Should evolution be taught in high sc...

Should evolution be taught in high school?

There are 180369 comments on the www.scientificblogging.com story from Feb 24, 2008, titled Should evolution be taught in high school?. In it, www.scientificblogging.com reports that:

Microbiologist Carl Woese is well known as an iconoclast. At 79 years of age, Woese is still shaking things up. Most recently, he stated in an interview with Wired that...

"My feeling is that evolution shouldn't be taught at the lower grades. You don't teach quantum mechanics in the grade schools. One has to be quite educated to work with these concepts; what they pass on as evolution in high schools is nothing but repetitious tripe that teachers don't understand."

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“Don't get me started”

Level 1

Since: Jul 09

Minneapolis

#160218 Dec 20, 2013
ChromiuMan wrote:
<quoted text>
I speculate that the "purpose" of an individual is to perpetuate the species and that progressive degrees of intelligence is purely a successful reactionary adaptation toward that end.
I further speculate that mystical/religious/new age gobbledygook is nothing more prodigious than mental masturbation.
I'd agree with everything you said, but would add that "purpose" is an unnecessary term. I think "result" is all that is necessary. The boichemistry of life results in the ability and drive to reproduce, and the increasing complexity brought on by evolution results in progressive degrees of intelligence.

I think that the idea of purpose is just fine as a human construct. It is necessary for holding social groups together, but is also very subjective. Those who cannot envision their own sense of purpose must rely on classic examples handed to them by social authorities.

“See how you are?”

Level 5

Since: Jul 12

Earth

#160219 Dec 20, 2013
appleboy wrote:
<quoted text>
I'd agree with everything you said, but would add that "purpose" is an unnecessary term. I think "result" is all that is necessary. The boichemistry of life results in the ability and drive to reproduce, and the increasing complexity brought on by evolution results in progressive degrees of intelligence.
I think that the idea of purpose is just fine as a human construct. It is necessary for holding social groups together, but is also very subjective. Those who cannot envision their own sense of purpose must rely on classic examples handed to them by social authorities.
Note that I placed "purpose" in quotes. It is one of those loaded terms like "made" "created" "designed" that imbeciles are ever alert for to glom onto with their own narrow definitions, regardless of the author's intent..

“Get Extreme or Go Home. ”

Since: Nov 13

United States

#160220 Dec 20, 2013
I see no one yet has agreed on consciousness. We have consciousness. We have consciousness even while were are sleeping. So do all animals have consciousness? Does all life have consciousness? We do not know enough about consciousness to limit it or say what life forms have it.

“Get Extreme or Go Home. ”

Since: Nov 13

United States

#160221 Dec 20, 2013
The Dude wrote:
<quoted text>
Plants are conscious?
<quoted text>
Don't they know it.
Dude I asked that same question last time I was here. It does not take a brain for consciousness so one has to wonder what are the limits of consciousness and what all life forms have it.

“ad victoriam”

Level 8

Since: Dec 10

arte et marte

#160222 Dec 20, 2013
The Dude wrote:
<quoted text>
Plants are conscious?
<quoted text>
Don't they know it.
Extreme Ways wrote:
<quoted text>
Dude I asked that same question last time I was here. It does not take a brain for consciousness so one has to wonder what are the limits of consciousness and what all life forms have it.
I think life and consciousness are synonymous, if plants had none it would be impossible for some to mimic other species. Of course you can think it is only coincidental, but it's all on a levels of communication imperceptible to us macroscopically.

http://webecoist.momtastic.com/2010/02/15/dec...

All life all emit bio-photons. This UPE ultraweak photon emission is observed in every living thing, I will think there is a reason.
You may think this idea preposterous but there is an example of bacteria becoming aware after connecting to a colony. Bacteria starts to glow in mass and it sure appears to have a limited awareness. I mean how could bacteria become a symbiont if it wasn't capable of some weird type communication with it's host and each other?

http://kut.org/post/jell-o-and-lasers-ut-scie...

