Intelligent Design

Evolution, we are now told, punishes the selfish and mean …

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Two Michigan State University evolutionary biologists offer new evidence that evolution doesn’t favor the selfish, disproving a theory popularized in 2012.

“We found evolution will punish you if you’re selfish and mean,” said lead author Christoph Adami, MSU professor of microbiology and molecular genetics. “For a short time and against a specific set of opponents, some selfish organisms may come out ahead. But selfishness isn’t evolutionarily sustainable.”

What is it about “evolution” that causes it to change every time there is a change in big governments? It begins to seem like an endless well from which any lesson whatever can be drawn except science.

27 Replies to “Evolution, we are now told, punishes the selfish and mean …

  1. 1
    Jeff M says:

    I don’t see why this is news. Ever since Dawkins’ Selfish Gene evolutionists have hypothesized that reciprocal altruism will beat out pure selfishness. However, I don’t think there is any behavior that sociobiology couldn’t find and ‘evolutionary’ reason for. It is the theory that predicts everything and therefor nothing.

  2. 2
    News says:

    It’s only news because someone is getting yet another scholarly publication out of it and there ain’t much other news in August. But you never know… 😉

  3. 3
    Barb says:

    In a foreword to John Reader’s book Missing Links, David Pilbeam shows that scientists do not always base their conclusions on facts. One reason, says Pilbeam, is that scientists “are also people and because much is at stake, for there are glittering prizes in the form of fame and publicity.” The book acknowledges that evolution is “a science powered by individual ambitions and so susceptible to preconceived beliefs.” As an example it notes: “When preconception is . . . so enthusiastically welcomed and so long accommodated as in the case of Piltdown Man, science reveals a disturbing predisposition towards belief before investigation.”

    “Evolution explains selfishness.” “But evolution also explains altruism.” Pick one or the other. One theory cannot account for diametrically opposite behavioral patterns.

  4. 4
    DinoV says:

    Its remarkable how adaptable Darwinism is – “survival of the fittest” is now able to conveniently explain why selfishness is not conducive to “surviving at all costs”. Remarkable indeed!

  5. 5
    Querius says:

    Barb,

    One theory cannot account for diametrically opposite behavioral patterns.

    Oh yes, it can. That’s the beauty of the theory of evolution. It is infinitely adaptable to any new evidence, and thrives on paradox.

    The Darwin-of-the-gaps faith provides an unshakeable assurance that “Science” will reconcile any apparent conflicts, and will eventually provide answers to all of life’s questions. 😉

    Thanks for the great quotes!

  6. 6

    Oh yes, it can. That’s the beauty of the theory of evolution. It is infinitely adaptable to any new evidence, and thrives on paradox.

    No, it can’t. It can’t make forward predictions any more than a weather-forecaster can, but it can make predictions as to what traces of past events will be found. That’s the thing about chaotic systems – you can reverse engineer but you can’t forward predict.

    Clearly different environments offer both different resources and different threats, and that environment includes the evolving population. So some species may well find social living advantageous, whereas others find lone ranging advantageous. That’s not contradictory, it’s merely a tiny illustration of just how high-dimensioned the fitness landscape is – how many ways there are in which new traits can offer advantages or disadvantages.

    There are definite puzzles to be solved – one was the evidence for lateral gene transfer. That doesn’t mean the puzzles can’t be solved – they are solved by the tried and true method of setting up testable hypotheses that make predictions. That’s how ERVs were discovered.

    It’s not a weakness of a theory that it can be “adaptable to new evidence” – it’s a strength. It’s when a theory can’t be extended to accommodate new data that you suspect a problem.

    And “extended” doesn’t mean “Make Stuff Up”. Any extension is a hypothesis, and must be tested. And they are.

    But if you find a hippogriff fossil, then the theory is really in trouble. It’s extensible in some directions but very unextensible in others. The interesting thing is that new data tends to require the former rather than the latter.

    That should tell you something important.

