Intelligent Design speciation

Researchers: Purebred dogs are not “biological species”

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No? Who thought they were? The controversy we are more familiar with here at Uncommon Descent is whether dogs, period, are a biological species, as opposed to a much-manipulated variety of wolf. The authors of Dogs: A New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior, and Evolution have studied the habits of dump dogs who live off human garbage closely:

The dog is a shape that has evolved to a new niche that was created when people switched from hunting and gathering to growing grain. The waste products of that activity created a food supply that supports village dogs. Were there dogs before the age of agriculture? Probably not, but if there were, they had adapted to a different niche.

A dump dog has few foraging costs compared with its wild relatives, which must put a huge effort into obtaining food. When one compares the cost with the benefit, dump dogs are way ahead. Getting calories is mostly easier for them.

The reason dogs make good pets is in large part because they have this innate behavior of finding somewhere to sit and wait for food to arrive, which is exactly what our pet dogs do. Their niche is scavenging food from humans. They are like ravens and foxes that scavenge food from wolves or humans. Where is that dog food supply? Look for humans, and there it is. Why are dogs nice to people? They are the source of food. Dogs find some food source that arrives daily and they sit there and wait.

One question we might ask, in order to find any foraging difference between dog and wolf, is whether wolves could scavenge the Mexico City dump as well as dogs do. All of a sudden when we ask the question that way, we begin to realize how well designed the dog is for its niche. Remember the design costs. It takes 1,000 calories a day to maintain a dog, and it takes 2,500 calories for a wolf just to hang around acting doglike. Raymond Coppinger & Lorna Coppinger, “Only Street Dogs Are Real Dogs” at Nautilus

The Coppinger team’s basic argument is that what distinguishes the dump dog from the wolf is his low maintenance cost, on account of his tendency to sit around and wait for humans to provide him with refuse. But now, if most humans started incinerating their garbage, would dump dogs slowly start becoming more wolf-like?

Their assertion shows, of course, what a mess the biological species concept is. If anyone does think all those breeds of dogs are really species, well…

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See also: Researchers: Tooth studies show that Neanderthals “split” from modern humans 800 kya, not 300-500 kya If Neanderthals “diverged” from “modern humans” 800,000 years ago but many of us have Neanderthal genes (yeah, 23andMe stuff, for sure), what chance is there that much of the contention is based on the fact that we don’t really know enough to be sure of very many things?

Researchers: Sediba is not a human ancestor after all. Back to Lucy, but… The anthropologist is right, the fossil record IS full of surprises. But the news that Lucy is only “the best candidate” is worth some reflection. It sounds like we have little to go on and Lucy is at best plausible.

and

A physicist looks at biology’s problem of “speciation” in humans

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38 Replies to “Researchers: Purebred dogs are not “biological species”

  1. 1
    MatSpirit says:

    “Their assertion shows, of course, what a mess the biological species concept is. If anyone does think all those breeds of dogs are really species, well…”

    Which is odd, when you think about it. If species are designed, why are species such a mess?

    On the other hand, if species evolve, this is about what you’d expect.

  2. 2
    News says:

    Matspirit at 1, how about the answer is neither because the concept is a flawed one. We need a more robust concept than “species” to cover what we observe.

  3. 3
    Mimus says:

    We need a more robust concept than “species” to cover what we observe.

    So would a successful concept look like? Seems like an opportunity for ID to prove it’s scientific credentials..

  4. 4
    MatSpirit says:

    “We need a more robust concept than “species” to cover what we observe.”

    Well, “we” don’t. Darwinian evolution describes what we see pretty well. ID is the theory in crisis here. If new species are designed by an intelligent designer, why aren’t they distinct from the get-go?

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    MS, the species concept is the problem, it is in all kinds of trouble. KF

  6. 6
    MatSpirit says:

    KF, then what’s ID’s solution? As Mimus said, this is ID’s chance to show it’s scientific credentials.

    You could start by telling us just exactly what the ‘mess’ is. From an evolutionary stand point, things look about as we would expect. You separate a species (wolves in this case) into two groups ( wolves and dogs) and prevent them from interbreeding and they gradually get more and more different until finally some vital DNA changes so much it doesn’t match up between the two groups and they can’t breed at all. Then you declare the new group a separate species.