“Don't get me started”

Level 1

Since: Jul 09

Minneapolis

#160223 Dec 20, 2013
ChromiuMan wrote:
<quoted text>
Note that I placed "purpose" in quotes. It is one of those loaded terms like "made" "created" "designed" that imbeciles are ever alert for to glom onto with their own narrow definitions, regardless of the author's intent..
Sorry, I missed the quote marks and launched right into my little diatribe.

“Don't get me started”

Level 1

Since: Jul 09

Minneapolis

#160224 Dec 20, 2013
Extreme Ways wrote:
<quoted text>
Dude I asked that same question last time I was here. It does not take a brain for consciousness so one has to wonder what are the limits of consciousness and what all life forms have it.
I guess it depends on what one means by consciousness. For some it means any stage of being able to react to stimulis. Others demand that it requires a sense of self. And some would say that has to do with being able to make decisions. There are probably lots of ways to look at it.

Level 6

Since: Mar 12

Location hidden

#160225 Dec 21, 2013
[QUOTE who="Aura Mytha" Your entire argument is so very flawed because you are comparing a purposed design to nature.
[/QUOTE]

I disagree. Why?

“ad victoriam”

Level 8

Since: Dec 10

arte et marte

#160226 Dec 21, 2013
Chimney1 wrote:
<quoted text>
I disagree. Why?

Think about Chimney, this is the same thing intelligent design proponents do.
The things invented by human design to mimic life, do not use retro engineering.
They use human invented designs. If you think nature is this way , it's as good as
promoting ID as the answer. We have to look beyond what we do, to discover how nature did it.
Either life became conscious and found a way to communicate on a molecular level to build itself, or it was designed. I tend to think life even at the rudimentary level became conscious through the biosphere and evolved itself. No designer needed, if this is true there is a way it did this, and consciousness is an axiom to this method.

“Don't get me started”

Level 1

Since: Jul 09

Minneapolis

#160227 Dec 21, 2013
Aura Mytha wrote:
<quoted text>
Think about Chimney, this is the same thing intelligent design proponents do.
The things invented by human design to mimic life, do not use retro engineering.
They use human invented designs. If you think nature is this way , it's as good as
promoting ID as the answer. We have to look beyond what we do, to discover how nature did it.
Either life became conscious and found a way to communicate on a molecular level to build itself, or it was designed. I tend to think life even at the rudimentary level became conscious through the biosphere and evolved itself. No designer needed, if this is true there is a way it did this, and consciousness is an axiom to this method.
I agree. Life, and even consciousness, probably will eventually be able to be designed from scratch. It's a matter of figuring out how nature did it.

Level 6

Since: Mar 12

Location hidden

#160228 Dec 22, 2013
Aura Mytha wrote:
<quoted text>
Think about Chimney, this is the same thing intelligent design proponents do.
The things invented by human design to mimic life, do not use retro engineering.
They use human invented designs. If you think nature is this way , it's as good as
promoting ID as the answer. We have to look beyond what we do, to discover how nature did it.
Either life became conscious and found a way to communicate on a molecular level to build itself, or it was designed. I tend to think life even at the rudimentary level became conscious through the biosphere and evolved itself. No designer needed, if this is true there is a way it did this, and consciousness is an axiom to this method.
False dichotomy, and upside down logic.

Life developed as a consequence of physics and chemistry. No intention required. Bacteria do what they do as a result of physics and chemistry. No intention required. Those with the physics and chemistry that improves survival chances out-survive those without.

There was no intention on the part of Lenski's prize bacterial culture to evolve the ability to digest citrate. There was no conscious intent to do so. There were random mutations, two of which, spaced 10,000 generations apart, happened to enable citrate digestion in a particular bacterium which went on to dominate the population because it had more energy available.

"Intention", consciousness, striving, etc, are not necessary or intrinsic to life. They are characteristics that evolved in advanced brains. Simpler living systems respond to the environment in just the same way a traffic light or a robo-vac does. Just a physical / chemical mechanism that causes stimulus A to generate action X and stimulus B to generate action Y.

