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Thread: Scientists Cite Fastest Case of Human Evolution

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    Re: Scientists Cite Fastest Case of Human Evolution

    Quote Originally Posted by Opteron View Post


    Actually, it should be seen as inevitable that things would develop to be more complex and specialized. With selection removing anything that is not beneficial to an organism, its inevitable that over long periods of time organisms would grow more complex and become better adapted to their environment.

    It's like the monkeys typing on a typewriter analogy, over time its inevitable that they will type out something coherent. Same with life, over time its inevitable that something adapted to the environment and complex will develop.

    There are scientists to disagree with that assumption, at least in part.

    Barrow and Tipler [30] review the consensus among such biologists that the evolutionary path from primitive Cambrian chordates, e.g. Pikaia, to Homo sapiens was a highly improbable event. For example, the large brains of humans have marked adaptive disadvantages, requiring as they do an expensive metabolism, a long gestation period, and a childhood lasting more than 25% of the average total life span. Other improbable features of humans include:

    Being the only extant bipedal land (non-avian) vertebrate. Combined with an unusual eye–hand coordination, this permits dextrous manipulations of the physical environment with the hands;
    A vocal apparatus far more expressive than that of any other mammal, enabling speech. Speech makes it possible for humans to interact cooperatively, to share knowledge, and to acquire a culture;
    The capability of formulating abstractions to a degree permitting the invention of mathematics, and the discovery of science and technology.


    Barrow, John D.; Tipler, Frank J. (19 May 1988). The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. foreword by John A. Wheeler. Oxford: Oxford University Press. LC 87-28148. ISBN 9780192821478. The anthropic cosmological principle - Google Books. Retrieved 31 December 2009. Section 3.2

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    Re: Scientists Cite Fastest Case of Human Evolution

    Goshin, the guys who wrote that are mathematicians and cosmologists, not experts in evolution. Tipler is also something of a nut(see his book The Physics of Immortality). Barrow is not quite as nutty,. except as a proponent of ID.
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    Re: Scientists Cite Fastest Case of Human Evolution

    Quote Originally Posted by Redress View Post
    Goshin, the guys who wrote that are mathematicians and cosmologists, not experts in evolution. Tipler is also something of a nut(see his book The Physics of Immortality). Barrow is not quite as nutty,. except as a proponent of ID.

    Yes, every time I mention them someone says something like that. Being considered a "nut" by some doesn't necessarily mean you're always wrong... I expect there have been plenty of scientists who were viewed with some disdain at some point who were later found to have at least been right about some things.

    But at any rate, they aren't the only ones by far who hypothesize that some or many elements of evolution were improbable. The author of the following article is certainly an evolutionist, and his topic is actually the Great Filter hypothesis in answer to the Fermi Paradox, but a number of his points are relevant on the subject of how improbable certain aspects of evolution might be. It's quite an intresting read, at any rate:

    http://www.nickbostrom.com/extraterrestrial.pdf

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    Re: Scientists Cite Fastest Case of Human Evolution

    Quote Originally Posted by Goshin View Post
    Yes, every time I mention them someone says something like that. Being considered a "nut" by some doesn't necessarily mean you're always wrong... I expect there have been plenty of scientists who were viewed with some disdain at some point who were later found to have at least been right about some things.

    But at any rate, they aren't the only ones by far who hypothesize that some or many elements of evolution were improbable. The author of the following article is certainly an evolutionist, and his topic is actually the Great Filter hypothesis in answer to the Fermi Paradox, but a number of his points are relevant on the subject of how improbable certain aspects of evolution might be. It's quite an intresting read, at any rate:

    http://www.nickbostrom.com/extraterrestrial.pdf
    He is? His degree is in economics. Not quite what I would call a expert in evolution. What is your interest in the Anthropic Principle by the way?
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    Re: Scientists Cite Fastest Case of Human Evolution

    I have been doing some reading on this, since I was unfamiliar with the Great Filter hypothesis. First thing first, the concept was put forth by Robin Hanson, who has his degree in, guess what...economics. The idea is an attempt to explain the Fermi Paradox, which asks why, with the huge number of solar systems in the universe, we have not seen other intelligent life. The problem with the Fermi paradox is, in part, with the Drake equation, which seeks to quantify the likelihood of another intelligent civilization forming and relies on a set of factors which are entirely unknown(fraction of planets with life, odds life becomes intelligent, odds intelligent life becomes communicative, and lifetime of communicating civilizations), and others are not accurately known(number of systems with planets capable of life for example).
    We became a great nation not because we are a nation of cynics. We became a great nation because we are a nation of believers - Lindsey Graham

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    Re: Scientists Cite Fastest Case of Human Evolution

    Quote Originally Posted by Redress View Post
    He is? His degree is in economics. Not quite what I would call a expert in evolution. What is your interest in the Anthropic Principle by the way?
    Pardon, I didn't mean he was an evolutionary biologist, but rather than he was not any sort of evolutionary skeptic.

    I came across his article while doing some research on various hypotheses relating to the likelihood of life arising on exoplanets, a subject that intrests me.

    Are we to limit opinions only to those who are evolutionary biologists? If so, I must excuse myself from the discussion.
    Last edited by Goshin; 07-05-10 at 11:52 AM.

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    Re: Scientists Cite Fastest Case of Human Evolution

    Quote Originally Posted by Goshin View Post
    Pardon, I didn't mean he was an evolutionary biologist, but rather than he was not any sort of evolutionary skeptic.

    I came across his article while doing some research on various hypotheses relating to the likelihood of life arising on exoplanets, a subject that intrests me.

    Are we to limit opinions only to those who are evolutionary biologists? If so, I must excuse myself from the discussion.
    I would be out of the discussion as well. However, it is probably best to cite works by those who are in the field of evolution, or at least educated in that field. I again point to Dawkin's The Blind Watchmaker(he is an expert in the field) to show how those seeming unlikely evolutionary steps really are not.

    All in all though, I learned some stuff from your links, and more from following up on them, so thank you for that.
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    Re: Scientists Cite Fastest Case of Human Evolution

    Quote Originally Posted by Redress View Post
    However, it is probably best to cite works by those who are in the field of evolution, or at least educated in that field.
    Why? Evolutionary biologists aren't the only people capable of calculating complex probabilities.

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    Re: Scientists Cite Fastest Case of Human Evolution

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor View Post
    Why? Evolutionary biologists aren't the only people capable of calculating complex probabilities.
    Of course

    However when calculating complex probabilities that involve evolution understanding evolution should be a requirement, just as being a Physicist would be a requirement for calculating complex probabilities that involve physics.

    At the very least the person doing the calculations should be guided by an expert in the field if they do not have the required math skills
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    Re: Scientists Cite Fastest Case of Human Evolution

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor View Post
    Why? Evolutionary biologists aren't the only people capable of calculating complex probabilities.
    A calculation is only as good as it's starting assumptions and data being input into it.
    We became a great nation not because we are a nation of cynics. We became a great nation because we are a nation of believers - Lindsey Graham

    Quote Originally Posted by Fiddytree View Post
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