Evolutionary questions

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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Jesus Raves » Wed Oct 07, 2015 7:34 am

spongebob wrote:I would like some examples of this as well. Never seen this in my life that I can remember. Are you talking about documentaries or dramas? If it's dramas then I think you are just focusing on something irrelevant. We don't have enough space on this forum to discuss all the silly cliches and devices that directors use in fictional dramas and we all know they are intended to be manipulative. Even with that I would argue that the cliche of the "mad scientist" or at least "weird and nerdy" is far, far more common than presenting scientists as infallible creatures of absolute knowledge. And I've never seen this filming technique Rian mentioned. If anything, filming from below is considered bad technique because it makes people look fat. Have you ever seen a selfie; it's always from above and it's far more complimentary than from below.

If you are talking documentaries then I just have to laugh. The vast majority of scientists that I see on documentaries come off a weird and nerdy at best. There was even this occasion where Dr. Steven Novella, head of the New England Skeptics Society and host of the Skeptics Guide podcast, appeared on Dr. Oz. When questioned, Dr. Novella had the perfect responses but his personality came off as this half-dead geek and of course Oz cut him off several times. If anyone is "exhalted" on TV for their scientific prowess, it's the charlatans like Dr. Oz (who run their own shows). I think this is nothing more than Rian's perception and it makes me wonder if she harbors some sort of internal disdain for science and scientists. This is not the first time Rian has commented on this sort of thing, so I have to wonder where this is coming from. Rian, if you don't know this, the vast majority of scientists HATE going in front of the camera or the public to "promote" their work. Most of them consider it pandering and unbecoming of their work and they actually criticize others who do it. There are very few scientists willing to actually promote science in public and people like Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson have done an amazing job of bringing science to the public in an interesting way.

I suspect she meant documentaries, but either way, maybe we should wait for her examples before further analysis.

I've seen that clip of Steven Novella on Dr. Oz, and I just don't get why Steve even tried. Of course Dr. Oz doesn't want much real science on his show; there's very little sponsorship money down that path.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby spongebob » Thu Oct 15, 2015 9:12 am

Rian wrote:BTW, I have no problem with probably about 90% of evolutionary theory. Microevolution is clearly proven time and again, and we've learned so much about so many ways that things develop. However, I still have problems with macroevolution; we just can't see it happen, and there is more than one way to interpret the historical evidence. And over and over and OVER, we see organisms producing offspring like themselves, and mutations are harmful (or way more often, neutral). And in the many, MANY hours I've read documents from both sides, I see problems whenever they start to go into interpretation of historical data - they make unproven assumptions. And if the assumptions are changed, then it affects the results.


This paragraph in particular ignores all of the genetic evidence, or at least does not account for it. Genetics account for the comment that we "see organisms reproducing offspring like themselves". And of course she continues it the incredibly meaningless "historical" canard. And what these "assumptions" are supposed to be is a mystery to me. She hasn't explained anything in detail and never does no matter how many time I've asked.

IMO, and in the opinion of a minority of scientists in the field, the data is more compatible with some kind of creation event that gave us organisms roughly like we see today and that have changed to varying degrees due to many factors, but have stayed roughly the same.


It's an extreme "minority" and one that consists primarily of kooks and those seeking to promote their religious ideas. Basically, I've heard Rian's empty, unimaginative "objections" to the point that I'm tired of them and I'm ready to give up trying to explain why her opinions are empty and devoid of meaning. I'm particularly disappointed that she has chosen to continue with the same vapid arguments to evolutionary theory despite the fact that numerous people have addressed those "objections" in a specific, scientific way, or at least as much as possible given her refusal to offer specific objections to the science. This section of the forum was supposed to be different from the rest, asking participants to be more respectful and considerate, but with that comes the expectation (on my part at least) that positions would also be better supported with real information and specifics and not just the general opinion-based nonsense we see so much on the open section of the forum. If this section is going to be no different in that regard, then it becomes nothing more than a "no insult" zone, which isn't what I signed up for. So this will be the final time I address Rian on this particular subject. I'll let others bash their head in if they so choose.
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
~Bertrand Russell

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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Rian » Thu Oct 15, 2015 4:56 pm

Jesus Raves wrote:
I agree with you there. There are some people that speak of all scientists almost as if they are gods and are above their humanness. It's interesting to watch even the camera angles on scientific shows sometimes - the scientists are always shot from below on some (not all) productions, so that we are literally forced to "look up" to them. I think there' s a range of how much people let their ideology influence them, and just because someone is a scientist doesn't mean that they are all immune to - well, their humanness, as I said. And as you clarified for me (and I agree with), the influence is not always a dishonest one.

