Anthropomorphic Design

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chimp3's picture
Anthropomorphic Design

We are apes of African origin, first cousin to the chimpanzee. We evolved to perceive some patterns better than others. For instance, we can see red and orange against a green background better than we can see ants crawling through the grass. Fruit being a better meal than ants. We are also tool designers. We recognize tools made by others when we find them. So, archeology is a valid profession for some. Some people take this recognition of human technology too far. They project our innate designer skills onto everything in the universe. They believe a giant magical version of a human mind must have built all there is. This is simply hubris. We might be smart apes but we are not that smart. God is simply an anthropomorphic projection of the advanced ape mind on to a universe that was doing fine before we came around and will be just fine after we are extinct.

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John 6IX Breezy's picture
How do you prove your thesis

How do you prove your thesis though?

We're looking at the same cloud. I say I see a face. You say no, you see a rabbit. So who is right?

Your OP seems to be based on the concept of Top-Down processing: the notion that our ideas and beliefs influence our perception. But keep in mind that we all have the same brain, with the same pitfalls, and the same functionality. The same "pattern recognition" that makes the creationist see design in the universe, is the same "pattern recognition" that allows the evolutionist to see lineage in the fossil record. So how do you prove you're right? That our tendency to see design is just that, a tendency, and not a correct inference.

You may say sure, but we have the scientific method, a tool to overcome our mental short-comings. But is it really? Ironically, the scientific method was not handed down to man by the gods. Its a tool made by faulty brains, run by faulty brains, peer-reviewed by faulty brains. The scientific method is the ultimate anthropomorphic tool.

Now, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that. But you are. You are essentially suggesting that our ape mind constantly throws anthropomorphic projections out into the universe. Wait, no, you didn't say contantly... so you think it only happens if you're religious?

By the way, I'm just working with your posts assumptions.The whole topic of top-down processing is currently under revision:
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences/ar...

Nyarlathotep's picture
John 6IX Breezy - You may say

John 6IX Breezy - You may say sure, but we have the scientific method, a tool to overcome our mental short-comings. But is it really?

At first glance science appears as vulnerable to our perception biases and subjectiveness as everything else; but at the end of the day there is one important difference: IT WORKS.

/e And by saying it works, I mean it can be used to repeatedly and accurately predict the future. That is what separates science from the rest of humanities endeavours.

John 6IX Breezy's picture
I agree, but this does make

I agree, but this does make me wonder what Science actually is. Are all observations immediately promoted to science? Does observing that my mom makes coffee every morning make that a science? What about knowing that leaves fall downward, is that science, or for lack of better words just obvious, since there's no way not to know that leaves fall?

I say this because personally I wouldn't consider the pendulum swing as science, but I would consider the study of the underlying mechanisms as science. We tend to think of science as existing somewhere between the unknown and the hard to know.

If science is just everything we observe and do, then by default everything we do is science, and science becomes a redundant word for human behavior. Science to me deals more with coming up with explanations, rather than just making observations. The act of making explanations is where we are vulnerable to perception biases and subjectivism.

chimp3's picture
Science is a method..

Science is a method.. Observation is one component of that method.

Nyarlathotep's picture
John 6IX Breezy - Are all

John 6IX Breezy - Are all observations immediately promoted to science?

Observation is important but not enough, prediction (that matches observation) is what is required.

John 6IX Breezy - What about knowing that leaves fall downward, is that science

Absolutely. Of course it isn't exactly ground breaking.

John 6IX Breezy - I say this because personally I wouldn't consider the pendulum swing as science

Again, it is the prediction.

John 6IX Breezy - but I would consider the study of the underlying mechanisms as science

That is exactly what Professor Lewin did in that lecture (the video I linked is just a snippet). He used the "underlying mechanics" to predict/calculate the outcome of an experiment, then does the experiment.

