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Reformed New Scientist 2: Evolution shows intelligence


Readers may recall that New Scientist published an article two days ago on 13 ways we need to “rethink the theory of nature.”

Their Number 2 rethink is Evolution shows intelligence — but wait, isn’t that our trademark? Not that we registered it or anything…

Most of the article is paywalled but here’s the gist of #2:

This conception of evolution has far-reaching implications. For a start, it can explain how entire ecosystems evolve to be well-adapted despite natural selection favouring fit individuals, not fit communities. Think of the connections between organisms within an ecosystem as a network, and they too can learn by induction, as Watson and his Southampton colleague Daniel Power have demonstrated using computer modelling. “An ecosystem canʼt be adapted by natural selection, but it can be adapted by natural induction,” says Watson.

This raises an intriguing question. If natural induction isnʼt about survival of the fittest, what is it about? “Maybe, evolution is less about out competing others and more to do with co-creating knowledge,” says Watson. That really is a radical idea. – Kate Douglas

Michael Le Page , Colin Barras , Richard Webb , Kate Douglas and Carrie Arnold, “Evolution is evolving: 13 ways we must rethink the theory of nature” at New Scientist (September 23. 2020)

Radical yes, but it really is a good idea. We find it hard to improve on. The only thing we can think of is, keep the “intelligent” part in your description of nature and add “design.”

See also: (Reformed) New Scientist 1 on the genome: Not destiny. Sure but then what about the famous twin studies that were supposed to prove so much about human nature? No? Then it’s probably best for the New Scientists to just get out of the “gene for that” hell while they can.


At New Scientist: We must rethink the (Darwinian) theory of nature. If by “our greatest theory of nature,” the writers mean textbook Darwinism, well the new concepts they list are destroying it. What becomes of “natural selection acting on random mutation” if a variety of means of evolution are “natural,” mutations are not necessarily random, genes aren’t selfish and don’t come only from parents, and the fittest don’t necessarily survive? Just for a start…

Selection does favor fit communities, when communities exist. Bees and termites live or die as a hive. Plants linked by mycorrhiza live or die as a group. Bacteria live or die as a biofilm. Darwin was talking about species and populations, not individuals. Nietzsche and Ayn Rand were talking about individuals. Their message is that an unconstrained demonic psychopath MUST destroy everything else and become the sole inhabitant of the universe. We're seeing the results in today's "virus" holocaust. Is that where the narrative went wrong? polistra

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