Evolution is a lie.

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(Disclaimer, I have found this on a site.
I found it interesting and I would like to know everyones thoughts on this.)



The story, still sometimes repeated in creationist circles, goes like this: it is the 1960s, at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, and a team of astronomers is using cutting-edge computers to recreate the orbits of the planets, thousands of years in the past. Suddenly, an error message flashes up. There's a problem: way back in history, one whole day appears to be missing.

The scientists are baffled, until a Christian member of the team dimly recalls something and rushes to fetch a Bible. He thumbs through it until he reaches the Book of Joshua, chapter 10, in which Joshua asks God to stop the world for . . . "about a full day!" Uproar in the computer lab. The astronomers have happened upon proof that God controls the universe on a day-to-day basis, that the Bible is literally true, and that by extension the "myth" of creation is, in fact, a reality. Darwin was wrong – according to another creationist rumour, he'd recanted on his deathbed, anyway – and here, at last, is scientific evidence!


Inevitably, those of us who aren't professional scientists have to take a lot of science on trust. And one of the things that makes it so easy to trust the standard view of evolution, in particular, is amply illustrated by the legend of the Nasa astronomers: the doubters are so deluded or dishonest that one needn't waste time with them. Unfortunately, that also makes it embarrassingly awkward to ask a question that seems, in the light of recent studies and several popular books, to be growing ever more pertinent. What if Darwin's theory of evolution – or, at least, Darwin's theory of evolution as most of us learned it at school and believe we understand it – is, in crucial respects, not entirely accurate?

Such talk, naturally, is liable to drive evolutionary biologists into a rage, or, in the case of Richard Dawkins, into even more of a rage than usual. They have a point: nobody wants to provide ammunition to the proponents of creationism or "intelligent design", and it's true that few of the studies now coming to public prominence are all that revolutionary to the experts. But in the culture at large, we may be on the brink of a major shift in perspective, with enormous implications for how most of us think about how life came to be the way it is. As the science writer David Shenk puts it in his new book, The Genius in All of Us, "This is big, big stuff – perhaps the most important [discoveries] in the science of heredity since the gene."

Take, to begin with, the Swedish chickens. Three years ago, researchers led by a professor at the university of Linköping in Sweden created a henhouse that was specially designed to make its chicken occupants feel stressed. The lighting was manipulated to make the rhythms of night and day unpredictable, so the chickens lost track of when to eat or roost. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, they showed a significant decrease in their ability to learn how to find food hidden in a maze.

The surprising part is what happened next: the chickens were moved back to a non-stressful environment, where they conceived and hatched chicks who were raised without stress – and yet these chicks, too, demonstrated unexpectedly poor skills at finding food in a maze. They appeared to have inherited a problem that had been induced in their mothers through the environment. Further research established that the inherited change had altered the chicks' "gene expression" – the way certain genes are turned "on" or "off", bestowing any given animal with specific traits. The stress had affected the mother hens on a genetic level, and they had passed it on to their offspring.

The Swedish chicken study was one of several recent breakthroughs in the youthful field of epigenetics, which primarily studies the epigenome, the protective package of proteins around which genetic material – strands of DNA – is wrapped. The epigenome plays a crucial role in determining which genes actually express themselves in a creature's traits: in effect, it switches certain genes on or off, or turns them up or down in intensity. It isn't news that the environment can alter the epigenome; what's news is that those changes can be inherited. And this doesn't, of course, apply only to chickens: some of the most striking findings come from research involving humans.

One study, again from Sweden, looked at lifespans in Norrbotten, the country's northernmost province, where harvests are usually sparse but occasionally overflowing, meaning that, historically, children sometimes grew up with wildly varying food intake from one year to the next. A single period of extreme overeating in the midst of the usual short supply, researchers found, could cause a man's grandsons to die an average of 32 years earlier than if his childhood food intake had been steadier. Your own eating patterns, this implies, may affect your grandchildren's lifespans, years before your grandchildren – or even your children – are a twinkle in anybody's eye.

It might not be immediately obvious why this has such profound implications for evolution. In the way it's generally understood, the whole point of natural selection – the so-called "modern synthesis" of Darwin's theories with subsequent discoveries about genes – is its beautiful, breathtaking, devastating simplicity. In each generation, genes undergo random mutations, making offspring subtly different from their parents; those mutations that enhance an organism's abilities to thrive and reproduce in its own particular environment will tend to spread through populations, while those that make successful breeding less likely will eventually peter out.

As years of bestselling books by Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and others have seeped into the culture, we've come to understand that the awesome power of natural selection – frequently referred to as the best idea in the history of science – lies in the sheer elegance of the way such simple principles have generated the unbelievable complexities of life. From two elementary notions – random mutation, and the filtering power of the environment – have emerged, over millennia, such marvels as eyes, the wings of birds and the human brain.

Yet epigenetics suggests this isn't the whole story. If what happens to you during your lifetime – living in a stress-inducing henhouse, say, or overeating in northern Sweden – can affect how your genes express themselves in future generations, the absolutely simple version of natural selection begins to look questionable. Rather than genes simply "offering up" a random smorgasbord of traits in each new generation, which then either prove suited or unsuited to the environment, it seems that the environment plays a role in creating those traits in future generations, if only in a short-term and reversible way. You begin to feel slightly sorry for the much-mocked pre-Darwinian zoologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, whose own version of evolution held, most famously, that giraffes have long necks because their ancestors were "obliged to browse on the leaves of trees and to make constant efforts to reach them". As a matter of natural history, he probably wasn't right about how giraffes' necks came to be so long. But Lamarck was scorned for a much more general apparent mistake: the idea that lifestyle might be able to influence heredity. "Today," notes David Shenk, "any high school student knows that genes are passed on unchanged from parent to child, and to the next generation and the next. Lifestyle cannot alter heredity. Except now it turns out that it can . . ."

Epigenetics is the most vivid reason why the popular understanding of evolution might need revising, but it's not the only one. We've learned that huge proportions of the human genome consist of viruses, or virus-like materials, raising the notion that they got there through infection – meaning that natural selection acts not just on random mutations, but on new stuff that's introduced from elsewhere. Relatedly, there is growing evidence, at the level of microbes, of genes being transferred not just vertically, from ancestors to parents to offspring, but also horizontally, between organisms. The researchers Carl Woese and Nigel Goldenfield conclude that, on average, a bacterium may have obtained 10% of its genes from other organisms in its environment.

To an outsider, this is mind-blowing: since most of the history of life on earth has been the history of micro-organisms, the evidence for horizontal transfer suggests that a mainly Darwinian account of evolution may be only the latest version, applicable to the most recent, much more complex forms of life. Perhaps, before that, most evolution was based on horizontal exchange. Which gives rise to a compelling philosophical puzzle: if a genome is what defines an organism, yet those organisms can swap genes freely, what does it even mean to draw a clear line between one organism and another? "It's natural to wonder," Goldenfield told New Scientist recently, "if the very concept of an organism in isolation is still valid at this level." In natural selection, we all know, the fittest win out over their rivals. But what if you can't establish clear boundaries between rivals in the first place?

It is a decade since the biologist Randy Thornhill and the anthropologist Craig Palmer published The Natural History of Rape. In the book, they made an argument that – however obnoxious at first glance – seemed, to many, to follow straightforwardly from the logic of natural selection. Evolution tells us that the traits that flourish down the generations are the ones that help organisms reproduce. Evolutionary psychology argues that there's no reason to exclude psychological traits. And since rape is indeed a trait that occurs all too frequently in human society, it follows that a desire to commit rape must be adaptive. There must be a genetic basis for it – a "rape gene", in the words of some media stories following the book's publication – because, in prehistoric times, those men who possessed the tendency would reproduce more successfully than those who didn't. Therefore, the authors concluded, rape was – to use a loaded term that has been getting Darwinians in trouble since Darwin – "natural".

Understandably, the book was hugely controversial. But by the time it was published, there was nothing all that radical about the idea that natural selection might be able to illuminate any and every aspect of human behaviour. Evolutionary psychology, in the hands of various practitioners, sought to explain why militarism is so prevalent in human societies, or why men tend to dominate women in so many hierarchical organisations. If the field seems less politically charged these days, that is only because it has permeated our consciousness so deeply that it has become less questioned.

For much of the late Noughties, a week never seemed to pass without one new book or news story attributing some facet of modern-day life to the evolutionary past: men were more prone to sexual jealousy than women because a woman who conceives becomes unavailable for imminent future acts of reproduction; men preferred women with waist-to-hip ratios of 0.7 because of natural selection. It explained music and art and why we reward senior executives with top-floor corner offices (because we evolved to want a clear view of our enemies approaching across the savannah). Leftwing and feminist critics did frequently misinterpret evolutionary psychology, imagining that when scholars described some trait as adaptive, they meant it was morally justifiable. But that was how many such findings – often better described as speculations – came to be believed. We're not exactly saying it's right for, say, men to sleep around, evolutionary psychologists would observe with a knowing sigh, but . . . well, good luck trying to change millennia of evolved behaviour.

Far more than biologists, evolutionary psychologists bought in to the ultra-simple version of natural selection, and so they stand to lose far more from advances in our understanding of what's really been going on. They were always prone to telling "just-so stories" – spinning plausible tales about why some trait might be adaptive, instead of demonstrating that it was – and numerous recent studies have begun to chip away at what evidence there was. (That waist-to-hip ratio finding, for example, doesn't seem to hold up in the face of international and historical research.) And now, if epigenetics and other developments are coming to suggest that environment can alter heredity, the very terms of the debate – of nature versus nurture – suddenly become shaky. It's not even a matter of settling on a compromise, a "mixture" of nature and nurture. Rather, the concepts of "nature" and "nurture" seem to be growing meaningless. What does "nature" even mean if you can nurture the nature of your descendants?

This is one central argument of Shenk's new book, subheaded Why Everything You've Been Told About Genetics, Talent and IQ is Wrong. All our popular notions about talent and "genetic gifts", he points out, start to collapse if the eating habits of Tiger Woods's ancestors, for example, might have played a role in Woods's golfing abilities. (Woods always crops up in discussions on the origins of genius; more recently, he has started cropping up in evolutionary psychology discussions about whether promiscuity is inevitable.)

"What all this evidence shows is that we need a much more subtle and nuanced understanding of Darwinism and natural selection," Shenk says. "I think that's inevitably going to happen among scientists. The question is how much nuance will carry over into the public sphere . . . it's really funny how difficult it is to have this conversation, even with a lot of people who understand the science. We're stuck with a pretty limited way of viewing all this, and I think part of that comes from the terms" – such as nature and nurture – "that we have."

Among the arsenal of studies at Shenk's disposal is one published last year in the Journal of Neuroscience, involving mice bred to possess genetically inherited memory problems. As small recompense for having been bred to be scatterbrained, they were kept in an environment full of stimulating mouse fun: plenty of toys, exercise and attention. Key aspects of their memory skills were shown to improve, and crucially so did those of their offspring, even though the offspring had never experienced the stimulating environment, even as foetuses.

"If a geneticist had suggested as recently as the 1990s that a 12-year-old kid could improve the intellectual nimbleness of his or her future children by studying harder now," writes Shenk, "that scientist would have been laughed right out of the hall." Not so now.

And then there is Jerry Fodor, the American philosopher. I started reading What Darwin Got Wrong, the new book he has co-authored with the cognitive scientist Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, one morning, along with that day's first coffee. A few pages later, as the coffee kicked in, I grasped with astonishment what Fodor had done. He hadn't just identified evidence that natural selection was more complicated than previously thought – he'd uncovered a glaring flaw in the whole notion! Natural selection, he explains, simply "cannot be the primary engine of evolution". I got up and refilled my cup. But by the time I returned, his argument had slipped from my grasp. Suddenly, he seemed obviously wrong, tied up in philosophical knots of his own creation. I alternated between these two convictions. Was Fodor's critique so devastatingly correct that his critics – Dawkins, Dennett, the Cambridge philosopher Simon Blackburn, and many others – simply couldn't see it? Had he actually managed to . . . but then it slipped away again, vanishing into mental fog.

I called Fodor and asked him to explain his point in language an infant school pupil could understand. "Can't be done," he shot back. "These issues really are complicated. If we're right that Darwin and Darwinists have missed the point we've been making for 150 years, that's not because it's a simple point and Darwin was stupid. It's a really complicated issue."

Fodor's objection is a distant cousin of one that rears its head every few years: doesn't "survival of the fittest" just mean "survival of those that survive", since the only criterion of fitness is that a creature does, indeed, survive and reproduce? The American rightwing noisemaker Ann Coulter makes the point in her 2006 pro-creationist tirade Godless: The Church of American Liberalism. "Through the process of natural selection, the 'fittest' survive, [but] who are the 'fittest'? The ones who survive!" she sneers. "Why, look – it happens every time! The 'survival of the fittest' would be a joke if it weren't part of the belief system of a fanatical cult infesting the Scientific Community."

This argument, perhaps uniquely among all arguments ever made by Coulter, feels persuasive, not least because it is a reasonable criticism of some pop-Darwinism. In fact, though, it's entirely possible for scientists to measure fitness using criteria other than survival, and thus to avoid circular logic. For example, you might hypothesise that speed is a helpful thing to have if you're an antelope, then hypothesise the kind of leg structure you'd want to have, as an antelope, in order to run fast; then you'd examine antelopes to see if they do indeed have something approximating this kind of leg structure, and you'd examine the fossil record, to see if other kinds of leg died out.