If science is just everything we observe and do...Science to me deals more with coming up with explanations

Again, you are missing the prediction part. This is really important. The goal of science is to predict the state of a system at time 2, given the state of the system at time 1. In physics this is often done by using evolution laws to find the path the system will follow through phase space from the first state, to the second state. But if you could do this (accurately and repeatedly) by reading tea leaves, that would be science too! In fact the only real difference between what I described about how it is done, and the reading of tea leaves is that for some reason the former method works, and the tea leaves don't seem to work. Explanations are nice when available, but they are NOT required for science. This is a common misconception.

Related: This is why the crackpot index awards 10 crackpot points to anyone who criticizes a scientific theory because it fails to explain why something occurs. It is not a requirement, it is only icing on the cake.

John 6IX Breezy's picture
Predictions are well and good

Predictions are well and good. But much of science isn't about making predictions. Many fields are primarily about gathering and interpreting information. What predictions does archeology make? Neuroscience? Embryology? Is predicting that zygotes eventually grow into fetuses really a prediction? No, what's necessary is understanding how a zygote grows into a fetus, and why teratogens disrupts that. What's important is understanding how a neuron fires an action potential, and why botulinum toxins disrupts it. Didn't we talk once about evolution, and how it has no direction? The underlying force of evolution are random mutations, I do remember you arguing once how randomness makes the universe unpredictable.

I would say predictions are the icing on the cake. But explanations are the end goal. Ptolemy's model could predict the position of the planets with accuracy, yet the underlying explanation, the idea that planets moved in epicircles and the earth the center of the universe was wrong, so the whole model was wrong, regardless of its predictive capabilities.

Nyarlathotep's picture
What predictions does

John 6IX Breezy - What predictions does archeology make?

It is well above my paygrade, but perhaps the following document will help answer your question:

Quantifying the present and predicting the past : theory, method, and application of archaeological predictive modeling.

Nyarlathotep's picture
John 6IX Breezy - Ptolemy's

John 6IX Breezy - Ptolemy's model could predict the position of the planets with accuracy, yet the underlying explanation, the idea that planets moved in epicircles and the earth the center of the universe was wrong, so the whole model was wrong, regardless of its predictive capabilities.

Right and when a new model came along (Kepler's) that did a better job of making predictions, Ptolemy's model was discarded. Then it was replaced by Newton's; rinse and repeat by Einstein; and that will surely be replaced someday as well. It isn't hard to believe that every model is wrong, and probably always will be!

John 6IX Breezy's picture
But you're misunderstanding

But you're misunderstanding why they're wrong. Kepler's model didn't replace Ptolemy's model because it made better predictions. They're both making the same predictions. It got replaced because of the explanation. Ptolemy is based on a geocentric model, Kepler is based on a heliocentric model.

If you are making predictions that aren't coming true, that's proof that your model is wrong. But making predictions that are coming true, is not proof that your model is right.

That's why its the cherry on top. Science is about explaining, not predicting.

Nyarlathotep's picture
John 6IX Breezy - Kepler's

John 6IX Breezy - Kepler's model didn't replace Ptolemy's model because it made better predictions. They're both making the same predictions.

Again no. Kepler's work successfully predicted the transits of Venus and Mercury while the competing ideas could not.

Greensnake's picture
John 61X Breezy:

John 61X Breezy:

A scientific hypothesis that doesn't make predictions is an hypothesis that can't be falsified. You know what that means, don't you? Prediction is key to real science. You can gather specimens and data, but until you make predictions you aren't really doing science. What do you think happens when scientists interpret that information? Aren't they sifting through the predictions of various models? When they say that data should be interpreted a certain way, they are saying that certain models make better predictions of that data. The real test is new predictions of an unexpected nature, predictions made by the accepted model reached by interpreting the data. If you are in science, predictions are central.

I might add here that models that make excellent predictions usually work as explanations. Hence, "explaining" and "predicting" in science often amount to the same thing. But then there is quantum mechanics that doesn't do any explaining. It just predicts. Prediction is central.

Why should evolution have direction? You seem confused as to the nature of evolution. Mutations merely stock the pantry for long-term use. The driving force of evolution is usually natural selection, aided by a change in environment or an isolating mechanism, but genetic bottlenecks and the "founders effect" can make dramatic changes in the population's genetic profile. And, there are other lesser drivers of evolution.