I've never noticed this manipulative camera work. Off the top of your head, can you name any examples of this? I'm curious to examine it for myself.

I can't remember which specific ones it was in, but now that I mentioned it, just keep your eye open for it. It's not every documentary, by any means, but it's been in enough that it caught my eye.

SpongeBob wrote: would like some examples of this as well. Never seen this in my life that I can remember. Are you talking about documentaries or dramas? If it's dramas then I think you are just focusing on something irrelevant. We don't have enough space on this forum to discuss all the silly cliches and devices that directors use in fictional dramas and we all know they are intended to be manipulative. Even with that I would argue that the cliche of the "mad scientist" or at least "weird and nerdy" is far, far more common than presenting scientists as infallible creatures of absolute knowledge. And I've never seen this filming technique Rian mentioned. If anything, filming from below is considered bad technique because it makes people look fat. Have you ever seen a selfie; it's always from above and it's far more complimentary than from below.
I'm talking about documentaries, like what you see on the Discovery channel or PBS.

If you are talking documentaries then I just have to laugh. The vast majority of scientists that I see on documentaries come off a weird and nerdy at best.
But nerdy is the new cool; you should know that, Sponge! But I'm talking about how science and scientists are perceived by many members of the public. Wouldn't you say they get a lot of respect?

There was even this occasion where Dr. Steven Novella, head of the New England Skeptics Society and host of the Skeptics Guide podcast, appeared on Dr. Oz. When questioned, Dr. Novella had the perfect responses but his personality came off as this half-dead geek and of course Oz cut him off several times. If anyone is "exhalted" on TV for their scientific prowess, it's the charlatans like Dr. Oz (who run their own shows).
Well, there are some scientists that are so far on the geeky scale that even a camera angle wouldn't help them! :D

I think this is nothing more than Rian's perception and it makes me wonder if she harbors some sort of internal disdain for science and scientists.

As a group, I think it's made up of varying degrees of good and bad; competent and not-as-competent. Do you agree? But over the years, I've seen this mystical public perception growing that "scientists" are a) without bias, and b) able to comment with just as much authority on things outside of science. This bothers me, and this is what I fight against, because sometimes I think it misleads people.

This is not the first time Rian has commented on this sort of thing, so I have to wonder where this is coming from. Rian, if you don't know this, the vast majority of scientists HATE going in front of the camera or the public to "promote" their work. Most of them consider it pandering and unbecoming of their work and they actually criticize others who do it.
There is a huge difference between the attitude of the scientist being filmed and the attitude of the person filming the scientist or writing the filler for when the scientist isn't speaking. If the first is valid, the second doesn't have to be.

I'm in a field that gets a lot of public respect (engineering/computers/math) and my husband is a VP of supply/transport for a HUGE company. Frankly, I couldn't do his job - he has different skills. And he can't do math! :D yet people Ooh and Aahh when I talk about my former job (I worked in research for a radar company that contracted with the military, and I had a top secret clearance) and not when my husband talks about his. So when the general public has this same feeling for scientists, and then some scientists talk outside of their field and get the same respect, then I try to point out that what they say doesn't necessarily have the same validity as if they were speaking inside of their field, and the listener needs to put on his thinking cap and THINK about what they said.

Anyway, keep your eye open for an example of the filming angle I talked about, and I'll try to remember to post a link next time I see it.

