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Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

Gavrielkay Re:Haleluja ... (669 comments)

I dispute trying to claim that it makes sense in a logical argument to claim that the universe couldn't have come form nothing but a supreme being could have. You win no logic argument by saying things can't exist without a cause, therefor god exists without a cause. Or that the universe is too special, complex or perfect or whatever but somehow a god isn't too much of any of that to have come from nothing.

I really hate when religious folks try to use science and logic to prove their magical thinking as though scientists and atheists somehow just forgot how those things worked and are going to be completely stumped by it. "You can't have something without a cause, therefor god" is not a logical argument. If you believe in a supreme being or beings of some sort, I don't care. Trying to argue that one is necessary to explain the universe when logically that just leaves you having to explain how an even more complex supreme being came from nothing is not persuasive to anyone who isn't already persuaded.

about three weeks ago
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Statisticians Study Who Was Helped Most By Obamacare

Gavrielkay Re:Camps mixed up (739 comments)

Republicans plainly and publicly announced their intention to make Obama's a failed presidency. They voted and still vote against just about anything that might make him look good. Including approving appointed positions. At this point, American politics depends on nothing getting fixed because both sides then use those issues as talking points. If something got fixed, not only might the credit go to the "wrong" side, but then it couldn't be turned into a wedge issue to try to distinguish otherwise mostly identical (sold-out greedy bastard) candidates.

about three weeks ago
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Statisticians Study Who Was Helped Most By Obamacare

Gavrielkay Re:Camps mixed up (739 comments)

Personally, I think it's fairly obvious that it's the result of the insane marriage between the financial and social conservatives. The super-rich really don't have to care about draconian rules that stem from the social conservatives - they can send their daughters anywhere for an abortion. But the rural poor care a great deal about those issues and will vote against their financial interests if it means electing someone who will at least pay lip service to their religious ideology.

about three weeks ago
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Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

Gavrielkay Re:Tip of the iceberg (669 comments)

Well, the bible was written by people who were able to observe their world. It would be ridiculous to think that they would get nothing right. Harry Potter books have train stations and owls and school kids in them which are all provably real things. Just because some reality happens to be mixed into your fantasy it doesn't make every word true, though.

about three weeks ago
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Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

Gavrielkay Re:Haleluja ... (669 comments)

Though as an aside, I wonder how long it will take the hardcore Darwinists to realize in greater numbers that a chain of cause and effect, if traced back to its beginning, must eventually have a prime mover, an uncaused cause?

Even if you could somehow prove that the beginning wasn't a massive but happy accident, you would still have zero proof that the "uncaused cause" had anything to do with a personal god. And anyway, why can your "uncaused cause" not need a cause but everything else does? You can't have a logical argument when you're willing to break your own rules to justify your beliefs.

DNA contains lots and lots of highly organized information that doesn't just happen

No one said DNA just happened; they say that small chemical changes from simpler molecules happened over millions or billions of years that led to DNA. Your alternative is that some sort of highly intelligent, powerful being just happened. That does not solve your logic problem.

Too many hardcore Darwin supporters aren't familiar with these ideas

We're not "Darwin supporters," we're people who can look at scientific evidence and form conclusions that don't require magical thinking. Darwin isn't right because he was Darwin, he was merely the most recognizable person involved in elucidating those ideas. Religion argues from authority, not science.

about three weeks ago
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Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

Gavrielkay Re:It makes you uneasy? (1007 comments)

It affects people who aren't there by promoting faith above knowledge. For any random individual, I really don't care if they choose to be ignorant, but apparently ignorance loves company as much as misery. These folks want to impose their beliefs on others via laws and school boards. If they want to curl up in bed at night thinking happy thoughts about their religion I don't care, but I care very much what laws they want to pass and what subjects they want to suppress in our schools. Every time they get an official outlet for their nonsense they get more bold. So it is in the best interest of those who advocate education, freedom and separation of church and state to speak out against them when possible.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Gavrielkay Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

Many of them couldn't evolve fast enough and simply died. Others became birds.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Gavrielkay Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

Let me start by saying thank you for an intellectually interesting conversation that doesn't involve name calling, finger pointing or ranting. I have a tendency toward snark, don't take it too personally :)

I propose that the conjectured lines of descent would simply be rejuggled, as has happened many times in the past.