Fodor's point is more complex than this, although it's also possible that it is not really a point at all: several reviews of the book by professional evolutionary theorists and philosophers have concluded that it is, indeed, nonsense. As far as I can make out, it can be summarised in three steps. Step one: Fodor notes – undeniably correctly – that not every trait a creature possesses is necessarily adaptive. Some just come along for the ride: for example, genes that express as tameness in domesticated foxes and dogs also seem to express as floppy ears, for no evident reason. Other traits are, as logicians say, "coextensive": a polar bear, for example, has the trait of "whiteness" and also the trait of "being the same colour as its environment". (Yes, that's a brain-stretching, possibly insanity-inducing statement. Take a deep breath.) Step two: natural selection, according to its theorists, is a force that "selects for" certain traits. (Floppy ears appear to serve no purpose, so while they may have been "selected", as a matter of fact, they weren't "selected for". And polar bears, we'd surely all agree, were "selected for" being the same colour as their environment, not for being white per se: being white is no use as camouflage if snow is, say, orange.)

Step three is Fodor's coup de grace: how, he says, can that possibly be? The whole point of Darwinian evolution is that it has no mind, no intelligence. But to "select for" certain traits – as opposed to just "selecting" them by not having them die out – wouldn't natural selection have to have some kind of mind? It might be obvious to you that being the same colour as your environment is more important than being white, if you're a polar bear, but that's because you just ran a thought-experiment about a hypothetical situation involving orange snow. Evolution can't run thought experiments, because it can't think. "Darwin has a theory that centrally turns on the notion of 'selection-for'," says Fodor. "And yet he can't give an account – nobody could give an account – of how natural selection could distinguish between correlated traits. He waffles."

Those of us baffled by this argument can take solace in the fact that we're not alone. The general response to Fodor among evolutionary thinkers has been a mixture of derision and awkwardness, as if one of their previously esteemed colleagues had entered the senior common room naked. Says Dennett, via email: "Jerry Fodor's book is a stunning demonstration of how abhorrence of an idea (Jerry's visceral dislike of evolutionary thinking) can derange an otherwise clever thinker . . . a responsible academic is supposed to be able to control irrational impulses, [but] Fodor has simply collapsed in the face of his dread and composed some dreadfully bad arguments." What Darwin Got Wrong, Dennett concludes, is "a book that so transparently misconstrues its target that it would be laughable were it not such dangerous mischief".

It would be jawdroppingly surprising, to say the least, were Fodor to be right. A safer, if mealy-mouthed, conclusion to draw is that his work acts as an important warning to those of us who think we understand natural selection. It's probably not a bankrupt concept, as Fodor claims. But nor should laypeople assume that it's self-evidently simple and exhaustively true.

The irony in all this is that Darwin himself never claimed that it was. He went to his deathbed protesting that he'd been misinterpreted: there was no reason, he said, to assume that natural selection was the only imaginable mechanism of evolution. Darwin, writing before the discovery of DNA, knew very well that his work heralded the beginning of a journey to understand the origins and development of life. All we may be discovering now is that we remain closer to the beginning of that journey than we've come to think.
 
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(Disclaimer, I have found this on a site.
I found it interesting and I would like to know everyones thoughts on this.)



The story, still sometimes repeated in creationist circles, goes like this: it is the 1960s, at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, and a team of astronomers is using cutting-edge computers to recreate the orbits of the planets, thousands of years in the past. Suddenly, an error message flashes up. There's a problem: way back in history, one whole day appears to be missing.

The scientists are baffled, until a Christian member of the team dimly recalls something and rushes to fetch a Bible. He thumbs through it until he reaches the Book of Joshua, chapter 10, in which Joshua asks God to stop the world for . . . "about a full day!" Uproar in the computer lab. The astronomers have happened upon proof that God controls the universe on a day-to-day basis, that the Bible is literally true, and that by extension the "myth" of creation is, in fact, a reality. Darwin was wrong – according to another creationist rumour, he'd recanted on his deathbed, anyway – and here, at last, is scientific evidence!


Inevitably, those of us who aren't professional scientists have to take a lot of science on trust. And one of the things that makes it so easy to trust the standard view of evolution, in particular, is amply illustrated by the legend of the Nasa astronomers: the doubters are so deluded or dishonest that one needn't waste time with them. Unfortunately, that also makes it embarrassingly awkward to ask a question that seems, in the light of recent studies and several popular books, to be growing ever more pertinent. What if Darwin's theory of evolution – or, at least, Darwin's theory of evolution as most of us learned it at school and believe we understand it – is, in crucial respects, not entirely accurate?

Such talk, naturally, is liable to drive evolutionary biologists into a rage, or, in the case of Richard Dawkins, into even more of a rage than usual. They have a point: nobody wants to provide ammunition to the proponents of creationism or "intelligent design", and it's true that few of the studies now coming to public prominence are all that revolutionary to the experts. But in the culture at large, we may be on the brink of a major shift in perspective, with enormous implications for how most of us think about how life came to be the way it is. As the science writer David Shenk puts it in his new book, The Genius in All of Us, "This is big, big stuff – perhaps the most important [discoveries] in the science of heredity since the gene."

Take, to begin with, the Swedish chickens. Three years ago, researchers led by a professor at the university of Linköping in Sweden created a henhouse that was specially designed to make its chicken occupants feel stressed. The lighting was manipulated to make the rhythms of night and day unpredictable, so the chickens lost track of when to eat or roost. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, they showed a significant decrease in their ability to learn how to find food hidden in a maze.

The surprising part is what happened next: the chickens were moved back to a non-stressful environment, where they conceived and hatched chicks who were raised without stress – and yet these chicks, too, demonstrated unexpectedly poor skills at finding food in a maze. They appeared to have inherited a problem that had been induced in their mothers through the environment. Further research established that the inherited change had altered the chicks' "gene expression" – the way certain genes are turned "on" or "off", bestowing any given animal with specific traits. The stress had affected the mother hens on a genetic level, and they had passed it on to their offspring.

The Swedish chicken study was one of several recent breakthroughs in the youthful field of epigenetics, which primarily studies the epigenome, the protective package of proteins around which genetic material – strands of DNA – is wrapped. The epigenome plays a crucial role in determining which genes actually express themselves in a creature's traits: in effect, it switches certain genes on or off, or turns them up or down in intensity. It isn't news that the environment can alter the epigenome; what's news is that those changes can be inherited. And this doesn't, of course, apply only to chickens: some of the most striking findings come from research involving humans.

One study, again from Sweden, looked at lifespans in Norrbotten, the country's northernmost province, where harvests are usually sparse but occasionally overflowing, meaning that, historically, children sometimes grew up with wildly varying food intake from one year to the next. A single period of extreme overeating in the midst of the usual short supply, researchers found, could cause a man's grandsons to die an average of 32 years earlier than if his childhood food intake had been steadier. Your own eating patterns, this implies, may affect your grandchildren's lifespans, years before your grandchildren – or even your children – are a twinkle in anybody's eye.

It might not be immediately obvious why this has such profound implications for evolution. In the way it's generally understood, the whole point of natural selection – the so-called "modern synthesis" of Darwin's theories with subsequent discoveries about genes – is its beautiful, breathtaking, devastating simplicity. In each generation, genes undergo random mutations, making offspring subtly different from their parents; those mutations that enhance an organism's abilities to thrive and reproduce in its own particular environment will tend to spread through populations, while those that make successful breeding less likely will eventually peter out.

As years of bestselling books by Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and others have seeped into the culture, we've come to understand that the awesome power of natural selection – frequently referred to as the best idea in the history of science – lies in the sheer elegance of the way such simple principles have generated the unbelievable complexities of life. From two elementary notions – random mutation, and the filtering power of the environment – have emerged, over millennia, such marvels as eyes, the wings of birds and the human brain.

Yet epigenetics suggests this isn't the whole story. If what happens to you during your lifetime – living in a stress-inducing henhouse, say, or overeating in northern Sweden – can affect how your genes express themselves in future generations, the absolutely simple version of natural selection begins to look questionable. Rather than genes simply "offering up" a random smorgasbord of traits in each new generation, which then either prove suited or unsuited to the environment, it seems that the environment plays a role in creating those traits in future generations, if only in a short-term and reversible way. You begin to feel slightly sorry for the much-mocked pre-Darwinian zoologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, whose own version of evolution held, most famously, that giraffes have long necks because their ancestors were "obliged to browse on the leaves of trees and to make constant efforts to reach them". As a matter of natural history, he probably wasn't right about how giraffes' necks came to be so long. But Lamarck was scorned for a much more general apparent mistake: the idea that lifestyle might be able to influence heredity. "Today," notes David Shenk, "any high school student knows that genes are passed on unchanged from parent to child, and to the next generation and the next. Lifestyle cannot alter heredity. Except now it turns out that it can . . ."

Epigenetics is the most vivid reason why the popular understanding of evolution might need revising, but it's not the only one. We've learned that huge proportions of the human genome consist of viruses, or virus-like materials, raising the notion that they got there through infection – meaning that natural selection acts not just on random mutations, but on new stuff that's introduced from elsewhere. Relatedly, there is growing evidence, at the level of microbes, of genes being transferred not just vertically, from ancestors to parents to offspring, but also horizontally, between organisms. The researchers Carl Woese and Nigel Goldenfield conclude that, on average, a bacterium may have obtained 10% of its genes from other organisms in its environment.

To an outsider, this is mind-blowing: since most of the history of life on earth has been the history of micro-organisms, the evidence for horizontal transfer suggests that a mainly Darwinian account of evolution may be only the latest version, applicable to the most recent, much more complex forms of life. Perhaps, before that, most evolution was based on horizontal exchange. Which gives rise to a compelling philosophical puzzle: if a genome is what defines an organism, yet those organisms can swap genes freely, what does it even mean to draw a clear line between one organism and another? "It's natural to wonder," Goldenfield told New Scientist recently, "if the very concept of an organism in isolation is still valid at this level." In natural selection, we all know, the fittest win out over their rivals. But what if you can't establish clear boundaries between rivals in the first place?

It is a decade since the biologist Randy Thornhill and the anthropologist Craig Palmer published The Natural History of Rape. In the book, they made an argument that – however obnoxious at first glance – seemed, to many, to follow straightforwardly from the logic of natural selection. Evolution tells us that the traits that flourish down the generations are the ones that help organisms reproduce. Evolutionary psychology argues that there's no reason to exclude psychological traits. And since rape is indeed a trait that occurs all too frequently in human society, it follows that a desire to commit rape must be adaptive. There must be a genetic basis for it – a "rape gene", in the words of some media stories following the book's publication – because, in prehistoric times, those men who possessed the tendency would reproduce more successfully than those who didn't. Therefore, the authors concluded, rape was – to use a loaded term that has been getting Darwinians in trouble since Darwin – "natural".

Understandably, the book was hugely controversial. But by the time it was published, there was nothing all that radical about the idea that natural selection might be able to illuminate any and every aspect of human behaviour. Evolutionary psychology, in the hands of various practitioners, sought to explain why militarism is so prevalent in human societies, or why men tend to dominate women in so many hierarchical organisations. If the field seems less politically charged these days, that is only because it has permeated our consciousness so deeply that it has become less questioned.

For much of the late Noughties, a week never seemed to pass without one new book or news story attributing some facet of modern-day life to the evolutionary past: men were more prone to sexual jealousy than women because a woman who conceives becomes unavailable for imminent future acts of reproduction; men preferred women with waist-to-hip ratios of 0.7 because of natural selection. It explained music and art and why we reward senior executives with top-floor corner offices (because we evolved to want a clear view of our enemies approaching across the savannah). Leftwing and feminist critics did frequently misinterpret evolutionary psychology, imagining that when scholars described some trait as adaptive, they meant it was morally justifiable. But that was how many such findings – often better described as speculations – came to be believed. We're not exactly saying it's right for, say, men to sleep around, evolutionary psychologists would observe with a knowing sigh, but . . . well, good luck trying to change millennia of evolved behaviour.

Far more than biologists, evolutionary psychologists bought in to the ultra-simple version of natural selection, and so they stand to lose far more from advances in our understanding of what's really been going on. They were always prone to telling "just-so stories" – spinning plausible tales about why some trait might be adaptive, instead of demonstrating that it was – and numerous recent studies have begun to chip away at what evidence there was. (That waist-to-hip ratio finding, for example, doesn't seem to hold up in the face of international and historical research.) And now, if epigenetics and other developments are coming to suggest that environment can alter heredity, the very terms of the debate – of nature versus nurture – suddenly become shaky. It's not even a matter of settling on a compromise, a "mixture" of nature and nurture. Rather, the concepts of "nature" and "nurture" seem to be growing meaningless. What does "nature" even mean if you can nurture the nature of your descendants?

This is one central argument of Shenk's new book, subheaded Why Everything You've Been Told About Genetics, Talent and IQ is Wrong. All our popular notions about talent and "genetic gifts", he points out, start to collapse if the eating habits of Tiger Woods's ancestors, for example, might have played a role in Woods's golfing abilities. (Woods always crops up in discussions on the origins of genius; more recently, he has started cropping up in evolutionary psychology discussions about whether promiscuity is inevitable.)