If that leads to living the creature endures and if not the creature ceases. Natural selection ensures that the creatures with the better A->x and B->y mechanisms stick around and the ones with less effective versions stop.

Its like you are suggesting that "consciousness" must be SOMEWHERE in the system so that if I say its not in the critters then I am implying it must be in a Designer. Actually, neither.

Consciousness is not a necessary hypothesis in living systems at all. Even complex responses to environmental stimuli do not require it.

Level 6

Since: Mar 12

Location hidden

#160229 Dec 22, 2013
appleboy wrote:
<quoted text>
I agree. Life, and even consciousness, probably will eventually be able to be designed from scratch. It's a matter of figuring out how nature did it.
Take a really sophisticated, multi-responsive software program that can respond to your conversation. Here it is, the famous "Turing Test",

The question is, at what point do you cease to look at this device as a set of complex programs and start looking at it as a conscious being that you would feel you "killed" when you pulled the plug. At what point do you assume there is a real "I" inside that is a being like yourself who is subjectively aware? Who has, for example, an INTERNAL sense of what peanut butter tastes like or red looks like, irrespective of a programmed response. I hope you get my point.

You can program a computer to say "peanut butter tastes salty and has a strangely pleasing texture on the tongue". You can build one with a "mouth and sensors" to deliver the message to the processor that peanut butter has arrived, whereupon it will activate the voice unit to say
"peanut butter tastes salty and has a strangely pleasing texture on the tongue", or even randomly select 10 or 1000 responses to peanut butter. "I hate that", " I prefer jam", crunchy is better than smooth" etc.

But is there anything internally that is actually appreciating that taste, the way you do?

I sincerely doubt it.

Just as I sincerely doubt that any bacterium is aware in any way that its alive. Its just a collection of systems that persist in the right environment and cease in the wrong one. And I think that is more or less true of all creatures except the few who have a very complex brain.

Consciousness is a mystery because we do not know where in living systems it becomes necessary, if at all. I do not even know you are conscious, I can only directly observe this quality in myself. But I infer it from the fact that you are like me and you behave in ways I recognise as conscious in myself. A bacterium does not.

“ad victoriam”

Level 8

Since: Dec 10

arte et marte

#160230 Dec 22, 2013
Chimney1 wrote:
<quoted text>
False dichotomy, and upside down logic.
Life developed as a consequence of physics and chemistry. No intention required. Bacteria do what they do as a result of physics and chemistry. No intention required. Those with the physics and chemistry that improves survival chances out-survive those without.
There was no intention on the part of Lenski's prize bacterial culture to evolve the ability to digest citrate. There was no conscious intent to do so. There were random mutations, two of which, spaced 10,000 generations apart, happened to enable citrate digestion in a particular bacterium which went on to dominate the population because it had more energy available.
"Intention", consciousness, striving, etc, are not necessary or intrinsic to life. They are characteristics that evolved in advanced brains. Simpler living systems respond to the environment in just the same way a traffic light or a robo-vac does. Just a physical / chemical mechanism that causes stimulus A to generate action X and stimulus B to generate action Y.
If that leads to living the creature endures and if not the creature ceases. Natural selection ensures that the creatures with the better A->x and B->y mechanisms stick around and the ones with less effective versions stop.
Its like you are suggesting that "consciousness" must be SOMEWHERE in the system so that if I say its not in the critters then I am implying it must be in a Designer. Actually, neither.
Consciousness is not a necessary hypothesis in living systems at all. Even complex responses to environmental stimuli do not require it.

The evidence is mounting in conflict with this position.""Intention ", consciousness, striving, etc, are not necessary or intrinsic to life".