Anyway, on to more substantial topics, although IMO this IS very important, because it's all about PERCEPTION and how easily people are willing to believe a particular person. If you have a lot of respect for a group of people, then if you're not careful, it's easy to take what they say as authoritative, even if they are stepping outside of the realm of science.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Rian » Thu Oct 15, 2015 5:16 pm

spongebob wrote:
Rian wrote:
spongebob wrote:Got me. One may as well deny the existence of gravity.

Why, when everyone all over the world can observe it at any time? (unlike macroevolution)

Back later; I spent all my allotted time today here on the other thread and I'm researching info on the eye simulation.


Not all aspects of gravity, just what you can measure on earth or in near space. But like I said, evaluating movement of bodies in deep space you are looking back in time. You're seeing what all those stars did in the distant past. Some of them were a really long time ago, which, you know takes us all the way back to the big bang. We certainly can't measure that in the here and now either. But the evidence is not "historical", the evidence is there; it just represents the leftover effect of historical events.

Evidence is evidence, but it's an important distinction whether or not you saw how it got there. If you DID see, then your conclusions about how it got there are a lot more solid than if you DIDN'T see and are forced to work backwards and guess.

Edit: I wanted to add that where gravity is concerned, you have to remember that we are measuring the effects of gravity and not gravity itself. This is particularly interesting when we see how gravity affects time and space. We have measured these effects empirically, so we know they exist but it's not like we know exactly how it works. And it isn't like we can create a small planet and a small sun in a laboratory and determine if they behave as the theories predict. All we have are the solar bodies that we can measure and compare to our theories and see what fits. There isn't that much of a distinction from the way evolutionary science has worked. It has progressed in much the same way of developing hypotheses and testing them against the body of evidence and empirical data that we have.
Going from real to model planets still lets you test in real life and watch what happens in real time.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Rian » Thu Oct 15, 2015 7:21 pm

spongebob wrote:
Rian wrote:BTW, my very liberal sister and brother-in-law are getting me more aware (and concerned) about GM stuff. Our ecosystem is so complex and interconnected that I think it's quite a serious matter to introduce artificial components into it, unless the payoff is very important.


Of course this is another subject but my guess is that they are being swayed by another form of pseudo science and it falls right in your wheelhouse, assumptions without evidence. Saying our ecosystem is "complex" and "interconnected" is not a valid reason for dismissing GMO technology as "dangerous".
I agree. Did you think I didn't? I just said it was a serious matter unless the payoff is very important.

The person that I would be trying to get to is the person that thinks there are no consequences with using GM stuff. Or that thinks that the consequences are necessarily so small that they don't need to bother to look into them.

This is the typical over-reach that you are always talking about. Where's the evidence? It's making the assumption that bad things will happen and it's fear mongering just like anti-vaccinations and anti-fluoridation. If the argument is that any new technology will bring about changes that we can't predict then yes, they are right. So is the answer to that to stop developing new technology?

No, and I never said it was.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Rian » Thu Oct 15, 2015 7:31 pm

You're not the only one that's frustrated, SpongeBob. This discussion is frustrating to me, too. It seems like it's so difficult to get you to agree with something that seems so straight-forward: that IF POSSIBLE, a scientist would prefer being able to do an experiment in real life (where he can actually OBSERVE what is happening as it happens, and other people can then repeat the same experiment and observe it) than having to merely look at the end results of a process. How is that not obvious?

And then being the only person to present my side is difficult. It starts off easy, then as several people on the other side post long posts, I just get overloaded. As I read, I know how I want to answer, but if I try to answer as I read then all of the stuff after the post I'm answering gets lost. But if I try to read everything and summarize, then there's just so many things that I want to talk about, that most everything else gets lost. And then I decide I'm going to really dig in and only address ONE thing at a time, and that splits off into its own multiple set of subjects, and I have the same problem but now I'm one level deeper in!