    What’s ID’s theory here? Why does an intelligent designer take such a long, drawn out process to make a new species? Whatever happened to “poof!”?

    Or, to restate the problem, why does an Intelligent Designer go to so much trouble to make it look like evolution?

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    MS, we haven’t got a clue as to what a species is, as a comprehensive, coherent notion. If we had only seen dogs as fossils, we would never have deemed them a single subspecies, domesticated wolves in effect. On the other hand in the 80’s, divergent species of Galapagos finches were breeding successfully. Red Deer and American Elks introduced to New Zealand apparently happily and successfully bred together. Here, maybe 15 years ago European Collared Doves were introduced (probably by hitching rides on ships). For a time they were very visible, but then it seems they interbred with native Zenaida doves and have blended in. Try citruses. Years ago, they used to talk about two species of Gulls in Europe and how as one goes around the pole, gradual gradations of one reach the other and then you are back in Europe: circumpolar species. I gather it is a bit more complicated now but the basic point is there. There is a lot more, and BTW, neither ID nor even Young Earth Creationism are committed to fixity of species as listed in taxonomies; ID is not Biblical Creationism, but a research programme on the empirically grounded, analytically plausible origin of especially functionally specific complex organisation and associated information. Species is not a target focus, origin of life and of linked main body plans is, notice e.g. discussion on the Cambrian revolution of body plans. You will observe that over the years here at UD I spoke to body-plan level origin. YECs use “kinds” or the Heb “baramin,” which is more flexible, ranging up to the Family in at least some cases. KF

  8. 8
    Brother Brian says:

    I find it interesting that IDists think that the fact that the distinction between species is messy somehow vindicates ID, completely ignoring the fact that the entire concept was developed to classify an intelligently designed universe.

  9. 9
    Mimus says:

    KF,
    your”problems” with species are so related to the biological species concept. Where I’m from, we expect high school biology students to be able to articulate the strengths as weaknesses of the biological species concept, so it’s hardly news to evolutionary biologists that this concept is not uniformly applicable! Pick up a biology textbook if you want to learn more about the “species problem” and how it is dealt with by different subfields and taxa.

  10. 10
    Latemarch says:

    Mimus said:

    Where I’m from, we expect high school biology students to be able to articulate the strengths as weaknesses of the biological species concept, so it’s hardly news to evolutionary biologists that this concept is not uniformly applicable! Pick up a biology textbook if you want to learn more about the “species problem” and how it is dealt with by different subfields and taxa.

    It’s as if it’s an ad hoc explanation of…. something…..

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    Mimus et al, I gave a specific answer to a particular question, AND pointed out why it is not an ID question. I do not need to go into an elaboration on the problem, I’ll just link a discussion: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/species-problem since you insist; you tell me if that is not a fairly messy situation, why. If you wish to now address origin of life and of associated complex functional information and organisation on blind forces, kindly let us know the empirically warranted solution: ______ . Likewise, origin of major body plans: _______ . Do, let us know where ___, when _____ , by whom ____, with what prize awarded _____, has relevant FSCO/I beyond 500 – 1,000 bits been observed to come about by such blind forces. There are trillions of direct observations of same by design.KF

  12. 12
    Brother Brian says:

    The fact remains that the species concept was developed as an ID concept. Classifying organisms based on the natural order designed by God, using similarity in morphology to do so. In biology it is just a handy tool, nothing more. Evolutionary theory predicts that change is gradual. As such, we would expect to see fuzzy lines between many species. And that is what we see. For all we know, if our chromosome 2 didn’t fuse, we could still interbreed with chimpanzees.