"What all this evidence shows is that we need a much more subtle and nuanced understanding of Darwinism and natural selection," Shenk says. "I think that's inevitably going to happen among scientists. The question is how much nuance will carry over into the public sphere . . . it's really funny how difficult it is to have this conversation, even with a lot of people who understand the science. We're stuck with a pretty limited way of viewing all this, and I think part of that comes from the terms" – such as nature and nurture – "that we have."

Among the arsenal of studies at Shenk's disposal is one published last year in the Journal of Neuroscience, involving mice bred to possess genetically inherited memory problems. As small recompense for having been bred to be scatterbrained, they were kept in an environment full of stimulating mouse fun: plenty of toys, exercise and attention. Key aspects of their memory skills were shown to improve, and crucially so did those of their offspring, even though the offspring had never experienced the stimulating environment, even as foetuses.

"If a geneticist had suggested as recently as the 1990s that a 12-year-old kid could improve the intellectual nimbleness of his or her future children by studying harder now," writes Shenk, "that scientist would have been laughed right out of the hall." Not so now.

And then there is Jerry Fodor, the American philosopher. I started reading What Darwin Got Wrong, the new book he has co-authored with the cognitive scientist Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, one morning, along with that day's first coffee. A few pages later, as the coffee kicked in, I grasped with astonishment what Fodor had done. He hadn't just identified evidence that natural selection was more complicated than previously thought – he'd uncovered a glaring flaw in the whole notion! Natural selection, he explains, simply "cannot be the primary engine of evolution". I got up and refilled my cup. But by the time I returned, his argument had slipped from my grasp. Suddenly, he seemed obviously wrong, tied up in philosophical knots of his own creation. I alternated between these two convictions. Was Fodor's critique so devastatingly correct that his critics – Dawkins, Dennett, the Cambridge philosopher Simon Blackburn, and many others – simply couldn't see it? Had he actually managed to . . . but then it slipped away again, vanishing into mental fog.

I called Fodor and asked him to explain his point in language an infant school pupil could understand. "Can't be done," he shot back. "These issues really are complicated. If we're right that Darwin and Darwinists have missed the point we've been making for 150 years, that's not because it's a simple point and Darwin was stupid. It's a really complicated issue."

Fodor's objection is a distant cousin of one that rears its head every few years: doesn't "survival of the fittest" just mean "survival of those that survive", since the only criterion of fitness is that a creature does, indeed, survive and reproduce? The American rightwing noisemaker Ann Coulter makes the point in her 2006 pro-creationist tirade Godless: The Church of American Liberalism. "Through the process of natural selection, the 'fittest' survive, [but] who are the 'fittest'? The ones who survive!" she sneers. "Why, look – it happens every time! The 'survival of the fittest' would be a joke if it weren't part of the belief system of a fanatical cult infesting the Scientific Community."

This argument, perhaps uniquely among all arguments ever made by Coulter, feels persuasive, not least because it is a reasonable criticism of some pop-Darwinism. In fact, though, it's entirely possible for scientists to measure fitness using criteria other than survival, and thus to avoid circular logic. For example, you might hypothesise that speed is a helpful thing to have if you're an antelope, then hypothesise the kind of leg structure you'd want to have, as an antelope, in order to run fast; then you'd examine antelopes to see if they do indeed have something approximating this kind of leg structure, and you'd examine the fossil record, to see if other kinds of leg died out.

Fodor's point is more complex than this, although it's also possible that it is not really a point at all: several reviews of the book by professional evolutionary theorists and philosophers have concluded that it is, indeed, nonsense. As far as I can make out, it can be summarised in three steps. Step one: Fodor notes – undeniably correctly – that not every trait a creature possesses is necessarily adaptive. Some just come along for the ride: for example, genes that express as tameness in domesticated foxes and dogs also seem to express as floppy ears, for no evident reason. Other traits are, as logicians say, "coextensive": a polar bear, for example, has the trait of "whiteness" and also the trait of "being the same colour as its environment". (Yes, that's a brain-stretching, possibly insanity-inducing statement. Take a deep breath.) Step two: natural selection, according to its theorists, is a force that "selects for" certain traits. (Floppy ears appear to serve no purpose, so while they may have been "selected", as a matter of fact, they weren't "selected for". And polar bears, we'd surely all agree, were "selected for" being the same colour as their environment, not for being white per se: being white is no use as camouflage if snow is, say, orange.)

Step three is Fodor's coup de grace: how, he says, can that possibly be? The whole point of Darwinian evolution is that it has no mind, no intelligence. But to "select for" certain traits – as opposed to just "selecting" them by not having them die out – wouldn't natural selection have to have some kind of mind? It might be obvious to you that being the same colour as your environment is more important than being white, if you're a polar bear, but that's because you just ran a thought-experiment about a hypothetical situation involving orange snow. Evolution can't run thought experiments, because it can't think. "Darwin has a theory that centrally turns on the notion of 'selection-for'," says Fodor. "And yet he can't give an account – nobody could give an account – of how natural selection could distinguish between correlated traits. He waffles."

Those of us baffled by this argument can take solace in the fact that we're not alone. The general response to Fodor among evolutionary thinkers has been a mixture of derision and awkwardness, as if one of their previously esteemed colleagues had entered the senior common room naked. Says Dennett, via email: "Jerry Fodor's book is a stunning demonstration of how abhorrence of an idea (Jerry's visceral dislike of evolutionary thinking) can derange an otherwise clever thinker . . . a responsible academic is supposed to be able to control irrational impulses, [but] Fodor has simply collapsed in the face of his dread and composed some dreadfully bad arguments." What Darwin Got Wrong, Dennett concludes, is "a book that so transparently misconstrues its target that it would be laughable were it not such dangerous mischief".

It would be jawdroppingly surprising, to say the least, were Fodor to be right. A safer, if mealy-mouthed, conclusion to draw is that his work acts as an important warning to those of us who think we understand natural selection. It's probably not a bankrupt concept, as Fodor claims. But nor should laypeople assume that it's self-evidently simple and exhaustively true.

The irony in all this is that Darwin himself never claimed that it was. He went to his deathbed protesting that he'd been misinterpreted: there was no reason, he said, to assume that natural selection was the only imaginable mechanism of evolution. Darwin, writing before the discovery of DNA, knew very well that his work heralded the beginning of a journey to understand the origins and development of life. All we may be discovering now is that we remain closer to the beginning of that journey than we've come to think.
Darwin is a freemason and the theory is a Jewish joke. Darwin himself also admitted to his theory being bullshit because of the lack of transitional fossils.

Micro-evolution is true, as "adaption". But not macro-evolution as in a fucking fish developing all it needs to become a ground animal at the same time, or birds turning into humans, lol at your literacy if you believe this Rockefeller hoax.
 
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I presuppose Evolution, I’m too high IQ to expend brain matter into thinking otherwise
 
Darwin is a freemason and the theory is a Jewish joke. Darwin himself also admitted to his theory being bullshit because of the lack of transitional fossils.

Micro-evolution is true, as "adaption". But not macro-evolution as in a fucking fish developing all it needs to become a ground animal at the same time, or birds turning into humans, lol at your literacy if you believe this Rockefeller hoax.

High IQ
 
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Dnr but bookmarked.
Sounds like a nice read while waiting outside the surgery room
 
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Dnr but bookmarked.
Sounds like a nice read while waiting outside the surgery room
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Not
(Disclaimer, I have found this on a site.
I found it interesting and I would like to know everyones thoughts on this.)



The story, still sometimes repeated in creationist circles, goes like this: it is the 1960s, at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, and a team of astronomers is using cutting-edge computers to recreate the orbits of the planets, thousands of years in the past. Suddenly, an error message flashes up. There's a problem: way back in history, one whole day appears to be missing.

The scientists are baffled, until a Christian member of the team dimly recalls something and rushes to fetch a Bible. He thumbs through it until he reaches the Book of Joshua, chapter 10, in which Joshua asks God to stop the world for . . . "about a full day!" Uproar in the computer lab. The astronomers have happened upon proof that God controls the universe on a day-to-day basis, that the Bible is literally true, and that by extension the "myth" of creation is, in fact, a reality. Darwin was wrong – according to another creationist rumour, he'd recanted on his deathbed, anyway – and here, at last, is scientific evidence!


Inevitably, those of us who aren't professional scientists have to take a lot of science on trust. And one of the things that makes it so easy to trust the standard view of evolution, in particular, is amply illustrated by the legend of the Nasa astronomers: the doubters are so deluded or dishonest that one needn't waste time with them. Unfortunately, that also makes it embarrassingly awkward to ask a question that seems, in the light of recent studies and several popular books, to be growing ever more pertinent. What if Darwin's theory of evolution – or, at least, Darwin's theory of evolution as most of us learned it at school and believe we understand it – is, in crucial respects, not entirely accurate?

Such talk, naturally, is liable to drive evolutionary biologists into a rage, or, in the case of Richard Dawkins, into even more of a rage than usual. They have a point: nobody wants to provide ammunition to the proponents of creationism or "intelligent design", and it's true that few of the studies now coming to public prominence are all that revolutionary to the experts. But in the culture at large, we may be on the brink of a major shift in perspective, with enormous implications for how most of us think about how life came to be the way it is. As the science writer David Shenk puts it in his new book, The Genius in All of Us, "This is big, big stuff – perhaps the most important [discoveries] in the science of heredity since the gene."

Take, to begin with, the Swedish chickens. Three years ago, researchers led by a professor at the university of Linköping in Sweden created a henhouse that was specially designed to make its chicken occupants feel stressed. The lighting was manipulated to make the rhythms of night and day unpredictable, so the chickens lost track of when to eat or roost. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, they showed a significant decrease in their ability to learn how to find food hidden in a maze.

The surprising part is what happened next: the chickens were moved back to a non-stressful environment, where they conceived and hatched chicks who were raised without stress – and yet these chicks, too, demonstrated unexpectedly poor skills at finding food in a maze. They appeared to have inherited a problem that had been induced in their mothers through the environment. Further research established that the inherited change had altered the chicks' "gene expression" – the way certain genes are turned "on" or "off", bestowing any given animal with specific traits. The stress had affected the mother hens on a genetic level, and they had passed it on to their offspring.

The Swedish chicken study was one of several recent breakthroughs in the youthful field of epigenetics, which primarily studies the epigenome, the protective package of proteins around which genetic material – strands of DNA – is wrapped. The epigenome plays a crucial role in determining which genes actually express themselves in a creature's traits: in effect, it switches certain genes on or off, or turns them up or down in intensity. It isn't news that the environment can alter the epigenome; what's news is that those changes can be inherited. And this doesn't, of course, apply only to chickens: some of the most striking findings come from research involving humans.

One study, again from Sweden, looked at lifespans in Norrbotten, the country's northernmost province, where harvests are usually sparse but occasionally overflowing, meaning that, historically, children sometimes grew up with wildly varying food intake from one year to the next. A single period of extreme overeating in the midst of the usual short supply, researchers found, could cause a man's grandsons to die an average of 32 years earlier than if his childhood food intake had been steadier. Your own eating patterns, this implies, may affect your grandchildren's lifespans, years before your grandchildren – or even your children – are a twinkle in anybody's eye.

It might not be immediately obvious why this has such profound implications for evolution. In the way it's generally understood, the whole point of natural selection – the so-called "modern synthesis" of Darwin's theories with subsequent discoveries about genes – is its beautiful, breathtaking, devastating simplicity. In each generation, genes undergo random mutations, making offspring subtly different from their parents; those mutations that enhance an organism's abilities to thrive and reproduce in its own particular environment will tend to spread through populations, while those that make successful breeding less likely will eventually peter out.

As years of bestselling books by Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and others have seeped into the culture, we've come to understand that the awesome power of natural selection – frequently referred to as the best idea in the history of science – lies in the sheer elegance of the way such simple principles have generated the unbelievable complexities of life. From two elementary notions – random mutation, and the filtering power of the environment – have emerged, over millennia, such marvels as eyes, the wings of birds and the human brain.

Yet epigenetics suggests this isn't the whole story. If what happens to you during your lifetime – living in a stress-inducing henhouse, say, or overeating in northern Sweden – can affect how your genes express themselves in future generations, the absolutely simple version of natural selection begins to look questionable. Rather than genes simply "offering up" a random smorgasbord of traits in each new generation, which then either prove suited or unsuited to the environment, it seems that the environment plays a role in creating those traits in future generations, if only in a short-term and reversible way. You begin to feel slightly sorry for the much-mocked pre-Darwinian zoologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, whose own version of evolution held, most famously, that giraffes have long necks because their ancestors were "obliged to browse on the leaves of trees and to make constant efforts to reach them". As a matter of natural history, he probably wasn't right about how giraffes' necks came to be so long. But Lamarck was scorned for a much more general apparent mistake: the idea that lifestyle might be able to influence heredity. "Today," notes David Shenk, "any high school student knows that genes are passed on unchanged from parent to child, and to the next generation and the next. Lifestyle cannot alter heredity. Except now it turns out that it can . . ."

Epigenetics is the most vivid reason why the popular understanding of evolution might need revising, but it's not the only one. We've learned that huge proportions of the human genome consist of viruses, or virus-like materials, raising the notion that they got there through infection – meaning that natural selection acts not just on random mutations, but on new stuff that's introduced from elsewhere. Relatedly, there is growing evidence, at the level of microbes, of genes being transferred not just vertically, from ancestors to parents to offspring, but also horizontally, between organisms. The researchers Carl Woese and Nigel Goldenfield conclude that, on average, a bacterium may have obtained 10% of its genes from other organisms in its environment.