It is my hypothesis that consciousness and life are inseparably linked.
Especially when bacteria have been found to communicate and behave differently when assembled is mass. This is beyond what a traffic light or a robo-vac does.
In fact there can be a million stoplights and or a million robovacs together and they will never change their programed behavior. My thinking is that for life to have ever become "alive"
implies a conscious effort. The survival of life requires a conscious effort on the organisms part. I also think that abiogenesis required this effort that is beyond simple chemical reactions, it required a cooperation of a group of carbon molecules to assemble into a cell, and a conscious effort to survive. Of course this consciousness is on levels far below what it evolved into. But that consciousness is the condition that distinguishes living organisms from inorganic, inanimate objects.


http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22392-f...

Level 6

Since: Mar 12

Location hidden

#160231 Dec 22, 2013
Aura Mytha wrote:
<quoted text>
The evidence is mounting in conflict with this position.""Intention ", consciousness, striving, etc, are not necessary or intrinsic to life".
It is my hypothesis that consciousness and life are inseparably linked.
Especially when bacteria have been found to communicate and behave differently when assembled is mass. This is beyond what a traffic light or a robo-vac does.
In fact there can be a million stoplights and or a million robovacs together and they will never change their programed behavior. My thinking is that for life to have ever become "alive"
implies a conscious effort. The survival of life requires a conscious effort on the organisms part. I also think that abiogenesis required this effort that is beyond simple chemical reactions, it required a cooperation of a group of carbon molecules to assemble into a cell, and a conscious effort to survive. Of course this consciousness is on levels far below what it evolved into. But that consciousness is the condition that distinguishes living organisms from inorganic, inanimate objects.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22392-f...
No, I do not see that bacteria behaving differently en masse means they are conscious. If bacteria respond to a particular chemical signal emanating from other bacteria and it affects their activity in some way, its still just a deterministic response to a stimulus no different in principle from the activity of a robovac.

Here is another example. Back in the 80s when they were working out the simple rules that could lead to very complex looking flocking behavior, eg birds, and fish, they did it with computer programs. Very simple rules led to flocking behavior with dots on a screen that looked eerily lifelike. You could set the program running and watch flocks of dots doing all the cool things that a real bird flock does. The point was to show there is no top down control, just simple "what to do when a dot is close" that each dot did. The flocking behavior was the emergent result of simple local rules.

Now, do you say that the dots or the program or the computer were conscious? I certainly don't. Nor would I say bacteria acting en masse either are or need to have any consciousness to do so.

You have not demonstrated in any way that the survival of life might require a conscious effort. In fact every part of a tree's life from germination to death looks to me like a program of chemical and physical actions and responses and the tree is no more aware that its alive than a rock is aware that its dead. YOU know the tree is alive. That does not mean the tree does.

What we call consciousness when we are not thinking magically is as far as I know something that only exists in advanced neural systems and its not always present even then.

Level 6

Since: Mar 12

Location hidden

#160232 Dec 22, 2013
Aura Mytha wrote:
BTW, liked your article. I don't see how it supports your position but its interesting reading. Now surely you don't imagine that a collection of self replicating and cooperatively repairing RNA molecules represent consciousness do you? Its just a set of chemical reactions that happen to lead to the same RNA being produced repeatedly. Nothing was "trying" to do anything in this case, except the scientist trying to find a situation where the reaction he wanted to see would occur, ie. one that helped explain the origin of life.

But the reaction itself had to be a spontaneous product of the way the chemicals involved react naturally in a given situation, no different in principle than the way oxygen binds to hydrogen given the chance. Nobody in their right mind would say the oxygen "wants to bond with hydrogen" uless they were talking to kids, in the same way they might say "the water wants to find the lowest level".

To adults they would say that the physical properties of electrons etc make the bonding spontaneous because its a more stable energy state for hydrogen and oxygen than being separate. Chemical reactions move towards the lowest energy state spontaneously, thats thermodynamics not consciousness! And it applies to burning hydrogen, self replicating RNA groups, and bacterial flagella equally. Just because some events are far more complex than others does not mean that consciousness has to be an ingredient or the motive force behind those actions and reactions.

