New Theoretical Framework Undermines Natural Selection

A new book published earlier this year has finally gotten some quite interesting attention. The book is called; “Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection” by philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith. It got a very positive review for the most part in Science by Jay Odenbaugh…

“Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection is a dense and deep work on the foundations of evolutionary biology.  Evolutionary biologists tell us that evolution by natural selection occurs when a few ingredients are present—specifically, when there is variation with respect to a trait, those variants differ in the numbers of offspring produced, and this variation is heritable to some degree.”

“Unfortunately, as Godfrey-Smith argues, this recipe is far too simple, and even more complicated versions such as the replicator approach offered by Richard Dawkins suffer serious flaws.  This “classical recipe,” for example, ignores the fact that for some organisms numbers of offspring don’t necessarily determine reproductive success (“fitness”) whereas rates of population growth, age structure, or variation in expected numbers of offspring do.”

“Likewise, natural selection and patterns of heredity can “cancel” each other out, leaving no evolutionary change.  The concept of Dawkins’s replicators—those entities that interact with like entities and of which copies are made—presupposes that there can be no reproduction without replication, which is false when we have continuously varying traits evolving by natural selection.  Thus, our standard models for understanding what evolution by natural selection is are just too simple.”

What a bombshell Jay Odenbaugh wrote! Could this be the beginning of the end for Dawkins being one of the lead spokespersons for natural selection? This new theoretical framework better replace the old one with some viable and testable alternative. Sadly, Peter Godfrey-Smith uses a scheme which requires more imagination than empirical.

His scheme consists of three parameters…

1) H (reliability of inheritance)

2) C (relation of traits to fitness)

3) S (dependence of reproductive differences on intrinsic traits)

He then graphs these in what is called; population space. Odenbaugh attempts to give this scheme credibility by giving  some examples to illustrate the new framework. For example if one of the twins gets hit by lightning which disables it from reproducing, this in turn doesn’t affect the other twin, fit or not.  Are you following my point?

Neutral drift according to  Peter Godfrey-Smith is not a “force” or label for ignorance; “rather it concerns where one is in the space of Darwinian populations.” As far as units of selection, he rejects it but offers no plausible alternative. The explanation of the great transformations and innovations from Cambrian explosion is a bit bizarre to say the least.

He writes…”With regard to evolutionary transitions, he notes that often the formation of new biological individuals involves marginal Darwinian populations moving to paradigmatic ones and the parts of such populations (that is, the lower-level entities) moving from paradigmatic ones to marginal ones—a process he terms ‘de-Darwinizing.’”

Wait a minute, hold on here…Did he just claim members of a population move, by some unexplained force, into a new paradigm? Like from a sponge into a trilobite or something along those lines? And that others move out of the paradigm into the margins? This really doesn’t explain specified complex features in animals such as wings, eyes and other body parts.

What also seems bizarre, this review comes out on the verge of Darwin’s 150th anniversary celebration by pro-evolutionists and atheists in general.  The book certainly undermines the party for Darwin. What you know about natural selection is wrong using meaningless graphs of arbitrary parameters that might omit key concepts, without knowing how to score them objectively. Keep in mind, what the hypothesis of evolution proposes about natural selection is wrong, and this new concept which is supposed to be an “expansion” of it, is wrong as well.

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13 thoughts on “New Theoretical Framework Undermines Natural Selection

  1. Yes, indeed. Time to get past “Classification is in the Bones” as quickly as possible. Maybe people will forget the unanswered challenges to put up or shut up. Perhaps they will gloss over the questions as to basic science comprehension that were met with silence..

    But the challenges remain, don’t they? The tests stand unanswered. So, on to a diversion, a new bit of what passes for falsification to the unthinking faithful who wait with bated breath for any crumb of evidence against evolution, and who swallow it whole—even if it even more forcefully demolishes their own position, as did the previous Science article.

    Press on,then, to another debacle.

    ==Soc Puppette

  2. In his zeal to latch onto the smallest morsels of support, Michael’s ventriloquist once again chokes on them. The most important part of the book review is the last sentence. After several criticisms of the book (which Michael blithely omitted from the quotations), the reviewer summed up thusly:

    “Godfrey-Smith’s book fruitfully forces us to think in new ways about evolution and natural selection.”