John 6IX Breezy's picture
"A scientific hypothesis that

"A scientific hypothesis that doesn't make predictions is an hypothesis that can't be falsified" "Why should evolution have direction?"

So you can't predict the next evolutionary step? The next species to derive from human beings? The next organ to develop? Or the next organ to become vestigial? Lets say I am confused about the nature of evolution. So unconfused me. Does evolution have direction, and can make predictions? Or is evolution unpredictable, and unfalsiable?

(By the way NS is not the driving force of evolution. Natural Selection gets animals extinct. Mutations are what make animals evolve).

Nyarlathotep's picture
I do remember you arguing

I do remember you arguing once how randomness makes the universe unpredictable...So you can't predict the next evolutionary step? The next species to derive from human beings? The next organ to develop? Or the next organ to become vestigial?...Or is evolution unpredictable, and unfalsiable?

It has gone over your head again. To be science it has to make predictions (that match observation), but it does not have to make any certain prediction that you demand. This is how physics can describe reality as random, yet still make successful predictions about the future (such as probability distributions). In a not to different way, the theory of evolution can (and has) made lots of successful predictions, but it can't necessarily predict everything you want.

Imagine if it did work that way:
Q: Using physics predict what the names of the billboard top 100 songs of the year 2050? Oh you can't do it, then physics is not science!

This is what religion has done to your brain. It's called crimestop:
"Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity." - Orwell

John 6IX Breezy's picture
Whoa whoa whoa... did you

Whoa whoa whoa... did you just?
Is that....
Is that what I think it is?
A Red Herring??
A strawman?????

"Q: Using physics predict what the names of the billboard top 100 songs of the year 2050? Oh you can't do it, then physics is not science!"

Did I say evolution can predict billboard 100? I asked if it could predict vestigial organs. Aren't vestigial organs suppose to scream evolution? If physics can predict physical events, then evolution should predict evolutionary events. Nothing about the music industry in my statement.

Nyarlathotep's picture
See you are demanding that it

See you are demanding that it predict what you want. In my example I demanded that it predict what I want (music) to demonstrate how silly these kinds of demands are.

John 6IX Breezy - Did I say evolution can predict billboard 100?

No. And I didn't suggest you did either. Notice I said "Imagine if it did work that way:" The fact that you can't figure this out is just another example of crimestop. I think you are smarter than this, but you keep crimestopping. This is what religion has done to your brain.
Also a strawman is when you alter or assign an argument or statement to your opponent. I didn't do this, and I'm pretty sure you know it, but you made the accusation anyway. This is what religion has done to your brain.

John 6IX Breezy's picture
It is a strawman, because I

It is a strawman, because I am not asking it to predict what I want, I'm asking it to predict what it does. Evolution makes organs become vestigial, so predict which organ will be next.

Nyarlathotep's picture
John 6IX Breezy - Evolution

John 6IX Breezy - Evolution makes organs become vestigial, so predict which organ will be next.

I don't know what to tell you. It really looks like you are being dumb on purpose. I don't know how else to put it. It should give you great pause, but I doubt it will. Good luck.

John 6IX Breezy's picture
Ya'll are the ones claiming

Ya'll are the ones claiming evolution can make prediction. So make them. Don't tell me what evolution has done in the past, that's not a prediction. Tell me what evolution will do in the future.

I want, 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 __.
I don't want 0, 2, __, 6, 8, 10.

Nyarlathotep's picture
John 6IX Breezy - Tell me

John 6IX Breezy - Tell me what evolution will do in the future.

I'll do my best although I'm no biologist:

  • new vestal organs will arise
  • new species will form from mutation and/or natural selection

Probably not a very good list, but oh well.

And before you complain that those are trivial predictions (and they are trivial), compare them to the predictions of competing models. Oh well there really are no completing models but lets elevate hard core Christian creationism to a competing model. You will notice it does not make those predictions. There is no way to predict the future with "goddidit".