Sure. Because we continue to learn new things about relationships between living and dead creatures. But it IS possible that you could find something that simply could not be explained away. We haven't yet. But it could happen. There could be data out there waiting to be found that cannot be accommodated by the theory. You could find that rabbits are genetically almost identical to some new species of lizard and that would blow the theory out of the water.

I really do think I can essentially prove this to be not a route to falsification...

It sounds like your complaint here is that the theory so well describes the world that there is room in it to accommodate previously unknown data without breaking the model. Similar to the anthropic principle which you are not persuaded by... a scientific theory must account for all data and be contradicted by none. The fact that it has been honed over the years with new data without breaking is an indication of how good it is as a scientific theory, not somehow invalidating it by your notion of un-falsifiability.

The model will accept any improbability whatsoever, by definition.

No, not any. Like I said, you could find that horses are more closely related to whales than donkeys and that would be a huge problem. Or that the genes have no similarities at all and that would be a huge problem. You are apparently put off by the notion that small rearrangements in our knowledge about the so called tree of life can be accommodated by the theory without it breaking. That is its strength not its weakness. But, I maintain very strongly, that there are findings that could break it. It IS falsifiable, but it is also flexible and not dependent on us being absolutely correct in what is related to what and how closely. We can learn new things about how closely chipmunks are related to squirrels without breaking the idea that they ARE related and that if you go back far enough you can find the great-great-x grandparent of them both. However, if you went back and somehow figured out they were actually descended from crocodiles rather than primitive rodents you would have falsified the theory.

I conclude from the fact I only find surviving things where things have survived, and don't find surviving things where they couldn't possibly survive, that my model is equally thorough and accurate as evolution. Correct?

Your model is accurate sure, but not thorough. The theory of evolution goes much further than that. It says not only that they are currently living in places they can live but that they had ancestors. And that those ancestors may have had other offshoots which would share genetic/physiologic similarities with other "cousins" as it were. Before the study of genetics existed, you could use the theory of evolution by natural selection to predict that mammals should have things in common with each other, and that the more similar the mammal the more similar the genes should be. This seems obvious now, with our growing understanding of genetics but it wouldn't have been so in the early days of the theory. It was a prediction that would NOT have had to be true if species didn't evolve from more primitive species via mutations in their genetic code. This was a falsifiable prediction stemming from the theory that was borne out once we learned to to read the genetic code.

You can also predict from the theory that creatures that look similar aren't always as closely related as they seem. Because we've said that natural selection is important you would actually predict that different "branches" of the tree could generate similar physiological attributes if they live in similar environments. Insects, birds, bats etc developed wings because flight was an advantage in their respective niches. It isn't in any way a cop-out. Again, the flexibility is part of the beauty and truth of it, not an invalidation of it.

What kind of fossil could possibly compromise any of this methodology, which is ultimately really just a largely-arbitrary categorization system?

I already mentioned finding the fossil of a modern horse from 2 billion years ago.

But scientifically you can't tell the difference between natural process and a supernatural process that does the same thing.

Would you categorically assert this relative to organisms you might encounter, having their DNA at your disposal, for which the design was done by a genetic engineer, rather than a "natural process"?

If you read my statement carefully, I said that it would be indistinguishable from a directed process that did the same thing. If we somehow become so skilled at gene manipulation that we leave no trace of our involvement, well then, we've left no trace. What I meant is that you could propose that a causal figure waved a wand and slowly slowly slowly over many generations caused the legs of kangaroos to get longer and more adapted to jumping. I can say that natural selection accomplished the exact same thing in the exact same time frame due to some advantage that being able to jump gave the kangaroo's ancestors. You can ALWAYS say that whatever is found was purposely put there to be found in exactly that way by a sufficiently powerful causal figure. Talk about un-falsifiable.

