is a mistake. Still seems like miscommunication to me.

    ETR extraneous commas

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  9. keiths: The statement he disputed is obviously correct:

    The [soldier] ants aren’t reasoning about their sacrifice, so their behavior requires a genetic explanation.

    Now that Alan has responded, I’ll add my two cents.

    I’m not quite sure what “requires a genetic explanation” is supposed to mean. But there seems to be an assumption there that if behavior is not reasoned, then it is innate. I don’t agree with that.

    I don’t know whether ants can be said to reason, though I doubt it. However, they can still have some ability to learn. As best I can tell, reasoning is not a prerequisite of learning.

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  10. Alan:

    When I point out that this is the method that UD used to block my IP, my comments from that IP just disappearing without trace, Keith says something very puzzling – that he was in fact blocked from viewing UD. I’m puzzled why he mentions it only now.

    Christ, Alan.

    It was in my very first comment:

    In summary, the symptoms were a perfect match for an IP block, and WordPress provides that capability — Barry uses it at UD, for example.

    Looking at AtBC, I found this immediately:

    The whole truth:

    I’m blocked from seeing the UD site unless I go through a proxy server.

    What is wrong with you, Alan?

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  11. Alan:

    I can assure Keiths that (and I readily concede that it may have been a failure of communication on my part) that until reading what I quote below, I was still unclear what the nature of this mistake was. Thanks for the clarification.

    Fercrissakes, Alan, those are the very words you disputed in the first place:

    keiths, paraphrasing Scruton:

    The ants aren’t reasoning about their sacrifice, so their behavior requires a genetic explanation.

    Alan:

    Well, no. Sterile worker and soldier castes are not the carriers of the genome. The queen is. So loss of sterile caste members is of no consequence, genetically.

    Those words appeared eleven times in that thread as you childishly kept asking, “but what was my mistake?” (They also appeared four times in another thread.)

    You’ve had your “clarification” since the very beginning, and it was repeated again and again.

    Alan, you are brazenly lying to every person who is reading your comments right now. Why? Is it really that hard for you to admit a mistake? Would you rather be known as a serial liar?

    You took a small step toward regaining your dignity by apologizing for your false quotemining accusation. Why spoil it by doubling down on your other idiotic accusations?

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  12. Alan:

    To me “requires a genetic explanation” is not a meaningful phrase.

    Another falsehood. If it hadn’t been meaningful, you would have said so and asked what I meant by it. Instead, you immediately disagreed with me and gave a bad reason for disagreeing, but one that showed you understood what I was saying:

    keiths, paraphrasing Scruton:

    The ants aren’t reasoning about their sacrifice, so their behavior requires a genetic explanation.

    Alan:

    Well, no. Sterile worker and soldier castes are not the carriers of the genome. The queen is. So loss of sterile caste members is of no consequence, genetically.

    You knew perfectly well what I was saying, you disagreed, and you gave a bad reason for your disagreement.

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  13. keiths: You knew perfectly well what I was saying, you disagreed, and you gave a bad reason for your disagreement.

    You knew perfectly well what I was saying, you disagreed, and you gave no reason at all for your disagreement.

    Subjective keiths.

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  14. Alan,

    This entire discussion has been a debacle for you.

    Are you finally ready to cut your losses and drop it, or are you going to continue to bore the bejesus out of everyone by denying the obvious?

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  15. keiths: I’m puzzled why he mentions it only now.

    Christ, Alan.

    It was in my very first comment:

    Yes, that is what I was referring to.

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  16. Neil Rickert: I don’t know whether ants can be said to reason, though I doubt it. However, they can still have some ability to learn. As best I can tell, reasoning is not a prerequisite of learning.

    The most interesting aspect of innate behaviour for me is how it is inherited. There appears to be no other avenue than the genetic content of the gamete (in sexually reproducing multicellular eukaryotes) yet we observe it. How can DNA sequences store innate behaviours?

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  17. keiths: pulling infantile stunts like the hands over the ears “La, la, la I can’t hear you!” maneuver.

    This would be a good sub-topic for keiths’ promised Part II of his (most awesome) Moderation thread, I think. I know he’s been side-tracked by other crucial postings here (though not any of them on the Thomasson thread, I don’t think.) But enough is enough! As he is so trustworthy and quick to admit his own errors, I think a thorough discussion of the hands over the ears “La, la, la I can’t hear you!” maneuver. by him would be just the greatest thing ever.