To an outsider, this is mind-blowing: since most of the history of life on earth has been the history of micro-organisms, the evidence for horizontal transfer suggests that a mainly Darwinian account of evolution may be only the latest version, applicable to the most recent, much more complex forms of life. Perhaps, before that, most evolution was based on horizontal exchange. Which gives rise to a compelling philosophical puzzle: if a genome is what defines an organism, yet those organisms can swap genes freely, what does it even mean to draw a clear line between one organism and another? "It's natural to wonder," Goldenfield told New Scientist recently, "if the very concept of an organism in isolation is still valid at this level." In natural selection, we all know, the fittest win out over their rivals. But what if you can't establish clear boundaries between rivals in the first place?

It is a decade since the biologist Randy Thornhill and the anthropologist Craig Palmer published The Natural History of Rape. In the book, they made an argument that – however obnoxious at first glance – seemed, to many, to follow straightforwardly from the logic of natural selection. Evolution tells us that the traits that flourish down the generations are the ones that help organisms reproduce. Evolutionary psychology argues that there's no reason to exclude psychological traits. And since rape is indeed a trait that occurs all too frequently in human society, it follows that a desire to commit rape must be adaptive. There must be a genetic basis for it – a "rape gene", in the words of some media stories following the book's publication – because, in prehistoric times, those men who possessed the tendency would reproduce more successfully than those who didn't. Therefore, the authors concluded, rape was – to use a loaded term that has been getting Darwinians in trouble since Darwin – "natural".

Understandably, the book was hugely controversial. But by the time it was published, there was nothing all that radical about the idea that natural selection might be able to illuminate any and every aspect of human behaviour. Evolutionary psychology, in the hands of various practitioners, sought to explain why militarism is so prevalent in human societies, or why men tend to dominate women in so many hierarchical organisations. If the field seems less politically charged these days, that is only because it has permeated our consciousness so deeply that it has become less questioned.

For much of the late Noughties, a week never seemed to pass without one new book or news story attributing some facet of modern-day life to the evolutionary past: men were more prone to sexual jealousy than women because a woman who conceives becomes unavailable for imminent future acts of reproduction; men preferred women with waist-to-hip ratios of 0.7 because of natural selection. It explained music and art and why we reward senior executives with top-floor corner offices (because we evolved to want a clear view of our enemies approaching across the savannah). Leftwing and feminist critics did frequently misinterpret evolutionary psychology, imagining that when scholars described some trait as adaptive, they meant it was morally justifiable. But that was how many such findings – often better described as speculations – came to be believed. We're not exactly saying it's right for, say, men to sleep around, evolutionary psychologists would observe with a knowing sigh, but . . . well, good luck trying to change millennia of evolved behaviour.

Far more than biologists, evolutionary psychologists bought in to the ultra-simple version of natural selection, and so they stand to lose far more from advances in our understanding of what's really been going on. They were always prone to telling "just-so stories" – spinning plausible tales about why some trait might be adaptive, instead of demonstrating that it was – and numerous recent studies have begun to chip away at what evidence there was. (That waist-to-hip ratio finding, for example, doesn't seem to hold up in the face of international and historical research.) And now, if epigenetics and other developments are coming to suggest that environment can alter heredity, the very terms of the debate – of nature versus nurture – suddenly become shaky. It's not even a matter of settling on a compromise, a "mixture" of nature and nurture. Rather, the concepts of "nature" and "nurture" seem to be growing meaningless. What does "nature" even mean if you can nurture the nature of your descendants?

This is one central argument of Shenk's new book, subheaded Why Everything You've Been Told About Genetics, Talent and IQ is Wrong. All our popular notions about talent and "genetic gifts", he points out, start to collapse if the eating habits of Tiger Woods's ancestors, for example, might have played a role in Woods's golfing abilities. (Woods always crops up in discussions on the origins of genius; more recently, he has started cropping up in evolutionary psychology discussions about whether promiscuity is inevitable.)

"What all this evidence shows is that we need a much more subtle and nuanced understanding of Darwinism and natural selection," Shenk says. "I think that's inevitably going to happen among scientists. The question is how much nuance will carry over into the public sphere . . . it's really funny how difficult it is to have this conversation, even with a lot of people who understand the science. We're stuck with a pretty limited way of viewing all this, and I think part of that comes from the terms" – such as nature and nurture – "that we have."

Among the arsenal of studies at Shenk's disposal is one published last year in the Journal of Neuroscience, involving mice bred to possess genetically inherited memory problems. As small recompense for having been bred to be scatterbrained, they were kept in an environment full of stimulating mouse fun: plenty of toys, exercise and attention. Key aspects of their memory skills were shown to improve, and crucially so did those of their offspring, even though the offspring had never experienced the stimulating environment, even as foetuses.

"If a geneticist had suggested as recently as the 1990s that a 12-year-old kid could improve the intellectual nimbleness of his or her future children by studying harder now," writes Shenk, "that scientist would have been laughed right out of the hall." Not so now.

And then there is Jerry Fodor, the American philosopher. I started reading What Darwin Got Wrong, the new book he has co-authored with the cognitive scientist Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, one morning, along with that day's first coffee. A few pages later, as the coffee kicked in, I grasped with astonishment what Fodor had done. He hadn't just identified evidence that natural selection was more complicated than previously thought – he'd uncovered a glaring flaw in the whole notion! Natural selection, he explains, simply "cannot be the primary engine of evolution". I got up and refilled my cup. But by the time I returned, his argument had slipped from my grasp. Suddenly, he seemed obviously wrong, tied up in philosophical knots of his own creation. I alternated between these two convictions. Was Fodor's critique so devastatingly correct that his critics – Dawkins, Dennett, the Cambridge philosopher Simon Blackburn, and many others – simply couldn't see it? Had he actually managed to . . . but then it slipped away again, vanishing into mental fog.

I called Fodor and asked him to explain his point in language an infant school pupil could understand. "Can't be done," he shot back. "These issues really are complicated. If we're right that Darwin and Darwinists have missed the point we've been making for 150 years, that's not because it's a simple point and Darwin was stupid. It's a really complicated issue."

Fodor's objection is a distant cousin of one that rears its head every few years: doesn't "survival of the fittest" just mean "survival of those that survive", since the only criterion of fitness is that a creature does, indeed, survive and reproduce? The American rightwing noisemaker Ann Coulter makes the point in her 2006 pro-creationist tirade Godless: The Church of American Liberalism. "Through the process of natural selection, the 'fittest' survive, [but] who are the 'fittest'? The ones who survive!" she sneers. "Why, look – it happens every time! The 'survival of the fittest' would be a joke if it weren't part of the belief system of a fanatical cult infesting the Scientific Community."

This argument, perhaps uniquely among all arguments ever made by Coulter, feels persuasive, not least because it is a reasonable criticism of some pop-Darwinism. In fact, though, it's entirely possible for scientists to measure fitness using criteria other than survival, and thus to avoid circular logic. For example, you might hypothesise that speed is a helpful thing to have if you're an antelope, then hypothesise the kind of leg structure you'd want to have, as an antelope, in order to run fast; then you'd examine antelopes to see if they do indeed have something approximating this kind of leg structure, and you'd examine the fossil record, to see if other kinds of leg died out.

Fodor's point is more complex than this, although it's also possible that it is not really a point at all: several reviews of the book by professional evolutionary theorists and philosophers have concluded that it is, indeed, nonsense. As far as I can make out, it can be summarised in three steps. Step one: Fodor notes – undeniably correctly – that not every trait a creature possesses is necessarily adaptive. Some just come along for the ride: for example, genes that express as tameness in domesticated foxes and dogs also seem to express as floppy ears, for no evident reason. Other traits are, as logicians say, "coextensive": a polar bear, for example, has the trait of "whiteness" and also the trait of "being the same colour as its environment". (Yes, that's a brain-stretching, possibly insanity-inducing statement. Take a deep breath.) Step two: natural selection, according to its theorists, is a force that "selects for" certain traits. (Floppy ears appear to serve no purpose, so while they may have been "selected", as a matter of fact, they weren't "selected for". And polar bears, we'd surely all agree, were "selected for" being the same colour as their environment, not for being white per se: being white is no use as camouflage if snow is, say, orange.)

Step three is Fodor's coup de grace: how, he says, can that possibly be? The whole point of Darwinian evolution is that it has no mind, no intelligence. But to "select for" certain traits – as opposed to just "selecting" them by not having them die out – wouldn't natural selection have to have some kind of mind? It might be obvious to you that being the same colour as your environment is more important than being white, if you're a polar bear, but that's because you just ran a thought-experiment about a hypothetical situation involving orange snow. Evolution can't run thought experiments, because it can't think. "Darwin has a theory that centrally turns on the notion of 'selection-for'," says Fodor. "And yet he can't give an account – nobody could give an account – of how natural selection could distinguish between correlated traits. He waffles."

Those of us baffled by this argument can take solace in the fact that we're not alone. The general response to Fodor among evolutionary thinkers has been a mixture of derision and awkwardness, as if one of their previously esteemed colleagues had entered the senior common room naked. Says Dennett, via email: "Jerry Fodor's book is a stunning demonstration of how abhorrence of an idea (Jerry's visceral dislike of evolutionary thinking) can derange an otherwise clever thinker . . . a responsible academic is supposed to be able to control irrational impulses, [but] Fodor has simply collapsed in the face of his dread and composed some dreadfully bad arguments." What Darwin Got Wrong, Dennett concludes, is "a book that so transparently misconstrues its target that it would be laughable were it not such dangerous mischief".

It would be jawdroppingly surprising, to say the least, were Fodor to be right. A safer, if mealy-mouthed, conclusion to draw is that his work acts as an important warning to those of us who think we understand natural selection. It's probably not a bankrupt concept, as Fodor claims. But nor should laypeople assume that it's self-evidently simple and exhaustively true.

The irony in all this is that Darwin himself never claimed that it was. He went to his deathbed protesting that he'd been misinterpreted: there was no reason, he said, to assume that natural selection was the only imaginable mechanism of evolution. Darwin, writing before the discovery of DNA, knew very well that his work heralded the beginning of a journey to understand the origins and development of life. All we may be discovering now is that we remain closer to the beginning of that journey than we've come to think.
Not even a molecule
 
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Micro-evolution is true, as "adaption". But not macro-evolution as in a fucking fish developing all it needs to become a ground animal at the same time, or birds turning into humans, lol at your literacy if you believe this Rockefeller hoax.
if you actually believe this you're a fucking retard
 
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Darwin is a freemason and the theory is a Jewish joke. Darwin himself also admitted to his theory being bullshit because of the lack of transitional fossils.

Micro-evolution is true, as "adaption". But not macro-evolution as in a fucking fish developing all it needs to become a ground animal at the same time, or birds turning into humans, lol at your literacy if you believe this Rockefeller hoax.
Link to statement regarding Darwin admitting its bullshit? Also any proof there are no transitional fossils? Not even saying ur wrong btw just wish u guys could back up claims like this with evidence instead of yapping. Im open minded to anything that can be backed up
 
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Can you or someone please summarize It?:feelsokman:
 
Link to statement regarding Darwin admitting its bullshit? Also any proof there are no transitional fossils? Not even saying ur wrong btw just wish u guys could back up claims like this with evidence instead of yapping. Im open minded to anything that can be backed up
 
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we do not have any proof that proves evolution in real time unlike other sciences
What would constitute as proof? Anyway there’s hard evidence for macro-evolution, when we look at the chimpanzee’s genome we share hundreds of the same endogenous retro virus insertion points (ERVs), and the likelihood of that occurring out of sheer randomness instead of inheritance would be astronomically improbable.

If I remember correctly the chances of the insertion points occurring out of randomness is some number raised by the amount of atoms in the universe.
 
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What would constitute as proof? Anyway there’s hard evidence for macro-evolution, when we look at the chimpanzee’s genome we share hundreds of the same endogenous retro virus insertion points (ERVs), and the likelihood of that occurring out of sheer randomness instead of inheritance would be astronomically improbable.

If I remember correctly the chances of the insertion points occurring out of randomness is some number raised by the amount of atoms in the universe.
they eat plants and cant even digest any
 
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(Disclaimer, I have found this on a site.
I found it interesting and I would like to know everyones thoughts on this.)



The story, still sometimes repeated in creationist circles, goes like this: it is the 1960s, at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, and a team of astronomers is using cutting-edge computers to recreate the orbits of the planets, thousands of years in the past. Suddenly, an error message flashes up. There's a problem: way back in history, one whole day appears to be missing.

The scientists are baffled, until a Christian member of the team dimly recalls something and rushes to fetch a Bible. He thumbs through it until he reaches the Book of Joshua, chapter 10, in which Joshua asks God to stop the world for . . . "about a full day!" Uproar in the computer lab. The astronomers have happened upon proof that God controls the universe on a day-to-day basis, that the Bible is literally true, and that by extension the "myth" of creation is, in fact, a reality. Darwin was wrong – according to another creationist rumour, he'd recanted on his deathbed, anyway – and here, at last, is scientific evidence!