You also can't tell the difference between living and being in a perfectly accurate model of life in a computer simulation.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Gavrielkay Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

Ok, here goes, some testable findings which could falsify the theory of evolution by natural selection. Let's do a quick review on the theory itself, shall we? That species change over time, evolving and differentiating from common ancestors (due to natural selection in the most relevant statements). So let's look at just a few of the areas where findings could support or falsify the theory.

1) Genetics

Since we are proposing that all species evolved and differentiated from common ancestors, we should find that those who split off more recently have more genes in common than those who split off further in the past. So an experiment where we compare the genes of horses, donkeys and whales would be a test. If evolution is correct, horses and donkeys share a more recent common ancestor (both being hoofed land mammals etc) and you have to go back quite a ways to find the common ancestor with the whale. So, we should find that horse and donkey DNA has way more in common with each other than with whales. If instead we found that there were no similarities at all between any of the DNA we would have a problem because these are all mammals and share things like placental pregnancy which you'd expect to be reflected in the genes. If they all have identical DNA that'd be a problem. If horses had more in common with whales than donkeys that'd be a problem. So, genetics gives us a good way to test our theory on shared ancestors. If DNA mapping turned up something unexpected - it would have to be explained or it would cause a lot of trouble for the overall theory.

2) Physiology

Since we are proposing natural selection as the filter through which life must pass, we would expect to find organisms that have adaptations to their environment. If we find a tree dwelling species we expect to find something about the critter that makes it suited to that environment. Any or all of prehensile tails, gripping feet, long limbs for grasping branches etc. If we found an animal in an environment where it had no adaptations - a fish out of water let's say - then we'd have some explaining to do.

3) Paleontology

Since we've said organisms evolve from common ancestors, we would expect to see "transitional fossils" showing a progression. Now we know from the rarity of fossilization that we're not going to find a smooth transition for every species ever, but if we never found any that would be a problem. Or if we found say a modern horse fossil preserved from 2 billion years ago. We should expect to see things like we do in whale fossils which show a progression of the nose opening from forward to atop the head as whale evolved for their life at sea. Fossil evidence could be found which seriously compromises the theory.

Any of these areas provide plenty of opportunities to falsify the predictions of the theory of evolution. I still don't understand your statement about it being the same as reproduction. Reproduction if we define it the same as being generating a new being from the DNA of one or more existing ones, simply provides the means through which evolution can occur. Mutations occur because DNA doesn't replicate flawlessly, even in species which have asexual reproduction. From there it's up to you whether you've decided that those mutations can't add up to big changes without help. I think what we see in the world argues against anything resembling a directed evolution with intelligence behind it. But scientifically you can't tell the difference between natural process and a supernatural process that does the same thing.

To address your written complaint though, I think I've provided a several areas of study where the predictions arising from the theory of evolution could be falsified.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Gavrielkay Re: Falsifiability (282 comments)

The anthropic principle is not nonsense. It makes perfect sense. In any case, there is still ongoing research into the origin of the universe and whether this was the only sort of "rule set" that could have generated a universe etc. I make no claims to know more than the current experimental evidence. But you shouldn't either.

I think the scale of the universe and the time involved are what exceed most people's imagination. It's not like winning the lottery 5 times in a row. It's like playing the lottery billions of times every day and winning 5 times out of all those tries. Not even time existed in the nothingness from which our universe is thought to have sprung. There is no way of knowing how many failed/aborted "big bangs" happened before it was just right to expand into our universe. There is no way of knowing how many puddles of ooze existed on how many planets in countless galaxies across the universe. With so many "lottery tickets" in play, why should it be more than pure chance that there was a winner? In fact with so many puddles on so many planets in so many galaxies, it's hard to imagine there is no other life in the universe.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Gavrielkay Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

The theory of evolution by natural selection makes many predictions any one of which could have been found inaccurate therefor casting doubt on the theory or even invalidating it completely. It predicts genetic findings, fossil findings, physiological findings... and each of these has been borne out.

I am genuinely at a loss about what your misunderstanding is with the whole thing. I can only assume that you've decided for other reasons that you want a reason to be able to dismiss it or doubt it or whatever.