  13. 13
    Latemarch says:

    BB:
    Conflating creationism with ID.
    Then the old chestnut that evolution actually predicts anything.
    Finally promoting the chromosome 2 fusion myth.
    Why not instead read this article from Jeffery P. Thomkins, October 16, 2013.
    Alleged Human Chromosome 2 “Fusion Site” Encodes an Active DNA Binding Domain Inside a Complex and Highly Expressed Gene—Negating Fusion

    Abstract
    A major argument supposedly supporting human evolution from a common ancestor with chimpanzees is the “chromosome 2 fusion model” in which ape chromosomes 2A and 2B purportedly fused end-to-end, forming human chromosome 2. This idea is postulated despite the fact that all known fusions in extant mammals involve satellite DNA and breaks at or near centromeres. In addition, researchers have noted that the hypothetical telomeric end-to-end signature of the fusion is very small (~800 bases) and highly degenerate (ambiguous) given the supposed 3 to 6 million years of divergence from a common ancestor. In this report, it is also shown that the purported fusion site (read in the minus strand orientation) is a functional DNA binding domain inside the first intron of the DDX11L2 regulatory RNA helicase gene, which encodes several transcript variants expressed in at least 255 different cell and/or tissue types. Specifically, the purported fusion site encodes the second active transcription factor binding domain in the DDX11L2 gene that coincides with transcriptionally active histone marks and open active chromatin. Annotated DDX11L2 gene transcripts suggest complex post-transcriptional regulation through a variety of microRNA binding sites. Chromosome fusions would not be expected to form complex multi-exon, alternatively spliced functional genes. This clear genetic evidence, combined with the fact that a previously documented 614 Kb genomic region surrounding the purported fusion site lacks synteny (gene correspondence) with chimpanzee on chromosomes 2A and 2B (supposed fusion sites of origin), thoroughly refutes the claim that human chromosome 2 is the result of an ancestral telomeric end-to-end fusion.

  14. 14
    MatSpirit says:

    KF, the reason we have such a problem defining species is because we had a paradigm shift back in the 19th and 20th century and the word “species” belongs to the old paridigm. In the old paridigm, which lasted well over 2000 years and worked itself deeply into our culture, an Intelligent Designer designed and built every creature on earth. As one popular book of the day phrased it,

    “And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” It also says, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.” and quite a bit more.

    You can see from reading the above how people would kind of expect each of these created kinds to be distinct from each other and when it was discovered not to be so, there was coonsternation upon the land. The old paridigm wasn’t working! It predicted things wrong!

    It turned out that a brand new explanation fit the facts better. A researcher named Darwin spent years investigating the matter closely, getting a lot of his data from plant and animal breeders (including dog breeders) as well as nature and geology and discovered that “species” aren’t as fixed as the old paridigm indicated. They actually change over time and under some circumstances such as a new organism reaching an island or a breeder deliberately allowing only unusual plants and animals to breed, they can change perceptibly over a human lifetime.

    Summarizing, the reason some people think species are a mess is because they’re using an old, worn out paridigm that doesn’t fit the facts. Switch to the new Darwinian paridigm and your data will match your predictions once again.

  15. 15
    Mimus says:

    As Mat points out, the “mess” in species boundaries is about what we’d execpt to see given our knowledge of evolution and in particular speciation.

    We know that species for when individuals from two (or more) populations stop sharing genes with each other. Once that happens there is no way for changes occurring in one population “get into” the other, so we have distinct evolutionary lineages. Speciation is thus a process that occurs due to sexual isolation, not an event that renders two species distant instantly. If lineages that are only a little diverged it’s quite possible that inter-lineage hybrids migth form when the two have the opportunity to mate (this is all that KF’s examples amount to…). We also predict that this will become more difficult (1) over time (the so called ‘speciation clock’ is evidence of this) and (2) in cases where hybrids are actively selected against (ecological speciation). Accepting the “fuzzy” reality of biological species means we have to give up on simple but wrong formulations like teh Biological Species Concept, but the modern theory of speciation gives us a much richer understanding of how lineages form, become distinct or, indeed, collapse back into each other.

    So, I’m note sure evolutionary biology has a problem with species definitions. Can ID offer a similar framework to understant the complexities in what counts as a species?