Inevitably, those of us who aren't professional scientists have to take a lot of science on trust. And one of the things that makes it so easy to trust the standard view of evolution, in particular, is amply illustrated by the legend of the Nasa astronomers: the doubters are so deluded or dishonest that one needn't waste time with them. Unfortunately, that also makes it embarrassingly awkward to ask a question that seems, in the light of recent studies and several popular books, to be growing ever more pertinent. What if Darwin's theory of evolution – or, at least, Darwin's theory of evolution as most of us learned it at school and believe we understand it – is, in crucial respects, not entirely accurate?

Such talk, naturally, is liable to drive evolutionary biologists into a rage, or, in the case of Richard Dawkins, into even more of a rage than usual. They have a point: nobody wants to provide ammunition to the proponents of creationism or "intelligent design", and it's true that few of the studies now coming to public prominence are all that revolutionary to the experts. But in the culture at large, we may be on the brink of a major shift in perspective, with enormous implications for how most of us think about how life came to be the way it is. As the science writer David Shenk puts it in his new book, The Genius in All of Us, "This is big, big stuff – perhaps the most important [discoveries] in the science of heredity since the gene."

Take, to begin with, the Swedish chickens. Three years ago, researchers led by a professor at the university of Linköping in Sweden created a henhouse that was specially designed to make its chicken occupants feel stressed. The lighting was manipulated to make the rhythms of night and day unpredictable, so the chickens lost track of when to eat or roost. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, they showed a significant decrease in their ability to learn how to find food hidden in a maze.

The surprising part is what happened next: the chickens were moved back to a non-stressful environment, where they conceived and hatched chicks who were raised without stress – and yet these chicks, too, demonstrated unexpectedly poor skills at finding food in a maze. They appeared to have inherited a problem that had been induced in their mothers through the environment. Further research established that the inherited change had altered the chicks' "gene expression" – the way certain genes are turned "on" or "off", bestowing any given animal with specific traits. The stress had affected the mother hens on a genetic level, and they had passed it on to their offspring.

The Swedish chicken study was one of several recent breakthroughs in the youthful field of epigenetics, which primarily studies the epigenome, the protective package of proteins around which genetic material – strands of DNA – is wrapped. The epigenome plays a crucial role in determining which genes actually express themselves in a creature's traits: in effect, it switches certain genes on or off, or turns them up or down in intensity. It isn't news that the environment can alter the epigenome; what's news is that those changes can be inherited. And this doesn't, of course, apply only to chickens: some of the most striking findings come from research involving humans.

One study, again from Sweden, looked at lifespans in Norrbotten, the country's northernmost province, where harvests are usually sparse but occasionally overflowing, meaning that, historically, children sometimes grew up with wildly varying food intake from one year to the next. A single period of extreme overeating in the midst of the usual short supply, researchers found, could cause a man's grandsons to die an average of 32 years earlier than if his childhood food intake had been steadier. Your own eating patterns, this implies, may affect your grandchildren's lifespans, years before your grandchildren – or even your children – are a twinkle in anybody's eye.

It might not be immediately obvious why this has such profound implications for evolution. In the way it's generally understood, the whole point of natural selection – the so-called "modern synthesis" of Darwin's theories with subsequent discoveries about genes – is its beautiful, breathtaking, devastating simplicity. In each generation, genes undergo random mutations, making offspring subtly different from their parents; those mutations that enhance an organism's abilities to thrive and reproduce in its own particular environment will tend to spread through populations, while those that make successful breeding less likely will eventually peter out.

As years of bestselling books by Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and others have seeped into the culture, we've come to understand that the awesome power of natural selection – frequently referred to as the best idea in the history of science – lies in the sheer elegance of the way such simple principles have generated the unbelievable complexities of life. From two elementary notions – random mutation, and the filtering power of the environment – have emerged, over millennia, such marvels as eyes, the wings of birds and the human brain.

Yet epigenetics suggests this isn't the whole story. If what happens to you during your lifetime – living in a stress-inducing henhouse, say, or overeating in northern Sweden – can affect how your genes express themselves in future generations, the absolutely simple version of natural selection begins to look questionable. Rather than genes simply "offering up" a random smorgasbord of traits in each new generation, which then either prove suited or unsuited to the environment, it seems that the environment plays a role in creating those traits in future generations, if only in a short-term and reversible way. You begin to feel slightly sorry for the much-mocked pre-Darwinian zoologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, whose own version of evolution held, most famously, that giraffes have long necks because their ancestors were "obliged to browse on the leaves of trees and to make constant efforts to reach them". As a matter of natural history, he probably wasn't right about how giraffes' necks came to be so long. But Lamarck was scorned for a much more general apparent mistake: the idea that lifestyle might be able to influence heredity. "Today," notes David Shenk, "any high school student knows that genes are passed on unchanged from parent to child, and to the next generation and the next. Lifestyle cannot alter heredity. Except now it turns out that it can . . ."

Epigenetics is the most vivid reason why the popular understanding of evolution might need revising, but it's not the only one. We've learned that huge proportions of the human genome consist of viruses, or virus-like materials, raising the notion that they got there through infection – meaning that natural selection acts not just on random mutations, but on new stuff that's introduced from elsewhere. Relatedly, there is growing evidence, at the level of microbes, of genes being transferred not just vertically, from ancestors to parents to offspring, but also horizontally, between organisms. The researchers Carl Woese and Nigel Goldenfield conclude that, on average, a bacterium may have obtained 10% of its genes from other organisms in its environment.

To an outsider, this is mind-blowing: since most of the history of life on earth has been the history of micro-organisms, the evidence for horizontal transfer suggests that a mainly Darwinian account of evolution may be only the latest version, applicable to the most recent, much more complex forms of life. Perhaps, before that, most evolution was based on horizontal exchange. Which gives rise to a compelling philosophical puzzle: if a genome is what defines an organism, yet those organisms can swap genes freely, what does it even mean to draw a clear line between one organism and another? "It's natural to wonder," Goldenfield told New Scientist recently, "if the very concept of an organism in isolation is still valid at this level." In natural selection, we all know, the fittest win out over their rivals. But what if you can't establish clear boundaries between rivals in the first place?

It is a decade since the biologist Randy Thornhill and the anthropologist Craig Palmer published The Natural History of Rape. In the book, they made an argument that – however obnoxious at first glance – seemed, to many, to follow straightforwardly from the logic of natural selection. Evolution tells us that the traits that flourish down the generations are the ones that help organisms reproduce. Evolutionary psychology argues that there's no reason to exclude psychological traits. And since rape is indeed a trait that occurs all too frequently in human society, it follows that a desire to commit rape must be adaptive. There must be a genetic basis for it – a "rape gene", in the words of some media stories following the book's publication – because, in prehistoric times, those men who possessed the tendency would reproduce more successfully than those who didn't. Therefore, the authors concluded, rape was – to use a loaded term that has been getting Darwinians in trouble since Darwin – "natural".

Understandably, the book was hugely controversial. But by the time it was published, there was nothing all that radical about the idea that natural selection might be able to illuminate any and every aspect of human behaviour. Evolutionary psychology, in the hands of various practitioners, sought to explain why militarism is so prevalent in human societies, or why men tend to dominate women in so many hierarchical organisations. If the field seems less politically charged these days, that is only because it has permeated our consciousness so deeply that it has become less questioned.

For much of the late Noughties, a week never seemed to pass without one new book or news story attributing some facet of modern-day life to the evolutionary past: men were more prone to sexual jealousy than women because a woman who conceives becomes unavailable for imminent future acts of reproduction; men preferred women with waist-to-hip ratios of 0.7 because of natural selection. It explained music and art and why we reward senior executives with top-floor corner offices (because we evolved to want a clear view of our enemies approaching across the savannah). Leftwing and feminist critics did frequently misinterpret evolutionary psychology, imagining that when scholars described some trait as adaptive, they meant it was morally justifiable. But that was how many such findings – often better described as speculations – came to be believed. We're not exactly saying it's right for, say, men to sleep around, evolutionary psychologists would observe with a knowing sigh, but . . . well, good luck trying to change millennia of evolved behaviour.

Far more than biologists, evolutionary psychologists bought in to the ultra-simple version of natural selection, and so they stand to lose far more from advances in our understanding of what's really been going on. They were always prone to telling "just-so stories" – spinning plausible tales about why some trait might be adaptive, instead of demonstrating that it was – and numerous recent studies have begun to chip away at what evidence there was. (That waist-to-hip ratio finding, for example, doesn't seem to hold up in the face of international and historical research.) And now, if epigenetics and other developments are coming to suggest that environment can alter heredity, the very terms of the debate – of nature versus nurture – suddenly become shaky. It's not even a matter of settling on a compromise, a "mixture" of nature and nurture. Rather, the concepts of "nature" and "nurture" seem to be growing meaningless. What does "nature" even mean if you can nurture the nature of your descendants?

This is one central argument of Shenk's new book, subheaded Why Everything You've Been Told About Genetics, Talent and IQ is Wrong. All our popular notions about talent and "genetic gifts", he points out, start to collapse if the eating habits of Tiger Woods's ancestors, for example, might have played a role in Woods's golfing abilities. (Woods always crops up in discussions on the origins of genius; more recently, he has started cropping up in evolutionary psychology discussions about whether promiscuity is inevitable.)

"What all this evidence shows is that we need a much more subtle and nuanced understanding of Darwinism and natural selection," Shenk says. "I think that's inevitably going to happen among scientists. The question is how much nuance will carry over into the public sphere . . . it's really funny how difficult it is to have this conversation, even with a lot of people who understand the science. We're stuck with a pretty limited way of viewing all this, and I think part of that comes from the terms" – such as nature and nurture – "that we have."

Among the arsenal of studies at Shenk's disposal is one published last year in the Journal of Neuroscience, involving mice bred to possess genetically inherited memory problems. As small recompense for having been bred to be scatterbrained, they were kept in an environment full of stimulating mouse fun: plenty of toys, exercise and attention. Key aspects of their memory skills were shown to improve, and crucially so did those of their offspring, even though the offspring had never experienced the stimulating environment, even as foetuses.

"If a geneticist had suggested as recently as the 1990s that a 12-year-old kid could improve the intellectual nimbleness of his or her future children by studying harder now," writes Shenk, "that scientist would have been laughed right out of the hall." Not so now.

And then there is Jerry Fodor, the American philosopher. I started reading What Darwin Got Wrong, the new book he has co-authored with the cognitive scientist Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, one morning, along with that day's first coffee. A few pages later, as the coffee kicked in, I grasped with astonishment what Fodor had done. He hadn't just identified evidence that natural selection was more complicated than previously thought – he'd uncovered a glaring flaw in the whole notion! Natural selection, he explains, simply "cannot be the primary engine of evolution". I got up and refilled my cup. But by the time I returned, his argument had slipped from my grasp. Suddenly, he seemed obviously wrong, tied up in philosophical knots of his own creation. I alternated between these two convictions. Was Fodor's critique so devastatingly correct that his critics – Dawkins, Dennett, the Cambridge philosopher Simon Blackburn, and many others – simply couldn't see it? Had he actually managed to . . . but then it slipped away again, vanishing into mental fog.

I called Fodor and asked him to explain his point in language an infant school pupil could understand. "Can't be done," he shot back. "These issues really are complicated. If we're right that Darwin and Darwinists have missed the point we've been making for 150 years, that's not because it's a simple point and Darwin was stupid. It's a really complicated issue."

Fodor's objection is a distant cousin of one that rears its head every few years: doesn't "survival of the fittest" just mean "survival of those that survive", since the only criterion of fitness is that a creature does, indeed, survive and reproduce? The American rightwing noisemaker Ann Coulter makes the point in her 2006 pro-creationist tirade Godless: The Church of American Liberalism. "Through the process of natural selection, the 'fittest' survive, [but] who are the 'fittest'? The ones who survive!" she sneers. "Why, look – it happens every time! The 'survival of the fittest' would be a joke if it weren't part of the belief system of a fanatical cult infesting the Scientific Community."

This argument, perhaps uniquely among all arguments ever made by Coulter, feels persuasive, not least because it is a reasonable criticism of some pop-Darwinism. In fact, though, it's entirely possible for scientists to measure fitness using criteria other than survival, and thus to avoid circular logic. For example, you might hypothesise that speed is a helpful thing to have if you're an antelope, then hypothesise the kind of leg structure you'd want to have, as an antelope, in order to run fast; then you'd examine antelopes to see if they do indeed have something approximating this kind of leg structure, and you'd examine the fossil record, to see if other kinds of leg died out.

Fodor's point is more complex than this, although it's also possible that it is not really a point at all: several reviews of the book by professional evolutionary theorists and philosophers have concluded that it is, indeed, nonsense. As far as I can make out, it can be summarised in three steps. Step one: Fodor notes – undeniably correctly – that not every trait a creature possesses is necessarily adaptive. Some just come along for the ride: for example, genes that express as tameness in domesticated foxes and dogs also seem to express as floppy ears, for no evident reason. Other traits are, as logicians say, "coextensive": a polar bear, for example, has the trait of "whiteness" and also the trait of "being the same colour as its environment". (Yes, that's a brain-stretching, possibly insanity-inducing statement. Take a deep breath.) Step two: natural selection, according to its theorists, is a force that "selects for" certain traits. (Floppy ears appear to serve no purpose, so while they may have been "selected", as a matter of fact, they weren't "selected for". And polar bears, we'd surely all agree, were "selected for" being the same colour as their environment, not for being white per se: being white is no use as camouflage if snow is, say, orange.)