Evolution is enabled by reproduction due to the way DNA works. They are not the same thing. If you want to find falsifiability in the theory of evolution then I guess you really don't understand it because there is plenty there that could have been found wrong. We could have found that chimpanzees share almost no genetic code with us rather than something over 99%. We could have found that species around the world that live in similar environments never have similar physiology, but that hasn't happened either. We could have found no transitional fossils and observed no changes even over our own lifetimes in species with fast life cycles.

I really think the the problem is that you want to be able to falsify something that isn't false. There is so much evidence for evolution by natural selection that the only real alternative is that some causal agent is doing things exactly the way natural selection would have. That is about as useful an idea as that we were all created from nothing 5 minutes ago with memories of civilizations implanted in our brains.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Gavrielkay Re: Falsifiability (282 comments)

Fine tuned planet? Fine tuned solar system? Oh please. That's like the puddle claiming the hole was meant exactly for him because of how well it fits. We could not have evolved into a world that wouldn't support us. And there is no reason to believe there was only one try.

Things like the recurrent laryngeal nerve and human embryos having a stage with tails or vestigial limbs in ancient species of snakes would all be a very strange design if one could create each species independently with an "intelligent design." These things make perfect sense under the theory of evolution however.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Gavrielkay Re:No, it was not an "active" strategy. (282 comments)

Simply deciding to go up the tree higher, or being forced to in order to find more leaves won't change the foot pads of the animal. They could all decide to move up the tree, but those who won the genetic lottery and had feet that enabled them to survive better in the higher branches had more offspring. As the pressure continues to stay higher in the trees, the gene pool gets a higher and higher percentage of lizards that are born better adapted to survive there. The mutation that caused some of them to have feet that happened to work better higher in the trees didn't matter much until the population was forced there by pressure from below. That pressure makes the mutation more than just a neutral variation in the genome.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Gavrielkay Re: Falsifiability (282 comments)

No, evolution never says you end up with an optimal solution. Every change that happens is the result of totally random mutation. Sometimes that mutation makes the individual more suited to the environment, but never is it claimed that the optimal result has been or will be obtained.

However, in comparison, if you want to posit any kind of being with enough knowledge and power to control the genetics of millions of species, I'd expect something better than what could be explained by totally random mutation.

If your causal figure can't do any better than random mutation can, then what's the point? Why posit a causal figure who doesn't get a result that can't be arrived at without it?

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Gavrielkay Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

You don't prove the lack of something. You prove the existence of something. If you want to posit a designer when the observed facts don't require one, then it's on you to prove your claim.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Gavrielkay Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

Evolution is the change of species over time. This has been observed and really shouldn't be up for questioning. You could try to construct an argument that evolution hasn't been happening due to natural selection but rather due to the hand of your favorite causal figure. That would be hard to disprove but also would not be within the realm of science. There is no necessity for a causal figure. Natural selection applied over countless mutations in countless individuals over billions of years can account for what is observed.

If your worldview requires that you insert a causal figure then so be it. It can't be disproven that your causal figure isn't doing exactly what nature might have done.

But, most folks would say that if you want to posit a super-natural force, you want to be able to claim that it is necessary because what is observed isn't explainable without it.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Gavrielkay Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

Evolution happens because genes mutate. How often this happens depends on many things. How any mutation affects the organism also depends on many things. Applying environmental pressure merely serves to highlight the differences in survivability of any given mutation.

For example there is a mutation in a certain Italian population that changes the expression of the HDL molecule. This mutation makes the bearers more resistant to cholesterol related heart disease. Reference: wikipedia. In our current environment of low exercise and heavy eating, it isn't hard to see that this is a positive adaptation. The mutation that leads to people having 6 toes by contrast probably wouldn't be considered good or bad unless the environment changed and everyone with 6 toes was considered defective and removed from the population.

So, no, species don't suddenly change because of pressure. You can't alter how many mutations occur in a generation or how that mutation will affect the survivability of the organism. But you can observe that over many generations (short or long depending on the species), the changes that helped the organism survive its particular environment could lead to it producing more offspring. As each generation possessing this mutation continues to produce more offspring than those of the population who don't have it, the mutation becomes enriched. The heavier the environmental pressure, the more difference the enhanced survivability makes. The more difference, the greater enrichment of the mutation in the population until perhaps it becomes dominant or even complete.