I guess I don't multi-task well, although I analyze very well. I got that Luminosity app 6 months ago to work on my memory skills (I'm in my 50's and want to keep my brain as exercised as possible) and I score in the top 1 percentile for problem-solving skills, but not near as good at multi-tasking skills. That, along with all of our family's medical issues, makes it really frustrating because I really WANT to discuss these things and I really don't have as much time as a normal person does. I was thinking of trying to pick one person and only talk with them; I don't know ...
"Aurë entuluva! Auta i lómë!" ("Day shall come again! The night is passing!") -- from JRR Tolkien's The Silmarillion

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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby sayak » Fri Oct 16, 2015 10:36 am

I think that a structured discussion can proceed if one uses a simple primer book on evolution and start discussing it chapter by chapter.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Simplyme » Fri Oct 16, 2015 11:10 am

sayak wrote:I think that a structured discussion can proceed if one uses a simple primer book on evolution and start discussing it chapter by chapter.


Now that would be nice, They are doing it with the bible on another post.

So how about someone recommends a good Evolution book, and have xtians(or anyone else) read it and then we can discuss what they see wrong with it.
I find it rather amusing, when thought of as ignorant or stupid(though I can be on many subjects). Especially by those who believe in a deity up in heaven watching our every move, and rewarding or punishing us after we have expired.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Jesus Raves » Fri Oct 16, 2015 1:55 pm

I think Sayak's suggestion--going chapter by chapter--would be more effective than a "read through the whole thing and then comment on it". Anyone know a specific book that'd fit our needs? And do we have a Christian and an atheist willing to embark on this endeavor together? (One Christian and one atheist, as it seems to me a one-on-one affair would work best, with the rest of us watching from the sidelines.) I know most of you lead rather busy lives--certainly busier than mine--so I can see how that might prove difficult. I'd volunteer, but I don't consider myself up to the challenge.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby tirtlegrrl » Fri Oct 16, 2015 2:24 pm

Is it really an evolution book that's needed, or one on philosophy of science?
"I think it was, 'Blessed are the cheesemakers.'" -Monty Python's Life of Brian
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Rian » Fri Oct 16, 2015 2:31 pm

Most of my issues with some areas of the TOE are in the philosophy side.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Simplyme » Fri Oct 16, 2015 2:34 pm

tirtlegrrl wrote:Is it really an evolution book that's needed, or one on philosophy of science?


I think if we are going to discuss evolution I would think an Evolution book is needed. If I wanted to study bridges I would not get a book on the philosophy of bridges, I would get one on the construction of bridges.


http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolphil.html
I find it rather amusing, when thought of as ignorant or stupid(though I can be on many subjects). Especially by those who believe in a deity up in heaven watching our every move, and rewarding or punishing us after we have expired.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby sayak » Sat Oct 17, 2015 12:30 am

Rian, do you believe that the earth is old? I was thinking that geological dating methods are a relatively compact science that can be looked into to address your concerns about how the scientific method can be successfully applied to uncover what happened in the past.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Jesus Raves » Sat Oct 17, 2015 12:56 am

I've asked her this once or twice already, but she's not answered. I hope you have better luck than I did, because I'd really like to know.
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Re: Evolutionary questions

Postby Rian » Sat Oct 17, 2015 1:08 am

sayak wrote:Rian, do you believe that the earth is old? I was thinking that geological dating methods are a relatively compact science that can be looked into to address your concerns about how the scientific method can be successfully applied to uncover what happened in the past.
I can answer this quickly, so I will.

I think that the age of the earth is one of those things like macroevolution that relies upon some assumptions and upon extrapolation, and that we can make some good estimates of the age of the earth, but we can't really say what the age is with the same level of confidence as, say, something that doesn't rely on extrapolations.

I'm sorry for the frustration, JR; I really do try. In fact, I was thinking of only responding to you on this thread to try to cut down on the sheer volume of things to respond to. But maybe the book is a good idea - I'm up for anything, but I just can't post at the rate that you guys do, plus it's multiplied by the fact that there's only one person on my side and what? four or five on the other side?

Anyway, I'm not tied into the YEC figure at all - what is it, 10,000 years? I think they make some pretty substantial assumptions on their side, too, so their number is pretty shaky.
"Aurë entuluva! Auta i lómë!" ("Day shall come again! The night is passing!") -- from JRR Tolkien's The Silmarillion

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