  7. 7
    Jeff M says:

    Elizabeth,

    Except it has been failed with regards to the fossil record. The fossil record doesn’t record what a straight-forward reading of what neo-darwinism. The sudden appearance of groups and the persistence of species was not predicted by the orthodox theory. Darwin thought that I species would speciate and become a genera, after more speciations that genera would become a family, after more time that family would become an order, and so on and so on. this is not what we see. Instead of seeing disparity gradually increase over the lifespan of a clade, we see its disparity is the greatest at its inception. I don’t think neo-darwinism has an explanation for this. They may have some hand wavey thing about ‘occupying available ecospace’ or something, but they can’t explain it with population genetics.

  8. 8

    Darwin was correct.

    All divergences are speciation events. If one lineage dominates, then subsequent divergences will be from that lineage, and so on.

    I don’t think that Darwin had envisaged the big extinction events that we know know occurred (and can even find causal evidence for), but that doesn’t matter. All lineages tend to diverge, so from any one speciation event, diversity will increase.

    However, if something wipes a lot of lineages, then the surviving lineages will dominate thenceforth. We know know (as Darwin did not) that something at least 90% of population lineages go extinct.

    A tree is a perfect metaphor. Lop off some branches and the remaining branches will dominate the remaining growth. It is very easy to model mathematically. In evolutionary algorithms, you rapidly lose most of the early lineages, so that the longer the thing runs, the later the LUCA of the survivors.

  9. 9
    Jeff M says:

    If all divergences are speciation events we should see a gradual increase in disparity over the course of the life of a clade.

    We do not see this.

  10. 10
    Jeff M says:

    Also, and I don’t know if this has been developed by anyone else, its just a thought I have had for awhile, Darwin supposed that variation within a species would eventually become variation between species. This was an attack on essentialism. A species has no essense and was free to vary with respect to the selective pressures present. This would drive species apart gradually.

    In the fossil record we don’t see this. We see species persisting over a long time period. It seems as if species do have ‘essenses’, that they are actual ontologic entities instead of freely varying forms.

  11. 11
    Mung says:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    It can’t make forward predictions any more than a weather-forecaster can, but it can make predictions as to what traces of past events will be found.

    Forecaster:

    To estimate or calculate in advance, especially to predict (weather conditions) by analysis of meteorological data.

    To calculate or estimate something in advance; predict the future.

    A prediction, as of coming events or conditions.

    What a moron.

    So weather-forecasters are engaged in telling us what traces should be found once the weather has passed.

    In an earlier post I said you are not stupid. I now retract that statement.

  12. 12
    Mung says:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    All divergences are speciation events.

    Yup. Every change in finch beak size introduces a new species. Every human is a new species because we all diverge from our parents. For once we agree. Mark it.

  13. 13
    computerist says:

    We found evolution will punish you if you’re selfish and mean

    As a “nice guy”, my lifetime experience tells me otherwise.
    It’s usually the selfish, greedy and uncompassionate that “succeed”.
    For me it’s a scary thought relative to ID from a theological and/or philosophical standpoint.

  14. 14
    Mark Frank says:

    #10 Mung

    it can make predictions as to what traces of past events will be found.

    That’s the future tense Mung.

  15. 15
    Alan Fox says:

    I wonder if we couldn’t persuade Dr Neil Wells to contribute a comment or two for mung. Mung and nwells got on so well at ARN. What was that affectionate phrase mung had?

    “You’re a freaking ignorant moron”?

    😉

  16. 16
    Joe says:

    Elizabeth:

    That doesn’t mean the puzzles can’t be solved – they are solved by the tried and true method of setting up testable hypotheses that make predictions. That’s how ERVs were discovered.

    ERVs don’t have anything to do with darwinian nor neo-darwinian evolution. Not only that but for the most part the “evidence” is “they look like pieces of ERVs”.

    But if you find a hippogriff fossil, then the theory is really in trouble.

    What theory is in trouble and why?

  17. 17
    Joe says:

    Earth to Mark Frank-

    Dr Shubin made a prediction on what type of fossil would be found (in the future)- ie a past event that will be uncovered in the future.

  18. 18
    Joe says:

    As for NWElls, if he can link to this alleged “theory of evolution” I would love to have him post here. The evo-regulars are too afraid or ignorant to do so.

  19. 19

    Joe @ 16 – that was Mark’s point. What is yours?