    Maybe this could also take place on the Grand Inquisitor thread with cross postings here; I’m not sure. TBH, I haven’t thought that arrangement through. What’s most important here, I think, is that any unpleasantness that ever occurs on this site is Alan’s fault, and nothing has been keiths’s fault. Elsewhere on this site, it has also never been keiths’ fault–it was mung’s, Alan’s, Joe’s, Elizabeth’s, mine, Glen’s, Fifth’s, Hotshoe’s, Neil’s or a few others I’m surely forgetting.

    Anyhow–On to Moderation!! After all, this IS the Skeptical Zone, isn’t it!?!

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  18. Good grief, walto.

    I’m not claiming to be faultless. I just pointed out that Alan’s claims were bogus and that his behavior was childish and dishonest.

    If you have a complaint to lodge, feel free. Just be prepared to back it up.

    Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your defense of the “La, la, la” maneuver.

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  19. In fact, I can remember you executing that maneuver, though not as egregiously as Alan. I can dig that up for you if you’d like.

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  20. keiths: I can dig that up for you if you’d like.

    Please do! I love your links! They’re positively keithelicious! Especially your commentary on them, which always (weirdly?) mirrors exactly what you’ve said earlier, and contradicts what the guy you’re linking says and said was the case about the remarks linked to. Saying stuff twice is always better than saying them once. That you still think I lied about this or that fuckwitted thing you’ve posted has got to be dispositive by now!

    Anyhow, I think we definitely agree that that the guy who has the most hyperlinks in his posts wins!! More links, more possible repetitive mischaracterizations! How can that not be good?

    So yeah! Put your important findings regarding Walto on La La with hands over ears in Moderation Part II by all means! We’re all waiting with baited breath for your continued brilliance on those matters. Or put them here and cross post them on Grand Inquisitor. Or put them in Sandbox. Everywhere would be best. It’ll be great stuff, no doubt. Right up there with calling Alan a liar here.

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  21. walto,

    It’ll be great stuff, no doubt. Right up there with calling Alan a liar here.

    I’ve presented the evidence. Do you have a counterargument?

    Even Alan admits that his quotemining charge was bogus.

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  22. keiths: Even Alan admits that his quotemining charge was bogus.

    Do you think he believed it to be false when he made the accusation?

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  23. keiths:
    Yes, but my charge doesn’t depend on that.

    This is why I say he is brazenly lying.

    ETA: And this.

    I just reread that stuff and I have no idea where this “Alan’s lying!” charge comes from. I don’t see why he couldn’t have meant something different by “genetic explanation” than you do–just as he has suggested. But you keep calling him a liar, as if nobody could have different ideas about what that phrase entails.

    That’s exactly why this linking and re-linking business is silly. If it didn’t seem like lying to me the first time, why would it the third or fourth time you throw it up here? Anyhow, it doesn’t.

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  24. Alan Fox: How can DNA sequences store innate behaviours?

    Because ant behavior is just tropisms.

    That’s my take.

    What’s the alternative?

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  25. walto,

    I just reread that stuff and I have no idea where this “Alan’s lying!” charge comes from. I don’t see why he couldn’t have meant something different by “genetic explanation” than you do–just as he has suggested.

    You are — to put it mildly — highly motivated to miss the obvious, and you are already editing the facts to fit your distorted interpretation.

    Alan did not say that he meant something different by “genetic explanation” — he claimed that the phrase wasn’t even meaningful:

    To me “requires a genetic explanation” is not a meaningful phrase.

    If that were true, then why did he immediately disagree with my statement?

    If someone says something you can’t decipher, do you immediately disagree with them? Or, like any other lucid adult, do you ask what they mean?

    You aren’t doing Alan any favors, you know. You’re implying that he is stupid enough to say, in effect, “I have no idea what you mean, but you’re wrong, and here’s why.”

    I don’t think Alan is that stupid.

    He knew perfectly well what I meant, as you can see by reading the exchange:

    keiths, paraphrasing Scruton:

    The ants aren’t reasoning about their sacrifice, so their behavior requires a genetic explanation.

    Alan:

    Well, no. Sterile worker and soldier castes are not the carriers of the genome. The queen is. So loss of sterile caste members is of no consequence, genetically.