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    MS & Mimus, ID is entirely compatible with variation of types and populations, which reflect a common body plan. It has no commitment to fixity of species, and indeed neither does modern Young Earth Creationism insofar as I have seen; and indeed, the whales you used denote a category that is broader than species — but I leave arguments on YEC and the like to those who propose and defend it; if that is your interest it would be better for you to go to such sites. Moreover, it seems that species applies very well to some cases, but not so readily to others, e.g. viruses as was already linked. In fact, the design inference is compatible with not only limited but universal common descent in a cosmos of any observed or reasonably inferred age, it is not the C19 strawman you seem to have in mind. The critical issue it addresses WRT the world of life is the origin of complex, functionally specific information, whether explicit or implicit (i.e, embedded in organisation). There is no empirical, actually observed evidence that such can and does arise by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. If there were, it would be trumpeted to the highest heavens and you would have instantly been able to answer to the challenge above. Design theory explores the question, what is the source of such information or organisation, and a core inference on a massive observational base is that such is best explained by design. There are zero actually observed counter-examples. Further to this, we can put on the table that as a general rule, body plan origins are inferred on evolutionary materialistic a prioris, they are not observed, hence the sorts of systematic gaps, sudden appearances and disappearances of such body plans, with the Cambrian fossil fauna as case study no. 1. KF

    PS: A long time ago now, it was observed in the literature, i.e. from Lönnig’s 2004 paper on “Dynamic genomes, morphological stasis, and the origin of irreducible complexity” :

    examples like the horseshoe crab [morphological stasis for 250 MY on the conventional timeline] are by no means rare exceptions from the rule of gradually evolving life forms . . . In fact, we are literally surrounded by ‘living fossils’ in the present world of organisms when applying the term more inclusively as “an existing species whose similarity to ancient ancestral species indicates that very few morphological changes have occurred over a long period of geological time” [85] . . . .

    Now, since all these “old features”, morphologically as well as molecularly, are still with us, the basic genetical questions should be addressed in the face of all the dynamic features of ever reshuffling and rearranging, shifting genomes, (a) why are these characters stable at all and (b) how is it possible to derive stable features from any given plant or animal species by mutations in their genomes? . . . .

    A first hint for answering the questions . . . is perhaps also provided by Charles Darwin himself when he suggested the following sufficiency test for his theory [16]: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” [–> notice how he presumes a default in favour of his theory] . . . Biochemist Michael J. Behe [5] has refined Darwin’s statement by introducing and defining his concept of “irreducibly complex systems”, specifying: “By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning” . . . [for example] (1) the cilium, (2) the bacterial flagellum with filament, hook and motor embedded in the membranes and cell wall and (3) the biochemistry of blood clotting in humans . . . .

    One point is clear: granted that there are indeed many systems and/or correlated subsystems in biology, which have to be classified as irreducibly complex and that such systems are essentially involved in the formation of morphological characters of organisms, this would explain both, the regular abrupt appearance of new forms in the fossil record as well as their constancy over enormous periods of time. For, if “several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function” are necessary for biochemical and/or anatomical systems to exist as functioning systems at all (because “the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning”) such systems have to (1) originate in a non-gradual manner and (2) must remain constant as long as they are reproduced and exist. And this could mean no less than the enormous time periods mentioned for all the living fossils hinted at above. Moreover, an additional phenomenon would also be explained: (3) the equally abrupt disappearance of so many life forms in earth history . . . The reason why irreducibly complex systems would also behave in accord with point (3) is also nearly self-evident: if environmental conditions deteriorate so much for certain life forms (defined and specified by systems and/or subsystems of irreducible complexity), so that their very existence be in question, they could only adapt by integrating further correspondingly specified and useful parts into their overall organization, which prima facie could be an improbable process — or perish . . . .

    According to Behe and several other authors [5-7, 21-23, 53-60, 68, 86] the only adequate hypothesis so far known for the origin of irreducibly complex systems is intelligent design (ID) . . . in connection with Dembski’s criterion of specified complexity . . . . “For something to exhibit specified complexity therefore means that it matches a conditionally independent pattern (i.e., specification) of low specificational complexity, but where the event corresponding to that pattern has a probability less than the universal probability bound and therefore high probabilistic complexity” [23]. For instance, regarding the origin of the bacterial flagellum, Dembski calculated a probability of 10^-234[22].