“ad victoriam”

Level 8

Since: Dec 10

arte et marte

#160233 Dec 22, 2013
Chimney1 wrote:
<quoted text>
No, I do not see that bacteria behaving differently en masse means they are conscious. If bacteria respond to a particular chemical signal emanating from other bacteria and it affects their activity in some way, its still just a deterministic response to a stimulus no different in principle from the activity of a robovac.
Here is another example. Back in the 80s when they were working out the simple rules that could lead to very complex looking flocking behavior, eg birds, and fish, they did it with computer programs. Very simple rules led to flocking behavior with dots on a screen that looked eerily lifelike. You could set the program running and watch flocks of dots doing all the cool things that a real bird flock does. The point was to show there is no top down control, just simple "what to do when a dot is close" that each dot did. The flocking behavior was the emergent result of simple local rules.
Now, do you say that the dots or the program or the computer were conscious? I certainly don't. Nor would I say bacteria acting en masse either are or need to have any consciousness to do so.
You have not demonstrated in any way that the survival of life might require a conscious effort. In fact every part of a tree's life from germination to death looks to me like a program of chemical and physical actions and responses and the tree is no more aware that its alive than a rock is aware that its dead. YOU know the tree is alive. That does not mean the tree does.
What we call consciousness when we are not thinking magically is as far as I know something that only exists in advanced neural systems and its not always present even then.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11544353

"What we call consciousness when we are not thinking magically is as far as I know something that only exists in advanced neural systems and its not always present even then."

No what YOU are calling consciousness is of a higher order than what I'm talking about.
I'm saying that the coordinated effort of cells that chemical and physical actions set processes in motion is a conscious effort. Not that a tree has to be aware of it but there is a concerted conscious effort to it's existence.

"Recent advances in plant cell biology and neurosciences reveal surprising similarities between plants cells and neurons. They are inherently polar, with signal input and signal output poles, secrete signaling molecules via robust endocytosis-driven vesicle recycling apparatus, and are capable of sensory perception and integration of these multiple sensory perceptions into adaptive actions which serve for survival of organisms harboring these cells specialized for signaling and communication."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2...

Level 6

Since: Mar 12

Location hidden

#160234 Dec 22, 2013
Aura Mytha wrote:
'm saying that the coordinated effort of cells that chemical and physical actions set processes in motion is a conscious effort.
Then you are the one who is talking intelligent design, not me!

To me, the chemical and physical processes that govern life are no different in kind from the chemical and physical processes that govern all matter and energy in the universe. There is no need to invoke "conscious effort" of any kind to the activities of a bacterium, just the laws of matter and energy no matter how complex the reactions happen to be.

I don't see a bacterium as making an "effort" to do anything at all. A bacterium is just the sum of a series of chemical reactions. What you anthropomorphise as "trying to survive" is only the fact that natural selection has selected those critters undergo the reactions in the widest possible range of conditions consistent with persisting, compared to other critters that underwent reactions less consistent with persisting. Ultimately all due to the chemistry within each organism.

Its an unapologetically reductionist approach, because your consciousness hypothesis is unnecessary and superfluous as far as I can see.

“ad victoriam”

Level 8

Since: Dec 10

arte et marte

#160235 Dec 22, 2013
Chimney1 wrote:
<quoted text>
Then you are the one who is talking intelligent design, not me!
To me, the chemical and physical processes that govern life are no different in kind from the chemical and physical processes that govern all matter and energy in the universe. There is no need to invoke "conscious effort" of any kind to the activities of a bacterium, just the laws of matter and energy no matter how complex the reactions happen to be.
I don't see a bacterium as making an "effort" to do anything at all. A bacterium is just the sum of a series of chemical reactions. What you anthropomorphise as "trying to survive" is only the fact that natural selection has selected those critters undergo the reactions in the widest possible range of conditions consistent with persisting, compared to other critters that underwent reactions less consistent with persisting. Ultimately all due to the chemistry within each organism.
Its an unapologetically reductionist approach, because your consciousness hypothesis is unnecessary and superfluous as far as I can see.
You seem to think life doesn't have a will to survive. All life does, this extends to the micro, that's what I'm talking about.
Intelligent design is the idea that there were a preexisting intelligence that directed the microscopic . What I'm talking about it there is communication and a consciousness in the microscopic. I have shown you peer review articles to this effect in this area of research.
Because you need to eat to survive and don't want to get run over by a car and die, you make a conscious effort to eat and avoid cars. Do you not think a microbe could do those same things?