John 6IX Breezy's picture
"And before you complain that

"And before you complain that those are trivial predictions (and they are trivial), compare them to the predictions of competing models. Oh well there really are no completing [sic] models" —Ptolemy, 150 AD, as evidence that the Solar System is Geocentric.

Nyarlathotep's picture
You are suggesting Ptolemy as

You asked for precition of evolution, I gave you some. Then you suggested Ptolemy as a competing model? Dumb on purpose.

John 6IX Breezy's picture
No, I'm quoting Ptolemy,

No, I'm quoting Ptolemy, using your words. As if he had used your logic to prove his model, (which he could have, since there were no competing models.... for over a thousand years).

Nyarlathotep's picture
John 6IX Breezy - As if he

John 6IX Breezy - As if he had used your logic to prove his model

The notion that you can prove a model correct with data is fundamentally misguided, no matter how well it matches..

John 6IX Breezy's picture
"In fact I speculated that

"In fact I speculated that every model is wrong!"
Welcome to creationism. There's tea in the lobby lol.

Nyarlathotep's picture
The realization the

The realization the scientific models are at best approximations hardly constitutes an endorsement of creationism. This is what religion has done to your brain.

Greensnake's picture
John 61X Breezy:

John 61X Breezy:

Evolution makes predictions about the fossil record, about the nested organization of taxonomy, about the distribution of plants and animals, even the small-scale population makeup of mangrove islands off of Florida, predictions of junk DNA (aided by a knowledge of genetics), and it predicts that species on the same branch of the evolutionary "tree" will share a suite of traits that have no obvious survival value. Evolution predicts what we might reasonably expect to find in many metabolic pathways. Evolution predicts that we will find cases where a structure has degenerated into uselessness because it's no longer needed. Evolution from a single source predicts that all life will share the same genetic code. Predictions that biological evolution have successfully made go on and on. See my later post for more discussion.

Mr. Breezy, you seem confused about the fundamental nature of science! Successful predictions are the way we develop confidence in our scientific models, and they are not necessarily about what will happen in the future. A prediction may send us to the fossil record to check for some predicted arrangement of fossils. The fact that those fossils were laid down millions of years ago does not in any way reduce the success of that prediction. Got that? A theory can, in some cases, earn its stripes by predicting evidence for things that have happened long ago. How do you think the science of geology was developed?

Given evolution's interaction with an ever-changing environment, which includes new predators and many chance events, it is positively silly (and naive) to demand that it predict when a new organ will arise or when an existing one will become obsolete and remain as a vestigial organ. Wake up and smell the coffee!

Algebe's picture
"Evolution makes organs

"Evolution makes organs become vestigial, so predict which organ will be next."

Eyebrows.

chimp3's picture
John: You are confusing the

John: You are confusing the biological process of evolution and the science of evolution.

A prediction made by evolution science : "There are two kinds of whales: those with teeth, and those that strain microscopic food out of seawater with baleen. It was predicted that a transitional whale must have once existed, which had both teeth and baleen. Such a fossil has since been found."

https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/baleen-whales-a-love...

John 6IX Breezy's picture
This is going to be a long

This is going to be a long and fun discussion lol.

(And just so we’re clear, this is not a discussion on whether evolution is true, it’s a discussion on whether evolution can predict).

1. I'll start by saying I grant you that it is a prediction, so no fight there. But for me personally, it is a sort of sketchy type of prediction. Something about it isn’t satisfactory. I hinted at this earlier to Nyar. There’s something about predictions that imply forecasting future states, not filling in gaps.

I consider 0, 2, 4, 6, __, to be a prediction.
But 0, 2, __, 6, 8, isn’t quite the same thing.

Filling in a gap is only a prediction because the missing information can be verified by future information, not because it is predictive in nature. To prove this, imagine a perfect world where there were no gaps, and all fossils were on the table; at that point the only predictions evolution can make, are of the future. We may indeed be heading in that direction, as more fossils are uncovered. So, in theory, we are headed to a future were evolution can no longer make these types of predictions. Which is bad for you. But not for me, since predictions aren’t necessary in my view of science.