Step three is Fodor's coup de grace: how, he says, can that possibly be? The whole point of Darwinian evolution is that it has no mind, no intelligence. But to "select for" certain traits – as opposed to just "selecting" them by not having them die out – wouldn't natural selection have to have some kind of mind? It might be obvious to you that being the same colour as your environment is more important than being white, if you're a polar bear, but that's because you just ran a thought-experiment about a hypothetical situation involving orange snow. Evolution can't run thought experiments, because it can't think. "Darwin has a theory that centrally turns on the notion of 'selection-for'," says Fodor. "And yet he can't give an account – nobody could give an account – of how natural selection could distinguish between correlated traits. He waffles."

Those of us baffled by this argument can take solace in the fact that we're not alone. The general response to Fodor among evolutionary thinkers has been a mixture of derision and awkwardness, as if one of their previously esteemed colleagues had entered the senior common room naked. Says Dennett, via email: "Jerry Fodor's book is a stunning demonstration of how abhorrence of an idea (Jerry's visceral dislike of evolutionary thinking) can derange an otherwise clever thinker . . . a responsible academic is supposed to be able to control irrational impulses, [but] Fodor has simply collapsed in the face of his dread and composed some dreadfully bad arguments." What Darwin Got Wrong, Dennett concludes, is "a book that so transparently misconstrues its target that it would be laughable were it not such dangerous mischief".

It would be jawdroppingly surprising, to say the least, were Fodor to be right. A safer, if mealy-mouthed, conclusion to draw is that his work acts as an important warning to those of us who think we understand natural selection. It's probably not a bankrupt concept, as Fodor claims. But nor should laypeople assume that it's self-evidently simple and exhaustively true.

The irony in all this is that Darwin himself never claimed that it was. He went to his deathbed protesting that he'd been misinterpreted: there was no reason, he said, to assume that natural selection was the only imaginable mechanism of evolution. Darwin, writing before the discovery of DNA, knew very well that his work heralded the beginning of a journey to understand the origins and development of life. All we may be discovering now is that we remain closer to the beginning of that journey than we've come to think.
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There's many anti darwinism facts, this theory makes no sense
But it's widespread as if it's true
Maybe in the future it will be debunked and niggas will be like "how the fuck people used to believe that"
 
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There's many anti darwinism facts, this theory makes no sense
But it's widespread as if it's true
Maybe in the future it will be debunked and niggas will be like "how the fuck people used to believe that"
i guess that can go for a lot of things
 
There's many anti darwinism facts, this theory makes no sense
But it's widespread as if it's true
Maybe in the future it will be debunked and niggas will be like "how the fuck people used to believe that"
Darwin was wrong on many things but his discovery of natural selection served as the precursor to what we know as the modern theory of evolution, a reconfigured version of a mere conjecture stemmed from observing finches now supported by math/statistics, simulations, understanding of genetic coding, etc..
 
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Link to statement regarding Darwin admitting its bullshit? Also any proof there are no transitional fossils? Not even saying ur wrong btw just wish u guys could back up claims like this with evidence instead of yapping. Im open minded to anything that can be backed up
The yapping is because its some obscure incel forum and not an academic dissertation but I'm happy to back it up.

1711504913334

1711504920506


Darwin thought geology would uncover countless transitional fossils when it became more advanced...

Nowadays we have the best geology possible and still no real legitimate transitional fossils. (If macro-evolution was true there'd be millions, they'd be as common if not more common than standard fossils).

And forgery in the fossil world is very very common. Most if not all "prehistoric human" fossils you've seen were hoaxes, including Lucy.

And I have my doubts about most dinosaur fossils since all that are in display are "representations" made out of chicken bones.

Anything claiming "we have many transitional fossils!!!" is mostly cope by atheists (FISH EVOLVING INTO FISH... NOT FISH EVOLVING INTO COWS OR SOME SHIT), if you ask actual professors and specialists in Biology they'll tell you no.

This video explains it much better and in detail, while stomping the "specialist biologists" who teach at some of the biggest universities:
 
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if you actually believe this you're a fucking retard
Show me observable evidence of any animal changing kinds through evolution or keep barking for me illiterate dog
 
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if you actually believe this you're a fucking retard
>WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT THE PHOTOS FROM MARS™ ARE TAKEN IN CANADA, DEVON ISLAND????

>YOU FUCKING SCHIZO NAZI, TRUST THE FUCKING SCIENCEEE

>LOOK AT THESE COOL FUCKING JAMES WEBB PHOTOS THAT PROVE WE ARE ALL ACTUALLY JUST INSIGNIFICANT SPACE DUST SUSPENDED IN A SUNBEAM (OMGGGG CARL SAGAN SAID THAT IT'S OS KINO IT MAKES ME FEEL LIKE I'M TRULY PART OF THE GLOBAL HUMAN VILLAGE)

>WE HAVE BEEN TO THE MOON

>WE WILL GO TO THE MOON EVEN THOUGH WE MAGICALLY DESTROYED THE TECHNOLOGY

>WE WILL GO TO MARS

>WE WILL COLONIZE THE STARS

>WE WILL FUCKING DESTROY THE FIRMAMENT AND KILL GOD YOU FUCKING CHUD AND YOU WILL BE HAPPY

>WHAT THE LE FUCK DID THE FUCKING CHUD SAY THAT THE EARTH IS FLAT AND THAT THERE IS NO PROOF OF MOTION??????????????????????? AND WE CAN SEE TOO FAR AND BRING SHIPS BACK INTO VIEW BY JUST ZOOMING IN???????????????????????

>NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SHUT IT DOWN KILL THE EVIL CHUDCEL PISSBABY FOR QUESTIONING THE SCIENCE EVEN THOUGH DIAMONDS RAINING ON NEPTUNE IS PEER-REVIEWED AND YOU WILL GO TO JAIL IF YOU QUESTION THE RED HYPERGIANT STAR THAT IS 17478847 QUANTILLION TIMES THE SIZE OF THE SUN WITH A KINO BLACKHOLE AND STAR WARS PLANETS WHERE IT RAINS LAVA AND SPACE DUST ORBITING IT YAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

>DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE TIME ALIEMS FRICKIN CONTACTED US?!?!?!?! IT'S CALLED THE WOAHS SIGNAL AND IT WAS THE ALIEMS THEY WANTED TO MEET US BRO TRUST US

>HERE'S WHY GOD IS FAKE AND WE ALL ACTUALLY LIVE ON A PEAR-SHAPED OBLOID SPHEROID AND TRAVEL THROUGH SPACE (VACUUMS DON'T SUCK YOU FUCKING CHUD GET IT RIGHT FOR ONCE)) AT 666,666 MILES PER HOUR

>JUPITER ACTUALLY IS OUR BIG BROTHER HE PROTECTS US FROM THE EVIL FUCKING ASTEROIDS WE'D ALL BE FUCKING DEAD IF JUPITER WASN'T THERE IT'S SO FRICKIN BIG AND IT SUCKS ALL THE SPACE SCIENCY ROCKS INTO IT

>OMMGGGGG WE MAY HAVE FOUND LIFE ON MARSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS IT'S FRICKIN BACTERIA AND IT'S LIFE EVEN THOUGH I DON'T CONSIDER HUMAN FETUSES TO BE LIFE GET AN ABORTION YOU FUCKING CHUDCEL, YOU DON'T WANT TO BE A RACIST PRICK, DO YOU?

>STILL DON'T BELIEVE WE ARE SPACE DUST LIVING ON A PEAR-SHAPED GLOBE WITH THINGS MAGICALLY STICKING TO IT EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE NEVER OBSERVED 2 SMALL ROCKS GET ATTRACTED TO EACHOTHER VIA GRAVITY IN SPACE???? YOU FUCKING NAZI SELFISH FUCK YOU WILL DROWN WHEN GLOBHUL WHARMING KILLS US ALL WE NEED TO TAKE MORE REFUGEES INTO WHITE COUNTRIES BECAUSE THEIR CIITES ARE GETTING FLOODED AND IT'S 397478387 DEGREES THERE

>LISTEN CHUD, WE WILL SHUT DOWN YOUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL AND YOU WILL BE SHUNNED IRL IF YOU DARE QUESTION THE FUCKING SCIENCE BEHIND THE ANDROMEDA GALAXY COLLIDING WITH THE MILKYWAY AND FORMING MILKDROMEDA IN 4 BILLION YEARS AND THE SUN DESTROYING MERCURY VENUS AND EARRTH YOU FUCKING CHUDCEL PISSBABY INCEL FREAK!!!!!!!!!!! DON'T YOU FUCKING DARE QUESTION THE HEAT DEATH BIG RIP BIG BOUNCE BIG CRUNCH DEATH OF THE FLIPPIN UNIVERSE!!!!! DID YOU FRICKIN KNOW THAT ONLY BLACK HOLES WILL REMAIN AS THE POGGERS PROTONS DECAY AND ALL THE PLANETS AND STARS GO SUPERNOVA AND CREATE MORE SPACEDUST AND THE UNIVERSE WILL BE EMPTY

>DID YOU KNOW THE MOON WAS CREATED BY A PLANET CRASHING INTO EARTH 84839 TRILLION YEARS AGO ???????? AND THAT YOUR GREAT GREAT GREAT GREAT GRANDPARENTS WERE FISH?!? IT'S SO POGGERS IT REMINDS ME OF EATING THE BUGS AND LIVING IN A POD AND BEING HAPPY

>BY THE WAY WATCH KURZGESAGT AND SCIENCEPHILE AND PROFESSOR DAVE AND FRICKIN ADAM SOMETHING TO GET YOUR NEWEST POGGERS INFORMARSHION ABOUT SPACE AND SCIENCE

>OH MY GOSH I LOOOOOOOOOOVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE SCIENCEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
 
  • +1
  • JFL
  • Ugh..
Reactions: Ranjeet Dipshit, Eren, mazzi and 2 others
>WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT THE PHOTOS FROM MARS™ ARE TAKEN IN CANADA, DEVON ISLAND????

>YOU FUCKING SCHIZO NAZI, TRUST THE FUCKING SCIENCEEE

>LOOK AT THESE COOL FUCKING JAMES WEBB PHOTOS THAT PROVE WE ARE ALL ACTUALLY JUST INSIGNIFICANT SPACE DUST SUSPENDED IN A SUNBEAM (OMGGGG CARL SAGAN SAID THAT IT'S OS KINO IT MAKES ME FEEL LIKE I'M TRULY PART OF THE GLOBAL HUMAN VILLAGE)

>WE HAVE BEEN TO THE MOON

>WE WILL GO TO THE MOON EVEN THOUGH WE MAGICALLY DESTROYED THE TECHNOLOGY

>WE WILL GO TO MARS

>WE WILL COLONIZE THE STARS

>WE WILL FUCKING DESTROY THE FIRMAMENT AND KILL GOD YOU FUCKING CHUD AND YOU WILL BE HAPPY

>WHAT THE LE FUCK DID THE FUCKING CHUD SAY THAT THE EARTH IS FLAT AND THAT THERE IS NO PROOF OF MOTION??????????????????????? AND WE CAN SEE TOO FAR AND BRING SHIPS BACK INTO VIEW BY JUST ZOOMING IN???????????????????????

>NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SHUT IT DOWN KILL THE EVIL CHUDCEL PISSBABY FOR QUESTIONING THE SCIENCE EVEN THOUGH DIAMONDS RAINING ON NEPTUNE IS PEER-REVIEWED AND YOU WILL GO TO JAIL IF YOU QUESTION THE RED HYPERGIANT STAR THAT IS 17478847 QUANTILLION TIMES THE SIZE OF THE SUN WITH A KINO BLACKHOLE AND STAR WARS PLANETS WHERE IT RAINS LAVA AND SPACE DUST ORBITING IT YAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

>DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE TIME ALIEMS FRICKIN CONTACTED US?!?!?!?! IT'S CALLED THE WOAHS SIGNAL AND IT WAS THE ALIEMS THEY WANTED TO MEET US BRO TRUST US

>HERE'S WHY GOD IS FAKE AND WE ALL ACTUALLY LIVE ON A PEAR-SHAPED OBLOID SPHEROID AND TRAVEL THROUGH SPACE (VACUUMS DON'T SUCK YOU FUCKING CHUD GET IT RIGHT FOR ONCE)) AT 666,666 MILES PER HOUR

>JUPITER ACTUALLY IS OUR BIG BROTHER HE PROTECTS US FROM THE EVIL FUCKING ASTEROIDS WE'D ALL BE FUCKING DEAD IF JUPITER WASN'T THERE IT'S SO FRICKIN BIG AND IT SUCKS ALL THE SPACE SCIENCY ROCKS INTO IT

>OMMGGGGG WE MAY HAVE FOUND LIFE ON MARSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS IT'S FRICKIN BACTERIA AND IT'S LIFE EVEN THOUGH I DON'T CONSIDER HUMAN FETUSES TO BE LIFE GET AN ABORTION YOU FUCKING CHUDCEL, YOU DON'T WANT TO BE A RACIST PRICK, DO YOU?