    Criticism of Darwin is fruitful? Imagine a creationist affirming the fruitfulness of Richard Dawkin’s “The God Illusuion.” Yes, Dawkins has some valid points. Perhaps we should rethink a literal interpretation of Genesis, in view of the writings of the Church Fathers. Maybe there is something to this atheism business after all.

    Fat chance.

    This is, of course, a fundamental difference between science and religion—a difference that creationists seem hard-wired to misunderstand. If Jesus should turn out a pious fraud, like Apollonius of Tyana (also a miracle-worker, also born of a god, etc).then Christianity would crumble, despite everything else. But if Darwinian mechanisms of evolution turned out to be incomplete (as Godfrey-Smith asserts), or even utterly wrong, new hypotheses would be formulated, new evidence sought to test them, new predictions made. Darwin would remain a seminal figure, but not the last word. Just as Muslims consider Jesus (Issa) to be a towering prophet, but not the last word on the subject. Do you begin to see the difference?

    We changed paradigms with Newton when Einstein gave us a better—that is, more productive, wider ranging—way to look at dynamics. We still use Newtonian equations when appropriate—they’re not wrong, just approximate. We did it when atomic theory gave us a better way to look at chemistry. The periodic table didn’t become wrong, just not the whole explanation. Dozens, hundreds of times, this occurred when new evidence appeared, when a new conceptual framework won out in the contest of explanations.

    Two other matters. First, Godfrey-Smith does not assert that Darwin was wrong, but merely that natural selection is not the whole megillah, and doesn’t explain every aspect of evolution.

    Second, he does not question evolution itself, only the mechanisms that drive it. Thus, the book is—once again—cold comfort to creationism.

    This is the third post in a row that is advanced as a jab at evolution, yet actually disproves the claims of creationism instead. Is it because you have no shame or because you have no intelligence?

  3. Michael’s ghost writer: “Wait a minute, hold on here…Did he just claim members of a population move, by some unexplained force, into a new paradigm? Like from a sponge into a trilobite or something along those lines?”

    Your reading comprehension is deficient again. If you absorbed anything at all in this review, you would know what Godfrey-Smith means by a “paradigm population.” Members of a population do not “move into a new paradigm.” How could you misunderstand the plain meaning of this statement so thoroughly?

    Since you have completely reneged on a long-promised review of “Signature in the Cell,” we can hardly expect you to write a review of Godfrey-Smith’s book from actually reading it, can we? Of course not.

  4. Godfrey-Smith didn’t invent the term “paradigm population.” If Michael’s ventriloquist had ever opened a book on genetics, he would have known what a paradigm population is. And why moving “from one paradigm to another” is nonsense.

    But then, who is his intended audience for this blog? Does it include anyone knowledgeable in biology, or—heaven forfend—evolutionary biology? (Hint: No.) The intended audience comprises creationists whose only desire is to find a scrap of justification for their beliefs, no matter how tenuous. Ignoramuses who have no desire to learn, and will eagerly quaff the Kool-Aide of faith, no matter how poisonous it may be to their rationality.

    Therefore, it really doesn’t matter that what Michael’s ghost says is factually incorrect. Truth is not the point, is it Michael?

  5. “A new book published earlier this year has finally gotten some quite interesting attention.”

    A “new” book has “finally” gotten some attentrion. Sounds a little paradoxical on its face, n’est-ce pas?

    Let’s see. Book is published May 17, 2009. Dense technical matter is read and analyzed. Time is taken out of researcher’s normal workload, with no extra compensation or time off for writing reviews. Hundreds of references are looked up and checked. Review is written. Editors check review for accuracy in dialog with reviewer. Review is scheduled for publication, then appears in print on October 16, 2009. Total elapsed time: five months. A new book has “finally” got some attention. Does anyone still wonder why we laugh at creationists?

  6. “This new theoretical framework better replace the old one with some viable and testable alternative.”

    Sigh. Another failure of eighth-grade reading comprehension. What new theoretical framework? What new alternatives? Godfrey-Smith proposes no new theory, no new mechanisms, nothing to replace Darwin. As the reviewer says quite clearly, the purpose of the author’s framework is “to understand controversies concerning the nature of random genetic drift, levels of selection, major transitions in evolution,… and cultural evolution.”

    That is, Godfrey-Smith merely proposes tests for the adequacy of particular evolutionary mechanisms, including the extent to which they may or may not suffice to explain certain features of evolution. How could anyone understand this as any type of a new theory for evolution? Well….creationists, perhaps. Or others who must grasp at straws..

