Evolving Thoughts

A melange

Chris Nedin at Ediacaran has a nice discussion of the metaphor of the adaptive landscape, “Climbing Pit Improbable“. It should be noted that the genetic notion of adaptive peaks is exactly the same thing as the AI notion of gradient descent learning., which inverts the “landscape” the way Chris describes.

The philosopher responsible for initiating the “deep ecology” movement, Arne Naess, has died at the age of 96. Maybe there is something to this exercise thing.

John Whitfield, at Blogging the Origin, is, well, blogging his way through the Origin. Chapter 1 is here. Comments by various folk make it more interesting (OK, I’m commenting there, alright?)

Thomas Levenson at The Inverse Square Blog (what a name! I wish I’d thought of that one!) has a birthday greeting for Wallace. I’m a little late on that one, but I was travelling.

Chief atheist puppygrinder, Brent Rasmussen, takes spiritualists to task for redefining “God” to mean anything at all. I disagree with him – when science and religion conflict, then religion had better redefine God to mean something that is still possible. I think it’s a (limited) virtue of religion that it can adapt.

On another religious criticism, Ebach and Williams attack taxonomists who don’t get that paraphyly is artificial and anti-evolutionary.

And finally on religion, here’s an article about Dulles (the cardinal, not the politician) arguing that we need religion to explain teleology in biology. Did nobody noticve that this has been eliminated already?


  1. #1 fvngvs
    January 14, 2009

    “…religion to explain teleology…” !!

    Hmmm. Maybe we should restitute the Phlogiston theory of heat, (and the Frigoric theory of cold), the Theory of Spontaneous Generation, and (of course) the flat earth.

    I’m sure that there are plenty of other bad concepts out there to mock.

  2. #2 chris y
    January 14, 2009

    arguing that we need religion to explain teleology in biology.

    Or vice versa. See Conway Morris, passim.

  3. #3 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    January 14, 2009

    I had trouble getting Brent’s site to load. I wonder if you have sent him too much traffic.

  4. #4 pubcat
    January 14, 2009

    >>Maybe there is something to this exercise thing.

    I wouldnt’t got that far. If you go hiking in Australia I think your life expectacy is lowered.

    I read somewhere that life expetancy goes up 3 years for every 10 iq points above the norm. So given my data for nowegian male life expectancy from a report by the UN) only goes back to born in 1950 (69.3) he must have had an IQ around 200…
    Now if only i could find his IQ, if it were ever measured…

    Yay gross misuse of statistics!

  5. #5 Raymond Minton
    January 15, 2009

    In the matter of Dulles, how can anyone who attributes “aspirations” to plants be taken seriously at all? The reasoning becomes even more muddled from there, if that’s possible. The article did provide me with one surprise, though: the stupid, pejorative term “Darwinism” has been around longer than I thought!

  6. #6 Thony C.
    January 15, 2009

    Cardinal Dulles is just being a good Aristotelian Thomist as the Catholic Church demands. What do you expect? After all they pay for his upkeep and all those fancy dress costumes that he gets to wear.

  7. #7 Jim Thomerson
    January 15, 2009

    Paraphyletic taxa are quite valuable. They are an irrefutable argument for more funding for taxonomists.

  8. #8 tomh
    January 15, 2009

    the stupid, pejorative term “Darwinism” has been around longer than I thought!

    From the beginning, actually, being coined by Huxley in 1860. Of course, originally, it wasn’t quite so pejorative.

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