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11349430

“ad victoriam”

Level 8

Since: Dec 10

arte et marte

#160236 Dec 22, 2013
Chimney1 wrote:
<quoted text>
BTW, liked your article. I don't see how it supports your position but its interesting reading. Now surely you don't imagine that a collection of self replicating and cooperatively repairing RNA molecules represent consciousness do you? Its just a set of chemical reactions that happen to lead to the same RNA being produced repeatedly. Nothing was "trying" to do anything in this case, except the scientist trying to find a situation where the reaction he wanted to see would occur, ie. one that helped explain the origin of life.
But the reaction itself had to be a spontaneous product of the way the chemicals involved react naturally in a given situation, no different in principle than the way oxygen binds to hydrogen given the chance. Nobody in their right mind would say the oxygen "wants to bond with hydrogen" uless they were talking to kids, in the same way they might say "the water wants to find the lowest level".
To adults they would say that the physical properties of electrons etc make the bonding spontaneous because its a more stable energy state for hydrogen and oxygen than being separate. Chemical reactions move towards the lowest energy state spontaneously, thats thermodynamics not consciousness! And it applies to burning hydrogen, self replicating RNA groups, and bacterial flagella equally. Just because some events are far more complex than others does not mean that consciousness has to be an ingredient or the motive force behind those actions and reactions.
Basically I think what we are defining consciousness , are very different. You are using a human perspective, while I am saying communication and cooperation in a concerted effort of the microscopic bacterial or molecular world is a form of consciousness.
As far as abiogenesis you would have to get far beyond just the long carbon chains for it to be making a conscious effort, it would have to even be beyond self replication, but the dead and lifeless chemical reactions eventually became conscious and alive. I think memory played a big role in this.

“Don't get me started”

Level 1

Since: Jul 09

Minneapolis

#160239 Dec 22, 2013
Chimney1 wrote:
<quoted text>
Take a really sophisticated, multi-responsive software program that can respond to your conversation. Here it is, the famous "Turing Test",
The question is, at what point do you cease to look at this device as a set of complex programs and start looking at it as a conscious being that you would feel you "killed" when you pulled the plug. At what point do you assume there is a real "I" inside that is a being like yourself who is subjectively aware? Who has, for example, an INTERNAL sense of what peanut butter tastes like or red looks like, irrespective of a programmed response. I hope you get my point.
You can program a computer to say "peanut butter tastes salty and has a strangely pleasing texture on the tongue". You can build one with a "mouth and sensors" to deliver the message to the processor that peanut butter has arrived, whereupon it will activate the voice unit to say
"peanut butter tastes salty and has a strangely pleasing texture on the tongue", or even randomly select 10 or 1000 responses to peanut butter. "I hate that", " I prefer jam", crunchy is better than smooth" etc.
But is there anything internally that is actually appreciating that taste, the way you do?
I sincerely doubt it.
Just as I sincerely doubt that any bacterium is aware in any way that its alive. Its just a collection of systems that persist in the right environment and cease in the wrong one. And I think that is more or less true of all creatures except the few who have a very complex brain.
Consciousness is a mystery because we do not know where in living systems it becomes necessary, if at all. I do not even know you are conscious, I can only directly observe this quality in myself. But I infer it from the fact that you are like me and you behave in ways I recognise as conscious in myself. A bacterium does not.
Well yes, I agree that nothing approaching consciousness has ever been designed. But I'm guessing that it will be just a matter of time before someone figures out first, how to design life from scratch and second, how to design consciousness into that life. This guess is based simply on the idea that nature did it, therefore what nature did can eventually be designed.

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