    So, upon seeing this post, why was my first reaction to look up the Science article and read the whole thing for myself? Because creationists have a well-earned reputation for denial, distortion, and outright lies. For those who claim to possess absolute Truth themselves, it is wondrous strange that they have no regard for it. Poor Michael and his ilk most likely no longer even recognize truth. His source perhaps does, but regards the dupes he manipulates as unknowing, uncaring, or both.

    Why do I not feel the same urge to read all the refs in a Science article, and check all the experimental results for myself? Three words: publication, peer review, and duplication.

    Publication in a journal addressed to one’s colleagues exposes the author to suggestions, criticisms, and arguments. Creationist materials are all aimed at laymen, not peers. They do not abide criticism, there is not even a vehicle for accepting it.

    Peer review subjects an author to questions regarding the interpretation of his results, the sufficiency of his research into the results and views of predecessors, and the completeness of his protocols. Creationists do not submit, and have not submitted, papers for peer review. William Dembsky scoffs openly at the whole process, claiming he can make a lot more money publishing books.

    Duplication verifies the author’s research results. As CbD noted earlier, scientists do sometimes lie; duplication catches faked results. The major purposes of duplication, however, are to determine whether the results may have been achieved for some other reason, whether slightly changed conditions produce the same results, whether systematic errors have occurred, or whether the results are not robust for some other reason. The concept of duplication is foreign to creationists, because they have no results capable of duplication, no arguments capable of independent verification.

    So,

    THINGS CREATIONIST SEEM UNABLE TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT EVOLUTION

    #19 (of 38) is that the scientific process substantiates evolutionary research in a way that creationism entirely lacks. In fact, in a way that creationism could not survive. Creationism is an attempt to provide a cloak of scientific respectability without actually meeting any of the requirements of science.

  7. Book review in Science: “Godfrey-Smith’s book fruitfully forces us to think in new ways about evolution and natural selection.”

    mcoville (in “John McWhorter’s Controversial Webcast Causes Confusion,” Sept. 11): “Yet another example of how quickly Darwinists will turn on someone, even someone in their own camp, if they even hint that ID might have ground to stand on. Darwinists are so insecure in their beliefs that they have to destroy any opposition that presents itself.”

    Where is mcoville now? Hides when proven wrong.

    ==Soc Puppette

  8. “A new book published earlier this year has finally gotten some quite interesting attention.”

    Finally. Say, Amazon reports no reviews yet of this book by any readers. Here’s your chance! Write your own review of “Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection.”

    Fat chance. Guffaw. Smrzzpffghh.

    ==Sox

  9. “What also seems bizarre, this review comes out on the verge of Darwin’s 150th anniversary celebration by pro-evolutionists and atheists in general. ”

    What did you expect? Evolution is a worldwide conspiracy. Creationists are conspiracy theorists. Global warming is a conspiracy. Vaccinations are a conspiracy to poison their children with mercury. Kennedy was killed by a laser beam from a flying saucer. The Holocaust was a figment of a febrile imagination.

    It was all planned. We know who you ate.

  10. “Keep in mind, what the hypothesis of evolution proposes about natural selection is wrong, and this new concept which is supposed to be an “expansion” of it, is wrong as well.”

    G-S proposes an “expansion” to natural selection? A third failure of reading comprehension. Another factual error. If anything, the author proposes a contraction of natural selection.

  11. “What a bombshell Jay Odenbaugh wrote! Could this be the beginning of the end for Dawkins being one of the lead spokespersons for natural selection?”

    Michael likes the book.

    “Sadly, Peter Godfrey-Smith uses a scheme which requires more imagination than empirical.”

    Michael dossn’t like the book.

    “The book certainly undermines the party for Darwin.”

    Michael likes the book.

    “Keep in mind, what the hypothesis of evolution proposes about natural selection is wrong, and this new concept which is supposed to be an “expansion” of it, is wrong as well.”

    Michael doesn’t like the book.

    You should be more consistent.. Your intended audience cannot abide ambivalence or indecision. They want you to tell them what to think.

    ==Soc it to ’em!

  12. Olorin (October 18, 2009 at 9:48 pm): “A third failure of reading comprehension.”

    Sorry, it was the fourth failure. I’m losing count.

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