>STILL DON'T BELIEVE WE ARE SPACE DUST LIVING ON A PEAR-SHAPED GLOBE WITH THINGS MAGICALLY STICKING TO IT EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE NEVER OBSERVED 2 SMALL ROCKS GET ATTRACTED TO EACHOTHER VIA GRAVITY IN SPACE???? YOU FUCKING NAZI SELFISH FUCK YOU WILL DROWN WHEN GLOBHUL WHARMING KILLS US ALL WE NEED TO TAKE MORE REFUGEES INTO WHITE COUNTRIES BECAUSE THEIR CIITES ARE GETTING FLOODED AND IT'S 397478387 DEGREES THERE

>LISTEN CHUD, WE WILL SHUT DOWN YOUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL AND YOU WILL BE SHUNNED IRL IF YOU DARE QUESTION THE FUCKING SCIENCE BEHIND THE ANDROMEDA GALAXY COLLIDING WITH THE MILKYWAY AND FORMING MILKDROMEDA IN 4 BILLION YEARS AND THE SUN DESTROYING MERCURY VENUS AND EARRTH YOU FUCKING CHUDCEL PISSBABY INCEL FREAK!!!!!!!!!!! DON'T YOU FUCKING DARE QUESTION THE HEAT DEATH BIG RIP BIG BOUNCE BIG CRUNCH DEATH OF THE FLIPPIN UNIVERSE!!!!! DID YOU FRICKIN KNOW THAT ONLY BLACK HOLES WILL REMAIN AS THE POGGERS PROTONS DECAY AND ALL THE PLANETS AND STARS GO SUPERNOVA AND CREATE MORE SPACEDUST AND THE UNIVERSE WILL BE EMPTY

>DID YOU KNOW THE MOON WAS CREATED BY A PLANET CRASHING INTO EARTH 84839 TRILLION YEARS AGO ???????? AND THAT YOUR GREAT GREAT GREAT GREAT GRANDPARENTS WERE FISH?!? IT'S SO POGGERS IT REMINDS ME OF EATING THE BUGS AND LIVING IN A POD AND BEING HAPPY

>BY THE WAY WATCH KURZGESAGT AND SCIENCEPHILE AND PROFESSOR DAVE AND FRICKIN ADAM SOMETHING TO GET YOUR NEWEST POGGERS INFORMARSHION ABOUT SPACE AND SCIENCE

>OH MY GOSH I LOOOOOOOOOOVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE SCIENCEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
Reminds me of this

1711509872105
 
  • JFL
Reactions: Ranjeet Dipshit
>WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT THE PHOTOS FROM MARS™ ARE TAKEN IN CANADA, DEVON ISLAND????

>YOU FUCKING SCHIZO NAZI, TRUST THE FUCKING SCIENCEEE

>LOOK AT THESE COOL FUCKING JAMES WEBB PHOTOS THAT PROVE WE ARE ALL ACTUALLY JUST INSIGNIFICANT SPACE DUST SUSPENDED IN A SUNBEAM (OMGGGG CARL SAGAN SAID THAT IT'S OS KINO IT MAKES ME FEEL LIKE I'M TRULY PART OF THE GLOBAL HUMAN VILLAGE)

>WE HAVE BEEN TO THE MOON

>WE WILL GO TO THE MOON EVEN THOUGH WE MAGICALLY DESTROYED THE TECHNOLOGY

>WE WILL GO TO MARS

>WE WILL COLONIZE THE STARS

>WE WILL FUCKING DESTROY THE FIRMAMENT AND KILL GOD YOU FUCKING CHUD AND YOU WILL BE HAPPY

>WHAT THE LE FUCK DID THE FUCKING CHUD SAY THAT THE EARTH IS FLAT AND THAT THERE IS NO PROOF OF MOTION??????????????????????? AND WE CAN SEE TOO FAR AND BRING SHIPS BACK INTO VIEW BY JUST ZOOMING IN???????????????????????

>NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SHUT IT DOWN KILL THE EVIL CHUDCEL PISSBABY FOR QUESTIONING THE SCIENCE EVEN THOUGH DIAMONDS RAINING ON NEPTUNE IS PEER-REVIEWED AND YOU WILL GO TO JAIL IF YOU QUESTION THE RED HYPERGIANT STAR THAT IS 17478847 QUANTILLION TIMES THE SIZE OF THE SUN WITH A KINO BLACKHOLE AND STAR WARS PLANETS WHERE IT RAINS LAVA AND SPACE DUST ORBITING IT YAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

>DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE TIME ALIEMS FRICKIN CONTACTED US?!?!?!?! IT'S CALLED THE WOAHS SIGNAL AND IT WAS THE ALIEMS THEY WANTED TO MEET US BRO TRUST US

>HERE'S WHY GOD IS FAKE AND WE ALL ACTUALLY LIVE ON A PEAR-SHAPED OBLOID SPHEROID AND TRAVEL THROUGH SPACE (VACUUMS DON'T SUCK YOU FUCKING CHUD GET IT RIGHT FOR ONCE)) AT 666,666 MILES PER HOUR

>JUPITER ACTUALLY IS OUR BIG BROTHER HE PROTECTS US FROM THE EVIL FUCKING ASTEROIDS WE'D ALL BE FUCKING DEAD IF JUPITER WASN'T THERE IT'S SO FRICKIN BIG AND IT SUCKS ALL THE SPACE SCIENCY ROCKS INTO IT

>OMMGGGGG WE MAY HAVE FOUND LIFE ON MARSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS IT'S FRICKIN BACTERIA AND IT'S LIFE EVEN THOUGH I DON'T CONSIDER HUMAN FETUSES TO BE LIFE GET AN ABORTION YOU FUCKING CHUDCEL, YOU DON'T WANT TO BE A RACIST PRICK, DO YOU?

>STILL DON'T BELIEVE WE ARE SPACE DUST LIVING ON A PEAR-SHAPED GLOBE WITH THINGS MAGICALLY STICKING TO IT EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE NEVER OBSERVED 2 SMALL ROCKS GET ATTRACTED TO EACHOTHER VIA GRAVITY IN SPACE???? YOU FUCKING NAZI SELFISH FUCK YOU WILL DROWN WHEN GLOBHUL WHARMING KILLS US ALL WE NEED TO TAKE MORE REFUGEES INTO WHITE COUNTRIES BECAUSE THEIR CIITES ARE GETTING FLOODED AND IT'S 397478387 DEGREES THERE

>LISTEN CHUD, WE WILL SHUT DOWN YOUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL AND YOU WILL BE SHUNNED IRL IF YOU DARE QUESTION THE FUCKING SCIENCE BEHIND THE ANDROMEDA GALAXY COLLIDING WITH THE MILKYWAY AND FORMING MILKDROMEDA IN 4 BILLION YEARS AND THE SUN DESTROYING MERCURY VENUS AND EARRTH YOU FUCKING CHUDCEL PISSBABY INCEL FREAK!!!!!!!!!!! DON'T YOU FUCKING DARE QUESTION THE HEAT DEATH BIG RIP BIG BOUNCE BIG CRUNCH DEATH OF THE FLIPPIN UNIVERSE!!!!! DID YOU FRICKIN KNOW THAT ONLY BLACK HOLES WILL REMAIN AS THE POGGERS PROTONS DECAY AND ALL THE PLANETS AND STARS GO SUPERNOVA AND CREATE MORE SPACEDUST AND THE UNIVERSE WILL BE EMPTY

>DID YOU KNOW THE MOON WAS CREATED BY A PLANET CRASHING INTO EARTH 84839 TRILLION YEARS AGO ???????? AND THAT YOUR GREAT GREAT GREAT GREAT GRANDPARENTS WERE FISH?!? IT'S SO POGGERS IT REMINDS ME OF EATING THE BUGS AND LIVING IN A POD AND BEING HAPPY

>BY THE WAY WATCH KURZGESAGT AND SCIENCEPHILE AND PROFESSOR DAVE AND FRICKIN ADAM SOMETHING TO GET YOUR NEWEST POGGERS INFORMARSHION ABOUT SPACE AND SCIENCE

>OH MY GOSH I LOOOOOOOOOOVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE SCIENCEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
cope
 
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How are you going to be black pilled and say evolution is a lie? Black pill literally Cerberus on evolutionary psychology and genetic predeterminism
 
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How are you going to be black pilled and say evolution is a lie? Black pill literally Cerberus on evolutionary psychology and genetic predeterminism
Get out of here faggot
 
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Evolution is the TRUTH................. Only right wing bigots & far right white supremacist still believe in oppressive conservative sky daddies in 2024!!!!
 
(Disclaimer, I have found this on a site.
I found it interesting and I would like to know everyones thoughts on this.)



The story, still sometimes repeated in creationist circles, goes like this: it is the 1960s, at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, and a team of astronomers is using cutting-edge computers to recreate the orbits of the planets, thousands of years in the past. Suddenly, an error message flashes up. There's a problem: way back in history, one whole day appears to be missing.

The scientists are baffled, until a Christian member of the team dimly recalls something and rushes to fetch a Bible. He thumbs through it until he reaches the Book of Joshua, chapter 10, in which Joshua asks God to stop the world for . . . "about a full day!" Uproar in the computer lab. The astronomers have happened upon proof that God controls the universe on a day-to-day basis, that the Bible is literally true, and that by extension the "myth" of creation is, in fact, a reality. Darwin was wrong – according to another creationist rumour, he'd recanted on his deathbed, anyway – and here, at last, is scientific evidence!


Inevitably, those of us who aren't professional scientists have to take a lot of science on trust. And one of the things that makes it so easy to trust the standard view of evolution, in particular, is amply illustrated by the legend of the Nasa astronomers: the doubters are so deluded or dishonest that one needn't waste time with them. Unfortunately, that also makes it embarrassingly awkward to ask a question that seems, in the light of recent studies and several popular books, to be growing ever more pertinent. What if Darwin's theory of evolution – or, at least, Darwin's theory of evolution as most of us learned it at school and believe we understand it – is, in crucial respects, not entirely accurate?

Such talk, naturally, is liable to drive evolutionary biologists into a rage, or, in the case of Richard Dawkins, into even more of a rage than usual. They have a point: nobody wants to provide ammunition to the proponents of creationism or "intelligent design", and it's true that few of the studies now coming to public prominence are all that revolutionary to the experts. But in the culture at large, we may be on the brink of a major shift in perspective, with enormous implications for how most of us think about how life came to be the way it is. As the science writer David Shenk puts it in his new book, The Genius in All of Us, "This is big, big stuff – perhaps the most important [discoveries] in the science of heredity since the gene."

Take, to begin with, the Swedish chickens. Three years ago, researchers led by a professor at the university of Linköping in Sweden created a henhouse that was specially designed to make its chicken occupants feel stressed. The lighting was manipulated to make the rhythms of night and day unpredictable, so the chickens lost track of when to eat or roost. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, they showed a significant decrease in their ability to learn how to find food hidden in a maze.

The surprising part is what happened next: the chickens were moved back to a non-stressful environment, where they conceived and hatched chicks who were raised without stress – and yet these chicks, too, demonstrated unexpectedly poor skills at finding food in a maze. They appeared to have inherited a problem that had been induced in their mothers through the environment. Further research established that the inherited change had altered the chicks' "gene expression" – the way certain genes are turned "on" or "off", bestowing any given animal with specific traits. The stress had affected the mother hens on a genetic level, and they had passed it on to their offspring.

The Swedish chicken study was one of several recent breakthroughs in the youthful field of epigenetics, which primarily studies the epigenome, the protective package of proteins around which genetic material – strands of DNA – is wrapped. The epigenome plays a crucial role in determining which genes actually express themselves in a creature's traits: in effect, it switches certain genes on or off, or turns them up or down in intensity. It isn't news that the environment can alter the epigenome; what's news is that those changes can be inherited. And this doesn't, of course, apply only to chickens: some of the most striking findings come from research involving humans.

One study, again from Sweden, looked at lifespans in Norrbotten, the country's northernmost province, where harvests are usually sparse but occasionally overflowing, meaning that, historically, children sometimes grew up with wildly varying food intake from one year to the next. A single period of extreme overeating in the midst of the usual short supply, researchers found, could cause a man's grandsons to die an average of 32 years earlier than if his childhood food intake had been steadier. Your own eating patterns, this implies, may affect your grandchildren's lifespans, years before your grandchildren – or even your children – are a twinkle in anybody's eye.

It might not be immediately obvious why this has such profound implications for evolution. In the way it's generally understood, the whole point of natural selection – the so-called "modern synthesis" of Darwin's theories with subsequent discoveries about genes – is its beautiful, breathtaking, devastating simplicity. In each generation, genes undergo random mutations, making offspring subtly different from their parents; those mutations that enhance an organism's abilities to thrive and reproduce in its own particular environment will tend to spread through populations, while those that make successful breeding less likely will eventually peter out.

As years of bestselling books by Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and others have seeped into the culture, we've come to understand that the awesome power of natural selection – frequently referred to as the best idea in the history of science – lies in the sheer elegance of the way such simple principles have generated the unbelievable complexities of life. From two elementary notions – random mutation, and the filtering power of the environment – have emerged, over millennia, such marvels as eyes, the wings of birds and the human brain.