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: You might find it useful to reflect on LM’s remark and link on the chromosome fusion claim. For example, I make just one clip:

    The idea of a head-to-head telomeric fusion first emerged when a putative fusion site was cloned and sequenced, showing a signature of about 800 bases in length on human chromosome two in region 2q13 (Ijdo et al. 1991). In 2002, researchers completely sequenced and annotated ~614 Kb of DNA surrounding the fusion site (Fan et al. 2002a; Fan et al. 2002b). The two studies published by Fan et al. brought to light a number of serious problems that completely contradicted the fusion model, discussed in turn below.

    First, was the problem of lack of synteny (corresponding gene content and DNA sequence similarity) with chimpanzee surrounding the putative fusion region on human chromosome 2. In addition to the unaccounted for extreme loss of chimp DNA in the hypothetical fusion, the putative fusion site was surrounded by a wide array of functional genes and putative pseudogenes with no homology to the ends of chimpanzee chromosomes 2A or 2B, their supposed ancestral sites of origin. Since the researchers could not find any similarity with chimpanzee for the gene content surrounding the putative fusion site, they postulated that the genes were transferred from other parts of the human genome after the fusion event occurred.

    Second, the putative fusion sequence is highly degenerate given the inferred evolutionary timescale. In their paper, Fan et al. (2002a, p. 1657) state “Only 48% of the 127 repeats in RP11–395L14 and 46% of the 158 repeats in M73018 are perfect TTAGGG or TTGGGG units” and “If the fusion occurred within the telomeric repeat arrays less than ~6 Mya, why are the arrays at the fusion site so degenerate?” Tomkins and Bergman reevaluated the degeneracy of the fusion site along with the possible presence of other telomere repeats in a 177 Kb region surrounding it and found that not only was the putative fusion sequence itself ambiguous, but restricted to a single region of only about 800 bases in length (Tomkins and Bergman 2011a).

    Third, one of the most remarkable discoveries about the putative fusion site by Fan et al. (2002b) was its location inside a CHLR1-like pseudogene (now called DDX11L2) as shown in Fig. 1 of their report (Fan et al. 2002b, p. 1664). However, the text of their report did not specifically discuss its anomalous location inside the pseudogene, despite the fact that their graphical annotation clearly showed that it was. Since 2002, this region of the human genome has been updated with improved annotations as well as a significant amount of unpublished publicly available ENCODE data.

    As demonstrated in this report, the purported fusion site encodes an active transcription factor binding site and is definitively located inside the first intron of a functional RNA helicase gene transcribed on the minus strand. The location of the putative fusion sequence inside a functional and highly expressed gene associated with a wide variety of cellular processes strongly negates the idea that it is the by-product of a hypothetical head-to-head telomeric fusion.

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    PPPS: Wiki’s remark is also relevant to laying out the problem. Note again that had dogs been only known as a fossil assemblage, it is likely they would have been conceived of as a cluster of species. I clip:

    The species problem is the set of questions that arises when biologists attempt to define what a species is. Such a definition is called a species concept; there are at least 26 recognized species concepts.[1] A species concept that works well for sexually reproducing organisms such as birds is useless for species that reproduce asexually, such as bacteria. The scientific study of the species problem has been called microtaxonomy.[2]

    One common, but sometimes difficult, question is how best to decide which species an organism belongs to, because reproductively isolated groups may not be readily recognizable, and cryptic species may be present. There is a continuum from reproductive isolation with no interbreeding, to panmixis, unlimited interbreeding. Populations can move forward or backwards along this continuum, at any point meeting the criteria for one or another species concept, and failing others.

    Many of the debates on species touch on philosophical issues, such as nominalism and realism, and on issues of language and cognition.

    Again, nothing in there answers to the origin of body plan level information and organisation by claimed blind mechanisms. It is easy enough to estimate and observe that a typical body plan will require 10 – 100+ million bases of information, and that a first living cell requires ~ 100 k – 1 million bases. Those are well beyond the 500 – 1,000 bit info threshold corresponding to insuperable blind search challenge in config spaces of order 3.27*10^150 – 1.07*10^301 possibilities with 10^57 to 10^80 atoms and ~ 10^17 s where fast chem reactions are up to 10^13 – 15 per second. The OoL case is especially clear as origin of a von Neumann kinematic self replication facility coupled to a metabolising encapsulated entity with smart gating has to be explained on the chem, phys and thermo-d of a warm salty pond or the like. The proposition that such is programmed into cosmological frameworks then points to another major province, fine tuning.