    Only later, after realizing his mistake, did he claim that “genetic explanation” wasn’t meaningful. He’s lying about that.

    He’s also obviously lying here. You didn’t address that.

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  26. petrushka: Because ant behavior is just tropisms.

    That’s my take.

    What’s the alternative?

    I’m not saying it’s not possible. It is what happens. Ants and many other motile organisms display complex behaviour patterns without any apparent opportunity to learn. My classic example is spiderlets are able to construct perfect (in the sense they don’t get better with practice) webs after having eaten their mother on hatching.

    These organisms pass through the bottleneck of the single-celled gamete. Where else can the innate behaviour pattern be stored other than in the chromosomes in the gamete? I’m not expressing incredulity; just curiosity. I could speculate (as others have) that the instinct of beavers to build dams is caused by an aversion to the sound of running water. Maybe it is an emotional response, regulated by homones. Morphological adaptations produce an emotional response. The sound of running water upsets the beaver; produces an emotional response – an aversion to the sound.

    There is maybe an opportunity for ethologists and biochemists to look at the cross-disciplinary aspects of the encoding of innate behaviour.

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  27. Suppose you write something like “John is very reminiscent of a potato bug in heat.” I think I could say either “What the hell are you talking about?” or “No, not really.” If I said the latter and then later said, “Well I really didn’t think it made much sense.” Would I have to have been lying at one time or another?

    You just like to fight.

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  28. @ walto

    Please don’t get involved on my behalf. It’s my problem. Keiths brings out the worst in me. The lying; it’s an emotional response that I’m learning to curb.

    At least no one else affects me in this way.

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  29. walto,

    His answer showed that he understood exactly what I meant. He gave a specific reason for disagreeing with me, and the reason was wrong.

    And you still haven’t addressed the other comment. Do you really think that Alan failed to notice the words that were repeated fifteen times, including by him?

    You aren’t doing him any favors, walto. You’re implying that he’s incredibly stupid, plus you’re dragging this out, keeping it in the spotlight. It’s got to be embarrassing for Alan, and I suspect he’d like to move past it.

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  30. Alan Fox:
    @ walto

    Please don’t get involved on my behalf. It’s my problem. Keiths brings out the worst in me. The lying; it’s an emotional response that I’m learning to curb.

    At least no one else affects me in this way.

    If it’s any consolation, my cat has the same effect on me.

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  31. keiths: It’s got to be embarrassing for Alan, and I suspect he’d like to move past it.

    No, it’s becoming fascinating. Please carry on.

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  32. Alan,

    No, it’s becoming fascinating. Please carry on.

    I can only encourage you to think long and hard about why it is sometimes so hard for you to admit mistakes, and why you have fought tooth and nail to avoid admitting this one.

    I remember being struck by a comment you made once. This is all from memory, so I can’t guarantee accuracy, but as I remember it, the gist was that it was a terrible thing for one commenter to imply that another had made a mistake, and that we should never do so without being absolutely sure of ourselves.

    I don’t remember if (or how) I replied, but I do remember thinking that your standard was absurd. TSZ is all about discussion, including of contentious issues, and people inevitably disagree. To disagree with someone is to imply that they are mistaken. It’s not a crisis or something to be guarded against; it comes with the territory.

    What really struck me, though, was that you saw being accused of a mistake as such a Serious Thing. TSZ must feel like a minefield to you in that case.

    I revel in the give and take here. I am continually accused of mistakes, and sometimes the accusations are actually right. Why should that be a crisis? It can be embarrassing to make mistakes, but is it really that bad? We’re all human, so mistakes are inevitable. Why not just roll with them when they happen?

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  33. keiths,

    Keith

    We are all different, we have different agendas. I am not on a crusade to change people’s minds. I enjoy banter. I don’t generally lie or misrepresent. I’m often wrong and I’m often embarrassed to admit it.

    What do you want to achieve?

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  34. Alan,

    What do you want to achieve?

    We’ve had this discussion before. I’ll dig up some old comments later rather than reinvent the wheel.

    I’m often wrong and I’m often embarrassed to admit it.

    To the point of refusing to admit it, even when it’s obvious to everyone else, as in the case of the ants.

    What do you hope to achieve by doing that?

    ETA: And by lying to everyone here in the process?

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