2. From the surface I could tell this is a highly speculative type of prediction. In evolution, the answer to 0, 2, _, 6, 8, could literally be any number. 1, Whales could have gradually lost their teeth, then gradually evolved their baleen. 2, They could go from teeth, to a different structure, then back to baleen. 3, teeth themselves could have slowly become baleen, the way feet became flippers. 4, Or as the article suggests, they could have had both at once. These are all valid prediction, and one of them is bound to be right. But is a theory that's making such blanket statements, really making predictions?

3. If you gave me a Chihuahua, and a Great Dane, I could "predict" that something in between, like a Collie, could have existed. Lo and behold, tomorrow we find a Collie. So I proved Chihuahuas evolved into Great Danes. Did I? How exactly do you show that modern whales did evolve directly from this species, and that this wasn’t a platypus-type whale, with a separate evolution that’s not connected to modern whales? There's no genetic information. Just fossils and speculations.

4. Now comes my actual criticism. In the paper your link is based on, there is no “evidence” that such a whale has been found. Instead the paper is arguing that the whale in question shows these transitions. In other words, you implied that someone predicted that “4” is the missing number in the sequence, and we then found a fossilized 4. Instead, we found a partially fossilized “x” and the authors are arguing it shows evidence of being a 4. Some quotes:

-“Although baleen rarely fossilizes, bony vascular structures on the palate of edentulous mysticetes generally are INTERPRETED as osteological correlates for the presence of baleen“

-“Therefore, in the context of our phylogenetic analyses, the simplest INTERPRETATION of the available evidence is that toothed mysticetes with lateral nutrient foramina expressed baleen, and that the function of this early baleen was to filter minute prey.

-“Given our phylogenetic results, we HYPOTHESIZE that aetiocetid mysticetes had a mosaic phenotype in which both teeth and baleen were present in adult.”

-“At the most basic level, fossilized baleen from aetiocetids would provide DEFINITIVE evidence for the joint expression of teeth and baleen and might reveal the structure and extent of the early baleen filter. Although rare, fossil baleen has been reported from several Neogene deposits around the Pacific.”

Notice how the authors are trying to prove this whale had teeth and baleen. They make their case. It’s a good case. I have no issues with their case. But you need good evidence to prove a prediction, not make a good case to prove the evidence that will eventually prove your prediction.

5. Lastly, I want to prove the point I made in the second bullet point. In the paper the authors wrote:

-“The fossil record also shows a gap in anatomy between toothed and toothless mysticetes. Most recent phylogenetic analyses of Mysticeti imply an evolutionary JUMP from a primitive form with tooth-lined jaws and no baleen to the modern condition where the jaws are toothless and racks of baleen plates are suspended from the palate.”

-“Published phylogenetic trees CONFLICT in detail with our overall systematic hypothesis.”

-“However, most recent phylogenetic analyses of Mysticeti instead imply a direct SALTATORY [sudden change] transition from an ancestral formwith tooth-lined jaws to the modern condition where the jaws are toothless with right and left racks of baleen suspended from the palate.”

Notice the issue here. There was no single prediction. Others have suggested whales evolved from tooth to baleen, and not overlapped. This author believes they overlapped, and is trying to prove his case, based on the presence laternal nutritient foramina.

If evolution can provide more than one prediction, then it’s no longer falsifiable. If a whale with overlapping teeth and baleen is found, then this authors prediction comes true. If no overlap is found, then the other authors prediction is true. Or if a whale appears with completely different intermediate structure, then my prediction came true. If you’re predicting every possible outcome, then there is no way to be wrong, one of the predictions is bound to be right by default. I’ll leave it up to you to decide how valid that is.

Greensnake's picture
John 61X Breezy:

John 61X Breezy:

For a guy who knows nothing about paleontology, you sure have a lot to say! If you want to see how well the fossil record supports evolution go to an internationally known geologist who has taken the trouble to write a book for laymen. That would be Dr. Donald Prothero who wrote the book "Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters," a solid work by a guy who has actually dated some of the benchmark strata and is personally familiar with real fossils and real strata. The book is an education in itself.

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