  19. 19
    Mimus says:

    KF,
    It was you, in posts 5 and 7, who wanted to make something out of the species problem. Seems, now that you’ve learned you were arguing from your own gnorance, that you admit ID offers nothing at all to this area of research. So you’ve got back to this acronym stew and pseudomath you’re always on about, leaving the species problem aside?

  20. 20
    MatSpirit says:

    How odd. The OP is on speciation, we’re all talking about speciation, KF joins the conversation and it’s pointed out to him that the old ID paradigm doesn’t match the data on speciation. You would expect a man in those circumstances to come back with reasons why the data does too match up with the old paradigm or new data that matches the old paradigm better or even (saints forfend) a modification to the old ID paridigm so it matches the data.

    Instead, we get scattergunned with things like “ID is entirely compatible with variation of types and populations” without telling us how it handles the speciation problem (just calling it a mess won’t do), a claim that ID “has no commitment to fixity of species, and indeed neither does modern Young Earth Creationism”, a claim that bringing up whales is somehow unfair and a statement that you don’t defend YEC Creationism.

    And that’s just in the first two sentences in your first (of three) replies! A disinterested observer might think that you had no explanation for why ID can’t handle speciation and were trying (desperately) to change the subject. What’s that thing you used to say about red herrings?

    A less disinterested observer is reminded of the Monty Python movie, “Life of Brian”:

    Brave Sir Gordon ran away.  Bravely ran away away… 

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    M, in 5 and 7 I responded to MS, pointing out the general problem. I was actually surprised to see that it is somehow thought to be something uniquely supportive of the blind force macroevolutionary thesis. That’s why I then went on to highlight the point that not even current YEC advocates much less OEC or theistic evolutionists or ID thinkers have particular concerns on fixity of species. I think the cases of those Galapagos finches in the 80’s doing successful cross species breeding put paid to that for anyone watching and keeping an eye on what has been going on. KF

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    MS,

    kindly, tell us just what old ID paradigm? Your suggestion indicates an unwarranted and anachronistic conflation of ID with Creationism and the like.

    While yes, Paley saw some interesting points c 1804 (that should have been given a lot more respect than they were, esp. his remarks in Ch 2 of his Natural Theology), the timeline on ID that is relevant is that across the 1950’s, Hoyle discovered the fine tuning problem, and invoked the anthropic principle.

    Then as the implications of DNA and linked molecular biology sank in, in the mid 80’s, a study on origin of life pointed to design as a serious alternative. In the 90’s this was picked up and the key concepts of irreducible complexity and specified complexity were brought to bear, later import of the no free lunch theorems and much more.

    Though, fundamentally, the point was settled once it was clear from the 40’s – 60’s that DNA is in material part about coded information used to drive numerical control of protein assembly, using algorithms.

    Codes are language and algorithms are about start points and step by step finite stage processes that achieve goals. Language and purpose are about as strong a signature of intelligence in action through purposefully directing configurations — design — as we are going to get.

    And, cosmological fine tuning is not only growing every month it seems, but is inherently robust, as forcing laws that make a level 1 cosmos act in fine tuned ways, points to fine tuning at higher levels, 2, 3 etc as you please.

    So, once we see language, algorithms and a fine tuned cosmos that is at an operating point conducive to C-chemistry, aqueous medium, terrestrial planet cell based life, the real case is over.

    Further to this, logic of being and infinite regress considerations point to a necessary being world root at finite remove from here and now; the debate is on of what nature, and that even our cognitive life is morally governed through undeniably known duties to truth, right reason, prudence, justice etc is highly suggestive on the character of that root, as such a root must bridge the IS-OUGHT gap on pain of reducing our cognition to grand delusion.

    That’s why I have now simply declared intellectual independence, and feel free to explore onward utility of the design paradigm without the slightest concern what those stuck in the dead past may want to raise as imagined objections.