Thus, the species has changed.

Had the mutation never happened, the species could have died out. Or it could have gone on without being that little bit better adapted to its environment. Or some other mutation could have happened with more or less dramatic effect.

All of this is explained in the theory of evolution. If you understand the theory, everything it describes and why, then you'd have no argument. It isn't invalidated by any given species failing to adapt. It isn't invalidated by "bad" mutations or slow change or fast change or no change (for any given genetic line over any given time period). It is well understood that mutations don't always (or even often) happen in a way that enhances survival, especially in a limited time frame (like dinosaurs needing to adapt to changes from a meteoroid impact overnight).

When you understand what is actually claimed and described by the theory of evolution, you'll quit complaining about it not being falsifiable and start accepting that it just isn't false. It could be disproven by any number of things, except none of those things are actually found. It really is just a description of what is found in the world around us. No magic, no extraordinary leaps of faith.

Genes can mutate. Those mutations can be neutral, better or worse for the survival (or sexual attractiveness) of the affected individual. Depending on how environmental pressure changes the breeding success of the individual, the change can die out, thrive, or just become a variation in the genome of the species. Enough of these mutations accumulating over time causes the species to change. THAT is evolution.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Gavrielkay Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

Evolution is the change of species over time. We know that species change over time and coined a word to describe that. There is so much evidence for evolution (physiological, genetic, archeological, direct observation, etc.) that the only possible reason to not believe it happens is that at some point you adopted a dogma that requires you to dismiss it. Scientifically it is one of the best proven theories of all time.

It is "falsifiable" in the only scientifically meaningful way in that it is possible to imagine experimental findings that would show that species haven't changed over time. The theory doesn't state that change happens to all species at any particular pace. It simply describes the actual findings from the world around us which is that life has changed over time. It is falsifiable, but isn't false.

The problem with the dogmatic worldview that requires its adherents to dismiss evolution is that it is simply wrong. Evolution does happen, has happened, is happening. The one and only reason to not accept this fact is dogma. All of the stupid "gotchas" creationists spout off are simply advertisements of their own ignorance of both the theory of evolution and the science that supports it.

So, yes, if change happens fast or slow or just because, it is evolution. Because all evolution means is change of species over time. That's the definition. If reproduction occurred over countless generations of all species throughout time and nothing ever changed, then that'd be your falsification.

about a month ago
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Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

Gavrielkay Re:What is critical thinking? (553 comments)

I think they mean exactly what the grandparent thinks they mean and they just worded it to fool people who aren't thinking critically.

about a month ago
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Statisticians Uncover What Makes For a Stable Marriage

Gavrielkay Re:Would be more interesting with better analysis (447 comments)

True enough I suppose. "Communities" are now internet forums and Facebook, sadly. Maybe I should take up laughing yoga :)

about a month ago

Submissions

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Home network security: DoS attack help?

Gavrielkay Gavrielkay writes  |  about a year ago

Gavrielkay (1819320) writes "We seem to have attracted the attention of some less than savory types in online gaming and now find our home network relentlessly DoSed. We bought a new router that doesn't fall over quite so easily, but it still overwhelms our poor little DSL connection and prevents us web browsing and watching Netflix occasionally. What's worse is that it seems to find us even if we change the MAC address and IP address of the router. Often the router logs IPs from Russia or Korea in these attacks (no packet logging, just a blanket "DoS attack from..." in the log. But more often lately I've noticed the IPs trace back to Microsoft or Amazon domains. Are they spoofing those IPs? Did they sign us up for something weird there? And how do they find us with a new MAC address and IP within minutes? We're looking for a way to hide from these idiots that doesn't involve going to the Feds, although that is what our ISP suggested. Piles of money for a commercial grade router is out of the question. We are running antivirus and anti-malware programs and haven't seen any evidence of hacked computers so far."

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