    And Mung @ 10: yes, scientific predictions are predictions as to what we will find in the data, and those data often concern past events.

    It’s how we know about Big Bang – because new data fulfil theoretical predictions. Those data are traces of what happened 14 billion years ago.

    For chaotic systems we can often retrieve the generative model from past data, but still cannot make a prediction about future outcomes of the model without actually running the model forward.

    See Stephen Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science.

  20. 20
    Joe says:

    So you cannot predict what will evolve. Got it.

    And we cannot predict what will be designed.

    Looks like we are on common ground.

  21. 21
    Joe says:

    Also, evolutionism’s “predictions” don’t have anything to do with its proposed mechanisms. So that would be a problem

  22. 22

    Absolutely right, Joe. We cannot predict what will evolve. What we can predict is that if the environment changes, either adaptation or extinction will occur, and, if the former, that those adaptations will involve a way of dealing with the the new resources and threats – citrate, or nylon, or a new antibiotic, for example.

    We might also hazard a guess at the genes that might be candidates for a useful mutation, but it would be no more than an informed guess. The solutions that evolution comes up with are often surprising, which is why we sometimes use a miniaturised version of the system to solve difficult engineering problems.

  23. 23

    Joe:

    Also, evolutionism’s “predictions” don’t have anything to do with its proposed mechanisms. So that would be a problem

    Depends which mechanisms and which predictions. We can predict adaptation by the mechanism of differentially successful heritable variation (i.e. Darwin’s mechanism) but we can’t predict the successful variation (what variant will result in adaptation) nor what it will do. For example, if you introduce a new predator into an existing population, you can predict that the population will adapt or go extinct, but not whether what the adaptation will be – yucky taste, better camouflage, greater mobility, whatever. The dimensions along which populations can “move” are manifold, which is why it is isn’t so weird when adaptation happens.

  24. 24

    Oops – didn’t close quote tags after “problem”. My response begins at “Depends”

  25. 25
    Barb says:

    Dr. Liddle @ 7:

    All divergences are speciation events.

    Please clarify this for me, so that I’m sure I understand you correctly. Any divergence, no matter how trivial (the size of a beak, the size of the animal itself) is a new species?

    And @ 21:

    What we can predict is that if the environment changes, either adaptation or extinction will occur,

    Don’t forget the influence mankind has; humans have directly contributed to the extinction of many species on earth.

  26. 26

    No, I mean all divergences in lineages. So when a population divides into two non-interbreeding lineages, that is a speciation event.

    If that speciation event is very early, the resulting pair of lineages may be called different “phyla”. If it is very recent, it may not even amount to a separate species (see “ring species”).

    But the difference is not in the type of event, but in how far back in the lineage it happened.

    Creating new phyla, in other words, is no different to creating new species.

    Don’t forget the influence mankind has; humans have directly contributed to the extinction of many species on earth.

    I’m not! Nor am I forgetting the part of the environment that consists of the evolving population itself. In the valley of the blind, the one eyed man may be king, but in the valley of the two-eyed, the one-eyed man has a visual defect.

  27. 27
    Mung says:

    lol.

    And Mung @ 10: yes, scientific predictions are predictions as to what we will find in the data, and those data often concern past events.

    As predictions, they might even be predictions of what will be found in data not even gathered yet. Still Science.

    Your problem is that you’re conflating evolutionary theory with science.

    …still cannot make a prediction about future outcomes of the model without actually running the model forward.

    What good is a model if you can’t run it forward?

    And we cannot predict what will be designed.

    Sure we can. I wrote on a notepad a plan to develop a
    number of different programs over the weekend. And now I can post those programs on the internet for everyone to see. My boss could have predicted the design.

    What we can predict is that if the environment changes, either adaptation or extinction will occur…

    No you can’t. You have things exactly backwards, as usual. You confuse the predictable from the unpredictable, and then claim design is in the same boat. No wonder you’re so confused about intelligent design.

    There may be no life whatsoever in the environment. Evolve that.

    If some species fails to go extinct after a change in it’s environment, it doesn’t mean it adapted to the new environment. The only way to reach that conclusion is to engage in fallacious reasoning.

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