    KF

    PS: It seems to me that you are unaware of the significance of the point that whales and cetaceans are a complex of many species. And recently IIRC, there has been a whale-dolphin hybrid born in an aquarium, showing a degree of closeness that is interesting. As to the rest, you seem to miss the force of a fortiori logic. If even X is K then how much more so Y?

  23. 23
    daveS says:

    It has been said that the concept of species is a “mess” and “is in trouble”, but is there really a problem here to be solved? These groupings of organisms into species are always to some extent arbitrary. Aren’t they? Maybe not to those who claim biological species are “natural kinds”, but I’m not one of them. I wouldn’t expect every organism to fit neatly into its own category, like books in a library.

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, notice what the professionals say, it is they who see a problem; notice a list of 26 concepts. Nor is this the only case, try to find a single comprehensive definition of life. KF

    PS: For those who care to be accurate, those who use kinds or baramin as terms specifically distinguish from species.

    PPS: A part of the issue is obviously distinct identity, logic of being and unifying abstracta. If one doubts the reality of abstracta, one has to use abstracta to do it . . . undeniably real, eg distinction twoness number. It is a general pattern that entities have shared and different characteristics, down to the individual. The idea of species came up in recognisable, interfertile varieties, e.g. C19 IIRC breeding studies established that various trout in the UK were interfertile, the brown trout. But biology includes other patterns — are viruses even alive? — and this makes for ever increased complexity.

  25. 25
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Yes, the professionals do indeed use the term “the species problem”. In what sense is there a problem? There are multiple different definitions of the term, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s just the way the world is. It would be naive to expect a single comprehensive definition of “species” (and perhaps of “life”).

    I don’t think it’s a “problem” for any particular position on origins (unless that position requires clear boundaries between species). That is, it does not refute “””Darwinism””” or ID straightaway.

  26. 26
    Brother Brian says:

    Latemarch

    Conflating creationism with ID.

    There is no conflating. Creationism is a subset of ID. Therefore, the binary system of classification was developed to describe creatures created by ID.

  27. 27
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    MS & Mimus, ID is entirely compatible with variation of types and populations, which reflect a common body plan. It has no commitment to fixity of species,

    ID has no commitment to anything other than, at some point, poof. It covers everything from God ID created the universe with all of the built in information necessary for life to develop and evolve, to God ID intervenes on a daily basis. What is lacking is any proposal of the ID theory that best explains what we see. Including mechanisms used to achieve this and some proposal as to the nature of the designer. Evolutionary theory has done all of this.

  28. 28
    Brother Brian says:

    DaveS@25, I think the fact that we use the same word in different ways is the issue. I was taken to task a few days ago when I said that, in some circumstances (some fish species) cannibalism of their own young can be an effective survival strategy. Some took offence of my use of the word “strategy” because biologists use it in a different context than a layperson.

    But I still fail to see how the fuzzy ness of species is a problem for evolution when the concept of species was first developed to classify an intelligently designed universe.

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    Facts:
    https://uncommondescent.com/evolution/fyi-ftr-burning-the-fixity-of-species-strawman/
    . . . but will mere facts make a difference to oh so lovely rhetoric?

  30. 30
    Brother Brian says:

    KF, the fixity of species strawman is one erected by ID proponents. Your comments-off OP do not provide any facts to change this.

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    DS,

    I am not getting into a drawn out exchange, the nature of the problem has been clearly described and exemplified through a list of 26 often significantly divergent concepts. Even Wikipedia is helpful.

    BB,

    You clearly need to again read the UD Weak Argument Correctives.

    For those who respect truth and right reason, I note that were it empirically shown that functionally specific, complex organisation and/or information can and do observably arise from blind chance and/or mechanical necessity without intelligent design, ID would instantly collapse.

    The evasions, rhetoric games, strawman tactics, red herrings etc we perpetually see are precisely because that has not happened nor is it in prospect.

    Notice the above: get blind processes to create a code and functional algorithms without design, beyond 500 – 1,000 bits. We all know the fate of random text generation exercises, 10^100 short on config space scope.