Yet epigenetics suggests this isn't the whole story. If what happens to you during your lifetime – living in a stress-inducing henhouse, say, or overeating in northern Sweden – can affect how your genes express themselves in future generations, the absolutely simple version of natural selection begins to look questionable. Rather than genes simply "offering up" a random smorgasbord of traits in each new generation, which then either prove suited or unsuited to the environment, it seems that the environment plays a role in creating those traits in future generations, if only in a short-term and reversible way. You begin to feel slightly sorry for the much-mocked pre-Darwinian zoologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, whose own version of evolution held, most famously, that giraffes have long necks because their ancestors were "obliged to browse on the leaves of trees and to make constant efforts to reach them". As a matter of natural history, he probably wasn't right about how giraffes' necks came to be so long. But Lamarck was scorned for a much more general apparent mistake: the idea that lifestyle might be able to influence heredity. "Today," notes David Shenk, "any high school student knows that genes are passed on unchanged from parent to child, and to the next generation and the next. Lifestyle cannot alter heredity. Except now it turns out that it can . . ."

Epigenetics is the most vivid reason why the popular understanding of evolution might need revising, but it's not the only one. We've learned that huge proportions of the human genome consist of viruses, or virus-like materials, raising the notion that they got there through infection – meaning that natural selection acts not just on random mutations, but on new stuff that's introduced from elsewhere. Relatedly, there is growing evidence, at the level of microbes, of genes being transferred not just vertically, from ancestors to parents to offspring, but also horizontally, between organisms. The researchers Carl Woese and Nigel Goldenfield conclude that, on average, a bacterium may have obtained 10% of its genes from other organisms in its environment.

To an outsider, this is mind-blowing: since most of the history of life on earth has been the history of micro-organisms, the evidence for horizontal transfer suggests that a mainly Darwinian account of evolution may be only the latest version, applicable to the most recent, much more complex forms of life. Perhaps, before that, most evolution was based on horizontal exchange. Which gives rise to a compelling philosophical puzzle: if a genome is what defines an organism, yet those organisms can swap genes freely, what does it even mean to draw a clear line between one organism and another? "It's natural to wonder," Goldenfield told New Scientist recently, "if the very concept of an organism in isolation is still valid at this level." In natural selection, we all know, the fittest win out over their rivals. But what if you can't establish clear boundaries between rivals in the first place?

It is a decade since the biologist Randy Thornhill and the anthropologist Craig Palmer published The Natural History of Rape. In the book, they made an argument that – however obnoxious at first glance – seemed, to many, to follow straightforwardly from the logic of natural selection. Evolution tells us that the traits that flourish down the generations are the ones that help organisms reproduce. Evolutionary psychology argues that there's no reason to exclude psychological traits. And since rape is indeed a trait that occurs all too frequently in human society, it follows that a desire to commit rape must be adaptive. There must be a genetic basis for it – a "rape gene", in the words of some media stories following the book's publication – because, in prehistoric times, those men who possessed the tendency would reproduce more successfully than those who didn't. Therefore, the authors concluded, rape was – to use a loaded term that has been getting Darwinians in trouble since Darwin – "natural".

Understandably, the book was hugely controversial. But by the time it was published, there was nothing all that radical about the idea that natural selection might be able to illuminate any and every aspect of human behaviour. Evolutionary psychology, in the hands of various practitioners, sought to explain why militarism is so prevalent in human societies, or why men tend to dominate women in so many hierarchical organisations. If the field seems less politically charged these days, that is only because it has permeated our consciousness so deeply that it has become less questioned.

For much of the late Noughties, a week never seemed to pass without one new book or news story attributing some facet of modern-day life to the evolutionary past: men were more prone to sexual jealousy than women because a woman who conceives becomes unavailable for imminent future acts of reproduction; men preferred women with waist-to-hip ratios of 0.7 because of natural selection. It explained music and art and why we reward senior executives with top-floor corner offices (because we evolved to want a clear view of our enemies approaching across the savannah). Leftwing and feminist critics did frequently misinterpret evolutionary psychology, imagining that when scholars described some trait as adaptive, they meant it was morally justifiable. But that was how many such findings – often better described as speculations – came to be believed. We're not exactly saying it's right for, say, men to sleep around, evolutionary psychologists would observe with a knowing sigh, but . . . well, good luck trying to change millennia of evolved behaviour.

Far more than biologists, evolutionary psychologists bought in to the ultra-simple version of natural selection, and so they stand to lose far more from advances in our understanding of what's really been going on. They were always prone to telling "just-so stories" – spinning plausible tales about why some trait might be adaptive, instead of demonstrating that it was – and numerous recent studies have begun to chip away at what evidence there was. (That waist-to-hip ratio finding, for example, doesn't seem to hold up in the face of international and historical research.) And now, if epigenetics and other developments are coming to suggest that environment can alter heredity, the very terms of the debate – of nature versus nurture – suddenly become shaky. It's not even a matter of settling on a compromise, a "mixture" of nature and nurture. Rather, the concepts of "nature" and "nurture" seem to be growing meaningless. What does "nature" even mean if you can nurture the nature of your descendants?

This is one central argument of Shenk's new book, subheaded Why Everything You've Been Told About Genetics, Talent and IQ is Wrong. All our popular notions about talent and "genetic gifts", he points out, start to collapse if the eating habits of Tiger Woods's ancestors, for example, might have played a role in Woods's golfing abilities. (Woods always crops up in discussions on the origins of genius; more recently, he has started cropping up in evolutionary psychology discussions about whether promiscuity is inevitable.)

"What all this evidence shows is that we need a much more subtle and nuanced understanding of Darwinism and natural selection," Shenk says. "I think that's inevitably going to happen among scientists. The question is how much nuance will carry over into the public sphere . . . it's really funny how difficult it is to have this conversation, even with a lot of people who understand the science. We're stuck with a pretty limited way of viewing all this, and I think part of that comes from the terms" – such as nature and nurture – "that we have."

Among the arsenal of studies at Shenk's disposal is one published last year in the Journal of Neuroscience, involving mice bred to possess genetically inherited memory problems. As small recompense for having been bred to be scatterbrained, they were kept in an environment full of stimulating mouse fun: plenty of toys, exercise and attention. Key aspects of their memory skills were shown to improve, and crucially so did those of their offspring, even though the offspring had never experienced the stimulating environment, even as foetuses.

"If a geneticist had suggested as recently as the 1990s that a 12-year-old kid could improve the intellectual nimbleness of his or her future children by studying harder now," writes Shenk, "that scientist would have been laughed right out of the hall." Not so now.

And then there is Jerry Fodor, the American philosopher. I started reading What Darwin Got Wrong, the new book he has co-authored with the cognitive scientist Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, one morning, along with that day's first coffee. A few pages later, as the coffee kicked in, I grasped with astonishment what Fodor had done. He hadn't just identified evidence that natural selection was more complicated than previously thought – he'd uncovered a glaring flaw in the whole notion! Natural selection, he explains, simply "cannot be the primary engine of evolution". I got up and refilled my cup. But by the time I returned, his argument had slipped from my grasp. Suddenly, he seemed obviously wrong, tied up in philosophical knots of his own creation. I alternated between these two convictions. Was Fodor's critique so devastatingly correct that his critics – Dawkins, Dennett, the Cambridge philosopher Simon Blackburn, and many others – simply couldn't see it? Had he actually managed to . . . but then it slipped away again, vanishing into mental fog.

I called Fodor and asked him to explain his point in language an infant school pupil could understand. "Can't be done," he shot back. "These issues really are complicated. If we're right that Darwin and Darwinists have missed the point we've been making for 150 years, that's not because it's a simple point and Darwin was stupid. It's a really complicated issue."

Fodor's objection is a distant cousin of one that rears its head every few years: doesn't "survival of the fittest" just mean "survival of those that survive", since the only criterion of fitness is that a creature does, indeed, survive and reproduce? The American rightwing noisemaker Ann Coulter makes the point in her 2006 pro-creationist tirade Godless: The Church of American Liberalism. "Through the process of natural selection, the 'fittest' survive, [but] who are the 'fittest'? The ones who survive!" she sneers. "Why, look – it happens every time! The 'survival of the fittest' would be a joke if it weren't part of the belief system of a fanatical cult infesting the Scientific Community."

This argument, perhaps uniquely among all arguments ever made by Coulter, feels persuasive, not least because it is a reasonable criticism of some pop-Darwinism. In fact, though, it's entirely possible for scientists to measure fitness using criteria other than survival, and thus to avoid circular logic. For example, you might hypothesise that speed is a helpful thing to have if you're an antelope, then hypothesise the kind of leg structure you'd want to have, as an antelope, in order to run fast; then you'd examine antelopes to see if they do indeed have something approximating this kind of leg structure, and you'd examine the fossil record, to see if other kinds of leg died out.

Fodor's point is more complex than this, although it's also possible that it is not really a point at all: several reviews of the book by professional evolutionary theorists and philosophers have concluded that it is, indeed, nonsense. As far as I can make out, it can be summarised in three steps. Step one: Fodor notes – undeniably correctly – that not every trait a creature possesses is necessarily adaptive. Some just come along for the ride: for example, genes that express as tameness in domesticated foxes and dogs also seem to express as floppy ears, for no evident reason. Other traits are, as logicians say, "coextensive": a polar bear, for example, has the trait of "whiteness" and also the trait of "being the same colour as its environment". (Yes, that's a brain-stretching, possibly insanity-inducing statement. Take a deep breath.) Step two: natural selection, according to its theorists, is a force that "selects for" certain traits. (Floppy ears appear to serve no purpose, so while they may have been "selected", as a matter of fact, they weren't "selected for". And polar bears, we'd surely all agree, were "selected for" being the same colour as their environment, not for being white per se: being white is no use as camouflage if snow is, say, orange.)

Step three is Fodor's coup de grace: how, he says, can that possibly be? The whole point of Darwinian evolution is that it has no mind, no intelligence. But to "select for" certain traits – as opposed to just "selecting" them by not having them die out – wouldn't natural selection have to have some kind of mind? It might be obvious to you that being the same colour as your environment is more important than being white, if you're a polar bear, but that's because you just ran a thought-experiment about a hypothetical situation involving orange snow. Evolution can't run thought experiments, because it can't think. "Darwin has a theory that centrally turns on the notion of 'selection-for'," says Fodor. "And yet he can't give an account – nobody could give an account – of how natural selection could distinguish between correlated traits. He waffles."

Those of us baffled by this argument can take solace in the fact that we're not alone. The general response to Fodor among evolutionary thinkers has been a mixture of derision and awkwardness, as if one of their previously esteemed colleagues had entered the senior common room naked. Says Dennett, via email: "Jerry Fodor's book is a stunning demonstration of how abhorrence of an idea (Jerry's visceral dislike of evolutionary thinking) can derange an otherwise clever thinker . . . a responsible academic is supposed to be able to control irrational impulses, [but] Fodor has simply collapsed in the face of his dread and composed some dreadfully bad arguments." What Darwin Got Wrong, Dennett concludes, is "a book that so transparently misconstrues its target that it would be laughable were it not such dangerous mischief".

It would be jawdroppingly surprising, to say the least, were Fodor to be right. A safer, if mealy-mouthed, conclusion to draw is that his work acts as an important warning to those of us who think we understand natural selection. It's probably not a bankrupt concept, as Fodor claims. But nor should laypeople assume that it's self-evidently simple and exhaustively true.

The irony in all this is that Darwin himself never claimed that it was. He went to his deathbed protesting that he'd been misinterpreted: there was no reason, he said, to assume that natural selection was the only imaginable mechanism of evolution. Darwin, writing before the discovery of DNA, knew very well that his work heralded the beginning of a journey to understand the origins and development of life. All we may be discovering now is that we remain closer to the beginning of that journey than we've come to think.
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One thing that bothers me with the theory of evolution is that since we all came from fish, there must've been an intermediary species between a fish and some kind of amphibian.

Did a random fish decide to grow legs one day? What forced them out of the water?

Okay, maybe they grew legs to walk across the floor of the ocean. But how did they evolve lungs to breathe on land?

It's a massive stretch
 
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Show me observable evidence of any animal changing kinds through evolution or keep barking for me illiterate dog
2024 and people still thing observation is the only form of evidence. rope you dumb fuck
 
One thing that bothers me with the theory of evolution is that since we all came from fish, there must've been an intermediary species between a fish and some kind of amphibian.

Did a random fish decide to grow legs one day? What forced them out of the water?

Okay, maybe they grew legs to walk across the floor of the ocean. But how did they evolve lungs to breathe on land?

It's a massive stretch
thinking about it it is indeed a massive stretch. but dont you think over the course of a couple million years, massive stretches could happen 🤔?
 
I dont believe evolution = god doens't exist. all holy books mention some sort of concept involving god creating in stages and not spontaneously, e.g (quran and bible stating world was created in 6 days although god can do it in a less than a microsecond), so god chosing to create humans by evolving them slowly would not go against this concept. I think the ultimate test to humanity is to understand its animalistic nature, and follow god's orders to ascend above it through law, order and spirituality. and btw dnr
 
evolution is a trend and lots of money are being paid to promote it. if you arent an evolutionist just forget about being a reseaercher in medical related fields. its a must
 
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It's a work of Science Fiction.
 
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Not a single fucking molecule
 
DNR evolution is holy gospel of truth
 
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JFL at people thinking evolution is a lie lmao. You cannot comprehend the fact that we started off from a fish of some kind and now we are here. This just doesn't happen overnight. This takes hundreds of millions of years. You are so ready to deny evolution but all-in to believe in a book written 2000 years ago full of contradictions, this itself doesn't make sense. It is not Darwin by himself who 'solved' the evolution. The evolutional theory as we know it right now is written on the span of hundred years by thousands of scientists and things are still getting added. But the basic concept was by Darwin. Literally a simple google search can solve your questions.
 
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