    KF

  32. 32
    daveS says:

    KF,

    I am not getting into a drawn out exchange, the nature of the problem has been clearly described and exemplified through a list of 26 often significantly divergent concepts. Even Wikipedia is helpful.

    I’m not sure we have any disagreement on the issue?

  33. 33
    Brother Brian says:

    KF@31, what does this have to do with the focal topic of the OP (ie, the fuzzy ness of species being a problem for evolution)? Let me repeat the fundamental points:
    1) the concept of species was developed to describe an intelligently designed universe.
    2) Biologists, rightly or wrongly, continue to use the species classification system because it still has some value. And also probably because humans have this need to classify things.
    3) according to evolutionary theory we would expect to see “species” that can’t interbreed, some that can interbreed but with problems, and some that, when given the opportunity can fully interbreed.

    If you want to disagree with any of this, I will respond. But please stay on topic.

  34. 34
    hazel says:

    Cool. kf gets to write posts, but no one else can respond. That’s a way to stay in complete control rather than having to discuss things with people who might have some different views.

  35. 35
    kairosfocus says:

    H, sorry but the track record is that of specifically ignoring focal (and civilisationally important) topics, rushing off on tangents — often on repulsive subjects, then insisting on that side tracking. FYI, commenting is a privilege, not a right; this is not Hyde Park. I do intend to open back up for comments on the morrow with an OP on a focal matter, but for today, there are a few things that need to be put on record without side-track games. KF

  36. 36
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, from my reading, it seems that the article News cites is discussing dogs as wolves that somehow hit on the strategy of being jumped up scavengers that can be friendly to people, leading to the famous bond between man and dog. Breed diversity is known to be a product of artificial selection and is known to have limits. However, as I noted, the variation across breeds is such that were dogs only known from fossils they would be imagined to be a cluster of species. This is only thematically related to the wider challenge that the species concept has many challenges, even though it captures a pattern of commonality that we find maddeningly difficult to specify in a precise comprehensive fashion. KF

  37. 37
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    However, as I noted, the variation across breeds is such that were dogs only known from fossils they would be imagined to be a cluster of species.

    And I have made this point in a previous thread. Something along the lines of, if chihuahuas and Great Danes we’re only known from their fossils, they would be classified as separate species. Which is probably true. But the same would probably be said if the only extant variants we had were chihuahuas and Great Danes. They certainly can’t interbreed naturally, even though we can assist them in doing so with some help. And, if I am not mistaken, you took me to task over both claims.

    But the bulk of the discussion has been around News’ comment that “Their assertion shows, of course, what a mess the biological species concept is.” As if it is a problem for evolutionists. Which it is not. News is constantly posting OPs about the fuzzy ness of species, presumably because she thinks it somehow cast doubt on evolution. Completely ignoring the fact that the species concept and classification was developed in an attempt to describe what was believed to be intelligently designed.

  38. 38
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, I think my reading is that the definition of species in the Genus-species context is an unresolved problem central to biology as a science, as would be the definition of life (the Bio- part) had News raised it. News raises a shift of context challenge, hypothetically, stone age people shifting to burning their refuse, so scavengers now lack a food source. Which dogs would survive and what sort of pattern would result? My observation on dogs going feral and attacking sheep etc, is that dogs in many cases can revert to pack hunting. Indeed, that is exploited with hounds used in hunting packs. KF

    PS: Why the persistent attempt to project the locus of the problem? The issue has to do with the usage of species and linked taxonomy. Recognising of common identity on clusters of shared characteristics, more broadly, is an issue in logic of being. Abstract archetypes reflecting in common characteristics are unavoidable. As noted already, the attempt to deny such, by using language dependent on abstracta such as distinct symbols, is forced to use what it tries to deny. Reasoning and defining by genus-differentia is not a peculiarity of design thought, ancient or modern, it is bound up in the law of identity: A is A i/l/o core characteristics, which of course can have in-common blocs with say B so A and B are alike in some ways, different in others. For simple example, when we recognise an entity x, we recognise it as being an entity with a particular frame of characteristics. Seeing is seeing as. Apples and bananas are fruit, Alice and Bob are people, all four are embodied entities. And more

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